What About Travel To Jordan? (PHOTOS)

Looking for somewhere to travel and experience world class sites of antiquity this fall? Since Arab Spring — agreed, a misnomer as it now continues into the second year — much of northern Africa and the Middle East continue to experience unrest and uncertainties that are unsettling for potential tourists.

I would still travel to Upper Egypt, in fact I would always sail along the Nile from Luxor to Aswan, but I sense I am a minority in the U.S. traveling public. Libya will be a fantastic destination before long, but let the infrastructure, both physical and political, evolve for a year or so. Greece, well you know their challenges. Tunisia is a great possibility but will be another post.

This one is about Jordan. During all the unrest in the region, Jordan has had a few protests but has remained a calm oasis among its neighbors. Is now the time to visit this country rich in ancient, biblical and of course Nabetean history?

Jordan, always a three day add on to everyone’s trip to Egypt, has experienced a dramatic drop in visitors as tourism to Egypt has all but halted. I visited Jordan last month, my 10th trip in 15 years, and experienced not only the absence of tourists but also a wealth of new things to see and experience. Old sites had many new discoveries and one new major biblical site, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, is one of the rare spots you can see a major new archaeological site that is also an active dig.

Never in my years of travel have I had the opportunity to walk along ancient cobblestone roads with only my guide in sight. Jerash, 30 miles north of Amman, remains one of the best preserved Greco-Roman cities in the world. Walking along the main road you have to be careful not to trip over the chariot tracks or the ancient manholes that showed an advanced knowledge of drainage, but there is not another tourist to be seen. Have you been to Ephesus in Turkey when the cruise ships pull in? You know my pleasure at being alone.

Madaba, the city of mosaics is famous for the incredible sixth-century mosaic map of the Holy Land so detailed and so recognizable it was recently used to settle a dispute at The Hague.

The Dead Sea remains a must stop for all visitors and a weekend stop for the local population. Float, cover yourself in mud, sip a drink from the balcony of your hotel at sunset and watch the lights of the Israeli side flicker on. Yes, that is Israel — so very close that you could swim there easily. Right beside the gorgeous Kempinski Dead Sea hotel is a half finished hotel, destined to remain so for some time as it was owned by Saif Gaddafi, son of the late ruler of Libya.

And then there is magnificent Petra. Yes, there were a few more tourists there, mainly from the cruise ships docked in Aqaba, but in early morning and late evening, it was all mine — and the horses, donkeys, camels, carriages and guides, all of whom are anxious to help and who have had little work for the past year. This time I spent most of my time at the far end of the site at the Byzantine church, one of the later additions to Petra and one of the most recently excavated.

In fact, they are still excavating and you can chat with those at the dig. You can also be one of the first to see the pristine, exquisite mosaics that they have uncovered at the church. Walking back to the Siq to exit, I marveled at the silence and enjoyed walking the long walk back to the entrance alone, as many traders had done many centuries ago.

Time to travel to Jordan? It is top of my list for fall and winter 2012 travel!

Loading Slideshow

  • Citadel, Amman, Jordan

    The CItadel, Amman, Jordan. Empty but majestic.

  • Madaba, Jordan

    Mosaic map of Jerusalem and Holy Land. Sixth century A.D. Madaba, Jordan.

  • Entering the Siq, Petra, Jordan

    Entering the quiet Siq into Petra, Jordan.

  • Treasury, Petra, Jordan

  • Byzantine Mosaic, Petra, Jordan

    Byzantine Mosaic at church in Petra, Jordan.

  • Petra, Jordan

    Selling sand from Petra.

  • Dead Sea

    Light on Jordan on Dead Sea, looking over to lights of Israel in distance. So close.

  • Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Jordan

    Baptismal Site, Jordanian side of Jordan River with Israeli site in background.

  • Jersah, Jordan

    Jerash, Jordan.

  • Chariot Track, Jerash, Jordan

    Roman Chariot Track in Jerash, Jordan.

  • Manhole Cover, Jerash, Jordan

    Ancient manhole cover. Advanced drainage techniques in the Greco-Roman city of Jerash, Jordan.

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Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jean-newman-glock/travel-to-jordan-now-photos_b_1686976.html

Wanderable lets couples set up honeymoon travel registry

The website, launched in December, lets brides and grooms establish online registries, and have guests send money to pay for airline tickets, hotels, tours, massages at a spa, even Champagne and strawberries dipped in chocolate.

Actually, you can ask guests to buy you any travel-related transportation, tour or service you desire, because you research your travel on your own outside of Wanderable.com.

