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Trip Doctor Series: Cooking Schools (England)

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If your apron is the first thing you pack in your suitcase, you’ll want to tune into this month’s weekly series on immersive cooking programs, where we’ll highlight a standout program from our April food issue’s Global Guide to Cooking Schools.

The School: School of Artisan Food, the Cotswolds, England

You’re in good hands at this respected program in the heart of Sherwood Forest, which teaches half- and multi-day courses that focus on traditional English cookery, from wild game butchery to fruit preserves.

The Class: For all you Downton Abbey fanatics (you know who you are), we recommend celebrated food scholar Ivan Day’s hands-on class on historic baking techniques—lumber pie, anyone?—which takes its inspiration from historic cooking methods.

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

Photo courtesy of The School of Artisan Food

The Doctor Recommends: Must Reads for the Week Ending April 5, 2013

We all know airport food isn't what it used to be—and that's a good thing. CNN's Beth Kaufman takes things a step further by ranking the best bites at terminals across the country, from FLL to LAX. (Nikki Ekstein)

Calling all futurists! Each year, the Crystal Cabin Awards highlight the best ideas for in-flight innovation. You might not see any of them at 35,000 feet just yet, but Skift picks out the most viable (and interesting) finalists before the winners are announced next week. (N.E.)

No outlet? No problem. These eight solar-powered mobile chargers presented by Mashable's Matt Petronzio make sure you don't miss a tweet. (Maria Pedone)

Coming soon to Colorado: My 420 Tours, vacation packages for marijuana tourists. Bloomberg Businessweek's Eric Sptiznagel talks to Matt Brown and James Walker, 420's founders. (Matt Haber)

Ever wonder what all the different lights atop The Empire State Building signify? New York's Emma Whitford explains all. (M.H.)

What does it really mean when someone shouts "Is there a doctor on the plane?!" The Atlantic's Celine Gounder looks at Medical Emergencies at 40,000 Feet. (M.H.)

Troy Knapp, aka, the Mountan Man who lived—and robbed cabins—in the wilds of southern Utah was finally caught by the authorities this week after nearly a decade off the grid and on the lam. Men's Journal's Jacob Bayham was already profiling the wilderness-savvy fugitive for the magazine. (M.H.)

"I always drink to world peace." The New York Times Magazine has a nice interactive map of Times reporters' favorite places to drink worldwide. (M.H.)

Smarter Travel's Caroline Costello muses on the pros and cons of tipping. (Peter Schlesinger)

Arthur Frommer reacquires the rights to his namesake brand from Google. Skift's Jason Clampet has some details. (P.S.)

Got a recommendation of your own? Share it in the comments.

Trip Doctor: Sri Lankan Scientists ID New, Massive Spider

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Disclaimer: I'm an arachnophobe. When I plan my next vacation, the first thing I do is an online image search to see what the spiders are like there. (Example, brace yourself: Australia). I've known for a while that Sri Lanka, with its Huntsman spiders, was probably too scary for me. But with the news that there's another big spider on the island, you can definitely scratch the tropical paradise off my bucket list.

Scientists at the country's Biodiversity Education & Research organization have discovered a ginormous spider, dubbed the Poecilotheria rajaei. And by ginormous, I mean it has a leg-span of 8 inches – larger than the average human skull. Oh, and it’s super hairy too. And fast. And poisonous. And did I mention it’s ginormous?

Part of the genus Poecilotheria (lovingly called “Pokies” by those in-the-know), the rajaei has enough distinctive markings to constitute its own species, although no DNA samples have confirmed this. Specimens were found mostly in the island’s northern forests, although some were found in a hospital too. Extra creepy.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by istockphoto

That Sinking Feeling: Passengers Rescued from Liverpool Duck Bus

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When Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip rode the amphibious tour bus, the Yellow Duckmarine, for a tour of Liverpool last year, they may have elevated this rather conspicuous mode of tourism to a slightly more dignified position.

This week, the image of these tours has sunk again—rather literally. Over Easter weekend, a lunchtime run by the Beatlemania-tinged tour—which passes by several local landmarks, including the Cavern Club where the Fab Four got their start—ended abruptly when the boat began to sink in the River Mersey. Luckily, as The Daily Mail's Becky Evans reports, all of the passengers were evacuated safely to a pontoon.  (Beatles nerds might note that "Ferry Cross the Mersey" was not a Beatles song, but a hit for Gerry & The Pacemakers.) From the shore, many passengers watched (and documented) the Duckmarine sinking, not unlike Pete Best’s star potential back in the day.

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Visiting The World Trade Center's Observation Deck

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Exactly 40 years ago on April 4, 1973, the original World Trade Center opened in New York City’s financial district. Now, with construction of One World Trade Center to be completed in 2014, the first views from its panoramic observation deck have been revealed.

