Euro drops against dollar. Also, Starlight Foundation Reserves

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the April 2015 issue.
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Fred Koehler’s photo of the freebies at his garage sale.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 470th issue of your monthly foreign travel magazine.

Fred Koehler of Orange, California, wrote, several months back, “The ITN shelf in my bookcase reached maximum capacity recently. Begrudgingly, the oldest year required removal. It seemed unpatriotic to throw the issues in the recycle bin. They sat around for several weeks until an answer came to me as we prepared for a garage sale.

“During the sale, each shopper received my talk about the best travel magazine in the business: ‘Tells it straight. Good value.’ People grabbed copies to take home. Problem solved!”

Ellen Gillis shares her copies in a different way. She wrote, “Every month after reading the magazine, I cut the address label off of the cover and leave the ITN on a table in the hall at my senior center here in San Marcos (San Diego County). It has an activity center with 70-plus classes each week. The ITN disappears quickly!”

Thanks for spreading the word, Fred and Ellen. We’ll keep the issues coming… with news items such as the following.

 

The Eurozone comprises countries whose national currency is the euro, and, recently, a strengthening US economy paired with certain news events caused a sizeable decrease in the value of the euro against the dollar.

Concerns about the long-term value of the euro peaked just before Jan. 25 when, in Greece, an anti-austerity party, Syriza, won the most seats in the general election. Why was this cause for worry?

In 2010, facing an enormous debt, Greece was loaned almost 240 billion from the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and a partnership of Eurozone countries (with a significant amount from Germany). As part of the deal, Greece was forced to enact strict austerity measures, cutting government programs and spending.

Though these measures helped reduce the rising debt, many in Greece blamed the cutbacks for the country’s stagnating economy and for keeping the unemployment rate up at a steady 25.5% (and just under 50% for those ages 25 to 35).

Syriza and its leader, the new Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsi­pras, having called both the austerity measures and the repayment plans draconian, won the election on a platform of renegotiating the debt-repayment plan and reducing the impact of the austerity measures by increasing public spending on social programs and even, possibly, leaving the Eurozone altogether.

With the looming threat of Greece’s possible divestment from the Eurozone, money traders quickly ran from the euro, dropping its value considerably in a very short period. At one point, the euro was trading for as little as 1.10 to the dollar. 

As of press time, the euro had risen slightly to 1.12 to the dollar, considerably weaker than its March 2014 value of 1.38. The British bank Barclays anticipates that by the end of 2015, dollars and euros will be trading one to one, which means Americans visiting Europe will be getting more value for the dollars they spend.

Negotiations between Greece and the rest of the Eurozone produced, on Feb. 20, an extension on Greece’s bailout for another four months, giving that country more time to solve its debt problems.

Meanwhile, despite a shaky euro, the British pound has maintained a steady value against the dollar since an upswing of a couple of pence in late 2014. In the first months of 2015, the pound’s value was hovering around $1.50-$1.54.

 

It’s a marvelous night for a moondance.

The Starlight Foundation is a UNESCO-backed organization dedicated to preserving the night sky against light pollution and promoting “star tourism.” The foundation selects areas they consider the best places on Earth to view the night sky and classifies them as Starlight Reserves. 

To qualify for Reserve status, an area must include a “Core,” or “Exclusion zone,” where only natural light occurs; a “Protection zone,” where some electric light may leak in without affecting the Exclusion zone, and a “General zone,” where electric light is present but must be “smart lighting,” that is, light fixtures that direct illumination away from the sky.

The Starlight Foundation also identifies places that meet their Reserve requirements but which are also equipped to handle tourists; it names these Starlight Tourist Destinations. Each of these must have a well-maintained tourist infrastructure, including accommodations as well as a staff trained to assist visitors with astronomical observations. 

Though Reserves are also accessible, they are not areas with the required tourism amenities.

Founded in 2009, the Starlight Foundation is based in Tenerife, Canary Islands, near a Starlight Reserve in Cumbra de Tenerife. The number of Reserves is limited, with only seven selected so far, worldwide. 

Other Reserves include, in the far west of the Canaries, the island of La Palma; Bosque Fray Jorge National Park in central Chile; the Comarca (commune) of Sierra Sur near Seville, Spain; the Morena Mountains in Andalusia, Spain, and the Montsec Mountains in far-eastern Spain.

Starlight Foundation Tourist Destinations include El Teide and Granadilla de Abona on Tenerife; the northern section of the Gredos Mountains in central Spain; the Biosphere Reserve of the valleys of the Leza, Jubera, Cidacos & Alhama rivers in northern Spain, and Alqueva in southern Portugal.

