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Monday, November 30, 2009

Cheap flights to Sydney for Christmas holiday in Australia

Plan your travel to Sydney for a Christmas Holiday in Australia. It is an overwhelming and a magnificent place to visit. Known as Harbor City, it is the largest city in Australia, and the state capital of New South Wales. It is one of the top most visited destinations in Australia. This place attracts millions of visitors from all over the world.

Book flights to Sydney at low prices. It is one of the world's most beautiful and livable cities. It is famous for its excellent night life, beautiful beaches and friendly people. Cheap flights to Sydney are available from all airports of UK. All the domestic and international flights are routed to Sydney Kings ford Smith International Airport.

Sydney is one of those few cities in the world where you don't have to do very much to have a great time. The beauty of the natural surroundings and the spectacular vista of the harbors are the highlights of a visit. However, the city also offers plenty of attractions to get you out and about. Cheap flights to Sydney are available from London, Gatwick, Edinburgh, Glasgow, New Castle and other cities also.

Opera House, Royal Botanical Gardens, Luna Park, Sydney Tower, Australian Museum are the major tourist attractions. There are many beautiful sandy beaches in Sydney. You can plan your beach holidays.

Airlines like Thai Airways, Singapore Airline, Asian Airlines, Korean Airways, British Airways, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic, etc are all routed to Sydney. Airfares of these airlines to Sydney are as Cathay Pacific: E594, Singapore Airlines: E604, Qantas: E600, Emirates: E780, China Airlines: E570, Korean Airways: E 630. Airfares mentioned are just an approximation; these can be changed in future. Fares of these airlines are so cheap, as you never thought before.

It has a temperate climate with warm summers and cool winters, and rainfall spread throughout the year, you can visit there round the year. Sydney is a dynamic and fast-paced city with a thriving nightlife, excellent dining and plenty to see and do.

Book your cheap flights to Sydney for your sf vacations from any corner of the globe. Online booking of flights will be beneficial for you. It is a good place to visit for business traveler, students and holiday makers.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Seeing San Francisco From a Dissimilar Angle

As fires raged downtown after the 1906 earthquake, residents of this city fled to two nearby districts to the south, Bernal Heights and Glen Park. Though part of San Francisco place, both areas looked more like scenery then, with open ranchland, vineyards and orchards, dirt roads and wetlands, and a few houses. The desolate peaks above Glen Park were called Little Switzerland.

Many of the earthquake refugees wound up settling there, and both neighborhoods also attracted waves of new immigrants. Today, Glen Park and Bernal Heights, two characteristic communities little more than a mile apart and accessible on foot from the Glen Park BART train station, retain a self-contained village atmosphere as well as some of their wild, open vistas.

Visitors to San Francisco can linger two or three days off the tourist track in this hilly and little-known tangle of streets, hiking, picnicking on fresh California fare and working up an appetite for the dozens of international restaurants and cafes they'll find.

With a jog to trendy Noe Valley to the north and a side trip to the nearby Mission Dolores, the itinerary includes both the hip and the historical. It's a San Francisco even some natives don't know. Hotels are scarce, but house and apartment rentals are even better, since they make it possible to shop at local specialty food shops and cook at home.

Bernal Heights Natural Area, a 24-acre knob of red Franciscan chart that rises from a sea of colorful row houses like the prow of a ship, has a 360-degree view of San Francisco in its pastel glory. The city ripples into the distance in all directions: from the downtown skyscrapers and Golden Gate mist to Candlestick Park and the industrial East Bay and to San Bruno Mountain to the south.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tourist attractions in Australia

The biggest island in the world is home to some of the most impressive, most awe inspiring natural wonders in the world. This isolated land mass, "revealed" and colonized by the British from the 18th century onwards is awash with unique examples of the natural world at its best. Tourist attractions in Australia will excite and inspire.
Australia's nature

For example, if you drive thousands of miles into Australia's barren, flat, dry outback, across miles and miles of bush and red earth, Ayres Rock stands out like the world's sorest thumb. It is a gigantic mass of rock sitting there in the midst of the flats. An extremely powerful vision of the world history, it lands masses and its movement; and also a symbol of the sacred sites of ancient Aboriginal culture of the land.

Up the tourist trail on the East Coast from Brisbane are the beautiful miles of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest expanse of coral reefs in the world and without question one of the natural wonders of the world. Day trips, snorkeling and diving are all huge from here and no wonder.

Added to this is Frazer Island, the sand island jutting out into the Pacific Ocean, and The Pinnacles in Western Australia - random, in the fullest sense of the word.

