News Articles

A collection of news and articles for budget travelers. A little bit useful, a little bit strange...and plenty interesting. Just because it isn't new news doesn't mean it isn't worth reading.

Eye-scanning system could reduce airport lines, hassles
Travelers soon may be scurrying through airport ticketing lines in the blink of an eye. EyeTicket Corp. is talking to several airlines and airports about adopting an eye-scanning system that it says could dramatically speed up the check-in process. "It will instantly check you in without you reaching for a wallet or having a ticket or standing in line," said Evan Smith, senior vice president for EyeTicket, based in McLean, Virginia. "Just look in the camera and go."

Farewell, fast lane: Italy inaugurates 'Slow Cities'
Nearly three dozen Italian cities and towns banded together Thursday to form a new league of "Slow Cities," joining a burgeoning international movement to promote home-style food, local crafts and all-around good living. "If by 'slow' the movement means adding value to culture, then we want to describe ourselves as a slow ministry," Italian Culture Minister Giovanna Melandri said at the league's launch in Rome. The new Slow Cities league is a project of Italy's chief municipal alliance and of Slow Food, an international movement formed in 1989 with the aim of safeguarding culinary traditions. Born of a backlash against fast-food, the Slow Food movement today boasts roughly 40,000 members in 35 countries, a slick magazine published in five languages and a popular biennial food show.

New kind of stage fright at the Roman Colosseum
After nearly 1,500 years, it's show time again at the Roman Colosseum. Spectators are bustling into the ancient arena, performers are fending off stage fright. But the show this time is supremely civilized: Classical Greek tragedy instead of gladiators and gore. No howling Roman mobs, no snarling wild beasts. The National Theater of Greece's striking production of "Oedipus Rex" christens an eight-year restoration of the Colosseum capped by the replacement of part of the arena's long-missing floor.

Tickets to the hereafter
Imagine a funeral bathed in laser beams inside a 1,000-foot dragon structure painted the colors of the rainbow. Inside the narrow interior, mourners and visitors can watch a statue of a Buddhist deity slowly emerging from smoke and flashing laser beams surrounded by soft music before the ashes of the cremated dead in urns are laid to rest. The dying business (or the deathcare industry as it prefers to be known) has become alive and big in Malaysia. And now one company is hoping to turn its vast, modern cemetery into a tourist playground as well.

Bull run finale
Twenty-two people were hurt, six needing hospital treatment, in today’s final running of the bulls in the world famous San Ferm�n Festival in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona. Altogether 206 people were injured in eight days of frantic early morning sprints with six fighting bulls through the narrow streets of the city’s old town to the bullring. The most seriously injured was a 28-year-old Spanish man who suffered a fractured skull and internal bleeding.

And they're off!
For a few minutes this morning, as they have for hundreds of years, bulls ruled the streets of Pamplona, while thousands of thrill seekers dressed in red and white did their best to avoid them. The annual running of the bulls got under way today with several minor injuries - but no gorings. The run, part of the Spanish city’s annual eight-day orgy of wine and bravado that is the San Ferm�n Festival, attracts up to a half million visitors, many of them spending the night on the streets singing, dancing and drinking ahead of the morning run.    

Tacky for tourists
Brits fear tourism is turning their country into a giant theme park. From Althorp’s sentimental museum commemorating the late Princess Diana, dubbed “Dianaland” by cynics, to piers and parks and stately sites, Britain’s heritage merchants are hustling for cash. Government figures show that more than 26 million foreign visitors -- double the figure of 20 years ago -- spend more than $18 billion in Britain each year. Domestic tourism generates $37.5 billion more annually.

Fashion craze deprives Norway's planes of seatbelts
A new fashion craze is threatening air safety in Norway -- teenagers are stealing seatbelts to keep up their baggy trousers. "We're taking this very seriously," said
Braathens spokesman Oerjan Heradstveit, saying an average of five belts a day were disappearing from the company's planes.

Mugged by a serpent?
That money belt tucked under your shirt isn't going to do much good if you happen to be held up by a certain type of thief in India's capital. According to a BBC report, a group of New Delhi muggers have taken up an ingenious new weapon -- snakes.

