Offbeat + Strange
Looking for a relaxing place to spend the holidays?
Two spots in Europe may offer some respite from this year's holiday stress—if, that is, your major concern this season is the possibility of the ancient Mayanprophesied Doomsday on Dec. 21, 2012.
Indeed, while the rest of us are out vainly shopping for Furbies and iPads, other travelers are making long-term plans. UK travel search site Skyscanner recently announced that searches for one-way tickets to Turkey, for travel on the days leading up to Dec. 21, have spiked by nearly a third, while similar searches to the South of France have gone up by 41 percent.
Social media is a riot of snippets, photos, and links. But where are the real stories? We challenged five T+L wordsmiths to tell a pithy travel tale in just 140 characters. Read the results—and submit your own.
Henry Alford (@henryalford): Visited Campari factory outside Milan to determine once and for all whether the aperitif’s main ingredient is cinnamon gift soap. #TLStory
Peter Jon Lindberg (@peterjlindberg): Paddling Zambezi in 2-man canoe. Sunlight glints; hippos grunt. 18-ft croc slinks under boat. Paul (guide) not talking. Um…Paul? #TLStory
Here’s a shoo-in for the 2012 Darwin Awards, travel edition: On Monday, an EgyptAir flight, en route to Beirut, had to make an emergency landing at Egypt’s Hurghada airport. The reason: a Jordanian passenger had been bitten by a snake. It was his own snake, mind you, which he smuggled through security in a bag under his clothes. Reportedly, after the crew heard him screaming, the pilot was able to land, and the passenger was rushed away for medical treatment, while the authorities confiscated the snake. Some reports have indicated that the snake was a cobra, and stomped to death after the incident; while we can’t confirm either of those (or unfortunately, the status of the passenger) we can easily confirm that this was the most bone-headed idea we’ve heard in awhile.
Photo © AF archive / Alamy
In a world where free wifi is increasingly seen as a basic right, the bar for enticing tourists gets higher and higher. "Rwanda Bores Tourists," a recent African newspaper headline declared, and the article detailed how plenty of people come to this nation, once ravaged by genocide, but they don't stay very long.
Granted, in 2011, tourism brought 900,000 visitors and $250 million to Rwanda, and 2012 will likely reflect a nearly 20 percent uptick in visits. Plus, web site GlobeSpots just ranked Rwanda as No. 6 in their Top 10 global destinations. After all, Rwanda offers cool gorillas that live in the Virunga mountains, world-class bird-watching, hiking trails, as well as a lot of coffee and tea—and, for better or worse, a heavy sense of history.
Call it another miracle of technology: You don't have to be a bathrobe-clad buzzkill anymore, who squints out from your hotel-room door in the wee hours to give a dirty look to some partier loudly staggering down the hall. There's now a machine to do that for you.
Thanks, that is, to Premier Inn. The UK-based budget hotel chain guarantees guests that they'll get a good night's sleep—and gives them a refund if they don't.
Ask the typical person what Romania is famous for and you’ll likely get two answers: Olympians and Dracula.
But while gymnasts have the depressing tendency to grow up and retire, Dracula at least has the advantage of immortality, especially since he’s mostly fictitious.
So we have to give credit to the Romanian National Tourist Office for making the most of an old association: According to a recent report, the tourist board is planning to promote the historically true Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia—the 15th-century monarch who supposedly inspired the fictional Prince of Darkness—as a distant cousin of that can’t-get-enough-of-them British Royal Family.
Black Ivory coffee claims to be one of the rarest, most refined coffees in the world, and retails for a whopping $1,110 per kilogram. And now, it's being offered at the Anantara Resort properties in Thailand,the Maldives, and Abu Dhabi.
How could this wonderful coffee be so luxurious, you might ask? Its proteins—and their associated bitter taste—are broken down during a "refining" process. That process, it turns out, involves a rescued street elephant chomping a huge load of the Thai Arabica beans, digesting them, and then, let's just say, jettisoning the remnants from his or her anterior region.
If you're a nervous flier, you already have plenty to worry about: turbulence, the seemingly "fuzzy math" of aerodynamics, and flight attendants who may, at any moment, go rogue. But here's a new issue to obsess over: UFOs.
A recent US News and World Report story explored the unnerving possibility that UFOs are zipping around the skies and distracting your airline pilot when he or she should be totally focused on A) flying safely to your destination and B) turning on the intercom to point out the Hoover Dam or Dollywood outside your window.
No more fighting over that coveted stretch of chairs at the airline gate—you know, the ones without the spine-bisecting armrests.
Two major U.S airports are making the tacit admission that there's a good chance that you'll get delayed while under their roofs, but they are at least offering you a spot to stretch out in peace. "Minute Suites" are now available in Concourse B at Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport, as well as at the Terminal A-B Link at Philadelphia International Airport.
The suites are outfitted with a day bed, pillows and blankets, a TV and the all-important Internet access. SFO plans to introduce its own version of the napping suites next year, upping the ante with groovy curved walls to make you feel like you have more space (or, to give you the surreal jet-lag-exacerbated sensation of sleeping inside an egg).
"Minute" may be a misnomer with the Minute Suites: they start at $30 an hour—but that still beats sleeping face-down in the airport CinnaBon.
Photo by iStockphoto
The election has only been over for a few days, and so far there have been no reports of disappointed Romney voters booking, en masse, one-way airline tickets to Canada.
That said, there may still be a post-election windfall coming to the travel industry, at least for two U.S. destinations: Washington and Colorado, which both passed ballot measures legalizing recreational marijuana, and possibly opened the doors wide for mary-jane-seeking tourists.