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National Park Week Launches Tomorrow With Free Entrance All Weekend

201404-hd-national-park-week-bryce-canyon.jpg

Tomorrow marks the start of National Park Week (April 19-27), and to celebrate, the country’s 400-plus parks are waiving entrance fees all weekend long. It’s a big year for the National Park Service, with milestone anniversaries (Yosemite turns 150 this year; Rocky Mountain National Park is 100) and important developments (including major renovations to Yellowstone’s oldest hotel).

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Best New Cars for Road Trips from the 2014 NYC Auto Show

The 2014 New York International Auto Show opens today, and it’s stocked with new cars and models that are sure to push your next road trip into high gear. Standouts include the 2015 Jeep Renegade, inspired by the original Jeep Wrangler; the 2015 Chevrolet Trax, another small SUV, complete with a built-in WiFi hotspot; the redesigned Camry with improved handling for quick turns; Chevrolet’s new 625-horsepower ZO6 Convertible; and the 50th anniversary Ford Mustang, which was reconstructed piece by piece on 86th floor of the Empire State Building. See these cars and more in person—the auto show at the Javits Center is open through Sunday, April 27th.

Daily Transporter: Chicago

baseball fan

Wrigley Field will celebrate its 100th anniversary on April 23. The 2014 Cubs will wear replica 1914 Chicago Federals jerseys and—good sports!—the Arizona Diamondbacks will be sporting Kansas City Federal League uniforms in honor of the occasion. (Even if you can’t make the game, listen to some of Ernie Banks’s memories of Wrigley.)

See Wrigley Field in America’s Best Baseball Stadiums

Editor’s Picks: Chicago
America’s Best Vacations for Sports Fans
America’s Most Beautiful Coastal Views
Best Hotels in Chicago

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Daily Transporter: New Orleans

beignet at cafe du monde

Book your flight and designate some shoes to sacrifice to the mud gods: the schedule for this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (April 25-May 4) is online. (A final revision—granting Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band a longer set—was made late last week.)

See Café du Monde in America’s Best Coffee Cities

Editor’s Picks: New Orleans
America's Strangest People
America's Top Free Attractions
America's Best Places to Eat Like a Local

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

London Hot Spot: Chiltern Firehouse

Chiltern Firehouse crab donuts

The crab donuts at the Chiltern Firehouse in Londonare already the stuff of legend. Just two months old, hotelier Andre Balazs's first venture outside of the United States has celebrities like Bono, Prince Harry, Chloe Sevigny, and Gordon Ramsey bumping elbows, while mere mortals desperately try to snag a reservation in what is a cleverly repurposed Victorian-gothic red brick fire brigade building in London’s tony Marylebone neighborhood.

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CheapAir Becomes First OTA To Introduce Railway Reservations

Cheap Air

I’ve long loved Rome 2 Rio as a transportation guide: it tells you every possible way to get from Point A to Point B, and offers in-line prices and itineraries. Since I started using it, I’ve realized just how efficient train travel can be—factor in security lines and early airport arrivals, and the train can take less time than flying, depending on where you’re going. For the first time, an OTA is in agreement, as CheapAir has announced today that it will be integrating Amtrakrailway reservations into its flight search system. Now, when you search for routes connecting, say, New York and Boston, you’ll see airfares interspersed with train routes, so you can compare prices and schedules. Better yet, you can mix and match airfares and train reservations, so that you can capitalize on a discounted international flight that leaves from a city a few hours away. 

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New Discovery App Superb Takes the E-Dating Model Into Tourism

Superb app

Dating apps like Tinder are meant to be fun, addictive, and packed with discovery—so why hasn’t anyone adapted the model for social purposes outside the love nest? That’s what the developers of Superb wondered before launching their new app, officially available for iOS this week (Android's on the way). The app uses the same swipe motions as Tinder—swipe right to save something for future reference, swipe left to discard it, and keep swiping as information automatically populates your screen—but for places and things rather than people. Set it to your hometown—or any city you’re visiting—and input your categorical preferences (Arts & Culture; Food & Drink; Shops) to get a practically never-ending stream of ideas. Save the ones you like to a bucket list, scrap the ones that don’t pique your interest, and keep going (it really is hard to stop) until your itinerary takes full form.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.


Photo courtesy of Superb

Dutch Debut World’s First Glow-in-the-Dark Highway

Glowing Dutch Highway

Earth Day News: Just outside the Dutch city of Oss is a 500-meter stretch of highway that glows in the dark. Like a set from a sci-fi film, the photo-luminescent road markings illuminate the lanes with an otherworldly emerald light.

