Five new travel ideas from Intrepid: get off the beaten path!

After a year of “travel slumps,” “staycations” and other cringeworthy words and conditions, let’s plan to get out on the road next year. Hey, economists are saying that the recession’s already over, and the job market’s recovery can’t be too far behind. So, there’s your motive. Opportunity? That’s your vacation time; you probably have enough. All that’s left to pull the perfect trip together are the means … which Intrepid Travel is happy to provide.

Intrepid Travel has big news for next year, from green travel to exciting excursions in Iceland and North Africa. So, if you’re looking for some ideas for 2010, check out the five below. Intrepid’s definitely making it interesting.

1. Travel green: carbon offset
Intrepid Travel is moving more than 500 of its trips to “Carbon Offset” next year. In 2009, the company played around with the idea on 38 excursions, after having announced in December 2006 that it wanted to be carbon neutral by the end of 2010. With next year’s offering, Intrepid is certainly making progress.

2. Timor-Leste: tops for adventure
Spend 15 days in Dili and its markets, trekking out to Mt. Ramelau and wandering the Suai-area rainforest. Timor-Leste hasn’t been swamped with tourists yet, redefining “off the beaten path.” If you’re looking for the sort of experience where Intrepid excels, this is it.


3. Cairo to Casablanca: epic journey
Travel through Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco as you see North Africa virtually from end to end. Along the way, you’ll trace the routes of legendary rulers and see how civilizations unfolded and fell. For 39 days, you will gain an incredible understanding of this part of the world.

4. Johannesburg: the urban experience
Intrepid’s Urban Adventures package provides short bursts of insight — from half an afternoon to a full day. Use this time to explore the South African capital on foot or by bicycle. This is a great way to get a quick taste before planning your longer excursion later.

5. Iceland: value for money
Despite the cold fall and winter seasons, Iceland‘s economy still melted down, actually making it an affordable destination. So, get the most of your experience on the ground, starting with the 22 percent discount on Intrepid’s trip up north next year. The 10-day run is available in June, July and August.

[Photo via Migrant Blogger]

Ferry crash in Spain strands 1,000

Imagine spending 20 hours crammed onto a ferry with almost 1,000 strangers. This is exactly what happened this weekend when strong winds forced a ship going from Orán, Algeria to Alicante, Spain to crash into the dock. Those on board were able to get off, and the next wave climbed aboard … where they would wait for almost a full day.

On Saturday night – after boarding Friday night – some of the passengers were permitted to step off the boat for a while, before trying again. Only around 40 people did so. Traffic in the other direction was a nightmare, though. Close to 120 cars showed up for the Saturday night ferry, only to find it canceled.

Given that this was a ferry, there were no reports of time being passed via shuffle board and low-rent lounge acts. There did not appear to be a buffet, and if there was a Captain’s table, it probably had folding legs.

It looks like the Alicante-Orán service could be working again on Monday.

Hitler: Scary wax dummy or radioactive monster?

While this isn’t one of Jeff’s features, only a news piece, it really stuck in my mind. Perhaps it was the surreal nature of the story, or the issues it brings up. How to make a museum about the Third Reich without it becoming a shrine to neo-Nazis? How far should protesters go to make their voices heard? Why didn’t someone rip off the real Hitler’s head?

The trippy photo is cool too, and fits perfectly with the odd subject matter of the story. If you scroll up so that only the top centimeter is showing, it looks like a nuclear explosion. If you scroll down so that only the bottom centimeter is showing, it looks like an infrared image of a naked woman lying on a bed. Or maybe that’s just in my mind. My wife’s out of town, you see, and I’m a bit lonely.

So long, Jeff. We’ll miss your sense of humor and eye for weird detail. You were one of the good ones.

Last year I wrote about the ill-fated Adolf Hitler exhibit at Berlin’s just-opened Madame Tussauds museum.

A man obviously unhappy with the museum’s decision to have a wax likeness of the 20th Century’s most evil leader waited patiently in line on opening day before rushing, tackling the wax Hitler and ripping off its head — all the time shouting, “Never again!” Several security guards were also injured in the fracas.

So, how much will Germany fine you if you decapitate Hitler?

The man known in the local media here only as “Frank L” was in court today, where he was given a suspended sentence and fined 900 euros, or roughly $1,200.

Was he sorry? No. He told the court that he’d do it again.

As for the Hitler statue, it is back at Madame Tussauds, in a more secure location.

Dakar to Paris: Layover in Algiers or Tripoli?

You think that you know things about airlines until you start searching for flights in and out of African. There, the old knowns of KLM and British Airways go out the window and replacements like Afriqiyah Airways and Air Algerie come into play, carriers that many never knew existed.

The current itinerary on which I’m working involves a one way flight between Dakar and Paris, a three thousand mile trip over the Sahara Desert, Mediterranean Ocean and Southern France. With a connection.

Where is that connection you ask? Depends on the airline. Of the above two airlines, one (I’m sure you can guess which) involves a four hour layover in Algeria‘s capital, Algiers, in the Houari Boumediene airport. The other offers a similar stay in Tripoli, the capital of Libya.

The most comedic part of the operation in the the fare codes. Typical local carriers have complex fare codes like QE07A0NA to dictate the rules and routes of a flight. On Afriqiyah Airways? My fare basis (copied above) would be “BLOW.”

Whatever. The real question is whether I should fly through Algiers or Tripoli. Technically it would be interesting to spend a day or two exploring the cities on my layover (if that’s possible,) but North African nations aren’t the most welcome place for Americans — and could I go to a country that bans alcohol? I would have to bring a book or something.

So where would you go?


World Heritage

I’ve posted about it before, but I suggest you head over to the World Heritage Site to check out some of the amazing panoramic photos there show by Tito Dupret. If ever you were to be inspired by panoramic photography (about which I am very inspired), this site will get your heart pumping. You will see lovely 360 degree shots of sites like the Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad in Algeria and Macquarie Island in Australia.

This is very cool and worth a moment of your time.