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In Transit Blog: Walkabout: Jewel Thief Strikes France; American Business Travelers Return to Europe

Written By wartini cantika on Selasa, 30 Juli 2013 | 17.41

Walkabout

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

Hitchcockian A jewel thief left the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel in Cannes, France, above, on Sunday morning with a glittering haul worth perhaps $50 million. And, no, it's not a plot from "To Catch a Thief." (New York Times)

Back to Euro-Business American business trips to Europe dropped significantly after the 2008 recession, but companies are returning to the continent in large numbers. (Skift)

Satisfying Stays Overall guest satisfaction with North American hotels is up significantly from last year, according to a J.D. Power and Associates study. (Los Angeles Times)

Smooth Flying The chance of dying in an airplane is vanishingly small. One might wonder, then, if the Transportation Security Administration has found the right balance between safety and convenience with its notoriously burdensome airport screening procedures. (New York Times)


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The Great Wall, Our Way

Robb Kendrick for The New York Times

A view from Day 1 of the author's Great Wall hike, in the Gubeikou area.

At first, I thought the faded pink pillow on the crumbling stone floor of the watchtower was a remnant of a previous camping trip.

"Are we coming back here to sleep?" I asked our guide, Joe Zhang, at the beginning of a two-day hike last July along the Great Wall of China, which I was making with my husband, Robb Kendrick, a photographer, and two teenage sons.

Joe shook his head and guessed that the pillow belonged to a local farmer passing through. When I asked where we were going to camp, he pointed out the window to the snaking wall that sliced through lush Panlong (Coiling Dragon) Mountain, part of the Yanshan Range, which stretches across northern Hebei Province.

"If we camp tonight, we'll set up tents inside a watchtower that way," he said in good English. "If we camp."

That "if," which he felt compelled to repeat, bothered me. My family had signed up with the tour operator Great Wall Adventure Club to hike this remote part of the Great Wall because I loved the idea of actually sleeping on the wall. I envisioned drifting off to the same sounds and scents that a Mongol-fighting soldier would have experienced centuries ago. I imagined watching the sun burst over peaks crowned by ancient crenelated watchtowers in the morning.

Plenty of tour operators take visitors on half-day tours from Beijing to the Badaling or Mutianyu sections of the Great Wall, which are 40 to 50 miles north of the capital; with travel time from Beijing, that leaves about two hours on the wall. But I wanted to escape the crowds and get a wilder, deeper experience. On its Web site, the Dallas-based Great Wall Adventure Club guaranteed we'd camp on the wall, but in subsequent communications, I learned the guarantee held as long as the weather was good. As we prepared for our outing, I tried not to think of the forecast I'd heard for our first day: chance of thunderstorms, 80 percent.

At 8 that morning, Joe — a lively young man who'd studied Great Wall history in college and on his own — and a driver picked us up in a van at our rented Beijing apartment. After getting through snarls of city traffic, we made our way about 90 miles northeast, much of it on a new highway that wove through increasingly mountainous terrain, arriving in the village of Gubeikou about 10 a.m. When the driver dropped us off at a ticket booth where Joe bought our entrance permits, we took only what we needed that day — water, sunscreen, cameras — and Joe carried our lunch. Our overnight bags stayed in the van with the driver, who would meet us at the end of our day's six-mile hike in the town of Jinshanling, a 20-minute drive away.

Climbing up a steep paved path, we were electrified by the first glimpse of the imposing wall above us. A watchtower, poking over the trees, was haunting in its deteriorating state. "It must have seemed like a skyscraper back then," my oldest son, Gus Kendrick, 16, said.

The Great Wall — 5,500 miles by some counts, longer by others — is not one wall, but many that were built starting in ancient times, and were consolidated and reinforced during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The purpose: keeping northern raiders from swooping down into the heart of China. The stretch of wall between Gubeikou and Jinshanling, which we hiked on the first day, is considered a prime example of Ming dynasty construction, built from 1568 through 1583 on top of a 1,000-year-old relic of a wall from the Northern Qi dynasty (550-577). Because the Gubeikou area was a strategic passage to Beijing, the more than 40 watchtowers we passed are closely spaced, and the wall was especially strong and well reinforced, constructed of brick up its 23-foot height.

As we began our hike, I was struck by what felt like an eternal loneliness and loveliness; as far as I could see, nothing but that golden line careening across the crumpled mountains and standing guard alone, whether needed or not, for centuries.

Jeannie Ralston, the author of the memoir "The Unlikely Lavender Queen," and her husband spent three years traveling and home-schooling their sons. She is currently working on a novel. 


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In Transit Blog: Calendar: Coming Events in New Orleans; Wisconsin; Goteborg, Sweden

Satchmo SummerFest, New Orleans A three-day jazz festival in New Orleans, dedicated to the life, legacy and music of the city's native son, Louis Satchmo Armstrong, is scheduled to take place Aug. 2 to 4 in the French Quarter at the Louisiana State Museum's Old Mint. Satchmo SummerFest will feature performances by traditional and contemporary jazz and brass band musicians, with a lineup that includes Allen Toussaint, Ellis Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon and the Preservation Hall Brass Band. Festivalgoers can also attend movies, exhibits, family activities, seminars, dance lessons and special events like the Jazz Mass at the St. Augustine Church in Treme, a traditional second line parade and the annual Trumpet Tribute, which closes the festival Sunday night. Events are free and open to the public, with the exception of the Aug. 1 opening reception.

EAA AirVenture 2013, Wisconsin Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis., from July 29 to Aug. 4, will be the gathering spot for this event, where young aviation enthusiasts can learn about design, engineering and other marvels of flight through hands-on building projects and flight instruction on a simulator. Re-enactments, forums, workshops and demonstrations are planned, and more than 10,000 aircraft, including what organizers say is the world's only privately owned Harrier jump jet, above, will be on site. Other highlights include two nighttime air shows with fireworks; musical events; a preview screening of Disney's "Planes"; the Round Engine Rodeo, a roundup of vintage radial-powered aircraft; and the opportunity to "just talk airplanes."

Way Out West, Goteborg, Sweden This genre-bending music festival, from Aug. 8 to 10, brings together electronic, rock and hip-hop acts in Goteborg's sprawling Slottsskogen park. This year's lineup includes the Swedish duo the Knife, Neil Young and Alicia Keys.


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In Transit Blog: Greyhound Rolls Out Streaming Movies and Music for Passengers

Greyhound has begun rolling out a streaming entertainment system that allows its passengers to watch movies and television shows, listen to music, surf the Web and play online games with their own Wi-Fi enabled portable electronic devices.

The service, called BLUE, was introduced this month as a free six-month pilot program for passengers on Greyhound's premium Greyhound Express traveling between Dallas and Houston and for passengers on buses operated by Greyhound's sister company, BoltBus, in the Pacific Northwest during this same period. The company plans to eventually offer the service for a broader ridership.

BLUE, which stands for Bus Line Universal Entertainment, was developed in cooperation with Lufthansa Systems, and allows customers access to more than 25 movies, 15 hours of television shows, 100 music albums, five games as well as use of the Internet.

"With BLUE, we are adding an exclusive, top-of-the-line on-board entertainment system at the touch of our customers' fingertips, further complementing our current family of premium amenities such as free Wi-Fi, power outlets, extra legroom and leather seats," Dave Leach, the president and chief executive of Greyhound, said in a statement.


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36 Hours in the Hudson Valley, New York

Written By wartini cantika on Senin, 29 Juli 2013 | 17.35

The Hudson Valley is vast and varied. With hundreds of miles of sandstone and granite cliffs, cattail-lined riverbanks, former factory towns, orchards, farmland and forests, the scale of its geography and the scope of its history are daunting. To spend a weekend dropping into its musty bookstores and sizable art institutions or idling between hilltop castles, divey small-town bars and doily B&Bs is like skipping a stone into a river: you bounce along, but barely break the surface. From New York City, it's a one-hour train trip to Peekskill, at the doorstep of the mid-Hudson Valley, but the region can be fully explored only on the kind of road trip that skirts one side of the river and winds down the other, hopscotching between historic estates and detouring for farm stands, roadside diners and seductive swimming holes.

FRIDAY

4 p.m.
1. Peek Into Peekskill

Escape the city early and arrive in Peekskill in time for "hoppy hour" ($5 per 20-ounce pint; $1 raw oysters) at Peekskill Brewery, in a 7,000-square-foot space two blocks from Metro North. Equally worthy, the Birdsall House takes its name from a local boardinghouse frequented by George Washington; it has an antique cash register, live music on weekends and an excellent craft beer list. While in town, drop into Bruised Apple Books, with a section devoted to the Hudson Valley's past and present, a pulp mystery reading room and a vinyl record listening station.

7:30 p.m.
2. Merci Beaucoup

In February, the Culinary Institute of America — a prestigious cooking school housed in a former seminary — opened the Bocuse Restaurant, replacing the institute's original teaching restaurant, Escoffier, which closed last year after 39 years. The space has been reborn with a new name (a homage to the Lyonnaise chef Paul Bocuse) and an airy, bistro-style interior by Adam Tihany, who designed such celebrated Manhattan restaurants as Daniel and Per Se. The French menu includes Paul Bocuse's 1975 recipe for black truffle soup with a puff pastry lid ($12), roasted rack of lamb with sunchoke purée and glazed vegetables ($28) and, Tuesday to Thursday, a three-course prix fixe dinner ($39) that's an exceptional bargain.

