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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, February 2006 Issue


Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
http://tsalerts.freespaces.com
travelalerts@wowmail.com
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright © 2006 
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The Leather Connection
Bring out your hidden fashionista with this spectacular two-strand, 15-inch black leather necklace. Hand-crafted in Mexico, the bold sterling toggle clasp is accented with quartz, turquoise and jade micro-beads. A cherry quartz drop is the perfect complement to this beautiful and extraordinary necklace. Unbelievably priced at $49.

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In This Issue:
Wright Memorial, Outer Banks, N.C.

Wright Memorial

  • Fr-ee Tours in Jerusalem
  • Swiss Trains Become Smoke-Fr-ee
  • Perillo Off-Season Italy Tour
  • Swissmade Tours from $189
  • Ireland Castle Package
  • Tots in Tow Package
  • D.C. Airport Cell Waiting Area
  • D.C. Neighborhoods Open Doors
  • Affordable B&B Winter Getaways
  • New Low-Cost Hong Kong Carrier
  • Paris in Spring from $499
  • 3 Dividend Miles Per Dollar
  • Security Lacking at Bali Airport
  • Ritz Tours Early Bird Asia Special
  • United Winter Savings for Sweethearts
  • Fr.ee Day of Travel on Eurail Selectpass
  • Off-Season on the Outer Banks by Nicki Chodnoff
  • Spirit Business Class Fares

  • Fr-ee Tours in Jerusalem

    The Tourism Authority of the Jerusalem Municipality wants travelers to know that there are fr-ee tours and things to do in Jerusalem. Here’s the lineup:

    Fr-ee Israeli Parliament guided tours of the Knesset Building are given every Sunday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A passport is required to take part in the tour. Tel. 02-6753333.

    Guided tours of the new Safra Square City Hall Plaza. Tours for individuals, given in Hebrew and English, leave every Monday & Thursday at 10 a.m. For tours in Russian or for groups, call 02-6295981/0 in advance. Tours meet at the palms at the entrance to the plaza.

    Fr-ee guided tours of the Supreme Court are given in English and Hebrew. The court is open to the public Sunday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Public tours for individuals or a group of less than 10 people start at 11 a.m. in Hebrew and noon in English. Groups of more than 10 people are given by appointment only. The department of public affairs can add or cancel tours without prior notice. Tel: 02-6759612/3.

    Fr-ee guided tours of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum, are given in English. The tour includes the historical museum, the Hall of Remembrance and the Children`s Memorial. Tours are scheduled Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m. 02-6443400.

    Jerusalem Municipality.


    Swiss Trains Become Smoke-Fr-ee

    Switzerland became the latest European country to implement a smoking ban on its national rail network, joining Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

    "In addition to protecting non-smoking passengers and staff from passive smoke, the ban will also fr-ee up more seats, as smoking compartments -- typically underutilized -- are currently being converted into non-smoking ones," notes Fabrice Morel, president and CEO of the Rail Europe Group. Within six months, all ashtrays will be removed from SBB trains. Smoking is prohibited in Swiss rail stations except in designated areas and on the outdoor platforms.

    Other countries are approaching a complete smoking ban: French TGVs became smoke-fr-ee in 2004 and in 2006 all French trains will follow suit. Finland and Spain only allow smoking on long-distance trains, and the UK's Great North Eastern Railway (up the east coast of England and Scotland) banned smoking in August 2005. Germany and Austria have made local and regional trains smoke-fr-ee and are reducing the number of smoking seats on long-distance trains.


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    Perillo Off-Season Italy Tour

    Perillo Tours offers its 10 day escorted Vesuvius tour from $2449. The tour combines big cities and small towns, covering the highlights of Italy with visits to Venice, Rome, Naples, Pompeii and Capri.

    Available through Mar. 2006, the tour includes roundtrip airfare from New York, Newark, Boston, Miami, Atlanta and Chicago. Airfare add-ons are offered from other select cities plus as a land-only option.

    Other features include accommodations at first class hotels with private bath; American breakfast daily; dinner daily with wine, mineral water and coffee; transfers; baggage handling, hotel taxes, hotel service charges; all gratuities for hotel and restaurant personnel.

