Private Tours – Island Gourmet Safaris Wed, 02 Jun 2021 04:27:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Private Tours – Island Gourmet Safaris 32 32 This Week in West Virginia History | Putnam News Wed, 02 Jun 2021 04:00:00 +0000

CHARLESTON – The following events occurred on these dates in West Virginia history. For more information, visit e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at

May 30, 1940: Opening of the Smoke Hole Caverns in Grant County. The cave is beautifully decorated with stalactites suspended in rows along the ceiling; the main hall is called the “Hall of a Million Stalactites”.

May 31, 1841: Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph Kain was born near Martinsburg. As Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling, he worked to meet the needs of newly arrived immigrants who came to work in the mines and factories of West Virginia.

June 1, 1880: The hand to hand fight for the world championship takes place in Colliers, Brooke County, between defending champion Joe Goss and challenger Paddy Ryan. Boxing was illegal in all states, and matches were often held in railway villages to avoid the big city police.

June 1, 1935: Musician Hazel Dickens was born in Mercer County, the eighth of 11 children. She was a pioneer of bluegrass and old-time music, known for preserving the traditional vocal styles of West Virginia.

June 1, 1858: The Artists’ Excursion leaves Baltimore for Wheeling. An executive from Baltimore & Ohio planned the train trip to promote tourism. About 50 passengers were on board, including artist and writer David Hunter Strother, who described the experience in an article for Harpers magazine.

June 2, 1951: Cornelius Charlton dies from combat injuries during the Korean War. Charlton, originally from County Raleigh, received the Medal of Honor posthumously.

June 3, 1856: Harriet B. Jones was born in Pennsylvania. After attending Wheeling Female College and graduating from Women’s Medical College in Baltimore, she opened a private practice in Wheeling, becoming the first woman licensed to practice medicine in West Virginia.

June 3, 1861: The first land battle of the Civil War takes place in Philippi. About 3,000 Federal troops drove about 800 Confederates from the city.

June 3, 1861: A company of Confederate soldiers known as the Logan Wildcats is formed at the Logan courthouse. The company, made up of about 85 men, participated for the first time in the Battle of Scary Creek.

June 3, 1936: The first strawberry festival takes place in Buckhannon. More than 6,000 spectators attended the festivities, which also included a parade of 30 princesses on Main Street.

June 4, 1975: Clark Kessinger dies in St. Albans, Kanawha County. Kessinger was one of the most prolific and influential fiddlers of the 20th century and one of West Virginia’s most important traditional musicians.

June 5, 1859: A severe frost kills crops in the fields of Preston County. The fields were replanted with hardy buckwheat, which was successful and became a staple crop, celebrated at the annual Buckwheat Festival in Kingwood.

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia is a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council. For more information, contact the West Virginia Humanities Council, 1310 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25301; 304-346-8500; or visit e-WV at

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Interviews with medical schools have been remote this year. Good! Tue, 01 Jun 2021 09:55:00 +0000

Sarah Householder spent her final year of college traveling the United States: from the Connecticut campus to New York (three times), Illinois (twice), Minnesota, Maryland, Wisconsin, Georgia and, every time, back. At the time, Householder was leading her college’s first all-female a cappella group with her jazzy soprano voice. But she wasn’t spinning – and she barely had time for harmony. The impetus behind his jet-set lifestyle? Enter medical school.

Householder, now in third year at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, applied to 21 schools – just four above average – between August 2017 and February 2018. She was fortunate enough to be interviewed at age 11, usually by plane on short notice. . She continued to pack her suitcase over and over again in the hope of getting in and, more importantly, getting good financial help. “What I remember most is the time, just how long it took,” says Householder. The “interview” is not so much a conversation as a ritual lasting several days, consisting of trips, panels, meals, visits – all during which future students are observed by the admissions committee – in addition to the real formal answer to the questions. Second, all of that travel takes a lot of money: Householder has tracked almost every penny spent on apps on a spreadsheet. Between August and October alone, she spent $ 905 on interviews, “Spirit: Traveling – Chicago: $ 292”, “Ann Taylor; Blazer – Interviews, $ 55.30, ”“ Uber, Trip to Michigan, $ 34.92 ”- the list goes on.

Why apply – then pay to visit – so many schools? Acceptance rates for medical schools are low; only 41% of candidates enter all over. As several candidates I’ve spoken to explained, most candidates are rarely, if ever, able to turn down an interview offer. It was especially true this year: with a record ascend in applications from this last cycle, interview offers have been more valuable than ever. But they also took less time, cheaper to attend, and therefore a little a little fairer and easier for the hopeful doctors who can’t shell out (and maybe skip hours of work too) to try to impress the committees. We can even hope that a small piece of the medical school industrial complex has been overthrown for good.

All because this year’s interviews, like so many things, have gone virtual. A typical remote interview experience looked like this: a welcome Zoom call in the morning, a question-and-answer session with students and / or faculty, a financial aid panel, a tour video, and two interviews ( 20 to 40 minutes each) with the teachers. It could all be done in a dorm, in a presentable top and sweatshirts, and it was over in a matter of hours.

Overall it worked. “I was really concerned that [our interview day] would be difficult to translate into a virtual platform, ”says Mark Yeckel, associate dean of admissions at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University. “It went better than I could ever have imagined.” In fact, every admissions officer I asked said they were left with something that looked like they were pleasantly surprised. “Assuming everyone has the equipment they need, [the remote process] is very effective for applicants and the admissions committee, ”says Demicha Rankin, anesthesiologist and associate dean of admissions at Ohio State University College of Medicine. Rankin noted that the reduction in the financial burden on students was significant.