10 p.m.
3. Folkies and Newbies

After dinner, backtrack to Beacon, home to the folk icon Pete Seeger, who founded one of the area's largest music events: the Clearwater Festival (clearwaterfestival.org), staged in Croton-on-Hudson each June. A newcomer to town, Dogwood, opened in December in a wedge-shaped brick building near Fishkill Creek, serving adventurous cocktails like the Dutch's Moonshine- and Luxardo Maraschino-based "Moondog" ($12). The combination cocktail bar, restaurant and music venue has fast become a local hangout to rival the house-made pirogies and charms of the vintage Main Street pub Max's on Main. Alternatively, eat early and devote the night to music. Though the Band's former drummer, Levon Helm, died over a year ago, the Midnight Rambles he held at his Woodstock studio endure as once- or twice-monthly hootenannies, which start at 8 p.m.

SATURDAY

9 a.m.
4. Cold Spring Comfort

For breakfast, dip south to Cold Spring and the pale-yellow-walled dining room at Hudson Hil's Cafe & Market, where there are comforting mounds of biscuits with sausage gravy ($10.25), raspberry cornmeal pancakes with orange zest (from $6.75) and specials like chocolate babka French toast ($10.95). Then, walk down to Hudson Valley Outfitters for advice on local hikes, like the not-for-novices Breakneck Ridge Trail (nynjtc.org/hike/breakneck-ridge-trail), and guided kayak trips (weather depending; from $110), including a three-mile paddle to Pollepel Island to tour the surreal ruins of Bannerman Castle ($130 including lunch).

12 p.m.
5. To the Border and Beyond

Route 9 seems an unlikely location for Texas-style dry-rubbed, hickory-smoked brisket (marbled or lean), sausage (spicy or mild) and ribs so tender the meat barely clings to the bone, but Roundup Texas Barbeque is the real deal. It is housed in a trailer parked alongside a former gas station, and serves smoked meats, Lone Star beer ($4) and classic sides like Frito pie, and jalapeño mac 'n' cheese. Combo plates (two meats, two sides) start at $16.50. For another relative rarity in the area, take the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge across the river to Uriel Tacos, which sells a half dozen or so kinds of tacos, including chorizo and oreja (ear), and specials like slow-cooked goat barbacoa and shrimp caldo (soup) on weekends.

2 p.m.
6. Tasting Trails

Housed in a former grist mill, the Tuthilltown Distillery became New York State's first post-Prohibition whiskey distillery in 2007, selling its four-grain bourbon, Manhattan rye and single-malt whiskey under the Hudson Whiskey label. On weekends, tours are offered at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. ($15, including a three-spirit tasting). If wine's your thing, the Shawangunk Wine Trail (shawangunkwinetrail.com) highlights 14 wineries, including Benmarl Winery, which claims to be the oldest vineyard in the country. The Hudson Valley Cider Alliance (cideralliance.com) is yet another beverage-centric option.

4 p.m.
7. Walking on Water

In 2009, after years of abandonment, the fire-damaged Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge was restored and reopened as the Walkway Over the Hudson, a State Historic Park and one of the longest elevated pedestrian bridges in the world. Walk its 1.28-mile expanse in the late afternoon, when the Hudson's celebrated light is at its most captivating. Then, take a drive through New Paltz and out on Mountain Rest Road, past the 144-year-old Mohonk Mountain House lake resort, to the Mohonk Preserve. Continue through the hamlets of High Falls and Stone Ridge, and over the Ashokan Reservoir, one of New York City's pristine water sources. Along the way, stop in at the Last Bite for a cup of Catskill Mountain Coffee or kitschy, 1970s-era Egg's Nest Saloon for a Sicilian egg cream ($2.75) or a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie ($4.50).

6 p.m.
8. Old World Redux

Take two-lane back roads to Gunk Haus Restaurant, sit on the biergarten deck and look out over apple orchards and "the Gunks" — the Shawangunk Mountains, one of the country's best-known rock- climbing ridges. Try the German breaded pork loin jaeger schnitzel, served with wild mushroom ragout and spaetzle ($19) or the addictive obatzda ($3), a Bavarian cheese dip that's a potent mix of Camembert, Gorgonzola, beer and spices, and served with a chewy house-made pretzel.

10 p.m.
9. The Kingston Trio

When Stockade Tavern opened three years ago, selling sophisticated cocktails in a one-time Singer sewing machine factory in Kingston's 17th-century Stockade District, the bar's arrival foreshadowed changes for New York's former capital. Since then, the decade-old BSP Lounge has gained enthusiastic new management and has become a sort of musician's living room, hosting local and touring bands in a former vaudeville theater. Near the waterfront, the casual Rondout Music Lounge has a maritime aesthetic that evokes the nearby Hudson River Maritime Museum and the casual welcome of a neighborhood coffeehouse. For a more subdued evening, catch an indie movie in an old, white-steepled Methodist church building, now Upstate Films' newest theater, in Woodstock.

SUNDAY

9 a.m.
10. Vintage Catskills

Go for a light breakfast at {outdated}, an antiques shop and cafe where mod furniture and paint-by-number paintings are sold alongside pastries and egg sandwiches. Then, drive into the hills behind Woodstock to the 900-acre Overlook Wild Forest. Look for the parking lot of the Overlook Mountain Fire Tower trail across Meads Mountain Road from the Tibetan Buddhist monastery, strung with prayer flags (there are free tours at 1 p.m. on weekends). The hike follows a wooded former carriage road to the eerie ruins of a 19th-century Catskills resort and onto the 60-foot fire tower; climb the steel structure for views that extend from the Berkshires to the Catskills.

11 a.m.
11. Hudson on the Hudson

With dozens of showrooms selling midcentury furniture with five-figure price tags, Hudson feels incongruously cosmopolitan. For brunch, sit in the backyard patio at Cafe Le Perche, a bistro and boulangerie with a bar and blazing fireplace (in season) that serves spiced brioche French toast with poached pear ($10) and a roasted four-mushroom tartine with melted Brie, baguette, micro greens and truffle oil ($11.50). Then, spend a couple of hours coveting antiques on Warren Street. The Hudson Antiques Dealers Association (hudsonantiques.net) has a guide to the 40-plus artfully curated shops. Built in 1855 as the city's first City Hall, the restored Hudson Opera House has been transformed into a lively cultural center with a an ever-changing event calendar, a gallery that's open noon to 5 p.m. daily and guided building tours (free).

2 p.m.
12. Far From Old School

Heading out of town, stop at the Olana State Historic Site, and the 250-acre estate of the 19th-century painter Frederic Edwin Church. The property, which is crisscrossed with trails and planted with Church's "designed landscape," is crowned by an elaborate Persian-style home that now holds a collection of works by Hudson Valley School painters. Back in Beacon is the sprawling, contemporary museum DIA Beacon — equal parts amusing, bewildering and bizarre. Don't be surprised to turn a corner and meet an erotic hangman figure flashing in hot-pink neon in the distance.

LODGINGS

On 75 acres along the Hudson River, Buttermilk Falls Inn + Spa (220 North Road, Milton; buttermilkfallsinn.com) has 17 rooms and suites, a farm-to-table restaurant and spa with an indoor pool. Rooms start at $300 in high season.

Opened last year in a historic mill in Beacon, the 14 rooms (from $339 mid-week) at Roundhouse at Beacon Falls (2 East Main Street, Beacon; roundhousebeacon.com) overlook a roaring waterfall, the ultimate white noise machine. There's also a restaurant with a wide patio above the water, a stylish bar with a fireplace and an in-house yoga studio.  


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In Transit Blog: Calendar: Coming Events in New Orleans; Wisconsin; Goteborg, Sweden

Satchmo SummerFest, New Orleans A three-day jazz festival in New Orleans, dedicated to the life, legacy and music of the city's native son, Louis Satchmo Armstrong, is scheduled to take place Aug. 2 to 4 in the French Quarter at the Louisiana State Museum's Old Mint. Satchmo SummerFest will feature performances by traditional and contemporary jazz and brass band musicians, with a lineup that includes Allen Toussaint, Ellis Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon and the Preservation Hall Brass Band. Festivalgoers can also attend movies, exhibits, family activities, seminars, dance lessons and special events like the Jazz Mass at the St. Augustine Church in Treme, a traditional second line parade and the annual Trumpet Tribute, which closes the festival Sunday night. Events are free and open to the public, with the exception of the Aug. 1 opening reception.

EAA AirVenture 2013, Wisconsin Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis., from July 29 to Aug. 4, will be the gathering spot for this event, where young aviation enthusiasts can learn about design, engineering and other marvels of flight through hands-on building projects and flight instruction on a simulator. Re-enactments, forums, workshops and demonstrations are planned, and more than 10,000 aircraft, including what organizers say is the world's only privately owned Harrier jump jet, above, will be on site. Other highlights include two nighttime air shows with fireworks; musical events; a preview screening of Disney's "Planes"; the Round Engine Rodeo, a roundup of vintage radial-powered aircraft; and the opportunity to "just talk airplanes."

Way Out West, Goteborg, Sweden This genre-bending music festival, from Aug. 8 to 10, brings together electronic, rock and hip-hop acts in Goteborg's sprawling Slottsskogen park. This year's lineup includes the Swedish duo the Knife, Neil Young and Alicia Keys.


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Travel Blogging Today: It’s Complicated

When Keith Jenkins plans a trip, he doesn't have to cobble together vacation days, or frequent flier miles, or scour the Web for deals on big-ticket items like hotels. Mr. Jenkins, the Amsterdam-based blogger behind Velvet Escape (velvetescape.com), simply finds sponsors.

Last year, he planned a trip to Cape Town with a handful of other bloggers and pitched it to the local tourism agency, which agreed to foot the bill. He estimated that the resulting itinerary — including a stay at a villa with ocean views, shark-cage diving, visits to wineries and spa massages — was worth about 5,000 euros (about $6,440) but ended up costing him little beyond the nerve it took to board a ferry to Robben Island. The tourism office later told him that he and the fellow bloggers he'd invited had kicked off its most successful social media campaign to that point, featuring a Twitter hashtag — #lovecapetown — that is still in use.

