Archive for February, 2013

Photography by Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces

Prayer flags flutter, sending out their small wishes to the untamed Himalayas surrounding Bhutan, the small Buddhist kingdom that is slowly and cautiously opening its doors to tourism. More »

There’s less than a week left until the all-new season of Bizarre Foods begins, and we want to know: Do you have guts like Andrew? Or are you chicken? From now until this Sunday, Instagram photos of the most #bizarrefoods you’ve ever eaten, and on Monday, Feb. 11 — just in time for the season premiere — we’ll feature our favorites on the blog. In the meantime, get a sneak peek of some of the strange grub that Andrew gets his hands on this season.

 

Host city of the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is a winter sports lover’s paradise. Although summer is its busiest season, there are plenty of outdoor adventures for visitors at any time of year. And even though it’s in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains, the compact downtown center has a surprisingly diverse offering of restaurants.

Don’t let the name “Lake Placid” fool you; the actual lake is a couple miles away. Instead, the village of Lake Placid lies on the shores of Mirror Lake. Some of the state’s best mountains are found here, making it a popular winter ski spot, while summer brings travelers who want to swim or boat. Impressive fall foliage also makes it a destination for leaf peepers.

Overlooking Mirror Lake, High Peaks Resort is one of the most luxe and extensive resorts in the area. Mere moments from all of Main Street’s offerings, this 133-room resort manages to feel both central and secluded at the same time. There’s plenty to keep guests occupied on-site, including the Aveda Concept Salon and Spa, 4 pools, a lakefront area with free use of kayaks and a modern fitness center. It lacks the private beach access and the 45 holes of golf that the Crowne Plaza offers, however. If you’re looking for value, the Best Western is a great bet. Though some areas are in need of renovations, this family-owned spot features a cozy lobby, free breakfast, and amenities such as an indoor pool, a fitness center and a game room.

- Oyster.com Staff

Tonight at 11|10c, watch as Geoff Edgers visits The Edge of Maine, where he races lobster boats, tests his lumberjack skills, and sword fights with a pirate.

Edge of Maine

I thought I knew Maine. Roadside lobster shacks. Yuppies in Kennebunk. Brew pubs in Portland. Then I found myself in Eastport. It’s a gritty town around 6 hours up the coast from Boston. It’s actually the easternmost city in the United States, a fact that’s both trumpeted regularly and less interesting to me than the actual feel of the place. There was a time when Eastport was thriving, driven by the sardine factories. That time is gone.

So what do you do when your industry leaves, there’s no major league sports teams to pump in revenue and the closest you’ll get to a big concert is a pair of singer-songwriters wheeling their amplifiers into a coffee house? You make your own fun. And that’s what I loved about Eastport. It’s a town that’s redefining itself by restoring its downtown and creating offbeat events to attract buzz.

The Pirate Festival is a perfect definition of what I strive for in Edge of America. Thousands of people stream into an underappreciated place to celebrate and participate in an event that simply couldn’t take place anywhere else. You can see pirate bed races, during which the streets are lined with spectators cheering on the participants. You can catch the lobster boat races, in which these creaky boats are outfitted with engines straight out of the Munsters and souped-up to go as fast as 70 miles an hour. You’ll find almost everybody decked out in patches and peg legs and other pirate accessories.

Eastport, for me, was a discovery, with a wonderful waterfront, reasonable restaurants — nothing 5-star, but plenty of New England-styled seafood — and shops and art galleries. It is also a super-quick shot to Canada if you want to ramble more.

Eastport wasn’t my only discovery in our Maine episode. We also filmed in Greenville on Moosehead Lake, hours away and on the Northern border. Moosehead is beautiful. I had my eggs at Auntie M’s, scoured the shelves at the Moosehead Lake Indian Store and took a lengthy morning run through the town. We stumbled upon a fantastic crepe truck run by the daughter of a French immigrant. (Try the lobster, in particular.) And as part of our episode, I got a chance to see Greenville from another angle. I flew with Roger Currier, a veteran seaplane pilot.

Sometimes, when I’m rambling through, I’ll get a sense that the locals wonder if we’re being sincere or whether we’re there to make fun of them. So many TV shows mock people in small towns or in places outside the big city nexus. Not I. The proof, I hope, is in my summer vacation plans.

When it came to finding a place to stay for a couple weeks, I decided to avoid the cliché. We’ve rented a place for 2 weeks this summer in Eastport. I know the kids will get to collect shells and rocks along the shoreline. My wife and I can try to discover great art by artists who haven’t been discovered. And when we’re not doing anything, we’ll just get to sit on our porch, breathe in the salty air, and take pride in our latest discovery.

- Geoff Edgers

Photography by Todd Korol / Aurora Photos

Snow-rimmed and majestic, the Canadian Rocky Mountains are the centerpiece of Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park and UNESCO World Heritage site. More »

Bourdain in Seattle

Tonight, Feb. 4 at 9|8c, catch the very last of Anthony Bourdain’s adrenaline-fueled, booze-brimming, food-filled layovers. His final 36-hour jaunt? An uber-quick trip to Seattle.

Watch as he ditches the airport to sample some of the stinkiest, stickiest cheeses that Melrose Market has to offer, buys his daughter a whoopee cushion at a toy store that caters to adults (and serial killers?), and takes a not-so-family-friendly tour of the city’s seedier history.

Want to visit that handmade biscuit joint or take a seaplane tour like Tony does in the episode? Check out our Travel Guide to get all the details from his trip, or download our Layover app (now free!) for all the info.

