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New Murals Bring Color to Philadelphia Amtrak Route

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A new set of murals are making a colorfusl splash along a stretch of Amtrak lines in Philadelphia.

As part of the city's Mural Arts Program, German artist Katharina Grosse painted warehouses and abandoned lots visible from the tracks. Around 34,000 rail passengers will see the project every day from their seats on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor route between Philadelphia and New York, as well as from several local commuter lines.

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Google's New Tools Improve The Way We Travel

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“Google, when does my flight leave?” I asked Google Now aloud.

Within seconds, the app accessed my flight reservation and created a travel card, announcing that Virgin Atlantic flight VS45 from London to New York had been delayed 45 minutes.

This is just one way Google is trying to make travel easier for users, along with a handful of other recently unveiled new and updated tools.

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Vacation Rentals Get a Boost with Launch of Villas.com and Funding for Tripping

201405-hd-villa-rentaljpgThe vacation rental industry has officially made it. Booking.com just launched Villas.com, a smart and streamlined site dedicated solely to vacation rentals, with more than 150,000 listings. Meanwhile, Tripping—the self proclaimed “world’s largest search engine for vacation homes and short-term rentals” and the brainchild of Expedia, Travelzoo, and StubHub veterans—just got a new round of funding, rumored to be between $5 and $10 million.

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Daily Transporter: Chilean Mummy

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Last week, a group of Chilean school kids on a field trip uncovered a Chinchorro mummy that may predate Egyptian mummies by 4,000 years. The students were digging near the border with Peru, in an area that had experienced a landslide in April.

See Chile in World’s Coolest Hot Springs

Editor’s Picks: Chile
World’s Prettiest Mountain Towns
Most Romantic Hotel Fireplaces
World’s Strangest Statues

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

Photo: hajarali

Daily Transporter: Game-Changing Ferris Wheels

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Attractions like the London Eye and this Ferris wheel on Chicago’s Navy Pier have been luring tourists downtown; now, cities like NYC, Orlando, and Dubai are climbing on board. Las Vegas adds its own spin to the phenomenon: you can get married on the new 500-foot High Roller.

See the High Roller in 25 Selfies You Have to Take This Year

Editor’s Picks: Great City Trips
World’s Coolest Ferris Wheels
World’s Coolest New Tourist Attractions
World’s Coolest Tram Rides

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: French Trains Too Fat?

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Sleek regional trains ordered by the French government are not quite sleek enough: 1,300 train platforms will have to be slimmed down to allow the wider trains. (The Gare d'Orsay, now the Musée d’Orsay, closed in 1939 when its short platforms didn’t match the length of the newer electric trains.)

See the Musée d’Orsay in World’s Most Beautiful Museums

Editor’s Picks: Paris
World’s Most Amazing Views
World’s Coolest Hotel Bathrooms
Best Instagram Photos of 2013

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

Video: Watch Lightning Strike London's The Shard



London's the Shard—Europe's tallest buiding and home to the newest Shangri-La hotel—made headlines last week when it was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm on Thursday. The video above has since gone viral, with nearly 1 million views.

For those of you concerned about safety, a hotel employee assures me that no guests or staff members reported feeling or hearing the strike.

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.

 

A Weekend Trip Around the World

Around the world in a weekend—why not? UK-based Austravel is offering package tours that leave London on Friday, take you to Australia, and have you back for work in London by Tuesday morning.

Mesmerizing Map Makes it Easy To Follow Whales

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It may be the tail end of whale watching-season in Hawaii, but with the new interactive map that tracks their migration, you can follow your favorites all year long.

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For more than 20 years, Cascadia Research has been compiling whale data that has, unfortunately, remained inaccessible to the public. Thanks to Scot McQueen at the startup Earth Science-software development team, Smartmine, this rich mine of information can now be tapped. 

“What you see right now,” McQueen says of the interactive map—a hypnotic swirl of ocean and wind currents undulating across the Pacific and speckled with pods of migrating whales—“is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Soon, McQueen and his team of developers hope to incorporate all of Cascadia’s data, giving the map a global spread and providing users new ways to identify with the data.

Instead of an abstract pin, the Smartmine Whale Tracking Map will provide visitors with the actual photographs of each individual whale. “It’s the idea that this is a unique animal—not just data—and you can have a deeper connection with it.”

In addition to Hawaii’s hallmark humpback whales, you can track the migrations of pigmy killer whales around Oahu, sperm whales, beaked whales, and false killer whales as they converge at the tip of Kapaau.

When asked about the potential threat this data could cause to the whales’ safety (noting the recent reports of poachers tracking endangered rhinos with geotagged safari photos in South Africa) McQueen assured us that the Whale Tracker has the animals’ best interests at heart.

“There’s absolutely no live data,” McQueen said. While whale enthusiasts can’t rely on the map for an accurate sighting, the delay in transmission keeps the whales from being harassed.

Ultimately, McQueen and his team are driven by the desire to bridge the enormous gap between the scientific and general communities, and to cultivate the shared desire to explore our planet. 

Melanie Lieberman is an editorial intern and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites. 

Photo courtesy of GeoEngineers

 

Airbnb's Agreement with New York Attorney General

201405-hd-airbnbjpgAirbnb announced this week that it reached an agreement with the New York Attorney General, after the state office issued a second subpoena demanding data on thousands of Airbnb hosts.

In this latest update to the long saga of New York State vs. Airbnb, the short-term apartment rental website will hand over anonymized data of its hosts, giving the Attorney General's Office one year to review the information.

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