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Travel blog

  • April
    19

    Cool canyons, gorgeous gorges

    A couple of years ago, I joined a private raft trip down the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River. Four of us flew into Phoenix, drove to Flagstaff and then to the South Rim, and hiked down to Phantom Ranch, where we met up with the rafts at Cremation Beach. The trip was glorious. Yes, there were moments of misery (I didn’t know that fungus grew on so many human body parts and, by the end, my skin was a Jackson Pollock of sunburn, bug bites and chafe), but I also got to see an otherworldy beautiful landscape that was made even more sublime by the effort required to reach it. (Which, on a private trip, is considerable.) The day we approached the mouth of Havasu Creek , a tributory to the Colorado, and pulled the rafts into its milky turquoise waters, I didn’t know what wonders awaited me in the canyon. As we entered Havasu Canyon and followed the opalescent creek upstream, I felt as if I had entered another world, one of delicious shade after the Grand’s heat, of limpid travertine pools and red-sand beaches fringed with blooming wildflowers. It was one of the most magical spots I’ve ever been, and it was worth every insult my body had endured to get there.  Canyons are some of the most... Read More A couple of years ago, I joined a private raft trip down the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River. Four of us flew into Phoenix, drove to Flagstaff and then to the South Rim, and hiked down to Phantom Ranch, where we met up with the rafts at Cremation Beach. The trip was glorious. Yes, there were moments of misery (I didn’t know that fungus grew on so many human body parts and, by the end, my skin was a Jackson Pollock of sunburn, bug bites and chafe), but I also got to see an otherworldy beautiful landscape that was made even more sublime by the effort required to reach it. (Which, on a private trip, is considerable.) The day we approached the mouth of Havasu Creek , a tributory to the Colorado, and pulled the rafts into its milky turquoise waters, I didn’t know what wonders awaited me in the canyon. As we entered Havasu Canyon and followed the opalescent creek upstream, I felt as if I had entered another world, one of delicious shade after the Grand’s heat, of limpid travertine pools and red-sand beaches fringed with blooming wildflowers. It was one of the most magical spots I’ve ever been, and it was worth every insult my body had endured to get there.  Canyons are some of the most... Read More
  • April
    10

    Secret gardens, hidden courtyards

    On a trip to New Orleans a couple of years ago, one of my main pleasures as a visitor was wandering the streets and catching glimpses of gardens and courtyards tucked inside old buildings, the tantalizing view often framed by a locked metal gate. I wanted badly to be able to open the gates and enter those magical places, which seemed so cool and inviting after the city’s muggy heat. Courtyards have been built for centuries as a building’s inner sanctuary, a respite from the public and a retreat for the building’s residents. Our latest slide show, Secret Gardens, Hidden Courtyards takes you into some of the great courtyards of the world, from the magnificent patios of the sprawling Alhambra in Grenada to a small courtyard in London that’s truly hidden from the rest of the city. Do you love courtyards? What’s your favorite city to see them? Leave a comment on the blog. On a trip to New Orleans a couple of years ago, one of my main pleasures as a visitor was wandering the streets and catching glimpses of gardens and courtyards tucked inside old buildings, the tantalizing view often framed by a locked metal gate. I wanted badly to be able to open the gates and enter those magical places, which seemed so cool and inviting after the city’s muggy heat. Courtyards have been built for centuries as a building’s inner sanctuary, a respite from the public and a retreat for the building’s residents. Our latest slide show, Secret Gardens, Hidden Courtyards takes you into some of the great courtyards of the world, from the magnificent patios of the sprawling Alhambra in Grenada to a small courtyard in London that’s truly hidden from the rest of the city. Do you love courtyards? What’s your favorite city to see them? Leave a comment on the blog.
  • April
    03

