Category Archives: Middle East

Travel News: Egyptian Mummies, King Tut, & Venice’s New Tourist Tax

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Egypt Unveils Ancient Burial Site, Home To 50 Mummies 

Reuters UK reports Egyptian archaeologists uncovered a tomb containing 50 mummies dating back to the Ptolemaic era, in Minya, south of Cairo, the Ministry of Antiquities said on Saturday. The mummies, 12 of which were of children, were discovered inside four, nine-meter deep burial chambers in the Tuna El-Gebel archaeological site. The identities of the mummies were still unknown, said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. “We have not found names written in hieroglyphics,” he said, adding it was obvious from the mummification method that the individuals whose remains were found had to some extent held important or prestigious positions. Visitors, including ambassadors from several countries, gathered at the discovery site where 40 of the mummies were exhibited during the announcement ceremony. Some of the mummies were found wrapped in linen while others were placed in stone coffins or wooden sarcophagi. The archaeological finding was the first of 2019 and was unearthed through a joint mission with the Research Centre for Archaeological Studies of Minya University.

Premium Bus Lines Emerge, Challenging Airlines 

Forbes reports the bus is back. The amenities that have vanished from airlines in recent years, swift departures, comfortable seats, fine dining’ are appearing on premium bus lines sprouting across the US, some staffed by attendants and equipped with leather chairs, wide video screens and tables for work or dining. The bus lines are competing with airlines in important corridors like D.C. to New York and Los Angeles to San Francisco. The largest carrier, Vonlane in Texas, refers to its service as “a private jet on wheels.” Premium buses may also draw riders from Amtrak, but airlines stand to lose the most, according to Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. “Let’s face it, most frequent flyers, even those flying business class, have grown weary of spending time in airports,” Schwieterman said. “Being able to step out of an Uber or cab and immediately climb aboard a custom-designed motor coach can feel like a godsend, even if the trip takes longer.” The Chaddick Institute has released a 2019 outlook report on the intercity bus industry, highlighting premium bus services as a prominent development. There are now 17 premium bus operators in the US. Four launched in 2018, and the report predicts more in the future. “These services are attracting new demographic and socioeconomic segments to motor-coach travel, including travelers otherwise likely to fly,” the report states.

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King Tut Revealed: Iconic Tomb Reopens After Decade Of Restorations

Travelwirenews reports visitors have poured to the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in Egypt after conservationists completed decade-long renovations, cleaning up the dust-covered walls of the burial and erecting a viewing platform. The mummified body of the 18th Dynasty pharaoh, wrapped in fresh linen sheets, has been put on full display in the special oxygen-free glass case. Photos of the face and feet of the pharaoh, who ascended to the throne at the tender age of nine or ten and reigned for only nine years, have been released following a thorough clean-up and restoration works at what has become one the world’s most renowned tourist attraction sites. Although the centuries that passed since the pharaoh’s death did their work on the mummy, his face has been almost fully preserved and none of the toes are missing. The 3,000-year-old tomb, discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter almost a century ago in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, has become the symbol of the ancient kingdom, luring crowds of tourists from all over the world. The incessant flow of visitors took a heavy toll on the burial chamber, changing its inner atmosphere and endangering the artifacts. Apart from physical damage such as scratches from filming equipment and lost items, it has suffered from dust, humidity and carbon dioxide. Conservationists have cleaned up the murals depicting the scenes from the pharaoh’s life and fitted an air filtration and ventilation system into the tomb. The work by Getty Conservation Institute and Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities started in 2009 and was underway for 10 years, save from a brief halt due to the political unrest in 2011. During the restoration, the conservationists paid special attention to mysterious brown spots on the walls of tomb feared to be toxic mold potentially dangerous to humans. However, the scientists determined that while the spots were of microbiological origin, the bacteria, whatever it was, have long since died and present no danger.

American And United Boost Onboard Entertainment Options

American Airlines announced that travelers can now stream Apple Music at no charge. United announced that it is eliminating charges for DIRECTV, a live TV service available on more than 200 Boeing 737 aircraft. Previously, the airline charged $5.99 to access live TV on flights shorter than two hours, and $7.99 on longer flights. Competitors American, JetBlue, Southwest and Delta already offer live TV on flights for no charge. On American flights, travelers who subscribe to Apple Music will now be able to stream more than 50 million songs onboard at no charge, Digital Journal reports. American is the first airline to offer free streaming of Apple Music. Airline officials said the new service, like the airline’s investment in high-speed wifi and live TV, is part of an effort to give travelers more entertainment and productivity options.

