Archive for April, 2013

Tonight on an all-new Bizarre Foods America, Andrew Zimmern travels to Northern California for wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma, and jelly bean sampling at Jelly Belly in Fairfield, CA (outside of San Francisco). Get a complete list of what Andrew gets into tonight in our Northern California Travel Guide, and go behind the scenes with Andrew in our Bizarre Foods America: Northern California slideshow.

Watch a Sneak Peek: Grape Picking in California

Last week, we asked our Instagram followers to show us their favorite burgers, and a ton of you put shame aside and uploaded a mouthwatering, filtered photo.

Check out our top 15 Instagrams below, and don’t forget to watch tonight’s premiere of Burger Land at 10|9c for even more juicy, delicious and unique burger finds from around the country!

(In order, left to right)
1. @Sarahsudar – “fat kid heaven.” (Winghart’s Burger & Whiskey Bar, Pittsburgh)
2. @brecksss – “Hey @travelchannel check out this #BurgerLand #burgerbite from The Committed Pig in Manasquan, NJ! Two Pat Lafrieda ground steak patties, American cheese, ketchup on a #krispykreme donut! #BurgerLand #mouthwatering #jerseyshore
3. @ khal22l – “This burger is outrageous.” (Big Pink, Miami)
4. @dbbistromiami – “The original db burger, best to try once or twice. #burgerland #db #dbistromiami #travelchannel #miami #burger #fries #foiegras #shortrib #jwmarriottmarquis” (DB Bistro, Miami)
5. @gluttontron – (Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Austin, TX)
6. @poestavern – “The #sleeper burger. Roasted garlic #bluecheese & #buffalo #fried #shrimp on a juicy house ground beef patty. #lunch of #champions” (Poe’s Tavern, Sullivan’s Island, SC)
7. @flyingphotog – “Presenting “El Shady” – beef, chorizo, cheese & sliced grilled jalapeño, topped by a fried egg. Incredible!!” (Shady’ Burger Joint, Richardson, TX)
8. @boochy13 – “Dinner time! Stuffed cheeseburger with bacon! #dinner #dinnertime #burger #cheeseburger #stuffedcheeseburger #food #foodpics #foodporn #sharefood @share_food #share_food #yummy #tasty”. @poestavern – “#burgeroftheday has #mozzarella #tomato #basil drizzled with a #balsamic reduction!#yum #chseats” (Poe’s Tavern, Sullivan’s Island, SC10.  @nopo4 – (Emma Keys, Greensboro, NC)
10.@nopo4 – (Emma Keys, Greensboro, NC)
11. @laburgstagram- “LABurger with a side of K-fries. Photo credits: @namhannah #LABurger #food #photooftheday #burgers #fries #korean #american #fusion #instadaily” (LA Burger, Texas)
12.  @vanhattenphoto – “Nothing beats a Miho burger! @amihoexperience” (MIHO Gastrotruck, San Diego, CA)
13. @syzeworld – (Fresno, CA)
14. @jcreich43 – “It’s a cheeseburger kind of day. #Food #BBQ
15.  @laburgstagram- “Westcoast burger with swiss. #burgerland #LABurger” (LA Burger, Texas)

Photography by Universal Orlando Resort ©2013

It’s a bit of la dolce vita, Orlando style. The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, built to evoke the festive mood of the Italian Riviera, offers resort lodging just minutes from Universal Studios. More »

Getty Images

This weekend Thailand celebrated its New Year, know as Songkran, with the world’s biggest water fight. Songkran is an annual Buddhist holiday that traditionally calls for Thais to visit elders and temples on the first day of the year. The days leading up to the New Year are less serious and filled with epic water battles across the country. For the 3 days leading up to the New Year, there isn’t a dry spot in Thailand, as the “Land of Smiles” fills its water guns and buckets and takes to the streets for the celebratory dousing of passersby. This festival is based on a renewal and cleansing tradition stemming from the water blessing in temples for the New Year. Each year this all-out water fight only gets bigger — and wetter– in Thailand.

Last year, I unintentionally planned a vacation to Thailand during Songkran. As a tourist, I didn’t know what to expect. I prepared myself with a waterproof camera case, a poncho (that proved useless) and the “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mindset — I bought a water gun in a Thai market for protection. As most tourists who find themselves in Thailand during Songkran can probably attest, I felt lucky to be here to witness something so unique and at the heart of the country’s culture: a veritable national party.

Thailand, a country already so well-known for its hospitality, welcomes droves of tourists during Songkran to join in its annual water fight. So take it as a compliment if you get soaked with a water gun here. It means they like you.

