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When Words Get In The Way…Of a Google Search

201103-b-google-1jpgEver wished you could hold up a photo to a search engine and say, “Hey computer! Find me this, and make it snappy!”?

With Google Search (free; iPhone, iPod, iPad), a picture is worth a thousand keywords. The newly upgraded app makes it even easier to scour the Web with images straight from your smartphone camera.

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Unitard Not Required: Go Backstage at Cirque du Soleil

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This spring, visitors to Las Vegas can run away and join the Cirque (but not for peanuts).  For $260, a select few will get a small-group pre-show backstage tour to either O (at the Bellagio) or The Beatles’ Love (at the Mirage). You’ll also receive an Insider Access VIP lanyard, special reserved seats for the show, and front-of-line privileges in the concession line and at the hotels’ nightclubs after the show.

On the fence about taking the tour?  Here’s a Life.com photo gallery of the backstage scene at a Cirque du Soleil show—acrobats rehearsing a tricky move, clowns at rest, outlandish-costume repair—that gives you an inkling of how thrilling it could be to witness in person.   (Get this: during each performance of The Beatles’ Love, the 68 performers go through 331 multi-piece costumes and 110 wigs!  Kind of puts getting two kids ready for school into perspective.)

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Los Angeles, Houston, Vail

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Sometimes all you want to do is hop in the car or take a short flight to your next destination. Which is why this week, Vacationist brings you deals at domestic hotels within driving distance of major U.S. cities, from a newly-renovated Los Angeles mainstay to a mega-resort outside of Houston and a ski lodge in Vail, less than two hours from Denver. Hit the road now.

Still not a member? Click here to join.

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Buenos Aires' New Clubby Hangout

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There’s a new hangout in Buenos Aires for guests staying at Oasis Collections properties. Six months and $200,000 in the making, The Oasis Clubhouse debuted this past weekend in the dining and shopping enclave of Palermo Soho. All patrons staying at an Oasis Collections design-focused condo, apartment, or villa in the city have access to the clubhouse.

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Lomography Photo Contest: Win a Trip to Vienna

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When was the last time you used a real camera, loaded with real film? Sure you’ve got the Hipstamatic app on your iPhone to take super dreamy retro snapshots that look like they came straight from the '70s—but I’ve got a reason for you to put your phone down and go analogue. (Skeptical? Keep reading: It involves a free trip to Europe.)

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Berlin’s Hottest Spots Right Now

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Be in the know; here are the latest things to do and eat in Berlin.

Eat It
The pork-filled spring roll with prawns and garden beans at Sage Restaurant (dinner for two $155), located on the River Spree.

See It
A retrospective of 187 photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe at C/O Gallery (through March 27), from snapshots of Debbie Harry and Patti Smith to his controversial portraits of male nudes.

Book It
The light-filled Camper Suite at Casa Camper (doubles from $264), with views of the historic Mitte district and fiery Spanish-red walls softened by wood accents.

Buy It
The retro-casual hat collection at Rike Feurstein ($155), made by hand in a range of materials (cotton; raffia; Panama straw).

Ralph Martin is a contributor to Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe/Courtesy of Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Paris Perfumer Helps Japanese Town, and So Can You


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Over the past week, we’ve heard about dozens of worthwhile ways to help the victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, but one recent announcement caught our eyes—and nose.

Renegade perfumer Paris-based Louison Libertin, who produces his label, technique indiscrete, is giving back to the community of Kanku in Northeastern Japan—an area known for its lavender fields. Libertin had been working with a perfume factory there, and the town was hard hit by the recent disasters.

No less than 100 percent of the proceeds of his limited edition flacon "For Them" will go back to residents of Kanku. $52 for a 50ml bottle.

For more ways to give, go to: American Red Cross; MercyCorps; UNICEF.

Moor Fun: Jane Eyre Tours in Northern England

Period piece fanatics (myself included) are lining up for director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s critically acclaimed “Jane Eyre” movie, starring Mia Wasikowska as the indomitable Jane and Michael Fassbender as her changeable Mr. Rochester.

Though the brooding, Gothic romance will undoubtedly set hearts aflutter (The ball gowns! The carriages! The Fassbender!), the third member of this much-adapted love triangle will yet again take a back seat to drama onscreen: Northern England’s rolling, wind-swept moors—an indelible inspiration behind Charlotte Brontë’s original Jane Eyre, published in 1847, and her sister Emily’s Wuthering Heights. If you’re looking to get a better view of the moors than the sweeping camera pan will give you, Wayfarers’s Brontë Trail is just the thing.

