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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A hard wind pelted exposed areas of our faces with tiny pellets of sleet and drove the 16-degree air through any chink in the ski gear covering my 4-year-old son Alex and me. He'd just fallen getting off a ski lift at Utah's Brighton Ski Resort and I could see the tears welling up through the goggles.


    Swift, decisive action was essential.


    Minutes later, we were sharing a large hot chocolate, a plate of cheese fries and planning our afternoon away from the mountain. A full belly, time at the hotel pool and a nap rescued my future of skiing with my son from a miserable morning on the mountain.


    "Let's go to Snowbird," he replied, referring to one of the ski resorts, when I asked if he wanted to ski or go into the city on the third day of our weeklong trip. Music to my ears.


    I was determined to share my love of skiing with my son, but wondered if I was pushing it when I put him on the slopes at age 3. And since we live far from snowy mountains, I worried we wouldn't get out often enough for it to take. But at 4, he showed mastery of the basics, and at 5, he can't wait to go back.


    For other parents out there wondering how to ignite a love of skiing in little ones, here are some tips on what worked for us.


    First off, as most parents know, the kid is in charge. If he or she doesn't want to learn, there is no amount of coaxing, bribing, pushing or fooling them into doing it.


    With Alex, I made sure to promote a love of snow. The sporadic snowfalls in St. Louis, where we live, always result in snowmen, snow-gorillas and other unrecognizable sculptures in our front yard. In fact, we've even resorted to stealing the snow from all our neighbors' yards, when the snowfall is too scanty for our own allotment to build anything of substance.


    Much like Dad, Alex loves gear. Playing with this helped build excitement for skiing. At age 3 he started wearing ski goggles and helmet while riding in his car seat during winter time. Used skis and ski boots off eBay came cheap and meant he could get used to stomping around in the boots before we even left St. Louis.


    His very first run came at age 3 at one of those local baby slopes common near many cities — a place called Hidden Valley, just outside St. Louis. Two times up the magic carpet and then sliding down the hill supported by Dad, followed by hot chocolate and even McDonald's on the way home.


    But last winter was the big breakthrough - a trip to California for Disneyland and then four days at Mammoth Mountain.


    For this major milestone, I turned to the professionals.


    "I've watched many a parent try to teach kid to ski and it turns into a frustrating experience. Tears and everything, it can go badly," said Craig Albright, the managing director of Mammoth's ski school.


    We sent Alex to Mammoth's ski school for 3- and 4-year-olds. From the get-go, it was about getting the kids to cut loose. As parents kept track of all the loose mittens, goggles, sunscreen and assorted toys, the instructors got the kids having fun, with hot chocolate, drawings and games during registration. Then, it was out to the tiny beginner slope with a magic carpet sheltered from the wind.


    "Our goal is always: Snow equals fun!" said Albright. He says each kid is different, some simply pick themselves up and dive back into it after a spill, while others tearfully announce they never want to ski again.


    "But when they are playing with other kids on the snow, they see other kids fall and not quit. That dynamic of being around their friends gets them going again."


    Alex spent two days in the Little Pioneers morning ski school. Each day, he spent about four hours riding the carpet, and learning the difference between pizza (making a V shape with skis, or what we called snowplow when I was a kid) and French fry (keeping your skis parallel). The 20-something ski instructors held the kids' tips together while skiing backward in front of them - something this 40-something Dad can't pull off any more.


    He was out in time for lunch, a visit with Woolly - the plushy mascot of Mammoth mountain - and a nap.


    At a little over $100 per day, it wasn't cheap. But it turned out to be worth every penny when I used frequent flier points for tickets to Salt Lake City and got a cheap hotel on the bus route up to the ski areas in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.


    Our first and second days were at Brighton - a very family-friendly place. I liked the free lift tickets for kids 7 and younger. Alex was all grins for the nice, easy, groomed run away from the "big kids" Alex eyed with a bit of concern tinged with envy.


    The second day's weather and spill at the lift made for a short day.


    But our third day at Snowbird was glorious. A slalom course on Chickadee (the bunny slope) featured a different oversize bug mascot on each gate. Alex really enjoyed rounding the bee and heading straight for the butterfly.


    We ended up skiing our last day at Snowbird, which along with the attached Alta ski area is my favorite place to ski.


    Alex and I rode the bigger lifts to mid-mountain and cruised most of the greens on the mountain. He savored the experience of always "winning" our races, since I hung back, ready to swoop down and grab him in the event of a turn toward the woods or other obstacles.


    In the depths of the long, cruel, snowless summer earlier this year, Alex looked at me and said, "Can we go skiing tomorrow?"


    "It's too hot, there's no snow," I replied. "But maybe next summer we can go to South America."


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    Spinal Tap may have been onto something decades ago when the mock-rockers recorded their song "Stonehenge" -- a new study has revealed the ancient site could have been used as a "prehistoric centre for rock music."

    The Daily Mail reports that experts at London's Royal College of Art said some of the stones -- when struck with hammers -- resemble the sounds of drums, gongs or bells. The experiment was the first time researchers were able to hit the monument located at the Salisbury Plain to see what possible noise existed.

    The Daily Express added the team of Jon Wozencroft and Paul Devereux from the London institute struck the rocks in 1,000 different locations. "We are in no doubt that the source area of the Stonehenge bluestones is a noteworthy soundscape."

    The Journal of Time & Mind said the Preseli Bluestones which are the stones found on the 5000-year-old site might have been picked due to their "acoustic energy." The research comes following Bernard Fagg, a "rock gong" pioneer who thought the reason for the monuments were because of their sonic capacities and thus sacred to people who lived during the Stone Age. "Different sounds can be heard in different places on the same stones," the researchers said, adding the noises varied from a wooden sound to a metallic sound.

