Travel News: Expats Step Up

The Best Bathroom In The United States Is In An Airport

Minneapolis St. Paul’s airport was just crowned the winner of America’s Best Restroom. Out of every single, possible restroom in the country, the bathroom at Minneapolis St. Paul airport is the best place to be when nature calls. The annual contest, sponsored by Cintas Corporation, ranks bathrooms around the nation based on “cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality and unique design elements.” Minneapolis St. Paul recently began renovating their restrooms, a process that will continue until 2025. The renovation spreads across 100 sets of public bathrooms. The newly-renovated bathrooms include a screen displaying flight information, mosaic murals created by local artists and automatic doors to provide a completely touch-free experience. “The restroom is often the first place visited on arrival and the last stop for departing passengers, leaving a lingering impression of their destination,” Alan Howell, the senior airport architect at the Metropolitan Airports Commission, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be honored with this award for our efforts to improve the aesthetics of our restrooms and make the customer experience memorable.” The title comes with a $2,500 prize that will allow Minneapolis St. Paul airport to keep their facilities stocked with cleaning chemicals or wet mops. Midwest bathrooms are apparently strong contenders. The other top finalists for the award include Coca Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania; Leña Brava restaurant in Chicago, The Novel Neighbor bookstore in St. Louis, Safe House restaurant in Milwaukee and Swift & Sons restaurant in Chicago. You can read the full article at:

http://www.travelandleisure.com/airlines-airports/minneapolis-airport-bathroom?xid=NL_JustIn120416

When Americans Land In Trouble Abroad, These Expats Step In

The Washington Post has an interesting article on some expats abroad. It tells us about Dan, an American who has lived in Cartagena, Colombia, and his wife Berit. They boarded a HAL ship scheduled to leave for Fort Lauderdale after receiving an urgent call at home. Once aboard the vessel, Dan approached an American stretched out on a hospital bed surrounded by the ship’s doctors and nurses. The woman was pale and struggling to breathe; an oxygen mask covered her face. Her sister-in-law waited by the gangplank, filled with worry and concern. Dan accompanied Sue Wright in the ambulance, a bumpy ride along cobblestone roads. Berit loaded Rosemary Cox and 16 days’ worth of luggage into a car. By the time they reached the hospital, the cruise ship had sailed off. But the Wicks, strangers at first, advocates to the very end, stuck by the pair until they were well enough to return home a week later. “It’s a sudden shock for people to find themselves in a foreign country, not speaking the language, not expecting to be disembarked from an enjoyable cruise and having a serious medical condition,” said Dan, a Californian who moved with his wife and daughter to Colombia in 2003. “We are here for them, to be a familiar North American face, helping with logistics, language and arranging to get them back home.” The expats act as wardens on behalf of the U.S. State Department. Their voluntary role in the consular services program is specific in mission (help your fellow Americans) and broad in services (do whatever you can to achieve Goal A). “I am often called upon to assist U.S. citizen travelers who encounter difficult and often confusing situations that require immediate assistance, from stolen passports and money, incarceration for breaking foreign laws, political unrest, falling ill and even personal conflicts resulting in physical assault,” John Mackey, a four-year warden in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, wrote by email. The program originated during the 1930s, when embassies relied on volunteers to disseminate critical information to citizens living abroad. The name derives from World War II air raid wardens who patrolled territories in the United Kingdom and United States. The service resembled a phone tree: Participants would knock on doors and ring up landlines to deliver messages ranging from administrative updates (absentee voting, Social Security benefits) to code-red warnings (evacuation meeting points, natural-disaster shelters). These days, most of the 276 overseas missions can dispatch information electronically. Technological innovations have freed up the wardens to focus more on American tourists whose trips have taken an unpredictable turn down an unimaginable road. Read the full article at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/these-state-department-volunteers-step-in-when-americans-land-in-trouble-abroad/2016/12/01/99c2d66a-a5e3-11e6-ba59-a7d93165c6d4_story.html?tm_term=.caba465a026c&wpisrc=nl_travel&wpmm=1

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Maui To Launch Permit System For Haleakala Sunrise Viewing

