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Look, Up in the Sky! It's a Bird... It's a Plane... Yes, It's a Plane...

My editor calls it "plane porn"; the GE Show calls it "Paths of Flight." I just call it beautiful.

In support of GE Aviation's efforts to help develop the next generation of U.S. airspace in association with the FAA, a video production team filmed 24 hours' worth of footage showing planes landing and taking off. The resulting one-minute 49-second video, which uses multiple images of individual planes to present a new perspective on flight paths, is nothing short of amazing. Astonishingly, there's no CG animation.

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CNN Asks, to Recline or not Recline?

Between actor Josh Duhamel's inappropriate Blackberry usage and director Kevin Smith's ongoing problems with various airlines, air rage is back in the news. CNN considers one common rage-maker: seat reclining.

The passenger in seat 9C was ready for a nap after takeoff, so he pushed the button on his armrest and reclined -- straight into the path of someone who apparently wouldn't have it.

Tensions grew quickly on the American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Denver on November 22, court papers show.

The incident adds fuel to a debate that seems to divide air travelers into two camps: those who say that reclining their seat on a plane is a right that comes when they buy a ticket and those who believe it's a privilege that shouldn't be abused.

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City of Brotherly Suds: A Weekend Tour of Philadelphia's Best Beer

The Yards Philadelphia

I’m convinced that there's a force field surrounding New York, preventing me from breaking free of the five boroughs. How else to explain the months that pass before I leave the city limits?

If one thing will make me leave my Brooklyn apartment, it’s beer. I’m cuckoo for bitter IPAs, chocolaty stouts, sour ales, and other carbonated pleasures of the craft-beer constellation. I’ve traveled from Portland to Portland (Maine and Oregon, I mean) to explore the brewing scenes.

But—Philadelphia? Sadly, I’ve neglected the City of Brotherly Suds, despite its groundswell of excellent breweries, bars, and eateries.

"Let’s go this weekend," my girlfriend, Jenene, suggested. "It's only two and a half hours away by train." Sold.

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Vacationist: Northern California for the family, plus Athens, and sexy Cabo San Lucas

Carmel Valley Ranch

This holiday season, 42 million people are expected to hit the road—probably on their way to a dinner table that won't fit the whole crew. T+L asks: Why not convince everyone to head to Carmel Valley Ranch, on 450 acres in Northern California? There’s a rope swing for the kids, a rustic-chic spa for the adults, and a restaurant overseen by chef Tim Wood. No one need slave away in the kitchen. With this week’s Vacationist sale, you can stay for less than $210 a night—even on Christmas Eve.

If you’d rather escape the States altogether, try The Margi, in Athens, for $125 a night, or the Haciendas Beach Club and Residences in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for 20% off. The deals are live now at Vacationist.com.

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here to join.

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Rogue Wave: 1; Cruise Ship: 0

Some environmentalists say we shouldn't allow too many tourists to visit Antarctica, for fear of disrupting the ecosystem. Seems that God may agree: He sent a 30-foot wave to punish passengers on a small luxury cruise ship returning to Argentina. AOL Travel has the full story (and video):

A massive wave in the Antarctic hit a small luxury cruise ship with 160 passengers and crew onboard so badly the vessel lost one of its engines.

The all-suite Clelia II was in the Drake Passage, heading back to Argentina, when the 30-foot wave washed over the deck.

The wave wiped out the expedition ship's power and communication system and shattered windows, according to various press reports. The ship declared an emergency.

The Clelia II is being operated by Oregon-based Polar Cruises, and all the passengers onboard are American. No injuries were reported.

Another ship, the National Geographic Explorer, operated by Lindblad Expeditions, happened to be nearby and was able to offer aid, including rigging a satellite phone to the distressed ship.

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Duracell Power Rovers Return to Times Square

star-jones-duracell-roverjpg

They’re back! Duracell has returned with their Power Rovers (which I wrote about last year) to help light the iconic numerals that adorn Times Square for New Year's Eve—as seen by millions (some in person, many others on television).

As in previous years, the rovers will be open for the public to hop aboard and pedal. The energy created will be transferred to Duracell Battery Centers, where it will remain until the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.

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Are Red Sea Shark Attacks on the Rise?

