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Black Tie International Travel  1
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Black Tie International Magazine - Travel-Bob _Tigers in Rajastan


Traveling Along… with Bob Nicolaides

Quick, Catch the Tigers in Rajastan…

Before they’re Extinct

One of the best places in the world to see tigers is Rajasthan in Ranthambore, where the world's population of wild tigers has fallen to as few as 3,200, more than half of which live in India. If extreme efforts are not undertaken, the big cat may be extinct within our lifetime—possibly in as soon as a dozen years. (Compare this number to the 100,000 tigers that lived in India in 1900 and you can see just how drastically things have changed in thethe  past two centuries.) Their habitats have been reduced 93 percent, and though there are reserves across Asia, most are small and have no corridors between them for the normally far-roaming felines. It's estimated that a tiger a day is killed for use in
 Chinese traditional medicine.



The Tahuamanú Rainforest

Peru was and is one of the prime destinations when it comes to tropical beauty.The magnificent rain forest in the Madre de Dios region holds some of the last old-growth stands of mahogany in South America. But illegal logging is depleting the rainforest—and the U.S. is responsible for buying 80 percent of the mahogany. A single tree can create as much as $1 million worth of furniture. Loggers build roads, allowing farmers and hunters to enter, further crowding the indigenous people and destroying the delicate ecosystem. In nearby areas, gold mining has released mercury into the air and water. Parrots and macaws feed off of the world's largest salt lick. They share this pristine wonderland with endangered creatures like giant armadillos, ocelots, jaguars, and giant otters.



The Yangtze River Basin

It's too early to know the exact impact of the creation of China's massive, $24 billion Three Gorges Dam, but many, including the Chinese government, have acknowledged that the Yangtze Basin region is in danger of losing its most distinctive marine and animal life. Deforestation has occurred from clearing land for displaced farmers, and the reservoir has flooded villages, farms, factories, and mines, adding to the Yangtze River's existing pollution from shipping, industry, agriculture and raw sewage. Landslides have also happened, and seismologists wonder if the water pressure above two fault lines might result in a disastrous earthquake. Exotic creatures like giant pandas, dwarf blue sheep, Yangtze finless porpoises, and Siberian cranes call this region home—along with some 400 million people.



Lush Tropical Oasis in Rain-Forest Hillside

A shuttle descends through a soaring mountain's tropical spread as sunlight filters through emerald trees until the dense forest opens onto a stretch of pebble beach. Flocks of scarlet macaws glide above the Pacific as guests bask in seclusion, lounging on sun beds or grabbing refreshments from the snack bar. Villa Caletas gives travelers easy access to these secluded oceanfront sands via complimentary, hourly shuttle jaunts. The resort, inspired by tropical Victorian architecture, is nestled 1,150 feet above the Pacific's Nicoya Gulf, and boasts a friendly concierge desk staff ready to book everything from a relaxing massage at the on-site spa to tours of the Costa Rican rain forest. All that for less than $1,000 for two.

Housed in a four-story building with its own first-floor community pool, Villa Caletas' junior suites Superior welcome lodgers with vibrant walls and plush, prismatic furniture, reflecting the resort's tropical surrounds. Each suite connects to a private terrace overlooking the forest and bay, where a private jacuzzi proffers a setting for a romantic soak under the clear night sky or a beginner-friendly game of Marco Polo.

Also part of the Villa Caletas complex, the Zephyr Palace mansion embodies luxury as bartenders serve drinks by the column-bordered infinity pool and social activity converges on the art gallery. The African suite boasts lion-head wall sculptures and a mural of grasslands and Mount Kilimanjaro, and in the Royal suite, upholstered walls covered in fine woods lend a European flair.

Jacó, Costa Rica: From Beach Town Stretching to Dense Rain Forests

Swaddled by lush forests and fronting the Pacific Ocean, Villa Caletas segues seamlessly from luxury to wilderness in a matter of minutes. The many species of tropical birds alone in nearby Carara National Park make hiking through the area worthwhile, along with river-fed marshlands and a hyacinth-studded lake. High above the canopy, other explorers prefer to experience Costa Rica’s forests with an adrenaline rush courtesy of a zipline tour.