Modern society

But despite its natural history, Australia also makes waves in the man-made-design stakes. The Sydney Opera house is iconic, in the finest definition of the word, as is its other harbor stable mate, The Sydney Harbor Bridge - a climb of which gives the visitor the greatest view of modern Australia.

If wandering ancient back alleys, and stumbling over ruins is your thing, Australia might not be the place to be. However, the quality and scope of tourist attractions in Australia are hard to beat.The biggest island in the world is home to some of the most impressive, most awe inspiring natural wonders in the world. This isolated land mass, "revealed" and colonized by the British from the 18th century onwards is awash with unique examples of the natural world at its best. Tourist attractions in Australia will excite and inspire.

Australia's nature

For example, if you drive thousands of miles into Australia's barren, flat, dry outback, across miles and miles of bush and red earth, Ayres Rock stands out like the world's sorest thumb. It is a gigantic mass of rock sitting there in the midst of the flats. An extremely powerful vision of the world history, it lands masses and its movement; and also a symbol of the sacred sites of ancient Aboriginal culture of the land.

Up the tourist trail on the East Coast from Brisbane are the beautiful miles of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest expanse of coral reefs in the world and without question one of the natural wonders of the world. Day trips, snorkeling and diving are all huge from here and no wonder.

Added to this is Frazer Island, the sand island jutting out into the Pacific Ocean, and The Pinnacles in Western Australia - random, in the fullest sense of the word.

Modern society

But despite its natural history, Australia also makes waves in the man-made-design stakes. The Sydney Opera house is iconic, in the finest definition of the word, as is its other harbor stable mate, The Sydney Harbor Bridge - a climb of which gives the visitor the greatest view of modern Australia.

If wandering ancient back alleys, and stumbling over ruins is your thing, Australia might not be the place to be. However, the quality and scope of tourist attractions in Australia are hard to beat.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Port of San Francisco Place in Candlestick

The Port of San Francisco lies on the western edge of the San Francisco Bay near the Golden Gate. It has been called one of the three great natural harbors in the world, but it took two long centuries for navigators from Spain and England to find the anchorage originally called Yerba Buena. A port, as was said in its early days, in which all the fleets of the world could find anchorage. (Morphy)

The larger waterfront area extends from the anchorage of the Golden Gate bridge through the Marina district all the way around the north and then east shore of the city of San Francisco to the city line beyond Candlestick Point.

The Port of San Francisco is currently a semi-independent organization run by a five-member commission, appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

For amazing different this year consider spending Thanksgiving at Fisherman's Wharf. The weather in San Francisco is characteristically bright and mild on Thanksgiving, making this a great destination. A long-standing San Francisco tour tradition is to serve fresh Dungeness crab during the Thanksgiving holidays and what better place to indulge in crab then where it is caught? Most restaurants will be open for lunch on Thanksgiving and if you are a traditionalist, many are including a turkey menu.

In addition to being properly thankful and indulging in a good meal, there are lots of activities to take advantage of in Fisherman's Wharf. One of the best deals conceivable is the Bay Tour which for $15 takes you to the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz for an hour on a small boat. You can even bring your own intoxicating beverages on board. Catch the boat near Castagnola's. There are bicycle rentals, wax museums and billiards. Pier 45 houses Muse Techniques, with "Laughing Sal," a museum of vintage coin-operated arcade games from the early 1900s and originally located at the Cliff House in Land's End. Pier 39 offers a plethora of shopping, restaurants and entertainment.

San Francisco travel has a proud history of fishing. The boats berthed at the docks are the third generation of fishermen that have made their livelihood from fishing in the San Francisco Bay. To honor those lost at sea, there is a Fishermen's and Seamen's Memorial Chapel built in 1979 located on the docks behind Tarantino's. The Chapel is rarely open but is an attractive sight. There are 200 plaques listing those who died in the line of fishing. There is a Port Walk with 27 markers placed along the water's edge as a walking tour to provide an overview of the history of fishing.

Hyde Street Pier is a National Park and is a great place to stroll and read exhibits and information panels discussing historical accounts of San Francisco's maritime past. There are tours of the floating historic ships. Additional historical sights include the Maritime Museum, located near Ghirardelli Square, which is currently closed for renovation and two historic private clubs: The South End Rowing Club and Dolphin Club located next door to each other, both possessing a colorful history. Dolphin Club members swim in the frigid bay waters and the Rowing Club members compete in a variety of regattas and races. Aquatic Park and the Pier are wonderful places to stroll and take in the beautiful views.

