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French History in 3-D

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Seas of blue silk, mountains of sand, strongholds of wood. Legions of surveyors and sculptors traveling hundreds of miles on horseback or foot. This was how the rulers of France, from Louis XIV to Napoleon III, mapped out their military conquests in the days before Google Earth.

These 3-D mock-ups of France’s fortified towns—reconstituting every building, river, and hill in 1/600 scale—were for decades hidden away in the attic of the Invalides veterans' complex. Now, but only through February 17, you can catch a rare glimpse of these topographical treasures at the Grand Palais in Paris, during its France in Miniature exhibit.

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New Vegas Museum Highlights Mob Bosses, Tommy Guns

Associated Press  |  In one room, a ghastly photo wall of bloody, uncensored images showcases the mob's greatest hits.

In another, visitors are taught to load a revolver. And for when a gun just won't do, an oddball collection of household items — a shovel, a hammer, a baseball bat and an icepick — show the creative side of some of America's most notorious killers.

On the 83rd anniversary of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Sin City honored one of its earliest relationships with the grand opening of a museum dedicated to the mobsters that made this desert town. There are tommy guns, money stacks and a bullet-riddled brick wall from the 1929 massacre that saw Al Capone seize control of the Chicago mob.


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Video: GloboMaestro Goes to The Frick


It's easy to get swept away by early 20th-century opulence. In our last installment in Valentine’s Day video series with GloboMaestro, Michael Bordenick, the in-the-know concierge at The Surrey hotel, takes us to one of New York City’s most intimate, and dazzling, museums in town—The Frick Collection. The former 18th-century French-style mansion home-turned-museum on the Upper East Side is home to countless European masterworks, sumptuous décor, and even a fun little secret in the basement. Watch and join Michael as he takes you behind the scenes of the former titan of industry’s residence. If nothing else, it will make you fall in love with Gotham’s Gilded Age. 


Australia's Hottest New Openings

Sydney and Australia map

From an eco-lodge and the return of a major art museum to a different kind of pub crawl, we map out the latest happenings in Oz.

The Remote Getaway: Wild Bush Luxury is converting the former VIP guest quarters of Paspaley Pearls—Australia’s largest pearling company—into Kuri Bay, five simple yet chic rooms opening in April. Kuri Bay; 61-2/9571-6399; doubles from $1,595, all-inclusive, two-night minimum.

The Air Adventure: This activity elevates the humble pub crawl to an art form. The Historic Hotel Heli Tour starts in Darwin and flies to five of the Northern Territory’s most iconic pubs. The day also includes fishing for barramundi. $858 per person.

The City Renaissance: In addition to its $748 million airport transformation (currently under way), Perthhas recently seen a spate of new restaurants. A couple of our new favorites: the contemporary Middle Eastern Raah, and the Aviary, a restaurant, lounge, and rooftop bar.

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Be Mine, Miami: The Delano’s “Bianca” Opens, Salsa, More!

We’re not sure what’s in the air, but the city of Miami is on editors’ minds these days. Many of us are plotting sunny getaways there, surprising our significant others with romantic weekends, and generally daydreaming about Florida’s hottest city. And, Miami news is pouring in: Last week, we covered the re-opening of the landmark Shelborne South Beach hotel; and this week we’re craving Chef Brian Massie's Italian dishes at the newly opened—and ridiculously chic—Bianca restaurant at the Delano Hotel. (The very idea of his simply grilled langoustines and homemade pasta with shaved truffles makes us swoon.)

And on the heels of yesterday’s love-inspired post, we have another fun video from GloboMaestro. Here's an excuse to get physical in Miami on Valentine’s Day—or any day! Take your first class, or show off your moves, with other passionate dancers at Miami's Salsa Mia. The Mandarin Oriental, Miami’s concierge, Giselle Mueller, shows you the way.

Charles Dickens on Travel

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As you’ve no doubt heard, today marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. Besides being a great writer, Dickens was a believer in travel. He did not always put a happy spin on his voyages (On crossing the English Channel: “I am bumped rolled gurgled washed and pitched into Calais Harbour..” or on the world’s great capitals: “Naples is hot and dirty, New York feverish, Washington bilious, Genoa exciting, Paris rainy…”), but he is just as eloquent about the joy of experiencing the world around you:

He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and for, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness.

