Tag Archives: Peru

the IBIT Travel Digest 12.23.12

The good, the bad and the bizarre in the world of travel

Tongli, China's ancient Venice | ©IBIT/G. Gross
Tongli, China’s ancient Venice | ©IBIT/G. Gross

UP A LAZY ASIAN RIVER
River cruising has long been a travel staple in Europe and shows little sign of slowing down. But cruise lines and tour companies increasingly are looking to Asia as the Next Big Thing in cruising.

According to USA Today, Viking River Cruises, one of the biggest names in European river cruising, has already announced plans to offer river cruises in Myanmar and Thailand, starting in 2014.

Others aren’t waiting that long. Travel Daily News.Asia is reporting that Travel Indochina is already adding Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and Laos to a river cruise itinerary that already includes Vietnam, Cambodia and Yangtze River cruises in China.

With increasing world interest in Asia and growing middle classes in Asian countries with money to spend and a desire to see more of their own homelands, Asian river cruising could be a hot market for years to come.

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PUTTING A STOP TO MOTION SICKNESS
So far, this is one of life’s ailments that has mercifully passed me by. But there are plenty of people who suffer with this — and “suffer” is the operative term.

At the least, it can seriously interfere with your ability to enjoy travel. At its worst, it may prevent you from traveling altogether.

We’ve all had our share of laughs about motion sickness. Even Hollywood films and cartoons have gotten in on the levity. But every time I see the airsickness bag on the airplane or see folks on cruise ships with that little scopolamine patch on their necks, I’m reminded that motion sickness is no joke.

It’s a physical misunderstanding. Your inner ear tells your brain, “We’re moving!” Your eyes are saying, “No, we’re not!” Your stomach wishes they’d both shut the hell up.

There’s no real cure for motion sickness, but there are ways you can deal with this, and the New York Times breaks it all down at length in this article.

Their suggestions may not rid you of this curse, but they might make life a little easier for you, or your kids.

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CHARGED UP
A lot of us travel with a lot of electronic gear — smartphones, iPods, tablets. They make us productive during those long flights, or at least keep us from dying of boredom.

But even if they’re fully charged when we leave for the airport, their batteries may be no match for that 10-hour or 12-hour transcontinental flight. And finding an available electrical outlet in a crowded terminal during an unexpected delay can be…well…challenging.

Which is why the Summit 3000 battery pack caught my attention. As Smarter Travel points out, it’s neither very light or really cheap, but if you need to keep your devices running in places where a plug isn’t handy, you may be glad you have this.

One especially cool feature is that it’s dual-voltage, which means you can use it overseas with no hassle; all you need is a plug adaptor for the country you’re in. And if you travel with electronic gear, odds are you already have some of those.

Still, it isn’t powerful enough to charge a laptop, which leaves my black MacBook feeling neglected and resentful.

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FLYING YOUR FELINE
Traveling with pets is always tricky, especially if the pet is a cat. It’s tough enough on the sensitive little critters, even without having to deal with the TSA — which actually lost one traveler’s cat in New York JFK airport.

There’s nothing we can do about the TSA, but there are things cat owners can do to make travel easier on their beloved felines, and the folks at Smarter Traveler lay out their suggestions in this slideshow.

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AND FINALLY…
If your Boeing and you want to test how well in-flight wifi works aboard your aircraft, what sort of exotic, sophisticated, state-of-the-art testing equipment do you use?

Why, potatoes, of course — 20,000 pounds of potatoes, right on the passenger seats.

And as proof that I’m neither crazy nor making this stuff up, check out this CNN story on Boeing’s wifi tests.

And please, no mashup jokes.

And now, here’s The Digest:

AIR
from Travel Weekly
Don’t look now, but your already miserable experience getting through airport security could get a lot worse two weeks into 2013. It’s all about your driver’s license and an eight-year-old federal law that gone unenforced — until now. IBIT will be exploring this in depth shortly.

from the Washington Post
Spas. Yoga. Luxury food. Fine dining. An international resort? You’ll increasingly find these high-end amenities in the last place you’d look for them — American airports.

from Christopher Elliot
Is the TSA doomed? A respected consumer writer says the powers that be have heard the traveling public’s gripes — and they’re paying attention.

from Smarter Travel
Seven ways to avoid airline baggage fees. SLIDESHOW

LAND
from the New York Times
Have you ever longed to explore ancient historic sites, without having to contend with mobs of tourists? Here are five spots around the world where your wish may come true…for now, anyway.