Once prospective newlyweds receive the money from their guests, the couple purchases the airline tickets or volcano adventure package in Maui on their own from an airline, cruise line, tour group or travel agent.

Here’s how it works:

You sign up for a free account on Wanderable.com and create a basic registry, listing your names, wedding details and honeymoon location. You can upload a photo to depict the honeymoon.

You can list items for your honeymoon registry for free. You can specify, for example, that you’d like 20 gifts of $80 each to pay for your flight or one gift of $60 for Champagne. As “gifts” come in, the site indicates how many more gifts you need to get to your goal.

You can ask guests to pay in U.S. dollars or another currency, and you can say whether they should pay only by credit card or by credit card, cash and check.

Gift payments are handled through a Wanderable payment system or through PayPal. Couples get e-mail notifications each time a guest sends a “gift.” The money come to you from Wanderable once a month, unless you pay more to get it more often.

“The items are priced by the newlyweds,” says Marcela Miyazawa, Wanderable CEO. “Each couple sets where they want to go, what they want to do and the cost they’ve researched.”

Although you get the basics with a free registry, you can upgrade to premium ($39) or unlimited ($69) accounts that let you enhance your registry with decorative graphic themes, photo boards and albums, slide shows or allow guests to send electronic gift cards.

Regardless of whether you choose the free, premium or unlimited accounts, the site doesn’t clutter your registry with ads for travel insurance or discount hotels.

Beyond selling premium or unlimited accounts, Wanderable make its money by charging users in the USA who opt for credit card payments a transaction fees of 2.8% plus 30 cents. Couples who opt for PayPal are subject to PayPal’s transaction fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents.

If you want your “gifts” money turned over more than once a month, Wanderable will charge $3 each time it makes a transfer.

Wanderable appears to be a great option for couples who love to travel, eschew traditional registries or view a spectacular honeymoon as the gift of a lifetime.

The Wanderable website says it has inspired couples to visit 16,323 places.

Miyazawa says customers in the USA, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Australia have established registries. An iPhone app that would let the couple share honeymoon pictures is coming soon, Miyazawa says.

There are a few manual aspects of the site that could use some improvement.

For example, when establishing a registry, you need to e-mail Wanderable to switch to PayPal if that’s your choice of payment system. That extra step tends to make users stick to the Wanderable payment system.

And a caution: Couples could pretend to be getting married and ask you to finance their honeymoon, but use the money for rent instead. But that’s up to the couples and their guests to work out.

Is there a product, app or website you’d like the Digital Traveler to review? Send us an e-mail at travel@usatoday.com.

Article source: http://travel.usatoday.com/digitaltraveler/story/2012-07-30/Wanderable-lets-couples-set-up-honeymoon-travel-registry/56588842/1?csp=34travel

For Prime Summer Travel, the West Has Won

The Waldorf Astoria at Canyons Resort Village, Park City, Utah

Travelers looking for out-of-the-ordinary summer trips should hit the trail and head out west.  Vacationers routinely travel to the mountains for snow and ski, but summer is arguably the best time to visit your favorite “winter” haven.  Make the most of the season and retreat to Park City, Utah.

Those craving the cozy, fireside feel can embrace a wintry state of mind all year round.  Whether you’re outdoorsy, keen on luxury, traveling with the kids, artsy, adventurous, spa bound or simply looking to get away, Utah’s resplendent mountain views and never ending list of activities creates the perfect environment for every type of traveler.

Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah is an exemplary choice for accommodations and offers 5 convenient and comfortable hotels in the mountain range:  Silverado, Grand Summit, Sundial Lodge, Vintage on the Strand and Waldorf Astoria.  The blend of luxury and adventure is a sublime combination after a long day outside hiking, zip lining or mountain biking.

The lobby of the Waldorf Astoria

I recommend a stay at the Waldorf Astoria, a mix of classic elegance with a rustic western feel.  The large crystal chandeliers that glamorize the lobby and the foyer’s sizable, ever-burning fireplace blend nicely with the countrified outdoor wooden decks and fire pits.  Tastefully decorated and exuding a sexy, contemporary sophistication, the suites are lavish and feature palatial marble bathrooms outfitted with sumptuous Salvatore Ferragamo bath products.

Every guest should schedule a treatment at the Golden Door Spa, a remarkable facility with a lengthy menu for those who simply wish to unwind or for winter Olympians who need to take a break (they stay and work at the resort during the off-season).  Taste the homemade, hot “Potassium” tomato soup in the spa lounge and settle back into the cushy and intimate surroundings.