I didn’t have to look far to find candidates who were pro-virtual interview. I asked how the process went in a forum on, one of the clearinghouses for pre-meds for sharing information. the responses were overwhelmingly positive. Virtual Interviews Save Money: “I earn about $ 16 / hour working full-time in clinical research at a large academic medical center,” user BeingForItself wrote. “Because the interviews were virtual, not having to worry about paying for flights, hotel stays, or paying for food while traveling helped a lot.” Virtual interviews save time – potentially, a lot of it: “I live in rural America, 7 hours from the nearest major airport,” added a user identifying himself as back2skewl. “The virtual interviews were quite frankly the only reason I had such a successful cycle.” One user identifying himself as anotgramnegative was able to continue working as an “intensive care nurse who has worked extensively with critically ill COVID + patients” without interruption throughout the application cycle. The virtual aspect “allowed me to take a job traveling across the country and doing interviews,” they wrote. (Virtual interviews even save lives!) On the negative side, one user argued that reducing interview friction makes it easier for the most desirable candidates to store interview spots, as they can accept any offer. interviews given to them; but it has long been a concern that candidates who can afford all the tickets do so anyway.

This makes some feel that interviews traditionally required travel. Before webcams, if you wanted to talk to someone and see them too – and show them your campus – you had to meet in person. It is no longer the case, and it has not been for most of this millennium. So why did the in-person interviews persist? Part of the answer is that things never are had to change, and therefore has not changed. But it’s also that the interview days are not only devoted to the interview, or even to giving professors the opportunity to chat with the candidates casually. Interview visit extravagances give schools the opportunity to recruit the candidates they want most. Several admissions officers I spoke with expressed concern that remote interviews could put less prestigious, newer, or more rural medical schools at a disadvantage that use them to woo high-profile applicants. “Honestly, it hurts a school like us,” says Yeckel of Quinnipiac. “We’re a new school, we’re a young school, but we have a very, very good teaching and learning facility. So when [applicants] don’t see it, it can make it hard to recruit people. But even prestigious schools also like to court. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Paul White, associate dean of admissions told me, cherishes the opportunity to dispel “myths” about Baltimore.

This is not a sufficient reason, in my opinion. Interviews in future application cycles should be kept at bay. If schools really want the opportunity to attract students to their playground, they can invite successful applicants to visit after they accept them, as many are already doing with the days of “Second Look”. Ultimately, tons people want to become doctors, and a nascent pool of candidates competing for a lagging number of seats means that more and more candidates who would make perfect doctors will not be accepted anywhere. This fuels an admissions arms race where applicants do (and for those who can, pay) just about anything to get in, and too often the ability to pay is mistaken for enthusiasm – or worse, aptitude. “There is now a vast infrastructure to extract money from medical trainees, schools for licensing exams, licensing authorities, board certifications,” Bryan Carmody, nephrologist, assistant professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and prolific medical blogger, told me. “And it exists because it is possible.” Perhaps not surprisingly, 51% of medical students come from the richest quintile of households, including 24% from the richest 5%. While the interview process is not the biggest of the many problems in American education that cause most physicians to come from wealthy backgrounds, it is a cog that deserves to be removed. Keeping the interview at bay would help dismantle a small – but significant – part of the larger infrastructure that prevents American physicians from reflecting the population they serve.

And there is hope that he will stay away. On March 23, an admissions officer questioned the AAMC group’s private student affairs mailing list regarding plans for the next admissions cycle. The results, shared with me by a listserv member, are promising. Of 64 officers who responded on behalf of their school, one will conduct in-person interviews. Two are undecided. Three will be hybrids, which is good, but not perfect. (As Yeckel and others told me, students will likely understand that showing up in person will give them an advantage, even if schools promise it won’t). Encouragingly, four are likely far away and 54 are far away – meaning applicants will have so much less flights to plan and days of their lives to miss. But that upcoming cycle is still being planned with the pandemic in mind. It is the one according to which will be the real test.

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Most desirable – and private Mon, 31 May 2021 17:58:46 +0000

Given the first signs of good weather, London’s parks – including Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Green Park – will be crowded. Open to everyone, they are one of the capital’s great joys. However, next to these public gardens there are the private gardens of the capital which can be accessed against payment, either permanently or occasionally.

None is more private than the adjoining garden Buckingham Palace between the mall and Hyde Park Corner. An ecosystem in every way, not only is it the heart of the British monarchy but has nature reserves and wild meadows. London’s largest private garden, previously guided tours of the garden followed strict routes. This year, visitors will be able to roam most of its 39 acres and bring picnics.

Some of Britain’s most famous gardeners including Capability Brown, William Townsend Alton of Kew Gardens, and John Nash were instrumental in its creation. The oldest tree, a mulberry tree planted by James I in 1608, predates all. During the reign of George III, the royal family kept a zoo in the gardens, complete with zebras. The garden is now home to a national collection of mulberry trees, with over 40 varieties, 85 different oak species and over 300 different wild plant species.

Even with a lake and tennis courts, there is still room for a 156-meter herbaceous border and a rose garden. Tickets for this summer’s opening are available although difficult to find during peak periods, but Evan Evans Tours has a confirmed ticket allocation and partners with nearby Rubens at the Palace Hotel to host a picnic with traditional sandwiches, scones and royal-themed pastries.

