Passport Cards being made

The new U.S. Passport Card is in production. It will go into effect next June 1.

The U.S. State Department said it already has received 350,000 applications and the cards will be sent out within the next eight weeks before new applications are processed.

The wallet-sized document, which is different than the standard passport, is intended to be used for re-entry into the U.S. at land border crossings and sea ports of entry when arriving from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda. It cannot be used for international air travel.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires travelers to present a single document denoting both citizenship and identity when entering the U.S. through land or sea borders.

Adults who already have a passport may apply for the card as a passport renewal and pay $20. First-time applicants pay $45 for adult cards and $35 for children. You can get details for obtaining the cards.
State Department card details
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KY Bourbon Trail adds another stop

The Tom Moore Distillery in Bardstown, KY, has been added to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The facility makes such brands as 1792 Ridgemont Reserve and Kentucky Tavern. It is a Constellation Spirits property.

This is the first addition to the tourist trail since it was created in 1999 with seven founding members.

"We've always been proud of our location and connection to the real heart and soul of bourbon," said Chris Gretchko, brand director for whiskeys at Constellation Spirits. "This is for people who really want to touch it, feel it, smell it, see it."

Free tours will begin October 1, although there is no visitors center at the plant. One is tentatively targeted for 2010.

Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers' Association, said in a statement issued Thursday that he was happy Constellation Spirits had joined the trail. The company is the third-largest holder of distilled spirits in Kentucky out of nine members in the trade group, he said, with 11% of the state's nearly 5 million aging barrels.

The Tom Moore Distillery was founded in 1879 and encompasses 229 acres. It once was known for the Barton brand name but that has been done away with as of this month and the Bardstown is being called Constellation Spirits as a closer identifier with its parent company, Constellation Brands of Fairport, NY.
Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Introducing the Urban Bourbon Trail
Hiking the American Whiskey Trail
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NYC Craft Beer Week looms

There's always a lot to do in New York City. On September 12 through 21 there will be even more. That's when Craft Beer Week will be held, highlighted by the good old-fashioned Bar Crawls.

The citywide series will showcase beers of the city and the surrounding region. The crawls are split into nine different neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan, with four to six bars on each route.

Tickets for the crawls are availabile online.
All Things New York
Dowd's Guides.


Addling your senses the fun way

Forget all that silliness about romantic low lighting with your cocktails. Just slap on a blindfold and some headphones for sensory deprivation and misdirection and live!

That's what is going on at the Zeta Bar in the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, Australia, where they do that to you as well as squirt scented mist in your face. And, you get to pay for the experience.

Music, special sensory gimmicks such as a heat lamp, a 35-cocktail menu and the thrill of it all are going for about $30US a pop.

The Hilton Sydney, incidentally, is the largest convention space in the nation.

Get the lowdown here.
• Sydney Pub Crawl
Hilton Sydney
• Dowd's Guides

JetBlue at JFK catering to foodies

JetBlue will open its new $743 million terminal and home base at Johhn F. Kennedy International Airport in Jamaica, NY, on October 1. When it does, there will be more to see than merely glitzy new reservation desks, waiting lounges and a 20-lane security area that will be the largest screening sector in North America.

There also will be JetBlue's Food Court.

The gazillion-dollar section is divided into several dining and drinking areas. Here's a piece of a photo of the one called Deep Blue.

Since that's just part of a set of renderings made available exclusively to New York magazine by the design firm ICRAVE, we'll have to be content with pointing you here to see the whole collection of pix.
• JetBlue Airways
• John F. Kennedy International Airport
Dowd's Guides


Giza pyramid region gets makeover

Egypt's Giza pyramids are cleaning up their act.

After decades of hassling of tourists, trinket vendors everywhere, litter on the ground and a generally third-rate atmosphere, the country debuted a new look in the area yesterday.

Security cameras, an absence of vendors and a 12-mile fence with infrared sensors surrounding the site are part of a multi-stage improvement project.

