From Tokyo to Pune: A Traveler’s Odyssey

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We set sail on a journey like no other in this episode, kicking off with an electrifying giveaway that could whisk you away on a seven-night cruise with just a click and a follow. We’re revealing how you can stack the deck in your favor, boosting your chances to revel in the high seas.

The voyage doesn’t end there—climb aboard as we embark on a tale of two continents, narrating the trials and triumphs from the bustling heart of Tokyo to the vivid vibrance of Pune. Discover how an unexpected layover morphed into a culinary and cultural quest through Japan, from the unparalleled precision of Shibuya’s foot traffic to the warm glow of Tokyo’s lantern-lit streets. Revel in our anecdotes from the quirky corners of Japanese life, the surprising twists of hospitality, and the intoxicating chaos that colors India’s landscape.

With every twist in our travel narrative, we unravel the threads of comfort and culture. Find out how a flight deal isn’t just a ticket—it’s an invitation to indulge in the sky’s exclusive luxuries. Get insider access to our strategic stops and why sometimes, the best parts of travel are the unplanned ones.

But the story doesn’t shy away from the shadows cast over travel paths. We navigate the complexities of the Middle East’s beauty against the backdrop of global tension, unraveling how these realities reframe the wanderlust of the intrepid traveler. With our candid conversation, we aim to bridge the gap between media headlines and the pulse of the streets, ensuring you’re equipped to make the most informed decisions for your next escapade.

So, tune in and transform your next journey from a mere trip to a tale worth telling, with insights, laughs, and a perspective that takes you beyond the tourist trail.

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James Ferrara:
[0:00] Hey folks, James and Mike here with something you don’t want to miss.

Mike Putman:
[0:06] Absolutely, we’re spicing things up with our Virgin Voyages Cruise Giveaway.

James Ferrara:
[0:11] So we’ve been giving you multiple ways to rack up those precious raffle points, right?
This week, it’s simpler than ever.

Mike Putman:
[0:20] Yep, just head to our website and go through the raffle form.
Simply hit follow on our YouTube channel to get five points.

James Ferrara:
[0:31] You heard it, five points just for enjoying our YouTube channel.

Mike Putman:
[0:37] And remember all your points add up boosting your chance to win that dreamy seven-night Virgin Voyages cruise for two.

James Ferrara:
[0:46] Hit follow and let’s make waves together.

Mike Putman:
[0:51] And don’t forget to stay tuned to our podcast and social media for more ways to earn points.
All the links are in the description at NoTouristAllowed.
Hello, I’m Mike Putman.

James Ferrara:
[1:04] And I’m James Ferrara. Welcome to NoTouristAllowed. And I am just back from a weekend trip.
My trip was just a couple of hours away. Mike, on the other hand, is halfway around the world.

Mike Putman:
[1:21] And again, halfway and again. I’ve been on the road this week and got a lot of interesting stories to share with our listeners.

James Ferrara:
[1:30] Was your travel eventful, Mike?

Mike Putman:
[1:33] It was very eventful. Yeah, so we started out at 4 20 a.m.
On Thursday morning, flying out of Greenville, got to the airport, had a 6 a.m. flight, and I got to the airport at 5 o’clock, James.
That was one hour before the flight.

James Ferrara:
[1:49] Well, that’s because the airport’s the size of my garage.

Mike Putman:
[1:53] And also voted, by the way, the number one small to medium sized airport in the United States, I might add. Greenville.

James Ferrara:
[2:00] Very nice airport, but there’s no good food there.

