Taiwan is so hungry for tourism that it is offering 20 tourists a free night’s stay in the Presidential Palace this October. Reeling from China’s recent ban on individual travel permits—which enabled mainland citizens to visit the democratically ruled island—Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, has launched a campaign to spur her country’s sluggish hospitality industry. As part of the plan, international travelers can apply to become “promotional ambassadors.” All applicants are required to “submit a 90-second video espousing the joys of Taiwan … ”
Who Gets the Presidential Suite?
“Sacrebleu! They Left Dirty Towels”
Pheasant Island might be a summer share with the world’s most regal lineage. A ragged acre or so of limestone and trees that squats in the middle of the Bidasoa River—which creates the natural border between France and Spain’s Basque region—the island has been co-administered by viceroys from the two countries since the Treaty of Bayonne, in 1856. And like the partners in any island share, the two split the prime summer schedule. Earlier this month, France’s viceroy—47-year-old Christophe Merit—assumed his six-month residence as well as his duties, which these days consist primarily of tending to the river and overseeing fishing disputes.
Romulus and Remus Redux?
This summer, wolves have been seen on the periphery of Rome. For now, they have not entered the city, but they have reportedly been raiding farms for livestock. Or have they? While some authorities say the animals pose an immediate threat to Romans—though it’s hard to imagine why any sane creature would want to be in the city during the month of August—others say the animals that have been spotted are safely confined to protected parklands. (Meanwhile, foxes have been seen walking near the Western Wall, in Jerusalem. According to biblical prophecy, it means the Temple razed by the Romans will finally be rebuilt.)
The Very Good German
The Bavarian town of Kollnburg has been without a doctor since the 1990s, so its mayor, Josefa Schmid, took out an ad in a medical magazine that listed the benefits of life in the region—and carried a photo of her in a dirndl and pearls. According to The Times of London, the ad said, “Wanted: resident doctor. Location: picturesque Bavarian village. Potential benefits: attractive blonde mayoress, currently unmarried.” Schmid says the posting was tongue in cheek—but it has attracted more than a dozen applications. And although the ad touts her unmarried status, Schmid says that “the marital status of the doctor is no precondition.… But if someone comes along who turns out to be the man of my dreams then it’s a different matter, of course.”
French Dressing with Those Greens?
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo (above), plans to create the world’s biggest urban-farm system by converting 33 acres of city land, including three acres atop the roof of the Expo Porte de Versailles—home to the annual auto show. All kinds of staple vegetables, grapes (a Paris red, perhaps?), and hops (a Parisian pilsner?) will be sown in the cityscape. Hidalgo’s initiative is aimed at curbing the pollution caused by trucking food to market. The Parisian farms would create a ton of produce a day in season, and a recent government report notes that urban farmers may eventually grow 15 percent of the country’s food—pas mal.