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Black Tie International Travel  1
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Black Tie International MagazineTravel
Bob Nicholaides, Byzantine Church, Israel


Traveling Along… with Bob Nicolaides
Byzantine Church, Israel


  Israeli archaeologists presented a newly uncovered 1,500-year-old church in the Judean hills on Wednesday, including an unusually well-preserved mosaic floor with images of lions, foxes, fish and peacocks. The Byzantine church located southwest of Jerusalem, excavated over the last two months, will be visible only for another week before archaeologists cover it again with soil for its own protection. The small basilica with an exquisitely decorated floor was active between the fifth and seventh centuries A.D., said the dig's leader, Amir Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority. He said the floor was "one of the most beautiful mosaics to be uncovered in Israel in recent years. It is unique in its craftsmanship and level of preservation," he said.

Archaeologists began digging at the site, known as Hirbet Madras, in December. The Antiquities Authority discovered several months earlier that antiquities thieves had begun plundering the ruins, which sit on an uninhabited hill not far from an Israeli farming community. Though an initial survey suggested the building was a synagogue, the excavation revealed stones carved with crosses, identifying it as a church. The building had been built atop another structure around 500 years older, dating to Roman times, when scholars believe the settlement was settled by Jews

Corfu has been described as one of nature's work of art. With its rich vegetation, the unspoiled beaches surrounded by the crystal waters of the Ionian and the Adriatic Sea, Corfu Island is the ideal destination for memorable holidays. It perfectrly combines perfectly the past with the present, as its historical monuments and traditional villages reflect  the Venetian, British and French influences , taking visitors on a fantastic journey of anera bygone. The Old Town of the capital with its impressive rpyalty Palace is included in the UNESCO Old Heritage list.

A cosmopolitan island, it is offering many vacation choices: scenic landscapes, traditional villages and charming bays along the coastal route, sandy or pebbly Blue Flag-awarded beaches, peaceful and quiet or lively resorts. Some of the most picturesque and first class resorts on the island are located on northeastern Corfu. Capture the ambience of the northeast coast with its natural scenery, making it the prime choice for an unforgettable holiday.

Let Blue Bay Travel be your guide for a tranquil holiday through the vast selection of facilities and services: high standard of accommodation, competitive car and exceptional motor boat hires, reliable transfers from and to the airport or port, enjoyable trips with local boats, adventurous activities and miscellaneous excursions for every choice. Since 1984 the company has offered self-catering accommodation in Kalami, Corfu. Today, they still provide quality accommodation in the most scenic resorts on the North East Coast of the Island. Your choice can be made from villas, apartments and studios on the Northeastern  coast, from Barbati to Kalami Bay and Kassiopi, close to the sparkling Ionian Sea, amidst the incomparable verdant scenery of the hillsides and scattering traditional villages. If you are looking for something real special, the luxurious villas overlooking the bay of Kaminaki offer astonishing views or the stylish villas in Kassiopi combining comfort and friendly family atmosphere with panoramic views will depend on  you as a first choice. Each property is well equipped with all comforts, guaranteeing your pleasure. Blue Bay Travel provides Internet service, Money exchange, Library, and Safety Deposit box  

SC Cruises is offering travelers planning to cruise Europe this summer an opportunity to take advantage of its "Best Fare, Best Room" savings promotion.  Guests receive the best available staterooms at the lowest price within their general type of accommodations (oceanview, balcony, superior balcony, etc.) at the time of booking. Consumers are encouraged to book as soon as possible to obtain the best room and fare before higher category staterooms sell out. Cruises to Europe featuring special "Best Fare, Best Room" rates on 7-night sailings include: MSC Splendida: Western Mediterranean "The Splendid Mediterranean" roundtrip from Barcelona, Genoa, Naples, or Marseille, from $699 plus GFTs; MSC Fantasia: Western Mediterranean "Mediterranean Fantasy" roundtrip from Genoa, Barcelona, Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome), or Marseille, from $699 plus GFTs; MSC Magnifica: Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia "The Magnificent Mediterranean" roundtrip from Venice or Bari, from $699; from $1,049 plus GFTs; MSC Lirica: Western Mediterranean "Mediterranean Marvels," roundtrip from Genoa or Civitavecchia (Rome), from $699 plus GFTs; MSC Sinfonia: Western Mediterranean "Sparkling Mediterranean Rivieras" roundtrip from Naples, Livorno, Valencia and Catania, Venice, Livorno, or Naples, from $829 plus GFTs; MSC Musica: Eastern Mediterranean "Greek Islands in the Sun" roundtrip from Venice or Bari, from $1,099 plus GFTs; MSC Armonia: Eastern Mediterranean "Jewels of the Adriatic" roundtrip from Venice and Ancona, from $699 plus GFTs; MSC Poesia: Baltic or Norwegian Fjords roundtrip from Copenhagen or Kiel, from $1,149 plus GFTs; MSC Orchestra and MSC Poesia: Baltic or Norwegian Fjords roundtrip from Copenhagen or Kiel, from $1,099;

Select 10- or 11-night cruises and positioning cruise itineraries include: MSC Poesia: 11-night roundtrip from Copenhagen or Kiel, from $1,394 plus GFTs. MSC Opera: 10-night roundtrip from Southampton, Amsterdam or Copenhagen, from $999 plus GFTs. MSC Melody: 11-night roundtrip from Genoa, from $1,199 plus GFTs. Kids cruise free (11 and younger) when sharing a stateroom with two full-fare-paying adults. GFTs vary by itinerary and departure port. Rates begin at $699 per person plus government fees and taxes (GFTs) on select 7-night cruises and $899 plus GFTs for 10-night and positioning cruises visiting some of Europe's most exotic ports. For more information about MSC Cruises, visit us online at or contact a local travel professional.


