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August 2010

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31 August 2010 - Bag stolen on camera!

Posted by: Alan

A tourist in America has accidentally photographed a thief stealing his bag as he took pictures of his family.

When John Myers of New Jersey realised what had happened, he quickly checked the last photo he’d taken and found it showed the thief bending to pick up the bag from where Mr Myers had left it in the Wisconsin town of Madison.

He then raced to a nearby police station, showed officers the photo and within minutes they found the thief walking along a street with the stolen bag.

Mr Myers had set the timer on his camera so that the entire family could be in the photo, but had positioned it in a way which meant they had their backs to the thief, who in turn was caught in the picture.

"I can’t believe how lucky we were", Mr Myers told media.

"The camera was set with a 10-second timer, so two seconds or so either way and he (the thief) could have been walking away, or been obscured".

On reflection, he said, it wasn’t a good idea to leave the bag, containing money, wallets and rental car keys, so far from where he was taking the photo!

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30 August 2010 - Virgin Blue & Etihad Alliance

Posted by: Alan

A new agreement between Etihad and V Australia with fully integrate the Etihad Guest and Velocity frequent flyer programs, allowing members to earn status/tier points and frequent flyer points immediately, along with reciprocal service benefits and lounge access for top tier members of both programs.
The ability for members to burn miles on both carriers’ services will take effect from 1 October 10.

Virgin Blue Holdings and Etihad Airways announced they had established a commercial partnership to enable Virgin Blue’s international arm, V Australia, to launch direct services to Abu Dhabi in 2011 and the two airlines offer a joint network of more than 100 destinations from 1 October 2010.

Together, Etihad and V Australia plan to move towards a total of 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia – including double-daily services between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, daily Melbourne-Abu Dhabi flights and six frequencies per week between Abu Dhabi and Brisbane.

V Australia will operate three Sydney-Abu Dhabi services per week from February 2011 and three Brisbane-Abu Dhabi services per week by February 2012, using its new fleet of three-class Boeing 777-300ER. In doing so, it will become the first Australian carrier to operate to the Middle East since 1991.

From October, Virgin Blue Group customers can access Etihad’s network of 65 destinations across North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent. All Virgin Blue services will be available to Etihad customers, opening up 44 destinations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and to Asia and Los Angeles.

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26 August 2010 - Alligators in the USA

Posted by: Alan

Visiting New York or Chicago?

Watch out for alligators.
You’re unlikely to see one, but the fact that they are there at all is making news.

Down south in Florida and Louisiana, tourists are routinely warned to watch out for alligators. Florida’s Everglades Parkway, a section of Interstate 75, is also known as Alligator Alley. The state’s Ten Thousands Islands region is the only place where alligators and crocodiles co-exist. Occasionally they eat dogs or even people.

But now alligators have started turning up in colder, more northerly parts of the US.

In New York last weekend an alligator measuring the best part of a metre was spotted in the streets of Queens. It hid under a Datsun. Police had to warn people to stay back as they trapped the reptile and took it into custody.

In Chicago meanwhile, another alligator – this one well over a metre long – was sighted swimming the Chicago River. The Chicago Herpetological Society hopes to catch it when colder weather slows the reptile down. Winter gets very cold in Chicago – minus 33°C is not unknown.

An introduced species, the carnivorous Burmese python, proliferates in the 6000 tangled square kilometres of the Florida Everglades. There may be as many as 150,000 of them. Python hatchlings slithered into the swamps when Hurricane Andrew roared through the area in 1992, flattening local pet shops and liberating the snakes, along with parrots, gazelles, wallabies and mountain lions. The pythons can grow longer than five metres, big enough to eat alligators – and the two species sometimes fight.

Officials believe that the arrival of alligators in New York and Chicago is due to people buying them as pets and then dumping them when they get too big. Some are feared to have escaped into the sewers, where urban mythology has them growing to massive size. They may one day be able to take on New York’s army of subway rats. Perhaps the only answer is to bring in Burmese pythons to fight them.

Written by Peter Needham

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24 August 2010 - Tasman Glacier has Calved

Posted by: Alan

Twenty new icebergs have been created in New Zealand’s Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake, Mount Cook, after the collapse of 30- 50 million tonnes of ice off the Tasman Glacier Terminal Face.

The calving occurred earlier in the month after heavy rain-fall and is the lake’s biggest ever calving in 35 years.

This is great news for day-tripping cruisers, as it means that with ‘Glacier Explorers’ opening its cruise season one month early on 03 Sep 2010 (due to an early spring melt) they will be able to expose guests to (what could arguably be called) the region’s most spectacular iceberg and glacier cruising season ever.

“The biggest ‘berg is about 300m by 200m and 40m high – and that’s only the 10% of the berg that we can see - “90% is below the waterline,” he added.