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Ushuaia Makes Room For More Cruise Ships

Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Patagonia, has gained more docking space for small and medium-size ships as Argentina acts to accommodate the growth of Antarctica expeditions and cruises around South America. Seatrade reports the removal of an idle floating drydock opened more berthing space for cruise ships. This was possible thanks to the removal of an Argentine navy floating drydock that sat unused for approximately 20 years. The governor of Tierra del Fuego requested the change, which required the involvement of several areas of the national government. The Ministry of Transport entrusted the project to Gonzalo Mórtola, comptroller of the General Ports Administration. Mórtola collaborated with the navy and the prefecture to obtain authorization and move forward with landside improvements financed by the Provincial Directorate of Ports of Tierra del Fuego. Once repaired, the dock will be used by the navy to service boats that patrol and protect southern Argentina. Thanks to the investments in infrastructure and the low rates implemented by the national government to boost the cruise industry in the region, this season Ushuaia is receiving 36 cruise calls, many of them maiden visits, and a 16% increase in cruise passengers from last year. In addition, the large ships Celebrity Eclipse and Royal Princess were able to dock without problems thanks to the dredging carried out by the province with the collaboration of the Port Buenos Aires. Also, fuel costs were decreased, leading to more bunkering in Argentine ports instead of in Chile. ‘It is important to continue moving forward with the necessary infrastructure works so that more and more cruise ships visit us,’ Mórtola said. ‘This promotes tourism, generates work and allows more and more people to know the attractions of our country.’

Dangerous Air Quality In Bangkok

Travelwirenews reports Bangkok is the world’s most-visited city and relies on tourism for economic growth. The travel and tourism industry in Thailand is concerned, and some visitors are canceling trips or leaving the City of Angeles early. The reason is haze and poor air quality. The Air Quality in Delhi, India is a dangerous 342, while Bangkok is in a state of panic over an unhealthy 170 reading. For Indians, it’s a routine situation, for visitors and locals in Bangkok it means a run on an air purifier, that is now often out of stock. Bangkok is the world’s most-visited city and relies on tourism for economic growth. The travel and tourism industry in Thailand is concerned, and some visitors are canceling trips or leaving the City of Angeles early. The reason is haze and poor air quality. Residents fear a long battle lies ahead to keep the toxic smog at bay, signaling growing opportunities for purifier makers such as Sharp or mask manufacturer 3M in the city of roughly 10 million people. More than 2 million people are tracking Bangkok on the IQAir AirVisual app, compared with about 80,000 for the Indian capital. A rattled Thai military government is stepping up oversight of the worst polluters, such as factories. Weather patterns, vehicle fumes, construction dust and the burning of both trash and crops have also been blamed for the haze. While some businesses may benefit from demand for products that fight smog, the metropolis as a whole is at risk of being the big loser, because of tourism.

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Venice Tourist Tax To Be Introduced In May

The Telegraph reports a tourist tax that Venice will introduce in May has been criticized by the country’s tourism minister as “useless and damaging”. Plans to charge tourists €3 (£2.60) from May 1, with the amount rising to a maximum of €10 within three years, were announced on Monday by Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice.  “The city will remain open to all,” he said. Venetians will be exempt from the tax, as will Italians who commute to work there from the mainland, and children under the age of six. Revenue from the tourist tax will be used to offset the high charges that Venetians pay for services such as rubbish collection, which is more expensive because of the city’s unique geography. Handcarts are used in the narrowest alleyways and refuse has to be taken away on special barges. The tax will apply to tourists who arrive by cruise ship, in water taxis and by plane or train. The cost will be incorporated into their tickets, although the logistical details are still to be worked out. The 50,000 inhabitants of the city endure great inconvenience and the costs of maintaining Venice are exceptional.