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Carnegie Hall Celebrates Japan in City-Wide Festival

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Beginning in 2007 with the Berlin in Lights festival, Carnegie Hall has featured the music and culture of global destinations through wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary programming in its three concerts halls and at institutions throughout New York City. But right now, perhaps no other festival may be as important as JapanNYC (March-April), which celebrates the diversity of Japanese culture in more than 40 performances and events and pays special tribute to Japan and its people in the aftermath of this month’s earthquake and tsunami.

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Editor Report: 

Going Home to Hyderabad

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I’ll be honest—when I first heard Travel+Leisure was doing a feature story on Hyderabad, I was somewhat…perplexed. The sixth largest city in India is where my parents are originally from, and though my history-buff father has regaled me with its legends for years, I’ve never thought of it as a major tourist hub—but then, T+L is always ahead when it comes to mining hot off-the-radar destinations. Working on “Jewel of India” for March made me view the city through a new lens. And in a serendipitous twist, I was scheduled to take a long-delayed trip to Hyderabad right after we closed the issue.

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Guess Where? Church Spires

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Work began on this European cathedral in the 14th century, yet its unique spires—characterized by a variety of architectural styles, including Neoclassical, Gothic Revival, and Art Nouveau—weren't completed until the 19th century. Can you guess where this is?

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

UPDATE 3/21/11: T+L community members sholverson, aldaformenti and MoniquePellerin all guessed it right! This is indeed the Duomo di Milano, or the Milan Cathedral, in northern Italy. We're going to have to make these harder for you guys. Check back this Friday for the newest edition of "Guess Where?"


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

Photo Courtesy of Travel + Leisure's Photo Contest

High-Flying Design: KLM Teams with Marcel Wanders

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KLM is bringing a little style to the skies—and its World Business Class passengers. The Dutch airline is teaming up with celebrated artist Marcel Wanders, who's also recently collaborated with Baccarat crystal and Target, in addition to designing the interior of the Mondrian South Beach. His eco-friendly tableware debuts this March.

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Usai’s New Travel Jacket

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For more than 40 years, the Usai family has been making gear for the Italian armed forces. Now they’re bringing their sartorial tradition and top-notch workmanship to civilians. Our favorite piece for spring? This durable, refined nylon jacket ($865). With its sharp, cadet-style cut and and exposed seaming, it’s sure to stand the test of time for fashion lovers and travel warriors alike. usaicollection.com.

Mimi Lombardo is the fashion director at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Usai

Vacationist Hotel Deals: New Mexico, Antigua + London

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If you’re itching to get away this week–and really, who isn’t?—we have one for the record books: almost 50% off at twelve T+L-reviewed hotels from New Mexico to the Caribbean, even London during the Royal Wedding. Scroll down for some of the deals. 

Still not a member? Click here to join.

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Suitcase.com Luggage Sale

201103-b-prize_britto-buttejpgIf you were eyeing the BRITTO Collection by Heys four-piece luggage set that went to the winner of our "Views" photo contest last December, you can snap it up for half price now on Suitcase.com. The colorful set, which includes a 12" beauty case and a carry-on bag for shorter trips, as well as medium and large suitcases for longer trips, normally retails for $2,120. Through Suitcase.com's Winter Sale you can get it for only $1,059.95 (plus free shipping!)

You can also buy the pieces individually: The 22-inch spinner case—the perfect carry-on size— is now 50 percent off at $249.95.

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Lessons from Japan: Earthquake Survival 101

Events are moving quickly in Japan as engineers at a nuclear plant in Fukushima are trying to bring three stricken reactors under control. Tokyo is 170 miles south from Fukushima, and though prevailing winds are sweeping most of the radiation to the Pacific Ocean, residents say a feeling of anxiety pervades the capital. Aftershocks wake them up at night. Lines are long at supermarkets, where staples such as milk and rice are selling out quickly. “The streets are eerily quiet compared to the usual hustle and bustle of this massive city,” says Rachael White, an American teacher and blogger based in Tokyo. White and others, however, note that people remain calm—a reflection of Japanese fortitude.

As a traveler, the most you can do in the event of a nuclear meltdown is get as far away as possible or head for the basement. But there are steps you can take to increase your chances of survival in an earthquake and/or a tsunami. Japan is located in the world’s most seismically active regions—the Pacific Ring of Fire, which includes the West Coast. About 90 percent of earthquakes happen here, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. And Tokyo is still bracing for the Big One that experts say is long overdue. (Friday’s massive quake occurred along the northeastern fault line, rather than the southwest fault line that affects Tokyo more directly. It last ruptured in 1854.) The second most active region stretches from the Mediterranean into northern India.