    Cruise ship disasters

    The Titanic -- which set sail on April 10, 1912, from Southampton, England, en route to New York – collided with an iceberg on April 14 and sank to the bottom of a dark Atlantic Ocean early the next morning. More than 1,500 people died in the icy waters or went down with the ship. Our enduring fascination with the tragedy is reflected in the frenzy of activity that has grown up around the shipwreck’s centennial. There’s something compelling about the idea of an enormous ship – on its maiden voyage, no less -- foundering in the ocean far from shore, its lifeboats pitifully inadequate to hold all its passengers. James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster , whose 15th anniversary felicitously coincides with the Titanic centennial, further cemented the shipwreck in the public imagination. But the sinking of the Titanic, horrifying though it was, isn’t the only large-scale disaster that has happened at sea. From a 1915 wartime sinking that killed more than 1,110 people to the recent half-sinking of the Costa Concordia, our latest slide show takes a look at famous cruise ship disasters. Are you fascinated with these accidents at sea, rare as they’ve become? Tell us about it in comments. The Titanic -- which set sail on April 10, 1912, from Southampton, England, en route to New York – collided with an iceberg on April 14 and sank to the bottom of a dark Atlantic Ocean early the next morning. More than 1,500 people died in the icy waters or went down with the ship. Our enduring fascination with the tragedy is reflected in the frenzy of activity that has grown up around the shipwreck’s centennial. There’s something compelling about the idea of an enormous ship – on its maiden voyage, no less -- foundering in the ocean far from shore, its lifeboats pitifully inadequate to hold all its passengers. James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster , whose 15th anniversary felicitously coincides with the Titanic centennial, further cemented the shipwreck in the public imagination. But the sinking of the Titanic, horrifying though it was, isn’t the only large-scale disaster that has happened at sea. From a 1915 wartime sinking that killed more than 1,110 people to the recent half-sinking of the Costa Concordia, our latest slide show takes a look at famous cruise ship disasters. Are you fascinated with these accidents at sea, rare as they’ve become? Tell us about it in comments.
  • March
    27

    Spectacular viewing platforms

    Are you one of those people who would rather face down a grizzly than venture out, a quarter-mile above Chicago, onto the glass floor of the Willis Tower’s Skydeck ? Or do you get a little thrill out of heights? I confess to belonging to the former group; the first time I visited the Grand Canyon and got a little too close to the edge, I got dizzy and lightheaded and had to take a quick step backward. Our latest slide show, Spectacular Viewing Platforms , will give you a rush, one way or another. Check out some of the world’s most amazing places to take in a great big view, from a glass walkway that juts out over one of the world’s best-known canyons to a thrill ride 900 feet above the Las Vegas desert. Have you ever visited one of these viewing platforms? Did we miss one? Let us know in comments! Are you one of those people who would rather face down a grizzly than venture out, a quarter-mile above Chicago, onto the glass floor of the Willis Tower’s Skydeck ? Or do you get a little thrill out of heights? I confess to belonging to the former group; the first time I visited the Grand Canyon and got a little too close to the edge, I got dizzy and lightheaded and had to take a quick step backward. Our latest slide show, Spectacular Viewing Platforms , will give you a rush, one way or another. Check out some of the world’s most amazing places to take in a great big view, from a glass walkway that juts out over one of the world’s best-known canyons to a thrill ride 900 feet above the Las Vegas desert. Have you ever visited one of these viewing platforms? Did we miss one? Let us know in comments!
  • March
    27

