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AN EXPENSIVE POSTCARD FROM ROME

AN EXPENSIVE POSTCARD FROM ROME

The cost of a hotel night in Rome went up another $8.00 or so on January 1st. As one of the city’s new breed of public servants put it, “In order not to tax Romans we have decided to tax the tourists.” All Rome Hotel guests in four and five star properties will now be assessed a charge for maintaining the city’s churches and palaces. Continue Reading »

NOT EVEN APPLE'S ADS TOLD US THAT THE iPAD WAS FLYING THE PLANE

NOT EVEN APPLE’S ADS TOLD US THAT THE iPAD WAS FLYING THE PLANE

Remember the old days when pilots would trudge through the airport with two or three stacked carry-on bags filled with flight manuals and route information? Now, if you are flying an American Airlines 777 or perhaps United or Alaska Air, your pilot may be using an FAA approved electronic flight bag in the form of a loaded iPad. Continue Reading »

A SMOG SHROUDED POSTCARD FROM BEIJING

A SMOG SHROUDED POSTCARD FROM BEIJING

Travelers to Beijing need to “mask-up” before setting out to see the city this week as heavy clouds of industrial smog hang over the city. There is an air monitor mounted on the roof of the U.S. Embassy. This week the needle went past the end of the index, indicating a level of pollution that was beyond ordinary measurement. Continue Reading »

A LITTLE DUBAI GLITZ WITH YOUR PASTA CARBONARA?

A LITTLE DUBAI GLITZ WITH YOUR PASTA CARBONARA?

Visitors to Italy may be unaware of recent routing’s on the “World’s # 1-Rated (traveltruth) Airline” that can turn an Italy vacation into a two culture feast. Emirates has just initiated Airbus 380 Non-stop service between Dubai and Rome. There are four other direct flights between Dubai and Rome, Milan, and Venice. For a vacation of between 8 – 12 nights, the option to explore the desert kingdom while being transported by the airline that sets the current bar when it comes to excellent service and attention to detail, is well worth considering. Continue Reading »

A POSTCARD FROM ITALY WORTH NOTING

A POSTCARD FROM ITALY WORTH NOTING

Rome – 12.13.11 – As welfare Minister Elsa Fornero spoke to the nation about the passage of new austerity measures to be enacted by the Monti government, she broke down in tears and could not continue. Prime Minister Mario Monti, an economist rather than a politician, rushed to assist and finish her remarks. Italian workers are now seeing a rise in their retirement ages, elimination in pension cost-of-living adjustments, an army of new tax initiatives, and deep cuts in the amount of money the central government will pay to regional governments. Continue Reading »

PLANNING A TRIP TO THE 'WORLD'S BEST RESTAURANT"?  THEN HEAD FOR COPENHAGEN.

PLANNING A TRIP TO THE ‘WORLD’S BEST RESTAURANT”? THEN HEAD FOR COPENHAGEN.

The new ratings of the World’s Best Restaurants is out and Chef Rene Redzepi’s innovative cuisine at his restaurant, Noma, makes Copenhagen, Denmark the new “must go to” culinary destination.  Noma took the top spot in the  highly respected San Pelligrino ratings based on a near total redesign of the very concept of dining. Now, a second Copenhagen restaurant, Relae, is aslo garnering culinary acclaim. Continue Reading »

WINE ADVICE: ALWAYS PAY CASH

WINE ADVICE: ALWAYS PAY CASH

Many affectionados of fine wines are unaware that credit card purchases may end up as data linked to credit scores. It is always recommended that all wine store purchases be paid in cash. No direct link between a major credit card and so-called “morality profiles” have been found to date. But we do know that frequent purchaser card data is usually sold to outside firms. Continue Reading »

HOW WILL AMERICAN AIRLINES BANKRUPTCY AFFECT YOUR MILES?

HOW WILL AMERICAN AIRLINES BANKRUPTCY AFFECT YOUR MILES?