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London's Infectious Case of Olympic Fever

201103-b-bbc.jpgBBC Travel |  There is still more than a year to go before the Olympic Games light up London’s sky, but already, enthusiastic crowds can be found peering into the largest construction site in Europe. The city has come down with a widespread, and highly contagious, case of Olympic fever. (...)

On 27 July, 2012, when the torch is lit inside the main stadium, London will become the only three-time host of the event since the Olympics were revitalized in 1896. (...)

(Photo courtesy of David Allan)


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Contest Watch: $9K Safari, 12-day Euro Vaca + More!

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March comes in like a lion (luxury safari anyone?) and out like a lamb (a wool beret from a Parisian boutique!) with this month’s globetrotting Contest Watch.

Kenya: iExplore.com Photo Safari Contest
Enter by April 22, 2011


The frequent T+L Best of the Web winner, iExplore has kicked off a new contest for shutterbugs. Simply visit http://photocontest.iexplore.com/, register, upload your best photograph, and then spread the word. Site visitors can vote for their favorites, advancing a group of 20 photographs to the finals. A panel of nine award-winning travel photographers and media writers will pick the winner.

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Guess Where? Bridge Edition

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In English, this bridge is known by the stone material from which it was built, while its native name refers to the saint known as the rock of the Christian church. Hint: This image was included in our March 2008 issue.

Can you guess where this is? Log in and leave your answers below.

UPDATE 3/14/11: T+L community member canjay99 guessed it right! The early-19th-century Pont St. Pierre spans the Garonne River in Bordeaux, France. Congrats! Check back this Friday for the newest edition of "Guess Where?"

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

Photo by Frederic Lagrange

Sole Mates, Seat Mates: Virgin Atlantic Offers Made-to-Order Shoes

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Put down that SkyMall, Bertram. Male passengers traveling Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic flights can indulge in something a little fancier than bed-side pet ramps or peephole spy cameras: The airline is offering custom shoe fittings from haute Finnish shoemaker the Left Shoe Company. Devote 20 minutes pre- or post-flight to having your foot scanned by a 3D digital scanner in the Clubhouse-the Virgin Atlantic lounge-at Heathrow and choose a style. Four weeks later, a courier will deliver your bespoke kicks. The soles are inscribed with your name, and if you choose, your Virgin Atlantic flight number and destination. The available shoe styles start at €225 ($310 at today's exchange rate), and roundtrip Upper Class fare on Virgin Atlantic runs around $10,000.

Won't taking your shoes off at the security line feel slightly less humbling when they're custom-fitted and inscribed with your name?

Ann Shields is Online Senior Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo: Courtesy of the Left Shoe Company.

Hotel Opening: Travaasa Austin + SXSW

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Plane ticket: check.

Concert tickets: check.

Hotel room: whoops!

If you’ve spent your time agonizing over which showcases to attend in Austin next week during the South by Southwest (SXSW) music, film, and interactive festival, instead of searching for a place to crash, you can relax.

Brand new hotel collection, Travaasa Destinations, along with fashion website StyleCaster, is offering an all-inclusive preview package for a three night/four day stay from March 17-20 at the Travaasa Austin before it opens to the public in April.

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3 Fabulous Family Getaways

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Craving a proper vacation, even with a new baby in tow? Try this great all-inclusive family getaway in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Twenty minutes from the Cancún airport, Azul Beach Hotel by Karisma (from $288 per adult, all-inclusive; kids under 3 free, ages 3–13 $144 per day) features round-the-clock room service and cribs, changing tables, strollers, toys, and high-quality baby food on request. Best of all: free babysitting twice a week during happy hour, cocktails for parents included.

201102-b-greenturtlejpgHide out at this remote family resort in the Bahamas. Its soft sand, calm seas, and stellar bonefishing are well-known among sailors and yachting types—and almost no one else. That’s surprising, given the quick flight from Miami or Fort Lauderdale to Abaco’s Treasure Cay and the water taxi to the Green Turtle Club Resort & Marina (doubles from $169). Feast on conch and spend your days tooling from beach to beach—all empty, all extraordinary.