Restaurant choices abound. Try one of many family-owned restaurants specialize in seafood such as: Aliotos, Scoma's, or Tarantino's. The Franciscan Restaurant and Bounding Bistro both have Thanksgiving Day meal specials. Bowden serves San Francisco's famous sourdough bread, made fresh daily; take a bakery tour if you have the time. Jack's Cannery Bar has a $15.00 turkey dinner but also offers 68 beers on tap and a selection of televisions to watch your football team. Pompeii's Grotto is also a great place for seafood and they have added outdoor seating. If you want to celebrate casually try a crab sandwich from one of the many side-walk crab stands.

Should you decide to spend more time at Fisherman's Wharf, there are accommodations at all price ranges. The Argonaut features a nautical theme and is conveniently located between Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf. The Sheraton has been newly remodeled and the Best Western Tuscan Inn couldn't be more convenient.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Treaty of San Francisco

The Treaty of Peace with Japan (commonly known as the Treaty of San Francisco or San Francisco Peace Treaty), between the Allied Powers and Japan, was officially signed by 49 nations on September 8, 1951 in San Francisco, California. It came into force on April 28, 1952.

This treaty served to officially end World War II, to formally end Japan's position as an imperial power, and to allocate compensation to Allied civilians and former prisoners of war who had suffered Japanese war crimes. This treaty made extensive use of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to enunciate the Allies' goals.

This treaty, along with the Security Treaty signed that same year, is said to mark the beginning of the "San Francisco System;" this term, coined by historian John W. Dower, signifies the effects of Japan's relationship with the United States and its role in the international arena as determined by these two treaties and is used to discuss the ways in which these effects have governed Japan's post-war history.

Friday, November 20, 2009

San Francisco hotel strikers should be thankful for their jobs

San Francisco has long had the status for a Bohemian air based on the connection of Height and Ashbury and the free expression it receptively entices. Numerous policies and lifestyles accepted here- for one reason or another - probably would not fly in suburban Iowa. They would die a rapid death in Dallas.

For the most part, the pseudo circus impression that hovers over the city, attracting cannabis, where-with-alls, homeless entrepreneurs with nothing more than cardboard signs, software entrepreneurs with Ferraris, Porsches and trophy blondes, loons, lovers, losers, and visitors from all over the world, entices imagination and culture- in a variety of forms - seldom found in other geographic enclaves.

And while getting of sights unseen in less interesting hamlets is a given - if you don't like what you see turn the channel - some acts are repulsive to the point of disgusting.

Yesterday I had the chance to observe a disturbing act played out in Union Square, The City's high-rent retail holiday gem: A steady stream of striking hospitality workers- maids, bell hops, attendants and the like, marched in front of The Westin St. Francis Hotel for the second day of a three day strike. Unite Here! Local 2, under the direction of union president Michael Casey, had previously staged two other three day strikes since contract talks have stalled between the union and 61 city hotels.

Casey and his team claim the hotels are asking for more work and responsibility and scheduling less staff to accomplish the work. They also are balking at the proposed $5.00 a month Health Benefit increase. On the other side, the hotels are claiming health costs are rising rapidly and they can no longer afford to carry the burden.

Casey of course, has been promoting the mini strikes in style. That's his. And, the union members, who obviously feel Casey has a point, take to the sidewalks, bull horns and signboards in hand to disrupt whatever spirit the holidays bring to The Square.

In an economy that disgracefully boasts an unemployment rate of 10.2% the striking workers should be equally ashamed of the actions they are participating in. Not only are they disrupting their places of employment, they are hurting other retailers on the perimeter of Union Square that are barely hanging on due to the slumping economy, the decreased tourist volume and rents that still skyrocket while economic indicators plummet.

Naturally the strikers are a passionate crew. Give any group a bull horn, a union scripted chant, a sign, and a cause and workers turn into lemmings. Casey could probably get them to march to the sea.

I am sure Casey feels that his union deserves better. And, I am also sure the management feels they deserve better. But I have to wonder if striking during the worst economic downturn in an economy is the brightest maneuver.

It's ironic that on this weekend before blessing people who have jobs place their own greed in front of the needs of others. Instead of being thankful they are employed the hotel workers choose to cause turmoil and disruption for not only the owner's of the hotels they work in but for other struggling retailers. And, they think this will help them gain sympathy in the eyes of the guests who stay at the hotel.

It's a travesty, in my world, that the Unite Here! Workers are striking while others are walking the streets looking for work. It's unfortunate every one of the workers on the sidewalk couldn't be replaced tomorrow because there are people, good people, anxiously awaiting their jobs.

But that won't happen. It can't. But one thing that can happen, the next time I stay at a hotel with a Unite Here! Local 2 union members on the housekeeping staff, the gratuity I usually leave upon check-out won't be on the dresser.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Philly rises again in LGBT tourism ranking

In the past more than a few years, Philadelphia has gone from a city that wasn't on the radar for LGBT tourists to one now poised to break the top-10 list of most popular LGBT destination.

