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Bandra-Worli Sea-link opens in Mumbai

June 30, 2009

After 10 years of expectations, delays and, of course, hardcore planning and labour, the spectacular Bandra-Worli Sea Link is set to open at midnight on Tuesday. Come Wednesday morning and a new day will dawn for Mumbai’s rush-hour motorists, with the Rs 750-crore link offering a new route between the island city and the western suburbs. Till now, the Mahim Causeway was the only route.

Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai

Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai

A fireworks, lights and laser show, coupled with music, was held on Monday night at the main cable-stayed bridge at the Bandra end. It was enjoyed by thousands from the Bandra promenade and Mahim beach, but was not clearly visible to those at Worli sea face and Dadar due to slight drizzles, haze and cloudiness. There was no space left at the sea-faces as thousands gathered to view the show, but those at Worli were disappointed, said Anandini Mulgaonkar and Shubha Sehgal of Worli and Bandra, respectively.

From 12.01 am onwards on Wednesday, officials are expecting joyriders to take the link before office-goers arrive in larger numbers as morning peak hour nears. With no toll from July 1 to July 5, a large amount of traffic is expected. The traffic police will face a daunting task at Worli and Bandra.

Bandra-Worli Sea-Link Map

Bandra-Worli Sea-Link Map

Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) engineers said the toll-free move is at the behest of politicians seeking political mileage.

An automatic system will identify vehicles going over the 50 kmph limit. MSRDC engineers said cameras on the link can take swift 360-degree turns and capture images of vehicles within 1.5 km. Two cameras fitted under the cable-stayed portions of the link will keep watch on the movements of boats and ships.

While work on beautifying the promenade at Bandra has begun, plans for the highest fountain in the country are on the backburner, but floating fountains may be ready in about six months.

Traffic curbs at Bandra
All vehicles will be prohibited on the road to the sea link at the Bandra end as well as K C Marg (Reclamation) on Tuesday from 3 to 8 pm. Traffic police will allow only vehicles engaged in essential and emergency services and the vehicles of invitees to the sea link’s opening. People travelling to Chapel Road, Mehboob Circle, Bandstand, Chimbai and Carter Road will have to use S V Road or Hill road. Parking restrictions will be implemented on sea link road, K C Marg, A K Vaidya Marg and adjoining roads. TNN

A NORTH-SOUTH LINK
Mahim Causeway is currently the only route that connects the western suburbs and island city. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link will be the second major route.

MATTER OF MINUTES
Currently, it takes 35 to 38 minutes to go the 7.7-km distance between Mahim flyover and Love Grove Junction, Worli. Transport experts estimate that travelling the link plus its approach and exit roads, which also measure about 7.7 km, will take at least 25 minutes. The builders claim that travelling the 4.7-km main link will take just 6 minutes.

PAYING THE TOLL
FREE: From July 1 to July 5
BASIC FEE: Car or SUV | Rs 50 | Mini bus or mini truck | Rs 75 | Bus or truck Rs 100
PASSES: Daily travel: (2-way ) | 1.5 times basic toll
Daily travel: (multiple entries) | 2.5 times basic toll
Monthly pass: (all vehicles) | 50 times basic toll
Note: Buses will be charged Re 1 extra for each commuter ticket

PAYMENT MODES
Manual payment: 30 seconds
Swipe card (for monthly passes): 20 seconds On-board-unit electronic payment: 10 to 12 seconds

VIDEO:



Statue of Liberty Crown opens July 4, 2009

June 29, 2009
Statue of Liberty (Source: Wikipedia)

Statue of Liberty (Source: Wikipedia)

After closure since 9/11 (2001), the Statue pedestal reopened to visitors in 2004.

The crown has been closed since 9/11, but will reopen on July 4 2009. Visitors will enter/exit the crown in groups of 10, under the direct supervision of a Park Service employee.

Tel: +1 866 782 8834 (within USA) or +1 212 269 5755 (international)
Timings: 8:30am-5:15pm (hours adjusted seasonally).
 