Just south of Villa Caletas, the town of Jacó bustles with activity as the landlocked locals of Central Valley flock to the long stretch of beach and visitors hit the glut of restaurants and shops. Consistent ocean swells beckon to surfers, who take to the waves along with sport-fishing enthusiasts busy reeling in big game such as marlin, yellowfin tuna, and Poseidon's car keys. Come evening, crowds pack into the open-air dance hall right on the beach beneath retro lights and a dangling mirror ball, as Jacó’s pulse quickens with the thumping tracks of nearby discotheques.

Back at the hotel, a variety of French and Central American dishes unveil themselves to guests throughout the day. Casual noshers watch the sun dip below the horizon in the Greek amphitheater of Anfiteatro Sunset Restaurant & Bar while enjoying Peruvian-style ceviche on the outdoor patio. Open on weekends, Mirador Restaurant leverages glass walls, elegant drapery, and white tablecloths to set the stage for fine dining from a vast gourmet menu. Fresh seafood and Asian fusion fare can be found in both Jacó and Herradura—also close to the hotel—though ambitious foodies drive about an hour east to Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose. The city thrums with Latin culture with popular restaurants, museums, and historical neighborhoods filled with gallery-style boutiques.

Substantial 10% Increase in Tourism in 2011


In Corfu, the northernmost of the Ionian Islands, the ancient city of Paleopolis occupies a prime spot on the Kanoni Peninsula amidst lush wooded grounds and a view of the sea. Surrounded by ancient walls, the ruins of ancient Corcyra (Kerkyra, or Corfu) lie just four kilometers south of Corfu town and the site is open to visitors free of charge year-round. A walk around the grounds reveals a number of sites for visitors, including the St. Eufemia monastery, an old open-air theater still used today, a congress center, a Byzantine church, and ancient Roman house, and the famed Mon Repos villa -- the summer retreat of Greece's former royal family that today hosts the Paleopolis Archaeological Museum -- as well as the ruins of a temple dedicated to Zeus’ wife Hera, a Venetian fountain and what remains of the 5th century BC Doric temple built in honor of Apollo.


Mon Repos, a major attraction for visitors to this day, is a neo-classical summer home built by Sir Frederick Adam, the second British High Commissioner, for his native Corfiot wife in 1831. It remained a summer house for the Greek former Royal family until 1967 before passing to the Municipality of Corfu, which carried out major restoration works inside and out. Important archaeological sites from Paleopolis surround Mon Repos, and the mansion was converted into a museum to display its artifacts. The exhibits are well presented and informative, giving a fascinating picture of the house and the area, its history and ancient culture.


Moreover, on the western part of Greece, an undated photo by Dive Guide Greece released on Tuesday (8/10) shows a diving scene at Melissani cave, Kefalonia Island, located below Corfu, also on the Ionian Pelago. Clear water, teeming marine life, caves and shipwrecks attract more than 250,000 scuba and free divers to Greek waters each year. The increase in  tourist arrivals in Greece in the first half of the year neared a two-digit number, with arrivals up 9.95 % the period January-June against the same period in 2010, with the most popular destinations being the islands of Rhodes and Kos, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Federation of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE).


According to figures supplied by G. Tzanakis of ANA-MPA,  coming from the main airports throughout the country, foreign arrivals in the 6-month period reached 6,458,612 compared with 5,874,144 in the same period last year. The biggest increase in foreign arrivals was recorded on the island of Rhodes, with 28.2 %, followed by the island of Kos, with 26.2 %, while substantial increases were also recorded in Heraklion 14.4 % and Hania (Crete) with 8.52 %, and Thessaloniki with 11.77 %.



 From Norway to Cyprus, with Love



Now under Cyprian ownership, Cyprus-based Louis Cruises', the MV Louis Majesty spent 17 years cruising U.S. waters, first as Majesty Cruise Line's Royal Majesty before joining NL as its Norwegian Majesty. How does the 1992-built ship look today?  You may want to take a look at the beauty of the vessel as it has been transformed under its new owners, Louis Cruise, a Cypriot firm which has Genoa, Italy as its base for its excursions to Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea destinations. Because of its Majestic looks, the ship has retained the name ‘Majesty.’