 

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Travel News: Owner of Famed French Hotel may have left it to the Dogs

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Owner Of Famed French Hotel May Have Left It To The Dogs

Uncertainty surrounds the future of one of the most famous grand hotels in Europe after the property’s flamboyant owner and chief executive died at the age of 95 without an heir, amid speculation that she may have left her hotel to animals. Jeanne Augier personally ran the striking pink-domed Negresco Hotel, in the French Riviera city of Nice, for more than 60 years after inheriting it from her father in 1957. She died this week in her 96th year and legal disputes are reportedly already underway about what will happen to the hotel. In 2009, it was reported that Augier planned to leave the hotel and its profits to a new foundation devoted to animals and the poor. A great lover of dogs, she championed both causes, and she was determined to keep the hotel out of the clutches of international hotel chains. Whether dogs will inherit her hotel has not yet been determined. The Negresco opened in 1913 in Nice and quickly became a favorite with European royalty. It has more than 140 rooms, each with its own unique furnishings and French art “collection pieces.” The property has always been open to pets and guests are encouraged to bring them along. Augier famously told Microsoft founder Bill Gates that he was not rich enough to buy her fabulous hotel. In an interview with French newspaper Liberation in 2009, she said: “I must have a hundred offers a year to buy the Negresco. It’s out of the question.”

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Courtesy of Le Negresco

United Airlines Replaces Delta As World’s Second-Largest Carrier

Travelmole reports United Airlines has reclaimed the world’s number-two spot for passenger traffic. It edged in front of Delta thanks to mostly domestic expansion with capacity increases at hubs like Chicago, Houston and Denver. Capacity has been increasing by up to 6%. United recorded 230.2 billion revenue passenger miles last year, ahead of Delta’s 225.2 billion. Delta overtook United as the second largest airline in 2015. United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said: “Our goal is not to be the biggest. We want to be the best and as we implement our strategy, we are looking to build on this momentum in 2019.” Following a couple of years in the doldrums after several high profile missteps, United’s share price has rebounded. While other major US airline stock values have contracted, United saw a 24% bump last year. American Airlines hasn’t released its full-year traffic results yet but is expected to remain the world’s largest airline.

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New Zealand Tourism App Adds Enhanced Reality

An “augmented reality” (AR) app is giving New Zealand visitors the chance to experience a once-famous geological formation that disappeared over 130 years ago. The Pink and White Terraces were once known as the “eighth wonder of the world” and were obliterated by the Mount Tarawera eruption in 1886. They were located 20 km from Rotorua on the North Island of New Zealand. In the 19th century, intrepid tourists traveled from around the world to visit the terraces, which became the most famous tourist attraction in the country. Visitors would gather on the terrace shores to experience the natural spa and health benefits that continue to be a feature in the Rotorua region. The popularity of the terraces signaled the start of organized tourism in New Zealand. Old reference photos and paintings, plus work by early explorers and scientists, have been used to recreate the terraces in augmented reality. The terraces have been brought to life again with a specially developed app launched as an eco-tourism experience. Visitors can download the free app and experience the recreated terraces on daily cruises across Lake Rotomahana to the place where the terraces once were. Users need only hold up their device to explore the site and discover its hidden secrets. The Pink and White Terraces were formed over thousands of years, as silica-rich water emerging from springs and boiling geysers crystallized into giant tiered staircases. The White Terrace covered more than three hectares while the smaller Pink Terrace was used for bathing on the lower levels.

Hawaii Issues Warning Of High Bacterial Levels At Several Beaches

HawaiiNewsNow reports high bacterial levels were detected Wednesday at several beaches across Oahu, and have even prompted the closure of a popular spot. The state Department of Health Clean Water Branch said inspectors found elevated levels of enterococci at the following beaches: Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Ala Moana Regional Park, and two sites at Queen’s Beach in Waikiki. The normal level for enterococci doesn’t surpass 130% per 100 mL. DOH officials issue alerts when levels exceed 130. Due to the elevated levels, a city spokesperson said Hanauma Bay would be closed Thursday. The upper viewing area, parking lot, and visitor center will remain open. Officials say swimming in waters with elevated bacteria counts could make you sick. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable. The most common symptoms associated with swimming in affected waters include nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache or fever. Other minor illnesses include ear, eye, nose and throat infections. But the warning wasn’t enough to keep many beachgoers out of the water here in Waikiki. “The water was nice and clean from what I could see,” said Canadian visitor John Jonker. “We didn’t see any problem in the water at all, and we never noticed anything on the shore either. Everything is nice and clean.” The advisories will remain in effect for the beaches until levels return to normal. In addition, a Brown Water Advisory has been issued for Punaluu Beach Park in Windward O’ahu.