In far west London (accessible by air and underground) Kew covers over 200 acres, with greenhouses. A planned music festival has been pushed back to 2022, but its secret plant lives will allow visitors to immerse themselves in a series of ‘plant landscapes’ by environmental artist Vaughn Bell.

With only four acres Chelsea Physical Garden is small but delightfully quiet. Begun in 1673, it is the oldest botanical garden in London and it is still an oasis of calm. Open every day except Saturday, there are over 5,000 plants, all edible, including a grapefruit in fruit.

Some London hotels have access to communal gardens which, despite their names, can generally only be used by households whose houses have keys. These included Belmond Cadogan, also in Chelsea which has access to the lawns and tennis courts of Cadogan Place Gardens. Originally laid out in 1886, there are mulberry trees, black bamboos, maples, magnolias and palms as well as the award-winning ‘Sir Hans Sloane’ Chelsea Flower Show garden, inspired by Sloane’s international travels. The hotel can provide blankets, lounge chairs, and board games to help you blend in with other residents.

The Goring goes further with a private garden. A scone cast from Buckingham Palace, this walled garden, with traditional flower borders along its edge is only open to hotel guests and those visiting its restaurant and bars. Afternoon tea in her garden is one of London’s lasting treats, and neither is this one.

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Restoration of the church site continues Sun, 30 May 2021 07:32:07 +0000

Wednesday turned out to be a milestone in the continued restoration of the 1912 period Presbyterian Church building at 212 W. Fourth St. in Fordyce.

The six largest and most impressive stained glass panels were restored by Soos Glass of Maumelle and reinstalled in custom-made wooden frames by Ernest Waters Construction of Fordyce. Ernest Waters Construction is also in the process of renovating all the windows in the old church, returning them to their original condition and making them fully functional.

Beginning in October 2017, a small group of civic-minded residents came together as the “Historic Fordyce” for the express purpose of saving the long-neglected historic structure in the heart of their hometown.

In April 2018, they had taken possession of the former Presbyterian Church from Reverend Roderick Rogers, which had previously been given title to the North Louisiana Presbytery. In April 2018, Historical Fordyce Inc. was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) tax deductible organization and began the long process of salvaging the Gothic Revival brick structure from the ravages of time. and neglect.

Among the many notable features of the building are its 35 stained glass windows and 12 glass doors. One of the major donors and Fordyce Presbyterian charter was AB Banks, whose Home Insurance Co. provided coverage for southern sawmills and who built the historic AB Banks building on Fordyce’s main street.

During the Grand Tour of Europe with his wife Charlotte, the couple ordered the windows of the church. They were built by the famous Murano glass factory in Venice, Italy. Being a frugal businessman, Banks struck a deal for windows and doors to be used as ballast for ships, transporting them for free to the bottom of the hold of an Atlantic passage in New Orleans.

From there, they traveled by river barge and train to the Fordyce railway junction, where the allure of stained glass remains to this day. The elegant simplicity of the windows reflects Reformed theology. Even so, they might have seemed too ornate to some conservative-minded Presbyterians in 1912. One aspect of the 109-year-old multi-colored glass is the way it changes color throughout the day depending on the weather. angle of the sun.

Many steps of the renovation process were completed, including drilling under the footing and pouring concrete foundation reinforcement to stabilize the brick walls. In addition, all roof leaks were repaired and water damaged floors replaced. Thanks to these improvements, the building is once again protected from the elements.

With the preservation of the antique glass complete, an important step in the ongoing reclamation has been taken. The progress made so far would not have been possible without the efforts of several donors. These include Steve Anthony of Anthony Timberlands and Donnie White of Ray White Lumber Co. for the pine lumber needed to replace rotten floors and joists, roof decking and window frames.

Sheet metal flanges for the roof repairs were supplied by Weaver Heat and Air and Allstate Roofing, both of Fordyce. Holt Builder’s Supply also offered huge discounts on construction resources.

Without essential funding, the project would never have gone so far. The Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust of Arkadelphia provided a building grant of $ 26,405 for window restoration.

Other contributors include Walmart and the Dallas County Museum, Jim and Jo Jackson, Mike and Mitzi Garlington, Chris and Ruby Stanfield and Bill Tidball, among others. Fordyce Inc.’s historic board members have worked tirelessly, organizing fundraisers, tours and t-shirt sales for fry and barbecues since the beginning.

Some other unique aspects of the historic structure include the sloping hardwood sanctuary floor with diagonal seating to give each guest an ideal view. The ancient members fondly remember the antique pipe organ as a favorite feature of the devotees. The three outer towers are reinforced with stone details to resemble castle battlements.

According to church historian and Fordyce Inc. historical secretary / treasurer, Cheryl Brewer, “The original 1912 window frames were made from pine trees that were excavated from the property for the church construction and crushed to SM Apple Lumber Co. of Fordyce. “

She further stated, “Col. Samuel Wesley Fordyce,” who spotted the Cotton Belt Railroad route between Tyler, Texas, and New Madrid, Missouri, “donated the original bell to the church on its completion in 1912 in honor of the first the church house in the new community at the edge of the track that bears his name. “

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the community monument was designed by renowned architect Reuben Harrison Hunt of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is now one of the ten most endangered historic sites in Arkansas.

It is expected that with continued financial support, the building will be open for public events as the city’s privately funded auditorium by 2022. In the meantime, tours will be offered at the upcoming Fordyce on the Cotton Belt. Festival to be held next door in Dallas County. Courthouse Square on June 17, 18 and 19.

