Last Thursday night, we learned that Seh Daeng, a renegade general who sided with anti-government protesters, had been shot in the head by a sniper. (He was shot while being interviewed by Thomas Fuller of The New York Times. You can read an account here.) We’d been planning a weekend with friends at one of our favorite island resorts—a much-needed respite from the claustrophobia of Bangkok. But my husband, S., is a journalist, so it looked as if we had to scrap our plans. “If a crackdown doesn’t happen by the morning, we’ll go,” he promised.
Despite sporadic clashes throughout the night, Friday morning proved calm and away we went. But we couldn’t leave Bangkok’s troubles behind. Friends sent updates, while my husband would hunker down with his iPhone, scrolling through headlines, emails, tweets. At dinner, we’d discuss the situation, the Thais among us expressing sorrow over the present and fear for the future.
Think Mad Men meets Survivor. That’s the scenario that will play out this summer when eight whisky-loving contestants traipse through the back of beyond in search of a long-ago secreted case of Canadian Club. It’s the rebirth of the distiller’s "Hide A Case" promotion that began in 1967, when the company cached 12 bottles of hooch somewhere among the ice fields of Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro. (The case was discovered by accident 10 years later.) In subsequent years the company stashed the spirits in such exotic locales as the Great Barrier Reef of Australia; Death Valley, California; and Angel Falls, Venezuela. With each new newly sequestered case, the company published magazine advertisements filled with clues to the location, stirring the imagination of treasure hunters everywhere.
I love baseball. Alas, as a Yankee fan without a major league income, I can rarely afford to see them, or even the Mets, play live. However, we’ve found a way to attend games: we see baseball when we travel to cities where ticket prices are cheaper. We favor urban ballparks because we try to roll other activities into these trips and stadiums tucked into busy downtowns afford fans a crack at museums and restaurants, too. Here are a few of my draft picks:
Associated Press | It’s been a month now, and Iceland’s volcano shows no sign it will stop belching ash across Europe anytime soon. The rolling eruptions threaten more havoc for summer vacation plans and higher costs for struggling airlines.
Although the global disruption of last month’s massive eruption has faded, smaller ash plumes snarled air services intermittently over the last week all the way to Turkey—more than 2,500 miles from the Eyjafjallajokul volcano.
Air-control authorities and geologists agree that the continent must brace indefinitely for rapid shutdowns of air services as computerized projections try to pinpoint where the ash clouds will float next at the whim of shifting winds.
Okay, we admit we are tickled pink—maybe even 1960s hot pink—to hear that none other than Twiggy will serve as Godmother of the new, ultra-luxury Seabourn Sojourn.
For those of us who remember the ‘60s, Twiggy (Lesley Hornby) was a cultural icon, right up there with The Beatles. Guys may have cut their hair in Beatles shags. But for many of us gals (even preteens like me) the British invasion was also very much about the “supermodel” of the decade. To look like Twiggy, only 16 when she exploded on the international scene in 1966, we cut our hair short and begged our parents to let us wear minis and eye makeup. And we assessed our own lumps and bumps—Twiggy being the thinnest model we had ever seen.
A travel agency in Finland is offering guided tours of the remote Lapland region—but for teddy bears only. No people allowed. But that’s okay. After all, it’s the bears that are coming out of hibernation, not you. Does your stuffed bruin seem a bit moody lately? Maybe what that sleepy Smokey needs is a change of pace, to be off on his own, in a land of ice and snow and pine trees and pickled herring. And Teddy Tours Lapland is standing by to help your plush Grizzly get that new perspective on life.
I stopped by last week’s opening of Manhattan’s Limelight Marketplace—a church reincarnated as a notorious '80s nightclub most recently made over as a shopping mall—with an almost irreverent sense of curiosity. With a past so checkered, I expected a mixed crowd, and sure enough, the three-level, multi-wing retail space was brimming with journalists (both skeptical and adoring), local reality stars (think Real Housewives posing with Hunter boots for the press), and the occasional camera-toting wanderer shaking his head in disbelief while reminiscing about parties fueled by pills, music, and illicit behavior.
The go-go girls, devilish red lighting, and shady corners are all long gone—they disappeared in the '90s—and the church stood vacant until last winter, when retail developer Jack Menashe saw an opportunity to create his own version of nearby Chelsea Market.
Last December we told you about the new Titanic Museum, a half-scale, three-deck replica of the doomed ocean liner, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Well, the museum has finally opened and in its first three weeks it ran out of souvenir polar bears in the gift shop!
I suppose if that’s the worst fate to befall the nascent attraction, it’s doing pretty well. In fact, the museum clocked 50,000 “passengers” in the first 21 days. And what is it everyone wants to see? “Guests are interested in the only Titanic lifejacket tied to an actual passenger (below)—it's the only one in the world,” says Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, owner of the Titanic Museum. “The passenger's name was Madeleine Astor, married to the richest man aboard the ship. The value of this artifact is really priceless. It has been insured for a million dollars.”
Washington Post | Hotels want to know who you are. Especially if you're reviewing them anonymously.
An increasing number of image-conscious properties have begun connecting the dots between unbylined write-ups that appear on such popular travel sites as TripAdvisor or Yelp, and your personal information, such as your loyalty program preferences.
If you write a positive review, you might expect a reward from the hotel—a gift basket or a discount on your next stay. Pan a property, and you could get a concerned e-mail from the general manager asking you to reconsider your review. Or even a black mark against you in the chain's guest database.
John Baird, a lodging consultant in Jacksonville, Fla., says that hotels now use locations, dates and usernames that appear online to triangulate a guest's identity. Once they find a likely match, the review is added to a hotel's guest preference records, next to information such as frequent-guest number, newspaper choice and preferred room type.
Impulse buyers rejoice! Swedish car company-turned-Ford-subsidiary, Volvo, is offering a heavily discounted trip to Sweden with a purchase of a new car (just in case you were contemplating one).
The package, which is part of Volvo's Overseas Delivery Program, includes two roundtrip tickets from major U.S. gateways on Scandanavian Airlines to Gothenburg, located on Sweden's west coast (right now, economy tickets are going for $1,100–$1,800!) and a free hotel night
at the SAS Raddisson Blue Scandinavia Hotel. And, if you take a drive to,
say, Oslo or another major European city, your outbound tickets will still be honored. You’ll have to book through a pre-approved travel agency
(call tel. number below) to receive the free travel in addition to discounts on supplementary
excursions and hotel stays.