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In Transit Blog: Southwest Will Begin Flights to Caribbean

Written By wartini cantika on Jumat, 31 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Southwest Airlines took a step toward becoming an international carrier this week with the announcement that it would begin daily service to Aruba, the Bahamas and Jamaica this summer.

The news – perfectly timed to entice chilly travelers hunkering down amid winter storms — begins the airline's "international conversion plan," according to a release from the company, which has Southwest gradually taking over international flights to the Caribbean from its subsidiary, AirTran Airways.

Beginning July 1, Southwest will offer daily nonstop service from airports in Atlanta, Baltimore-Washington and Orlando to Aruba, Nassau and Montego Bay.

AirTran will continue its current service between the United States and Nassau in the Bahamas; Montego Bay in Jamaica; Cancún, Mexico City and Los Cabos in Mexico; and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic as the conversion is completed (the goal is by the end of 2014), said Brad Hawkins, a spokesman for Southwest, giving the airline a total of 96 destinations in six countries.

These "historic bookings," Gary Kelly, the airline's chief executive said at a press conference on Monday, begin the airline's "final lap in the journey to make possible our international future."

Bookings are currently available through Aug. 8.


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In Transit Blog: Beatles ’14: Two Hotels Celebrate an Anniversary

In February 1964, the Beatles made their first trip to the United States, igniting Beatlemania stateside from New York to Miami. Fifty years later, hotels the band visited then are marking the anniversary in ways small and large.

In the token-nod department, the Plaza in New York, where the quartet stayed, will shake up three Beatles-themed cocktails including Strawberry Fields and Drive My Side Car.

On a larger scale, the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami, where the Beatles taped their second appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," will pay homage with concerts by a Beatles cover band called 1964 The Tribute on Feb. 15 and 16 (tickets $64). Andy Babiuk, author of the book "Beatles Gear," will warm up the audience for the Saturday night show with a lecture that will include  rare photos and outtake audio clips (admission $15).

No one at the hotel currently was around 50 years ago when fans mobbed Collins Avenue, but one South Florida resident, Bob Saxon, was 17 at the time and, along with two friends, sneaked in through the kitchen door.

"Ed Sullivan came out before the broadcast and told the screaming masses that when the Beatles were to be brought out the more he raised his hands and asked for the crowd to quiet down, the louder he wanted us all to scream," he wrote in an email. "When the Beatles finally hit the stage, the place went berserk."


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In Transit Blog: Check-In by Smartphone

Written By wartini cantika on Kamis, 30 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Aiming for efficiency, two Aloft hotels will begin offering keyless check-ins, allowing smartphone-equipped guests to bypass the front desk and proceed directly to their rooms, where doors will open when activated via Bluetooth technology and the phone is held in front of the lock.

Aloft hotels in New York's Harlem neighborhood and in Cupertino, Calif., will use the technology in the next three months, with a planned roll-out to all Aloft and W hotels, two Starwood Hotels & Resorts brands that target younger, tech-savvy travelers, in 2015.

Starwood has been testing keyless check-in at its Aloft brand since 2010 when it issued radio-activated key cards to Starwood Preferred Guest members who could use them, once received via mail, to skip the front desk.

The new iteration employs a mobile phone app – for iPhone and Android – making the system more flexible.

It remains to be seen whether travelers will trust the virtual system, but for frequent business travelers who have previously made their room requests known, bypassing person-to-person check-in may be a time saver.

"I don't think it's as much for the first timer as the repeater, unless you're an antisocial animal," said Michael Terry, an instructor at Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida.


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In Transit Blog: For Fliers, a Month Marked by Cancellations

Written By wartini cantika on Rabu, 29 Januari 2014 | 17.35

The new year has gotten off to a rough start for fliers, with winter storms causing tens of thousands canceled flights in the first few weeks of 2014 (more than in January 2012 and January 2013 combined) and a forecast that has both airlines and passengers bracing for another blow this week.

More than 33,000 flights to, from and within the United States have been canceled in the first three weeks of 2014, according to a report by The Associated Press. The report referenced data compiled by masFlight, a company that specializes in airline operations information.

FlightAware, a flight tracking company, confirmed those numbers in an email, citing a total of 33,500 cancellations so far in 2014, according to its data, as compared with 10,500 in January 2012 and 10,000 in January 2013.

The latest storm added another 2,965 cancellations as of Tuesday afternoon, with more than 300 delays and cancellations planned for Wednesday, according to FlightAware.

"This winter has been a one-two-three punch so far, and there are eight weeks to go," George Hobica, the founder of AirfareWatchdog.com, a travel website, told The Associated Press. "It seems like airlines are canceling flights more than ever and sooner than ever at the approach of a storm."

Rebooking can also be a challenge. "When I started in the industry 30 years ago, most flights were at about 50 percent capacity," Robert Mann, an industry analyst and consultant, told The Christian Science Monitor. "Now we run at around 80 percent, and that makes the rebooking process a lot longer."

"If there's one good time to buy travel insurance it's during winter," as Mr. Hobica put it.


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In Transit Blog: Up in the Air on Sunday? JetBlue Has a Super Bowl Plan

Written By wartini cantika on Selasa, 28 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Any true football fan wouldn't be caught anywhere near an airport on Super Bowl Sunday, but just in case, JetBlue Airways is at the ready, with in-flight viewing options to watch the game, cheap beer and a snack that tastes like wings.

Those traveling on domestic JetBlue flights on Sunday evening, Feb. 2, will be able to view the game and other sports programming on the airline's seatback televisions, which offer free sports channels like the NFL Network and ESPN.

The airline also is offering complimentary Snyder's Hot Buffalo Wing flavored pretzels and each passenger's first wine, beer or cocktail for $1.

Those looking to get to New Jersey to watch the game live can still take advantage of additional nonstop flights on JetBlue Jan. 31 and Feb. 3 between Denver or Seattle and Kennedy International Airport in New York.


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In Transit Blog: At New York Hotel, a Crowd-Sourced Lego Project

In a lemonade-from-lemons move, Yotel New York, the capsule hotel near Times Square, has turned a construction-masking wall into a 30-foot collaborative art project using Lego building blocks.

Guests are invited to embellish the 30-foot-long Lego wall with supplied plastic bricks, resulting in an ever-changing mural and a popular lobby activity. Some contributors have built replicas of city icons like the Empire State Building, others have depicted the flags of their country, including Canada and Japan, and more have written their names and initials in the blocks.

While the wall was conceived as a colorful way to block off a section of the lobby under construction, it has turned into a creative phenomenon that hotel management is considering reprising in some form in the future, after the wall is removed in March.

"Social activity is definitely happening among the guests, and it's created new communication between the guests and us," said the general manager, Claes Landberg. "It gives our crew a reason to strike up a conversation and create relationships with guests."


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In Transit Blog: Outbreak Brings Royal Caribbean Cruise to an Early End

An outbreak of gastrointestinal illness suspected to be the norovirus has forced a Royal Caribbean cruise ship to return to port two days before the end of its scheduled 10-day voyage.

The Explorer of the Seas, which set out from Cape Liberty, N.J., for St. Maarten in the Caribbean last Tuesday carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew members, was forced to stop midvoyage after more than 300 on board reported symptoms of the virus.

On Saturday, the ship docked in San Juan, P.R., to undergo a deep cleaning and sanitization process. Sick passengers and crew were given over-the-counter medications, to which they were responding well, Janet Diaz, a spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean, told the newspaper The Guardian. In a statement released on Sunday evening, Royal Caribbean said that the number of new instances of illness had "decreased day over day," and that many guests are were up and about.

Even so, as of Monday morning an update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, representatives of which boarded the ship in St. Thomas, V.I., on Sunday, put the number of sick at more than 600. The Explorer is now headed back to New Jersey, two days earlier than originally scheduled. The C.D.C. representatives, including an epidemiologist, are investigating the outbreak and have taken samples to verify the source of the illness.

"After consultation between our medical team and representatives of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we think the right thing to do is to bring our guests home early, and use the extra time to sanitize the ship even more thoroughly," Royal Caribbean stated in the release. "We are sorry for disappointing our guests, and we are taking several steps to compensate them for their inconvenience."

Those steps will include a another "aggressive" sanitizing procedure, the third that the ship has undergone since passengers first began to become ill.

Earlier in January, 66 passengers and two crew members experienced gastrointestinal issues aboard Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas, according to a statement from the company.


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In Transit Blog: Cowboy Poetry and Rodeos

Written By wartini cantika on Senin, 27 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, in Elko, Nev., a tradition sponsored by the Western Folklife Center in that city. Poets, storytellers, musicians, radio personalities and now even bloggers come together to promote the occupational and artistic traditions of the rural West.

While activities like rawhide braiding and ranch dancing get a fair amount of attention as well, it's the spoken — or sung — word that draws performers from ranches all over the West and Canada each year. Among them will be Waddie Mitchell, a writer who grew up listening to cowboys tell stories on the various Nevada ranches on which his father worked, and who helped found the first cowboy poetry gathering.

"I can't ever remember 'finding' cowboy poetry,' " Mr. Mitchell writes on his Web site. "When you live in close proximity like that with the same folks month after month, one of your duties is to entertain each other, and I suppose that's where the whole tradition of cowboy poetry started."

He will be joined by more than 40 other entertainers, like Deanna Dickinson McCall, whose family has been ranching in Texas since the 1840s and whose work won her an album of the year award from the Academy of Western Artists in 2012; and Paul Zarzyski, a "rodeo poet," as he describes himself on his website, for 40 years who considers his bareback bronc riding equipment and his Smith-Corona typewriter his two most prized possessions.

Crafts, films, arts and concerts accompany the storytelling from Jan. 27 through Feb. 1, with a keynote address by Temple Grandin, the author and animal welfare advocate, on Jan. 30.

This weekend is also the last chance to catch the dancing horses and fiddle showdowns of the 108th National Western Stock Show in Denver. This year's show features some 15,000 animals, Western art exhibitions and a Wild West show. That's in addition to its five rodeos, the pro finals of which take place Saturday and Sunday.


