The advantages and disadvantages of advance reservations

The advantages and disadvantages of advance reservations

Do you need them? That depends on your own personal inclinations and travel habits, and upon a balancing of advantages against disadvantages.

 The advantages of advance reservations are obvius. You arrive in a city and immediately check into a hotel without fuss or bother. In some cities, at certain periods of the year, that can save a lot of hotel searching.

The disadvantages are equally obvious. By making advance reservations (which often require deposits), you necessarily must accept a fixed and unalterable schedule for your travels. You cannot, mid-trip, decide to lengten or shorten your stay in a particular city without affecting the reservations you’ve made in other towns. And, of course, you must go through the process of writing ahead to many hotels, some of which may answer that they’re fully booked.

For those who do want the certain of a room at a particular hotel, there are several rules to follow. You must state an exact date of arrival and departure, and not simply an “on or about” estimate. Be prepared to pay an advance deposit on your reservation, to be forfeited if you don’t show up on the exact dates you’ve stated (a hotel may hold your room vacant on that date, and thus lose the chance for other business). You’ll usually find a suitable budget hotel without too much difficulty, dpending on the city and the time of the year.

The Business of Travel

The Business of Travel

Americans of today have become the world’s wanderers. The character depicted in Sue’s great novel has its modern counterpart, not only throughout the United States, but all over the globe, with baggage marked “From America,” and destination everywhere. Another human wave flows from city to sea and mountain with the approach of summer, and crowds every outgoing ship bound for the Old World. This national restlessness has aided in coining such words as “commuter” and “suburbanite,” for the daily movement in and out of the great cities of the country is partly the result of the desire “to go somewhere.”

The passing of the multitude to and fro has created the business of travel and developed it into a mechanism which is wonderful in its movements, considering the comparatively short period of its existence. It devises ways and means for all classes and to suit all purses. By it the wealthy man secures his private car, in which to flee from the grasp of the frost king to the shade of palmetto and pine. It provides the clerk with his half seat in the common coach, or conducts the hundred or thousand in the excursion party through the highway of Europe, or around the world. In 1841 that 600 people were taken from Leicester to Loughborough on the first excursion train on record.

It is worth while to turn a few pages of British history, for here originated the system that has since spread throughout the New World as well as the Old. Until the printer, Cook, took his townsfolk to the Father Matthew meeting at Loughborough the excursion train was unknown. The talk it created set people to thinking, and from this obscure village developed the idea of modern travel. Up to that time intercourse between the countries of the Kingdom was confined principally to visits among one’s relatives, the trips of the commercial agents and government representatives.

The Business of Travel

The railroads terminated south of the Scotch borderland; the traveler to the North Country had his choice of stage coach or steamer from the end of the track. To the average Englishman, both Scotland and Wales were almost unknown countries. Popular travel produced a revolution which converted Highland and Lowland alike into a summer holiday encampment for the people of the middle and southern England. It built hotels on hillside and in valley, and bordered the seacoast with season resorts.

The throng of pleasure-seekers spread throughout North Wales as well, and even into Ireland. In spite of the present attraction of English tourists to the Continent and the United States, it is estimated that the yearly “bank holidays” find 200,000 Londoners alone transferring their homes temporarily to the Land of Burns and the Bard of Snowden.

The few miles across the English Channel, until 1856, had barred all but the nobility and wealthier British people from visiting the Continent for pleasure, and the comparative few who ventured through northern or southern Europe were considered by the hotelkeepers as their legitimate prey, and compelled to pay exorbitant prices in city and hamlet alike; perhaps mine host had in mind traditions of former days when the earl or duke, with his retinue, rode from town to town demanding the best the inn afforded, and expecting nothing out of the purse of gold thrown down in payment. But with the advent of the tourist agent came a change which benefited host and guest alike, for what was lost in the reduction of charges was made up in the increased patronage.

Another exposition—that in Paris in 1867—caused the tour promoters of the Old World to think of crossing the Atlantic. A few trips to such resorts as Niagara and Saratoga had been arranged by Americans, but the business of travel, as conducted abroad, was practically unknown.

Less than a thousand people went to the other side as a result of the reduced steamship rates and other inducements; but those who attended the great fair returned to become personal advertisements of the modern idea. The average American who had gone abroad previously was possessed of a bank account which could withstand the heavy inroads of the foreign landlords; but few cared to repeat a journey which was attended with such discomfort. Thanks to the tourist agent, the visitors to Paris were relieved of much of the trouble with which those who had gone before them were afflicted.