With the project now halfway through, the entire restoration is estimated at around $ 250,000. Investing is both an act of reverence for the past and a hope for a future where the spirit of community can flourish through private and public events. The revitalized facility will comfortably accommodate 600 people for large gatherings such as live music performances, weddings, concerts, plays, receptions, family reunions and more.

For more details, interested parties should call (870) 313-2717. Tax deductible contributions can be made to Historical Fordyce Inc. at PO Box 14, Fordyce, AR, 71742.

Ron Dwarshak (top) and Nathan Cathey reinstall the stained glass windows of the old Presbyterian Church in Fordyce. (Special at The Commercial / Richard Ledbetter)

(Left to right) Ron Dwarshak, Nathan Cathey and Ernest Waters catch their breath after reinstalling freshly renovated 1912 period Murano stained glass in newly reconstructed wooden frames.  (Special at The Commercial / Richard Ledbetter)

(Left to right) Ron Dwarshak, Nathan Cathey and Ernest Waters catch their breath after reinstalling freshly renovated 1912 period Murano stained glass in newly reconstructed wooden frames. (Special at The Commercial / Richard Ledbetter)

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Bidens salute the military ahead of Memorial Day Fri, 28 May 2021 19:23:00 +0000

President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden traveled to Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia on Friday to thank U.S. troops and their families for their service to the country.

What would you like to know

  • President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia on Friday to thank U.S. troops for their service.
  • Dr Biden spoke about the Joining Forces initiative which she revived upon entering the White House, a program that supports troops and their families.
  • Biden highlighted his recent decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan, thanking those servicemen who completed multiple tours of duty in America’s longest war.
  • Earlier today, the president and the first lady visited a climbing gym in northern Virginia alongside Governor Ralph Northam

The Bidens have a long personal relationship with the military. Dr. Biden’s father, Donald Jacobs, served in the Navy during World War II; President Joe Biden’s son Beau Biden, who Jill also raised, served in the United States Army and the Delaware Army National Guard before his death from brain cancer in 2015.

“Our military is a community bound by love,” Dr Biden told those gathered on Friday. “Love for our country, love for the men and women who serve by your side, or the members of the service in your life. And love for the communities that you have all built together. “

“It is time for our nation to match this dedication,” added the first lady, referring to the Joining Forces initiative that she and then-first lady Michelle Obama created nearly ten years ago.

The initiative, said Dr Biden, remains “one of the [her] priorities today, ”and the first lady continued to push for new projects during her first few months in the White House.

Education, employment and are the three main pillars of the renewed program, which aims not only to support ex-combatants or those currently serving in the military, but also their family members and communities.

After beginning with a moving memory of his late son Beau, a veteran, Biden acknowledged the unannounced sacrifices made by servicemen and their families.

“You are the best that America has to offer,” Biden said.

Biden also highlighted his recent decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan later this year, expressing his gratitude to servicemen who completed multiple periods of service during America’s longest war.

He also said the country must “never forget the terrible cost we have paid as a nation” during the 20 years of conflict.

“Many of you have probably lost friends or colleagues in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Biden said. “I know this is personal to you, especially as we head into Memorial Day weekend. As a nation, we will always remember and honor those we have lost. ”

The President concluded where Dr Biden started: by thanking the soldiers and their families for their service.

“Thank you for spending this time with me today. And thank you for your commitment to our country, ”said the president. “You are the backbone of America.”

Earlier today, the president and the first lady visited a climbing gym in northern Virginia alongside Governor Ralph Northam, who recently lifted all COVID-19 distance and capacity restrictions on private businesses.

Biden sought to use the Friday stop at Sportrock climbing centers – an 18,000 square foot space of climbing walls and boulders, a gym and yoga studios – to celebrate the progress made as the country is looking to turn the corner on the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 593,000 Americans and 3.5 million people worldwide.

“Across the country, we’ve gone from the pain and stagnation of a long, dark winter to an economy on the move,” Biden said. He added, “Americans of all parties, races, creeds have come together and rolled up their sleeves – literally – and done their part.”

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How to make this summer more adventurous than the last Fri, 28 May 2021 11:01:00 +0000

We spoke with travel experts in St. Louis to find out how to get the most out of your PTO this year.

ST. LOUIS – Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, when you might have a vacation in mind. Last summer’s plans were to be very different – so what does travel look like in 2021?

We consulted the experts: Dea Hoover, owner of Are we there already? Guided tours and author of “STL Scavenger: The Ultimate Search for St. Louis’s Hidden Treasures”, and Unlimited planetary travelShannon Lichti, President and Founder, and Mackenzie Taylor.

All advised to take advantage of travel this year, especially with unused PTO or travel budgets from 2020.

“Treat yourself. You know, it’s time to do it,” Hoover said.

Taylor said she is helping people plan many “choice trips,” the vacations they had postponed for years but after a year of lockdown are set to come true..

“More and more people come asking us for these trips because, like last year, either they’ve saved up or they’re just like, well, we don’t know what’s going to happen next. I might as well take this trip, ”she said.

Whether it’s a visit with loved ones, a well-deserved getaway with friends, a family vacation to a favorite destination, or that trip on the to-do list, here are their best take-out meals. to make 2021 more adventurous.

Planning will save you money.

“Booking early is the best way to save money and travel, not just now, but anytime,” Lichti said. “Your cheapest prices will be about nine months in advance, including airline tickets, and then they will slowly start to climb. Especially with airfares, around three months or so they’re going to go down, but after that they’re going to go up sharply.

