15 Minutes Magazine - The Magazine of Society and Celebrity

Celebrating Our 17TH Year!

Official Magazine of the Next 15 Minutes

 

 
 

 

Tim Boxer

Travel

Nina Boxer

Bedouins welcome visitors to Salhiya
Bedouins welcome visitors to Salhiya

Woman in niqab making handicrafts
Woman in niqab making handicrafts
Wadi Rum Visitor Center
Wadi Rum Visitor Center
Camels in the desert
Camels in the desert
Captainís Desert Camp
Captainís Desert Camp
Singing around the camp fire
Singing around the camp fire
JORDAN
Valley Of The Moon

W
HEN the Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin, part of the fourth mission to land on the moon in 1971, visited the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, King Hussein took him on a helicopter tour of the enchanting Wadi Rum.

 

This is the most majestic of Jordanís desert landscapes, the southern region made famous as the setting of David Leanís 1961 film, Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter OíToole and Omar Sharif.

 

This is where T.E. Lawrence was based when he led the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire in World War I. "Vast, echoing and God-like" was Lawrenceís description of this sandstone valley.

 

Scanning Wadi Rum (wadi is valley) from above reminded Astronaut Irwin of his walk on the moon. Since then theyíve been calling it "the valley of the moon."

 

I too was captivated with this magnificent terrain last year. I left my footprints on the red sands and paused to contemplate the towering rockscapes and steep hills. I had joined a group to spend a night at a Bedouin camp.

 

On the way we stopped in Salhiya, a Bedouin village of 350 families, where Ali Eid Swelhdeyen, the 80-year-old sheikh, welcomed us in a tent overflowing with soft drinks and cookies.

 

The sheikh escorted us to the "Handicrafts Workshop for Traditional Bedouin Artefacts" where we watched women in black niqabs design trinkets and adornments for sale to tourists. The crafts center is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

 

At twilight we arrived at the Captainís Desert Camp, a family business run by Sheikh Rafiq Suleiman. "We keep a real Bedouin style for our guests who come from all over the world," he told us. "We offer jeep safaris, camel rides, trekking, ballooning and horseback riding."

 

Torches illuminated the camp. Dinner was laid out on wooden tables under the stars. A bonfire kept the area heated. A group of Bedouin in traditional white robes sat down with drums and serenaded us with traditional music.

 

My tent was divided by a large hanging sheet separating me from another couple. I lay on the cot with my clothes, jacket and boots on as I snuggled under the heavy quilts. A chill wind howled and whistled outside tent.

 

Stepping out in the middle of the night to look for the latrine proved perilous. It was pitch black. There was no path, only sand. The bonfire was out; everyone retired for the night; there was no one to guide me. I could have strangled myself in the ropes that anchored the tent. I happened to have a small penlight in my gear, which got me safely to the privy.

 

In the morning I was convinced that a night in the desert is best left to Bedouins or Eskimos or hardy seasoned travelers. They know how to survive the freezing elements.

 

However Iím glad I spent a night at a Bedouin campsite. Itís an experience to savor and long to remember.

 

Lonely Planet JordanResources
}

Back to Top

Western U.S. Road Trip: Part 1

F
OR our first annual Road Trip to explore a different part of North America, we went to the West Coast. We spent one week in December at various spots in California; the second week in Nevada and Arizona. Our sojourn produced happy memories and beautiful pictures. Also a couple of disappointments.

Two months before we started out, we reserved a car from two rental companies. At Los Angeles Airport (LAX) we picked up our first vehicle at Enterprise. Even though we had paid in advance by credit card, we asked if we could revise the contract to allow for a discount through our AAA membership. No problem.

The clerk was patient and accommodating. He put us in a very comfortable and roomy standard-size Ford Taurus. We were three happy campers as we made our way through Los Angeles, Ventura, San Diego, Disneyland and Redondo Beach.

Our itinerary for the second week called for trekking through Death Valley, California; hitting Las Vegas, Nevada, and visiting Sedona, Arizona. AT LAX we returned the first car and went to Budget to pick up our second car. This was an unpleasant experience we want to forget. But first let me grumble.