The technology is part of interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde’s vision to bring innovative, sustainable designto everyday infrastructures. In a partnership with Dutch engineering firm Heijmans, he created a revolutionary paint with the ability to absorb daylight for energy, and radiate an eye-catching hue at night.

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Crystal Cruises Announces Game of Thrones Excursion

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Crystal Cruises has announced a Game of Thrones-themed excursion on summer sailings to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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Louis XIII Cognac: A Taste of France

Cognac

Cognac is one spirit that grants its drinkers instant gratification. Produced in the Grande Champagne region of Cognac, France, strict distillery guidelines distinguish the drink from brandy—and the history of Louis XIII de Remy Martin sets the brand apart from its competitors. One sip and each layer of complex, century-aged flavors emerge: smoky oak wood, ripened figs, Cuban cigars, dried apricot, sweet vanilla.

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Antonio Sersale's Two Days in Mexico City

Mexico City

Having lived four years, from the age of 5 to 9 on a ranch in Taxco, Guerrero, I was happy to return to Mexico for a business trip allowing me two extra days to visit tow museums of contemporary art and take a day trip to Taxco.

Walking out of the airport I was met by the familiar faces of Mexicans speaking their own form of Spanish which I loved. For my hotel, I  made a reservation at Las Alcobas, a luxury boutique property perfectly situated near fashionable shops and great restaurants in the chic Polanco neighborhood. As soon as I walked in I was struck the elegant atmosphere. The lobby was small intimate and very well designed.  Behind the counters the staff welcomed me warmly with big smiles.

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Daily Transporter: Great Wall of China

great wall

Chinese authorities are getting creative in combatting graffiti at popular tourist sites. At the Great Wall, they've designated specific areas where graffiti is permitted. And at the famous Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, visitors can leave their mark on large electronic touchscreens.

See the Great Wall in World’s Most Amazing Views

Editor’s Picks: China
See China in World’s Coolest Rental Homes
and World’s Most-Visited Ancient Ruins
and New Wonders of the World

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Airlines Grapple with Social Media This Week

It's been a rough week for airlines on social media.

After a Dutch teenager jokingly tweeted a bomb threat to American Airlines—she has since been arrested—the air carrier is now fielding dozens of other fake bomb threats over Twitter.

Meanwhile, U.S. Airways, is in crisis mode after it accidentally included a pornographic picture in one of its tweets. Even though the airline deleted the Tweet soon after, the image had already gone viral, with thousands of responders mocking U.S. Airways.

One bright spot: Southwest Airlines had a hit with its stand-up comic flight attendant delivering one of the coolest safety briefings we've ever heard. (Watch video above.) If you're going to go viral, that's the way to do it. 

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.

 

 

Daily Transporter: San Francisco

persian-tiled gameroom

Eighty percent of San Francisco was destroyed by the April 18, 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire. Some notable structures survived to be renovated and brought back to glory, including the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. (This Persian-tiled billiards room is part of the hotel’s 6,000-square-foot penthouse suite, added in 1926.)

See the Fairmont in World’s Strangest Restaurants

Editor’s Picks: San Francisco
See San Francisco in America’s Best Dog-Friendly Hotels
And America’s Best Pies
And America’s Snobbiest Cities

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of the Fairmont San Francisco

Neighborhood Guide to Istanbul

Istanbul

Where to go now—neighborhood by neighborhood in Istanbul.

On my first visit to Istanbul, in the mid 1980’s, donkey carts still trundled across the iron Galata Bridge between the historic Old City and the Europeanized Beyoğlu quarter. And right away I was hooked...on faded Byzantine frescoes and smoky kebabs and tulip-shaped glasses of tea. I’m even more smitten today, as I gaze over the Bosporus boat traffic from the window of a little apartment I bought in the leafy Cihangir quarter. Istanbul is a global megalopolis now, a place where grit and gloss, East and West, secularism and Islam all collide with a jolt—or just as often cohabit gracefully. This is my Istanbul.

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Classic Biarritz Beach Vacation

Biarritz Beach Vacation

Biarritz is the classic European beach vacation, newly reinvented as a laid-back, surfer-bohemian hot spot.