    "It was a really magical discovery and refreshing to come across a phenomenon you can't explain," researcher Jon Wozencroft told the MailOnline, later adding he believed Stonehenge could be described as the first real musical instrument, or a Stone Age equivalent of a church bell. Some of the stones were also able to maintain their sound 5,000 years later.

    This follows research from 2009 that claimed, based on a study of the area's acoustics, "it may have been used for ancient raves" after Rupert Till, a university prof specializing in acoustics and music technology, believed the rocks were ideal for amplifying a "repetitive trance rhythm."

    That same year, Spinal Tap revisited their Stonehenge moment with a visit to the site following a Glastonbury gig, during which they ran into Canadian electro-rockers Metric. "The best part is, it was Spinal Tap's first trip to Stonehenge as well," lead singer Emily Haines subsequently blogged: "According to Shearer, they were just making their way back to London when they spotted the source of their most memorable joke in in the distance and decided, 'This would be the time to see the full-scale version."

    Stonehenge was also seen as a backdrop for the 1965 Beatles film "Help!" and from 1972 to 1984 Stonehenge was also home to the Stonehenge Free Festival which saw bands like Hawkwind, Doctor and the Medics, Thompson Twins and Jimmy Page perform over its run.

    Nowadays, Stonehenge attracts crowds of up to 20,000 during the summer solstice, as you can see from the gallery below.


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    By now you've flown home, stuffed your face with carbs and tryptophan, and probably crossed off half your holiday shopping list (overachiever!). We think you deserve a vacation after this long weekend. Let us provide some inspiration...

    By Molly Fergus, Condé Nast Traveler



    More from Condé Nast Traveler:

  • The Must-Have Gadgets for Every Traveler

  • The Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the World

  • 12 Travel Mistakes You're Definitely Making

  • How to Fit Everything Into One Carry-On Bag


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    (Relaxnews) - Relaxed travel rules to Cuba have resulted in a record number of Americans travelling to the island country over the last few years and have also placed Havana at the top of a newly released list ranking the top-rising destinations around the world.

    According to the latest travel report out of TripAdvisor, the Cuban capital -- also a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- took the top spot for seeing the greatest increase in positive traveller feedback and traveller interest.

    Havana beat out 53 other destinations around the world, including La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica and Kathmandu, Nepal, which took second and third place respectively.

    According to figures from Cuba’s national statistics office, about 98,000 Americans travelled to the island nation in 2012 -- more than double the numbers of 2007 (40,520).

    A US trade embargo bars US citizens from travelling to the island without government permission.

    However, President Barack Obama loosened travel restrictions in 2011 under a “people-to-people” program that allows Americans to travel to the country with licensed tour companies on cultural, education-based trips.

    “Recently...Havana has been experiencing a cultural renaissance, as the city shakes off the cobwebs and pours resources into resorts and hotels,” reads a short synopsis from TripAdvisor.

    “Whether you prefer to hot-step it in a salsa club, tour a cigar factory or sip a mojito in one of Hemingway’s haunts, energy buzzes in and around Havana’s historic city centre, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Here are the top 10 destinations on the rise according to TripAdvisor users:

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    If only this was a real place.

    ali xenos etsy travel posters

    Alas, as awesome as a trip to the swamps of Naboo or the forests of Endor may sound, the whole located "in a galaxy, far, far away" might be an issue for travellers. Still, that didn't stop graphic designer Ali Xenos from whipping up several retro travel posters of destinations only found on the big and small screens.

    Aside from the classic "Star Wars" locales, Xenos has a few posters depicting iconic sites from "Game of Thrones" and from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    ali xenos travel posters

    It's still unclear as to who would want to travel to Mordor, what with the whole crowded-with-legions-of-evil-orcs thing, but for the travelling movie buff on anyone's Christmas gift list, these posters ought to make the perfect present.

    If anything, perhaps these posters will spark an actual trip to the real-life destinations where "The Hobbit" and "Game of Thrones" take place. New Zealand is expecting to ride another wave of tourists thanks to the "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" film, set for release in mid-December.

    kings landing

    Meanwhile, parts of Europe are enjoying some of the limelight thanks to "Game of Thrones" tours highlighting regions in Croatia, Northern Ireland and Iceland.

    As for "Star Wars" fans, there's always the Hôtel Sidi Driss in Tunisia. Fans will remember the sandy dome from "Episode I: A New Hope" as Luke's home on Tatooine. But there's still no word on any of the new locations in J.J. Abram's continuation of the franchise.

    If worse comes to worst, take a trip to Calgary, where a winter blizzard may be the next best thing to visiting the icy tundras of Hoth.

    You can find more of Xenos' work at her Etsy page here

    Like this article? Follow us on Twitter


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    A week ago everything changed.

    It was a beautiful, sunny day. We'd had a late start because Phil wasn't feeling very well. The first fourteen kilometres of highway outside of Chalhuanca twist through the mountains, alongside cliffs and rivers.

    View from the highway. Photo: Tom Brady

    My heart nearly stopped when I came round the corner and saw the scene every motorcyclist hopes to never see. Phil's bike on its side with debris spread along the behind it, with Phil laying very still in the middle of the road meters further on.

    A million thoughts flashed through my mind. I need to get there fast, I need to be careful, I don't know what made him crash, he's not moving, is he dead?