The “Weeks Strawberry” starter at Talisker on Main

The Talisker Restaurant Collection owns several spectacular restaurants throughout the resort area, but the french-inspired and locally sourced menu at Slopes (in the Waldorf Astoria) will surpass your highest expectations.  Those wanting to head into town for the night should try Talisker on Main, a fine dining restaurant with a casual-cool feel and an uncommon spectrum of food choices and presentations.  The Farm at Sundial Lodge is an organic and flavorful alternative.  The savory meals make for an impressive “seasonal mountain cuisine,” and all of the food is sourced from farms and artisans located within 200 miles of Park City.  Talisker’s Executive Chef Zeke Wray oversees the culinary direction for Slopes, The Farm and Talisker on Main.

Aspen trees in the Wasatch Mountains

Canyons Resort area makes it easy to undertake every activity imaginable all in one place and the action is only a few minutes away from your appointed abode.  Take a guided European-style hike into the Wasatch Mountains through the white bark Aspen trees – request a gourmet picnic lunch at Lookout Cabin at 8,300 feet with panoramic mountain views – and relish the quiet, natural surroundings.  Kids and adults get a thrill out of the Zip Tour Adventure, where travelers soar over the Canyons Resort on either intermediate or advanced zip lines.  More daring types take the Red Pine Zip Tour, which breezes guests down an “800-foot-long tree top ride.”  Additional summer adventures include horseback riding, whitewater rafting, fishing and hot air ballooning.

If you haven’t tried mountain biking, you’re missing out.  Instructors teach the basics, outfit travelers with the gear and gondolas bring riders and bikes to the well-appointed routes.  The activity is guided, family friendly, requires agility and is a truly relaxing and awesome experience.

Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/traceygreenstein/2012/07/30/for-prime-summer-travel-the-west-has-won/

Travel Data Intelligence Software includes benchmark reports.

TRX adds credit card data to benchmark database and offers clients greater program insight

ATLANTA — TRX, Inc. (www.trx.com) (OTCQB: TRXI), a global leader in travel data and technology, today announced new benchmark reporting features for its data intelligence solution TRAVELTRAX at the 2012 Global Business Travel Association Convention (GBTA) in Boston.

Unlike benchmark reporting that is widely available in the industry and generally reported at a macro level, TRAVELTRAX benchmark reporting is unique because it takes into account credit card data and comparisons based on relevancy to the end user. These benchmark reports can be tailored to the client’s needs and can compare air, hotel, car rates and other categories for similar industries, spend categories and geographies.

TRAVELTRAX benchmark reports show:

– Channel compliance – demonstrating air, hotel and car bookings on a credit card that were not booked through the preferred TMC

– Price difference for preferred versus non preferred hotels, drilling down to the hotel star rating and category level

– Folio Spend Gap – difference between TMC hotel cost and card hotel cost

– Purchased versus paid – gap between what was purchased and what was paid

– Average contracted airfare versus non-contracted airfare

– Percentage of preferred carrier bookings under contact

– Average airfare booked online versus full service agent booking

– Number of preferred vendors for air, hotel and car

– Average negotiated fare/rate in air, hotel and car

– Ancillary fee spend in air, hotel and car

– Carbon footprint in air, hotel, car and rail

– Average meal, parking, or black car spend

– True total trip cost

“High quality information helps drive decisions in travel management,” said TRX Executive Vice President of TRAVELTRAX Kevin Austin. “TRX consumes and processes large volumes of travel data in more varieties than any other provider -data that assists customers in important procurement decisions. We added credit card data to our benchmark database to give our clients greater visibility into their program performance and benchmark categories that will further aid buyers in budgeting, forecasting and supplier selection decisions.”

TRAVELTRAX helps over 6,000 corporations gain a better understanding of corporate travel data and more effectively manage their global TE costs. TRAVELTRAX provides users with clear and concise insight into global travel programs for corporations using multiple travel agencies, corporate cards, and/or expense reporting platforms through seamlessly aggregating, consolidating, and normalizing data from over 100 sources. TRX has deep domain expertise in travel data and leverages experience and technology to find answers for the needs and problems of customers

TRX will demonstrate the TRAVELTRAX new features and all TRX solutions at the 2012 GBTA Convention in Boston at booth 2139, July 23-25.


TRX, Inc. (OTCQB: TRXI) is a global leader in travel data, software and solutions. With more than 20 software-as-a-service utilities, TRX helps top travel agencies, corporations, government agencies and other institutions maximize savings and efficiency through travel technology applications. From data intelligence and process automation to expense management and consulting services, TRX software makes travel transaction processing, travel management and data management simple and effective. For more information on TRX, visit www.trx.com or call 404.929.6100.