The fortunate combination of scenery and history possessed by the Old World has always been enticing, and the public was ready to welcome any assistance in smoothing the way to reach it. Consequently it is not strange that each year, with a few exceptions, since the sixties has witnessed a steadily increasing exodus to the other side, and the trip to Europe, once considered the epoch of a lifetime, has become an ordinary event—to be regarded of as little moment as the journey between city and city.

The modern system of travel has planned its every detail with admirable nicety. Enter one of the offices to be found in the important cities, and tell the man behind the desk of your proposed journey. In exchange for the check or bank bills, he gives you a piece of pasteboard which will carry you by railroad and steamer to every city in the civilized world, if you so desire. Another package of pasteboard slips pays for food and shelter wherever you may desire it, in the heart of London or on the shore of the Nile. Europe or around the world, as you choose.

If one wants a special car in which to cross the continent, over the wires goes a message, and in an hour it may be linked to a train on its way to meet the tourist, or bearing him on his journey, provided with chef and porter, supplied with food and bedding— turned into a traveling home, in which he can live a week or month, as his purse allows. At a day’s notice a special train can be provided—a hotel on wheels with its bedrooms, library, dining-room, boudoir, and even barber shop. And in the same office where the millionaire engages his “special” the clerk with his month’s vacation secures his bunk or railroad excursion ticket, and pays for his daily meals and lodging.

The modern agency for our pleasure is ubiquitous in every sense of the word. It has developed into an encyclopedia of geography and history so complete that any of its representatives can not only give the location of a particular point of interest, but advise the best land and sea routes to be taken to reach it, and the hour of arrival and departure of train or steamer. The upto-date agency has men, who speak every modern language, stationed in all the important foreign communities to answer inquiries as well as to sell tickets.

At these offices the stranger can write and mail his letters, have his mail forwarded to him, obtain information as to the best hotels, be directed to the most reliable shops, have his money and jewelry cared for while in the city, and perhaps get a glance at the home newspapers. After a few weeks abroad he soon comes to look upon these agencies as links which connect him with the far away home land, and he notes their signs with a feeling of gratitude—here is something which is not entirely foreign.

In some countries where the native hotels are not satisfactory the tourist company has built hostelries of its own. Banking departments, where the American dollar or the English pound can be exchanged Euro, form another branch of the business that is welcomed, as is shown by the report of one concern which in a year changed half a million in American cash for its patrons.

The machinery of travel, too, has smoothed the path of the modern wanderer in more than one sense. It has built ways of stone and steel to enable him to reach some attraction of nature hitherto almost inaccessible The cable car with its uniformed conductors ascends the lava-lined sides of Vesuvius, and you can dine at a restaurant nearly on the brink of the smoking crater.

The hum of the trolley is heard among the palms of Egypt, in sight of the tombs of the Pharaohs. The visitor in New England fans himself in the summer heat at the foot of Mount Washington, and a half hour later buttons his overcoat around his throat as he alights from the car in the region of winter on its summit. The “cog-wheel” route up Pike’s Peak has divested it of some of its fascination—for danger is often tempting—but it is far more comfortable to rise above the clouds seated in a cushioned chair than plod along the rocky road, the day’s journey required, afoot or ahorse.

Traversing a part of Florida is a railroad originally called the “Millionaire Line,” because a millionaire constructed it, and men of millions reached the American Riviera by it. Five hundred miles in length, it was built solely in the interest of the tourist at a cost of over five millions of dollars. But its promoter had the satisfaction of knowing that it revolutionized the mode of reaching the land beyond the frost line and acquainted the American people with a region which before had been almost as unknown as the wilds of Africa. The company’s yearly earnings prove that its enterprise was not unprofitable, for it has gradually changed into a highway, for the masses as well as the classes.

Nature’s attractions as an inducement to the seeker for variety. With the beginning of each season those remarkable people, the modern passenger agents—vie with each other in the production of pamphlets, even books of generous size, profusely illustrated in various colors. Ten thousand, perhaps a hundred thousand, of a single issue may be scattered over the country in the time-table racks. The preparation of railroad and steamboat literature has become an important part of the machinery of the passenger department—principally to secure the interest of the tourist.

But remarkable as has been the activity of railroad managers in the promotion of the tourist movement, the gaze must be turned seaward to fully appreciate its present dimensions. In a single month of spring or early summer fifty steamships leave New York alone. On a Saturday, a procession of ten great liners may be seen wending their way through “The Narrows.” As the purser records tickets from “upper deck” to steerage, he expects to find at least ninetenths having tourist transportation; for the Italian fruit vendor, who has saved enough to visit the old home once more, realizes the advantages of the system as well as the banker who engages his suite of cabins.

