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Archive for January, 2008

Queens Visit New York City

By Linda Tancs

For one day only, there’ll be three Queens in New York–of the Cunard variety, that is.  On 13 January at 6:30 p.m., QE2, QM2 and Queen Victoria will sail out of New York harbor together for the first and only time, followed by a fireworks display amidst the Statue of Liberty.  This is a one-time event because QE2 will be heading for retirement in Dubai near year’s end.  Interested observers should head for one of four viewing areas:  Battery Park, Wagner Park, Esplanade, or Hudson River Park. 

Liverpool is All Abuzz in 2008

By Linda Tancs

Polish your scouse and head for Liverpool, England’s northwest fab city, as it launches its year as Europe’s Capital of Culture this weekend.  Beginning on Friday at 8:08 p.m. on St. George’s Plateau, the People’s Opening will include performances by Ringo Starr, Dave Stewart and Echo and the Bunnymen.  Keep abreast of events during the year at www.liverpool08.com

A Little German Tradition in Venezuela

By Linda Tancs

Mountainous glory, half-timbered dwellings and quaint, narrow streets.  This description could apply to any of the towns and villages of Germany’s Black Forest region.  Or try Colonia Tovar, a cozy German settlement in the hills about 40 km or so from Caracas.   Settled in 1843 by about 300 Germans, the hamlet retains many of its cultural charms and traditions notwithstanding indoctrination of Spanish language and customs.  In fact, the first Venezuelan beer was brewed in this settlement.  This European enclave may be one of Latin America’s best kept secrets.  Quiet on weekdays, things perk up a bit on weekends when the caraqueños (denizens of Caracas) show up for a little R&R.  Then the narrow, winding streets are thick with jeeps offering tours.  Ah, the price of commercialism.

Registered Travelers Sail Through Airport Security

By Linda Tancs

If you’re an airport latecomer, frequent flier or business traveler, there’s Zen-like relief from airport security lines at your disposal.  In case you haven’t heard, a program called Clear allows registered travelers access to a special security lane to breeze through security.  The one-year-old program works like this:  you fill out an online form and then meet with a Homeland Security representative to verify your ID and select your fingerprint and iris images for your Clear card.  At a participating airport (there are 14 to date), you move through a special security lane with your ID and Clear card.  The program does not remove the need to pass through the metal detectors and x-rays, but the special lanes should theoretically cut down on your airport transit time.  So how much is all this convenience worth to you?  There’s a special first-year introductory rate of $100.  If your security “status” changes (in other words, you’re not on Santa’s good list anymore), then you’ll get a refund for the unused portion of your annual fee.  Clear encourages lobbying your state airport directors to make its program more widespread–and therefore more viable–across the country.  Learn more at www.flyclear.com.

Carry-On Rules Revised in U.K.

By Linda Tancs

After much consternation surrounding the U.K. Department for Transport’s one bag carry-on rule, today’s effective date for lifting of the old rule provides welcome relief for travelers.  In the past, the one-bag rule meant that a purse or other hand bag, laptop, and luggage bag were not counted as one bag for carry-on purposes.  The old rule required passengers to choose among these items for carry-on, creating headaches for business travelers in particular.  Now, at several U.K. airports including Heathrow, London City and Stansted, each airline has the discretion to enforce the old carry-on rule.  Travelers are advised to check with their respective airline for travel originating in or connecting through U.K. airports to avoid any unwelcome surprises.  As for Gatwick, the old rule is still in effect for the time being while substantial construction activity that could potentially disrupt security measures continues.

Winter Fantasy Thrills Families at Longwood Gardens

By Linda Tancs

Want to see a Currier & Ives lithograph come to life?  Then be sure to visit Longwood Gardens’ Winter Fantasy now through 6 January.  Located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania (outside Philadelphia), Longwood Gardens produces a dreamlike atmosphere of caroling, bell ringing, dancing fountains and outdoor lighting (500,000 bulbs strong) sufficient to snuff the bah-humbug out of anyone.  And don’t miss the skating shows highlighting professional and amateur skaters near the Chimes Tower. 

Traveling to Morocco

By Linda Tancs

Camel treks, ancient kasbahs and modern palatial residences await you in the northern African nation of Morocco.   Learn more at www.travelrificradio.com

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