Posted by: kmgib | December 3, 2008

Intern at the Olympics

I was lucky enough to be one of the 19 people chosen from Syracuse University to intern with NBC Olympics in Beijing, China. Syracuse is one of six schools that NBC Olympics recruits from. There were a total of 103 interns from more than 30 universities and 1,600 applications. Needless to say, it was the experience and the chance of a lifetime. Here’s a little taste of some of the things I did.

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Our second day of work was only a half day, so we went to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square that day. If I had to chose one word to describe them, it would be: enormous! Everything in China is just so huge and ornate architecture.

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Posted by: cj | December 3, 2008

A week in Taipei, Taiwan

I was born in Taipei but came to the States when I was 3 and haven’t been back since the fourth grade. Last summer, I went back to visit family for the first time in 15 years and was amazed at how modern and metropolitan it had become since my last trip.

Here are some hotspots I was able to fit into my week-long trip.

Shi Lin Night Market—Taipei is world renowned for its night markets, and the one in Shi Lin is considered the largest and most famous in the city. Night markets are pretty much a mix of street vendors and semi-indoor stalls that open around 4 p.m. and stay open well past midnight. You can find anything here and for cheap: clothing, dvds, jewelry, accessories; you name it, you’ll probably find it. Do go hungry; the food is the best. Some things to try:

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Posted by: jwtarr | December 2, 2008

What We Know Now About Last Weekend’s Travel Woes

deicing

During the past several days, I bombarded you with updates on the weather and travel conditionsacross the country.  Some of you saw the blog in time, others of you like my colleague CJ didn’t get the message until she reached the airport.  But now that the dust has settled, we have a chance to look back and see just how bad the delays were this past Thanksgiving travel season.

I was on cheapflights.com today looking for some deals on my Spring Break flight home to California.  While I was there I saw an article that included statistics on how holiday airline travelers fared with delays and cancellations.  FlightStats.com tracks these kind of numbers and came up with statistics on just how many flights were delayed and how many smiling passengers made it to their destination on time.  I spoke with a lot of my friends and professors about their travels and I have to say that these statistics seem pretty consistent with what I have been hearing.   

According to those statistics, a relatively respectable 80% of holiday airline travelers made it to their destination on time between Tuesday and Friday last week.

Friday saw an astonishing 90% of all domestic flights arrive at their respective gates on time.

But that’s when things took a turn for the worse.

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Posted by: cj | December 2, 2008

Journey into space for $95,000

RocketShip Tours announced today that it will begin selling rides into space for $95,000 per flight. In 2010, participants will fly 37 miles above Earth aboard the Lynx, a two-seat suborbital vehicle, which takes off and lands like an airplane, and is fully reusable.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Posted by: Catie | December 2, 2008

Flooding in Venice; tourists told to stay away

better2Venice, Italy is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited.

My husband and I went there on our honeymoon three-and-a-half years ago. We loved how we didn’t see any cars, just water taxis, gondolas and people out on every street we walked.

But right now, this beautiful city is under water.

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The Associated Press is reporting kneehigh2that this is the worst flooding in Venice in more than 20 years.

Residents and tourists had to “wade through knee-high water” Monday.

And now, roughly 3,000 people have been forced to evacuate, according to AP reports. Read More…

Posted by: kmgib | December 2, 2008

A Trip to Egypt: Part 1

Egypt has always fascinated me, and ever since I was little, I wanted to go. I never thought I would make it there, before I turned 21. And it was the experience of a lifetime. Nothing disappointed. You’re riding in a taxi in Cairo and there’s the Great Pyramid on your right, or you’re in the middle of nowhere, and all of a sudden there’s a huge lake and Abu Simbel. It was absolutely incredible. I will take you through my journey in Egypt.

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What started as a really great deal through a Spanish travel agency, soon became more and more expensive when you added taxes, tips and side trips. It started off slow. Our flight was more than 7 hours late, and we didn’t get into Egypt until 3:30am!