LGBT market-research agency Community Marketing Inc. released its 14th-annual LGBT Tourism Study previous this month, with Philadelphia ranking 11th in a list of top-25 most-visited LGBT destinations for both leisure and business in the nation.

New York City, San Francisco and Las Vegas took the top three spots, correspondingly.

Philadelphia came in at number 13 in 2008, after having debuted on the list at 16 in 2006 and maintaining that spot the following year.

"This is great. Just a couple of years ago we weren't even in the top 20," said Jeff Guaracino, vice president of communications for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation.

The data was collected through an online survey that was filled out by 4,500 respondents. Survey participants were asked in which cities they spent at least one night in a hotel in the previous 12 months for either leisure or business.

Philadelphia came in at number 19 on the list of leisure destinations in 2006 and 2007, and at 16 in 2008 and 2009.

"The rankings usually don't change much year to year but we do see people go up and down slowly over time, and Philadelphia is definitely one of the real winners," said David Paisley, senior research director at CMI. "Philadelphia's been slowly moving up and has really stood out for this."

Survey respondents were asked to fill in the name of a city they thought has excelled in its LGBT outreach. Philadelphia came in fourth on this list, behind Las Vegas, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale. While the city garnered the third spot in this category last year, Paisley said it's "very impressive" that Philadelphia ranked as high as it did, especially in the company of more traditional LGBT tourist destinations.

"New York has been number-one on the list of top leisure and business travel destinations for forever, but it turns out that people think that Philadelphia is actually doing a much better job than New York in reaching out to LGBT tourists," Paisley said.

Tami Sortman, president of the Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus, credited the continuing partnership among the city agencies and her organization for the higher ranking.

"The Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus is elated over the new findings that just came out, that Philadelphia is now rated 11th in the top 25 LGBT travel destinations," she said. "This is due to the ongoing efforts of GPTMC and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau working extremely hard to penetrate this lucrative market of gay and lesbian travelers."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hotel strike hits third hotel

SAN FRANCISCO - Union workers walk off the job at the Westin St. Francis early Wednesday morning, the third such strike at a San Francisco hotel in as many weeks.

The around 650 members of Unite Here! Local 2 walked off the job at 4 a.m. and are expected to stay off until early Saturday, according to the union.

The union and 61 hotels in The City have been negotiating a contract deal. The contract between the hotels and their employees ended Aug. 14.

The major sticking points in the talks have been health benefits, pay and the length of the contract.

Strikes have already been held at the Grand Hyatt Union Square and Palace Hotel.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Obama to launch cross-country economic tour

U.S. President Barack Obama will hold an opportunity on job creation with U.S. business leaders on December 3 and then embark on a cross-country tour to discuss economic recovery, the White House said on Monday.

Obama, who is currently traveling in Asia, said last week he would host the forum to devise ways to combat double-digit unemployment -- but did not announce a date.

The meeting aims to bring chief executives, small business owners and financial experts to the White House to exchange ideas on putting unemployed Americans back to work.

"We have a blame to consider all good ideas to give confidence and speed up job creation in this country," Obama said in a statement.

"I am looking forward to hearing from the private sector, from CEOs and small business owners and from Americans struggling to make ends meet on how we can work together to create jobs and get this economy moving again."

With unemployment at 10.2 percent in October, a 26-1/2 year high, Obama is under pressure to act. An management official said last week, however, that the president was not weighing a second stimulus package, on top of a $787 billion emergency government expenditure bill signed earlier this year.

The day after the forum, Obama will embark on a "White House to Main Street Tour" in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The tour will be spread out over a few months.

Obama wanted to get out of Washington and "take the temperature on what Americans are experiencing during these challenging economic times," the White House said.

On Capitol Hill, a leading Democrat said lawmakers were determined to pass measures this year to spur more job growth.

"A jobless recovery is simply unacceptable to us," said Representative John Larson, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, speaking to reporters before a meeting with Richard Trumka, president of the labor union group AFL-CIO.

Republicans have criticized Obama's economic programs and view the stimulus package as too expensive.

The jobs conference and tour will aim to highlight Obama's intention of responding to Americans' concerns about unemployment ahead of mid-term elections in 2010. The president hopes to hold on to Democratic majorities in both houses of the U.S. Congress.

