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Relaxing on the RailsJuly 15, 2011 By: Ruthanne Terrero Travel Agent
|Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero|
I took a walk up to Times Square this morning to see what the security scene was at New York’s hotels, in light of the recent terrorist attack on the Intercontinental hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. Police were standing in front of some of the larger properties, and in front of many of the smaller venues, security guards in suits were standing at full attention, some in pairs, vigilant about who was going in and out of the hotels.
Such a show of force outside of hotels is a fantastic idea and should probably be practiced all the time. It demonstrates that something is being done to counter all of this terrorism noise and makes me feel absolutely secure.
In the days after Osama bin Laden was killed, I had to ride the Amtrak to Washington, D.C., to conduct an interview. Because of the alert that some form of terror attack on our railways had been planned, police were standing in New York’s Penn Station that day with machine guns drawn as passengers descended to the track. No one hesitated when they were pulled over for a bag check.
Be sure to tell your clients who are headed off for a trip that there’s no need to be nervous if their hotel has an extra show of security; in fact, it’s a good thing.
Speaking of riding the rails, I’ve taken several train vacations recently—first, to Philadelphia, an hour away from New York, by Amtrak’s Acela and last weekend to Saratoga Springs, NY, where we caught the annual Freihofer’s Jazz Festival produced by SPAC (the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, which also hosts The New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Saratoga Chamber Music Festival during the summer).
Both trips were amazingly relaxing. We didn’t have to take our shoes off to go through airline security (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and we saw some amazing scenery along the way. Don’t underestimate the pleasure a train ride can bring to your client, whether it’s from their local transit hub to a destination just a few hours away that they’ve always taken for granted, or it’s part of an overall itinerary in a faraway place.
The British Pullman, part of Orient-Express, for example, will host a 1920s Dinner out of London Victoria station for the first time on October 27. Guests are encouraged to dress in period garb (think flapper dresses or fedora hats).
Next year, The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV, will bring back The Greenbrier Presidential Express, which provides a six-hour, nonstop trip to the resort from Washington, D.C. The 15-car train will hold up to 240 passengers and will have all sorts of fun amenities.
There are dozens of other rail options to fill in a great itinerary. To get a good lineup of what’s available, just go to TravelAgentCentral.com and search for “train.”
A Victory for the Wildebeest
And finally, not speaking of trains or security at all, the best news of late has been that the government of Tanzania has canceled plans for a highway through the Serengeti. Instead, the 30-mile section of road across the park will “continue to be managed mainly for tourism and administrative purposes, as it is now.” The highway would have severed the migration route of 1.5 million wildebeest and a half million other antelope and zebra and disrupted the entire ecosystem of the Serengeti plains, say experts.
That’s great news for travelers but even more so for the amazing natural setting that can still be found in that part of the world. For another take on this continent, be sure to read Jena Tesse Fox’s story on “Affordable South Africa”. Jena is just back and she’s got some great tips to share.