  • Take the ferry from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan or from Liberty State Park in New Jersey (Statue cruises).
  • Be prepared for airport like security screening with similar restrictions (no food or open liquids, no knives, etc.) before boarding the boat.
  • No entry ticket is required to visit the island.
  • A free, timed ticket is required for entry to the statue.
  • Tickets are limited in number and can be obtained on the day from the ferry company or in advance (for $1.75) by calling the ticket office on the phone number above (8am-7pm) or online.
  • Signs on the Island state that you should obtain your tickets 1 week in advance to guarantee that you will be able to enter the pedestal.
  • The Promenade Tour (which requires a second security check) consists of a tour through the monument lobby and museum (20-30 minutes) and then outside to the promenade and Fort Wood. The Observatory Tour additionally includes a trip in the elevator to the pedestal observation deck (not up into the statue itself).
  • Security checks are rigorous so travel as light as possible.
  • Backpacks and other large bags are not permitted on the tours but can be stored in lockers for a fee. On busy days there may be long waits.
  • If leaving from Manhattan, you may need to arrive at Battery Park 2 hours before your timed tour to allow for security screening and ferry travel.
  • Best to arrive at Battery Park early in the morning.
  • From the Manhattan ferry the Statue of Liberty will be located on the right side of the boat. Admission to the Island is free – but you need to pay for the ferry.
  • Ferry Fees Audio tour $6.


Tips for traveling with a baby

June 29, 2009

Traveling with a baby can be daunting and overwhelming. You can avoid disasters of missing a flight or losing the stroller – here are top ten tips to prepare you for traveling with a baby:

Check-in
Make sure to leave plenty of time to get to the airport, check in, and go through security. With baby in tow, everything takes a bit longer.

Bottle
If you are bringing a bottle, be aware that security will have to scan the milk as you pass through. This often takes a while.

Stroller
Make sure you know exactly how to fold your stroller. You will need to be able to do it quickly and efficiently!

Light Stroller
A stroller that is inexpensive and lightweight is your best bet. When I first started traveling with my son, I carried my two-piece Bugaboo, which is both lightweight and easy to fold.

Pack Light
Only carry what you will need for the airport and plane ride. Bring a bottle if needed, three diapers, and buy travel sizes of your baby essentials such as wet wipes and Aquaphor.

Carry
Only carry on what you really need for yourself. You will be preoccupied with taking care of the baby.

Clothes
Include an extra change of clothes for the baby. Make sure that both of you are dressed comfortably, especially for longer flights.

Best time to travel
Pick the best time to travel with a baby. When taking a long trip, try and book the red-eye flight so your baby can sleep for the entire flight.

Diapers
Think ahead. Buy your baby supplies when you get to your destination. Or, you can order them in advance from www.diapers.com and have them shipped directly to your destination.

Pacifier
If your baby uses a pacifier, as mine does, make sure to bring at least one extra for the trip in case it falls on the floor.



Photos: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

June 29, 2009

WDCH

Click here to see photographs

About
A New Space For Music

Designed by architect Frank Gehry, Walt Disney Concert Hall, new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is designed to be one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world, providing both visual and aural intimacy for an unparalleled musical experience.

Through the vision and generosity of Lillian Disney, the Disney family, and many other individual and corporate donors, the city will enjoy one of the finest concert halls in the world, as well as an internationally recognized architectural landmark.

From the stainless steel curves of its striking exterior to the state-of-the-art acoustics of the hardwood-paneled main auditorium, the 3.6-acre complex embodies the unique energy and creative spirit of the city of Los Angeles and its orchestra.

The Vision

In 1987, the late Lillian Disney made an initial gift of $50 million to build a world-class performance venue as a gift to the people of Los Angeles and a tribute to Walt Disney’s devotion to the arts. Since then, other gifts and accumulated interest bring the Disney family’s total contribution to over $100 million. The County of Los Angeles agreed to provide the land and significant additional funding to finance Walt Disney Concert Hall’s six-level subterranean parking garage.

In 1988, renowned architect Frank Gehry was selected to design the complex, whose final shape he unveiled in 1991. The County initiated construction of the parking garage in 1992, completing it in 1996. Construction on the Concert Hall itself began in November 1999. Also that year, the Music Center launched a capital campaign to complete the construction funding. Many corporate, foundation, and individual partners, along with the State of California, have contributed generously to the campaign due to the remarkable leadership of Andrea L. Van de Kamp, Chairman of the Music Center, Eli Broad, Chairman of SunAmerica, Inc., and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan. The Los Angeles Philharmonic provided additional funding for the core project and full funding for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Center.

