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Canada Travel news and blog articles from The Huffington Post

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    Think your Thanksgiving plane delay is funny?

    Wait till you hear these crazy excuses for tardy takeoff.

    Bill Clinton's scalp
    In 1993, four LAX runways shut down when then-president Bill Clinton summoned his hair stylist aboard Air Force One for a last-minute trim on the tarmac. Apparently, he hadn't had time to make it to the stylist's Beverly Hills salon during his stay.

    Six-foot iguanas
    In Puerto Rico, a strange, nonnative iguana species has begun to overrun the island, setting up camp everywhere from patios to hotel pools. The real doozy comes when they swarm the runways, causing delays at San Juan International Airport.

    A man in a flying lawn chair
    As far as we can tell, this really, truly happened. In 1982, Larry Walters attached 45 industrial weather balloons to a lawn chair for a casual flight above his backyard. Things got a little out of hand, and he was arrested after floating into LAX airspace at 16,000 feet. A Pan Am flight changed its course.

    An icy blast of fire ants
    A veteran flight attendant claims that one time, attendants on a flight from Mexico City started the plane's air conditioning after sitting at the gate for awhile. Ants had somehow snuggled into the vents during that time, so when the air went on, hundreds of the buggers sprayed into the cabin. Ick!

    Overage pilots
    Officials at Heathrow forbid a Polish Airlines flight to take off after finding out that both its pilots were over the age of 60. According to regulations over there, one pilot on each flight must be under 60 years old.

    A cockroach infestation
    Two years ago, crew members in Miami found more than 50 cockroaches colonizing "a curtain between first class and the pilots." One passenger recalls remaining curled in her seat during the two-hour delay.

    Bees, fire, and a coyote
    Poor Charlotte Douglas Airport was dealt an especially rough day this summer. In a single afternoon, flights were delayed due to a swarm of bees around the plane, a small fire on a moving walkway, and a wandering coyote on the property.

    A kitty in the cockpit
    Last year, a 10-year-old cat named Ripples went missing on a flight from Halifax to Toronto, where he had been seated with his owner. After a fruitless search, attendants finally found him in the cockpit. Ripples wouldn't come out of the electronics area, so they had to disassemble it from behind, delaying the plane for four hours.

    A prayer box
    Bomb squads visited Philadelphia in 2010 after an emergency landing prompted by an innocent teenager's prayer box. The 17-year-old Jewish passenger was toting a Tefillin, "a set of small black boxes containing biblical passages that are attached to leather straps."

    Royal horses
    Six fancy horses owned by a Saudi Arabian prince "became agitated" in the cargo hold at an Egypt airport. Passengers waited for over an hour while a vet tranquilized their royal plane-mates.

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    Want to know everywhere you can travel on Airbus' A380 superjumbo jet? The company has created a friendly, colorful map of all the routes fliers can take. The jet, after all, is the largest in the world, with a double-deck, wide-body and four-engines.

    With color-coded lines that branch off in different directions, the map looks more like it's depicting a subway system than planet Earth.

    Check out the map, posted on Airbus' Facebook timeline, below!

    airbusclass="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore">Post by Airbus.

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    Santa Claus may be coming to town (and fairly shortly, too), but don't expect all the Christmas preparations on your to-do lists to magically make their way into the hands of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.

    You may be covered in the Christmas gift department but from time to time, the red-and-white clad man from up North needs some help to stuff those stockings all over your house.

    Now, chances are you’ve got a traveller or two on your shopping list, and whether they’re the backpacking type, the business traveller or the traditional tourist, one of these stocking stuffers will ensure their next trip be nothing but smooth sailing (or biking, or hiking, or bus/train/plane riding).

    Stocking Stuffers Perfect For Travellers

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  • 11/27/13--14:25: Island Air, Buyer Beware!
  • It can take as long to travel to Molokai from Honolulu as it does to reach Hawaii from Los Angeles — if, that is, you are flying Island Air.

    That was the case on Oct. 24, when flight No. 208 was scheduled to depart Honolulu at 11:20 a.m. for a 25-minute island hop to Hoolehua Airport.

    The 64-seat ATR 72, a twin-engine turboprop, was taxiing on the tarmac and heading toward the runway to take off when the pilot announced the plane would have to return to the commuter terminal gate due to mechanical difficulties.

    "Safety is a priority," he explained over the intercom.
    Some five hours later — also about the time it takes to paddle the Ka Iwi Channel — flight 208 finally touched down on Molokai.

    Because of frequent and seemingly interminable delays, folks who live on the Friendly Island are not feeling very friendly toward Island Air. Dozens of Molokai residents who spoke with Civil Beat said they feel like the company is giving them short shrift, perhaps in favor of routes to Lanai. That island's owner, billionaire Larry Ellison, bought Island Air in March.

    Whatever the reason, folks on Molokai are feeling pretty peeved.

    "Oh, honey, I'm devastated," said Teri Waros, owner of Kalele Bookstore & Divine Expressions on Ala Malama Street in Kaunakakai. "Every single retailer on this street holds on this time of year for people to start coming back to infuse some dollars into our economy. This is horrible."

    'Worst Flying Experience'

    Waros, who worked for years in the local hotel industry and has served on the boards of the Molokai Visitors Association and Maui Visitors Association, said the flight delays are hurting island tourism.

    While many are drawn to Molokai's seclusion, accommodations are limited, especially after Molokai Ranch closed a high-end lodge and hotel properties in 2008.

    "If I am on the East Coast and I want to fly here and I realize I am going to lose a day because of delays, it's going to make it very difficult," Waros said giving an example of a potential dilemma facing tourists. "This is a hard enough sell anyway. So that's going to discourage it that much further."

    Judging from airline review websites, complaints about Island Air are not limited to Molokai.

    "This was the worst flying experience of our lives," a Canadian traveler posted on Skytrax air travel rating page on Nov. 19. "They held us in the airport for 4 hours and promised repeatedly we would make our 2 connecting flights, meanwhile many flights were going off the island and they held us without putting us on other flights."

    A traveler from Down Under posted this review on Oct. 4:

    I recently flew from Sydney Australia to Honolulu and then had a flight scheduled to fly to Kauai, leaving at 7.05 pm. This was altered 6 times before we finally departed at 11.05 pm arriving at Lihue at 11.45 pm. During the time of waiting we were offered water, nothing was open and we were hungry. I finally asked a 'Customer Service' person if they could locate something to eat i.e. chocolate bars, her response [was] everything is locked up and we don't have the key.
    Not every review about Island Air is negative, but even many of the positive ones suggest that Island Air suffers from a PR problem.


    "We are totally happy with the service," a Honolulu traveler who flew to Lanai posted on Yelp in July. "It could be just because we heard too many negative stories and did not have any expectations. Both flights were on schedule. Larry Ellison purchasing the Island Air might [have] influenced the schedule, or we might just [have] been lucky."

    Civil Beat spoke with more than a dozen people on Molokai and none said that they enjoy flying Island Air. A common reaction among people who deal with the airline is one of mild surprise when a flight departs and arrives on time. (Some customers grumble about a recent $2 increase to $17 for the baggage fee.)

