Stay the Night at This Adorable Lighthouse and You Might Meet Its 'Friendly Ghost' (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 06:16
<p>Between the <a href="" target="_blank">vibrant city of Savannah</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">vacationer's paradise Hilton Head Island</a>, happily lesser-known <a href="" target="_blank">Daufuskie</a><a href="" target="_blank"> Island</a> doesn't welcome traffic via bridges or causeways — it can only be reached by water, offering a remote island experience that transports visitors back in time. </p><p>There are no grocery stores, hospitals, or high schools; the population of about 400 includes solitude-seeking celebrities such as John Mellencamp and those with <a href="" target="_blank">Gullah roots</a> dating back to slaves freed during the Civil War. Today there are luxury housing developments with grand waterfront homes boasting wrap-around porches and upscale southern charm, but beyond them lies land that has been largely untouched since Native Americans were collecting oysters on its shores. </p><p>Straddling the old and new Daufuskie is the Haig Point Lighthouse — it's now part of the high-end Haig Point development and regularly hosts magazine-worthy weddings on its lawn, but it's been watching over the wading birds and bow-riding dolphins of the Calibogue Sound since 1873. Anyone passing in a boat or kayak will see a quaint white house with a picturesque, red-topped tower and shiny black shutters, but the little lighthouse is more than a cozy coastal hideaway. </p><img alt="Haig Point Lighthouse Daufuskie Island South Carolina overview "src=""><p><a href="" target="_blank">Legend states</a> a young woman named Maggie Comer, the daughter of the first lighthouse keeper, Patrick Comer, fell in love with a naval engineer who came to work on the lighthouse, a rare visitor for the secluded family. But their romance abruptly ended and he left the island, never to return, leaving Maggie with a broken heart that would keep her spirit at the lighthouse to this day, waiting for her long-lost love to return and spooking guests in the process.</p><p>Adam Martin, director of marketing for Haig Point, confirms ghost stories abound, though he promises they're not that spooky. "From what I've heard she is a very friendly ghost," he told <em>Travel + Leisure. </em>"Guests recollect her turning lights on and off, or bedside alarm clocks ringing when they weren't set. But, this could also be that guests typically spend evenings enjoying a cocktail or glass of wine on the porch." </p><img alt="Haig Point Lighthouse Daufuskie Island South Carolina "src=""><p>Curious guests can secure their own <a href="" target="_blank">meeting with Maggie</a> on an overnight stay by booking a <a href="" target="_blank">Discovery Experience</a> to learn more about the community's real estate and membership opportunities. Haig Point members, guests of members, and members of reciprocal clubs are also welcome to book a stay, and <a href="" target="_blank">couples who get married there</a> often spend their first night as newlyweds at the lighthouse. </p><img alt="Haig Point Lighthouse Daufuskie Island South Carolina "src=""><p>The lighthouse comfortably sleeps four guests with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Restored in the 1980s, it has modern amenities including a washer and dryer, air conditioning, and high-speed internet, plus plenty of old-fashioned touches from antique furniture to fireplaces. </p><img alt="Haig Point Lighthouse Daufuskie Island South Carolina living room "src=""><p>It's open year-round, but Martin says spring is his favorite time to visit for "flowering magnolia trees and azalea bushes," although "summer is a great time to visit and enjoy long days on the water."</p><img alt="Haig Point Lighthouse Daufuskie Island South Carolina dining room "src=""><p>Haig Point is made accessible by its private ferry system, with seven boats that leave from Hilton Head Island 18 times a day. "The [30-minute] ferry ride is a way to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life," Martin says. There's also a 24-hour water taxi that takes eight minutes to get to Hilton Head Island. </p><img alt="Haig Point Lighthouse Daufuskie Island South Carolina at night "src=""><p>While on Daufuskie, guests can learn more about the island on a <a href="" target="_blank">historical tour</a>, visit the <a href="" target="_blank">Daufuskie Community Farm and Artisan Village</a>, ride horses, browse local art galleries, visit what might just be the <a href="" target="_blank">world's cutest little winery</a>, have sunset drinks on the water, golf, and spend quiet time at the beach. They can also stay at the <a href="" target="_blank">Frances Jones House</a>, a blue cottage under an enormous oak tree, to immerse themselves in the Gullah culture and get a taste of what the island was like in the 1920s. </p><img alt="Haig Point Daufuskie horseback riding on the beach "src=""><p>A two-night stay at the lighthouse is $895 and a three-night stay is $1,195. Martin suggests inquiring at least 30 days in advance for reservations by filling out a brief form at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

Forget New York or Boston — Philadelphia Might Just Be the Best Food City on the East Coast Right Now

Travel and Leisure - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 06:07
<p>It’s easy to dismiss Philadelphia as a place forever languishing in <a href="" target="_blank">New York City</a>’s shadow. But when it comes to food, <a href="" target="_blank">Philly</a> is actually one of the more <a href="" target="_blank">exciting destinations in the country</a> right now. The city’s lower prices and young, scrappy energy have given chefs and restaurateurs free rein to experiment, allowing them to reinvent its classic cuisine and add influences from around the globe.</p><p>Despite the Eagles defeating the Patriots in February’s Super Bowl, Philadelphia will always be proud of its underdog spirit. It’s a place where servers befriend you, and strangers in bars talk you into taking shots. It’s not uncommon to see someone break into a dance while making your sandwich. The vibe is more personal and upbeat than that of many U.S. cities —there’s simply <a href="" target="_blank">more space to play</a>.</p><p>Philly native Stephen Starr, who owns 20 restaurants in his hometown and seven in New York City, recently opened the Love, a chic, informal restaurant in Rittenhouse Square that serves updated versions of <a href="" target="_blank">classic American dishes</a>. “I’ve always thought that Philadelphia and New York shared a lot of the same energy, virility, and heart,” he said. “But in Philadelphia, we have bigger footprints in which to create.”</p><p>Branden McRill, who opened Rebelle in New York City and more recently Walnut Street Café in Philadelphia, sees an even broader shift under way. “What’s going on in Philly is fascinating — people are coming on weekends and finding there are reasons to relocate here. The quality of life is high.”</p><p>Whether you’re considering a move, or just planning a <a href="" target="_blank">weekend trip</a>, these are the best places to witness Philadelphia’s food evolution — one meal at a time.</p><h2>Sandwiches: Middle Child</h2><p>Matt Cahn’s modern luncheonette draws inspiration from cool-kid spots like New York’s Court Street Grocers, where Cahn trained. The sandwich to order is the Phoagie, a Vietnamese-vegan riff on a classic Philly sandwich. But you come for the staff — who treat everyone like old friends — as much as the food. Eagles paraphernalia and a pantry filled with snacks handpicked by Cahn, all for sale, make the diner feel even more inviting. <em><a href="" target="_blank"></a>; entrées $5–$11.</em></p><img alt="Best restaurants to try in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania "src=""><h2>Big Group Dinner: Suraya</h2><p>In the heart of gritty, up-and-coming Fishtown, you’ll find something surprising: a 12,000-square-foot space dedicated to Lebanese food. This is the ideal place to go with a posse, as it includes the Market, where you order at the counter and then stake out your territory (the restaurant also has a sit-down dinner service Tuesday through Sunday). Order ground beef <em>kafta</em> kebabs, <em>labne</em> cheese, and <em>man’oushe</em> flatbreads made with with za’atar and sweet halvah. Don’t miss the Lebanese chai latte made with <em>salep</em><i>,</i> or orchid powder, and topped with pistachios and rose petals. It’s exactly the right amount of sweet and, devastatingly, impossible to replicate at home. <em><a href="" target="_blank"></a>; entrées $23–$40.</em></p><h2>Date Night: The Love</h2><p>After expanding his empire in New York City (which includes the award-winning Le Coucou), Stephen Starr returned home to launch this collaboration with beloved local chef Aimee Olexy. Located in the posh Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, the interiors look like a designer farmhouse with perfect mood lighting. Yes, you’ve had fried chicken a million times, but It’s perfectly done here, and the spicy Mississippi comeback sauce really should be bottled and sold. Plus, it’s a fun contrast to eat quotidian Parker House rolls in one of the city’s most seductive new spaces.<em> <a href="" target="_blank"></a>; entrées $17–$38.</em></p><img alt="Best Restaurants in Philadelphia, PA "src=""><h2>Ramen and Dumplings: Cheu Fishtown</h2><p>Housed in an old horse stable, this is a restaurant built for design lovers. The beer list is displayed on a repurposed marquee sign, and there’s a mural painted by street artists on the wall. The menu is suitably fun: brisket ramen comes with kimchi and a matzo ball (somehow, it works), and chicken wontons are stuffed with green curry and peanuts. It’s festive, creative, and low-key — the ideal neighborhood restaurant, just right for a casual dinner. <em><a href="" target="_blank"></a>; entrées $13–$26.</em></p><h2>Cocktails: Upstairs Tiki at the Franklin Bar</h2><p>After dinner at the Love, walk to nearby Franklin Bar — a two-for-one punch that is part subterranean speakeasy, part delightful tiki lounge. The décor is straight-up kitsch — cocktail umbrellas, leis, string lights — but the drinks and the service reflect serious expertise. The Oxy-colada somehow improves upon the classic piña colada, with overproof Plantation rum, crème de cacao, coconut, and fresh pineapple juice. <em><a href="" target="_blank"></a></em></p><h2>Brunch: Walnut Street Café</h2><p>Melissa Weller, formerly of Sadelle’s in N.Y.C., is one of the most talented bakers working in America today, and this new all-day restaurant is purpose-built for brunch. Settle in at one of the marble tables set with pastel dishes and flowers, and get ready to try Weller’s famous baked goods like the cinnamon roll and the cherry-and-pistachio croissant. Round out the meal with a fried egg and “black scrapple,” her take on a local specialty made from pork scraps. Pro tip: the restaurant is within walking distance of 30th Street Station, and you can sleep over at the sleek AKA hotel upstairs. <em><a href="" target="_blank"></a>; entrées $15–$37.</em></p><p><strong><em>Our series <a href="" target="_blank">Reasons to Travel Now</a> highlights the news, events, and openings that have us scoping out plane tickets each day.</em></strong></p>
Categories: Travel

A Hurricane Could Collide With Hawaii’s Erupting Kilauea Volcano

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 17:20
<p>Hawaii's Big Island is preparing for a possible hurricane — while a <a href="" target="_blank">volcano continues to erupt</a> on its shore.</p><p>Hurricane Hector is expected to pass Hawaii by the middle of the week, although by that time it could weaken into a tropical storm.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Some predictions put the category 4 storm</a> on course to collide directly with the Kilauea Volcano, although the National Weather Service predicts it will be a near-miss.</p><p>“While the official forecast track continues to lie to the south of the Hawaiian islands, only a slight deviation to the north of the forecast track would significantly increase potential impacts to the state of Hawaii,” forecasters said, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the <em>Star Advertiser</em></a>.</p><p>The hurricane is moving about 14 miles per hour with wind speeds up to 140 miles per hour, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the National Hurricane Center</a>.</p><p>Even though the hurricane should hopefully pass just south of Hawaii, state officials are warning residents to exercise caution. “We want to remind the public we are in the middle of the hurricane season and we urge people to take the weekend to prepare their homes and families for impacts that could be felt statewide," Tom Travis, the state's <a href="" target="_blank">emergency management administrator</a>, said in a statement.</p><p>The island of Hawaii has been dealing with <a href="" target="_blank">the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano</a> for the past three months. The volcano has destroyed hundreds of homes and injured more than 20 people.</p>
Categories: Travel