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Turkey Has Introduced A Passenger Security Tax

Travelwirenwews reports Turkey has introduced an airline passenger security tax of 1,5€ applicable as from 1 January 2018 without any advance notification. In addition, the Turkish Tourism Minister is considering changes to the tourism strategy and marketing activities. He wants to cut the state-financed budget for tour operators promoting Turkish destinations and plans a more centralized approach focusing on high-end products.

This App Will Deliver Food Right To Your Boarding Gate

Airwise reports most people-and certainly most underrated comedy writers-agree that airline food is bad. Luckily a food delivery app wants to make sure that you never fly hungry again and won’t be tempted to eat whatever it is the airlines are serving. AtYourGate is a food delivery service that will bring you food while you loom around the boarding gate, even though you’re sitting in Row 44. The delivery team doesn’t have to bring your loaded baked potato through security, though, because for better or worse, the app only lets users choose from options within the airport. To use it, just download the app, browse the options, make your selection, and they will run it over to you, usually within 20-30 minutes. AtYourGate has just announced it is landing in the New York area, making it easier for passengers flying through Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, and Terminal 7 of John F. Kennedy International to decide whether it’s worth paying someone to bring them an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. (New York and New Jersey airport travelers who download the app qualify for free delivery on their first purchase by entering the promotion code AYGFREE. There is no minimum order requirement.) The app is still pretty new, with only New York City, San Diego, and Minneapolis St. Paul airports on board, but if it rolls out nationwide, those traveling through Portland International Airport (hello, Country Cat) or O’Hare (where Rick Bayless has a torta restaurant) may never eat airplane food again.

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Filed under Europe, France, Hawaii, Turkey

Discovery of King Tut with Viking Cruises & WIT

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Text by WIT Agent Lindsay Nichols

On December 15th and 16th, Viking River Cruises and Willamette International Travel sponsored clients’ entry to “The Discovery of King Tut”, an exhibit displayed at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) with replicas of hundreds of items found in his tomb since the early 20th century. It began with a brief introduction of how King Tut’s tomb became discovered and had life size displays of a few of the rooms and how they were originally found. After an overview, there were replicas from each of the rooms in his tomb, each of which were so detailed it felt like you were seeing the originals!

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Photo by Cristabel Nichols

Below are three of the shrines that surrounded King Tut’s coffin, they were enclosed in each other just like Russian nesting dolls, leaving very little space between each shrine.

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Photo by Hannah Bown

Each of the shrines that encased King Tut’s body along with golden coffins were show in life size and made you wonder, “How did they do that?!”

The following photo shows King Tut’s gold coffins, which were laid inside each other, like a set of Russian nesting dolls.

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Photo by Kimberly Bown

A wonderful addition to the visual displays are the guided recordings provided to each guest, really bringing the entire story to life. If you plan on attending, a suggestion would be to bring a pair of headphones to plug into the guided recording device, this way you do not have to hold the device to your ear the entire time. There were a lot of details that I was unaware of, such as the unknowing of how he died or the discrepancy of whether he was murdered or died from health reasons.

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Replica throne, photo by Kimberly Bown

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Chariot replica found in King Tut’s tomb. Photo by Hannah Bown

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Engravings on shrines. Photo by Colleen Hoyt

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Anubis, protector of the gates to the Underworld. Photo by Colleen Hoyt

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King Tut’s golden mask that he was buried in. Photo by Hannah Bown

 

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Photo by Lindsay Nichols

This photograph shows the exact placement of items found in King Tut’s tomb. It was meticulously mapped by Howard Carter’s team which was a first for the time. 

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8 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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8 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

We have a bunch of New UNESCO Heritage Sites on the list, to add to our ever-growing bucket list!