And the enduring benefits of travel:

The more man knows of man, the better for the common brotherhood among us all.

Happy Dickens Day!

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo of Dickens World, a theme park in Kent, England, by Robert Bird/Alamy.

Locals Share Their Favorite Spots in Istanbul

Gulgun Ozek in Istanbul

Gülgün Özek, Photo Editor (pictured)
Location: Sofyali Sokak, Asmalimescit
“My neighborhood is historic yet cosmopolitan. Inside the Neoclassical buildings you’ll find bars, theaters, and one of the best contemporary art galleries—Arter (211 Istiklal Cad.; 90-212/243-3767).”

Seren Yüce, Filmmaker
Location: Kadiköy Harbor
“I love the view of the Bosporus from the lighthouse. I just had lunch at Çiya Sofrasi (lunch for two $50)—a traditional Anatolian restaurant nearby.”

Mehmet Öktem, Bar Owner
Location: Galata Bridge
“I come here often, just to soak in the city. This bridge connects Beyoğlu—the city’s modern, European heart—and the old peninsula, where I shop at the Spice Bazaar. It’s next to the New Mosque, which is almost three hundred and fifty years old.”

Yasemin Arpaç, Interior Designer
Location: Serdar Ekrem Sokak, Galata
“A lot of artists are moving into the area—it’s very trendy these days. At one end of the street there’s the Galata Tower; at the other is my favorite jewelry boutique, Aida Pekin (44A Serdar Ekrem Sk.; 90-212/243-1211). The designer creates pendants inspired by local landmarks.”

Interviewed by Christine Ajudua

Photo by Kerem Uzel

Damien Hirst Exhibit Opens Today...In a City Near You?

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The prolific YBA artist, Damien Hirst, is continuing his successful career at being…well, prolific. Today, the Gagosian Gallery opens "The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011" in all of their 11 locations. That's 3 in New York, 2 in London, 1 in Paris, Rome, Beverly Hills, Athens, Hong Kong and Geneva. If this is still not enough Damien Hirst for you, the gallery is offering people to take on "The Complete Spot Challenge." Register at their website, jet to all 11 locations, and you'll get a personally signed Spot Print from the man himself. While you're in New York, stay at Le Parker Meridien or the Gramercy Park Hotel, where you'll find his work on their walls. In London, spend the night at 45 Park Lane and eat in the lobby, at Wolfgang Puck's CUT. There, you'll be greeted by even more of his pieces. Hong Kong? No problem. W Hotel, Hong Kong often exhibits his art in their lobby as well. Just make sure you bring some extra cash. A Damien Hirst doesn't come cheap.

Where: Gagosian Gallery (Worldwide)
When: Opens January 12, 2012 (Closing dates vary)
More Information: gagosian.com

Joe Harper is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Credit: © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2011. Photography by Prudence Cuming Associates

Victor Enrich's City Portraits: Move Over, Koolhaas?

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Like the products of an architect’s fever-dreams, the buildings in Victor Enrich’s city portraits morph and strain and sprout new wings that defy logic and gravity. His 3-D illustrations transform cityscapes from familiar boxiness into something distorted and slightly giddy. Yet when one considers some of the outlandish real-world structures that have sprung from the imaginations of big-name designers like Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, and Santiago Calatrava, perhaps former architecture student Enrich (with a well-connected and -caffeinated publicist and a budget, of course) could be the next urban design visionary?

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Clyfford Still Museum Opens in Denver

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“It’s only by seeing the totality of a man’s life that you can get a measure of it,” or so the painter Clyfford Still told the New York Times in 1971. Four decades later, the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver—which opened in November—offers visitors as close to a total view of the pioneering Abstract Expressionist’s life as he could have possibly wanted. Actually, he insisted on it.

Famously imperious, egoistic, and cantankerous, Still was one of American art’s great mid-century mavericks, known for his raw, abstract paintings from the forties and fifties, featuring jagged fields and fissures in earthy, fiery tones that manage to feel both primal and transcendent. The artist exhibited his work infrequently, and he only sold or donated 150 or so of the roughly 2,500 pieces he created. When Still died, in 1980, he stipulated that nothing in his estate could be sold or given away. The art, all of it packed into his widow’s house in Maryland, had to go to a city that would agree to build a museum with the sole purpose of preserving and showing his work—and only his work.

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