Website
Tour Information
Virtual Tour

Address
111 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Driving Directions

Santa Ana (5 North)
From the 5 North, take 101 North and exit at Grand Avenue, just before the 110 interchange. Turn right onto Grand. Turn right on Second Street and right into the parking lot. Or, from Grand, turn left on First, right on Olive, right on Kosciuszko, right on Lower Grand, left into the main parking entrance.

Golden State (5 South)
From the 5 South, take 110 South, exit on Hill Street. Continue past Temple to First Street, turn right. Left on Olive, right on Kosciuszko, right on Lower Grand, left into the lot.

Hollywood (101 North)
From 101 North, exit on Grand Avenue, just before the 110 interchange. Turn right onto Grand. Turn right on Second Street and right into the parking lot. Or, from Grand, turn left on First, right on Olive, right on Kosciuszko, right on Lower Grand, left into the main parking entrance.

Hollywood (101 South)
From 101 South, exit at Temple St., going straight across Temple St. onto Hope St. Turn left at Second Place, from the middle lane veer left onto Kosciuszko, left at lower Grand, left into the lot.

Harbor (110 North)
Exit on Fourth Street. Continue straight to lower Grand, turn left. Pass Kosciuszko, turn left into the lot.

Pasadena (110 South)
Exit on Hill Street. Continue past Temple to First Street, turn right. Left on Olive, right on Kosciuszko, right on Lower Grand, left into the lot.

Santa Monica (10 East)
From the 10 East take 110 North, exit on 4th Street. Continue straight to lower Grand, turn left. Past Kosciuszko, turn left into the lot.

San Bernardino (10 West)
From the 10 West, take 101 North and exit at Grand Avenue, just before the 110 interchange. Turn right onto Grand. Turn right on Second Street and right into the parking lot. Or, from Grand, turn left on First, right on Olive, right on Kosciuszko, right on Lower Grand, left into the main parking entrance.

Metro Rail

Don’t want to drive? Learn how to take Metro Rail to Philharmonic concerts by clicking on the TripPlanner. The site will map your route from home to the Music Center, as well as provide fare information and arrival & departure times. Walt Disney Concert Hall is located closest to the Red Line Civic Center Metro stop at 101 S. Hill St. (southwest corner of First and Hill).

The MTA provides a helpful TripPlanner for those using public transportation. The Civic Center station on the Red Line is the closest, just to the east of Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Bus Service

For information on bus service to the Music Center, please contact the MTA at 1-800-COMMUTE or visit their website: www.mta.net.

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus now offers weekend service. Click here for their website.

Holiday Late Night DASH and Red Line Service

Free Holiday Late Night DASH Service
DASH will be running evening service for free on Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30pm to 3:00am from November 21 through December 27, as well as December 31. Click here for the route map.

In addition, the MTA Red Line will be running special service on Friday and Saturday evenings till 3am.

Parking

Parking is available directly beneath Walt Disney Concert Hall. Enter on Second Street or Lower Grand Avenue. Regular parking costs $8 beginning at 5:00 p.m. for evening concerts; two hours before weekday matinees; and all day on weekends. Both the Second Street and Lower Grand entrances will be open 6:00am to midnight, Monday through Friday, and 7:00am to midnight on Saturday and Sunday.

Valet parking is available for $20 at the Hope Street entrance, beginning at 5:00 p.m. for evening concerts; two hours before weekday matinees; and all day on weekends. The Hope Street valet and Founders parking entrance will open three hours before each concert.

Accessible parking spaces for vehicles displaying valid, state-issued disability parking placards or license plates are reserved near the elevators on each level.

For questions or problems regarding Music Center parking, please contact Five Star Parking at 213.687.4484.



RyanAir: Bye bye, checked bags & airport check-in. Hello, Gambling!

June 28, 2009

RyanAir this week announced that they will soon eliminate all airport check-in counters and require passengers to carry-on their luggage. Starting early next year, passengers will need to schlep their bags through airport security and drop them at the steps of the plane for checking into plane’s cargo hold. Once aboard though, there will be gambling!