SEA
from Gadling
Cruise travel is rebounding from a rough year.

from Travel Weekly
Are the Viking River Cruises people building a navy or what? Already with ten new cruise ships on order for next year, they’ve already committed to eight more in 2014. That makes 24 new river cruisers in three years. But given Viking’s interest in Asia (see above), it makes perfect sense.

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AFRICA
from The New Times (Kenya) via allAfrica.com
The national airlines of Kenya and Rwanda hook up in a strategic partnership that eventually could stremaline regional air travel between eastern and central Africa.

from The Point (Gambia) via allAfrica.com
A village on a pristine coastal stretch of the Gambia becomes the anchor point of an ambitious experiment in ecotourism.

from Vanguard (Nigeria) via allAfrica.com
A state government in Nigeria wants to turn the site of the country’s first recorded plane crash into a tourist attraction. Uhhh…

AMERICAS
from The Guardian (London UK)
We think of New Orleans mostly as a grown-ups’ playground, but come Christmastime, it becomes a magical place for kids.

from SFGate.com
Good news from Mexico: There’s a hotel building boom underway in Cancun.

from the Washington Post
A foodie’s tour of Peru. SLIDESHOW

from the Sacramento Bee
Hollywood has its stars, but in California’s Anza-Borrego Desert, you’ll get an unrestricted view of the real ones.

ASIA/PACIFIC
from CNNgo
Riding waves of modernization, gentrification and newly made Chinese money, there’s never been a better time to visit Hong Kong. An insider’s look at one of the world’s perpetually energized destinations.

from CCTV (China)
China and Nepal sign a commitment to promote tourism between the two countries.

from the Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
Have you ever poured Thousand Island dressing on your salad and wondered if such a place actually exists? It does. It’s in Indonesia, and the governor of the nation’s capital, Jakarta, would love to see the Thousand Islands region become a tourist attraction.

EUROPE
from the New York Times
Walk through history in the ancient city of Toledo, a city holy to Catholics in Spain. Its religious importance saw it escape multiple wars almost untouched.

from The Guardian (London UK)
How Vienna waltzes through Christmas.

from The Guardian (London UK)
The world’s oldest monument was discovered only about a decade ago. It’s 11,000 years old. And it’s in Turkey.

from the Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette (IL)
For most travelers interested in Europe, Slovenia doesn’t register as a worthwhile destination. And that’s kind of a shame.

The IBIT Travel Digest 10-22-12

The good, the bad and the bizarre from the world’s best travel media

James Bond Island, Thailand
© Ihar Balaikin | Dreamstime.com

The latest James Bond movie, “Skyfall,” is now blowing up (almost literally) in theaters worldwide. 007 has been a lot of places for Queen and country these past 50 years — which locations were your favorites? London’s The Guardian offers up a slideshow of their must-sees. Does their list match yours?

The one that really set my imagination racing was Khow-Ping-Kan on Phang Nga Bay in Thailand, seen above. This was the climactic location for “The Man with the Golden Gun,” one of the lesser flicks in the Bond series. These days, a lot of people just call it “James Bond Island.”

A sight like this could make me happily forget all about Bangkok, at least for a day or two.

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In its ongoing efforts to swallow the Earth whole, Google has bought up the Frommer’s travel brands — all of them — for an undisclosed price. This after buying the Zagat restaurant review publishers.

What all that means for the traveling consumer remains somewhat unclear. It’s unlikely that what you see online or on book shelves from these two well-known travel publishing names will look or feel any different in the near term. But as we all know, things change.

Will Google insist on putting its stamp on its new travel possessions, or will it be content not to fix what wasn’t broken? Stay tuned.

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IBIT doesn’t offer a Travel Outrage of the Week feature. If it did, this might top the list.

There are reports out of San Francisco that the local Travelodge motel recently refused the credit cards of famed New Orleans funk band The Meters Experience on the grounds that they are black.

And no, that’s not a misprint, nor did you misread it.

You can read the entire story yourself at SFWeekly here. For a more detailed report on the incident, go to the NOLA.com story here.