Initially, Mr. Jenkins said of his blog's focus, "I didn't really think of it as luxury travel. I just thought this is the way I like to travel." Mr. Jenkins, who worked as an investment banker before turning to travel blogging in late 2008, added: "Backpacking is something I did as a student."

Mr. Jenkins's approach to blogging — and travel — speaks volumes about the state of a medium that began as intimate and creative. The paradigm has shifted across the board, in areas like food, parenting and so-called lifestyle blogs. But nowhere has the shift been as jarring as it is for travelers. "I want to travel the world" is no longer an idealistic statement, it is a transactional one.

It's impossible to estimate the number of independent travel blogs. Thousands of writers and photographers now travel the world registering their thoughts through platforms like WordPress and Blogger. But there is indication that the ranks of the bloggers whose aspirations are not just creative have grown: blogger attendance at the annual conference known as TBEX was about 1,000 this year, more than double that of last year's event in Keystone, Colo., and the "speed dating" sessions in which bloggers seek sponsors grew to 3,629 from 206 last year.

The proliferation of these blogs, and what is becoming a go-to way of financing them, would seem a boon to the daring people who want to keep logs of life on the road and the readers who want to consume them. But as travel blogging comes of age, the landscape has become vastly more complicated and more fragmented. It can all be daunting — and increasingly difficult for both bloggers and readers to navigate.

Travel bloggers tend to be independent-minded and passionate about their areas of interest. The best of them also tend to be on the cutting edge of the travel world, making them a valuable resource for readers frustrated with out-of-date guidebooks and what is often a morass of user reviews on sites like TripAdvisor. But they also face unique challenges; for one, they have to be not just their own editors in chief, but also their own directors of marketing and Web developers. And, ideally, they need to stay objective despite all the sponsorships.

To figure out how to navigate the mountains of online content available from various bloggers, and to answer the question of how they manage to travel amid all these demands, I turned to the bloggers themselves, and found a broad spectrum of approaches and advice.

If there is a single rule of thumb for how to choose which blogs to make time for, it is to measure them on a scale of how driven they are by business concerns. The recent TBEX conference in Toronto, with its rah-rah keynote speeches and panels on "Content Strategy" and "The Intersection of Marketing and Blogging," made one thing clear: those waters are increasingly murky.

Nowhere was this more evident than the popular speed-dating sessions. Bloggers signed up for eight-minute sessions with 138 sponsors. At the end of each appointment, chimes sounded and a mellifluous female voice echoed across the sprawling convention hall: "It is now time to move to your next appointment." With that, bloggers said their goodbyes and thank-yous and scrambled to get to their next potential sponsor.

Amid the scrum was Michelle Holmes, a travel blogger (wanderingoff.ca) and writer — her day job is as a parks manager in Toronto — who went on about 20 speed dates in all, which led to a handful of follow-up conversations with marketers and a couple of probable sponsored trips. It put her one step closer to her goal: "to be able to balance a work-slash-writing career without selling my soul." The weekend, she said, amounted to a success.

Dan Saltzstein is an editor of the Travel section of The Times.


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The Great Wall, Our Way

Robb Kendrick for The New York Times

A view from Day 1 of the author's Great Wall hike, in the Gubeikou area.

At first, I thought the faded pink pillow on the crumbling stone floor of the watchtower was a remnant of a previous camping trip.

"Are we coming back here to sleep?" I asked our guide, Joe Zhang, at the beginning of a two-day hike last July along the Great Wall of China, which I was making with my husband, Robb Kendrick, a photographer, and two teenage sons.

Joe shook his head and guessed that the pillow belonged to a local farmer passing through. When I asked where we were going to camp, he pointed out the window to the snaking wall that sliced through lush Panlong (Coiling Dragon) Mountain, part of the Yanshan Range, which stretches across northern Hebei Province.

"If we camp tonight, we'll set up tents inside a watchtower that way," he said in good English. "If we camp."

That "if," which he felt compelled to repeat, bothered me. My family had signed up with the tour operator Great Wall Adventure Club to hike this remote part of the Great Wall because I loved the idea of actually sleeping on the wall. I envisioned drifting off to the same sounds and scents that a Mongol-fighting soldier would have experienced centuries ago. I imagined watching the sun burst over peaks crowned by ancient crenelated watchtowers in the morning.

Plenty of tour operators take visitors on half-day tours from Beijing to the Badaling or Mutianyu sections of the Great Wall, which are 40 to 50 miles north of the capital; with travel time from Beijing, that leaves about two hours on the wall. But I wanted to escape the crowds and get a wilder, deeper experience. On its Web site, the Dallas-based Great Wall Adventure Club guaranteed we'd camp on the wall, but in subsequent communications, I learned the guarantee held as long as the weather was good. As we prepared for our outing, I tried not to think of the forecast I'd heard for our first day: chance of thunderstorms, 80 percent.

At 8 that morning, Joe — a lively young man who'd studied Great Wall history in college and on his own — and a driver picked us up in a van at our rented Beijing apartment. After getting through snarls of city traffic, we made our way about 90 miles northeast, much of it on a new highway that wove through increasingly mountainous terrain, arriving in the village of Gubeikou about 10 a.m. When the driver dropped us off at a ticket booth where Joe bought our entrance permits, we took only what we needed that day — water, sunscreen, cameras — and Joe carried our lunch. Our overnight bags stayed in the van with the driver, who would meet us at the end of our day's six-mile hike in the town of Jinshanling, a 20-minute drive away.

Climbing up a steep paved path, we were electrified by the first glimpse of the imposing wall above us. A watchtower, poking over the trees, was haunting in its deteriorating state. "It must have seemed like a skyscraper back then," my oldest son, Gus Kendrick, 16, said.

The Great Wall — 5,500 miles by some counts, longer by others — is not one wall, but many that were built starting in ancient times, and were consolidated and reinforced during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The purpose: keeping northern raiders from swooping down into the heart of China. The stretch of wall between Gubeikou and Jinshanling, which we hiked on the first day, is considered a prime example of Ming dynasty construction, built from 1568 through 1583 on top of a 1,000-year-old relic of a wall from the Northern Qi dynasty (550-577). Because the Gubeikou area was a strategic passage to Beijing, the more than 40 watchtowers we passed are closely spaced, and the wall was especially strong and well reinforced, constructed of brick up its 23-foot height.

As we began our hike, I was struck by what felt like an eternal loneliness and loveliness; as far as I could see, nothing but that golden line careening across the crumpled mountains and standing guard alone, whether needed or not, for centuries.

Jeannie Ralston, the author of the memoir "The Unlikely Lavender Queen," and her husband spent three years traveling and home-schooling their sons. She is currently working on a novel. 


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36 Hours in the Hudson Valley, New York

Written By wartini cantika on Minggu, 28 Juli 2013 | 17.35

The Hudson Valley is vast and varied. With hundreds of miles of sandstone and granite cliffs, cattail-lined riverbanks, former factory towns, orchards, farmland and forests, the scale of its geography and the scope of its history are daunting. To spend a weekend dropping into its musty bookstores and sizable art institutions or idling between hilltop castles, divey small-town bars and doily B&Bs is like skipping a stone into a river: you bounce along, but barely break the surface. From New York City, it's a one-hour train trip to Peekskill, at the doorstep of the mid-Hudson Valley, but the region can be fully explored only on the kind of road trip that skirts one side of the river and winds down the other, hopscotching between historic estates and detouring for farm stands, roadside diners and seductive swimming holes.

FRIDAY

4 p.m.
1. Peek Into Peekskill

Escape the city early and arrive in Peekskill in time for "hoppy hour" ($5 per 20-ounce pint; $1 raw oysters) at Peekskill Brewery, in a 7,000-square-foot space two blocks from Metro North. Equally worthy, the Birdsall House takes its name from a local boardinghouse frequented by George Washington; it has an antique cash register, live music on weekends and an excellent craft beer list. While in town, drop into Bruised Apple Books, with a section devoted to the Hudson Valley's past and present, a pulp mystery reading room and a vinyl record listening station.

7:30 p.m.
2. Merci Beaucoup

In February, the Culinary Institute of America — a prestigious cooking school housed in a former seminary — opened the Bocuse Restaurant, replacing the institute's original teaching restaurant, Escoffier, which closed last year after 39 years. The space has been reborn with a new name (a homage to the Lyonnaise chef Paul Bocuse) and an airy, bistro-style interior by Adam Tihany, who designed such celebrated Manhattan restaurants as Daniel and Per Se. The French menu includes Paul Bocuse's 1975 recipe for black truffle soup with a puff pastry lid ($12), roasted rack of lamb with sunchoke purée and glazed vegetables ($28) and, Tuesday to Thursday, a three-course prix fixe dinner ($39) that's an exceptional bargain.

10 p.m.
3. Folkies and Newbies

After dinner, backtrack to Beacon, home to the folk icon Pete Seeger, who founded one of the area's largest music events: the Clearwater Festival (clearwaterfestival.org), staged in Croton-on-Hudson each June. A newcomer to town, Dogwood, opened in December in a wedge-shaped brick building near Fishkill Creek, serving adventurous cocktails like the Dutch's Moonshine- and Luxardo Maraschino-based "Moondog" ($12). The combination cocktail bar, restaurant and music venue has fast become a local hangout to rival the house-made pirogies and charms of the vintage Main Street pub Max's on Main. Alternatively, eat early and devote the night to music. Though the Band's former drummer, Levon Helm, died over a year ago, the Midnight Rambles he held at his Woodstock studio endure as once- or twice-monthly hootenannies, which start at 8 p.m.

