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In Transit Blog: Walking Through Majorca

Written By wartini cantika on Kamis, 27 Februari 2014 | 17.36

On Foot Holidays, the self-guided walking tours specialist, has introduced a new route — its 21st — to the Spanish island of Majorca.

The eight-night trip starts in the capital, Palma, and covers five to nine miles a day of moderately challenging trails with the option for one long 16-mile trek, which takes walkers to the 3,000-foot-high peak of the island.

Highlights of the journey include Palma's labyrinthine streets and elaborate Gothic cathedral; the Serra de Tramuntana range (which is a World Heritage site); the opportunity to learn how to cook Mallorcan paella at a family-run hotel; the picturesque Alaro Circuit, which features a ruined castle; and a meal at the hilltop restaurant Es Verger, famous for its fresh lamb.

Travelers stay at six different inns and small hotels throughout the eight days, and On Foot's staff transfers their luggage from village to village. Simon Scutt, the company director, said that the trip can be taken by guests at all fitness levels. "The nice thing about this itinerary besides the historical sites and the beautiful scenery is that you have the option to shorten most of the days if you don't want to walk the whole route," he said.

The trip is available anytime from March to June and from September to December. Prices are from $1,384 a person and include accommodation, breakfast, one dinner, detailed itinerary and luggage transfers.


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In Transit Blog: Lego Pieces Together a New Act

While the thought of 3 million Legos may have parents instinctively rubbing the soles of their feet, executives at the Legoland park in Carlsbad, Calif., are smiling.

They've used as many plastic pieces to create the Lego Movie Experience, a new attraction at the park that capitalizes on the recent success of Warner Brothers' "The Lego Movie," which has topped box office sales in its first two weekends and is quickly approaching the $200 million mark in domestic sales, according to Box Office Mojo.

With assistance from filmmakers, the park's master model builder team has recreated Middle Zealand, the Old West, Cloud Cuckooland, the Octane Tower and more than a thousand other models that inspired the story of the animated movie, in which Emmet, an average Lego figure, is mistakenly drafted to help save the world from an evil tyrant.

The models, built using 91 new, rare, discontinued and current Lego sets, took more than 2,000 hours to assemble at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank and another six weeks to reassemble in the park.

The walk-through attraction also features a soundstage broadcasting interviews with actors from the movie, including Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman, along with clips from the film. Costumed characters from the movie also roam the area to take pictures with guests. Sets to build at home are sure to be on sale nearby.


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In Transit Blog: An Inside Look at Cooking and Dining in Tel Aviv

Written By wartini cantika on Rabu, 26 Februari 2014 | 17.35

Six years ago, Tel Aviv tapped into its inner voyeur when it joined the international movement "Houses from Within," a festival in which residents of some of the city's most interesting (and opulent) homes fling open their doors and allow the public to visit.

Now the city has created its own spin-off event, with some of Tel Aviv's most prestigious chefs opening their kitchen doors and allowing snoops and snackers alike a chance to see the workings of a restaurant from the inside.

Open Restaurants, which had a test run last July and will offer its first full-fledged event beginning Wednesday, includes kitchen sneak-peeks, culinary workshops and chef-guided tours of Tel Aviv's open-air market.

"We're going to try to show you the restaurant from the inside, how we get our supplies here, how we cook it, and later of course, how we eat it," said Orel Kimchi, chef and owner at Popina, one of the 70 restaurants hosting events over the four-day festival.

On Mr. Kimchi's docket for the event is a trip to the local fishmonger, spectators in tow, where he will purchase a fresh drum fish and then offer a master class on scaling it, filleting it and preparing it five ways.

Other workshops include ice cream making, learning the science of pizza dough and a chance to peer into the kitchen during a frenzied service at theTel Aviv hot spot Brasserie. Workshops range from  50 shekels (about $15) to  300  shekels ($88), most in Hebrew with a select few offered in English. Reservations and more information are at open-restaurants.co.il.


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In Transit Blog: A Token of Anne Frank’s Childhood, on View

The set of marbles that Anne Frank played with before she was forced into hiding are on display for the first time.

The marbles and their original tin box take center stage in the exhibit "The Second World War in 100 Objects," which runs through May 11 at the Kunsthal Rotterdam.

Like other Jewish children who gave away their toys when they had to report for deportation or go into hiding, Anne Frank left several treasured possessions with a neighborhood playmate, Toosje Kupers, before she and her family moved into the "secret annex" on the Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam on July 6, 1942.

