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

Travelogue…with Bob Nicolaides

Destinations 2012





Bangkok selected ‘The best scenery’ city


Bangkok was cited with the 2011 Asian Townscape Awards, presented by Rumi Ichiba, the Chief of Exchange Promotion Section of the Asian Pacific City Summit Secretariat of the UN-HABITAT in Fukuoka, Japan. The award presentation was held under a concept called “Living Environment and Urban Revival,” rewarding model towns and projects which promote the life quality of its people, along with overall environmental development. Other criteria include the promotion of safety, the importance of art and culture, the harmony between the city’s landscape and way of life, the city’s initiatives and its role as a model for other cities in the years to come..

Bangkok’s candidacy was under the banner of “The Living Bangkok Heritage”, an organization which promotes and works towards the conservation of four areas around the Rattanakosin Island, including Plabpla Maha Jetsadabodin Ground, Santichaiprakarn Park, Nakarapirom Park, and Sanam Luang Ceremonial Grounds. Along with Bangkok, three other cities shared the 2011 Asian Townscape Awards, including Korea’s Jeju and Pohang, and the Japanese city of Kumamoto.

The director of Park Holidays UK Tony Clish has lashed out at ABTA after the trade body attacked a new government-funded campaign to promote UK tourism. ABTA described the £4M advertising campaign VisitEngland as "a misguided use of public funds". Clish said the criticism by the association was "a cheap shot from a body which can't understand why people now prefer Torquay to Turkey". He said the comments were hardly surprising, coming from a body whose members' interests were served by encouraging people to holiday abroad.

"We are at the start of a year when the international spotlight will be falling on Britain, and it's perfectly proper for the tourist board to highlight the UK's fantastic tourism product," he said. "Our tourism industry generates over a hundred billion pounds of spending each year, supporting over two-and-a-half million people in tourism-related jobs. "What's wrong in spending a tiny fraction of that income in order to generate even more visitors during a year when we will celebrate both the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee?"

According to Clish, there has been a steady rise in UK tourism in recent years, along with a sharp fall in the number of people taking overseas holidays. This, he said, might be fuelling ABTA's outburst. "Clearly ABTA is feeling the pressure, but people can't be blamed for re-discovering Britain as a wonderful, stress-free holiday destination," he said.

"The government is making a very shrewd move in launching this advertising campaign, for the cost is just a fraction of what is likely to be recouped by keeping the leisure pound in this country. "So let's allow families to make their own decision about where to go - and if they choose Ramsgate over Rhodes, then I'd say they are supporting the right economy!"


Is Alepotrypa Cav, the real site of Mythical Hades Passage

By no means can you call Hades the happiest spot! For what Hades stood for in Greek mythology was afterlife! There, in the gloomy world of the underworld, renowned heroes long gone from this world such as Achilles or Ajax gathered mostly to grumble about the boredom they existed in, and to wait for the judgment of the panel of judges of the dead


"I would rather be a paid servant in a poor man's house and be above ground than king of kings among the dead," said Achilles was quoted in Odyssey. But for archaeologists, a Greek cave which brought views of comparison to Hades looks more like the Olympian abode. Overlooking a quiet Greek bay, Alepotrypa Cave (meaning literally Foxhole in Greek,) contains the remains of a Stone Age village, burials, a lake and an amphitheater sized final chamber that witnessed blazing rituals more than 5,000 years ago. Until recently however, all of this was hidden from the world and scholars can only take now a peek on what’s in this ‘beyond.’


"What you see there almost cannot be described," says archaeologist Anastasia Papathanasiou of the Greek Ministry of Culture, a director of the Diros Project Team. "There is almost no Neolithic (Stone Age) site like it in Europe, certainly none with so many burials." So far, her team has unearthed at least 160 burial sites inside the cave, from a time 7,000 to 5,200 years ago (5000 to 3200 BC) when farming first spread to Europe. The lives those farmers led inside and outside the cave, across the remote Mani Peninsula of southern Greece, offer fresh insights into humanity at the dawn of civilization in Europe.