India opens first superhighway
Motorists share the roads with not only trucks, buses and bicycles, but pedestrians, cows and camels too. And traffic fatalities are consequently high. That's why the government has built the country's first superhighway, running from Bombay to Prune.

Cafes...with legs
While the rush-hour swarm of office workers heads out of downtown Santiago, Chile, more than a few stay behind to cram into the tiny Cafe Ikabar. Luring the crowds are the sirens behind the faux-marble bar: a trio of nubile waitresses wearing little more than glossy smiles and crimped hair.

Stupid tourist tricks
Each year, according to a BBC report, growing numbers of tourists are killed Down Under. Not by gunshots, in the American style, but by Australia's own Mother Nature.

Rollerblading Bobbies
London's Regent's Park. It looks so button-down and tidy to us foreigners, but to the Royal Parks Constabulary, it's full of renegade rollerbladers, belligerent drunks and shifty flashers. Because it's tough to track down such criminals, who often slip away amid the winding garden paths and thick bushes of the park, the constabulary has decided to put a new breed of bobby on the beat: "rollercops".

Restoring and exploring Venice
Venice is at a crossroads. The city is one of Italy's cultural jewels, a place of gondolas and artwork, canals and palaces. It's also a victim of its own appeal as Venice today is struggling to balance a thousand years of history with millions of tourists. Each year, more than 12 million visitors flock to the waterscape, eager to watch pigeons take flight from Piazza San Marco, gaze at the bronze horses standing in a frozen prance on the balcony of the Basilica San Marco and glide into the Carnivale setting by gondola.

Travel by the book
Guidebooks ridiculously chart out a trip's every moment. And on some dark evenings, that's not so bad.

The baksheesh diaries
Eight hours into the train ride, a boy in a blue jacket comes up and taps me on the shoulder. "Come," he says solemnly, nodding toward the back of the train car. I'm not sure what he wants, but since the blue jacket gives him a vaguely official air, I just assume he's a train worker. He doesn't speak or look back as I follow him into the next car, which is largely empty and quiet. Stopping in the middle of the car, the boy motions me over to a window. "Look," he whispers, gesturing outside. "Beautiful!".

Europe's a breeze with rail passes
Trains are an easy way to get around Europe, and the fares are reasonable. The Eurail Flexipass is the most popular pass, allowing unlimited first-class travel in 17 countries for either 10 days or 15 days.
(Deseret News)

Belfast businesses sell terrorism to tourists
People will buy and sell anything in tourist towns, from shark's tooth necklaces to back scratchers to "Bikini Patrol" T-shirts. But in the Northern Ireland city of Belfast, some entrepreneurs are taking the tourist trade to a new low.

Nipple-ring blues
Note to smugglers: Remove your nose and nipple rings before passing through an airport metal detector. Alison Mary McKinnon, a 37-year-old British resident and mother of two, recently learned this lesson the hard way.

Colombian woman caught with cocaine in her unmentionables
Early in March, a Colombian woman was caught smuggling cocaine in Bogot�'s El Dorado International Airport. That's nothing new, but her method for concealing the drug was rather original -- she had it stuffed into a "false brassiere and underpants," according to Reuters. To really fool security, she also lined her undergarments with "a pink, rubbery substance not unlike human flesh." She probably would have reached her final destination in Europe undetected had it not been for her Dolly Parton-esque curves.

Why we travel
We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again -- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.The beauty of this whole process was best described, perhaps, before people even took to frequent flying, by George Santayana in his lapidary essay, "The Philosophy of Travel." We "need sometimes," the Harvard philosopher wrote, "to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what."

Monkeys stone Kenian to death
Wild monkeys have been accused of stoning a man to death in northeastern Kenya recently, according to a BBC report. The attack is believed to have taken place because local herder Ali Adam Hussein and his associates were "monopolizing a watering hole," which prevented a group of monkeys from getting close enough to drink.

Not my cup of tea
Complaining about British food may be old hat, but, well, it's just so awful. Spotted dick. Bangers and mash. Clotted cream. Blood pudding. Leave it to the Brits to invent menu items that sound more like terminal diseases. If I were in a foul mood I would say that the term "bad British food" is redundant.