CONTACT: Alicia Burroughs, Corporate Communications PR Manager, TRX, Inc., +1-404-417-7480, Alicia.burroughs@trx.com

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Article source: http://news.thomasnet.com/fullstory/Travel-Data-Intelligence-Software-includes-benchmark-reports-619470

The Travel Team to Virtualize and Standardize Technology Infrastructure with …

VIENNA, Va., Jul 30, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) –
Information Technology, Inc. (Cetrom), a Cloud Computing pioneer and
leading provider of custom Cloud solutions for global SMBs, announced
today that The
Travel Team, Inc., an industry leading travel management company
(TMC), American Express representative and Centurion member, and wholly
owned subsidiary of Rich Products Corporation, has chosen Cetrom’s Cloud
Computing for Travel Management to virtualize and standardize its
technology infrastructure nationwide. With extensive travel industry
expertise, Cetrom’s certified staff will take over all day-to-day
administrative technology management, while the innate capability of the
custom Cloud solution will provide extensive mobility and accessibility.
The new solution enables The Travel Team’s internal technology staff to
focus on customer-facing applications and platforms, and increase
overall value for clients.

Joel A. Cristall II, PMP, vice president of strategic technology
solutions, The Travel Team, Inc., said “When we made the decision to
virtualize The Travel Team’s technology infrastructure, one of my top
priorities was to get my staff out of day-to-day administration so they
can focus on providing top value to our clients. With Cetrom, we don’t
have to worry about software licensing, security or system
compatibility. Cetrom brought in the necessary resources from their top
technology expert to senior-level engineers to ensure our system was
working exactly as it was supposed to be–it was a breath of fresh air.”
The Travel Team deployed Cetrom’s hybrid Cloud configuration, which
includes an extra layer of redundancy to a local server, in addition to
an unmatched 99.99 percent uptime guarantee, enterprise-level security
and 24x7x365 customer service and support.

Christopher Stark, CEO and founder, Cetrom, said, “The travel management
industry is highly specialized and TMCs require very specific
technological capabilities to support clients at any given time around
the world. We are pleased that The Travel Team chose Cetrom’s Cloud
solution as a vital part of its innovative technology vision. With
industry-specific applications, a track record of zero downtime in over
a decade, and our signature 24x7x365, white-glove service and support,
we are confident they will experience the significant benefits of making
Cloud Computing a central component of technology plans today and into
the future.”

About The Travel Team, Inc.

The Travel Team, Inc. was established in 1989, by the Robert E. Rich
family, owners of Rich Products Corporation, and is a wholly
owned-subsidiary of the company. The company is a representative office
of American Express and as a Centurion member, provides innovative
solutions in managing corporate travel for national and international
companies. Rich Products backing fuels The Travel Team’s best in class
travel technology and innovative high touch customer service programs.
The company has the depth of resources because of their unique
ownership. The Travel Team’s special approach to business travel
management enables clients to receive decision-making opportunities that
positively impact their profitability while controlling their costs.

About Cetrom Information Technology, Inc.

Cetrom Information Technology, Inc. is a Cloud Computing pioneer and a
leader in custom Cloud solutions for global SMBs. Founded in 2001,
Cetrom offers high-availability, enterprise-class Cloud Computing
solutions built on a best-in-class technology infrastructure with a
diverse library of SaaS and business applications, mobile workforce
support, virtualized custom applications and high-end customer support.
Headquartered in Vienna, Va., with offices and SAS 70-compliant data
centers across the United States, Cetrom is a Microsoft Partner with
multiple Gold Competencies, a Blackberry Alliance Program member and a
partner of leading technology providers such as Citrix, Dell, EMC(2),
Lenovo and CenturyLink. For more information, visit
or join the conversation on LinkedIn,
or Google+.

SOURCE: Cetrom Information Technology, Inc.

        Cetrom Information Technology, Inc. 
        Press Contact: 
        DPR Group, Inc. 
        Liz Palm, 240-686-1000 

Copyright Business Wire 2012

Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-travel-team-to-virtualize-and-standardize-technology-infrastructure-with-cetrom-cloud-solutions-for-travel-management-2012-07-30

Roller coaster strands dozen for 2 hours

A newly built roller coaster stalled 150 feet above ground Sunday afternoon, stranding a dozen riders for almost two hours at a Northern California amusement park, a park spokeswoman said.

