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Test Driving the New HP Chromebook 11

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This week, Google announced the next generation of Chromebook—a glossy white beauty with top-of-the-line hardware—and we’re impressed. It’s slim (under 18 mm), lightweight (at 2.3 pounds), and travel-proof, with a magnesium alloy frame that’ll withstand bumps and dings, a slick widescreen that’s great for movie watching, and speakers that port up through the keyboard for ultra-clear, fuzz-free sound.

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"Bargain Fever": New Book Highlights Shopping Secrets Around the World

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A new book about the global fascination with bargain hunting by frequent T+L contributor Mark Ellwood hits shelves today, giving valuable and often hilarious insights into the changing landscape of secret sales, online shopping, and good old haggling.

Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World focuses mostly on the recent surge in U.S. discounting—sales of sales have more than doubled in under a decade here—but it also takes readers to the bazaars in Istanbul and the megamalls in Tokyo.  

Ellwood's inspiration for the book occurred when he saw shoes on sale for 50 percent off just days after he had purchased them for 10 percent off. “I got the sense that no matter what I was paying, there was always a way to pay less,” he explains. “The more I looked into it, I realized I was falling down a half-price rabbit hole.” Bargain Fever is the result of his deeply researched quest to find out why and how that “rabbit hole” came to be.

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Frieze and 1:54, World's First Contemporary African Art Fair, Open in London

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This week, the culturati makes its annual pilgrimage to Regent’s Park for the 11th Frieze London (Oct. 17-20), with pieces from 152 contemporary galleries from around the globe plus specially commissioned performances, pop-up restaurants, and let’s not forget the party scene. In an unprecedented partnership, British fashion house Alexander McQueen is a sponsor this time around; artworks curated by local gallerist Sadie Coles will be displayed at the brand’s London stores throughout the fair.

Of course, there’s also the second edition of Frieze Masters, the historically minded spin-off, and a full schedule of satellites. Among this year’s standouts, in collaboration with Tanzanian architect David Adjaye, Somerset House has unveiled 1:54 (through Oct. 20), the world's very first contemporary African art fair. Founded by Touria El Glaoui, daughter of Moroccan painter Hassan El Glaoui, it’s a platform for more than 70 artists—from DRC painter Chéri Samba (see La Vraie Carte du Monde, above) to Benin’s Romuald Hazoumé, with his colorful tribal-inspired “masks” made from discarded jerricans, and Gonçalo Mabunda, who turns AK47s and rocket launchers deactivated after Mozambique’s civil war into whimsical, Modernist thrones.

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India Rolling Out Visa on Arrival

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We’ve heard countless horror stories about the process of getting an Indian visa (lost passports! slow service!), so imagine the relief when we heard that the country will soon be rolling out Visa on Arrival service for citizens of 40 countries—the United States included. As part of the new legislation, travelers will now be able to access an online application system for visas or simply secure their documents the moment their plane touches ground on Indian soil. And the service won’t just be available in Mumbai—airports such as Delhi, Chennai, and Hyderabad also have the program in the works.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Vail's Epic Pass Announces Global Ski Race

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Just last week, we wrote about saving big on ski passes by purchasing them early from Liftopia and Epic Pass. Now, Epic Pass has announced a new competition—fittingly dubbed the Epic Race.

The first ten people to ski all 26 resorts included in the Epic Pass will win a pass for life. That means free lift-tickets to some of the world's top ski destinations: U.S. mountains include Vail, Beaver Creek, and Breckenridge. In the French, Swiss, and Austrian Alps, passholders can enjoy the slopes at mountains such as Courchevel, Verbier, and Stuben.

