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It's Barbie's World, We Just Visit It

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Pack up the hot-pink convertible: It may be time to take your Barbie-themed vacation.

On May 6, two official Barbie Dream House Experience attractions will open on our planet: one in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz Square, and the other in Sunrise, Florida.

For admission starting at $14, both sites promise to offer a life-sized immersion into Barbie’s plastic townhouse. You can take an elevator from room to room, create a virtual cupcake in the kitchen, explore Barbie's "endless closet" and experience the "walk-through glitterizer." On the attraction’s web site, you learn that you will see Barbie there "in unexpected ways," as well as encounter sister Skipper, the always-controversial Ken, and other characters including Raquelle, Ryan, and pets Blissa and Taffy. Florida opens May 6, Berlin May 16.

But not everyone is popping the pepto-pink champagne. According to The Independent, the Berlin branch of the Dream House has been attracting preemptive protestors, including one 27-year-old who launched an "Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse" Facebook page. "Barbie Dream House is the expression of a conventional role model that isn’t OK," Michael Koschitzki told The Independent’s Tony Paterson.

Meanwhile, the Dream House is not the only attraction for Barbiephiles. Royal Caribbean is now offering a Barbie Premium package, on certain voyages, which includes perks like a pink-décor stateroom, a tiaras-and-teacups party, and a fashion show. And this past January, a diner-style Barbie Café, also licensed by Mattel, opened in Taipei.

Interesting to note: Royal Caribbean seems to take pains to point out that its Barbie experience is meant for girls ages 4 to 11. The Dream House, meanwhile, more slyly acknowledges that Barbie’s appeal spans the generations (and genders) by declaring it for “fans of all ages.” And perhaps trying to reach those same fans, the Barbie Café in Taipei clearly has a bar.

Earlier: Barbie Arrives at Ellis Island.

Photo credit: © Barry Lewis/In Pictures/Corbis

The Emperor's New Tomb: Chinese Tourist Site Likely a Fake

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He's been blamed for the deaths of millions of his subjects—as well as the murder of his own father—the ancient Chinese emperor Yang Guang has also, apparently, put one over on thousands of tourists, even if he did so inadvertently.

According to a CNN Travel report by Frances Cha, archeologists recently discovered a tomb at a Yangzhou construction site, where tablets indicate that it was the actual resting place of the infamous ruler, who lived from 569 to 618. The site also features an adjoining tomb that may have belonged to Yang Guang’s empress.

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Hottie Crackdown: Men Booted from Saudi Festival for Their Looks

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Memo to Ryan Gosling and Jon Hamm: Steer clear of Riyadh.

According to a story in The Telegraph based on a report from the Arabic news site Elaph, three male delegates from the United Arab Emirates were recently asked to leave a cultural festival in the Saudi capital and subsequently deported back to Abu Dhabifor the crime of being too good-looking.

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Is Something Rotten in the City of La Jolla?

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If you’re in La Jolla for lunch, you might think twice before asking for patio seating.

According to various reports including one from The Associated Press, seriously stinky breezes are leaving tourists and business owners gasping for air.

"We've had to relocate tables inside," Christina Collignon, a hostess at the cliffside steak restaurant Eddie V's, told the AP. "Because when people go out to the patio, some are like 'Oh my God. I can't handle the smell.'"

The area of La Jolla Cove is home to some of the city’s best restaurants, posh boutique hotels, and a few famous, well-heeled residents like Mitt Romney. It's also an area of "special biological significance" by California law, which means there are strict regulations to protect local marine life, like dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, and countless birds.

Those rules have made the area attractive to large numbers of two endangered species, brown pelicans and cormorants. Both species have flocked to La Jolla, no pun intended, and have covered the seaside rocks and outcroppings with guano—lots of guano. The resulting scent, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune article, is akin to a blend of “rotting vinegar and human body odor.”

For years, La Jolla has been the site of another wildlife-related debate: the seals that have taken up residence on the previously human-covered Children's Pool beach. A new “beach cam" monitors both the seals and any humans who might bother them.

And now the bird funk, some say, is hurting local business. The owner of legendary local restaurant George’s at the Cove has started an online petition to clean up the poop—although city officials have indicated that environmental safety makes that chore complicated. Some have argued for horn blasts to shoo the birds away, while others have suggested tarps or intimidating falconry.

One La Jolla waiter, meanwhile, says that this may be the price one pays for natural harmony. “People come here because they want to see nature,” Anton Marek told the AP. “Poop is a part of nature.”

Photo by istockphoto

That Sinking Feeling: Passengers Rescued from Liverpool Duck Bus

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When Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip rode the amphibious tour bus, the Yellow Duckmarine, for a tour of Liverpool last year, they may have elevated this rather conspicuous mode of tourism to a slightly more dignified position.

