Archive for April, 2012

by Jimmy Im

If you didn’t think hotel discounts could get any more attractive, think again. Launched few weeks ago by TripAdvisor, Tingo is a new booking site that promises users an instant refund of the price difference if the rate at which they reserve a room drops.  Sound too good to be true? It’s not.

Cash and Credit Cards

Here’s how it works: Tingo allows users to book virtually any hotel available on Expedia and then automatically tracks the rates of the property. This means that users don’t have to watch prices on their own to get a better deal, so you’re guaranteed to get the lowest possible rate on the hotel booking. Tingo is the first site to automatically rebook a hotel reservation if the price drops, and consumers save on the difference with a refund (Orbitz has a price assurance policy with a similar plan, but unlike Orbitz, you qualify for a refund at Tingo regardless of whether another traveler has also booked the lower rate).

The company says about a third of rooms drop in price between booking and check-in, and because you’re so busy, you’re not monitoring this. In comes Tingo to watch the prices for you and give you the difference provided there is a price drop (if the price never drops, obviously nothing happens).

This week, giant puppets (yes, you read right) put on a show on the streets of Liverpool, England. Over 600,000 people turned out for the 3-day performance. Entitled “Sea Odyssey,” the show was a tribute to the Titanic, one of the many commemorative events held this month for the 100th anniversary of the ship’s tragic end.

Sea Odyssey

Titanic Recreation …
A 30-foot-tall Little Girl Giant wandered the city of Liverpool with her dog Xolo, looking for her father who drowned when the Titanic sank. Luckily, her 50-foot-tall uncle was there to comfort her. The production, which ended with the giant puppets boarding a boat out of the city, was staged by the French street theatre company Royal de Luxe. It took 110 puppeteers and multiple cranes to operate the enormous marionettes. READ MORE

by Jimmy Im

When it comes to Belfast, more Americans remember its dark political history and forget that the New York-bound Titanic ship was built and made its maiden voyage from there 100 years ago this month. Belfast is hot on its heels of erasing the repercussions of its late civil war (the city is known as the safest city in all of Europe based on nationwide crime figures), and the Titanic is luring travelers the world over to check out the new and improved Belfast.

Titanic Memorial in Belfast

This month, the $156 million Titanic Building opened its doors, providing the world’s largest Titanic memorial. The museum center stands the same height as the original Titanic — about 10 stories high — and is designed to look like the hull of the ship. And don’t expect tributes to Jack and Rose. The Titanic Building is the real deal, with 9 informative galleries that start with Boomtown Belfast (when the city was at the forefront of shipbuilding) and the launch of the Titanic, ending with the Oceanic Exploration Center. So visitors can explore the wreckage discovered 2 1/2 miles on the ocean floor in 1985. Interactive features allow visitors to feel like they were actually on the ship. READ MORE

On April 17, visitors milling about on the National Mall in Washington, DC, got to snap some quick photos of a once-in-a-lifetime event –Space Shuttle Discovery’s very last flight. It wasn’t flying solo though; the space shuttle was mounted to a 747 carrier aircraft as it was transported to its final resting place at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Now that’s an awesome photo-op! Discovery replaced Space Shuttle Enterprise, which has now been loaded onto a 747 to be flown to JFK International Airport on Monday, April 23. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City will become the new home for the Enterprise.

Discovery Shuttle

This week also marked the start of the 100-day countdown to the 2012 London Olympic Games, sparking celebrations around the world. BMX Riders got air at the “100 Days Out” event held in Times Square; torch bearers unveiled a garden planted to resemble the Olympic rings — made out of over 20,000 flowers and plants — at London’s Kew Gardens; and Coca-Cola hosted a giant celebration in front of the famed Bird’s Nest in Beijing. Only 98 day left to go! READ MORE

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than with a trip to one of America’s stunning national parks? Explore the awe-inspiring rock formations of the Grand Canyon, wander through the spindly cartoon-like Joshua trees at Joshua Tree National Park, get inspired at FDR’s Hudson River estate and presidential library, go gator-spotting in the Florida Everglades or watch the waves crash against the national seashore. All of these incredible historic sites and natural wonders have been lovingly preserved by the National Park Service, often called “America’s Best Idea.”

