Archive for December, 2011

New Year's in New York City's Time Square

Before you ring in 2012, remember the year in travel. Travel Channel’s Year in Photos slideshow captures several memorable events around the world, including the Austria’s World Bodypainting Festival, the Middle East’s revolutionary demonstrations, the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in NYC, DC’s MLK Memorial opening, and Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano eruption.

We also remember 2011 with When Nature Attacks, a look back at some of the most devastating natural disasters around the world. And don’t forget to check Travel Channel’s Most Memorable Moments of 2011, which highlights fun moments from some from our TV shows, including No Reservations, Ghost Adventures, Bizarre Foods and The Dead Files.

In addition to this slideshow, we also take a look ahead at the upcoming College Bowl Championship series, what’s hot in and what’s out in travel, and our TV show hosts give you the dish on their new year’s resolutions. So start your New Year off right, with a look back and a look ahead, on TravelChannel.com!

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New Year’s Eve Around the World
2012 Hottest Destinations
Merry and Gay Holiday Celebrations

by Matthew Karsten,
ExpertVagabond.com

 

South African Sangoma

I’m one really lucky guy. At least that’s what my sangoma tells me. What is a sangoma, you might ask? A traditional Nguni healer, seer, counselor and shaman. The native peoples of South Africa have been practicing the profession for thousands of years and many still do today. While visiting Khula, a rural Zulu township on the outskirts of St. Lucia, I was invited into the home of the local sangoma to consult with my ancestral spirits.

Men always enter the sacred ndumba (healing hut) before the women, in order to protect against snakes. Luckily, the small thatched room was snake-free. Once seated inside, I was given a smoldering bundle of Imphepho (perennial herb) twigs and was told to inhale the smoke while reciting my name. This ritual act would summon my ancestors with whom the sangoma would consult. READ MORE

mysteries-at-the-museum_ishi

The year’s almost over, but don’t let it pass by without a nod to this historic milestone: 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Ishi. Who was this mysterious man? Learn the amazing story of this Native American in tonight’s episode of Mysteries at the Museum. Here’s the backstory:

It’s the summer of 1911, and a man in a fur cape emerges from the wilderness on the outskirts of a California gold-mining town. “To find a wild person in 1911 was extraordinary,” says Christiaan Klieger, curator of The California Museum. Even more extraordinary was the story this man’s life pointed to: He was, anthropologists determined, a member of a lost Native American tribe. But how did Ishi survive all alone? And was he really the last survivor? Learn the full story tonight at 9/8c!

black-dhalia

The bright lights of Tinseltown have lured their share of young women. Among them was a raven-haired girl from Massachusetts who hoped to make it big in Los Angeles. But in the end, Elizabeth Short came to be known as the tragic Black Dahlia. In tonight’s episode of Hidden City: Los Angeles, at 10|9c, host Marcus Sakey explores Short’s mysterious death, which culminated in the gruesome discovery of her mutilated body in a vacant lot in 1947.

Sadly, Short was hardly the only woman whose life ended young — and, in several cases, under mysterious circumstances. Call it the Black Dahlia Club. If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles, take a detour down these haunted streets; echoes of lives cut short still resound (hat tip: Esotouric and photographer Derek Hutchison): READ MORE

Holiday Cookies

’Tis the season for enjoying delicious food. Between the barbecues at the college football tailgate, holiday cookies and New Year’s Eve, food consumes us nearly 24 hours a day. So naturally, when you travel, deciding where to eat is essential.

For our beef lovers, we have Big Beef Paradise.  See a selection of restaurants across the US that cater to the carnivore in us all.

This holiday season, warm up with our Hot and Spicy Food Paradise slideshow and Food Paradise: Cookies slideshow. Great ideas for the cookie monster in us all.

Shark Shoot

This Sunday at 9|8c, Hollywood photographer Mike Muller and his crew get up close  and personal with some of the world’s most frightening creatures. The guys travel to the Beqa Lagoon in Fiji, where 8 different shark species roam the waters. Mike sets out to photograph them all, even the elusive tiger shark, nicknamed the “wastebasket of the sea”  because of its reputation for eating anything … and everything.