It really shouldn’t make any difference, but it’s not as if we’re talking here about some garage band composed of a bunch of high school kids with delusions of grandeur. The Meters are a New Orleans institution known around the world. Its guitarist, Leo Nocentelli, is a nominee for the 2013 class of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

I have emailed the Wyndham Hotel Group, which owns the Travelodge chain, asking it for clarification and its side of the story. Whatever I get in response will be published here.

There’s no indication that the motel clerk or manager even tried to verify whether the credit cards were valid, a swift and simple process that hotels and motels conduct routinely with all hotel and motel arriving guests millions of times a day around the world. Instead, if the initial reports are correct, the Travelodge people took one look at these black musicians and said, “Forget about it!”

Why are we still having to deal with this kind of treatment in 2012?

ADDENDUM
I emailed Christine DaSilva, a spokeswoman for Wyndham Hotel Group, about this situation. Here’s a portion of what she had to say:

“Hi Greg,
Thanks for checking in with me – not everyone that’s written about this allegation has done that, and it’s greatly appreciated.

As you can imagine, we are deeply troubled by this allegation. We invite every individual regardless of ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation or generation to experience our products and services, and we are troubled that the guests’ experience didn’t reflect our values.

“Please rest assured that we have been looking into this situation and are handling it directly with the franchised property’s owner as well as the guests.”

Sounds like Wyndham’s on the case. I suspect that a certain Travelodge property manager in San Francisco is going to be put in check…bigtime. And that’s exactly as it should be.

And now, here’s the rest of The Digest:

AIR
from ABC News
This is the sorry state to which US airport security has sunk: A list of the 20 airports in this country where a TSA inspector is most likely to steal something out your luggage. It sounds like the punchline of a bad joke, but it isn’t. The joke’s on us.

from SmarterTravel
Seven simple ways to get yourself kicked off an airplane. SLIDESHOW

from Travel+Leisure
If you’re flying out of any of these ten US airports, you’d be well-advised to a) get there early and b) not schedule your connecting flight too tightly. These Tardy Ten are notorious for flight delays.

LAND
from Travel Weekly
According to the numbers the US Travel Association fished out of the US Labor Department, travel has become a major source of new jobs in America. Guess you can’t outsource Disneyworld, can you? It’s also a growing source of cash. Foreign visitors dropped $82 billion in the US in the first half of 2012, an 11-percent increase over last year. So when you see that foreign tourist in your town, be nice. Be very nice.

from the New York Times
In Manhattan, home to some of the priciest hotels on Earth, a decent room for $150 or so a night constitutes a good deal. This guy tells you where and how to find seven of them.

from Travel Weekly
Which would you rather pay for at your hotel — your breakfast, access to the hotel gym or your in-room Internet access? US hotels are making the choice for you.

from Travel Weekly
At the San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel, they really give a hoot. Lots of hoots, in fact. Nesting barn owls, it seems, love the place.

SEA
from Travel Weekly
Here’s an idea from Carnival Cruise Lines. Want to get your cabin early, have priority dinner seating aboard ship, be first in line to embark or debark? Easy. Just pay an extra $49.95 per cabin. And you thought the cruise industry wasn’t paying attention to the airlines and their add-on fees.

from Travel Weekly
Bermuda is starting to fall off the cruise ship industry’s radar. Royal Caribbean is the latest to cut back.

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AFRICA
from Travel Weekly
Egypt reopens a major stretch of the Nile River to cruise ships.

from Wilkinsons World
Sitting off the coast of Namibia, Shark Island today is a wildlife preserve and resort. But a century ago, it served a very different purpose. Long before the Nazis came into being, the Germans created the world’s first death camp on this island…to exterminate Africans.

AMERICAS
from Travel Weekly
Go to Mexico, get well? Mexican tourism officials are pushing the nation’s capital, Mexico City, as a medical tourism destination. Meanwhile, they’re also looking at giving small groups of visitors exclusive access to historic sites like Chichen Itza — for a fee, of course. Ever dreamed of having a pyramid all to yourself?

from the New York Times
In Portland, OR, the gritty old industrial area on the east side of Willamette River is going upscale. Check it out while it’s still both fun and relatively affordable. SLIDESHOW

from the Los Angeles Times
Before it was America’s 50th state, Hawaii was a sovereign state, an independent kingdom with its own royalty. The LAT’s Catherine Hamm shows you where to go to dive into the Hawaiian history your mainland teachers left out of their lessons.