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In Transit Blog: On the Horizon: Berlin International Film Festival; ‘This Is Not a A Silent Movie’

Film On Feb. 6, the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale, will begin . The film festival will award lifetime honors to the British director Ken Loach and feature over 400 films, including the world premiere of "The Monuments Men," about an Allied group who recovered stolen artworks from the Nazis, with George Clooney and Matt Damon.

Museums The Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Ore., will open an exhibition featuring the work of four native Alaskan contemporary artists. "This Is Not a A Silent Movie," Jan. 31 to April 19, explores how Native American identity is portrayed.

Apps The recently started Afar Travel Guide app features guides to over 7,000 cities, curated from travel experiences created by Afar magazine and 20,000 travelers and locals world wide. Users can choose from curated or user-created trip highlights, or map their own and share them online.


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In Transit Blog: Cowboy Poetry and Rodeos

Written By wartini cantika on Minggu, 26 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, in Elko, Nev., a tradition sponsored by the Western Folklife Center in that city. Poets, storytellers, musicians, radio personalities and now even bloggers come together to promote the occupational and artistic traditions of the rural West.

While activities like rawhide braiding and ranch dancing get a fair amount of attention as well, it's the spoken — or sung — word that draws performers from ranches all over the West and Canada each year. Among them will be Waddie Mitchell, a writer who grew up listening to cowboys tell stories on the various Nevada ranches on which his father worked, and who helped found the first cowboy poetry gathering.

"I can't ever remember 'finding' cowboy poetry,' " Mr. Mitchell writes on his Web site. "When you live in close proximity like that with the same folks month after month, one of your duties is to entertain each other, and I suppose that's where the whole tradition of cowboy poetry started."

He will be joined by more than 40 other entertainers, like Deanna Dickinson McCall, whose family has been ranching in Texas since the 1840s and whose work won her an album of the year award from the Academy of Western Artists in 2012; and Paul Zarzyski, a "rodeo poet," as he describes himself on his website, for 40 years who considers his bareback bronc riding equipment and his Smith-Corona typewriter his two most prized possessions.

Crafts, films, arts and concerts accompany the storytelling from Jan. 27 through Feb. 1, with a keynote address by Temple Grandin, the author and animal welfare advocate, on Jan. 30.

This weekend is also the last chance to catch the dancing horses and fiddle showdowns of the 108th National Western Stock Show in Denver. This year's show features some 15,000 animals, Western art exhibitions and a Wild West show. That's in addition to its five rodeos, the pro finals of which take place Saturday and Sunday.


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In Transit Blog: On the Horizon: Berlin International Film Festival; ‘This Is Not a A Silent Movie’

Film On Feb. 6, the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale, will begin . The film festival will award lifetime honors to the British director Ken Loach and feature over 400 films, including the world premiere of "The Monuments Men," about an Allied group who recovered stolen artworks from the Nazis, with George Clooney and Matt Damon.

Museums The Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Ore., will open an exhibition featuring the work of four native Alaskan contemporary artists. "This Is Not a A Silent Movie," Jan. 31 to April 19, explores how Native American identity is portrayed.

Apps The recently started Afar Travel Guide app features guides to over 7,000 cities, curated from travel experiences created by Afar magazine and 20,000 travelers and locals world wide. Users can choose from curated or user-created trip highlights, or map their own and share them online.


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In Transit Blog: Cowboy Poetry and Rodeos

Written By wartini cantika on Sabtu, 25 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, in Elko, Nev., a tradition sponsored by the Western Folklife Center in that city. Poets, storytellers, musicians, radio personalities and now even bloggers come together to promote the occupational and artistic traditions of the rural West.

While activities like rawhide braiding and ranch dancing get a fair amount of attention as well, it's the spoken — or sung — word that draws performers from ranches all over the West and Canada each year. Among them will be Waddie Mitchell, a writer who grew up listening to cowboys tell stories on the various Nevada ranches on which his father worked, and who helped found the first cowboy poetry gathering.

"I can't ever remember 'finding' cowboy poetry,' " Mr. Mitchell writes on his Web site. "When you live in close proximity like that with the same folks month after month, one of your duties is to entertain each other, and I suppose that's where the whole tradition of cowboy poetry started."

He will be joined by more than 40 other entertainers, like Deanna Dickinson McCall, whose family has been ranching in Texas since the 1840s and whose work won her an album of the year award from the Academy of Western Artists in 2012; and Paul Zarzyski, a "rodeo poet," as he describes himself on his website, for 40 years who considers his bareback bronc riding equipment and his Smith-Corona typewriter his two most prized possessions.

Crafts, films, arts and concerts accompany the storytelling from Jan. 27 through Feb. 1, with a keynote address by Temple Grandin, the author and animal welfare advocate, on Jan. 30.

This weekend is also the last chance to catch the dancing horses and fiddle showdowns of the 108th National Western Stock Show in Denver. This year's show features some 15,000 animals, Western art exhibitions and a Wild West show. That's in addition to its five rodeos, the pro finals of which take place Saturday and Sunday.


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In Transit Blog: On the Horizon: Berlin International Film Festival; ‘This Is Not a A Silent Movie’

Film On Feb. 6, the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale, will begin . The film festival will award lifetime honors to the British director Ken Loach and feature over 400 films, including the world premiere of "The Monuments Men," about an Allied group who recovered stolen artworks from the Nazis, with George Clooney and Matt Damon.

Museums The Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Ore., will open an exhibition featuring the work of four native Alaskan contemporary artists. "This Is Not a A Silent Movie," Jan. 31 to April 19, explores how Native American identity is portrayed.

Apps The recently started Afar Travel Guide app features guides to over 7,000 cities, curated from travel experiences created by Afar magazine and 20,000 travelers and locals world wide. Users can choose from curated or user-created trip highlights, or map their own and share them online.


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In Transit Blog: Healthier Options in the Air

Written By wartini cantika on Jumat, 24 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Health-conscious fliers trapped at 30,000 feet no longer have to slim-pick between cans of Pringles and bags of Chex Mix, at least on Delta Air Lines. On transcontinental flights, the carrier recently added wraps made by Luvo, a packaged food maker that uses natural ingredients.

Passengers flying between Kennedy International in New York and airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle will have the choice of three items – quinoa, grilled chicken, and roast turkey and Havarti, each rolled in a whole wheat tortilla and served with a side of grapes and a coconut chocolate chip cookie – at 360 to 440 calories for each meal.

Delta's West Coast Shuttle, which runs 15 flights daily between Los Angeles and San Francisco, began serving Luvo snacks that proved popular enough for the carrier to expand the healthy selections to cross-country fliers.

Delta isn't the only airline to offer healthier snack options; American Airlines, for example, offers snacks including energy bars and fruit and cheese plates. But Delta does distinguish itself in one promising way: while the wraps cost $9.49 to fliers in economy class, they are free to passengers in economy comfort, the slightly roomier and pricier section in front of it.


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In Transit Blog: Savannah Starts a Bike Program

Savannah's Chatham Area Transit (CAT) will officially begin its new public bicycle sharing program on Friday, making it one of a growing number of major metropolitan areas in the United States to do so in recent years, and the first in Georgia.

The CAT Bike program, operated by B-cycle, a company that develops and maintains bike sharing systems, opened with two solar-powered stations in downtown Savannah offering a total of 16 bicycles. And Chatham is definitely looking to aggressively expand the program in the near future, Jessie Fernandez-Gatti, a transit planner at CAT, said.

For now, adult residents and visitors (or those 16 and older, with a parent or guardian), can sign up for a 24-hour, seven-day or annual membership, either online or at one of the two stations. Each membership, $5, $20 and $60 respectively, allows for a certain amount of usage time, with an additional $2 charge for every half hour over that allotted.

Although created primarily for the use of resident commuters, visitors could also benefit from the program, using the bikes to navigate Savannah's tiny downtown streets instead of having to rent, drive or park a car.

"Savannah has a growing reputation of bike-ability due to our climate, flat terrain, businesses that make an extra effort to welcome customers on bikes, and our efforts as a community to encourage bicycling," said John R. Bennett, the executive director of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, a nonprofit bicycle advocacy group. "If visitors enjoy it, they may consider a longer-term rental from a local bike shop. They might even bring their own bicycles next time they visit."

Several large cities in the United States, including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, have all implemented bike share programs in the last few years. Atlanta, Georgia's busiest metropolitan area, is in the process of developing its own, expected to start in 2016 with close to 600 bicycles at more than 50 stations, according to a report from Business Insider.

The city has already invested $2 million in expanding and improving existing bike lanes in anticipation of its opening.


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In Transit Blog: Horizon: Artifacts of the Mayans; ‘Tales of the City’ Finale

Written By wartini cantika on Kamis, 23 Januari 2014 | 17.36

ART

An exhibition on the Maya civilization will be at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science from Feb. 14 to Aug. 24. Featured will be artifacts, many on display for the first time, and immersive walk-in environments, like re-creations of a sacred cave. Replica murals will depict scenes of life and warfare in ancient Maya society, and hands-on activities will include deciphering glyphs and conducting virtual excavations.

BOOKS

Armistead Maupin, the author of "Tales of the City" and its sequels, is to begin a tour later this month to promote "The Days of Anna Madrigal," the last book in the series. First published in 1976 as a serial in The San Francisco Chronicle, the stories were praised for bringing the gay, lesbian and transgender subjects and story lines of San Francisco to the general public. So, it's only fitting that the tour began there, on Jan. 19, before heading to other states and Europe. It wraps up in Los Angeles on March 22 with a screening of the early-1990s TV miniseries based on the books.


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In Transit Blog: Absence of Snow Brings Out Hikers and Horses in Yosemite

One skier's drought is a potential hiker's gift.

California's current drought has inspired DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, concessionaire at Yosemite National Park, to open its horse stables, normally closed for the winter, and offer trail rides. Similarly, its Glacier Point Ski Hut, which normally accommodates cross-country skiers overnight, will be open to hikers by reservation.