Plane Crashes Into Car in California Parking Lot, Killing Everyone on Board (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 17:06
<p>A pilot and four passengers were killed on Sunday after their twin-engine Cessna crashed into a parking lot in Santa Ana, California.</p><p>According to <em><a href="" target="_blank">ABC</a></em>, the five people on board included Navid Hakami, 32, of Los Angeles, and Bay Area residents Scott Shepherd, 53, Lara Shepherd, 42, Floria Hakami, 62, and Nasim Ghanadan, 29.</p><p>The five people were reportedly taking a work-related trip when the flight took a horrifying turn as it nose-dived into a parked car in a Staples parking lot, instantly killing those on board. Miraculously, no one on the ground was injured.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">This Is How to Survive a Plane Crash, According to a Pilot</a></p><p>“If he did do anything that prevented him from going anywhere else that was more crowded, he did a great job. Unfortunately, it was tragic that five people died on the plane,” Capt. Tony Bommarito of the Orange County Fire Authority told reporters.</p><p>The plane was on its final approach to John Wayne Airport when it crashed. The pilot reportedly sent out a mayday a few moments before impact, according to <em><a href="" target="_blank">The New York Times</a></em>. A witness told CBS that the plane made a “<a href="" target="_blank">sputtering noise</a>” as it came down.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">What a Nepal Plane Crash Survivor Says Kept Him Alive</a></p><p>“You just felt the ground move,” Emma Gonzales, who works at the Buffalo Wild Wings in the strip mall where the plane crashed, told <em>The New York Times</em>.</p><p>The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are now investigating the crash, and will likely use the videos shared to social media to help figure out exactly what went wrong in the tragic crash. According to an <a href="" target="_blank">FAA database</a>, the aircraft is registered to the San Francisco-based real estate company Category III.</p>
Categories: Travel

98 Dead After Earthquake Hits Popular Tourist Island in Indonesia

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 16:45
<p>At least 98 people were killed after a powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit a popular tourist destination in Indonesia on Sunday.</p><p>The earthquake’s epicenter struck the island of Lombok, according to <em><a href="" target="_blank">CNN</a></em>, and caused area buildings to crumble. An estimated 200 people were injured by falling debris during the event. Now, a massive effort is underway to evacuate some 200,000 people who were displaced by the quake.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Where Is It Safe to Travel to Avoid Natural Disasters?</a></p><p>Rescue workers, <em>CNN</em> explained, are attempting to move displaced people off the Gili Islands, a chain of small islands near Lombok. However, shallow waters hampered their efforts to dock on the pristine islands. So far an estimated 2,700 people have been moved.</p><p>"The lights went out... that's when it became chaotic. People were falling over each other trying to get out, and glass was shattering. We felt debris fall on to us,” Phillipa Hodge, who is on the Gili Islands, told the <a href="" target="_blank">BBC</a>. "I couldn't see my partner and I was shouting his name. Finally, we found each other and he had blood all over his face and shirt."</p><p>Thankfully, with the rising tide, ships will soon be able to dock once again for a mass evacuation.</p><p>"Everything started moving; the noise was deafening. We ran out into the street and a friend and I stood in the parking area hanging on to a parked car which was also swaying severely," Deborah Storck, a retiree on the island of Lombok, told <em>CNN</em>. "The friend I was with in the car park had a very lucky escape. A large wall fan fell off and landed in the chair she was sitting in before it ended up on the floor under the table."</p><p>The earthquake’s aftershocks continued to rock the region long after the initial quake, with some being felt in <a href="" target="_blank">Bali</a>. In the video below, tourists can be seen running for safety at their Bali hotel.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="rumble" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p><p>"I can't imagine what has happened in the villages close to (the epicenter)," Evan Burns, general manager of the Living Asia resort, told <em>CNN</em>. "It was quite bad. Many of our guests were panicking and it was our job to keep them calm."</p><p>Flights to and from both Bali and Lombok are running on schedule as of Monday, <em><a href="" target="_blank">ABC</a></em> reported. People are allowed back into their homes, but authorities are warning people to remain cautious of the structures they are residing in.</p>
Categories: Travel

9 Travel Tips Astronauts Have Taken from Space to Earth

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 12:02
<p>Astronauts are an unusual and exclusive subset of earthlings, if only for the fact that about 550 of them have visited space.</p><p>Unlike airline passengers, who need only prepare for their flights by buying a ticking, showing up at the airport, and listening (or pretending to listen) to a short set of safety instructions, astronauts must undergo long periods of rigorous training for their trip. And while those adventures often involve weightlessness and incredible scenery, there’s also cosmic radiation, muscle and bone deterioration, and, oh yeah, lots of dangerous situations to plan for and deal with.</p><p>Given their unique travel experience, we asked several retired astronauts and a former director of the Kennedy Space Center to share some tips on what space travel has taught them about being a savvy traveler here on Earth.</p><p>“Use a checklist,” advises <a href="" target="_blank">Frederick “Rick” Hauck</a>, a former NASA astronaut who piloted and commanded several Space Shuttle missions, “There are many endeavors in this world that would be much better executed if people kept checklists. I have one I refer to every time I travel.”</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Charles Walker</a>, who flew on three Space Shuttle missions and was the first non-government individual to fly in space, urges travelers to “Think very hard about just what you need or what you must have with you,” and to take into account what you may be able to find at your destination.</p><p>“Both volume and weight are critical for both space travel and terrestrial travel,” said Walker, “I make sure to pack lightly.” Learning even a few words in the language of your destination country is helpful as well, he said, but so is keeping a composed attitude. “Be open to what’s around you,” said Walker, “And try to be mentally ready to take in anything and react to it in a calm fashion.”</p><p>Solo travel has its merits, but <a href="" target="_blank">Jay Honeycutt</a>, former Director of the NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center said his years of observing astronauts and training them for space travel has taught him that successful travelers are those who are comfortable with all sorts of people and those who are willing to pitch in when needed.</p><p>“Learn to do your fair share of the work that has to be done to make the trip successful and safe,” said Honeycutt, “And make sure you always have some fun.”</p><p>Veteran NASA astronaut <a href="" target="_blank">Nicole Stott</a>, (<a href="" target="_blank">The Artistic Astronaut</a>), whose experience includes two spaceflights and 104 days living and working in space on both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Stations (ISS), echoes Walker’s advice on packing light.</p><p>“It’s amazing how much you don’t need. I had one pair of pants for my three months in space and it was just fine,” said Stott.</p><p>For traveling most places here on earth Stott says, “There’s no need to have any more than a carry-on suitcase. When you travel light, a burden is lifted. You don’t concern yourself about what you’re carrying; instead you can focus on your experience.”</p><p>Like other astronauts who describe the view of Earth from space with awe, even years after their voyages and after repeat visits, Stott is a big proponent of paying attention to your surroundings.</p><p>“In space, you can look out the window and really get to know Earth,” said Stott. “At first I wanted to see familiar things, like Florida, where I grew up. But soon Florida became just part of the bigger planet.”</p><p>Stott traveled 250 miles above the Earth, but says there’s no need to go 250 miles up to get a unique view of a piece of the world.</p><p>“You can go three miles down the road, go to the top of a building, get on a boat or on an airplane and get a new perspective on who you are,” said Stott, who is disappointed when she sees fellow airplane passengers go straight to watching a movie, to work, or to sleep.</p><p>“It’s important to be awake and experience the journey,” said Stott, “And to be surprised by what you seen and feel along the way.”</p>
Categories: Travel

You Can Take a Bath in Craft Beer at This Resort in Japan

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 11:30
<p>As I walk into the <a href="" target="_blank">Hinotani Onsen</a> at <a href="" target="_blank">Misugi Resort</a>, I’m hit with a mixture of scents from cedar to hops. This being my first onsen experience in Japan, I step over the threshold in the Kangetsu Noten Bath room without removing my shoes first, something I’m quickly chastised for by an older female onlooker.</p><p>I take off my sandals and my yukata, a traditional kimono worn at an onsen. The warm, humid air hits my lungs and I’m instantly relaxed. On one side of the stone-floored room are shower heads with stools, buckets and local soaps used to clean yourself before and after bathing in the onsen.</p><p>On the other side are several steamy onsen pools ranging in depth and one large outdoor pool surrounded by tranquil bamboo, volcanic rocks and a flowing water spout. In the middle of the room is the beer onsen. A brand new concept in Japan and wildly popular among guests to this remote Mie Prefecture resort.</p><p>I clean myself thoroughly and walk over to the ceramic tub big enough to fit two. The water is hazy and foamy, like a dark lager. I try to time it perfectly so I can catch the homemade craft beer in my hands before it mixes in with the hot natural spring water every thirty minutes.</p><img alt="Japanese Beer Bath at Misugi "src=""><p>The combination of black and sake rice gives the brew a slightly sweet, yet dry flavor profile. Considering its location near one of Japan’s most famous <a href="" target="_blank">Samurai Gardens</a>, it’s appropriately named Ninja Beer. Brewed on-site at <a href="" target="_blank">Hinotani Brewery</a> for over twenty years, the uber-friendly Nakagawa family has perfected their signature ale.</p><p>The family-owned resort incorporates the small community into their daily offerings in a variety of ways, including producing organic barley and wheat for their beer with area farmers. They also grow an ancient organic species of black rice and sake rice for the Ninja beer. Only natural spring water from the surrounding mountain ranges is used for both the beer and the onsen, some of the cleanest water in Japan.</p><p>Not only is the beer mostly organic, but Japanese people rave about the health benefits, although not scientifically proven. “The yeast in the beer gives you very smooth skin and the hops have an antibacterial power that is also good for your skin,” said Youki Nakagawa, part owner of Misugi Resort and brewmaster. “On top of that, the C02 in the beer is good for blood circulation.”</p><p>The beer onsen is hot and the temperature outside is pushing 100, but soft, tingling skin is worth braving the heat for another few minutes. When I’ve had enough, I get out, wash off, throw on my yukata and head up past the old-school, pink lobby and back to my traditional ryokan style room for a nap on my mat feeling relaxed and full of beer.</p><p>There are two public onsens, one designated for men and one for women. They switch each day so everyone can try the beer onsen, and are open from early morning to midnight (with a brief closure for cleaning from 9–10:30 am) so you can soak as much as you want. But be warned, if you have large colorful tattoos, you may be discouraged from using any onsen in Japan, as they are associated with Japanese Yakuza gang culture.</p><p>If you happen to have an arm full of tats, that doesn’t mean your time at Misugi is a wash. There are loads of other activities from <a href="" target="_blank">stone bread making</a> (with beer yeast of course), swimming in the pool or local river, enjoying the waterpark or signing up for <a href="" target="_blank">Baumkuchen or pizza classes</a>. Save room though because Misugi’s traditional <a href="" target="_blank">dinner buffet</a> comes with Wagyu beef, interactive somen noodle catching, and mochi making.</p><p>Leaving the resort is also highly encouraged, as the small country town of Misugi is filled with <a href="" target="_blank">cultural gems</a> and unique Japanese experiences that can be arranged through the hotel.</p><p>Head to the lush mountains with a forest expert for a forest therapy guided tour or go on a cruisy cycling tour around 100-year-old traditional homes and ancient shrines. Take a walk on Ise Honkaido, an old pilgrimage route, and stop at a local women’s teahouse for authentic matcha making lesson. After that, head back to the hotel brewery for a bottle or two and another soak in the onsen.</p><p>Misugi Resort is located about two hours from <a href="" target="_blank">Kyoto</a> and around three and a half from Tokyo. The Mie Prefecture resort may seem remote, but it’s as authentic and pocketbook-friendly a country onsen experience you can get on a trip through Japan.</p>
Categories: Travel

