Travel Recommendations for The Office


Back in the olden days, long before the Internet was born, there was this thing called a travel agent–typically semi-self-aware, middle-aged ladies who helped you pick out a nice vacation destination, find a hotel that was “so you” and then book your plane tickets printed on carbon paper, folded and then stuffed into fancy airline covers. The whole process was about inside relationships, consumerist trust and catering to personal tastes. Sadly, travel agents went out of style along with high-top shoes and dual tape decks, or rather, we all became travel agents and the ones who got paid to do it lost their jobs.

As an empowered, self-proclaimed Internet travel agent, I’m offering my services gratis to the folks that need it the most: those overworked, underpaid, Vitamin-D deficient fun bunch of NBC‘s The Office, If they’re like most Americans out there, the employees of Dunder-Mifflin get only 10-15 days of vacation a year and should be using every bit of it (along with a few sick days) to get the hell out of Scranton, PA. Assuming the medicinal and therapeutic properties of travel, and summoning the travel agents’ lost art of matching personality to destination, I offer the following recommendations:

Michael Scott spent Christmas at a Sandals in Jamaica with girlfriend/boss Jan Levinson. So wrong. This was clearly a blatant case of cheesy product placement and failed to take Michael to that place where he belongs, which is on a safari in Tanzania’s Serengeti. Yes, the boss man would be just as happy at some wildlife park in Florida, but for the full range of Michael antics, you’d need him to actually be in Africa, mimicking African accents and getting a royal kick out of all the massive animals. Fast-forward to the zebra carpet on his office floor, Masai shields hanging on his wall and his new moniker “Chief.”Jim Halpert disappeared himself to Australia to avoid Pam’s pending marriage to another man. OK, we get it–Australia is the farthest place from Pennsylvania and he was nursing a broken heart, but in reality, uh, he would have been nursing some hellish jet lag. We love Australia, but it’s not a weekend getaway, or even a one-week getaway. Methinks Jim needs to go to Dublin, Ireland. Not only because he would appreciate Guinness and look handsome in tweed, but that plucky Irish spirit might counter his nervous nature. Also, as one of the better-paid employees in The Office, Jim might actually be able to afford super-expensive Dublin.

Pamela Beesley doesn’t seem that well-traveled, bizarrely. She’s camped in the Poconos and did a brief stint in artsy New York City but this new wife and mother could definitely expand her horizons. Paris for a week of art and luxury should do the trick. We recommend splurging at Hotel Fouquet’s Barrière on the Champs-Elysées (for the spa) and spending her days floating from one art museum to the next. Take your mom or a friend. Let Jim stay home and take care of the baby.

Dwight Schrute already lives in his own little world, nevertheless, he reveals a penchant for large, open spaces. Russia is such a place. Also, Russians love the martial arts and beets. In fact, in Russia there are entire collective farms that grow nothing but beets, so Dobra Pozhalovat Comrade Schrute. No matter that the new Russia is fiercely capitalist and worships pop culture, Dwight will find his own tribe and come back with some sound ideas on organizational behavior.

Phyllis Vance is a classy woman attached to a rich refrigerator-selling husband to pay for all of her audacious tastes. The Moroccan Christmas party she threw in Season 5 reveals a girlish interest in some fabled, exotic Orient, but she also needs dependable electricity and a lot of good restaurants. Hence my verdict of Istanbul. Turkey’s largest city is also one of the greatest eating cities in the world–an explosion of foreign sights and culinary delights. Also, Phyllis loves to wear shawls, of which there are many to choose from among Istanbul’s crazy bazaars. (Bob, you should stay here.)

Ryan Howard needs a double kick in the pants for his affectation and superiority complex. Yeah, he already took time off to “travel” in Thailand but anyone who’s been to Thailand knows that much of the country is just a playground for the sort of entitled backpacker that is Ryan. That’s why we’re sending short, frail, pale Ryan to sunny, sandy Kuwait and not on vacation, but Kuwait as in, “you’re in the army now, kid.” He never makes it into Iraq (imagine Ryan with war stories), but learns to answer every sentence with, “Sir”.

Kelly Kapoor is Indian-American, yes, but those of who’ve actually been to India knows she would absolutely hate it there. Kelly is a serious girl who loves anything pink and struggles with her shopaholic nature. And where is the best shopping in the whole wide world? Buenos Aires, baby, B.A. We recommend Kelly stay at this boutique hotel in Palermo Soho, surrounded by a bunch of unique clothing and jewelry stores. Also, I’m thinking Kelly is liking the Argentine gelato (and men).

Andy Bernard is the ultimate frat boy who just can’t (or won’t) grow out of it. This Ivy League manboy surely has a few pairs of well-ironed Bermuda shorts, folded nicely in his summer clothes box, and he will need them for his trip to Bermuda. In the end, all of his bros will flake on him so he’ll have to go alone, but the pink beaches, sophisticated rum drinks, and yacht culture will suit him just fine.

Angela Martin is a woman who needs to chill out, big time. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of uptight career women who’ve found their bliss in Tuscany, so Angela, Italy it is. Please take all that saved-up leave and get lost on some one-lane highway between Florence and Siena, then get found by your future Italian boyfriend. Please come back with flowing skirts and open collars, wearing your hair down and with a new-found penchant for Chianti. Grazie Mille.

Kevin Malone needs to raise hell in New Orleans, obviously. The man has a funky party side that just can’t break free in boring Scranton. As a musician, he’ll dig the jazz and as a fat man, he’ll dig the beignets, po’ boys, muffaletta, and gumbo. He will likely return bearing gifts of hot sauce for all. Go Kevin.