The unusual winter openings could be reversed at any time if Mother Nature resumes seasonal behavior. "We had another dry winter two years ago that allowed us to open the stable and the Glacier Point Hut for hikers," Lisa Cesaro, a spokeswoman for the concessionaire, wrote in an email. "A storm came through shortly after that, when we closed the facilities down. I believe they were open for a week during that season."

Until further notice, Yosemite Valley Stable is offering two-hour guided trail rides to Mirror Lake three times daily for $64 per rider. Conditions permitting, hikers can follow Four-Mile Trail to Glacier Point Ski Hut and spend the night Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday in the stone-and-log dormitory across from Half Dome. Self-guided trips, including meals, cost $120.50 per person, with advance registration required.

But if it does snow, and the warm-weather activities stop, another park attraction will open: Badger Pass Ski Area.


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In Transit Blog: Submit Your Summer Vacation Rental Questions

Written By wartini cantika on Selasa, 21 Januari 2014 | 17.35

It may be in the 40s in New York City, but it's nonetheless prime season for solidifying summer plans if yours include renting a vacation home. Do you have questions about East Coast summer vacation rentals? What's the best way to find a house? What should you expect to pay? What's the etiquette in a share house? Whether you're dreaming of sunbathing in the Hamptons or on Martha's Vineyard, now's the time to get real about what that might entail.

Let us know what you want to know, and we'll do our best to provide answers in a coming article.


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In Transit Blog: Bike Trips With a Boost

If the thought of cycling in the Alps or even keeping up with your more buff partner in the rolling hills of Tuscany exhausts you, consider taking an electric bike, newly offered by the Britain-based outfitter Inntravel.

The company, which specializes in self-guided bicycling tours in Europe, now offers e-bikes that can assist riders on 22 routes covering the uphills in Switzerland, Austria, France, Italy and Spain. Riders can switch on the mini motors on inclines or in headwinds, or set the engines to switch on below a minimum speed.

The bikes are rechargeable and weigh about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) more than a standard bike, a load offset by the motorized boost.

"One of the advantages of e-bikes is that a couple of differing fitness can cycle together at the same speed, with one person using a bike and the other an e-bike," wrote Alison Hall, holiday development manager for Inntravel. "Anyone who has spent time waiting at the top of the hill, while their traveling companion puffs their way up, or vice versa, will embrace the concept."

The e-bikes cost extra – between £25 and £140 (about $40 and $223) per trip, depending on the destination. New routes being introduced this spring include the French region of the Camargue from £798 ($1,270) per person, including six nights in B&Bs, three dinners and more assistance with the load: luggage shuttles between inns.


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In Transit Blog: Submit Your Summer Vacation Rental Questions

Written By wartini cantika on Senin, 20 Januari 2014 | 17.35

It may be in the 40s in New York City, but it's nonetheless prime season for solidifying summer plans if yours include renting a vacation home. Do you have questions about East Coast summer vacation rentals? What's the best way to find a house? What should you expect to pay? What's the etiquette in a share house? Whether you're dreaming of sunbathing in the Hamptons or on Martha's Vineyard, now's the time to get real about what that might entail.

Let us know what you want to know, and we'll do our best to provide answers in a coming article.


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In Transit Blog: Submit Your Summer Vacation Rental Questions

Written By wartini cantika on Minggu, 19 Januari 2014 | 17.36

It may be in the 40s in New York City, but it's nonetheless prime season for solidifying summer plans if yours include renting a vacation home. Do you have questions about East Coast summer vacation rentals? What's the best way to find a house? What should you expect to pay? What's the etiquette in a share house? Whether you're dreaming of sunbathing in the Hamptons or on Martha's Vineyard, now's the time to get real about what that might entail.

Let us know what you want to know, and we'll do our best to provide answers in a coming article.


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In Transit Blog: Submit Your Summer Vacation Rental Questions

Written By wartini cantika on Sabtu, 18 Januari 2014 | 17.35

It may be in the 40s in New York City, but it's nonetheless prime season for solidifying summer plans if yours include renting a vacation home. Do you have questions about East Coast summer vacation rentals? What's the best way to find a house? What should you expect to pay? What's the etiquette in a share house? Whether you're dreaming of sunbathing in the Hamptons or on Martha's Vineyard, now's the time to get real about what that might entail.

Let us know what you want to know, and we'll do our best to provide answers in a coming article.


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In Transit Blog: Maupin Takes Final ‘Tales’ on the Road

Written By wartini cantika on Jumat, 17 Januari 2014 | 17.36

The author Armistead Maupin begins a tour this month to promote "The Days of Anna Madrigal," the last novel in his "Tales of the City" series. First published in 1976 as a serial in The San Francisco Chronicle, the stories were praised for bringing the gay, lesbian and transgender subjects and story lines of San Francisco to the general public.

So it's only fitting that Mr. Maupin begin the tour there, with a discussion at the Chapel, a Mission District bar and restaurant, on Jan. 19, hosted by Books Inc. He continues with two more stops in and around San Francisco before heading to the Pacific Northwest, Southwest and, eventually, east to Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

After a quick turn overseas, the tour wraps up in Los Angeles on March 22, with a screening of the early 1990s television mini-series adapted from the original books.

Further details can be found at armisteadmaupin.com


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In Transit Blog: Trips for Bikers — and Those Who Aren’t

Sacred Rides, a Canadian-based outfitter that focuses on single-track mountain bike tours for experienced riders, has introduced a line of Bring-Your-Partner trips that mountain bikers and their non-biking companions can enjoy together.

The new Rocky Mountain Bring Your Partner trip includes hiking, yoga, hot springs, spa time and introductory mountain bike lessons for the companion, while the mountain biker will enjoy single-track cross-country riding on moderate to challenging terrain in Fernie, in British Columbia, at Nipika Mountain Resort and Banff National Park and in Kananaskis Country.

Activities for couples to do together include hikes, yoga and paddling on the Kootenay River. More locations are expected to be added to the partner program, in North America and beyond.

The idea for the trips came from conversations with more than 100 clients, the majority of them male, said Mike Brcic, founder of Sacred Rides.

"Most of them are longtime mountain bikers with high incomes, but who have partners that don't mountain bike," he said. "With limited vacation time, it's hard for them to get away on the mountain bike trips they dream of doing. So being able to bring their non-mountain-biking partner along is a win-win for everyone."


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In Transit Blog: Your Comments on Places to Go in 2014

Written By wartini cantika on Selasa, 14 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Each year we compile a list of places to go in the coming year. And each year we hear from readers: agreements, disagreements, celebration, anger, bewilderment.

Here's your chance to weigh in on this year's roundup of 52 spots, which starts with Cape Town, South Africa, as our No. 1 destination. What did we miss? What did we include that we shouldn't have? Which of our selections do you most want to visit? We want to hear from you. (But first, check out our collection of answers to frequently asked questions about the list.)


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In Transit Blog: A Musical and House of Scandal

There's nothing like a scandal to attract an audience. That's good news for Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose latest musical, "Stephen Ward," is based on a British scandal so licentious that it resulted in the resignation of two government officials and the suicide of the show's title character.

The owners of Cliveden House, the former Astor estate in Berkshire, England, where the scandal took place, are hoping to capitalize on the story as well, offering overnight stays at the house, now a high-end hotel, as part of a special package for theatergoers.

In the early 1960s, Stephen Ward was the resident osteopath of Cliveden and it was there that he helped facilitate an affair between John Profumo, the former British Secretary of State for War, and Christine Keeler, a model who also kept company with Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet attaché.

The affair ended in disaster a few years later with the resignation of Profumo and, later, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Mr. Ward, who lived in an estate cottage, took his own life after being brought to trial, and the Astor family vacated the house shortly thereafter.

The Stephen Ward Theater Break package combines two tickets to the show, which is playing at the Aldwych Theatre in London, a night's stay at One Aldwych, a luxury hotel just down the street from the theater, and another day and night at Cliveden. There, guests will receive a tour of the house, which was designed by Charles Barry, the architect of Britain's Houses of Parliament; Ward's cottage; and the grounds' gardens, which are part of Britain's National Trust. Several meals at the hotels are included.

"It is ironic that Cliveden, built in 1666 by George Villiers, 2d Duke of Buckingham, courtier and minister to King Charles II, was constructed as a hunting lodge where he could entertain his mistress, Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury and that it has played a part in the dramas of history ever since. It is a magnet for politicians and royalty," Andrew Stembridge, Cliveden's managing director, said in an email. "It is a house in which to entertain and to be entertained and we enjoy keeping that tradition alive and strong."

Rates begin at around $890 for stays from now through March 1.

A version of this article appears in print on 01/12/2014, on page TR3 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Theater: A Musical and House of Scandal.

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In Transit Blog: Enhancements for Expedia

Expedia, the travel booking website, has stepped up its search game in recent weeks, adding three features to help travelers find — and organize — the best flights possible.

The first, Flight Recommendations, automatically suggests alternative itineraries associated with a user's search, offering flights with cheaper fares, perhaps, or more convenient routes.

For any given route, there can be trillions of flight options, John Kim, a senior vice president of global products at Expedia, said. "We're looking for signals, the most common patterns of what Expedia users typically book, what people are actually buying," he said, and then use that real-time feedback to come up with more, possibly better, options.

Search functions like "include nearby airports" or "my dates are flexible" have been around for a while, but they serve to narrow a user's search subset, Mr. Kim said, as opposed to opening it up to the best of all options.

The goal is to give more information and make things easier, Mr. Kim said. On a recent search for a ticket to Thailand, he said he found 438 possible flights in a 30-day period.

"And if you open up the variables," he said, changing the city you fly out of, the dates, times, that number increases exponentially, "so why shouldn't we do that work for you?"

The feature is currently available only to users in the United States flying domestically, but will expand to include international service and consumers over the next year. It is not yet available on Expedia's mobile application.

Scratchpad, the second of the site's new features, is available on all devices. Much like an actual notepad, it keeps a record of a user's search activity, eliminating the need to re-enter data several times.