I met a lot of people from Paris in Biarritz, and they all said the same thing. They were refugees. They were here because life in Paris was relentless, all business, too fast. But here was the ocean, and surfing, a resort town, a community. And yes, that could be said of many places but this one was different. This was not the Côte d’Azur. There were no mega-yachts floating in the harbor here, and there were no private beach clubs or trendy nightclubs or Lamborghinis stuck in traffic like you see in Cannes and St.-Tropez. This stretch of the Atlantic coast in the southwest of France—La Côte Basque—was a less polished place, a little wild, a little young. The landscape was stunning and the ocean was vast and powerful (hence all the surfers) and the general attitude was low-key bohemian.

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Video: Chile Wildfire Causes Evacuations in Valparaiso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Local reports say there are 12 dead, 2,000 houses destroyed, and more than 10,000 people have been evacuated from Valparaiso, a UNESCO world heritage site. Watch the video for details.

Related Links:
Fastest Disappearing Natural Wonders
The World's Most Pristine Forests
World's Most Colorful Cities

Galway, Ireland Untamed

Galway Ireland

On a journey to the rugged coast of Galway, Ireland, T+L finds small towns and quiet pubs, raucous musicians, and no shortage of Irish resilience and pride.

The sky is without stars or moon. There are no lights, no sign of life in any direction, only the night—and the road. The car’s headlights shine into blackness, revealing the thin, crooked, ungraded ribbon of tarmac disappearing into mist. When I step out the wind is ripping. The rain has stopped. I think perhaps I can hear something through the wind, someone calling. I listen harder, and then I hear it again. Voices? This is the Bog Road outside Clifden, in Connemara, County Galway, in the far west of Ireland. I’ve been told it’s haunted.

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Daily Transporter: Tobago

tobago beach

The 5th annual Tobago Jazz Festival runs April 19-27 with a wide range of jazz and non-jazz attractions that includes Earth, Wind & Fire, Keyshia Cole, and John Legend. Don't miss next Tuesday’s Buccoo Goat and Crab Races, an 89-year-old tradition.

See Tobago in Best Affordable Caribbean Resorts

Editor’s Picks: Trinidad and Tobago

Best Caribbean Islands for Foodies
Beautiful Beach Photos
World’s Top Revolving Restaurants

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Hotel Tonight Introduces Look Ahead for "Planned Spontaneity"

HotelTonight

Weary of the unpredictability that comes with a last-minute vacation booking? You’re not alone. But HotelTonight, the always pioneering app for travel procrastinators, is coming to the rescue with a new feature called Look Ahead, intended to facilitate so-called “planned spontaneity.”

Debuting in a handful of the app’s major cities—New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and half a dozen others, with many more rolling out soon—the feature will offer a seven-day estimate of inventory and prices in a particular market, using a proprietary algorithm that factors in local events, weather, and historical data from HotelTonight and other booking engines.

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Save or Splurge on Travel Twitter Chat on Tuesday, April 15

April is here, which can mean only a couple of things—spring showers and Tax Day. You're either getting a refund or writing a big check. So what better time to find out how to save or splurge on travel? We're discussing tips with the experts during our Twitter Chat this Tuesday, April 15th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. Whether you want to know about destinations that are worth the splurge or strategies for squeezing value out of a trip, join along to ask for insider advice!

The Host:

News Editor and Trip Doctor, Amy Farley, @TLTripDoctor

The Panelists:

Robin Leach, @Robin_Leach

Fortune Magazine, @FortuneMagazine

All You, @allyou

Airfarewatchdog, @airfarewatchdog

Expedia, @Expedia

Hotel Tonight, @hoteltonight

Luxe Tiffany, @LuxeTiffany

Jean Chatzky, NBC Today Financial Editor, @JeanChatzky

Fathom, @FathomWaytoGo

Mint.com, @mint

How does it work?

1. Log in to Twitter before the chat starts at 2pm ET and be sure to follow @TravlandLeisure.

2. Head over to http://twitter.com. Enter the hashtag #TL_Chat into the search bar and select the "All" search option to follow the chat in real time.

3. Remember to always add the hashtag #TL_Chat to your tweets.

4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own responses. Or ask questions of your own! 

All tweets are subject to our social media terms and conditions and may be used in any and all media including editorial. See full social media terms and conditions.

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Delayed or Cancelled Flight? AirHelp Fights For Your Money.

Thanks to the recent U.S. launch of AirHelp, Americans have an easy way of filing claims if a flight from or within the European Union is delayed, cancelled, or overbooked. (Flights from the U.S. to the EU are covered only if operated by an EU-based carrier.) Under EU regulations, compensation can be as high as $800, but according to AirHelp founders Henrik Zillmer and Nicolas Michaelsen, only 2% of eligible flyers make claims—and only .06% actually receives what’s due.