Mike Putman:
[2:04] Actually, there’s a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, which is pretty good.
There is an American Express lounge, so that’s not so bad.
But at any rate, I got there, got on the plane, 6 o’clock departure and at 5.50 the pilot comes on and says, hey, the first officer did a walk-around inspection and the…

[2:25] Cone, the front cone, he saw some separation. There’s some fiberglass, which actually gets made as a textile material.
It actually gets made in Greenville, by the way, for all planes around the world.
But anyhow, that was that was coming off and they said, don’t worry.
You know, we’ve got a technician will be here. We’ll get you off the ground.
You know, 30 minutes or so. So, you know, 45 minutes later, they come back and said the technician came by and he actually saw some separation in the fiberglass.
So we’re going to have to ground this plane.
And so everybody deplaned, had to wait around to get my carry on luggage.
And the flight was delayed 11 times, literally 11 times.
And I kept all the notifications just as proof, but at any rate, it was nothing, you know, it was not the airline’s fault and it was Delta.
They did a great job communicating.
The gate agents were actually exceptionally nice and really tried to help people get rescheduled.
I was, at the time, decided to wait around because I had a 120 flight out of JFK. So I had a nonstop to LaGuardia. I had a transportation set up to get me from LaGuardia to JFK.
And I had left like four hours to do that.
That movement between, between the two. And at any rate, what happened was the flight kept getting delayed and it got to the point where I could not make it to JFK in time to catch the flight.

[3:50] So through lots of coordinations and calls and begging and pleading, I got on another flight to JFK, but it unfortunately got me there at 2.30 or whatever time it was and I ended up having a 12-hour layover at JFK because the next flight to Tokyo, which is where I was heading, didn’t leave until exactly 12 hours later after the first flight.

James Ferrara:
[4:14] So you lost a day in your trip.

Mike Putman:
[4:17] Yeah, I lost half a day. I ended up getting to Tokyo. I left my house at 420 on Thursday.
I got to Tokyo local time at 4.55 AM. So 36, excuse me, 48 hours time, but there’s 12 hour time change.
So it was about a 36 hour day of traveling, which was, you know, there were parts of it that weren’t so bad.
I got into the first class lounge for American because I was in business class on Japanese airline and so spending, there’s worse places to spend 12, spending 12 hours there.
Had a really nice flight, Japan Airlines. If you guys listeners have never flown on an Asian carrier, the service is generally speaking outstanding and certainly it was outstanding on that flight as well. So.

James Ferrara:
[5:08] It’s a long flight to Japan.

Mike Putman:
[5:12] And then, 14 hours, but I had some awesome food on the plane.

James Ferrara:
[5:17] On the plane, really?

Mike Putman:
[5:18] Yeah, yeah, I had a choice of Western menu or Japanese menu.
And I took the Japanese menu and it was really, really good food. I mean.
Food that you would be happy going to a nice restaurant and receiving.

James Ferrara:
[5:35] So you don’t usually hear awesome and plain food in the same sentence.
That’s really good, but you made the right choice, of course.
You took the indigenous food and probably much better than the western food.
So what did you do in Japan? Now you’re in Japan at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Mike Putman:
[5:54] Yeah, 5 o’clock, and luckily I had a lay flat seat, so I got about 8 hours of sleep, Which was nice. So I was I was kind of okay when I got to the hotel.
I stayed at the Westin there which is a Very good choice an exceptional hotel The standard at that hotel And I think it’s probably true for most Asian hotels that we might you know The West in the US might be like a four-star hotel.
I mean, this is a high five-star hotel and it’s just, And if you took this in Tokyo, yeah And if you took you know that if you took the hardware and placed it in the US It might still be a four-star Weston, but the way they maintain things.
I mean absolutely spotless service impeccable and I mean I’ve never I should say never I haven’t been to many hotel rooms that have been as as thoroughly cleaned and I mean every surface, there was not like a water stain anywhere.
I mean it’s just, it was immaculate. It was so sterile, which is what I like in a hotel room.

James Ferrara:
[7:06] And they were able to accommodate you early in the morning?

Mike Putman:
[7:10] Yeah, I mean basically what they did is I was communicating with them by the way through the Marriott app, which is very convenient, communicating directly with the front desk.
And they held the room. I mean, they charged me for the room.
I didn’t know at the time when I left exactly when I was getting in.
So I paid for Friday night, even though I didn’t get there until six.
So anyhow, a little bit extra cost.

