Kwin Mosby

Kwin is Managing Producer of TravelChannel.com. His multimedia career has included working as a TV news reporter/producer and publications editor. What inspires Kwin to travel? It’s relaxing beach locations, vibrant urban epicenters and awe-inspiring outdoor destinations like Glacier and Joshua Tree National Parks, Barcelona, Miami, Paris, New York City and Brazil. Kwin’s travel mantra is simple: talk to the locals to fully experience the true flavor and culture of any new destination.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Travelers visiting Washington, DC, will notice something different about the city’s skyline. Although it’s closed for repairs, the Washington Monument is now lighting up the night sky. The National Park Service has installed 488 lamps on the scaffold surrounding the monument.

The rehabilitation is part of a welcome change. On Aug. 23, 2011, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the 555-foot-tall monument, cracking and chipping stones near the top and shaking the mortar loose. The lights are expected to stay on until the popular tourist attraction reopens in spring 2014.

The Big Apple more your style? If you’re heading to NYC, there’s exciting news for tourists who want to check out Lady Liberty. Yep, after being hit by Superstorm Sandy last fall, the Statue of Liberty has once again opened to the public after a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 4th.

You may recall that the National Park Service closed Liberty Island following Hurricane Sandy; however, the Statue of Liberty’s crown reopened after a year of renovations. Last October’s storm flooded and damaged New York Harbor docks and Liberty Island’s walkways, buildings and electrical systems, but the 126-year-old iron statue made it through the storm unscathed.

Looking for more sightseeing recommendations for these cities? Check out our list of Washington DC Attractions and Top 10 Attractions in NYC.

Most seasoned travelers have probably heard of (and dreamt about) the amazing train ride through the Tijuca Rainforest to see the 125-foot Christ the Redeemer statue high atop Corcovado Mountain. And who hasn’t heard the gossip about the Brazilians’ buff beach bodies and the droves of scantily-clad women who sunbathe on the world-famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches.

Well now, you can get your chance to see Rio de Janeiro – free of charge! Enter to win a trip for 2 to the Marvelous City and see why it’s such a hot vacation destination. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that tourists are flocking to the tropical city not only for its beaches, but also because it will host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

See Rio for yourself! Explore this Brazilian city and its secret treasures like Leblon, Rio’s most affluent neighborhood with a beautiful beach that’s known for being much quieter than Ipanema or Copacabana. See Rio from above and go hang-gliding off Sugarloaf Mountain, or just lay low and spend the day on Paqueta Island, where it’s not uncommon to see a horse-drawn carriage.

There’s something for everyone in this Brazilian city, so take the first step and enter to win a free trip — your next adventure awaits you in Rio de Janeiro!

Photography by Getty Images

Before you book your next flight, here’s a word of warning: You may not want to fly on Spirit Airlines. The carrier received the lowest overall scores of any company that Consumer Reports has ever rated.

Today, Consumer Reports released its results from a readers’ survey that ranks the best and worst airlines.

So why didn’t Spirit Airlines make the cut? Industry analysts say that although the no-frills airline charges less than other carriers, customers still take a hit in their pockets by paying other additional fees, including $10 to $19 to book a flight, $3 for a soda or M&Ms, and $35 to $100 per carry-on bag. Readers also claimed that the airline has some of the “tightest” seating space in the industry.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Virgin America topped the list for the first time, receiving some of the highest customer satisfaction scores that any airline has received in years.  According to the survey, flyers said they like the comfy, leather seat cushions in the airline’s economy class. Readers also gave the airline’s in-flight entertainment high marks.

Other carriers that fared well included Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines for check-in and cabin staff. American, United and US Airways received the lowest ratings possible for cabin cleanliness, seating comfort and onboard entertainment.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed more than 16,000 readers — who flew a combined 31,732 domestic flights — in February. Readers were asked to rate their satisfaction with the airlines’ check-in ease, cabin-crew service, cabin cleanliness, seating comfort, baggage handling and in-flight entertainment.

