Category Archives: Egypt

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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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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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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Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Baba Ganuj

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!

Today’s recipe: Baba Ganuj or Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ganuj

 

2lbs (1kg) eggplants

1 large tomato

1 green pepper

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1 Tbs salt

1 Tbs mint

2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs pomegranate molasses

 

  • Roast the eggplant s on a baking dish in medium oven approximately one hour, or until the skin darkens and begins to split, remove from oven to cool
  • When eggplants are cool enough handle, break open and scoop out the insides
  • Mash the pulp with a fork until a smooth puree
  • Add olive oil and lemon juice and set aside
  • Finely chop tomato, pepper and onion, add them to eggplant puree and stir
  • Crush garlic in a pestle with salt and stir into juice and olive oil
  • Add liquid to vegetable mixture and mix well
  • Stir in the mint
  • Serve in a shallow bowl with garnish of tomatoes or parsley sprigs and pita bread

A variation on this recipe is to cook the eggplant on a BBQ, it will enhance the smokey flavor! Enjoy!

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

To read what a Sample 5 Day Emirates Desert Adventure with Caravan-Serai 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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Filed under Africa, Egypt, Middle East, Morocco, Travel by Taste, Turkey, UAE, VOTM

Video: A Glimpse into the King Tut Exhibition

Now in Seattle until January 2013.

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Filed under Egypt, Features, Middle East, The Pacific Northwest, Videos, Washington

Trip Report: King Tut Exhibition

This week we are reporting on WIT agent Wailana’s trip up to Seattle mid-July to inspect cruise ships and the King Tut Exhibit. Today we take a look at her account of the exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.

King Tut Exhibit: By Wailana

Last month, Willamette Intl Travel featured a piece on the King Tut Exhibit on our blog. So having spent the better part of a day conducting research on it, I was excited to finally see the grand treasury for myself. That morning of July 14 was considerably foggy, so after first arming myself with some northwest coffee and buttered bagel, I then climbed up to the Seattle Center. Around 9.30 I collected my tickets from a kiosk and entered through the back entrance of the Pacific Science Center (entrance was closed for some unknown reason).

The purchase of my ticket had some notable perks that might interest the would-be Seatown Tourist. These are available with all ticket types, including students. Perks include:

–          $5 off for a combo package of Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit and Space Needle

–          $3 off on the Space Needle

–          Exclusive discounts at participating Pharaoh’s Gold locations throughout Puget Sound

–          Access to the rest of the Pacific Science Center and its other exhibits

Winding through the lake-top maze of the museum took me to the Tut lines. Guests can purchase audio tours before or at the door. Due to the large volume of crowds, entry is divided every fifteen minutes—time is chosen with your advanced purchase—but you can stay as long as you want inside the exhibit. I was there for about 1h15. I recommend that you come a bit earlier—it was really crowded by 10.30! If you purchase a hotel package with Willamette Intl Travel, your ticket will gain you VIP access—this means you can skip the line!

After a brief wait, my group flooded a dark room and watched a quick introductory film narrated by Harrison Ford and accompanied by dramatic orchestra. It was all very theatrical and designed to galvanize us with anticipation. The exhibit itself was chilled, dimly lit, with lights carefully focused as golden spotlights on each treasure and Egyptianesque music. Each room had a theme—pharaohs, spouses and children, viziers and other important whatnots, deities, and the tomb of King Tut itself.

Treasures included notable jewelry, statues, domestic items (vases, etc), but no papyri. Three of the most interesting pieces were the collection of mustachioed scribes, the straw bed of the young pharaoh (amazingly almost fully intact!) and the tiny sarcophagus that held two fetuses, alleged daughters of King Tut. They also showed photographs from the 1922 excavation of the tomb, and how it appeared before any disturbance by the archaeologist Howard Carter.

Unfortunately there was no mummy, so my morbid fascination was not appeased. They did have an artist’s very lifelike, very impressive, replica. Tutankhamen’s body was shown with pictures of Akhenaten’s (his supposed father), and the differences between preservation were remarkable. It’s understandable—and forgivable—then why Tut’s mummy is one of the only few that has never been removed from the dry desert of Egypt.

I was fortunate to see this exhibit more than twenty years ago in Egypt. I descended into Tut’s original tomb chambers in the Valley of the Kings—though encased in its golden sarcophagus, his mummy was still there!

The exhibition makes its final stop on its multi-decade worldwide tour in Seattle. In January 2013, the exhibit will return to the hands of the finest curators in Egypt. So this is the last chance for Americans to view the ancient treasures in their own northwest backyard!

Check out my photos of Seattle and the exhibit here.

You can arrange VIP exhibit & hotel packages with Willamette Intl Travel! Call us for more info or email Wailana at wailanak@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Egypt, The Pacific Northwest, USA, Washington, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Northwest News: King Tut Exhibit

photo by Frank Merenda

King Tut’s treasures are coming to the Seattle this year! This will be the final time U.S. guests will be able to admire the ancient and gold wonders of this famed pharaoh before their permanent return to Cairo. As expected, tickets have been selling fast!

From May 24 2012 to January 6 2013, the Pacific Science Center is hosting Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaoh. To promote this incredible opportunity, PSC is teaming up with the Marriot SpringHill Suites and the Warwick Seattle Hotel–offering discounted hotel packages with exclusive VIP access to the exhibit!

Call Willamette International Travel for prices and details of a number of hotel/ticket packages, which can include:

–         2 VIP tickets to exhibit

–         Overnight accommodation in spacious suites

–         Audio Tour Passes

–         Official Exhibition Catalogue

–         Shuttle from hotel to Pacific Science Center

–         Valet Parking

–         Breakfast Buffet

–         2 Tuttini’s at Bistro on Yale

Some of the exquisite treasures available for viewing are:

–         A 10 foot statue of King Tut

–         Stunning furniture and jewelry

–         King Tut’s golden sandals

–         A replica of the pharaoh’s mummy

–         The Gold death mask of King Psusennes I

Call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com today for this once in a lifetime chance!

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Filed under Egypt, Middle East, News, The Pacific Northwest, USA, Washington