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Confessions of an Aspen Bellman

bellman

A veteran porter sheds light on working at a ritzy ski-town resort.

“A lot of people assume that we’re good for carrying luggage, and that’s it. But we know as much or more about where to eat and what to do as the front desk or concierge.”

“Some guests think we’re their personal assistants. They want us to get them groceries, swap their pillows, even drive them to the liquor store and wait for half an hour.”

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Obsession: Mini Meals

Re-ment

Penny-size pancakes, inch-high rice cookers, itty-bitty sushi. Re-ment—hyper-perfect plastic miniatures of foods and kitchen gadgets that I discovered in Tokyo’s legendary Kiddy Land toy store—embodies what I admire most about Japanese culture: a laser-like focus on detail, devoted to even the most mundane parts of life, and a near-religious obsession with cuteness. Re-ment is a spin on Cracker Jack: a toy comes in a small box with a token piece of candy, and you never know what you’re going to get (please, let it be the vintage toaster!). Some surprises even grown-ups can’t resist.

Jennifer Flowers is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Levi Brown

County in China Boasts Hot Tourist Attraction: Really Old Folks

elderly Chinese person

The terms "centenarian" and "cashing in" are rarely used in the same breath among tourism officials, but that may be changing—at least in a remote county in the Guangxi Zhuang region of China.

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Art as Take-Home Amenity: Man Tries to Lift Painting From Cruise Ship

Norwegian Star

We all know it's fine if you take home the soap or shampoo that you find in your hotel room or cruise-ship cabin. But what about that coffee mug? The bathrobe? Or...the decor in the lobby?

A Kentucky man has been fined $500 after he tried to disembark from the Norwegian Star with a giant painting that—well, was part of the permanent decor of the Norwegian Star.

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One Tepid Club Soda, Please: Woman Sues Southwest Over Hot Tea

201209-b-hot-tea-airline-lawsuitjpg

Southwest Airlines—which once upon a time, sprang earnestly from a place called Love Field—is inspiring more ill will again.

A Tennessee woman has filed an $800,000 suit against the airline—$300,000 for medical damages, and $500,000 in punitive damages—after she says she was scalded by hot water during a flight from Nashville to Houston.

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Sun, Sand, Closing Arguments: A New Attraction in the Maldives?

Maldives

Talk about spoiling the mood: If you’re going to the Maldives for a romantic getaway, the islands’ deposed president has a great suggestion for you: Settle into your hotel room, then watch his trial on TV.

Depending on whom you ask, Mohamed Nasheed either stepped down, or was ousted, from office earlier this year. Either way, he is now facing charges of abusing his power and will be tried by what he calls a “kangaroo court.”

The former prez says that tourists should know that some luxury resorts may have backed his coup after he had hoped to market the islands—which has long attracted both honeymooners and A-list guests such as Tom Cruise, Jennifer Aniston and Mick Jagger—to more middle-income travelers.

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Crocs on a Plane!

crocodile

Somebody in Australia may be getting the last laugh over airlines' lofty checked baggage fees.

After a recent Qantas Airways flight from Brisbane to Melbourne, cargo handlers got a wacky surprise while unloading the plane: a live crocodile had gotten loose amongst the baggage.

Sounds like a fabulous Samsonite commercial, doesn’t it? Croc jumps on bags, rifles through passengers’ belongings, snacks on undeclared vegemite stashed in luggage.

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Lost and Found in Europe: Chargers, Books, Legs

Hotel Lost and Found: artificial leg

It's no surprise that it's gotten so easy to buy a charger or adapter at the airport: travelers seem to misplace, forget or just shed the things like old gum wrappers.

Indeed, those dull-but-essential accessories accounted for 68 percent of the items left behind at Choice Hotels, according to a recent survey of the company's European hoteliers.

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Cat Burglar or Dupe? Chinese Tourist Swallows Diamond at Gem Expo

gem

Say what you want about the colorful geeks who go to ComiCon every year, but give them credit: You never hear about them trying to swallow light sabers on the sly.

That wasn't the case at Facets 2012, the latest of the famed Sri Lankan gem expo. Earlier this month, police arrested a seemingly jewel-loving Chinese tourist at the exhibition after he was suspected of swallowing a $13,000 diamond and replacing it in the display case with a fake gem.

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Seagull Films Sunset for Tourist

French tourist Nathalie Rollandin was shocked when a seagull swooped down and snatched her camera and her precious vacation photos. What she didn't realize was the bird was doing her a solid. It snagged her camera while recording and captured epic views of San Francisco Bay, and then genially set it down for her retrieval. Take a look at the footage caught by the mischievous bird above, and hope you're lucky enough to have a run-in with the bird on your next trip to San Francisco.


Kelsi Maree Borland is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

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