Today’s article on why you should check out the State Deprtment’s travel warnings before you go: Do heed those travel warnings
Archive for the ‘travel’ Category
The location is the Casona del Tequendama in Colombia, which has the reputation of being haunted:
In 1924, the then-luxurious Hotel (Refugio d)el Salto was inaugurated on the cliff facing the waterfall but due to contamination of the river water, believed to be a result of the popular locale, it was closed in the early 90′s. There has been talk of reopening it and restoring it to its former glory (but as a museum or even a police station) which might help rid the place of its apparent ghosts. They are said to haunt the hotel and according to the caretaker, are believed to be from the old days when bar fights on the second story would end up on its balcony, sometimes resulting in a drunk patron losing more than the fight.
On the other hand, there are stories of those who checked out (of life) by jumping off the cliff. That’s right, despite its beauty or perhaps because of it, the falls is a place where people have been known to say their goodbyes. When one would find a letter or some sort of personal item without an owner, it was thought to have been left behind.
In the photo above, it looks haunting, like something Lord Byron would have loved,
But my Soul wanders; I demand it back
To meditate amongst decay, and stand
A ruin amidst ruins; there to track
Fall’n states and buried greatness, o’er a land
Which was the mightiest in its old command,
And is the loveliest, and must ever be
The master-mould of Nature’s heavenly hand;
Wherein were cast the heroic and the free,—
The beautiful — the brave — the Lords of earth and sea,
Or a vacation spot for the Addams family.
The good news is that the French government is funding the building’s restauration along with local authorities (link in Spanish).
Let’s hope the restoration is completed and the building becomes viable.
Michael Moynihan has an excellent article on the oh-so-enlightened travel guys and their fascination with purity in penury,
Why do so many travel guides make excuses for dictators?
The West’s misreading of Cuba is an old staple for this crowd, and a new generation of lefty guidebooks doesn’t fail to disappoint on this score. The Rough Guide to Cuba, for example, even has a kind word for the draconian censorship implemented by the Castro regime, lecturing us that it’s “geared to producing (what the government deems to be) socially valuable content, refreshingly free of any significant concern for high ratings and commercial success.” Sure, the guidebook says, one can read dissident bloggers like Yoani Sánchez, but beware that opponents of the regime can be “paranoid and bitter” and are “at their best when commenting on the minutiae of Cuban life [and] at their worst when giving vent to unfocused diatribes against the government.”
We’ve also apparently got it all wrong when it comes to Cuba’s notorious Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), a Stasi-like network of neighborhood-level informers that monitors and informs on troublesome dissidents like Sánchez. Lonely Planet: Cuba thankfully assures tourists that the group is, in fact, a benign civic organization: The CDR are ”neighborhood-watch bodies originally formed in 1960 to consolidate grassroots support for the revolution [and] they now play a decisive role in health, education, social, recycling and voluntary labor campaigns.”
WHY ALL THE bending over backward to excuse the world’s most thuggish regimes? For the guidebook writer, as well as the starry-eyed travelers who buy them, there is no characteristic more desirable in foreign travel than “authenticity” — places uncorrupted by the hideousness of Western corporate advertising and global brands-and many of these pariah states are the only destinations that offer it. Lonely Planet enthuses that Cuba is “a country devoid of gaudy advertising,” possessing a “uniqueness [that] is a vanishing commodity in an increasingly globalized world.” Indeed, the dictatorship protects its citizens from the poison of consumerism in a manner other states might want to emulate:
Almost completely cut off from the maw of McDonald’s, Madonna and other global corporate-cultural influences, Cuba retains a refreshing preserved quality. It’s a space and place that serves as a beacon for the future — universal education, health care and housing are rights people the world over want, need and deserve.
Falling into step alongside pallid, overweight and uncoordinated Western wannabes out on two-week vacations from Prozac and junk food, the Cubans don’t just walk; they glide, sauntering rhythmically through the timeworn streets like dancers shaking their asses to the syncopated beat of the rumba. Maybe the secret is in the food rationing.
THERE IS AN almost Orientalist presumption that the citizens of places like Cuba or Afghanistan have made a choice in rejecting globalization and consumerism. From the perspective of the disaffected Westerner, poverty is seen as enviable, a pure existence unsullied by capitalism. Sainsbury refers to Cuban food as “organic” and praises the Castro brothers’ “intellectual foresight [that] has prompted such eco-friendly practices as nutrient recycling, soil and water management and land-use planning.” Meager food rations and the 1950s cars that plod through Havana’s streets, however, don’t represent authenticity or some tropical version of the Western mania for “artisanal” products, but, rather, failed economic policy. It’s as much of a lifestyle choice as female circumcision is in Sudan.
But it takes a special lack of integrity to write a Lonely Planet guide: Thomas Kohnstamm, who authored the Lonely Planet guide to Colombia admitted that
“They didn’t pay me enough to go (to) Colombia. I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating—an intern in the Colombian Consulate.”
Lonely Planet didn’t expect me to go to Colombia. They knew full well that I wasn’t going.