    I didn't see the crash itself, Phil had taken off pretty quick, keeping up with Tom on his much lighter Suzuki DR650. I was cruising along behind with our new friend Jeremy, who raced motorcycles in France, and had spent some of the morning coaching me on taking corners with a smoother line.

    I stopped on the side of the road, leaped off my bike and ran to Phil. His eyes were closed, but he was talking. Kelly had already picked herself up and was kneeling beside him. After establishing that he wasn't dead, I ran back to help Jeremy clear the road, and of course, as per our long standing agreement, to take a couple of pictures.

    Seconds earlier Phil was laying on the road where he's standing in the picture.


    Jugs after doing some acrobatics

    SO close to 100,000km. We think Jugs went upside-down at some point.

    Always wear your helmet. This could have been Phil's head! Photo: Tom Brady

    Everything happened pretty fast, and we were soon being driven to hospital by a couple of kind Peruvians. Jeremy stayed at the crash site with the bikes, Tom soon realised something had happened and came back. We were so fortunate to have Jeremy and Tom riding with us. They were superstars.

    Phil and Kelly show off their matching hip wounds. Photo: Tom Brady

    Tom stayed with the bikes while Jeremy rode into town to get me. By this time our Peruvian rescuers had driven back to the crash site, loaded Jugs into their truck, and taken it with them to Cusco. We can't thank them enough for their help.

    Jugs gets a lift to Cusco. Photo: Tom Brady

    Tom rushed ahead to make sure Phil's bike was unloaded alright, Phil and Kelly got on a bus, and Jeremy and I loaded all of the remnants from the crash onto our bikes (including Phil's topbox, the tent, Kelly's hoodie and other random items).

    Our ride had moments of beauty but I was shaken, and it soon was dark.

    Jeremy, his bike Smiley, and a beautiful sunset on a terrible day.

    Luckily we had installed one of our Sena intercom units on Jeremy's helmet, and so at least I had someone to talk to for that long ride towards Cusco. Jeremy's calm, reassuring presence kept me sane.

    Me and Jeremy, a few days after the crash

    It was after sunset when Tom called me saying he had also just crashed.

    My heart dropped. I should have told Phil to stay in bed that morning and I should never have encouraged Tom to ride ahead quickly and alone to Cusco. The self blame came on strong and hard.

    Luckily Tom was okay, and his bike still ran. He handed the phone to the bus driver who was demanding money from him for the rock that ricocheted off Tom's bike into his bus. I explained to the driver that Tom would not be giving him any money, and that Tom would give him his Peruvian insurance details.

    The rocks that caused Tom to crash. Photo: Tom Brady

    Rock 1 - Suzi's Rim 0. Photo: Tom Brady

    Tom, luckily, was completely unhurt, the same cannot be said for Suzi's sidebag.

    It was at this point that Jeremy and I decided that riding in the dark for another 130 kilometers to Cusco was a terrible idea. The "highway" descended into dirt sections many times, and there were several places along the way where rocks had slid off the cliff into the road. Decision to stop at the next hospedaje made, it was an hour, and 60km later that we eventually found one. We drove very slowly and carefully for that hour!

    After all was said and done, the next day I found myself in Cusco, with Phil in surgery for a broken collarbone, and our plans in tatters.

    I was consumed by conflicting emotions. Depression, shock, sadness, relief, gratitude, worry, anger and fear.

    I was so glad that Phil and Kelly were okay, but also angry at Phil for being so stupid. How could he drive so fast with Kelly on the back? Hadn't he learnt his lesson when he crashed with me on the back in Alaska? Could I trust him to make good decisions on the rest of the trip? Would he be more careful, wait until he is properly healed, make the right choices?

    My faith in his ability to make good decisions and to look after himself and the people he is travelling with was lost.

    I was also feeling very sorry for myself. I had wanted to be in Southern Chile with my friends for Christmas. Google tells me that recovery for broken ribs and collarbones takes 4-6 weeks meaning that it is very unlikely that we will have even left Bolivia by Christmas. Also I have been invited to sail to the Galapagos in February. This is an opportunity that I do not want to pass up. Before the crash, making it to Ushuaia in mid January was very feasible. Once again, making plans had created expectations that were now being crushed.

    As the six days Phil was in hospital passed by, I slowly accepted that I may not make it to Ushuaia and be able to go sailing too. Kelly stayed in the extra bed in Phil's hospital room, leaving me alone to process everything - there were a lot of tears.

    I questioned whether I even wanted to continue. This past week has been a bad one for our friends on the road. One of the Venezualan brothers we met in Lima was hit by a truck, ending his trip. The Australian couple who I met in a coffee shop in Solento (we will catch up on the blog and tell you all about the past couple of months soon) had their motorcycle stolen in Bariloche, Argentina. Seven volcanoes erupted around the world. We were lucky in comparison, Phil will heal and Jugs, while very beat up, still runs.

    I moved into the Estrellita hostel, which is popular with motorcycle travellers.

    A lot of kindred spirits

    I met Greg and Cathy from France. Cathy is recovering from a crash where she shattered her shoulder. She didn't start riding again for 4 months. Even with that, much worse, injury, they didn't give up and go home, they stayed in South America, and now they are back on the road.

    Cathy and Greg - her shoulder is recovering!

    There is no way to know when Phil will be recovered enough to continue, or how much work it will take to get Jugs back on the road. I have been through a rollercoaster of emotions, and ended up deciding that I am just going to take things as they come. I would still like to see my friends in Chile, they are there until the 4th of January, but if I don't make it, that's okay. I am still very much planning on embarking on my sailing adventure in February, and if that means I have to leave Cricket somewhere before we make it to Ushuaia, that's okay too. Life is an adventure, and stuff happens.