    This Perillo tour includes sightseeing and excursions with a visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, inter-city motorcoaches with lavatory aboard, a tour director and licensed local guides.

    Perillo Tours.


    Swissmade Tours from $189

    SwissMade Tours independent tours to Switzerland in 2006 begin at $189. The 2006 rates are reduced, some as much as 30 percent, from 2005 because of the company’s buying power and the more favorable exchange rate.

    For $189 per person, based on double occupancy, you can travel three days/two nights from a selection of 13 Swiss cities. The package, with stays at three star hotels, includes daily breakfast, service and all taxes. Upgrades to four or five stars are available in all cities except Locarno. SwissMade Tours guarantees the best international airfare available at the time of booking. Car rentals can also be arranged.

    Three to seven night packages for independent travelers throughout Switzerland include four days/three nights in Graubunden, from $349 per person with three nights in Pontresina and visits to Davos and Diavolezza for mountain climbing and glacier viewing.

    The Scenic Wonder Route 1, from $599 per person, double occupancy, is a seven day/six night tour to Lucerne, Lugano, Saas Fee, Zermatt, Montreux, and Interlaken. All SwissMade Tours packages can be combined to create an individualized, custom vacation.

    With many of the packages, you need to purchase a Swiss Pass good on railway, bus and lake steamers throughout Switzerland that must be purchased in the US prior to departure. The Swiss Pass, good for four consecutive days of travel within one month starts at $236 in first class and $158 in second class. The Swiss Flexipass offers up to eight days of travel in one month from $224 in first class and $150 in second class. Rates are for two or more people traveling together, single rates are slightly higher.

    SwissMade Tours or 800/995-7997.


    Ireland Castle Package

    Tour Ireland in style with Brian Moore International’s Castle package. When you arrive at Shannon, Ireland, pick up your rental car and you're on your way. The first night is pre-reserved in a hotel in the Shannon area. For the next four nights, you can choose from more than 2,800 bed and breakfast inns. Your last night is pre-reserved at a five-star Irish castle and you can choose from four different locations.

    Prices start from $459 to $489 through Mar. 31, 2006. The castle package includes a seven-day Hertz car rental with unlimited miles, six nights’ accommodations with breakfast daily, all hotel and service charges, and all local taxes.

    Space is limited so have second and third choice travel dates and accommodation options in mind when contacting the tour operators.

    Brian Moore International or 800/982 -2299.

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    Fr-ee Fun San Diego
    This savings-packed FR.EE brochure features almost 40 Fun, Fr-ee Things to do in San Diego. When heading to Southern California, attend concerts or visit a State Historic Park and keep that cash in your pocket.

    To get your Fr-ee Fun San Diego brochure, for a $1 handling fee, click here to send us an email.


    Tots in Tow Package

    Flatotel, in New York City, offers a Tots in Tow package for professional on-the-go parents who want to spend more time with their family. Tots in Tow includes 50 percent off family flat accommodations (better known as a suite), with fully equipped kitchenettes. Children must share a room with adults and be 12 years or younger. Through Aug. 31, 2006, rates start from $245 per night, based on quad occupancy, for Saturday and/or Sunday night stays. The rate is 50 percent off the seasonal rate. Rates do not include taxes and are subject to availability.

    The package also offers 10 percent discounts at Macy's and Bloomingdale's, fr.ee breakfast for four and 10 percent off dinner at Flatotel's Italian restaurant.

    Located in midtown Manhattan at 135 West 52nd Street, the hotel’s 218 rooms range from 350 to 375-square feet. The Flatotel's 70 suites range from 1,100 to 1,800-square feet and the five penthouse tower suites range from 1,800 to 2,400-square feet, with one, two or three bedrooms. All accommodations feature goose-down duvets and Egyptian cotton sheets, dual-line telephones with voice mail and data ports, 27" flat screen cable TV, CD player, high-speed Internet access, microwave, compact refrigerator, coffee/tea makers, iron and ironing board, in-room laptop compatible safes and ergonomically designed chairs.

    Flatotel is steps from Radio City, the Empire State building, Central Park, and Rockefeller Center.

    Flatotel or 800/FLATOTEL.



