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Tweeting My Way Through San Francisco


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Whenever I head out of town, I turn to my small but trusty band of Twitter followers for recommendations in my destination, but I really discovered the power of social media during my visit to San Francisco last month. As has become the norm for me now before any of my trips, in the days leading up to my departure I hashtagged away to glory and beseeched strangers and friends alike for tips.

Soon an itinerary was taking shape (many thanks, @PaperDaydream, @JasleenK, @streetno8, @BeautyNDFeast, @LettuceVeg, and @chiratsu!), incorporating classic landmarks like Lombard Street with restaurants and neighborhoods I never would have found in my guidebook.

 One place that kept making its way onto my Twitter timeline was a sandwich shop called Ike’s Place (3489 16th St.) on the fringes of the colorful, mural-bedecked Mission District. It generated so much buzz in response to my queries that the first thing I did was plug the address into my GPS to make it my starting point.

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TODAY Show: Quick Weekend Getaways

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

New Website Helps Travelers Pick the Best Hotel Room

Brad Gerstner

Who He Is: As founder and CEO of Altimeter Capital, a hedge fund that specializes in travel-themed tech companies, Brad Gerstner spends a lot of time on the road as both a business and a leisure traveler. As a result, he knows how to spot a good hotel room (“on a high floor and away from the elevator”)—a skill he leveraged when creating his latest company.

His Big Idea: The website room77.com promises to help travelers pick the perfect hotel room. (Sort of like what SeatGuru did for airline seats.) The site offers floor plans, pictures, user reviews, and window views for rooms in 2,500 three-star-plus hotels (and counting). A new iPhone app provides the same service for free, on the go. So now guests can book a room and not worry about that blocked ocean view the hotel’s website neglected to mention.

Photo courtesy of Brad Gerstner

Editor Find: Fabulous Flats in Florence

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I don't know about you, but I'm forever on the hunt for that quintessential thing that you can only find locally—like the conch shells from the beaches of Turks and Caicos or Ladurée macaroons (before the French company decided to sell out and populate the earth). It's that thing you would ask a friend to pick up if you knew they were going. Rare as it is with the internet at our fingertips, it's still fun to make discoveries when we travel.

While in Florence on a T+L Sept cover shoot, I noted a great pair of navy suede ballet flats on an effortlessly chic Italian colleague. Always on the hunt for great travel flats, I became obsessed when she told me how much she paid and had to make a mad dash to the shop before I got on the plane the next morning.

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America Voted "Funniest Nation," Germany "Least Funny"

eTurbo News |  The Americans have been voted the world's "funniest nationality" - the one "best at making people laugh" - in a global poll, which also names the Germans the "least funny" nationality and the British "not as funny as they think."

30,000 people across 15 countries were asked to name both the "funniest" and "least funny" nationality in a poll conducted by Badoo.com, the world's largest social network for meeting new people, with 119m users worldwide.

The Americans were voted the funniest nationality, ahead of the Spanish - the funniest Europeans - in second, Italians in third and British in seventh.

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Two Road Shows: New Films Worth Watching

In between blockbusters at the drive-in this summer, catch up with
these two insightful journey documentaries.
Airing on mun2 and iTunes digital download, Harlistas: An American Journey profiles Latino Harley Davidson motorcyclists as they take their hogs to the highway.

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Buy Dad an Airline Beverage Cart on eBay

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Ever wonder what happens to the bits and bobs of airplanes after they’re decommissioned?  You can find them on eBay.

Universal Asset Management buys retired planes and strips them to recycle their components.  The company runs an eBay storefront where you can shop for all your engine aft thrust fitting needs—from an entire A320 lavatory (!) to cockpit seats, galley carts, overhead bins, first aid kits, a row of luridly colored 747 seats, to more technical items like circuit panels, wheels, assembly valves, tail cones, and oil gauges.  The products that make the eBay store are not longer flight-worthy, of course, except for flights of fancy.  Those overhead bins would look cool mounted over a airplane-crazy child's bed...

Ann Shields is an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Universal Asset Management.

Guess Where? Yellow Buddha

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This vibrant building, decorated in small sculptures of the Buddha, is part of an imperial garden complex that re-opened as a public park in 1924. Do you know where this is?

Log in and leave your guesses below and check back here on Monday for the answer.

UPDATE 6/17/11: Sorry for the delay! Again, no guesses this time. Remember, leave your answers here if you're coming from Facebook. This ornate building is in the Summer Palace in Beijing.

