Travel Briefs

The new US Embassy in Israel opened in a former consulate building in Jerusalem on March 4, having relocated from Tel Aviv. The Jerusalem consulate had been the de facto consulate for Palestinians. The embassy includes a diplomatic division for Palestinian consular duties.

A 9-year restoration project at the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun, in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, was completed on Jan. 31. The project repaired scratches and abrasions as well as damage from humidity and the carbon dioxide introduced by visitors. Barriers and a new ventilation system will help prevent further damage.

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Starting Jan. 1, 2020, guided tours of Amsterdam’s Red Light District will be banned, though tourists will still be allowed in the district without guides. Laws against taking pictures of or accosting sex workers, which will result in fines, will still be in effect. It is estimated that 19 million visitors will take tours of the city’s Red Light District this year, interfering with commerce.

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In Italy’s Riviera, on the northwest coast, travelers trekking between the Cinque Terre towns now face fines from €50 to €2,500 (near $56-$2,805) for hiking in flip-flops, heels or other inappropriate footwear. Local authorities said that the fines were being imposed due to the cost of having to rescue so many people unable to negotiate the rugged coastline in the wrong footwear, an occurrence that has been increasing in regularity.

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Indonesia is closing Komodo Island to tourists starting on Jan. 1, 2020, in order to protect its famous endemic lizards, the Komodo dragons. The rest of Komodo National Park, which also comprises two other large islands and 26 smaller ones, will remain open.

It was reported that a group had attempted to smuggle 41 of the dragons to sell on the black market, prompting the decision to close the island. The closure will also allow the dragons’ population to grow.

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Made from a soft, waterproof cloth material, a Crumpled City map can be balled up and stuffed into a pocket and still come out crease-free. Each measuring 2'10"x1'10" unfolded and weighing less than an ounce, the full-color maps pinpoint sites of interest, such as monuments and galleries.

Maps are currently available for most major European and East Asian cities. Each costs €12 (near $13.50) plus €15 shipping from Italy. Visit www.palomarweb.com/product/crumpled-city...

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After years of hyperinflation, Zimbabwe got rid of its currencies in 2009, instead relying on currencies of other nations, primarily the US dollar and South African rand. In October 2016, it began printing its own “US” dollars, colloquially called “zollars,” which were traded 1-to-1 with actual US dollars. On Feb. 20, 2019, Zimbabwe stopped printing zollars and introduced the first currency of its own since 2019, called Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollars.

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At the Forbidden Palace in Beijing, China, the Qianlong Garden section will open to the public for the first time in 2020 (the Forbidden City’s 600th anniversary). Built in the late 18th century as a retirement home for the Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799), the 2-acre section has numerous gardens, pavilions and courtyards and includes original art and furnishings.

This section of the Forbidden City had been mostly unoccupied since 1924 and needed significant repairs and restoration...

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