Tracking Siberian Tigers, Replanting Hurricane-ravaged Forests, and More Ways to Help Save the Earth While You’re on Vacation

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 10:02
<p>More and more travelers are waking up to an uncomfortable truth: climate change, overtourism, and human incursion are posing an increasing threat to some of the earth's wildest and most beautiful destinations.</p><p>But it<em> is</em> possible to use your vacation time for the good of the earth (while still getting the thrill of adventure travel) with a burgeoning citizen-science expedition trend. Conscious travelers can explore some of the most stunning locations on the globe — while helping researchers and local communities understand and protect the world around them.</p><p>Here, we've rounded up some of the most exciting opportunities available now.</p><img alt="Scarlet Macaws in Tambopata Reserve, Peru "src=""><h2>Protect the Peruvian rainforest.</h2><p>Peru-based ecotourism company <a href="" target="_blank">Rainforest Expeditions</a> operates the remote <a href="" target="_blank">Tambopata Research Center</a>, an Amazonian retreat where the cost of a stay includes meals, river transportation, and a variety of field activities. In the surrounding <a href="" target="_blank">Tambopata Nature Reserve</a>, near Peru's border with Bolivia, guests help the resident scientists conduct bird censuses, collect Jaguar behavioral data using night cameras, survey the health of the forest canopy using small drones, and more. <em>Three-night stays from $1884.</em></p><img alt="Elephants in Kenya with the Earthwatch Institute "src=""><h2>Study elephants in Kenya.</h2><p><a href="" target="_blank">Earthwatch Institute</a>, an organization that supports fieldwork around the world, offers an expedition centered around <a href="" target="_blank">elephants and sustainable agriculture</a> in Eastern Africa. Travelers study human-animal conflict in and around the Tsavo Conservation Area, in southeastern <a href="" target="_blank">Kenya</a>, where local farms can have a precarious relationship with the region's population of native elephants. Visitors then partner with farmers and conservationists to devise strategies to protect crops while minimizing the impact of agriculture on the herds. <em>12-day trips from $2,995. </em></p><img alt="Biosphere Expeditions coral reef snorkeling in Musandam, Oman "src=""><h2>Map coral reefs in Oman.</h2><p>The Musandam Peninsula, a rocky exclave jutting into the Arabian Gulf of the United Arab Emirates, is home to a magnificent but little-studied reef ecosystem. With citizen-science nonprofit <a href="" target="_blank">Biosphere Expeditions</a>, scuba-certified travelers can stay on a research boat, conducting survey dives in the Gulf of <a href="" target="_blank">Oman</a> and synthesizing data that directly assist conservation efforts. Research gathered on this <a href="" target="_blank">coral reef diving expedition</a> will be used by local NGOs and inform government policy, helping protect the area's corals and colorful sea life. <em>Seven-day trips from $2,770. </em></p><img alt="Siberian Tiger in Far East Russia "src=""><h2>Monitor Siberian tigers.</h2><p>There are only about 530 individuals of this species left in the world. <a href="" target="_blank">Natural World Safaris</a>, a widely-respected wildlife tour operator, offers a <a href="" target="_blank">Siberian tiger tracking expedition in Far East Russia</a>, where conservationist Alexander Batalov leads small groups around the remote Durminskoye Reserve to set and collect camera traps, documenting the animals’ movements. While it's not common for visitors to actually see these rare creatures in the wild, Batalov will introduce you to <a href="" target="_blank">the region</a>'s other native fauna — snowy owls, red deer, wild hogs — and will help you interpret the camera footage you retrieve. <em>S</em><em>even-day trips from $3,150</em>.</p><img alt="an archaeological dig in Puerto Rico operated by Para la Naturaleza "src=""><h2>Find treasure in Puerto Rico.</h2><p>Puerto Rican nonprofit <a href="" target="_blank">Para la Naturaleza</a> manages dozens of nature reserves on the island, <a href="" target="_blank">offering free citizen-science activities</a> like wildlife censuses and forestry seminars for locals and tourists. Travelers interested in archaeology can help unearth artifacts from pre-Columbian sites, like <a href="" target="_blank">Playa Jayuya</a> in the Cabezas de San Juan nature reserve. The organization also recently launched a new program, called Habitat, aimed at replanting the island's forests post-hurricane and resorting the ecosystems of its native flora and fauna.</p><p><strong><em>Our series <a href="" target="_blank">Reasons to Travel Now</a> highlights the news, events, and openings that have us scoping out plane tickets each day.</em></strong></p>
Categories: Travel

Delta Is Testing Out Serving 3-course Meals and Sparkling Wine — in Economy

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 09:17
<p>Between <a href="" target="_blank">cramped seating</a> and disappearing amenities, it feels like you have to claw your way to the smallest victories in economy air travel. But sometimes, major airlines can surprise you.</p><p>Passengers flying Delta between Portland, Oregon and Tokyo, Japan will be part of the airline’s new test to bring three-course meals to economy passengers, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>Chicago Business Journal</em></a>.</p><p>Attempting to make a long-haul flight feel a bit more luxurious, the airline is testing out a new restaurant experience in the main cabin.</p><p>Upon takeoff, economy passengers will receive “Welcome Bubbles,” their choice of three Bellinis or sparkling waters.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Pack Your Own Food If You Plan to Fly on These Airlines</a></p><p>When it comes time for meal service, passengers receive a printed menu detailing choices. Appetizers could include quinoa salad or roasted grapes and pine nuts. Entree options include pasta with cauliflower and walnuts in a cream sauce. For dessert, there could be something like Haagen-Dazs ice cream.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">The Best Healthy Snacks to Pack for a Long Flight</a></p><p>Each course is served separately. Instead of small, microwaved metal tins, meals are served on white dishes with white cloth napkins. There is still plastic cutlery, but it’s nicer than the flimsy tools that usually come wrapped in a plastic bag.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">The Real Reason Why Food Tastes Different on an Airplane</a></p><p>“<a href="" target="_blank">Delta</a> constantly listens to customer feedback and is now testing innovative ways to make our culinary experience onboard feel more like dining at a favorite restaurant,” an airline spokesperson said in a statement. “As part of that we are conducting a test on select international flights where flight attendants will deliver an enhanced main cabin dining experience that we’ll use to gather customer feedback.”</p><p>If the tests are successful, Delta could roll out the meal service to other long-haul international flights by the end of the year.</p>
Categories: Travel

Flights to Paris, Rome, and Barcelona Are Majorly on Sale Right Now

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 07:33
<p>Whether you’re looking to explore the <a href="" target="_blank">famed festivals</a> or <a href="" target="_blank">holiday markets</a>, you can hit some of <a href="" target="_blank">Europe</a>'s most popular stops for under $300 round-trip this fall and winter.</p><p>Most of the deals fall between September and March of 2019, with round-trip flights starting for as little as $198 to Iceland. </p><p>Icelandair is currently offering flights to London starting at $274 round-trip from Philadelphia and Cleveland, $294 round-trip from New York City, $331 round-trip from Newark, $375 round-trip from Washington, D.C., $360 round-trip from Chicago, and $382 round-trip from Boston. </p><p>Some of the airline’s other deals <a href=";gl=us#f=0&amp;flt=BOS./m/04jpl.2019-03-13*/m/04jpl.KEF.2019-03-20*KEF.BOS.2019-03-23;c:USD;e:1;a:FI;sd:1;t:f;tt:m" target="_blank">spotted by <em>Scott’s Cheap Flights</em></a> include round-trip flights to Oslo, Norway starting at $317 from Boston, $337 from New York City, $370 from Chicago, and $405 from both Baltimore and Washington, D.C.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Norwegian Air</a> has flights from New York City to Amsterdam starting at $360 round-trip in November and December, and from Providence to Belfast for $260 round-trip in September and October.</p><p>You’ll also find a series of deals through Skyscanner’s <a href="" target="_blank">Everywhere Search</a>, including $271 round-trip flights from New York City to Bergen, Norway in October and $301 round-trip flights from New York City to Paris in November.</p><p>Deals to Reykjavik include $198 round-trip flights from Boston, $179 round-trip flights from San Francisco, $196 round-trip flights from Cincinnati, $200 round-trip flights from Pittsburgh, $206 round-trip flights from Washington, D.C., and $287 round-trip flights from New York City. </p><p>Spain deals start at $208 round-trip to Barcelona from New York City, $256 round-trip to Barcelona from Boston, $302 round-trip to Barcelona from San Francisco, and $361 round-trip to Barcelona from Fort Lauderdale. Madrid deals include $366 round-trip flights from New York City and $412 round-trip flights from Los Angeles. </p><p>Those looking to head to Stockholm can do so starting at $331 round-trip from New York City and at $386 round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, while Italy deals include $359 round-trip flights from Fort Lauderdale to Rome, $347 round-trip flights from New York City to Rome, and $440 round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Rome. </p><p>To find the best flights for you, search your desired destination and date range using <a href="" target="_blank">Google Flights</a>. </p><p>And if you happen to be in Europe from October through January, <a href="" target="_blank">Ryanair</a> is running a sale through midnight on Aug. 6, 2018, with flights across Europe starting at under $12 to cities like Bristol, Cologne, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and London.</p>
Categories: Travel