The tourist agent and the transportation company have provided all of these facilities naturally for their own profit, but in so doing they have been benefactors. The opportunity for education by travel has been placed within reach of a multitude of Anglo-Saxons who could not avail themselves of it otherwise. The Briton has gained knowledge of America and Americans, and the American has gained a knowledge of Great Britain and the Britons which could not be obtained in a life-time study of history.

The personal contact with not only the people but the manners and customs of the Old World has broadened the tourist from this side to a deeper appreciation of his own land. He has also acquired a fund of information not to be found within the book covers, which is beyond price, for the eye and ear note a thousand sights and sounds daily, which combine to make a most valuable history.

What Your Travel Agent Can Do

What Your Travel Agent Can Do

Your travel agent will book your flight and hotel and make arrangements for any additional rail, sea or bus travel. He has a wealth of information on passports, itineraries, reservations, vaccinations and other queries. If you are planning to take an extensive tour it will pay you to discuss it with a travel agent.

Not only will he make sure you get the very best travel bargains for your money, but he will sort out all the arrangements for you in one fell swoop. It can take a full load off your mind while not adding to your budget, because a travel agent’s services cost you nothing. He works for commission from the various transportation operators and travel services that he represents. Apart from financial considerations, using your travel agent will save you enormous amount of time. Give him a call.

Health and Safety Tips for Vacation

Health and Safety Tips for Vacation

Flying is a matter of hours from one climate to another sounds traumatic. In fact, you’ll find it a truly stimulating experience because in the world today much of the sting has been taken out of it. Cold climates cater to visitors with central heating, air conditioning as permeated even the most distant corners of the tropics.

Do not forget that in the Southern Hemisphere the seasons are reversed – December in Argentina and Australia, for instance, is mid-summer. As a general rule, the close you get to the equator (which passes through Indonesia and Ecuador) the hotter and more humid the climate becomes. But altitude is also a significant factor – the temperature drops 5 degree for every 5,000 feet of altitiude.

Personal Effects Insurance Policies are well worth the extra few dollars they cost. Among today’s travelers it is the very unlucky and careless who fall among thieves. But if there is a feeling worse than having your luggage stolen – it is not being able to file an insurance claim it for it. And again we stress the value of medical insurance, especially if you have a health problem.

Egypt protesters in world news increases travel risk

Egypt protesters in world news increases travel risk

The Christian Science Monitor reports that tens of thousands of protesters in Egypt braving tear gas and water cannons, were converging on Tahrir Square in central Cairo and protests were taking place across the country. Similar scenes were played out in hundreds of mosques in Cairo, Alexandria, and the gritty industrial towns of the Nile Delta.

As a result the recent protests Canadian department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has recently updated the travel advisory for Egypt. Canadians traveling to Egypt should exercise a high degree of caution due to occasional demonstrations and protesters, high levels of criminal activity and violence throughout the country, and the threat of terrorist attacks.

According to recent world news reports from Egypt, major demonstrations have been announced and they are likely to be well attended. The week of January 30, 2011 has seen serious civil unrest as a result protesters in many parts of Egypt with reports of large scale arrests, property damage, injuries, and several deaths from injuries sustained during the protests. Access to some areas may be restricted due to increased security measures and police presence on the streets.

Canadians, in particular those visiting or living in urban areas of Egypt, are advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings of protesters and to follow the advice of local authorities. Canadians are advised to exercise caution and restraint, and to avoid unnecessary travel in the later hours of the day and at night.

Will travel insurance cover you while traveling to Egypt?

At this time the Government travel advisory is only a warning and not a recommendation not to travel. Therefore your medical travel insurance policy should cover you when traveling to Egypt on holiday. It is advisable however, to check with your travel insurance provider before traveling to Egypt to see if your policy will be valid based on your specific travel itinerary.

These travel advisories can change at any time, so it is important to check the Government web site before traveling. Your travel insurance policy may cover you, but understand the risks traveling to Egypt due to the current situation.

If you decide to travel to Egypt, do not become a protester, stay away from demonstrations and large gatherings of people, public buildings or other sites which may become the focus of protester demonstrations, such as Tahrir Square in Cairo. You should exercise caution, and observe instructions given by local security authorities and tour operators.

Backpack through Switzerland and Alps

Backpack through Switzerland and Alps

Switzerland is one of the richest (and most expensive) countries in the world, but the hike your way across this European country is an inexpensive way to experience its beauty and culture.