A user will search for a flight an average of 48 times before actually booking, according to research from Expedia, Mr. Kim said. By clicking the Scratchpad button, a user will be able to view their search histories, even if performed on the mobile app, and receive updates on fare changes and availability, if desired.

And for friends and family who are tired of circling airports, wondering about the whereabouts of their loved ones, the site's new Itinerary Sharing feature allows travelers to share their flight information, and any updates or changes to that flight, with others.

A welcome benefit during this particularly snowy season, to be sure.


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In Transit Blog: Calendar: Coming Events in Austria; California; Amsterdam

Written By wartini cantika on Senin, 13 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Mozart Week, Salzburg

Lovers of Mozart, above, gather every winter around the time of the composer's birthday (Jan. 27) in Salzburg, Austria, his hometown, for a week of opera and concerts by orchestras, chamber groups and soloists. The festival, organized by the International Mozarteum Foundation, will be held from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2 and feature the conductors Andras Schiff and Marc Minkowski (the event's artistic director), concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, round-table discussions and artists' talks; one with the violinist Joshua Bell is set for Jan. 25.

Range of Light Film Festival, Yosemite Park, California

This new midwinter celebration of film, music, storytelling and conservation is to take place Feb. 27 to March 2 in Yosemite National Park. The inaugural theme is "150 Years of Yosemite," in honor of President Lincoln's signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864, which established Yosemite as a protected area. Filmmakers and other artists share their creative work set in or inspired by the park.

Marcel Wanders in Amsterdam

More than 400 objects by the Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, from furniture and household utensils to experimental work, will be on view in the new wing of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam Feb. 1 to June 15. Calling "Pinned Up at the Stedelijk" the largest exhibition ever of the designer's work, the museum said lesser-known pieces, some on display for the first time, will appear with well-known items like the Set Up Shades lamp (1989) and the Knotted Chair (1995-1996), which it called "a miracle of transparency." Educational and public programs are planned to accompany the show.


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: Your Comments on Places to Go in 2014

Each year we compile a list of places to go in the coming year. And each year we hear from readers: agreements, disagreements, celebration, anger, bewilderment.

Here's your chance to weigh in on this year's roundup of 52 spots, which starts with Cape Town, South Africa, as our No. 1 destination. What did we miss? What did we include that we shouldn't have? Which of our selections do you most want to visit? We want to hear from you. (But first, check out our collection of answers to frequently asked questions about the list.)


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: A Musical and House of Scandal

There's nothing like a scandal to attract an audience. That's good news for Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose latest musical, "Stephen Ward," is based on a British scandal so licentious that it resulted in the resignation of two government officials and the suicide of the show's title character.

The owners of Cliveden House, the former Astor estate in Berkshire, England, where the scandal took place, are hoping to capitalize on the story as well, offering overnight stays at the house, now a high-end hotel, as part of a special package for theatergoers.

In the early 1960s, Stephen Ward was the resident osteopath of Cliveden and it was there that he helped facilitate an affair between John Profumo, the former British Secretary of State for War, and Christine Keeler, a model who also kept company with Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet attaché.

The affair ended in disaster a few years later with the resignation of Profumo and, later, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Mr. Ward, who lived in an estate cottage, took his own life after being brought to trial, and the Astor family vacated the house shortly thereafter.

The Stephen Ward Theater Break package combines two tickets to the show, which is playing at the Aldwych Theatre in London, a night's stay at One Aldwych, a luxury hotel just down the street from the theater, and another day and night at Cliveden. There, guests will receive a tour of the house, which was designed by Charles Barry, the architect of Britain's Houses of Parliament; Ward's cottage; and the grounds' gardens, which are part of Britain's National Trust. Several meals at the hotels are included.

"It is ironic that Cliveden, built in 1666 by George Villiers, 2d Duke of Buckingham, courtier and minister to King Charles II, was constructed as a hunting lodge where he could entertain his mistress, Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury and that it has played a part in the dramas of history ever since. It is a magnet for politicians and royalty," Andrew Stembridge, Cliveden's managing director, said in an email. "It is a house in which to entertain and to be entertained and we enjoy keeping that tradition alive and strong."

Rates begin at around $890 for stays from now through March 1.

A version of this article appears in print on 01/12/2014, on page TR3 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Theater: A Musical and House of Scandal.

17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: Calendar: Coming Events in Austria; California; Amsterdam

Written By wartini cantika on Minggu, 12 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Mozart Week, Salzburg

Lovers of Mozart, above, gather every winter around the time of the composer's birthday (Jan. 27) in Salzburg, Austria, his hometown, for a week of opera and concerts by orchestras, chamber groups and soloists. The festival, organized by the International Mozarteum Foundation, will be held from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2 and feature the conductors Andras Schiff and Marc Minkowski (the event's artistic director), concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, round-table discussions and artists' talks; one with the violinist Joshua Bell is set for Jan. 25.

Range of Light Film Festival, Yosemite Park, California

This new midwinter celebration of film, music, storytelling and conservation is to take place Feb. 27 to March 2 in Yosemite National Park. The inaugural theme is "150 Years of Yosemite," in honor of President Lincoln's signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864, which established Yosemite as a protected area. Filmmakers and other artists share their creative work set in or inspired by the park.

Marcel Wanders in Amsterdam

More than 400 objects by the Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, from furniture and household utensils to experimental work, will be on view in the new wing of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam Feb. 1 to June 15. Calling "Pinned Up at the Stedelijk" the largest exhibition ever of the designer's work, the museum said lesser-known pieces, some on display for the first time, will appear with well-known items like the Set Up Shades lamp (1989) and the Knotted Chair (1995-1996), which it called "a miracle of transparency." Educational and public programs are planned to accompany the show.


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: Your Comments on Places to Go in 2014

Each year we compile a list of places to go in the coming year. And each year we hear from readers: agreements, disagreements, celebration, anger, bewilderment.

Here's your chance to weigh in on this year's roundup of 52 spots, which starts with Cape Town, South Africa, as our No. 1 destination. What did we miss? What did we include that we shouldn't have? Which of our selections do you most want to visit? We want to hear from you. (But first, check out our collection of answers to frequently asked questions about the list.)


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: A Musical and House of Scandal

There's nothing like a scandal to attract an audience. That's good news for Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose latest musical, "Stephen Ward," is based on a British scandal so licentious that it resulted in the resignation of two government officials and the suicide of the show's title character.

The owners of Cliveden House, the former Astor estate in Berkshire, England, where the scandal took place, are hoping to capitalize on the story as well, offering overnight stays at the house, now a high-end hotel, as part of a special package for theatergoers.

In the early 1960s, Stephen Ward was the resident osteopath of Cliveden and it was there that he helped facilitate an affair between John Profumo, the former British Secretary of State for War, and Christine Keeler, a model who also kept company with Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet attaché.

The affair ended in disaster a few years later with the resignation of Profumo and, later, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Mr. Ward, who lived in an estate cottage, took his own life after being brought to trial, and the Astor family vacated the house shortly thereafter.

The Stephen Ward Theater Break package combines two tickets to the show, which is playing at the Aldwych Theatre in London, a night's stay at One Aldwych, a luxury hotel just down the street from the theater, and another day and night at Cliveden. There, guests will receive a tour of the house, which was designed by Charles Barry, the architect of Britain's Houses of Parliament; Ward's cottage; and the grounds' gardens, which are part of Britain's National Trust. Several meals at the hotels are included.

"It is ironic that Cliveden, built in 1666 by George Villiers, 2d Duke of Buckingham, courtier and minister to King Charles II, was constructed as a hunting lodge where he could entertain his mistress, Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury and that it has played a part in the dramas of history ever since. It is a magnet for politicians and royalty," Andrew Stembridge, Cliveden's managing director, said in an email. "It is a house in which to entertain and to be entertained and we enjoy keeping that tradition alive and strong."

Rates begin at around $890 for stays from now through March 1.

A version of this article appears in print on 01/12/2014, on page TR3 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Theater: A Musical and House of Scandal.

17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: Calendar: Coming Events in Austria; California; Amsterdam

Written By wartini cantika on Sabtu, 11 Januari 2014 | 17.36

Mozart Week, Salzburg

Lovers of Mozart, above, gather every winter around the time of the composer's birthday (Jan. 27) in Salzburg, Austria, his hometown, for a week of opera and concerts by orchestras, chamber groups and soloists. The festival, organized by the International Mozarteum Foundation, will be held from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2 and feature the conductors Andras Schiff and Marc Minkowski (the event's artistic director), concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, round-table discussions and artists' talks; one with the violinist Joshua Bell is set for Jan. 25.

Range of Light Film Festival, Yosemite Park, California

This new midwinter celebration of film, music, storytelling and conservation is to take place Feb. 27 to March 2 in Yosemite National Park. The inaugural theme is "150 Years of Yosemite," in honor of President Lincoln's signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864, which established Yosemite as a protected area. Filmmakers and other artists share their creative work set in or inspired by the park.

Marcel Wanders in Amsterdam

More than 400 objects by the Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, from furniture and household utensils to experimental work, will be on view in the new wing of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam Feb. 1 to June 15. Calling "Pinned Up at the Stedelijk" the largest exhibition ever of the designer's work, the museum said lesser-known pieces, some on display for the first time, will appear with well-known items like the Set Up Shades lamp (1989) and the Knotted Chair (1995-1996), which it called "a miracle of transparency." Educational and public programs are planned to accompany the show.


17.36 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: Your Comments on Places to Go in 2014

Each year we compile a list of places to go in the coming year. And each year we hear from readers: agreements, disagreements, celebration, anger, bewilderment.

Here's your chance to weigh in on this year's roundup of 52 spots, which starts with Cape Town, South Africa, as our No. 1 destination. What did we miss? What did we include that we shouldn't have? Which of our selections do you most want to visit? We want to hear from you. (But first, check out our collection of answers to frequently asked questions about the list.)