James Ferrara:
[7:34] You had use of the room. So how long were you on the ground in Tokyo?

Mike Putman:
[7:39] So I got there on Saturday at 4.50 a.m. and I left Monday. So I was there a little over 48 hours. Okay. Luckily, I had a friend from high school that I hadn’t seen in a while who lives there. He teaches English.
And so he was my guide and host, he and his girlfriend, for the day on Saturday. And we had a blast.
We traveled definitely like a local. We took one cab.
Actually, we took two cabs, but we took probably eight or nine trains going to see shrines, going to different parts of Tokyo, going to the…
That big crossing in Shibuya, I’m not pronouncing that correctly, but it’s that crossing that you always see when you see the typical Tokyo, all the lights are up, you know.

James Ferrara:
[8:33] Right, looks a bit like Times Square.

The Fascinating Order of Japan’s Road System

Mike Putman:
[8:36] Yeah, but you got like six different roads converging in one point, they call it spaghetti something, but anyhow, it was really interesting because there’s such order in Japan that, you know, the lights turn and everybody walks, the light stops, and it’s like a ghost town except for cars.

James Ferrara:
[8:55] I mean, it’s like New York.

Mike Putman:
[8:59] They did things, you know, really, really well. And then I was actually interviewed by the National TV Station.

Tokyo’s Halloween Event with Cautionary Measures

[9:08] They were having their Halloween event on Saturday night, and they were trying to keep it under kind of containment because if you guys remember last year there was a terrible incident in Korea during Halloween for a big event and several people actually lost their lives and so I think Tokyo was being very very careful so they were out at that particular Junction and there’s a famous statue of a dog and gosh I can’t remember the name of the dog starts with the M I believe But anyhow, the story, this is a true story, but the dog used to Go with his master to the train station, which is right there Every day his master then would take a train to work and then come back The dog would be waiting would come back and wait the train station So at some point the master died But the dog continually comes back or came back every day for like three years looking for his looking for So they have this, they have this statue there of this dog, I forget the name of it, but it’s a fairly important thing.
And anyhow, they had it covered up because of this Halloween festival and there was a reporter there. And so she interviewed me about the talk statue, which I didn’t know anything about, but it was fun.

James Ferrara:
[10:32] You texted me from there, what an interesting culture, you know.
And I was in Japan just before the pandemic.
On the Diamond Princess doing a circumnavigation of Japan and South Korea.
And the Diamond Princess, for those of you who were paying attention at the beginning of the pandemic, became like the poster cruise for the pandemic, right?
Unfortunately, it was the first big reported case of spreading the disease, and some people died, and and terrible optics during the pandemic.
But anyway, I was in Japan for a while and I had sort of the same reaction.
Maybe most Westerners do. Like, wow, this is an interesting culture.
What caused you to have that reaction?

Cultural Shyness and Perception of Foreigners in Japan

Mike Putman:
[11:22] Well, it’s a couple of things. One is, I was on a train and sat down by this elderly gentleman and the guy stands up and moves to another seat.
Seat. And I had taken a shower after I had gotten back.
It wasn’t, it wasn’t, it wasn’t that, you know, I’d brushed my teeth.
So I don’t know what it was. And so my friend that was with me, I said, he looked at me and he goes, you know, some older people there have an issue with foreigners.
And I thought, that seems like really bizarre. Like it wasn’t, we came in there with loud music or being obnoxious, I mean, it was.
It was just strange because I don’t know of that ever happening to me before.
And so I continued to ask my friend that’s lived there for 11 years.
And I said, well, like, why would that why would they not like foreigners?
And he said it is because now this is his opinion, whether it’s true or not, I don’t know, but he’s lived there for 11 years.
But he said that they are so shy that it’s it’s not that it’s offensive to be beside a foreigner, but they’re so shy. they don’t want to have any kind of interaction.

