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Rent an Entire Country?

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When it comes to vacation rentals, we’re all familiar with hotels, resorts, villas, yurts, and boats. But what if you had the chance (and budget) to take it to the next level, and rent an entire country? (No, there’s no typo there. And yes, you read that right.)

Airbnb.com, a vacation rental site that lets people rent out their own properties to travelers looking to stray from the typical hotel stay, is really stepping up its game with this offer, which (literally) puts the key to the small country of Liechtenstein (which rests on Austria’s western border) in your hands. But you’ll need to be a high-roller (or at least have a ton of friends willing to pool resources) if you want take advantage; the cost is $70,000 per night.

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Guess Where? City Greenery

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This bucolic scene is in an unexpected location. Can you guess where this is? Let us know if you need a clue.

Log in and leave your guesses below and be sure to check back on Monday for the correct answer.

UPDATE 4/25/11: We thought this one would stump you guys, but T+L community member sherrylachelle actually got this one! This image is of the Washington Mews in New York. This house, which looks like it belongs in the Tuscan countryside, is located right in the middle of Greenwich Village on a privated gated street a few blocks north of Washington Square Park. Originally built as stables, these buildings now house offices and residences for New York University.

Lyndsey Matthews is an online editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Travel + Leisure's Photography Contest

100 Places to Go Before They Disappear

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100 Places to Go Before They Disappear, a gorgeous new book of photos which comes out May 1, is dedicated to 100 places around the world that are already on their way or in danger of disappearing forever. In honor of Earth Day, which began as an environmental teach-in in response to an oil spill off of California's coast in 1970, we’re highlighting a few excerpts from some of the most fascinating destinations featured in the book, available from Abrams Publishing on May 1 for $24.95.

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A Fashion Photog Goes Rogue in Milan


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Read the first part of guest blogger-photographer Elizabeth Lippman’s special series about departing from the fashion flock here.

After flying into the new airport in Milan, I hop on the Malpensa Express into the city, as guided by my super-helpful host from AirBnB.com, Fabrizio, who sent me emails with PDFs of maps, directions, his cell number, email addresses, etc.

But my cabbie drops me off with all my camera equipment (I am in town to shoot the fashion shows) on a street corner nowhere near where I’m going. Two panicked phone calls and another 12 Euro cab ride later, I find Fabrizio waiting for me nervously in Piazza 24 Maggio.

I get a tour of the apartment where I'll be living WITH Fabrizio and his wife, Asia, for the next four days. Only I, the lone American, seem to find this arrangement incredibly weird and awkward. All my other accommodations on this trip have required borrowing someone's personal space, but not actually sharing it. Here I will be sharing an apartment, and a bathroom, with this married couple.

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Hotel Opening: Oberoi's Delhi Alternative

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If you find yourself heading to Delhi in the future, but are overwhelmed by the populous metropolis that it is, consider staying at the newly opened Oberoi, Gurgaon, located just outside of the city in a self-described “urban oasis.”

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For Love and Lobster: Chef Migration Continues in Maine


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Ridiculously fresh seafood. Check. Farms and farmers markets galore. Yup. Great scenery. You bet. Real estate deals. Indeed. Locals and visitors who are serious about good food. Definitely. For these reasons and more, a growing number of chefs are decamping Downeast.

Geoffroy Deconinck is latest chef to trade in his fancy toque for a new start in Maine. Having worked side by side with Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, and Alain Ducasse, the 38-year-old Belgian is the newly named executive chef at Natalie’s restaurant at the Camden Harbour Inn.

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DOT Enacts Sweeping New Air-Passenger Protections

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It has been 12 years since the air-passenger rights movement first got off the ground, but now it's positively soaring, thanks to a new set of consumer protections announced today by the Department of Transportation. Among other things, provisions in the new rule would close a loophole that exempted international flights from the tarmac delay limits enacted last year; require airlines to prominently list all fees a passenger might face on a flight; increase maximum compensation paid to involuntarily bumped passengers from a range of $400-$800 to $650-$1,300; allow passengers to cancel or change a reservation within 24 hours with no penalty (if the reservation is made at least a week before departure); and force airlines to refund baggage fees when they lose a customer's luggage. Most of the provisions will go into effect 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Easy Escapes from U.S. Cities

201104-v-plumpjackjpgMay is just around the corner, so we’re thinking about easy weekend getaways that are perfect for the warm weather months. First up is PlumpJack, a mountainside retreat at the base of Squaw Valley, well-situated for hikers and cyclists looking for outdoor adventure a few hours outside San Francisco. Sybarites will love the Riviera Palm Springs, a newly-renovated resort 100 miles from L.A. with a grand spa and expansive gardens.