The creation myth of the Hawaiian island of Maui talks about a demi-god named Maui who lassos the sun from atop Mount Haleakala. Many visitors to the island try to do the same, waking up in the middle of the night and driving to the apex of Haleakala National Park to see the ball of fire in the sky as it crests the horizon to start the day. In recent years, however, madding crowds and parking dramas have created huge problems at the summit. Last week, the National Park Service responded by announcing a reservation system for sunrise viewing. The new system requires permits for all vehicles parked in the summit lots between the hours of 3 to 7 a.m. local time. The rules go into effect February 1, 2017. Park representatives said the online reservation system is being implemented to ensure visitor and employee safety, protect natural and cultural resources, and provide a quality visitor experience at the summit. Park spokesperson Polly Angelakis said the reservation system is an emergency interim measure until park officials can determine a long-term solution. “That longer-term process will begin in 2017,” she wrote. According to the park website, the new Haleakala reservation system was live on December 1 and will cost $1.50 per car. (This is in addition to the entrance fee of $20 per car, which visitors pay upon arrival; the daily pass is good for three days.) Between now and February 1, 2017, all of the 150 spaces in four sunrise-viewing parking lots will be available without advanced reservations on a first-come, first-served basis. After February 1, however, reservations will be required and will be sold only online, at Recreation.gov, up to 60 days in advance. Visitors with reservations must show receipts and photo IDs in order to enter the summit between 3 and 7 a.m. For this reason, Angelakis noted, reservations are not transferable. Due to limited parking, visitors without a sunrise-viewing reservation will have to wait until after 7 a.m. to enter the park. There are no refunds due to inclement weather or change of plans and that vehicles parked without a permit between the hours of 3 and 7 a.m. will be ticketed. All fees, including entrance fees, are waived for Native Hawaiians who wish to conduct traditional cultural practices at sunrise or any other time of day. This provision originally was protected under the American IndianReligious Freedom Act.

Longest Train Tunnel In The World Opens On December 11

It’s longer, and deeper, than any other train tunnel in the world. Sunday sees the entering into service of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. This pioneering project will enable passengers to speed under the Alps in some 17 minutes. The dual-track tunnel will bring northern and southern Switzerland closer together, and cut travel time between neighbouring countries. It will permit passengers from near and far to spend more time at their destination, discovering the many delights of Switzerland north and south of the Alps. Switzerland already possesses the densest public transport network on the planet. And over the years it has increased its impressive lead over other nations. June 2016 saw the festive inauguration of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, a 17-year pioneering project which extends for 57 kilometres down to a maximum depth of 2300 metres under the Gotthard massif. The Swiss Federal Railways have now finished subjecting the tunnel to exhaustive safety and technical tests. On Sunday, the day on which Switzerland’s public transport network changes its annual timetable nationwide, – the Gotthard Base Tunnel will enter into scheduled service.

Delta Tests Free Meals In Coach
Bloomberg reports Delta Air Lines Inc. passengers flying coach between New York City and California may get a treat rarely seen on US flights since 2010: free meals. The airline is testing the complimentary food on flights between New York’s JFK and Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are some of the industry’s most competitive and most profitable routes. The Atlanta-based company will decide on a plan after evaluating the results, spokeswoman Catherine Sirna said in an e-mail Wednesday. She didn’t clarify if the meals are hot or cold. Airlines have been adding back some perks coach passengers used to expect in decades past. Continental Airlines was the last US carrier to serve free meals in the main cabin, stopping six years ago. With fierce competition for lucrative transcontinental and international travelers, Delta and American earlier this year restored complimentary meals in coach on their longest routes to Hawaii. Those carriers already had free meals on long-haul international routes. Coach travelers on short-distance US routes are unlikely to see free meals.

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Hadrian’s Wall announces new wall-wide Roman cavalry exhibition

Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site is to host a major new exhibition in 2017 celebrating the cavalry regiments that once guarded this famous North West frontier of the mighty Roman Empire. Taking place from Saturday 8 April to Sunday 10 September 2017, Hadrian’s Cavalry explores the role and daily life of the Roman army’s cavalry forces in a unique wall-wide exhibition that stretches the full 150 miles of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site area, from Maryport in the west to South Shields in the east. The exhibition will bring together a unique group of Roman cavalry objects including ornate helmets, armour and weapons on loan from national and international museums, which will be shown alongside objects from museums across the Wall. The national and international museums include the British Museum, National Museums Scotland, the Musee d’Art Classique de Mougins (France), Archäologisches Landesmuseum Baden-Württemberg / Limes Museum, Aalen, the Archaeological State Collection, Munich and the Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart. The new exhibition also features one of the largest Roman Cavalry re-enactments ever seen in the UK. In addition to the wall-wide exhibition, Bitts Park in Carlisle will host two days of Roman cavalry re-enactments on 1 and 2 July. 30 Roman cavalrymen – a turma or troop – will come together for the first time in almost 2,000 years. Highlights of Hadrian’s Cavalry include the exhibition at Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum in North Tyneside, where the recruitment, training and tactics of the cavalry will be explored. An interactive zone, including the chance to dress a Roman cavalry horse, will uncover more of the day-to-day life of the regiment.

Earthquakes And Tsunami Alerts From California To Solomon Islands, Vanuatu And New Caledonia
A busy day with earthquakes in the Pacific Thursday morning. Solomon Islands was hit by a major one, Hawaii Tsunami Watch issued and cancelled and it all started with a major quake close to Northern California. Initially measured as an 8.0 and later downgraded to 7.7 strong earthquake, the Solomon Island was hit Thursday morning. The Earthquake triggered immediate Tsunami Warnings for the region and a tsunami watch was extended also to the US State of Hawaii and the extended Hawaiian Islands.

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