17.36 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: A Musical and House of Scandal

There's nothing like a scandal to attract an audience. That's good news for Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose latest musical, "Stephen Ward," is based on a British scandal so licentious that it resulted in the resignation of two government officials and the suicide of the show's title character.

The owners of Cliveden House, the former Astor estate in Berkshire, England, where the scandal took place, are hoping to capitalize on the story as well, offering overnight stays at the house, now a high-end hotel, as part of a special package for theatergoers.

In the early 1960s, Stephen Ward was the resident osteopath of Cliveden and it was there that he helped facilitate an affair between John Profumo, the former British Secretary of State for War, and Christine Keeler, a model who also kept company with Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet attaché.

The affair ended in disaster a few years later with the resignation of Profumo and, later, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Mr. Ward, who lived in an estate cottage, took his own life after being brought to trial, and the Astor family vacated the house shortly thereafter.

The Stephen Ward Theater Break package combines two tickets to the show, which is playing at the Aldwych Theatre in London, a night's stay at One Aldwych, a luxury hotel just down the street from the theater, and another day and night at Cliveden. There, guests will receive a tour of the house, which was designed by Charles Barry, the architect of Britain's Houses of Parliament; Ward's cottage; and the grounds' gardens, which are part of Britain's National Trust. Several meals at the hotels are included.

"It is ironic that Cliveden, built in 1666 by George Villiers, 2d Duke of Buckingham, courtier and minister to King Charles II, was constructed as a hunting lodge where he could entertain his mistress, Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury and that it has played a part in the dramas of history ever since. It is a magnet for politicians and royalty," Andrew Stembridge, Cliveden's managing director, said in an email. "It is a house in which to entertain and to be entertained and we enjoy keeping that tradition alive and strong."

Rates begin at around $890 for stays from now through March 1.

A version of this article appears in print on 01/12/2014, on page TR3 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Theater: A Musical and House of Scandal.

17.36 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: A Major Addition to Virgin Islands Park

Written By wartini cantika on Jumat, 10 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Virgin Islands National Park – which already encompasses 60 percent of the tiny Caribbean island of St. John — just got a little bigger.

The beach at Maho Bay and its surrounding hillside recently was sold to the National Park Service in a $2.5 million deal, the Trust for Public Land announced. It's the park's largest addition since 1956, when the philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller, hoping to preserve the island paradise he fell in love with, donated more than 5,000 acres toward its creation.

"It's a story of perseverance and a vision," Brion FitzGerald, the park superintendent, said. "To be able to sit on the beach and look up there and not see a lot of development is what makes it worthy of a national park. It ensures that same view for every generation to come."

It's hard to imagine a drive along the island's North Shore Road, which winds through the parcel, without thinking of its iconic canopy.

But that nearly happened. The 74-acre sale is the final piece of a decades-long, 225-acre puzzle to discover the heirs to the estate, preserve it from deforestation and ultimately connect the eastern and western sections of the park. It's seen as a victory for the island, which depends on its unspoiled reputation to entice tourists.

"It could have been up to 800 single-family homes, condominiums, timeshares that you just don't want in the heart of a beautiful national park," said John Garrison, the trust's senior project manager.

This is a particularly interesting acquisition considering that  the adjacent Maho Bay Campground, a pioneering eco-tourism hotel, was sold last year. It closed in May, leaving many locals worried as to what may become of that property.

"The camp was such an important part of the overall economy of St. John," Mr. Garrison said. "But I don't think it will be developed in any way that will be detrimental to the park."

The national park draws more than 600,000 visitors a year in search of its soft, white-sand beaches, trails through unspoiled jungle, and historic sugar mill plantation ruins.

Mr. FitzGerald said rangers are already working with Friends of the National Park in clearing the property's Maria Hope Trail and improving parking at the beach.


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

T Magazine: Food Matters | A Peek Inside the Hottest New Restaurant in Paris

No one could ever accuse the French chef David Toutain of forgetting his roots. Conveyed to the table by a very serious young woman in a well-cut black pantsuit, a gently curved rectangle of white bisque porcelain contained two salsifies, which had been roasted to a deep ivory color and were accompanied by a white-chocolate cream decorated with wood sorrel and other herbs. "You dip the roots into the sauce," the waitress instructed, "and be careful, because they're hot."

Restaurant David Toutain is also burning up. It opened on a quiet side street in the Seventh Arrondissement just before Christmas and instantly became one of the most sought-after reservations in Paris. On a recent rainy Friday night, the high-ceilinged dining room — a spare, handsome space with ecru walls and custom-made walnut tables — was packed with a diverse international crowd, most of whom had first discovered Toutain's earthy but ethereal cooking when he was chef at Agapé Substance, a restaurant in St.-Germain-des-Prés. Toutain, 32, has worked with some of Paris's most famous chefs, including Bernard Loiseau, Marc Veyrat, Alain Passard (Arpège) and Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz), as well as Paul Liebrandt at Corton in New York. His cooking awes with its originality. If the two dishes that followed the roasted salsify were pleasantly satisfying — deep-fried pigskin curls to dip in a bacon emulsion and wands of smoked eel to dredge in a delicate mayonnaise — the plump oyster in a warm kiwi that followed stunned as a simple but potent cameo of unexpected tastes, bringing a dictum by the great French chef Auguste Escoffier to mind: "Cooking becomes genius when things taste of what they are." The sweet, acidic juice of the kiwi, and its delicate graininess, amplified the milky iodine-rich taste of the bivalve and underlined its silky texture.

The rhythm of the prix-fixe menu, which changes daily, is intentionally varied. Toutain composes meals so that a quiet dish, like seared foie gras in baked potato bouillon with black truffles, sets up the drama of another dish meant to dazzle, like a monochromatic white composition of cuttlefish with yuba (bean-curd sheet) and nearly translucent Parmesan gnocchi, seasoned with the juice extracted from cooking the cheese at a very low temperature for many hours. Toutain also loves vegetables and frees them from the bit part they often play in French cooking, with dishes like coddled egg in sunny yellow cream of corn, or a dessert of Jerusalem artichokes, both roasted and as the flavoring for ice cream, served with shards of praline.

"My grandparents lived on a farm and every summer during vacations there, meals would begin with crudités from their garden," Toutain says. "I never really thought about it then, but the purity of those tastes became a compass point for me." He cites Dan Barber of Blue Hill as an influence and proudly calls attention to the carefully sourced table accessories in his restaurant, including recycled carving knives cut down to table size by a Belgian metalsmith, handmade ceramics by a Brussels potter and dishes from Pieter Stockmans, another Belgian. "I don't want a beautiful restaurant," he adds. "I want a unique one."


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: Travel Site Will Emphasize Personal Advice

Virtuoso, the luxury travel network with close to a 1,000 hotels and 335 affiliated agencies globally, introduced a site this week that aims to marry technology with the human touch.

Virtuoso.com has two major elements: first, there are reviews of its hotels, cruises, rail journeys and tours, but unlike many travel sites, the company said these are verifiable because it has the transactional data to confirm their validity — they're from clients who book a getaway through one of the brand's agencies.

In addition, an online catalog lets consumers search for a travel advisor from a selection of more than 7,000 based on their needs, like one who is geographically close or one who specializes in adventure or family trips. What the site doesn't offer, however, is a booking engine because the company is promoting travel planning through one of its advisors.

"If the electronic route is the only way you're designing a trip, then you miss out on the personalization a live person can bring," said Matthew Upchurch, the company's chief executive. "With our new site, we're trying to offer travelers the best of both worlds and give them the confidence that the online information is trustworthy."


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

T Magazine: Food Matters | A Peek Inside the Hottest New Restaurant in Paris

Written By wartini cantika on Kamis, 09 Januari 2014 | 17.35

No one could ever accuse the French chef David Toutain of forgetting his roots. Conveyed to the table by a very serious young woman in a well-cut black pantsuit, a gently curved rectangle of white bisque porcelain contained two salsifies, which had been roasted to a deep ivory color and were accompanied by a white-chocolate cream decorated with wood sorrel and other herbs. "You dip the roots into the sauce," the waitress instructed, "and be careful, because they're hot."

Restaurant David Toutain is also burning up. It opened on a quiet side street in the Seventh Arrondissement just before Christmas and instantly became one of the most sought-after reservations in Paris. On a recent rainy Friday night, the high-ceilinged dining room — a spare, handsome space with ecru walls and custom-made walnut tables — was packed with a diverse international crowd, most of whom had first discovered Toutain's earthy but ethereal cooking when he was chef at Agapé Substance, a restaurant in St.-Germain-des-Prés. Toutain, 32, has worked with some of Paris's most famous chefs, including Bernard Loiseau, Marc Veyrat, Alain Passard (Arpège) and Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz), as well as Paul Liebrandt at Corton in New York. His cooking awes with its originality. If the two dishes that followed the roasted salsify were pleasantly satisfying — deep-fried pigskin curls to dip in a bacon emulsion and wands of smoked eel to dredge in a delicate mayonnaise — the plump oyster in a warm kiwi that followed stunned as a simple but potent cameo of unexpected tastes, bringing a dictum by the great French chef Auguste Escoffier to mind: "Cooking becomes genius when things taste of what they are." The sweet, acidic juice of the kiwi, and its delicate graininess, amplified the milky iodine-rich taste of the bivalve and underlined its silky texture.

The rhythm of the prix-fixe menu, which changes daily, is intentionally varied. Toutain composes meals so that a quiet dish, like seared foie gras in baked potato bouillon with black truffles, sets up the drama of another dish meant to dazzle, like a monochromatic white composition of cuttlefish with yuba (bean-curd sheet) and nearly translucent Parmesan gnocchi, seasoned with the juice extracted from cooking the cheese at a very low temperature for many hours. Toutain also loves vegetables and frees them from the bit part they often play in French cooking, with dishes like coddled egg in sunny yellow cream of corn, or a dessert of Jerusalem artichokes, both roasted and as the flavoring for ice cream, served with shards of praline.

