Travel briefs

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Travel briefs

UNESCO adds Dolomites to world heritage list, drops Dresden

MADRID (AP) — Italy’s Dolomite mountains were among 13 new sites added to UNESCO’s world heritage list.

Other new natural sites added to the list included the Wadden Sea wetlands, an area rich in wildlife in Germany and the Netherlands; and northern China’s Mount Wutai, a sacred Buddhist site known for its five flat peaks and a landscape with 53 monasteries.

But in a rare move, UNESCO dropped Germany’s Elbe River valley at Dresden from the heritage list because of a bridge under construction across the river, saying this spoils the landscape.

Dresden, whose historic center has been painstakingly restored since it was ravaged by Allied bombs in 1945, is often referred to as the Florence of the Elbe because of the baroque architecture that gives it a distinctive skyline.

The U.N. agency’s World Heritage Committee announced the additions to the list at a June meeting in Seville, Spain.

The new designations included the first UNESCO World Heritage sites in the countries of Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and Kyrgyzstan. The Cape Verde site was the city of Cidade Velha, the first European colonial outpost in the tropics, which UNESCO said bears testimony to the history of slavery. In Burkina Faso, the designated site was the ruins of Loropeni, a thousand-year-old fortress important in the trans-Saharan gold trade. In Kyrgyzstan, the site was Sulamain, a sacred mountain on the Silk Road with ancient petroglyphs and places of worship, including two 16th century mosques.

In Europe, other newly designated World Heritage sites were Stoclet House in Belgium, a 1911 building considered important in the history of the architectural styles of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and modernism; the Tower of Hercules, a lighthouse and landmark in Spain dating to the first century; La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle, Swiss towns that were planned to accommodate the watchmaking industry; and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and canal in northeastern Wales, built without locks and considered an engineering and architectural feat of the Industrial Revolution.

Elsewhere in the world, UNESCO added to its World Heritage list the Shushtar hydraulic system in Iran, an engineering masterpiece that dates to the 5th century B.C.; the sacred city of Caral-Supe, a 5,000-year-old archaeological site in Peru; and the royal tombs of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea, built from 1408 to 1966.

There are now a total of 890 properties on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Man who spent month on planes set Guinness record

ATLANTA (AP) — The man who spent a month living on airplanes set a Guinness World Record for the most scheduled flight journeys within 30 days.

Mark Malkoff set the record with the series of flights he took June 1-30, according to Carlos Martinez of Guinness World Records.

The previous record was 128 flights, a record that had stood since 1993, Martinez said.

Malkoff’s campaign was organized with AirTran.

Malkoff, 33, a comedian and filmmaker, posted updates throughout the month on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and on his blog, He also posted wacky videos, like one in which he flushed the airplane toilet to watch it suck up an entire roll of toilet paper that he had unrolled down the aisle of the plane.

In another video, he was hosed down on the tarmac by the Flint, Mich., fire department. He had no access to showers and had been using baby wipes in the airplane bathroom to clean himself.

Malkoff’s itinerary ranged from five to a dozen flights a day, with destinations including Raleigh, N.C., Jacksonville, Fla., Denver, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. He ended up landing in over three dozen cities, covering more than 100,000 miles. His first and final flights were both from LaGuardia in New York to Atlanta.

Malkoff, a former audience coordinator for “The Colbert Report,” had said at the outset that he was using the month to try to overcome his fear of taking planes. He said in an e-mail that after talking to the pilots and spending all those hours in the air, “I’ve pretty much gotten over my fear of flying.”

Malkoff’s past projects have included “Mark Lives in IKEA,” documenting his weeklong stay in an IKEA store, and “171 Starbucks,” in which he visited 171 Starbucks stores in Manhattan in less than 24 hours.

Free hotel stays for community service

NEW YORK (AP) — Some 50 hotels across the country are giving away a free night to guests who can prove that they completed at least eight hours of community service between July 1 and Dec. 20.

To qualify, you must provide a letter on the nonprofit organization’s letterhead proving that you’ve completed the volunteer work at a 501c3 organization such as Meals on Wheels or Habitat for Humanity.

The hotels, all managed by Sage Hospitality, include The Nines in Portland, Ore., The Blackstone in Chicago and the Sheraton Tucson Hotel and Suites in Arizona.

The room must be reserved at least 48 hours before arrival. Guests must pay taxes for the room. Blackout dates apply and there are a limited number of rooms available at each hotel.

The offer runs to Dec. 20.

Details on how to book can be found at

Other participating hotels include the Sheraton Tempe in Arizona; the Courtyard Monrovia, Courtyard San Diego, and Homewood Suites Brisbane in California; the Courtyard Denver, Hilton Garden Inn Denver and Residence Inn Denver; the Hilton Garden Inn, Orlando, Fla.; the Doubletree Atlanta; the Sheraton Chicago NW; the Courtyard Brighton, Detroit; the Fairfield Inn Duluth in Minnesota; the Sheraton Kansas City in Missouri; the Holiday Inn Omaha in Nebraska; the Fairfield Inn Las Vegas; the Marriott Charlotte in North Carolina; the Fairfield Inn Cincinnati North; the Courtyard Portland in Oregon; the Renaissance Pittsburgh; the Renaissance Providence in Rhode Island; and the Residence Inn Milwaukee.

Maine Woods Discovery travel packages being offered

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Many visitors to Maine associate the state with lobsters, coastal towns and Acadia National Park. But a new project called Maine Woods Discovery is hoping to promote tourism to the state’s lakes, woods, mountains and other inland areas.