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

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

Ritz-Carlton for $10 a night. No, really.

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Yep, just 1 Alexander Hamilton can get you a room at Florida’s Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne. Of course, we didn’t say there wasn’t a catch. Actually, there are several, so listen up: the Ritz has set aside only 10 rooms for this ridiculous rate; it’s available over selected dates in July (5-7, 10-13, 18, 25, 26); it’s a resort-view room (you want to see water for $10?); and to get one, there’s just a 4-hour window in which to make your reservation—this Friday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST. Here’s the magic number to call: 305-365-4582.

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Big Sky Ranch Lodges Go Glam

Resort at Paws Up

Pack your spurs: two ranches are adding a new dose of glamour to Big Sky Country. Opening this June in Wyoming, the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch (doubles from $1,200, all-inclusive) is located on 13,000 sprawling acres. On the itinerary? Twilight tours past a roaming buffalo herd, juniper-oil massages, and plenty of relaxing in the 17 cabins with roaring stone fireplaces. Outside Missoula, Montana’s Resort at Paws Up (doubles from $820, including all meals) is unveiling a new six-tent camp with oversize tubs and butler service this summer.

Photo courtesy of Resort at Paws Up

New Tourist Slogans Twist Arms

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Cheesy travel slogans are a dime a dozen. There's something decidedly square in the art of selling destinations, and rightly so. Not only must you lure new travelers, you also have to represent the locals who live in these places—and you probably shouldn't tick them off.

So, it's all the more interesting to notice some chance-taking of late.  A few brave tourist boards—hoping to zap awake a sleepy economy, defibrillator-style—have unveiled a slew of over-the-top, playfully arm-twisting slogans.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Beach Escapes in Jamaica, Oahu, and the Florida Keys

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Steamy scenes across the U.S. have us yearning for cool beach breezes. Enter Vacationist, with hotel deals at oceanfront properties from the Caribbean to the Florida Keys. PLUS Don’t forget: This month we’ve teamed up with Preferred Hotels to present Check-In for Japan. Book one of the 21 Preferred Hotels on sale now, and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross disaster relief fund.

Still not a member? Click here to join.

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Beach Tomato Names Its Top 5 Favorite European Beaches

SPECIAL REPORT: With summertime now in full stride, UK-based Beach Tomato has announced its list of favorite European beaches. Check out its expert picks for the best southernly stretches of sand around:

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1. Cala Boix, Ibiza
On the sleepy side of the Balearic island, just outside the typically Ibizan whitewashed village of San Carlos is a little known black-sanded beach popular with local families and off-the-clock DJs seeking respite from the thud thud thud of Ibiza’s glamorous beach clubs. Pack a picnic and that book you’ve been meaning to read since Christmas. Then, at sundown, hop a couple of beaches over to dine at the waterfront beach shack El Bigote. The seafood supper (think fresh daily catches) served here is an island institution.

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New Study: What U.S. City is No. 1 for Bed Bug Infestations?

USA TodayNew York, for the second year in a row, according to a study just released by pest-control giant Terminix. Not really a surprise, since NYC is a populous metropolis with well-publicized infestations everywhere from apartment buildings to businesses such as department stores, magazine offices, even Lincoln Center.

Terminix reports an increase in bed bug infestations in most states during the past year, in part because consumers are more aware and on the lookout for the tiny pests, Terminix entymologist Paul Curtis told me.

The company's list of most bed bug-plagued cities, based on customer complaints validated by Terminix and infestations discovered during pest calls:

1. New York
2. Cincinnati
3. Detroit

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If Travel Searches Are Any Indication, You're Probably Going to Vegas This Summer

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Anyone still wondering where to go on vacation in the next few months might get some ideas from the 20 top hotel destinations searched for this coming summer on Kayak.com, the price-comparison travel site. Most popular: Las Vegas, where the average hotel rate from June through August is $130, down slightly from summer 2010. Most expensive: New York, where rooms averaged $218, up nearly 15 percent from a year ago. Biggest increase: Bangkok, whose average room rate was up a whopping 40 percent from last year. (On the other hand, the summer average for a hotel in Bangkok is just $117, so stop complaining.) Cheapest: San Jose, Costa Rica, with an average rate of $94.

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Singapore 'to Overtake Vegas' as Gambling Hub

Breitbart |  Singapore is set to overtake Las Vegas as the world's second-largest gambling hub this year, a US gaming industry head said Tuesday, as Asia cements its place as a major betting market.