1. Visit the Chateau de Chillon in Montreux, Switzerland. You explore a 13th century castle in a picturesque setting on Lake Geneva. You can explore old buildings, towers, courtyards and dungeons.

2. Discover the wonders of Geneva’s Jet d’Eau, Promenade des Bastions, L Coupe and a wide assortment of museums and cathedrals within walking distance of each other. Geneva is also an excellent base to start a climb in the Alps.

3. Hike through the trails in the Jungfrau region in Switzerland to take in many amazing views of peaks over 3,900 meters high. Take the cog railway to the Jungfrau Jungfraujock station, which is nearly 3,500 meters high.

4. Spend a day in the lake of Thun explore more castles, medieval churches, the Museum of watches and the Museum of Musical Instruments. Backpack trails nearby for more panoramic views of the Alps, then visit the St. Beatus Cave.

5. Backpack through the small town of Lucerne for the iconic version of Switzerland and the Swiss Alps. You can explore Mount Rigi, the Glacier Garden, the Picasso Museum, Lake Lucerne and the beautiful Rutli Meadow.

6. Experience adrenaline pumping adventures like parasailing, bungee jumping, rafting, hang gliding and mountain climbing in and around Interlacken.

7. See the top of the famous Matterhorn mountain in the Valais and the highest mountain in Switzerland, Dufour, near Monte Rosa.

Montreal Jazz Festival – Festival International De Jazz De Montreal

Montreal Jazz Festival – Festival International De Jazz De Montreal

Festival International De Jazz De Montreal

(June 26 – July 6)

With over 400 concerts, 300 free shows in the heart of the city, four city blocks are closed to traffic to make way for this enormous musical celebration. We’re bringing together close to 2,000 musicians, from over 20 countries to entertain some 1.5 million people in what is hailed as one of the most important jazz events in the world.

With its friendly atmosphere and finely tuned organization, this is a singular event that can only be experienced in Montreal.

It’s easy to see why so many critics and musicians alike have named it as their favorite festival in the world.

Montreal’s festival is the best in the world.

Climate and Health, the Health Seeker

Climate and Health, the Health Seeker

Not only is there no such thing as an ideal climate, except at certain times of the year for a particular disease, but the health seeker will find that climates the world over, within certain ranges, are a good deal more alike than they are unlike. It rains and snows occasionally even in southern California.

Mountain altitudes and deserts, as an offset to their clear, dry air, usually have a most abominable amount of wind with sand- or dust-storms at some time of the year, no matter how the guidebooks may lie about it. If you go to the North, or to the mountain tops, you must be prepared to face cheerfully snow and blizzards and sleet in the winter time, and wind, rain, or fog at any season.

If you go to the South or to the desert, you have to figure on a season of even greater discomfort during the five to seven months of summer. Don’t expect miracles any more in the realm of climate than anywhere else. Go prepared to take advantage of the best weather, and to bravely defy all but the most intolerable parts of the worst weather, and your change of climate will do you good in eight cases out of ten wherever you go. In the past, most of the health resorts have been in the South, because as a matter of fact, most so-called health seekers are really warmth-seekers, running away from the cold and the sleet of our hyperborean winters to bask in the warmth and sunshine of the South.

Unintelligently and indiscriminately employed in this fashion, change of climate does only a very moderate amount of good. In the days when we sent our European consumptives to the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands, and our American ones to the West Indies and Florida, the majority of them did not recover. They simply died more comfortably, and often more rapidly than if they had remained at home. If any one goes South to avoid the trouble of ventilating his bedroom properly, or taking sufficiently vigorous exercise in the open air to get up a glow and defy the frost, he is doing himself harm rather than good.

Practically, however, the majority of health resorts will continue to be in southerly latitudes, for two reasons: One, that a healthy, agreeable open-air life can be led almost anywhere within the temperate zone in summer time. Hence the great majority of invalids scarcely think of formally “going away for their health” except in the winter time. And secondly, that when this seasonal limitation, viz., that they must be available in the winter time, has been imposed, those that present the greatest number of inducements to live and sleep in the open air, are those which will give the best results.

We are, however, rapidly widening our range in this particular, as we are finding that, except for the most delicate and sensitive constitutions, a visit to the woods, to the mountains, to the sea coast in winter time, will, for those who have the courage to take it and to expose themselves bravely to the weather, be as beneficial as a trip to the blue skies and languorous airs of the South. In fact, in the majority of cases, more benefit will be obtained in a shorter time in one of these Northern resorts than in many Southern ones.