ASIA
from Travel Weekly
Europe isn’t the only part of the world where river cruising is taking off. Aqua Expeditions, which operates Amazon River cruises in South America, has its sights fixed on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia.

from the Los Angeles Times
A generation ago, Da Nang was known to the world mainly as a gigantic US Marine base during the Vietnam war. Today, it’s Surf City East.

EUROPE
from Travel Weekly
The competition for the European river cruise market is heating up. After watching the Viking line add fresh new ships left and right, Uniworld is firing back with plans for two new ships of its own.

from the New York Times
The Belgian city of Antwerp, which first gained wealth and power as a 16th-century port city, is undergoing a revival.

from the New York Times
Wine lovers know all about Spain’s Rioja region, and for good reason. But there’s a lot more to Rioja than just great wines. There’s great food to go with them.

Edited by P.A.Rice

the IBIT TRAVEL DIGEST 3.21.12

A roundup of the good, the bad and the bizarre from the world’s best travel media.

Amsterdam canal  houseboat
Canal houseboat in Amsterdam | ©IBIT G. Gross

VIVA MEXICO
For all the negative talk about crime and violence related to its ongoing drug war, Mexico endures as a travel destination.

Travel Weekly reports that Carnival Cruises Lines, which has already sunk some $100 million into improvements for Mexican seaports, is looking at investing in two new ones — Calica on the Caribbean coast and Puerto Cortés in Baja California Sur.

No dollar signs yet, but the fact that Carnival would be interested at all says a lot, as does the fact that Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill was down south last week to meet with Mexican president Felipe Calderon and tourism minister Gloria Guevara.

So too does this little tidbit from TW: In a story about how Spring Break travel has picked up in 2012, they point to Student City, an online travel agency that caters to high school and college kids. According to Student City, its top two destinations were Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, both on the Mexican Riviera. Panama City, FL was third.

SUMMER AIRFARES — INTO THE STRATOSPHERE?
That’s definitely how it looks to the folks at USA Today, who checked the situation with aviation and travel experts.

What do you want first, the bad news or the very bad news?

Airliners may not have to pull up to the local gas station to fill their tanks the way you and I do, but when it comes to fuel prices, the oil companies don’t cut the airlines any more slack than they do for us. So whatever causes the cost of a barrel of crude oil to jump hits everyone hard.

Even the airlines’ ability to buy options on jet fuel, a tactic pioneered by Southwest Airlines and copied by many other airlines since, doesn’t help as much as it used to.

Bottom line: Airfare prices already are higher than they were a year ago, and the pain is only going to increase once the summer “high season” arrives. You need to plan accordingly, and the US Today story has a few tips that may help.

VACATION — WHO GETS IT AND WHO DOESN’T
Embedded in a story from CNN Travel about Swiss voters rejecting a proposal for six weeks of paid vacation a year (like their neighbors in Germany) is a survey of 20 countries from Expedia, listing them in order of the amount of vacation time employees receive, how many of those days are actually taken and how many go unused.

France, to no one’s surprise, was at the top. The United States, again no surprise, was near the bottom. What may be unexpected is that nations with some of the strongest economies in Europe, as well as some of the weakest, rank among the highest for vacation days offered and actually used.


And now, here’s this week’s Digest:

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AIR
from the New York Times
The FAA finally decides to consider adding to its list of consumer electronics devices approved for in-flight use.


from eTurboNews
The 2012 London Olympics are only a few months away. Can London’s five airports handle a crush of visitors flying in? The heads of four British airlines seem to have their doubts.

from Travel Weekly
They’re coming to America…or at least trying to. Gol, Brazil’s low-fare airline, wants to fly Boeing 737s from Miami to Sao Paulo, with a stop in Caracas, Venezuela.

from the New York Times
How to avoid the worst seat on the airplane.

from Travel Weekly
There’s First Class, and then there’s this: Etihad, the national flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, is installing chefs to prepare in-flight meals for their First Class passengers.

from Travel Weekly
Remember People Express, the low-fare airline back in the 1980s that bowled people over with some ridiculously cheap fares — while putting them through some even more ridiculous hassles — until Continental swallowed them up? They may be coming back.

from TNOOZ
Have you ever played with Google Flight Search? It’s only been online for six months. Simultaneously shows air routes and airfares across the United States…and now, internationally.