Hey, if you’re buying a book from people who are going to palm off their ideology under the guise of a travel guide, don’t expect anything resembling the truth.
Linked by Midnight Blue. Thanks!
The TSA, of course!
By now you probably know that Rand Paul, Senator for Kentucky and son of Congressman Ron Paul (that wacky presidential candidate), was detained by the TSA at the Nashville Airport for refusing a full-body pat-down.
Steve Watson wonders if that constitutes a Constitutional violation,
The Constitution specifically protects federal lawmakers from being detained while en route to Washington DC.
Article I, Section 6 states:
“The Senators and Representatives…shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same….”
Rand Paul was travelling from his home in Louisville to attend a session in the Senate today.
The White House’s Jay Carney wouldn’t even name Rand, and won’t call it detainment, either, saying instead, “The passenger was not detained. He was escorted out of the area by local law-enforcement.”
So it’s up to you to decide: Is the TSA a flight-inhibiting escort service, or your creepy uncle?
Obama’s heading to Disney World,
While specifics of his tourism plan were hazy, there is one topic at the top of the political wish list for Central Florida’s tourism industry: visa reform. The tourism industry has been pushing Congress and Obama to make travel easier for visitors from emerging nations such as Brazil, India and China.
“We understand that he [Obama] is going to trumpet the value of travel generally and improve facilitation for international travel, especially from China and Brazil,” said Blain Rethmeier, senior vice president of public affairs at the U.S. Travel Association.
Michelle Malkin reminds us,
In case anyone needs reminding, it was the relentless drive of the tourism industry and kowtowing State Department bureaucrats that led to the Bush-era Visa Express program — which relaxed visa policies, eliminated in-person consulate interviews, and opened the door to the 9/11 hijackers.
In a Communist country, with sex tourism, and where your children belong to the state, the dictator’s daughter talks about the latest plan (h/t Gates of Vienna),
Cuba embraces Dutch-style sex education
Cuba can learn a thing or two from Dutch-styled sex education. That’s the view of Mariele Castro Espín, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, espoused in an interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
Mariela Castro is director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, a government-funded body, whose aim is the development of the development of a culture of sexuality that is “full, pleasurable and responsible, as well as to promote the full exercise of sexual rights.” She will travel to the Netherlands in the near future to for discussions with institutions and government bodies related to sex education.
Cuba is a top destination for sex tourism. Maybe Mariela will have the whorehouses display their goods on shop windows as they do in Amsterdam.
since it’s $5.7 million over the initial budget
Not only did the White House cite the projected cost at $32 million, but Amtrak used that figure in a 2009 press release documenting its Delaware projects.
But Ms. Hunter, the Amtrak spokeswoman, said the company’s original budget for the renovation was actually $35.7 million: with $20 million from stimulus money; $12 million from Delaware’s Department of Transportation; and $3.7 million from Amtrak itself. Ms. Hunter said the final cost reached $37.7 million when Amtrak added $2 million worth of work that was not part of the original scope of the project.
In its official Recovery Act report, Amtrak gave a different figure altogether — $36 million to the dollar — for the refurbishing project. And it said the breakdown in funding was $20 million in stimulus funds and $4 million from a 2009 federal grant, in addition to the $12 million from Delaware DOT.
What the rail company’s CEO and his counterparts left behind was a train that remained stranded in Baltimore for more than two-and-a-half hours as Amtrak engineers scrambled to repair a broken transformer outside of Philadelphia. The train, like many others, lost electricity, including the power to flush toilets. Passengers were allowed to stretch their legs on the station’s platform.
Others followed the railroad officials’ lead — frantically arranging to rent cars or find transportation to an airport. The train that the three were riding, which left Washington at 9 a.m. began moving again at 12:28 p.m. — roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes behind schedule.
“As one of our country’s leading public servants, our ‘Joe’ sustains a momentum for Delaware while helping steer our nation down the right track,” said Governor Jack Markell.
Down the right track of bloated budgets and broken trains.
Via Mr. Bingley, who’s had a lot of fecking flights,
Not content on making your life miserable for the long hours you already spend in their claws, airlines are going to charge you for reclining seats.
My cup runneth over!
Airlines are digging around for ways to pile on more fees.
They’ll do it by pushing stuff you don’t want when you’re a captive audience and can’t get away from their advertising/merchandising,
Carriers could tap into “billions and billions of potential revenue” says Tom Douramakos, chief executive of GuestLogix Inc., a Toronto technology supplier that helps airlines sell products and services. “The airlines are only scratching the surface” with baggage and seat fees, he insists. They could become virtual shopping malls, offering captive travelers a variety of buy-while-they-fly items such as theater tickets or a handbag, he says.
It’s not enough that one has to navigate miles of duty-free shops to get to the gates, and plenty of display/print advertising along the way, now the planes will become “virtual shopping malls”?
As for “a seat that reclines more”, are we supposed to expect that we won’t be charged for seats that recline at all, the way things are going?
Suzette has more on the joys of travel.