As we, and the rest of the country, wait for information about the horrific bombing in Boston yesterday, we'll be sending our hopes and prayers to that city's residents. We also want to take a moment to remember all the things we love about that classic American city and look forward to visiting there again soon.
The iconic chimes of London's Elizabeth Tower (aka, Big Ben) will be silenced on Wednesday while Margaret Thatcher is laid to rest, according to various reports, including this one from the BBC. Thatcher died at age 87 on April 8. This is the first time the bells have been silenced for a funeral since 1965 in honor of Winston Churchill.
T+L's International Editor Mark Orwoll appeared in on CNN this weekend to discuss the airline quality rankings released last week. Watch as he discusses the rise of customer complaints about surcharges, ticketing, and personnel and offers tips about getting the seat you want and not getting bumped.
Better nail down those in-room amenities! Hotels.com has just released the results of a poll it conducted asking 8,500 travelers from 28 different countries what they have stolen from hotel rooms (beyond toiletries, of course). The results are full of surprises.
Danes are apparently the most scrupulous travelers among us. A full 88 percent of them claimed to have not stolen anything from their hotel rooms. Dutch and Norwegians rounded out the honor roll of ethical travelers, with 85 and 84 percent, respectively, taking nothing extra home with them. The most admittedly sticky-fingered travelers in the world: Colombians—57 percent of whom conceded to have taken something from a hotel.
What do people take? Thirty percent of Indian travelers admit to taking books and magazines from their rooms. Seventeen percent of Americans have walked home with linens and towels. Seven percent of Colombian travelers have slipped either a robe or a pillow into their bag. Electronics (!!!) are most popular with Finnish travelers (4 percent), while furnishings—including lamps, clocks, and artwork—go home most frequently with Chinese travelers (13 percent).
Of course, whether the results of this poll reflect the actual thieving tendencies of travelers or their honesty in filling out a survey is unknown. Who knows? Maybe those upstanding Danes are just pulling the wool over our collective eyes.
This is a big weekend for Boston, and I’m not talking about the thousands of runners descending on the city for its famed marathon, which takes place next Monday. No, I’m talking about the three, I repeat three, coffee competitions occurring in the city.
So what exactly are these caffeinated contests?
At the United States Barista Championship, baristas who have won regional championships across the country duke it out at the national level, preparing and serving an espresso, a cappuccino, and a signature drink of their own creation to four "sensory judges"—all in under fifteen minutes.
The Cup Tasters Championship, meanwhile, has the contestants do the drinking. They sip back eight sets of three coffee-cups, and each set has two cups of the same coffee and one miss-fit. Whoever correctly identifies the most outliers in the shortest amount of time becomes the champion. Sound difficult? It is, and it tests the participants' ability "to smell, taste, recall and concentrate," according to the event description.
And lastly, there’s the Brewers Cup, which celebrates the "art of manual coffee brewing." Competitors first brew the same cup of coffee, and whoever advances to the next round must then brew and present their own coffee. Judges score based on taste and presentation, and the winner will represent the United States at the World Brewers Cup Championship in Melbourne, Australia.
The three competitions are being held in tandem at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, and are co-sponsored by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. With so many coffee beans being ground in one weekend, Boston may actually merit the name Beantown for once.
Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Photo of 2012 U.S. Barista Champion Katie Carguilo by Liz Clayton
For this month’s weekly series on immersive culinary courses, we’re transporting you to the foodie mecca of Vietnam. Still hungry? Check out our April food issue’s Global Guide to Cooking Schools.
The School: The Hanoi Cooking Centre, located near the city’s Old Quarter, offers hands-on, half-day lessons on everything from the flavor-rich dishes of the northern highlands to the seafood-centric specialties of the country’s southern coast.
The Class: Sign up for Vietnamese Street Food, a course that teaches students how to whip up their own pho cuon (fresh noodle spring rolls) and green pawpaw salad, among other delicacies from the streets of Hanoi.
Jennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.
Jay-Z's "Open Letter" says all it takes to go to Cuba is an OK from the President, but CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg isn't about to let you believe it. Over on his blog, he sets the record straight for those who aren't buddies with the First Family (or prefer to do things legally). (Nikki Ekstein)
In 2011, Delta made headlines by axing expiration dates on SkyMiles, the airline’s frequent flier mileage program. Last month, the carrier garnered some less friendly press with a slight addendum to its no-expiration policy: The miles don’t expire…until the mileage holder does.
Prior to the March 20 announcement, SkyMiles could transfer to next of kin, but as NBC reported, such transactions are no longer permitted by Delta. Frequent fliers are unsurprisingly displeased at the policy change, and have even started an online petition against it.
But not all the heat should fall on Delta. JetBlue, Southwest, and United all have similar restrictions. Meanwhile, a slew of other airlines, including Alaska, American Airlines, and US Airways allow miles earned to transfer after death.
Delta spokeswoman Chris Kelly Singley has countered any criticism by noting that SkyMiles reward those who have directly participated in the program and showed loyalty to the airline.
Frequent Flier's Tim Winship explained the main takeaway to NBC: “The lesson there is don’t allow yourself to be in a position where you’re sitting on a huge cache of frequent flier miles because tomorrow the program that you earned those miles in could make some kind of an enormous systemic change that pulls the rug out from under the value of those miles.” How comforting.
Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.