A spokesman from the safety regulation group at the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority said that although there are no explicit rules that prohibit such practice, there were logistical and security issues. More luggage would lengthen security screening times while some baggage might not even fit through scanners, he said.

Under Ryanair’s proposed policy, passengers would not be allowed to pack liquids, razors and other items now prohibited in carry-on baggage, despite having the luggage stored in the aircraft’s cargo hold.

Ryanair did not specify whether personnel responsible for loading and unloading baggage would be Ryanair employees or members of an independent baggage-handling service.

The airline expects to debut their in-flight gambling service within five years, even though the U.K. Gambling Association says that “all forms of commercial betting and gaming are illegal on aircraft.” Whatever. Norms and rules are for other airlines, not RyanAir. No, they’ll never abandon their zealous mission to become the first successful airline with the motto: “Bring Your Own Plane!”

[Source: Consumerist]



Southwest starts services to LaGuardia

June 27, 2009
Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines

Starting tomorrow, Southwest will fly out of New York’s LaGuardia airport, which hopefully means that flying between New York, Boston, Chicago, and Washington is about to get a whole lot cheaper.

The move is part of the airline’s attempt to cater more towards business customers, who don’t always want to fly into the second-tier airports Southwest usually favors.

CEO Gary C. Kelly has been fine-tuning the Southwest model since becoming CEO in 2004. In pursuit of business travelers, he bent the traditional “first come, first serve” seating rules with “Business Select.” Passengers pay a few bucks more to get a spot at the front of the boarding line, an extra frequent-flier award and a free drink. He also pushed Southwest into the kind of huge airports it once spurned. The strategy has worked in Denver and Philadelphia, where Southwest has grown rapidly.
Now it needs the big Eastern cities to buttress its service at Chicago’s Midway Airport, Southwest’s second-busiest hub, with more than 200 daily flights.

“If we’re holding ourselves out to Chicagoans saying, ‘We want to be your business airline,’ we’ve got to be able to take them” to New York, Boston and Minneapolis, Kelly said.

New Yorkers will be able to catch five flights daily to Chicago’s Midway airport, and three flights to Baltimore/Washington International. Starting in mid-August, the airline will also start flying from Boston’s Logan airport.

Though LaGuardia is notoriously congested, it’s still nice have another quality discount airline flying out of New York.

[Source: Consumerist]



Tips for trauma-free travel

June 26, 2009

Holidaying is one of our favourite pastimes, with Brits making almost 70,000 trips abroad alone each year. While we traditionally associate holidaying with seasonal health complaints such as travellers’ tummy, sunburn and insect bites, back pain is also a common holiday health hazard.

We all need a holiday to recharge our batteries, but with back pain affecting almost 80% of us at some time in our lives, occasionally a combination of hectic preparations, uncomfortable journeys and emotional stress can mean that travel takes its toll on the back.

Whether planning the holiday of a lifetime or just looking for a seasonal summer getaway, backadvice.info, has the following advice to help prevent and ease back pain on your travels:

Flying high – airplane travel can be restrictive and uncomfortable, even if you don’t have an existing back complaint. Try to request an aisle seat where you will have more leg room and can regularly get up and move around to ease any pressure on the back – if you are in a middle seat, use a toilet break as an opportunity to stretch your legs and back. To help maintain a good sitting posture, keep both feet flat on the floor at all times.

Keep moving – regular, gentle exercise helps ease stiffness and strengthens the back muscles. Ensure you keep mobile a little every day while you are away, particularly if you are used to a certain level of exercise, to avoid muscle seizure. Make the most of your hotel pool or a safe bathing area of the sea to keep you active – water can also help ease any niggles you may have.

Sightseeing – one of the best parts of any holiday is soaking up all of the glorious sights! However, constant craning of the neck to view beautiful buildings such as the Eiffel Tower, Sagrada Familia or Empire State Building may place a strain on the neck muscles. Rest the neck each evening by having a relaxing bath and use a pressure relieving travel pillow to support and help the muscles recover.