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Posted by: kmgib | December 2, 2008

A Trip to Egypt: Part II Cairo and Alexandria

After we went to Luxor, that night we flew to Cairo. We got in very late. We didn’t get to our hotel until after 1:30am. An interesting thing about Cairo is that all of the women are covered head to toe, and many have full face masks with just holes for their eyes. I only saw a handful of women who did not have their heads covered. I wore a long dress with a short sleeve blouse over it, and I still felt out of place. I am glad that I did not wear traditional American clothing. dsc02619 The next morning we were up at 5:30 to see the Pyramids and Sphinx. It was amazing because you are driving in the busy city and you look right, and there is the Great Pyramid of Giza. On the other side of the Pyramids is desert. dsc02519 Read More…

Posted by: jwtarr | December 1, 2008

Fewer People Looking to Online Travel Sites

We know that as an avid reader of our travel blog you would never stray from us.  But for many large travel booking websites out there like Orbitz, this year hasn’t been so kind.  I saw a very interesting story today in the Chicago Tribune by Julie Johnsson which summarizes the recent news.  According to the research group ComScore Inc., 14 percent fewer people visted web travel site portals.  The research group says the sharp decline in consumer confidence is to blame.

While web traffic fell on nearly every major travel site, it was the big three powerhouse sites, according to ComScore, that took the biggest hit. 

  • Orbitz– 23 percent decline in traffic
  • Expedia– 25 percent decline in traffic
  • Travelocity– 16 percent decline in traffic

Anticipating numbers such as these and the tough times ahead, Orbitz announced plans to cut 10% of its U.S. based workforce.

Two sites seemed to buck the trend though.  Priceline.com saw a 24 percent increase and Kayak.com saw a 93 percent increase.  Check out the graphic that the Chicago Tribune put together.

One caveat here is that the numbers don’t necessarily paint the full picture.  The research group only analyzed visitors to the sites from the U.S.  The omission of international internet traffic had sites like Expedia crying foul.

But that aside, one line from the story really caught my attention:

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Posted by: cj | December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving travel woes

I wish I had read Jason’s post before I left the house.

I flew out of Southern California at 11:00 a.m. Nov. 30, and just barely got into Syracuse now. At 10:30 a.m…almost exactly 24 hours later. Ugh.

Needless to say, I was one of those passengers caught up in the bad weather. My connecting flights were delayed by half an hour or so, which didn’t give me too much of a problem because I had about an hour-plus layovers at Denver and Chicago.

But at Chicago O’Hare, we sat on the tarmac for half an hour, waiting for the plane to get de-iced. After that was done, we headed to the line on the runway—only to have the pilot tell us that the plane didn’t have enough fuel so we’d have to go back to the gate to get some, then get de-iced all over again. So we rolled back to the gate and waited about an hour for ground crew to actually tow us up to the gate. The pilot tells us that the fuelers are 30 minutes away. Still no ground crew. By now, it’s snowing pretty hard. After about three hours of sitting on the plane, the pilot “times out,” so our flight is canceled! HOORAY!

Something you won't see in California.

So I spend about two hours in line to get rebooked and the earliest confirmed flight is Tuesday, Dec. 2, 4:15 p.m. I decided to wait standby all day today, and after trying to sleep on dirty floors and in odd positions on uncomfortable chairs, I was very, very lucky to catch the first flight out to Syracuse at 6 a.m. Eighth out of 14 standby passengers, and the last one to make the flight! It’s good to be back.

Posted by: kmgib | December 1, 2008

Magical Mystery Tour

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Roll up, roll up for the magical mystery tour, step right this way.
Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up (AND) THAT’S AN INVITATION, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up TO MAKE A RESERVATION, roll up for the mystery tour.
The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away,
Waiting to take you away.

Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up GOT EVERYTHING YOU NEED, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up SATISFACTION GUARANTEED, roll up for the mystery tour.
The magical mystery tour is hoping to take you away,
Hoping to take you away.

A mystery trip.

The magical mystery tour.
Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up (AND) THAT’S AN INVITATION, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up TO MAKE A RESERVATION, roll up for the mystery tour.
The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away,
Coming to take you away.
The magical mystery tour is dying to take you away,
Dying to take you away, take you today.

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The infamous words of the Beatles inspired this idea for a fun and creative way to explore the area where you live. We’ll call it a magical mystery tour. You can pick somewhere near where you live, but don’t tell the rest of your family. Then you tell your family that you are going on a magical mystery tour, and they will not know where until you get there.

Here’s a few magical mystery tour ideas for Syracuse and Central New York…

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