ALL POSTS IN [Culture]

Photography by Joel Addams / Aurora Photos

They call it the White Dove of the Desert. But it isn’t a bird at all. More »

Photo of Milestone Hotel in London by Oyster.com

Photo of Milestone Hotel in London by Oyster.com

Twice a year, designers, models, photographers, bloggers, DJs, and so on, crisscross the globe in search of the next big thing. The most anticipated shows being in the 4 fashion capitals of the world: New York, London, Milan and Paris. Here at Travel Channel, we’re always searching for the best places to stay — may we present the most stylish hotels in each city.

New York: September 5 – 12, 2013
The Ace Hotel is known as every other tech startup’s “office” in NYC, but during Fashion Week its unconventional vintage- and industrial-inspired design draws hipsters and fashionistas alike.

London: September 13 – 17, 2013
The Mileston Hotel is a picturesque, boutique hotel in Kensington has been voted one of the best in London. It boasts a 24-hour butler service and elegantly designed rooms that range from period to contemporary decor. For the fashion set, may we suggest lounging in a black-and-white space featuring Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.

Milan: September 18 – 23, 2013
For inspiration off the runway, look no further than Maison Moschino Milan, a 65-room hotel inspired a 1840s Neoclassical railway station inspired by the famed Italian designer. Our writer noted, “Just like the brand’s whimsical, haute-couture designs, the hotel is all about fairy tales and fanciful fantasy.” Expect puffy, cloud-like light fixtures, lit-up gowns and an overall Alice and Wonderland effect.

Paris: September 24 – October 2, 2013
Located on the prestigious Avenue Montaigne is the famous Hotel Plaza Athenee, brimming with Parisian style and Art Deco décor. Stylish guests will appreciate majestic views of the Eiffel Tower (from the Eiffel Suites) and close proximity to the Dior Institute as well as high-end shopping.

Check out the rest of our stylish hotel picks for every budget.

Inspired by Maison Moschino Milan? See more designer-inspired hotels.

The town of Laconia, NH, is usually quaint and quiet. But for a single week in June, hundreds of thousands motorcycle enthusiasts make their way to Weirs Beach to show off their custom choppers, indulge in some quality seafood and get down with their bike brethren.

In the mood for a $100 lobster pizza? How about a resort overlooking the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee? The 15,000-person town of Laconia has it all. Wanna get down and dirty with the bikers in Laconia? Check out our travel guide to find out what you can’t miss during this crazy week in June, and tune in tonight at 9|8c to watch Adam Richman join in on the madness on an all-new episode of Fandemonium.

Photography by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Visit some of Elvis’ favorite spots on the property, including the Jungle Room den and the Meditation Garden. More »

 

The Trans-Mongolian train makes its way through the Mongolian countryside.

At the top of many people’s bucket list is a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.  A trip on the railroad allows riders to experience the never-ending forests of Siberia, the lonely valleys of Mongolia, and the Gobi desert in one trip. However, with a trip that can span a third of the globe and take up to 7 days to complete, special preparations are definitely necessary.

The first step in preparing for your journey is to figure out which of the 3 routes you want to take. The classic line is the Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Vladivostok on Russia’s far eastern coast. On the other hand, the most popular route with travelers is the Trans-Mongolian, which crosses through Siberia before veering off the main rail line, traveling through Mongolia and ending in Beijing, China. Lastly, you can take the Trans-Manchurian line, which runs from Moscow to Beijing, but bypasses Mongolia.

The marker on the train indicating its major stops in Chinese, Russian, and Mongolian.

The second step in preparing for your journey is to get the appropriate visas. Nearly every nationality requires a visa for travel to both Russia and China, and while you can obtain them yourself, both are time consuming. To make the process easier, consider using a visa service to like Invisa Logistics for Russia and CSCA for China, both of which are recommended by the respective embassies.

Americans can enter Mongolia visa-free, but most others will have to secure a visa to travel there as well.

It’s also a good idea to arrange your tickets prior to leaving. While you will pay a surcharge for this service, it beats turning up at a Russian train station and discovering that your train is sold out or that the ticket seller doesn’t speak any English (a problem you’re likely to encounter). For trains leaving from Russia or Mongolia, you can obtain your tickets from Real Russia. For trains departing from Beijing, CITS is a reputable agency with English-speaking agents.

Buying your ticket ahead of time also requires you to plan your stops. All 3 train lines pass through Irkutsk, which is a very popular stop close to the mid-point of the journey. This Siberian city is also the gateway to the must-see Lake Baikal. The largest lake in the world by volume, Lake Baikal is so clean that you can drink directly from its frigid waters. There’s no better place to see Siberian culture or nature than the peaceful shores of the lake.

The sun sets over China’s Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia.