“If you’re basing your trip on your budget, maybe take three short trips instead of one long trip,” Hoover said.

Be flexible with your plans, especially with possible flight changes.

“The flights are canceled because if a flight is not full, they will cancel the flight they use. It could change your arrival dates, things of that nature, ”Lichti said.

Check, verify and verify three times.

It is important to regularly review details before travel, including monitoring for email updates and checking the airline’s app or website.

“Once you book something, keep confirming,” Hoover said. Tour operators will do this for you, but she knows a friend who travels independently; she said he and his wife changed flights from the one they originally booked, and their three children under eleven were re-booked on a completely different flight.

“And Southwest has a new system that really has a lot of cool features, but it doesn’t send emails saying we’ve changed your flight. You will therefore have to confirm and confirm. “

Check with local health departments for the latest recommendations on COVID-19 – or the State Department for international destinations. Some do not yet allow travel or are limited; many destinations will have requirements for proof of vaccination, quarantine or a negative COVID-19 test on arrival.

I don’t recommend people to travel anywhere, even a two hour drive without being vaccinated. You are putting everyone at risk, ”Lichti said.

Opt for travel insurance that allows you to “cancel at any time”.

While it may not have helped at the onset of the pandemic, changes to most policies mean it’s a good option again.

“Travel insurance didn’t cover anything at the start of the pandemic because you’re right, it was ‘an act of God.’ Much like the rest of the travel industry, travel insurance has realized it has to do something. What if various companies have added policies, ”Lichti said. “So you really need to shop around and make sure that if you can’t be flexible, you take out travel insurance, especially under ‘cancel anytime’.”

Be creative with your ride….

With a shortage of rental cars, the prices can be astronomical; try booking a ride through an app like Turo that lets you rent someone’s personal vehicle (think Uber for cars). However, be aware that with this comes a bit of unpredictability.

“You are at the mercy of them who show up with the car,” Hoover said.

… But stay classic with your accommodation.

When it comes to a place to stay, hotels may be the cheapest as they seek to re-fill the rooms.

“Airbnb is always an option, but I would try to pick hotels right now just because there are so many hotels that need people,” Taylor said. “And so they’re doing really good sales and things like that right now.”

You also won’t have to deal with the cleaning fee or the headache of a last minute cancellation of a private rental.

Hoover even suggests saving more money by staying with friends and family on our travels; “I don’t think we’re upset that people are staying with us,” she laughs.

Don’t miss out on trips you’ve already paid for.

If your plans were canceled last year, read the fine print to make sure you don’t lose your travel credit.

“My personal opinion is that they have to book by December 2021. You will lose your credits,” Lichti said. “You can go in 2022 or 2023, whenever you can book the flight, but you have to do it before the expiration date,” Taylor adds.

Let your credits plan your vacation.

“Find out when you have free time and see where [the airline] fly inexpensively and then they make the decision for you, ”Hoover said. “I would suggest maybe going somewhere you’ve never thought of and you’ll probably really like it.”

Remember that “getting back to normal” is also a journey.

Tourism and hospitality people make your free time more enjoyable. Don’t complicate their jobs as they face changing health and safety demands and, in some cases, staff shortages.

“Be positive. And if you can’t be positive, stay home,” Hoover said.

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Bellosguardo showing small signs of life Thu, 27 May 2021 17:08:51 +0000

After seven years of stubborn silence and relative inactivity, the Bellosguardo Foundation seems to be taking its first steps towards opening the palace of the late Huguette Clark to the public.

The Foundation was formed in 2014 and officially took possession of the property in 2017, but in addition to hosting a Gatsby the magnificent– themed fundraising gala and a few private tours, he made no real progress in transforming the historic 27-room mansion and its 23 acres of well-tended grounds into a modern community center to promote the arts, as Clark, an avid art collector herself, dictated in her will.

Foundation president Jeremy Lindaman submitted a request to the Santa Barbara City Planning Division in March, saying the organization would like to start offering small tours and hosting special events. In order to install the necessary ramps, portable toilet trailers and approximately 90 parking spaces, Lindaman is seeking the city’s conditional use and coastal development permits.

Although planning staff said they were “broadly in favor” of the proposal, according to their written response to Lindaman, they took issue with the lack of detail in his application and deemed it “incomplete”. How many guests would there be on each tour, they asked? How often would the tours take place? At what hours of the day? Would a shuttle service be offered to those parked off-site? How many docents would be employed? Would any of them live in the field? How often would the events take place and how many people would they attend? Etc. “You didn’t answer any of our questions directly,” the staff said.

Even basic information about the ramps and toilets was omitted, staff noted. “The plans for the project would benefit from being better organized, especially with regard to the location of the proposed ramps and toilets,” they said. “We don’t know how many ramps are available and where they would be located.”

Lindaman – who, according to the Foundation’s latest tax records, receives a salary of $ 120,000 – was given the opportunity to amend and resubmit his application. It is not known if or when he plans to do so. In a previous hearing before the Historic Monuments Commission, Lindaman briefly discussed other vague ideas for Bellosguardo, including “the potential addition of structures.”

Since his appointment, Lindaman has pledged more than once to hold “press events” to publicly expose the nonprofit organization’s long-term strategic plans for its $ 85 million in assets, including fundraising campaigns and potential partnerships with arts organizations. So far none of these events have materialized and Lindaman has refused repeated requests for interviews.