Still not a member? Click here to join.

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Best Espadrilles for Spring

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For a shoe traditionally made out of canvas and esparto grass, the espadrille has logged a lot of miles over the years. First worn by Catalan peasants in the 1200’s, by the mid 1900’s they were all over Europe, slipping on and off the feet of Salvador Dalí, Coco Chanel, and Brigitte Bardot. In 1970 the look went high fashion when Yves Saint Laurent sent a high-heeled, gold-ribboned pair down his runway. Since then the shoe has been reimagined season after season, appearing on travelers from Malibu to Marrakesh—and no wonder. Whether a graphic Tory Burch flat or a wedge sandal by Coach, the espadrille is the tunic of footwear: easily tucked into a weekender, it can go for a stroll along the beach or a night out on the town.

Photo by Charles Masters

New App Helps NYC Drivers Find Parking

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New York City drivers (and visitors to the Big Apple) flustered with the elaborate maze of parking regulations, shifting street-sweeping schedules, and frivolous no-parking hours can rejoice. A new app for iPhone and iPad untangles Gotham’s parking knot by illuminating the city’s rules and regulations with a tap of a finger. Building on previous parking apps, ParkPal ($3, Apple) delivers an easy-to-operate and accurate—the information comes from the New York City Department of Transportation database—interface with parking ordinances from all five boroughs.

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The Early Show: Best U.S. Landmarks

Travel + Leisure editor Sarah Spagnolo discusses America's best (and most beautiful) landmarks, including the Washington Monument and New Orleans' Garden District.  Read the complete article here, and let us know if you agree with our list.

Q & A with a Tech Whiz Kid

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Tom Samiljan, the technology-guru who wrote our “Best Travel Gadgets 2011/T+L Tech Awards” (in our May 2011 issue), has some pretty interesting things to say about the future of gadgets. I asked him a few of my most burning questions:

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Two for the Road To Celebrate Bike Month

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This is me with my first bike. Just kidding. It's my second bike. But my favorite bike of all was a lime-green metal-flake Schwinn Stingray with gooseneck handlebars, a white banana seat, sissy bar with red reflector, and a treadless rear tire that let you lay a brodie 10 feet long. Unfortunately, it belonged to my sister. That's the memory that stirs in me as we approach all the events set for Bike Month in May.

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Grand (Re-)Opening: SFO's Terminal 2!

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SFO's long-awaited Terminal 2 opened last week after a $383 million upgrade and renovation. Designed by global architecture powerhouse Gensler, the new terminal is home to American Airlines and Virgin America and is remarkable for its strong public art program and commitment to sustainability (it's anticipated to achieve LEED Gold Certification). It's also the first airport dining program in the country to have a 'slow food' food court: they recruited and prioritized vendors, like the Plant Cafe Organic, Pinkberry, and Lark Creek Grill, that offer healthy food from local, organic sources. Find more info here.

Jaime Gross is Travel + Leisure's San Francisco correspondent.

Image courtesy of Gensler. Photographer: Bruce Damonte

Guess Where: Geometric Architecture

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This geometric structure was built for a World Expo. Do you know where this is?

Log in and leave your guesses below and be sure to check back on Monday for the correct answer.

UPDATE 4/18/11: T+L community members AAO, silviasantoyo, and MarcoNorth all guessed correctly—this is a photo of the Oriente Station in Lisbon, Portugal.  Architect Santiago Calatrava designed this structure, which houses a train station, a subway station, and a bus terminal, to accommodate the influx of visitors to the city during the 1998 World Expo. It is located in the Parque das Nações, the site of the Expo.