    Stunning sculpture gardens

    When Seattle opened its Olympic Sculpture Park in 2007, the appeal of the park was clear. The setting was carefully selected: right on Elliott Bay, with pocket beaches, bike paths and easy access to downtown and the waterfront, and front-row seats to the sun setting over the Olympic mountains. Then there's the art: Massive installations like the "Eagle," benches shaped like eyes, and the typewriter eraser, to name a few. The marriage of art and nature has made the park a favorite stop for locals (sunset weddings are popular here) as well as tourists to the Emerald City. This park is one of the dozen featured in the new Bing Travel slide show, Stunning Sculpture Gardens , by Pauline Frommer. She searched the world for the most amazing examples of art au naturel , like the Musee Rodin in Paris and the unusual Stalin's World in Lithuania -- as well as some closer to home. Where is your favorite place to view art, indoors or out? Share it by leaving a comment below. When Seattle opened its Olympic Sculpture Park in 2007, the appeal of the park was clear. The setting was carefully selected: right on Elliott Bay, with pocket beaches, bike paths and easy access to downtown and the waterfront, and front-row seats to the sun setting over the Olympic mountains. Then there's the art: Massive installations like the "Eagle," benches shaped like eyes, and the typewriter eraser, to name a few. The marriage of art and nature has made the park a favorite stop for locals (sunset weddings are popular here) as well as tourists to the Emerald City. This park is one of the dozen featured in the new Bing Travel slide show, Stunning Sculpture Gardens , by Pauline Frommer. She searched the world for the most amazing examples of art au naturel , like the Musee Rodin in Paris and the unusual Stalin's World in Lithuania -- as well as some closer to home. Where is your favorite place to view art, indoors or out? Share it by leaving a comment below.
  • March
    21

    Where in the world are you: Disney

    My fascination with Disneyland started when I was about six, the first time my parents made the drive to Los Angeles from Seattle to visit friends and stopped in Anaheim along the way. The spinning teacups (which I always insisted on riding first thing) with Alice in Wonderland’s caterpillars beetling along behind, the creepy corniness of the Haunted Mansion, the sense that something amazing was just around the corner – I loved it all. Since then, I’ve been back dozens of times, and I still haven’t lost that sense of wonder. And I still go for the teacup ride first, every time. Our latest slide show, Where in the World Are You: Disney , takes a look at iconic (and a few not-so-iconic, but interesting) Disney attractions and properties. Read the clues, study the pictures, and see if you can guess what you’re looking at. Have fun, and share your favorite Disney attraction with us in comments. My fascination with Disneyland started when I was about six, the first time my parents made the drive to Los Angeles from Seattle to visit friends and stopped in Anaheim along the way. The spinning teacups (which I always insisted on riding first thing) with Alice in Wonderland’s caterpillars beetling along behind, the creepy corniness of the Haunted Mansion, the sense that something amazing was just around the corner – I loved it all. Since then, I’ve been back dozens of times, and I still haven’t lost that sense of wonder. And I still go for the teacup ride first, every time. Our latest slide show, Where in the World Are You: Disney , takes a look at iconic (and a few not-so-iconic, but interesting) Disney attractions and properties. Read the clues, study the pictures, and see if you can guess what you’re looking at. Have fun, and share your favorite Disney attraction with us in comments.
  • March
    13

    What's your dream spring break destination...

    The official start of spring is still some days away and winter still has a firm grip on much of the country, so if you’re like us you’re dreaming about where you’d rather be. The Bing Travel team wanted to know where you, our readers, wished you could spend a week in spring. We asked our Facebook fans and Twitter followers to share their dream spring break destinations, and got some incredible responses, which we turned into a new slide show called 10 Dream Spots for Spring Break . One reader summed up what was on many of your minds by writing where she wanted to be: “On a beach with beautiful clear blue water and lots of palm trees.” We got votes for Hawaii, Florida, and many beaches in the Caribbean. Some places were new to us – such as Siargao, Philippines – and we’re excited to add those to our travel wish lists. Thanks to everyone who participated, and enjoy the slide show. Here’s hoping it inspires your spring travels. Didn’t get a chance to add your favorite spring break hot spot? Share it now by posting a comment below! The official start of spring is still some days away and winter still has a firm grip on much of the country, so if you’re like us you’re dreaming about where you’d rather be. The Bing Travel team wanted to know where you, our readers, wished you could spend a week in spring. We asked our Facebook fans and Twitter followers to share their dream spring break destinations, and got some incredible responses, which we turned into a new slide show called 10 Dream Spots for Spring Break . One reader summed up what was on many of your minds by writing where she wanted to be: “On a beach with beautiful clear blue water and lots of palm trees.” We got votes for Hawaii, Florida, and many beaches in the Caribbean. Some places were new to us – such as Siargao, Philippines – and we’re excited to add those to our travel wish lists. Thanks to everyone who participated, and enjoy the slide show. Here’s hoping it inspires your spring travels. Didn’t get a chance to add your favorite spring break hot spot? Share it now by posting a comment below!
  • March
    09

