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September 2011

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30 September 2011 - Worlds Top Tourist Attractions

Posted by: Alan

US magazine Travel & Leisure has issued a list of what it considers to be the world’s top tourist attractions, based on visitor numbers - and the first nine are all in the USA.

Only the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul makes the top 10.

The magazine says the rankings are for "cultural and historical sites, natural landmarks and officially-designated spaces".

And the list has been compiled using data from government agencies, industry reports and "reputable" media outlets.

Here are the top 10, with annual visitor numbers:

  1. New York’s Times Square (39.2 million)
  2. New York’s Central Park (38m)
  3. Washington’s Union Station (37m)
  4. Las Vegas Strip (29.5m)
  5. Niagara Falls (22.5m)
  6. New York’s Grand Central Terminal (21.6m)
  7. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston (18m)
  8. Walt Disney World’s Magi Kingdom, Orlando (17m)
  9. Disneyland, California (16m)
  10. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul (15m)


The Disney figures are estimates because the company doesn’t disclose attendance figures.

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29 September 2011 - Double Decker Bus from London to Kathmandu

Posted by: Alan

Three young adventurers - two Aussies and a Canadian - are retracing the Asia to Europe overland coach tour route made famous by the likes of Flight Centre founders Graham Turner and Bill James.

Adam Dowden, 28, from Sydney, Mitch Turner, 27, from Terrigal NSW and Canadian Jordan Cross, 27, have set off from London in a 1958 double-decker bus once used by Top Deck Travel, which pioneered the overland journey in the 1970s.

They’ll travel through France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran and India with the aim of reaching Kathmandu, Nepal by 14 January - a trip lasting 118 days.

Jordan Cross came up with the idea after reading the Bill James book ‘Top Deck Daze’, in which Mr James recounts how he and Mr Turner, now Flight Centre ceo, bought a double-decker in the 1970s and fitted it out with bunks and a kitchen to create a budget tour company called Top Deck Travel.

"Bill’s book was so inspiring and we related to it on so many levels", Mr Cross says.

"After reading it, we were flirting with the idea of buying our own double-decker to do a trip like that, but then we found Topdeck had an original double-decker in the Isle of Wight Bus Museum.

"We took a punt and approached them with the idea of recreating their London to Sydney journey in that bus."

Topdeck agreed, has helped them refit the bus and is providing support along the way.

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28 September 2011 - Streaking Granny Saves The Day

Posted by: Alan

In one of the year’s more unusual tales of selfless heroism, an elderly woman who achieved prominence by streaking in an Air New Zealand in-flight safety video has helped rescue an incoherent drunken man from an Auckland creek.

Betty Messent, 78, who looks a little like the Queen, made a brief appearance as a streaker in a wacky Air New Zealand Rugby World Cup-themed safety video.
She was chosen for the role by talent scouts who spotted her outside a local supermarket.

Fairfax media in New Zealand has reported that Messent was walking with her partner Russell Officer in Auckland when they heard a distress call. It came from a drunk who had become stuck in mud while attempting to urinate in a creek.

The couple initially thought the man had toppled from his pushbike, until they noticed his fly was open and he was surrounded by beer cans. The man was clinging onto bushes and was in danger of being swept away, Messent said.

The pair used a mobile phone to call emergency services, who took the man to hospital for treatment for hypothermia. He was later discharged.

A senior police office confirmed later that the situation had been serious. The victim had one foot stuck in creek mud and was unsteady on his other leg.

Messent and her partner had saved the man’s life, the policeman said.

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27 September 2011 - Captain Jack Sparrows Black Pearl

Posted by: Alan

Captain Jack Sparrow's Black Pearl has been created in car format by a crew of four tourists travelling through Europe.

German highway police stopped the pirate ship on wheels The Black Pearl, manned by three passengers and one driver dressed in pirate outfits last week.

After checking the passengers for the presence of alcohol and checking their papers, the police discovered that the car was taking part in a contest for the 'most iconic vehicle' in Europe.