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The Superman Ultimate Flight roller coaster stopped at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the top of the ride, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom spokeswoman Nancy Chan told the Vallejo Times-Herald.

Vallejo firefighters arrived at about 3 p.m. A theme park crane equipped with a large personnel bucket was prepared to reach the riders.

Two firefighters and a park mechanic were lifted up in the bucket and gave water bottles to the riders.

A park mechanic eventually restarted the ride, which then went backward and lowered the riders safely to the ground.

Fire Battalion Chief Ray Jackson said firefighters were prepared to take riders down in the bucket if the coaster couldn’t be restarted.

None of the stranded riders were injured, Jackson said.

The new ride opened June 30 at the Vallejo theme park, holds two cars with six riders each and can travel at up to 62 mph. It ride will be closed for a “thorough safety inspection,” Chan said.

It was unclear what caused the two-car train to stop.

“If (a ride) stops, it usually detects something and it stops for safety reasons,” Chan said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Article source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48396157/ns/travel-news/

Train fire kills 32 in southern India; dozens hurt

The blaze killed 32 people and nine others were missing, said K. Sambashivarao, a spokesman for the Indian railways. Earlier, a regional railway manager, Anil Kumar, had put the death toll at 47. He was not reachable Monday afternoon. At least 25 others were hospitalized with burns, officials said.

Article source: http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/2012/07/30/train-fire-kills-southern-india/XDJzFWepZM4TGzvs41DSlK/story.html

Regatta Travel Solutions to Bring CVBs to Google Hotel Finder

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., July 30, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ –
Regatta Travel Solutions announced today that it will integrate its booking engine for CVBs with Google Hotel Finder. The launch of Google’s Hotel Finder has generated a significant amount of discussion in the travel industry, especially since Google has begun placing the tool prominently in natural search results. The move by Regatta will allow CVBs to participate in the excitement as this tool takes shape and gains momentum with consumers.

“If someone Googles a hotel in Seattle and clicks the price that appears in the Google+ Local listing, there is no reason that VisitSeattle.org shouldn’t appear along with the other OTAs as a booking option with live prices,” said Ashwin Kamlani, President of Regatta Travel Solutions. “CVBs underestimate the credibility they carry with consumers and unfortunately many have given up on the idea that they can drive a significant volume of leisure bookings to suppliers in their destinations. The results from our clients prove otherwise.”

Regatta Travel Solutions made a big splash at this year’s DMAI Annual Conference in Seattle, serving as the official housing solution for the conference and garnering a lot of attention on the exhibitor floor with their ground breaking approach to attracting leisure bookings through CVBs. Regatta already offers its CVB clients the capability to be listed as a booking option in TripAdvisor’s “Show Prices” tool, with pinpoint accurate tracking of ROI. Regatta’s booking engine will now be integrated with Google Hotel Finder through a strategic alliance with Woodcrick Ventures, Inc. and their Seekda technology which feeds live rates and availability to Google travel products. This is yet another example of how Regatta is opening the door for CVBs to participate in the most cutting edge online marketing tactics.

“We’re thrilled to have established this alliance with Regatta Travel Solutions and to have the Google Hotel Finder connection become a part of their innovative CVB offering. The Regatta solution set is second-to-none, and now participating CVBs and DMOs will have even greater reach and capabilities,” said Craig Wingate, CEO of Woodcrick Ventures.

About Regatta Travel Solutions Inc.Regatta Travel Solutions provides specialized online booking technology and marketing tactics for DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations). DMOs that use Regatta to book travel on their sites can increase revenue for their destination, lower the cost paid by suppliers per booking, and increase membership and participation for their organizations. Visit
www.regattatravelsolutions.com for more details. Regatta Travel Solutions is an Alliance Partner of DMAI.

About Woodcrick Ventures, Inc.Woodcrick Ventures is the worldwide representative of Seekda which provides advanced lodging industry technology and is one of the few partners selected, audited, approved and contracted by Google to provide hoteliers the opportunity to participate directly in Google’s Hotel Price Ads program. Seekda’s technology, deployed in over 4,000 hotels across Europe, is now available to hoteliers in the USA exclusively through Woodcrick Ventures. Hoteliers worldwide can quickly have the direct connection to push real-time rates and inventory to Google with no required changes to existing vendors, relationships or infrastructure. Hotels benefit with a cost savings, since the CPC paid is a fraction of the cost of booking these same Google users through OTA or GDS channels. For more information, visit
www.woodcrickventures.com .

SOURCE Regatta Travel Solutions

Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/regatta-travel-solutions-to-bring-cvbs-to-google-hotel-finder-2012-07-30