US Airways check already in the mail

Notoriety is now worth $5,000. US Airways sent checks for $5,000 to each passenger on Flight 1549 last week, better known as the plane that touched down on the Hudson River. The payment came with a letter, in which the airline claimed to be “truly sorry.” Passengers were also reimbursed for ticket costs.

This is a pretty refreshing move, especially following JetBlue’s refusal to recognize its shortcomings outside a courtroom.

According to US Airways, luggage from Flight 1549 may remain in the hands of investigators for several months, and some may be “unrecoverable.” Compensation for this inconvenience, the checks began to arrive yesterday. US Airways has stated that the checks are not intended to sidestep any claims or litigation that passengers may file.

The reason for the delay in returning recovered luggage, according to reporting by the NY Times, is that the items have to be weighed wet, dried for eight weeks and then weighed again. The purpose is to verify the weight and balance of the plane.

[Via NY Times]

Prague under wintry (read depressing) skies

I was reading the Sunday NY Times article called “Under Wintry Skies, A City Revealed“. It’s just what you would expect: an American writer who lives there is trying to justify living there by telling everybody that the winter there is “really not that bad.” He is listing all the advantages of going to Prague in the winter, as opposed to the summer. They range from “It’s not as touristy” to “It’s not as touristy.”

There is a good reason people don’t come to Prague in the winter. It is cold and gray. It doesn’t snow that much in Prague, so your chances of seeing the Gothic spires covered in snow are slim. Unless this is your fifth time visiting Prague, you have seen all the sights and are just going for the concerts, pub-crawls or food (yes, Prague is emerging as quite the foodie place!), don’t do it!

You often hear people say that the Czech Republic has the same climate as, say New York. This is not true. The biggest difference is the number of days with sunshine. It is not uncommon not to see the sun in Prague for several weeks at a time. Although it might be just as cold in New York, it is much sunnier. If you come for a day or two, you might not find it so depressing, but I usually start going crazy around this time of year…

NY Times: 53 places to go in 2008

Yesterday’s NY Times travel section depicted the 53 “it” destinations of 2008.

Laos made number 1, as the new Vietnam and Cambodia of Indochina. The photo, by Tanja Geis for the NY Times, is of stupas on the grounds of Pha That Luang in Vientiane, Laos.

My home town, Prague, made number 14, apparently because Prague is still the new Prague. Other than that, I have only been to about one third of these. So many places, so little time!

Here is the top 10:

  1. Laos
  2. Lisbon
  3. Tunisia
  4. Mauritius
  5. Mid-Beach Miami
  6. South Beach, Miami
  7. Maldives
  8. Death Valley
  9. Courchevel, France
  10. Libya

The complete list is here.

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On the Road, Cold Coffee Is a Good Thing

Struggling to find a good cup of coffee while traveling to remote areas? There is hope for us!

I am a huge iced-coffee fan in the summer time. A friend recently introduced me to a great new thing: cold-pressed coffee. Instead of using hot water and adding ice cubes (often impossible when traveling), you simply mix ground coffee with cold water (and let sit overnight). Guess what – it tastes great and it is noticeably less bitter than regular brewed coffee. Next time I travel, I am packing ground coffee.

NY Times recipe: Cold-Brewed ICED COFFEE

Time: 5 minutes, plus 12 hours’ resting

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best) Milk (optional).

  1. In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups cold water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.

  2. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice (opt.), mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

Yield: Two drinks.

(NOTE: To make hot coffee, dilute concentrate one-to-one with water and heat in the microwave.)

NY Times on Vanuatu

DanceRemember Vanuatu? I’m sure you couldn’t have forgotten the happiest country on Earth? Well the NY Times features a fine write-up by Jeffery Gettleman who shares his experiences on just a few of the 83 islands that comprise Vanuatu, an area in the South Pacific between Australia and Fiji. When in Tanna, somewhere deep in the jungle our author explores the taste of Kava and the three rules of drinking the beverage. (Don’t sniff, don’t stare, don’t sip.) Aside from Kava, Jeffery finds the biggest lure to Tanna is Mount Yasur – one of the most active, accessible volcanoes in the world.

The most interesting part of the journey is (hands-down) the island Malakula. On this particular end-of-the-road isle villagers practice the ancient art of head elongation, but in the event you can’t make it to that side of the island you can always opt for a cannibal hike. Sounds spooky doesn’t it? I’ll admit after I read the piece on Vanuatu being the happiest place on Earth I wanted to rush there myself and still do! Judging from this NY Times story it seems as though there is a lot more diversity in Vanuatu’s wild side than I imagined and let’s not forget the beautiful beaches.

Want to plan your own escape to the country/islands? Ready to be happy all over again? Go read Jeffery’s story and then go book your flight.