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Big Gulp–Gate: TSA Blogs About Britney's LAX Security Hullabaloo

There has been a bit of a fluster in the blogosphere in response to a video released yesterday by TMZ, showing Britney Spears passing through airport security at Los Angeles' LAX with a 7-Eleven Big Gulp in hand—and it wasn't confiscated by security, I might add.

The accusations were aplenty, most assuming the pop princess was granted special permission that allowed her to bypass common folk security regulations.

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Brave or Crazy? Swimming in The Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls

If you ask any of my closest friends, they'll tell you that, while I may be a spontaneous, even adventurous, person, I'm not much of an extreme thrill seeker. You won't catch me on any of the frightening rides we reported on last summer. Think you can convince me to jump out of a plane? Not a chance. And tethering myself to a bridge and hurtling myself off? You can't be serious.

That being said, I'm a little shocked by my intense fascination with a certain natural attraction: "The Devil's Pool" in Zambia. You can't even begin to fathom the magnitude of scariness/awesomeness that comes from this naturally formed pool of water. Enter YouTube:

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Star Mapper: Los Angeles, 10/09

With Hollywood, the Walk of Fame, and red carpet events galore, Los Angeles is an obvious mecca of all things celebrity—and as such, is without a doubt my favorite U.S. city (sorry New York!). You can hardly hit up a Starbucks in L.A. without tripping over someone who's had their 15 minutes or more. Suffice it to say, tracking down this handful of celebs—with a little help from my West Coast accomplice—was like a walk in the park.


View Travel + Leisure: Celeb­-Spot­ting, L.A. Oct. 2009 in a larger map

10/2: During an event at Sonny McLean's—a Santa Monica Irish pub with an affinity for all Boston-based sports teams—a few patrons were lucky enough to be waited on by none other than Megan Fox. She was the surprise celebrity bartender. The celeb that was actually scheduled to be there? Brian Austin Green.

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Gigantus Successio: Universal Orlando to Debut Harry Potter Theme Park

200910-b-harryp-1jpg Mickey’s ears must be burning; Universal has unveiled new details about a brand new section inside its Islands of Adventure theme park. Working closely with gazillionaire author J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros., the theme park giant will soon help the fantasy world of Harry Potter come to life.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, set to open in spring 2010, will make Hogwarts and the magical town of Hogsmeade a reality for countless fans around the world. So what can you expect when the park opens? Here are just a few of the many attractions to look forward to:

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Brazilian Airline Announces $285 Unlimited Flight Pass

Remember this summer when we reported on Jet Blue's Unlimited Flight Pass? Well now another airline, Brazil-based Azul, is offering a similar deal. (Is it really any surprise that Azul is owned by David Neeleman, who is also responsible for the creation of Jet Blue?)

The Passaporte Azul is up for grabs for the shockingly low price of $285. Granted, you'll first have to pick up the tab for a flight from your home turf to Brazil and back ($830 from NYC; $1,010 from Chicago; $660 from Miami; all to São Paulo), but once you arrive, there's nothing stopping you from sleeping in São Paulo or waking up in Manaus, the gateway to the Amazon, or any one of the 12 other Brazilian cities—Beleo Horizonte, Campo Grande, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Maceió, Maringá, Navegantes, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Vitória—Azul services.

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Star Mapper: Manhattan, 9/09

Anyone who knows me can attest to my having a healthy and, er, perfectly natural fascination with celeb culture, so I was more than happy to take on the role as the go-to person for celebrity coverage on TravelandLeisure.com.

As a part of that beat, I’d like to introduce a new series: Star Mapper. I’ll let you know where the A-Listers go (and hey, I’m not too proud to go after some D-Listers too. *ahem* Kathy Griffin *cough*), along with a little info about their fave haunts and destinations.

Our first installment? Celeb spottings in Travel + Leisure’s own star-studded backyard: New York City.


View Travel + Leisure: Celeb-Spotting, NYC Sept. 2009 in a larger map

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Homer Simpson to Lead World’s Largest Chicken Dance

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We’ve all heard of Oktoberfest, that annual two-week-long beer- and wurst-fueled party—though party seems a bit of an understatement, no?—held in Munich, Germany. But what some of you may not know about is that the U.S. has its own pint-sized version of the celebration in Cincinnati, OH—renamed "Zinzinnati" for the event.

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New Website Teaches Kids About Travel

Can’t afford to take your kids on an African safari? Or maybe you're just looking for a fun way for them to learn about different parts of the world so they have a greater appreciation when you do book that trip. Well, last week I was introduced to a new website that solves either problem: Wonder Rotunda.

The website is an interactive educational tool for kids. After signing up—a year’s pass to the site is $45—kids create a personalized character and are given a brief tutorial by Mr. Wonder, who remains their tour guide throughout the rest of their animated “travels.”

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Damon and Cheadle Vacation at Clooney’s Italian Villa

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What do George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Don Cheadle have in common? Aside from being A-list Hollywood hotshots, the three co-starred in the high-stakes Oceans trilogy—Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and Ocean’s Thirteen—each cast as professional thieves you couldn’t help but love, and admire.

So after working together so much, it’s no surprise that the friendly trio enjoys time off-set. Their latest adventure? A trip to Laglio, a waterfront town in northern Italy set against the backdrop of dramatic Lake Como, where George just happens to own 19th-century vacation home, Villa Oleandra.

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Do British Columbia Like Zac Efron—If You Dare!

Zac Efron, the teen heartthrob and young actor of movie High School Musical fame, has been spending some time in Vancouver, British Columbia lately while filming his latest flick, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud.

In the film, Zac plays Charlie St. Cloud, a man still stricken with guilt from the death of his brother 13 years prior. So much so, he becomes a caretaker at the cemetery where his brother is buried, and each night plays catch with the child ghost of his dead brother. When a new love interest captures Charlie's affection, he considers breaking his promise to never leave his brother’s side.

So it’s no surprise, really, that to combat the rather somber film’s emotional subject matter, Zac has made an effort to let loose off the set. How, you might ask? By heading to Whistler, where he took a fearless leap off a bridge 160 feet above the Cheakamus River.

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