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dec 04 2014

Holiday Fun from Hollywood to the Holy Land

Think your New Year's Eve party rocks? You haven't really rung in the New Year till you've sung "Auld Lang Syne" at Edinburgh's super-rowdie Hogmanay, a three-day festival that culminates with a jump in the icy River Forth!

(Robbie Shade/Wikimedia Commons)

My buddy Rick Crandall, host of KEZW's "Boomtown" radio show in Denver, asked me to share my favorite holiday festivals and events with his audience this week. His inspiring question led me to compile a short "2014 holiday bucket list" of sorts. I heartily recommend that you incorporate at least one of these unique traditions into your holiday plans!

dec 07 2012

How Far Would You Go For An Upgrade?

People at an airline ticket counter

What's the silliest reason you've ever given while trying to score a free upgrade?

(Courtesy That Hartford Guy/Flickr)

Some people will do anything—or say anything—for a free upgrade. Israeli airline El Al recently released a silly promotional video mocking the extreme lengths people will sometimes go to in the hopes of snagging a free upgrade. The video features such extreme tactics as a man bribing an airline employee with a stamp card for a free frozen yogurt, a woman who tries to earn a seating upgrade because she is obviously very pregnant, only to drop a basketball from underneath her shirt (nice try!), and a man claiming to be entitled to a free upgrade because his name is John F. Kennedy, and clearly the airport was named after him. 

nov 21 2012

Conflict in Gaza Does Not Stop Tourism in Israel

Travel to the beautiful Mediterranean beaches of Tel Aviv (above), and other sites in southern Israel, has not been adversely affected by conflict in Gaza.

(Courtesy yanivba/Flickr)

Although we may joke about scenery that's "to die for," and routinely throw around terms like "bucket list" to the point where we forgot what that rhetorical "bucket" actually represents, there are, of course, popular travel destinations where real dangers lurk—or fall from the sky. In light of the recent clash in Gaza—which at press time had reached a negotiated ceasefire—the Israeli Ministry of Tourism sought to provide a reality check for potential visitors.

mar 11 2011

Israel: "Walk in the footsteps of the Virgin Mary"

Church of the Nativity entrance, in the West Bank (Courtesy emeryjl/Flickr)

Tourism officials in Israel now offer a free, do-it-yourself guide

to walking in the footsteps of Jesus's mother, says the Associated Press.

may 28 2009

Tel Aviv's birthday party is coming to New York City

A Polaroid from Vienna's version of Tel Aviv Beach Party (Courtesy bahoolala/Flickr)

If you aren't able to make a trip to Israel this summer, a Central Park simulation may fill the void—free of charge.

On Sunday, June 21, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., an artificial beachfront will be featured at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park for the Tel Aviv Beach Party, celebrating the first Hebrew city's first hundred years. Expect to find Israeli bands and DJs, games like matkot (beach paddleball), traditional Israeli foods such as shawarma and falafel, and 1,300 square feet of sand.

dec 08 2008

Flights to Israel get cheaper

How about New York City to Tel Aviv nonstop for $916? That offer from El Al is about $140 less than what competitor airlines are offering via Kayak. It's also lower than the lowest fare I found on El Al's website for a round-trip flight out of New York City for $1,027 departing on a Saturday in mid-January.

may 31 2007

Excavation vacations

"Dig for a day" programs enable you to pick up a trowel and help archaeologists search for buried treasures, such as pottery shards, animal bones, and--occasionally--clay tablets.

In Israel, Archaeological Seminars is an organization that is excavating a site at the National Park of Beit Guvrin, which is about a half-hour drive from Jerusalem. Each "Dig for a Day" event includes a rundown of the site's history and an explanation of rudimentary excavation techniques. Then you dig in. Organizers say you have a good chance of finding an artifact because the site was the equivalent of a garbage dump centuries ago, with countless items scattered underground. Your discoveries actually enhance the historical record because cash-strapped archaeologists depend upon the work of volunteers to help them with their research. The price is $28 per adult, and $23 per child between the ages of 5-14. About 30,000 people participate each year. Details here. (Photo of the Beit Guvrim Dig by Pointing via Flickr.)

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