Pearl additions to the car included full wooden cladding, a wheelhouse, galley and mast, which were given the all clear by the police after the pirates presented them with a road safety certificate for all modifications.

"We wished them a safe voyage and allowed them to continue on their way," a police spokesperson said.

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26 September 2011 - Polar Expedition Almost Ready

Posted by: Alan

Travelscene American Express says it’s now just a week to the departure of two young Australians planning an epic walk to the South Pole from the edge of Antarctica.

Four years ago, James Castrission and Justin Jones, known as Cas and Jonesy, kayaked across the Tasman in 62 days.

Now they plan to cross 2200kms of some of the harshest terrain on earth, becoming the youngest adventurers to reach the pole.

Travelscene American Express is one of the expedition sponsors and featured the two as keynote speakers at this year’s National Consultants Conference.

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23 September 2011 - Flooding Problems near Siem Reap

Posted by: Alan

Nearly 200 tourists were airlifted from Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temple complex yesterday after a road to one of the ruins was cut off by flash flooding.

Three helicopters rescued the travellers, who were stranded at Banteay Srei, one of hundreds of ancient temples at the World Heritage site, after 16 hours of heavy rain inundated the access road.

The group included travellers from the United States, Britain, Germany and France.

An American woman said local villagers had brought food to the tourists as they waited on high ground for the helicopters to arrive, even though their own homes were flooded.

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21 September 2011 - Bus Tours of Christchurch Earthquake Zone

Posted by: Alan

The earthquake-shattered centre of Christchurch may soon be opened to bus tours.

The worst-hit section of the city's CBD, known as the Red Zone, has been closed to the general public since the February disaster.

But Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive Roger Sutton told media yesterday that the authority is considering opening up the area to bus tours.

A spokeswoman for Mr Sutton said: "It is only in the planning stages at this point, but he hopes to be able to announce further details in a couple of weeks".

Locals think it's a good idea, some suggesting a special fee per traveller to help the city's rebuild.

A NZ Herald newspaper report notes that Australian PM Julia Gillard, Prince William and celebrities Rachel Hunter and Russell Crowe have already visited the area.

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20 September 2011 - Best Cruise Port in the World

Posted by: Alan

British cruise passengers have voted New York the world’s best port, pushing perennial winner Venice into second place.

  1. New York
  2. Venice
  3. Barcelona
  4. Singapore
  5. Rome

The poll was carried out for the UK Passenger Shipping Association, which is predicting that a record 1.7 million Britons will holiday at sea this year - about 80,000 more than last year.

Cruising now accounts for nearly 12% of the UK overseas package holiday sector.

Actors Johnny Depp, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie are the celebrities which UK cruise passengers would most like to share a cabin with, according to the same poll.

Rupert Murdoch’s son James is among people they would like to see made to walk the plank - a view apparently sparked by the phone-hacking saga.

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19 September 2011 - New Hotel Inspired by a Dress

Posted by: Alan

The 34-storey Scandic Victoria Tower in Stockholm is clad in 8000 triangular glass panels in a design inspired by a sequin dress.

The 299-room property, which opened on Friday, towers 120 metres, making it the tallest in Scandinavia.

A top-floor bar offers spectacular views of the Swedish capital.

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16 September 2011 - Bikes in New York City

Posted by: Alan

New York city authorities have chosen a supplier for a planned ambitious bicycle rental scheme.

But the scheme won’t begin operating before summer next year because it still has to be determined how the Big Apple’s crowded streets will be able to make room for 10,000 more bikes and 600 rental stations, the New York Times reports.

Pricing also has to be worked out.

When it does get under way, the scheme will be the biggest of its kind in the US.

Cycling has become more popular in New York in recent times.

In the past four years alone the city has seen the introduction of an additional 400kms of bike lanes.

