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Richard Branson Inches Closer to Space Dreams

In what can only be described as one small step for space travelers, one giant leap for Virgin Galactic's publicity team, WhiteKnightTwo, a Sir Richard Branson-owned passenger aircraft, managed to reach an altitude of 46,000 feet over the Mojave Desert yesterday. The test flight lasted all of 16 seconds.

Branson called it "stunning" and "a critical day," according Reuter's Irene Klotz. The airline, mobile service, and music label magnate has been pushing for commercial space flights for almost a decade, even going so far as to accept deposits on the $200,000 tickets. Now that one of his craft's has achieved some small measure of escape velocity, Branson and his two grown children plan to fly in a second test of the WhiteKnightTwo scheduled tomorrow. Watch a YouTube video of the test flight above.

Related: Virgin's Sir Richard Branson: Ode to Abstinence

Travel Uniform: Anna Sui

Anna Sui

The designer shares her low-maintenance packing logic.

She might have a cult following among fashionistas and an eye-catching new luggage line for Tumi (from $95), but style isn’t Anna Sui’s top priority when traveling. “I’m all about comfort,” she admits. That means stretch jeans from Uniqlo ($39) and a loose-fitting silk tunic from one of her past collections. New York–based Sui often flies to Japan for work and England to see friends, and fastidiously plans each day’s look in advance, favoring pieces in wrinkle-resistant chiffon or crepe de chine. “There’s nothing worse than bringing the wrong clothes.”

• “I scour London’s Portobello Market, a favorite shopping stop, for my vintage Bakelite jewelry.”

“Always in my Tumi carry-on: noise-reducing headphones and British rock zines.”

• Sui’s Chippewa boots (from $149) are intentionally a bit big—easier to pull on and off.

• “I pack an extra collapsible bag in my suitcase for souvenirs—like the Tutankhamen head I bought in Egypt.”

Photo by Danielle Levitt

From Belize to Kenya and Rome: A Q&A with Actress Kate Walsh

Kate Walsh

Kate Walsh has been a prime-time star since 2005, when she earned fame for her role as Addison on Grey's Anatomy. While the spin-off series Private Practice just ended its six-year run, the native Californian isn't taking a break to relax, with trips to Vienna, Washington, D.C., and possibly the Middle East coming up this year. There’s also her fragrance, Boyfriend—the bottle of which was inspired by the Venetian glass and gold frames at Le Meurice hotel in Paris. Here, the actress talks to us about her more memorable trips, favorite hotels, and more.

Tell me about your recent trip to Belize.
I was there with Oceana [an ocean conservation organization] to bring awareness to the importance of conserving the barrier reef, which is essential for the island fisherman and protects the island from storms and hurricane. This was one of the most pristine and rich reefs I’ve ever been to.

We stayed at a little place called Turtle Inn, which is owned by Francis Ford Coppola. There was no TV, and only one area you can get Internet. It was so quiet and relaxing, and the food was great. It was just about being in the water, lying in hammocks, and taking boat rides to snorkel at different islands.

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New York Post Bus Tour Brings Back Yesterday's News

nyp1jpg

For New Yorkers, The New York Post is like a member of the family. Sure, it can be sensationalistic and vulgar. (Sometimes both at the same time.) Once and a while some critics may even find it a bit racist. But the Post is our paper, and we love it no matter what. Besides, what else are you gonna get for a dollar these days?

Now visitors can see New York City through The Post's legendary headlines. Metro Sightseeing (sister company of Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises) and the newspaper have teamed up to offer The New York Post Headlines Tour, a double-decker ride through the tabloid city.

The tour, which departs from 57th Street and 7th Avenue at 10AM and 2PM every Thursday (tickets are $49), takes you from the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South, former haunt of "Queen of Mean" hotelier Leona Helmsley to the Marble Collegiate Church, where Donald Trump met his second wife, Marla Maples in 1987. That marriage ended in 1997, but not before giving the Post one of its most famous headlines ever: "The Best Sex I Ever Had!"

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Rihanna's Barbados Video, Plus Some T+L Recommendations

On February 10th, “We Found Love” earned R&B superstar Rihanna her sixth Grammy, this time for best short form music video. That’s nice, but the songstress has another video that T+L readers may find even nicer. It’s a tourism promotional video for Barbados, Rihanna’s home country, and one of the Caribbean’s top destinations.