    Molokai's air woes are all the more aggravating because many residents are not traveling on leisurely vacations but for work or medical reasons. Two other carriers service the island, Mokulele and Makani Kai. But both operate smaller aircraft, and Waros says it's difficult for patients with certain health problems to fly comfortably on them.

    "This is not about you go on holiday, this is about aunty has to get to the doctor's in a wheelchair," she said.

    'A Lot Going On'

    Civil Beat tried several times to speak with Island Air CEO Paul Casey. Ellison hired Casey, the former top boss at Hawaiian Airlines and former president of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, to run his airline not long after he bought it.

    We did not get much from Casey, though.

    "We have a lot going on at the moment and it is too early to speak publicly about them," Casey emailed Civil Beat Monday. "I will let you know when we are ready."

    Casey did confirm that he had recently corresponded with Waros about her written complaints to Island Air. She's disappointed that the carrier reduced flights on its daily Molokai-Honolulu route from five to three in April. It's now down to two.

    As The Molokai Dispatch reported in April, the carrier also dropped all of its Maui-Molokai flights — and increased its flights to Lanai.

    "Island Air shouldn't be catering to Lanai, because that's what it looks like," Molokai resident Chevi Levasa told The Dispatch.

    The company said the changes had to do with demand — the same thing Waros said that Casey told her.

    "I have to give Casey credit — he responded personally," Waros told Civil Beat. "That impressed me. But his answer basically regurgitated that it's based on demand, and da-da-da-da-da. And I thought about it for a week and I said, 'Bullshit,' because historically demand for this segment increases in November. So you can't tell me the cuts are based on demand."

    Waros said she is not sure that Island Air, which has operated for 33 years, is favoring Lanai over Molokai.

    "I know that's the first thing that people say," Waros commented, adding that she wants to give the company the benefit of the doubt.

    It's getting harder to do that, however. On the plus side, Molokai is serviced by the larger ATR planes rather than the smaller Dash-8 turboprops, which Island Air previously flew. But the carrier has also cancelled the midday flight and now offers only 6:55 a.m. and 5:57 p.m. departures from Honolulu.

    Island Air currently operates four ATR 72s, which are described on the airline's webpage this way: "Its excellent landing and take-off performance enables Island Air to uniquely service the communities that are inaccessible to jet service."

    Waros believes Island Air, with Ellison's backing, is looking to upgrade its fleet.

    "Don't tell me that the third-richest man in America can't afford that," she said. "It's got to be done the right way."

    It appears that Island Air may indeed be seeking a more reliable aircraft. Casey would only say that "management is conducting a re-fleeting analysis," adding, "We have not had any conversations with Mr Ellison."

    Here Comes Hawaiian

    Compared with Molokai, Lanai is a luxury destination that is home to two Four Season resorts. No wonder, then, that Casey has made clear that traffic to Lanai is a top priority for Ellison, as the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Oct. 30.

    Whether Molokai will be a casualty of Lanai's attraction is not clear. Peter Forman, a local airline historian thinks not.

    "While you have already seen a shift of priorities from Molokai to Lanai, I think as Island Air expands its fleet you will see a renewed emphasis on Molokai," he said. "It's an attractive market for its fleet size. Especially with the arrival of Paul Casey as CEO, I think you are going to see a much more reliable Island Air in the future."

    This is not the first time Molokai has suffered air transportation challenges.

    For years, Pacific Wings had a lock on service to Kalaupapa, the peninsula on Molokai's north coast that can only be reached via air, foot or mule. Pacific Wings charged as much $500 just to fly roundtrip between Kaluapapa and Hoolehua Airport — "topside," as locals say.

    Makani Kai Airlines now serves Kalaupapa, and it charges affordable fares. That's because the federal government subsidizes the airline's cost.

    Makani Kai's two-year contract is ending, and The Dispatch reports that three other carriers are competing with Makani Kai. One is Mokulele; the other two are based on the West Coast.

    Meanwhile, the state's dominant airline, Hawaiian Airlines, hopes to fly to and from Hoolehua beginning in 2014. Signage for its new subsidiary, called "Ohana by Hawaiian" and operated by Empire Airlines of Spokane, Wash., is already on display at the Molokai and Lanai airports.

    Ohana will fly ATR 42s with 48 seats, on two daily routes linking Honolulu to both Molokai and Lanai. It will use Gate 49 at the Hawaiian terminal, too, a step up in convenience and quality from the commuter terminal.

    The commuter terminal has only the aforementioned Quiznos ($15 for a sandwich and bottled water) and a sports bar. During the long flight delay, five women, all nearing retirement age, passed their time in the bar.

    Ann Botticelli, Hawaiian's senior vice president for corporate communications and public affairs, told Civil Beat Monday that Empire "has received word that the FAA has the resources to proceed with its certification requirements. We don't have a timeline yet, but think that the turboprop service will be up and running some time in early 2014."

    Hawaiian, consistently ranked high in on-time arrivals and departures, represents serious competition for Island Air.

    "Word is that they are expected in the spring," Waros said of Ohana via email Tuesday. "Fingers crossed."


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    Lincoln Clarkes' "Heroines," a haunting photo series that shows Vancouver women in the throes of addiction, is gaining new exposure online as it goes on display at the Museum of Vancouver.

    Clarkes is one of four photographers whose work is being shown as part of "An Evolutionary Look into Street Photography," which runs until Jan. 26, 2014.

    Work on "Heroines" began in 1997 when Clarkes met Patricia Johnson, a 20-year-old woman who invited him into her home and exposed him to a dark world of addiction in Canada's poorest postal code.

    Check out photos from the "Heroines" series. The story continues below the slideshow:


    Johnson and two girlfriends became the subject of one of Clarkes' earliest photos in the series, a portrait that showed them strung out on the steps of the Evergreen Hotel on Columbia Street.

    That portrait was a catalyst for the photographer as he "slid into the new obsession of documenting," he told Vice Magazine.

    Johnson's remains, along with those of four other women photographed by Clark, were among those discovered at serial killer Robert Pickton's pig farm.

    Clarkes would eventually shoot hundreds of subjects for "Heroines" from 1997 to 2001, and began showing them in 1998, before compiling them into the award-winning book "Heroines: The Photographs of Lincoln Clarkes".

    “I’m forcing people to look at these women," Clarkes told Nancy Lanthier. "To look into their eyes, to really see them: a woman, a child that’s grown up."

    Revisited as part of the exhibition, the photos are also gaining new exposure online with stories in both Vice and the Daily Mail.

    The Mail said the pictures show the "ravaging affect addiction has on the women's lives."

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    If you've ever wanted to own your very own tropical forest, now is your chance.

    For only -- wait for it -- $22 million, you can purchase 3,127 acres of beautiful koa cloud forest on Hawaii's Big Island. The cloud forest, which is characterized by persistent low-level clouds, covers almost five square miles on the slopes of Mauna Kea and contains more than 5,000 trees. (For you tree lovers, this includes koa, ohia, mamane, hapuu, and eucylyptus trees.)

    The property also boasts several private waterfalls -- just to sweeten the deal.

    Real estate brokers are calling the property the third largest privately-owned old-growth koa forest on Earth. It's zoned as a conservation resource and, given the scarcity of ancient koa (a prized Hawaiian hardwood that is endemic to the islands), the property is most definitely a rare find.