Travel light – while it is temping to pack for every eventuality, wherever possible, try to pack light. Lugging around heavy baggage can put a strain on the back, particularly if you are not used to carrying or lifting heavy loads. Invest in a wheeled suitcase, make use of luggage trolleys at airports and don’t be afraid to ask airport, coach or taxi staff for help. If you need to lift hand luggage into an overhead locker of a plane, bend your knees and hips – not your back – and try to prevent bending and twisting at the same time.

Treat yourself – holidays are all about relaxation and indulgence, but an added bonus is that if you have access to luxuries such as a jacuzzi, having a massage or using a steam room, these can also benefit your back as they manipulate and relax the muscles.

Comfort on-the-go – while you may need to sit in uncomfortable positions on your travels – especially if you are flying long-haul, have a long transfer to your destination, or are travelling a distance by train or car – it helps to be able to rest your head comfortably. While blow-up neck cushions might seem a good buy, often they only offer limited support and can deflate on long journeys.

Colder climes – if you’re planning a skiing or snowboarding trip, or are holidaying somewhere cool, remember that if the kidney area is exposed or cold, the lower back and pelvic muscles will tighten leaving the back vulnerable to injury. Even if you are active and feel warm, keep an extra layer of clothing on to ensure the back is warm as well. A hot bath at the end of the day should also help.

Spread the load – sun lotion, insect repellent, beach towels, bottled water… there are plenty of travel essentials that we all stock up on to accompany us on our holiday. Although important, the collective weight of these can add up. To ensure you even the load and reduce the strain on your back and neck, swap your beach bag for a small backpack which you can wear across both shoulders.

Sleeping sound – its important to get a good night’s sleep, not only to ensure you can make the most of your time on holiday, but also to help your body’s tired muscles recuperate. When you reach you destination, it is sometimes difficult to get comfortable on a new bed.

Keep hydrated – dehydration contributes to a surprising number of back pain cases, so its important to drink plenty of fluids particularly if you are in a hot country. Remember that some drinks, such as caffeinated tea and coffee, actually dehydrate the body – the best way to keep your levels topped up is to carry a bottle of water with you and sip it throughout the day.



Berlin launches special tourist deals to suit every budget

June 26, 2009
Berlin

Berlin

Visitors to the German capital this summer are faced with a number of choices when it comes to their holiday budget. They can choose between beginning a weekend break with a Champagne breakfast for $377 or ending it with a few glasses of wine for nothing at all.

Another option on offer is a rented limousine service for $637 or going on a salsa dancing course for free. They are just two of the activities that Berlin’s tourist authorities have come up with to attract more visitors to the city in these economically difficult times.

The campaign is called ‘The Berlin Calculator’ and it groups together a range of weekend programmes to suit every pocket. They include the ‘Berlin for Free’ deal, ‘Berlin for Party-Goers’ for $47 or ‘Berlin for Credit-Crunched Millionaires’ for $2,231.

As part of the ‘Credit-Crunched’ package you can ease into the weekend with a modestly priced visit to a delicatessen where for $35 you can buy the ‘finest truffles, truffle hams, truffle pecorino and truffle butter’ for a picnic at Berlin’s Wansee Lake.

Next on the programme is a ‘Botox to Go’ session at a clinic on the city’s famous shopping avenue, the Kurfuerstendamm, for $489. The tourist agency’s advertising blurb advises you ‘to do it like high society and refresh your complexion for the up-coming evening.’ The Botox to Go session also includes a two-for-less offer: ‘If you treat two areas of your face, you get a $210 discount.’

More information on all of the weekend programmes on offer can be found at www.visitberlin.de when you click on the English language version of the website.

The website includes a map pinpointing the locations for each step of the program, allowing you to decide if you will have enough time to cover the visit to a shopping gallery, a fish lunch for $165, a box at the opera for $165 or a visit to a casino by limousine. There is no limousine included in the ‘Berlin for Under 50 Euros’ deal. Instead, it includes a Berlin Welcome Card for $23 that gives you access to a number of discounts.

They include breakfast in Berlin’s trendy Prenzlauer Berg district beginning at $3.50, sightseeing on the number 100 bus route for free and Happy Hour Sushi in the Kreuzberg district for $10.

In the evening you can shake your stuff at a nightclub in Berlin’s party district of Friedrichshain for $7 including a discounted Mojito cocktail.

