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Update: 12:30pm EST, July 23: Although yesterday's FAA ban on flights to Israel was originally only for 24 hours, it has been extended to last another 24 at the least. This only applies to US airlines, so flights to Israel on El Al out of JFK are still operating normally.
Update: 1pm EST: FAA has issued a notice (NOTAM) prohibiting US airlines from flying to or from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Int’l Airport for up to 24 hours.
Update: 12pm EST: US Airways, United and American Airlines now join Delta in temporarily suspending Tel Aviv flights.
At approximately 11am EST today, Delta updated their Israel travel adivsory from a warning that flights may be disrupted, to the fact that their flights from New York-JFK to Tel Aviv will not be operating at all "until further notice."
The stoppage is a temporary hiatus necessitated by escalating violence in Israel; the final straw comes with the report of a rocket attack in the vicinity of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport. Naturally the danger calls to mind last week's Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 tragedy, caused by a ground-to-air missile. While airlines continue to divert their flight paths clear of Ukrainian air space, there are other war zones to consider.
New Airline Alert / Up by El Al / El Al / Israel Travel / Europe Travel / LCC / LCCs / TLV / → All Tags
The past few years have absolutely been high times for full-service airlines to stretch their legs and enter the low-cost carrier market. Singapore Airlines has Scoot, ANA has Peach and Vanilla Air, Thai Airways has Nok Air, Air Canada has Air Canada Rouge, and these are only a few examples. Now, El Al is getting in on the fun with their own little brother of an airline, UP by El Al.
The new airline will fly from Tel Aviv to five cities in Europe, giving cost-conscious travelers a new option between Israel and Berlin, Budapest, Kiev, Prague and Larnaca. Offering the typical à la carte service model we've come to expect from budget airlines, Up will save passengers some cash with tickets to Prague and Budapest starting at $69, and the other destinations from $99 one-way.
WiFi / Travel Tech / Israel Travel / Tourists / → All Tags
The days of hopping between coffee shops and other WiFi hotspots are becoming fewer and fewer, as yet another country is beaming out Internet waves to tourists and locals alike.
Last month, Tel Aviv flipped the switch for free-for-all-WiFi to ensure everyone can stay connected. Whether they’re strolling the beach or checking out a little history, the city clearly understands visitors need to document visits instantly—through social media of course.
In total, the plan is to install around 80 or so hotspots, and the good news is that most of them are already up and running. If all goes accordingly, another 20 or so should be up and running in the next couple of months.
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If you didn't make it to this past weekend's Open House New York festival and are salivating over your friends' (or our own) cool shots of some hidden gems, don't fret. All is not lost. NYC is not the only city to swing open its doors and invite the public into spaces that usually never see the light of day, or at least the flash of cameras.
Open House Worldwide is a project that started in London in 1992 by Open-City to profile the effect that excellent design, planning and regeneration of the contemporary city can have on the quality of people's lives. Celebrating its 21st birthday this year, the program has expanded toyou've guessed it21 cities across the globe.
Here's what Open House events are coming up next:
In case you missed it yesterday we discussed the grand opening of one of the world’s newest airports, and it just happens to now hold the title of the world’s highest commercial airport. We figured if we were going to discuss airport extreme elevations we might as well go the other way as well, so today we’re heading over to Israel to talk about Bar Yehuda Airfield.
The airport—also known as Masada Airfield—sits not too far from the Dead Sea right in the southern part of the Judean desert. Let’s just say services at the airport are pretty limited, and there is no McDonald’s or Starbucks.
If you forgot to pack a book in your beach bag, Israel's Metzizim Beach has a solutiona brand new beachfront lending library with titles available in Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian, and French.
The portable library, which kind of looks like an old-school ice cream cart, is located on one of Tel Aviv's most busy and popular beaches. Currently, there are 523 books ready to be borrowed, but the number of course changes as tourists leave books or swap them out.
If books aren't your thing and you'd rather check email and read on your Kindle while sunbathing, tech capital Tel Aviv has that covered too. Simply connect to the city's free wifi network (which works on the beach, we've tried it!) and you can download whatever you'd like to read in whatever language you want to read it in. Another plus: thanks to Israel's nice warm weather, this library could work pretty much all year round.
Social Media / Barack Obama / Middle East Travel / Foursquare / Jordan Travel / Petra Travel / Presidential Travel / Israel Travel / Jewish Travel / Obama-Around-the-World / → All Tags
With a 747 and a fleet of other airplanes, helicopters and bulletproof vehicles at his disposal, the President of the United States really gets around. One of the most traveled presidents in history is the current one, President Obama, and though it seems a challenge to keep up with his itinerary when he squeezes several countries and world capitals into a few days, The White House has made it very easy with Foursquare.
Thanks to the location-based social media app, The White House can create lists of Obama's stops and offer these lists to be "followed," so that traveling Foursquare users can "check in" to a venue and see if the President preceded them there. It's all very cool, and of course each location includes a tip or note on what Obama accomplished in each place, such as speaking about job values at a BBQ joint in North Carolina.
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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.
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I am going to Tel Aviv. I've never been to Tel Aviv, nor to Israel as a whole. I am going for 10 days and flying around 27 hours without factoring in layovers. Total decision and booking time was about 15 minutes and the flights are only costing me $353.60.
Why? Because, in case you haven't already heard, El Al Airlines had an error in their online bookings earlier this week that left the fuel surcharge off of ticket prices, making a roundtrip from New York to Tel Aviv less than a roundtrip from New York to Las Vegas.
I scored this deal on Expedia as soon as news of it hit social media, as did thousands others. A friend who attempted to book after me had the deal pulled as soon as she clicked "purchase"; the trip price had rocketed up to $999. What compels me to discuss this now is not joy or bragging over grabbing the ultra-cheap flights, but to point out how El Al has handled the potential catastrophe and inadvertently turned it into what is quite possibly the best thing to happen to them in a while.
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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.
It turns out there are lots of good-looking people in Tel Aviv. Israel and Israelis long ago became a mainstay of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues, and of course Tel Aviv itself is both a home and a dining destination for none other than Bar Refaeli. But some people remained unconvinced that Israel's largest beach city was an epicenter of attractiveness. Now there are numbers on this question.
Earlier this year online travel mag Travelers Digest published its roundup of global cities with the best looking men and women. The lists circulated around the Internet for a while, and then dropped off as these things do, and then were revived last week when they got picked up by an Israeli culture blog. Tel Aviv ranked 7th for hottest women and ranked 10th for hottest men. The writeup on the women's list included the phrase "exotic and appealing," which makes a lot sense since Israeli women are both of those things, and the men's list discussed "artistic Bauhaus architecture," which made less sense.
Animals / Israel Travel / Tel Aviv Travel / New York City / Miami Travel / Florida Travel / Prague Travel / Zoos / Zoo Travel / Green Travel / → All Tags
And now a post about places in the United States, Europe, and Asia where you can visit baby giraffes. So zoos, parks, etc. Note also that we've embedded a couple of especially cute videos at the bottom, because baby giraffes.
Florida's Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay is at the top of the list, with a new baby born last December and then another one born in February. That's two baby giraffes, which you can see on one ticket. Very straightforward.