Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 01.02.2012

In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel

Yours for just $900! Casino token among macabre Costa Concordia souvenirs up for auction on eBay

Mail online

Costa Concordia passengers are trying to cash in on the disaster by auctioning items from the doomed cruise liner on eBay.

Bidding for a one euro casino token, pictured alongside a cabin key to prove its authenticity, are being taken from a starting point of $900 (£573.94).

U.S. user gkaac, from Brighton, Massachusetts, is also offering buyers the chance to purchase the ‘genuine’ object for $1,800 (£1,147.89).

Bidding ends on February 6 and, although hundreds have looked at the multi-coloured item, an offer has not yet been submitted.

A model of the ship is also being sold by German user manlux1, from Heidelberg, for $199 (£126.91) and several members are trying to sell postcards of the ship in its heyday.

News of the auctions come as it was revealed by the ship’s doctor that Captain Coward Francesco Schettino changed out of his uniform, grabbed his laptop and then abandoned the stricken cruise liner as hundreds of passengers and crew were still onboard.

Lt Gianluca Marino Cosentino’s recollection of events backed up prosecution claims the skipper saved his own skin, fled the holed ship and left those remaining onboard to their own fate, almost four hours before the last person was safely rescued.

The medic’s story came as officials in charge of the rescue operation announced that they would no longer be searching the submerged sections of the Concordia for the bodies of 15 people still missing, among them a five-year-old girl and her father.

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On top of the world: Scary but spectacular walk on the edge of a 3000m mountain in Peru

There are no hand-rails or safety harnesses, just a narrow path and a 3353m plunge if you put a foot wrong.

Let’s just say it’s not the best place to wear thongs.

Trekking the path that winds up and around the mountains in Pisac, Peru – at times perilously close to the edge – is not for the faint-hearted.

But the reward awaiting the adventurous is worth it – it’s truly a sight that’s out of this world.

A spectacular view of the Sacred Valley below awaits travellers who dared the walk through caves and up steep walkways right on the side of the mountain.

The 360-degree view takes in Inca ruins perched on the peak of a mountain as well as ancient agricultural terracing on the sloping hillside, still used today to produce more food than normally possible at such a high altitude.

The Inca Pisac ruins were thought to have been built after the year 1440 and lie at the hill at the entrance to the valley. There are a series of partially destroyed buildings, walls and baths.

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No more meal & prayer card on Alaska Air

Toronto Sun

Alaska Airlines has decided to end a decades-old tradition of providing prayer cards, intended to put passengers at ease, on flights along with meals.

The Seattle-based airlines said it made the decision, which takes effect on Feb.1, after careful consideration last fall followed a rising number of complaints from passengers.

“Over the years, we’ve received comments from customers who were comforted by the card, but many others felt as though religion was not appropriate on an airplane and preferred not to receive one,” said spokeswoman Bobbie Egan.

“We’ve seen an uptick in the number of passengers who just simply don’t appreciate getting a prayer card on the meal tray.”

The airline sent an e-mail to its frequent flyers on Wednesday explaining the change, saying the decision was made to respect the diverse religious beliefs and cultural attitudes of its customers and staff.


Chinese travelers are seeing the USA in record numbers

USA Today

The Chinese are coming. And the U.S. travel industry couldn’t be happier.

Eager to spend their growing disposable income, travelers from mainland China’s wealthy and rising middle classes are traversing the globe in search of iconic destinations they can cross off their bucket lists.

That wanderlust has increasingly brought them to a dream destination, the USA, in recent years as travel restrictions on them eased. Despite occasional economic and political dust-ups between the two nations’ governments, a record number of Chinese visitors came to the U.S. in 2011.

Steps announced last month by President Obama to speed up visas for them should result in even more Chinese arrivals, further unlocking a huge source of income that the U.S. travel industry and retail business sector have long coveted.

So huge is the Chinese travel market potential that major U.S. travel suppliers — including hotels and airlines, as well as major cities and even shopping malls — are sending sales representatives to China. They’re educating tour operators in Chinese cities that few Americans have heard of. And hotels in this country are now serving rice porridge for breakfast and seekingMandarin Chinese speakers to handle the phones and check-in desks.

“It’s astonishing,” says Fred Dixon, NYC & Company’s senior vice president of tourism & convention development. “It’s one of the powerhouse markets.”

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