We’re visiting a handful of islands in the Galapagos this week (vaccinated, tested, and masked everywhere) as part of Hurtigruten Expeditions’ inaugural Galapagos cruise, with Metropolitan Touring.
And, yes, we are feeling incredibly fortunate to be able to tag along on a trip that is on so many bucket list adventure lists.
We are just two days into the trip, but already we’ve seen many of the iconic species on the “Big 15” list, including tortoises, iguanas, finches, sea lions, and more.
Once we find a better WiFI connection, we’ll share some better images. But, first things first, let’s talk about the airports.
Our flights to the Galapagos island started from Ecuador’s award-winning Quito International Airport (UIO). We couldn’t access the shops reserved for international travelers. But we found these charming colored pencils for sale in the domestic departures area.
Rock Hall of Fame schedules induction for Cleveland in October
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will host the 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio this year on October 30, 2021.
This year’s nominees include Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Devo, Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, JAY-Z, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner, and Dionne Warwick.
Have a favorite? Fans can vote for their favorite nominees now through April 30, 2021 at vote.rockhall.com. The top five artists selected by the public will comprise a “fans’ ballot” that gets tallied along with the other ballots to select the 2021 final inductees.
Quito Airport’s new public space design
Last March, Covid-19 put a halt to a scheduled renovation project for the public areas of Ecuador’s Quito Mariscal Sucre International Airport. But when the country decided that construction projects could proceed, the airport went ahead with the renovation project.
In addition to replacing a big swatch of ceramic flooring with Brazilian granite, furniture specially designed for the airport was installed. New greenery, including vertical gardens, was added and a sculpture (above) made with local balsa wood from sustainable forests was installed in the center of the departure hall.
Alaska Airlines offers free flights for CA residents
If you live in California and you hurry, you may be able to score a free flight from Alaska Airlines.
The first 25,000 California residents who sign up for Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan by March 3 2021 will get a flight within California for (almost) free. You’ll only need to pay taxes and fees – from $15 each way. Details here.
Art exhibit showcases WWII Trench Art
On Thursday, March 4, The National WWII Museumin New Orleans opens its newest special exhibit “SOLDIER | ARTIST: Trench Art in World War II.” The exhibit includes more than 150 artifacts and souvenirs, such as ashtrays, jewelry, tools and cookware, radios, and musical instruments that explore the military pastime of creating art, souvenirs, and tools out of the discarded materials and waste of war.
From the exhibit notes:
The practice of creating trench art is as old as military conflict itself. During the American Revolution, prisoners of war created ship models from the bones of their rations. Soldiers in the Civil War carved charms and trinkets from lead bullets. World War I brought the advent of “classic” examples of trench art—and gave name to the pastime—as changes in technology presented soldiers with the material that best characterized the art form: the brass cartridge. During World War II, a more mechanized army offered increased access to the tools needed to fashion trench art, and the artifacts became more varied in form and were produced in greater quantity.
New name for the San Diego Zoo
Today, March 3, is World Wildlife Day and the San Diego Zoo Global is marking the day by becoming San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA).
The new brand underscores how the health of wildlife, people, and the environment are interconnected and linked to the health of our planet.
A new mural by world-renowned artist, Romero Britto, is being unveiled today to mark the rebrand and Alaska Airlines is donating 1 million miles to support the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s efforts.
Soon, maybe not very soon, but soon, you will go to an airport and board a plane.
In the meantime, here are some newsy tidbits from that world.
Alaska Airlines is staying active. And a bit fishy
You may be sitting around and not getting many frequent flyer miles from flying.
But Alaska Airlines has a fun campaign that will award you some bonus miles for staying active.
The airline is buddying up with fitness app Strava to give away 250,000 miles to Mileage Plan members as part of the Miles on the Ground Challenge.
Get the app, do 360 minutes physical activity by May 30, 2020, and you will qualify to enter a drawing to win up to 100,000 miles.
Alaska Airlines also did a nice pivot with the annual fly-in of the first Copper River salmon from Alaska to Seattle.
Instead of heading to area restaurants, part of the first planeload of copper river salmon became meals for health care workers. The rest was used for a salmon dinner fundraiser that generated enough money to buy 77,000 meals for people in the community.
COVID-19 testing at airports
There is a lot of chatter about doing thermal cameras and temperature checks at airport security checkpoints and boarding gates.
But that is not a foolproof method of determining if a passenger has a case of COVID-19.
So, several airports and airlines are going beyond that and requiring passengers to either have proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test result or take a test on the spot to avoid quarantine.
In mid-April, Dubai-based Emirates began requiring passengers departing Dubai International Airport to underdo rapid COVID-19 blood tests, with results in 10 minutes.
Testing at Vienna Airport
Anyone traveling to Austria right now is required to either have a recent medical certificate showing they are negative for COVID-19 or go into a 14-day quarantine.
The tests are not free. They cost EUR 190 (about $207), but the results come back in three to six hours and, if negative, allow the passenger to skip the quarantine.
All other arriving passengers without a health certificate are sent immediately to quarantine, according to the airport, and “must arrange for themselves to be tested by a laboratory at the quarantine location, which may involve longer waiting times.”
Iceland planning on the spot COVID-19 tests at KEF Airport
The government of Iceland expects to begin welcoming back international flight no later than June 15. And when it does, the plan is to give travelers the option of getting testing for COVID-19 on arrival at Keflavik Airport (KEF) to avoid a two-week quarantine.
Shops inside the airport sell many items from the region, but the airport recently opened a socially responsible store offering agricultural products grown and provided by the families living near the airport.
The new shop is called Nuestra Huerta – which means ‘Our Garden’ – and is located in the Airport Center building, across the street from the airport passenger terminal.
16 farmers and their families from the Puembo, Pifo, Tababela, Yaruqui and Checa communities are running the shop, which sells fresh produce, such as strawberries, avocados and lettuce, as well as honey and a variety of bagged snacks.
International passengers may not be able to fly home with a head of lettuce from Quito, but honey, snacks and many other items will certainly travel – and the shop is certain to be popular with arriving passengers and those who work at the airport.