Ms. Kupers, now 83, donated several items of Frank's — a toy tea set, a book and the marbles — to the Anne Frank House.

Other artifacts in the World War II exhibit include the grave marker cross of  the American pilot James M. Hansen, who is buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten; a decoy paratrooper dummy, known as a "Rupert," used by the British to deceive the German troops; and a sweater made from dog's hair during the Dutch famine of 1944-45.


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In Transit Blog: New York Hotels Have Rooms for Super Bowl Weekend

Written By wartini cantika on Sabtu, 01 Februari 2014 | 17.35

It's not too late to book a room in New York for Super Bowl weekend. In fact, many hotels are still advertising availability, attempting to entice last-minute travelers with tailgate party packages and post-game "detox" deals.

The new 487-room Hyatt Times Square is continuing to promote its views of "Super Bowl Boulevard" in Midtown Manhattan, hoping to book a few more rooms (starting at $379 a night) before the game.

The Waldorf Astoria is also offering both rooms and suites, along with a chance to spot legendary players staying at the hotel for the weekend, the company said in a statement.

Pre-game paraphernalia is available at the hotel's N.F.L. pop-up store and a post-game hot towel massage treatment at the Guerlain Spa is "ideal for fans dealing with post-game loss," the release said.

The JW Marriott Essex House is still advertising its "Tailgate, Travel and Touchdown" package to those who already hold tickets to the game. Along with a two-night stay (starting at $659 a night), guests are treated to a pre-game tailgate party with open bar at the hotel's executive lounge, luxury bus service to and from New Jersey for the game — gift bags included — and complimentary breakfast.

For those on a budget, the Jane, a boutique hotel in the West Village, is still offering its small but upscale rooms (modeled after luxury train cabins) at $125 a night, with the hope that this weekend's promising forecast will attract last-minute bookings, Chris Rohr, the hotel's general manager, said in an email.

Many of the region's businesses had hoped to see a bump in revenue this weekend, with the Super Bowl drawing tourists to the city during what is typically an off-season. But just how much of a bump remains to be seen.

"Our team was hoping to fill rooms with fans of the participating teams," Scott Erlich, a managing partner of the  Hotel Wolcott, an independent establishment in Midtown, said.

Although 80 percent full this weekend, up 30 percent from the same time last year, Mr. Erlich said he thought the hotel would be sold out given its reasonable rates ($250 a night) and proximity to the New Jersey PATH trains and buses.

"In general, I think the prediction of very cold weather scared off many fans," he said. "Now that the forecast is predicting 30- to 40-degree temperatures — instead of the previous past weeks' freezing weather — I think we will see a last-minute rush of travelers buying Super Bowl tickets and therefore booking hotel rooms."

But for larger establishments, like Marriott, availability doesn't necessarily mean tourists aren't coming. "It's about inventory and geography," Kathleen Duffy, a spokeswoman for Marriott in New York, said.

The Brooklyn Marriott, for instance, is almost at capacity this weekend thanks to its proximity to the "Taste of the N.F.L." event being held at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on Saturday, she said, adding that New York's huge amount of accommodation options will always make it difficult to fill every room.


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In Transit Blog: In North Carolina, Sites That Honor Black History

Thirty-seven sites that highlight the contributions of African-Americans to the  business, spiritual, educational and civic life of   Wilmington, N.C.,  are detailed in the recently published African American Heritage guide.

Stops include the 1898 Monument and Memorial Park, remembering the people harmed in the racial uprising of that year and honoring those who have continued their work for racial progress; Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church, North Carolina's oldest African American Presbyterian church, built in 1858; and the intact slave quarters of the Bellamy Mansion, an urban plantation completed in 1861 and largely constructed by free and enslaved African-American artisans.

The trail reaches almost to Carolina Beach, to the few remains of Seabreeze, a recreational area developed in the 1920s that attracted black families from around the state, before integration opened all beaches to everyone. The 34-page free guide and map are available at Wilmington visitor information centers and online.


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T Magazine: Letter From France | How to Visit Some of Paris’s Finest Museums but Skip the Crowds

Paris is home to the finest museums in the world. Unfortunately, they are also some of the most crowded. Nearly four million people head to the Pompidou Center and the Musée d'Orsay each year. The Louvre receives more than twice as many.

My houseguests often return from one of these trio of giants with tales of woe: long lines, crowded corridors and obnoxious elbow-pushers. Then there is the security problem. Organized teams of pickpockets became so aggressive at the Louvre last April that its 200 security guards went on strike for a day, forcing the museum to close.

