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Archive for February, 2008

Mango Heaven

By Linda Tancs

Here’s a factoid for Friday:  India is home to more than 3000 varieties of mango.  How many can you name, and in which regions are they located?

Branson Wins Travel Award

By Linda Tancs

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire, has been tapped by the U.S. Travel Industry Association to receive its first-ever Steve Fossett Innovation Award.  Named for adventurer and travel pioneer Steve Fossett, the award recognizes Branson for his ground-breaking contributions to the travel industry.  It’s no doubt appropriate that Branson take first honors, considering his long and, at times, competitive relationship with Fossett, who disappeared in his plane somewhere over the Nevada desert last September.  So who would you nominate for future awards?  Cast your votes now.

The Price of Excess

By Linda Tancs

In the good old days, excess baggage generally meant checked baggage that exceeded two freebies, or bags that went over the standard weight or size.  In any of those limited cases, additional fees would apply.  Now, however, at least one major carrier has broken with tradition.  As has been widely reported, United Airlines will now charge economy-class customers with non-refundable tickets $25 for a second checked bag for travel within the U.S. and to or from Canada, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.  High-tiered frequent flyers, award ticket holders, refundable ticket holders, first class and business class passengers need not worry–the two-bag freebie continues to apply.  Is it reasonable to assume that if fuel prices drop down, the newest surcharge will go away?  If fuel prices continue to escalate and, in the absence of a huge public outcry, the surcharge sticks, will other airlines follow suit?  Readers, weigh in.

Hot Igloos for Cold Nights

By Linda Tancs

If severe, wintry weather has you feeling like an Eskimo, then hunker in an igloo in style.  Consider the Igloo Village in Lapland, where glowing glass pods dot the landscape surrounding the safe haven of Finland’s second largest reserve, Urho Kekkonen National Park.  The Northern Lights are visible here until late April.  Not to worry, the igloos are climate-controlled, so you needn’t give up your creature comforts.  As the Eskimos say, “May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart.”

A Port City in Norway Celebrates Culture

By Linda Tancs

The unassuming little oil metropolis of Stavanger is celebrating this year as one of Europe’s capitals of culture.  Sharing honors this year with Liverpool, Stavanger is but a quarter of its size and is Norway’s fourth largest city.  Unlike Liverpool, Stavanger’s program of events is devoid of big-name celebrities and glitzy events.  Instead, Stavanger is providing a forum for innovative national and international artists, among them a Belgian musical group (in residence), an Israeli dance troupe, Lithuanian Oskarus Koršunovas’ provocative theatre, and a South African puppeteer, all in keeping with the theme “Open Port.”  Look for more daily departures from London Gatwick beginning in March.

Winter Carnival Opens in Québec

By Linda Tancs

Starting today, the Québecois celebrate their white nights at Carnaval.  Unfortunately, violent storms have postponed the opening night festivities, but as they say, le diâble est aux vaches, so the show will carry on tomorrow.  Thereafter, you’ll have until 17 February to follow Bonhomme (the snowman mascot) around the various events taking place during the annual event:  the snow bath, canoe race, dogsled race, sleigh race, and soapbox derby, to name a few.  And don’t miss the parade, celebrating Québec City’s 400th anniversary, on the 9th or the 16th.

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