    D.C. Airport Cell Waiting Area

    You no longer need to drive in circles while waiting to pick up a person at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD. Officials want to keep traffic moving so the airport opened a fr.ee "cell-phone waiting area."

    In the waiting area, you can park until your traveler arrives and calls for a pickup. This waiting area is about one and a half miles from the main terminal and about three minutes away. It’s only open to non-commercial vehicles, which must be attended at all times. "The benefits of this new area - in addition to convenience - also include saving gas and making our roadways safer," said James Bennett, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Washington Dulles joins a handful of other U.S. airports that have cell-phone lots, including Los Angeles (LAX), Philadelphia (PHL) and Palm Beach, FL (PBI).


    D.C. Neighborhoods Open Doors

    If you ever wanted to see how others live, this is your chance in Washington D.C. Cultural Tourism DC brings back its popular and fr.ee weekend neighborhood walking tours Apr. 21 to 22, 2006.

    To showcase the city’s network of neighborhoods, the tours are open to residents and visitors alike. It’s an unparalleled chance to explore the charms of some of the city’s most fascinating, off-the-beaten path neighborhoods on foot and on bikes. Dozens of f.ree tours will be offered during the two-day event. More specific information will be available online closer in to the event, in Spring 2006.

    Cultural Tourism DC.


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    Affordable B&B Winter Getaways

    Bed and breakfast members are adding value to a stay at their inns across North America. Offers are about $100 per night for lodging. Each inn includes breakfast for two each morning. Below are special winter getaways. Unless otherwise specified, rates do not include applicable sales taxes and gratuities.

    Holden House, Colorado Springs, CO, 888/565-3980: The Winter Wonderful package is offered during non-holiday and non-event times through May 1, 2006. Stay two nights and get the third night fr.ee, making the room rate under $100 nightly. Mention the "Winter Wonderland Fall Back" special when booking.

    Rico Hotel, Rico, CO, 800/365-1971: Stay in the heart of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains for under $48 per person, per night, and lift tickets to Telluride Ski Resort for 45 percent off. There’s a fr.ee shuttle service to and from the mountain on request.

    Casa Coquina B&B, Titusville, FL, 877/684-8341: Escape the cold in central Florida with rates from $79 per night in this former Al Capone hideaway. All suites have sitting rooms, bedrooms and private baths. Fr.ee beer, wine, soda and tea during stay.

    Tyron Farm Guest House, Michigan City, IN, 219/879-3618: All rooms are $65 per night, representing a 50 percent discount through Mar.15, 2006. Rural farm setting with sledding, cross-country skiing and fr.ee hot chocolate beside the bonfire.

    Greenville Inn at Moosehead Lake, Greenville, ME, 888/695-6000: The Winter Wonderland package offers three nights for the price of two. Three consecutive night packages start at $280 per couple.

    River Run B&B, Fleischmanns, NY, 845/254-4884: Stay and kids ski f.ree at nearby Belleayre. Rooms start at $85 per night and include fr.ee après-ski hot chocolate and sweets.

    Colonel Taylor Inn B&B, Cambridge, OH, 740/432-7802: Sunday through Thursday through Mar. 2006, the “Snuggle Up” special makes all rooms $99 per night, a 25 percent savings. Includes a five-course candlelit breakfast and afternoon tea.

    Historic Orth House B&B, Jacksonville, OR, 541/899-8665: All rooms are $90 per night through Mar. 2006. Fr.ee cocoa throughout the day. Children welcome.

    Lampstand B&B, Fort Mill, SC, 803-547-3100: The innkeepers are docents who cook using 18th century skills. Rooms are $90 per night in the Treehouse Studio, including tax. Children of all ages are welcome for an additional $10 fee.

    White Lace Inn, Sturgeon Bay, WI, 877/948-5223: Get in on the Winter Romance package offered through Mar. 31, 2006. You’ll get a two night stay, a $50 gift card towards White Lace Inn in-store items, a $50 coupon towards dinner at Sage or Inn at Cedar Crossing, plus a 20 percent off coupon for Dancing Bear Shop, from $190 per couple.



    New Low-Cost Hong Kong Carrier

    A Hong Kong budget, startup airline aims to start exclusively long-haul routes.

