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Friendly Planet Blog

Archive for September, 2011

Dubai: The desert destination dripping with decadence

When it comes to picking a destination, most travelers craving luxury don’t consider a city in the middle of the desert as their first choice — but they should!

That’s because Dubai, a city located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, is one of the most opulent destinations in the world.

Dubai has it all — shopping, dining, and some of the world’s most breathtaking sights. This includes The World, a man-made archipelago of 300 islands constructed in the shape of the land masses of Earth, and Burj Al Arab, where you’ll find the world’s most expensive hotel room.

When JustLuxe asked me to write about the things that make Dubai a place that no self-respecting traveler with a developed wanderlust should miss, I was happy to oblige. A true mirage in the desert, the city is dotted with lush, green golf courses; fabulous restaurants and hotels; and high-end stores packed with designer wares, top-end electronics, and VIP treatment available around every corner. 
I talk about all these things and much more in my full article, “Dubai: The Ultimate VIP Experience.” If you’ve never been to Dubai, I hope my stamp of approval will convince you to give it a try. Thanks JustLuxe for running the piece!

Friday’s Friendly Funny

‘Is backpacking in Egypt safe?’ Friendly Planet says yes!

I was thrilled to announce Friendly Planet’s return to Egypt a few weeks ago. Friendly Planet has been monitoring the situation in Egypt since the revolution in January 2011. After almost 30 years of sending tourists there, we have great contacts on the ground that send us information every day. That’s how we knew it was time for us to resume tours there.

It seems that other seasoned travelers feel the same way. That’s why Greg Melville asked, “Is backpacking in Egypt safe?” in Outside Magazine‘s online travel column, “Adventure Adviser.” I agree, along with other travel experts, that it’s safe to return to this historic country, where authorities have taken every possible precaution to keep travelers safe.

Pop on over to see what I had to say to Greg, and get some special insight about travel to Egypt right now! Thanks, Greg, for including my thoughts in your piece!

Standing together 10 years after September 11

In the next few days, most, if not all Americans, will be thinking about Sept. 11, 2001. Memories of that day come back to me every year. It was an unforgettable day, but despite the horrific circumstances, one moment of my 9/11 experience actually gave me hope.

My husband, Ilan, and I left for Nice, France, on Sept. 10, 2001. When we boarded our flight we were thinking of nothing but a fun vacation with friends. When we landed on Sept. 11 and learned what had happened, we sensed the world had abruptly changed and had suddenly become a darker, more frightening place.

In the days that followed, Ilan and I wondered how our lives could ever be the same. When we felt we needed a break from the horrific images on the TV, we wandered out to stroll in Saint Paul de Vance, a lovely and picturesque French village not far from where we were staying. We came upon a small boutique with a huge, hand-lettered sign in the window. It read, “We stand in solidarity with our American friends. American tourists are welcome to call home from our shop without cost.”

This small, kind gesture by a French business owner gave us a glimmer of promise at a dark time in America’s history. And 10 years later, as we reflect on where we were that fateful day, we can remember not only remember the loved ones we lost but also the kindness shown by complete strangers as well as friends all over the world. It’s a memory that, each day, reminds me that my idea of calling our company “Friendly Planet” was no mistake after all.

Friday’s Friendly Funny

Friendly Planet Travel is returning to Egypt!

You might recall the harrowing experience we had in January when political protests erupted in Egypt while two of our tours were traveling through the country. We worked tirelessly during the ensuing weeks to ensure the safe return of all our Friendly Planet travelers.

In the end, every single member of our tours returned safely to the U.S. Due to the continuing unrest in the country, we had suspended our trips to Egypt indefinitely.

Since normal life has returned to Egypt, travelers have begun asking about the status of our programs and urging us to resume our tours.

Well, I have an exciting update to share today. I’m happy to announce that we are introducing a brand-new tour — A Taste of Egypt and Nile River Cruise.

As always, safety is our #1 concern when it comes to our travelers and we’re confident that we can safely resume our tours.
Now that a new day has dawned in Egypt, we’ve added a new element to our tours that lets travelers experience the amazing antiquities of the past and the changing culture and society that has emerged since January 2011.

Our travelers will have the opportunity to meet some of the participants in the revolution, hear their stories first hand, learn what the revolution has meant to them personally, and hear their hopes for the future. We are excited about this unique opportunity to get to know some of the region’s most recent change-makers.

And we’re happy that we too can finally return to business as usual in a destination we’ve been involved in for almost 30 years. In that time, we’ve made many friends and we know how difficult the past months have been. Tourism is a huge source of income for Egypt, and without the support of the tourism industry, many, many people are without work, hence without an income.

Knowing that this painful period is finally coming to an end has offered new hope and enthusiasm to Egypt’s tourism. In this warm and welcoming society, expect to be treated like family when you visit.

The icing on the cake is the pricing on our new tours. For as little as $1,599, you can enjoy this land of ancient wonders and modern miracles. These tours all include airfare from JFK and superior accommodations, plus plenty of included touring to all of the wonderful sites and sounds of ancient and new Egypt.

If you want to learn more about our return to Egypt, feel free to look at our new tour or contact us with any questions you may have.

Friday’s Friendly Funny