The U.S. economy began growing again in the third quarter after the worst recession since the Great Depression, but unemployment has continued to climb.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A trip to North Korea offers curious sites

Reporting from Pyongyang, North Korea - Visiting. North Korea is like peering in the window of a store that closed long ago but where old goods mysteriously remain. I walk through the aisle feeling restricted, mesmerized and curious, a little nervous, but not afraid.

It is unlike any other place in the world. Communications and information technology most of the rest of the world takes for granted -- the Internet, cell phones, GPS systems -- are unavailable to civilians. North Korean-sanctioned news about Western nations often is characterized by violence and aggressive government actions.


Business brought me here in June, making me one of a very few Americans who have seen close-up the world's most restricted nation. U.S. citizens are allowed to visit, but as tourists, they are limited to traveling between August and October, during the Arrange Festival, and also known as the "mass games" see sidebar.

In my four days here, all accompany by government escorts, I will see perhaps the most curious tourist attraction in the world: Late on a Friday afternoon, I'm negotiate my way through the narrow passageways of an American spy ship.

The USS Pueblo, docked at the edge of the Taedong River in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, is the government's proud trophy of its resistance against "the aggression of U.S. imperialists." A female military officer greets me and, in near-perfect English, beckons me across the gangplank.

Streets are swept several times a day. One morning we drive by Kim Il Sung Square, one of many monuments honoring the nation's founder. The plaza, more than 800,000 square feet, is nearly 10 times the size of San Francisco's Union Square. But there are no panhandlers or even pigeon droppings. In contrast, we witness more than 200 people on their hands and knees scrubbing the plaza's concrete floor -- a sight I will never forget.

The work of my employer, World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, has brought me here, so we drive into the countryside to visit schools and hospitals benefiting from World Vision-funded programs. We pass roadside monuments, several feet tall, proclaiming the date Kim Il Sung stood there and provided local residents "on-the-spot guidance."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Liudmila Kondakova Renowned Romantic Tour in U.S.A

Martin Lawrence Galleries invites you to meet renowned romantic realist, Liudmila Kondakova, on her 2nd tour of the United States. Exhibitions begin in Los Angeles, CA on Thursday, November 12th. She will appear at additional shows in La Jolla, CA on Friday, November 13th, Newport Beach, CA on Saturday, November 14th, Geary Street in San Francisco on November 15th, New Orleans, LA on Friday, November 20th, Oak Brook (Chicago), IL on Saturday, November 21st, Dallas, TX on Sunday, November 22nd, Boston, MA on Friday, December 4th and Beach Street in San Francisco on Saturday, December 12th.

Exhibits will feature Ms. Kondakova's newest hand-signed limited edition serigraph on canvas, Le Pont Neuf, a stunning night time scene of Paris featuring the Pont Neuf and Eiffel Tower in lights. This sanfran tour will also present the very rare opportunity to acquire from twenty new original gouaches that Ms. Kondakova has painted from scenes in Ernest Hemingway's memoirs "A Moveable Feast" "Each of these strikingly detailed originals are classic works by Kondakova. They absolutely capture the essence of Hemingway’s Paris, and we fully expect that they will all be sold before the end of the tour", cautions Eric Dannemann, President of Martin Lawrence Galleries.

Liudmila Kondakova is known for painting images of Paris and other beautiful European cities. The works are meticulous in detail and rich with color, clarity and light. Since her childhood in Russia, Kondakova has been fascinated by traditional art. Graduating from the Grabar Center in Moscow, Russia's School of Scared Arts and the Moscow Art Institute, she credits her apprenticeship with the monastic icon painters at St. Alexi Cathedral as her most influential training. Ms. Kondakova has stated that she is looking forward to touring the United States again this year so that she can meet collectors and personally introduce her latest works.

Martin Lawrence Galleries is renowned for offering the finest quality artworks and for maintaining the highest level of integrity and ethical standards in service to their clients. Over the last fifteen years, they have loaned two hundred fifty artworks to over thirty museums world-wide.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Green travel for everyone

Just like each other industry, going green has turn into a mantra among airlines, car rental companies and even hotel chains. The fuel crunch of a few years ago forced all the airlines into belt-tightening mode and the results - lower fuel consumption and fewer emissions -- are good news for the environment.

Boeing, one of the world's top aircraft makers, is doing its part: Its new 787 is some 20 percent more fuel efficient than other big passenger planes. Beyond saving fuel - which also reduces emissions - airlines are instituting in-flight recycling initiatives, incorporating carbon-neutral biofuels, and going paperless to reduce waste. Continental, British Airways, Singapore Air, American Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest and Virgin are among the leaders in the industry-wide effort to go green, but most airlines have made huge strides in recent years to lower their carbon footprints overall.

