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Rundown for the Week of October 10, 2003

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Destination of the week: Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada, is a place like no other -- even though it might look like other places with its recreations of the Eiffel Tower and the canals of Venice, Italy. It's a city famous for frills, where entertainment and pampering are the raison d'etre. We're visiting Vegas this week and reveling in all Sin City has to offer. We have insights on its history, a look at its effort to move back toward the fast times of the Rat Pack days, and how you too can be a "duke du comp."

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An educated look at Vegas
An interview with UNLV professor Hal Rothman
If anyone knows the "City in the Desert," it's Hal Rothman, a professor at the Department of History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He tells host Diana Nyad why and how Vegas has been so successful attracting tourists from around the world and residents who live and work around The Strip's pulsing neon lights.

Web resources: Rothman's book Neon Metropolis: How Las Vegas Started the Twenty-First Century is available to Amazon.com. Your purchase helps support the Savvy Traveler.
Web resource: Hal Rothman's bio on the UNLV site www.unlv.edu

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Las Vegas returns to its roots
by Flo Rogers
Over the last couple of years, entertainment in Vegas has been reverting back to its past. Reporter Flo Rogers sets the scene of this newly revitalized adult playground. Some of the wholesome family shows have been replaced with flashy productions featuring sexualized fire-eaters, nearly naked nymphs and balancing acts that bring the Kama Sutra to life. This goes along with the new Vegas-themed ads that remind you that "what happens here, stays here."

Web resource: Click here for big list of cultural happenings in and aroud Vegas

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How to Get a Vegas "Free Ride"
from Savvy Tipster Rudy Maxa
You might think that it's only the high-rollers who get "comped" free rooms and tickets to the great shows in Vegas -- but it's just not true. Almost anyone can tap into the magical world of casino comping. Our Travel-Expert-in-Residence and "Duke du Comp," Rudy Maxa, reveals how Joe Shmoes can live like members of the Rat Pack -- at least, for a little while.

photo: M. Orlove
Fez Festival of World Sacred Music
by Anastasia Tsioulcas

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If you think of Woodstock as a classic musical festival, imagine the musical gatherings in the "Old World," in Arab countries where musicians gathered in the desert centuries ago. Reporter Anastasia Tsioulcas takes us to Morocco where the spirit of diverse people dropping differences to swing their shoulders along to the same beat has a long tradition. Founded just after the first Gulf War, the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music has always been about respectful, intelligent dialogue, rather than soupy clichés like, "It's a small world after all." But in the aftermath of Sept. 11, its mission has become more crucial than ever.

Web resource: Fez Festival of World Sacred Music Web site - www.fezfestival.org

Bad Taste Tour: Museum of Bad Art
by Cash Peters

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Cash Peters makes it his mission to find museums in every city and town he rolls into. But if you know Cash, you're probably aware that his tastes in art are, shall we say, a bit off the beaten path. Cash visits Boston's "Museum of Bad Art," a community-based private institution dedicated to the celebration of bad art in all its forms. The museum's catchphrase? "Art too bad to be ignored."

Web resources:
Read about and listen to the original Museum of Bad Art story, which ran on Feb. 8, 2002.
Click here for more Cash stories
Cash's Web site www.cashpeters.com

Sound Travels - Sound Showers, Oslo Norway

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Sound Travels, where we listen to a simple sound and travel the world, takes us to the Gardermoen Airport in Oslo, Norway. Why? To listen to a "Sound Shower": It's freestanding device that hangs in the terminal with a circular speaker directed at the ground to help travelers take a break from their busy journeys. Step underneath the "shower" and be bathed in the sounds of birds chirping, waves crashing on the beach, babbling brooks, or soft whispers in English and Norwegian. Be transported, while waiting for your transportation.

Recent Sound Travels:
"San Antonio Arts Ensemble", Ancient Israel
"The sounds of work in Timbuktu", Mali, West Africa
"St. Lazarus Day," Bahia, Brazil
"Speaker's Corner," Sydney, Australia
"Singing Frogs of the Pantanal"
"Climax Golden Twins"
"The Palio, Siena, Italy"
"Mongul Music"
"Summer in New York"

Click here to search for all "Sound Travels"

Traveler's Aid
All About Airport Confiscations

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Many of us have gone through airport security since 9/11 without realizing that our favorite Swiss Army knife or manicure scissors were in the carry-on bag. A security then guard gave us some options for our coveted items -- none of which included carrying them on the plane. So, what happens to all those "surrendered" items taken from us by security agents at the airport? Reporter Joe Zefran looks at what happens after the confiscation.

Web resources:
TSA's list of prohibited items

eBay users/state governments selling confiscated items from airports
California's Department of General Services Surplus Property eBay page
U.S. Post Office, under the seller name "usps-mrc-everythingelse"

Division of Surplus Property links, by state, on Google

Deal of the Week
Ski Switzerland! Or, Just Tour Around and Eat Chocolate!

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Our Travel-Expert-in-Residence, Rudy Maxa, had such a hit a few weeks ago on a low-priced trip to Prague that he has now found an equally tempting deal to Europe. So, go ahead -- feel free to ski or tour Switzerland!

DEAL: Swiss Made Tours will fly you from Boston, NYC or Philadelphia aboard Lufthansa to Zurich, Lucerne, Lausanne or Geneva, put you up for four nights in a three- or four-star hotel with breakfast, and, in two cities, offer train transfer to and from the airport to your hotel. Price? Just $499 per person, before adding another $100 or so in taxes.

You can also fly out of other cities in the U.S. -- for a surcharge. Add $75 to that $499 from Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, the Twin Cities, Miami and DC. It's $599 from Denver, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix. And, from LA, SF, Portland and Seattle, the tab will be $624, plus taxes.

These rock-bottom prices are based on two people traveling together. Figure for about $1,200, two of you can depart from New York and spend four days in the Swiss city of your choice. You can go skiing or rent a car and tour the great villages that make Switzerland such an amazingly fun destination.

Travel is from November 1 through the last day of March, 2004. But you must purchase and pay for the package by November 15th. You can add more nights and optional tours at your destination, as well.

Web resources:
For more details about this Switzerland Getaway package to Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne or Zurich, call Swiss Made Tours at 1-800-995-7997, or visit the Web site at www.swissmadetours.com.

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