There are more low-cost tips to be found in the ‘Berlin for Free’ or the ‘Berlin for Party-Goers’ weekend deals. They include a free jazz session at a club in Charlottenburg district or a visit to a fashionable bar in Prenzlauer Berg called Weinerei. There you can enjoy an evening of fine wines and decide for yourself how much you want to pay. If you are on a really tight budget one or more glasses of wine may be for free.

The programme also includes a meal at an Indian restaurant for $3.50, a make-up session in a department store for free and free entry to a nightclub in Prenzlauer Berg. At 7.30 am the night finally draws to a close and you can go to bed for some priceless sleep.

For more, visit www.visitberlin.de



Eight tips for smooth air travel

June 26, 2009

There’s a lot to do before you take that flight and still make it to the airport two hours before your 11 a.m. flight. But what if you could cut that time in half and not miss your flight? Here are some tips to help you navigate more quickly.

1. Take public transportation
No car means you don’t have to spend time looking for a space and trekking over to the terminal. It usually costs less to take public transportation than to park.

2. Pack light
The fewer bags you have, the quicker you can get past security and on board the plane. Try to avoid checking bags, which will probably save you at least $15, cosidering most airlines charge extra for check-in bags.

3. Use self-service
Print your boarding pass online the night before your trip. Otherwise, check-in at a self-service kiosk at the airport.

4. Breeze through security
Have your ID and boarding pass in your hand as you walk through the security line. Separate liquids and remove your laptop from its bag. Remove all “metallic” things that you may have with you – belts, coins, phone, etc – and place them in that small bag you may have in your hand.

5. Eat later
Wait until you get through security or you may miss your flight. On the other side, you can grab some food and take it to the gate.

Some tips on saving your bucks:
a. Carry an empty water-bottle in your carry-on bag and after you pass security, fill water from the drinking-water-fountains.
b. Make some quick sandwiches and pack them in the hand-bag you have.

6. Upgrade to business class
It costs more, unless you use reward points or credits, but you’ll be the first to get on and the first to get off!

7. Consider an alternate airport
Flying out of secondary airports can save time, since lines can be shorter, the terminals less crowded and parking easier.

8. Know where you are going
If you are connecting, map out the location of cross-terminal transportation ahead of time.



Google City Tours builds itineraries for multi-day trips

June 26, 2009
Google City Tours

Google City Tours

Not one to be outdone by Microsoft’s Bing travel site or the myriad other net travel guides, Google today rolls out City Tours for planning and navigating itineraries.

Currently a Google Labs project, City Tours helps “identify points of interest and plan multi-day trips to most major-cities.” To build your tour, just enter the destination city, and City Tours automatically maps out a three-day plan with around 10 activity suggestions per day. The site also suggests how long to spend at each place and clocks the walking distance between destinations. You can then manually add and remove sights, and change the date and length of your visit (up to a maximum of five days).

Given its Labs status, City Tours is still very much a work-in-progress. For example, though the site is decent at finding locations for large cities like London, it has a more difficult time doing the same for smaller cities. Also, estimated walking times aren’t always accurate, which doesn’t help if, say, you’re trying to figure out whether to keep walking, pace yourself by grabbing a cab, or might actually need a rental car.

Test out City Tours for yourself, then let us know what else you’d like to see it (or any travel site) help you with.

[Source: Lifehacker]



Ryanair: Passengers As Baggage Handlers?

June 25, 2009

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary suggested today that passengers should ferry their own luggage from airport to airplane — but still pay £5 (about $8) per bag to place them in the hold. O’Leary said that getting rid of baggage handlers would help the budget airline save £26 million ($43 million) a year.

“What it means is no more waiting at the carousel, no more losing your bags, no more wasting your life in over-priced airport terminals,” O’Leary told The Telegraph.

It’s unknown how serious O’Leary is about the new proposal. Similar proposals, like creating pay toilets on planes, have yet to materialize because of their complete impracticality. Similarly, baggage handlers and their unions may have something to say about O’Leary’s proposal — and we haven’t even discussed lawsuits. How does one person carry four bags of luggage? And what if they’re disabled? I take O’Leary’s suggestion as a publicity stunt rather than a legitimate proposal.

