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We were robbed. It may have happened just over a year ago, but we still live with the effects (like a fear that comes while biking and we hear a moped motor approaching). Read the full story, but also take away whatever knowledge you can from our horrible experience in order to prevent it happening to you while away from home.
Only a few days ago, Lifehacker posted a brilliant list of tips for travelers toting nice cameras, including how to deter would-be thieves. In this vein, we're revisiting our own 8 safety tips to avoid being mugged abroad:
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Airfares from the US to Lima, Peru have been shockingly low latelywe're talking $500 roundtrip on a route that's typically at least $800and some of the reason is likely due to a (now lifted) travel warning from the US Embassy in Peru to Americans traveling in the Machu Picchu/Cusco area.
This week that warning ended, after a couple feared to have been kidnapped was actually found, happily traveling still, just through areas with no internet access. There is a rebel group (named Shining Path) still threatening the area in general, but the situation is once again safe for tourism.
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In case you've been living in a cave (or, more likely, traveling all day), the biggest news right now is that of the massive diamond heist pulled off on the tarmac at Brussels Airport. Essentially, a gang of eight masked men drove through airport fences and right out to the cargo hold of a Switzerland-bound Helvetic Airways plane. Dressed as policemen, they held the airport workers at gunpoint while removing a haul of 120 packages and $50 million (some estimates say it's more like $350 million) in uncut, unregistered diamonds from the Fokker 100, before speeding off. All the while, passengers on the plane were oblivious to the drama playing out only meters away.
The diamonds were originally headed from Antwerp to Zurich, but their whereabouts lie somewhere entirely different now, and since the only clue is a burned-out vehicle discovered near the airport, there is little hope of recovering the haul.
So. Doesn't this sound like the makings of an awesome movie or what?!
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For some reason there are a lot of travel politics stories floating around today, not a few of them about the tourism industry. But as much as we'd like to spend a few paragraphs unpacking the recent industry-related discoveries made in Yemen and India and Bangkokthat persistent crime and open violence tend to dampen tourism revenuewe've got to talk about this moron who allegedly slapped a crying toddler as the Delta plane they were aboard was descending into Atlanta. Not his toddler, incidentally.
The facts as reported are pretty straightforward. Joe Rickey Hundley was on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta. He was sharing a row with Jessica Bennett and her 2-year-old toddler. As the plane dropped altitude Bennett's toddler started crying and wouldn't stop. Heated words were exchangedBennett claims Hundley used a racial slur, a charge he denies but that a witness confirmsand eventually Hundley slapped the kid.
We don't really like to delve into travel politics too much. We'll post news for you when it's suitably important or suitably weird or suitably an opportunity to score good hotel deals by taking advantage of regional unrest. But on the whole we prefer to give you travel advice on, and pictures of, very cute baby leopards.
In this case the story involves taking the deadly serious situation with Iran and adding an element of south Florida craziness. South Florida, of course, is the part of the United States where the newest very sad fad is to rent tiny alligators to miserably swim around the pool during children's birthday pool parties. Now take that kind of sensibility and combine it with one of the most unstable geopolitical situations on earth. The results aren't technically entertaining, but they're at least worth flagging as things that actually exists.
Illegal snacking in Piazza Navona
What's the Italian for "no snacking?"
We have no idea, but travelers are about to find out as Rome has enacted a new law banning the activity of eating snack foods within the historic center city.
Chow down on some cioccolato in vicino of the cobblestoned streets and you'll be liable to pay a fine, which ranges from €25 to €500, though what exactly you'd have to do to warrant the €500 penalty is not stated (perhaps pour a banana split on Neptune in the Fontana di Trevi and then lick it off?!)