    Beverly Mofino of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers says the property can also be used for harvesting purposes (with the appropriate permits). According to a press release from Molfino, the forest contains 16.5 million board feet of koa wood, which could mean big bucks for anyone who was looking to harvest.

    But, with natural beauty like the below, we seriously hope the buyer chooses to preserve the ancient forest:


    os

    ohanasanctuary

    osf1

    ohana sanctuary2


    Take a tour of the green-lover's paradise here:

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    I stayed in lots of hotels and motels as a child -- granted, cheap family-vacation ones with no breakfast and flashing neon signs, but nonetheless I always dreamed of simply staying there. Of never going home again, forgetting all my clothes and toys to live out of a small smiley-face suitcase in this paneled room facing the bright-blue pool that cools strangers by day but basks ignored and bottom-lit by night like a cough-drop-colored moon. To live in hotels and/or motels, one or ten thousand of them but forever, would be to reinvent oneself, to live at once little yet limitlessly in spaces whose blankness is their welcome which is the whole point, plus which are clean whenever you arrive.

    OK, so I stopped traveling for 15 years, then started again and it's back. I want to live in hotels, think about them and extol the strange wondrous phenomenon of exponential mega-mondo homes-away-from-home for millions in which workers are paid to be courteous and even kind. How can we make the best of hotels? What can we do there? Sleeping is obvious, but here are 10 more things that I have either done in hotels or have fantasized about doing, and still might do.

    2013-11-27-capp.JPG



    1. Eat. Now that many hotels include breakfast in their room prices, this is almost as obvious as sleeping. But it is not to be taken for granted. Few sights have made me happier to be alive than the breakfast buffets in Sicilian hotels last summer: Cappuccino. Fresh figs. Ricotta-chocolate pies. Currently at the Marriott's LA Market in Los Angeles, chef Kerry Simon is serving his Sugar & Spice Junk Food Platter, piled high with peppermint brownies, gingerbread, holiday cookies and sweet house-made "snowballs."

    2013-11-27-IMG_8413.JPG



    2. Drink. OK, again with the obvious, but many hotels have fabulous built-in bars: In other words, you need not drive. The FIVE bar in Berkeley's Shattuck Plaza Hotel celebrates the season with its 12 Cocktails of Christmas: Popular favorites include the Turtle Dove Martini (pear vodka, chocolate liqueur, Chambord, sugar, lemon juice) and Five Golden Rings (rum, lime juice, agave nectar, Angostura bitters, mint, Champagne). All twelve "are definitely inspired by the song but not limited to the song," explains bar manager Brent Newcomb.

    2013-11-27-lime.JPG

    3. Watch sea creatures swimming by. A handful of exclusive resort hotels including the Palm in Dubai, the Jules in Key Largo and the Manta in Tanzania actually have guest rooms submerged under the surface of the sea, from whose windows you can watch the undersea world. That's no aquarium out there. That's real.

    4. Gaze out at the free world from behind bars. A growing hospitality-industry trend is the transmogrification of old jails into hotels. Boston's Liberty Hotel used to be the grim Charles Street Jail. Slovenia's Celica Hostel was once a communist-era lockup. This kind of lodging experience makes you really appreciate not being incarcerated. I mean, you can stroll right out at any time and buy a box of Mystic Mints.

    2013-11-27-IMG_7322.JPG



    5. Check out the chairs. San Francisco's historic yet chic-mod Clift Hotel has the most expensive chair collection on the whole West Coast. (Heck, someone has to.) It's part of the Clift's persona as what general manager Ward Childs describes as "one big decompression chamber," and includes stunning antiques (intricate carvings! silver leaf! satin! velvet! ostrich leather!) along with modern items such as the solid-metal four-seater dubbed the "juicer chair" and several items designed by Ralph Lauren (yes, that Ralph Lauren) and Philippe Starck; a gigantic chair in the lobby cost $750,000 to purchase and $7,000 per year to keep in prime shape. "We're curators," Childs says.

    6. Appreciate being looked after. Good Lord, someone comes into your room to straighten, scrub, vacuum and replenish it after you've slept, bathed and done whatever else in there. Someone picks up your used Kleenex, strips your bed, touches your wet towels. This might seem small, but it's huge, and should inspire gratitude in every hotel guest. Hotel stays can be immersive learning experiences for those of us with low self-esteem, and who are thus convinced that we don't deserve nice treatment (even from ourselves). What? Clean drinking glasses, fluffy towels and a perfectly made bed -- for me? Yeah, for you. Yeah, for you plus $200 or whatever, but yeah.

    2013-11-27-parm.JPG



    7. Have a party. Hey, rock stars do it all the time. Got a kitchenette in your room? The Academy Parmigiano Reggiano has declared November 30 international Parm-party day, on which cheese-lovers around the world are urged to share Parmesan-based dishes -- and just sample the cheese straight -- with pals. Seriously, there's an app for that. Or, you know, get married. Let professionals take care of the details -- including the reception and rooms for your out-of-town guests.

    8. Have a meltdown. I'm not saying you should. I'm just saying you could.

    2013-11-27-IMG_4496copy.JPG



    9. Ghost-hunt. A lot of drama happens in hotels: Some guests never get out alive. When checking into hotels, I always ask whether they're haunted and I always hope the answer will be yes. Phantom Wild West card-sharks are among the alleged spirits at Nevada's 150-year-old Gold Hill Hotel. And I captured this "orb" -- which believers say represents a spirit -- in my room at the National Hotel in the heart of California's Gold Country:

    2013-11-27-IMG_3758copy.JPG



    10. Bask. At hotels such as San Francisco's Hyatt Regency, some of whose tens of thousands of suspended holiday lights are depicted below, magnificent seasonal decorations are designed, created, installed and maintained by many human beings at great expense. Why? So that you can look at them. You, and you, and even you with low self-esteem. To witness, marveling. That, and only that.

    2013-11-27-hyatt.JPG



    "Orb" photograph by Anneli Rufus. All other photographs by Kristan Lawson, used with permission.

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    Most years, the thought of November in Toronto is enough to send me packing. My fallback destination is Paris, the most beautiful city on earth. Paris is always a good idea, and Paris in November, not an obvious choice, is one of my favourite times to go. Flights are wide open, airfares are low, and booking with points is as easy as it gets.

    It's the cold shoulder season, an under-the-radar kind of month with a bad rap for low temperatures, grey skies and lots of rain. The silver lining behind those clouds is the luxury of having the run of this town and its attractions with an ease of access unimaginable during the peak April-to-October tourist crush. Paris is altogether more approachable -- and welcoming -- in the fall, when it offers a great selection of things to see and do without the long waits and big crowds of summer. Besides, the grey skies create lovely atmospherics; at night, Paris shimmers in the rain.

    As a frequent renter, I was able to swing a decent shoulder-season discount for a month's stay at my favourite digs on the rue Jacob http://www.homeaway.co.uk/p913648. Many Paris hotels will negotiate discounts of 10 per cent or so in November, even at the top range of the star system, where a standard room can easily cost upwards of $1200 Euros a night. This year is exceptional: with the Ritz, the Crillon and the Plaza-Athenee all closed for renovations, five-stars like the Four Seasons George V and the Meurice are already heavily booked, making discounts less available than usual.