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London's Donut du Jour

1235 Donuts

With spring's warm winds coaxing the buds on the trees to blossom, a Sunday morning visit to Columbia Road Flower Market in East London couldn't be more apropos. While many go to soak up the atmosphere and buy a cheap armful of flowers, this Sunday morning riot for the senses has just added a foodie destination that's not to be missed. Among the cries of the cockney flower hawkers, a narrow yellow door offers a little piece of France by way of Mississipi. Chef Brad McDonald and his charming wife Molly, currently at the helm of the Southern American restaurant, The Lockhart in Marleybone, are selling Beignet-style donuts brimming with a variety of creamy flavors. Best to follow them on Twitter @1235donutsto find out what flavors will delight your tastebuds that week and what time that yellow door opens. The line forms quickly and only a limited number of perfect sugary treats are on offer each Sunday!

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16 Things You Didn't Know About the Autobahn

Autobahn

Germany is known for three things: good beer, fast cars, and a mythical place that's dark as night, straight as an arrow, where speed records and personal bests are meant to be broken – or zee Autobahn, the country's system of seemingly speed-limit-free federal highways. Here are 16 things you should know about it.

SEE MORE AT THRILLIST

Photo by Christian Allinger

10 Amazing Aerial Photos That Blow Away Your Out-the-Plane-Window Instagrams

aerial photo

Most of us struggle to take a decent photo from the right angle (and have to cloak our misgivings in Instagram filters), but that's not a problem for award-winning, Boston-based photographer Alex S. MacLean – who flies a Cessna 182, and has been taking photos from the sky for years.

MacLean, who's a licensed pilot and fine art aerial photographer, recently had a show at London's Beetles + Huxley gallery, exhibiting his sky-high shots from over the US and Europe; here are some of our favorites.

SEE MORE AT THRILLIST

Photo by Alex MacLean

Five Secrets About "Queen of the Night" Revealed

 

 

Queen of the Night

If you're planning a trip to NYC, you may have already heard about the city's hot ticket of the moment: Queen of the Night. A follow up to Sleep No More by the same immersive theater experts—along with progressive food artist Jennifer Rubell and acclaimed Canadian aerialist troupe 7 Doigts de la Main—the production takes a completely unconventional approach to dinner theater. Set in the old Diamond Horseshoe space at the Paramount Hotel, and loosely based on Mozart's Magic Flute, the sexy, avant-garde show blends interactive elements, contemporary circus acts, and a soundtrack that’s equal parts classical and indie rock tunes (not to mention a communal feast that may require some bartering). Already intrigued? It's only the tip of the iceberg. Here, five secret details that could take your experience to a whole other level: 

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4 New Films to Inspire Your Next Journey + Exclusive Clips

Opening this weekend, Hank and Asha is a tale of two cities. During intimate video chats, a pair of long-distance lovers share their adopted homes, Prague and New York, as they plan a rendezvous in Paris.

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Chef's Tour: Boston Eats from Alden & Harlow's Michael Scelfo

Michael Scelfo

Where to find the best food in Boston? The smaller, less-explored neighborhoods, where delicious local haunts are waiting to be uncovered, according to chef Michael Scelfo, whose buzzy new Cambridge restaurant, Alden & Harlow, opened in February. Read on for his perfect day of eating in and around Beantown.

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One-of-a-Kind Bikes Inspire American Travel

Will Leather Goods Bike

Throughout the coming months, Will Leather Goods, an Oregan-based lifestyle brand, will release seven on-of-a-kind bikes at random times and locations. Each leather-wrapped bike will be reflective of a specific period in American culture. The attached bike is inspired by a pre-revolutionary time when the main form of transportation was horseback. The brand's founder, Will, hopes to inspire American travel and exploration with these pieces.

Related Links:
America’s Best Cities for Hipsters
World's Top Biking Cities
15 Tech Innovations That Will Change the Way You Travel

Photo by Will Leather Goods

Rebirth: NYC's Le Colonial Restaurant Turns 20—and Gets a New Chef

Ron Wing Wee Hsu

When it comes to eating adventures, Vietnam’s flavor-rich, history-filled cuisine is at the top of my list. And while I’m currently buried under too much work in New York City to fly to Southeast Asia for my fix, there’s a spot in town that I’m hoping will help tide me over for now. You may or may not know Le Colonial, a long-established French-Vietnamese restaurant in Midtown East that had its heyday in the '90s as a hot power hangout. Just in time for its 20th anniversary, the restaurant has brought in a young new chef who is jazzing up the menu.

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