New ThereArePlaces Guide to Israel

July 22, 2010 on 10:53 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, israel travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel guides, travel news, web publishing | Comments Off

ThereArePlaces has added a travel guide to Israel to our collection of guides on the best places to visit around the world. Our new guide covers Israel’s major cities (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa) its archaeological wonders (Caesarea, Herodium, Masada, Beit Shean) and the pilgrimage sites around the country of interest to many Christians (Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and sites surrounding the Sea of Galilee).

The Dome of the Rock viewed from outside the walls of the Old City

We have included a separate guide to Jerusalem that is focused on the walled, Old City and its many wonders (the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, etc), as well as several attractions outside of the Old City, including the Mount of Olives, the Kidron Valley and Yad Vashem.

Israel is the heart of the Holy Land and of great historic significance. We also realize that travel to Israel may not appeal to everyone. However, even if you never plan to travel in Israel, we think that reading our guide might be of interest to you and hope you will take a look when you have time.

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New Passport and Passport Card Fees

July 7, 2010 on 10:41 am | In passports, things travelers need to know, travel, travel news | Comments Off

As we indicated in our blog several months ago, the Department of State is raising the fees for passports and passport cards. The new fee structure will be in effect on July 13, 2010. For more details, see ThereArePlaces updated pages on passports and passport cards.

The raises are substantial, but the State Department claims they are necessary to cover the costs of issuing passports and providing service to American travelers abroad. For example the fee for those older than sixteen who were applying for a first-time passport was $97 and is now $135. Here is a chart showing the State Department’s new schedule of fees.

The New Passport Fee Schedule from the State Department

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Best Seaside Villas In Europe for Rent?

June 15, 2010 on 10:47 pm | In Europe travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel news, vacation travel | Comments Off

The Sunday Times (London) published a fun article last weekend on the 20 best seaside villas in Europe that are currently for rent. Although some were too expensive for us, some were in our price range and we thought that all of the properties mentioned were inviting.

We liked the sound of “16 Windmillls Greece”, although we were attracted to several others.
How about you, which one would you choose?

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Volcano 1, Air Travelers 0

April 21, 2010 on 9:27 am | In ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, international travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel news, travel restrictions | 1 Comment

The Eruption of the volcano in Iceland continues to make the news, but the emphasis seems to be on how much money the airlines lost, but not on the financial discomfort of the airline passengers!

While we are sensitive to the plight of the airlines and realize that their losses due to schedule disruption are staggering for an industry that has suffered during the recent economic downturn, the plight of passengers during this incident is equally important. We are not sure that all of the numbers we have seen for cancelled flights are correct. In addition, we cannot imagine that the airlines are losing as much money as stated in the press, since the loss numbers per day should equate with revenues on days when their planes are flying and the numbers just don’t seem to work out.

However, we have read that 95,000 flights were cancelled due to the danger of flying through clouds filled with ash from the erupting volcano. If we calculate that just 50 people were scheduled to fly on each of these flights, then we could safely assume that at least 4.75 million passengers had their travel plans changed by the eruptions. Let’s figure that half of these were starting their journey and could return to their homes disappointed that they were not able to start their travels. This means that over 2.375 million passengers were stranded away from home, waiting for a return flight to the airport from which they departed (or one nearby).

Certainly, some number of passengers might have been able to remedy this situation by taking alternative transport. However, there were other situations, where the only remedy was air transportation, for example for long-distance travelers returning to the United States, Australia or other countries. In addition, not all travelers have the financial resources to buy a train or a boat ticket after they have paid for an airline ticket and paid for hotels and meals during their travels. Instead, they simply have to wait until they can be accommodated by their airline on a future flight to the desired destination.

The problem here is that if you have purchased a ticket for air travel and the airline cancels your flight, you go to the back of the queue for the next flight to your destination. Yes, you read that right. Passengers who purchased tickets (have reservations) for the next flight out are given precedence over those who were ticketed for a previous flight that was cancelled.

In fact, many airlines were recommending that holders of tickets for cancelled flight book new reservations (buy new tickets) on another flight and submit their old tickets for reimbursment due to the cancellation. We don’t know about you, but we have never seen the reimbursement process take less than six weeks. It is likely that some travelers will spend several days, or perhaps longer, waiting to be rebooked on a flight, because they cannot afford to purchase another ticket.

Now you know why some news reports indicate that it may take weeks to clear up the travel problems generated by the volcano’s eruptions!