    Property investor Raymond Lee, with his wife Priscilla, launched Oasis Hong Kong Airlines. The maiden flight from Hong Kong to London's Gatwick Airport is scheduled for June. This will be Hong Kong's first low-fare carrier of any type.

    Oasis won approval from Hong Kong’s Air Transport Licensing Authority to operate scheduled flights to London, Milan, Cologne, Berlin, Oakland and Chicago. The carrier hopes to win an air operator's certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aviation Department in the next few months.

    Oasis aims to price roundtrip tickets for its maiden voyage from Hong Kong to London's Gatwick Airport from HK$1,000, or about $128 US. Customers looking for bargains will have to book months in advance, according to Oasis Chief Executive Officer Stephan Miller. Oasis expects its fares to average 40 to 50 percent below those of full service counterparts. It aims to attract a new market of passengers flying long-haul for the first time. Plans also call for a budget business class service and broadening its income base by flying freight.

    The airline will initially operate with a fleet of leased Boeing 747-400 aircraft and has a five-year plan to expand to 25 aircrafts serving 12 to 15 destinations.

    Oasis Hong Kong Airlines.



    Paris in Spring from $499

    Gate 1 Travel lets you enjoy all that Paris offers in springtime with a a four-night package including airfare from $499. Packages are offered in April and May.

    The package includes New York to Paris roundtrip airfare with all fuel surcharges; four nights in a two-star tourist-class hotel, breakfast daily and hotel taxes.

    The $499 price reflects a cash payment discount. The package does not include airport taxes, fees and the Sep. 11th security fee that can add $50 to $130, along with optional tours. Final payments made by credit card do not receive this discount and are subject to a three percent fee.

    A non-refundable $100 deposit is due at the time of booking and final payment is due 45 days prior to departure.

    Gate1 Travel 800/682-3333.


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    3 Dividend Miles for Every Dollar

    US Airways and Barclays launched a new co-branded US Airways Dividend Miles World MasterCard which gives new card members an opportunity to earn a roundtrip ticket on US Airways immediately. The card awards 15,000 bonus miles upon activation and up to 10,000 bonus miles for balance transfers.

    The card features a 0 percent interest rate for the first six months on balance transfers and no annual fee for the first two years. Cardholders earn 50 percent more miles during their first year -- three miles for every dollar spent on US Airways purchases and 1.5 miles for all other purchases.

    Customers who previously used America West credit cards no longer earn FlightFund miles with those cards. To continue earning FlightFund miles, America West customers must apply for the US Airways World MasterCard. America West customers may also earn Dividend Miles by applying for any of the other US Airways credit cards.

    In Spring 2006, FlightFund and Dividend Miles will be combined into one program and miles earned in either program will be combined into a single US Airways Dividend Miles account.

    Sign up here or here.



    Security Lacking at Bali Airport

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that the Bandara Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia, does not meet international security standards and wants to warn travelers of this security deficiency. Based on an assessment by a team of TSA security experts, the Department of Homeland Security determined that the airport does not maintain security measures consistent with the standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

    The DHS directed air carriers issuing tickets for travel between the U.S. and Indonesia to notify ticket purchasers about the determination for the Bali Airport. Homeland Security also directed that the designation for the Bali Airport be displayed at all U.S. airports and published in the Federal Register.

    TSA representatives have been in Indonesia to help airport authorities bring Bandara Ngurah Rai International Airport up to international standards. TSA representatives will continue to work with Indonesia and assist local authorities with correcting security deficiencies at the airport as quickly as possible.

    U.S. and foreign air carriers that fly between the U.S. and Indonesia are temporarily providing additional security to counter airport deficiencies. If proper precautions are observed by the air carriers and the airport, Homeland Security believes it is possible to safely conduct air service to and from the Bali Airport.

    Under Title 49 of the U.S. Code, Section 44907, Homeland Security assesses security at foreign airports with direct service to the U.S. The Secretary of Homeland Security determined security at the Bali Airport is not effective and notified the Indonesian government of the findings 90 days ago. Despite efforts to comply with ICAO standards, not all of the recommended corrective actions were taken after the 90-day period. When all of the actions are taken, TSA will reassess security measures at the airport.