Search for Alaska Tourists Continues 2 Days After Pilot Reports They Survived Plane Crash (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 07:09
<p>Rescuers are searching for five people who crashed in a sightseeing plane in <a href="" target="_blank">Denali National Park and Preserve</a> in Alaska. Heavy cloud cover is affecting the search, which has lasted nearly two days, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the Associated Press</a>.</p><p>On Saturday, the pilot of a <a href="" target="_blank">K2 Aviation sightseeing flight</a> left Talkeetna with four passengers onboard. The plane is believed to have crashed around 6 p.m. near the summit of Thunder Mountain, which is about 10,900 feet high.</p><p>"Terrain in the vicinity of the crash site is characterized as extremely steep and a mix of near-vertical rock, ice and snow,” a press release from the National Park Service (NPS) said. The pilot reported via satellite on Saturday that all the passengers had survived, though some were injured. </p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Plane Crashes Into Car in California Parking Lot, Killing Everyone on Board</a></p><p>"The pilot was able to make a satellite phone call to K2 Aviation,” Katherine Belcher, a spokesperson for the NPS, said on Sunday. “He did report some injuries, he made another phone call about an hour later at 7 p.m., and that is the last known communication anyone has had with the pilot."</p><p>Authorities have not been able to reach the pilot since, although they have been able to locate the coordinates from where he made the emergency call.</p><p>Because of heavy and low cloud cover, rescuers and emergency services have not been able to spot the plane or the survivors. The park service is working alongside the Alaska Air National Guard, the U.S. Army, and Alaska State Troopers to locate the plane.</p><p>There was a first-aid kit, sleeping bags, and emergency food on board the aircraft.</p><p>Temperatures near the crash site ranged from 20 degrees Fahrenheit to freezing with a 90-percent chance of snow, <a href="" target="_blank">according to local news</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

Britney Spears Is Being the Cutest Tourist Mom in Europe With Her Sons (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 06:34
<p><a href="" target="_blank">Britney Spears</a> is taking some well deserved time off from her tour this week and is using it to take her family sightseeing around Europe. </p><p>On Saturday, the star performed a show at Brighton Pride in front of 57,000 adoring fans. Prior to the concert, she attempted to visit a few of the most famous Brits by going on a <a href="" target="_blank">sightseeing tour of Buckingham Palace</a> with her two sons, Jayden and Sean. Sadly, the Queen didn’t stop by to say hello, but Britney didn’t seem to mind as she <a href="" target="_blank">played the part of tourist</a>, snapping photo upon photo with her kids outside the palace. </p><p>Following her visit to the U.K., Britney and her kids jetted off to Germany, where she’s playing a show in <a href="" target="_blank">Berlin</a> at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Monday night. But, again, she took the time to see the sights with her family at the Lustgarten.</p><p>The <em><a href="" target="_blank">Daily Mail</a></em> noted that the singer went for an incognito look for her tourism activities with her kids, wearing a pair of black jogging shorts, a graphic t-shirt, and simple red sneakers. This reportedly helped her go completely unnoticed by others at the famous gardens.</p><p>And really, there was probably no better place for Britney to relax for the day.</p><p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">Berlin’s official site</a>, the garden was first built and used in the 16th century as a fruit and vegetable garden for a nearby palace. In the 17th century, Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm had the space converted into a royal garden by landscape garden designers Michael Hanf and Johann Sigismund Elsholtz. “This involved ornate landscaping including flower beds, an orangerie and a herb garden,” the site explains. “Statues, grottoes, bird cages, and fountains added charm and elegance to the public promenade.”</p><p>The gardens were destroyed during World War II after the Nazis mowed it down to be used as a parade area. However, in the 1990s, the country worked to restore the area to make it closely resemble its early 19th-century appearance.</p><p>Now, visitors can check out the gardens for free. Pop icons aren’t there every day, but maybe you’ll get lucky.</p>
Categories: Travel

Why You Really Should See the Incredible Mountains and Beaches of This Under-visited Part of India