We understand the logic of the airlines decision, but suggest that the strategy was put in place to deal with momentary and minor changes in schedule due to weather or aircraft requiring service, not for major disruptions such as volcanic ash. Perhaps this incident will lead to a change in the rules. We certainly hope so. Of course, the airlines are not do be undone – this morning we noticed that some are considering suing the national air traffic control agencies for banning flights when it was not really necessary. Seems a dangerous plank to walk, but there is no shame when you are an airline.

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New Paris Guide

February 28, 2010 on 9:20 pm | In France, France Travel, Paris Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, things travelers need to know, travel | Comments Off

We have been busy at work updating and expending our Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Paris. You can find the New ThereArePlaces Guide here.

Paris is lovely at any time of the year, but the best seasons are rapidly approaching and if you have not yet been to Paris, make this year the one. Our new Paris guide has updated information for all attractions, an expanded list of best places to visit, more photographs and additional “color” commentary on neighborhoods. If you have never been to Paris, see our Paris Travel Tips section for hints of how to make Paris your pearl.

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Natural Catastrophes and Travel

February 28, 2010 on 8:47 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, international travel, personal travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel warnings, vacation travel | Comments Off

As many of you may have read, Chile was struck with a massive earthquake late last week, while severe storms struck Europe this weekend, both natural events causing significant deaths and destruction. Our hearts go out to the residents of Chile and those of the European countries who are suffering from these natural disasters.

All travelers should have a mental checklist prepared for those circumstances where an event beyond your control occurs in an area in which are are traveling. Many catastrophes, such as storms, are often predictable and when you are “on the road” you should check the local weather on a daily basis. Doing so will let you know whether your plans are advisable or if you should stay put for a day or two. While most of you travel by schedule, there is no sense heading to an area that is predicted to have severe weather. Instead, cancel the reservation for your next night and find one where you currently are lodged, if you regard it as a safe destination. Always ask locals for advice – they likely have seen this problem before.

In the case of earthquakes, there is simply nothing you can do to avoid being in an earthquake. Instead, be sure to read the evacuation notices and plans posted in most hotel rooms. In addition, be sure to travel with a small flashlight for use in emergencies. Next, stick the flashlight and your room key in a pocket in your pants, along with your wallet and keep them near your bed while sleeping and the same goes for your shoes. If you need to evacuate during the night, just slip on our pants, shoes and a jacket and head out, knowing you have your money and identification, as well as a light. Many recommend keeping a bottle of water in your other pocket, backpack or purse. In other words, the Boy Scouts had it right with their “Be Prepared” motto and travelers should do the same.

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Machu Picchu To Reopen In April

February 17, 2010 on 11:38 am | In ThereArePlaces.com, things travelers need to know, travel, travel news | Comments Off

The government of Peru has indicated that it should have Machu Picchu open again in April. The site has been closed since last month when torrential rains washed out the only rail line serving the attraction. See this article from Reuters for more details. Although we do not yet cover South America at ThereArePlaces, we have provided this information for those of you interested in this dynamic continent.

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Pssst Buddy – Eight Bucks For A Blanket?

February 9, 2010 on 8:29 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel industry, travel news | Comments Off

American Airlines announced yesterday that it is going to charge those passengers who want a blanket, $8 for a blanket and inflatable pillow that can not only can be used on the flight, but also kept for future use on upcoming flights. How gracious! American joined Jet Blue and U.S. Airways as the three major airlines that charge for blankets – and we have not seen a pillow in an economy section in a long time.

We can just see adding “Pillow and blanket” to our preflight checklist when at home preparing for another departure. How cheap can these people be?

Yes, we realize that American Airlines lost $1.5 billion over the last year. However, the reason they lost that much money has nothing to do with providing flyers with a blanket or a pillow. American has cannibalized its routes to such a degree that is it almost impossible to fly them.

Recently, we tried to fly American from Orange County, CA to San Francisco – nope, American no longer flies that route. The following week we were back in Orange County and wanted to fly to Dulles Airport in northern Virginia, but we had an afternoon meeting with an editor and needed to make the meeting. Nope, not possible from Orange County. How about LAX? Nope, not possible from LAX, unless we wanted to leave the day before and fly all night, arriving at six in the morning. No thanks, American. We took a United Flight that, although it left at 6 a.m., got us to Dulles at 1:30 p.m.