    On Sunday, November 24th, 2013, Phil was discharged from hospital, Kelly flew back to Canada, Tom and Jeremy continued on their journey South to Bolivia and beyond, and we were adopted by Sandy and Sandra.

    Final picture before the gang disbanded. We miss you guys!

    In response to Phil's post about the crash, an old college friend, Rob, sent Phil an email saying that his parents and two younger siblings live near Cusco. I soon received a call from his mother Sandra inviting us to come stay with them while Phil recovers and fixes his bike. They run an NGO called DESEA in the Sacred Valley.

    Yesterday they drove into Cusco, loaded Phil and Jugs into their pick-up truck, and I followed them home on Cricket.

    Jugs' second truck ride in a week

    Our beautiful new home. Our bedroom is the balcony.

    Once again, despite bad things happening, the world is looking after us. We really are extremely fortunate, and the overarching lesson I am taking away from the past week is to live in the moment. Be appreciative of the people around you, the generosity of friends and strangers, the support shown by everyone, the health, love and life that we all have. I'm trying not to worry about what's going to happen next. It's hasn't been easy, and I wouldn't wish this experience on anyone, but adventures aren't only filled with fun.

    I am embracing the sadness, and I am confident that everything will work out in the end.

    The Sacred Valley is a lovely place to recover.

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    HONOLULU -- For hundreds of Hawaii residents and visitors, the Thanksgiving holiday ended with a bang — from a lightning strike.

    A little after noon on Sunday, Hawaiian Airlines Flight 19 was struck by lightning about 12 miles southwest of Honolulu International Airport as it was arriving from Sacramento.

    Four hours later, Hawaiian Airlines Flight 1121 was also hit as it was en route from Hilo to Honolulu.

    Hawaiian Airlines Flight 278 took a blow at 5 p.m. while it was flying from Honolulu to Kona. And less than an hour later, Flight 236 was hit as it shuttled passengers from Honolulu to Maui.

    Four lightning strikes in a span of six hours is highly unusual, according to aviation experts. And while pilots are trained to avoid storm clouds, the heavy cloud cover and pounding rains on Sunday may have given them little choice but to punch through the turbulence.

    “It gives you an indication that there must have been lots of rain that the planes were flying through and an environment for static issues,” said Peter Forman, a local aviation historian.

    Airplanes can actually create lightning as they travel through clouds. The airplanes were “probably picking up static faster than they could get rid of it,” he said.

    There were no injuries from the strikes and only two planes suffered minor damage, said Huy Vo, a spokesman for Hawaiian Airlines.

    While airline officials did not respond to an interview request, Vo said by email that all its planes have safety features in the event of a lightning strike. “All or our aircraft are FAA certified to ensure that lightning does not affect the structure or avionics of our aircraft,” he said.

    Vo said the cluster of strikes was unusual.

    Only the first incident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration and none of the four incidents were reported to Hawaii’s Department of Transportation.

    It’s up to the discretion of pilots to report such incidents to the FAA, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the agency. (He said that he didn't think the FAA keeps records of aircraft lightning strikes.) Hawaiian Airlines also isn't required to report such cases to the state transportation department, which has oversight of the state's airports, said Vo.

    Caroline Sluyter, a DOT spokeswoman, said that if it was a serious incident DOT would probably be kept informed.

    “If it happened near the airport or affected a flight, such as if a flight had to return to a Hawaii airport due to a lightning strike, then we we would most likely know about it,” she said.

    But while federal and state officials were unaware Sunday of the unusual spike in lightning hitting airplanes, passengers stuck for hours at island airports were aware that something had happened, even if they didn’t know what.

    Two of the 717 aircraft were pulled from the airlines' lineup to undergo maintenance causing a cascade of delays throughout the islands' airports for much of the day. Hundreds of island residents and tourists returning home for the holiday lay sprawled out on couches and chairs, some nodding off as delays stretched as long as four hours, some lasting past midnight.


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    Looks familiar, doesn’t it?

    Try as you may, you won’t find this castle in any of the Disneylands around the world. This fairy tale palace, however, can be found in Bavaria, Germany, more than 350 miles away from the closest Disneyland in Paris.

    Called the Neuschwanstein Castle, the magnificent 19th century palace was built as a private retreat for “mad” King Ludwig II. After the king’s death in 1886, the castle was opened to the public and is said to have inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle we’ve come to love.

    Surrounded by breathtaking mountain and lake views, the castle is truly the real-life magic kingdom:

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  • 12/04/13--04:32: Where To Go This Winter
  • Winter vacations don't always have to be synonymous with overeating and obnoxious relatives (but even if they are, you certainly deserve another trip that's all about you). Here, we've compiled our favorite picks for a cold-weather escape, whether you fancy zooming down the slopes, sipping hot toddies by the fire, or enjoying the culinary and cultural booms in places like Houston and Cape Town, South Africa. Another bonus: If you travel during the first few weeks of January, you're likely to score great deals on hotels and airfare. Here's where you should go this winter. --Blane Bachelor

    Houston
    Why Go Now: Houston is truly a rising star in the Lone Star state. Houston's dining scene has foodies buzzing. Several restaurants have earned spots on national best-of lists, with pop-ups in unexpected places adding extra momentum. A cornucopia of hotspots have revitalized the Downtown Historic District, including the pioneering Okra Charity Saloon, a buzzing bar whose profits are donated to Houston-based organizations. The Museum District, meanwhile, spans 19 institutions (11 of which offer free daily entry) over a 1.5-mile radius, including the recently opened Asia Society Texas Center and the Houston Museum of African American Culture.