LAND
from Frommer’s Travel
Want to get the feel of a place from a local’s perspective? Take a walking tour. Here’s what you’ll see if you hit the bricks in the Montmartre section of Paris. SLIDESHOW

from Smarter Travel
There are more than 900 World Heritage Sites identified around the globe by the United Nations, all of them worth seeing. The folks at Smarter Travel pick 11 must-sees. See if you agree. SLIDESHOW

from the Los Angeles Times
Ever have trouble with those balky remote controls for the television in your hotel room? Now there’s an app that will let you operate the hotel TV right from your smartphone. Unless, of course, you own a Blackberry.

SEA
from Travel Weekly
Is it just me, or is the cruise industry taking a beating this year? Princess Cruises cuts short one Caribbean cruise and cancels two more due to engine troubles aboard Caribbean Princess. Oh well, maybe things will be better next year: Princess is among the cruise lines now accepting bookings for 2013.

from Cruise Critic
A head-to-head comparison of the ten most popular mega-ships and their features — cabins, dining options, entertainment. Which one most appeals to you?

from 
CNN Travel
The inside view of ten of the most popular North American cruise ports. One’s in Alaska, while the rest are scattered around the Caribbean. Avoid the crowds and pick up some local flavor.

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AFRICA
from 
Reuters via Yahoo!
Is Britain trying to block access of Africa’s largest airline to Europe?

from 
Capital FM (Kenya) via allAfrica.com
An innovative attempt to promote tourism to Kenya through music. Plans underway to create a musical stage production on Kenyan cultural attractions, with the country’s different languages as a centerpiece.

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AMERICAS/CARIBBEAN
from BBC Travel
Southern, sleepy, set-in-its-ways Savannah, GA is suddenly becoming a hot zone of sophisticated art, music, dining and shopping.

from the Los Angeles Times
There’s a lot more to Peru than just Machu Picchu, and the LAT’s Chris Reynolds shows you the what and the where in Cuzco.

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ASIA/PACIFIC
from eTurboNews
One unexpected aftershock from Japan’s 2011 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster — a lot more Japanese tourists vacationing in Taiwan.

from BBC Travel
A mini-guide to a mini-country with a lot going on: Singapore.

from the 
Los Angeles Times
A veteran traveler digs through the multiple cultural layers of the Malaysian city of Malacca.

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EUROPE
from The Guardian (London UK)
Berlin has some of the world’s most cutting-edge architecture, and through this self-guided walking tour, you can check out a lot of it.

from The Guardian (London UK)

The three most beautiful words in the English language when joined together: Paris…wine…free. Free wine tastings of some of France’s best bottled offerings through June.

from The Guardian (London UK)
When you’re ready to party hard, head for Spain. A rundown on where and when to go. Who needs sleep, anyway?

from Rick Steves via USA Today
New things to see and do in France and Spain for 2012.

Edited by P.A.Rice

the IBIT TRAVEL DIGEST 3.11.12

A roundup of the good, the bad and the bizarre from the world’s best travel media.

© Christina Deridder | Dreamstime.com

KENYA: GOING BEYOND BUSH AND BEACH TOURISM
I’ve been saying for awhile now that there’s a lot more to Africa than just exotic wildlife. It looks as if the folks in charge of Kenya’s tourism agree.

According to media reports out of Nairobi, the Kenya Tourism Board is abandoning its focus on beach and safaris. Now, they’re looking to diversify their approach, touting the East African nation as a destination for multiple forms of upscale travel — among them cultural tourism, eco-tourism and sports travel.

Kenya also is looking to raise its profile as a prime African location for MICE — traveltradespeak for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.

(South Africa is the Mother Continent’s current leader for MICE tourism. Looks as if Kenya wants to break off a chunk of that lucrative market for themselves.)

All this is being done with an eye toward drawing more tourism from Europe and the KTB started pushing this updated concept of Kenyan tourism at the International Travel Bourse show last weekend in Berlin.

Kenya continues to draw international visitors despite its military clashes with al Shabab militias from neighboring Somalia.

For more on this story, check out this report from theNairobi Star.

“LOVE BOAT” TO THE BONEYARD
According to USA Today, the cruise ship that served as the floating set for the TV series “The Love Boat” ‐ and may well have helped launch the modern cruise industry as we now know it — is sailing toward an inglorious end.

