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San Francisco's Painted Ladies Have New Competition in Santa Clara

A Victorian residence painted to look like the house in the Pixar movie "Up" is angering neighbors, but perhaps it'll be a new attraction for the city of Santa Clara, California, best known for its university and the 1777 Mission Santa Clara de Asis.

Turkey’s Marmaray Tunnel Links Europe and Asia

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Turkey opened its new tunnel connecting Europe and Asia yesterday. For the first time, travelers can cross the Bosporus Strait (and continents) in roughly four minutes, via the world’s deepest sub-sea tunnel.

This underwater tunnel between the European and Asian shores of Istanbul is the realization of a Sultan’s dream 150 years ago. Now, on the 90th anniversary of Turkey’s independence, it is truly united.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated The Marmaray Rail yesterday, after nearly 10 years and $2.8 billion dollars. The project is far from over, however. The tunnel is only a quarter of what Erdogan calls “a project for whole humanity.”

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Meet the Château that Inspired Versailles

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Nearly six million people traipse through the gardens and Hall of Mirrors at Versailles annually, braving lines and elbowing through crowds.

Let us tip you off to an alternative: before Versailles, there was Vaux le Vicomte, a lesser-known château that makes an easy day trip from Paris and offers a more blissful, intimate experience. It’s been cared for by the same family for five generations.

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Chicago with Kids: Spring Break in the Windy City

visiting chicago with family

Perhaps not the most obvious choice for a spring break, Chicago can keep a family happy—if not warm and dry—when school lets out. The city welcomed us with open arms during a blustery spring break week when our 'Plan A' vacation fell through. Here are some basic tips for a terrific time with the kids in the Windy City:

If you’re planning on hitting more than a few museums and skyscrapers, buying the Chicago CityPass ($94 for adults, $79 for kids, 11 and under) not only makes economic sense but it allows you to skip the lines at most of the participating venues. The passes saved us from standing in line in the sleet outside the Shedd Aquarium one day and we felt pretty smug sweeping past the hour and a half wait at the Skydeck. Waltz up to the desk and buy the passes at the first venue you visit, and they're valid for the next nine days.

Museum of Science and Industry This magnificent edifice in Hyde Park, between Lake Michigan and the University of Chicago campus, is one of the last remaining buildings of the 1893 Columbian Exposition (you know, from The Devil in the White City!). The museum offers engaging high- and low-tech exhibits—from the physics of basketball (kids pre-set the velocity and angle of a cannon that launches a ball across the grand hall and into a basket on the far balcony) to how cow manure can be turned into fuel (From Poop to Power!). A longtime favorite of Chicago kids, the museum was fully interactive before the word involved touchscreens. You can easily find enough varied and interesting activities to fill an entire day. Don't miss the retro make-your-own-molded-plastic-souvenir machines at the submarine, farm, and space exhibits.

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T+L Twitter Chat: Design + Travel

Palace Hotel Tokyo

Smart design makes for great travel. In honor of the 2013 T+L Design Awards—where we spotlight 22 winners as chosen by 7 experts—we're hosting a one-hour Twitter chat on Wednesday, March 6, at 2 p.m. ET. We'll chat about excellent design (cities, airports, hotels, and more), as well as reveal that perfectly designed item that should always be in your carry-on. The chat will coincide with T+L's Design Awards party in Berlin—so expect live tweets from the event.
 
Please join T+L for the chat, Wednesday, March 6 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET.
 

The Panel

Rebecca Minkoff, fashion designer, @RebeccaMinkoff

Robert Hammond, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the High Line, @robertrhammond

Toby McDonald, Design Hotels, @Design_Hotels

David Rockwell, Founder of Rockwell Group, @Rockwell_Group

Microsoft Surface, @surface

Museum of Arts and Design, @MADMuseum

Architizer, @Architizer

Karrie Jacobs, T+L contributor, @KarrieUrbanist


How does it work?
1. Log in to Twitter any time from 2–3 p.m. EDT and be sure to follow the chat host: @TravlandLeisure
2. Use the hashtag #TL_Chat to follow.
3. To keep up with the chat in real time, head over to tweetchat.com/room/TL_Chat
4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own answers to our questions! Or ask your own questions! Take advantage of this special access to experts in design and travel.