Every day, the staff of the Independent from Santa Barbara works hard to separate the truth from the rumor and keep you informed of what’s going on throughout the Santa Barbara community. There is now a way to directly activate these efforts. Support it Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy +.

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In a vaccinated New York, we look forward to the day we can travel to Ireland Thu, 27 May 2021 05:00:20 +0000

Mark O’Toole graduated from UCD in Bray, Co Wicklow, where his family owned the Harbor Bar. He has lived and worked in New York for almost 25 years. He is currently making a documentary on life in the city under Covid-19 and his experiences during the pandemic. He is a New York-based writer and producer

Sunlight is intense today, with noticeable beams filling the spaces left by the towering trees of Central Park. Nature is in full bloom; Bright yellow daffodils against green grass, cherry blossoms a resplendent pink, adding a splash of color against the blue sky. The ducks waddle before heading to the pond. The voices are audible. The children play and laugh. The joggers walk past. A crystal blue sky serves as a canopy for the stage. Life in New York is back.

Mark O’Toole and wife Anosha celebrate son Aidan’s sixth birthday with daughter Alanna

This is all in stark contrast to a year ago. I documented this dark scene for Irish Times Abroad. The curled up masses of New York who yearned to breathe safely were either locked inside or simply packed their bags and left the Big Apple for the less affected areas. And the statistics were on their side. NYC has faced a growing number of deaths. On some days, nearly 1,000 deaths were added to the tally; one of them a family member.

At first, little was known about how the virus was transmitted. So, out of caution or irrational fear, the deliveries were wiped down with a disinfectant, along with any Lysol disinfectant wipes that could be found. We worried about food shortages, toilet paper became the currency of the kingdom, homeschooling became the new normal. And we wondered if our government was lying to us. A crisis within a crisis.

We always wear masks and practice social distancing. New Yorkers are not yet ready to fill Yankee Stadium. So there is no euphoria, but there is cautious optimism

Then, on the way to the apocalypse, a funny thing happened. Towards the end of June of last year, green shoots were spotted. Shops, hairdressers and restaurants have started to open to the outside. My birthday in February was celebrated outside in a snowstorm. The heat lamps worked in conjunction with alcohol to warm my frozen toes or just forget about them.

New York recently allowed 75% of in-person meals. The cinemas are open. The museums are open. There are no travel restrictions. I am able to do my daily 10 mile run unobstructed. A full reopening is scheduled for July 1 – rightly so, just in time for Independence Day.

But these freedoms were difficult to obtain. Some 50,000 people have died from Covid in New York State. So there is no going back to the old ways. We always wear masks and practice social distancing. New Yorkers are not yet ready to fill Citi Field or Yankee Stadium. So there is no euphoria, but there is cautious optimism. Ireland may be on a low ebb right now. More than a year after the start of this pandemic, we are all tired. But help is on the way. Vaccines are being deployed.

Mark O'Toole celebrates his birthday outdoors in February 2021 during a snowstorm

Mark O’Toole celebrates his birthday outdoors in February 2021 during a snowstorm

What a difference a year makes. The new Biden administration has begun the process of restoring confidence in good government and the American “can do” spirit. The whole response is a testament to American ingenuity, allowing the development and delivery of all new vaccines in less than a year. Anyone in New York City aged 12 and over is eligible for a shot. I just received my second injection of the Moderna vaccine.

But the best-laid plans of mice and men have almost gone wrong. On the day I was due to take my first photo, my family attended a close friend’s St. Patrick’s Garden brunch. It was two couples and their children. It was a lovely hot day and we spent it mostly outdoors with the exception of trips to the bathroom and grocery shopping. Later that day, as we received our coveted snaps, we were informed that our friend’s maskless nanny had tested positive for Covid. We were all overcome with a paranoid fear for ourselves, the kids, our friends and this other couple. How could this happen? We started to think about the day – what did we touch? How many times have we been inside? How close were we to this nanny? Our friend? Each other? The irony of being exposed to Covid right at the finish line didn’t escape me. And entirely my fault. The allure of Irish sausages could have been my downfall. For the next 10 days, we were isolated. I was pissed off at my stupidity.

New York City doesn’t look like the mausoleum it was last year. Of course, the number of tourists is still dropping, but it feels like village life is coming back within the confines of the big city.

A PCR test wiped us all out of Covid. With tampons stuck in their noses, my kids thought it was a nose-tickling party because she came with pacifiers afterwards. My friend, who organized the brunch, was not so lucky. He tested positive. But as luck would have it for the Irish, he developed nothing more than feeling tired. No serious illness, no hospital visit. He got lucky.

But it was an alarming reminder that this virus, with its more infectious variants, is still around, unresponsive and present until we reach a certain level of herd immunity. Although that light shines at the end of the tunnel, it was a premonitory reminder that until I was fully vaccinated, I was still in danger for myself and others.

It is disheartening to see Ireland in the same position as New York 12 months ago. I feel for my mother, essentially isolated from her family. My now three-year-old daughter has no memory of meeting Nanna. The last time was when she was one and a half years old. Facetime is not a substitute for human connection.

Even if I wanted to, I can’t go to Ireland now, no exception even for fully vaccinated people like me, because of the new quarantine policies. Everything is designed to keep us away. Even despite these restrictions, with infection rates continuing to spread, the actions of so few have never had more impact. Now that the vaccines are available in New York, we look forward to the day when we can all come together and come to Ireland.