A new Web site at offers seven moderately priced vacation packages to make outdoor, recreational and cultural experiences around the state more accessible. The packages are:

—”Maine Rocks”: A one-night package with lodging, breakfast and a tour of a historical mineral mine, where you can mine your own gems, for $75 a person.

—”Old Canada Road Geocaching”: Includes two nights lodging and geocaching along a National Scenic Byway (meals additional), for $108 per adult, $95 per child.

—”Outdoor Sporting Heritage”: Three nights in wilderness lodges, all meals included, with traditional outdoor activities, $318 per person.

—”Legendary Fly Fishing”: Two nights condo lodging, fly fishing lesson and area exploration, box lunch, $530 per couple.

—”View from the top”: One night in a hotel, breakfast and box lunch, hiking options for all ability levels, $75 a person.

—”Making it by Hand”: Two nights in a guest house, some meals, making local art from local materials, $232.50 a person.

—”Explore Flagstaff Lake”: Two nights in a backcountry lodge, all meals, exploration of a submerged village, $265 a person.

Participants in the project include the Appalachian Mountain Club and Maine Huts & Trails; the Sugarloaf, Saddleback and Sunday River resorts; and Rangeley Lakes, Bethel, Upper Kennebec, Moosehead Lake, Longfellow Range and Mount Katahdin regions.

Omaha summer jazz series through Aug. 20

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha’s annual summer jazz music series has opened on the grounds of Joslyn Art Museum near downtown.

The concerts are held every Thursday evening through Aug. 20.

The series began in 1985, with more than a half-million people attending the summer jams since that first summer.

New park near Ravenel Bridge linking Charleston and Mount Pleasant

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The newest park in South Carolina has opened in Mount Pleasant near the Ravenel Bridge, which links the area with Charleston.

The bridge was opened four years ago and one of the park attractions is a fishing pier built into the Cooper River on pilings that once supported the old Cooper River Bridge.

The new $14 million park also features a war memorial, a visitor center, an open-air pavilion for sweetgrass basket weavers and a playground.

What’s new in Fairbanks this summer

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Visiting Alaska this summer? Make your way up to Fairbanks to sample some of the city’s newest attractions, including a school where you can cook with moose meat and birch syrup, and a series of cultural programs that include native dances and everything you always wanted to know about dog-mushing.

Also new in Fairbanks this summer is a trolley for guests of the Fountainhead Hotel with stops that include downtown and the University of Alaska Museum of the North. The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum opened to the public June 1 with 60 carriages, steam cars, 1930s sedans, and early electric cars on display.

At the Chez World Cooking School, cooking demonstrations and hands-on dinner classes are offered daily using everything from salmon and halibut to reindeer sausage

A “Cultural Connections” series running through Aug. 21 at the new Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center offers traditional Athabascan music and dance Monday-Thursday; a presentation by champion dog-musher Jennifer Probert, including some demonstrations with her lead dog Diamond, on Fridays; and a film about Arctic Alaska’s Brooks Range park on Sundays. All programs are 7-8 p.m.

For more information about visiting Fairbanks, go to

Hatfield-McCoy ATV trails open in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Tourism officials say all of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails are open to ATV riders once again, even though it may take up to two months to completely restore them.

Spring flooding in southern West Virginia damaged four trail systems in the 500-mile network: Buffalo Mountain, Rock House, Indian Ridge and Pinnacle Creek.

Executive Director Jeffrey Lusk said it may take a while to get everything in pre-flood shape, but ATV riders will find all trails open and most lodging providers back in business.

About 10 miles of new trails have been built because some had to be rerouted. Lusk says other old sections of trail are now bypassed, creating additional variations in terrain for riders.

Eleven counties were declared federal disaster areas after the flooding.

Summer happenings in the Adirondacks

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — A redesigned Web site for New York’s Adirondacks region offers aerial videos of the region, with a bird’s-eye view of everything from main streets to mountain tops.

The eight high-definition video tours can be found at, by clicking on “first-time visitors” and “aerial tour.” Eight helicopter icons then appear on a map, each one linked to a different video, including films of the Adirondack Seaway, the Lake George region, the Lake Placid region and Adirondack lakes.

The Web site also offers resources for trip-planning, accommodations and events. Summer happenings include the “Quadricentennial Float-By,” July 25-27, in Queensbury, with homemade vessels competing for prizes; the Ironman USA triathlon competition in Lake Placid, July 26; Durant Days, July 31-Aug. 2, on Raquette Lake, honoring W.W. Durant, the Gilded Age developer who once owned a million acres in the region; the Stony Creek Mountain Festival, Aug. 7-9, in Stony Creek; and a full schedule of productions at the Wood Theater in Glens Falls, from plays to operettas.

New Zealand airline issues nude safety video

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s national airline has adopted a cheeky way to encourage passengers to watch its in-flight safety video: The cabin crew’s uniforms are nothing but body paint.

The “Bare Essentials of Safety,” screening in the cabins of planes flying Air New Zealand’s main domestic routes, has gone viral online with over a million YouTube views within a few days of its launch.

In the video, three cabin staff and a pilot, all in full body paint applied to look like their uniforms, talk viewers through the aircraft’s safety procedures.

A demonstration seat belt, life jacket and arm rests are strategically positioned over the crew’s bodies during the 3 1/2-minute video. Passengers are shown ogling, mostly in appreciation.

The body paint idea is also being used in a series of television advertisements in New Zealand for the airline, which include the promise: “At Air New Zealand, our fares have nothing to hide.”

One ad even features chief executive Rob Fyfe in body paint.

“We think in tough times there’s a premium for making people smile, and it gives the opportunity to stand out in a crowd,” Air New Zealand’s marketing general manager Steve Bayliss told The Associated Press.

Each crew member spent about three hours having the body paint applied.

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