Travel and Leisure - Mon, 08/06/2018 - 15:02
<p>When we arrived in the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, my family and I were excited to sample some <a href="" target="_blank">local delicacies</a>. So we immediately went in search of Chinese food. West Bengal is a borderland, abutting three countries on the northeastern edge of India — Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh — and close enough to China that Kolkata has its own Chinatown. In this neighborhood, Chinese cookery has transmogrified into something new: Indian-Chinese cuisine, a beloved, gloopy hybrid known locally as “Chindian.” At a restaurant called <a href="" target="_blank">Golden Joy</a>, we filled our table with dishes you’d never find in China — chili paneer, cauliflower Manchurian, chicken lollipops.</p><p>India’s diversity is often most vivid along its borders, where the country’s neighbors influence and complicate its cultures in all sorts of unpredictable (and sometimes volatile) ways. This year, my wife, Shahnaz, and I decided to take our six-year-old daughter, Sophy, to a part of India we’d never seen — the east. We devised a trip that would begin and end in <a href="" target="_blank">Kolkata (formerly Calcutta)</a>, the longtime capital of British India, located 36 miles west of Bangladesh. From there we would travel to Darjeeling: the tea-growing region in the Himalayan foothills, just 10 miles east of Nepal. Finally, doubling back through Kolkata, we would head to the Andaman Islands: a wild, remote archipelago about a thousand miles to the south. It was a route that would offer us the greatest possible variety of landscapes — megacity, mountain, and tropical island.</p><p>The great advantage of traveling with my wife and daughter is that I get to see everything through three sets of eyes. Shahnaz was born and raised in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where coffee rules, and it was useful to have along a tea skeptic as we planned a trip that would take us deep into tea country. Our daughter is fascinated above all by birds, which I’d never paid much attention to until she trained me to notice the skies as much as the streets. On our first morning at the storied <a href="" target="_blank">Oberoi Grand hotel</a>, she spied a nest of elegant black kites in a palm tree outside our window: a family of three, just like us.</p><img alt="Market scene in Kolkata, India "src=""><p>The instant we stepped outside the serene, well-shaded Oberoi we were thrust into the hurly-burly that spills out from the New Market, a crowded arcade of shops that is actually 144 years old. There, we found more birds — a motorized eagle with flapping wings (price on the box, 32 rupees; asking price, 500 rupees; price we settled for, 200 rupees, or around $3) and a tiny brass owl inlaid with green stones. We began to recognize the distinguishing characteristics of the city’s architecture: crumbling colonial edifices with wooden shutters and elaborate wrought-iron balconies. And we found that the traffic was dominated by vehicles we hadn’t seen in any other Indian city: trams, hand-pulled rickshaws, curvy yellow Ambassador taxis.</p><p>The more we wandered, the more I realized what we weren’t finding. Kolkata has a reputation as a city of squalor and starvation — an image that Mother Teresa’s fame helped cement in the Western imagination. This image, we discovered, is badly outdated. Over the past few years, Kolkata has quietly established itself as a tech hub, its arts scene has flowered in an array of new galleries, and its residents have begun approaching the city’s unique architectural heritage with a new sense of reinvention.</p><p>Next to the Marble Palace — an amazingly ostentatious private home, now open to visitors, built by an art-loving Bengali merchant in 1835 — we visited a ruined mansion whose courtyard has been repurposed as an outdoor pop-up photography gallery. And on Ho Chi Minh Sarani (named to troll the U.S. Consulate down the street), a grand old open-well staircase leads to a multimedia space called the Harrington Street Arts Centre.</p><p>A painter and sculptor named Samir Roy was there preparing his new show, which was full of wonderfully weird, anxious figures that suggest a meeting between Goya and Ralph Steadman. “Indian modern art started in Kolkata,” Roy said, and we noted the outsize number of groundbreaking masters the city has produced: the poet Rabindranath Tagore, the filmmaker Satyajit Ray, and the painter Ganesh Pyne, among many others. Roy invited me to the even newer art space where he lives, on the outskirts of the city, called the ArtsAcre Foundation, which offers apartments to creative city residents and houses a swelling collection of new Bengali art.</p><p>Around the corner from Ho Chi Minh Sarani, a hotelier named Husna-Tara Prakash has effected another urban metamorphosis. She has transformed the top two floors and roof of a clunky office building into Kolkata’s first boutique hotel, the <a href="" target="_blank">Glenburn Penthouse</a>. It offers perhaps the city’s best panorama, including a superlative view of the Victoria Memorial — a massive white marble monument to the former British monarch, completed in 1921, that served as a colonial approximation of the Taj Mahal.</p><img alt="Glenburn penthouse, in Kolkata "src=""><p>The Glenburn Penthouse was conceived as a place, Prakash told me, for guests to “exit the streets of Kolkata into somewhere light, clean, and spacious.” When we visited, she was putting the finishing touches on the place, which has a carefully curated whimsy: my daughter was delighted to discover, for example, that the elevator opens on the seventh floor to an explosion of prints and mosaics of green parrots. So complete is the change Prakash has overseen, you’d never guess at the mundane architectural bones hiding underneath the hotel’s bright white walls.</p><p>The hotel’s transformation reminded me of the extraordinary work we witnessed in Kolkata’s Kumartuli neighborhood. Along its lanes, hundreds of artisans weave figures out of straw, over which they layer clay to produce remarkably realistic sculptures of Hindu idols. Many will be launched into the Ganges, which empties into the Bay of Bengal, during fall’s Durga Puja festival — a celebration of the victory of a goddess over a demon king. It was a thrilling exhibition of craftsmanship, all the more enjoyable because no one tried to sell us anything — one of the great perks of visiting a city that has long been underestimated.</p><p>Checking out of the Oberoi Grand, I overheard one receptionist say urgently to another, “Mr. Dasgupta needs all six newspapers, including the Bengali ones.” I picked up a local newspaper and found an article that detailed the latest developments in “the Darjeeling issue” but never said what the issue was. Kolkatans are such reliable newspaper readers that it can be assumed that everyone’s kept up on each saga and doesn’t need the context explained. I was eager to catch up.</p><p><img src="" /></p><p>From Kolkata we flew north, where we planned to stay a few days at Husna-Tara Prakash’s original hotel project, the <a href="" target="_blank">Glenburn Tea Estate</a>, in the mountains of  West Bengal’s Darjeeling district. On the drive up into the Himalayan foothills from Bagdogra Airport, we saw tiny tea trees fanning out in every direction. <a href="" target="_blank">Tea cultivation</a> is one of the most beautiful forms of agriculture: the plantations looked as if a crazy land artist had upholstered the undulating hillside with giant panels of jade-green corduroy.</p><img alt="Scenes from East India "src=""><p>As we snaked uphill, around innumerable hairpin curves, the surroundings became increasingly rustic. I started to think the driver must be lost. And then we arrived at Glenburn, an impossibly manicured 19th-century colonial bungalow that appeared like a mirage from between the hills. On a clear day it has dramatic views of Kanchenjunga, the third-highest mountain in the world, just 45 miles away on the Nepali border. Our host, an affable Australian named Graeme Gibson, greeted us with ginger cookies and a tea that Glenburn calls Moonshine. This was their highest-quality Darjeeling tea — an exceptionally delicate brew that they happened to be plucking that very week. Even my wife had to admit it was exquisite. </p><p>In the morning, Glenburn’s estate manager, Parveez Hussain, gave me a tour of the tea factory. There was not an electronic device to be seen — Hussain tests every stage of production by sight, smell, and feel. “We’re making a connoisseur product,” he said. “Like a single-malt whiskey.” We tried teas ranging from pale yellow to deep amber. I hadn’t known that black, green, and oolong teas all come from the same Camellia sinensis trees; their category depends on when they’re plucked and how they’re processed. What makes them Darjeeling is the fact that they’re grown on these particular hills.</p><p>As we sipped from a series of small white porcelain bowls, Hussain caught me up on “the Darjeeling issue.” Although Darjeeling is in West Bengal, only a small proportion of its population is Bengali; many locals belong to a Nepali-speaking community known as the Gorkhas, who have long agitated for their own state. In June of last year, separatist leaders called for a mass strike across the district, bringing tea production to a halt. The strike lasted 104 days. “Last year was disastrous,” Hussain said. The tea trees became wildly overgrown and were now being harvested for the first time since before the strike. In the history of Darjeeling, he said, the plants had never before had such a rest — and everyone was curious how it would affect the flavor. The result was a sweeter brew.</p><p>After the tour, a Glenburn staffer named Ranjan Chettri took us for a picnic lunch on the riverbank. Four thousand people live within the 1,600 acres of Glenburn; most of them, like Chettri, work in the tea trade. “My great-grandfather planted this tea,” he said. The villages we passed were picture-perfect: brightly painted, meticulously gardened, ornamented with Buddhist prayer flags. As we walked, Chettri expressed support for the Gorkhas. “Our culture, our language, our religion — everything is different from the rest of  West Bengal,” he said. The Gorkhas have nothing against the state, he stressed — they just want their share of resources that faraway Kolkata too often monopolizes.</p><img alt="Glenburn Tea Estate, India "src=""><p>Back at the bungalow, Gibson, our host, overheard my daughter talking about birds. “Oh, we’ll have to arrange a bird walk for you,” he said. Early the next morning, we stepped outside and saw two flashes of red and neon green soar past. “Green magpies!” a voice called out from the terrace above us. This was Sabin Mukhia, a bird-loving Glenburn staffer who’d come to lead us on an avian tour. He took us down a narrow path that winds along the steep tea-tree hillside, where dozens of white cabbage butterflies flitted around us and children wearing uniforms and backpacks squeezed past us on the way to school.</p><p>Mukhia pointed out bird after bird, many of which had names as delightful as their colors: a greater necklaced laughing thrush; a spangled drongo; a chestnut-headed bee-eater. Suddenly Mukhia pointed up the hillside, to where two Asian barred owlets were snuggling on a branch. Then the 7 a.m. siren blew, calling the tea pluckers to work, and the owlets flew away. When we rounded the next curve, a Glenburn staffer was waiting with a picnic breakfast. Typical of Glenburn’s attention to detail, the teacups and saucers were decorated with drawings of birds.</p><p>Most evenings at Glenburn began with drinks around a bonfire (“That’s where they throw the coffee lovers,” my wife said). This would be followed by dinner at a communal table. On our last night, there was a slight variation in the program: a group of local musicians and schoolchildren stopped by to sing songs in Nepali about life in the hills. As a finale, Chettri came out and sang a haunting Nepali love song.</p><p><img src="" /></p><p>Two short flights and one fast ferry later, we reached the third point on our tour. The Andamans are an archipelago of 325 islands around 820 miles off India’s eastern coast. Only 21 of the islands are populated, and most of the tourism occurs on Havelock Island, which is named after a British general who died of dysentery while attempting to suppress the great Indian Rebellion of 1857. His namesake isle is a profoundly placid slice of lush tropical beauty — and one, thus far, visited by remarkably few travelers.</p><p>A local guide, Karthik Mudaliar, picked us up at the dock. Like many Indian mainlanders who live on Havelock, he said he came for a visit and never left. “I’ve been to a lot of places that claim to take a daily siesta,” Mudaliar said, “but this is the only place I’ve been that takes it seriously.”</p><p>For years, the Andaman Islands were an exemplar of inaccessibility. The plots of two popular murder mysteries — the 1890 Sherlock Holmes story “The Sign of the Four” and M. M. Kaye’s 1960 novel Death in the Andamans — hinge on the islands’ remoteness. One of the Andamans’ four indigenous communities, the Sentinelese, is likely the most isolated tribe in the world; travel to the island on which they live is strictly banned. In the Raj era, the British used the Andaman Islands as a penal colony. One notorious jailer, it’s said, would tell new inmates, “You see those walls around? Do you know why they are so low? Because no one escapes from this place. All around for a thousand miles there is nothing but sea.” He was exaggerating a little; the nearest land — the coast of Myanmar — is less than 200 miles away.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">Six Books to Read Before You Visit India</a></p><p>Tourism on Havelock only really picked up after the 2004 tsunami, when damage to the island brought it unprecedented attention. (The casualties were much worse on the neighboring Nicobar Islands, where <a href="" target="_blank">tourism remains prohibited</a>.) For now, the Andamans are in a sweet spot for visitors: easy enough to access, complete with all the activities and comforts a beach vacationer might want, but still impressively unspoiled. <a href="" target="_blank">Havelock Island</a>’s two paved roads, each served by exactly one bus and just a handful of other vehicles, will take you where you need to go, and nowhere else. The interior of Havelock is thickly forested; many of its trees are embellished with elaborate buttress roots that give them purchase in the sandy soil. But its perimeter is fringed with some of the most pristine beaches on earth.</p><p>We stayed on Radhanagar Beach, where the Taj hotel group has just opened the newest, most luxurious resort on Havelock Island — the Taj Exotica Resort &amp; Spa, Andamans. At the entrance, a half-dozen staffers lined up to sing to us in the language of the islands’ Jarawa people about life on the islands. Guests staying freestanding villas on stilts, which are built out of wood and inspired by Jarawa homes, like very upscale versions of a beach shack. At times the place was so quiet and serene that I felt I was on a monastic retreat — but one where snorkeling was always an option.</p><img alt="The Taj Exotica resort in the Andaman Islands "src=""><p>The resort’s then chef, Kaushik Misra, told me how he’d designed the menu. After India gained independence in 1947, waves of mainland Indians began migrating to the islands in search of land and work. These new arrivals came mostly from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu — two states with wildly different cuisines. The Bengali love of sugar and mustard oil met with the Tamil attachment to coconut and tamarind, both of which mingled with local tribal cooking methods and ingredients—taro, cresses, rock lobster, mangrove crab — to create a new cuisine entirely (and one that’s much lighter and subtler than all these collisions might suggest).</p><p>Misra told me that he spent nearly a month cooking with villagers across 20 of the Andaman Islands. He explained his guiding principle: “let the food be authentic to what people eat here.” So the menu listed mochar chop (banana flower cooked with mustard oil, ginger, and peanuts, borrowed from Bengali settlers on Havelock Island) and grouper steamed in a banana leaf, as in Kerala, but served with the short-grain rice preferred by Bengalis.</p><p>The Andamans are known as a bird-watcher’s paradise, teeming with unusual endemic birds — most famously, edible-nest swiftlets, whose dwellings, which they use their own saliva to build, are said to make an excellent soup. The Taj’s resident naturalist, Jocelyn Panjikaran, took us on an early-morning walk to see if we could spot some. An overcast sky kept bird activity low, and we didn’t spot anything unusual — mostly species that can be found elsewhere, like kingfishers, swifts, and egrets.</p><p>But Panjikaran’s enthusiasm made us see the wonder even in the most everyday things. We scrambled over strange rocks on the beach’s intertidal zone, marveling at hermit crabs and mudskippers, then detoured into the forest, which she told us was inhabited by no nonhuman mammal bigger or more dangerous than a boar. The crime rate in the Andamans is near zero; Panjikaran said she feels safer walking in this forest, day or night, than anywhere else in India.</p><p>But the Andamans are still very much a borderland; you never know who or what will wash up on the beach. On our last morning, my daughter and I took one more dip in the transparent water, bobbing and laughing on the gentle waves. At its most crowded we had seen only a couple dozen people on this white-sand beach, but that morning we had it entirely to ourselves.</p><img alt="Scenes in Eastern India "src=""><p>And then, farther up the beach, we spotted something drifting ashore. It was a life-size human figure woven out of straw — exactly like the ones we’d seen a thousand miles north, built by the artisans in Kumartuli. Maybe the local Bengali settlers had built it for their own Durga Puja festival. Or, who knows? Maybe it had drifted all the way from Kolkata, an intrepid idol making its own tour of the easterly fringes of India.</p><h2>Getting There</h2><p>The cheapest and fastest flights into Kolkata are often also, happily, the best: on Emirates or Etihad, connecting through Abu Dhabi or Dubai.</p><h2>Kolkata</h2><p>We stayed at the <a href="" target="_blank">Oberoi Grand</a> <em>(doubles from $320)</em>, a classic property with a pretty pool. The <a href="" target="_blank">Glenburn Penthouse</a> <em>(doubles from $355)</em>, a beautifully decorated boutique hotel, opens in October. For Bengali food, try Kewpie’s <em>(2 Elgin Lane; 91-33-2486-1600; entrées $6–$14)</em>, where you can order a multicourse thali meal, or sample Indian-Chinese cuisine at <a href="" target="_blank">Golden Joy</a> <em>(entrées $5–$11)</em>. Visit the <a href="" target="_blank">Harrington Street Arts Centre</a> and the <a href="" target="_blank">Arts Acre Foundation</a> for a taste of Kolkata’s cultural scene.</p><h2>Darjeeling</h2><p>The quickest route to the <a href="" target="_blank">Glenburn Tea Estate</a> <em>(doubles from $650, all-inclusive)</em> is an hour-long flight to Bagdogra Airport followed by a four-hour drive, the final 40 minutes of which are on extremely bumpy roads. But the views are stunning,<br />and the driver, provided by Glenburn, makes a merciful hillside refreshment stop (complete with tea service, naturally).</p><h2>Andaman Islands</h2><p>The flight from Kolkata to Port Blair on South Andaman Island takes an hour and 15 minutes; when you land, you’ll need to take 10 minutes to apply for a Restricted Area Permit. To reach Havelock, the main island, book the <a href="" target="_blank">Makruzz ferry</a> <em>(round-trip fare $30)</em>, which takes 90 minutes. From there it’s a 40-minute drive to the <a href="" target="_blank">Taj Exotica Resort &amp; Spa</a> <em>(doubles from $373)</em>, which the hotel can arrange.</p><h2>Tour Operator</h2><p>Our trip was organized by <a href="" target="_blank">Wild Frontiers</a> <em>(seven nights from $1,785)</em>. Founded by India specialist <a href="" target="_blank">Jonny Bealby</a> <em>(44-020-8741-7390; jonny.bealby@wild​​</em> — a member of the <a href="" target="_blank">A-List</a><a href="" target="_blank">, Travel + Leisure’s collection of the world’s top travel advisors</a> — this tour operator offers custom trips throughout the continent, with the option for an Andamans extension.</p>
Categories: Travel

