Photo Of The Day: Egyptian Sphinx

Thanksgiving is a holiday that embraces traditions. It only seemed appropriate then to close out this long holiday weekend with an image of that most-iconic of Egyptian historical landmarks: the Sphinx. This image was taken by Flickr user robert vaccaro. I like the shot’s side-profile perspective and the nice contrast of sandy rock with clean, blue sky. It’s a simple yet classic image that’s well framed and eye-catching.

Taken any great photos on your trip to Egypt? Or maybe just during your visit to Cairo, Illinois? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user robert vaccaro]

Egypt changes stance: King Tut’s tomb will stay open (for now)

Egypt, egypt
The famous tomb of King Tutankhamun in Egypt will remain open for the time being, the chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass announced.

While earlier this week he stated that it and two other tombs in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor would close by the end of the year, now he’s saying that they’ll close at some undetermined time in the future.

Egypt plans to build a Valley of the Replicas to show off exact duplicates of King Tut’s tomb and those of Seti I and Queen Nefertari. These and other tombs are suffering damage due to the large numbers of people passing through. The extra humidity from their breath is causing mold to grow and is damaging the ancient paintings that adorn the walls. The number of visitors to Tutankhamun’s tomb has already been limited to 1,000 a day, down from a peak of 6,000 a day.

Once the Valley of the Replicas is open, and there’s no set date for that yet, King Tut’s tomb will close to everyone except those paying an extra fee that will probably run into the thousands of dollars. The pharaoh’s mummy will remain in its tomb.

[Photo courtesy user Kounosu via Wikimedia Commons]

Met returns Tutankhamun artifacts to Egypt


New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is returning 19 artifacts from King Tutankhamun’s tomb to Egypt. This is another success in Egypt’s ongoing battle to bring home its heritage. Antiquities chief Zahi Hawass is spearheading the drive and says he’s repatriated more than 5,000 artifacts. These include a fragment of Egyptian sculpture the Met discovered last year had actually been stolen, and other items from collections all over Europe and North America.

According to the Met’s press release, the artifacts made their way into the museum’s collection in the years following the tomb’s discovery by Howard Carter in 1922. Carter and the Egyptian authorities had agreed that all of his finds were Egyptian property, and the objects should never have been allowed to be sold or bequeathed to the Met. After Carter’s death, his own home was found to be decorated with loot from the tomb. Most of the Met’s artifacts are fragments that were used as scientific samples, but the collection includes a bronze dog and a sphinx bracelet.

The objects will join the exhibition Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at Discovery Times Square Exposition before going on display at the Met for six months. After that, they’ll finally join King Tut’s other treasures in Cairo, like the scarab bracelet in the above photo.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Free King Tut passes in San Francisco

On Feb. 21 and 22, the de Young Museum is giving away free passes to the King Tut exhibit in San Francisco.

Tickets to “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” are normally pretty pricey. For a family of two adults and two kids between the ages of 6 and 17, you’re looking at shelling out $98 on admission passes alone if you visit on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday (kids under 5 are free).

Details: Tickets will only be handed out on site on either of those days. Sponsored by Target, the giveaway is limited to four tickets per adult. Tickets will be time-stamped in batches of 30-minute windows, though you can linger as long as you’d like once you’re in. The box office opens at 8:30 a.m. each day with the first entry at 9 a.m. and the last entry at 4 p.m.

While you’re waiting for your timed entry, there will be plenty of free entertainment: fortune tellers, belly dancers, tarot card readers, and even a DJ spinning contemporary Egyptian music. Kids can also learn how to “engrave” hieroglyphics into copper foil. If the complimentary tickets run out, the rest of the permanent collections at the de Young will be free that weekend.

Tip: Strollers, diaper bags, and backpacks must be checked before entering the special exhibition galleries.

The exhibit, which opened in June 2009 at the de Young, closes on March 28.

If you haven’t seen the exhibit, here are some highlights, courtesy of FAMSF.

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SkyMall Monday: Travel Writer Favorites

Gadling’s “SkyMall Monday” feature recently turned one year old. That means it’s finally eating solid foods, sporting a luxurious head of hair and wetting itself constantly. It’s been a heck of a year for SkyMall Monday, and I’ve met a lot of great people along the way (including one very special friend). Sharing my love of SkyMall with others and hearing about their experiences with every traveler’s guilty pleasure has kept me laughing during many long layovers.