    November is Photo Month

    Paris is a city of art, and every November the focus is on photography. In celebration of Photo Month, there are least 100 photo shows at galleries and museums around town, many of which extend into January and beyond. The large and prestigious four-day Paris Photo is the main event. This year's fair was a visual feast of contemporary and historical photography from galleries, institutions (including the Art Gallery of Ontario) and private collections, as well as a serious selection of photo books from international publishers.

    photo month paris

    Opening day at Paris Photo



    I bought a ticket online (28 Euros) and went the first day. I arrived a little early, waited in line for 10 minutes, and was inside a few minutes after the doors opened. That's when crowds were at their lightest and exhibitors at their freshest, and I was able to enjoy spontaneous chats with gallerists like Rebecca Hicks of London's Purdy Hicks Gallery (www.purdyhicks.com) and Maja Orsic of the Robert Klein Gallery (www.robertkleingallery.com) in Boston. My conversation with Maja was unexpectedly interrupted when a sudden deluge caused raindrops to seep through the gorgeous 19th century vaulted glass ceiling of the Grand Palais, falling on our heads -- and the artwork, of course, sending everyone scrambling to protect it -- until just as quickly the skies cleared and the sun came out again. It was a Paris moment -- striking, fleeting and memorable.

    The famous Paris moments at the Brassai: For the Love of Paris retrospective can be seen for free at the Hôtel de Ville until March 2014. At the Mona Bismarck American Center (http://monabismarck.org/ retrospective), I saw Icons of the 20th Century, a Yousuf Karsh portrait retrospective. It's on until Jan. 26 and is worth the admission fee (7 E) just to be inside the gorgeous 19th century hotel particulier, or townhouse, that the glamour girl-turned-philanthropist maintained in Paris until her death in 1983.

    american centre

    The Mona Bismarck American Center



    Haute couture and a studio tour

    Right around the corner, on Avenue Woodrow Wilson, is the recently reopened Paris Galliera, where I saw an amazing Azzedine Alaia couture collection, then crossed the street to see more pieces on display in the Matisse at the Musée d'Art moderne, one of those terrific City of Paris museums with a free entrance policy for most exhibits. It's housed in the cavernous Palais de Tokyo, where I dropped by before dinner one Friday to take in an elegantly curated show of Roger Vivier footwear.

    On a folksier note, I trudged the hilly streets of Montmartre for a few visits on the Portes Ouvertes Ateliers d'Artistes open house weekend, a little-known and quirky November event. For one weekend a year, local ceramicists, sculptors, painters and photographers open their doors to visitors and offer a small selection of their work for sale.

    The arrival of new Beaujolais. Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées

    Another November tradition is the release of the current-year vintage Beaujolais, which happens on the third Thursday of the month. It can be an all-night bar hop for some Parisian party animals, who drop their customary reserve to get as lit up as the Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées.

    The latter, lavishly decorated with 4000 garlands and rings that change from white to purple to red, is a glittering celebration of the season. From the Arc du Triomphe, past the plane trees and little white chalets of the Christmas market, it's a great walk all the way to the Place de La Concorde.

    lights on champs

    Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées



    ALSO ON HUFFPOST:


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  • 11/27/13--19:16: Black Friday Travel Deals
  • Skip the long, cold lines of big box stores this Black Friday: savvy shoppers can give the gift of travel, thanks to extremely competitive deals in the market, with savings up to 75%.

    Below is the list of offers travel providers have tipped us off to or we've found online, most of which begin at 12 am. Friday. This list will be updated as we find even more offers, and be sure to check back next week for Cyber Monday promotions.

    (Note: These deals are often based on limited availability and were booking at time of publication. Individual blackout dates apply. Contact individual properties for additional information.)

    Nationwide hotels:
    Starwood Hotels: Featured in this week's Top 20, this Black Friday & Cyber Monday sale has savings of up to 40% in sunny vacation destinations from Aruba to Hawaii and is available for select dates into April. This deal ends Dec. 6.
    Wyndham Extra Holidays and Shell Vacations Hospitality: More than 100 resorts in popular destinations throughout the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean are up to 50% off in a sale ending Cyber Monday. Starting Wednesday, Nov. 27th, "Suite Yourself" to special offers such as Whistler ski holidays, Scottsdale golf getaways and tropical escapes to the U.S. Virgin Islands. In our Top 20 this week, we featured the Vino Bello Resort in California Wine Country, with savings of 40% on comparable hotels. The Carriage Ridge Resort in Ontario, discounted within this sale, was featured in our Canadian Top 20 this week. Discounted rates start at $79 per night.
    Trump Hotel Collection: In an offer available through Cyber Monday, all suites at Trump properties in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Waikiki, Toronto, Panama and Miami will be discounted by 30%. Based on availability, these guests will receive early check-in, late checkout and a special welcome amenity for stays January - March. A bonus? For each reservation made $10 will be donated to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
    Loews Hotels: At 16 locations coast to coast, this sale knocks up to 40% off rates at these luxurious properties and is throwing in free Wi-Fi during the stay. Reservations must be made by midnight Tuesday. Smart shoppers should sign up for the email list to get updates on the sale.
    Omni Hotels and Resorts: In a promotion geared toward last-minute travelers, the upscale chain is taking 40% off stays at its nearly 60 properties in North America. Book online through Cyber Monday or call 800-THE-OMNI.

    West Coast hotels:
    The Mirage: This 4-star Vegas property, known for its erupting volcano and Cirque du Soleil shows, has knocked down rates for travel into September. Rates start at $60 per night and include a $100 dining credit.
    Terranea Resort: Holidays at the 4-Diamond resort on Southern California's Palos Verdes Peninsula are 35% off through Feb. 28. Book online and use promo codes BLACKFRIDAY or CYBERMONDAY Nov. 29 through Dec. 2.
    Palms Las Vegas: Rates at this party-central property start at $40 per night with its early-to-market Cyber Monday sale. These rates are good for travel Dec. 2 - March 31; book by Monday. Other perks of this promotion include two-for-one bottle service at Ghostbar and two-for-one breakfast buffets.
    Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa: The Sausalito hotel will unveil its renovations in January, and with this Black Friday sale, all weekday dates in 2014 will be offered for $199 per night.
    Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort: This 4-star Phoenix resort is a favorite for families with its water park, tennis, golf and location next to a nature preserve. In a sale through Cyber Monday, two-night stays are discounted by 20% for travel Nov. 28 - Feb. 7. Use promo code CYBER when booking online.
    Paradise Point San Diego: Save 40% on stays at this 44-acre island resort through April with a sale ending Cyber Monday. The island offers a mile of beach, two restaurants and recently renovated bungalows and suites.
    Tanque Verde Ranch: Take off for Tuscon for stays at this all-inclusive property. For stays of four nights or longer for travel through March 10, guests who book by Cyber Monday can get half off the cost of their stays, which includes all meals, activities including horseback riding and more.