In November 2014, Acadian Skies & Mikmaq Lands — an area encompassing the Argyle, Clare and Yarmouth municipalities in the southwest of Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast of Canada — was awarded the titles of Starlight Reserve and Starlight Tourist Destination, the first area in North America to receive either certification.

The Sierra Sur, Morena Mountains and Montsec Mountains are the only locations that share, with Acadian Skies & Miqmac Lands, the distinction of being both a Reserve and a Tourist Destination.

The Nova Scotia Reserve is one up on the rest of the pack, however, as it also contains the world’s first designated Starlight Hotel, the Trout Point Lodge (189 Trout Point Rd., East Kemptville, Nova Scotia, B5A 5X9, Canada; 902/761-2142, www.troutpoint.com). (Summer rates for double rooms run CAD269-CAD439 [near $218-$365].)

Starlight Hotels must have at least one telescope for guests’ use, organize astronomical activities and have a staff member who can educate visitors on use of the equipment and sky points.

There are five other Starlight Hotels, but only one of them, El Posito in La Palma, is also located in a Starlight Reserve.

For more info, go to http://fundacionstarlight.org. (For English, click on the Union Jack, upper right.)

 

CORRECTIONS to note —

• Jane B. Holt of Hinesburg, Vermont, made us aware of a confusing portion of the February 2015 “Discerning Traveler” column. 

In part three of the “Import Duties” series, after a long list of items whose importing into the US is restricted or prohibited (a list which did not include “automobiles” or “electronics”), the line should have read “I will provide more details about the requirements for alcohol, automobiles and, summarily, electronic transmissions” rather than “I will provide a more detailed review on a number of the above items.”

And the subhead “G. Electronic transmissions” should have been lettered “C.” These changes have been made to the version of the article posted on our website.

• In the letter “Everest Base Camp in Tibet” (March ’15, pg. 28), the writer wrote, “The roads in all of China measure distances from Beijing.” Although road markers on several of China’s national highways (those in the 100 series, except for highway No. 112) do indicate distances from Beijing, most indicate distances from other locations.

• I offer a big ‘Thank you!’ to our ever-alert readers (as I accept a big slice of humble pie) who caught the glaring error in the second-place-winning “I’ll Praise Prague” essay printed in the March issue. In her essay, the writer fondly recalled her experience at the Széchenyi Baths, but what we failed to recognize in the mad dash toward deadline was that this popular site is located in Budapest, Hungary, not the Czech city that was the focus of the essay contest. My apologies. 

ITN’s mention of Albert Podell’s book “Around the World in 50 Years: My Adventures to Every Country on Earth” (March ’15, pg. 69) described it as “written in a unique, dry style” when, as pointed out by one fan of the book, it should have said “wry style” or, at least, alluded to the author’s humor and colorful asides in candidly reporting the adventures and obstacles he faced as a traveler.

By the way, Albert Podell is an ITN subscriber who, as his book title states, has traveled to every country. Two more ITN subscribers who have traveled “everywhere” are Bob and Phyllis Henson. In this issue, Bob names a few of the highlights — and low points — of their travels.

 

On that note, I should remind you that the end of this month is the deadline to send in your list of the countries you visited in 2014 and to get your name entered into the drawing for prizes.

Knowing where our subscribers travel helps us in wooing potential advertisers to ITN. More advertisers means more pages in ITN, meaning more travelers’ reports and news items for all to read.

Compile the names of the nations you visited anytime from January 1 to December 31, 2014, and email editor@intltravelnews.com (include your full mailing address) or write to Where Were You in 2014?, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818.

Do it now so you don’t forget. You’ve got until April 30, 2015. 

I’ll announce the prizewinners and the results of the poll in the July issue.

 

Cherie Ellingson of Amity, Oregon, wrote, “I enjoy ITN every month over and over again. It is my favorite. I read, save, reread and file for later reference. Recently, I looked back to find articles on Portugal. In the January 2012 issue I rediscovered subscribers’ responses on the subject ‘Captivating Art,’ bringing back memories of our experiences from many years of traveling the world. Great feature! Thank you, ITN.”

The “Captivating Art” responses appeared in our July and August 2011 and January 2012 issues, with a few stragglers in the May and June 2012 issues. Remember, we archive articles, letters and Travel Briefs on our website. Type the name of a destination, tour company or subject into the search bar and see what comes up. Enjoy!