"My grandparents lived on a farm and every summer during vacations there, meals would begin with crudités from their garden," Toutain says. "I never really thought about it then, but the purity of those tastes became a compass point for me." He cites Dan Barber of Blue Hill as an influence and proudly calls attention to the carefully sourced table accessories in his restaurant, including recycled carving knives cut down to table size by a Belgian metalsmith, handmade ceramics by a Brussels potter and dishes from Pieter Stockmans, another Belgian. "I don't want a beautiful restaurant," he adds. "I want a unique one."


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: A Major Addition to Virgin Islands Park

Virgin Islands National Park – which already encompasses 60 percent of the tiny Caribbean island of St. John — just got a little bigger.

The beach at Maho Bay and its surrounding hillside recently was sold to the National Park Service in a $2.5 million deal, the Trust for Public Land announced. It's the park's largest addition since 1956, when the philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller, hoping to preserve the island paradise he fell in love with, donated more than 5,000 acres toward its creation.

"It's a story of perseverance and a vision," Brion FitzGerald, the park superintendent, said. "To be able to sit on the beach and look up there and not see a lot of development is what makes it worthy of a national park. It ensures that same view for every generation to come."

It's hard to imagine a drive along the island's North Shore Road, which winds through the parcel, without thinking of its iconic canopy.

But that nearly happened. The 74-acre sale is the final piece of a decades-long, 225-acre puzzle to discover the heirs to the estate, preserve it from deforestation and ultimately connect the eastern and western sections of the park. It's seen as a victory for the island, which depends on its unspoiled reputation to entice tourists.

"It could have been up to 800 single-family homes, condominiums, timeshares that you just don't want in the heart of a beautiful national park," said John Garrison, the trust's senior project manager.

This is a particularly interesting acquisition considering that  the adjacent Maho Bay Campground, a pioneering eco-tourism hotel, was sold last year. It closed in May, leaving many locals worried as to what may become of that property.

"The camp was such an important part of the overall economy of St. John," Mr. Garrison said. "But I don't think it will be developed in any way that will be detrimental to the park."

The national park draws more than 600,000 visitors a year in search of its soft, white-sand beaches, trails through unspoiled jungle, and historic sugar mill plantation ruins.

Mr. FitzGerald said rangers are already working with Friends of the National Park in clearing the property's Maria Hope Trail and improving parking at the beach.


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: In Hong Kong, a Glittering Exhibition

Written By wartini cantika on Rabu, 08 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Newly minted Chinese millionaires may be rushing to buy Chinese art, but the Mengdiexuan family of Hong Kong has already assembled a brilliant collection all its own: hundreds of astonishing pieces from 1500 B.C. to the 18th century.

Now that collection is on display in the art museum at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The holdings include ancient gold objects found in the Eurasian steppes, from personal ornaments to accessories for belts, chariots and horse harnesses. There are also elaborate headdresses of hammered gold with sinuous snakes, eagles, stags and tiger motifs.

Some of the horses in the gold artifacts on display are quite literal likenesses, but there are also winged horses and a hammered gold plaque of a hunter on horseback with an elaborate turban and his bow drawn back.

The exhibition, called Radiant Legacy: Chinese Gold from the Mengdiexuan Collection, runs through through Jan. 14.

Admission is free.


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: Making Tracks for Cheese

First chocolate, now cheese.

Goldenpass of Switzerland has introduced a cheese train as a winter counterpart to its summer chocolate route. The excursion offers travelers the opportunity to experience the culinary traditions of the Pays d'Enhaut region.

The trip begins at Montreux, where passengers receive a sample of organic cheese from Le Chalet restaurant along with regional white wine. After a brief ride through the Alpine landscape, guests head to Le Chalet in Château-d'Oex, known for its in-house dairy .

A traditionally dressed cheesemaker demonstrates the Alpine cheese-making process, from how raw milk is heated in a copper caldron over a wood fire to how curdled cheese is placed in a mold. Travelers can enjoy the specialty hard cheese along with fondue (lunch can be purchased for an additional charge).

A 36-passenger vintage Pullman carriage from the 1930s with wood-paneled ceilings, velour upholstery and soft carpet is reserved for those who purchase tickets for the cheese train.

"The journey through the Lake Geneva region passes vineyards and offers a spectacular view of the countryside with its traditional Swiss chalets," Doriane Kohli, the cheese train project manager at Goldenpass, said in a telephone interview.

The cheese train is a weekend affair: daylong journeys are offered each Friday through Sunday until April 27. Rates start from 49 Swiss francs (about $55)  for children to 79 francs (about $90) for adults, and include round-trip transportation between Montreux and Château-d'Oex, as well as admission to the folk art museum in Château-d'Oex, which is known for its scissor-cut silhouettes or découpages.


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Frugal Traveler: Tips for Travel Savings in 2014

Break a resolution yet? If any were travel-related, here's some good news: In 2014, you can save while staying the traveler that you are.

In other words, set your nonnegotiable standards, then minimize costs and maximize value. For example: Let's say you refuse to sleep in the same room with a stranger. That means you won't be staying in hostels, so concentrate on lowering costs on hotel stays or short-term rentals.

Here are four issues about which budget travelers of good faith can differ, and some tips on cutting costs no matter which side of the debate you're on.

A Room of One's Own?

This is no longer just a hostel versus hotel debate. Private rentals through Airbnb have long been in the mainstream, and hospitality exchange sites like Couchsurfing and BeWelcome are thriving — two visitors from Lyon, France, who found me through Couchsurfing, are staying in my living room even as I write this.

Hostels, however, will still be the mainstay for backpacker types. Many use the big booking sites Hostelbookers.com or Hostelworld.com, but it's also worth getting to know Hostelz.com, a search aggregator not unlike Kayak. You'll get to compare prices for Hostelbookers and Hostelworld (as well as the Eurocentric site HostelsClub). But even better, the site also shows ratings from all the sites, as well as lengthier reviews Hostelz pays travelers to write. That's especially important, because hostels vary as widely as hotels in comfort and cleanliness.

For those who need their privacy, don't write off Airbnb; you can set filters to show you only private rooms or even entire houses. And despite the name, I've found that many Couchsurfing hosts (though not me) offer spare bedrooms.

If you really want to stick with just hotels, there are ever more ways to save. Two new sites monitor hotel prices after you reserve in case prices go down: TripRebel simply refunds you the difference, and TripBAM alerts you if the price drops in the same or nearby hotels and offers to rebook your reservation. For the truly picky, TheSuitest uses hotel features and amenities to calculate a room's value relative to its price, so you can find the best deal on a place with, say, a gym or great views.

And finally, a compromise of sorts: the growing Britain-based Camp in My Garden (campinmygarden.com), on which users can offer their backyards to potential campers. It's dirt cheap, and tents are, after all, completely private.

Connecting the Stops

On a flight from New York to São Paulo last year, I sat next to a young guy headed to Buenos Aires quite indirectly. He had long layovers in São Paulo and Montevideo, lengthening a 10-hour trip to more than 24 hours. But to him it was a no-brainer — he'd save a few hundred bucks.

If that sounds familiar, you probably already know how to list flights by price and set filters to allow multiple layovers on sites like Kayak and Bing Travel. And here's another tip for flights in Europe: The WhichAirline app and site (whichairline.com) can help you find inconvenient but very cheap connections that other engines don't. For example, it found me a $119 flight from Paris to Budapest on the budget carrier Ryanair, with a layover of about five hours in Milan each way. (The cheapest option on the usually dependable Vayama.com was $280.)

If you're anti-layover, consider making your dates more flexible. It's far easier than it used to be. About a year ago, Google introduced Flight Explorer (google.com/flights/explore), which displays a bar graph for the best prices to a specific destination over any specified time range. Even better, be flexible about your destination: Pick a region ("Western Europe") and it will show you those same bar graphs for multiple destinations, starting with the cheapest options. You can also set the maximum length of the trip.

Miles Mania

There are two kinds of fliers: miles obsessives who pay more upfront for airlines in a specific alliance and shuffle miles-accruing credit cards to reap free flights at the end; and others who can't be bothered, who just look to save on each individual flight, car rental and hotel, regardless of the brand.

Being a miles maniac requires a steep learning curve in a world that seems to be both endlessly complicated and constantly shifting. Navigating this world requires a lot of help, and many turn to smart sites like ThePointsGuy.com. Two new ones are also worth a look: Altimetr.com debuted in June, and though it often takes a higher-end approach, evaluating business class service and private jets, it includes plenty of articles for the rest of us, like comparisons of frequent-flier programs and a useful intro to the whole points game.

If it's all about frugality for you, try RichmondSavers.com, courtesy of a husband and wife team of C.P.A.s in Virginia, which focuses more closely on how to save big. Their step-by-step guide to a free family trip to Disney World is a good test of whether miles mania is right for you.

The Grid: On or Off?

I post to Twitter and Instagram wherever I go, but not without feeling conflicted: It's fun, but it's also part of my job. I'm not sure I would do it if I were traveling for pure pleasure.

But for fans of social media — and other sorts of data usage — it's undeniably getting cheaper to stay connected. Last year, T-Mobile became the first major carrier to include international data in its regular domestic plans; customers can now check their email in Mongolia or post to Facebook from Frankfurt with no additional charge. (There is one catch: the free data comes with a promise of only 2G coverage, though you can pay for 3G and 4G, as with other carriers.) And there's no reason anymore to pay for international text messages; that's what What's App and its ever-growing list of competitors are for. (Of course, you can also use local or international SIM cards.) 

Those who do pay for data now can use it to save money more easily than before. Last year saw Google's Field Trip (fieldtripper.com) make the jump from Android to iPhone. The app alerts you when you are near attractions, restaurants, sales and the like, using information from an ever-growing list of sources. It's customizable, and I've been teaching mine to stick to the cheap stuff. Now, among other things, it alerts me when I'm near a restaurant reviewed by master hole-in-the-wall-finder Robert Sietsema for Eater.com.

Of course, those who prefer to stay out of touch and find things the old-fashioned way don't require any fancy technology tips to help them save. In 2014, as in 1914, they'll get their budget travel advice from handy analog devices called human beings.