Meanwhile, 3,000 miles away, New York City doesn’t feel like the mausoleum it was last year. Of course, the number of tourists is still dropping, but it feels like village life is coming back within the confines of the big city. The unconditional residents remain. Sightseeing tours have made a cautious comeback, this time on a more private and intimate basis. Spring is in the air. There is a bounce in my step.

If I keep my head down for a few more weeks, maybe I’ll have this summer vacation after all and my kids will have the chance to meet their grandmother again. And maybe you too. Keep hope alive.

Mark O’Toole’s blog is now part of the new York Collection of the Museum of the Historical Society. Its digital journal is the first the company has published.

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Unusual astrotourism experiences launched on the eve of the May super moon Wed, 26 May 2021 11:00:00 +0000

Doha, qatar, May 26, 2021 / PRNewswire / – The Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) has launched exclusive astro-tourism experiences in partnership with premium tour operator Gulf Adventures, enhancing astronomers’ travel plans when borders reopen. Visitors can enjoy a whole space under the breathtaking desert night sky. With excellent visibility, the desert of Qatar offers a truly unique setting to discover the stars, guided by an astronomer.

The unique “Arabian Nights” packages can be booked now via Gulf Adventures and are refundable until April 30, 2022. There are four new experiences to choose from, from camping under the stars to escorting a luxury hotel to a moonlit excursion.

Qatar National Tourism Council Director General Berthold Trenkel said: “Qatar the desert is a perfect place for astronomy enthusiasts to observe the dark and starry sky. The packages will be unforgettable experiences that travel enthusiasts can look forward to when we welcome them back to the country. This dazzling new addition will add to a plethora of activities that visitors can enjoy in our diverse and unique country. “

Immersive desert experiences are perfect for adventure seekers and those looking for a romantic getaway. From the top of Qatar’s dunes, visitors will see the desert like never before. Exclusive tours include a magical moonlit camel safari and a traditional Bedouin barbecue prepared by a chef. Dinner will be followed by deep exploration into the starry desert sky during a one-on-one stargazing session with an astronomer.

The experiences are aimed at guests opting for a five-star hotel in majestic Marsa Malaz Kempinski and those who prefer to camp outside and be one with the desert sky. Guests who choose to sleep under the stars can choose an Arab-style royal tent at Regency Sealine Camp, which offers modern facilities amid the desert landscape. The impressive site dominates Khor al Adaid, also known as the Inland Sea, which is a UNESCO recognized site.

Packages can be accompanied by cultural trips to unique heritage sites such as Fort Al Zubarah or Souq Waqif, an authentic Middle Eastern market. Other dining options include the spectacular Torch 360 Restaurant, which offers panoramic views of the Doha horizon.

Packages comply with the Qatar Clean program to protect visitors from COVID-19, and measures will be in place to comply with government guidelines.

For those who wish to experience the distinctive beauty of the desert sky and get acquainted with the country’s rich culture, Arabian Nights packages are the perfect treat. To learn more about the packages and how to book, please visit

For media inquiries, please contact the QNTC press office on:

+974 7034 8963 | [email protected]

About the Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC)

The mission of the Qatar National Tourism Council is to firmly establish Qatar as a place where cultural authenticity meets modernity and where people of the world come together to discover unique offerings in culture, sport, business and family entertainment.

QNTC’s work is guided by the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy (QNTSS), which aims to diversify the country’s tourism offer and increase visitor spending.

Since the launch of QNTSS, Qatar welcomed more than 14 million visitors. The economic impact of the tourism sector in Qatar is becoming increasingly visible, with the government designating tourism in 2017 as a priority sector in the pursuit of a more diverse economy and a more active private sector.

The Web:

Twitter: @NTC_Qatar

LinkedIn: Qatar National Tourism Council


Arabian Nights Packages:

Option 1 – USD $ 1,255 per person


  • Two-night stay in DBL sharing Pearl view room on BB


  • Pick up from the hotel at 3:00 p.m.
  • An hour’s drive to the desert,
  • Stop at the seal area to deflate the tires
  • 45-minute desert dune safari with a stop in the high dunes in the middle of the desert where the camel safari begins
  • Camel Safari to Gulf Adventures Camp
  • BBQ buffet dinner
  • Stargazing assisted by the astronomer
  • Return to Doha hotel at 10 p.m.

Option 2 – USD $ 1,395 per person


  • One night stay in DBL sharing Royal tent on BB, including return transfers.


  • Pick up from the hotel at 3:00 p.m.
  • An hour’s drive to the desert
  • Stop at the seal area to deflate the tires
  • 45 minute desert dune safari with a stop in the high dunes in the middle of the desert where the camel safari begins.
  • Camel Safari to Gulf Adventures Camp
  • BBQ buffet dinner
  • Stargazing assisted by the astronomer
  • Night at Regency Sealine Resort
  • Return to Doha hotel at 10:00 am


Option 3 – USD $ 1,611 per person (Min. 2 pax)


  • Pick up from the hotel at 3:00 p.m.
  • An hour’s drive to the desert,
  • Stop at the seal area to deflate the tires
  • 45-minute desert dune safari with a stop in the high dunes in the middle of the desert where the camel safari begins
  • Camel Safari to Gulf Adventures Camp
  • BBQ buffet dinner
  • Stargazing assisted by the astronomer
  • Take advantage of the camp facilities.
  • Breakfast the next morning
  • Return to Doha hotel at 08:00

VISIT AL ZUBARAH, 09: 00-16: 00 hour

  • Pick up from the hotel at 9:00 a.m.
  • 1.5 hour drive to the location
  • Stop at Al Zubarah
  • Tour assisted by a guide explaining the local culture and the importance of the Moon in pearl diving.
  • Lunch menu to be served at the local restaurant
  • Return to the hotel at 4:00 p.m.