    East Coast hotels:
    Waldorf Astoria New York: The property synonymous with luxury is offering rooms at $229 per night for stays select nights in January and February in this sale ending Friday, Dec. 6.
    The Benjamin: This recently renovated 4-star hotel in Midtown is taking up to 40% off visits for travel Dec. 15 - March 31. Use promo code CYBERN for nonrefundable rates and CYBER1 for refundable rates when booking online.
    Centennial Hotel: Head to New Hampshire and receive Black Friday rates at this Concord hotel starting at $109 per night, including breakfast and a boxed lunch.
    Sea Crest Beach Hotel: Put a visit to Cape Cod in your travel plans and save up to 30% off stays Dec. 6 - June 16. Stay two nights or longer for 20% off, or three nights or longer for 30% off.
    Point Sebago Resort: In a sale that was so popular in the past, the southern Maine resort says that it clogged their phone lines. In a Friday-only sale, some park homes and camp sites are up to 40% off for stays select dates June - October.
    Harbor View Hotel: Savings start at 20% off at this Martha's Vineyard historic hotel. This deal, which ends Monday, is good for stays Nov. 30 - July 10. Take 20% off rates for stays two nights or longer and 30% off stays three nights or longer.

    Southeast & Florida hotels:
    New Orleans Hotel Collection: Offering what they call the best rates on their winter prices, the hotel group is offering discounts through Cyber Monday, with savings of up to 40% across the city at the six properties.
    EPIC: This boutique Kimpton hotel in downtown Miami has two offers: for stays through Christmas, take up to 50% off best available rates or up to 35% off Club Level rooms. Call (866) 760-3742 or (305) 424-5226 or use code SHOP when booking online.
    Surfcomber Miami and Vero Beach Hotel & Spa: These beachfront Florida properties from Kimpton have discounted rates for visits through Christmas. At both hotels, get 15% off stays of two nights or 20% stays of three nights plus a complimentary appetizer. These deals expire Cyber Monday. Use code CYBER when booking online or call the Surfcomber at (800) 994-6103 or the Vero Beach at (866) 602-8376.
    Lido Beach Resort: Head to Sarasota, where rates at this family-friendly oceanfront resort will be 30% off for stays Dec. 1 - Feb. 13 with promo code CYBER30. This sale starts Sunday.
    Sense Beach House: Say along famed Ocean Drive in Miami Beach with an offer for 35% off King rooms, including breakfast. Use promo code CYBER.
    The Resort at Longboat Key Club: In a sale starting Sunday and ending Monday, this Florida property with a private beach is taking 30% off stays Dec. 1 - Feb. 13 with promo code CYBER30.

    Midwest and Mountain West hotels:
    JW Marriott Chicago: Stays Dec. 15 - Feb. 13 at the 4-Diamond downtown hotel are $149 per night with the promo code BAR. Reservations can be booked here or by calling 1-800-228-9290 through Cyber Monday.
    Conrad Indianapolis: This online-only deal drops room rates to $139 per night and includes a complimentary glass of prosecco when booking with code FRI.
    Vail Cascade Resort & Spa: Enroll in the email program now to get a promo code for use Cyber Monday. For stays through April 20, hotel rates will be 30% off, and condo rates will be 20% off.

    International hotels:
    Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort: Top 20 subscribers got an early look at this deal at the property ranked the No. 1 all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean by USA Today readers. This deal drops rates to $169 per person, per night for stays Nov. 29 - Dec. 23. Stay Jan. 4 - April 27 for $229 per person per night (regularly $380) in a sale ending Monday.
    Westin Playa Bonita: In one of the most aggressive sales of the day, take up to 75% off room rates for travel through Dec. 2, 2014.
    JW Marriott Cusco: Rooms at the 5-star hotel start at $204 per night, a 20% savings, for travel Jan. 2 - March 4. The luxury property in Cusco's historical center offers easy access to Peru's iconic nearby attractions including Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. Book online using promo code I24.
    St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino: Use promo code D59 to get 30% off stays in December and May - August at this 4-star property on the island's Atlantic side.
    JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa: This 5-Diamond hotel is offering a 30% discount on its room rates, starting at $146, for stays Dec. 3 - April 12 with promo code 16C.
    Grand Lucayan, Bahamas: In a promotion that's offering up to 65% savings on current rates, rooms will start at $79 per night for travel through Nov. 14. Use promo code BLKFRI on this sale good through Cyber Monday.
    CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort: This beachfront resort, including all-inclusive options, is cutting rates to as low as $90, a 30% discount, for travel Dec. 3 - April 12 with promo code 16C.
    CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa: On Rendezvous Bay, this 4.5-star Anguilla resort is offering 40% off prices of Junior Suites for travel through Dec. 20. Rates start at $395.
    Bolongo Bay Beach Resort: This St. Thomas resort affords a no-passport required last-minute trip with its sale ending Cyber Monday. For stays through Dec. 22, travelers will receive half off oceanfront rooms (based on double occupancy). Book online with promo code Black or call 800-524-4746.
    Breezes Bahamas Resort & Spa: Head to the famed Cable Beach with this deal that takes 30% off rates at this all-inclusive resort for travel through Dec. 19, 2014. To book, go to breezes.com or call 1-877-273-3937.
    Grand Residences Riviera Cancun: This new 4.5-star property, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, is offering grand opening rates through Cyber Monday. Call 888-387-4702 to book.
    Seven Stars Resort: For stays of four nights or longer into December of 2014, this Turks and Caicos resort is taking $100 off any room when booking through Cyber Monday. This deal can be booked by phone (866-570-7777) or by email (reservations@sevenstarsgracebay.com).
    Las Alamandas: This all-suite resort in Quemaro, Mexico, is offering half off rates for over a year of travel dates, from Dec. 2, 2013, to Dec. 29, 2014. Four-night stays are required, and some blackout dates apply. Use promo code CYBERSUN to book online or call 888-882-9616.

    Vacation packages:
    Gate 1: Save as much as $1000 on vacation packages around the globe as well as river cruises in the company annual's Black Friday sale. Take $50 off when booking trips more than $500 with promo code BLFR50, $100 when spending $1000 using BLFR100 and so on. The sale is online only Nov. 28 and then available over the phone (call 800-682-3333) between 8 am - 9 pm ET.
    Go-today Travel: Take the trip you really want: for bookings made through December, any air-inclusive package will be $100 off per person. Book online with promo code GTHANKS13. Popular packages include New Year's in Barcelona, tours of the Italian countryside as well as a jaunt including London, Paris and Rome.
    Liberty Travel: The vacation packager has created 99 deals from Caribbean and Mexico resorts, cruises and escorted tours with savings up to 65% in its Black Friday promotion. These deals, based on double occupancy, are available through Cyber Monday. A $100 credit can be redeemed in person at one of their storefronts after getting a promotion code online.

    Starting Saturday:
    Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau: Bucking the trend of leaking deals on Friday or joining the masses for Cyber Monday sales, the tourism group is having a 24-hour flash sale starting Saturday. Although specifics have not yet been released, approximately two dozen hotels will be participating as well as several popular tourist attractions.

    Go to Travelzoo for year-round deals on hotels, vacations, cruises, airfare and more, and visit Travelzoo's Holiday Gift Guide to pick the perfect present of local experiences, luxurious stays and more.