During the 3 days of Songkran, I was lucky enough to see 3 different cities celebrate it.  The first day of Songkran, I was in Pai, a small mountain town in the north of Thailand. Pai has become a favorite among expats and tourists looking for a nature reprieve from Thailand’s congested bigger cities. The small town of Pai is centered around one main street and everyone in the town seemed to be on it during Songkan — either in a truck filled with young mischievous water-throwers with trashcan-size buckets full of water or lined up on the streets for a prime spot to watch the action. And as I would learn repeatedly throughout Songkan, the ultimate target for drenching during the festival is always the tourist. My introduction to Songkran in Pai began when I was ambushed by a group of young monks armed with super soakers (see photo).

Photography by Stephanie Price

Next stop on the Songrkan tour was Chiang Mai, my absolute favorite city in Thailand, less touristy and globalized than Bangkok, but still with plenty to see, do and taste. As our bus from Pai pulled up to the gates of Chiang Mai, I quickly realized that Pai was just a trickle of water fights compared with this city’s all-out water war. There was no shortage of water in Chiang Mai either, as the fuel for this 3-day water fight here mostly comes from the river that runs through the city. By the second city, my travel companions and I had amped up our ammunition; water guns just weren’t as effective — or as fun — as entire buckets filled with water.

 

Photography by Stephanie Price

Our last stop on the Songran tour was Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital city. This was also the last night of the celebrations before people throughout the country would flock to temples for a more serious (and drier) day with family — but not before one last big splash. So we found ourselves in the epicenter of the country’s water festival, on the biggest night, in Thailand’s biggest city. Think New Year’s Eve in Times Square, but instead of noisemakers, everyone’s armed with water guns. Our hotel was smack dab in the middle of the action on Khao San Road, a 0.5-mile-long strip full of bars, restaurants, hotels, stores and heaps of tourists mostly of the young budget-traveler type.

As I learned firsthand, staying dry as you walk through Khao San Road is the least of your problems during Songkran. I could barely walk through this street because it was so crowded with Songkran revelers. While Thais are generally known to be laid-back people  – often, you can even escape the water splashing if you just shake your head or hand — we found no such luck here. No matter how much we pleaded, we couldn’t escape getting soaked in Bangkok. The water battle on Khao San Road was unlike anything I could have imagined. Few would ever take a camera out here to document the craziness for risk of it getting ruined. Luckily, neither did I.

On the early morning of the New Year, after a final night of water mayhem, we were due to fly home. We woke up and breathed a sigh of relief that finally the crowds on Khao San Road had gone home and we could skip the bathing suit under our clothes and poncho for the trip to the airport. So we packed into a tuk-tuk (Thailand’s rickshaw) with all of our luggage (cabs were nowhere to be found on this national holiday) and headed to the airport. But to our utter surprise, we received one final drenching at a stoplight from a truck that still had a bucket of water in the back from the night before.

Soaked and carrying our wet bags, we arrived at the airport laughing, knowing there was no better way to leave Thailand than with one big splash.

 

Tonight at 8|7c, Bert scours Denver on a search for the perfect couple to take on an all-expenses-paid trip to Austin, TX. Bert comes across Maxim and Rebecca, an adventurous, fun–loving couple in desperate need of a getaway. They quickly (and excitedly) agree to a Trip Flip … and boy, are they in for a surprise.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the patrons wait for a chicken to poop in order to win a prize? Probably not.  Unless you live in Texas!

After finishing their game of chicken bingo, Maxim and Rebecca are in for a treat: Bert introduces them to country music stars Martie and Emily of the Court Yard Hounds and Dixie Chicks. Not only do our vacationers get to sit in on a special studio session, they also get to kick back and relax with the stars while enjoying a tequila tasting. Not bad for a free trip, right? And that’s just the half of it.

Want to know more about Maxim and Rebecca’s amazing, Texas-sized adventure? Tune in for an all-new episode of Trip Flip, tonight at 8|7c.

And don’t miss these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from tonight’s Trip Flip.

Courtesy of London West Hollywood

From a rooftop pool, replete with private pool cabanas and dedicated pool concierge staff, the London WeHo — as its hip staff call it — offers panoramic views of the Hollywood Hills and the Sunset Strip below. More »

Photo by Reuters

Fans attending the Masters Tournament face 2 very big questions this weekend: Will this be the year of Tiger Woods’ return (do you think his relationship with Lindsey Vonn will last?), and where can we get some good food around here, anyway?

(Guess that was 3.)

With the 77th Masters in Augusta, GA, now in full swing, thousands of fans will find there’s plenty to do this weekend in addition to watching great golfers vie for the coveted green jacket — so long as you venture off the main strip of Washington Road, located just beyond the gates of Augusta National Golf Club.

Turns out, this is one fun town — for golf, of course, and so much more. Located along the Savannah River, Augusta is Georgia’s second-oldest (and second-largest) city, behind Atlanta. As home to nearly 200,000 people, Augusta offers visitors no shortage of attractions, from shopping and nightlife to sports and museums. I mean, you can hardly go wrong in a town where the godfather of soul, James Brown, once lived and where Hulk Hogan was born, right?