SATURDAY

9 a.m.
4. Cold Spring Comfort

For breakfast, dip south to Cold Spring and the pale-yellow-walled dining room at Hudson Hil's Cafe & Market, where there are comforting mounds of biscuits with sausage gravy ($10.25), raspberry cornmeal pancakes with orange zest (from $6.75) and specials like chocolate babka French toast ($10.95). Then, walk down to Hudson Valley Outfitters for advice on local hikes, like the not-for-novices Breakneck Ridge Trail (nynjtc.org/hike/breakneck-ridge-trail), and guided kayak trips (weather depending; from $110), including a three-mile paddle to Pollepel Island to tour the surreal ruins of Bannerman Castle ($130 including lunch).

12 p.m.
5. To the Border and Beyond

Route 9 seems an unlikely location for Texas-style dry-rubbed, hickory-smoked brisket (marbled or lean), sausage (spicy or mild) and ribs so tender the meat barely clings to the bone, but Roundup Texas Barbeque is the real deal. It is housed in a trailer parked alongside a former gas station, and serves smoked meats, Lone Star beer ($4) and classic sides like Frito pie, and jalapeño mac 'n' cheese. Combo plates (two meats, two sides) start at $16.50. For another relative rarity in the area, take the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge across the river to Uriel Tacos, which sells a half dozen or so kinds of tacos, including chorizo and oreja (ear), and specials like slow-cooked goat barbacoa and shrimp caldo (soup) on weekends.

2 p.m.
6. Tasting Trails

Housed in a former grist mill, the Tuthilltown Distillery became New York State's first post-Prohibition whiskey distillery in 2007, selling its four-grain bourbon, Manhattan rye and single-malt whiskey under the Hudson Whiskey label. On weekends, tours are offered at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. ($15, including a three-spirit tasting). If wine's your thing, the Shawangunk Wine Trail (shawangunkwinetrail.com) highlights 14 wineries, including Benmarl Winery, which claims to be the oldest vineyard in the country. The Hudson Valley Cider Alliance (cideralliance.com) is yet another beverage-centric option.

4 p.m.
7. Walking on Water

In 2009, after years of abandonment, the fire-damaged Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge was restored and reopened as the Walkway Over the Hudson, a State Historic Park and one of the longest elevated pedestrian bridges in the world. Walk its 1.28-mile expanse in the late afternoon, when the Hudson's celebrated light is at its most captivating. Then, take a drive through New Paltz and out on Mountain Rest Road, past the 144-year-old Mohonk Mountain House lake resort, to the Mohonk Preserve. Continue through the hamlets of High Falls and Stone Ridge, and over the Ashokan Reservoir, one of New York City's pristine water sources. Along the way, stop in at the Last Bite for a cup of Catskill Mountain Coffee or kitschy, 1970s-era Egg's Nest Saloon for a Sicilian egg cream ($2.75) or a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie ($4.50).

6 p.m.
8. Old World Redux

Take two-lane back roads to Gunk Haus Restaurant, sit on the biergarten deck and look out over apple orchards and "the Gunks" — the Shawangunk Mountains, one of the country's best-known rock- climbing ridges. Try the German breaded pork loin jaeger schnitzel, served with wild mushroom ragout and spaetzle ($19) or the addictive obatzda ($3), a Bavarian cheese dip that's a potent mix of Camembert, Gorgonzola, beer and spices, and served with a chewy house-made pretzel.

10 p.m.
9. The Kingston Trio

When Stockade Tavern opened three years ago, selling sophisticated cocktails in a one-time Singer sewing machine factory in Kingston's 17th-century Stockade District, the bar's arrival foreshadowed changes for New York's former capital. Since then, the decade-old BSP Lounge has gained enthusiastic new management and has become a sort of musician's living room, hosting local and touring bands in a former vaudeville theater. Near the waterfront, the casual Rondout Music Lounge has a maritime aesthetic that evokes the nearby Hudson River Maritime Museum and the casual welcome of a neighborhood coffeehouse. For a more subdued evening, catch an indie movie in an old, white-steepled Methodist church building, now Upstate Films' newest theater, in Woodstock.

SUNDAY

9 a.m.
10. Vintage Catskills

Go for a light breakfast at {outdated}, an antiques shop and cafe where mod furniture and paint-by-number paintings are sold alongside pastries and egg sandwiches. Then, drive into the hills behind Woodstock to the 900-acre Overlook Wild Forest. Look for the parking lot of the Overlook Mountain Fire Tower trail across Meads Mountain Road from the Tibetan Buddhist monastery, strung with prayer flags (there are free tours at 1 p.m. on weekends). The hike follows a wooded former carriage road to the eerie ruins of a 19th-century Catskills resort and onto the 60-foot fire tower; climb the steel structure for views that extend from the Berkshires to the Catskills.

11 a.m.
11. Hudson on the Hudson

With dozens of showrooms selling midcentury furniture with five-figure price tags, Hudson feels incongruously cosmopolitan. For brunch, sit in the backyard patio at Cafe Le Perche, a bistro and boulangerie with a bar and blazing fireplace (in season) that serves spiced brioche French toast with poached pear ($10) and a roasted four-mushroom tartine with melted Brie, baguette, micro greens and truffle oil ($11.50). Then, spend a couple of hours coveting antiques on Warren Street. The Hudson Antiques Dealers Association (hudsonantiques.net) has a guide to the 40-plus artfully curated shops. Built in 1855 as the city's first City Hall, the restored Hudson Opera House has been transformed into a lively cultural center with a an ever-changing event calendar, a gallery that's open noon to 5 p.m. daily and guided building tours (free).

2 p.m.
12. Far From Old School

Heading out of town, stop at the Olana State Historic Site, and the 250-acre estate of the 19th-century painter Frederic Edwin Church. The property, which is crisscrossed with trails and planted with Church's "designed landscape," is crowned by an elaborate Persian-style home that now holds a collection of works by Hudson Valley School painters. Back in Beacon is the sprawling, contemporary museum DIA Beacon — equal parts amusing, bewildering and bizarre. Don't be surprised to turn a corner and meet an erotic hangman figure flashing in hot-pink neon in the distance.

LODGINGS

On 75 acres along the Hudson River, Buttermilk Falls Inn + Spa (220 North Road, Milton; buttermilkfallsinn.com) has 17 rooms and suites, a farm-to-table restaurant and spa with an indoor pool. Rooms start at $300 in high season.

Opened last year in a historic mill in Beacon, the 14 rooms (from $339 mid-week) at Roundhouse at Beacon Falls (2 East Main Street, Beacon; roundhousebeacon.com) overlook a roaring waterfall, the ultimate white noise machine. There's also a restaurant with a wide patio above the water, a stylish bar with a fireplace and an in-house yoga studio.  


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In Transit Blog: Calendar: Coming Events in New Orleans; Wisconsin; Goteborg, Sweden

Satchmo SummerFest, New Orleans A three-day jazz festival in New Orleans, dedicated to the life, legacy and music of the city's native son, Louis Satchmo Armstrong, is scheduled to take place Aug. 2 to 4 in the French Quarter at the Louisiana State Museum's Old Mint. Satchmo SummerFest will feature performances by traditional and contemporary jazz and brass band musicians, with a lineup that includes Allen Toussaint, Ellis Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon and the Preservation Hall Brass Band. Festivalgoers can also attend movies, exhibits, family activities, seminars, dance lessons and special events like the Jazz Mass at the St. Augustine Church in Treme, a traditional second line parade and the annual Trumpet Tribute, which closes the festival Sunday night. Events are free and open to the public, with the exception of the Aug. 1 opening reception.

EAA AirVenture 2013, Wisconsin Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis., from July 29 to Aug. 4, will be the gathering spot for this event, where young aviation enthusiasts can learn about design, engineering and other marvels of flight through hands-on building projects and flight instruction on a simulator. Re-enactments, forums, workshops and demonstrations are planned, and more than 10,000 aircraft, including what organizers say is the world's only privately owned Harrier jump jet, above, will be on site. Other highlights include two nighttime air shows with fireworks; musical events; a preview screening of Disney's "Planes"; the Round Engine Rodeo, a roundup of vintage radial-powered aircraft; and the opportunity to "just talk airplanes."

Way Out West, Goteborg, Sweden This genre-bending music festival, from Aug. 8 to 10, brings together electronic, rock and hip-hop acts in Goteborg's sprawling Slottsskogen park. This year's lineup includes the Swedish duo the Knife, Neil Young and Alicia Keys.


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Travel Blogging Today: It’s Complicated

When Keith Jenkins plans a trip, he doesn't have to cobble together vacation days, or frequent flier miles, or scour the Web for deals on big-ticket items like hotels. Mr. Jenkins, the Amsterdam-based blogger behind Velvet Escape (velvetescape.com), simply finds sponsors.

Last year, he planned a trip to Cape Town with a handful of other bloggers and pitched it to the local tourism agency, which agreed to foot the bill. He estimated that the resulting itinerary — including a stay at a villa with ocean views, shark-cage diving, visits to wineries and spa massages — was worth about 5,000 euros (about $6,440) but ended up costing him little beyond the nerve it took to board a ferry to Robben Island. The tourism office later told him that he and the fellow bloggers he'd invited had kicked off its most successful social media campaign to that point, featuring a Twitter hashtag — #lovecapetown — that is still in use.

Initially, Mr. Jenkins said of his blog's focus, "I didn't really think of it as luxury travel. I just thought this is the way I like to travel." Mr. Jenkins, who worked as an investment banker before turning to travel blogging in late 2008, added: "Backpacking is something I did as a student."

Mr. Jenkins's approach to blogging — and travel — speaks volumes about the state of a medium that began as intimate and creative. The paradigm has shifted across the board, in areas like food, parenting and so-called lifestyle blogs. But nowhere has the shift been as jarring as it is for travelers. "I want to travel the world" is no longer an idealistic statement, it is a transactional one.

