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Black Tie International Travel  1
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Black Tie International:  Travel - Bob Nicolaides Destinations
November 2012

with Bob Nicolaides

Destinations: November 2012


bob nicholaides
Vittala Temple,
(St. John Barned-Smith/ For The Washington Post ) - Vittala Temple, in the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka, is the site of this stone chariot, a shrine that once held an icon of the Hindu god Garuda
. It is one of Hampi's most exquisite temples.

Chefs Upgrade Airport Food
to First-Class

Though typically prices of airport food-court are somewhat inflated they nevertheless are becoming worthy of their higher cost since lately they have gotten to be trendy and are increasingly designed by celebrity chefs.

The reasons behind this change are undoubtedly Economics. During the past decade or so, U.S. air carriers have spent time in bankruptcy courts, and high fuel prices and the recession haven’t helped either. Continental Airlines was the first to announce in 2010 that it would stop offering free meals in coach for most domestic flights the company (now merged with United Airlines) dropped the other shoe. A number of media outlets dubbed it the “end of an era.”

In the past five years or so, airports have worked to fill that caloric void, transforming themselves from captive playgrounds for national food chains whose familiarity helped ease nervous travelers onto planes. Airports are increasingly giving fliers reasons to drop money at the terminal. Celebrity chefs have seized yet opportunity to parade their brands around. The list of top-shelf toques working the airport circuit includes many of the usual suspects: Todd English (whose Bonfire can be found in JFK and Logan airports in New York and Boston respectively), Wolfgang Puck (whose Express concepts are as common as roller bags in terminals), Rick Bayless (whose Tortas Frontera at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago actually lists the food suppliers on the menu) and Cat Cora (who has two different concepts in three airports). That, in short, is a recipe for creating memorable food, whether on the ground or 35,000 feet in the air.

$503 - Hawaii from Philadelphia (Roundtrip, tax)


Today, Travelzoo airfare experts found that prices to Honolulu from Philadelphia just dropped to $503 roundtrip, including tax.  Travel is available for Monday-Thursday departures and returns through mid-November. The fare saves as much as $300 on the usual cost of this popular route.  Note: This fare is unadvertised and could disappear at any time.

Travelzoo Tip: During this time, Hawaiian surfing lessons, Mai Tai cruises and snorkeling adventures are all discounted by at least 50%.


Hydrofoils to link Samos with Dodecanese Isles, Turk coast


As of last month, the eastern Aegean island of Samos is linked with the Dodecanese islands to its south through hydrofoils. Samos’ port of Pythagorio has been linked with Kos every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with stopovers on the islands of Patmos, Leros and Kalymnos, while hydrofoils will also service the islet of Agathonissi twice a week. In the Fall, the route will be serviced more frequently.

Local entrepreneurs have also begun contacts with Turkish counterparts ahead of the new coastal shipping route linking Seferihisar, near Izmir on the Turkish coast, and Carlovassi on Samos. A catamaran will make the two-hour voyage between Samos and Seferihisar, linking the eastern Aegean island with the five-million-people-strong tourist market in the greater Izmir region.      


Seven Night Tuscany & Venice

Experience Italy's history and charm with this incredible 7-Night vacation package from Sceptre Tours. Travelers will spend 5 nights in Tuscany at La Fattoria degli Usignoli, and 2 nights in Treviso (just outside of Venice) at the 4-star Park Hotel Bolognese, plus roundtrip airfare to Florence, returning from Venice and a standard car rental. Explore Tuscany's breathtaking countryside or nearby cities of international fame such as Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Certaldo, Pisa, Lucca and Arezzo to name just a few. Ride the canals of Venice or roam the narrow sidewalks for famouse hand-blown glass.

La Fattoria degli Usignoli is a 14th Century estate in the hills of Tuscany and is situated only 25 minutes from magnificent Florence, and is the perfect base to explore Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa, Lucca, and Arezzo to name just a few.

The Villa Pace Park Hotel Bolognese is a superior four star hotel dating back to the 800's. Located along the Terraglio, The Park Hotel is a great base to visit all of Venice's attractions.

Meeting the Needs of Muslim Travelers

Some hotels have women-only beach areas with Islamic swimming etiquette, also known as burkini

As Muslim travelers increasingly change their tourism preferences from traditional trips to Mecca to beach holidays, a number of countries are adapting their tourism offers to the Islamic culture and beliefs.