We asked the woman at the desk if she would kindly change our contract to reflect a discount with our AAA cardóto no avail. She was adamant that she couldnít do it. I was as polite as possible as I meekly informed that it had been done at Enterprise the previous week. Without looking up she kept insisting that company policy did not allow her to accommodate us that way. I asked to speak to the manager, who also refused to budge.

As the contract was paid in advance, we couldnít just walk away from such an unfriendly encounter and take our business elsewhere. We had no choice but to drive away from such an ill-disposed outpost in the rent-a-car business as fast as we could in their compact Ford Focus. Where do you think weíd go to rent cars in the future?

 

Back to Top

Millennium Biltmore
Millennium Biltmore
The Best Of Southern California

A
 SUITE at the legendary Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles was the perfect place to unwind in luxury. This massive gorgeous 11-story structure, with stunning cathedral-like ceiling, was designed by New York architects Schultze and Weaver of Waldorf-Astoria fame. It lays claim to a glorious history from the day it opened in 1923. This was the location for the Academy Awards for a time, and for numerous movies such as Dreamgirls, The Nutty Professor and Chinatown. Located at 506 S. Grand Ave., 800-245-8673, www.thebiltmore.com.

City Pass is the best, and most cost effective, way to enjoy the city. We obtained one for Hollywood ($59) which offers access to six attractions, among them a Kodak Theatre Guided Tour, Starline Tour of Hollywood, and Madame Tussauds. We also got a City Pass for Southern California ($269) which gives you three days at Disneyland, and one day at Universal Studios Hollywood, SeaWorld, and either San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zooís Wild Animal Park. www.citypass.com.

We took the studio tour at Universal and learned how movies are made, in fact how entire universes are created, how car wrecks are done and more movie magic. There are rides for the kids and haunted houses for the rest of us. Many shops and restaurants offer 10 percent discounts to AAA card holders.

Universal Studios Hollywood on a rainy day in December
Universal Studios Hollywood on a rainy day in December
 
Getty Center, perched above the city in the Santa Monica Mountains, is awesome. We marveled at the extensive collection of western art from the Middle Ages to the present, housed in five modernistic buildings. There are guided tours all day of the various parts of this wonderfully exciting museum, including the Central Garden and stunning sculptures in an outdoor setting. This stunning complex, created by architect Richard Meier of the Bauhaus tradition, opened in 1997. Best of all: Everythingís free (except parking and eating).

Ventura is a charming little beach town (pop. 100,000), only an hour from L.A., where we found art galleries, antique stores, boutiques, historic sites and museums. Get Ventura California, the visitors guide, to find places and events to entice you. www.ventura-usa.com.

You can pick from a dozen city tours, among them a Haunted Ventura Evening Tour, In the Footsteps of Perry Mason (author Erle Stanley Gardner lived here), and Olivas Adobe Ghost Tour. The historic downtown cultural district is sprinkled with an array of art galleries, antique shops, boutiques, wine bars, and restaurants that offer jazz.

Getty Center
Getty Center
 
Crowne Plaza is Venturaís only beachfront hotel, close to the pier and downtown, so thatís where we stayed. We loved the luxury and pleasant atmosphere. 450 East Harbor Blvd, 805 648-2100, www.cpventura.com.

We spent a day at Channel Islands National Park, which consists of five islands. We explored Santa Cruz. You could do hiking for one day or go for a multi-day camping experience. For an island excursion contact Island Packers, 1691 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura Harbor, 805 642-1393, info@islandpackers.com. The boat leaves at 10 a.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m.

Ventura Harbor
Ventura Harbor
 
The day we ventured out to the island the water was a bit choppy, rocking the boat. I was outside on the deck, holding on to my camera with one hand and the side rail with the other, until I decided itís safer inside. The Island Packers crew, excellent professional sailors, got us to the island in less than an hour. We brought our own snacks as there are no facilities there, except for a restroom.

After hiking up, down and around the island, we got back on the boat for the return trip. This time the ocean was calm. Suddenly Marty Flam, a National Park volunteer, shouted "Dolphins!" We grabbed our gear and hurried out onto the deck. We were pleasantly surprised by a pod of common dolphins that was following the boat. Some performed for our cameras as they vaulted into the air and dived back into the water, enthralling us all.

