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We’re sure that airline ticketing agents have heard every excuse under the sun when it comes to why passengers need a better seat, an upgrade, or just a spot that’s a little more convenient. Instead of just ignoring our need to whine our way into a better seat, El Al has embraced it—kind of. The carrier just posted a video illustrating some of their favorite upgrade excuses, and we’ve got to admit it might have given us a chuckle.
There’s a pretty bad impersonation of JFK, as someone tries to get a discount to business class since the airport’s named after him. There’s a woman pregnant with a basketball and also a guy who stands on his buddy to show how uncomfortable he’ll be on the flight thanks to his long legs. Just check it out above if you want to get the full picture.
Travel Politics / Politics Travel / Japan Travel / China Travel / Israel Travel / Egypt Travel / Australia Travel / Japan / China / Israel / Egypt / Australia / ANA / Japan Airlines / El Al / Qantas / Emirates / → All Tags
It's an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes politics impacts travel. It's an even more unfortunate fact of life that sometimes politics impacts travel so much that we have to write about it on a Friday afternoon instead of easing you into the weekend with baby animal pictures. And yet here we are, with flights being emptied or cancelled across three continents because of a variety of geopolitical flare-ups.
The most dramatic bit of travel politics comes out of Japan, where no less than 40,000 seat reservations to China have been canceled. China has been on a bit of a tear recently, claiming a bunch of islands that by and large aren't straightforwardly quite theirs. The campaign has put them on a collision course with various other countries in the region (obviously) and one of those countries is Japan. There have been anti-Japan protests in China and, apparently, lots of Japanese people are sufficiently pissed off to cancel vacations to China.
Terrorism / Politics Travel / Travel Politics / Bulgaria Travel / Israel / Israel Travel / Crimes / → All Tags
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.
Gay Travel / LGBT Travel / Jerusalem Travel / Tel Aviv Travel / Israel Travel / Jerusalem / Tel Aviv / Israel / Green Travel / Green Tourism / → All Tags
Israel tourism has been in an upward spiral over the last few years. Every year brings a new crop of travelers to the Jewish Statereflected in now-routine "this was the best tourism year ever" headlinesand they go home and tell their friends. That's how you end up with niche surveys about the popularity of Israel travel, like Israel being the number two destination for Russians.
Obviously part of Israel's tourism revolves around the country being a destination for religion travel. Jerusalem is and will remain by far Israel's most-visited destination (see our insidery tips for making the most of a Jerusalem visit here and here). But other parts of Israel are becoming famous for appealing to other demographics.
Forest-filled Haifa recently got the nod of being Israel's cleanest tourism city, part of a campaign to bolster green travel to and around Israel (El Al passengers flying from LHR to TLV can even purchase carbon off-sets).
And then there's Tel Aviv, which has just been voted the world's single best gay travel destination.
TSA / Airport Security / Israel / Israel Travel / Terrorism / Airline Security / Technology / → All Tags
So. The talk is that the TSA is "ready" to adopt Israeli-style in-depth security. But! This isn't going to happen. It's not the way that TSA operates. It's not the way an organization that recruits with pizza box ads is capable of operating. Andeven if none of that was trueDHS Secretary Napolitano and TSA head Pistole have both repeatedly said that they're not going to do it.
Thus, this whole rumor is more an overeager Washington Times reporter getting an overeager Israeli security official to go on the record about something that's not technically true, but it's still kind of an interesting thought experiment: what if the TSA went Israeli in response to all the criticism it rightly gets, like this report says they're considering?
It wouldn't, as some people suggest, mean that TSA officials would start racially profiling passengers. As Shin Bet internal security official Arik Arad explains, it would actually mean the opposite of that. Because "the profile changes," what you actually need are people trained to pick out abnormal behavior. That requires probing every passenger group with a set of questions proven to "uncover anomalies that can lead to identifying terrorists through further screening," something that sounds scary but actually means asking things like "what hotel are you staying at?"
Religious Travel / Holy Travel / Spain Travel / Spain / Israel Travel / Israel / Europe Travel / Europe / → All Tags
Europeans are fond of complaining that American imports are ruining their culture, and usually we're like "shut up, we need our Chipotle." In this very specific case, though, they might have a point. Europe's first Christian theme parkmodeled after the ones in the American South and South Americais now set to open in Mallorca, Spain. Inexplicably.
We of course usually recommend a different religious travel solution. If if you want to see what the Holy Land looks like, our reasoning goes, you should actually take a trip to the Holy Land and see it. From the United States that might be prohibitive with the cost, but a flight from Spain to Israel on one of Europe's billion LCC's is fairly affordable. When you factor in the Euro/Shekel exchange rate you're almost saving money. We understand there are pluses and minusesin Israel you can only walk on the "Jesus trail" while in religious theme parks you can actually meet Jesusbut we kind of prefer our way. Even if there are no "live resurrections," as this theme park promises.
Cheap NYC / New York City / Events / Central Park / Beaches / Tel Aviv / Israel / El Al / → All Tags
New York City may not be the first location that comes to mind when you think "tropical vacation," but for those who don't mind sandy strolls lacking the exotic, the Big Apple is fast becoming the worldwide leader in faux beaches.