Lyndsey Matthews is an online editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Travel + Leisure's Photography Contest

Style Hunter's Find: Viva Zapata

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Viva Zapata is a sturdy collection of funky bags made by Argentinian expat Tania Carole Lugones. Each weekend for 7 years she would set up a table in New York City's Soho neighborhood outside of the Camper boutique selling her designs hand sewn out of vinyl remnants from bus seats in Buenos Aires. To date Tania has sold more than 8,000 of them. That’s a lot of seat covers! Up until last year she had to work as a nanny to support herself. This is the first year she can focus solely on design.

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Denver Deals via Text

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By now, most cities in the States have developed a mobile app or two to help visitors navigate via their smart phone or iPad. But Visit Denver, the official CVB of the Mile High City, has something even cooler up their sleeve. While many web-savvy travelers are familiar with online deal sites, like Groupon, Visit Denver developed the “Denver Deals” program to deliver deals from area businesses via text message.

While I’m glued to my desk in New York for the moment, I tested out this new program—the first of its kind—to see what they had to offer.

I texted “Denver Deals” to 63638 and within a few seconds my inbox had two new messages:

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A Fashion Photog Goes Rogue in London

201104-b-fashion-1jpgI am backstage at the Michael Van Der Ham fashion show in London, in an ancient-looking building on the Thames. In the midst of the crush of models, dressers, other photographers and frantic hair and makeup teams, I am trying to get a great "beauty" photo for my client, a top fashion magazine. A makeup artist I know from New York, hands buried in a hunk of hair extensions, asks, "Are you going to Milan, too? Where are you staying?" So I tell her the truth—in an apartment with a Milanese couple.

"Oh, how do you know them?"

I don't. I found them on the Internet.

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Reinventing the Taj Brand

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Raymond Bickson, chief executive and managing director of the luxury chain Taj Hotels, Resorts, and Palaces, gave a master class in hotel branding to a select group of CEOs yesterday. It's a story that few have heard: how that company regrouped, rebounded, and reinvented itself in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that killed scores of people and nearly destroyed the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (above).

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Escape to Italy

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At T+L we’re always dreaming about our next Italian getaway (check out April Europe issue!), and now you can plan your trip for less thanks to Vacationist. Choose between a beachfront villa in Sicily; a terraced retreat along the Amalfi Coast; a grande dame in Capri; and a chic boutique hotel on a side street in Milan. Hotel deals are up 70% off, so start planning now.

Still not a member? Click here to join.

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Save Money with Your Dog on the Road

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As much as I love a seven-star oceanfront suite in Bali or a perfect boutique hotel with 10,000-count sheets, I also have a fondness for the classic American motel thanks to a childhood road trip to Disneyland. The problem is, many of the motels that sit along America's highways look like they haven’t been updated since my family made that long drive from New Jersey to Florida in the '70s.

For several weeks, my wife and I have been driving cross-country with our dog. While we've been fortunate to find small owner-operated inns and B&Bs that accept our mutt, sometimes it's impossible to avoid the chain hotels. (By the way, they don't call themselves "motels" anymore. The hotel and lodging industry officially abandoned the portmanteau of "motoring" and "hotel" in 2000.) The results have been mixed. At a certain dog-friendly national chain in Beaumont, TX, we were greeted by an incompetent and rude front-desk worker. At a different chain hotel in Charleston, WV, our room was way too shabby for the $99 per night price tag.

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Taste the Whisky on Your Tonga


The latest Canadian Club "Hide A Case" competition is now underway—without me. As you might remember from an item posted here last year, the company has hidden dozens of cases of Canadian Club in exotic locales around the world since 1967; most of them were discovered by adventurers thanks to the distillery's clues printed in magazine advertisements. Now four Americans and four Canadians have solved the latest series of clues and are headed for the island-nation of Tonga, where one of the few remaining hidden cases of C.C. whisky—and a check for $100,000—awaits the person who discovers the exact location.

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All About Apples at Pomze, Paris

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When I think of French food, images of smooth foie gras, flavorful duck confit, sumptuous cheeses and fluffy cream puffs instantly come to mind. But apples? A more unexpected association. Convinced of the limitless culinary uses of the forbidden fruit, brothers Daniel and Emmanuel Dayan opened Pomze in Paris in November, 2006 in a converted Haussmanian apartment in the 8th arrondissement, where more than 120 apple varieties are worked into their seasonally updated offering. Approximately 600kg of apples are delivered each week to satisfy client demand, proof that the fruit-focused hotspot has garnered a loyal following.