Mentioning Jaws is de rigueur whenever a shark attack draws headlines. For this weekend's fatal incident in Egypt, however, the reference actually makes sense. Having already caught two sharks in the area of earlier (non-fatal) attacks, authorities assumed the coast was clear. Now they're worried that more attacks are in their future. AOL Travel explains:

Authorities in Egypt gave the all clear, thinking they had caught the killer shark that had severely injured four tourists in a Red Sea resort area. They were wrong. And now an elderly German woman is dead from a shark attack.
The most recent attack occurred just a day after beaches were reopened in Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort town on the Sinai Peninsula, popular with divers and snorkelers.
The incident is drawing comparison to the storyline of the movie "Jaws," in which the mayor makes the wrong decision in the wake of a shark attack.
The woman was swimming off Sharm el-Sheikh when the shark tore off her arm, according to Egyptian officials. Witnesses reported hearing the victim screaming. She was killed almost immediately.
"It was definitely a shark attack," says Hesham Gabar, the head of Egypt's Chamber of Diving and Water Sports.
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Vote Now! T+L's World's Best Awards 2011 Survey

Oberoi Vanyavilas

It's that time of year again—T+L's World's Best Awards 2011 Survey is now live!

Go to TLWorldsBest.com and rate the hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines, airlines, travel companies, and destinations you love most. This year, the No. 1 hotel overall is the Oberoi Vanyavilas, a luxe jungle lodge in Ranthambore, India (shown above).

Which property do you love the most? Tell us and vote now! You’ll be entered for a chance to win a $10,000 dream trip. Other prizes include a $5,000 trip, two $2,500 trips, and two winners will receive American Express gift cards worth $1,000.

Click here for more information.

Photo courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The World’s Best Awards Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia age 18 or older. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Sweepstakes, visit www.TLWorldsBest.com. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 AM Eastern Time (ET) on 12/1/10 and ends at 11:59 PM (ET) on 3/31/11. Sponsor: American Express Publishing Corporation.

Weekend Getaway: North Carolina Culinary Escape

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Looking for a high-cal way to usher in the eating season? Look no further than the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. The triangle offers a fantastic mix of affordable southern comfort food as well as outstanding forward-thinking fare. Here, my personal favorites for an early winter pre-hibernation feast.

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Vacationist: Morocco, Hungary, and Italy

Pavillion du Golf

Here's a secret: Last month, a handful of travel experts converged in Marrakech. So take it from us, we're betting Morocco will be on the horizon for plenty of culture-loving globetrotters in 2011. How can you stay there for less? Vacationist delivers once again, this time with great deals at Le Pavillon du Golf, a secluded resort 15 minutes from the bustling bazaars of Marrakech. Or, if you prefer to trade flower gardens for Florence, try Hotel Posta, right in the city center, for less than $150 a night. These sales and more are at your fingertips now.

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here to join.

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Distill Your Own Single Malt in Scotland

Glenrothes Select Reserve

Choosing to ignore the negative images of hillbilly moonshiners, small-batch liquor distilleries have been cropping up faster than ticks on a coonhound. The locavore movement has clearly hit the bottle.

Want to run a still without rigging one in the woods behind your house? Take the high road to Scotland and learn from master whisky makers at Glenrothes.

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A Whale of a Time in the Canadian Subarctic

Paddling out into the river, it was hard to grasp just quite how far north I was. But sitting in a little yellow kayak, mere yards behind me swirled the Hudson Bay. And each stroke of an oar pushed me farther through subarctic waters toward the afternoon’s highlight: Beluga whales.

Churchill, Manitoba is known as the "polar bear capital" in October and November during bear season, but the tourism anarchist in me couldn't resist going in August. And while I desperately did want to see wild polar bears too, an off-peak visit in summertime also meant kayaking with whales on the Churchill River.

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Amtrak says, Guns Allowed on Board

Thanks to efforts by gun advocacy organizations, Amtrak passengers will now be allowed to bring their firearms on board. There are some restrictions. AOL Travel explains:

Congress ordered the reversal of a gun ban that had been in place on the government-owned railroad for nearly a decade, reports the Sacramento Bee. The policy change takes effect Dec. 15.

The new rail policy is in line with air travel rules that allow unloaded guns to be stored in locked baggage holds.

Gun owners will need to let Amtrak know 24 hours in advance of their intention to bring firearms onboard and the unloaded guns will need to be packed in hard-sided containers. These will be placed in special storage lockers - guns will not be allowed on trains that don't have checked baggage service.

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An Ode to John Galliano, Claridge's, and, of course, Christmas

John Galliano at Claridge's

A CHRISTMAS CORAL
John Galliano makes a splash
with his "Under the Sea" Xmas tree.
Sea horses, pink coral,
starfish, anemone.
Silver leaves and lavish jellyfish,
swim in Claridge's lobby.
It's my dearest winter wish
for a holiday suite at a
London hotel ever fab,
never snobby.

Shane Mitchell is a special correspondent for Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Maybourne Group.