All of these cultural and natural landmarks are recognized for their outstanding value to humanity. Discover which wonders made the list this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a handful of our favorites. Learn more about other sites on the UNESCO official webpage

What are some of YOUR favorite UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

Let us know in the comments!

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1. Naumburg Cathedral, Germany

Built in the 11th century, this gorgeous cathedral is remarkable from a distance for its stain glass windows and soaring Gothic arches. Its real claim to fame, however, is the medieval art inside—including 12 life-sized statues of the cathedral’s founders. The Naumburg Masters was a workshop of sculptors and stonemasons in the 13th century who dedicated their work of realistic sculptures to the cathedral and all over France, Middle Rhine area and boundaries of the German Empire. This is a destination for history buffs — the cathedral and the region around it has a high density of authentic monuments and structures dating back to the High Middle Ages.

2. Chiribiquete National Park, Colombia

Ever-surprising Colombia takes next place with this national park, sometimes called the Maloca (“Amazonian long house”) of the Jaguar. As Colombia’s largest protected site, it protects 10,810 square miles and over 3,000 species of animals and plants. High on the sandstone plateaux, over 75,000 rock paintings have been found. Nature lovers will surely love this one.

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3. Ivrea, Italy

This small Piedmont town near Turin is famous for its 20th century industrial boom in typewriters and computers. Stunning Ivrea is also a remarkably beautiful village, resting on the Dora Baltea river, and, at the time of writing, still off the usual tourists’ map.

4. Caliphate City of Medina Azahara, Spain

The Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus is highlighted all across southern Spain, especially Alhambra. Added to the list of must-sees this year is the Medina Azahara. These ruins, 1.5 hours from Seville, were built between 940 and 975 c.e. and once held the seat of the Caliphate of Cordoba.

5. Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, South Africa

The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains are so ancient, with volcanic and sedimentary rocks dating back over 3 billion years. More adventurous travelers will have quite the holiday hiking and biking around the town of Barberton and the nature reserve.

6. The Border of Hedeby and the Danevirke, Germany

Once a Viking trading post, this cultural landscape now consists of the ruins of a 33-km-long fortification–the Danevirke–as well as the archaeological site of the trading town Hedeby. Hedeby rose in power on the major trade routes between the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia, as well as between the Baltic and North Seas.

7. Göbekli Tepe, Turkey

This mysterious archaeological site in southeastern Turkey is the oldest known example of hunter-gatherer settlers in the world. It houses the world’s oldest known megaliths, with around 200 pillars in about 20 circles, and may have the world’s oldest temple as well. Göbekli Tepe dates back to around 9600 and 8200 b.c.e., and is a fascinating glimpse into ancient Mesopotamian culture.

8. Hidden Christian Sites, Japan

Kyushu Island keeps many historical secrets, but its historic Christian community that draws the eye of UNESCO—with 10 villages, Hara castle and cathedral that were built between 16th-19th centuries, despite a ban of all outsiders during the Tokugawa Shogunate. Along with these Christian remnants, visitors can explore active volcanoes, bubbling hot springs and marvelous waterfalls.

What UNESCO World Heritage Sites are you looking forward to seeing in 2018?

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Filed under Asia, Colombia, Europe, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Turkey

Travel News This Week: Kilauea Updates

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Passengers Stuck In Shrunken Lavatories On American Airlines

The London Times reports executives face suggestions that they have gone too far in their attempt to keep hold of customers. Some passengers, in fact, were said to be struggling to extricate themselves from the loos. Flight attendants complained that the sinks were so small they could wash only one hand at a time. In the fierce fight to offer cheap flights to more of the traveling public, American Airlines has trimmed the space between rows and shrunk its lavatory cubicles to pack in more seats. Complaints that the cubicles were trapping unsuspecting travelers were first raised by Zach Honig, an editor for the website The Points Guy, who crammed into one of the airline’s new Boeing 737 MAX planes for a flight from New York to Miami.

Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano: What travelers to the Big Island need to know

  1. Yes, it’s still safe and there are many things to do, from friendly manta rays to snorkeling in Kailua-Kona… Read the full list at Hawaii Magazine.