It's impossible to estimate the number of independent travel blogs. Thousands of writers and photographers now travel the world registering their thoughts through platforms like WordPress and Blogger. But there is indication that the ranks of the bloggers whose aspirations are not just creative have grown: blogger attendance at the annual conference known as TBEX was about 1,000 this year, more than double that of last year's event in Keystone, Colo., and the "speed dating" sessions in which bloggers seek sponsors grew to 3,629 from 206 last year.

The proliferation of these blogs, and what is becoming a go-to way of financing them, would seem a boon to the daring people who want to keep logs of life on the road and the readers who want to consume them. But as travel blogging comes of age, the landscape has become vastly more complicated and more fragmented. It can all be daunting — and increasingly difficult for both bloggers and readers to navigate.

Travel bloggers tend to be independent-minded and passionate about their areas of interest. The best of them also tend to be on the cutting edge of the travel world, making them a valuable resource for readers frustrated with out-of-date guidebooks and what is often a morass of user reviews on sites like TripAdvisor. But they also face unique challenges; for one, they have to be not just their own editors in chief, but also their own directors of marketing and Web developers. And, ideally, they need to stay objective despite all the sponsorships.

To figure out how to navigate the mountains of online content available from various bloggers, and to answer the question of how they manage to travel amid all these demands, I turned to the bloggers themselves, and found a broad spectrum of approaches and advice.

If there is a single rule of thumb for how to choose which blogs to make time for, it is to measure them on a scale of how driven they are by business concerns. The recent TBEX conference in Toronto, with its rah-rah keynote speeches and panels on "Content Strategy" and "The Intersection of Marketing and Blogging," made one thing clear: those waters are increasingly murky.

Nowhere was this more evident than the popular speed-dating sessions. Bloggers signed up for eight-minute sessions with 138 sponsors. At the end of each appointment, chimes sounded and a mellifluous female voice echoed across the sprawling convention hall: "It is now time to move to your next appointment." With that, bloggers said their goodbyes and thank-yous and scrambled to get to their next potential sponsor.

Amid the scrum was Michelle Holmes, a travel blogger (wanderingoff.ca) and writer — her day job is as a parks manager in Toronto — who went on about 20 speed dates in all, which led to a handful of follow-up conversations with marketers and a couple of probable sponsored trips. It put her one step closer to her goal: "to be able to balance a work-slash-writing career without selling my soul." The weekend, she said, amounted to a success.

Dan Saltzstein is an editor of the Travel section of The Times.


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The Great Wall, Our Way

Robb Kendrick for The New York Times

A view from Day 1 of the author's Great Wall hike, in the Gubeikou area.

At first, I thought the faded pink pillow on the crumbling stone floor of the watchtower was a remnant of a previous camping trip.

"Are we coming back here to sleep?" I asked our guide, Joe Zhang, at the beginning of a two-day hike last July along the Great Wall of China, which I was making with my husband, Robb Kendrick, a photographer, and two teenage sons.

Joe shook his head and guessed that the pillow belonged to a local farmer passing through. When I asked where we were going to camp, he pointed out the window to the snaking wall that sliced through lush Panlong (Coiling Dragon) Mountain, part of the Yanshan Range, which stretches across northern Hebei Province.

"If we camp tonight, we'll set up tents inside a watchtower that way," he said in good English. "If we camp."

That "if," which he felt compelled to repeat, bothered me. My family had signed up with the tour operator Great Wall Adventure Club to hike this remote part of the Great Wall because I loved the idea of actually sleeping on the wall. I envisioned drifting off to the same sounds and scents that a Mongol-fighting soldier would have experienced centuries ago. I imagined watching the sun burst over peaks crowned by ancient crenelated watchtowers in the morning.

Plenty of tour operators take visitors on half-day tours from Beijing to the Badaling or Mutianyu sections of the Great Wall, which are 40 to 50 miles north of the capital; with travel time from Beijing, that leaves about two hours on the wall. But I wanted to escape the crowds and get a wilder, deeper experience. On its Web site, the Dallas-based Great Wall Adventure Club guaranteed we'd camp on the wall, but in subsequent communications, I learned the guarantee held as long as the weather was good. As we prepared for our outing, I tried not to think of the forecast I'd heard for our first day: chance of thunderstorms, 80 percent.

At 8 that morning, Joe — a lively young man who'd studied Great Wall history in college and on his own — and a driver picked us up in a van at our rented Beijing apartment. After getting through snarls of city traffic, we made our way about 90 miles northeast, much of it on a new highway that wove through increasingly mountainous terrain, arriving in the village of Gubeikou about 10 a.m. When the driver dropped us off at a ticket booth where Joe bought our entrance permits, we took only what we needed that day — water, sunscreen, cameras — and Joe carried our lunch. Our overnight bags stayed in the van with the driver, who would meet us at the end of our day's six-mile hike in the town of Jinshanling, a 20-minute drive away.

Climbing up a steep paved path, we were electrified by the first glimpse of the imposing wall above us. A watchtower, poking over the trees, was haunting in its deteriorating state. "It must have seemed like a skyscraper back then," my oldest son, Gus Kendrick, 16, said.

The Great Wall — 5,500 miles by some counts, longer by others — is not one wall, but many that were built starting in ancient times, and were consolidated and reinforced during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The purpose: keeping northern raiders from swooping down into the heart of China. The stretch of wall between Gubeikou and Jinshanling, which we hiked on the first day, is considered a prime example of Ming dynasty construction, built from 1568 through 1583 on top of a 1,000-year-old relic of a wall from the Northern Qi dynasty (550-577). Because the Gubeikou area was a strategic passage to Beijing, the more than 40 watchtowers we passed are closely spaced, and the wall was especially strong and well reinforced, constructed of brick up its 23-foot height.

As we began our hike, I was struck by what felt like an eternal loneliness and loveliness; as far as I could see, nothing but that golden line careening across the crumpled mountains and standing guard alone, whether needed or not, for centuries.

Jeannie Ralston, the author of the memoir "The Unlikely Lavender Queen," and her husband spent three years traveling and home-schooling their sons. She is currently working on a novel. 


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36 Hours in the Hudson Valley, New York

Written By wartini cantika on Sabtu, 27 Juli 2013 | 17.35

The Hudson Valley is vast and varied. With hundreds of miles of sandstone and granite cliffs, cattail-lined riverbanks, former factory towns, orchards, farmland and forests, the scale of its geography and the scope of its history are daunting. To spend a weekend dropping into its musty bookstores and sizable art institutions or idling between hilltop castles, divey small-town bars and doily B&Bs is like skipping a stone into a river: you bounce along, but barely break the surface. From New York City, it's a one-hour train trip to Peekskill, at the doorstep of the mid-Hudson Valley, but the region can be fully explored only on the kind of road trip that skirts one side of the river and winds down the other, hopscotching between historic estates and detouring for farm stands, roadside diners and seductive swimming holes.

FRIDAY

4 p.m.
1. Peek Into Peekskill

Escape the city early and arrive in Peekskill in time for "hoppy hour" ($5 per 20-ounce pint; $1 raw oysters) at Peekskill Brewery, in a 7,000-square-foot space two blocks from Metro North. Equally worthy, the Birdsall House takes its name from a local boardinghouse frequented by George Washington; it has an antique cash register, live music on weekends and an excellent craft beer list. While in town, drop into Bruised Apple Books, with a section devoted to the Hudson Valley's past and present, a pulp mystery reading room and a vinyl record listening station.

7:30 p.m.
2. Merci Beaucoup

In February, the Culinary Institute of America — a prestigious cooking school housed in a former seminary — opened the Bocuse Restaurant, replacing the institute's original teaching restaurant, Escoffier, which closed last year after 39 years. The space has been reborn with a new name (a homage to the Lyonnaise chef Paul Bocuse) and an airy, bistro-style interior by Adam Tihany, who designed such celebrated Manhattan restaurants as Daniel and Per Se. The French menu includes Paul Bocuse's 1975 recipe for black truffle soup with a puff pastry lid ($12), roasted rack of lamb with sunchoke purée and glazed vegetables ($28) and, Tuesday to Thursday, a three-course prix fixe dinner ($39) that's an exceptional bargain.

10 p.m.
3. Folkies and Newbies

After dinner, backtrack to Beacon, home to the folk icon Pete Seeger, who founded one of the area's largest music events: the Clearwater Festival (clearwaterfestival.org), staged in Croton-on-Hudson each June. A newcomer to town, Dogwood, opened in December in a wedge-shaped brick building near Fishkill Creek, serving adventurous cocktails like the Dutch's Moonshine- and Luxardo Maraschino-based "Moondog" ($12). The combination cocktail bar, restaurant and music venue has fast become a local hangout to rival the house-made pirogies and charms of the vintage Main Street pub Max's on Main. Alternatively, eat early and devote the night to music. Though the Band's former drummer, Levon Helm, died over a year ago, the Midnight Rambles he held at his Woodstock studio endure as once- or twice-monthly hootenannies, which start at 8 p.m.

SATURDAY

9 a.m.
4. Cold Spring Comfort

For breakfast, dip south to Cold Spring and the pale-yellow-walled dining room at Hudson Hil's Cafe & Market, where there are comforting mounds of biscuits with sausage gravy ($10.25), raspberry cornmeal pancakes with orange zest (from $6.75) and specials like chocolate babka French toast ($10.95). Then, walk down to Hudson Valley Outfitters for advice on local hikes, like the not-for-novices Breakneck Ridge Trail (nynjtc.org/hike/breakneck-ridge-trail), and guided kayak trips (weather depending; from $110), including a three-mile paddle to Pollepel Island to tour the surreal ruins of Bannerman Castle ($130 including lunch).