The Hottest New Travel Technology

We head out to the PhoCusWright conference each year to find out what’s new in the world of Internet travel. This year’s was held last week at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, AZ—and while we didn’t get a chance to play the property’s gorgeous golf course (which is so steeped in Scottish tradition you can rent a kilt to play in!), we did get a chance to meet with some cutting-edge creators of travel technology. Some highlights:

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First Taste: Jose Garces's Newest Philadelphia Restaurant

jg-domestic-front-roomjpg

As you may remember, I stumbled upon the relatively new Garces Trading Co. on a recent visit to Philadelphia. Well, chef Jose Garces opened yet another restaurant in the city: JG Domestic. This is his seventh in Philadelphia; his eighth including Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago. I was invited to celebrate the opening by enjoying a dinner at the new space, conveniently located directly behind the 30th Street train station.

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Vacationist: California, London, Florence, and New York

Parker Palm Springs

Vacationist has upped the ante this week, perhaps to spur you, happy Thanksgiving revelers, into shopping for travel this holiday season. Because if you’re planning to look for deals in the next few weeks, we’re delivering stellar hotel stays for up to 60% off, right to your inbox.

Here’s a taste of what’s in store: a desert oasis in California, New York’s SoHo for a song, plus, coming up, a 2009 World’s Best Business hotel in London, a 2010 It List recipient in Florence—even a coveted room in a midtown Manhattan skyscraper, for easy access to the tree lighting come November 30th. A bonus? You never have to fight the Christmas crowds at Vacationist.com.

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here to join.

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Contest Watch: Italy for Two, Tory Burch Shopping Spree, and More

Italy for Two, DK Books

This month's contest watch is all about indulging. Whether it's a culinary trip through Italy, a $1,500 shopping spree, or sports fanaticism, leave the moderation at home.

Trip for Two to Italy, DK Books
Enter now through February 28

To celebrate DK’s inspirational new book, Where to Go When: Italy ($40, Oct ’10), DK Eyewitness Travel is giving foodies the chance to win a trip to Italy valued at $4770. The lucky winner and a friend will choose from more than 40 Epiculinary tours. To enter to win, simply sign up to receive the traveldk.com e-newsletter or visit their website.

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Travelocity's Thanksgiving Task Force Keeps Flyers Up-to-Date with Twitter

201011-b-travelocity-twitterjpg

Today and tomorrow are among the busiest travel days for the entire year, as folks make their ways to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving. If you’re one of the many who will brave the crowded airports (something I have done once, and will never do again), you may not be able to avoid delays, but you can at least get a heads-up.

For the tenth year, Travelocity has set up its Thanksgiving Task Force, which places spotters in 12 airports across the country to monitor and post updates on security wait times, delays and cancellations, and crowd conditions.

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New York City's Insieme Restaurant Welcomes Chef Andres Grundy

insieme-dessertjpg

I recently had the opportunity to sample some of the new items on the menu of Theater District restaurant Insieme (Italian for “together”), compliments of new executive chef, Andres Julian Grundy. As a New York City resident, I’m required to feel compelled to avoid Times Square and the immediate vicinity whenever possible. But this restaurant is making me second-guess that compulsion.

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Hermès Makes a Splash on the Left Bank

Hermes Paris

For the first time in its 173-year history, Hermès has ventured across the Seine to open a boutique on the Left Bank. But although this shop is the house’s second-largest (after the Right Bank flagship) it surpasses the "store" concept on several counts.

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FAA Plans to Ease Thanksgiving Air Travel Delays

Air traffic may be a little less congested this Thanksgiving holiday period as the FAA, in cooperation with the Defense Department, said it will allow commercial flights in otherwise restricted military airspace beginning at 6 a.m. Tuesday, November 23, a day earlier than last year.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced this morning that the Defense Department will open airspace over such highly congested areas as the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Southwest. Normal inland routes can continue to be used, according to the FAA.

The busiest Thanksgiving travel days are expected to be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday. Normal airspace restrictions will go back into effect at 6 a.m. Monday, November 29.

The announcement comes on the heels of new security procedures at the nation's airports. Passengers are routinely being required to pass through a controversial backscatter full body scanner or to undergo a thorough, some say invasive, pat down by a TSA agent. Whether the FAA's plan to ease air congestion this holiday period is enough to ease any passenger anxiety over the enhanced security methods is still up in the air.

Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure.

Vacationist: St. John, New York City, Charleston, Palm Springs and more

Galley Bay Resort & Spa

St. John's Galley Bay has its trump cards (private plunge pools; a brand-new spa; meandering lagoons) but our hearts are set on the big city—the sights, the sounds, the hustle and bustle. Thankfully, Vacationist gets it right this week, with impressive hotel deals in the Caribbean and New York, Charleston, and sunny Palm Springs. The city sales go live tomorrow, so shine your shoes and back your bags, and sit tight until logging on at noon EST. Then the all of these getaways are yours to enjoy, for less!