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Q&A: Travel Trends and the Year Ahead

Where do you plan to go in 2014? That's a question advertisers in the travel industry are eager to find the answer to. And for a pretty good idea of that answer — and some insight into when and how to pitch you — they turn to data-marketing companies like Sojern.

"The travel industry is large and fairly byzantine," said Mark Rabe, the president and chief executive of Sojern. "But we've been able to get really good at estimating when people are in the market for specific travel goods and services, which allows us to give customized offers at the right time and place."

To accomplish this, Sojern regularly mines 520 million "traveler intent points" based on search data, confirmations and check-ins, hunting for trends in the domestic travel market.

Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Rabe about what some of those trends are, and which are likely to shape domestic travel this year. 

Q: Have you seen notable changes in how people traveled in 2013? 

A. For one, people are spending more time online researching. A study conducted by eMarketer suggested that nearly two-thirds of all travelers today research online before they book. Even 10 years ago that was probably in the single digits.

What trends are likely to carry forward into this year? 

In the air segment, we're starting to see longer booking windows. This might be due to the consolidation of the airline market and the economy's picking up. There's been an upswing in leisure travel, especially over the second half of the year, making it harder to find good seats at good fares, so people are buying earlier.

Conversely, we've seen the reverse in the majority of hotel reservations, car rentals and activities that take place within the destination. With those, the booking windows are contracting. There's a great report by JiWire that shows that more than 55 percent of travelers are booking travel-related activities while they are actually traveling, meaning after they've taken off.

Could you explain the contrast?

Well, one way of seeing it is that people may view the price of hotel rooms as more stable than airline tickets and so don't book them with the same priority level.

Tangentially, we also see a rise in this idea that "other people can do the work for me." There are a lot of companies taking advantage of and potentially driving that trend. Like Hotel Tonight. We're also noticing an increased use in mobile devices to transact.

Where are the most popular spots to visit in the United States?

New York has been the top destination for years now. The top 10 are relatively consistent and those are the large cities you might imagine: Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas. An interesting way to look at this is to say, well, that's booked travel. So what are people searching for that they don't actually book? Here, we tend to see destinations that are more aspirational, like Honolulu and Miami.

Which areas of the travel sector do you expect to grow in 2014?

The consumer-sharing model is interesting. Airbnb has done a fantastic job of progressing on a trend pioneered by Homeaway and VRBO. And the fact that this type of model is getting off the fringes and working its way into business travel is intriguing. Also, if you look at ride-sharing in San Francisco, we have a healthy segment of local transportation, which is handled by consumers, who can signal that they also operate as a taxi by attaching a fluffy, pink mustache to their cars. This was brought about by a company called Lyft. So now people can sign up and turn their car into a taxi. Fascinating.


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In Transit Blog: Walkabout: Winter Storms Freeze U.S. Flights; How to Rebook if You’re Stranded

Written By wartini cantika on Selasa, 07 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Walkabout

A weekly capsule of travel news curated by our writers and editors.

On Monday, winter storms continued to hobble travel plans across the United States, as thousands of flights have been either canceled or delayed. There have also been flight snafus at  Kennedy International Airport, the Bronx and, sadly, Aspen. (USA Today, The New York Times)

For those of you who might be stranded, here are some tips on how to get creative with your rebooking. (The Wall Street Journal)

France's first cat cafe is smash hit with Parisians. Customers are calling three weeks in advance to sample the weekend brunch, complete with croissants, orange juice and an all-you-can-pet buffet of the cafe's 12 resident felines. (BBC)

Some people's holiday seasons end with a hangover and bleary memories of an electric ball descending, slow as a dust mote, over Times Square. Not so in Lerwick, Scotland. The Shetland islanders can't wait to set their galley ship alight. (The Guardian)


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T Magazine: Site to Be Seen | An Artistic Armchair Travel Platform That Visits the World’s Most Amazing Places

Growing up in rural Maine, the brothers Darrell and Oliver Hartman learned to love the outdoorsy, adventurous life from their dad, who was the director of the state's parks. Trips in early adulthood to places like Greece, Nicaragua and India ensured their passion for wanderlust, as did the jobs they pursued: Darrell, 32, is a lifestyle and travel writer; Oliver, 30, is a director for the production company North. Last year, the pair decided to combine talents to create a website that celebrates the kind of travel they like to do.

The platform, Jungles in Paris, offers curated, artistic documentary shorts and photo slideshows to draw attention to the world's most unique (and sometimes endangered) phenomena and lesser-known terrain. A quiet, enigmatic film of Uzbekistan's Aral Sea, almost entirely drained by Soviet-era infrastructure projects, captures the unlikely beauty of a dry ocean landscape. A selection of photographs presents the geisha tradition in Japan, emphasizing the centuries-old performance element and untangling the profession from its pop culture associations.

The Hartmans shoot some of the material, and rely on their own social network of photographers, filmmakers and journalists around the world to provide additional stories. Their influences, they say, include the documentary filmmakers Werner Herzog and Robert Gardner, the writer Peter Matthiessen and the behavioral scientists Jared Diamond and Robert Sapolsky. "Part of us wants to celebrate the place," Oliver says, "but then another part is celebrating the people who take the time to document it." In 2014, the brothers are planning adventures in Jamaica, Wyoming and Peru.


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Frugal Traveler: A Winter Weekend in the North Fork

It's free to watch the sun set over the wetlands that fringe the causeway connecting East Marion and Orient, near the eastern tip of Long Island's North Fork. If the weather has been dry enough in this wine country just across the bay from the Hamptons, there's a good perch on the marshy land near Latham Farms, by a little cabin on stilts known locally as the crab shack. The wine is also free, if your friend Jeanny Pak happens to have brought along a bottle of malbec and some plastic cups without telling you.

There's only one catch: sunsets tend to take place right around nightfall, which means you'll also need a place to sleep. The price for that can vary widely over the course of a year in a spot this seasonal. The Greenporter Hotel in cute little Greenport Village, for example, charges $119 plus tax ($133) for its cheapest room on winter weekends; in July 2014, it will be $309 plus tax ($345).

Affordable lodging and a lack of crowds were my primary motivations for heading to the East End on a winter weekend. And something about the Yelp reviews made me suspect I was going to like the Greenporter: "Dumpy motel lying and masquerading as a boutique hotel." "About as much charm as a white padded room." "I mean, come on guys, not for nearly $300 a night."

There, in that last one, did you catch it? Fussy online hotel reviews are easy enough for unfussy travelers like me to ignore; when the reviewers paid more than twice what you plan to, they mean practically nothing at all.

In fact Jeanny, whom I invited as stand-in girlfriend in part because she has far higher standards than I, had no complaints — the overhauled former motel had a decent bed, working Internet and a bathroom with a timed heater (great for winter mornings). Just a clean, private room with hot water is generally enough for me; a flat-screen TV and a front desk that printed out hiking paths (and later, promptly mailed back an item left behind) were bonuses. There's even a smidgen of style — a whitewash treatment alone is enough to transform the vibe from old to retro — and a decent free breakfast. Sure, if I had paid $345, I'd expect a lot more — like to be fired from this column for dereliction of duty.

You also don't need a car to get there — it's a five-minute walk from the Greenport Long Island Rail Road and Hampton Jitney bus stop. Jeanny had driven us out there early Saturday morning, but she left early Sunday; I would stay for the day and take one of the frequent jitneys back, $19 to Manhattan.

Heading to a summer spot in the winter, of course, has its downsides. You can't jump in the water and for after-dark excitement, you'll have to turn to a John Grisham novel. But lines are nonexistent, and service tends to be impeccable, as you've got the full attention of servers and hotel clerks.

Having a car does have its advantages; if we hadn't driven, we wouldn't have stopped for an early lunch at Taqueria Mexico in Riverhead, the last town before Long Island splits. One thing you can count on from wealthy vacation areas is restaurants for immigrant workers somewhere on the periphery. Jeanny began her Frugal Traveler career by absolutely schooling me on ordering: she ordered one chicken tostada ($2) and asked our diminutive Guatemalan server to add beef to a $1.50 meatless tostada, for which we were charged an extra 50 cents. (My $8 order of three pathetic bean and cheese sopes for $8 was half as good for twice the price.)

Once lodging is taken care of, the only danger of blowing the budget in the North Fork is the temptation of the pricey, local-ingredient-obsessed restaurants. Having sensed danger on the drive out when Jeanny had asked, "Where are we having dinner?" I decided to forestall any evening splurges with a snack-as-we-went approach. There were those tostadas, a $4 bag of six still-warm cider doughnuts at Wickham's Fruit Farm (now closed for the season), three homemade pickles for $3 at Goodale Farms and a portion of black bean and grass-fed beef chili with blue corn tortilla chips for $10 from the food truck behind the fancy North Fork Table & Inn.

In between, we fit in a visit to Horton's Point Lighthouse (though you can't enter in the winter), a walk on a nearby beach and a wine tasting at Lenz Winery, which we split for a $10 and which included four wines, including its well-regarded gewürztraminer. Once again beating me at my own game, Jeanny managed to weasel a fifth taste out of our server.

We tried to go see the sunset from Orient Beach State Park, which hangs by a ligament off the tip of the North Fork, but the park closed at 4; a worker there directed us to the causeway, which turned out to be perfect. The evening was young, but night life expectancy is short during North Fork winters, so after dropping off our bags, we hurried over to catch the tail end of the 5 to 7 p.m. weekend happy hour at the Winemaker Studio in Peconic, a combination tasting room, bar and wine shop. Pours were 30 percent off, and we took advantage, ordering normally $7 glasses of a blend of reds from Suhru Wines in Mattituck.

On advice from our server, we decided to end the evening with a drink at the bar at First and South, a fancy-ish restaurant back in Greenport. We found a cozy little small town bar scene there; we chatted up a local English teacher and got filled in on the honors curriculum at Riverhead High School, from Shakespeare to Elie Wiesel. (Jeanny and I first met as teachers in the 1990s, so we were actually quite interested.)

