That’s how Irish folk-rock star Declan O’Rourke characterizes his foray into music. How else to explain the circumstances behind the acquisition of his first guitar, gifted to him by a priest as a ten-year-old boy in Melbourne, Australia?
It’s been a faith-driven journey from there to here, another string-picker on the Dublin open-mic circuit to opener for cult-band Snow Patrol and the legendary Bob Dylan. On October 8th, O’Rourke celebrated his first U.S. release with the album “Mag Pai Zai”, which, along with records “Since Kyabram” (2004) and “Big Bad Beautiful World”(2007), has been a mainstay on the Top Ten charts across the pond. The latest ballads stay true to O’Rourke’s classic, crooning sound, yet unfurl with a newfangled sense of self-assuredness.
Yesterday may as well have been declared unofficial tablet day: Microsoft unveiled its new Surface 2 (whose main selling point is an improved kickstand for better stability on your lap), Nokia released its long-rumored tablet debut (a sleek 10-incher running Windows RT), and Apple announced a completely redesigned iPad: the iPad Air. While the other two focus on productivity, with built in Office Suite and attachable keyboards, Apple outrightly balked at its competitors for being “confused” in their attempts to merge tablet and laptop.
As of today, American Express is letting cardholders use their rewards to pay for NYC cab fares in real time, at the end of their ride. Not only does it open the door to use smaller point balances efficiently—it’s the first time that cardholders (with any kind of plastic) can pay with rewards currency at the point of purchase. Amex loyalists who opt to pay for a NYC cab ride with credit card will automatically see their points balance upon swiping—they’ll then be given the choice to pay with, say, 2107 points for a $21.07 taxi fare. Not in NYC? Fret not: we’re inclined to believe that instant points payment might become the name of the game as banks re-examine the often-frustrating process of cashing out rewards.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
There’s a new currency in the travel industry, and it’s called the Orbuck. Today, Orbitz launches its long-in-the-works Orbitz Rewards, a loyalty program that’s smart, transparent, and a hell of a business move for the popular OTA.
Here’s how it works: Book any flight on orbitz.com, and you’ll immediately be rewarded with at least 1 percent cash back (in Orbuck form); hotel bookings will yield at least 3 percent in returns. Book on the mobile app, and you’ll get bonus Orbucks—each Orbuck translates to a dollar off any future booking. Book a special deal, and you might net even more. The Orbucks show up in your account as soon as your transaction goes through, meaning you don’t have to wait to rack up tens of thousands of points before they’re redeemable. On the contrary: the cash you get back from a flight booking can be immediately applied when you book the hotel fifteen minutes later.
Remember when you could fly round-trip to London for less than $600? Nope? Faded from memory already? Recalling the good old days, Norway’s low-cost carrier Norwegian recently announced that it is launching service between London Gatwick and New York (JFK), Los Angeles, and Fort Lauderdale airports beginning next summer. The airline’s new 787 Dreamliners will fly the transatlantic routes starting July 2014. Norwegian is introducing these routes with special fares that are as low as $240, one way, from New York, and $321, one way, from Los Angeles. The introductory fares are being snapped up quickly, but we still found round trip tickets from New York for as little as $590 in August. See you at the pub?
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This just in: Visitors to Las Vegas can now rent select Harley Davidson models.
Motorcycle Rental by Enterprise launched October 16th, making it the first major rental company to bring two-wheelers to the Strip. As of now, there are 10-15 bikes available.
Why Vegas? “All this is based on customer feedback,” explains Yona Spiegelglass, Brand Publicity Director for Enterprise Holdings. “Many of our customers expressed interest in renting motorcycles there—it's a great opportunity to see the Strip and the Hoover Dam.”
Westin Hotels is catering to marathoners with its new Running Concierges.
Whether it's a 5K, half-marathon, or the full 26.2 miles, finishing a distance race is no easy feat. Make it a destination race and you'll have even more to think about: what to pack and how to adjust to different time zones and temperatures, to name a few. But the T+L editors love a challange—and any excuse to travel.
Hotels are even picking up on the trend. Westin brand hotels recently teamed up with the Rock 'n' Roll half marathon series (which hosts races year-round across North America and Europe) to offer RunWESTIN participants access to its dedicated running conceirge, Chris Heuisler. Perks include a race course tour (Chris meets with local running associations in each city for insider tips), fitness and recovery advice, and a pasta dinner and breakfast to fuel up for the big day.
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.
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.
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.