    -- Hilary Solan is an editor at Travelzoo and based in Chicago. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.

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    When Jeff Friesen isn't photographing Canada, he's building it brick by brick with his daughter.

    It's part of his "Lego Great White North" gallery, in which the father-daughter duo mix travel, photography, humour and Lego to recreate Canada's provinces -- quirks and quarks included.

    Usually, Friesen has to travel more to capture Canadiana.

    The Halifax-based photographer typically takes landscape photos, like in his "The Canadian: Ghost Train Crossing Canada" photo essay. Friesen travelled around the country photographing a nine-foot replica of a 1955 model train amid majestic landscapes

    But now, Friesen creates art at home with Lego.

    "Each scene takes about eight hours of work from conceptualization to building the Lego to making the finished photograph. My daughter has about 5,000 Lego bricks ... she mysteriously gets a lot of Lego presents that are of some use to her dad." he told the Huffington Post Canada via email.

    The Brick Fantastic -- Canada Edition. Story continues after the gallery.


    There's an Ontario scene featuring what looks like Doug and Bob McKenzie hosering it up in a Toronto boardroom, a tableau of Alberta's lucrative oil sands and a Prince Edward Island piece that Friesen jokes is "full size."

    There are 10 of models and the first is of Manitoba.

    "Every summer I look after my seven year old during the afternoon and we do little photo projects with her toys. As a joke for my friends, I created the Lego Manitoba scene and said I was pitching Lego with the idea of a Winnipeg-themed Lego series," says Friesen, born in Winnipeg.

    He's also done America's 50 states, also part of The Brick Fantastic project. Friesen says he doesn't plan to stop at states and provinces. He and his child have their eyes on the territories next.

    "It will likely require buying a Lego polar bear on eBay," he says.

    You can view more of Friesen's photography here

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    (Relaxnews) - Where in the US are you likely to find the highest density of skinny jeans, moustaches, indie music and vintage thrift stores? According to Travel + Leisure, the most hipster-friendly city is San Francisco.

    Before delving into the ranking, perhaps it’s best to understand how magazine editors characterize hipsters. Their definition? "Locals who embody the cutting edge of culture while also embracing simple, retro charms.”

    To come up with their list, editors culled information from their “America’s Favorite Cities” poll and looked at the density and quality of “great microbrews and coffee bars, a buzzing live music scene; and plenty of flea markets.”

    Taking the top spot is San Francisco, where the nerve centre of hipsterdom is the Mission District.

    There, hipsters with haute palates who traditionally sneer at mainstream foods can snack on artisanal cotton candy at Batch Made market (the disclaimer “artisanal” makes the mainstream carnival food entirely permissible, editors point out) and handcrafted chocolate bonbons presented in edible boxes.

    Signs that the city is facing a hipster tipping point, however, are on the rise. One coffee shop, for instance, forbids clients from “talking about annoying hipster topics.”

    After San Francisco, New Orleans and Portland, Oregon, were also deemed among the most hipster-friendly cities in the US.

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    Sometimes you just feel the desire to be immersed in the natural world.

    If camping isn't your cup of tea, these gorgeous hotels will let you experience both luxury and the zen wonder of being totally surrounded by nature.

    Juvet Landscape Hotel, Norway
    juvet landscape hotel

    juvet landscape hotel

    Kakslauttanen Igloo Village, Finland
    kakslauttanen igloo village
    Can you even imagine the stargazing possibilities?

    Free Spirit Spheres, Canada
    free spirit spheres

    Kolarbyn, Sweden
    kolarbyn sweden

    Marataba Safari Lodge, South Africa
    marataba

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    Venice, Italy is pure majesty-- the tiny waterfront town is an exquisite series of 118 small islands, all woven together with charming bridges and calming canals.

    It's no wonder everybody wants to copy Venice.

    Allow us to rate the Fake Venices of the world using our highly scientific Fake Venice Authenticity Index.

    The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada
    Score on the Fake Venice Authenticity Index: 7

    At the most well-known of Fake Venices, you can ride in a gondola and shop in Saint Mark's Square, just like in real Venice. The hotel gets docked points, however, for the way it slapped modern escalators onto its rendition of the famous Rialto Bridge. And since when is Saint Mark's Campanile (that famous Venice clock tower) surrounded by palm trees?
    152924385

    lpi10944_2


    The Venetian Macao in Macao, China
    Score on the Fake Venice Authenticity Index: 9.5

    China's installation of The Venetian hotel is a bit more authentic. The campanile sits near the water, similar to the one in real Venice. They've got a nice, cobblestoned outdoor mall area that is reminiscent (if ever so slightly) of the streets in actual Venice. Gondola rides are just the icing on the Venetian cake. The casino in this Fake Venice is a maze of marble tiles and opulent frescoes, a nod to the Rococo style of real Venice's grander buildings.
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    148604662

    148823007

    141843441


    Everland Resort in Yongin, South Korea
    Score on the Fake Venice Authenticity Index: 2

    We'll give this Korean theme park some points for the clock tower, even though it's significantly squattier than the one in the real Saint Mark's Square. But the way this tower looms next to a Taj Mahal-ish structure throws off its Venice vibe, and hence Everland is not a very convincing Fake Venice. Don't write Everland off your list though-- this park is a delightful smorgasbord of rides, exhibits, penguins dressed as Santa, and holographic "Gangnam Style" concerts.
    everland


    Venice Water Town near Hangzhou, China
    Score on the Fake Venice Authenticity Index: 5

    China has a habit of dressing up its neighborhoods to resemble European towns. Venice Water Town is one of those neighborhoods. Residents here can live on a canal near stone-covered streets that aren't crawling with Vegas tourists, and that's is pretty authentic. Also unlike Vegas, this Fake Venice even has its own open-air version of Saint Mark's Square. The basketball court and giant Chinese signage, however, make things less believable.
    venice

    venice

    For more of Fake Venice and other imposter neighborhoods like it, check out Bianca Bosker's book "Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China."

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    If you think Legos are just a kid's toy, think again.

    In his project, "50 States of Lego," Jeff Friesen -- a photographer and toy enthusiast -- recreates the United States of America using the colorful interlocking bricks. There are 50 scenes for the 50 states: each scene something unique or representative about each state.

    The scenes touch on the varying cultures, histories, traditions and politics of each state. Many incorporate playful humor. Sometimes it's easy to forget just how distinctive our states are.

    These photos will make you want to go unearth that old Lego set. Check out the full project below. Find your state and let us know what you think in the comments!

    All photos and captions are courtesy of Jeff Friesen.

    Alabama
    alabama
    "Roll tide! Just restrain yourself from rolling a tailgate party onto the playing field."

    Alaska
    alaska
    "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Fish for a man and he is food for a week."

    Arizona
    arizona
    "Good fences make good neighbors?"

    Arkansas
    arkansas
    "Promenade across the floor/ Shimmy right on out the door/Stuff a weasel, dress your cat/ These DJ beats are really fat."

    California
    california
    "Moonbeam’s mellow is never harshed by her Fruitfly brand compost-powered tri-scoot."

    Colorado
    colorado
    "Head ‘em up, move ‘em out, send ‘em down...the famous snowboard wranglers of Aspen."