    Ritz Tours Early Bird Asia Special

    Ritz Tours extends its Early Bird discount through Feb. 28, 2006, for advance bookings of all China, Yangtze River and Hong Kong travel itineraries. Advance bookings on 2006 vacations can get savings up to $200 off per couple ($100 per person).

    The Early Bird Discount is available on bookings made by Feb. 28, 2006, at least 45 days in advance of the departure date. Deposits ($200 per person) must be received within seven days of the booking (and by Feb. 28, 2006) in order for the discount to apply.

    The Early Bird discount is valid on select programs and departures March through December 2006. Prices for sample tours listed below are per person, based on double occupancy. Individual tour discounts are in parentheses.
    China Discovery (10 days) from $1,499 ($50 off per person).
    Yangtze Essence (12 days) from $1,999 ($50 off per person).
    China Scenic (14 days) from $2,199 ($50 off per person).
    Silk Road & Yangtze Cruise (17 days) from $2,999 ($100 off per person).
    China Panorama (15 days) from $2,999 ($100 off per person).
    Majestic Yangtze River from $3,499 ($100 off per person).

    Ritz Tours provides Travel Protection Insurance at no additional cost to travelers who confirm reservations and make final payment at least 45 days prior to departure. This benefit saves approximately $150 per person.

    Ritz Tours or 800/900-2446.



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    Buy Tickets at a Discount -- Special ticket outlets sell discounted day-of-performance tickets to theater productions, films, and sporting events. Discounts can be 50 percent or more. On The Go Publishing’s Cheap Tix Chart, still only $14, lists outlets in the U.S. and eight foreign cities that sell discounted, day-of-performance tickets. Click here to order the Cheap Tix Chart from On The Go Publishing.

    United Winter Savings for Sweethearts

    HURRY! BOOK BY FEB. 3 Couples can save on air-inclusive getaways with United Vacations to Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and popular ski spots. This offer is valid for travel through May 31, 2006, excluding travel Apr. 12 to 22, 2006. The promotional code JANSAVE must be used when booking to receive the savings which are only available when booked online or through a travel agent.

    Savings are $200 on vacations priced$3,500 or more; $150 on vacations priced $2,500 to $3,499; $100 on vacations priced $1,800 to $2,499; $50 on vacations priced $1,000 to $1,799.

    Sample vacations include roundtrip airfare on United Airlines, hotel accommodations, and 24-hour traveler assistance. Vacations to Europe include daily breakfast. Vacations to Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean also include roundtrip airport/hotel transfers.

    Orlando: Five nights at Buena Vista Suites from $504 from Washington DC, New York City and Newark; $539 from Chicago; $639 from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver; and $719 from Seattle. Valid for Wednesday or Thursday departures Feb. 15 to Apr. 6, 2006 and Apr. 26 to May 26, 2006.

    Hawaii: Oahu with five-nights at OHANA Maile Sky Court from $514 from Los Angeles and San Francisco; $699 from Denver; $834 from Chicago; and $884 from Washington, D.C. Valid for Wednesday or Thursday departures Apr. 26 through June 1, 2006.

    Cancun: Three-nights at Club Verano Beat Cancun from $489 from Washington, D.C. and Denver; $599 from San Francisco. Valid for Sunday to Thursday departures Feb. 6 to Mar. 9, 2006.

    London : Four-nights with full breakfast at Craven Gardens from $484 from New York; $549 from Washington, D.C.; $594 from Chicago; $699 from Denver; and $679 from San Francisco. Valid for Wednesday and Thursday departures through Mar. 23, 2006. Prices include a fourth night fr.ee.

    Jamaica: Three-nights with Continental breakfast at Rooms on the Beach, Ocho Rios from $559 from Washington, D.C.; $599 from Chicago. Prices from D.C. are for Monday or Tuesday departures Feb. 6 to Mar. 7, 2006. Prices from Chicago are for Sunday and Wednesday departures Feb. 8 to Mar. 12, 2006.

    United Vacations or 888/328-6877.


    Fr.ee Day of Travel on Eurail Selectpass

    RailPass offers an extra day of fr.ee travel when you purchase a Eurail Selectpass by Mar. 31, 2006. The extra day is valid on six-, eight-, or 10-day Adult, Youth and "Saver" Eurail Selectpasses. It can be used for unlimited train travel on non-consecutive days within a two-month period. The first day of travel must start within six months after purchase.