Last Friday New Zealand launched a new culinary tourism guide focusing on meeting the needs of Halal travelers.

New Zealand Tourism and Christchurch International Airport have launched a new culinary tourism guide focusing on meeting the needs of Halal travelers.

Wanting to capitalize on the country's geographic position -- close to some of the world's largest Muslim populations like Indonesia and Malaysia, the new guide aims to attract one of the world's fastest growing tourism markets.

The guide provides general tourism information as well as a list of Halal classified restaurants and cafes including Halal-certified and vegetarian dishes or vegan cuisine. The new guide will be distributed among travel agents and their customers as well as New Zealand embassies offshore.

In recent years, Muslim tourism in New Zealand has been growing steadily. Last August alone, the number of Muslim visitors to the country was up by 141 percent, compared to the same month last year. According to Tourism New Zealand, Muslim tourists' expenditure is expected to rise to more than 13 percent of the entire global tourism expenditure by 2020.

As part of the program, the agency is offering a series of workshops for the tourism industry, with the aim of providing information on how to meet needs and expectations of the Halal market.

Halal tourism is a new product in the tourism market, designed to meet the needs and beliefs of Islamic culture. Some hotels like Club Familia, have been adapting their practices to suit Islamic customs, especially in countries such as Turkey.

These include Halal food, separate swimming pools for men and women, no alcoholic drinks and, women-only beach areas with Islamic swimming etiquette. Some hotels also include prayer facilities.

This year, Australia's Queensland office of tourism advertised the Gold Coast as a place to spend Ramadan, with the phrase "Why not try Gold Coast for a cooler Ramadan this year?"


New Cut-Rate Carrier in 2013

The new low cost airline HellasAirlines will inaugurate its flights on January 13, 2013. The new airline's hub will be the airport of Nea Aghialos, near Volos city in central Greece. During the presentation of the new company at a Volos hotel, the company's president's captain Vassilis Rallakis said that the ticket fare will be very low and the transport from and to the airport will be free.

Indicatively the ticket price for a two-way ticket to and from Athens will be  for Heraklio, Crete, 80 euros and for destinations abroad such as Rome 120 euros. The airline will carry out flights to and from Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Heraklio, Ioannina and Skiathos island. Flights to and from Rome, Madrid, London, Paris, Moscow are also in the planning.

Porto Carras eyes seasonal operation, instead of full year


The management of Sithonia Hotel and Casino on Porto Carras in Halkidiki prefecture is examining the possibility of downsizing to a six-month operation of its resort. According to an announcement to the Athens Stock Exchange, the decision is related to sliding hotel revenues over the last three years.

 The company submitted a request to the tourism ministry, asking for the seasonal operation.

Vijayanagara, a glorious but gone Empire in Hampi, India.


 Over the edge of the Queen’s Bath in the Indian town of Hampi, (an immaculate, now-empty pool where the ladies of one of India’s great empires once used to bathe) is a a deep trench ringing the building, actually a moat, which the King filled with crocodiles so that no one could watch” the Queen in her bath. A Bad thing for paparazzi of the time-if there were any-and for any would-be peeping Toms.

The bath was just one of many amazing buildings in the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka. The town, with only a fraction of the population that once inhabited it, is quiet and sleepy now, but centuries ago, it was the site of the city of Vijayanagar, the capital of the once great Vijayanagara Empire that stretched across a vast swath of southern India from the 1300s to the 1500s. The “Kingdom of Victory,” as it was known, reached from the western port of Goa to India’s eastern shores and as far as its southern tip, Cape Comorin. In modern days, there are only ruins of this former greatness.

Excavations Gymnasium at Ancient Olympia


Excavations are to begin immediately to uncover the remainder of a building of the age-old Gymnasium in Ancient Olympia, venue of the first Olympic Games in antiquity. The Gymnasium is a monument of exceptional archaeological and cultural value, and its full excavation will complete the archaeological landscape of the Sacred Altis sanctuary. To date, the Eastern Stoa (Archway) has been partially investigated, at a length of 120 meters.

The ancient gymnasium of Olympia lies north-west of the Altis enclosure on a flat stretch of land by the Kladeos river bank. It is adjacent to the palaestra, which extends the gymnasium complex towards the south. Here athletes practiced track and field and the pentathlon. Before the construction of the gymnasium in the Hellenistic period, these events took place outdoors. The surviving structure dates to the second century BC.