In anticipation for tonight’s episode, watch this missing scene — Tony discusses his go-to drinks for every situation, like when he’s in a Tom Waits kind of mood. Then tonight, settle in at 9|8c, Negroni in hand, to watch Tony’s final turn on Travel Channel.

 

Last season on Hotel Impossible, Anthony traveled around the country to help struggling, underperforming hotels get back on their feet. Join Anthony as he returns to The Dude Rancher Lodge, La Jolla Cove Suites, The Purple Orchid Resort and Spa, Ocean Manor Resort, New Yorker Boutique Hotel and The Dream Inn to track their recent progress — from exciting room renovations to surprising staff changes.

Did the struggling valet service at the Ocean Manor resort in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, get their act together? Were the owners of the Dude Rancher Lodge in Billings, MT, able to overcome their financial struggles? Were the owners of the Purple Orchid Inn in Livermore, CA, able to raise their occupancy rate from an abysmal 8%? Find out all the answers to these questions and more with a very special episode of Hotel Impossible, tonight @ 10|9c.

Plus, check out exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from the After Anthony special.

Lover’s Island off Ile-la-Vache. Photography by Sebastian Lindstrom.

As an American living in Haiti, the topic of tourism as a way to boost the country’s struggling economy and image, comes up often. So it’s not surprising that NPR’s recent All Things Considered story on Haiti created a lot of attention in my world. Some found it humorously accurate, others, one-sided and misleading.

In the NPR story, Jason Beaubien mainly focuses on what Haiti would have to overcome to tap into the Caribbean tourism market. He highlights Labadee, the private Royal Caribbean hub, whose gated beach and attractions are worlds away from the poverty just outside. Overall, he paints this once-Club-Med country as dirty, dangerous and broken. Warning of elements that could “doom a family’s vacation before they even reach the hotel.”

Is he right? I think the problem here is demographics. Who says Haiti should focus on families in the first place? Is following in neighboring Dominican Republic’s resort-laden footsteps the only way to go?

In my opinion, the answer is backpackers. The same types who flood to Laos, Columbia, Ghana and beyond, searching for the next, untouched experience. These are travelers who crave culture over comfort. Stories over suntans. And who know that chaos often leads to cool.

Historic Jacmel. Photography by Josh Jakobitz.

Take Carnival, for example. In the piece, President Martelly says Haiti’s Carnival is the worst organized, but the most fun. Take it from me, he’s completely right. It’s one of the most amazing experiences, but it certainly isn’t kid-friendly with insane crowds, booty-grinding and general debauchery.

For road-less-traveled types, Haiti is incredible. Head out west to the beaches of Les Cayes. Explore historic Cap-Haitien and climb the steps of the Citadel. Take a rigorous, unmarked hike over the mountains to Jacmel, cutting through a pine forest along the way. Just don’t expect it to be easy. But then again, for true backpackers, easy is boring.

Volunteers play football with village youth. Photography by Josh Jakobitz.

Looking for an immersive experience in Haiti? Spend 6 weeks this summer understanding Haiti with Operation Groundswell (OG). OG is a non-profit that offers travel and community service experiences, which aim to create more socially and environmentally aware backpackers around the world. The 6-week summer trips include a month of service work and 2 weeks of independent travel time. The early summer trip to Haiti will focus on reforestation projects, the late summer trip focuses on education.

For quality Haitian-run tourism trip packages, check out Tour Haiti (use Google Translate).

About the Author:

Stephanie Price is a freelance copywriter who oversees fundraising and communications for English in Mind Institute, a free adult English school in Port-au-Prince. She loves Haiti and not-so-secretly hopes you will too.

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Travel Channel hosts in Haiti:

Watch a recap of Tony Bourdain’s time in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. And follow coffee hunter, Todd Carmichael, as he searches for a rare strain of coffee in Haiti.

O sole mio … a sunset gondola ride past Venice’s iconic Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute may make you break out in song, but it also might make you give thanks for modern medicine. More »

Football fans unite! The big game is heading to The Big Easy, where 2 of the most dominant defenses in the last decade are set to square off. The culmination of the 2012-2013 NFL season comes down to one final game between the San Francisco 49ers, led by head coach Jim Harbaugh, and the Baltimore Ravens, led by Jim’s brother, head coach John Harbaugh. In a game that’s being dubbed “The Har-Bowl,” football’s biggest stage is set, and you better believe N’awlins will be hoppin’ more than NOLA’s Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.

New Orleans may be the destination for the big game, but these 2 teams hail from opposite ends of the country. And although the Lombardi trophy may be the ultimate prize for winning the Super Bowl — both San Francisco and Baltimore are filled with plenty of prized attractions.

From the National Aquarium, to the Sports Legends Museum, to delicious food in Little Italy, Baltimore is so much more than just a football town. Check out some of our picks for the best things to see and do in our Baltimore travel guide.

Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered if you’re looking for fun in San Francisco.  The City by the Bay is a foggy wonderland of attractions that include the Painted Ladies in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, Ghirardelli Square, and Golden Gate Bridge.

And don’t forget about the delicious Creole cooking featured in our New Orleans travel guide for those of you who’ve made your way to the Crescent City. Cafe du Monde is still serving up the best beignets you’ve ever tasted, and Cochon is still dishing out some of the city’s tastiest traditional Cajun delights.

If you were lucky enough to score tickets to the big game, we’re sure you’ll need a few recommendations on where to go for the perfect place to tailgate or where to find the best spirits and best sports bars in New Orleans. Travel Channel’s got what you need to get you ready for one heck of a Super Bowl.

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