Option 4 – USD $ 1,365 per person (Min. 2 pax)


  • Pick up from the hotel at 3:00 p.m.
  • An hour’s drive to the desert,
  • Stop at the Sealine area to deflate the tires
  • 45-minute desert dune safari with a stop in the high dunes in the middle of the desert where the camel safari begins
  • Camel Safari to Gulf Adventures Camp
  • BBQ buffet dinner
  • Stargazing assisted by the astronomer
  • Take advantage of the camp facilities.
  • Breakfast the next morning
  • Return to Doha hotel at 08:00


  • Pick up from the hotel at 3:00 p.m.
  • Drive to Souq Al Wakra
  • Visit to Wakra Souq Waqif briefed by a guide
  • Return to Doha Souq Waqif
  • Visit to Souq Waqif explaining local culture and history by a guide
  • Drive to the sport city
  • Stop by the Torch Hotel for a set menu dinner at the Torch 360 Restaurant
  • Return to Doha hotel at 9:00 p.m.

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Qatar National Tourism Council

SOURCE Qatar National Tourism Council

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Private museums here struggle for visitors amid Covid-19, with six NHB grant recipients last year, Singapore News & Top Stories Wed, 26 May 2021 04:40:09 +0000

SINGAPORE – To keep his six full-time employees, Mr. Takumi Minami had to sell his shares in a restaurant and gym.

The owner of the Singapore Musical Box Museum is Japanese but believes passionately in his work to highlight Singapore’s important role in the development of music boxes in the region.

With no tourists during the Covid-19 pandemic, its small museum at the Thian Hock Keng Temple on Telok Ayer Street has seen the number of visitors drop by more than half.

Even with Singapore’s rediscovering voucher bookings by locals, its sales last year made a meager $ 6,800, up from $ 22,000 in 2019.

“It’s not enough to run the place,” he said. “We have significantly reduced costs, for example by reducing unnecessary air conditioning. Private museums are either understaffed or underfunded, or both. We are no exception.

Mr. Takumi finds things so difficult that he sees the need to draw inspiration from history.

“I have the experience of the Japanese people who found a way to resuscitate after the Fukushima earthquake. History and culture can give courage and dignity to people in difficult circumstances,” he said. he declares.

Singapore’s heightened alert following the resurgence of community Covid-19 cases adds to the pain of a cultural sector trying to find a way to balance without tourists.

Private museums have the hardest part. Unlike their publicly funded counterparts, their survival depends to a greater extent on ticket sales. As their sites are typically smaller and more cramped, safe distancing measures also disproportionately reduce their capacity.

For some, that means the only way to go is to arrange private tours. It is normal for the number of visitors to drop by about half of the pre-Covid-19 figures and for revenues to fall even more.

Last month, the limited liability company operating the Chinatown Heritage Center (CHC) decided to hand it over to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), saying “the business model was no longer viable.”

Prior to Covid-19, he had paid STB for the rights to run the center, charging visitors around $ 18 each for admission.

Under his leadership, CHC rose to third place among Singapore museums on TripAdvisor, but even that was not enough to keep it commercially viable.

The company that runs CHC, which was dissolved, said: “When Covid-19 hit, we lost 80% of our customers due to the air travel shutdown. Given the drastic change in the economic environment and the existing commercial and revenue bidding model, it was no longer viable to run the center in the same way.

“The decision to send the center back to STB is difficult and painful, but it is the right thing to do.”

The museum has been closed indefinitely as STB is considering how best to run it.

Like many other businesses, the museum sector received financial support from the government last year.

The employment support program has helped pay the salaries of some museum workers, while an arts and culture resilience program has provided grants to help museums find ways to digitize their offerings.

The National Heritage Council (NHB) approved 10 grant applications to six private museums last year, hoping that through digitization efforts, they can reduce their reliance on physical visitors.

Intan, a house museum dedicated to Peranakan culture in Joo Chiat, used the money to produce a series of subscription videos on different Peranakan topics, each lasting 10 to 15 minutes.

He also created a digital Peranakan game, which is free but requires players to pay a nominal fee to buy new lives or items.

Mr Alvin Yapp, owner of The Intan, said these were nowhere near enough for the museum to recoup pre-Covid-19 revenue, which he said was also halved.

He had to find other ways to make money. Mr. Yapp was successful in putting The Intan’s products, such as the Peranakan pearl slippers, up for sale at the Raffles Hotel.

By partnering with educational institutions like Singapore Management University or retirement homes for the elderly, he has also benefited from tailor-made live video tours of The Intan, in which he talks about Peranakan kueh in eating them and playing the piano for his audience. .

The NHB said private museums contribute to the diversity and vibrancy of Singapore’s museum landscape, often featuring niche interests or aspects of national heritage. It will continue to involve private museums to promote public awareness, boost attendance and share digitization practices, he said.

Mr Yapp said: “Private museums are in a unique position today. Even though we don’t get the funding and support like public museums do, we also have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves, work hard and rely on our own efforts to keep us afloat, and, most importantly, remain relevant to the community.

“With less hierarchy and paperwork, we only have ourselves to rely on to survive this pandemic.”

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