The observatory, which will occupy floors 100 through 102 of the tower, will feature 360-degree views. Just one stroll around the deck offers sights of the entire island of Manhattan, Brooklyn, New York and New Jersey ports, and Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Not bad for the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

As Randy Levine of Legends Hospitality, the company that will run the observatory, said, the tower will “fit the grandeur and the stature of what this [building] is about…[it] means moving forward without ever forgetting…the days of 9/11.”

The 1,776-ft. high observatory will be open to the public in 2015. While ticket prices are not set, discounts to local school and community groups will be available.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Tobias Hutzler

Tech Thursday: NowCation and the Rise of the Destination Agnostic

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We’re noticing a funny trend around here. From GetGoing, the site that surprises you with one of two affordable vacation choices, to mystery vacation deals at numerous airlines and travel agencies, all fingers point to the rise of the Destination Agnostic: A traveler who cares not where she goes, so long as she goes somewhere without breaking a budget.

Into this trend falls NowCation, a site that offers "getaway deals" at rock-bottom prices—if you’re willing to leave the dates and destination up to the computer. Just plug in your departure city and the program gets to work, instantly suggesting where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. This morning, deals from New York’s JFK included ten nights in New Orleans (hotel and air included) for $802 and San Juan, Puerto Rico for four nights for $467 (also inclusive of hotel and air). Package deals like these offer the best value, but those who prefer to choose their own accommodations can purchase airfare alone.

The deals don’t always make sense—we’ve seen suggestions for vacations whose departure date was in the past, or for 2-day stints in Europe where you’d barely get settled in before checking out. But that’s what happens when you let an algorithm—not a human—tell you where to go.

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

Photo courtesy of Nowcation

Carnival Triumph Back in Alabama Port

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This week brought more bad news for Carnival Cruises when Triumph, the cruise ship that found itself stranded off the coast of Mexico following an electrical fire in February, broke loose from a dock in Mobile, Alabama yesterday. Adrift for a few hours, the boat has now been secured.

According to NBC News' Tracy Connor, the Coast Guard is currently looking for one shipyard employee who disappeared following the boat's dislodgment. Another worker was rescued from the water after falling in.

As you may recall, Carnival president Gerry Cahill said the company would be looking into its entire fleet following the Triumph incident.

Matt Haber is an editor at travelandleisure.com.

Photo by Paul Brown / Alamy

Trip Doctor: Make-A-Wish Foundation Calls for Frequent-Flier Miles Donations

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Have you been hoarding those frequent-flier miles waiting for just the right occasion to use them? How about putting them to a good cause by gifting them to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. The organization is commemorating World Wish Day, April 29th, with a campaign to raise dollars and airline  miles for childrens' wishes involving travel. They've even launched a YouTube video explaining the program.

Each year, the foundation grants nearly 14,000 wishes—almost 75 percent of which require air travel. That means that Make-A-Wish uses 2.5 billion airline miles annually at a cost of nearly $40 million.
 
To continue its mission and help 10,000 children see the ocean, pet a kangaroo, or do anything else they can dream of, the organization is calling on supporters to donate some of those frequent-flier miles they've been racking up. As David Williams, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish America explains, "donating airline miles or dollars will allow us to continue creating thousands of lasting moments for children." More on World Wish Day can be found at the Make-A-Wish Foundation's official site.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by © Jon Feingersh/Blend Images/Corbis

No Joke: Tiny Samoan Airline Will Charge Passengers By Weight

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We wouldn't blame your assuming that Samoa Air's recent announcement that it will be weighing customers and charging them based on their weight is a belated April Fools' Day stunt, but apparently, it's real.

Reports have been popping up everywhere since the announcement, and the tiny airline's official website confirms the new policy with a statement that reads: "We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh. You are the master of your Air'fair', you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fees, or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple."

Is it so simple? Not everyone is pleased with this idea. The Guardian's Ally Fogg wrote that the new policy "panders to a particularly unpleasant trend in modern culture that legitimises and even celebrates fat-shaming and body fascism. At its most crude this is manifest in straightforward cruelty and discrimination."

Chris Langton, head of Samoa Air, defended the idea—and suggested it may be the start of an industry-wide trend—in an Australian radio interview quoted by the BBC: "People generally are bigger, wider and taller than they were 50 years ago… The industry will start looking at this."

Photo by iStockphoto

Trip Doctor: British Airways Extends "Hand Baggage Only" Fares from London Gatwick

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Good news for those of you who travel light: British Airways is extending its "hand baggage only fares" to 32 routes (up from an initial five) out of London’s Gatwick Airport.
 
What does that mean? Travelers flying the carrier from Gatwick to any of the airline’s short haul destinations, including Barcelona, Marrakesh, and Venice, now automatically pay between $14 and $23 less per ticket if they choose to fly with carry-on luggage only.
 
And if you’ve never been one to fly without a massive rolling suitcase, fear not. As Peter Simpson, director of Gatwick for British Airways explains, "those who still want to check in a bag will simply pay the same price they do now."

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by iStockphoto

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