With regard to lodging, going green isn't just for youth hostels and campgrounds anymore. In a recent survey, upwards of two-thirds of U.S. hotels said they had energy-efficient lights and had implemented towel- and linen-reuse programs -- up from just over half five years ago. According to Budget Travel magazine, Accor/Motel6, InterContinental, Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, Hyatt, Best Western and Wyndham/Super8 have all made huge strides in energy and water conservation, recycling and green design over the last few years. Beyond the chains, many independent hotels have taken up the green baton; you'll likely find one or more at your destination via the website of the Green Hotels Association.

As for rental car companies, just about all of them offer large selections of fuel-efficient cars these days, if for no other reason than to meet the demands of both business and vacationing customers not interested in spending lots of money on gas. Hertz, Avis, Budget and Enterprise each have large fleets of hybrid and/or flex-fuel (ethanol) cars for rent at hundreds of airport and in-town locations around the U.S. Advantage Rent-a-Car has pledged to turn 100 percent of its rental fleet "green" by 2010. For now, renting a hybrid still typically costs $5-$15 more per day than an equivalent conventional car, but as rental car companies bring more of the vehicles online, prices should start to reach parity. And if you're driving a long way in the car, you may just make up the difference in fuel savings. Travelers to the Bay Area should keep in mind that San Francisco International Airport offers a $15 credit for renting a hybrid from any of the rental car companies operating there.

Traveling by any means other than foot, bicycle or paddle always takes some toll on the environment, but those who watch their carbon footprints -- and stay abreast of which vendors offer the greenest courses of action -- can keep their impacts to a minimum. Stay tuned to websites like Go Green Travel Green for the latest info on what airlines, hotels, car rental companies and other travel-related businesses are doing to green up their industry.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Getting Around San Francisco


San Francisco is very extending out, so a rental car is a great idea. Most locals drive.

That said parking is a challenge. Be ready for up to $40 overnight parking charge at some downtown hotels. You can always park the car near Golden Gate Park and take MUNI into town. Or the Stockton-Sutter or Mission Street garages are pretty good bargain.

Public transportation is not free, but it's also more fun than in most cities. Do not leave without a ride on one of the vintage trams running up and down Market Street and the Embarcadero. They rival the cable cars for the fun factor. Ditto the ferries.

Walk through Chinatown, Union Square and South of Market loop. Another day walk is the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf.

Drive to Golden Gate Park and other outlying destinations. Rent a bike for a thrill ride over the Golden Gate Bridge, or just cruise around the Park.

San Francisco has many modes of transit. When you have foot-weary kids, make some use out of the transit system. The San Francisco city tour buses, horse-drawn carriages, cable cars and ferries, vintage trams and even bright yellow Cars. While BART is an amazing system, MUNI (the city bus service) is not very family-friendly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Workers Strike At Another San Francisco Hotel

Workers at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco begin a three-day strike Tuesday morning as contract negotiations with hotel management remained stalled.

Approximately 350 workers, members of Unite Here Local 2, begin picket in front of the hotel at 2 Montgomery St. at about 4 a.m., union leaders said.

Stick points in the discussions include hotel management's application to reduce health and retirement benefits.

The strike, predictable to last until Friday morning, comes on the heels of a three-day strike by workers at the Grand Hyatt last week. Mayor Gavin Newsom has stepped in to assist with the contract talks.

The union, which is negotiate separately with hotels including the Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Star wood and Intercontinental, represents thousands of employees in the hospitality industry, including room cleaners, cooks, food servers, bellmen, bartenders and dishwashers.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Alcatraz and San Francisco Deluxe City Combo Tour (Bus)

Receive the San Francisco Deluxe city bus tour and Alcatraz combo! Save $10 when you book the most popular combo tour in San Francisco - it includes a detailed city tour of San Francisco, a ferry cruise on San Francisco Bay, admission to Alcatraz & an outstanding 90 minute audio walking tour in and outside the prison. With a fully narrated city tour which stops at the Golden Gate Bridge, this San Francisco and Alcatraz combo is not to be missed!

San Francisco is located on a small seven-by-seven mile (11x11km) square of land at the tip of a peninsula between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific coast. It has a population of almost 800,000, but is the center of a metropolitan area of millions. San Francisco is just one of the cities which makes up the entire San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco's neighbors, cities and towns to the east of the Bay Bridge, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and south of the city are all in separate counties, each with their own city government and local public transportation systems.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Traveling with a Medical Condition

If you have a serious medical situation, it doesn't mean you can't fly. But the stress of travel can take its toll, so here's what you need to know.

If you have a pre-existing condition, or even think you might have one, talk to your physician before traveling.

In some cases, you may need to get a medical certificate clearing you to fly within 10 days of departure.

