New to the Art Scene

Posted: September 2, 2010 in Exqusite Museums
Centre Pompidou-Metz Metz, France

Centre Pompidou-Metz Metz, France

Five new museums marry stellar collections with groundbreaking architecture and technology. Here, your all-access pass to the new frontiers of fine arts. By Caroline Patience, Budget Travel

ROME
Maxxi
It took six years to complete the Zaha Hadid¿designed home for Italy’s first big contemporary art and architecture museum, which opened in May to house pieces by the likes of Sol LeWitt and Anish Kapoor. Judging by the more than 74,000 visitors in the first month alone, it was well worth the wait. fondazionemaxxi.it, $13.

STOCKHOLM
Fotografiska
Having already earned its accolades in cinema and design, Sweden set its sights on a new target with the 4-month-old Fotografiska center for photography. The premier exhibitions, with photos by Vee Speers and Annie Leibovitz, run through early September. fotografiska.eu, $12.

METZ, FRANCE
Centre Pompidou-Metz
Along with works by Miró, Picasso, and Calder loaned from its parent Pompidou in Paris, this 4-month-old art outpost in Metz, an 80-minute train ride east, shares another trait: a whimsical building. This one swaps the original’s primary-colored pipes for a dramatic roof. centrepompidou-metz.fr, $9.

WARSAW
Chopin Museum
Warsaw’s Chopin Museum, opened in April, is loaded with futuristic features like floor sensors that activate different instrument noises and glass panels that light up in time to music. Even the information stations play to a tech-geek aesthetic with multimedia displays customized for each visitor. chopin.museum/en, $7.

BERLIN
Neues Museum
The artifacts in the Neues Museum skew ancient, but recent history is embedded in its walls. Bullet holes in the brickwork bear witness to the World War II damage that kept the museum closed for 70 years. It’s reopened at last, after a $244 million restoration. neues-museum.de, $12.

The Department of Transportation’s updated handbook for consumer air travelers outlines everything from choosing loyalty programs and making official complaints to the new three-hour tarmac delay limit.

On Tuesday, the department released a revised version of “Fly Rights: A Consumer Guide to Air Travel,” adding information on the department’s new consumer protections, which include the tarmac delay rule, reporting requirements for on-time performance and the airlines’ obligation to respond to complaints.

The guide, first published in 1973, offers advice on topics such as finding the best air fares and avoiding travel scams as well as information on federal regulations protecting air passengers.

“We take the rights of airline passengers very seriously,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

“Ensuring that the flying public has access to the best possible resources and consumer information is an important part of our mission, and this new version of Fly Rights will help air travelers better understand their rights as consumers.”

The DOT also recently released a guide for parents of minors flying alone.

Both guides are available online, or passengers may request free printed copies via mail or e-mail (DOT Warehouse, 3341-Q 75th Ave., Lanham, MD 20785; dotwarehouse@dot.gov). When requesting printed copies, specify item number X0111A for “Fly Rights” and X0176 for the unaccompanied minors guide.

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been. Travelers don’t know where they’re going.
~ Paul Theroux ~

5 Labor Day Deals

Posted: August 31, 2010 in Travel Deals
White Mountains, New Hampshire

White Mountains, New Hampshire

According to a study by priceline.com, Americans are going domestic this year. The website tracks the amount of booking requests for different destinations: Last year, 11 international destinations like London, Rome, Barcelona, Berlin, and Paris made the top 50 list. This year, only five international cities are on the list, and all are Canadian and within driving distance of the U.S. border: St. Catherine’s (Niagara Falls); Montreal; Vancouver; Toronto; and Victoria, British Columbia. Though exchange rates are favorable, many travelers seem turned off by the sky-high international flight costs.

A FAMILY THEME PARK GETAWAY
Orlando, From $83 a Night (Omni Hotels, omnihotels.com)

The Real Deal Save up to 30% with the Endless Summer Rate at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, a luxury resort with 36 holes of golf, an 850-foot lazy river, private poolside cabanas, and a European-style spa. Family resort activities include poolside movies, scavenger hunts, and sidewalk chalk contests. If you’re doing Disney, the resort provides a free shuttle. And the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando is a quick drive away—you can go inside Hogwarts Castle, ride a hippogriff, buy your own magic wand, and meet your favorite characters!

Gateways A recent search on Kayak.com showed great flight deals: $199 from LaGuardia on Delta, $179 from Chicago O’Hare on United, $179 from Boston on JetBlue, $198 from Houston on Continental, $299 from Los Angeles on Delta.

Why It’s a Deal The longer you stay, the more you save with this package: A one-night stay receives 10% off regular hotel rates, a two-night stay receives 20% off, and a three-night stay receives 30% off regular hotel rates.

A CRUISE ADVENTURE
Alaska Cruise, 7 Nights, From $599 (American Discount Cruises, americadiscountcruises.com)

The Real Deal A round-trip cruise from Seattle with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, and Prince Rupert, B.C.; seven nights in an interior stateroom aboard the Norwegian Star; meals in the main dining room and buffet areas. Optional activities include a rain forest canopy and zip-line expedition ($179 per person) or a helicopter ride ($268 per person) in Juneau; a Mendenhall Glacier and whale-watching excursion ($151 per person); or a Yukon horseback adventure ($179 per person). Interesting amenities on the Norwegian Star include an open-air biergarten, the Star Club Casino, and performances by the famous Second City comedy troupe.

Why It’s a Deal The cost of this seven-night Sawyer Glacier Cruise package breaks down to only $113 a night including accommodations, meals, beverages, a shipboard credit of at least $50 per cabin, and all taxes and fees (about $193).