"It was a zoo," Zahi Hawass, Egypt's chief archaeologist, told the Associated Press about the usual bad carnival atmosphere. "Now we are protecting both the tourists and the ancient monuments."

The three pyramids are located on the Giza desert plateau, surrounded by spreading slums which, in turn, border the desert.

Reports the AP, "Hawkers, many from the nearby impoverished neighborhoods looking to benefit from the tourist dollar, have had free rein, and have become notorious. Tourists undergo a constant barrage from peddlers selling mock-ups of pharaonic statues and scarabs, T-shirts and other trinkets, or are followed by men on camels selling rides or photos — and rarely taking no for an answer. Young men even try to force their way into taxi cabs carrying foreigners toward the pyramids, looking to steer them to nearby horse stables for a ride around the site.

"Tourists have had taken their own liberties as well. Since the 19th Century, climbing the Pyramid of Khufu, the biggest of the three, was a favorite past-time for visitors, continuing into the 1970s — with the occasional fatal fall of an inebriated tourist. Since then, authorities have cracked down on climbing the giant 2.5-ton blocks, though visitors can still freely ramble around the pyramid grounds, where many tombs and other archaeological sites remain only partially excavated and vulnerable to damage."
Imagining Egypt: The Giza Pyramids
Pyramid tours
Egyptian cuisine
Dowd's Guides


Greece cracking down on 'bombe' drinks

• From The Guardian, the UK newspaper:

A campaign has been launched in Greece by tourism officials against bars serving "bombes," cocktails of spirits that are being blamed for increasingly bad behaviour in holiday resorts.

The campaign, which will see police officers and scientists conducting random checks of nightclubs and bars, comes amid mounting evidence that unsuspecting holidaymakers are being sold drinks laced with lethal doses of industrial spirit.

Adulterated alcohol is believed to be behind the death of a British teenager who collapsed after a binge-drinking session outside a nightclub in the resort of Laganas on the island of Zakynthos last month.

"In certain areas, like Malia on Crete, bombes are a real problem," said Sophia Nova, a tourism ministry official. "We may talk a lot about the attitude of tourists and their excessive drinking but often it's the alcohol that's at fault. If we don't solve this problem and get rid of bombes, Greece's image will be tainted."

Mixing alcohol with industrial spirit to make beverages go further is an old ruse long employed by some unscrupulous bar-owners in Greece. In recent years, however, the bombe appears to have grown in popularity with proprietors eager to attract customers with cheap drinks. Doctors have likened the cocktails to "a small bomb that goes off in the brain."

(You can get the rest of the story here.)
Food & Drinks: The Greek Portal
Food & Drink In Ancient Greece
• Dowd's Guides


US Airways finds a new gouge

There were times when I was flying on a commercial airline and would have willingly paid them not to serve me any of their pathetic food. But at least, I thought, I could always get some free water to hold me over till we landed.

Now, with airlines looking for every angle to charge their customers extra, US Airways is leading the way toward ridiculous heights by instituting a $2 charge for an in-flight drink of water, juice or soda.


How Safe Is Airline Water?
EPA Airline Water Report
Dowd's Guides


Nassau site of first Bacardi store

Bacardi photo

Getting shelf space is a never-ending task for spirits distributors. Bacardi has found a way around the problem. It just opened its first store anywhere in the world.

The location: Downtown Nassau in the Bahamas.

The special draw: The international launch of Bacardi Reserva Limitada, a rare aged rum never before sold outside of its production site in Puerto Rico.

The 3,300-square-foot, two-story themed retail outlet is the only branded retail outlet in the world designed for the sale of Bacardi products and branded accessories.

It features Bacardi portfolio products at duty-free prices as well as hats, shirts, gym bags, umbrellas, towels and other items not available for purchase in any other store anywhere. That portfolio includes Grey Goose vodka, Bombay Sapphire gin, Dewar's Scotch whisky and Cazadores tequila.
The Islands of the Bahamas
10 Best Things To Do In Nassau
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