Disappointing Service at a Highly Regarded Restaurant

[12:38] So that was one thing that was rather strange, but it’s very strange.
Then I went to a really nice dinner, Izakaya, that I’ve been trying to get into for about three months.
Got into it and it was like this little, not super nice place, but it had been written up by magazines as a top place to go to in Tokyo.
And I went there and again, and not a nice place.
And the service was almost, the server was almost standoffish.
And again, it was kind of a, Izekiah is like a casual type place.
It wasn’t a formal place, but they just had really highly rated food.
But the service just definitely did not go with it.
I mean, just an example, I asked for water three times, literally three times could I have water. And we were having other drinks too. It wasn’t like we were there on the skinny or trying to save money. I just wanted some water.
But there were several other things that went along with that too, which just seemed, it seemed really out of place to have a bad, like an exceptionally bad service at a restaurant that was highly regarded, but casual, certainly not stuffy.
And I don’t know if that had something to do with being in the…
Foreign or being an American, I don’t know, but it was, it was bizarre.
So, but I enjoyed my stay though. I really enjoyed my time there.

James Ferrara:
[14:06] In my experience in Japan, I would say this, there is such a stark difference between that culture and ours that many things feel off, you know, because we’re just not used to it.
And I do think a lot of it is about shyness, sort of reserve, conservativeness, and it comes off feeling cold to us or cool to us, but especially people of a certain age there, they were brought up not to look you in the eye, which is considered rather forward and aggressive, right?
So they don’t look you in the eye, they speak very softly, they stand off from you, no closeness, and no judgment about that.
It’s just totally different from some of us and our backgrounds in the West and in the United States. So we’re uncomfortable with it.

[15:10] And yet, what I find very interesting is that it’s balanced in Japan by a lot of goofiness and animation in the culture, right?
So if you look at the advertising and the promotion and the strange vending machines that vend all kinds of stuff, right?
And the characters, the animated characters that are all over, it’s like there is a whole other side to the culture that is colorful and a little crazy, you know? So.

Quirky and Colorful Side of Japanese Culture

Mike Putman:
[15:42] Yeah, what I wanted to think, that was actually one of the things I really liked was they had beer vending machines on everywhere.
I mean, not like occasionally, but on the streets.

James Ferrara:
[15:53] Yeah. Also, if you lose your underwear somehow, there are underwear vending machines in Japan.

Mike Putman:
[15:59] Did not see those.

Memorable Experience at the Starbucks Roastery

James Ferrara:
[16:03] Anyhow, was there anything, so you told us about this restaurant.
Anything else in particular you did that you thought was memorable?

Mike Putman:
[16:12] Not really. I mean, I enjoyed my time there. There’s actually a really cool Starbucks that used to be the biggest Starbucks in the world, but it actually has their own, they have a roastery inside the Starbucks.
It’s four stories high. There’s…
Roasters in the middle and they it’s just actually really cool They roast the beans on the ground floor And then they’ve got these pipes and they pipe them up and they cool them off and then they come back down into grinders At the actual thing which was that was neat and they also have a t-bar and they’ve got a full Bar there.
It’s all pretty interesting something I hadn’t seen before but but no that was kind of it and again in fairness I was there 48 hours, but I enjoyed my time very much, and super clean city, really well, really well organized, and I had all the food that I had there was above, well above average, so really good food place.

James Ferrara:
[17:12] You know, if you’re a certain kind of traveler, you might go places seeking out history.
That’s often what I equate with, with culture and the difficulty in Japan is that as a result of very heavy bombing in World War II, but also as a result of hundreds of years of earthquakes, there is not a lot of physical history in Japan.
And you go there thinking, I’ll see shogun palaces and whatever, And there is some of that, but it’s mostly recreated in the 60s and 70s.
So it’s a kind of Disney version of the architecture that’s supposed to be, like, you know, from the 1500s.
And there’s just not a lot of old buildings, except there are shrines around, and you can find them. Yeah. Yeah.