PokerStars–the world's largest poker site–announced a partnership deal with Club Hotel Casino Loutraki, of course in Loutraki, Greece which will see major poker tournaments take place there for the first time. The collaboration will be launched with the Greek Poker Cup Main Event, a €1,000 + €100 No Limit Texas Hold'em Poker tournament (200-player cap) – from March 24 to the 27. Club Hotel Casino Loutraki opened the first poker room in the country last September and is the largest live poker room i with its 14 tables in operation. The €1,100 Greek Poker Cup will be the first large-scale poker tournament ever held in Greece. Alexandros Doukas, General Manager of Club Hotel Casino Loutraki, said: "We are very happy with this new collaboration and we see PokerStars as a strategic partner.“ "We feel honored to be producing this event at the incredible holiday resort of Club Hotel Casino Loutraki which is easily accessible from the capital of Athens," said Jeffrey Haas, spokesman for the Greek Poker Cup. "We expect the best poker players in Greece to compete for their first Championship title, and I'm sure we'll see exciting visceral action from the moment the cards are in the air." That I’m betting on, hands down. Club Hotel Casino Loutraki is a five-star destination with 255 rooms and 20 luxury suites situated just 45 minutes outside central Athens, and is one of the largest casino resorts in Europe. It overlooks the most beautiful beach in Loutraki, the coastal spa town famous for its mineral springs. This natural water, with its rejuvenating qualities, is a feature that has been incorporated throughout the resort and its Spa and Wellness Centre. Another advantage of visiting the Loutraki resorts is that in nearby Athens,  hotel room prices remained stable in the period of February/March 2011, with the average price for an overnight stay in a standard double room at 85 euros, down from an average rate of 107 euros in European capitals, a survey by showed this month. Greek hotel prices were down 7.0 pct in February, compared with the same month last year, while hotel prices in Cyprus were unchanged over the same period. Nurnberg (+51 pct) recorded a significant increase in hotel prices because of an international toy fair in the city. UK cities such as Edinburgh (+20 pct), Birmingham (+14 pct) and Manchester (+9 pct) also recorded increases in February....



With first-class diving and Mayan ruins, Honduras has long been a bargain vacation spot. But tourists have stayed away since a political power struggle in 2009. Despite higher prices on Roatan, a popular cruise ship stopover, "they like to bill it as the Caribbean without the Caribbean prices, and it's less than half the price for hotels and diving. You can pay $30 to $40 a dive." For more information, the call is free at 800-410-9608 or check-out the website Now if the Asian country of Indonesia caught your fancy, keep in mind that this niche of the world has been a bargain destination for a decade, and there's no reason that will change in 2011,. Resort islands like Bali are easy to reach, and although the country is popular with Australians, most Americans don't realize how much Indonesia has to offer. It's a whole chain of islands and it's got everything: beaches, diving, mountains and culture and if you’re entertaining thoughts of vacationing where Aussies vacation, check www.

The Caribbean island voted the top beach and sun destination in the world in this year's TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards has plenty to offer this winter. New routes from two airlines, plus hotel and vacation package deals put Turks and Caicos on the budget travel radar. This spring, it's going to get easier to reach Turks and Caicos. JetBlue kicks off weekly service from JFK Airport in New York from February 17. And Continental starts new service from Newark on February 18, with sale fares to Turks and Caicos from $328 round-trip.

Seasonal free-night deals abound at resorts on the islands. For instance, at the Leeward Resort, guests can get two nights free with seven-night  stays at the height of the season.At the West Bay Club, the fourth night is free. And the Ocean Club Resorts has a seventh night free deal. Packaging air and accommodations offers additional savings options. has sales with short booking windows for early winter, with rates such as $639 for airfare plus four nights' accommodations. And JetBlue lists package options to accompany its new service, with additional perks such as free nights.

Spend five nights exploring Spain's scenic southern coast for just $699 per person. This airfare and upscale hotel package from Gate 1 Travel is less than the typical cost of airfare alone and saves at least $200 on comparable packages. Here's what's included: Roundtrip airfare to Malaga, Spain, from New York City. Five nights accommodations at a 4-star hotel with breakfast daily. Spain's Costa del Sol offers some of the best weather in Europe and is one of the warmest climates during the winter months. This beachfront destination boasts the highest concentration of golf courses in Continental Europe and more than 300 days of sunshine every year. Final price will include airport taxes and fees of up to $138 per person. Note: Packages for April-October 2011 travel are also discounted as part of this promotion.


Joyce Brooks

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