[Source: BNet]



AirAsia drops admin fees

June 25, 2009

AirAsia has abolished its administrative fees from its fee structure.

AirAsia group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said all bookings made for AirAsia and AirAsia X flights would now only display the fare plus airport tax throughout the booking process.

“We were the first airline to abolish our fuel surcharge and we are proud to lead again in removing our administration fee,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He added that the “No Admin Fee” initiative ensured transparency of the advertised price.

Fernandes said the effort, to stimulate travel and tourism in Malaysia and the region, was being held in conjunction with a regional promotional fare campaign that would run from June 24 to 28.

The bookings would be for travel dates between Oct 1 and April 30 next year.

Fernandes said the first quarter results showed that there was a 21% growth in passengers compared with the same period last year.



DiscoverAmerica.com’s deals for Summer 09

June 25, 2009

With more savvy Americans on the hunt for good values and summer travel deals, DiscoverAmerica.com – the Official Travel and Tourism Website of the United States – is now loaded with more than 300 money-saving offers from leading brands such as Best Western, Crowne Plaza, Marriott, Radisson, Gray Line, Hertz and Macy’s through its “Get a Deal” tool featured on every page.

Frugality is the trend in travel. Recent travelhorizons™ research revealed that almost two-thirds (62 percent) of U.S. adults intending to travel for leisure purposes between now and October are more likely than last year to comparison shop for deals and travel bargains – especially online.

Planning and booking horizons have narrowed and consumers are employing tactics to keep costs down, so the deals and offers available on DiscoverAmerica.com will help stretch vacation budgets for summer getaways.

DiscoverAmerica.com is the recently launched one-stop, online source for travel information on all 50 states, the five U.S. territories and more than 100 popular destinations. With the “Get a Deal” tool, users of this Website may view a complete listing of all specials and travel bargains, and refine their search by U.S. destinations, activities and dates.

Find these and other summer travel packages on DiscoverAmerica.com:

  • Free room nights and new premium Callaway Golf equipment from Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts.
  • Marriott’s “In Love in New Orleans” package, starting at $139 per night.
  • 20 percent off admission to Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock in New York from Trusted Tours & Attractions.
  • “Friday is Freeday” when you stay Thursday or Saturday night at participating Radisson Hotels & Resorts.
  • Savings on performances by Blue Man Group in Boston.
  • Weekly and weekend car rental specials from Hertz.
  • Savings on Golden Gate Bay Cruises, California Sunset Cruises and SF Explorer Cruises from Red and White Fleet.
  • VIP access to Galileo at The Franklin with Marriott Hotels of Philadelphia.
  • Savings for On Location Tours’ TV and movie site tours in New York and Washington, DC.

About DiscoverAmerica.com
Discover America, LLC is a wholly owned entity of the U.S. Travel Association and operates DiscoverAmerica.com, the Official Travel and Tourism Website of the United States, for U.S. resident travelers and for international travelers under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce in the five leading inbound markets to the United States. The website’s content is presently available in five languages: English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese. For more information, visit www.DiscoverAmerica.com.

[Source: OpenPress]



Pay check-in baggage fees now

June 24, 2009

Fed up with airline fees? Well, brace for more. As if charging $15 to check a bag weren’t enough, US Airways and United beginning this summer are asking passengers for $5 more if they pay their baggage fees at the check-in counter. (You can avoid the $5 fee if you pay your baggage fee from home. The airlines call it the “online discount.”)

Rather than raise ticket fares in the middle of a recession, airlines are piling on fees to make money — fees for bags, fees to get through the line faster, even fees for certain seats.

United Airlines alone expects to rake in more than $1 billion this year in fees ranging from baggage to accelerated frequent-flier awards. That’s more than 5 percent of its revenue.

That revenue stream is causing airlines to become more creative, each watching the other to determine whether passengers accept the fees or revolt. As recently as last year, most fliers came across a fee only if they checked three bags or sent a minor child across the country. Most people, most of the time, traveled fee-free.

But that began to change last spring. Spiking jet fuel prices and passenger resistances to higher fares started airlines looking around the cabin for things they could charge extra for. Passengers are finding it’s a lot easier for the airlines to add the fees than to take them away.



