Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rio de Janeiro Mixing Technology with Tradition

Rio de Janeiro is providing tourist information about the city by embedding new bar codes into the black and white mosaic sidewalks that are a symbol of the city. The first two-dimensional bar codes, or QR codes, as they're known, were installed Friday at Arpoador, a massive boulder that rises at the end of Ipanema beach.

The image was built into the sidewalk with the same black and white stones that decorate sidewalks around town with mosaics of waves, fish and abstract images. When these QR codes are scanned by smart phone or tablet users, it redirects them to a website that is available in English, Portuguese, and Spanish. The website provides users with a map of the area in addition to interesting and useful information. The city plans to install 30 of these QR codes at beaches, vistas, and historic sites, so Rio's approximately 2 million foreign visitors can learn about the city as they walk around!

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to plan your next South America vacation!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Rent a "Napcab" at Munich Airport

Munich Airport now has a number of "sleeping cabins" at its international departures gate. These air-conditioned "Napcabs" all have adjustable lighting, Wi-Fi, a small bed, work desk, an iPhone dock and charge station. A media touch screen in the "cab" plays music and displays flight information. Cabins can fit hand luggage and are lockable.

These units can be booked for as long as 12 hours. The cost is 10 Euros per hour (between 10pm - 6am) or 15 Euros per hour (between 6am - 10pm). The airport also hosts 50-minute airport tours. By bus, participants see the runways of Terminals 1 and 2, freight buildings, maintenance hangars and engine-testing facilities.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Frescoes Discovered in Rome Colosseum

Italian restorers cleaning the Colosseum have discovered remains of frescoes indicating the interior of one of the world's most famous monuments may have been colorfully painted in Roman times. The 2,000-year old arena, originally looked far different from the stone ring that has become one of the symbols of Rome.

The frescoes were found in a passage that had been closed for decades. The passage lead to the highest level of eating, a wooden gallery reserved for the lowest classes and furthest from the action in the arena. The restorers scraped off years of linescale and black pollution from car exhaust and found the remains of the frescoes, with their vivid red, blue, green and white colors still visible. The same team also discovered ancient sketches by spectators who painted crowns and palm trees. The Latin word "VIND", referring to victory or revenge, was also found. The frescoes likely date from after 217 AD, when a fire destroyed the wooden gallery that topped the Colosseum. The frescoes were discovered during the monument's first comprehensive restoration project in 73 years, a 25 million Euro project to clean the entire building by 2015. After the restoration is complete, 25 percent more of the Colosseum will be open to visitors, particularly the underground network of tunnels, storerooms and cages.

Restorers have cleaned only a small part of the monument so far, and hope to reveal the detail of what the frescoes depict underneath marks left by centuries of visitors. Written in a modern script, the name "Luigi" was scratched into a well-preserved red section of fresco. Nearby was scrawled the date "1620", and "J. Milber from Strasbourg, 1902".

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to get started booking your next Italy vacation!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

London's Newest Tourist Attraction

London's newest and tallest tourist attraction, The Shard, opens to the public on February 1, offering visitors 40-mile views extending across the city. The Shard, which stands at 1,061 feet was briefly the tallest building in Europe but already lost the title to Moscow's new Mercury Tower.

The Shard is a mixed purpose building combing a hotel at ground level with residential accommodation and a tourist attraction, The View from the Shard. The View is the highlight, which is the deck on the 72nd floor and it claims to be the only place where you can see the entire city of London. Interactive digital 'Tell: scopes' have been installed around the main viewing deck on level 69 and help visitors to locate less obvious landmarks and provide alternative real-time, sunrise, sunset and night views of the city, plus information about the surroundings.

Tickets cost £24.95 for adults, £18.95 for children. The Shard is located at London Bridge tube station. It will contain a Shangri-La luxury hotel. The viewing deck is surrounded by the pointed glass panes that give the Shard its name. It is only open air above your head. The downside of the glass barrier is that it ruins your photos and raindrops obscure the view. Around the gallery, animated maps and video screens will illustrate the growth of London. Visitors will transfer lifts at level 33, where they will walk over a graffiti word map of London. There is a gift shop at level 69, and it has free Wi-Fi!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

TSA Testing "Behavior Detection" Program

The TSA is testing a new behavior detection program where officers use on-the-spot observations and conversations with passengers to select some for the quicker pass through the checkpoint. The program is called Managed Inclusion and is currently being tested at Indianapolis and Tampa airports. If the tests are successful, the agency plans to expand the program to more airports this year. The idea is to selectively identify certain passengers who appear to pose no threat and invite them to use lanes dedicated to the Pre Check program that the agency began in October 2011.

One reason for the program is to see that the TSA Pre Check lanes are being fully utilized during the day. The system works like this: As you are in the queue, behavior detection officers will be observing you, and if they feel that there is nothing about you that alarms them, you might be asked to come out of the queue, and invited to go through the Pre Check lane," Because this is done randomly, there is no guarantee that you will be asked to go through the Pre Check lane. Then you would be able to keep your shoes on and leave your laptop in its case. You still have to go through metal detectors or body-imaging machines at the checkpoints. Your carry-on will still be put through magnetometers. Behavior detection officers use techniques familiar in some overseas airports, engaging passengers in casual conversation to look for suspicious behavioral clues.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Concordia Estimated to be Removed by End of Summer

The officials that are overseeing the removal of Costa Concordia from its precarious perch off Giglio Island, Italy are now estimating the wreck will be gone by the end of summer 2013.  However, in cautioning local residents, they said it would be misleading and unrealistic to fix a precise date for the conclusion of the work. In their latest briefing to the community, representatives of the Titan-Micoperi consortium said it is reasonable to expect possible work suspensions due to bad weather and sea conditions or other unforeseeable situations. Early on it was hoped the wreck could be refloated by January, but in August that timeline was set back to March or April, and estimates have continued to stretch further out due to the dynamic and unprecedented nature of the project.

The iconic yellow funnel is being removed to facilitate the completion of the inland holdback system that will help stabilize the vessel when it's upright. The removal of the funnel's internal structures was completed on Sunday.  The ship sank, after running aground in January 2012.