"They lived in a large village outside the cave," says Mike Galaty of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., a co-director of the project's survey efforts with Willam Parkinson of Chicago's Field Museum. "And some were inside too, we think, when the entrance collapsed," Galaty adds. The cave inside is  covered with a layer of greasy ash , left over from ritual fires that may have marked burials there (and reburials, as many of the skeletons are within ossuaries, stone boxes where remains were placed years after their first burial.) "It is quite dark inside, quite black," Papathanasiou says. "But the state of preservation is excellent."


From that preservation, we know the Stone Age farmers at the site ate a diet heavy in barley and wheat with little meat or fish. Although a full reconstruction of the region's prehistoric climate is still to come, we know from plant remains that it was wetter and forests were much thicker. Analysis of the skeletons shows people were not different physically from those inhabiting the Mediterranean today, their height about the same though slightly anemic due to lack of meat in their diet. About 31% of the burial skulls displayed an inherited line where bone plates meet above the forehead, showing they were related, Papathanasiou says. And the noggins show a lot of signs of healed bumps and cuts, since "they fought a lot."


"We don't quite know what was going on with the ritual activities, but it seems they were burning sacrificed animals, smashing pots and other pottery, and building large fires inside the cave," Galaty says. "It could have been really nasty depending on what they were burning."

Fumes coming out of mystic caves figure in big ways in ancient Greek mythology, such as the classical Oracle of Delphi who foretold the fate of kings and emperors. Although that was thousands of years ago, around 1400 B.C., after the closure of Alepotrypa Cave, such a relationship was suggested by the Greek archaeologist George Papathanassopoulos, who led excavations at the site starting in the 1970's. His speculation is that the ancient Greek notion of Hades was a gloomy and misty home for the dead, may have had its origins in the cave's rituals.


The other task that fell upon Papathanassopoulos was to save the cave from the fate of becoming a tourist trap. First re-discovered in 1958 by local folks, Greek tourism officials saw it as a cave attraction, carving out walkways with bulldozers, installing trestles and even putting a pontoon boat in the interior lake to help with a light show. ("They had to saw the boat in half and then put it back together to get it through the chamber entrance," Galaty says. "It's still floating there.")


Not protecting the cave immediately" was a huge lost opportunity, since it had been sealed for thousands of years," Papathanasiou says. However, when archaeologists realized what was at stake there with basket after basket of Stone Age pottery emerging from the cave, they led efforts to keep tourists from trampling the site. "There are still very many places who remained intact where science can benefit from," she adds.


A big step for the Diros project in the coming years will be mapping the extent of the Stone Age community living around the bay on the outside of the cave, Galaty says, Being far from Athens and anything that has to do with archeology, the peninsula boasts an isolated history that saw an arms race of tower building ("They wanted to shoot cannons down on their neighbors in the Middle Ages," Papathanasiou says) and could be that it served as a home for the middle-class citizens of Sparta. In addition, "some archaeologists speculate there may have been a Mycenaean era palace around the time the legendary Achilles, still alive (if he ever had lived,) riding around the besieged walls of Troy just before he descended to Hades. "We are going to need a bigger new museum," Papathanasiou says. "We are just getting started bringing this site to the world."


Atlantis Bahamas Sale: Up to 60% Off plus $600 in Perks

The Atlantis

                                The Atlantis on Paradise Island, Nassau, The Bahamas, where prices slipped a steep 60%

In addition, to a 60% overall discount on room rates, Atlantis stays April 15 - June 13 include an Atlantis Experience Pass -- offering as much as $600 in perks such as a dolphin interaction, golf and spa credit. Also, air-and-hotel packages of at least four nights through October get an immediate $250 airfare credit -- $400 with a six-night stay (one per booking).