But first thing’s first: Getting a good burger. Once you leave the gates of Augusta National Golf Club, make it your personal mission this weekend to try something a little off the beaten path … it’ll be so worth the effort. Your first stop: Farmhaus Burger. This restaurant supports local farms, which means the burgers that come to your table are sourced from nearby Southeastern Angus beef.

If that doesn’t sate your appetite – or you’re ready for a binge weekend — there’s more eclectic farm-to-table fare to be had elsewhere: Head to Frog Hollow Tavern for a menu that features local and regionally-grown seasonal ingredients like savory greens in dishes such as grilled boneless quail. Another locally-minded kitchen, Rooster’s Beak also showcases regional ingredients and beers. Or for an interesting take on Spanish tapas, head to Bee’s Knees Tapas, a restaurant that puts an international spin on tapas with dishes like the “Sesame Leaf Roll.”

Speaking of eclectic, you’ll want to check out the James Brown Exhibit at the Augusta Museum of History. And don’t forget to celebrate what brought you to Augusta in the first place — the grand tradition of golf – at this museum, where you’ll also find life-size bronze statues of golf greats like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

Reaching the museum in downtown Augusta is easy – just take the Saturday trolley tour, which departs from the Augusta Visitor Center (that’s about a 7-minute ride from the Augusta Golf Club). Also worth checking out on Saturday – in case, for some reason, all the Masters action leaves you needing time to decompress — is the Augusta Market for local crafts and foods and a Moonlight Music Cruise along the Augusta Canal.

You May Also Like:

Check out our roundup of the Best Worldwide Golf Courses.

Can’t afford the private clubs? Discover the Best Public Golf Courses in the US.

Hit the greens in Hawaii – get ready to Golf in Paradise.

How would you feel if Amy Allan walked into your house and the first words she spoke were, “There’s a lot of frickin’ dead people in here”?

On tonight’s episode, that’s exactly what happens. When Amy enters her client’s home in Rock Island, IL, she encounters numerous frightening entities right off the bat.

Steve and Amy’s client, Melissa, is worried that paranormal beings are trying to harm her children — her son claims that something tried to drag him into the basement, and her daughter believes spirits are climbing into bed with her. Melissa has been tormented by frightening entities her entire life, but now that her children are being targeted, action must be taken.

Can Amy help Melissa’s family escape a powerful male entity that she believes wants to kill the living? Can Steve help their client get past the property’s heartbreaking history of violence? Find out during an all-new episode, tonight at 10|9c.

Plus, check out these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from The Dead Files: Evil Underground.

The small collection of mostly arid islands that make up the US Virgin Islands has long been a seafarers stomping ground — from the pirates of yore to today’s more abundant cruise ship hordes and the occasional yachtsman. And as they have for the past 400 years, people come to the islands mainly to drink, relax on the beach, and bargain shop — often, in just that order. Traveling to the islands, considered “insular areas” or “unincorporated territories” of the United States, is in many ways analogous to traveling within the US — citizens don’t need a passport, the US dollar is the official currency, and English is the official language. But a trip to the Virgin Islands still feels like a getaway with its laid-back atmosphere and sunny weather.

The islands’ hotels are largely concentrated on the 3 main islands – St. Thomas, St. John, and, to a lesser extent, St. Croix. Since the islands are so small, anywhere you stay will be within about a 30-minute drive from anywhere else on the island. Hotels range from the low-key, no-frills, family-owned spots, to all-inclusive mega-resorts, to more peaceful, luxe spots such as Frenchman’s Reef on St. Thomas. This Marriott resort underwent a major renovation in 2011 and boasts 4 pools, a beautiful spa and several on-site restaurants (although we’d recommend skipping them for local spots). On neighboring St. John, the Westin is nice beachside option for families, with tennis courts, a kids club, and numerous water sports.

- Oyster.com Staff

With our picks for this week’s best travel blogs, you’ll be prepared for Coachella craziness, become closer to mastering a foreign language and more!

The best way to learn a foreign language is to dive right in and immerse yourself in the culture and country. This can seem like a daunting challenge, but you’ll be on your way to becoming a successful language learner with this guide from As We Travel!

Coachella starts this weekend, and to make sure you’re not lost in the craziness of music, camping, and theatrics, check out this Survival Guide with which performers to check out, what to pack and more.

When it comes to airport security, celebrities receive no special treatment. Check out the hilarious Celebrities vs. the TSA blog, chronicling celebrities going through the TSA drill, just like us common folk.

If you are planning a trip to the Louvre anytime soon you might have to re-schedule. The museum recently closed its doors when staff walked out in protest due to an increasing pickpocketing problem.  Find out more from Vagabondish.

From visiting the Taj Mahal, to eating sushi and flying over the Himalayas, Condé Nast has comprised a 50 Things to Do in Asia Before You Die slideshow that will make you eager to start planning your own Asian adventure.

For more travel inspiration check out This Week in Photos!

 

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