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Arrive Like LiLo: Ride in a Police Car at Hotel ZaZa

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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

 

"Subversive Adult Disneyland” Turns Up the Heat in Tasmania

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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.

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Titanic Nostalgia Will Go On

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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.

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This Summer's Hot UK Souvenir: Royal Baby Swag

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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.

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Hey, Kids—Lets Go to Moe’s Tavern This Summer!

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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.

New Grounds for Diverting a Plane: Unsolicited Karaoke

In many instances, airlines seem to assume that passengers have a pretty high threshold for discomfort and inconvenience. Yes, they seem to think, you can handle sitting on a tarmac for a few hours, perhaps with no A/C or working toilets. You’re tough, right?

But according to a recent CNN report, American Airlines has declared a limit to what humans should have to put up with while in transit, and the repeated singing of “I Will Always Love You” is clearly over the line.

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Colorful International Currency

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The new euro notes, redesigned with high-tech security features, come out this month—taunting us yet again with the fact that everyone else’s currency looks cooler than ours. Here, some particularly vivid legal tender from around the world. Can you figure out which country’s cash fits the bill?

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Photo by Levi Brown

Beauty Bust: Turkish Airlines Lifts Lipstick Ban

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Calling all flight attendants: if you enjoy getting dolled-up for work, you are now allowed to board Turkish Airlines. 

As we mentioned earlier this month, the national carrier had placed a ban on red and dark pink lipstick and nail polish, in fear that it would impair the “visual integrity” of its staff, according to Skift. Chief Executive Temel Kotil claims this was a decision made by junior managers, and that there is in fact no ban on the beauty products—female staff can wear lipstick and nail polish of any color.

My only question—why were the junior managers so concerned with these classic lip colors? Blue lipstick was a huge fad in the 1990’s, and who can forget the coral-colored pouts of the ‘80’s? Let’s just hope the airline was aiming for retro, and hold tight to our shadow and mascara.

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

Photo credit: iStockPhoto

It's Barbie's World, We Just Visit It

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Pack up the hot-pink convertible: It may be time to take your Barbie-themed vacation.

On May 6, two official Barbie Dream House Experience attractions will open on our planet: one in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz Square, and the other in Sunrise, Florida.

For admission starting at $14, both sites promise to offer a life-sized immersion into Barbie’s plastic townhouse. You can take an elevator from room to room, create a virtual cupcake in the kitchen, explore Barbie's "endless closet" and experience the "walk-through glitterizer." On the attraction’s web site, you learn that you will see Barbie there "in unexpected ways," as well as encounter sister Skipper, the always-controversial Ken, and other characters including Raquelle, Ryan, and pets Blissa and Taffy. Florida opens May 6, Berlin May 16.

But not everyone is popping the pepto-pink champagne. According to The Independent, the Berlin branch of the Dream House has been attracting preemptive protestors, including one 27-year-old who launched an "Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse" Facebook page. "Barbie Dream House is the expression of a conventional role model that isn’t OK," Michael Koschitzki told The Independent’s Tony Paterson.

Meanwhile, the Dream House is not the only attraction for Barbiephiles. Royal Caribbean is now offering a Barbie Premium package, on certain voyages, which includes perks like a pink-décor stateroom, a tiaras-and-teacups party, and a fashion show. And this past January, a diner-style Barbie Café, also licensed by Mattel, opened in Taipei.

Interesting to note: Royal Caribbean seems to take pains to point out that its Barbie experience is meant for girls ages 4 to 11. The Dream House, meanwhile, more slyly acknowledges that Barbie’s appeal spans the generations (and genders) by declaring it for “fans of all ages.” And perhaps trying to reach those same fans, the Barbie Café in Taipei clearly has a bar.

Earlier: Barbie Arrives at Ellis Island.

Photo credit: © Barry Lewis/In Pictures/Corbis

Boston Hosts Three Coffee Championships This Weekend

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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

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