Nightly room-only rates April 15 - Oct. 31, including weekends -- which usually cost a premium -- are:

·         Beach Tower, $199 (reg. $509): Family friendly and closest to the beach

·         Coral Towers, $249 (reg. $549): Located by Marina Village shops and the casino

·         Royal Towers, $299 (reg. $649): Atlantis' iconic tower, near the water park

·         The Reef Atlantis, $369 (reg. $699): Deluxe waterfront studios and suites with a kitchen

·         The Cove Atlantis, $449 (reg. $849): Luxury oceanfront suites with exclusive adults-only pool

These deals are part of a Paradise Island sale, including Comfort Suites, which offers access to Atlantis' amenities and breakfast for $150 nightly, and the Best Western for $138 nightly. The air credit also applies. All deals include $25 free slot play at Atlantis. To book, click the link above or call 888-440-9497.

To book an Atlantis stay and to see terms, conditions and restrictions, call 888-440-9497.

 New Disney cruise ship, Fantasy, arrives in New York

Disney Cruise Line's Disney Fantasy arrives in New York on Feb. 28, 201

Disney fans in New York today were treated to an unusual sight as the company's newest cruise ship, the Disney Fantasy, arrived from Germany. The 2,500-passenger vessel, which was christened in the city shortly thereafter, was feted with a fireboat water salute as it sailed past the Statue of Liberty to a dock on the Hudson River side of Manhattan.

Completed earlier this month, the Disney Fantasy has been under construction for more than a year at Germany's Meyer Werft shipyard. It remained in New York only for a few days before heading to Port Canaveral, Fla., where it will be based year-round.

Controversial Slogan bites The Dust

In the mountain biker magnet of Fruita, Colorado, decals for a sports shop read FU ("Fruita, USA") and an annual festival is dedicated to a headless chicken named Mike. But that free-wheeling vibe has its limits: After asking for public feedback on a potential marketing campaign incorporating the double-entendre "WTF" (as in "Welcome to Fruita"), city officials discovered that most citizens weren't LOL.

It all started when a local couple printed 500 "WTF" stickers and distributed them free to downtown businesses. While the slogan generated attaboys from as far away as Australia and proved so catchy the couple made up another 1,500 decals, the western Colorado town of 13,000 won't be giving it an official stamp of approval.

The edgy campaign "is not dead," says city manager Clint Kinney, who predicts the business community will "pick it up and run with it" despite the lack of municipal support


Heightened Security in Greek Museums


Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos announced that the country’s museums will be guarded by a special security team comprising culture ministry employees and selected Greek Police (EL.AS) officers with special training in Olympic Games’ security.

Briefing the parliamentary standing committee on cultural and educational affairs on the protection of museums and archaeological sites, Geroulanos said the joint security team has already agreed on a package of immediate and medium-term measures.

Referring to the recent robbery in the Archaeological Museum in Olympia, Geroulanos stated that it was a “very serious blow” and expressed certainty that those responsible
will suffer the consequences.


 Oldest, darkest, deepest, largest and quietest hotel suit


We all dream of 'getting away from it all', but there aren't many hotels which can offer a suite 220 feet below ground level with no natural light. The Grand Canyon Hotel in Arizona boasts the oldest, darkest, deepest, quietest, and largest suite in the world, in a cavern that took 65 million years to form.

To get to the room managers have dubbed the 'love cave' guests must take a lift 22 storeys down. The largest dry cavern in the United States, it is naturally completely dark and completely quiet because it contains no life forms at all. Yes, the only thing moving or breathing in that room will be little old you.

Water is carried down to the room by staff, and an employee is stationed at the top of the lift shaft should guests suddenly decide in the middle of the night that it's...well, a bit too quiet.

The suite, which is 200 feet wide, 400 feet long and with a 70 foot ceiling, can sleep up to six, with two double beds and a sofa bed provided.

The cave is furnished with all the amenities hotel managers believe guests will require 220 feet below the surface: a library of old books and magazines, including a National Geographic collection which dates back to 1917, and a collection of books dating back to the late 1800’s.

In keeping with the olde worlde feel, an ancient piece of equipment called a 'record player' is
provided for entertainment.

The furniture may be also a little quaint, but there's a healthy twist to staying in this accommodation.

The hotel manager explains that the air in the cavern is as dry and clean as one can get, coming in via 65 miles of limestone crevices from the Grand Canyon to the caverns, with the limestone removing all moisture and impurities.

Rates are $700 per night for two sharing with additional guests up to a total of six paying $100 each



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