    Plan Your Trip: Visit the Fodor's Houston Guide

    New Orleans
    Why Go Now: Winter comes two ways in the Big Easy: mellow and manic, depending on whether you visit during Mardi Gras festivities or not. We're partial to the more mellow weeks outside of the big bash, when summer temperatures have cooled, crowds have thinned, and deals abound. But that's not to say New Orleans ever becomes quiet. Its locals are notoriously fun-loving. There's always a reason to eat, drink, and be merry, whether it's Reveillon dinners during the holidays or a just a night out on Frenchmen Street, with its superb jazz bars and restaurants. In late March, bookworms gather for the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival.

    Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's New Orleans Guide

    Jackson Hole, Wyoming
    Why Go Now: Once a well-kept secret among skiing elite, this charming town and its premier Jackson Hole Mountain Resort have become a destination for more than their coveted slopes. The town itself, Jackson, beckons with a friendly, Old West vibe (don't miss the iconic photo-op under the elk-horn arch on the square). There are classic cowboy bars and restaurants, but newcomers like The Rose and Local have brought a touch of glam to the après-ski and dining scenes. Non-skiers will find plenty of nearby options, too: Think snowshoeing in Grand Teton National Park or snowmobiling in Yellowstone. And, with 12 cities that offer nonstop flights during the winter months, it has never been easier to get here for a weekend escape.

    Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Jackson Hole Guide

    San Diego, California

    Why Go Now: With still-warm temperatures and considerably sparser crowds, winter is a delightful time for a visit to this quintessentially Californian city. During the holidays, the city's festive boat parades, which usually occur in early December, offer a great way to get into the spirit of the season. San Diego is also showing off its culinary resurgence, with trendy tapas bars, gastropubs, and pop-ups cropping up across the city. Visiting between November and April also means prime whale-watching for the thousands of gentle giants that make their yearly migration to Baja California. Many local tour operators offer whale-watching excursions, but keep an eye out for their spouts from coastline spots.

    Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's San Diego Guide

    Nicaragua
    Why Go Now: The backpacker set has long favored this Central American gem for its affordable prices, excellent beaches, and friendly locals, but a surge of upscale accommodations and restaurants has added new cache to Nicaragua's appeal. Award-winning restaurants like Ciudad Lounge, La Casserole, and La Finca y El Mar have helped make the country a dining destination on its own. Meanwhile, active travelers will still delight in abundant outdoor offerings, including hiking, camping, and horseback rides along the beach, which are infinitely more enjoyable during the dry season from November to April.

    Vienna
    Why Go Now: Hardy travelers who can deal with the chill will be well rewarded with a winter wonderland of Christmas markets, snow-topped hillsides, and horse-drawn carriages - as well as cafes perfect for warming up with coffee or mulled wine. One of the most popular Christmas markets is in the courtyard of the Museums Quartier, a jolly hodgepodge of designer stalls, an ice bar, DJs, and even a curling lane. For merry mingling with locals, head to Neubau, a bohemian neighborhood (also called the 7th district) chock-full of hip cafés, bars, and shops.

    Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Vienna Guide

    Cape Town, South Africa
    Why Go Now: Design-savvy travelers, take note: Now is prime time to visit this gorgeous South African city, which has been designated the World Design Capital for 2014. The honor comes in the midst of a remarkable makeover that spans reinvigorated neighborhoods, sustainable projects, and a new spotlight on the urban delights of the Mother City. The renaissance is most evident in former industrial districts such as Woodstock and The Fringe, which have been transformed into a hodgepodge of trendy cafés, restaurants, shops, and galleries. And it's all easier than ever to explore, thanks to the snazzy new bus service that's already enhanced the public transit system.

    Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Cape Town Guide

    Quebec City
    Why Go Now: This enchanting city full of cobblestone streets, cozy cafés, and French culture only becomes more magical under a blanket of snow. In 2014, Québec City will mark the 350th anniversary of the spectacular Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral , the first cathedral built in North America, with a yearlong calendar of events and pilgrimages. An annual celebration that's always worthy of a winter visit is the Carnaval de Québec, a two-week fete of parades, contests, and snow-centric sporting events that is celebrating its 60th anniversary. For an authentic way to mingle with the cold-loving locals, visit a day spa such as the Scandinavian-style Siberia Spa, where you'll rejuvenate and relax via cold-water plunges, steam rooms, and saunas in an outdoor setting.

    Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Quebec City Guide

    Verbier, Switzerland
    Why Go Now: For an alpine adrenaline rush, this Swiss resort, the premier in Switzerland's largest ski area, the Four Valleys, delivers with world-class skiing, luging, and even hang-gliding. This winter, long-awaited lift connections will open, making it much easier to explore terrain such as the Bruson ski area, a longtime secret among locals. Top athletic talent - and awed onlookers - gather for the Xtreme Verbier Freeride Tour in March. Meanwhile, the après action promises to be extra-charged with the opening of the snazzy new W Verbier - the upscale brand's first ski-centric property - and its primed-for-partying bars and restaurants.

    Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Verbier Guide


    Adelaide, South Australia
    Why Go Now: For culinary and cosmopolitan gems but far lower prices, and far fewer crowds, than Sydney, visit this stunning coastal city. South Australia's capital is earning a reputation as a Down Under (but no longer under-the-radar) destination bursting with new energy on the food and drink scenes. A lively starting point for appreciating local flavors is the Central Market, bursting with produce, seafood, baked goods, gourmet cheeses, sweets, and more, all from a cornucopia of cultures. Gouger Street is Adelaide's lively restaurant row, and thanks to revised liquor laws, a new batch of bars and watering holes have cropped up around the city. For a wine-soaked sojourn, the Barossa Valley, Australia's wine epicenter, is just a 45-minute drive away.

    Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Adelaide Guide

    More from Fodor's:
    10 Best U.S. Ski Resorts For Families
    America's 15 Best Indie Coffee Shops
    15 Places to Drink Hot Chocolate in America

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    Last week, Dubai went wild when it was chosen to host Expo 2020, the upcoming world's fair.

    Already a city of luxury, Dubai will spend an estimated $6.8 billion prepping for the six-month event. Rulers say the city's spruced-up Trade Center and surrounding sites will "astonish the world."

    A few things you may not know about our opulent new host town:

    1. There are no street addresses in Dubai. People get mail delivered to office PO boxes, and if they want something taken to a house, they might draw maps on the envelope or write out directions.


    2. About 85% of Dubai’s residents are foreigners.


    3. Since 2008, there’s been a series of theme parks in the works at DUBAILAND, the city's already-gigantic "entertainment complex." When completed (reportedly in 2015), DUBAILAND will include such zones as “Attractions and Experience World," “Themed Leisure and Vacation World," and "Sports and Outdoor World." It will encompass 107 square miles.

    4. 143754795

    5. Part of DUBAILAND? A $1 billion replica of the Taj Mahal -- filled with hotels and shops instead of a tomb -- which developers hope will become a “major wedding destination.”


    6. Dubaians (as some might call them) celebrate National Day on December 2, the day the United Arab Emirates broke from the U.K. in 1971.


    7. It’s never not hot in Dubai. The average summer temperature is 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and in January the average high is 75. This is probably because the city is near some massive desert dunes.

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    9. There's no federal income tax for individuals in Dubai.


    10. If you kiss in public, you're subject to arrest: in 2010, a visiting British couple spent a month in jail after a two-year-old saw them smooching in a restaurant.


    11. Dubai has an indoor ski resort... but you probably already knew that. Lesser discussed is the Madinat Jumeirah, a massive "resort" compound with two hotels, 29 summer homes, 40 restaurants and taxi boats to shuttle visitors through its manmade thoroughfare of natural sea water.

    12. 171842346

    13. At the Burj Al Arab -- the $2,000 per night hotel on a man-made island in the Persian Gulf -- private butlers are on call 24/7 for each guest.


    14. Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport is the largest airport terminal in the world, and the second-largest building in the world in terms of floor space. It has a full-service hotel, an Apple store, and two zen gardens. ...all the more reason to fly in for the World Expo!


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    What will the airport of the future look like? We've compiled some of the most exciting projects currently in the works alongside of futuristic developments that industry experts believe could be gracing a terminal building near you soon.

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    Ever need a crash course on what to drink with what to eat? Especially while you're traveling in, say, Italy, amongst some of the world's most famous (and fabulous) vineyards?

    Look no further. Here's your go-to guide for European wines.



    A wine lover’s guide to Europe




    A wine lover’s guide to Europe [Infographic] by the team at Cheapflights.com





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    PORT ALBERNI, B.C. - A group of Vancouver Island First Nations is offering a $25,000 reward for the prosecution of those conducting an illegal elk kill in its territory.

    The Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations say since April, at least eight elk have been found dead in the Port Alberni area.

    Some of the carcasses have been abandoned, while others have been partially harvested, and four more appeared to have been professionally butchered.

    First Nations officials say the elk and other wildlife are not only valued for food, but are of great cultural significance.

    Chief Jeff Cook of the Huu-ay-aht Nation says they're completely opposed to the killing of elk for sport or fun and the fact that much of the animals were left behind troubles them.

    About five years ago, a dozen elk were transplanted into the area to create a sustainable herd and First Nations had been on the verge of being able to hunt as many as four of the animals.

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    When you have just a week or even fewer days to vacation in Europe, one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to travel the continent is by train. On a recent five-night trip in Europe, during which we travelled via high-speed trains booked through Rail Europe (a company that conveniently connects more than 50 different European train companies), we were whisked from Madrid to Barcelona, Nimes and Paris over the course of five nights and learned a few things about train travel. Here's how to make your trip go smoothly.

    Pack light

    Do you really need more than a pair or two of bottoms and a few tops and underwear? It'll be so much easier for you to hop on and off each train if all you've got is a carry-on or backpack. You can wear your stylish gear at home; pack instead with a focus on bringing only the essentials.

    Have your electronics charged

    Not all trains offer outlets (some do, though, so it's a good idea to have your AC converter somewhere you can grab it easily), so if you plan to do some work on your laptop, for example, it's best that it be fully charged. Also, many trains do not offer Wifi so don't count on being able to email or surf while on the train.

    Bring an emergency snack

    Most trains do offer food and beverages for sale (and depending on the type of ticket you purchase, a meal may be included), but just in case your meal of choice sells out or nothing on board for sale meets your food restrictions, it's better you have a snack with you so your stomach's not grumbling for a couple of hours.

    Bring something to keep you busy

    Don't count on the scenery to be your entertainment. While you might pass an interesting sight here and there, if you tend to be the type to get bored and restless, having something to occupy yourself with is a must (remember, many trains don't offer Wifi, so don't count on surfing on your tablet) whether that's Sudoku, a book, or a podcast.

    Plan enough time at the train station

    When you're in train stations you've never been to so you're unfamiliar with its layout, and you perhaps don't speak the language, it's always better to be more generous with the time you arrive at the station rather than risk missing your train. Don't forget if you're taking the train into a new country, you'll have to go through have your bags scanned and seeing a border-control agent, too, for which there may be long lines.