Airlines are within their rights to require a certificate for passengers who require medical oxygen during a flight, have an infectious disease, or-here's a loophole you can drive a Hummer through-when there's "reasonable doubt" that the passenger can fly without requiring medical assistance.

Pregnant women flying within four weeks of their due date-which we don't recommend anyway-are also, required having a medical certificate.

Conditions like anemia, circulatory issues, or heart or lung problems can be affected by low oxygen and humidity in the cabin.

Also, remember long-distance travel and jetlag can interfere with the timing of taking medication.

The bottom line is that you can protect yourself with a little advance planning: check in with your doctor, carry on backup medications, insulin, or other emergency supplies, and keep a copy of your physician's business card, as well as a medical ID card or bracelet identifying your condition.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Travel Deals: An Affordable Weekend in Fort Lauderdale

Dreading the start of winter? This week, travel deals publisher, is featuring Fort Lauderdale as its Destination of the Week, with discounts on airfare, hotels and activities. Here's how to turn those deals into an affordable long weekend.

To get there from the West Coast, take advantage of Virgin America's new nonstop service from San Francisco, Seattle, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas, which starts Nov. 18. One-way flights start at $99 through Feb. 10.

AirTran is also offering sales from 50 cities to Fort Lauderdale. One-way flights from Raleigh and San Antonio start at $64 for travel through Feb. 10. Book by Nov. 10.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts is offering discounts at three of its Fort Lauderdale hotels, including the Westin Beach Resort for $109 a night (normally $169). Book by Dec. 5 for stays through Dec. 17. There is a three-night minimum.

For a really cheap vacation, the Hollywood Beach Hotel & Hostel has beds for $15 a night. Or splurge on a family room (sleeps six) starting at $99 a night.

With these discounts, it's possible to book a weekend getaway for two in mid-December, flying out of Los Angeles with three nights at the Westin, for about $400 a person. Florida here we come!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Domestic missionaries share passion for San Francisco

Domestic job work in the City by the Bay requires not just one "Paul" but two.

Paul Crites and Paul Fletcher are two of the three domestic missionaries along with Wes Woodell - who work with Minister Richard Blythe at the Lake Merced Church of Christ.

Crites, Fletcher and Woodell all attended the Center for Advanced Ministry Training at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.

In separate interviews, the two "Pauls" visited with The Christian Chronicle about their ministry in San Francisco.

Paul Fletcher: First and foremost, we believe God has been the one who has opened the doors every step of the way to bring us to this point in the work here. I first became aware of the opportunity in 2004 while I was attending the Harding School of Biblical Studies. My dear friend and classmate Paul "Bull" Crites had been approached by Marvin Crowson, director of Outreach America, who had let him know about the Lake Merced Church of Christ in San Francisco, Calif. We shared the news with several others in the HSBS program and began forming a team. I remember telling Wes Woodell about it for the first time at a HSBS function. Along with Marvin Crowson, several other of our dear friends and classmates - Ryan Lloyd, Alex Wilson, Maggie Hlasta and Kyle Clarke - contributed greatly to the planning of this mission effort. Today, three of those families are now serving here. Paul Crites, now married to his wonderful wife Noemi, came to San Francisco Tour in July 2006. My wife, Dory, and I and our two children, Caleb and Shiloh, came out the following month in August 2006. Wes and Airiel Woodell and their two children, Naomi and Conrad, arrived in December 2008.

The church was apparently searching for a team of domestic missionaries to come and help revive efforts in order to grow. I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of, a team who could help proclaim the good news of Jesus to one of our well-known, big cities in the U.S. I really believe we need to be sharing the good news with the same passion in the U.S. as we do overseas, not taking anything away from the latter. Besides that, San Francisco is one of our cities in the U.S. where the world has literally come to us. But as important as that is, this mission included more than that.

It was and still is a mission to show that we care about churches in the Church of Christ who have been "fighting the good fight" for a long time. These churches have been and are being brought along, by the grace of God, over the years by some of God's finest sons and daughters, but for one reason or another have come to a place where they don't have the able workers or direction they once did to make a strong effort to reach out with the mission of Christ in a lasting way within their communities.

Here was an opportunity, as Jesus entrusted to Peter, to "feed my sheep" and to also "go into the entire world and preach the gospel." It's the biblical passion we all have for those of us who've given our lives to Christ and service in His Kingdom, and it was that passion that brought us to do the work here in San Francisco. I believe that now, more than ever, this work has proved to be worth it all as we see our love growing for one another, the embrace of the new people God sends our way and the dreams of many, past and present, taking shape. Praise God!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

San Fran's latest battle royale: parking meters

SAN FRANCISCO - This city's most popular neighborhoods are night owls, streets that come animate when the restaurants and pubs set the mood and light their candles. But try parking in these hot spots: no fun.