    Beautiful Ireland

    You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy Saint Patrick’s Day: the parades, the beer, all that wearin’ o’ the green. So celebrate with us as we take a pictorial tour of the Emerald Isle, its people, its culture and history in the new Bing Travel slide show, Beautiful Ireland . And because March 17 comes just a few days before the start of spring, here’s a traditional Irish blessing for you: “May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day. May songbirds serenade you every step along the way. May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that’s always blue -- and may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.” Happy travels! You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy Saint Patrick’s Day: the parades, the beer, all that wearin’ o’ the green. So celebrate with us as we take a pictorial tour of the Emerald Isle, its people, its culture and history in the new Bing Travel slide show, Beautiful Ireland . And because March 17 comes just a few days before the start of spring, here’s a traditional Irish blessing for you: “May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day. May songbirds serenade you every step along the way. May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that’s always blue -- and may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.” Happy travels!
  • March
    05

    Cherry blossoms around the world

    The sight of cherry trees in bloom epitomizes spring in many countries, from Japan to the United States, which has been the recipient of goodwill gifts of cherry saplings from Japan over the years. Traditionally, the cherry bloom in Japan reminds viewers of the impermanence of all things, as illustrated by the brilliant but short life span of the cherry blossom. Residents all over the country celebrate the bloom with picnics under the trees and other activities. The practice has spread elsewhere, with communities from Seattle to Seoul holding festivals to mark the blooming of their precious trees. Check out our new slide show, Cherry Blossoms around the World , to find out about the celebration and about the best places in the world to view the ephemeral blooms. And tell us – have you ever witnessed a world-class cherry bloom?  Where do you recommend going to view the blossoms? Leave your comments below. The sight of cherry trees in bloom epitomizes spring in many countries, from Japan to the United States, which has been the recipient of goodwill gifts of cherry saplings from Japan over the years. Traditionally, the cherry bloom in Japan reminds viewers of the impermanence of all things, as illustrated by the brilliant but short life span of the cherry blossom. Residents all over the country celebrate the bloom with picnics under the trees and other activities. The practice has spread elsewhere, with communities from Seattle to Seoul holding festivals to mark the blooming of their precious trees. Check out our new slide show, Cherry Blossoms around the World , to find out about the celebration and about the best places in the world to view the ephemeral blooms. And tell us – have you ever witnessed a world-class cherry bloom?  Where do you recommend going to view the blossoms? Leave your comments below.
  • March
    02

    Can you name these landmarks?

    Some landmarks are so familiar to us that we’d recognize them by sight: the Golden Gate Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, to name just a few. But how well do you know your world landmarks? Can you pick them out by a close-up photo and a few clues? Even if you’ve never been to the famous attractions we feature in our new slide show quiz, Where In the World Are You?, try delving into the photo and clues on the page to see if you can find out what the landmark is. Good luck and have fun Some landmarks are so familiar to us that we’d recognize them by sight: the Golden Gate Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, to name just a few. But how well do you know your world landmarks? Can you pick them out by a close-up photo and a few clues? Even if you’ve never been to the famous attractions we feature in our new slide show quiz, Where In the World Are You?, try delving into the photo and clues on the page to see if you can find out what the landmark is. Good luck and have fun
  • February
    29