Singapore has emerged as Asia's hottest new gambling destination with a revamped cityscape and billions of dollars pouring into the economy, after the opening of two resort casinos in 2010.

The strong growth came after Macau—the world's biggest gaming hub—leapfrogged Las Vegas in gaming revenue and continues to post record-breaking growth, thanks to burgeoning numbers of wealthy Asians.

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Our New Favorite Amenity: Cool Hotel Vehicles

custom seaplane at Beach House Maldives

Our favorite new amenity? Getting your own private escape-mobile. As far as airport transfers go, it doesn’t get much better than Beach House Maldives, a Waldorf Astoria Resort (doubles from $815), where guests are greeted by a DeHavilland Twin Otter seaplane tricked out with everything from iPads to Bose noise-canceling headphones.

Coming this summer to all stateside Fairmont Hotels (doubles from $169): BMW Cruise bikes (plus helmets and locks, of course).

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Open Wide: The Big New York Sandwich Book

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“Too few people understand a really good sandwich,” lamented the consummate foodie, James Beard, in a quote that appears on The Big New York Sandwich Book, by Sara Reistad-Long and Jean Tang (Running Press).

The new cookbook attempts to remedy this quandary with 99 creations from some of the best chefs in the Big Apple—a city that understands a thing or two about sandwiches.

While the recipes make it a worthwhile edition to your cookbook collection, the tone and selections make it fun—no matter what you’re in the mood for.

Here are a five of our favorites. Which one are you?

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Travel Outfit: Anna Trzebinksi

Anna Trzebinski

When Nairobi-based fashion designer Anna Trzebinski boards a Tropic Air helicopter or a single-engine Cessna, she’s usually heading for Lemarti’s Camp, the eco-glam safari lodge she owns in the northern frontier of Kenya with her Samburu husband, Loyapan Lemarti. “I have to pack ultralight when traveling this way,” she says. “But that doesn’t mean I leave my favorite pieces behind.” Her look: cross-cultural bohemian. “I love clothes that have harmony and balance,” says Trzebinksi, who pairs a paisley cotton Etro shirt ($525) with stretch-twill Worn Jeans jodhpurs (from $80) and canvas Ed Hardy slip-on sneakers ($59). She never takes off the gold-and-citrine Carolyn Roumeguere snake talisman ($1,950) that hangs around her neck or the stack of beaded bracelets ($45 each) that she designed with the names of her husband and her daughter, Tacha. Trzebinski tops off the ensemble with a vintage suede-and-shearling hoodie vest. And it all works, whether she’s on a game drive in her custom-fitted Land Cruiser or jetting off for one of the African-inspired trunk shows that she hosts from New York City to Aspen, Colorado.

Her Packing Picks:

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Atlanta’s Top Food & Wine Festival Restaurants

chef Steven Satterfield

With the debut of the very first Atlanta Food & Wine Festival last month, T+L takes a tour of the city’s Westside—a meatpacking district turned culinary and cultural hot spot.

The fried chicken is so popular at JCT. Kitchen & Bar—named for the railroad junction that once transported livestock to the area—that it regularly sells out. The daily catch, served with local cauliflower, is just as delicious. 1198 Howell Mill Rd., Ste. 18; 404/355-2252; dinner for two $72.

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Top New Spring-Summer Art Exhibits

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit

New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” (May 4–July 31) pays homage to the late British fashion designer by displaying more than 100 of his creations (a jacket with horns in place of epaulets; bulbous “armadillo” shoes).

France: With various exhibits across 30 institutions in the French Riviera, “Contemporary Art and the Côte d’Azur” (June 25–Nov. 7) spans 60 years of work by more than 200 artists, from Picasso to performance artist Philippe Ramette.

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Tech Review: T-Mobile G2x Smartphone

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With the advent of the smartphone, finding a cell phone that has access to travel-friendly apps is easy. Nowadays, the real trick is finding one that not only can run all those apps, but also do it seamlessly.

So when I tested out the new T-Mobile G2x, powered by Android 2.2, I was happy to see that it was top notch. The phone, released just a few weeks ago, is a great addition to the slew of new Android-based smartphones. I found the touchscreen to be extremely responsive and on point when making selections and even typing texts. (Though I should admit, I don't think it's quite up to par with iPhone's responsiveness, but that's a feat that seems to be among the biggest challenges for all creators of touchscreens.) Still, the mistakes made while firing off texts were few and far between.