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.
Fred Koehler’s photo of the freebies at his garage sale.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 470th issue of your monthly foreign travel magazine.

Fred Koehler of Orange, California, wrote, several months back, “The ITN shelf in my bookcase reached maximum capacity recently. Begrudgingly, the oldest year required removal. It seemed unpatriotic to throw the issues in the recycle bin. They sat around for several weeks until an answer came to me as we prepared for a garage sale.

“During the sale, each shopper received my talk about the best travel magazine in the business: ‘Tells it straight. Good value.’ People grabbed copies to take home. Problem solved!”

Ellen Gillis shares her copies in a different way. She wrote, “Every month after reading the magazine, I cut the address label off of the cover and leave the ITN on a table in the hall at my senior center here in San Marcos (San Diego County). It has an activity center with 70-plus classes each week. The ITN disappears quickly!”

Thanks for spreading the word, Fred and Ellen. We’ll keep the issues coming… with news items such as the following.

 

The Eurozone comprises countries whose national currency is the euro, and, recently, a strengthening US economy paired with certain news events caused a sizeable decrease in the value of the euro against the dollar.

Concerns about the long-term value of the euro peaked just before Jan. 25 when, in Greece, an anti-austerity party, Syriza, won the most seats in the general election. Why was this cause for worry?

In 2010, facing an enormous debt, Greece was loaned almost 240 billion from the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and a partnership of Eurozone countries (with a significant amount from Germany). As part of the deal, Greece was forced to enact strict austerity measures, cutting government programs and spending.

Though these measures helped reduce the rising debt, many in Greece blamed the cutbacks for the country’s stagnating economy and for keeping the unemployment rate up at a steady 25.5% (and just under 50% for those ages 25 to 35).

Syriza and its leader, the new Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsi­pras, having called both the austerity measures and the repayment plans draconian, won the election on a platform of renegotiating the debt-repayment plan and reducing the impact of the austerity measures by increasing public spending on social programs and even, possibly, leaving the Eurozone altogether.

With the looming threat of Greece’s possible divestment from the Eurozone, money traders quickly ran from the euro, dropping its value considerably in a very short period. At one point, the euro was trading for as little as 1.10 to the dollar. 

As of press time, the euro had risen slightly to 1.12 to the dollar, considerably weaker than its March 2014 value of 1.38. The British bank Barclays anticipates that by the end of 2015, dollars and euros will be trading one to one, which means Americans visiting Europe will be getting more value for the dollars they spend.

Negotiations between Greece and the rest of the Eurozone produced, on Feb. 20, an extension on Greece’s bailout for another four months, giving that country more time to solve its debt problems.

Meanwhile, despite a shaky euro, the British pound has maintained a steady value against the dollar since an upswing of a couple of pence in late 2014. In the first months of 2015, the pound’s value was hovering around $1.50-$1.54.

 

It’s a marvelous night for a moondance.

The Starlight Foundation is a UNESCO-backed organization dedicated to preserving the night sky against light pollution and promoting “star tourism.” The foundation selects areas they consider the best places on Earth to view the night sky and classifies them as Starlight Reserves. 

To qualify for Reserve status, an area must include a “Core,” or “Exclusion zone,” where only natural light occurs; a “Protection zone,” where some electric light may leak in without affecting the Exclusion zone, and a “General zone,” where electric light is present but must be “smart lighting,” that is, light fixtures that direct illumination away from the sky.

The Starlight Foundation also identifies places that meet their Reserve requirements but which are also equipped to handle tourists; it names these Starlight Tourist Destinations. Each of these must have a well-maintained tourist infrastructure, including accommodations as well as a staff trained to assist visitors with astronomical observations. 

Though Reserves are also accessible, they are not areas with the required tourism amenities.

Founded in 2009, the Starlight Foundation is based in Tenerife, Canary Islands, near a Starlight Reserve in Cumbra de Tenerife. The number of Reserves is limited, with only seven selected so far, worldwide. 

Other Reserves include, in the far west of the Canaries, the island of La Palma; Bosque Fray Jorge National Park in central Chile; the Comarca (commune) of Sierra Sur near Seville, Spain; the Morena Mountains in Andalusia, Spain, and the Montsec Mountains in far-eastern Spain.

Starlight Foundation Tourist Destinations include El Teide and Granadilla de Abona on Tenerife; the northern section of the Gredos Mountains in central Spain; the Biosphere Reserve of the valleys of the Leza, Jubera, Cidacos & Alhama rivers in northern Spain, and Alqueva in southern Portugal.