Registration for the Epic Race starts November 1. Learn more here.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Free Global Roaming Announced with T-Mobile

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Today, T-Mobile announced a groundbreaking international roaming plan that squarely puts the carrier in the running for most travel friendly—a prize we’ve historically handed over to either Verizon or AT&T. What’s the fuss all about? All members of the carrier’s Simple Choice plans will automatically receive unlimited data and texting in more than 100 countries around the globe—and phone calls will be charged at a flat rate of 20 cents per minute from any of those countries. Another plus: there won’t be any activation or monthly fees for the service. Said CEO John Legere at T-Mobile’s launch event this morning, “Today’s phones are designed to work around the world, but we’re forced to pay insanely inflated international connectivity fees to actually use them. You can’t leave the country without coming home to bill shock. So we’re making the world your network—at no extra cost.” That’s logic we can all get behind.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Hot Tickets: Fall 2013 Museum News

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Thanks to dramatic transformations, these five world-class museums are casting a whole new light on their collections.

Amsterdam: After a 10-year renovation, a grand atrium now greets visitors to the Rijksmuseum (pictured). More than 8,000 objects, including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals, have been rearranged as a historical survey. —Raul Barreneche

Honolulu: The extraordinary story of how Pacific Islanders developed their diverse cultures is told—with canoes, costumes, musical instruments, and more—in the renovated Pacific Hall, debuting this month at the Bishop Museum. —Peter Webster

New York City: Housed in a pavilion built for the 1939 World’s Fair, the Queens Museum reopens in November at twice its original size. One of the first shows, “The People’s UN,” nods to the building’s former role as host to the General Assembly.—Peter Webster

Mexico City: The Museo Jumex, displaying artists both Mexican (Gabriel Orozco; Carlos Amorales) and global (Olafur Eliasson; Tacita Dean), expands into David Chipperfield’s sawtooth-roofed building in November. —Raul Barreneche

Cleveland: Come December, the Cleveland Museum of Art will unveil the last of three wings by Rafael Viñoly, showing works that range from Chinese bronzes to Impressionist paintings. —Peter Webster

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onefinestay.com Now Offers Private Apartment Stays in Paris, London, NYC, and L.A.

onefinestay's listing for cliveden place, london

onefinestay—which is kind of like airbnb.com’s wealthy Auntie Mame—offers posh private apartments for short-term rentals.  If you're a well-heeled traveler interested in privacy and space without sacrificing the services of a hotel, they've got the digs for you. Fine linens, fluffy towels, discreet maid service, and even a iPhone fully loaded with local recommendations will make you feel right at home, or even better, during your stay.

Until recently, onefinestay limited its offerings to homes in London and NYC (some of which, we’re told, belong to celebs, so check the family photos for familiar faces), but has now extended its boundaries to include Paris and Los Angeles. So if you’re planning a trip to those cities, peruse some of their swank—and sometimes surprisingly affordable— possibilities for accommodations.

onefinestay.com 

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

Image of Cliveden Place apartment, courtesy of onefinestay.com

Salem Witches Curse Shutdown

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While international tourists are shaking their collective fists at the closed gates of National Parks, another faction within the travel industry is grappling with the ugly effects of the government shutdown: witches, warlocks and their looky-loo friends in Salem, Mass.

After all, October is usually an extra-magical time of year for the hometown of the infamous 1692 witch trials. The month-long “Haunted Happenings,” which includes a psychic fair and witchcraft expo, conjures up about $30 million in revenue for the town, according to a recent AP article.

But here's the fly, or frog, in the ointment: Salem’s visitors center—the nerve center for the event—is run by the currently defunct National Park Service.

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Release the Kraken? Ginormous Squid Washes Up on Spanish Beach

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They are the stuff of Norse and Greek legends, but now Spain has its own claim on the mythology of sea monsters.

Last week, a giant squid washed up on La Arena beach in Cantabria, according to a report on the web site LiveScience. How giant, you ask? Try 30-feet-long giant.

Beachcombers were perhaps too taken aback to start making “Release the Kraken!” jokes right off the bat. Weighing in at about 400 pounds, the (expired) critter appears to be a specimen of Architeuthis dux, considered to be the largest invertebrate on Earth.  These squid also have the biggest eyes—sometimes as large as a human head. (Try not to think about that next time you wade into the ocean.)

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