Birqash Camel Market

June 23, 2009

 

Birqash Camel Market

Birqash Camel Market

Egypt’s largest camel market (souq al-gamaal; admission E£5; 6am-noon) is held at Birqash, a small village 35km northwest of Cairo. Until 1995 the market was held in Cairo’s western suburb of Imbaba, but when land became too precious for camels, one of Cairo’s age-old institutions was relocated to the edge of the Western Desert. Like all Egypt’s animal markets, the Birqash camel market is not for animal lovers, nor for the faint of heart. However, if you’ve got a strong stomach (and better yet a weak sense of smell), a visit to Birqash is an unforgettable day trip.

 

While admission to the market is E£5, beware of ticket officers who may try to get you to cough up £20 to enter. The market is an easy half-day trip (one to 1½ hours) from Cairo, and one hour in the hot and dusty market is usually enough for most travellers. Note that things are most lively between 7am and 10am on Fridays.

Hundreds of camels are sold here every day, most having been brought up the Forty Days Rd from western Sudan to just north of Abu Simbel by camel herders and from there to the market in Daraw. Unsold camels are then hobbled and crammed into trucks for the 24-hour drive to Birqash. By the time they arrive, many are emaciated, fit only for the knacker’s yard. Traders stand no nonsense and camels that get out of line are beaten relentlessly.

In addition to those from Sudan, there are camels from various parts of Egypt (including Sinai, the west and the south) and sometimes from as far away as Somalia. They are traded for cash or other livestock, such as goats, sheep and horses, and sold for farm work or slaughter. While at the market, watch out for pickpockets. Women should dress conservatively – the market is very much a man’s scene, with the only female presence other than the occasional traveller being the local tea lady. When you arrive, pick a strategic spot and settle in to watch the negotiations. The best area is around the middle of the lot; there are not as many camels at the entrance and at the very back, and it’s noticeably scruffier there.

If you’re interested in buying a camel (either for transportation or for meat – what you do with it is up to you), smaller ones cost about E£2000, while bigger beasts sometimes go for as much as E£5000. Negotiations tend to take place early in the day; by early afternoon, the market is quite subdued.

Getting There & Away
Using public transport, the cheapest way to get to Birqash involves getting yourself to the site of the old camel market at Imbaba, from where microbuses filled with traders and potential buyers shuttle back and forth to Birqash. To get to the old camel market, take a minibus from Midan Abdel Moniem Riad or Midan Ramses to Imbaba (E£1), or one to Midan Libnan (in Mohandiseen) from where you can catch a connecting microbus. Easier still, take a taxi from central Cairo all the way to the old site (about E£10); Imbaba airport (matar Imbaba) is the closest landmark. Once at Imbaba, ask a local to show you where to get the microbus (E£1) to Birqash. From Imbaba, the road winds through fields dotted with date palms, dusty villages, orange orchards and patches of encroaching urban sprawl before climbing the desert escarpment to the market. Microbuses from Birqash back to Imbaba leave when full: depending on the time of the day, you could wait up to two hours or so.

The easiest way to get to and from the market is to hire a private taxi for the morning. This will cost somewhere between E£70 and E£120, depending on your bargaining skills.

Video:

Directions from readers:
Option 1:
Take Cairo/Alex highway to Abu Rawash road. You take a right onto Abu Rawash road which is right before the Carrefour/Dandy mall parking lot. You take this until you reach the end of the road where it intersects with the Mansouriyya Canal road. Take a left onto the Mansouriyya Canal road. Keep going for a ways and start looking for signs, either the suk il gamaal sign or Nimos Farm sign, on the left-hand side of the road. Take left onto small canal road and go until the end where you hit a midaan/circle. There will be a sign pointing towards the suk and it’s only a little ways down the road from there. Leaving from downtown on an early Friday morning, this way can get you there in 45 minutes if you use the Mahwar.

Option 2:
The road that leads there is accessed from right next to the Giza Pyramids, but I can’t easily describe how to find it. (note: at the main circle take the road that goes to Kerdasa/ Mansoureyya) If you ask a couple people in the area, one should point you in the right direction. Once on this road, you end up following it straight about 20-25 min and then you make a left at the camel market sign (in Arabic) and drive about 1-2 kilometers to the market.


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