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September 2010

  
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29 September 2010 - Eating in Vegas

Posted by: Alan

WHAT happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas - unless it’s obesity.

Harrah’s, which operates a number of top Las Vegas properties, has launched a new ‘Buffet of Buffets’ pass which allows holders to eat as much as they like at seven different buffets in 24 hours.

The US$45.99 pass is valid for the buffets at Caesar’s Palace, Flamingo, Harrah’s Imperial Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood and Rio’s Carnival World - and you can go back to any of them as many times as you like.

The pass initially launched for US$29.99 but has increased in price because it’s so popular.

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28 September 2010 - Earlybirds from Emirates

Posted by: Alan

Emirates has just unveiled its 2011 European earlybird fares, with extended ticketing and validity periods.

The special deals are available for booking and ticketing between now and 30 Nov, and for travel 01 Feb-31 Oct 2011.

Lead-in economy class seats are priced from $1710 return to Madrid, $1714 to Istanbul, $1727 to Prague, $1738 to Amsterdam, $1742 to Nice, $1761 to Paris, $1745 to Frankfurt, $1756 to Athens and $1732 to Vienna, inclusive of taxes and charges.

EK earlybirds to the carrier's six UK destinations lead in at $1857 return, while Emirates Italy fares start at $1720 return to Venice, Milan and Rome.

All fares include a 30kg luggage allowance and a free stopover is permitted in Dubai in each direction.

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27 September 2010 - New Train from Moscow to Nice

Posted by: Alan

A new luxury express train began running between Moscow and Nice late last week, reviving memories of a period when Russian aristocrats flocked to the French Riviera.

Russian Railways has scheduled weekly departures for the 3000km 53-hour journey, which travels:
Moscow– Vyazma – Smolensk – Orsha – Minsk - Brest – Terespol – Warsaw – Katowitz – Zebzhidowitz – Bogumin – Vienna – Lintz – Innsbruck – Bolzano – Milan – Genoa – San Remo – Bordighera – Menton – Nice.

Fares start at 306 euros (about $430), ranging up to 1200 euros (about $1700) for a compartment with a shower and mini-bar.

Russian Railways said 90% of seats were sold on the inaugural trip.

Nice became an established resort for Russian high society after the Romanov family built a holiday home there in 1856.

It has one of the largest Russian Orthodox cathedrals outside Russia, as well as a Russian cemetery.

Dogs and other small house pets and birds will be allowed on all carriages on the Moscow – Nice train given purchase of all places in a compartment at no additional charge.

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24 September 2010 - Singapore Airlines earlybird fares out

Posted by: Alan

Singapore Airlines has thrown down the gauntlet to its competitor carriers, this morning revealing the first round of its European earlybird fares for 2011.

Singapore Airlines are also offering a 'Future Proof Promise' under which it guarantees that if it releases a lower fare in 2011 for travel to the same destination within the same travel period, it will reissue the ticket and refund the difference without penalty.

The fares lead in at $1774 return from Sydney to Barcelona including taxes, with similarly attractive prices to other European destinations including Amsterdam ($1802), Zurich ($1805), Rome ($1807), Athens ($1820), Paris ($1825), Manchester ($1942), Munich ($1847), Frankfurt ($1872) and London ($1943) - while SQ is also offering a New York earlybird, flying from Australia to the Big Apple via Frankfurt from $2311.

The deals also include a 30kg baggage allowance in economy class and a free one night Singapore stopover holiday.

The earlybird 1 deals are valid for booking and payment by 31 Oct and for travel 01 Mar-30 Sep 2011.

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21 September 2010 - Bottoms Up

Posted by: Alan

Marking the 200th anniversiary of the beer festival, Octoberfest kicked off this week for 17-days devoted to the art of drinking beer with friends.

Opening the historic festival was Munich’s mayor, Christian Ude, who in keeping with a tradition held since 1810, tapped the first Octoberfest barrel of beer at 12pm exactly.

Hoping to crack the 7.1 million Ocktoberfest visitor mark this year, event organisers also revealed a special brew jointly created by seven of Germany’s biggest breweries which recreates a 200 year old ale recipe.

The city has said that it expects revellers to consume around 6.9 million litres of beer during the celebrations, which also include a swathe of exhibitions and horse races.

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21 September 2010 - German High Speed Train to London

Posted by: Alan

A German high-speed train will visit Britain for the first time next month in preparation for a direct rail service between London and Frankfurt, The Guardian newspaper reports.