    2012 Spring Break Fareology Forecast: Airfare...

    Spring is in the air and spring break is around the corner. For those of you who haven’t locked down your getaway plans, we’ve enlisted the Fareologists at Bing Travel to help. The team has scoured millions of round-trip itineraries to give you the lowdown on the spring travel landscape as well as tips on how you can break away without breaking the bank. Here are the highlights: Overall, airfare is up 4.1 percent from the 2011 spring break travel season. If you’re headed somewhere warm for spring break, expect to pay a little more this year, as ticket prices to warm destinations are expected to be up nearly 16 percent – from $406 in 2011 to an average of $468 this year. Domestic airfares are expected to remain flat, with tickets averaging $325 this year, compared with $323 in 2011. Spring break flights to Europe have increased nearly 11 percent, from $815 in 2011 to an average of $907 this year. While the overall forecast calls for higher prices, deals can still be had for those who are willing to be creative. Be flexible. The best (cheapest) weeks to travel this spring break season are the last two weeks of April, when prices are... Read More Spring is in the air and spring break is around the corner. For those of you who haven’t locked down your getaway plans, we’ve enlisted the Fareologists at Bing Travel to help. The team has scoured millions of round-trip itineraries to give you the lowdown on the spring travel landscape as well as tips on how you can break away without breaking the bank. Here are the highlights: Overall, airfare is up 4.1 percent from the 2011 spring break travel season. If you’re headed somewhere warm for spring break, expect to pay a little more this year, as ticket prices to warm destinations are expected to be up nearly 16 percent – from $406 in 2011 to an average of $468 this year. Domestic airfares are expected to remain flat, with tickets averaging $325 this year, compared with $323 in 2011. Spring break flights to Europe have increased nearly 11 percent, from $815 in 2011 to an average of $907 this year. While the overall forecast calls for higher prices, deals can still be had for those who are willing to be creative. Be flexible. The best (cheapest) weeks to travel this spring break season are the last two weeks of April, when prices are... Read More
  • February
    28

    11 weirdest foods you'll ever eat on vacation

    By Julia Dimon, Travel Writer I’ve eaten a lot of strange things in my travel career. I’ve sucked back shots of cobra blood and bile from a freshly killed snake in Vietnam, snacked on fried grasshopper in Thailand, tasted goat brain in Morocco and sampled a 6-inch scorpion and an entrée of lamb’s penis in China. When traveling, I like to keep an open mind and eat as the locals do, even if that means taking my taste buds to the extreme. In terms of culinary challenges, as weird and as disgusting as these dishes may be, I’m open to trying anything cultural. That said, I will admit that I hesitated when presented with the ‘toe-pertunity’ to try the Sour Toe cocktail. At the Sourdough Saloon in Dawson City's Downtown Hotel, they serve up a bizarre brew that combines Yukon Jack whiskey and an unlikely garnish: a severed, pickled human toe. This strange tradition was created more than 30 years ago by Captain Dick, a local entrepreneur who saw an opportunity to profit from selling shots -- complete with an amputated, frostbitten toe from some unfortunate miner -- to adventurous customers. More than 65,000 people have tried this drink, joined... Read More By Julia Dimon, Travel Writer I’ve eaten a lot of strange things in my travel career. I’ve sucked back shots of cobra blood and bile from a freshly killed snake in Vietnam, snacked on fried grasshopper in Thailand, tasted goat brain in Morocco and sampled a 6-inch scorpion and an entrée of lamb’s penis in China. When traveling, I like to keep an open mind and eat as the locals do, even if that means taking my taste buds to the extreme. In terms of culinary challenges, as weird and as disgusting as these dishes may be, I’m open to trying anything cultural. That said, I will admit that I hesitated when presented with the ‘toe-pertunity’ to try the Sour Toe cocktail. At the Sourdough Saloon in Dawson City's Downtown Hotel, they serve up a bizarre brew that combines Yukon Jack whiskey and an unlikely garnish: a severed, pickled human toe. This strange tradition was created more than 30 years ago by Captain Dick, a local entrepreneur who saw an opportunity to profit from selling shots -- complete with an amputated, frostbitten toe from some unfortunate miner -- to adventurous customers. More than 65,000 people have tried this drink, joined... Read More
  • February
    23