    --

    Written by Karen Kwan for: AmongMen.com

    More From AmongMen.com:

    Disneyland For Adults
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    TERRACE, B.C. - Low visibility plus a lack of instruments and instrument training are blamed for causing a helicopter to spiral into the ground near Terrace, B.C., killing all three people aboard.

    The six-seat helicopter was owned by Fort St. John-based Bailey Helicopters Ltd., and the crash killed the company's assistant chief pilot, Terrace resident Peter Bryant, and colleagues Blake Erickson of Sicamous and Arnaud Jolibois of Banff, Alta.

    The Transportation Safety Board report says Bryant was due for leave and was showing his relief pilot the Terrace-area terrain, while the company's maintenance engineer joined them on the June 1, 2012 flight to help the pair practice hover exit training.

    Neither pilot had instrument training and when the helicopter encountered overcast conditions above snow-covered terrain, the report says the pilots became disoriented and lost their reference to the ground.

    Data from various GPS units aboard the single-engine Eurocopter show it began an increasingly fast and tight downward spiral, slamming into the hillside barely 30 seconds later.

    The TSB says Bailey Helicopters has made several changes following the tragedy, including purchasing a flight simulator to train its pilots what to do if they suddenly lose ground reference and cancelling Transport Canada-issued permission for low-visibility operations.


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    This question originally appeared on Quora.

    Answer by Scott Welch, Cofounder of Edsby.com


    With 25 years as a product evangelist, including travelling around the world for hundreds and hundreds of user group meeting, I've been lucky to sit beside a lot of interesting people. But here's my favourite story:

    In about 1997 or 1998, I was sitting on an Air Canada flight out of Toronto. As is usual for me, I had a stack of magazines to read on the flight, including a copy of WoodenBoat Magazine. It happened that this particular issues had a retrospective on the late Joel White, a well-known wooden boat builder. Beside me sat a middle-aged woman.

    As I was reading, I struck up a friendly conversation with my seatmate, and seeing the pictures of the beautiful boats she asked a few questions about boats.

    Then I mentioned to her that the best parts of the issue I had in hand were the articles about Joel White. I happened to tell her very casually that Joel was the son of E.B. White, the essayist and author.

    A beautiful down-east lobster boat designed and built by Joel White

    "Ah," she said. "E.B. White. I have a sort of connection to him."

    "Really! Tell me more." I replied (I'd always been an E.B. White fan)

    "Well..." she started, "My father was one of those people who collected first editions of books. He was a schoolteacher, but he'd always dreamed of being an author. He had a few authors who he corresponded with, and he'd send the first edition books to them for their signatures. One of those authors was E.B. White, and the two of them carried on quite a correspondence for many years."

    "Anyhow, when I was fairly young my father received a nice letter from E.B. telling him that he was about to start a children's book, and that because of how much E.B. had enjoyed the correspondence with my father, he wanted my father to suggest a name for one of the characters in the new book. So, my father wrote back to E.B. and suggested that he name one of the characters after me. In the next letter, E.B. said that he would."

    "Wow!" was my immediate response, "That's pretty darn cool! So... I have to ask, what's your name?"

    I was speechless at her answer:

    "Charlotte."

    More questions on Air Travel:

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    Photo Courtesy of Dreamstime. Article by Danielle Contray, contributor to Budget Travel.

    Having kids doesn't mean you can never travel again, of course. Yet once you've gone from packing a suitcase and two carry-ons to dealing with travel cribs, car seats, strollers, and diaper bags (not to mention the snacks, changes of clothing, and toys needed to make it through a six-hour flight), you'll be asking yourself -- why didn't we do this before we had kids? These are not babymoons, per se, which are best spent relaxing on the beach. These four places are where you'll want to be on your own schedule to get adventurous, sample the local wines, and stay up into the wee hours.

    Click here for photos of the places!

    New Zealand

    The spectacular natural wonders and cool towns of New Zealand should be at the top of your pre-kids bucket list. Especially since they are a 13-hour flight away -- and that's if you are coming from the West Coast (not to mention those flights typically cost more than $1,000 per person). Long haul flights are hard on everyone, and it will likely take kids longer to adjust to such a significant time change, cutting into your actual vacation time. Plus hopping between the North and South Island is mandatory if you want to see all the country has to offer. Do you really want to spend half your vacation repacking all the suitcases and searching under hotel beds for a lost lovey (or worse, realizing it's missing once you're at the next stop)?

    Do it: You have a lot of ground to cover, so be sure to give yourself a lot of time see the sites. Start in Auckland on the North Island, where you can take the unbelievable elevator 610 feet up the Sky Tower for 360-degree views. Then either head north to the Bay of Islands for sailing and hiking, or you can go south to the town of Wellington. On the South Island, meet the locals in Christchurch and go wine tasting at the surrounding wineries. Get to know a different type of local in the town of Oamaru, where you can watch the blue penguins march back to their nests in the early evening.

    Disney World

    Think the magical realm of Mickey and Minnie is just for kids? Think again. Going to Disney as an adult is a totally different experience than if you have toddlers (or even teens) along for the adventure. Some are obvious -- not being relegated to the kiddie rides, not having to push a stroller around. Then there's the not having to go back to the hotel for nap and not having to decide between getting the kids dinner, bath, and into bed on time (and avoiding potential meltdowns) versus staying late for the awesome Main Street Electrical Light Parade. Disney has also caught on that they need to keep adults happy, too. That means things like gourmet restaurants. You can now even get a glass of wine with your dinner at Be Our Guest in the new Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom.