12 p.m.
5. To the Border and Beyond

Route 9 seems an unlikely location for Texas-style dry-rubbed, hickory-smoked brisket (marbled or lean), sausage (spicy or mild) and ribs so tender the meat barely clings to the bone, but Roundup Texas Barbeque is the real deal. It is housed in a trailer parked alongside a former gas station, and serves smoked meats, Lone Star beer ($4) and classic sides like Frito pie, and jalapeño mac 'n' cheese. Combo plates (two meats, two sides) start at $16.50. For another relative rarity in the area, take the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge across the river to Uriel Tacos, which sells a half dozen or so kinds of tacos, including chorizo and oreja (ear), and specials like slow-cooked goat barbacoa and shrimp caldo (soup) on weekends.

2 p.m.
6. Tasting Trails

Housed in a former grist mill, the Tuthilltown Distillery became New York State's first post-Prohibition whiskey distillery in 2007, selling its four-grain bourbon, Manhattan rye and single-malt whiskey under the Hudson Whiskey label. On weekends, tours are offered at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. ($15, including a three-spirit tasting). If wine's your thing, the Shawangunk Wine Trail (shawangunkwinetrail.com) highlights 14 wineries, including Benmarl Winery, which claims to be the oldest vineyard in the country. The Hudson Valley Cider Alliance (cideralliance.com) is yet another beverage-centric option.

4 p.m.
7. Walking on Water

In 2009, after years of abandonment, the fire-damaged Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge was restored and reopened as the Walkway Over the Hudson, a State Historic Park and one of the longest elevated pedestrian bridges in the world. Walk its 1.28-mile expanse in the late afternoon, when the Hudson's celebrated light is at its most captivating. Then, take a drive through New Paltz and out on Mountain Rest Road, past the 144-year-old Mohonk Mountain House lake resort, to the Mohonk Preserve. Continue through the hamlets of High Falls and Stone Ridge, and over the Ashokan Reservoir, one of New York City's pristine water sources. Along the way, stop in at the Last Bite for a cup of Catskill Mountain Coffee or kitschy, 1970s-era Egg's Nest Saloon for a Sicilian egg cream ($2.75) or a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie ($4.50).

6 p.m.
8. Old World Redux

Take two-lane back roads to Gunk Haus Restaurant, sit on the biergarten deck and look out over apple orchards and "the Gunks" — the Shawangunk Mountains, one of the country's best-known rock- climbing ridges. Try the German breaded pork loin jaeger schnitzel, served with wild mushroom ragout and spaetzle ($19) or the addictive obatzda ($3), a Bavarian cheese dip that's a potent mix of Camembert, Gorgonzola, beer and spices, and served with a chewy house-made pretzel.

10 p.m.
9. The Kingston Trio

When Stockade Tavern opened three years ago, selling sophisticated cocktails in a one-time Singer sewing machine factory in Kingston's 17th-century Stockade District, the bar's arrival foreshadowed changes for New York's former capital. Since then, the decade-old BSP Lounge has gained enthusiastic new management and has become a sort of musician's living room, hosting local and touring bands in a former vaudeville theater. Near the waterfront, the casual Rondout Music Lounge has a maritime aesthetic that evokes the nearby Hudson River Maritime Museum and the casual welcome of a neighborhood coffeehouse. For a more subdued evening, catch an indie movie in an old, white-steepled Methodist church building, now Upstate Films' newest theater, in Woodstock.

SUNDAY

9 a.m.
10. Vintage Catskills

Go for a light breakfast at {outdated}, an antiques shop and cafe where mod furniture and paint-by-number paintings are sold alongside pastries and egg sandwiches. Then, drive into the hills behind Woodstock to the 900-acre Overlook Wild Forest. Look for the parking lot of the Overlook Mountain Fire Tower trail across Meads Mountain Road from the Tibetan Buddhist monastery, strung with prayer flags (there are free tours at 1 p.m. on weekends). The hike follows a wooded former carriage road to the eerie ruins of a 19th-century Catskills resort and onto the 60-foot fire tower; climb the steel structure for views that extend from the Berkshires to the Catskills.

11 a.m.
11. Hudson on the Hudson

With dozens of showrooms selling midcentury furniture with five-figure price tags, Hudson feels incongruously cosmopolitan. For brunch, sit in the backyard patio at Cafe Le Perche, a bistro and boulangerie with a bar and blazing fireplace (in season) that serves spiced brioche French toast with poached pear ($10) and a roasted four-mushroom tartine with melted Brie, baguette, micro greens and truffle oil ($11.50). Then, spend a couple of hours coveting antiques on Warren Street. The Hudson Antiques Dealers Association (hudsonantiques.net) has a guide to the 40-plus artfully curated shops. Built in 1855 as the city's first City Hall, the restored Hudson Opera House has been transformed into a lively cultural center with a an ever-changing event calendar, a gallery that's open noon to 5 p.m. daily and guided building tours (free).

2 p.m.
12. Far From Old School

Heading out of town, stop at the Olana State Historic Site, and the 250-acre estate of the 19th-century painter Frederic Edwin Church. The property, which is crisscrossed with trails and planted with Church's "designed landscape," is crowned by an elaborate Persian-style home that now holds a collection of works by Hudson Valley School painters. Back in Beacon is the sprawling, contemporary museum DIA Beacon — equal parts amusing, bewildering and bizarre. Don't be surprised to turn a corner and meet an erotic hangman figure flashing in hot-pink neon in the distance.

LODGINGS

On 75 acres along the Hudson River, Buttermilk Falls Inn + Spa (220 North Road, Milton; buttermilkfallsinn.com) has 17 rooms and suites, a farm-to-table restaurant and spa with an indoor pool. Rooms start at $300 in high season.

Opened last year in a historic mill in Beacon, the 14 rooms (from $339 mid-week) at Roundhouse at Beacon Falls (2 East Main Street, Beacon; roundhousebeacon.com) overlook a roaring waterfall, the ultimate white noise machine. There's also a restaurant with a wide patio above the water, a stylish bar with a fireplace and an in-house yoga studio.  


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In Transit Blog: Calendar: Coming Events in New Orleans; Wisconsin; Goteborg, Sweden

Satchmo SummerFest, New Orleans A three-day jazz festival in New Orleans, dedicated to the life, legacy and music of the city's native son, Louis Satchmo Armstrong, is scheduled to take place Aug. 2 to 4 in the French Quarter at the Louisiana State Museum's Old Mint. Satchmo SummerFest will feature performances by traditional and contemporary jazz and brass band musicians, with a lineup that includes Allen Toussaint, Ellis Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon and the Preservation Hall Brass Band. Festivalgoers can also attend movies, exhibits, family activities, seminars, dance lessons and special events like the Jazz Mass at the St. Augustine Church in Treme, a traditional second line parade and the annual Trumpet Tribute, which closes the festival Sunday night. Events are free and open to the public, with the exception of the Aug. 1 opening reception.

EAA AirVenture 2013, Wisconsin Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis., from July 29 to Aug. 4, will be the gathering spot for this event, where young aviation enthusiasts can learn about design, engineering and other marvels of flight through hands-on building projects and flight instruction on a simulator. Re-enactments, forums, workshops and demonstrations are planned, and more than 10,000 aircraft, including what organizers say is the world's only privately owned Harrier jump jet, above, will be on site. Other highlights include two nighttime air shows with fireworks; musical events; a preview screening of Disney's "Planes"; the Round Engine Rodeo, a roundup of vintage radial-powered aircraft; and the opportunity to "just talk airplanes."

Way Out West, Goteborg, Sweden This genre-bending music festival, from Aug. 8 to 10, brings together electronic, rock and hip-hop acts in Goteborg's sprawling Slottsskogen park. This year's lineup includes the Swedish duo the Knife, Neil Young and Alicia Keys.


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Travel Blogging Today: It’s Complicated

When Keith Jenkins plans a trip, he doesn't have to cobble together vacation days, or frequent flier miles, or scour the Web for deals on big-ticket items like hotels. Mr. Jenkins, the Amsterdam-based blogger behind Velvet Escape (velvetescape.com), simply finds sponsors.

Last year, he planned a trip to Cape Town with a handful of other bloggers and pitched it to the local tourism agency, which agreed to foot the bill. He estimated that the resulting itinerary — including a stay at a villa with ocean views, shark-cage diving, visits to wineries and spa massages — was worth about 5,000 euros (about $6,440) but ended up costing him little beyond the nerve it took to board a ferry to Robben Island. The tourism office later told him that he and the fellow bloggers he'd invited had kicked off its most successful social media campaign to that point, featuring a Twitter hashtag — #lovecapetown — that is still in use.

Initially, Mr. Jenkins said of his blog's focus, "I didn't really think of it as luxury travel. I just thought this is the way I like to travel." Mr. Jenkins, who worked as an investment banker before turning to travel blogging in late 2008, added: "Backpacking is something I did as a student."

Mr. Jenkins's approach to blogging — and travel — speaks volumes about the state of a medium that began as intimate and creative. The paradigm has shifted across the board, in areas like food, parenting and so-called lifestyle blogs. But nowhere has the shift been as jarring as it is for travelers. "I want to travel the world" is no longer an idealistic statement, it is a transactional one.

It's impossible to estimate the number of independent travel blogs. Thousands of writers and photographers now travel the world registering their thoughts through platforms like WordPress and Blogger. But there is indication that the ranks of the bloggers whose aspirations are not just creative have grown: blogger attendance at the annual conference known as TBEX was about 1,000 this year, more than double that of last year's event in Keystone, Colo., and the "speed dating" sessions in which bloggers seek sponsors grew to 3,629 from 206 last year.