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Honolulu’s USS Arizona Memorial is closed indefinitely 

Built in 1962 to honor the 1,177 sailors and marines who died aboard the USS Arizona during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Memorial has closed until further notice. Concerns began when a transportation operator reported cracks on the exterior. The Memorial hosts 4-5,000 visitors daily. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center remains open for business, where the guests can watch the documentary film and take a harbor tour of Battleship Row near the USS Arizona Memorial. Bookstores, gift shops, Pearl Harbor museums, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum are still open. 

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NOAA’s Predictions For 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season

What will the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season bring? That’s the question everyone’s asking after last year saw 17 named storms. Ten of those storms became hurricanes, including six major hurricanes, making 2017 the seventh-most active season since 1851, based on the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a near- or above-normal Atlantic hurricane season for 2018. It has determined a 70% likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of at least 35 mph) of which five to nine could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including one to four major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher). Last year, the NOAA predicted an above-normal season with a likelihood of up to 17 named storms. “With the advances made in hardware and computing over the course of the last year, the ability of NOAA scientists to both predict the path of storms and warn Americans who may find themselves in harm’s way is unprecedented,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said according to the NOAA’s prediction. “The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts.”

Emerald Waterways To Offer Nile River Cruise Sailings In 2019 and 2020

Emerald Waterways will begin Nile River cruises in February 2019, offering two different itineraries. The line has two cruise tour options planned, with seven sailings in 2019 and eight in 2020. The 10-night Egypt and Nile cruise tour spends five nights on MS Hamees, a chartered 142-passenger ship owned by Movenpick, as well as four nights in Cairo. The 15-night Egypt and Nile River cruise tour adds time in Jordan, with visits to Amman, Petra and the Dead Sea. The tours encompass the major sights of Egypt, including the Pyramids of Giza, Luxor’s Valley of the Kings and temples on the west bank, Abu Simbel and Aswan. The ship, which has been newly refurbished, has a main restaurant with international and local options at meals, as well as a sun deck with a swimming pool. The ship also has its own private dock in Luxor. After many years of dormancy, Nile River sailings have been making a comeback. Viking River Cruises has invested in the region with a new ship, Viking Ra, debuting this year. Other river lines that offer cruise tours on the Nile include Uniworld, Vantage and Emerald Waterways’ sister company Scenic. Meanwhile, Emerald Waterways continues to expand. The line debuted in 2014 and quickly grew to seven ships in Europe and one ship on the Mekong. Emerald Waterways recently announced that it will be offering yacht-style cruises on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast in 2019 on the 36-passenger Adriatic Princess II.

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Travel News: Turkey Resumes Visa Application Services for US Travelers

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Turkey Resumes Visa Application Services For US Travelers

Washington Post reports that after suspending visa services for Americans, which prevented travelers from visiting Istanbul and taking the Bosphorus ferry, In early October, Turkey had suspended visa application services for Americans. Turkish Airlines was offering refunds on Turkey-bound flights through Christmas, and US citizens with plans but no visa were stuck in limbo. Early last month, the country partially lifted the directive. US travelers can apply for visas at Turkish embassies and consulates, or third party visa companies. However, Americans cannot obtain the document through two previously available channels: the online system called e-Visa and visa booths at Turkish airports. To apply for a visa, start by filling out the online form and select a date for an in-person appointment with consular services. The next available time could be two weeks out, so plan accordingly. For the interview, bring a bank statement, proof of travel insurance, one passport photo, a passport valid at least six months after time of entry, your travel itinerary and $160 in cash. The process should take about five business days, and travelers can pick up their visa-adorned passport at the consulate. Companies that help tourists obtain travel documents have also resumed their visa services to Turkey. Justin Chapman, director of sales at VisaHQ, said the firm’s average processing time is 20 to 25 business days. He added that travelers typically do not have to step foot inside the consulate, but never say never. “The embassy may request an appointment,” he said.