The new cruise line, with head of Operations for North America Nicholas Philippidis, also has offices in Florida and just concluded a presentation in Orlando on the beauty of is proud new vessel.  


When the ship joined the Louis fleet, there was less demand for gambling, so half of the Monte

Carlo Casino, which fronts a suite of public rooms on aft Majesty Deck, was converted to a one

Hundred and six-seat lounge for smokers, that is if there are so may at one time on the ship. More:



Cancun: Luxury all-InclusiveTrip w/air plus Upgrade


Imaging Luxury:  Five nights in Cancun for under $500 -- High five!  Book an all-inclusive getaway at the 4-star Omni Cancun with a flight for as little as $499. You'll also get an upgrade to an ocean-view room. Travel between August 10 and December 15.


For Vacation Package Bookings, advertised price does not include certain government-imposed taxes and fees, such as the September 11 security fee up to $10, PFCs up to $18, segment fees up to $4 per flight segment, and applicable U.S. departure taxes up to $85. Infant Taxes Infant taxes are not pre-collected. These taxes will be payable to the airline carrier at the airport on the day of departure. For Hotel Only Bookings Final price includes all applicable resort taxes and fees. While reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this website, does not assume responsibility for any errors or omissions.

The beachfront hotel Omni-Cancun


Spain: Costa del Sol trip with air and 4-star hotel, from $825


Now is the time to eExplore Spain's Costa del Sol translated into the "Sunny Coast," stay five nights and pay only $825 for the entire stay-and airfare to boot.  Prices listed here for this trip do not include US and Foreign government airport taxes and fees of up to $290, depending upon the package, including the September 11 Security Fee of $2.50 per US enplanement, up to $10 per round-trip; passenger facility charges of $4.50 per segment, up to $18 per round-trip; federal domestic segment fee of $3.70 per segment; travel facilities tax of $8.20 per direction; immigration fee of $7; customs user fee of $5.50; APHIS user fee of $5; and international transportation tax of $16.30 per arrival or departure.

China: 14-day tour w/flight, transfers, and hotel -


The Great Wall of China -- great savings. Gate1 is offering a 14-day tour of China, complete with flights, transfers, 25 meals, upscale hotels in 4 cities, and guided tours all under $2,000.

Travel through December 2012.


Himalayan Glacier is Awaiting Your Trek

Since the establishment of the Company in 1992, the Himalayan Glacier Trekking (HGT) has been continually growing as a leading adventure travel operator for  adventures in the Himalayan region. They  provide international quality services from Kathmandu, also operating in Bhutan, Tibet as well as  India. We have been helping travelers from around the world discover the natural beauties and cultural treasures of Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan & India for over 19 years. In 2010,a North American office was established , located in Charlotte, NC. The agent handles everything from world famous treks to Everest Base Camp Trek to completing the Annapurna Circuit Trek , even a spiritual tour of Tibet or Bhutan and climbing to the highest point on earth , Mount Everest. The agency is committed to maintaining a high level of ethical standards, and  their loyal, highly experienced staff-base provides an edge over the tough competition.

With os well as Nicholas Philippidis of Louis Lperations based on the ground in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan & India combined with their experienced team of local guides, they have become a global leader for adventure travel in this region..


Cuba-No Longer Out of Bounds

As the walls between Cuba and the USA started to crumble, starting with the Obama administration loosening restrictions on Cuban-Americans visiting home and sending money, a controversy has arisen.

Established and respected U.S. tour companies such as upscale Abercrombie & Kent recently began selling cultural tours to bring American vacationers to the Communist island, still off limits to the average tourist. A&K's trips -- due to start about now, and those of Vantage Deluxe World Travel, just to name two, sold out fast and more departures were added.


Celebrity Cruises' launches the  m/v Silhouette



HAMBURG, Germany -- Fast-growing Celebrity Cruises unveiled yet another new ship late last month, the 2,886-passenger Celebrity Silhouette,. What's it like to be on board? It is the epitomy of luxury, beauty and convenience for a diversified shipload of travelers.




Traveling Along… with Bob Nicolaides




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