This week, the image of these tours has sunk again—rather literally. Over Easter weekend, a lunchtime run by the Beatlemania-tinged tour—which passes by several local landmarks, including the Cavern Club where the Fab Four got their start—ended abruptly when the boat began to sink in the River Mersey. Luckily, as The Daily Mail's Becky Evans reports, all of the passengers were evacuated safely to a pontoon.  (Beatles nerds might note that "Ferry Cross the Mersey" was not a Beatles song, but a hit for Gerry & The Pacemakers.) From the shore, many passengers watched (and documented) the Duckmarine sinking, not unlike Pete Best’s star potential back in the day.

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The Ultimate Souvenir: Can You Find the Gold and Jewels Buried Somewhere in Santa Fe?

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Buried treasures aren't just for pirate tales: Visitors to New Mexico can now act out their It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World dreams by finding an actual treasure buried somewhere in the hills.

Jeri Clausing of the Associated Press recently reported on Forrest Fenn, an 82-year-old owner of Old Santa Fe Trading Co, a gallery in Santa Fe and author of the self-published a memoir, The Thrill of the Chase. The book details Fenn’s own colorful history from his humble youth in Texas, decorated service in Vietnam, and years of entertaining celebrities like Jackie Onassis in his art galleries, while dropping clues to readers about where he hid a 40-pound chest full of gold, trinkets and exotic jewels. Fenn says the booty is out there, free for the taking, somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe.

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Don't Stand Too Close to the Water Buffalo: Tourists Crash Funerals in Indonesia

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Few things provide a better glimpse into another culture like stumbling upon on a village wedding or festival when traveling, but what about funerals?

The Torajan people, who live in the South Sulawesi region of Indonesia, are known for their lavish funerals, which can last several days. According to a recent CNN report, tourists are increasingly coming to watch the festivities, and grapple with a variety of ethics surrounding funeral-crashing.

These ceremonies go well beyond the uplifting, jazz-fueled processions one might see on the streets of New Orleans—and they’re much tougher to get to. First, you need to fly from Jakarta or Bali to Makassar, then take an 8-hour bus ride to Rantepao.

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Locals Only: U.K. Antique Shop Bans Tourists

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Where does browsing end and loitering begin?

Mark Galpin, owner of Alladin's Cave, an antique shop in Christchurch, in Southwest England might say that the "oitering" starts as soon as you enter his establishment. The shopkeeper has made his store the subject of a brouhaha recently after he posted signs that say "Sorry No Tourists" and banned shoppers who don’t live within a 30-mile radius. "We have put up with it for three years, and we believe that maybe one in every 2,500 tourists has spent a pound or two," Galpin told the Daily Mail. "The rest have spent nothing." The sign explains the ban on the grounds that the store's items would be too large to ship. ("So, scram, why doncha!" is all but implied.)

Galpin told reporters that his sales have shot up since the ban—now that there's more room for paying customers to wander around—but some of Christchurch’s civic leaders are not happy about it. "It's just so depressing that we have got one eccentric trader taking this stance," Peter Watson-Lee, the chairman of the Christchurch Chamber of Trade, told reporters. "Tourists bring a lot of money into the town. He is in the wrong town if he doesn’t want to welcome them."

Galpin reportedly said that he might consider allowing tourists again—if they chip in some money to a pot for charitable donations.

Photo by Peter Jordan_NE / Alamy

Tag Boat: Graffiti Collective Turns Ship Into Art Project

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Many old cruiseliners may end up stripped for parts, but the Duke of Lancaster is proof that one man's scrap can become another's sprawling, blank canvas.

According to a CNN report by Sheena McKenzie, a graffiti collective recently cut a deal with the owners of an abandoned ship beached on Wales’ Dee Estuary, and invited artists from around Europe to start spray painting the vessel, while also pondering the theme of corruption. Some highlights: Three suit-and-tie-clad monkeys sitting on bags of money, some cartoonish pirates and a demon riding a uniformed pig.

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Thai Beaches Are The Latest Hot Zone in the Monkey Wars

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How cute, you might say, when you spot a monkey ambling along the beach in Thailand. (“Wait, where'd my lunch go?”) But lately the primates have become a little too aggressive, so authorities have posted new signs on beaches in the country's Krabi province (which includes Long Beach, Phi Phi Island and the aptly named Monkey Bay) that read "Beware of the Monkey" in both Thai and English. According to a report from the Bangkok Post, roughly 600 beachgoers have been treated at one local hospital in the past year for monkey bites. The furry beachgoers have gotten so used to edible hand-outs from their human enablers that they can turn ugly when spurned. A whopping 75 percent of the victims are foreigners.

The need for monkey caution, however, is not limited to Thailand. The monkeys at India’s Amanbaugh Resort in Rajasthan have gotten so close to the guests, the hotel employs staffers to chase the critters away from guestroom patios where the hotel sets out complimentary cookies. In London,  monkeys at the London Zoo have been known to pluck sunglasses right off visitors' heads. And in St. Kitts, the little rascals have been caught on video making off with tourists' cocktails. A more powerful deterrent, in the latter case, may be that monkeys can suffer from hangovers just like humans do.

Photo by David Kukin

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