The gymnasium is a large quadrangular building, with central court enclosed by Doric stoas. A series of rooms for the athletes probably occupied the west wing. The better studied east wing consists of a solid outer wall, an internal double Doric colonnade, and another colonnade of sixty columns along the court. The lower courses of the outer wall were of porous blocks with stone-built buttresses on the exterior, while the upper courses were of brick. The stoa, like the stadium, was one Olympic stade long, and had ruts on the floor marking the starting-point and finishing post, so that the athletes practiced the exact same distance as they would run during the games. The internal colonnade divided the stoa longitudinally into two parallel tracks: the xystos, the floor of which had to be regularly scraped and leveled (xystos=scraped); and, on the side of the court, the paradromis, or auxiliary track. The spacious court, approximately two hundred and twenty meters long and a hundred meters wide, was used to practice the javelin and discus. A monumental propylon was added at the south-east corner of the building, opposite the north-west entrance to the Altis, in the late second century BC. This propylon consisted of a Corinthian portico, 15.50 meters long and 9.80 meters wide, raised on steps. The propylon's interior was divided longitudinally into three naves by two rows of Corinthian columns; the entablature was decorated with bovine heads and supported a coffered stone ceiling. The south stoa, which communicates with the adjacent palaestra to the south, was added in the first century BC.

The gymnasium is only partly preserved. Its west wing was swept away by the Kladeos river, while its north section has not yet been investigated. The surviving remains were excavated and studied by the German School in recent years. The gymnasium and palaestra were used to train and educate ancient Olympians. They followed a strict routine of physical training, as well as education in music, math, grammar and reading. The gymnasium was an open building with Doric columns on each of its sides and athletes also stayed under its shelter during hot and humid times to avoid overexposure to the weather.


UAE corrected the misunderstanding about the ban

Thursday, 20. September 2012, 15:51

A top UAE official denied reports that the Gulf state had toughened visa rules for tourists from labor-exporting South Asians nations banning low-income visitors.

General Nasser al-Menhali, assistant undersecretary for Nationality and Residency at the interior ministry said no changes have been made to the existing law for visas, WAM state news agency reported.

"Any amendments or measures would be announced in advance," he said.

The Gulf News daily had reported that tourists from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines would need to have a university degree to get a visa to the UAE.

It cited a senior immigration official saying that electricians, pipe fitters, masons, farmers, drivers, tailors and cleaners from those countries would not qualify.

"This would help significantly reduce the risk that individuals engaged in organised crime or the trafficking of persons could gain entry to the country," the official told Gulf News.

Tourist visas are usually arranged through hotels or airlines and travel agents.

Tourism grew rapidly in the UAE, especially in the glitzy emirate of Dubai, where the number of holidaymakers increased to 9.3 million in 2011, up 10 per cent from the previous year.

The UAE has millions of foreign workers, mostly from South Asian countries.

The expat-dominated population is estimated to have grown to around 8.2 million by the end of 2010, with UAE nationals making up only 11.47 per cent.


Five Thessaloniki museums to host
Louvre exhibits, artworks

Art works and artifacts on display at the Louvre will be exhibited in Greece for the first time, with five museums in Thessaloniki to host the exhibits, as part of events commemorating the centenary of the northern Greece metropolis' liberation from Ottoman rule.

The five venues -- the Museum of Byzantine Culture, the Tellogleio Art Institute, the State Museum of Contemporary Art, the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum -- are participating in the overall exhibition entitled "The Louvre in Thessaloniki".

The initiative comes in reciprocation of the renowned Paris museum's hosting of the significant exhibition entitled "Ancient Macedonia: In the Kingdom of Alexander the Great", which was hosted at the Louvre from October 2011 to January 2012, replete with exhibits from various collections across the province of Macedonia, Greece's largest province.


A Spiked Tour de France

France - Is your style playful, romantic, or refined. Get matched up with the perfect vineyard, learn more about the wine regions of France, and start planning your trip. Deals start from $3295 and include airfare, transportation, tours, meals and more. Sample the finest Chardonnays, savor dreamy picnic spots, share a meal with a local family en plein air, and meet a world-class vintner. This is a perfect escape for those passionate about wine, cuisine and rural France.

Joyce Brooks

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