    The Eurail Selectpass allows you to select three, four or five adjoining European countries. The selected countries must be connected by rail or ferry. Passes are available for adults ages 26 and older. Additional discounts are available for youths, ages 25 and under, and on "Saver" passes where two or more people are traveling together at all times.

    Railpass also offers the choice of fr.ee guide books, discount coupons, accommodations or shipping for all online orders over $200 US.

    Railpass or 877/RAILPASS.



    Off-Season on the Outer Banks -- story and photos by Nicki Chodnoff

    Wright Memorial

    I watch the surf lap the shore as the early morning sun glistens on the water. The only other witnesses are beach birds scurrying from the waves. My vantage point is the back deck of a beachfront house in Nags Head, N.C. As I sit and watch, I think about what so many vacationers look for, but nearly never find on a vacation, peace and tranquility.

    Maybe peace and tranquility elude travelers because of timing. A few months earlier, Nags Head, one town on the thin band of barrier islands known as North Carolina's Outer Banks, bulged under the burden of summer vacationers. Seven million visitors augment the area's 50,000-plus residents. Take away those summer crowds and the Outer Banks, during spring, autumn and winter, can be down-right idyllic.

    It’s easy to see what draws travelers to the Outer Banks in the off-season. Along the Atlantic, wide, clean beaches, protected as national seashores or wildlife refuges, fill the horizon. The dunes and ocean are the perfect place for a lazy day of shelling, swimming, bird watching, fishing or just watching the waves. But even the mundane improves during off-season. Accommodation prices drop from lofty summer highs, restaurant wait-time drops from an hour or more to immediate seating and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds are non-existent.

    North Carolinians are proud that the nation's first national seashore, Cape Hatteras, is in their state, but the Outer Banks offer far more than beaches. They are a treasure trove of history, which includes Roanoke Island, where the country's first English settlers landed more than 400 years ago.

    Culture, commerce and history intertwine on Roanoke Island. Protected by a shallow sound and sheltered by the barrier islands, Sir Walter Raleigh sent a ship of colonists, led by John White, to set up a colony on Roanoke Island. White's daughter, Eleanor Dare, gave birth to little Virginia on August 18, 1587, the first English child born in the New World. When White returned with supplies from England three years later, he found Fort Raleigh abandoned and the colony gone without a trace. The only clue was the word "Croatoan" (the local Indian tribe) carved on a tree. The fate of the 116 men, women, and children, including little Virginia, remains a mystery to this day.

    The story is re-enacted every summer for nearly 75 years as the play, "The Lost Colony," performed at the Waterside Theater, located in Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. “With Roanoke Sound as a backdrop and the performance staged near the site of the ill-fated settlement, it’s no wonder the play has lasted so long,” said Carl Curnutti, executive director of Waterside Theater. Curnutti notes the “Lost Colony” is the only outdoor drama attended by a sitting president, Franklin Roosevelt.

    Nearby are the Elizabethan Gardens, a 16th century-style English garden set on 10 acres with thousands of blooming flowers and shrubs. The gardens, with their shady paths, are a memorial to Roanoke’s original English colonists at the site of their original settlement. A highlight is the fragrant Queen's Rose Garden. The ancient live oak is thought to have been living when those first colonists arrived.

    Aboard Elizabeth IIDowntown Manteo, of town of about 1,000 people on Roanoke Island,, is a pleasant mix of early 20th century architecture that blends shops, cafes, bed-and-breakfast inns, and a scenic waterfront. A footbridge across Dough’s Creek leads to Roanoke Island Festival Park. The 27-acre island lives history as costumed “natives” tell you about the art, nature and history that surround you. On the Elizabeth II, a replica of the 16th-century ship that brought the first colonists, kids and adults can meet sailors in period clothes who speak an Elizabethan dialect. They tell tales of the treacherous voyage. In the Settlement Site, villagers demonstrate weapons such as swords and pole arms or a matchlock shoulder arm. Or you can try on armor, discover shoemaking or carpentry and other crafts needed to make life tolerable. Festival Park also includes an interactive “hands-on” museum and a outdoor pavilion with free concerts and plays.