American Airlines, now the third largest carrier in the United States after the recent mergers, filed for Chapter 11 on November 28th. It is clear that the airline will face a major court-approved reorganization which will mean cancellation of some routes that are not profitable. Some American frequent flyers will panic, a percentage will abandon the airline, fearing their miles could be worthless in the future. Continue Reading »

FINALLY - THE 787 DREAMLINER ACTUALLY FLIES

FINALLY – THE 787 DREAMLINER ACTUALLY FLIES

The line was more than three years long but ANA, All Nippon Airways, received delivery of its first two spanking new 787′s. This is the plane that, quite frankly, is the Boeing Corporations biggest single gamble. The first  flight took off from Narita on October 26th, landing a short time later in Hong Kong. Journalists on board, including Travel Weekly’s Ken Kiesnoski, thought the world’s airlines on the order list may well feel the wait was worthwhile. Continue Reading »

TOP FIVE CRUISE LINE RATINGS REALIGNMENT

TOP FIVE CRUISE LINE RATINGS REALIGNMENT

The new traveltruth 2.0 ratings of the World’s Top Five Cruise lines is out and there have been some changes since the last ratings were completed in Januarfy of 2011. The World of Residensea maintains its position as the # 1 rated cruise line. But Silverseas and Crystal Cruises have increased their standings, occupying the # 2 and # 3 positions respectively. Continue Reading »

CAN WE PLEASE LET OUR AIR CONTROLLERS HAVE A BIT OF SLEEP?

CAN WE PLEASE LET OUR AIR CONTROLLERS HAVE A BIT OF SLEEP?

There were some tense moments in our nation’s capital, last March 23rd, when several approaching aircraft could not reach the tower. It turns out, as reported by USA Today, that the lone supervisor had fallen asleep.

We know that it has not been unusual for one controller to work the midnight shift at many mid-size airports in the United States. Continue Reading »

MARRIOTT'S MOST IMPORTANT NON US MARKET IS .....

MARRIOTT’S MOST IMPORTANT NON US MARKET IS …..

That would be China. A recent report in Travel Weekly shows the growth potential of an “American Heartland” lodging icon in China. The numbers are rather staggering. Marriott brands, including Ritz Carlton and the upscale JW Marriott division, will open a new hotel in China every month for the next three years. And there is a great deal of growth potential beyond that. Continue Reading »

A BIT OF SEX EDUCATION CROSSING THE PACIFIC

A BIT OF SEX EDUCATION CROSSING THE PACIFIC

Qantas Airlines has an in-flight film channel called “The Edge”. It is interesting to note that the video-on-demand system has an option to “learn improved sex techniques”.  It turns out that the video is a French documentary entitled “The Female Orgasm Explained.”  The documentary includes excerpts from some dated porno films, complete with all of the appropriate sound effects. Continue Reading »

WELCOME NUMBER 7 BILLION

WELCOME NUMBER 7 BILLION

It happened, or at least we think it did, on October 31st. The 7 billionth one of us was born. On the one hand we might manage. There seems to be lots of space and the birth rate has nearly been reduced to half of what it was in 1970. Farm production has seen enormous increases in per acre food production, increases that, over a decade, are measured to 100% fold increases. Continue Reading »

THE NY TIMES ON THE BEST PLACE TO VISIT IN 2011

THE NY TIMES ON THE BEST PLACE TO VISIT IN 2011

The New York Times has selected its list of the 41 Places real travelers ought to consider visiting this year. Heading the List, at # 1, is a city that has survived an 8.8 magnitude earthquake less than fourteen months ago. By all reckoning this city should not even be standing. But Santiago, Chile has enjoyed a quite recent cultural change that has resulted in museums like the Fashion Museum, upscale boutique hotels like the Aubrey, and a local, affordable dining scene that is almost worth the trip. Continue Reading »

MAY I HAVE SOME DOLMADES WITH MY TEAR GAS?

MAY I HAVE SOME DOLMADES WITH MY TEAR GAS?

To date, no major cruise lines have canceled Athens embarkations.  We anticipate some hotel location changes designed to keep cruise guests away from the central square where major demonstrations are taking place. This situation is currently rather fluid and we recommend that all Athens bound guests review arrangements with their consultant two weeks prior to departure. Continue Reading »

ANNOUNCING OUR NEW SIGNATURE CRUISE TO SPAIN, PORTUGAL, AND MOROCCO JUNE 5, 2012

ANNOUNCING OUR NEW SIGNATURE CRUISE TO SPAIN, PORTUGAL, AND MOROCCO JUNE 5, 2012

You are cordially invited to join us on our 12-Day sailing from Barcelona to Lisbon on the new, Oceania Riviera. This is an ideal itinerary for those who would like to really get to know Spain and Portugal. We will have five port calls in Spain, two days in Portugal, two days in Morocco, and two days in the Canary Islands. Continue Reading »

HOW DO THE MAJOR CITIES IN EUROPE HANDLE TRAFFIC CONGESTION?

HOW DO THE MAJOR CITIES IN EUROPE HANDLE TRAFFIC CONGESTION?