The vessel formerly known as the Pacific Princess, has been sold to a demolition company in Turkey, where she’ll be cut up for scrap.

Apparently, she’s been laid up at a dock in Genoa, Italy for nearly a decade.

You can read the USA Today story here.

Those old enough to remember the show also will recall how huge we thought the ship was. In reality, she only held a maximum of about 600 passengers. Today’s mega-cruisers can hold more than that on one deck.

And now, here’s this week’s Digest:

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AIR
from the New York Times
Is there any way to make airplane food taste good? The airlines are trying everything — and I do mean everything.

from the New York Times
A couple of Sea World penguins get the celebrity treatment aboard a Delta flight. Not only do penguins fly, but in this case, they flew First Class. The humans loved it. VIDEO

from USA Today
The skies haven’t been that friendly of late for babies and parents. In one instance, TSA screeners denied boarding to a nursing mother. In another, JetBlue booted an entire family off a flight after their toddler went to DEFCON-5 with her tantrum.

LAND
from the New York Times
From how to save money on whale-watching in Hawaii to why your next pair of contact lenses should come from Thailand. A roundup of tips from the recent NY Times Travel Show.

from Budget Travel
A vacation rental site adds insurance to protect vacation home renters from nasty surprises.

from Frommer’s
Buy fragile things when you travel? Here’s how to pack them to survive the trip home. SLIDESHOW

SEA
from USA Today
The Costa Allegra, the container ship-turned-cruise ship that went adrift in pirate-infested waters off the East African coast after an engine fire, has probably sailed her last cruise. Her owners, Carnival Cruise Lines, say she will be sold or scrapped.

from USA Today
Another bit of fallout from the loss of the Costa Allegra — beleaguered Costa is cancelling its Red Sea cruises this year. The ship that was to be used in the Red Sea, the Costa Voyager, is being shifted to take Allegra’s place.

from USA Today
Carnival Destiny, the first of Carnival’s mega-sized cruise ships, is going to get one of the biggest makeovers ever done on a cruiser. By the time she re-emerges, even her name will be different.

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AFRICA
from Capital FM (Kenya) via allAfrica.com
Buoyed by what is sees as an improving global economy, British Airways is adding flight between London and the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

from The Chronicle (Ghana) via allAfrica.com
Aviation officials in Ghana say their citizens are being subjected to artificially high airfares, antiquated equipment and disrespectful treatment by flight attendants aboard foreign airlines. Accra is threatening retaliation if the foreign carriers don’t “come correct.”

from This Day (Nigeria) via allAfrica.com
Four years ago, Lagos welcomed the arrival of the first yacht hotel anywhere in Africa. Four years later, the Sunborn Yacht Hotel is a floating white elephant, yet to welcome a paying guest. PICS and VIDEO

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AMERICAS/CARIBBEAN
from The Associated Press via The Grio
In New York’s Harlem, the phenomenon of gospel tourism is increasingly filling the pews of dwindling black congregations with white European tourists. It’s proving to be a mixed blessing.

from Budget Travel
How well do you know New Orleans? Test your knowledge of the NOLA with this quiz.

from the San Francisco Chronicle
Mention the Amazon and the first place you’re likely to think of is Brazil. Add Peru to that list. Especially if the prospect of exploring the Amazon via a small luxury cruise appeals to you.

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ASIA/PACIFIC
from Voice of America
One year after being rocked by a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, Japan is still trying to get tourists to come back.

from the Los Angeles Times
In Vietnam, the city of Hanoi is making a name for itself among international travelers looking for the best in Vietnamese cuisine.

from the Los Angeles Times
Another sign of growing affluence in China — a domestic wine industry.

from Your Singapore
Remember when Singapore was known for its staid, ultra-conservative lifestyle? The St. James Power Station is an old coal-fired powerplant converted into the ultimate nightlife venue — ten different bars and live music venues under one roof. (Wikipedia lists 11.) So much for staid.

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EUROPE
from TravPr.com
“Paris pour les femmes” means Paris for women. A European tour company is offering luxury tours of Paris—exclusively for women.

from The Guardian (London UK)
“Foodie” may be a dirty word these days among the travelerati, but if you’ve got a thing for both rustic Italian countryside and great Italian food, there are some places to stay in rural Italy that can satisfy both cravings.

from The Guardian (London UK)
And speaking of Italy, virtually every hotel in Venice is on an island, but this one has an island pretty much to itself, well away from the tourist mobs.