    Close encounters with fishes, otters, snakes and sharks are available at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. You get the closest at the touch tank where you can gently stroke a stingray, star fish, sea cucumber or a hermit crab. Perhaps the most mezmerizing is the 35-foot long viewing window of the 285,000-gallon "Graveyard of the Atlantic" tank. Here, you can watch fish, sharks and sea turtles cruise by only inches away. Equally fascinating is getting face to face with an electric eel, giant tarantula, black widow spider, venomous snakes and lionfish in the "Bite, Shock, Sting" exhibit.

    Strong winds and soft landings is why the Wright Brothers came to Kitty Hawk. Many believe their accomplishment is the most monumental event in Outer Banks history. On December 17, 1903, a manned, machine left the ground under its own power for 12 seconds at Kill Devil Hill. The flyer, which traveled less than the length of an airliner, moved forward under control without losing speed. To commemorate this world-altering event, the National Park Service built the Wright Brothers National Memorial on Kill Devil Hill. A granite boulder marks the spot where the first airplane left the ground and numbered stone markers indicate the distance of each of the four flights. The site includes the field, museum and a replica of the Wright Flyer.

    Close by at Jockey's Ridge State Park, the aerodynamic principles developed by the Wright Brothers are tested by hang-gliders on the park’s dunes. The sandy slopes, with the East Coast’s tallest sand dune, climb to 149 feet.

    Cape Hatteras LighthouseLighthouses warned sailors of the treacherous shoals and sandbars along the Outer Banks. Some of the lighthouses still stand. One of the best known is the 208 foot Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States. It was relocated in 1999 as it was threatened by beach erosion. Hydraulic jacks pushed the structure along a track system in five-foot increments the required 2,900 feet. It now rests on a new concrete pad about 1,600 feet from the shoreline.

    About 35 miles north in Nags Head sits the Bodie (pronounced body) Island Lighthouse, completed in 1872. The 170 feet tall lighthouse was designed by same architect who built the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

    The restored Chicamacomico Life Saving Station in Rodanthe, south of the Bodie Lighthouse, recounts the history of the U.S. Life Saving Service, the predecessor to the Coast Guard. “This is the only life saving site in the U.S. with its original out buildings, including the French Renaissance Gothic station built in 1874,” said Interpreter James Charlet dressed in his keeper’s attire. “Brave volunteers saved many shipwreck victims here until 1915, when then the Coast Guard was formed.” In the summer, volunteers at the restored station reenact the drills and techniques that saved so many lives. In 1918, six Life Saving Station volunteers saved the lives of 42 men of the British frigate, the Mirlo, when it hit a World War I German mine. Only 11American Grand Crosses of Honor have ever been awarded in this country. The men of Chicamacomico hold six of them.

    Where the Atlantic Ocean washes against North Carolina’s barrier islands, an area known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic," more than 2,000 ships have been lost since Europeans began sailing these waters in the 1500s. In historic Hatteras Village, next to the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum seems more interested in the history and wrecks below the water's surface than above it. It resembles an 18th-century beached ship resting on its side, with exposed wooden timbers surrounding the outside to represent the frame of the ship. According to Museum Executive Director Joe Schwarzer, “ authenticity is the main goal, with a focus on the history of shipwrecks along the treacherous Hatteras coast.”

    Graveyard of the Atlantic MuseumA portion of the museum is open and admission is free until the entire museum is completed . Donations are gladly accepted. Among the exhibits is a model of the original 1803 Cape Hatteras light and the first lens installed in the lighthouse, in 1853. Ironically, the main exhibit is about an aviator, not a sailor: Gen. Billy Mitchell, who proved that airplanes could sink battleships, an idea mocked by military leaders of the time. In 1923, at Hatteras, Mitchell's bombers sank the obsolete USS New Jersey and USS Virginia from the air. In 1924, Mitchell predicted the Japanese would launch an air and sea attack on Pearl Harbor and an aerial attack on the Philippines. His predication came true 17 years later. Displayed artifacts include photos from Mitchell's 1923 bombing tests and the radio shack he used for them.

    Outer Banks Visitors Bureau or 877/29-4386.



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    Spirit Business Class Fares

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