The 320kmh train, operated by Germany’s state rail company Deutsche Bahn (DB), will arrive at St Pancras International terminal on 19 October 2010 after a cross-channel voyage that challenges one of Europe’s busiest aviation markets.

The state-of-the-art Inter City Express (ICE) must pass stringent Channel Tunnel safety tests before it can start full services from Frankfurt, with December 2013 the likely start date.

DB is considering a route that would start in Frankfurt – the heart of Germany’s finance industry – with possible stops at Cologne and Brussels en route to London.

The service is expected to grow the high-speed rail market between London and the Continent by around 10%, carrying more than 1 million passengers a year.

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21 September 2010 - A new portrait of Queen Elizabeth

Posted by: Alan

Cunard has unveiled a new portrait of Queen Elizabeth for its new superliner of the same name.

The work, by 31-year-old English artist Isobel Peachey, shows the Queen sitting in the Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace, wearing the same diamond necklace and earrings that she wore for her coronation in 1953.

It will hang in the Grand Lobby of the new 2092-passenger ship.

The Queen will name the ship in a ceremony in Southampton on 11 October.

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20 September 2010 - Looking for a secure job?

Posted by: Alan

Become a pilot!
That seems to be the upshot of a new Boeing survey that has found the global aviation industry will need to train and employ almost half a million new pilots over the next 20 years.

The industry will also need to train and hire over half a million new maintenance staff, Boeing said. It said that about 233,000 pilots and 100,000 mechanics and engineers currently work for airlines worldwide.

Nearly 40% of the new jobs will be in Asia. The US aircraft manufacturer and aerospace giant estimates that world demand qill require 466,650 pilots and 596,500 maintenance personnel from 2010 to 2029. Of those, 180,600 pilots and 220,000 maintenance personnel would be needed in Asia – particularly in China.

Passenger numbers are bouncing back healthily from the downturn that accompanied the global financial crisis.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says passenger traffic rose 9.2% in July compared with a year earlier. Once again, the Asia Pacific region put in the strongest performance, with growth rising by 10.9% year-on-year.

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17 September 2010 - Skulls from Mykonos

Posted by: Alan

Police in Athens have charged two tourists from the US with desecrating the dead, after finding six human skulls in their hand luggage.

The pair were passing through Athens on their return to the US after a holiday on the Greek island of Mykonos, and reportedly told officials they thought the skulls were fake after purchasing them from a souvenir shop there.

Maybe this would make for a good episode of Border Security?

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16 September 2010 - Visa on Arrival for Hainan

Posted by: Alan

The Southern Island province of Hainan is now the most accessible Island in China, thanks to new regulations introduced by the Chinese government.

The newly introduced visa exemptions, will grant passport holders from 27 countries including Australia and New Zealand unparalleled access to Hainan.

The first exemption is a ‘Free Landing Visa,’ targeted mainly at groups, which is the first in China to allow travellers free access in and out of Hainan Island without a visa.

The second exemption is a special Landing visa perfect for individuals or couples and can be acquired on arrival at any airport of Hainan.

The free Landing Visa entitles travellers to stay in Hainan for up to 15 days free, provided that they enter in and out of Haikou or Sanya international airports.

The Special Landing Visa policy has also been seen as a landmark for all travellers as it provides travellers with the easiest method of obtaining a visa in China.

On arrival at any airport in Hainan, travellers must simply go to the visa station before customs to process, it normally takes 10 minutes and costs just RMB200(Approx $30AUD), compared to the $80 and a trip to the Chinese Consulate.

This visa is also valid for 15 days, but can be extended at any of police station in China for up to a two-month period.

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15 September 2010 - John and Oprah flyin' in

Posted by: Alan

US talk show host Oprah Winfrey told her studio audience in Chicago yesterday that she’s taking all 300 of them to Australia for a free week-long holiday in December.

And Qantas ‘ambassador-at-large’ and actor John Travolta reportedly will be helping to fly them here.

Ms Winfrey will film several episodes of her show during the visit, including a 14 December taping at the Sydney Opera House, when the building will be transformed into the ‘Oprah’ House.

As she did so, a mock-up of a Qantas jet rolled on to the stage, a door opened and John Travolta stepped out, dressed as a pilot.

When Qantas named the actor its ambassador-at-large in 2002, it noted that he had successfully completed 747-400 first officer simulator training in Sydney and with Boeing in Seattle.

