Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Norway and Munch at 150

In 2013, Norway is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its most famous artist, Edvard Munch, with painting and photography exhibitions, commissioned works of music, tours of sites where Munch lived and more.

A short guided tour of the first house Munch bought, in Asgardstarand on the Oslo fjord, can be taken June 1 to August 31. The performance "Of Lifeblood" combining tableaux, original music and dance, will happen in and around Munch's Hvitsen home, June 2 to 23.

"Munch 150," the most comprehensive exhibition of his works ever displayed, takes place June 2 to October 13 in the National Gallery and in the Munch Museum.

For more information, contact Munch 150. A magazine about Munch 150, in Norwegian and English, can be downloaded for free.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wagner's 200th Birthday Celebrated in Zurich

Performances and exhibitions are being held in Zurich, Switzerland, this year to commemorate Richard Wagner's 200th birthday. From 1849 to 1858 the composer lived in the city, where he began to compose the operas that would become the famed "Ring" cycle.

The exhibition "Valkyries Over Zurich" at the Kunsthaus Zurich May 24 to August 18 will show photographs and set designs plus drawings of early Wagner stagings. There will also be performances of Wagner's works in June and July including "Tristan and Isolde" and a contemporary staging of "Das Rheingold."

For more information, contact Festpiele Zurich.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hertz Buys Thrifty

Hertz Rent a Car bought out Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group in November 2012. This takeover means that only three rental car agencies -- Hertz, Avis and Enterprise (Alamo/National/Enterprise) -- now conrol over 95 percent of the US car rental market.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

App For Visitors To Mexico

With the Mexico Tourism Board's free "VisitMexico" app, travelers can find information about Mexico's six regions and 32 states, with in-dept content for 27 destinations. News, weather, maps, events, videos and activities are featured.

The app is available for Apple, Android and Blackberry platforms and can be used in English or Spanish. Download from the iTunes store, (for Android users) or at

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Great Britain Travel and Tourism Updates

For whatever reason, Britain does not see the importance of investing in tourist information offices. The Britain and London Visitors Centre near Piccadilly Circus has closed. Now the only publicly funded tourist office (and there an impartial one) is the City of London Information Center across from St. Paul's Cathedral.

The new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will open its northern section on July 27, the one year anniversary of the opening ceremonies and will include footpaths, playgrounds and picnic friendly areas. The southern half is scheduled to be opened in the spring of 2014.

Kensington Palace has just been refurbished and now hosts a worthwhile series of exhibits on its past residents, including William and Mary and the Hanovers. The highlight is the exhibit on Queen Victoria who was born and raised in this palace.

For Harry Potter fans, the wizarding world is abuzz over the opening of the "Making of Harry Potter" studio tour in Leavesden, a 20-minute train ride from London. The attraction lets Harry Potter fans see the actual sets and props used in the films, along with exhibits about how the special effects were created. Visitors must book a time slot in advance and it is recommended to book as far ahead as possible.

Advance tickets are now available online for the Roman and Medieval Bath in Bath, a 90-minute train ride from London.

Along England's southern coast, the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will soon have a new museum displaying the 16th century warship Mary Rose (Henry VIII's favorite ship) along with numerous Tudor era items found inside the wreck.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Allow Extra Time at Vienna Train Stations

Expect train stations in Vienna to be in a state of disarray for the next few years as the city works on rebuilding the central station and remodeling several others. The West Station (Westbahnhof) has already been renovated, with the 1950s shell filled now with modern services, shops and restaurants.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Save Money When Visiting Zurich

The ZurichCard offers visitors to Zurich, Switzerland, unlimited second-class travel by tram, bus, rail, boat and cable card for 24 or 72 hours as well as discounts at museums, shops and restaurants.

The card also offers a 25 percent discount on a 90-minute guided rickshaw tour of the city. Cardholders also get a 10 percent discount on a 30-minute helicopter tour.

The card can be purchased at Zurich airports and rail stations or in advance through Zurich Tourism.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Paris Travel and Tourism Updates

Avoid the lines and buy your tickets online. You can now book ahead and print out a receipt that acts as your entry pass for such sights as the Eiffel Tower, Monet's gardens at Giverney, the Musee d'Orsay as well as for some activities like church concerts and Seine River cruises.

The Picasso Museum is still closed and not expected to reopen until the end of this year. The Rodin Museum is under renovation through 2014. What is available to see could change daily so be sure to check the web site before going. However, the museums gardens will remain open.

Classic Walks offers tours that let you skip the line at major sights. If you would prefer not to walk, check out TripUp's pedicab tours.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Italy Travel and Tourism Updates

Same day tickets for the Vatican Museum.... ones that will let you skip the line.. are available from the tourist information office in St. Peter's Square. The price is the same you would pay if you reserved them online.

Massive crowds line up to see Florences's cathedral, the Duomo, which is free to enter. Here is how to skip to the front of the line, if you are already planning to visit the cathedral-related sites such as the Duomo Museum, Baptistery and Campanile. These require a combination ticket and the trick is to buy the ticket first at the less-crowded museum. You're allowed to use your ticket to enter the cathedral through its exit, bypassing the long lines at the front door.

Florence's Uffizi Gallery is still undergoing renovation but many new rooms are now available to the public. Also in Florence, Lorenzo Ghiberti's Renaissance-era Baptistery doors have been newly restored and are now back on display at the Duomo Museum.

The best late evening hours sightseeing, from April till September, is at the Palazzo Vecchio. The Medicis ruled from this fortified palace. The site typically stays open until 12 midnight plus the tower has been reopened, allowing visitors a great view of the cityscape.

In Venice, the downside of visiting the Accademia is that it is still going through a renovation and major expansion that has been going on for years. Things are still in disarray but the advantage is that there are no longer crowds and long lines and it is not necessary anymore to buy a ticket in advance.

If you are visiting Naples, you no longer need to make an appointment to visit the Secret Room at the Archeological Museum. The Secret Room houses erotic pottery, frescoes and statues that were once used to decorate brothels and bedrooms in Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Be prepared for hotel accommodations to cost more. With the economic uncertainty, highly visited cities such as Florence, Venice, Rome and Padua, are charging an additional tax on hotel rooms. The tax must be paid in cash at checkout and varies from one Euro to five Euros per person, per night and is based on the number of stars assigned to the hotel under the government rating system.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How To Check Flight On-Time Stats

The definition of a flight that is "on time" is one that operates within 15 minutes of its schedule. A good website to visit for this type of information is Click on Flights and then On-Time Performance Rating.Type in the departure and arrival cities and you will see a chart showing each of the airlines that flies the route, the flight number and the on-time percentage.

This website is easy to use and provides a wealth of information on almost every airline in the world as well as on  nearly every airport.

Another website where you can find current information on flight delays at a specific airport in the US is It is managed by the FA and draws its information from the Air Traffic Control system.