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    The commercials for Viking River Cruises, which appear on Downton Abbey and Homeland, are certainly the most beautiful and successful of all such advertising. But their scenes of tourists hobnobbing backstage with cooks and enjoying other singular opportunities are certainly non-representative of the kind of sightseeing experience that passengers will enjoy. I'm willing to bet that people on the (admittedly lovely) Viking "longboats" will sightsee on the same crowded motorcoaches made available to all passengers on European river cruises....
 
Tourists to Chicago are currently enjoying one of the great bonuses of travel at the Chicago Art Institute, which last year received a bequest of 45 masterworks of contemporary art which have now catapulted that museum into the top ranks of all the world's finest art exhibitions. This happened within the past year, and if your own last visit to "the city of broad shoulders" occurred later than that, you have a major reason to return. (You will also enjoy more Michelin-starred restaurants than in any other U.S. city; Chicago is jumpin').... 
 
     Americans frightened of the possibilities for terrorism in Europe might want to remember that one of the most celebrated instances of such events took place in our own Oklahoma City in 1995, when the infamous Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal office building killing 168 persons, including 19 children.  Currently, one of the most important sad "attractions" of American travel is the Oklahoma City memorial to that tragedy, consisting of 168 chairs bearing the individual names of victims. The designers of the September 11 Memorial in New York City apparently traveled to Oklahoma City to receive advice on the design of such sights.....
 
     A violent battle is currently being waged between the room-sharing Airbnb.com and the hotel industry, over whether scores of major cities should prohibit the short-term rental of apartments or rooms in apartments. Representatives of the two major contenders have recently appeared in speeches before gatherings of mayors, with Airbnb.com claiming it is now collecting taxes on its room rentals, thus improving municipal revenues, and hotels claiming that Airbnb.com rentals avoid the safety regulations applicable to hotels (and also removing apartments from their availability to permanent residents). For the time being, users of Airbnb.com should be careful to avoid being involved in that battle, and should be reminded that the one perfectly-legal use of Airbnb.com is a rental of a room in an apartment whose owner remains in residence.... 
 
     The expiration dates of their U.S. passports is something of which most Americans are unaware. But they should be. The U.S. State Department has announced that in just a few months, the number of applications for passport renewals will be so great as to create long waiting periods for them. Everyone, according to our State Department, should urgently check their passports and immediately apply for extensions if those are necessary. To wait is to hazard a long wait.  Why is this necessary? Almost exactly ten years ago, the sudden need for passports to travel to Canada resulted in massive applications for passports that will now expire in just a few months.
 


Tags: RiverCruises, chicago, MemorialsToTerrorism, airbnb, passports

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