A SWANKY CITY STAY
San Francisco, From $136 a Night (Expedia special Labor Day rate, expedia.com)

The Real Deal The Sir Francis Drake, a historic 1928 property by Kimpton Hotels, is a half-block from San Francisco’s Union Square and three blocks from the theater district. The experience at this hotel feels particularly luxurious: the doorstaff wears traditional Beefeater regalia (a bright red uniform worn by British royal guards), the trendy Scala’s Bistro boasts a former Top Chef contestant (Jennifer Biesty from Season 4) as its executive chef, and the famous Starlight Room club offers great views of the city. Guestrooms at Sir Francis Drake Hotel have striped walls, modern art prints, framed mirrors, and antique-style armoires. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available.

Gateways A recent search on Kayak.com showed great flight deals: $129 from LAX on American, $269 from Fort Lauderdale on Virgin America, $294 from Milwaukee on Delta, $347 from Atlanta on Delta, $396 from Newark on American

Why It’s a Deal Expedia’s special Labor Day rate offers savings of over 20%. San Francisco’s Union Square neighborhood was one of the top 10 most searched destinations for Labor Day, according to Priceline.com.

A MEXICAN BEACH HIDEAWAY
Cozumel, Air/4 Nights, From $569 (Caradonna Dive Adventures, caradonna.com)

The Real Deal Round-trip airfare on Continental, four nights’ accommodations at Casa del Mar Cozumel, round-trip airport transfers, fuel surcharges, and hotel taxes and service charges. The hotel is located on an island off Mexico’s Caribbean coast near some terrific spots for scuba diving, where you can see lobsters, crabs, and many species of multicolored tropical fish. The nearby Paradise Reef is particularly well known for night diving. The hotel has 98 rooms decorated with Mexican artwork and 8 bi-level cabanas, in addition to a well-stocked in-house dive shop. The beach across the street from hotel offers shaded hammocks, a sundeck with lounge chairs, and steps moving leading directly into the water.

Gateways Chicago, Houston; add $100 for L.A., Seattle.

Why It’s a Deal In a recent Kayak search, we found a round-trip fare between Houston and Cozumel for $537, including all taxes, for travel in early September (multiple airlines). This package costs $569, including all taxes—just $32 more—for the airfare, plus four nights’ accommodations and airport transfers.

AN OUTDOORS MOUNTAIN TREK
New Hampshire, 5 Nights, From $341 (Appalachian Mountain Club, outdoors.org)

The Real Deal Appalachian Mountain Club is offering a fifth-night-free special at all 10 of its New Hampshire huts and lodges in the White Mountains—about a three-hour drive north of Boston. Packages include shared lodge and hut accommodations, complimentary breakfast, home-cooked dinners, guided nature walks, and natural history lectures. Hike from hut to hut, explore a 56-mile-long stretch of the Appalachian Trail, and swim in lakes and under waterfalls. Huts are rustic, but that’s half the fun—shared bunkrooms, cold running water, no electrical outlets. The lodges are significantly more luxurious, with private rooms, towels and linens included, wi-fi service, a library, and a comfortable living room with fireplace.

Why It’s a Deal When booking with this deal, you’ll save about $88 on a five-night stay. Plus, you’ll get complimentary breakfast, dinner, and guided tours of the surrounding area.

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 
- J & H

I FEEL sLOVEnia!

Posted: August 30, 2010 in Forgotten Places, Slovenia
Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

After receiving a National Geographic Traveler  magazine about “Forgotten Europe,” H & I became enthralled with the Eastern European country of Slovenia.  Ironically, Slovenia had just recently appeared on our travel radar after the USA’s Mens Soccer team played the country in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.  In short, after doing a little research, H & I discovered a little known land of immense beauty and remarkable people.  The country of Slovenia borders Italy to the east, Austria to the south, Hungary to the west, and Croatia to the north.  Because of its unique location, Slovenia offers tourists a wide variety of landscapes in a small space: Alpine in the northwest, Mediterranean in the southwest, Pannonian in the northeast and Dinaric in the southeast.  In fact, over a third of the land in Slovenia is protected, and it is the third most forested country in Europe.  Additionally, Slovenia also boasts over 10,000 km of hiking trails and has the oldest grapevine in the world (1% of the country is vineyards).  It is a country with over 100 fully functional castles and more churches per capita than any other country in Europe.  In Slovenia, you can be by the sea, at a ski resort, or in one of its ancient Roman thermal springs in a matter of hours.  It is a land with enormous cultural heritage and a vast array of influences.  Nevertheless, with all of these ancestral roots, modern-day Slovenians still consider themselves “Italians” because of their close proximity to Italy and their interwoven history.  One thing is for sure, Slovenia,  just like Italy, is full of varying landscapes and cultures that individually provide unmatched beauty and experiences.  Therefore, for your next vacation, consider Slovenia.  In fact, we have already penciled it in for our next vacation!
 
- J & H
 
More info:  Slovenia

A New Beginning . . .

Posted: August 30, 2010 in Open Letters
Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

For us (J & H) the idea of starting this blog was a “no-brainer.”  In short, it had everything to do with providing us an outlet to share with everyone our one, true love . . . TRAVELING.  In a way, it allows us to share the thoughts, visions, and events we experience everyday in our quest to live life to the fullest with anyone wanting the same. From the amazing glaciers in Alaska to the cobblestoned streets of Florence,  we are looking to provide our new friends and family with original tips, photos, and news from our first-hand trips, treks, and travels around this big, blue marble in the sky.   So, keep checking back, and feel free to share any advice or thoughts on travel as a lifestyle.

- J & H