​​

the SUNDAY TRAVEL DIGEST

The good, the bad and the bizarre from the best of the world’s travel media

© Gvision | Dreamstime.com

CROCS ON A PLANE…
Next time you think airport security is getting just a little too anal-retentive, remember this story.

Back in August, a small commercial flight crashed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing 20 people. The first thought was that the aircraft had run out of fuel in mid-flight.

Not until investigators could talk to the sole survivor did they find out what really brought down the plane, however.

It was a crocodile.

Don’t wait for the punchline. There isn’t one.

Somebody had smuggled the animal in a sports bag on board the Flair Let 410, apparently intending to sell it somewhere. The creature got loose. The panicked passengers stampeded and threw the airplane, now unbalanced, into a spin that its British pilot could not control.

The plane crashed into a house.

You can read the entire story here.

Airline folks will tell you: Left to their own devices, there is virtually nothing passengers won’t try to bring on a plane with them — and not just in Africa. Never mind fitting under your seat or in the overhead bin. If it fits through the door, they don’t see a problem.

Virtually anyone who’s ever worked a boarding gate longer than six months can tell you stories straight out of the Twilight Zone.

Now, you know why the powers that be at the airport can seem a little unreasonable when it comes to what you can bring aboard an airplane — and why pilots want you stay in your seat until the plane has come to a safe stop back on the ground.

…AND A CROCK AT THE GATE
Bad news if you’re flying out of Los Angeles International Airport these days: They’re cracking down on carry-ons.

Remember those ridiculously small guides that your carry-on is supposed to fit in before they let you on the plane with it? You know, the ones that both you and the airlines themselves routinely ignore? Well, the word from Johnny Jet is that the gate agents are not ignoring them anymore. If it doesn’t fit, you’ll have to check it — and pay for it.

And no, they don’t care if they let you on the plane with it the last 15 times. That was then, this is now.

Consider yourself warned.

And now, here’s this week’s Digest:

from the New York Times
“Traveling While Fat.” It can be a challenge — and not just fitting into these new and painfully narrow airline seats in Coach. The NYT’s Rob Goldstone leads you through the ins and outs.

from Travel+Leisure via Yahoo! Travel
Where in the world are the views to die for? The T+L crew has their list of 10 favorites, including one in Arizona that literally might be impossible to top.

AFRICA
from USA Today
Ethiopia is raising its global profile as a tourist destination, including its own airline with a reputation as one of the best in the developing world. And starting next year, if you’re a frequent flier on one of the 30 Star Alliance airlines, you may be able to use your miles to get there.

from Trondheim Travel Guide
My Norwegian friend gives you her take on good places to stay in Capetown, South Africa.

AMERICAS
from Karikuy
Welcome to the jungle. Peru’s got fun and games. And monkeys. And two different shades of crocodiles.

ASIA/PACIFIC
from Luxury Travel
Livin’ large in Tuscany, a region that seems to have been custom made for livin’ large.

from the New York Times
In London, they’re turning unused space under railway arches into trendy shopping stops.

the SUNDAY TRAVEL DIGEST

The good, the bad and the bizarre from the world of travel

London is calling me. Paris wants me to hang up.
There’s a kind of sibling rivalry going on here for possession of my soul: London v. Paris. My problem: I miss them both.

Terribly.

It’s hard to explain. Lots of people have written ad nauseum down through the centuries about the attractions of London and Paris. You could blow up several calculators trying to list all the things that make each of them one of the world’s great cities — and still not resolve anything.

That’s where my head is right now.

London comes at you with a vibe, with a pace, an energy, like the tall young athlete with the princely bearing in the tailored suit, or the sleek young thing in the perfectly proportioned minidress. They both look like they just stepped off a movie set. Even if you wanted to look away, you couldn’t.

Paris comes back with a kind of understated elegance and grace, with…something. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you can’t quite get away from it, either. If you told me the French expression “je ne sais quoi” was coined in Paris, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

Only one thing to do. Continue in-depth evaulations…of both places!

And now, here’s today’s Digest:
from Smarter Travel
Are you tired, or even tortured, in Coach? Wish you could find your way into the Business or even First Class cabin? The ST folks tell you the best ways to score an upgrade — and not just on flights.

from USA Today
Some Italian aviation interior designer thinks that cramming Coach passengers into an unpowered mechanical bull disguised as an airline seat is a good thing. I will boycott any airline that foists these abusive devices on the flying public.