    Do it: Another perk to traveling to Disney without kids is that you aren't beholden to school vacations (when prices are higher and crowds are denser). September and October are good times to go, and the temperatures will be a little more bearable as well. Even so, you might want to stay at a hotel further from the action and less aggressively family-friendly. There is a premium for avoiding characters after-hours, though. The Dolphin is a boat-ride away from Epcot and, though it's not run by Disney, offers perks like Extra Magic Hours and free parking at Disney parks (from $169 a night in late September). The Four Points by Sheraton Studio City is on International Drive and closer to Universal Orlando than the Disney Parks, but starts at just $124 a night in late September.

    Paris

    Is there anywhere more romantic than Paris? It's a city where you want to embrace the clichés and roll with them. Strolling the streets, hand-in-hand? Yes! Taking a sunset boat ride down the Seine? Mais oui! Trying to keep the kids from hurling frites at each other at the quaint outdoor café? Not so much. Go now and get all the nuzzling under the Eiffel Tower out of your system. Bring your future children back in a few years to see the amazing museums and historic sites -- once they are out of their food-throwing phase, that is.

    Do it: Stay in the charming, antique-filled Hotel de la Paix -- one of our Secret Hotels of Paris -- in the 14th arrondissement (from $130 per night). The centrally located hotel is within 20 minutes of the sites of Paris by Metro, and within walking distance of cafes and gardens.

    Route 66 Road Trip

    There are lots of great scenic road trips in the U.S. (California's Route 1, the Blue Ridge Parkway), but why not go back to the original and travel along Route 66. Well, what's left of it (see below). Road trips may not scream romance for some, but there won't be much time after kids to really just enjoy each other's company -- and control what's coming out of the car speakers. This also means no kids rolling their eyes at every retro diner you want to stop at for a patty melt and a milkshake. And, most importantly, no chorus of "are we there yet??" from the back seat.

    Do it: To really, truly do this trip, you start in Santa Monica, California and drive the more than 2,000 miles to Chicago. It goes without saying that there is a lot to see along the way, from the Grand Canyon to the St. Louis Arch. The midpoint is the town of Adrian, Texas, home to the MidPoint Café and its famous pies and kitschy decor. The longest section of the original Route 66 starts northeast of Oklahoma City. Be sure to stop at the Route 66 Museum in OKC before you head out.

    Click here to see four more places you should visit before you have kids!

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    You might have thought about swimming with dolphins, fish, even maybe sharks, but wild pigs?

    Well, the day wild pigs swim has arrived on the Bahamian archipelago of Exuma. The island called Big Major Cay is affectionately nicknamed Pig Island because that is where the wild pigs roam free on land and water.

    When pictures circulated on the Internet, the babes captured our attention, but this video is almost too much to handle.

    Wild as the pigs may be, they are not native to the island. It is thought that long ago there was a group of sailors that dropped the pigs off on the island, thinking they would make a good food source. The sailors never returned, but the pigs stayed and adapted to the island lifestyle and now thrive.

    So pack your sooeycases to visit Pig Island. You won't have a boaring time, we promise.


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    PRAGUE (AP) — One thing was for sure when foreigners stayed at a prestigious Prague hotel during the Cold War era — their telephone conversations were carefully monitored by secret police in a hidden underground bunker some 20 meters (66 feet) under the building.

    The Jalta hotel at Wencaslas Square in the heart of the Czech capital was built in 1958. Its massive bunker with its reinforced concrete walls was meant to provide Communist Party members and military officials a shelter in the case of a nuclear attack. But it was also used as a center for surveillance operations that targeted western visitors staying at one of the several international hotels in Prague at the time.

    To mark its 55th anniversary, the 500 square meter (5,382 square feet) bunker has since been turned into a museum. It opened to the public last week.

    Sandra Zouzalova, Jalta's public relations manager, said Wednesday the hotel wanted to shine a light on the many secret activities of the Cold War era.

    Jalta was one of many places used by foreign diplomats where the Communists gathered intelligence. West Germany's business representation office in the 1970s was one of the prime targets, she said.

    "They were eavesdropping on all of the hotel rooms," Zouzalova said.

    Inside the bunker is some of the original equipment, including a switchboard, a tape recorder and numerous wires that once led to the hotel's 94 rooms.

    Also on display is a floor plan that shows some rooms painted in red, green and yellow.

    Zouzalova said the red rooms were given to high-value targets.

    She said the operation didn't cover just phone calls.

    Listening devices were attached to lint brushes, and prostitutes were often used.

    The shelter, which had walls that were two meters (6.6 feet) thick, had its own ventilation system and a huge water tank that would allow more than 150 people to survive for months.

    The place was shrouded in secrecy until 1998, when Czech authorities gave up the space for use. That was nine years after the 1989 Velvet Revolution that ended Communist regime.

    The bunker is open two days a week and guests can visit with advanced booking.

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    "Selfie" may be Oxford Dictionary's 2013 "Word of the Year," but here's hoping selfie videos will catch on in 2014.

    What's a selfie video? Ask Selim El Mellah, the filmmaker behind "One Minute Around Australia". Using nothing but a stick and a Go Pro camera, El Mellah captures the beauty of the Land Down Under during his one-year stay in the country.

    El Mellah is part of MPF Australie, a French blog dedicated to exploring Australia, and along with his friends, Axelle Anduze, Jeremy Pichon, Marine Loreau, has put together a dizzying reel highlights the country's sandy white beaches, beautiful blue seas and legendary Red Rock.

    You can watch the whole thing below -- just try not to get dizzy.



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