    Connecticut
    connecticut
    "Nothing’s finer than a moonlit cruise on I-95."

    Delaware
    delaware
    "Inspired by the title of Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting, Washington Crosses 'The Delaware.' "

    Florida
    florida
    "Reptilian life-forms rule the beaches of Florida. Luckily, most are slow moving."

    Georgia
    georgia
    "As it turns out Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara’s passion for one another was easily doused by local firefighters."

    Hawaii
    hawaii
    "Sometimes extreme surfing is more about the board than the wave."

    Idaho
    idaho
    "Farmer Abe feels blessed to have a customer whose appetite for spuds is boundless... and the little fellow pays in solid gold."

    Illinois
    illinois
    "Bugsy’s mom is thrilled that he’s running his own lemonade stand this summer. He hasn’t rubbed out any of his associates since June."

    Indiana
    indiana
    "After bouncing back from crash after crash all season the mysterious racer won the 500 by driving like he had nothing to lose."

    Iowa
    iowa
    "Every summer you seen them emerging bright yellow from their green jackets: the children of the corn."

    Kansas
    kansas
    "There’s no place like home, but if your home is frequently blown aloft it helps to wear a parachute indoors."

    Kentucky
    kentucky
    "Brave adventurers explore the outer reaches of the Kentucky Derby hat."

    Louisiana
    louisiana
    "A Mardi Gras float is only as good as its clean-up crew."

    Maine
    maine
    "If you find yourself in a pinch here just rub the swollen area with Moxie."

    Maryland
    maryland
    "Today the crabs decided to have a picnic of their own."

    Massachusetts
    massachusetts
    "The British are coming! That much was obvious to Paul Revere."

    Michigan
    michigan
    "Robots will never take over the Earth if they remain such nervous nellies."

    Minnesota
    minnesota
    "Some places have a dry cold. In Minnesota it’s a nice cold, okie-dokie?"

    Mississippi
    mississippi
    "Slow cooked meat that’s finer than frogs hair."

    Missouri
    missouri
    "The wakeboarding scenes were edited out of Mark Twain’s books for brevity."

    Montana
    montana
    "Curiously absent from Lewis and Clark’s journals is Henri, their faithful manservant."

    Nebraska
    nebraska
    "Stringfellow approaches Chimney Rock, the Oregon Trail’s most literally named landmark."

    Nevada
    nevada
    "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas hopes Gilbert, who rarely stage-crashes showgirl performances back in Des Moines."

    New Hampshire
    new hampshire
    "Robert enjoys climbing in the White Mountains for the solitude that only untouched wilderness provides."

    New Jersey
    new jersey
    "Situation on the Jersey Shore."

    New Mexico
    new mexico
    "People tend to shy away from probing questions in the land of enchantment."

    New York
    new york
    "Give me your tired, your poor, your creamy masses of tartar sauce."

    North Carolina
    north carolina
    "The truth is that while Wilber did most of the flying Orville had other interests at the Kitty Hawk beach."

    North Dakota
    north dakota
    "Oh, home on the range, where the reruns of Three’s Company play."

    Ohio
    ohio
    "They may be pests for presidential candidates but kids love living in a swing state."

    Oklahoma
    oklahoma
    "Home to famous cattle drives. Those cows can really move in their methane powered rides."

    Oregon
    oregon
    "Only organic free-range chickens run amuck at the FreeBird food truck. Just don’t get pecked when you pluck."

    Pennsylvania
    pa
    "Getting strong now, this cheesesteak’s long, wow! (With apologies to Pittsburgh and the Amish for this Lego depiction of Pennsylvania. Perhaps a Pennsylvania series is in order.)"

    Rhode Island
    rhode island
    "Sometimes a quahog decides to stuff itself. Why help a friend in need when you can help thousands get a laugh on YouTube?"

    South Carolina
    south carolina
    "Annie May mixes southern culture both genteel and otherwise in her off-road Charleston house."

    South Dakota
    south dakota
    "A chance encounter provides inspiration for large scale sculpture in the Black Hills."

    Tennessee
    tennessee
    "One can’t help falling in love with a quadruple layer club sandwich."

    Texas
    texas
    "Rounding up little doggies who have lost their way."

    Utah
    utah
    "Delicate arches and delicate noggins collide in the Utah backcountry."

    Vermont
    vermont
    "Stopping for a syrup hit in the northern woods."

    Virginia
    virginia
    "In the navy you can do just what you please."

    Washington
    washington
    "We can only close our eyes using clothespins."

    West Virginia
    west virginia
    "Bobby has five minutes left on his shift in the coal mine. Just enough time to dig a little deeper."

    Wisconsin
    wisconsin
    "After jumping the shark Arthur Fonzarelli limited his outdoor activities to helping with the traditional Wisconsin cheese harvest."

    Wyoming
    wyoming
    "The grizzly photo bomber of Yellowstone National Park."


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    WHISTLER, B.C. - A young athlete is recovering from a concussion in a Vancouver hospital after an accident at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

    Centre spokeswoman Patricia Leslie says the girl, a member of the B.C. Luge Association, was taking part in a regular training session Wednesday night and, as a novice athlete under the age of 13, was only practising on the lowest four corners of the track, about 120 kilometres north of Vancouver.

    Lugers lie on their back and slide, feet first, on an open sled and Leslie says the girl lost control on corner 14 of the 16 corner track and came off her sled at what is described as low speeds, suffering a concussion but remaining responsive while being prepared for the air ambulance flight to Vancouver Children's Hospital.

    Leslie says the athlete is now listed in stable condition and the sliding centre and luge association will begin a full review of the incident.

    She referred all other questions about the athlete's training and the frequency of such mishaps to the luge association, but noted these young athletes are learning to luge and the process is much like mastering a bicycle or learning to ski.

    The accident occurred on the same track where 21-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died just hours before the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics, prompting criticism that the course was too fast.


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    Let's face it. Although it would be an absolute dream to drop everything, quit your job and your family and run away to a sleepy, tropical island, most of us simply don't have the funds -- or, excuse the expression, the balls -- to do that.

    With the holiday madness about to descend upon us, we wanted to give you a quick escape to the balmy island of Maui.

    The below, five-minute high-definition video will take you through a natural oasis of perfect countrysides, lush forests, rolling clouds, breezy palm trees, and a collection of Hawaiian sunsets that will surely put your holiday mind at ease.

    And trust us, when you reach the final eerie moments of the video -- complete with an inverted view of an almost frosty beach -- you'll feel like you've been transported to a dreamworld far, far away.


    Maui - Hawaii from Seb Toots on Vimeo.


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    VANCOUVER - The Transportation Safety Board has concluded that pilot inexperience and an overweight plane were key factors in a crash that claimed two lives near Penticton, B.C.

    The Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche left the local airport with the pilot and three passengers aboard on Aug. 12, 2012, and crashed shortly afterwards in a treed area near the Brenda Mines site.

    Two passengers, 30-year-old Dallas Smith of Vancouver, and his girlfriend, 24-year-old Lauren Sewell, died and the pilot and third passenger were seriously injured.

    The report says the aircraft was about 70 kilograms overweight and couldn't gain enough altitude to make it out of the steep terrain.