But there are about 175 museums in Paris, and most offer a stress-free visit. They can be modest, like the two rooms devoted to Edith Piaf in an apartment on the eastern edge of town; they can be grand, like the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale, just outside town, which displays 30,000 Gallo-Roman objects in a chateau rebuilt in the 16th century.

A cluster of must-see museums in the boring, bourgeois 16th Arrondissement easily fits into a day-long outing on a Saturday or Sunday.

Included is by far the most luscious overlooked museum in Paris, the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet. This Asian art museum has the finest collection of Khmer art in the West (including sculptures from Angkor Wat). Its temporary exhibitions draw big crowds, but the rooms housing the permanent collection are delightfully empty. They present 45,000 works of art, including Chinese bronzes and lacquerware, Thai manuscripts, Indian sculptures, Japanese silk paintings, Moghul jewelry, Afghan glassware and Tibetan mandalas, in open, well-lit modern spaces. The building, constructed by the industrialist Émile Guimet in 1889, has preserved its architectural signature: an open, double-floored, oval-shaped library whose leather-bound volumes sit in curved wood bookshelves.

If you're lucky, the nearby Palais Galliera, situated in a Renaissance-style palace, will be open for a temporary exhibition. A show dedicated to Azzedine Alaïa just ended; the next, on a century of fashion photography in Condé Nast publications like Vogue and Vanity Fair, runs from March 1 to May 25.

Your next destination could be the blessedly uncrowded Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Its permanent collection covers major artistic trends since the beginning of the 20th century, with works by Picasso, Dufy, Modigliani, Rouault, Léger, Braque, Utrillo, Giacometti and Rauschenberg. It is worth a visit for the Matisse room alone, which offers two of the artist's monumental triptychs of "Dance" murals from the early 1930s. Some of Robert Delauney's best paintings are hung in Room #1. Sit on the bench with one of his 1938 "Rhythm" paintings for the Salon de Tuileries behind you. It is the perfect perch for gazing out the window through the trees and contemplating the Eiffel Tower and the boats moving up and down the Seine. The view is best when the trees are bare.

Next door is the Palais de Tokyo, which is more successful as an indoor playground for kids than as a repository of art objects. But the gift shop is a fine place to find oddball art books and publications, and the lively, high-ceilinged restaurant Tokyo Eat is an appealing place to stop for lunch.

From there, it's an easy walk to the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine. With three galleries and 86,000 square feet of space, it calls itself the largest architectural museum in the world. It is a shrine to 12 centuries of French building styles, including a glass-roofed main gallery housing 350 plaster-cast reproductions of medieval, Gothic and Renaissance church architecture: cathedral facades, gargoyles, pillars, statues, crypts. It sits on a hill overlooking the curve of the Seine, and each of the two dozen or so soaring windows along a long, parallel gallery offers a different view of the Eiffel Tower just across the river.

End the day with the modest house where Honoré de Balzac lived and wrote between 1840 and 1847 under the pseudonym Lord R'hoone. The study is preserved much as it was when he worked there, with velvet-covered walls, colored glass windows and a wooden work table.

But even after you've finished the museums of the 16th, your no-stress tour has just begun. Try, for instance, the Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. This small epistolary museum displays more than 250 pieces spanning seven centuries, including a missive in Cyrillic from Tsarina Catherine II, a papal bull from Clement VIII giving absolution to King Henri IV, a letter of Marie-Antoinette, calculations by Einstein explaining his theory of relativity and a draft of a speech by President Kennedy.

There are also numerous homes of famous people that have been turned into museums, including those of the painters Gustave Moreau (just renovated) and Eugène Delacroix, the scientist Louis Pasteur, the Russian-born sculptor Ossip Zadkine and the statesman Georges Clémenceau.

If you have time for only one, make it the Musée Nissim de Camondo near the Parc Monceau. It holds one of the world's great collections of late-18th-century French furnishings and decorative arts. All the objects have been left as they were when the patriarch, Moïse de Camondo, a wealthy Jewish banker from Constantinople, and his family lived there.

It also holds a tragic story. When Camondo died in 1935, he left his mansion and collections to France's Musée des Arts Décoratifs. His only condition was that the house be turned into a museum and named after his son, Nissim, who died as a combat pilot for France in World War I.

The family felt protected when the Nazis occupied France. A marble plaque at the entrance to the house states otherwise. It announces that Camondo's daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, his last descendants, were deported by the Germans between 1943 and 1944. They died at Auschwitz.

The French government kept its word, turning the house into a museum and naming it after Camondo's son.


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