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19 August 2010 - THe Great FACEBOOK travel challenge

Posted by: Nic Rone

EVERYONE THANKS SO MUCH - WE ARE ALMOST THERE - We started with 235 VLT followers last Thursday - and are now 440 followers as at 9.50 am this morning - (A jump of over 100 since last night alone) - yeeeeeeeeeha - only 60 to go - come on guys we're almost there - Help VLT win the big Facebook Travel Challenge

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18 August 2010 - Underwater Art?

Posted by: Alan

We’ve heard of water colours, but this is ridiculous!

The latest sensation in European dive tourism is an underwater art gallery which has been set up in a Lithuanian lake.

Twenty large photographs have been unveiled deep beneath the surface of Lake Plateliai in the country’s west, with organisers saying they plan to further enhance the experience with the addition of sculpture and stained glass objects.

“Art is experienced totally differently in the water,” enthused Andrius Albrikas, the head of a Vilnius diving academy.

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16 August 2010 - Switzerland - Don't speed on their roads !

Posted by: Alan

A Swedish driver is likely to end up in the Guinness Book of Records after being clocked at 290km/h on a Swiss highway.

The 37-year-old man has been levied a fine worth more than $1.1 million, because in Switzerland speeding fines are worked out based on a combination of speed and the motorist's annual income.

The man's Mercedes was clocked by a speed camera on the A12 between Bern and Lausanne, evading several radar traps on the way because they were limited to a 200km/h maximum.

"We have no record of anyone being caught travelling faster in the country," said a spokesman for the Swiss police.

The perpetrator allegedly told arresting officers that his high speed could be lamed on a faulty speedometer in his new car.

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Posted by: Nic

 Dear friends - Travelscene head office has thrown down a challenge to see which of their Travel Agency group can reach over 500 followers within the agency group - so we are looking for your help.


Support us by recommending our VLTravel facebook site to your friends, family and followers - everyone - and help VLTravel WIN this challenge.


Thanks for the support - let the race begin - AND HELP MAKE VLT THE WINNERS!!




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13 August 2010 - Somewhere to enjoy a Remote Drink

Posted by: Alan

If you are looking for somewhere remote to enjoy a drink, look no further!

The Old Forge is located in the West Highlands and is completely isolated, with drinkers having to hike 29km from the nearest road or cross 7km across a loch from the town of Mallaig.

Real estate agents selling the property pointed out that there is no need for designated drivers!

The town of Mallaig is reachable by train from Fort William.
If you want to go there, just ask us at VLTravel how!

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11 August 2010 - Cheap Hotel in London, but . . .

Posted by: Alan

Part of the Malaysian-owned Tune Hotels group, it will charge a basic rate of only £35 a night - a bargain in a city known for its hefty hotel rates.

But there’s a catch . . . The £35 gets you only a room!

It will cost an extra:
£7.50 to have the room cleaned
£1 for a bath towel
£2 for use of a hairdryer
£2 to store luggage.

The property is centrally-located on Westminster Bridge Road and 14 others are planned around London in the next few years.

Tune Hotel is owned by the same company which operates budget carrier AirAsia.

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10 August 2010 - Statue of Liberty to close (again)

Posted by: Alan

New York’s Statue of Liberty will be closed to the public for up to 12 months from October for a security upgrade.

The work, costing around $US26m, will include construction of a second staircase.

In an emergency, like when a fire alarm went off last month, rescue workers have to use the same staircase as visitors being evacuated.

In 2001, it was closed for reasons of safety and security; the pedestal reopened in 2004 and the statue in 2009.

The 22-storey Statue has a total 354 steps from the base to the top.

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09 August 2010 - $14 fee for USA Visa Waiver entry

Posted by: Alan

Travellers to the US will face a compulsory $14 fee for applications for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) from September 8.

The fee includes $4 to recover costs incurred by the Customs and Border Protection agency along with a $10 “travel promotion fee”.
It applies for travellers in all visa waiver countries, including Australia.

Website Link:

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09 August 2010 - World’s Cheapest Cities ?

Posted by: Alan

What are the world’s cheapest cities?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the cheapest cities are also pretty dangerous.

As for the cheap cities, here they go:

1. Karachi, Pakistan

Pakistan’s largest city and financial capital has a population approaching 19 million, making it one of the world’s biggest cities.

2. Managua, Nicaragua

The remains of Managua Cathedral, devastated in a 1972 earthquake, still stand in the central city.

3. Islamabad, Pakistan

This city was built in the 1960s to replace Karachi as the capital.

4. La Paz, Bolivia

The highest-elevation capital city in the world, in a valley in the Andes. The Witches’ Market sells excellent dried frogs.

5. Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan

Known for carpets, oil, natural gas and a very tall freestanding flagpole.

6. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

This isn’t on many itineraries. A statue of Russian Communist hero Vladimir Lenin is listed among the top tourist attractions.

7. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Lucy, one of the world’s earliest human fossils, awaits you in the National Museum of Ethiopia.

8. Kolkata, India

Still known widely by the name Calcutta, this is the state capital of West Bengal. Mother Teresa’s house or the Nakhoda Mosque may appeal and there are some fabulous hotels (though they may blow the budget).