    The TSB also says the pilot failed to use available turbochargers to gain altitude and that reduced power to the right engine contributed to the slow rate of climb.

    The safety board found the pilot and passengers were at increased risk of injury because the small plane wasn't equipped with shoulder harnesses.


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    We know about the abundant species that dwell in the Great Bear Rainforest, but a new video from Pacific Wild shows there's plenty going on under the sea that surrounds it.

    The non-profit organization that shoots live footage of B.C.'s vast coastal forest posted a spectacular video on Tuesday that shows an exotic world of jellyfish, seals and plant life.

    The video concludes by referencing the Northern Gateway pipeline and saying, "Who will pay the real cost of an oil spill? We all will!"

    If approved, Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline project would likely usher more tanker traffic to B.C.'s coast. An Oceans Initiative study from last September noted that oil spills could threaten humpback whales.

    Pacific Wild released the video as it carries out an Indiegogo campaign raising funds for underwater and night vision cameras so that it can provide 24/7 coverage of the Great Bear Rainforest.

    The campaign has raised $7,351 of the $28,000 it needs for the cameras with a week left to go.

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    Nov. 28 might be a regular day for Canadians, but south of the border it's Thanksgiving.

    And like the Canadian Turkey Day, it's a holiday about giving thanks, spending time with friends and family, and eating lots of tasty food. It's also a hectic time for travel, and one of the busiest days of the year for anyone planning to fly.

    As one can only imagine, flight delays are bound to happen. And when they do, you have two options: You can take them on the chin, or you can do what Elan Gale did, and wage war on a fellow passenger in what may be the greatest example of passive aggressive note passing ever documented on Twitter.

    But first, some context. According to Gale's Twitter account, the producer on ABC's "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" was about to fly from New York to Los Angeles when his US Airways flight was delayed. He started tweeting the fallout after noticing a distraught passenger arguing with airline staff.

    What follows next is an example of how not to respond to a grumpy flyer. It should also be noted that to the best of anyone's knowledge, Gale's seatmate did not have Twitter. As such, here's his account of the incident.







    According Gale, airline staff tried to be understanding�but it didn't do much to calm the frustrated passenger's fury.










    Eventually, their flight took off. But the passenger was still not happy about it, according to Gale.




    Nearly an hour and a half into the flight, Gale decided to offer his fellow a passenger a glass to wine to shut her up.




    By this point, even the flight attendants were aware of the unhappy passenger in seat 7A.













    And then things got interesting.




    Gale's fellow passenger wasn't very impressed by his account.










    And that's when Gale's fellow passenger/arch rival decided to introduce herself as "Diane."







    Things probably won't be resolved peacefully any time soon.










    But while it looks like Gale didn't have the internet's full support, he decided to carry forward with his plan anyways.
















    It was not very well received, according to Gale.







    By now, there was less than 15 minutes before the plane would touch down.




    But "Diane" had something to give Gale as well.







    Here's the play-by-play according to Gale.










    But Gale says he wasn't interested in pressing charges.



















    American Thanksgiving may be a holiday that Canadians don't celebrate, but let us all be thankful on this day for in-flight Wi-Fi and the entertaining magic of Twitter.

    What do you think? Did Gale go too far? Was "Diane" justified in her actions? Let us know in the comments below.

    You can see the rest of Gale's note by visiting his feed @theyearofelan.

    [H/T to Buzzfeed]

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    Cape Cod's Provincetown may have a reputation as a summer-time party town, but there's still plenty to once winter comes around and the hordes of tourists have migrated to warmer climes.

    In summer time, the 4000-plus population of Provincetown is augmented by a few extra visitors in the form of the great white sharks that hunt the town's seal population. Luckily, by the time November comes around, the seals, sharks and tourists have all fled to warmer climes, leaving Provincetown in the hands of 1500 local artists and bohemians, until the next spring when the tourist (and shark) season begins all over again.

    A small colonial town at the tip of Massachusetts's Cape Cod might not seem like the ideal winter retreat, but once the whale-watching trips have finished and the ferry to Boston stops for the winter, there's still a surprising amount to do in this historic town.

    The main commodity Provincetown (or P-Town to the locals) has to offer at this time of year is peace and quiet, something which I found extremely valuable. My trip to Provincetown revolved around a month-long stay at The Norman Mailer Writer's Colony, a writer's retreat set up in Mailer's former home with the aim of nurturing new writing talent. I had the Mailer Foundation and British GQ to thank for the prize and was looking forward to making the most of the solitude to get some serious work done.

    However, solitude is all well and good, but after a day or two there is a risk of things turning into a scene from The Shining. Like all writers, after a day or two I decided I was in need of a drink and decided to venture out to see what the town had to offer.

    There is only one road that matters in Provincetown if you're thirsty. Commercial Street runs the short length of the town, parallel to the bay, and even in winter a lively selection of bars can be found nestled amongst the traditional wooden houses and shops. The Mews is a great bar and restaurant, home to a decades-long tradition of Monday night music and poetry readings whilst The Old Compton (or O.C. to the initiated) is the bar that every New York dive bar strives towards, with fishing nets hanging from the ceiling and vagabonds of every description propping up the bar.

    If you don't fancy such hangover-inducing activities, a hike or bike ride around the Cape is a must. Herring Cove is a fantastic spot which looks out over the Atlantic Ocean and serves as the start point of a beautiful bike trail which leads through the sand dunes and across the Cape to Race Point.

    For travellers with a desire to keep warm, Provincetown boasts a great independent cinema as well as a selection of local coffee shops and numerous art galleries to explore. The Fine Art's Work Centre is particularly interesting. Home to writers and artists lucky enough to have received seven-month fellowships, F.A.W.C run frequent exhibitions, showcasing their resident's latest works. It's also a wonderful place to have Thanksgiving, if you're lucky enough to be invited.

    Inevitably, there is a huge sense of creativity in Provincetown, stemming from the town's historic associations with great writers and artists. The homes of both Norman Mailer and modernist writer John Dos Passos can still be seen today, towards the East end of Commercial Street and American poet Stanley Kunitz can be found in the town graveyard, buried beside Mailer.

    As is to be expected with such famous former residents, Provincetown is a lively place, even in the winter months. The more time you spend in there, the more you become a part of the town and by the end of a few weeks, everyone in each bar will know your name and grin as you enter. In fact, you'll soon find yourself planning a return trip in the summer when ferries to Boston re-open and the tourists return. Peace and quiet might be harder to come by during the summer months, but if the winter months are anything to go by, you'll be guaranteed a memorable and rambunctious experience, quit unlike anything or anywhere else.

    How To Get There

    American Airlines offer affordable flights to Boston from many U.K. airports. From Boston Cape Air run light airplane flights over the Atlantic to Provincetown. If the promise of beautiful scenery as you fly through the clouds above the Atlantic is not enough to tempt you into one of these small planes, there is also a ferry service form Boston to Provincetown, which runs from May to October.

    Cape Air

    Boston to Provincetown Ferries

    Where To Stay

    Snug Cottage guesthouse is located on Bradford, just behind Commercial Street and offers rooms from 50USD pp.

    Rooms at Carpe Diem guesthouse include access to the onsite spa. Children are not permitted. Prices begin at £154 per night.

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