Watch what happens when Mike’s crew attempts to take their Hollywood studio more of 60 feet beneath the water’s surface … lighting equipment and all. Mike’s tech team must find a way to pump 3,600 watts of electricity through long cables into the depths of the ocean, risking their lives for the perfect shot. Meanwhile, throngs of hungry sharks are ready for their close-up, having come to feast on the enormous (and bloody) chum bucket that “Shark Whisperer” Brandon Paige brings to the ocean floor. 

Check out some of Mike’s incredible photos from the trip, and be sure to tune in Sunday, Dec. 18, at 9|8c.

by Christina Ricchiuti,
PackedSuitcase.com

 

KLM To Launch New

Never fly lonely again … at least, that’s a service that Dutch airline KLM is hoping to provide their passengers in 2012. The airline will be launching a new “Meet and Seat” tool that will allow fliers checking in online to utilize Facebook and LinkedIn to check out their fellow passengers pre-flight and pick their preferred seatmate.

Depending on the user’s interests, “Meet and Seat” could be used for a variety of different “matchmaking” motives. Whether a flier is looking to schmooze with a potential professional contact, bond over alumni connections (or a common interest) or flirt their way from point A to point B with a handsome stranger, there doesn’t seem to be any structure or restrictions to how a seatmate may be chosen. READ MORE

by Matthew Karsten,
ExpertVagabond.com

 

Delaire Vineyard in South Africa

When you think of great wine, does South Africa come to mind? I’m certainly no wine expert. But a recent visit to the winelands around Franschhoek and Stellenbosch outside of Cape Town gave me a renewed respect for this age-old alcoholic beverage. South Africa’s wine-making traditions are actually much older than those of Napa Valley in California. The fertile, rust-colored African soil has been producing delicious reds and whites for hundreds of years.

I decided to spend a whole afternoon tasting many varieties of South African wine at 2 different estates, both with surreal landscapes. Row upon row of vibrant green vines spread out in all directions, while majestic mountains off in the distance rose up to touch the sky. It’s hard to imagine a better wine-tasting setting than this! READ MORE

Real Pirates of the High Seas

The mere mention of the word “pirate” can spark images of fantasy and adventure. You know, Johnny Depp aka Captain Jack Sparrow. But in life, pirates don’t just flash smoky eyes and put on a good show. They kill. For real.  Tonight at 9/8c, Mysteries at the Museum offers a heart-stopping look at one high-seas drama.

In April 2009, the Maersk Alabama cargo ship was sailing through the Indian Ocean when it was hijacked by a speedboat with 3 Somali pirates onboard. In the  moments that followed, Captain Richard Phillips was tied up, with an AK-47 assault rifle held to the back of his head. Hear host Don Wildman explain what happened next.

In other cases, it’s travelers who end up in the crossfire. This year an American couple saw their sailboat hijacked by pirates several hundred miles off the coast of Oman. But if you dream of one day setting sail for the high seas, don’t fret. Just be smart about it. Stay current on high-risk waters and travel advisory warnings.

And if you’re looking for pirate adventure (safely tucked in the past), plenty of options await — just check out the links below.

You May Also Like:
The Real Pirates of the Caribbean

Finding Pirates in the Caribbean

Marcus Sakey in disguise

Have you figured out who this is yet? Come on, guess! OK, we’ll tell you. It’s Hidden City’s host Marcus Sakey! In the Boston episode, Marcus is transformed into an older man so he can walk around Faneuil Hall to get a feel for what it is like to hide in plain sight, just like mob boss Whitey Bulger.  Whitey was living in Santa Monica, CA, for several years before the FBI finally arrested him.  Read Marcus’s take on the experience in his blog.

In addition to Whitey Bulger’s story, Marcus also dives into the Great Brinks Robbery and the case of the Boston Strangler.  When the Great Brinks Robbery was carried out in 1950, it was the largest bank heist in US history. The thieves made off with more than $2.7 million in assets.  The Boston Strangler case is one that still causes debate about whether Albert DeSalvo was really the true killer.  Marcus gets forensic psychologist Dr. David Bernstein to weigh in on the case and give him a glimpse into the mind of a psychopath. Dr. Bernstein then turns the tables on Marcus and gives him a psychopath quiz.

Catch Hidden City: Boston on Tuesday, Dec. 13 @ 10|9c.

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