Physicians are coming more and more to recommend their health-seeking patients to the Adirondacks in the winter time, the Canadian Highlands, the Maine woods and lakes, such bracing coast climates as Atlantic City and Lakewood, and such moderately stimulating climates as the mountains of Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, where “the chill is off” the air, but it is still bracing and keen.

This explains why the frontier has always had a reputation as a health resort. Most of us can remember how in our younger days health seekers of all sorts, asthmatics, lithemics, and above all, consumptives, were sent out to the banks of the St. Lawrence, to the virgin forests of Michigan, or to the prairies of Iowa, Minnesota, Dakota, to the Canadian Northwest, to the plains of Nebraska, Wyoming and Kansas, and while accurate data are of course lacking, it would be safe to say that at least 50 per cent. more of these recovered than of those who simply drifted south like wildfowl before the winter storms.

The reason, in a nutshell, was that life in the open was the only life which was possible on the frontier, and is practically yet. The consumptive’s greatest enemy, the house, was conspicuous by its absence; such imperfect substitutes for it as existed, were really so loosely built as to be self-ventilating and to allow the winds of heaven free access at all hours and seasons, or so uncomfortable and unattractive, that the sufferer Could not “den up” in them with any sort of comfort, and was obliged to turn for enjoyment to the open air in self-defense.

To this day, in the sub-tropical health resorts like Arizona, New Mexico and southern California, one of their chief practical advantages is that patients have to go out and sit in the sun to get warm. The high price of fuel in Southern California and other Southwestern resorts is really a blessing in disguise, though you wouldn’t think so to listen to the language of the average tourist and hear his teeth chatter. This brings us to another practical advantage of going out upon the frontier and to the majority of not too highly civilized and pampered health resorts, and that is, that the whole scheme of life of the entire community is based upon a life in the open, and free from the strains and confinements of ordinary business and social life.

At home, the health seeker, by even intelligent life-in-the-open methods, finds himself in a minority and apt to be looked upon as a freak, one who excites curiosity, if not derision. As the children say, he “has no one to play with.”

Out on the frontier he finds scores of other men and women who are living with the same object in view. Many of them, having recovered their health and become prominent and influential members in the commercial and social life of the community, the whole life of the village, of the settlement, of the colony, is laid out upon healthier, broader, less strenuous and more reasonable lines than that of the Eastern community from which he has come. While preserving plenty of snap and interest in life, a little of the golden haze and sunlit calm of the lotus eater has tinged the mind of the people.

It is easier to live simply, naturally and healthfully than in the whirl and rush of the city or even Northern country life. Here is another great advantage of the American over the European health resort. You need not cut yourself off from the currents of human interest and contact with human progress by becoming a health exile. Problems of the greatest interest, experiments of the highest value to the race are continually in the air and in process of experimentation and solution on the frontier, and upon the borders of the desert.

It is easy to become interested in some of them, to develop a hobby, and still live a free, active open-air life. In the European health resort you are at best only one of a group of Wealthy idlers, of valetudinarian loafers, altogether isolated from and out of touch with the problems and interests of the people and the country.

Archaeologists unearth world’s first church

Archaeologists unearth world’s first church

Archaeologists in Jordan have unearthed what they claim is the world’s first church, dating back almost 2,000 years, The Jordan Times reported on Tuesday.

“We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD,” the head of Jordan’s Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, Abdul Qader al-Husan, said.

He said it was uncovered under Saint Georgeous Church, which itself dates back to 230 AD, in Rihab in northern Jordan near the Syrian border.

“We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians — the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ,” Husan said.

These Christians, who are described in a mosaic as “the 70 beloved by God and Divine,” are said to have fled persecution in Jerusalem and founded churches in northern Jordan, Husan added.

He cited historical sources which suggest they both lived and practised religious rituals in the underground church and only left it after Christianity was embraced by Roman rulers.

The bishop deputy of the Greek Orthodox archdiocese, Archimandrite Nektarious, described the discovery as an “important milestone for Christians all around the world.”

Researchers recovered pottery dating back to between the 3rd and 7th centuries, which they say suggests these first Christians and their followers lived in the area until late Roman rule.

Inside the cave there are several stone seats which are believed to have been for the clergy and a circular shaped area, thought to be the apse.

There is also a deep tunnel which is believed to have led to a water source, the archaeologist added.

Rihab is home to a total of 30 churches and Jesus and the Virgin Mary are believed to have passed through the area, Husan said.