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Travel for a Cause: Packages that Give Back

As if you needed another reason to travel, we've found packages that are helping communities worldwide.

Hard Rock Hotels, including T+L favorites in Las Vegas and Orlando, is partnering with Facebook Places to raise money for WhyHunger, a non-profit organization that is a leader in the movement to end hunger and poverty. From now through December 31st, each time fans use Facebook Places to check into any Hard Rock Cafe location throughout the U.S., Hard Rock will donate $1 to benefit WhyHunger. For more information, and for a list of participating Hard Rock Cafe locations, visit www.hardrock.com or www.facebook.com/hardrock.

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Guess Where? Clock

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Can you guess where this fiery stained glass clock is? This one might be hard to guess, as I shot it on a behind-the-scenes tour of this New York City locale from a point of view few are familiar with. Where do you think this is?

Log in and leave your guesses below and be sure to check back on Monday for the correct answer.

UPDATE 4/11/11: T+L community member AdamDionne guessed right! This is the clock on Grand Central Terminal's 42nd Street facade, viewed from behind. It is the largest example of Tiffany glass in the world.

Lyndsey Matthews is an online editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Lyndsey Matthews

How to Take a Luxury Cruise For Less

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Crystal Cruises, the #1 large-ship cruise line in our annual World’s Best Awards since 1996, is re-introducing the idea of stand-by travel on five of their sailings in May and June. The potential savings from the brochure price are a mind-boggling 70%, bringing the cost of a 12-day cruise to $2,995, or $250 a day.

The itineraries available for standby are pretty exciting: three 12-day Alaska cruise out of San Francisco, an 11-day Scandinavia and Russia trip  (Hamburg to Stockholm); and a 14-day North Cape/Arctic Circle cruise (Copenhagen to Stockholm).

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Will the French Veil Ban Hurt Tourism?

BBC News - Passport Blog |   Starting 11 April, it will be illegal in France for any woman, citizen or tourist, to wear a full-faced veil.

That means no niqab in the Louvre, no niqab while shopping in the Marais, no niqab while walking the Champs-Élysées. Although the French law has gotten the most notice, Belgium was actually the first country to enact a ban last April. There are rumbles of similar laws in Italy, but other European countries have largely shot down similar attempts.

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Barcelona’s New Tapas Restaurant

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Food adventurers lamenting that they’ll never see the inside of El Bulli, now that the temple of experimental cuisine on the Costa Brava is being transformed into a cooking foundation, have reason to celebrate. Mad-scientist brothers Ferran and Albert Adrià have another trick up their sleeves. The just-opened Tickets, in Barcelona’s former cabaret district, aims to reinvigorate that Catalan staple, the tapa—with an Adrià twist, of course. “We want to offer a new approach to a traditional cuisine,” says Albert, whose nearby, more classic tapas bar, Lolita (formerly called Inopia), still draws lines around the block, even after five years. At Tickets, guests can grab a seat at one of six themed bars, including a parrilla grill station and another devoted to Mediterranean ingredients. On the menu: inflatos (fried, aromatized cereals) and artichokes with smoked Idiazábal cheese serum. For the concoctions that made El Bulli famous—sliced Parmesan ice cream, spherified “olives”—choose something off the menu at the cocktail bar, 41. As its name might suggest, Tickets is dining as entertainment, a concept driven home at the Technicolor dessert area, set beneath a big-top tent, where staff theatrically greet guests with flattering comments. “Only if they deserve it,” Albert says. 164 Avda. del Paral-lel; 34/93-423-2448; dinner for two $90.

Photo by Javier Salas

Vacationist Hotel Deals: Mexico, Thailand + Italy

201104-v-matildajpgNow that it’s shoulder season, we’re dreaming about far-flung getaways—places where we can leave the crowds behind. So whether you’re looking to stroll the cobblestone streets in San Miguel de Allende, lay by the sparkling Andaman Sea in Phuket, or dine on Sicilian pastas in Taormina, you’ll find it this week on Vacationist.

Still not a member? Click here to join.

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TODAY Show: Secret Island Escapes

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed shares her pick of the best island escapes, including Southport Island, Maine, and Caye Caulker, Belize.

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