Here’s a quick look at the airlines and their overall score, based on a 0 to 100 scale:

1.   Virgin America, 89
2.   Southwest Airlines, 85
3.   JetBlue Airways, 85
4.   Hawaiian Airlines, 82
5.   Alaska Airlines, 81
6.   Frontier Airlines, 78
7.   Delta Air Lines, 71
8.   US Airways, 66
9.   American Airlines, 66
10. United Airlines, 63
11. Spirit Airlines, 50

Courtesy of Grace Hotels

As the weather starts to warm up, we thought we’d do a quick round up of the best pools around the world to take a dip in. Yes, it might be an expensive journey to swim a few laps in a pool located in Santorini or the Maldives, but we’re all about inspiring people to travel.

Take a few minutes to imagine yourself and someone special on a Spring Fling at the Ubud Hanging Gardens’ pool in Bali, surrounded by a lush rainforest, or image yourself hugging the edge of InterContinental Hotel’s infinity pool overlooking Hong Kong’s harbor. Get your feet wet and submerge yourself into our collection of perfect pools.

Courtesy of Don Williamson Photography

Spring has sprung and flowers are in bloom. And it’s the perfect time to visit one of Travel Channel’s favorite botanical gardens. Spend a day strolling through the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, FL — an 83-acre garden that’s home to rare tropical flora and almost 3,000 butterflies. Dispel the notion that Arizona has a lifeless and colorless landscape; visit the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix to see a unique collection of cacti and colorful wildflowers.

If tiptoeing through the tulips isn’t your thing, we suggest a trip to the beach for a little rest and relaxation. Pack up the car and go on a fun trip to some of our recommended beach destinations, including Myrtle Beach, Delray Beach and South Padre Island. There’s something for everyone. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t include West Coast beaches. Let our online travel guide Marianela Pereyra take you on a tour of some her favorite California beaches. So smell the flowers, soak up the sun and make the most of your spring with these picks!

Photo by Getty Images

The Hollywood buzz has started for the new movie 42, a look into the life of American baseball player Jackie Robinson — the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. And in just a few days, April 15 will mark the 64th anniversary of Jackie’s first MLB game at Ebbets Field as a Brooklyn Dodger, breaking the color barrier.

Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo, GA, but he lived most of his childhood in Pasadena, CA, at 121 Pepper Street. At an early age, Jackie was a competitive athlete, achieving 4-letterman status in football, basketball, baseball and track at John Muir Technical High School and later, at UCLA, where he won the NCAA broad jump title at 25′ 6 1/2 “.

In 1941, Jackie moved to Honolulu, where he played football for the semi-professional Honolulu Bears. Shortly after, he was drafted into the US Army during World War II. Jackie was stationed at Fort Riley, KS, and then Fort Hood, TX. He became a second lieutenant, but his military career took a sharp turn when he was court-martialed in connection to his objections to incidents involving racial discrimination.

Photography by Ronny Jaques/Library and Archives Canada

After a dishonorable discharge from the military, Jackie dived back into the sports, accepting a position as athletic director and basketball coach at Samuel Huston College in Austin, TX, and playing one season in the Negro Baseball League for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945. It was this same year that Branch Rickey, club president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, scouted the Negro leagues for a possible addition to the Dodgers. Branch chose Jackie and soon after, in 1946, the young player was signed to play for the all-white Montreal Royals of the Class AAA International League, a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The very next year  Jackie was suited up as a Dodger, becoming the first African-American player since the league’s inception in 1875 to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier. African-American fans flocked to see the Dodgers play, finding, for the first time, a chance to root for more than just Negro league teams.

Although he struggled with racial discrimination throughout his career (he routinely faced racial slurs shouted from the stands), Jackie would be named the National League Rookie of the Year (1947) and National League’s Most Valuable Player of the Year (1949). He would also win the 1949 batting title, with a .342 average — a great percentage for any pro baseball player.

During the mid-1950s, Jackie’s batting average was on the decline, but oddly enough, it was one of the “highs” in his career. In 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees to clinch the 1955 World Series championship. In all, Jackie had a career batting average of .311 with the Dodgers, and in 1962, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, becoming the first African-American player to achieve such distinction.

Photo by Getty Images

After his baseball career, Jackie starred as himself in The Jackie Robinson Story, continued as a civil rights activist, and took a new career as a successful businessman and sports commentator. In addition to these career achievements and changes, he remained a devoted husband to his wife Rachel and a hands-on father to his 3 children.