Meredith Palmer is a difficult client for a travel agent to please. The woman is boozy, so the Scotland whiskey tour (with designated driver) seems appropriate, however, this 6-night Carnival Cruise from Charleston, South Carolina would be perfect–if it includes drinks (Meredith, please wear sunblock). And yet, the redhead in Supplier Relations also loves going topless, so the Côte d’Azur would be just perfect.

Creed Bratton has already spent a lot of time in China and even speaks Chinese. He’s also a total whack job and kind of creepy and a schemer. Hmmm . . really old plus Chinese plus funky and scheming equals Macau. Creed will quickly lose track of the days as he gambles his way to oblivion. Once he makes his shady millions, he can go into hiding in the nearby Philipines and never come back, because really, is Creed even necessary?

Stanley Hudson is a no-nonsense kind of guy with predictable, easy-living tastes. We recommend St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands, where time moves slowly and the fruity drinks are plentiful. Stanley never has to set foot outside his resort, nor will he ever let the Caribbean go past his knees.

Toby Flenderson ran off to his escapist dreamland of Costa Rica but honestly, his skin just isn’t right for it. Really Toby, consider Canada. You’ll never get sunburnt, the people are as nice and respectable as your human-resource mind believes all mankind should be, and it’s so, so safe. I say get your daughter hooked on Anne of Green Gables and then surprise her with a trip to Prince Edward Island.

Oscar Martinez already took a three-month vacation to Europe with his boyfriend Gil in Season 3. Now that he’s single, he should really be more adventurous. You’d think Amsterdam or Sydney’s Mardi Gras but I’m gonna go out on a limb and recommend Tennessee’s Dollywood. What’s better for a gay, Mexican-American accountant than a theme park memorializing an iconic diva, right in the heart of the Smokey Mountains? Dollywood has a huge gay following and yet is so quaint and respectably Appalachian. He’ll love it.

Erin Hannon Somebody in the office doesn’t have a passport and we all know it’s Erin. Coy, naïve, and a little odd, Erin still just doesn’t see the need for a passport. Sending Erin to San Diego, California would be about as far as she could go, plus there are lots of brave Navy guys to show her around. Incidentally, I think she would really love the zoo.

Darryl Philbin represents the blue collar element on the show and yet he’s got way better tastes than most of the office. Urban, hip, and cooler than cool, Daryl would be happiest in Berlin. Germany’s capital-under-construction is the perfect mix of blue collar power, good beats, and good times.

Iraqi Airways shuts down after dispute with Kuwait over aircraft theft

State owned Iraqi airlines has been forced to declare bankruptcy. The airline had been around for decades, and when they tried to restart operations with regular Baghdad-London operations, they ran into a nasty reminder of their past.

Upon landing at London’s Gatwick airport, the airline was confronted by lawyers representing the state of Kuwait. Apparently, the Iraqi’s had helped themselves to aircraft and aircraft parts during the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

With a bill of over $1.2 billion, Iraqi airlines had no other option than to declare bankruptcy.

Because Iraqi airlines chartered its planes from other air carriers, the Kuwaiti authorities were not able to confiscate them. In the coming days, the airline will cease all flights. The Iraqi government calls the claims by Kuwait “harassment”, but they don’t seem to be denying the claims of theft from 20 years ago.

(Image: Getty Images/AFP)

Kuwaiti airline still pushing for $1.3b

The Iraqi government is going to write a $300 million check to Kuwait Airways. So, the airline believes there’s only another $1 billion to go. The cash is related to damages caused by Saddam Hussein‘s 1990 invasion of its wealthy neighbor.

A spokesman for the Iraq Cabinet, Ali al-Dabbagh says that the approved settlement was “final and comprehensive.” The country’s Justice Ministry will make sure the payments are sent to Kuwait Airways.

Where there are two sides, of course, there are two opinions. Kuwait Airways has stated that the settlement is definitely not final. There’s another billion dollars at play, not to mention nearly two decades of accumulated interest.

It’s a good thing the Iraqi government is nice and stable … and that there isn’t a war to get in the way of these payments …

Maybe you can help Iraq pay its tab to Kuwait Airways. Take a trip to Baghdad, and put some money into the local economy!

[Via USA Today]

[Thanks, Brian Sayler, for the galleries and photo of Saddam's palace above and the gallery below]

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Kuwait’s Budget Airline

jazeeraNot all the airlines are reorganizing and consolidating. Here’s a brand spanking new one, and a first for the Middle East – the Online Travel Review reports that the first privately owned airline in the region, Jazeera Airways, will begin flying on November 16 from Kuwait City. Passengers will be able to book online for flights to Dubai, Lebanon, Damascus, Amman and Bahrain. There are plans to expand to India, Egypt and South East Asia in the future, eventually managing approximately 75 flights per week at below market prices. You can read more here:

Jazeera Airways Cleared for Takeoff
Kuwait’s Private Air Jazeera to Fly

Kuwait Hotel

Here’s a unique concept hotel opening later this year in Kuwait. Going simply by the Kuwait Hotel, Kuwait Hoteldesigners over at Syabrite are hoping to create something of a real life desert garden oasis. Sunk below sand level, the hotel will be watered by sprinkler jets skirting off the top of the crater to assist in creating an illusory effect of rainbow colors both inside and out. Full details aren’t available yet for guests who can’t wait to stay at the Kuwait Hotel, but a sampling of the design can be found at Syabrite.

In the mean time, Daily Candy has a superb list of ‘Artful Lodges’ including the soon to be talk of the biz desert hot spot.