On the Trans-Mongolian Line, many like to stop in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, as well, to experience this amazing country. While the city itself is nothing special, a trip to the countryside gives you the chance to stay with a nomadic family in a traditional ger (felt-lined tents) and view the sweeping vistas of beautiful green grass and impossibly blue skies that go on for as far as the eye can see.

The interior corridor of the Trans-Mongolian.

 

Lastly, you need to prepare for the trip itself. Since you’ll spend a total of 6 or 7 nights on the train, make sure that you have plenty of reading material and batteries. Also make sure to pack some wet wipes for cleaning yourself (there are no showers onboard), a thermos and instant coffee or tea (hot water is provided in each car), and some ear plugs.

While you’ll have a nice bed on your trip, most people will share a compartment with others, so a phrasebook will be very helpful in getting to know your travel companions. Even if you opt for a private compartment, having a Russian and Chinese phrasebook will help you figure out when the train is leaving each station and how to order food in the dining car.

The Trans-Siberian Railroad is the journey of a lifetime, and with a bit of preparation, you can ensure that you’ll have the time of your life as you traverse the Far East.

 —–

All photos by author Jim Cheney.

The author onboard the Trans-Mongolian train.

Jim Cheney is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Harrisburg, PA. Jim spent over two years in Asia traveling and working prior to settling back in America. His writing focuses mainly on travel planning advice and unique travel destinations throughout Asia, Europe, and North America.

To find more of his work, visit his site, Tripologist.com.

 

 

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Brony: An adult or teenager, often male and college-age (or older), who is a fan of the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic — a show about pretty, magical ponies who fight evil. Seriously.

In 2011, the very first BronyCon was held in New York City with 100 bronies in attendance. The convention hopped around the city, holding 3 more events complete with visits from the voice actors and dance parties, until reaching 3,000 attendees in 2012. And today marks the first day and a new city for this army of bronies, with attendance expected to be 6,000 brony-strong.

Get excited, Baltimore! Or should I say, Baltimare …

The Baltimore Convention Center, a picturesque location on the harbor for these My Little Pony fans, will be hosting the event all weekend. From the “Mane Events Hall” to the “Portal to Equestria,” there will be videogame tournaments, lectures on voice acting and discourses analyzing the culture of My Little Pony.

Not yet convinced? Head to the Hall of the Moon for a class on drawing ponies. Or visit the Salt Block Lounge for the Brony Karaoke Smackdown.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a bro to enjoy the pony festivities. Girls are welcome, too. Need a little help navigating the city? Check out our Baltimore travel guide for tips!

Can’t make it to Baltimore? Watch the convention’s live stream!

Photography by ROB TILLEY / Spaces Images / Aurora Photos

This city in Guatemala’s highlands, best known for its Spanish Baroque and colonial architecture. More »

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!

“$5000. Take it or leave it.”

“I can’t go above $3500.”

“Split the difference, and make it an even $4000.”

“Deal!”

On an all-new Toy Hunter, Jordan and his amateur toy collecting pal, Travis, head to Massachusetts in search of big ticket items to sell at one of the biggest pop culture events in the country: Chicago’s C2E2.

During his journey in New England, Jordan comes away with a bunch of classic toys he thinks will sell at C2E2, but no toy is more crucial then the GI USS Flagg Aircraft Carrier he picks up for $4,000 while haggling with Rob. In order to reach his goal of selling $20,000 in toys, Jordan must sell the USS Flagg for nearly double what he paid for it.

Will Jordan find someone to take the GI Joe aircraft carrier off his hands? Will he reach his lofty goal of making $20,000? Find out on an all-new episode, tonight at 9|8c.

Plus, don’t forget to check out Jordan’s thoughts on the episode with these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos of “Toy Tycoon.”

On an all-new episode of Toy Hunter, Jordan heads to Colorado on a Rocky Mountain mission for comedy writer Dave Hill. Most buyers are usually looking for mint condition toys still in the box, but Dave is willing to pay thousands to get his hands on out-of-the-box toys.

Jordan’s biggest challenge is to find opened toys that are still extremely valuable, so his assistant, Steve, gets to work. Steve manages to arrive at Mile High Comics before Jordan and starts to dig – against Jordan’s wishes. Chuck, the owner of Mile High Comics, takes Steve to the back of the store where he keeps some vintage toys, and Steve gets a head start with the collection. Jordan shows up a bit late, but starts searching immediately to reclaim his lead.

After Jordan comes across several toys that he thinks will suit Dave Hill perfectly, Steve makes an impulsive and pricey purchase of his own, banking on a strange action figure that may not even peak Dave’s interest.

To find out what out-of-the-box toys Jordan and Steve collected for the up-and-coming comedian, Dave Hill, tune in for an all-new episode, tonight at 9|8c.

Plus, check out Jordan’s commentary on these behind-the-scenes photos from the episode, Playing With Fire.

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