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.

 

Maria Pedone is a digital editoiral intern at Travel + Leisure.

The Boutique Hotel Experience in Tel Aviv

The Boutique Hotel Experience in Tel Aviv

Forget the beachfront, skyscraper hotels overlooking Tel Aviv's historic Jaffa. To see what really makes the White City tick, book a boutique hotel in a Bauhaus neighborhood and absorb the design and architecture of some of the spots that have been blooming in this Middle Eastern metropolis that sometimes feels like Miami-on-the-Mediterranean.

Alma Hotel, the newest of the bunch, opened in November 2012. It was founded by  siblings, Adi and Irit Strauss, who also run three of Tel Aviv’s most popular restaurants. They have woven together a patchwork of bohemian luxury in 15 studios and suites with elegant, zany decor that mirrors the eclectic architecture of its newly renovated 1925 building.

Each luminous room, some with balconies, meshes traditional décor with the contemporary, blending Eastern and Western cultures that recalls the intimate sexiness of hotels in Paris’s Le Marais district. A rooftop terrace, sandwiched between synagogues and skyscrapers, provides an urban oasis for sipping any of the Israeli boutique wines available in each room's mini-bar.

Alma also lures wealthy foodies, ranging from Israeli socialites to Russian businessmen, to its ground floor bar and restaurant. Its celebrity chef Yonatan Roshfeld (also a judge on Master Chef Israel) serves Mediterranean tapas in microscopic yet succulent portions.

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Grand Central Celebrates 100th Birthday

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On February 1, 1913 Grand Central’s stationmaster received the first set of keys to the Terminal. One-hundred years later, New York will celebrate the beloved landmark (and one of the world's most beautiful train stations) with a full day of activities including a rededication ceremony in the morning and the opening of “Grand by Design,” a multimedia exhibit of the terminal’s history by the New York Transit Museum that runs through March 15, 2013.


Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

Eternal Sunshine: EX-PATS Extends its Stay in Panama

While most people take a vacation to escape their jobs, the Reserve Channel’s new YouTube series, EX-PATS shows how an island retreat can turn into a full-time position.

In the sixth episode, former Wall Street lawyer KC Hardin is so inspired by the vibrant culture of Casco Viejo, Panama that he tosses his career to help revitalize the neighborhood. Now founder of the organization, El Conservatorio, KC’s days are spent restoring the eclectic architecture of this 350-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Host Savannah Jane Buffet follows KC and his wife, Patrizia, as they renovate music halls, plant community gardens, and pour tall glasses of wine at their home’s rooftop. Press “play” to watch the inspiring tale.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

"It's So Miami": Why the Florida City's New Slogan May Mean More Than City Officials Intended

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With a spritely klatch of scantily-clad models flying around a pop-up pool party, slapping around beach balls and cavorting to a live deejay's techno music, Florida’s most hyperactive playground kicked off a fitting new tourism campaign, “It’s So Miami,” on a recent balmy afternoon in New York City’s Union Square. The slogan is clearly more about reinforcing the Latin-infused city’s authority as America’s preeminent destination for escapism than proffering anything newfangled or undiscovered. But the irony of Miami’s decision to double down on its hedonistic caricature is that the city truly is emerging as a genuine cultural hub with gravitas and depth.

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Tokyo Home to World's Tallest Tower

Tokyo Skytree

Can’t get higher than this: the world’s new tallest tower Tokyo Skytree opened in late May, and tickets to its lookout are still sold out for months (if you’re in the mood for some elevation, we’d recommend booking a ticket now). At 2,080 feet, the building serves not only as an observation deck and restaurant but a broadcast tower to relay television and radio signals. Be careful up there! The observation deck has already had to close temporarily due to storms and extreme weather. 

Jennifer Chen is Travel + Leisure's Asia correspondent. 

Photo by MASANORI YAMANASHI / AFLO / Nippon News / Corbis

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