Louvre brings art appreciation to Paris subway riders
First, officials of Paris' subway, the Metro, installed cash machines. Then came newspaper distributors and a handful of computers with free Internet access. Now, they have hooked up with the Louvre to bring art appreciation to subway riders. Starting Tuesday, posters of 17th century paintings from the Louvre's vast collections were plastered on metro walls throughout the city.

Daredevil jumps from Pisa's Leaning Tower
What's it like to leap off Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa? A Norwegian BASE jumper -- BASE stands for buildings, antennae, spans and earth, the four fixed objects from which BASE jumpers parachute -- claims to know. According to the Associated Press, a "mystery skydiver" dived off the cylindrical tower earlier this month, but ran away before monument workers could catch him.

Portugal's new roads make driving a smoother ride
Portugal, a country notorious for its bad roads and worse drivers, is working hard to change its image, although it may take awhile. As recently as 1997, the last year for which complete figures are available, Portugal's roads were among the deadliest in the European Union, according to Eurostat, the EU's statistics office.

Don't go there
Two travelers in Mexico learn that venturing off the beaten track doesn't always deliver the intended rewards

Venice institutes "pee-pee tax"
Traveling to Italy this year? Great! Just hold your bladder when visiting Venice, or it'll cost you. The city has recently adopted a new law that tacks a steep surcharge on the price of using public restrooms.

Drunken airline pilot detained before flying plane
Amsterdam authorities find the captain's blood-alcohol level four times the legal driving limit.

Rio 'cracks' down on nude sunbathers
Thong capital says: Floss is fine, but don't cross that line.

Passport to death
Try not to let this shocking piece of non-fiction scare you into staying home.
(Rod Eime)

Down Underground
Coober Pedy residents take the moniker "Down Under" literally.

Ripeness is all
Every year, Bu�ol, Spain, finds a whole new use for tomatoes.

One fateful day in Istanbul
As he retraces the thin threads that led to his being drugged and robbed in the heart of Istanbul, a Salon correspondent ponders where he went wrong. 

10 great things to see before they disappear
From the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the Sub-Saharan African wildlife, there are places and things in this world who's days are numbered. If you are looking for a place to go, this should give you some ideas.
(USA Today)

The truth about guidebooks
Find out how they are really written 

Robbed on Lombok
Bandits strike a group of travelers in the wilds of a remote Indonesian island

'Mile high' couple charged
A man and a woman have been arrested after allegedly carrying out sex acts in the business class section of a transatlantic jet.

Navigating Nairobi
For a Western woman, waiting on a rainy day at a matatu stand illuminates some inescapable truths

How to avoid rental car rip-offs
The National Association of Attorneys General (USA) estimates that the actual cost of renting a car may exceed the advertised rate by as much as 75 percent.

Malaria Dreams
She felt invincible while traveling in Africa...until the mosquitoes got her

China good? China bad?
Nothing is simple in Tibet

Disturbing encounters in Iran
Did that gesture mean he wanted to slit my throat? Or that Iran was slitting its own?

With trains this fast, who needs airlines?
Rapid expansion of high-speed train systems in Europe makes taking the train often faster than taking a plane between city centers

Monkey Mountain
One of Japan's most popular tourist attractions makes humans the local minorities
(All Terrain)

Once upon a time in the Sinai Desert
A camel safari into the Sinai Desert opens up an enduring ancient world

Look out for pinch of credit-card charges abroad
You may be paying surcharges of up to 4% on purchases made in foreign currencies when using your credit-card
(USA Today)

Discover 12 tips for ecotravelers
You’ve chosen to camp in the Costa Rican jungle alongside howler monkeys, sloths, parrots and snakes. That makes you an ecotraveler, right?

May I help you?
Johnny the market boy knows where everything is in the teaming Calcutta marketplace

How to buy a Turkish rug
The essence of bargaining in a foreign country

Freeloadin' it down under
Ever wanted to fly away to Australia and live with the Kangaroos?

Women's dilemma: Is solo travel worth the risk?
Learn more about female travel issues