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15 September 2011 - Alls Well That Ends Well

Posted by: Alan

The South African rugby fans who found that the hotel they thought they'd booked in Wellington NZ was actually in England are getting a refund from the UK property.

Husband and wife Michael and Sunette Adendorff paid around $270 to the Majestic Hotel in Eastbourne, England, thinking they booked a hotel in the Wellington suburb of Eastbourne for their visit to the Rugby World Cup tournament.

Now, a spokeswoman for the English hotel has told Wellington newspaper The Dominion Post that the couple will get a full refund.

"I've been to South Africa. We like South Africans here. We've had people turn up in the wrong year, but never in a different hemisphere", Kate McCartney said.

The Adendorffs say they'll stay at the Majestic the next time they're in England.

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14 September 2011 - Richard Bransons Private Resort Rises from the Ashes

Posted by: Alan

Sir Richard Branson's private island resort in the Caribbean is back in business following a 22 August fire that destroyed the eight-bedroom Great House.

Necker Island, part of the British Virgin Islands group, is reserved by small groups and celebrities for weddings and getaways.

Guests will have use of six newly-refurbished Bali-theme houses as well as Temple House, Sir Richard's private home, and his 32-metre catamaran.

The aviation entrepreneur plans to rebuild the Great House in the same Balinese style, at the same time promising several "innovative twists."

The fire was triggered by a lightning strike during Hurricane Irene.

Actress Kate Winslet, a guest, reportedly carried Branson's 90-year-old mother to safety during the blaze.

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13 September 2011 - Rugby Fans Book Hotel in Wrong City

Posted by: Alan

Two South African rugby fans have arrived in Wellington NZ to find that the hotel they booked is actually in England.

Before leaving home, husband and wife Michael and Suzette Adendorff made a booking via the Internet at the Majestic Hotel in Royal Parade, Eastbourne.

At the weekend, they drove around the Wellington suburb of the same name, wondering why their car's GPS system couldn't find Royal Parade.

When they stopped at a pharmacy to ask for help, staff finally realised that they were looking for a street in England.

Mr Adendorff told the staff that he thought it was odd that he'd been charged in pounds when he made the booking.

One of the pharmacy workers took the couple out for dinner and on a sightseeing excursion, and then helped them find another hotel.

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12 September 2011 - Worlds Worst Cities to Drive in

Posted by: Alan

Mexico City has the worst driving conditions in the world, according to a survey sponsored by IBM.

Opinions were sought from some 8000 drivers in 20 cities.

The Chinese city of Shenzhen was considered to have the second-worst conditions, followed in order by:

  1. Beijing
  2. Nairobi
  3. Johannesburg
  4. Bangalore
  5. Delhi
  6. Moscow
  7. Milan
  8. Singapore
  9. Buenos Aires
  10. Los Angeles
  11. Paris
  12. Madrid
  13. New York
  14. Toronto
  15. Stockholm
  16. Chicago
  17. London
  18. Montreal

The survey, results of which were announced on Friday, found 41% of city motorists would leave their cars at home if there was adequate public transport.

Asked what they would do with the additional time if traffic conditions improve, half of New York drivers said they’d exercise.

One in four drivers in Milan, Bangalore, Delhi, Beijing and Nairobi said they would work more.

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09 September 2011 - Mouse Joins Diners

Posted by: Alan

In an incident reminiscent of the famous 'Fawlty Towers' episode, a couple dining at a Jamie Oliver restaurant in the UK city of Nottingham claims a mouse ran on to their table while they were eating and "just sat there, looking at the food".

Sandra Cooper, dining with husband Kevin, told The Sun newspaper: "A lot of people would have screamed, but we didn’t want to make a fuss".

The unwanted guest eventually ran off, down a leg of the table.

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09 September 2011 - Sapphire Princess Swamps Small Boat

Posted by: Alan

The wake from a Princess Cruises liner swamped an unoccupied pleasure craft as it berthed in the Alaskan port of Ketchikan on Wednesday.