In November 2014, Acadian Skies & Mikmaq Lands — an area encompassing the Argyle, Clare and Yarmouth municipalities in the southwest of Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast of Canada — was awarded the titles of Starlight Reserve and Starlight Tourist Destination, the first area in North America to receive either certification.

The Sierra Sur, Morena Mountains and Montsec Mountains are the only locations that share, with Acadian Skies & Miqmac Lands, the distinction of being both a Reserve and a Tourist Destination.

The Nova Scotia Reserve is one up on the rest of the pack, however, as it also contains the world’s first designated Starlight Hotel, the Trout Point Lodge (189 Trout Point Rd., East Kemptville, Nova Scotia, B5A 5X9, Canada; 902/761-2142, www.troutpoint.com). (Summer rates for double rooms run CAD269-CAD439 [near $218-$365].)

Starlight Hotels must have at least one telescope for guests’ use, organize astronomical activities and have a staff member who can educate visitors on use of the equipment and sky points.

There are five other Starlight Hotels, but only one of them, El Posito in La Palma, is also located in a Starlight Reserve.

For more info, go to http://fundacionstarlight.org. (For English, click on the Union Jack, upper right.)

 

CORRECTIONS to note —

• Jane B. Holt of Hinesburg, Vermont, made us aware of a confusing portion of the February 2015 “Discerning Traveler” column. 

In part three of the “Import Duties” series, after a long list of items whose importing into the US is restricted or prohibited (a list which did not include “automobiles” or “electronics”), the line should have read “I will provide more details about the requirements for alcohol, automobiles and, summarily, electronic transmissions” rather than “I will provide a more detailed review on a number of the above items.”

And the subhead “G. Electronic transmissions” should have been lettered “C.” These changes have been made to the version of the article posted on our website.

• In the letter “Everest Base Camp in Tibet” (March ’15, pg. 28), the writer wrote, “The roads in all of China measure distances from Beijing.” Although road markers on several of China’s national highways (those in the 100 series, except for highway No. 112) do indicate distances from Beijing, most indicate distances from other locations.

• I offer a big ‘Thank you!’ to our ever-alert readers (as I accept a big slice of humble pie) who caught the glaring error in the second-place-winning “I’ll Praise Prague” essay printed in the March issue. In her essay, the writer fondly recalled her experience at the Széchenyi Baths, but what we failed to recognize in the mad dash toward deadline was that this popular site is located in Budapest, Hungary, not the Czech city that was the focus of the essay contest. My apologies. 

ITN’s mention of Albert Podell’s book “Around the World in 50 Years: My Adventures to Every Country on Earth” (March ’15, pg. 69) described it as “written in a unique, dry style” when, as pointed out by one fan of the book, it should have said “wry style” or, at least, alluded to the author’s humor and colorful asides in candidly reporting the adventures and obstacles he faced as a traveler.

By the way, Albert Podell is an ITN subscriber who, as his book title states, has traveled to every country. Two more ITN subscribers who have traveled “everywhere” are Bob and Phyllis Henson. In this issue, Bob names a few of the highlights — and low points — of their travels.

 

On that note, I should remind you that the end of this month is the deadline to send in your list of the countries you visited in 2014 and to get your name entered into the drawing for prizes.

Knowing where our subscribers travel helps us in wooing potential advertisers to ITN. More advertisers means more pages in ITN, meaning more travelers’ reports and news items for all to read.

Compile the names of the nations you visited anytime from January 1 to December 31, 2014, and email editor@intltravelnews.com (include your full mailing address) or write to Where Were You in 2014?, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818.

Do it now so you don’t forget. You’ve got until April 30, 2015. 

I’ll announce the prizewinners and the results of the poll in the July issue.

 

Cherie Ellingson of Amity, Oregon, wrote, “I enjoy ITN every month over and over again. It is my favorite. I read, save, reread and file for later reference. Recently, I looked back to find articles on Portugal. In the January 2012 issue I rediscovered subscribers’ responses on the subject ‘Captivating Art,’ bringing back memories of our experiences from many years of traveling the world. Great feature! Thank you, ITN.”

The “Captivating Art” responses appeared in our July and August 2011 and January 2012 issues, with a few stragglers in the May and June 2012 issues. Remember, we archive articles, letters and Travel Briefs on our website. Type the name of a destination, tour company or subject into the search bar and see what comes up. Enjoy!