Mr Travolta owns a former Qantas Boeing 707.

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14 September 2010 - Sistine Chapel Tourists

Posted by: Alan

Thousands of tourists trooping through the Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel every day risk endangering priceless artworks by bringing dust, dirt and pollution with them.

Antonio Paolucci, chief of Vatican Museums, was quoted by Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper as calling for new methods of controlling temperature, humidity and dust to preserve Michelangelo’s Last Judgment and other Sistine Chapel treasures.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people a day walk through the chapel to admire frescoes, mosaics and paintings. Some use mirrors to see ceiling paintings without straining their necks.

Paolucci said that crowds emanated “sweat, breath, carbon dioxide, all sorts of dust. This deadly combination is moved around by winds and ends up on the walls, meaning on the artwork.”

Paolucci pointed out that a better system exists in Milan, where visitors going to see Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” must pass through a filtration system to help reduce the work’s exposure to dust and pollutants.
Downside: only 25 visitors are admitted every 15 minutes!

Source: eGlobal Travel News

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13 September 2010 - John O' Groats - a Carbuncle?

Posted by: Alan

John O' Groats is famous as the top end of mainland Britain.

But now it has the dubious honour of being rated the rear-end of Scottish tourism.

It has just received a 2010 Carbuncle Award as the most dismal place in Scotland.

Carbuncles judge Drew Mackie said: "This is the most anti-climactic tourist attraction I know.

"An air of dereliction" hangs over the place.
"The main hotel building is derelict and the most striking feature is a large carpark".

The Carbuncle Awards were launched 10 years ago to provoke debate about the poor quality of some development around Britain.

{A carbuncle is a severe neck or facial abscess}

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10 September 2010 - 95 snakes in carry on baggage

Posted by: Alan

An appeal has been launched over the lenient sentencing of an animal smugger dubbed the Lizard King, who was seized at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport with 95 live boa constrictors in his carry-on luggage.

The Lizard King, real name Anson Wong, was apparently en route to Jakarta, where he hoped the snakes would fetch a high price. His plan fell apart when his bulging hand luggage burst open at the airport and the snakes made a bid for freedom. The BBC reported that the 95 boa constrictorsshared the bag with two rhinoceros vipers and a matamata turtle”.

Wong, a Malaysian, had already served prison time for wildlife trafficking in the United States, the Associated Press said. In 2001, a US court sentenced him to almost six years jail for running an animal-smuggling racket. Prosecutors said he had imported and sold more than 300 protected reptiles native to Asia and Africa. Wong had been arrested in Mexico in 1998.

Authorities had expected Wong to receive a heavy sentence in the Malaysian Court this week. They were aghast when he got off with six months prison and a fine of about AUD60,000.

WWF Malaysia called the penalty a “slap on the wrist”. The Malaysian Attorney General’s office agreed and has filed an appeal. It lodged the appeal almost as soon as the sentence was handed down.

Meanwhile, Malaysian airport authorities are very curious to know how Wong managed to board a domestic flight from Penang with a suitcase full of live snakes. The incident followed other incidents elsewhere in the world, including a woman who tried to smuggle a baby tiger on a plane and a twitchy-looking man with 18 monkeys down his trousers, arrested at an airport in Mexico.

 

Source: eGlobal Travel News

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09 September 2010 - Fee for Aussie Travellers to US

Posted by: Alan

 Travellers from countries which do not require visas for the United States { such as Australia } - must now pay a $US14 ($A15) tax.

Travellers from Visa Waiver Program countries must "pay operational and travel promotion fees" when applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), the US Customs and Border Protection said on its website.

"The total fee for a new or renewed ESTA will be 14 dollars," the website said. The breakdown includes $US10 tax and $US4 to recover the cost of the ESTA system.

 

The tax will be used to fund a campaign to promote tourism to the US.

This is the first time the US has resorted to a government-sponsored international sales pitch similar to those used by Australia and other countries to win a bigger share of global tourism.

The campaign is expected to increase visitor numbers by an estimated 1.6 million travellers, while restoring a more relaxed and welcoming image of America in a security-conscious era.

There were 2.4 million fewer international tourists visiting the US last year than in 2000. Its inability to keep pace with expanding global long-haul tourism is estimated to have cost it $US500 billion in lost revenues over the past decade.