Airline Food Quality: Delta Healthiest And Hawaiian Airlines Worst In The US

Travelwire reports American and Delta Airlines have once again started offering complimentary meals in economy class on U.S. domestic flights, something passengers haven’t seen in more than 15 years. Delta is the clear leader among the major carriers and is tied with Virgin America this year as the healthiest airline. The worst airline food when it comes to health is on Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines. United, the 4th largest airline in the US, needs to change the way it thinks about its food offerings. They have very little food transparency on the website, meaning that nutritional information is not available. In addition to its complimentary snacks, American began providing complimentary main cabin, but nothing very healthy. To read more on this issue: http://www.dietdetective.com/annual-airline-food-investigation-2017-18/

Hurtigruten To Expand In Arctic in 2019

Hurtigruten has announced an expanded Arctic deployment for 2019, not only sailing from Tromso to Russia, but offering expedition cruises in Svalbard with five ships, and a Northwest Passage transit on the new Roald Amundsen. It will be the first time a hybrid ship has sailed the Northwest Passage. In addition, the company announced that both the Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen will offer expedition sailings along Norway’s coast in 2019. Among new expedition offerings are departures from Tromso calling at Murmansk and Frans Josef Land. A 15-day expedition departure on the Spitsbergen will cross into Russian waters and Murmansk before sailing the Barents Sea to Franz Josef Land for five days of expedition landings.

United Airlines Will Be First US Carrier Since Continental To Fly Mainland-Tahiti

Besides Hawaiian, the only US carriers to serve Tahiti have been Continental, South Pacific Air Lines, which flew Papeete to Honolulu and Pago Pago, American Samoa, in the 1960s and Pan American World Airways, which flew from Los Angeles and Pago Pago in the mid-1960s. Continental flew Los Angeles-Papeete in the late 1980s, according to the Tahiti-Polynesia Handbook published in 1989, and may have continued into the 1990s. In an era of growth enabled by strong economies, high demand and deliveries of new widebodies led by the Boeing 787, United has now announced 13 new international routes, some primarily business and some primarily leisure, in 2017.
They include San Francisco to Munich, Zurich and Tahiti; Newark to Buenos Aires; Porto, Portugal and Reykjavik, Iceland; Los Angeles to Singapore; Chicago to Mazatlán, Mexico; Denver to London Heathrow and Cozumel; and Houston to Mazatlán, Mexico and Sydney and Dulles to Edinburgh, Scotland.

US Customs & Border Protection Is Piloting Facial Recognition

Business Travel News reports US Customs and Border Protection is investigating whether forthcoming biometric facial scans for departing foreign travelers could speed up other airport processes, like Transportation Security Administration checks, baggage tagging, lounge entry and even duty-free purchases. The agency will introduce facial scanning in 2018 to reduce the need for fingerprinting on arrival.

Etihad Sells The Good Life To Economy Passengers

Airline Ratings reports Gulf carrier Etihad is to start charging for some items in economy class, but there’s no need for clanging alarm bells. Instead of the usual charging for goods or services that were once free, Etihad is giving economy passengers the opportunity to buy a few extra comforts. All the free stuff in Etihad economy, including complimentary meals and drinks will remain but passengers will now be able to sample some of the good things usually reserved for people at the pointy end. This includes male or female Christian Lacroix amenity kits with exclusive Omorovicza skin care, products, Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut NV champagne or Christian Lacroix cotton sleepwear. Those wanting to chug down a Planet Coffee cold brew coffee will also be able to do so and in 2018 the airline will be selling what were once known as selection boxes containing sweet or healthy treats. The move comes as the Gulf carrier has been selling other “enhanced services” to passengers, including pay-for-lounge access and chauffeur transfers at some airports as well as neighbor-free and extra-legroom seats.

Delta To Charge Basic-Economy Passengers $60 To Check A Bag To Europe Next Year

CNBC reports US airlines collected nearly $4.2 billion in checked baggage fees last year. That sum could rise even more as airlines bring such fees international. Starting in April, Delta Air Lines will charge passengers who book highly restrictive basic economy fares $60 each way to check a bag for travel between the US or Canada and Europe or North Africa. The airline, among others, is taking basic economy abroad, in hopes that it will drum up more revenue as record numbers of passengers are traveling by air. Airline executives, including those at Delta, estimate that about half of passengers opt to pay for a higher coach-class fare than selecting the cheaper basic economy. The fee to check the bag, $60 each way, is the same sum that Delta is offering travelers to “upgrade” to regular economy, which offers a free checked bag.