If You Haven’t Flown in a Turboprop Plane by Now, You Probably Never Will

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 08/05/2018 - 15:02
<p>American Airlines Group’s final turboprop flight landed in Salisbury, Maryland, last month, marking the final turboprop flight operated by a major airline in the continental U.S.</p><p>Piedmont Airlines (an American Airlines regional airline) was the last among the “Big Three” carriers to operate regular commercial turboprop service, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Bloomberg</em> reported</a>. But when flight 4927 landed in Maryland, the reign of the turboprop was over.</p><p>The landing marked the end of a 90-year era. Turboprop planes have been circling U.S. skies since 1928.</p><p>There are still some commercial turboprop flights in operation. In Hawaii, Empire Airlines operates flights onboard <a href="" target="_blank">an ATR </a><a href="">42-500</a> for Ohana by Hawaiian.</p><p>However, it’s a completely different story in the private aviation sector. Last year, chartered flights on turboprop aircraft increased eight percent, <a href="" target="_blank">according to ARGUS TRAQpak</a>, an aircraft activity analysis tool.</p><p>The private flyer interest is likely due to cost efficiency. “Consumers realize that for shorter regional trips, there isn’t much benefit to using a jet,” Exclusive Resorts founder Tom Filippini <a href="" target="_blank">told <em>Forbes</em></a>. “Not only are the turboprops less expensive for these missions, but they frequently offer better payload, more comfortable cabins and can access significantly more airports.”</p><p>In other words: If you want to fly in a propeller plane, from now on, you’re going to have to pay for it.</p>
Categories: Travel

How a Luxury Resort Is Hoping to Save Australia's Wombats From a Deadly Epidemic

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 08/05/2018 - 14:00
<p>Australia’s population of wombats is facing a mange crisis that threatens their very survival. Mange is a mite infestation that causes itching and discomfort so severe that affected animals give themselves sores and scabs from scratching. Those injuries tend to get infected and eventually kill the animal.</p><p>Though it’s not known exactly where the mange affecting wombats originated, scientists think it came over with European settlers and the invasive species they brought with them, like foxes and domestic dogs.</p><p>Hope is not completely lost, though. One <a href="" target="_blank">Australian</a> luxury resort that’s known for taking the lead on environmental issues is fighting this scourge.</p><p>Emirates <a href="" target="_blank">One&amp;Only Wolgan Valley</a> is located in the iconic, World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains, about a three-hour drive from <a href="" target="_blank">Sydney</a>. It sits on a 7,000-acre conservancy, of which the resort facilities occupy just 1 percent. The conservancy’s eucalyptus-shaded slopes, pristine mountain streams, and rolling pastures are the perfect habitat not only for the mobs of eastern grey kangaroos, red-necked wallabies, and wallaroos that call the area home, but also a large wisdom of wombats. (That’s the word for a group of wombats.)</p><img alt="Wombat, Wilsons Promontory National Park, Australia "src=""><p>However, even the wombat population in this relatively sheltered area is facing the mange crisis. To help, the resort partially funded the <a href="" target="_blank">University of Western Sydney’s WomSAT app</a> and website, which uses the built-in GPS systems of smartphones to let people report wombat sightings and impressions of the animals’ health so researchers can analyze the data. Emirates One&amp;Only Wolgan Valley also collaborates with the university on using drones to survey wombat burrows in the area in an effort to monitor the health of population.</p><p>Though infected wombats can be treated for mange, a cured wombat can catch the mites again. According to Matt, my field guide on a nocturnal wildlife safari on the property, part of the problem is that wombats “bed-hop a lot and swap burrows.” If the previous occupant had mange, the new resident might contract the infestation, too.</p><img alt="Emirates OneandOnly Wolgan Valley Resort, Australia "src=""><p>Apart from educating guests on wombat woes, the hotel’s Field Guide team, along with help from guests over the years, has planted more than 200,000 native trees and shrubs along the riverbanks in an effort to restore the endemic ecology for the 1,500 native species to be found around the conservancy. Resort guests can also hike and bike along miles of mountain trails that are well marked to avoid erosion and landscape degradation.</p><p>All that is a fitting legacy for a place where Darwin passed through during his famous world circumnavigation on the <em>HMS Beagle</em> in 1836. Guests can still visit the historic homestead on the property where he was a guest while looking for platypuses in the area. Emirates commissioned environmentalist Ian Kiernan to restore it using original building materials according to Australia’s strict <a href="" target="_blank">Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Significance</a>. Kiernan is best known for founding a movement called <a href="" target="_blank">Clean Up Australia Day</a> 20 years ago, where communities across the nation take on local conservation projects in parks, bushlands, waterways and beaches.</p><img alt="Emirates OneandOnly Wolgan Valley Resort, Australia "src=""><p>Emirates One&amp;Only Wolgan Valley was the first hotel in the world to achieve internationally accredited carbon-neutral certification when it opened in 2009. It remains the only hotel in Australia with it to this day as it incorporates conservation and sustainability practices guests might or might not notice.</p><p>While 70 percent of the resort’s drinking water comes from rainwater, the remaining 30 percent is pumped by windmills (rather than electrical pumps) to an onsite treatment plant from Carne Creek, which flows through the property. The resort generates 35 percent of its power from renewable energy and has over 100 solar panels to power its hot water systems, including the ones that heat the private indoor-outdoor plunge pools in each of the 40 guest villas.</p><p>The spirit of sustainability extends to the décor, too. Locally quarried sandstone was used in much of the construction, and wood from fallen old-growth eucalyptus trees found on the reserve was milled then crafted by artisans in the region into many of the furniture pieces used to decorate the villas.</p><p>The salvage-chic ethos is even more evident in the Main Homestead reception building. Whenever possible, local woodworker Damian Howard repurposed materials found around the property and surrounding region to eye-catching effect. The enormous timber ceiling beams were milled on the property from decommissioned bridges in the area. Fence posts from the original homestead form the wall behind reception. The metalwork on the front doors was taken from horse-drawn carriages. Light fixtures designed by Michael Yabsley incorporate items ranging from a defunct tractor to an enormous cattle-feeding trough that has been turned into the chandelier of the private dining room. Perhaps the most dramatic piece, though, is the clock at the end of the Main Homestead hallway that was created by Howard out of a huge, 600-year-old burl of Red Box wood found on the property.</p><p>Even the food here has a low-carbon footprint. Chef Nancy Kinchela’s menus are created using organic produce that mostly comes from within 100 miles of the hotel (seafood is the exception), including the organic on-property garden.</p><p>I was still thinking about a dish I sampled of cured Tasmanian salmon, local dairy crème fraîche and celery ribbons, edible flowers, mini cucumbers and parsley from the garden on my way back to my villa after dinner one evening when I heard something grunting on the dark lawn in front of me. Turning on my flashlight, I saw a huge wombat, luckily with no sign of mange on him, happily munching on the grass. Turns out he was having a locally sourced dinner, too.</p>
Categories: Travel