201102-b-alaskajpgSee the state in truly epic fashion on the weeklong Seldom Seen Alaska package from Off the Beaten Path (from $3,695 per person, excluding airfare). The route goes from Anchorage to Nome, with stops for snowshoeing, a helicopter ride, and a snowmobile tour of the Bering Sea ice pack. Given the ambitious itinerary, the trip is best for ages 13 and up.

Margot Guralnick is a contributor to Travel + Leisure.

Photos Courtesy of Azul Beach Hotel, Green Turtle Club Resort & Marina, and Brown W Cannon III

Live Concerts at Hotels

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Lobby DJ’s are so last decade. The latest amenity: live concerts at hotels by Grammy Award–winning musicians.

As part of Renaissance Hotels’ new program RLife Live, guests may very well check in while listening to musicians—Thievery Corporation, Solange Knowles, or the Neon Trees—perform live. To know who’s playing where, visit rlifelive.com (dates are posted two weeks in advance). One recent showstopper: Bruno Mars’s New Year’s Eve concert at the R Lounge Times Square, with a certain crystal ball as the backdrop.

Sarah Khan is a copy editor at Travel + Leisure

Illustration by Kikou Johnson

Vacationist: Manhattan, Miami Beach + Mexico City

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There’s something for everyone this week at Vacationist, but urbanites will be particularly pleased with deals at hotels in New York, Miami, and Mexico City. Looking for great ideas for what to do nearby? Try some of our favorite arts and culture venues, from New York’s New Museum and 11 11 Lincoln Road, a 2011 Design Awards winner in Miami Beach, to the Museo Universitario Arte Comtemporáneo in Mexico City.

Still not a member? Click here to join.

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DOT: Drop in Flight Delays, Rise in Canceled Flights

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New Jersey Star Ledger |  By all accounts, the Federal Aviation Administration’s "tarmac rule" has dramatically reduced the number of passengers who are stuck inside an aircraft on the ground for three hours or more.

Violations of the rule, which went into effect last April, can cost airlines $27,500 per passenger, or $2.75 million for a planeload of 100 people going nowhere fast. In fact, there were just three cases nationwide of three-hour tarmac delays in December—compared with 34 the previous December, according to the federal Department of Transportation, the FAA’s parent agency.

But critics say an unintended consequence of the rule is becoming apparent and spoiling travel plans for a far greater number of would-be fliers.

A Star-Ledger analysis of federal DOT figures reveals airlines are simply canceling more flights, presumably to avoid idling on the tarmac and exposing themselves to the whopping fines. In fact, the cancellation rate at the nation’s major airports surged 24 percent during the eight months after the rule went into effect.

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7 Great Family Road Trip Tips

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Tips for enjoying the perfect family road trip.

Now that full-body scans and pat-downs are making the skies seem a little too friendly, vacationing by car is more appealing than ever. It also helps that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has pumped nearly $27 billion into the nation’s bridges and highways since 2009. Here, Jamie Jensen, author of the best-selling Road Trip USA series (Avalon Travel)—and father to 12-year-old twins who are his frequent backseat companions—shares a few pointers on making it a fun and squabble-free ride.

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VIDEO: T+L Design Awards 2011

Watch the video of this year's distinguished panel of judges—including Norma Kamali and Danny Meyer—discuss the year's best-designed resort, restaurant, museum, travel apparel, gadget, and more. And don't miss our complete slideshow of of this year's Travel + Leisure Design Award winners.

Ken Burns’s Travel Itineraries

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Ken Burns, whose documentaries about our nation have taught us more than any textbook, believes that American history “doesn’t have to be a dose of castor oil.” To prove it, he’s joined forces with 85-year-old tour operator Tauck (tours from $4,390) to create customized U.S. itineraries based on his most beloved sites and subjects. “As a filmmaker, I’ve had access that many people don’t get,” Burns says. “I’m excited to share my experiences.” A 10-day tour of six national parks takes in the Grand Canyon as well as Arches, in Utah, a personal favorite of Burns’s, and includes a private “flight-seeing” adventure over Capitol Reef National Park. Burns is planning Tauck’s five-day jaunt to New Orleans in October. His favorite spots in the Big Easy: “Arnaud’s for Creole food and Preservation Hall for music are classics.”

David A. Keeps is a contributor to Travel + Leisure

Photo by George Long

Guess Where? Colored Houses

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These colorful row houses strike a note with both residents and visitors in this newly re-developed neighborhood.

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Vacationist: Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Vancouver

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This week we head West, dear Vacationists, for hotel deals in Las Vegas, Santa Fe, and Vancouver, amongst other destinations. Which property is offering rates of less than $100 a night? Click here for more.

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