American has adopted a hub and spoke logistics concept and it is almost impossible to fly them anywhere distant if you want a non-stop in order to avoid an extra three hours in your schedule. The reason they are losing money is that they no longer offer flights and schedules that are appealing to their once loyal flyers (we have flown over one million miles on American (and other airlines as well) but do not think of American as our first choice any longer, since we can never find a schedule on American that meets our needs.

I guess the corporate wonks have divined that asking people to pay for pillow and blankets will improve their financial performance. Alternatively, maybe, the price of those pillow and blankets will cover the subsidies they are providing to JAL to remain their OneWorld partner?

And you know what is next – Yep, the Pee Fee, a trial balloon once raised by RyanAir, although no one has yet proposed the “bowel bond”. However, we think that American will take a few more small steps before charging travelers to use the toilets. Like -installing electrical sockets in the the seatbacks and charging you to plug in and view the entertainment you bring on board when your battery cannot last the trip? You haven’t seen anything yet!

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Air France’s Seating Policy For Larger Travelers

January 22, 2010 on 2:20 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, personal travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel news, travel restrictions | Comments Off

Air France has been reported by CNN to charge an additional fee for passengers who need to occupy two seats to travel comfortably. The Air France website has more detail about seating for passengers with a high body mass.

It appears that Air France, starting February 1, 2010, will require those passengers with a high body mass the option to choose an extra seat with 25% discount in their Voyageur cabin. The airline indicated that it would completely reimburse the fare for the extra seat if the flight departed with unoccupied seats. Although the wording of the Air France website appears somewhat equivocal and in one place describes the “…option to choose an extra seat”, the “hammer” can be found at the end of the page, where it is stated “In the interests of safety, if the flight is full and you have not reserved and additional seat, you may not be allowed to board if your build does not permit you to sit comfortably in a single seat.”

Just so you know, United Airlines appears to have a similar policy.

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Forget Paris – It’s Vienna Next Spring

December 25, 2009 on 11:18 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, austria travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel news, vacation travel | 1 Comment

Laguna Hills, CA (ThereArePlaces) December 26, 2009 – ThereArePlaces, publisher of www.ThereArePlaces.com announced the availability of its new, online Guide to the best places to visit in Vienna, Austria. Field researched throughout November, the guide provides photos and up-to-date details on what you will see when you visit Vienna’s leading attractions in 2010, as well as detailed maps showing the locations of Vienna’s best places to visit. In addition, the Vienna Guide provides details on the Imperial City’s best sightseeing, its best cafes and sweetshops and a wonderful daytrip to Austria’s beloved Wachau, including visits to the Abbey at Melk and the medieval towns of Krems and Durnstein.

The Vienna Guide at ThereArePlaces features a daytrip to the Wachau, one of the prettiest areas in Austria

“During the last half-year, ThereArePlaces noticed a significant change in our website traffic, indicating that our visitors were focusing on researching travel information for Austria. In response, ThereArePlaces sent an editorial team to Vienna and canvassed the city, gathering the most up-to-date information on Vienna and its many attractions for tourists. The editorial team at ThereAreplaces thinks it has presented the best places to visit in Vienna in a format that will make it easy for anyone to get started planning a trip to the Imperial City, the former home of the Habsburg Empire,” said company President Mike Dobson, a seasoned travel industry executive.

Cafes, sweetshops and fantastic pastries make Vienna even more alluring and we cover the best here

Dobson continued, “Vienna has a number of interesting attractions and most travelers would be hard pressed to see even a fraction of these during a visit. ThereArePlaces has done the hard work for you and present recommendations on the best places to visit, including the best: palaces, museums, art galleries, churches, music venues, shopping, and other categories of sightseeing that might be of interest. In addition, the ThereArePlaces Vienna guide is highly illustrated with great photographs that will let you see the detail of the attractions we recommend. The detailed information we provide should allow you to decide on exploring the attractions that best meet your travel interests.”

The detailed maps used by ThereArePlaces in its Guide to the best places in Vienna make finding the leading destinations a snap

The ThereArePlaces Guide to Vienna can be found here at ThereArePlaces.

About ThereArePlaces
ThereArePlaces is a property of TeleMapics, LLC, a business focused on travel, tourism, and other location based services. Through its website http://www.thereareplaces.com the company publishes up-to-date, detailed, illustrated guides to the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Its coverage areas include: Europe, Asia, the Pacific and North America. ThereArePlaces is a travel information publisher whose commitment is to provide travel advice that might help its readers to take the journey of a lifetime.

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