How Florence Became Italy's New Capital of Cool

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 08/04/2018 - 17:51
<p>I did not expect to fall for <a href="" target="_blank">Florence</a> while eating a Japanese dumpling.</p><p>Like most first-time visitors to the storied Italian city, I’d arrived with the itchy fervor of a museum-goer, believing transcendence would be delivered by seeing in person all the Renaissance glory I’d encountered in photographs. Michelangelo’s David. Brunelleschi’s Duomo. Botticelli’s <em>Primavera</em><i>.</i> The Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. I spent my first 48 hours in a manic whirl, pinballing through the terra-cotta maze in the hot May sun, working through the requisite to-do list with surgical efficiency. Yet in this blister-inducing gorge on Medici-era splendor, I couldn’t shake the sense that I’d made the very mistake I’d vowed to avoid: seeing plenty but savoring little, skimming the city’s surface at the expense of understanding its soul.</p><p>Then, on my third evening, came the dumpling. I was in Sant’Ambrogio, a sleepy neighborhood on the fringes of the <a href="" target="_blank">tourist-clogged center</a>, dining at the bar of a tiny restaurant called Ciblèo. Opened in March 2017, it is an enthralling spot with only 16 seats that bills itself as “Tuscan Oriental.” There is no menu; instead, diners sit for a languid, omakase-style feast of tapas that mixes Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Italian flavors with elegant simplicity. Edamame and wild field peas arrived drizzled in spicy olive oil; a fatty sliver of soppressata shared a plate with a wasabi-infused potato; glasses of local wine gave way to sips of sake. The dumpling, perfectly steamed, its delicate skin pinched around a stuffing of Casentino pork, arrived in the middle of my meal. It was beyond delicious, a bite-size reminder that Florence is far more than a dazzling reliquary. It’s a city opening itself to the modern world in surprising ways.</p><img alt="Chef Minjoo Heo at Cibleo, in Florence "src=""><p>“It’s quite special, is it not?” said <a href="" target="_blank">Fabio Picchi, Ciblèo’s owner</a>, ostensibly referring to the dumpling, though I’d like to think he understood I was having a revelatory moment about his hometown.</p><p>A wizardly charmer with a white beard, Picchi has long been regarded as the high priest of Florentine cooking. His first restaurants—the intimately upscale Cibrèo Ristorante and its more informal sibling, Cibrèo Trattoria—opened in 1979 and remain some of the best places to sample regional delicacies and relish the ebullient energy that percolates outside the city’s more trodden precincts. Later came Caffè Cibrèo, where espresso-and-pastry mornings blur into Chianti-and-salumi evenings, and Teatro del Sale, a supper club where buffet dinners are followed by musical performances. Along with Ciblèo, they are all clustered around a lively intersection. Picchi presides over his empire with panache—gliding between restaurants, scouring the nearby market for ingredients, greeting old friends and making newcomers feel like regulars</p><p>What led Florence’s most famous chef, a revered gatekeeper of local tradition, to take the curious leap of opening a restaurant serving Asian-influenced food? Picchi shrugged. “I had a dream after visiting Japan,” he explained in his soothing baritone. “That was forty years ago, so it was one of those perhaps-mad dreams that refused to die.” He grew contemplative. “I am a Florentine,” he said. “This is a place built on realizing wild fantasies, on innovation and inspiration. What you see in the museums is connected to what you see in the streets today. You miss the point if you think the Renaissance exists only in the past.”</p><p><img src="" /></p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Florence is more popular than ever</a>, with some 16 million people visiting annually. Even so, you hear a lot of talk from locals about how it’s misunderstood, even undiscovered. The sheer volume of crowds can make it easy to forget that the city is a living, breathing home to more than 380,000 residents. Before my meal at Ciblèo, I met up with Dario Nardella, the youthful, quick-witted 42-year-old who has been mayor since 2015. Like just about everyone you meet in Florence, Nardella is worried that the city’s heritage and culture—the centuries-old pursuit of those “wild fantasies” that once made the place a hub of civilization—are at risk of being diminished by mass tourism.</p><p>“We are one of the smallest global cities in the world, and very fragile,” he told me in his office, a grand room painted with Renaissance-era murals in the Palazzo Vecchio, the fortress-like town hall. Just outside the door visitors roamed the palace with antlike intensity, marveling at its vaulted ceilings and array of Medici artifacts. “We don’t need more tourists in the city, but more quality tourism. We want people to come here and have a profound experience, not just take photos.”</p><img alt="Scenes from Florence, Italy "src=""><p>Drive-by sightseeing is, however, the way most people approach Florence. As a cautionary tale of what can happen when culture tips into commodity, Nardella mentioned Venice, where most signs of local life have been eclipsed by the 30 million tourists who pour in each year. “It is quite sad—a real, fantastic place is now a plastic city,” he said. “We are still a real city, but we risk having the same problems if we’re not careful.”</p><p>With that in mind, Nardella has devoted much of his energy while in office to finding inventive ways for Florence to flourish and encouraging visitors to stay longer. A higher tax on tour buses has led to an 8 percent decrease in cruise-ship passengers who swarm the town on day trips from Venice and Livorno. And a number of initiatives are now in place to retain residents in the city center. “Because without them,” he said, “we are just a museum.” In 2016, he passed a controversial bill requiring that 70 percent of the produce served in the UNESCO-protected center must be of local origin. Some saw it as a veiled anti-immigrant measure—a means of curbing the spread of kebab shops run by the city’s small Arab population. McDonald’s, meanwhile, saw it as an attack; the law put a stop to an outpost that was planned to open in front of the Duomo, leading the fast-food behemoth to sue the city for roughly $20 million in damages. “Look, I love McDonald’s!” Nardella told me with a chuckle. “But food is culture, and we have to protect our traditions. Do we really need a McDonald’s across from Brunelleschi’s masterpiece?”</p><p>He paused for a moment. “My vision is not a closed, conservative one,” he said, noting a variety of efforts the city has taken to expand and elevate its identity. A recent exhibit of a massive Jeff Koons sculpture in the plaza outside his office marked the first time in nearly 500 years that an original work of such scale had been shown alongside sculptures by Michelangelo and Donatello. Meanwhile, a new partnership with Amazon has helped local artisans stay in business by selling their crafts through the online shopping giant. “We now live in a global world—I embrace that,” Nardella said. “But we must find ways to adapt that keep the spirit of the city.”</p><p>This mentality has led to an ambitious revamping of Florence’s cultural programming. The new opera house, for instance, is an unapologetically modern, Cubist-inspired structure that stands out with giddy defiance in a city famous for looking much the way it did centuries ago. The <a href="" target="_blank">Uffizi Gallery</a>, Italy’s most popular museum, has been in the midst of an overhaul since 2015, when Eike Schmidt took on the role of director. A studious German, he is the first non-Italian to hold the post, and has been working to streamline the ticketing process, shorten the notoriously chaotic lines, and improve the flow through the halls so visitors can better appreciate the exquisite Botticellis and Raphaels for which the museum is famous. This remains a herculean task, as I discovered when I attempted to visit. Overwhelmed by the mosh pit outside, I opted to pass.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">Museum Hack: A Game Plan for Visiting Florence's Uffizi Gallery</a></p><p>But the Uffizi, for all its world-class holdings, is hardly the whole of the city’s offerings. <a href="" target="_blank">Palazzo Strozzi</a>, Florence’s contemporary art foundation, opened nearby in 2006. Many regard its 2016 retrospective on Ai Weiwei, the second-most-attended exhibition in the city’s history, as the moment Florence reestablished itself as a prominent force in the global art community. When I visited, a major survey of the video artist Bill Viola was all the more provoking for being set in a palace built in 1538. Wandering through the magnificent chambers was a transporting delight. The space was full but hardly frenzied; I didn’t have to dodge a single selfie stick.</p><p>“You come to Florence and you need to see the Uffizi and the David—it’s normal,” said Arturo Galansino, Palazzo Strozzi’s director, when I met him in his book-lined office on the museum’s top floor. “What we offer is an alternative to that model. Because we’re constantly changing we demand that you return over and over.” A casually debonair gentleman—crisp suit, Wayfarer frames—Galansino hopes that guests will appreciate Palazzo Strozzi not as a progressive outlier, but as a nuanced way for locals and visitors alike to tap into the city’s heritage. “The Ai Weiwei show, if you think about it, is really an extension of the city’s history,” he told me. “Florence was the Empire State Building of the 15th century—the high point of modernity.”</p><p><img src="" /></p><p>Having spent my first two days attempting to mainline all things Florence, I took a different approach the rest of the week: settling in, ambling about, letting conversations with locals serve as my primary guide. A headstrong people understandably proud of their roots, Florentines are by no means averse to making sure you visit the city’s mainstays, like the <a href="" target="_blank">Mercato Centrale</a>, a bustling market that’s been in operation since 1874. But even here a compelling dialogue between past and present has begun to play out. While the ground floor remains a time warp of fish-, cheese-, and produce mongers, in 2014 a mezzanine was added with stalls serving everything from esoteric beer to truffle pasta.</p><p>Still, I found that Florentines reserved their greatest enthusiasm for newly opened places that don’t feel beholden to the past, like <a href="" target="_blank">La Ménagère</a>, a restaurant in the center that many locals mentioned as the sort of establishment that was unimaginable until recently. In an airy, sophisticated space of exposed plaster walls and dangling ferns, a multitude of worlds collide: fine dining in the back, a casual bistro in front, a craft cocktail lounge underground—not to mention a florist and a shop selling home goods. I arrived expecting a quick lunch. But after an octopus salad and spaghetti with anchovies, both sublime, I found myself seduced into sticking around for a glass of wine, then an espresso. By the time I left, the sun was setting.</p><img alt="The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze and the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence, Italy "src=""><p>My accommodations certainly helped me absorb the city in a more languorous manner. Florence has lagged behind its larger European counterparts in offering the sort of hotels that encourage extended stays, but this, too, is changing. I spent the first half of my week at the Four Seasons, which opened in 2008 in a former 15th-century palace. With its original frescoes, outdoor pool, and large private garden, the hotel provided the singular experience of living, literally, like a prince. Then I switched to the Gallery Hotel Art, a sleek, whitewashed boutique establishment at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio where the lobby doubles as a showcase for modern art—a Warhol exhibition, when I visited. The hotel is one of a number of uniquely urbane properties operated by the Lungarno Collection, the hospitality arm of the Ferragamo empire. Another, the nearby Hotel Continentale, is a winking throwback to 1950s Italy. It offers one of the city’s best rooftop bars, which I visited several times to sip an aperitif while watching the sun dip behind the majestic skyline.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">The Top 5 Hotels in Florence</a></p><p>“We’re in the midst of a new dolce vita,” said Edgardo Osorio, a Colombian-born designer who has helped revive the city’s standing in the fashion world with Aquazurra, his playful line of handcrafted shoes. The dapper 32-year-old was discussing his adopted hometown’s current renaissance while giving me a tour of his studio, an eclectic space above his shop. While most Italian fashion is now based in Milan, the country’s modern industry was born in Florence. Iconic brands like Gucci began in the city, which remains the center of its production. “I wanted to be connected to that lineage,” Osorio said. “Being close to the patternmakers and cutters brings in a human element that you just can’t get in New York or Paris.”</p><p>I thought about this sentiment often while exploring Oltrarno. Located across the Arno opposite the city center, this is Florence’s “Left Bank,” a swath of labyrinthine streets where I got the distinct sense that the city’s residents are as keen on asserting themselves as their mayor. Poking my head into the minuscule storefront studios of the old-school leather craftspeople, cobblers, and papermakers who have worked in the area for centuries often led to impromptu tutorials on their work and technique.</p><p>Oltrarno is also the most compelling neighborhood for eating and drinking. The area around Piazza Santo Spirito, a small square that turns into a nightly gathering spot, has become a showcase for budding chefs challenging the city’s reputation for stagnant cuisine.</p><img alt="Dancing in Florence's Santo Spirito plaza "src=""><p>The anchor of this new food scene is Il Santo Bevitore, where dishes like roasted pigeon with foie gras ice cream are served in an unfussy, boisterous room; the restaurant recently added an adjacent wine bar, Il Santino. I ate one of my most memorable meals at Gurdulù, a modish, dimly lit spot on a quiet street. After a gin and tonic that arrived with a sprig of lavender suspended in a hand-cut ice cube, I ordered the tasting menu, leaving my meal to the whims of chef Gabriele Andreoni, whose obsession with unexpected ingredients shone in a cuttlefish salad with apricot bottarga and a succulent duck breast accented with kumquat and wasabi.</p><p><img src="" /></p><p>Great cities impress in seconds but seduce slowly; Florence is no different. On my last day, I visited Numeroventi, a co-living space for artists that I would never have heard of had I spent only a day or two in town. Cofounded by Martino di Napoli Rampolla, a 28-year-old Italian, and Andrew Trotter, a peripatetic designer from England, it opened in 2016 in a converted palace built in 1510. The organization invites artists, writers, and designers for residencies lasting one to eight months. Once a week it opens to the public for studio visits, a throwback to the days when the elite popped in on the likes of Leonardo da Vinci; the completed works are displayed in monthly exhibitions. To help fund the enterprise, Numeroventi rents out a handful of impeccably designed apartments on Airbnb, making it arguably the choicest (and still secretive) place to stay for travelers eager to be immersed in the city’s latest scene.</p><p>“I would like Florence to be what it was in the Renaissance instead of just making money off the past,” said Alessandro Modestino Ricciardelli, Numeroventi’s passionate, heavily tattooed project manager, when I met him for a tour of the space. The palace already had quite a history before its current incarnation. It was built for a governor, and a Michelangelo sculpture once stood on the pedestal in the courtyard; when the governor clashed with the Medicis, he was beheaded, and the sculpture was repossessed. Today the pedestal remains a hallowed spot where emerging artists show their work. “There are a lot of people here doing cool things, but they’re like little islands,” Ricciardelli continued. “This is a place where we can come together.”</p><p>Ricciardelli led me through the studios and shared kitchen, absurdly gorgeous spaces where ornate plasterwork and frescoes contrasted with Modernist furnishings. We walked down a hallway lined with precise drawings of sound waves; on the floor below them were abstract renderings of the same shapes carved from marble. Both were the work of Lorenzo Brinati, an Italian artist and former resident. The top floor still looked much the way it did during the decades when squatters occupied it: dingy, with peeling paint, yet enticing given what was happening there. “Basically, this is a kind of free-for-all gallery,” Rampolla said, explaining that artists were invited to use the rooms however they saw fit: painting on the walls, experimenting with mischievous installations. It was the opposite of a museum.</p><p>“Making something new,” Rampolla said, “is always more interesting than just worshipping what is old.”</p><img alt="Scenes from the Oltrarno neighborhood in Florence, Italy "src=""><h2>The New Florence</h2><p>The city rewards a longer stay than most visitors budget. Once you’ve taken in the Renaissance masterworks, spend a few days exploring the overlooked corners and outer neighborhoods.</p><h2>Getting There and Around</h2><p>There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Florence, but multiple carriers offer connections from European hubs, including Paris and Amsterdam. Though taxi stands abound, one of the pleasures of Florence is that you can get just about everywhere on foot.</p><h2>Lodging</h2><p>Staying at the <a href="" target="_blank">Four Seasons Hotel Firenze</a> <em>(doubles from $1,000)</em> was one of the highlights of my trip. Occupying a 15th-century palazzo, the hotel was a lavish, private oasis after a day spent exploring the city. The properties operated by the Lungarno Collection offer a more modern take on luxury. The coolly minimal <a href="" target="_blank">Gallery Hotel Art</a> <em>(doubles from $344) </em>is profusely decorated with contemporary sculpture and photography, while the <a href="" target="_blank">Continentale</a> <em>(doubles from $370) </em>channels mid-20th-century Italian design.</p><h2>Eat &amp; Drink</h2><p>After years of being regarded as behind the curve, Florence’s dining scene has evolved into one of the most compelling in Italy. At <a href="" target="_blank">Ciblèo</a> <em>(prix fixe $62)</em><i>,</i> Fabio Picchi, the city’s undisputed culinary king, serves up an omakase-style mix of Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean tapas. <a href="" target="_blank">La Ménagère</a> <em>(entrées $17–$34)</em> is a beautiful, airy space with fine dining in the rear and a casual bistro up front, as well as a florist and a small shop that sells home goods. The Oltrarno neighborhood’s casually hip dining scene is anchored by <a href="" target="_blank">Il Santo Bevitore</a> <em>(entrées $10–$30)</em><i>,</i> where refined takes on Italian classics are served in a cozy space. An adjacent wine bar, Il Santino, offers small bites to a boisterous crowd. I particularly enjoyed the inventive menu at <a href="" target="_blank">Gurdulù</a> <em>(entrées $22–$42, tasting menus from $65)</em><i>,</i> a stylish spot out of a Fellini film. For cocktails, there’s no better place than the rooftop bar of the Continentale, with its sublime views of the terra-cotta skyline.</p><h2>Art &amp; Culture</h2><p>A trip to Florence isn’t complete without a visit to the <a href="" target="_blank">Uffizi Gallery</a> and a pilgrimage to see Michelangelo’s David at the <a href="" target="_blank">Galleria dell’Accademia</a><i>.</i> Thankfully, the city has launched a new website,, to make the ticketing process less chaotic. If you feel overwhelmed by the crowds, head for the <a href="" target="_blank">Palazzo Strozzi</a><i>,</i> the city’s contemporary art foundation, or the <a href="" target="_blank">Gucci Garden</a><i>, </i>where a history of the brand sheds light on Florence’s role as the birthplace of modern Italian fashion. For a glimpse into the city’s new creative scene, check out <a href="" target="_blank">Numeroventi</a><i>,</i> an artists’ residency in an old palazzo that opens its doors for monthly exhibitions.</p><img alt="Mortegan, a leather artisan, at work in his studio in Florence, Itay "src=""><h2>Shopping</h2><p>Oltrarno has long been home to Florence’s craftspeople. Seek out <a href="" target="_blank">Mortegan</a><i>,</i> maker of exquisite leather goods, and <a href="" target="_blank">Bartolozzi e Maioli</a><i>,</i> a wood-carving studio that has produced intricately detailed sculptures for the past 80 years. New boutiques have started cropping up in the area. My favorites were <a href="" target="_blank">Campucc10</a><i>,</i> which showcases objects and prints by local artists, and <a href="" target="_blank">Giulia Materia</a><i>,</i> where the stock ranges from clothing to notebooks bound in vintage wallpaper. If you’re looking for high-end women’s shoes, visit <a href="" target="_blank">Aquazzura</a><i>.</i> Rising star Edgardo Osorio conceives his collections in the studio above the store.</p><p><em>Content for this story was produced with assistance from Four Seasons Hotels &amp; Resorts and the Lungarno Collection.</em></p>
Categories: Travel