Already featuring three locations of Water Taxi Beach, NYC will be trucking in yet another sandy lot this Sunday for the one-time-only Tel Aviv Beach in NYC event.
As part of the city of Tel Aviv's 100th anniversary celebration, organizers will bring a slice of the Mediterranean to Manhattan, putting together a 1,300-square-foot beachfront by the bandshell in Central Park. The beach vibe will come complete with backgammon and paddle ball (omnipresent activities along the Tel Aviv shore), while sunbathers will be serenaded with live Israeli music and a midday DJ set pumping out Euro club hits.
And for those who aren't quite sated by Israel-on-NY, representative of El Al will be on hand offering special airfare deals. L'chaim!
· The Tel Aviv Beach in NYC [Official Site]
· Marathon on the Mediterranean [Jaunted]
· Where Does Bar Refaeli Dine When She's Home in Tel Aviv? [Jaunted]
Mistakes / Maps / BMI / Israel / → All Tags
Imagine for a moment that you are traveling with a major airline, and winging your way from one major world city to another, but your destination fails to appear on the in-flight entertinament LiveMap. What do you do? If you're an Israeli heading home from London on a BMI plane, you file a complaint against the airline with your tourism ministry, and get that stuff fixed before it becomes an international incident.
We’ve been doing our best to hunt down the ladies and locations of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Unfortunately, we still have no idea who’s going to be on the front. Although, we will be staying up past our bedtime this Monday, as the secret will be revealed on the Late Show with David Letterman.
We do know that for the first time, Esti Ginzburg will be joining the crew of the issue. We’re thinking that during last year’s shoot in Israel, the SI crew did a little talent scouting along with taking in the landscape. Unlike fellow Israeli, and Jaunted fav, Bar Refaeli, Esti will fulfill her military obligation in the nation’s army. Knowing that, we will not be making any attempts to get her phone number--not like that would be an option anyway.
Besides Letterman, the SI crew is using “experiential marketing” this year to get the word out about their iconic magazine. With this new promotion, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 24/7 New York to Vegas, teenage boys will get the chance to fly from New York to Las Vegas and hang out with the beauties. For those who aren’t big winners, they’ll be plenty of behind the scenes videos to oggle on YouTube.
Related Stories: [Photo from 2008 of Ana Beatriz Barros in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: SI]
·Letterman To Unveil SI Swimsuit Cover [MarketWatch]
·Israeli Cover Girl’s SI Swimsuit Debut [Forward]
·Marketing the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models [AdAge]
·Bikinis coverage [Jaunted]
[Photo from 2008 of Ana Beatriz Barros in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: SI]
Museums / Art / Israel / → All Tags
Want to pay to watch a room full of people sitting in a room, scratching their heads because they've got lice? Now you can! An exhibition at the Museum of Bat Yam near Tel Aviv has just that.
Although it sounds totally random, and not exactly enticing, there is some reasoning behind this bizarre display. The museum wanted a display exploring the theme of hosts and guests, and so seven young artists from Berlin came up with the idea of the museum hosting them, while they in turn hosted head lice, for three weeks. And unsurprisingly:
The group acknowledged that living with lice was uncomfortable, but said it was worth it for the sake of art.
It's kind of like Big Brother, with lice. A catchy concept? Probably not, but you might catch the lice.
Don't worry, we don't want to get ourselves involved in any long-running old political disputes. We just want to report the truth. And the truth is that an English-language sightseeing brochure about Jerusalem boldly proclaimed recently "There is no such city!"
The confusion of any travelers who were already there when they read the news can now be allayed: It was simply a translation error. What it should have said was "Jerusalem. There's no city like it!" Got a qualification as a translator from Hebrew to English? Looks like Jerusalem needs you.
[Image via Carmelo Aqillina/Flickr]
Jerusalem Lost in Translation [ABC Online]
Wallpaper* / Design / Israel / Travel Magazines / Berlin / → All Tags
The May issue of Wallpaper* is the most inspiring issue of the magazine in quite some time, with the mag's Newspaper section leading the way.
Case in point: David Kaufman's article on the proliferation of Israeli café chains, several of which are eyeing international markets. The accompanying sidebar pegs 12 coffee bar chains around the world, including Vienna's iconic Aida, Jordan's Blue Fig, California's Peet's, and Cape Town's Vida e Caffé. The Cape Town chain gets the highest aesthetic praise.
Also covered in the section is the happy return of Ostalgie. Berlin's former East German State Council building, circa 1964, has morphed into the European School of Management and Technology. (It's hard to keep the excitement out of a place like that, we guess) The honors go to HG Merz, an architecture firm focusing on museums and renovations, with offices in Stuttgart and Berlin.
Also noteworthy in the May issue: Macau travel, Portuguese canned fish packaging, Paris' Stalingrad 'hood, and new Swedish furniture designers. Note that South Africa joins the Wallpaper pricing elite, with the price of the magazine now listed in rand. We know just the coffee shop for reading the mag.
· Spanish Fly [Jaunted]