Mike Putman:
[18:12] There was a shrine that we went to that was over 2,000 years old.

James Ferrara:
[18:17] Yeah, so you can find those places. I did one in a cave that we had to climb down to on the edge of the sea and, you know, there’s inside the cave built this beautiful building, this shrine.
So there is some of that, but you know, that was one thing that was a little strange to me as I was looking for more physical culture and historic stuff.

India: A Polar Opposite Experience

[18:39] And Kyoto is a great city to visit for that purpose. It’s been beautifully preserved.
So, and now you went even further and you’re in India.

Mike Putman:
[18:52] Yeah, so I went from, you talk about polar opposites, so I went from a place that’s very sterile and.

Exploring Japan on a Free Stopover

[19:01] Clean and orderly to a place that’s disorderly, with lots of character and certainly lots of culture here as well.
So yeah, I’m spending a couple of days here, a few days here, and then I’ll be off again.
But yeah, again, had another great experience on Japan Airlines, flew from there to India.
So just one tip for our travelers, so maybe this will be worth the price of of admission.
When you fly to a destination and you’re not going in as international destination and it’s not on a non-stop, sometimes it’s better not to go on a non-stop if you have to, if your schedule permits.
So in this example, I was flying from New York and I originally was just trying to get to India to Delhi and it is a very long flight by the way and there is a non-stop on American that’s 14 hours but I typically break my trip up in London But this time I decided to go on Japan Airlines because they had a fantastic business class price.
It was really, really good price, number one.
And so I booked the ticket and then I thought, you know what, generally if you go on a national carrier and you change planes to their hub, which is what I was going to have to do, New York to Tokyo, Tokyo to Delhi, then they’ll allow you to do a free stopover.

[20:22] And so that’s what I did. So I changed my ticket for a free stopover and got two or three days of time in Japan and got to see some of Tokyo that I haven’t been able to see before.
So that was really a really good tip. So I got a great price, got a free stopover in Japan. Of course, I had to pay for my hotel and so forth, but it was a good way to spend a couple of days.

James Ferrara:
[20:45] That is a great tip. And the other one I think too is for these long haul flights, you really want to maneuver your way into some.
Lifelike seating. And if you book ahead of time and you do your research, you work with a professional travel advisor, you can do it and it can be affordable.
And it makes the trip humane. You know, if you have to do it, and I know people do it, and you can save a lot of money.
But if you have to do it in economy, and, you know, with three inches of of recline on a good day in an economy seat, it’s rough.
You know, a 14 hour nonstop flight, or even breaking it up with an eight or nine hour flight. I mean, don’t do that to yourself if you can.

Mike Putman:
[21:34] Yeah, and I’ll also share with our listeners too, and I sent this article to you, James, a couple of days ago, is right now, I think through November 7th, the airlines are having a business class sale And people are not going to believe me when I tell them the price roundtrip to about five or six destinations in Europe from certain cities, not from every city.
That’s 500. The fair part of the ticket is $500 roundtrip for business class.

Business Class Sale for European Destinations

[22:03] And it’s out of some cities I remember, Nashville, they call them second tier cities.
And these are cities that American and British Airways have nonstop flights out of. But it would be a city that you would go, why in the hell is there a nonstop flight out of Nashville to London?
Because it’s just not a big enough city to support a nonstop flight, but they have them. And so they’re offering discounts. There’s about four or five cities.

[22:31] That you can do that if you book your ticket now, and you can book it for any time next year.
You’ve got to book it at least 50 days in advance, and you’ve got to travel on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is not that big of a deal.
So once you bundle in the taxes and the fuel surcharge, it’s $2,100 round trip, but that’s still a hell of a price, and probably better than what a lot of people paid to go and coach the summer. The summer was really expensive.
So book those early take advantage of those. I’m going to and I don’t even know where I’m going but I will when I get back home I’m gonna take some time and plan another another trip to take advantage of that great great effort.