In that spirit, to kick off Gadling’s month-long celebration of SkyMall Monday, I asked several travel writers to write about their favorite SkyMall products. The hard part wasn’t getting them to participate. No, it was getting them to select just one product about which to gush. Who knew people loved SkyMall so much? Well, you and I did. Duh! So, below you will find the SkyMall wish list of some of the best travel writers around. And in italics you will find my review of their selections. Hey, I still run this joint.
Robert Reid (Lonely Planet US Travel Editor & blogger) – I’m charmed by the King Tut Life-Sized Cabinet (pictured above) for a variety of reasons. One, knowledge comes from prying open the past, some say, and this case it’s literal. But also for its description, which begins, “Measuring taller than most men (6 1/4 feet).” This is wonderful — for its unusual use of fraction, but also because SkyMall simply understands that when I buy $850 furnishings I make my considerations solely in how they compare… with men. Robert also demands that he sit in that throne everywhere he travels.

David Farley (Author of An Irreverent Curiosity and freelancer)I don’t have a truck–or even a car–to properly display the Truck Antlers, but if I ever do, I would totally buy these. I love the idea of turning my automobile into an antlered animal. I’d just make sure I don’t drive through states with loose gun laws or anywhere near Dick Cheney’s house. I’d don’t love the idea of being hunted by some gun-toting nut. Oddly, David’s failure to own a truck has not prevented him from owning multiple Animated Hitch Critters.

Jen Leo (Lead blogger for the Los Angeles Times Travel Blog)The Noise Canceling Safety Earmuffs are my dream gift. Not to cancel out the noise from the screaming kid next to me on the plane-ahem, mine-but to shut out the flight attendant screaming “Please stay seated – the fasten seat belt light is on!” as I race past her to change the poopy diaper of my tot which is clearly causing more turbulence in our aisle than the pilot’s fine driving. How intense are your child’s bowel movements that your diaper situations require industrial-strength noise cancellation? Does Gerber make three-bean chili tacos now?


Spud Hilton (Travel Editor for the San Francisco Chronicle) – It was a tough choice, but I finally went with the Shirtpocket Underwater Camera. Not only does it have 4X zoom and 115 minutes of continuous operation, but my shirtpocket keeps going underwater and I never have a video camera to capture those precious moments. Two things worth noting: this thing takes voice memos and Spud’s second choice was the Underwater Cell Phone System. Conclusion: Spud Hilton is a merman.

Nicole Lerner, Alexi Ueltzen, Amy Widdowson & Victoria Gutierrez (Staff at NileGuide) – The ladies of NileGuide want a Custom Inflatable Costume. Why? Because no one dresses up to travel anymore. Who wouldn’t want to sport an outfit like this? 7.5′ tall, inflatable and it comes with a built-in backpack power pack. That $2k price tag is just pennies compared to the joy of “familiarizing the public” with Yoplait…or NileGuide. We’re sporting one of these for next year’s Bay to Breakers. Reminds me of when I was a kid and my imaginary best friend was an anthropomorphic container of cottage cheese. I miss Curdis ever so much.

Jim Benning (Co-founder and editor of World Hum) – My dream product is the SlumberSleeve. We’ve all used our arms as pillows at one time or another, but SkyMall knows we can do better! One of the user comments really sells me on it: “Although I tend to be fairly capable when it comes to assembly, I am still trying to figure out how to stretch the fabric “wristband” over the support piece.” I wrote about the SlumberSleeve in December 2008. I guess Jim and I could have a slumber (sleeve) party and wear our PJs.

George Hobica (Founder of Airfarewatchdog and Gadling contributor) – The Shure Se530 Luxury Earphones block out noisy fellow passengers and the sound quality is superb. And they’re lightweight and easy to pack. Leave it to the guy that finds us the best deals in travel to actually pick a sane, useful and high-quality product from the SkyMall catalog. But I’m sure he meant to recommend these much more logical Pillow Speakers.

Alexander Basek
(
Best deals reporter at Travel + Leisure and freelancer) – I pick the Wine and Liquor Accelerator. Traditionally, it is my understanding that once you open wine, “aging” it turns into vinegar. Still, I hope they keep this magic machine hush hush from the folks at Macallan. Alex likes his wine like I like my women: young and tart. Hey-o!

Andrew Evans (Writer for National Geographic Intelligent Travel) My dream SkyMall product is the authentic Indiana Jones Leather Bullwhip. Currently, my persona as a travel writer suffers from not having such a whip as part of my ensemble. This special edition SkyMall “gift” would come in handy from Patagonia to Berlin and as an added bonus, I would gain the attention of bored TSA agents who would unsuccessfully attempt to confiscate my new fashion accessory. Truth be told, Andrew’s persona as a travel writer suffers less for his lack of a whip and more for his insistence on wearing this heating pad at all times.

Great selections by these seasoned travelers. Not as good as the ones I find every week, but you don’t become a highly respected, sought-after expert in all things SkyMall overnight. Which writer do you think picked the best product? What tops your SkyMall wish list? Let us know in the comments.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.