It's a law that specifically targets careless tourists, and Telegraph UK explains where you'll have to keep that gelato gluttony in check:
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The AirTrain to New York City's JFK Airport is an awesome thing. For $5 (after exiting the subway and paying that $2.25 fare), you get a straight shot to JFK's terminals from Jamaica Station in Queens. The airport is lucky to have such a system, since most international airports leave tourists to fend for themselves with cabbies or bus networks. Still, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
The JFK AirTrain has fallen victim to a scam involved unlimited-ride Metrocards. Here's what happens: tourists take the subway out to transfer to the AirTrain at Jamaica Station. They exit the subway and head for the AirTrain turnstiles, Metrocard in hand and ready to pay the $5 fare. Whoopsiesthe MTA's so-called "unlimited" ride cards can't be used for the AirTrain. Locals know this and, seeing a quick way to make a buck, they swoop in to smooth-talk those tourists into giving them the cards, for free, because they are essentially useless to travelers departing NYC. If they get a few regular cards with leftover value, then ever better; they've conned people out of money they could've used to pay the AirTrain fare.
Confused? It's a confusing system being exploited by a conniving, widening circle.
Now here's the big problem:
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By now most people know better than to even bother reading those emails that begin with a plea to help an African prince claim his rightful inheritance and end requesting bank information or up-front cash. Alas, as we collectively grow smarter about email scams, the scammers seek to stay one step ahead, evolving their scams with better English and more plausible schemes.
A recent such scam fell into our own inbox and, though we'd typically click "delete" in a flash, this one caught our eye for its mentions of the United Nations, Des Moines International Airport and the Treasury Department. Hmmm.
The sender, a "Mr. Scott C. Tooley, Assistance Inspection Director, Des Moines International Airport" (email@example.com), makes a lengthy and detailed case for getting you involved in an unclaimed shipment of cash left at the airport by a diplomat. He requests a 30% share of what should be "$1 Million to $1.5 Million" in two "Metal Trunk Boxes." Of course this would leave you accepting a box or two of cash of at least $700,000 after paying fees of $3,800. Spoiler alert: It is not real. It is a scam, duh.
Singapore is a fine city. You've got it. And while it's certainly a metropolis on our list as one of the coolest cities on the planet, we haven't used the word "fine" that way. We mean "fine" in that the city is notoriously full of little and not so little punishments for breaking civil laws within the borders of the city-state.
If you've been to the Southeast Asian city, you might remember how clean and orderly it is. That's because anyone caught littering is smacked with a fine of $1000 SGD ($802.56 USD). This law, enacted in 1968, goes for locals and tourists alike, so consider yourself warned. The hit to the wallet isn't the end, either; offenders need to perform a few hours of community service as penance.
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In recent months counter-terror officials have broken up plots to murder Israeli tourists in Cyprus and Egypt and Bangkok and Tunisia and India. Warnings were also issued to Israeli tourists regarding possible plots in Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Today a bomber managed to slip through the net and carry out an attack at the Sarafovo Airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, killing at least six Israeli tourists and injuring more than 20 others, including an 11 year old boy and two pregnant women.
The details of the blast are still changing, to the point where no one even knows what kind of bomb exploded. Eyewitnesses describe a female suicide bomber who leaned into a tour bus filled with Israelis and detonated, while Bulgarian officials have reportedly told the Israelis that it was a suitcase bomb loaded into the luggage carriage. Whatever it was, the bomb was powerful enough to blow the front off the bus and set two nearby buses (also filled with Israeli tourists) on fire. Photos are here but please observe a strong content warning.
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It's true whether you're in Los Angeles or New York: visitors always thing they're going to see either celebrities walking down the street, or a violent crime happen. Well, now you can enjoy a combo of both with WNYC's new map of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit locations around the Big Apple.
This map, culled from the addresses flashed on tv during scene changes in the 13 seasons of the show plus episode info and original air date, follows detectives Benson and Stabler (and Ice T!) from suspicious butcher shops in the Bronx to Little Italy eateries with shady side businesses. The addresses may be real, but the tenants are fictional; that doesn't mean it's not fun to make a DIY tour of the locations from a favorite episode.
We've all heard it before on the family road trip. "If you continue to misbehave, I will turn this car around!" Well, that's exactly what a Qantas captain did when a drunk passenger recently started acting up. A grandmother was over-served on the alcohol, got all riled up and actually started a fight in the air.
The flight took off from Melbourne and was en route to New Zealand when, just after drink cart came through the aisle, the woman became enraged with another passenger after he asked her to stay quiet. Her reply? A straight punch in the face. The punch-drunk granny was then restrained in the last row of the plane when the pilots decided to return to Melbourne to off-load the fighter.