Studies have suggested the campaign could bring in an extra $US4 billion in tourism spending a year, creating more than 40,000 jobs and trimming the federal deficit of the US by $US425 million over 10 years.

 

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08 September 2010 - Another Credit Card Scam

Posted by: Alan

New York area police have issued a warning about bogus airport cabbies after two Australian travellers fell victim to a credit card scam last week.

Asking VL Travel to book an airport transfer would help you to avoid these types of scam !

The women, in their early 20s but otherwise unidentified, were approached by a man posing as a cab driver after they arrived at New York’s Kennedy airport and agreed to pay a fare of $US70 to be driven to a hotel in New Jersey.

The driver asked for payment during the journey and the women handed over a pre-paid card containing several hundred dollars.

A few hours later, the Australians found that the card had been cleaned out by purchases made in the area near their hotel, according to local newspaper The Hudson Reporter.

Police said they believe that the fraudster had used a skimming device connected to a laptop computer when he pretended to process the fare payment. It was not a credit card processing device.

They warned visitors to New York to ride only in authorised taxis and limousines.

Authorised vehicles have official medallions on their bonnets.

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07 September 2010 - 7 metre wide screen - that's big!

Posted by: Alan

P&O Cruises has announced that its latest superliner, Pacific Pearl, will feature a giant entertainment screen on its pool deck, giving passengers a great new way to enjoy their cruise holiday.

Stretching seven metres wide and four metres high, the state-of-the-art LED "Big Screen" is a first for the cruise line and headlines a series of exciting drawcards planned for Pacific Pearl, which will be launched in December 2010.

Pacific Pearl’s Big Screen will create the opportunity for poolside fun day and night, showcasing everything from sports events, latest release movies and scenic destination images to P&O Cruises’ own daily TV show.

In another first for the cruise line, Pacific Pearl will give her passengers a new way to soak up the sun and relax while on holiday with a Swim Up Bar in one of her two pools.

Pacific Pearl is expected to quickly develop a strong following among passengers.

To find out more about cruising with P&O, why not attend our Cruise evening?
(Wednesday, 15th September 2010). Contact us for more info.

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06 September 2010 - Vintage Beer . . . ?

Posted by: alan

 Divers investigating a 200-yearold shipwreck in the Baltic Sea have discovered what they say is the world’s oldest drinkable beer.

They were actually trying to salvage champagne from the wreck, but also discovered a handful of beer bottles - which the divers immediately sampled.

“Researchers who tried drops of the dark, foamy liquid liked the taste of it,” said a spokesman for the team, Bjorn Haggblom.

The cargo was aboard a shipwreck south of the autonomous Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea.

The ship was believed to be heading from Copenhagen, Denmark, to St Petersburg, Russia. It could have possibly been sent by France's King Louis XVI to the Russian Imperial Court.

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02 September 2010 - The infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano

Posted by: Alan

How about this for creative travel industry thinking?

Scandinavian specialist Bentours has today launched a new tour of Iceland which includes the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano that brought global aviation to a halt earlier this year.

The three day Iceland Volcano Tour includes a guided "super jeep" tour taking in "volcanic vistas and unabridged glacial rivers" while heading towards the volcano and its now ashcovered landscapes.

"Clients will learn about what the unbridled power of an erupting volcano can do to its surroundings.[getting] as close to the latest volcanic action as possible while keeping a safe distance," Bentours promises.

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02 September 2010 - Singapore Airport Slide . . .

Posted by: Alan

 It’s all downhill for some travellers passing through Singapore’s Changi airport.

The airport has opened a four-storey slide, adding to what it is already arguably the biggest range of airport entertainment in the world.

The new attraction, in Terminal 3, takes sliders from a height of 12 metres to floor level at a speed of 6 metres a second, via a mixture of loops and bends.

It’s open daily from noon till 10.30pm and is free for two slides for every $S30 spent at airport stores.

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01 September 2010 - Canine Lifeguards???

Posted by: Alan

Specially trained life-dogs are being deployed on beaches throughout Italy (where else?) to aid human lifeguards rescue swimmers (and sinkers) in need.

The lifedogs are sent into the water armed with either a harness, a buoy or a raft which the rescuee can cling to to be towed in to shore.

The bonus of the pups is that they find it easier to leap from helicopters and boats than their human counterparts, making them perfect for emergency situations.

Currently there are 300 trained dogs on the go (it takes three years to train a dog), with labradors, golden retrievers and newfoundlands making up the bulk of the numbers.

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