I was a little worried we'd be tempted to eat from the pricey restaurant menu, so, along with a beer, I ordered what turned out to be the best deal on the menu, the $8 chowder loaded with smoked cod and apple wood bacon. Jeanny went rogue and ordered a shockingly insubstantial salad ($9 for "biodynamic" greens) and a bemusingly priced order of fries ($8). She would be paying for those herself.

When Jeanny drove off the next morning, I set out to see just what was within walking distance of Greenport Village. (My plan was aided by some unseasonably balmy December weather.) Quite a bit, it turned out. A list of hiking trails the hotel gave me included paths in Inlet Pond County Park, just off Long Island Sound and about a one and half mile walk north. A Google Maps route sent me over back roads where traffic was limited to flitting robins, black-capped chickadees and the occasional cardinal. Its chosen route into the park, however, led through someone's backyard and into what looked to be thick woods.

After asking for directions, I looped around Sound Drive to just where the park met the water. But a gate and sign — "Private Beach" — stopped me. I was confused: How can a private beach be connected to a public park? But ever since a farmer in Arkansas scolded me for stepping onto his property to take an Instagram photo of some bales of hay, I've been averse to even seemingly harmless property rights violations. So I headed off-road, thrashing into the bramble that lay inside the park, catching my pants on thorns and wishing I had a machete.

Soon, though, I hit a trail, which looped around lovely Inlet Pond and, on several occasions, spurs that led right onto the beach. (So much for private.) Perhaps the walk would have been more traditionally lovely in the spring, but I quite liked the skeletal trees and windblown marsh grasses that gave it barren and blustery look. I came out at the trailhead Google Maps should have led me to in the first place, at a red house on Route 48 used by the North Fork Audubon Society.

From there, it was an easy walk to Kontokosta Winery, just north of downtown Greenport on a bluff over the Sound. The long driveway through the vineyards themselves toward the tasting room — a rather regal-looking barn — makes for a dramatic approach. I'll defer judgment on the wines to a more educated palate, but the servers were quite pleasant and the tasting (along with a walk out to the bluff) was certainly worth $10.

It was not as good a deal, however, as the spot where I ended the trip after wandering through galleries and shops in town. North Fork tastings are not all about wine: at the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, $8 gets you three ounces of each of seven beers — for a total of more than an English pint. I fell for the hoppy Other Side IPA, as well as for several of the very cute dogs hanging out in what turned out to be a canine-friendly, jam-packed local hangout. What it's like in the summer, when it must fill with city folk, I have no idea — and, come to think of it, not much desire to find out.

For more photos, go to Seth Kugel's public Facebook page or follow him on Instagram, @sethkugel.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 6, 2014

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of a farm on Long Island's North Fork. It is Latham Farms, not Lathan.


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In Transit Blog: In Hong Kong, a Glittering Exhibition

Newly minted Chinese millionaires may be rushing to buy Chinese art, but the Mengdiexuan family of Hong Kong has already assembled a brilliant collection all its own: hundreds of astonishing pieces from 1500 B.C. to the 18th century.

Now that collection is on display in the art museum at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The holdings include ancient gold objects found in the Eurasian steppes, from personal ornaments to accessories for belts, chariots and horse harnesses. There are also elaborate headdresses of hammered gold with sinuous snakes, eagles, stags and tiger motifs.

Some of the horses in the gold artifacts on display are quite literal likenesses, but there are also winged horses and a hammered gold plaque of a hunter on horseback with an elaborate turban and his bow drawn back.

The exhibition, called Radiant Legacy: Chinese Gold from the Mengdiexuan Collection, runs through through Jan. 14.

Admission is free.


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In Transit Blog: A Makeover for the Affinia 50 in New York

Written By wartini cantika on Senin, 06 Januari 2014 | 17.35

Affinia 50, a 10-year-old hotel property in Manhattan's Midtown East neighborhood, has undergone a $20 million transformation. The 10-month renovation included an overhaul of the 251 guest rooms and public areas like the lobby, corridors and second-floor Club Room, which is a social space for guests.

The architect Nobutaka Ashihara and the interior design firm Dawson Design Associates are behind the new design, which is meant to emulate the feel of staying in a stylish city apartment. The rooms, for example, have touches such as bookends, throw pillows and paintings and photography from New York City artists.

Beyond the exterior changes, the property also has a series of new partnerships with local companies — FreshDirect will deliver ready-to-make meals to guests; NakedWines.com, an online community that supports independent winemakers, will host the hotel's nightly wine hour; and guests will also get access to the popular restaurant and club Lavo without waiting in its trademark lengthy line.

"With the new design and collaborations, we want to give our clients the feel of living like a New Yorker," Brian Gehlich, the general manager, said in a telephone interview.

Room rates from $340.


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T Magazine: Site to Be Seen | An Artistic Armchair Travel Platform That Visits the World’s Most Amazing Places

Growing up in rural Maine, the brothers Darrell and Oliver Hartman learned to love the outdoorsy, adventurous life from their dad, who was the director of the state's parks. Trips in early adulthood to places like Greece, Nicaragua and India ensured their passion for wanderlust, as did the jobs they pursued: Darrell, 32, is a lifestyle and travel writer; Oliver, 30, is a director for the production company North. Last year, the pair decided to combine talents to create a website that celebrates the kind of travel they like to do.

The platform, Jungles in Paris, offers curated, artistic documentary shorts and photo slideshows to draw attention to the world's most unique (and sometimes endangered) phenomena and lesser-known terrain. A quiet, enigmatic film of Uzbekistan's Aral Sea, almost entirely drained by Soviet-era infrastructure projects, captures the unlikely beauty of a dry ocean landscape. A selection of photographs presents the geisha tradition in Japan, emphasizing the centuries-old performance element and untangling the profession from its pop culture associations.

The Hartmans shoot some of the material, and rely on their own social network of photographers, filmmakers and journalists around the world to provide additional stories. Their influences, they say, include the documentary filmmakers Werner Herzog and Robert Gardner, the writer Peter Matthiessen and the behavioral scientists Jared Diamond and Robert Sapolsky. "Part of us wants to celebrate the place," Oliver says, "but then another part is celebrating the people who take the time to document it." In 2014, the brothers are planning adventures in Jamaica, Wyoming and Peru.


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Chasing the Northern Lights in Alaska

Tara Todras-Whitehill for The New York Times

Clockwise from top left: the Aurora Express train, the author looks for the northern lights, a view from the train, the aurora viewing hut at Chena Hot Springs.

We hurtled across the tundra in the dark. The old train chugged, rattled, occasionally whined. As the sun came up around 10 a.m., the world faded from black to cobalt to white and every shade between. All was snow; it was just a matter of how much, where, what shape. Black spruce trees draped in white rose up from the ground like crystals of hoarfrost.

"If you walked in that direction," I heard my father say, "you would die." I could not see in what direction he was pointing, but it didn't matter. He was right. In temperatures that hovered around zero, it would take several days to hike to the nearest town.

We were traveling north from Anchorage, where in early January there are more than six hours of daylight, to Fairbanks, where there are fewer than five. The Aurora Express, run by the Alaska Railroad once a week in the winter, takes 12 hours to traverse the more than 300 miles of forest, mountains and tundra between the two cities. One can fly from Anchorage to Fairbanks. One can drive. But there is no better way to wrap your head around Alaska in winter, the terrible beauty of its negative space, than by train — especially a three-car train led by a diesel locomotive that averages about 30 miles an hour.

At one point, midday, we made an unscheduled stop to pick up a man with two large dogs by the side of the tracks. The train will stop for anyone who flags it down, the conductor told us. For those who live in the wilderness between Fairbanks and Anchorage, the train is a lifeline. The man rode with us for a few hours, then got off in his snowshoes. His dogs gamboled in the deep powder as he cinched up his backpack for the hike to his cabin somewhere in the woods.

A few hours later, near sunset, I placed myself in the wide-windowed cafe car to take in the expanse of the Nenana River Valley. Mount McKinley loomed high in the clouds to the left, the Alaska Range on all sides. Rockfall was indistinguishable from a stand of far-off spruce, mere middle shades in the chiaroscuro before us. The Nenana itself was blue, frozen, shot with cracks, a vast marble walkway on the valley floor.

If you ask friends to tell you why they are planning to visit Alaska in the winter, they'll probably tell you they're going for the Iditarod. To ski. To catch a glimpse of the northern lights. Of the mere tens of thousands of vacationers to the 49th state in the winter (compared with more than a million in the summer), these are the most common reasons for visiting.

But some people will shrug, give a far-off look, and say, "I'd just like to see it." This is, perhaps, the truest reason of all. They come to reach out and touch, for a brief moment, the limits of human existence. To feel its chill and gaze into its twilight.

This was something I first began to understand as I sat in the cafe car of the Aurora Express at sunset, looking out on the snowscape. Across from me was Sam, a tourist from Taiwan who spoke almost no English. He strummed his ukulele. We began to sing "Let It Be" but could not remember all the words, so we sang the first verse and the chorus, over and over, louder each time. Other passengers joined in, filling the car. The sound was a comfort as we again slipped into darkness.

My family's reason for visiting Alaska last winter was typical: We came to the dark in search of the northern lights, the aurora borealis, those magnetic storms of ionized oxygen and nitrogen atoms that play across the sky like warring gods. Our back story, though, is not exactly typical: My father, a retired programmer, earned his Ph.D. in astronomy in the early '70s under Carl Sagan but never worked in the field. When I was a child, on clear nights when the magnetic activity was projected to be strong, my father would bundle us into the car and drive to Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park north of New York City on the off-chance that the aurora would be visible. These trips were our pilgrimages, our tests of faith in the idea that if we stood in a dark-enough spot at the right time, the heavens would open up and show what they held. Each time, my father kept us out in the cold until he could bear the complaints no longer. But we never saw the aurora. The heavens remained closed.

Ethan Todras-Whitehill is a frequent contributor to the Travel section.


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