Check it out:

Okay, so now that we all officially want to go to Barbados but know nothing about it, T+L can help. Here are some things the video didn’t tell us that make a visit to this Caribbean isle more enticing:

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Trip Doctor: The Rebirth of a Brand

Karl Lagerfeld

Jean Nouvel. Christian Lacroix. Kenzo Takada. And now, Karl Lagerfeld. Over the last half-decade, a star-studded cast of designers and architects has helped transform the half-century-old French Sofitel brand from a random collection of dusty hotels—some elegant, some forgettable—into a serious player among international luxury hotels.

This is all thanks to a new direction from CEO Robert Gaymer-Jones, who over the last six years whittled down 81 sub-par properties from a group of more than 200 into a collection of 120 hotels that have been upgraded and reflagged into distinct brands. They include the Sofitel flagship (the Nouvel-designed Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom, for one), Sofitel Legend for historic properties (the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi and the soon-to-open Sofitel Montevideo among others), and So, a line of new style-conscious boutiques. (Recent openings include So Bangkok, where Lacroix did the lobby and staff uniforms, and So Mauritius, where Takada designed eight light-filled villas.)

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Q+A: Gael Garcia Bernal on Chile and Mexico

Gael Garcia Bernal

For his Academy Award-nominated film No, the Mexican star traveled to Santiago, Chile, to portray the young ad exec who helped oust General Augusto Pinochet in 1988. T+L caught up with the peripatetic actor.

Q: What stood out most about Chile?
A: It’s the only country where a dictator has been toppled democratically. A fantastic place to visit is the General Cemetery; the whole history is buried there and you can see how the classes are divided. And Chile faces the sea, so there’s a strong coastal culture.

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Recap: T+L Food Twitter Chat

Twitter chat

Recently we hosted a food-centric tweet-up, inviting some of the biggest names in the culinary industry to share their expertise, answering questions about food and, of course, travel. On our panel?

Host: Adam Sachs (@AdamSachs):

Mario Batali (@MarioBatali):
Andrew Carmellini (@AndreCarmellini):
Gabriele Corcos (@TheTuscanGun):
Mitchel Davis (@KitchenSense):
Kat Kinsman (@KittenWithAWhip):
Debi Mazar (@DebiMazar):
Nilou Motamed (@NilouMotamed):
Daniel Patterson (@DCPatterson):
Marcus Samuellson (@MarcusCooks):

Throughout the hour-long conversation, the panel shared a lot of great information. Here are some highlights:

Talk about a food experience you had while traveling that really inspired you.
Adam Sachs: Foraging for wild wasabi in Japan was up there with top food nerd fantasies.
Mario Batali: I’m a huge fan of the Borough Market in London. It’s like a movie set from the Dickens era, with spectacular food.
Mitchell Davis: I recently made my way to Willows Inn for a dinner of fresh, foraged, and local food in a gorgeous setting.
Marcus Samuellson: Tasting fugu (pufferfish) for the first time in Tokyo. Blew my mind.

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Drew Barrymore's Favorite Travel Memories

Drew Barrymore

The latest endeavor for the actress and producer—besides three-month-old daughter Olive? Launching her own wine label, Barrymore Wines, produced in Cremona, Italy. T+L asked Barrymore to uncork a few beloved travel memories.

Most Romantic Getaway: “My Portland, Oregon, trip with my husband, Will Kopelman. We stayed at the Ace Hotel ($) and had this super-groovy room. I was in love with Naomi Pomeroy, the chef at Beast ($$$$). Will booked the chef’s table, and I almost fell through the floor.”

Best Outdoors Experience: “On a trip with my business partner, Nancy Juvonen, we spent a night in Joshua Tree National Park during a full-tilt, A-plus meteor shower.”

Greatest Italian Tour: “Last fall, we did a five-day supermarket sweep of Rome, Cremona, Verona, Venice, and Lake Garda. We were like the Griswolds. I bought a cup that said I ♥ Roma—Will made fun of me, but now he uses it every morning. We had amazing tonnarelli cacio e pepe at Felice a Testaccio ($$$), in Rome. Well worth the 45-minute wait.”

More From Travel + Leisure:

Celebrities' Favorite Places
Celebrities' Secret Winter Vacation Spots
World's Coolest Caves

Photo by Michael Kovac - Getty Images

Q+A with Screenwriter Dan Fogelman

The Guilt Trip

For most, a cross-country road trip with Mother would end in tears or bloodshed (or both). But for screenwriter Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love; Cars), one he took inspired this month’s The Guilt Trip, starring Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand. Here, Fogelman reveals a few parent-approved pit stops.

Q: What were some highlights from the road?
A: We drove to Memphis to see Graceland—you have to do that. I tried to stay on Route 66 to go through small towns; it’s like stepping into the 1950’s.

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