Santa Cruz Island
Santa Cruz Island
 
Santa Monica Pier was a quick pit stop as we headed south. Moon Handbooks: Southern California calls this "the ultimate in SoCal beach kitsch." Along one side of the long pier are an array of restaurants, arcades and souvenir stands. As the sun descended, David stationed himself on the beach. He planted his tripod in the sand and tracked the flaming luminary as it dipped gracefully into the ocean, burning the sky above in golden colors.

Sunset at Santa Monica Pier
Sunset at Santa Monica Pier
 
Disneyland in Anaheim, the most famous theme park in the universe, is a required stop, at least once in a lifetimeóespecially as itís part of the City Pass Southern California package. We had reserved a room for two nights at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which was grand indeed.

Sleeping Beauty Castle
Sleeping Beauty Castle
 
With our three-day pass we gained admittance to quite a few attractions at "the Happiest Place on Earth." At Disneyís California Adventure park we enjoyed Aladdin, a musical spectacular, and caught one of two outdoor parades, High School Musical 3. In the Disneyland park thereís so much to see and do, you have to be there. For resort information call 714.781.4565, hotel information 714.956.6425,
www.disneyland.disney.go.com.

Tiger at the San Diego Zoo
Tiger at the San Diego Zoo
 
San Diego Zoo (www.sandiegozoo.com) was our next stop. Itís so vast you can spend a full day in the company of pandas, giraffes, jaguar, condor, and other more exotic creatures. We took a minibus tour and hopped off at various points to get close with some of the hippos and lions (not to worry, you canít get too close to be gobbled up). Besides the mini tour bus thereís also a sky tram for an overhead view of the 100-acre park. We walked through the lush botanical gardens and up and down wooded paths to gaze at the animals, who gazed right back at us if they werenít sleeping or eating.

Ape
San Diego Zoo Apes
 
Redondo Beach was our journeyís finale for the first week on the road. This beach city of 64,000 is blessed with a Performing Arts Center where we saw Seussical, a musical presented by the Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities. There were families with children who delighted in the performance, but we adults enjoyed the show just as much and applauded heartily. www.visitredondo.com.

Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club is a charming place to lodge. Our suite overlooked the water, so we stood on the porch to snap pictures of yachts that floated by under our window. This happened to be the 18th annual King Harbor Yacht Club Christmas Boat Parade. The boats competed with brilliant decorations of sparkling colored lights. It was a thrilling spectacle.

Colorful Redondo Beach
Colorful Redondo Beach 
Next door is the
Baleen restaurant, which boasts "serious food, whimsical mood," and welcomes everyone to partake of their upscale grub, whether or not you have a boat moored in the harbor. www.hotelportofino.com.

Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach & Marina Hotel is a luxury hotel where the rooms are spacious, the restaurant fare is delicious, and the staff is friendly. Itís situated in a very good location at 300 N. Harbor Dr, 1-800-368-9760, www.crowneplaza.com/redondobeach.

The lineup at seaside
The lineup at seaside
 
The Redondo Beach Pier is teeming with lively cafes, seafood eateries, pizza parlors, bakeries and souvenir shops. At this waterfront marketplace youíll gravitate to the
Fun Factory, an amusement arcade that keeps adults and children engaged for hours. Owner Steve Shoemaker tries to make sure everyone comes out a winner at the various games of skill and chance. Lots of kitsch to delight the kids.

You donít need reservations to board the Ocean Racer and head out to sea. This 144-passenger, high powered, open air speed boat operates on weekends and holidays, from 1 p.m. to sundown. Youíll find it at the marina (naturally).

Resources
If you want to see sea lions, board the
Looking Glass, a 19-passenger, semi-submersible underwater viewing boat. Or take a one-hour ride around the harbor in a four-passenger Pedal Boat. Both operate 11 a.m. to sunset every day in summer, and weekends in winter. Reservations at 310 374-3841.

 

 
This website is under the copyright protection of the Intellectual Property Laws of the State of New York, the United States and International Treaties. All written content, design and functionality is © 15MinutesMagazine. Inc, 1999 - . All images are protected as such. No copying, downloading or other use of images on this site is permitted without prior written permission.

Site Designed, Developed and Maintained by
Internet Web Systems Internet Consultants - Web Site Design -  Website Hosting
Any questions or comments regarding this website, or if you would like one of your own,
please contact us at internetwebsystems.com