James Ferrara:
[23:13] Absolutely great advice and now you’re in you in Mumbai or Pune?

Mike Putman:
[23:16] I’m in Pune, so I got an office in Pune and I’m doing this recording from Pune and I’m getting ready.
Now it’s 8.06 p.m. and I have a team dinner that started at 8 o’clock with my staff here so I’ve got a wrap up here in not not too long but yeah it’s gonna get some good food oh yeah yes I’ve already had some good food here and you got a recommendation for us if we wind up either in Mumbai Pune Delhi someplace yeah you know this is one of those cases where I’m with my team or with a supplier and they take me to to places, and I can’t really, I don’t really remember, because I end up eating so much, maybe having a few cocktails, and I don’t, like, the food here is generally very good, like very, very good.
And I actually have this, a friend of mine who, we used to work together, and he has a dining club, dining club in Pune, and so he knows all the best restaurants.
This guy’s on, he’s like you, James. He’s on TV every week, radio, being interviewed, because he has this vast knowledge of the food business, restaurant business, and he’s got a great club to support it.
So he and I are going out for tomorrow night, but I’ll write down what.

James Ferrara:
[24:37] I want an introduction for my next trip to India.
So let’s talk about, first of all, thank you for sharing all that with us, Mike.
And in there, guys, are embedded some very good tips about long-haul travel experience.
So don’t be afraid of it. There is a whole world that’s a bit farther away than maybe it’s outside your comfort zone.
And we want you to get there.
So you’ll use some of these tips to do that.
Let’s talk a little bit, Mike, about what’s going on in the Middle East because we shouldn’t avoid it. It’s obviously, it is a world.
Level, a global level, concern and conflict.

Concerns over Tragic Loss of Life in Middle East

[25:28] And we’re not going to make any political statements about it.
We’re just going to talk about it.
First of all, we, all of us as human beings, we have a concern about what’s happening there.
And the loss of life, life is tragic, no matter who it is.
But we’re going to talk about it a little bit from the point of of the travel industry and what the effect is.
Now we’ve, our tour operators and vacation companies and religious tourist pilgrimages and so on have all been cancelled to that part of the world through the end of the year.
The companies themselves have done that. So we’re talking about Israel, Jordan, those are the two big tourism destinations there.

Egypt Travel Concerns: Impact on Tourism

[26:27] Egypt, the conflict has not spread into Egypt but a lot of people are concerned about going there so it is affecting travel there.
And you know a question that comes up a lot is you know can my travel advisor, help me. I even get this question from travel advisors themselves about what they should or shouldn’t do or say in these situations.
So I thought this would be a good tip for everyone and you know try to give clarity to everyone what to do when something like this happens in the world.
Now this is an extreme example but there are other examples of interruptions, of conflict, the weather, extreme weather situations.

Travel Advisor’s Role: Arrangements and Customization

[27:17] And I just want to be clear that your professional travel advisor will want to help you with everything, but they shouldn’t be the source of everything for you.
They can make excellent travel arrangements. They can design a trip for you, customize it for you, include ground transportation, and things to do, and even dining, and so on.
Hotels, flights, of course, all of that.
Insurance, which is an important part of this story.

[27:49] You want to have the freedom to be able to cancel your trip.
You want to be in the driver’s seat.
No one should assess the risk except you, because we all have different appetites for risk, right?
We all have different tolerances, and no one should make that decision except you.
So you want an insurance policy, a real travel insurance policy, from an insurance company, not from the tour supplier or anything like that.
An actual insurance company who’s going to cover you in a way that allows you to cancel that trip. And I like the for any reason coverage.
So you don’t even have to justify it. You want to cancel that trip and you’re covered. That costs you a couple of hundred bucks. I mean, the peace of mind is worth it. So your travel advisor should be offering you that as part of what they do.