The proliferation of these blogs, and what is becoming a go-to way of financing them, would seem a boon to the daring people who want to keep logs of life on the road and the readers who want to consume them. But as travel blogging comes of age, the landscape has become vastly more complicated and more fragmented. It can all be daunting — and increasingly difficult for both bloggers and readers to navigate.

Travel bloggers tend to be independent-minded and passionate about their areas of interest. The best of them also tend to be on the cutting edge of the travel world, making them a valuable resource for readers frustrated with out-of-date guidebooks and what is often a morass of user reviews on sites like TripAdvisor. But they also face unique challenges; for one, they have to be not just their own editors in chief, but also their own directors of marketing and Web developers. And, ideally, they need to stay objective despite all the sponsorships.

To figure out how to navigate the mountains of online content available from various bloggers, and to answer the question of how they manage to travel amid all these demands, I turned to the bloggers themselves, and found a broad spectrum of approaches and advice.

If there is a single rule of thumb for how to choose which blogs to make time for, it is to measure them on a scale of how driven they are by business concerns. The recent TBEX conference in Toronto, with its rah-rah keynote speeches and panels on "Content Strategy" and "The Intersection of Marketing and Blogging," made one thing clear: those waters are increasingly murky.

Nowhere was this more evident than the popular speed-dating sessions. Bloggers signed up for eight-minute sessions with 138 sponsors. At the end of each appointment, chimes sounded and a mellifluous female voice echoed across the sprawling convention hall: "It is now time to move to your next appointment." With that, bloggers said their goodbyes and thank-yous and scrambled to get to their next potential sponsor.

Amid the scrum was Michelle Holmes, a travel blogger (wanderingoff.ca) and writer — her day job is as a parks manager in Toronto — who went on about 20 speed dates in all, which led to a handful of follow-up conversations with marketers and a couple of probable sponsored trips. It put her one step closer to her goal: "to be able to balance a work-slash-writing career without selling my soul." The weekend, she said, amounted to a success.

Dan Saltzstein is an editor of the Travel section of The Times.


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The Great Wall, Our Way

Robb Kendrick for The New York Times

A view from Day 1 of the author's Great Wall hike, in the Gubeikou area.

At first, I thought the faded pink pillow on the crumbling stone floor of the watchtower was a remnant of a previous camping trip.

"Are we coming back here to sleep?" I asked our guide, Joe Zhang, at the beginning of a two-day hike last July along the Great Wall of China, which I was making with my husband, Robb Kendrick, a photographer, and two teenage sons.

Joe shook his head and guessed that the pillow belonged to a local farmer passing through. When I asked where we were going to camp, he pointed out the window to the snaking wall that sliced through lush Panlong (Coiling Dragon) Mountain, part of the Yanshan Range, which stretches across northern Hebei Province.

"If we camp tonight, we'll set up tents inside a watchtower that way," he said in good English. "If we camp."

That "if," which he felt compelled to repeat, bothered me. My family had signed up with the tour operator Great Wall Adventure Club to hike this remote part of the Great Wall because I loved the idea of actually sleeping on the wall. I envisioned drifting off to the same sounds and scents that a Mongol-fighting soldier would have experienced centuries ago. I imagined watching the sun burst over peaks crowned by ancient crenelated watchtowers in the morning.

Plenty of tour operators take visitors on half-day tours from Beijing to the Badaling or Mutianyu sections of the Great Wall, which are 40 to 50 miles north of the capital; with travel time from Beijing, that leaves about two hours on the wall. But I wanted to escape the crowds and get a wilder, deeper experience. On its Web site, the Dallas-based Great Wall Adventure Club guaranteed we'd camp on the wall, but in subsequent communications, I learned the guarantee held as long as the weather was good. As we prepared for our outing, I tried not to think of the forecast I'd heard for our first day: chance of thunderstorms, 80 percent.

At 8 that morning, Joe — a lively young man who'd studied Great Wall history in college and on his own — and a driver picked us up in a van at our rented Beijing apartment. After getting through snarls of city traffic, we made our way about 90 miles northeast, much of it on a new highway that wove through increasingly mountainous terrain, arriving in the village of Gubeikou about 10 a.m. When the driver dropped us off at a ticket booth where Joe bought our entrance permits, we took only what we needed that day — water, sunscreen, cameras — and Joe carried our lunch. Our overnight bags stayed in the van with the driver, who would meet us at the end of our day's six-mile hike in the town of Jinshanling, a 20-minute drive away.

Climbing up a steep paved path, we were electrified by the first glimpse of the imposing wall above us. A watchtower, poking over the trees, was haunting in its deteriorating state. "It must have seemed like a skyscraper back then," my oldest son, Gus Kendrick, 16, said.

The Great Wall — 5,500 miles by some counts, longer by others — is not one wall, but many that were built starting in ancient times, and were consolidated and reinforced during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The purpose: keeping northern raiders from swooping down into the heart of China. The stretch of wall between Gubeikou and Jinshanling, which we hiked on the first day, is considered a prime example of Ming dynasty construction, built from 1568 through 1583 on top of a 1,000-year-old relic of a wall from the Northern Qi dynasty (550-577). Because the Gubeikou area was a strategic passage to Beijing, the more than 40 watchtowers we passed are closely spaced, and the wall was especially strong and well reinforced, constructed of brick up its 23-foot height.

As we began our hike, I was struck by what felt like an eternal loneliness and loveliness; as far as I could see, nothing but that golden line careening across the crumpled mountains and standing guard alone, whether needed or not, for centuries.

Jeannie Ralston, the author of the memoir "The Unlikely Lavender Queen," and her husband spent three years traveling and home-schooling their sons. She is currently working on a novel. 


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In Transit Blog: Tackling Paris With Children

Written By wartini cantika on Jumat, 26 Juli 2013 | 17.35

Next week, our continuing series on seeing big cities with kids makes its second stop: Paris. We'll offer advice and strategies for making the most of a trip to the City of Light with children.

Just as we did for our first destination, New York, we are seeking your tips to broaden our coverage.

What venues and activities in Paris work best with children? How do you handle the language? What experiences and stories can you share that might help other parents? Please share whatever you think is helpful and relevant in the comments below.

We plan to publish highlights from your comments next week.

Also See:
- Your Tips for Tackling New York With Kids
- Travel Guide: New York for Kids


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T Magazine: One-Thing Shops | Where You Can Find the Most Beautiful Brushes in Germany

For this series, T asks friends and contributors to share their favorite shops from around the world that sell just a single kind of product.

Late in the winter one year, I visited the little town of Naumburg, in the former East Germany, to see, in St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral, the 800-year-old statue of Uta of Naumburg, the great icon of Teutonic female beauty. Just a few steps away, on a street that has not changed much since the Middle Ages, I found by chance a small shop called Bürstenmanufaktur Steinbrück that makes all kinds of brushes, from humble ones for shining shoes to fanciful ones that resemble the headgear of ancient Roman soliders. There I met the proprietor, Ursula Römer, whose grandfather Karl Steinbrück opened the little workshop in 1873. She exudes the nobility and practicality of artisans who come from a line that goes back for generations. She spoke with great pride about her family, their craft and the fact that the business made it through Germany's tumultuous 20th century. The Bürstenmanufaktur survived the lean years of Communism, she told me, by inventing "a specialized range of brushes used in the restoration of the Semper Opera in Dresden." Today, she still manufactures brushes, lovingly and by hand, in the same cozy, cluttered workshop that her family has occupied for 140 years.


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Frugal Traveler: Memphis on the Cheap: Elvis, Barbecue and Baseball

By John Woo

Discount Elvis in Memphis: Finding the admission fee for Graceland's tour beyond his budget, Seth Kugel goes hunting for cheap Elvis souvenirs.

"Mawl medium hot?" asked the server at Craig's Bar-B-Q, a white clapboard shack with church basement furniture, smoke-tinted walls and a cash-only policy in DeValls Bluff, Ark., about an hour and a half west of Memphis, Tenn.

"Yes," I said. Wrong answer. Other customers took pity on my Northernness, and intervened: It was multiple choice, and "mawl" meant mild. I chose hot and had my first example of this region's perfect frugal meal: the barbecue pork sandwich with coleslaw for the beautiful (if disconcertingly unrounded) price of $3.93, $4.34 with tax.

It was just a lunch stop en route from Louisiana to Memphis, where finding good, cheap barbecue was one of three goals I had set for myself. But thanks to Craig's I realized cheap was as much a function of the right order as the restaurant. So a pork sandwich, served hot, with slaw, would become my order for the next three days. It never cost me more than $5. Add a bottomless iced tea, some sides even, and I rarely broke $10.

My other two goals? With tours of Graceland starting at an astonishing $33, I'd search instead for the best — by which I mean tackiest — Elvis souvenir for under $10. I'd also skip the blues clubs of Beale Street to look for local spots where Memphians outnumbered tourists (see below).

But the barbecue task is what shaped my days (and possibly my waistline). In about 60 hours, I had eight sandwiches in places both famous and not. I could focus on the sandwiches themselves: Bar-B-Q Shop's meat was particularly moist; Brad's had the spiciest sauce; Central's was packed with both meat and slaw; Payne's was the messiest and sweetest.

But to a barbecue amateur like me, culinary differences did not matter quite as much as atmosphere. And Craig's, an hour and a half outside of Memphis, had set the minimalist bar: if a smoky kitchen, some bare tables and a no-nonsense one-person wait staff would do, why aim higher?

That's why I found myself giving demerits to the slicker, more commercialized operations, no matter how good the end product. When I sat at the bar at Corky's (corkysbbq.com), the bartender who served me couldn't stop talking about how they ship their ribs everywhere and how well their book sold on QVC. I'm not sure whether that took the zing out of the sauce, or whether it was lacking zing to begin with.