If you are renting a car it will be helpful to know the following in advance:

Greece: The trick in Athens is to secure two legal license plates. Odd numbered plates are allowed on odd numbered days, even on even. This, quite theoretically, cuts traffic congestion by 50%.

Italy – The rules keep getting tougher but in Florence and Rome only drivers with hard-to-get special permits are allowed to drive into the historical centers where tourists gather. Continue Reading »

FOODIE UPDATE: FLORIDA TOMATOES GET GASSED

The fall and winter season will soon bring Florida’s crop of absolutely unripened tomatoes to our tables. This is another example of our collective willingness to eat chemically treated food when better alternatives exist. It is what separates us from the Italians, the French, and the Spanish as we appear to have no trouble with adulterated foods. Continue Reading »

Credit Card Redoux

Credit Card Redoux

In case you’ve missed all our other credit card advice over the years. Here are the essentials:

If you travel internationally two or more times per year, strongly consider using a credit card exclusively for overseas purchases.

Continue Reading »

US Ranks High in Global Competitiveness Index Rankings

US Ranks High in Global Competitiveness Index Rankings

The new Global Competitiveness Rankings, developed by the World Economic Forum, evaluate each nation’s education, health care, business innovation, infrastructure and other key factors.

Continue Reading »

Thinking Globally; Some Thoughts About Cruise Growth

Thinking Globally; Some Thoughts About Cruise Growth

There are some key “understandings” shared by many cruise line executives about their future growth and the internalization of their passengers. Here are some observations that can help the consumer envision the world of upscale cruising projected ten to fifteen years into the future:

It is a given that at least 50% of luxury cruise guests will be sourced outside the United States. Continue Reading »

Check Into this Four Seasons and Never Check Out:

Among the exciting new ships en route to us in the coming 24 months, none has generated the initial buzz of The Four Seasons, a 42,000 Gross-ton beauty under construction in Finland. We are hearing that the 100 or so apartments that range in size from 1300 to over 3,000 sq. ft. are selling out prior to the company’s launch of an official sales piece. Continue Reading »

The Benefits of Dual Elite Status:

When it comes to airline miles not all flyers or airline programs are created equal. Although the travel ads will never tell you this, frequent flyers can manipulate the system to secure the upgrades that seem so elusive for the rest of us.

One of the best techniques is to use two different Elite Status Mileage cards – say one on American and one on United. Continue Reading »

The World’s Best Restaurant Serves Infusions:

Spain’s El Bulli restaurant has been nothing short of Mecca for food writers and a huge posse of trendistas intent on sampling a new cuisine that involves infusions of pure flavor essences.The food fusion movement has been called the inevitable merging of fine dining and science.

Now, the internationally respected Restaurant Magazine, an industry publication read by anyone who counts, has named the Fat Duck, in Bray, England as the “Best Restaurant in the World”. Continue Reading »

Hurricane Vacationing 101:

What we have here is a failure to communicate. When exactly is hurricane season in the Caribbean?

The unreported story is that we are now considering the entire month of November as hurricane season. In the past, before Pat Robertson decided to change the world’s weather patterns, cruisers were told to avoid the last two weeks of August through the end of October. Continue Reading »

Sampling London’s Best Two Restaurants:

Of the several Gordon Ramsay’s, the best of the lot, GR at Royal Hospital Road, is currently London’s finest. Getting in takes a top-notch concierge or serious pre-planning.

The other top toque in town is Shane Osborn of Pied A Terre on Charlotte Street.

Both of these restaurants produce innovative “New French” cuisine, meaning an almost complete absence of flour-based sauces. Continue Reading »

Just Back from the Tombs:

The Egyptian tombs, that is, in New York’s wondrous Metropolitan Museum where the Conde Nast folks hosted their annual Reader’s Choice Awards. Cocktails were offered in the huge room holding The Temple of Dendur circa 15 BC.

Hotel exeus, cruise line execs, and representatives of worldwide destinations were in the running for awards that are worth their weight in marketing gold. Continue Reading »

London’s Pigiest Restaurant:

That would be Fergus Henderson’s place, St. John, located in what was once a smokehouse in the not yet absolutely completely fashionable Smithfield Market neighborhood. The place has been creating meals out of portions of the pig that even the Chinese discard.

But lo and behold, when Restaurant Magazine, an important European restaurant industry publication, published its list of the 50 best restaurants in the world – there it was, way up there in 16th place. Continue Reading »

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