In 1972, Jackie Robinson died of a heart attack in Stamford, CT, but his legacy lives on through the Jackie Robinson Foundation and at popular attractions, including the Jackie Robinson Field in Pasadena’s Brookside Park, the Jackie Robinson Stadium at UCLA and the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, located at the main entrance to the New York Mets Citi Field.

Photo by Getty Images

In 1997, 9-foot busts were erected across from Pasadena City Hall to commemorate Jackie and his older brother Matthew “Mack” Robinson, who set the world record for broad jump and won a silver medal at the 1936 Olympic Summer Games.  And today, every few years, MLB players remember Jackie Robinson in special ceremonies and by wearing his jersey number 42, which was retired from Major League Baseball on April 15, 1997.

Plans are underway to open a Jackie Robinson Museum and Learning Center at One Hudson Square in Manhattan in 2015.

Photography by Reuters

Australian mining entrepreneur Clive Palmer has unveiled blueprints to build the Titanic II. The new ship, expected to set sail in 2016, will recreate the original ship’s design and decor, but it will be modified to adhere to current safety rules and shipbuilding practices (thank goodness!).

Pretty much everyone knows that the original Titanic, a British cruise liner, sank in the Northern Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg on April 15, 1912. Some 1,500 people died on the super cruise ship’s maiden voyage from Southhampton, UK, to New York City.

Although the contract to build the Titanic II has not been signed yet, Palmer claims the ship will be the “safest cruise ship in the world.” He says the lifeboats will have enough space for every person on board, and that the cruise liner will also include escape staircases and modern technology to avoid icebergs. Construction is scheduled to start later this year in China, according to Reuters.

Another fun fact we learned about the new cruise liner is that passengers will have the opportunity to relive the past by dressing in 1912-style clothing, provided by the cruise. And with the right ticket, passengers can go a step further and visit the first-class dining and smoking rooms similar to the original luxury liner.

According to NBC News, there are already 40,000 applications to take the first trip on the Titanic replica and 12 people are willing to pay $1 million for a first-class trip. Regular ticket prices for a voyage on the Titanic II will be announced at a later date.

In the meantime, Travel Channel has a few cruise vacation ideas to help you plan your next trip on the high seas. Our cruise experts offer advice and tips on the best cruises to see Hawaii, as well as the top Disney cruises, can’t-miss adventure cruises, cruises for GLBT travelers and best restaurants at sea. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t prepare you for your next cruise with a few cruise safety tips and 7 ways to improve your cruise. Set sail and let your cruisin’ adventure begin!

Photography by Getty Images

In an $11 billion deal that would create the world’s largest airline, American Airlines and US Airways have agreed to merge. The new airline will take the American Airlines name to help keep the company afloat after it filed for bankruptcy more than a year ago. The mega-merger deal is scheduled to close in the third quarter of 2013 and make its debut at an airport near you — well, sometime soon.

So what does this pending merger mean for travelers? For one, less competition in the airline industry could mean price hikes for customers. The new American Airlines — with 900 planes, 95,000 employees and 3,200 daily flights — will have the scale, breadth and capabilities to compete more effectively, according to US Airways CEO Doug Parker. The new American, along with United, Delta and Southwest, would control over 70% of the US market. So frequent fliers are warned to expect a rise in ticket prices.

Travelers flying American or US Airways won’t notice immediate changes. Industry officials say that it’s likely the airlines will operate separately for the first year and that existing tickets will be honored. However, it’ll be months before the frequent-flyer programs are combined and years before the 2 airlines are fully integrated.

For corporate business travelers, there may be a few perks. US Airways and American officials expect the combined network of flights and routes to lure corporate travelers away from competitors.

The new airline will keep all hubs for both airlines, but no word yet on a location for the operations center, reservations, flight training, and maintenance and crew bases.

Photography by Katie Hards

Today marks the 100 year anniversary of an iconic New York City landmark — Grand Central Terminal. For the past century, it has served as a major hub of transportation for daily commuters coming or going to and from NYC. It also serves as a major tourist destination and is one of the top 10 most visited destinations in the world, according to Daniel Brucker, Manager of GCT Tours. Today, on its official birthday, the Guinness Book of World Records will bestow the building as “The Largest Station by Number of Platforms.” So, besides that, what’s so special about this train terminal?