    What’s New in Las Vegas Now

    A wild Halloween weekend in Las Vegas last year, which involved crazy costumes and club hopping until 5 in the morning, opened my eyes after a lifetime of Vegas-avoidance: This city is a lot of fun, if you have some cash to spend -- and maintain a sense of humor about its gaudy excesses. In our latest slide show, New in Las Vegas , frequent contributor Robert Spuhler takes a look at not-to-be-missed restaurants (including a steakhouse where “broads” – yes, they use that term – dine with patrons), a “daylife” swimming pool populated by the young and hard-bodied, and the comically raunchy show that’s taken the town by storm. Have you been to any of the new attractions? Tell us what you thought by commenting below, or let us know where you like to go best when you’re in the city that never sleeps. A wild Halloween weekend in Las Vegas last year, which involved crazy costumes and club hopping until 5 in the morning, opened my eyes after a lifetime of Vegas-avoidance: This city is a lot of fun, if you have some cash to spend -- and maintain a sense of humor about its gaudy excesses. In our latest slide show, New in Las Vegas , frequent contributor Robert Spuhler takes a look at not-to-be-missed restaurants (including a steakhouse where “broads” – yes, they use that term – dine with patrons), a “daylife” swimming pool populated by the young and hard-bodied, and the comically raunchy show that’s taken the town by storm. Have you been to any of the new attractions? Tell us what you thought by commenting below, or let us know where you like to go best when you’re in the city that never sleeps.
  • February
    17

    Famous fountains

    When I visited Rome a few years ago with my mother, one of our stops was at the famous Trevi Fountain. She had tossed a lira in it 30 years ago on her first trip to Rome, so it seemed that the legend does indeed come true: Those who throw a coin in the fountain are destined to return to the city someday. Unfortunately, this sunny day was so crowded we could barely get close enough to the fountain to even take a picture, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Before leaving, I managed to throw a euro in the water, so only time will tell if I’ll ever be back. Trevi Fountain, like many in Italy, was designed to mark the endpoint of one of Rome’s ancient aqueducts. Other fountains were created merely for entertainment or as showpieces, like those at Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles. Some started almost as an accident: Geneva, Switzerland’s famous Jet d’Eau began as a way to release water pressure in a lake, but became a beloved part of the city. Fountains are fascinating landmarks of any city lucky enough to have one. We searched the world for our favorite examples, new and old, of fountains that are worth visiting in your travels. See what we found in the new Bing... Read More When I visited Rome a few years ago with my mother, one of our stops was at the famous Trevi Fountain. She had tossed a lira in it 30 years ago on her first trip to Rome, so it seemed that the legend does indeed come true: Those who throw a coin in the fountain are destined to return to the city someday. Unfortunately, this sunny day was so crowded we could barely get close enough to the fountain to even take a picture, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Before leaving, I managed to throw a euro in the water, so only time will tell if I’ll ever be back. Trevi Fountain, like many in Italy, was designed to mark the endpoint of one of Rome’s ancient aqueducts. Other fountains were created merely for entertainment or as showpieces, like those at Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles. Some started almost as an accident: Geneva, Switzerland’s famous Jet d’Eau began as a way to release water pressure in a lake, but became a beloved part of the city. Fountains are fascinating landmarks of any city lucky enough to have one. We searched the world for our favorite examples, new and old, of fountains that are worth visiting in your travels. See what we found in the new Bing... Read More
  • February
    15

    Mardi Gras Around the World

    During a few weeks in late winter, a huge number of people take to the streets for Mardi Gras (or Carnival, as it’s known in some parts of the world). Celebrations include parades, drinking, socializing, eating special foods and – sometimes, depending on your location – wearing costumes that cover you up (Venice) or put you on display (Rio de Janeiro). Our new slide show, Mardi Gras Around the World , takes you on a tour of celebrations in 11 countries, from the revelry in the streets of New Orleans to a unique festival in India. Have you been to any one of these celebrations, or one we didn’t cover? Tell us about it in comments! During a few weeks in late winter, a huge number of people take to the streets for Mardi Gras (or Carnival, as it’s known in some parts of the world). Celebrations include parades, drinking, socializing, eating special foods and – sometimes, depending on your location – wearing costumes that cover you up (Venice) or put you on display (Rio de Janeiro). Our new slide show, Mardi Gras Around the World , takes you on a tour of celebrations in 11 countries, from the revelry in the streets of New Orleans to a unique festival in India. Have you been to any one of these celebrations, or one we didn’t cover? Tell us about it in comments!