9. Tegucigalpa, Honduras

The scars of Hurricane Mitch, which ripped into the city in 1998, are quietly fading.

10. Windhoek, Namibia

The capital of Namibia lies in the shadow of Eros Mountains. Abut 1% of land in Namibia is arable.


None of the world’s cheapest cities, according to Mercer’s guide (based on cost-of-living comparisons drawn up in 2010) lies in any of the nine countries that Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises travellers not to visit.
{ For a current list of "do not visit" countries, see the DFAT website: }


Source: Mercer's 2010 Cost of Living Survey

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06 August 2010 - Luxury Pet Resort at Disney World

Posted by: Alan

Pluto never had it so good: The next major attraction to open at Walt Disney World won't be for the kids - it will be for the dogs!

Best Friends Pet Resort, scheduled to open 27 August 2010, will offer not just boarding, but also bedtime stories and a water park for dogs.

The luxury facility will accommodate way more than 101 Dalmatians. With more than 50,000 square feet of space, half of it outdoors, it has room for 270 dogs, 30 cats and assorted other animals, including birds, potbellied pigs and small mammals like hamsters and guinea pigs. (Sorry, no turtles, snakes or lizards.)

Standard indoor boarding for dogs runs US$37 nightly. For additional fees, you can get services like doggy play group or bedtime stories for pooches accustomed to snuggling up with children while a parent reads aloud. (On the Best Friends reading list: "The Poky Little Puppy.")

Upgrades for dogs include vacation villas with outdoor patios and flat-screen TVs for watching videos like "Homeward Bound" (US$59), or 226-square-foot luxury suites (US$76) with private outdoor play yards and personal pet concierges.

Cats can choose between two- and four-story condos.

In addition to the water park, Best Friends offers play groups, outdoor runs, walking trails and areas for playing ball or Frisbee.

Pets can be left for the day without overnight boarding, and owners can drop by to visit or play on their way from hotels to the park.

"We know that people who bring their pets with them to Disney want to see their pets," said Deb Bennetts, spokeswoman for Best Friends, which operates more than 40 pet-boarding facilities around the U.S. "If they were simply going to board their pet, they would board their pet at home. They want to see and interact with their pet while at the resort, so we've made it easy for them to do that with all of this wonderful outdoor space."

The Best Friends resort will replace five existing kennels at Disney World and will be located on Bonnet Creek Parkway within the Disney complex directly across from the Port Orleans resort.

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05 August 2010 - Free WiFi in Hongkers

Posted by: Alan

Travellers to Hong Kong are being offered free internet access at hotspots across the city.

Visitors can access the latest tourist information via free access to the website of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, including details of events & festivals, attractions and tourist promotions.

The system also includes a location-based digital map system which automatically recommends nearby shops and restaurants.

Follow our link to see some Hong Kong specials.

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04 August 2010 - Bring your passport when you make a booking

Posted by: Alan

Many destinations now require Passport Information to be inserted into the booking.
Failure to do this can complicate immigration at your destination.

Travelling to the US?

Make sure that you have already completed your ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation)
Information is on our website here.

American Airlines today advised Travel Agents that from 15 Sep it will begin to inhibit ticketing for reservations booked for US travel if the bookings don’t include Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD).

SFPD includes date of birth, gender, last name, first name and middle names.

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04 August 2010 - London tells tourists to get lost

Posted by: Alan

As they walk through the maze, visitors are confronted with signs and posters carrying information about various West End attractions.

It’s part of an effort to get tourists seeing the area as more than just a theatre district.

A West End Marketing Alliance staffer told media: "By creating the maze and filling it with some of the best examples of what the West End has to offer, we’re hoping to encourage visitors to go beyond their usual path and enjoy getting a little lost".

The maze is in place till Friday.


Photo courtesy of AP

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03 August 2010 - Tiger Airways spreading it's Paw Print

Posted by: Alan

THAI and Tiger Airways have announced 'Thai Tiger'; a joint venture set to capture the low fare travel market in Asia.

Thai Airways International (THAI) and Tiger Airways recently announced the signing of a deal to form a new low fare airline called Thai Tiger Airways Private Limited (Thai Tiger). The new airline will operate the same low fare, low cost model as the other airlines in the Thai Airways Group, and is set to commence operations in the first quarter of 2011.

THAI Tiger will be based out of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok and will offer short-haul, point-to-point services within a five-hour flying radius.

Thai Tiger will operate a fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft, consistent with other airlines in the Tiger Airways Group.

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02 August 2010 - What do you get for the man who has everything?

Posted by: Alan

If you’re a millionaire music superstar wanting to buy a birthday gift for your fiance, then the answer is a trip into space.

Singer Katy Perry has reportedly paid US$200,000 for a Virgin Galactic suborbital flight for comedian Russell Brand who turned 35 in Jun.

Brand is now one of more than 340 people who have firm bookings for Virgin Galactic’s flights which are expected to debut in the next year or two.

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