The building is steeped in the history marked by its technological advancements in transportation, ingenuity in design and architecture and urban development that shaped NYC to be the metropolis we know today. Just think about the stories of the billions of commuters and travelers who have come and gone through the building over the years. Who knows how many hello and goodbye kisses and hugs have taken place within the confines of the building. And we’re sure that even the items in the station’s expansive lost and found room come with their own unsolved mysterious stories, including an urn of ashes or a basset hound that have both, somehow, been left behind. With nearly 700,000 people served daily, Grand Central also boasts an on-time performance of 98%, ensuring everyone arrives safely and promptly at their destinations.

Photography by Katie Hards

Before their centennial celebration, I was able to partake in a very special behind-the-scenes tour to understand what makes this building and its services so unique. From the lowest depths of the building — which is the deepest basement in all over New York City — I, along with other special guests, got a glimpse into the enormous electrical infrastructure, both that power the station.

Prior to 1913, the trains coming to and from Grand Central were powered by coal, making any property along the open air tracks dirty and undesirable. With the introduction of electrically powered trains, the tracks could be enclosed underground, and the land above it (Park Avenue) became ripe for development. This area became, and still is, some of the city’s most lucrative and expensive properties.

Photography by Katie Hards

Photography by Katie Hards

In the upper reaches of the building, we sidled past busy men and women sitting in the Metro North control room. They were guiding train traffic in and out of the station by overseeing blinking lights and numbers on two enormous screens — leaving me cross eyed from its complexity. Luckily, we ducked into a door behind them to scale a couple of rickety ladders that led us to a small room. We found ourselves faced with the most beautiful Tiffany glass clock, which is visible along 42nd street. The “6” on the clock opens up to reveal the street below and Park Avenue leading up to the station. It’s a great view from a unique vantage point. We got another great view from the upper glass catwalks. This perspective allowed us to see the wonderful beaux-arts features of the building and to gaze closely at the ornate constellations painted on the ceiling. Peering down, we gained a birds-eye view of the expansive main concourse to watch the commuters, travelers and visitors from above.

Photography by Katie Hards

Photography by Katie Hards

If you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple before March 15, put Grand Central Terminal on your must-see list. MTA Metro-North Railroad — which operates the Terminal — is celebrating the centennial with an informative exhibit highlighting the history of the building through photographs, architectural drawings and interactive exhibits. You can even download a special app that will guide you through the unique elements of this centenarian landmark. Though you won’t be scaling any ladders or peering down from the catwalks, you’ll gain historical insight and visit some of the other unique features of the building.

Photography by Katie Hards

See what other landmarks, events and cities are celebrating big birthdays this year in our Travel Anniversaries of 2013 slideshow.

- By Katie Hards

 

Photography by Oyster.com

Norway is best known for 2 things: Its jaw-dropping prices and its stunning natural beauty. For those who can afford to go, Norway offers a wealth of outdoor riches — dramatic, lush fjords; cascading waterfalls; red farmhouses in rolling valleys; and jagged mountain peaks. It also offers impressive history, and some visitors come primarily to see the wooden medieval stave churches around the country or the Viking ships on display in Oslo.

Understandably, the summer months are the most popular for tourists, and the long days mean it’s possible to pack in a lot of sightseeing. Visitors can partake in activities such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, and beach bumming (yes, there are beaches in Norway; the ones near Stavanger are quite nice). Fjord cruises are by far the most popular summer activity; for many, seeing the fjords is on the do-before-you-die list, and for good reason. But plenty of people (and Norwegians) spend the winter on the slopes.

For many visitors, Oslo is just a stopover city before heading to Norway’s more charming metropolises. But it nonetheless boasts plenty of sights and high-end hotels. The Carlton Oslo Hotel Guldsmeden is a quaint option, with 50 shabby-chic rooms and an eco-friendly philosophy.  Domestic flights are the easiest way to get from city to city, and Bergen is a popular home base for leisure visitors. The Radisson Blu Hotel Norge, Bergen is a family-friendly option, with a large swimming pool on-site, while the Clarion Collection Hotel is a romantic spot, with sexy décor and gorgeous city views.

- Oyster.com Staff

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