Mike Putman:
[28:50] Go ahead. No, I’m sorry. I thought you were through.

James Ferrara:
[28:54] I thought you were through. No, I was just going to get into what they should not offer you. But do you want to?

Mike Putman:
[29:00] Yeah, I was going to say, and for some reason, your travel advisor does not mention travel insurance.
You know, feel free to ask them. A lot of a lot of agents don’t push it.
And in some cases, especially for if you’re going to if you’re going to a high risk place or something where you think that there could be some political turmoil, The insurance companies don’t typically price it if you’re going to a high-risk place any different than if you were going to Switzerland, right?
So if you’re going to a high-risk place and the chances that there’s going to be some kind of conflict or something, and the Middle East is a great example, you’re kind of getting a better bang for your buck. So I would always insure that.
And if I was going to Switzerland, I might not insure a trip to Switzerland.

James Ferrara:
[29:50] Well, I mean you still should cover your in bed for a lot of people a trip like that is a major investment and And there may not be conflict in Switzerland.
That’s true But you know your mom could get sick or something could happen at your job so I am a believer in travel insurance and if Your travel advisor has not offered you travel insurance and that turns out to be an Intel travel advisor one of mine I would like to know about it, because we teach them to always talk about it. Anyhow…
Here’s what a travel advisor should not be doing.
They should not be giving you an opinion on whether or not it’s safe to travel or what the risks are in travel.
That is not the job of a travel advisor and they’re not trained or qualified to make those judgments.

[30:47] What we can do is give you official, very credible sources of information for you to make your own decision about the risk, right?
And typically what we teach is those should be government-sanctioned sources of information.
So we’re going to give you a website, we’re going to give you a ministry’s website, we’re going to give you the U.S.
State Department’s risk assessment on what’s going on in countries around the world, you can go there anytime you want to the State Department’s advisory about countries and read all the detail about why they give countries certain ratings at a particular time.

Reliable Health Information Sources for Making Informed Decisions

[31:36] But on health-related issues, we can give you the places to go that are not just chatter on social media or unknown media outlets, but the real official places to go to get the real information to make your own decision about risk.

Mike Putman:
[31:57] Now, I’m going to say I disagree with you, James.

James Ferrara:
[32:01] Holy mackerel.

Mike Putman:
[32:01] On the State Department thing, as you know, as you very well know, if you go to the State department right now and you look about should I travel to Jamaica, it’s going to tell you, and I can’t remember the wording, but it’s something like high risk.

James Ferrara:
[32:17] And they’re going to give you like a level three warning.

Travel advisories and ratings for different countries

Mike Putman:
[32:24] Don’t go if you don’t go unless you know it’s vital to your business or something and they’re going to say the same thing for Mexico and so I agree with the other part about about other resources, the State Department.
It’s it’s it’s so innocuous in what they say.

James Ferrara:
[32:44] Well, I would say this, Mike, read the detail, right? Forget about the rating, because the ratings, there’s a level three rating for the United States.
If you’re in the UK and you look at the UK’s foreign ministry, there’s a level three rating for the US because of violence in this city or violence in that city. So you have to read the detail.
The US State Department will tell you why they give it the rating.
And in the case of Mexico, they, after that rating, they immediately say that the violence is in border areas related to drugs, is not in Quintana Roo, which is where Cancun and Tulum are.

Mike Putman:
[33:27] They changed that, the way they’re saying it. Well, right, at the moment.
But also, but they say it for, blanketly for Jamaica too, which, you know, look, it’s, it’s not the safest place in the world, don’t get me wrong, but they’re using stats that that have a murder rate per million people and or a hundred thousand people and Jamaica just doesn’t have.

James Ferrara:
[33:50] Jamaica is one of our, if not our top destination, it’s either number one or number two, depending on the month.