National Park Freebie

Starting Saturday (and ending Sunday, April 29), more than 100 of the national parks that typically charge an admission fee will be completely free to enter, and a visit to any one of them will inspire you to help preserve all 84 million acres of them. If you’d like to get involved and help out with a project, visit Saturday for Volunteer Day. Or take your kids on April 28 to participate in National Junior Ranger Day, when kids will be taught to “explore, learn and protect” the parks and landmarks that we have inherited. READ MORE

Each year, half a million spectators line the streets of 8 consecutive Massachusetts towns to cheer on the 25,000 runners attempting to finish the winding, hilly 26.2 miles that make up the Boston Marathon. Held on Patriots’ Day — a Massachusetts holiday commemorating the beginning of the American Revolution — Boston’s marathon is the oldest and one of the most famous in the world.  

But the marathon, in recent years, has obscured some other – much older – Patriots’ Day traditions.

Friday Freebie- Patriots' Day

Get a free dose of history this weekend at one of the many battle reenactments and demonstrations going on in the picturesque towns of Lexington and Concord. This Saturday, watch as 300 British and Colonial troops demonstrate the “Bloody Angle Battle.” Or get an up-close look at Parker’s Revenge when the Lexington militia company ambushes a group of British soldiers. Hartwell Tavern and the Captain William Smith House –2 historic sites that have been restored to revolutionary-era glory — will also be free and open to the public this weekend. READ MORE

by Jimmy Im

Has your plane ever been stranded on an airport runway? Not fun, considering the number of hours you could potentially remain seated. But now there’s a way you can move freely at your own discretion — and you won’t be asked to return to your seat. But you better wear your running shoes.

Runners in the JFK Runway Run

Run on the Runway at JFK Airport

Running enthusiasts are sprinting over to the JFK Runway Run 2012 on April 15. Portions of the race include the longest and main airport runway at JFK, which is a good 14,000 feet.

Don’t worry; it’s safe. Aircrafts are being rerouted to land on a different runway during the race, so there’s no need to crane your neck to potentially dodge oncoming planes. And you don’t have to be Carl Lewis to sign up. The race is very family-friendly, open to all ages and types of people — even strollers are permitted on the runway! According to the JFK Rotary Club, which sponsors the Runway Run, the race has been going strong for about 30 years. Who knew?

The JFK Runway Run 2012 is still open for registration and is only $25 ($30 on race day).

There’s no better time to visit San Francisco than in April, after the rainy season has ended and before the summer fog settles over the city. You don’t have to be religious to have a hippity hoppin’ good time this weekend at the city’s annual Spring Celebration and Easter Parade

Final Four

Now in its 21st year, the event runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. this Sunday, April 8. Not only will kids get to meet the Easter bunny himself (you’d think he’d be too tired after all those basket deliveries!), but they’ll also  get to ride ponies, play with all kinds of adorable furry creatures at the petting zoo, bounce around in inflatable houses and test their climbing skills on the rock wall. READ MORE

by Jimmy Im

Any history buff will most certainly know that Amelia Earhart has been making international headlines again — this time, with new clues to the disappearance of her plane. And any Amelia Earhart fan will remember the last leg of her flight leaving from Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea tribesman in NYC's Time Square

This may be once in a blue moon that Papua New Guinea has garnered worldwide attention (in addition to the fact that James Cameron succeeded 2 weeks ago in undertaking the world’s deepest solo submarine dive in the Mariana Trench off New Britain Island of PNG). But it won’t be the last time you hear of Papua New Guinea and, soon enough, it will be making headlines of its own.

Papua New Guinea is the “land that time forgot” but travelers are starting to pay attention to this off-the-radar destination, thanks to the current trend of “ends of the Earth” journeys, where intrepid travelers are looking beyond “hot spots” to explore rarely visited destinations.

READ MORE

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