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Guess Where? Brewery

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What you're looking at here is a series of trucks, trains and boats hanging from the ceiling of a famous brewery in Europe. Can you guess where this is?

Log in and leave your guesses below and check back here on Monday for the answer.

UPDATE 6/06/11: Nobody got this! If you're eager to know, it's the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Ireland.

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

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

15 New York Luxury Hotels Offer 3rd Night Free

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Sarah Palin was in NYC yesterday, as part of her not-a-campaign bus tour. I doubt that she’s a fan of a city with so few hunting opportunities and so many liberals (yes, there’s a joke waiting to be made right there), but I doubt even she can deny the thrill of being in a city so chockablock with culture and food and people and ideas. Last year’s almost 49 million visitors can’t be wrong.

While ex-Governor Palin’s accommodations have certainly been taken care of (no overnight bus parking, sorry!), you may find the search for a hotel room daunting. Fear not: NYC & Company’s Third Night promotion gets underway on June 27 and runs through September 5. Fifteen big-name hotels, the kind of places that almost never offer discounts, are participating in their Signature Collection promotion.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Manhattan, California, and the British Virgin Islands

201106-b-bitterendjpgWe’ve got a mixed bag today: a stay at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City gives you coveted access to the blossoming gardens of the city’s most exclusive private park, while a couple nights at Bernardus Lodge means you’ll unwind among grape vines just north of California’s Big Sur. Throw in a British Virgin Islands beach getaway deal, and this summer, you’ll be living easy.

Not what you’re looking for? Click here for Italy, Moorea, and more.

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'1,001 Inventions' Celebrates Muslim Heritage

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Did you know that a Turkish cartographer drafted one of the oldest surviving maps of the Americas? That a Muslim woman in Morocco founded the world’s first modern university, which still holds classes today? That a man named Abbas ibn Firnas tried to invent a flying machine... more than a thousand years before the Wright Brothers finally succeeded? That the word candy came from the Arabic qand?

With the recent congressional hearings on Muslim Americans and the furor surrounding the community center near Ground Zero, it’s easy to overlook all the positive contributions Muslims have made to modern society. So “1,001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World,” which opened May 27 at the California Science Center, in Los Angeles, couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment.

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TODAY Show: Don't Get Hit With Hidden Travel Fees

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

Travel + Leisure's features director, Nilou Motamed, breaks down taxes, fees, and surcharges some airlines are burying in the cost of plane tickets purchased through rewards programs.

Effective Today, American Airlines Requires Large Strollers to Be Checked As Baggage

If you're ever among the last to board a flight, as I often am, you're familiar with the sight of baby strollers, sometimes a dozen or more, parked in the jetway near the aircraft door. Long a tradition with family travelers, "gate-checking" strollers is commonplace on most airlines. Passengers often prefer to keep infants in their strollers until they enter the plane, leave the carriers with a crew member to be stored just before departure, and then brought back out onto the next jetway after arrival. But don't count on doing that with many types of strollers anymore if you're flying on American Airlines. Starting today, a new AA rule stipulates that "all strollers that are large, non-collapsible or over 20 lbs." must be checked at the ticket counter.

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2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season Will Be Active, Have More US Landfalls

The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season begins today, June 1, and ends November 30:

201106-b-hurricane-istockjpgAccuWeather.com Hurricane Center meteorologists, led by Meteorologist and Hurricane Forecaster Paul Pastelok, are predicting an active season for 2011 with more impact on the U.S. coastline than last year.

The team is forecasting a total of 15 named tropical storms, eight of which will attain hurricane status and four of which will attain major hurricane status (Category 3 or higher).

In a normal year, there are 10 tropical storms, six of which become hurricanes and two of which become major hurricanes, or attain winds that exceed 110 mph.

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Top Paris Hotels Left Off "Palace" List

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A jury composed by the Ministry of Tourism has awarded the new 'Palace' label to eight Paris hotels—Le Bristol, Le Meurice, the Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme and Le Shangri-La among them. But to the confusion of many in the industry, the Four Seasons George V and Hôtel Ritz, Paris did not make the grade.

Only five-star hotels could apply for the Palace distinction, but the fact that two illustrious addresses were not recognized has caused dismay. As a result, a new call for candidates was issued and certain criteria have been relaxed: The Royal Monceau, for example, is too recent to have participated in the firstround, but it will be considered in the next one. The call closes in June.

Tina Isaac is Travel + Leisure's Paris correspondent.

Photo courtesy of The Ritz, Paris

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