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here to join.

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UNESCO's Dubious Intangible Culture Awards

It's even better than reading The Onion. The UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has just released its latest list of cultural practices worth preserving. While some of them are obvious choices (French gastronomy, flamenco), others are certain to leave you baffled—and perhaps even asking, "Do we really want to preserve some of these things?!" Once you read the list, you'll be left wondering why they forgot to add goldfish swallowing, 1K charity walks, and the Macarena.

Here are some doozies from the 2010 list, along with our 10-point Intangible Rating Scale (IRS) score and commentary:

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TSA to Passengers: Radiation or Groping?

2010-b-tsa-t-shirtjpg

How would you like a tough-love security pat-down so thorough it would shame the most inveterate serial groper in the Tokyo subway system? No? Then how about a full-body backscatter X-ray that amounts to a virtual strip search (or as Stephen Colbert said, "that X-rays your X-rated parts")? If you're troubled by either option, voice your opinion in the new Your Travel Voice survey, sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association.

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Starwood, Red Roof, Others Offering 'Cyber Monday' Savings

Red Roof NextGen Room

With so much hotel booking conducted online, it makes sense that chains—and even individual properties—would jump on the Cyber Monday bandwagon. This year, it seems, there are more than ever. Some notable sales scheduled for Nov. 29 (aka, the Monday after Thanksgiving):

- Following up on their successful 2009 Cyber Monday sale, Starwood Hotels & Resorts is once again appealing to online bookers. As part of their "One Day Wonders" promo, the luxury chain is offering deep discounts at several dozen properties around the world. For example: ocean-front rooms at the Westin Diplomat in Ft. Lauderdale from $179 (regularly $309) and deluxe rooms at the St. Regis Aspen from $399 (normally $749). For the complete list, visit their Cyber Monday specials page; or, text "MONDAY" to 95495 to be reminded when the sale starts.

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Everything Changes, for the Better, at Beverly Hills' Test Kitchen

Test Kitchen

Q: What’s the first rule of Test Kitchen?

A: The chefs make—and break—the rules of Test Kitchen.

At the experimental eatery on the southern edge of Beverly Hills, where a rotating cast of L.A.’s finest previews new menus and tries out specialty dishes, nothing stays the same except the location.

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Celebrity Cruises Reacts Swiftly After Armed Attack in St. Kitts

St Kitts

Fresh from the Carnival Splendor mess, the cruise industry is facing yet another public relations problem after armed robbers accosted a busload of Celebrity passengers in St. Kitts. The cruise company was quick to respond. AOL Travel explains:

A spokesman for Carnival Cruise Lines tells AOL Travel News a call at St. Kitts by the Carnival Miracle, scheduled for today, has been canceled "as a precautionary measure," while the line awaits information from tourism and law enforcement officials on the island...

The attack by the masked gunmen occurred over the weekend as passengers from the Celebrity Mercury were visiting Brimstone Hill Fortress, a popular tourist spot on bus tours of the island.

The masked robbers reportedly blocked the road with a fallen tree and then emerged from the bushes to rob those on the bus. The armed gunmen then disappeared into the woods.

No one was injured in the incident. The robbers made off with valuables including cash, jewelry and cameras. Local police are investigating.

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Photo courtesy of iStock.

Today Only: JetBlue Fares from $39

one-day jet blue sale

The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of the slowest times of the year for travel, hence a great time to find bargains. JetBlue just announced a little more incentive to forego holiday preparation and the end-of-year work scramble. A one-day sale of airfares (for travel between November 29 and December 18) was announced this morning with fares that start at $39 each way.

Besides flying to big cities (where you could take advantage of holiday shopping and the height of the arts season), JetBlue can also deliver you to beachy destinations in Puerto Rico, Cancun, Florida, Aruba, Barbados, and St. Maarten.

For more information or to book, visit JetBlue. For other between-holiday travel bargains, we have 276 more come-hither options on our Deals page.

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

Photo courtesy of JetBlue.

Vacationist: Stays in the Southwest, plus the Caribbean, California, and Morocco

Little Good Harbour

For many of us, daylight savings means shorter days and colder weather (brrr!). But you don't have to worry about frigid temperatures in Arizona, California, and the Caribbean, where pools and beaches beckon thanks to Vacationist—all for up to 40% off. At California's Miramonte Resort and Spa in Coachella Valley, red-tiled roofs and Moorish details will transport you to the Mediterranean. Or take it up a notch, and live like a King at L Mansion, Marrakesh. For these trips and more, read on or click here. Shouldn't you be planning your next getaway?

Still not a Vacationist member? Click here to join.

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