Sapphire Princess was using more power than usual as it manoeuvred in high winds, according to local media.

The resultant extra wake left the small boat with only part of its bow above the waterline.

Reports say the wake also sank a small metal skiff and damaged the floating dock where the craft were anchored.

Princess arranged for them to be refloated.

Holland America’s Zaandam apparently cancelled a call because of the high winds.

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08 September 2011 - This Cruise is Rocking

Posted by: Alan

Passengers on board this upcoming cruise are set to be truly rocking - regardless of what the surface of the ocean is like.

The "Monsters of Rock" voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Florida onboard the MSC Poesia understatedly claims to be the "greatest floating 80's heritage rock festival to ever sail the seven seas".

Featured artists include bands such as Cinderalla, Tesla, Kix, Stryper, Y&T and the curiously named Lynch Mob.

There's also Bang Tango, Keel, XYZ, Black 'N Blue, Firehouse and Faster Pussycat, with prices for the four day voyage starting at US$849 per person.

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07 September 2011 - Coronation Avenue

Posted by: Alan

Residents of an entire street in Wales are so friendly towards each other that they all went on holiday together.

A total 49 adults and children, aged from three months to 60, returned on Monday from a week on the Spanish holiday island of Ibiza.

Pub owner Paul John, who organised the trip, told the MailOnline that everyone got on well.

"We all had lots of fun", he said. "There were no fall outs along the way.

"We live on Coronation Avenue (in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire), but we are similar to ‘Coronation Street’ (TV soapie) in a way".

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06 September 2011 - Eagles Nest in Bavaria still Popular

Posted by: Alan

A building at Adolf Hitler's mountain retreat in Germany has become a thriving tourist attraction, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.

Most of the buildings in the spot known as Eagle's Nest, where Hitler holidayed, have been destroyed to prevent them becoming neo-Nazi shrines.

But a remaining chalet-style annex has been turned into a tearoom, and it's doing brisk business.

The Mail quotes German tourism authorities as saying it handled some 300,000 visitors last year - up 30,000 on the year before.

Americans and Britons accounted for 85% of them.

The property, known as Kehlsteinhaus, is run by a charitable trust.

There is a very informative webpage here: /

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05 September 2011 - Strategic Airlines becomes Air Australia

Posted by: Alan

Strategic Airlines has unveiled the aircraft livery it will feature with its rebranding to become Air Australia.

The lime-coloured pattern which will adorn the carrier's Airbus A320 and A330 planes was revealed to staff.

The new livery, which includes a stylised boomerang on the tail, is the work of Melbourne ad industry man Sean Cummins.

He's quoted in The Australian today as saying: "We wanted to really confront the colours that people know and love.

"We started with the green and the gold and we realised there were grades of green we could use.

"And we really love the grey because it kind of represented a big grey kangaroo or a koala."

Air Australia plans to begin service to Honolulu from Brisbane and Melbourne in December, with one-way fares from $499 (BNE) and $599 (MEL).

It's also planning more services from those cities to Phuket in March, and will begin flights between Melbourne and Brisbane in October.

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01 September 2011 - The Love Boat again

Posted by: Alan

The star of the TV series 'The Love Boat' will be aboard Pacific Princess for part of a 107-day world cruise departing from Ft Lauderdale, Florida on 13 January.

So will Tab Hunter, a screen idol from the 1950s.

Actor Gavin McLeod, who played the part of Captain Stubing in 'The Love Boat' will sail a 28 January-10 February sector from San Diego to Pago Pago and will present a selection of episodes from the show.

Princess Cruises is reaching well back into Hollywood history with its choice of Tab Hunter as a special guest.

Born in 1931, he starred in more than 50 films during Hollywood's so-called 'golden age'.

He'll discuss his career and the ship will screen several of his movies during a 12-30 April sector from Dubai to Venice.

Princess has lined up a number of other show business people as special guests, along with former diplomats, historians, naturalists and a British Airways Concorde pilot.

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