Mike Putman:
[33:57] Yeah, yeah, that’s correct.

James Ferrara:
[33:58] And the only thing with Jamaica is, we don’t send people to Kingston because that’s where the issues are.
Issues are not in Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, you know, so.

Middle East travel advisories and recommendations

Mike Putman:
[34:13] Any. But before we leave the Middle East, though, I mean, you know, the reality is there’s not going to be travel, not to all the Middle East, but certainly Israel, Israel or Jordan.
Jordan, I wouldn’t suggest it in the near future. And unfortunately, it looks like this conflict is going to continue.
It’s not, it doesn’t seem at this point to have an end point near term.
So So if you do have any plans, personally, I wouldn’t suggest anyone make any plans until past spring, if not later, personally, but we do hope for the best for that region.
It is truly a tragedy and it’s a great, you know, it is beyond what’s going on over there.
It is a wonderful destination that if you’re of, you know, a Christian faith or Jewish faith somewhere that you should make the pilgrimage once in your life?

James Ferrara:
[35:15] Even Muslim faith, right? I mean Jerusalem is a Mecca for the Islamic religion as are other. What was very interesting, my trip to Israel two years ago, I went during the pandemic.
The sites that you visit that are really important Christian sites.
For example, where Christians believe Jesus was baptized by St.
John the Baptist on the River Jordan.
That exact same site.

Sacred Sites of Three Major Religions in the Holy Land

[35:54] Has an Islamic religious story also, where one of the prophets ascended to heaven in a chariot from that same spot.
And the Jewish faith has an important story about that particular spot also.
And I found that wherever I went. You go to Jericho, and it’s important because of a certain incidence and part of Jesus’s life in the New Testament, but it’s also important in the Old Testament, and it also has important religious sites for Islam.
So the three major religions of the world are intertwined in a way in this area and it’s life-changing to go there.
Whether you’re religious or not, by the way, because it’s also incredibly beautiful and archeologically very interesting and the food is great.

Mike Putman:
[36:56] We spit that about everywhere, but I was not expecting to have really awesome food food when I went to Israel, and I had really awesome food. It was really good.

James Ferrara:
[37:08] Me too. And if you’re a foodie into the sort of Michelin and new style food, not just the traditional food there, Tel Aviv has an incredible culinary culture going on right now with new chefs and so on, and Jerusalem too.
So look, I highly recommend it. We can’t go there right now, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on your list, right?

Mike Putman:
[37:35] Use this time now to plan and, you know.

James Ferrara:
[37:40] You know, the incredible sites in Jordan to visit, also Israel, certainly Egypt. I mean, that goes without saying.

Keep the Middle East in Your Travel Plans for the Future

[37:52] And even into Turkey and so on. This part of the world holds so much fascination for me and such a great travel experience that have it on your list, have it in your plans.
Let’s get back there as soon as we can. And they’re all going to need us.
They’re going to need that support economically from us. So keep them in your prayers, of course, and keep them in your travel plans too.
All right, final thing I’ll just mention and maybe we’ll talk about it next time is all those visa requirements that we’ve been talking about, the changes going to the European Union have been put off.
So that’s great news from our perspective in the travel industry.
Now you don’t have to worry about that until spring 2025. So if you were worried, if you were thinking that might hold up some plans, it’s off the table for a couple of years. So don’t worry about it.
Mike, thank you for joining us from so far away. I know that you’re probably tired or hungry or both, so.

Mike Putman:
[38:59] But I did not want to miss the podcast and look forward to another episode next week here on No Tourist Allowed.

James Ferrara:
[39:08] Don’t forget about our Virgin Voyages cruise giveaway.
So amazing. Go to to learn more, follow the instructions, get lots of entries into the drawing.
Go follow our YouTube channel also, and we’ll see you here next week.
Thank you all for being at No Tourists Allowed.

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