Now, in a move some cities have tried and others are considering in these hard times, San Francisco's transportation agency, anticipating a multi-million dollar deficit, is proposing a plan it says will help ease parking snafus. It wants to extend parking meter hours - up to midnight in the trendiest neighborhoods, and on Sundays everywhere.

Those who already find it hard to park on the streets in the day time are not happy.

"It's putting the penalty on the people who can least afford it," said Peter Govorchin, a music teacher for the San Francisco public schools who said he already averages $500 in parking tickets each year.

The move would raise more than $8 million a year, free up more parking spots and help business, says the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Agency. But San Francisco, always game for a good fight, is in for a battle royale if other cities that have proposed or enacted meter changes are any indication.

Just across the Bay Bridge, the Oakland City Council is still smarting after it extended parking meters by two hours and increased rates and fines. That led to such a revolt - including recall petitions - that the new rules were rescinded last month, three months after they took effect.

Earlier this year, when Chicago, desperate for revenue, leased its parking meter system for 75 years to Morgan Stanley for $1.15 billion, parking meter hours were extended, rates were quadrupled, citation fees were hiked and Mayor Richard Daley's approval ratings fell to their worst level, 35 percent.

Parking meters have become such a political issue that in St. Petersburg, Fla., mayoral candidates have run on proposals to either eliminate all parking meters downtown or reduce meter enforcement hours.

In San Francisco, where the SFMTA unveiled a 37-page study on extending parking meters on Oct. 20, the battle lines are being drawn.

On the nay side are small-business owners, residents who live in commercial areas, the anti-war group A.N.S.W.E.R. (for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), the parking control officers union and Mayor Gavin Newsom.

On the aye side are environmental activists and members of the Board of Supervisors, as well as residents, who argue that San Francisco can never have a first-class public transit system if it continues to raise fares and cut service while cars get a free pass, at least at night.

The mayor, who appoints the transit agency board that will decide on the proposal at an unspecified date, says the "timing" of the plan is wrong, given the economic crisis.

The Office of Small Business has been inundated with business owners worried about what the meters would do. "From our office's perspective, businesses are teetering," said its director, Regina Dick-Endrizzi. "Anything else affecting their ability to keep alive shouldn't be done now."

Parking control officers are worried about getting assaulted by irate drivers late at night. "We don't want our people getting beat for giving out a ticket at 11 o'clock at night," said Dominic Garrett, S.E.I.U. Local 1021 chapter president. "Why do they have to have meters late at night, anyway, when people who live in these neighborhoods park?"

The SFMTA, which operates the city's bus and light rail system, is hoping to sell its plan over the next several weeks to merchants associations and neighborhood groups, says spokesman Judson True. Thus far, he said, "Those with concerns definitely outweigh those who are for the plan."

Monday, November 02, 2009

H1N1 flu virus while using public transit in the San Francisco Bay Area

Commuting is a basic part of life for millions of people in the San Francisco Bay Area. The price savings and ease of mind of using public transportation can be great. However, traveling in close quarters with lots of others can lead to the spread of germs and viruses like the flu or common cold, and even the H1N1 Flu.

The H1N1 Flu virus has already killed many people and is likely to cause more public health disruptions. Recently President Barack Obama signed an emergency statement that allows the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive technical requirements and to expedite emergency needs regarding this medical threat, according to the White House blog.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great Web site dedicated to providing information and updates regarding the H1N1 Flu. This site explains that the H1N1 Flu is spread much like the common flu, through the air from coughing and sneezing or from the virus being left on doorknobs and other places touched often by many people.

If you are a Bay Area commuter who rides trains or buses, you are at more risk of catching the H1N1 flu than others who commute by car. You need to take extra precautions. You should be mindful of the places you touch while on BART, on Caltrain, or on a bus. Wear gloves if you can or wash your hands often. Carry disinfectant wipes with you or take advantage of the free hand disinfectant offered by BART and other transit services.

There are many Web sites that offer additional tips on preventing the spread of H1N1 Flu. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great list of tips at this link, with suggestions such as avoiding the touching of your eyes, nose or mouth. For specific tips about avoiding the H1N1 Flu on public transportation if you are pregnant, the Web site of BabyCenter has some excellent ideas.

Public transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area is often the easiest and fastest way to get to work. Unfortunately the downside is that you often have to share space with people who may be sick. This year, do your part to help prevent the spread of the H1N1 Flu virus.
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