Venice Is Banning Kayaks, Canoes, and Other Boats From the Grand Canal

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 08/04/2018 - 17:27
<p>Locals and tourists in Venice will have to look for some other means of getting around the city now that a new regulation will ban certain types of boats from the Grand Canal.</p><p>As of August 1, authorities are now prohibiting recreational boats such as canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and others from being used in the canal, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Local</em> reported</a>. People who live or own businesses in the historic district, however, are exempt from the complete ban and will still be able to use their boats during restricted times.</p><p>And don’t worry if you had your heart set on a gondola ride – traditional Venetian watercraft are still allowed.</p><p>Following the death of a German tourist in 2013, regulations on the Grand Canal have slowly become stricter, beginning with fewer ferries on the waterway, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Local</em> reported in 2013</a>.</p><p>The new measure is simply a further piling on of measures in the name of public safety. Up until August 1, recreational boats were only allowed on the canal at peak times during the day.</p><p>The ban affects not only the Grand Canal, but also Cannaregio Canal and other waterways. Less busy, smaller canals will only enforce the ban during certain times of the day, namely peak hours.</p><p>If you’re planning a trip to Venice any time soon, consider saving a few euro for the public transport.</p>
Categories: Travel

There's a New Way to Save on Hotels — but You'll Have to Be Fast

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 08/04/2018 - 13:02
<p>Everything in life comes down to timing. Especially a good deal.</p><p>The booking app HotelTonight released a new feature this week that lets users in on personalized deals, if they can catch them.</p><p>Once a day, the “Daily Drop” will appear in the <a href="" target="_blank">HotelTonight app</a>. Based on the user’s booking and hotel preferences, they will be granted a deal, available for the specific dates and city users are searching for. The deals will be at least 30 percent off online travel agency (OTA) room rates, according to the app.</p><p>But it will only last for 15 minutes. Users have to snag the Daily Drop quickly, before it goes away forever — or until a new deal shows up in 24 hours. HotelTonight is calling this the travel industry’s first “ephemeral deal.”</p><p>“We've reimagined the opaque deals of the past (where travelers couldn't see what hotel they were booking) for the mobile era,” Sam Shank, CEO of HotelTonight, said in a statement. “Daily Drop hotels are personalized to the booker’s taste and often at prices that are better than opaque sites.”</p><img alt="HotelTonight App Daily Drop "src=""><p>About 1,000 hotels are currently taking part in the “Daily Drop.”</p><p>The feature can be used to book hotel rooms up to 100 days in advance — because not all spontaneity should happen immediately. The deals are non-refundable so make sure you’ve thought through the purchase (for at least a few of those 15 minutes) before booking.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Nurse Has the Internet in Awe of Her Fabulous Santorini Photoshoot

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 08/04/2018 - 12:30
<p>When you think of a fantasy photo shoot backdrop, you can’t do better than Santorini.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Alexandra Maye</a>, a newly licensed nurse, staged a photoshoot on the Greek island while on vacation there after completing her program and passing her exam.</p><p>In addition to getting some rest and relaxation, she also wanted to use her trip to Santorini as an opportunity to indulge in her passion for photography and modeling. After doing some research, she found Miami Dress Photo's photographer Chaltcev Aleksander and makeup artist Elina to schedule a special “flying dress” photo shoot in Imerovigli, Santorini.</p><img alt="Alexandra Maye, Flying Dress, Santorini "src=""><p>The flying dresses are made of super light material that naturally catches the wind, so they make a huge impression on camera.</p><p>“The shoot was so magical. My boyfriend is a photographer so Aleks even incorporated him into the shoot an showed him how to capture great shots which was really special to me,” Maye told <em>Travel + Leisure</em> in an email.</p><p>In order to get the flying affect, makeup artist Elina would throw the material up into the air before each shot.</p><p>“I always wanted to be America's Next Top Model growing up and would sign it after my name in my elementary school yearbook,” Maye said.</p><p>As effortless as Maye’s shoot looks, she also noted that there was quite a bit of hard work involved. “I'm happy that I spent time at the gym weeks before the trip because it required some upper body strength to get on the top of some of the locations.”</p><p>The response to Maye’s photos on Instagram have been overwhelmingly positive, with many commenters leaving compliments and notes saying how Maye has inspired them.</p><p>“To see the positive responses from all viewing my pictures make me feel like my dream is coming true,” Maye said. She hopes that her photos are helpful to others, either just as a reminder to love themselves or to practice self-care.</p><p>“Life gets super busy but try to take time to do the things that make your heart smile and make you feel alive,” she said.</p>
Categories: Travel

How a Backpacking Trip Could Make You a More Successful Person

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 08/04/2018 - 12:00
<p>Taking a <a href="" target="_blank">backpacking trip</a> can sometimes mean roughing it, but a new study shows the benefits this can have to your overall mental health and problem-solving abilities.</p><p>The study published this May in the<em> Journal of Travel Research</em> titled <a href="" target="_blank">“Backpacker Personal Development, Generalized Self-Efficacy, and Self-Esteem: Testing a Structural Model,”</a> provides an explanation on how backpacking affects individuals’ self-efficacy (their perception of how well they can cope in various situations presented to them) and self-esteem.</p><p>Researchers from China's Sun Yat-sen University and Shaanxi Normal University and Australia's Edith Cowan University surveyed close to 500 Chinese and Western backpackers across a one-year period, defining backpacking as a travel style taken by those who prefer low-budget accommodation, longer holidays, flexible itineraries, meeting other travelers, and engaging in social activities.</p><p>Most respondents were between the ages of 21 to 35 and had taken at least three backpacking trips, with Western participants consisting of British, American, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Polish travelers.</p><p>The two groups were chosen to assess differences when coming from collectivist (in the case of Chinese backpackers) and individualistic (in the case of Western backpackers) cultural groups, according to researchers.</p><p>In Western backpackers, results showed that backpacking leads to acquired capabilities like effective communication, decision-making, adaptability, and problem-solving, all of which contribute to an increase in self-efficacy.</p><p>For Chinese backpackers, acquiring skills like time and money management, language development, stress management, and self-motivation provided the biggest increase in self-efficacy. An increase in self-efficacy often correlated to an increase in self-esteem in both groups.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Everything You Need for Your First Backpacking Trip</a></p><p>"We believe that when people travel to different parts of the world, especially when they travel outside their cultural comfort zone, they will see something different and that will give them a different perspective," professor Sam Huang, one of the study's researchers, told the <em><a href="" target="_blank">Australian Broadcasting Corporation</a></em>.</p><p>"It's not a waste of time, it's not a waste of money, it's a worthwhile investment ... because you can grow your self-confidence and you increase your self-efficacy, which is important in your workplace; and you increase your self-esteem which is quite important to maintain your mental health."</p>
Categories: Travel