Signs outside the Bar-B-Q Shop (dancingpigs.com) obnoxiously trumpeted its product as "Best in Memphis" (twice); inside I was greeted with "I'm Jim, and I'll be taking care of you today" — a bit too Olive Garden for me. But this was largely made up for by the zippy, almost Buffalo-like sauce on the sandwich and the Texas toast they served it on, replacing the traditional hamburger bun. Central BBQ (cbqmemphis.com) kept it realest: you order at the counter, where a quarter-slab of ribs was just $6. I greedily broke my sandwiches-only plan to take advantage of the great deal.

But the finest example of the sort of atmosphere I found at Craig's in Memphis proper was at the much-celebrated Payne's, in a former service station across the street from a tire shop called L'il Gipson (or L'ill Gipson, depending on which sign you believe). The menu board showcased an absurd lack of variety: side dishes include only beans and chips (60 cents, in the bag), and they don't even have tea. The kitchen, if you can call it that, consisted of a stove behind the counter with a simmering pot of beans and two bedraggled yellow refrigerators.

The sandwich itself was a $3.95 mess, heaped with chopped pork, showered with "hot" sauce more sweet than hot, and overflowing with yellowish-green, mustard-laced coleslaw. It may not have been the Platonic ideal of a Memphis barbecue sandwich, but if it was good enough for the guy grabbing a bite with his cement mixer parked outside, it was good enough for me.

Those spots have all achieved some level of fame, but the farther out I drove (and Memphis is one sprawled-out city), things got friendlier. The young woman behind the counter at Three Little Pigs, a shack in the parking lot of the Quince Station Shopping Center, a 20-minute drive southeast of town, was chatty and seemed interested in hearing why I was in town; an older man on his way back from his bowling league was open to chatting. The pork was just O.K., but I did appreciate their motto: "We Will Serve No Swine Before Its Time." Even better were Tom's Bar-B-Q and Deli (tomsbarbq.com) and Brad's Bar-B-Q, the first near the airport and the second just across the border in Bartlett, Tenn.

At Tom's, on a nondescript corner on State Route 176, I ordered the pork sandwich platter, which came with two sides and a drink for $8.49. But something told me I should also try the rib tips — perhaps it was the multiple oversize posters showing Guy Fieri posing with the owner and the rib tips. The rip tips were $8.99 a pound, so I asked the smallest amount I could order; a man behind the counter overheard me and said, "I'll put some in there for you."

And he did: four dry-rubbed, irregularly shaped, leathery, peppery, chewy pieces of rib tips. I gnawed my way through them and then realized I had no idea what rib tips are. So I went back to the kitchen to ask my benefactor. Turns out rib tips are the leftovers you get when separated off when you cut ribs St. Louis style. "They're like jerky," he told me. "I call them game food — something to nibble on when you're watching the game."


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Next Stop: Action Off the Mountains in Salt Lake City

Cayce Clifford for The New York Times

City Creek Center, a 23-acre mall, opened downtown in March 2012.

As an occasional Utah visitor, I've viewed downtown Salt Lake City like many other travelers who find themselves in the area: as a place to gas up the rental car as I race to the airport after a ski vacation in Park City or Alta. The word "interesting" rarely found itself in the same company with "downtown Salt Lake." Its urban core was nearly vacant after dark, with few residents and even fewer restaurants and attractions. The double-length blocks and yawning streets hardly welcomed tourists or residents, either — the streets platted so wide, history tells, so pioneers could easily turn around their four-ox teams.

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Cayce Clifford for The New York Times

A dish at the Copper Onion. The restaurant is part of the recent explosion of places to eat downtown.

Now, though, a nascent renaissance has taken hold in downtown Salt Lake City, making a stop appealing even outside ski season.

Roughly 125 businesses of all kinds have opened or moved there since 2009, or are about to open — not counting 100 in the newest shopping center — according to the Downtown Alliance, which promotes the area. About 5,000 people now live there, too, a 35 percent jump since 2010, said Jason Mathis, the group's executive director. No one will mistake it for the East Village, but downtown is starting to become a place people actually seek out to eat and play. One fact captured the change as well as any, apparent on a recent visit: Four craft breweries now operate within 10 blocks of Temple Square, the historic center of both downtown and of the teetotaling Mormon world.

"Salt Lake is really ascending, and all the stars seem to be aligned" for the future, Mr. Mathis said. "There's good stuff going on."

The single biggest catalyst of this change, strangely, is a shopping mall. In March 2012 City Creek Center opened, a sprawling, 23-acre mall adjacent to Temple Square that was completely financed by a development arm of the Mormon Church.

City Creek Center (shopcitycreekcenter.com), at 50 South Main Street, is a handsome monument to consumption. There are more than 100 stores, many of them high-end and new to the market — Tiffany, Nordstrom, Coach. The development also has Las Vegas-like fountains (music! jets of flame!), a fully retractable glass roof that closes in inclement weather and a river that runs through it (O.K., a stream; the eponymous, reimagined City Creek, with actual trout). A "Passport to Savings" with special offers and discounts for travelers can be picked up at the center's customer service desk and area hotels.

The project isn't so important for the Porsche sunglasses that you can now buy downtown as for what else it brought: vitality. The complex, which covers some two and a half city blocks, also has 1.2 million square feet of office space and three residential towers housing 800 units (with one more tower planned) and will incorporate an existing, soon-to-be-renovated Marriott hotel.

Spurred by the investment and the excitement, restaurateurs and other entrepreneurs have focused their attention anew on downtown in the last few years. Here are some highlights:

NEW AIRPORT CONNECTION In mid-April the Utah Transit Authority opened a light-rail connection between Salt Lake City International Airport and downtown. The six-mile TRAX line (rideuta.com) includes six new stations and takes about 20 minutes from Temple Square to the airport. A ride costs $2.50. The line connects to the system's existing 140 miles of track (including the 90-mile Frontrunner train system, which connects Ogden, Salt Lake City and Provo).

This connection opens up an intriguing possibility for skiers: staying downtown, riding transit to the slopes and never bothering with the expense or trouble of a rental car. This past winter a public ski bus ran from six stops downtown to the resorts each morning, a ride of about an hour, and returned in the evening. Skiers can also ride TRAX from downtown to the 6200 South station and hop on resort-bound ski buses all morning (also included free with the Ski Salt Lake Super Pass). Here's another reason to consider staying downtown and using public transportation: Hotel rates downtown, even for high-end hotels like the Grand America, can be dramatically lower than at ski areas.


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Close-Up: Hotels, Festivals and Identity

Written By wartini cantika on Kamis, 25 Juli 2013 | 17.35

In 1987, at the tender age of 26, Chip Conley decided to get into the hotel business, so he checked out a motel in the gritty Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco everyone called the "no tell" motel. It was a throwback to midcentury motor lodges, and Mr. Conley fell in love instantly. He inquired about it with the owner, who informed him the motel was, in fact, doing quite well: its occupancy rate was 142 percent. Sensing Mr. Conley's confusion, the owner explained, "Well, when you're renting hourly, you can rent a room more than once a day."

"I was like, 'Oh wow. I don't think my mom will like this,' " Mr. Conley recalled.

That motel became the Phoenix Hotel, which welcomed the likes of David Bowie and Nirvana. It also signaled the beginning of Joie de Vivre Hotels, a company Mr. Conley oversaw as chief executive until he stepped down in 2010.

Mr. Conley now has turned to his attention to a different kind of travel: festivals. This month he introduced Fest300, a Web site that aims to cover 300 festivals around the world, starting with the 40 Mr. Conley is attending this year. From artistic gatherings like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to religious festivals like Diwali in Mumbai, the Web site gives details like a festival's history, directions to it and what to pack.

For a festival like the whirling Mevlevi dervishes' commemoration of the death of the Sufi mystic Rumi, in Turkey, Fest300 is one of the few resources on the Web that provide practical information on it. It's been going on for hundreds of years, said Mr. Conley. "So I guess they feel they don't need a Web site."

Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Conley, who, looking back on his career, explains what boutique hotels have in common with dancing in a crowd of thousands. 

On boutique versus chain: Every hotel we created for Joie de Vivre, we based it upon a magazine and five adjectives, so the Phoenix was Rolling Stone magazine and funky, irreverent, adventurous, cool and young at heart. The people who fell in love with it, I found, might use those adjectives to describe themselves. I call it identity refreshment: the personality of the hotel rubs off on you. Boutique hotels, they're not just smaller or have better design than chain hotels. Their magic is in creating an emotional experience for the customer, in making them feel like they're better versions of themselves.

On why he is a nonstop festivalgoer: I was in New York last year, doing a talk for my last book, when a woman during the Q and A session said, "I'm not a stalker" — which is always a bad way to start a question — "but I know your favorite place on earth is Bali, and you're on the board of Burning Man. Bali and Burning Man are two of my favorite experiences too. Why are we so in love with them?"

On stage, in front of hundreds of people, I began to try to answer: "Bali is like an endless festival. It has this communal village spirit, and everyone is artistically interested in the next festival. The ultimate life experience is your cremation, which itself is a festival. And Burning Man has this collective effervescence, this sense of losing yourself in the group connection. Now it may be you took too many drugs or you're streaking, but what Burning Man is really about is utopian culture, and it has this very strong artistic component. That's what you're losing yourself in."

I always felt travel is transformative. It's not just a vacation where you vacate yourself. It's, how do you explore something bigger than yourself, something that gives you some sense of transcendence? And festivals do that in the context of a group social experience. It's social-identity refreshment, connecting you with others outside your own little digital device. Long story short, I said on stage suddenly, "I want to become the world's leading expert on festivals." And that's how Fest300 started.


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