The Futuristic New Cruise Ship Which Lets Guests ‘Walk On Water’

MSC Seaside has been designed to “bring guests closer to the sea than ever before. Among MSC Seaside’s unique design features are a wrap-around seafront promenade (dubbed to be the widest on any ship ever built) tracing the perimeter of the 323 metre-long ship, dotted by a series of bars and restaurants, while its two 40 metre-long glass-floored catwalks have been designed to simulate the feeling of “walking on water”. Guests can enjoy 360-degree views from two panoramic lifts that transport passengers between decks. MSC Seaside will offer modular cabins that can accommodate up to 10 guests. Other vertigo-inducing highlights include a glass-bottomed pathway (known as the Bridge of Sighs) at Deck 16 where guests can capture never-before-seen views from 40 metres above the ocean, as well as two panoramic glass lifts offering 360-degree vistas while transporting guests between the ship’s main pool areas and other decks. Designed to “bring guests closer to the sea than ever before”, more than 75% of the 5,119-capacity passenger ship’s cabins offer ocean views, including a selection of adaptable modular cabins that can accommodate up to 10 guests. The new ship also houses the most interactive water park at sea, built with five attractions including the first-ever “slideboarding” facility, featuring 160 meter-long dueling waterslides. Other entertainment options on offer include the two longest zip lines at sea, each stretching 105 meters, a full-size bowling alley, an interactive 5D cinema and an F1 racing simulator.

Russia To Implement Tax-Free System To Boost Tourism

Travel & Tourism Industry News reports Russia is ready to implement a tax-free system on some retail goods starting from January 2018 for tourists. According to the authors of the initiative, this should become a driver of the inbound tourism in Russia as well as a boost for trade and retail in the country. However, they also warn that next year the system will only work in a pilot form in an attempt to understand the benefits of the project. The tax-free system will be launched in six Russian cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Vladivostok, Sochi and Veliky Novgorod. It is expected to apply mainly on luxury goods, clothes, souvenirs, but not cigarettes or alcohol.

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Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Sambousek

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Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Sambousek: Bread pockets filled with zataar or cheese

This is a tasty appetizer and really easy to make in advance. The sambousek can be frozen after they are cooked, then thawed and warmed in the oven before serving. The first part is the basic dough mix, then the cheese and zataar fillings. Also, when we made them at the Petra Kitchen, we cut the dough into circles using wine glasses as the cookie cutters, and placed them on a cookie sheet liberally coated in oil and cooked them, open faced, in the oven. This is just an alternative method, and might be easier if you are making a large batch.

Sambousek Dough

  1. 2 cups flour
  2. 1/2 cup warm water
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. pinch of sugar
  5. 2 tsp active dry yeast
  6. 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Dissolve the yeast in 4 tsp of warm water and mix until until smooth
  • Sift sugar, salt, flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle
  • Pour yeast water, oil ad remaining warm water into the well in the center of the bowl
  • Mix by hand until smooth
  • Transfer dough to a floured flat surface and knead well by hand
  • Place mixture in an oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth and place in a warm spot. Let rise until doubled in size.
  • Return dough to floured surface and knead well again.
  • Divide dough into smaller balls and roll flat into circles and use cutter to cut into smaller circles with the cutter
  • Using a fork, lightly prick the dough on one side

Zataar or Thyme Filling (Sambousek b’zatar)

  1. 6 Tbs crushed dried thyme
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Mix thyme/zatar with oil
  • Place a teaspoon on to each dough circle
  • If you are going to fry these in a frying pan, fold the dough over and seal the edges. If you are going to bake them on an oiled cookie sheet, you can leave them open
  • Fry or bake until lightly browned
  • Serve hot

Cheese Filling (Sambousek b’jibn)

  1. 1/2 cup grated Gruyere or feta cheese
  2. 1 cup grated white cheese
  3. 1 onion finely chopped
  4. 1 tbs sesame seeds
  • Mix stuffing ingredients together and stir well
  • Place a teaspoon of stuffing on each circle
  • If you are going to fry these in a frying pan, fold the dough over and seal the edges. If you are going to bake them on an oiled cookie sheet, you can leave them open
  • Fry or bake until lightly browned
  • Serve hot

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to discuss options for travel in and around the Middle East.

To read what a Sample Tour through Israel would look like, click here.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

To read more about Caravan-Serai, click here.

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