Offbeat + Strange
Fans of the T+L Hiking Guide who've already completed the Appalachian Trail, the pilgrimage to Santiago, or the climb to Machu Picchu will soon have another path to traverse: The Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail, covering nearly 360 miles in South Sudan* and Uganda.
The route is the same one that Samuel Baker, a British officer, took with his wife in the 1860s. Traveling south from present-day South Sudan, the couple became the first Europeans to see what they would name Lake Albert, which marks the terminus of the new trail.
In a day and age where we’re constantly hounding websites, iPhone apps, and Twitter feeds for the best travel deals, it’s nice to know that serendipity still plays a role.
Eight years ago, two Québec girls threw a message in a bottle into Montréal’s St. Lawrence River, uncertain if their letter would ever be answered.
Fast-forward to 2013, and the same bottle has made it across the Atlantic Ocean and into the hands of ten-year-old Oisín Millea from County Waterford, Ireland. His spontaneous discovery (which he suitably deemed as ‘treasure’) stirred the hearts of Tourisme Québec minister Pascal Bérubé, who then invited Oisín and his family to the province for a 12-day visit, gratis. Besides meeting up with the two girls (now young women) to celebrate the bottle’s long-awaited arrival, the family trip will include visits to Montréal, Québec City, the Irish Memorial park on Grosse Ile, sleeping in a yurt, and whale watching on the St. Lawrence River.
Tired of waiting at customs? This pilot program lets businesses pay to ease border delays, as covered by TravelMole. (Adrien Glover)
A tongue-in-cheek look from Gadling's Libby Zay as to why it might be nice to live in an airport. (Peter Schlesinger)
The Economist investigates how five-star hotels have become the only place for Mumbai's new rich to socialize. Brunch, anyone? (P.S.)
Subject: Nude Recreation Week, July 7-14
I took a look at that press release from the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) and I think we should forget about posting something on "Nude Recreation Week." Let me explain why…
First, I'm personally kinda sick of the whole calendarization thing. I mean, July 28 is National Day of the Cowboy. Is that even necessary? And July 19-August 26 is National Fishing Month. First month I ever heard of that has 38 days. Now comes Nude Recreation Week. You think that was passed by Congress or something? It's a bunch of guys at a bar coming up with this stuff.
Besides, aren't you tired of this trend for naming different kinds of vacations? The AANR is calling nude holidays "Nakations." Oh, please. Remember "stay-cations" during the Recession? Cute. Summer camps all over the country are sponsoring "playcations." Look up "daycation" at Urban Dictionary. It's out of control. What's next? Calling medical tourism "X-ray-cations"? It's an abomination!
Finally, I think we really need to consider the health and safety-related issues with this Nude Recreation Week concept. For instance, the press release they sent out recommends that if you want to ease into this whole naked thing slowly you could "wash the family pet in the nude" (which is silly, since pets don't usually wear clothes in the first place) and "vacuum the house nude." I'm sorry but there are just too many ways you could hurt yourself doing that, and I don't want that responsibility on my (fully clothed) shoulders.
Anyway, if you really want a write-up on this I'll do it. But under protest.
Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. You can followhim on Twitter @orwoll and Like him on Facebook.
Color wars. Village communities demarked by wildlife flags. A reveille bugle to wake us every morning. The 325 of us, ranging in ages from 19 to 67, were warned. We were prepped. But it was only when we stepped deep into the cover of 80 acres of cool redwoods in Anderson Valley (three hours north of San Francisco), into a 1970’s boy scout camp straight out of Wes Anderson’s wildest dream that we realized, finally, where we were.
And not just any camp. A camp for adults. Without electronic devices, computers, phones, lights, heat, or watches. We were not to speak about the “W” word (that would be work), what we did for a job (hereto forth to be called “fun” or “play”), and that revealing our names or ages would result in severe punishment (pulling out one another’s hair, strand by strand for each offense). We were asked to hand over our bags of iPads, Kindles, iPhones, Blackberries, digital cameras and a jumble of cords. Mine alone weighed 15 pounds and was giving me a lopsided walk; just one of the many reasons I had signed up for this experience. The offending devices went into a paper sack and were unceremoniously locked away as the campers (again, mostly me) whimpered softly.
Hotel ZaZa, a Texas mini-chain of boutique hotels, retains a fleet of vehicles available to guests at their Dallas and Houston properties. The kooky lineup includes an art car, a hearse, a car with Texas longhorns mounted on the grill, and a police cruiser.
If you want to make a dramatic entrance, the ZaZas will squire you there in idiosyncratic style. No one will forget your name after you pull up to a trade show in a hearse.
Why settle for a plain old limo when you could join the ever-growing list of former teen stars slumping in the backseats of patrol cars?
Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo: Courtesy of Hotel ZaZa
Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art has won raves—from this magazine, for instance—for its unique, fortress-like architecture. Perhaps even more striking, the museum’s creator, gambling mogul David Walsh, has frequently described the place as “a subversive adult Disneyland.”
High-brow praise, titillating promises ... either could get folks browsing airfares to Tasmania.
Indeed, the museum—with recurring themes of sex and death—seems to be driving a growing desire to visit Tasmania and its capital city, Hobart: According to a recent Telegraph article, more than 700,000 people have visited the museum since it opened in 2011 (for perspective, only 500,000 people actually live in the Australian island state), while Tourism Tasmania statistics indicate that tourist traffic to the island state is up by 10 percent since last year.
With the 101st anniversary of the Titanic sinking a few months behind us, some of you may be thinking that you'd heard the last of that fated ship for a while. Think again. The passenger liner that sank in April, 1912 continues to make waves in the 21st century, and Titaniacs the world over make treks to see and experience anything related to the ship and its sinking.
Just this month, in Belfast, a tender that ferried passengers boarding the Titanic in Cherbourg, France, reopened as a museum. The S.S. Nomadic (pictured) had spent years languishing – I saw her moored across the Seine from Paris's Eiffel Tower in 1999, windows broken and a plastic palm tree ingloriously placed on the top deck. In 2006, the Northern Irish city of Belfast purchased the Nomadic and transported it back to the Irish port where it was built in 1911. The ship, fully restored, now resides in Belfast’s new Titanic Quarter, a massive new development built on former docklands.
Last summer, some of the most omnipresent souvenirs found around London featured the faces of Wenlock and Mandeville, the much-maligned, one-eyed mascots from the 2012 Olympics.
This summer, experts are predicting that the image of a more agreeable tyke will draw tourist dollars: the baby expected in July by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her royal baby daddy, Prince William.
Coming soon to Universal Orlando: long lines of middle-aged guys waiting to get their pictures taken with Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Bob.
The Orlando theme park recently announced that it will expand the area around the simulator-style Simpsons Ride to embody all that is magical about the Springfield hometown of Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa and Maggie. According to its release, the new Springfield area of the park will open this summer and include one new ride—the hopefully-not-too-aptly-named Twirl ’n’ Hurl—as well as a line-up of Simpsons-inspired food and beverages that would make any would-be Homer swoon, such as "Krusty-certified meat" at Krusty Burger, a "Taco Fresho" with Bumblebee Man, and an array of donuts (“is there anything they can not do?”) at Lard Lad.
As proof that theme parks have become as much for grown-up kids as actual kids, Springfield will also feature a Moe’s Tavern and Duff Beer, “brewed exclusively for Universal Orlando,” according to the release. And hey, for any parent who has waited hours so their child could get an autograph from a giant mouse or princess, a cold beer with a donut may sound like a family vacation dream come true.
Photo credit: 2013 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.