AFRICA
from The Guardian (London, UK)
Henning Mankell, the Swedish crime writer of the Wallander detective mysteries made globally popular by the BBC, has fallen in love with Mozambique, one of several African nations of great natural wonder and historic political trauma that are now on the comeback. He wants you to see this beautiful, innocent land — while it’s still innocent.

AMERICAS
from the New York Times
The comeback of Colombia as a non-scary tourist destination continues. The latest evidence is in the Caribbean beach town of Santa Marta.

from the New York Times
There’s more to Peru than Machu Picchu. If you’ve got an idea for handicrafts from great national artisans, the national capital, Lima, has some shops you’ll want to see.

ASIA/PACIFIC
from The Guardian (London, UK)
Simon Gandolfi is touring the subcontinent of India, all of it, by motorcycle. Simon Gandolfi is 77 years old Simon Gandolfi is my hero.

EUROPE
from the Los Angeles Times
In Denmark, a new generation of young-lion chefs is putting some new spins on tradition Nordic dishes. Result: Copenhagen is starting to turn up on foodies’ radar.

OUT THERE: A global family

One of an occasional series introducing black travelers and their Web sites

A black Canadian couple is preparing to take their two sons, 6 and 8, on the adventure of a lifetime — a year-long trip around the world.

When Toronto native Heather Greenwood Davis was a child, her Jamaican-born parents used to pack up her and her two brothers for annual family treks across North America.

“They wanted us to see all of Canada,” she says. “They took us to other (Canadian) provinces, road trips to the United States.”

Now with two boys of her own, Davis and her husband, Ishmael, are preparing to take their sons — Cameron, 6, and Ethan, 8 — on the mother of all road trips.

They’ve already been to Machu Picchu in Peru, as you can see here. But starting some time in July 2011, the family is going to spend a year traveling around the world, a journey that has them feeling like trailblazers of sorts.

“I’ve yet to find a black family doing this, or who have done it,” she says. “The families I’ve found online (who have made round-the-world trips), most of them take kids who are older.”

Parents who find even taking little ones to the mall to be a form of chaos theory may wonder why Davis would want to take boys that small around the globe.

For one thing, these two working parents (her husband is a government health inspector) want to break off a chunk of time in their lives they can spend with their young sons 24/7. And there’s another reason.

“I want the kids to have something I got only late in life,” she says. “I want them to know that the world is not that big a place, that things in the East affect the West. I want them to think of the world as their neighborhood.”

Their itinerary, still in the planning stages, is pretty ambitious:

“We’re going to start out through eastern Canada, then head over to Europe, where we’ll do a couple of months. We’re hoping to pop up to St. Petersburg (Russia). After that, we’ll be in Japan and Thailand for a couple of months.”

China, Australia and India are on the itinerary, as well, then back over to Africa for two to three months, she says.

“The remaining time, we’ll be in South America, then Central America and up to the western U.S., and then head home.”

The plan is to stay in vacation rentals or apartments whenever they can instead of hotels. Rather than staying in tourist centers, they want to get the real flavor of the places they visit.

“I want the kids to get a sense of what kids do in that neighborhood,” Davis says.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, they still have a few kinks to work out of that itinerary, in part because they plan to spend months in some places instead of just days.

“It’s hard to be jumping around with the kids,” she says. “We wanted them to have sort of a base to work from.”

Fine-tuning that itinerary means reluctantly crossing some cherished destinations off the list.

“It’s hard to say I won’t go to Spain this time, which I just can’t imagine. A trip around the world, unless you have infinite time and resources, will always leave things out.”

A former lawyer who switched careers to travel writing eight years ago, Davis plans to treat this as a working trip, writing and blogging about the family experiences as they move from one continent to another. That, combined with savings, is how they’re financing their journey.

“It’ll be a trip,” she says. “It won’t necessarily be a vacation. The kids know what that’s like.”

Her own first big trip came in 2001, when she visited South Africa.

“I went with a group of writers,” she recalls. “At every moment, I wanted to share a moment on that trip with someone who mattered to me. I remember standing there and thinking, `I’m never coming back here without my husband and (my) children.’ ”

Images by H.G. Davis. All rights reserved.