ALL POSTS IN [Trends]

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

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

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.

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There’s no better place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than Boston (well, OK, besides Ireland).  Boston has one of the highest concentrations of Irish pubs (and people of Irish descent) in the US, and St. Paddy’s Day celebrations date back to the days before the American Revolution. But if you’re not interested in fighting through the throngs of people day-drinking along the parade route in “Southie,” put on all the green clothes you can find and head to Faneuil Hall for some family fun.

Irish step dancers

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Faneuil Hall will feature free live entertainment on the West End Stage. Performers will include bagpipers, Irish step dancers and other Irish musical groups. We know you’ve been practicing your jig for just this occasion! READ MORE

In honor of Leap Day (and after seeing those motivating Honda CR-V commercials), we’re inspired to make our own “leap list.” We find it more optimistic to think of taking a leap, rather than to think of our dwindling lifespan, aka The Bucket List. Here are 10 ideas to get you started — take a chance, take the plunge, or take a trip:

Cliff Jumping

1.) Dare to Bare It All.
Toss the cover-up AND the bathing suit for the bravest walk of your life on one these nude beaches.

2.) Learn New Dance Moves.
Try the tango in Argentina. The booty-shaking Samba in Brazil.  Or learn Capoiera without leaving your city.

3.) Say “I Love You” (or Put a Ring on It).
Find the perfect moment and the best place to say “I love you” or propose.

4.)  Sleep in a Tree House.
Forget about free Wi-Fi and continental breakfasts. Pretend you’re a kid again and take refuge in the trees. If you’re lucky, you might just get up close and personal with the monkeys.

5.)  Tap into Your Spiritual Side.
Or at least find some peace and quiet. Taking yoga at the gym just doesn’t cut it. Unplug and escape from the daily grind to see the best spots to renew the spirit. No matter what you do (or don’t) believe in, the beauty of these places will leave you speechless.

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by Amanda DiGiondomenico

To celebrate that extra day we’ve been granted this leap year, many travel destinations — from Orlando to South Africa – are trying to make those extra 24 hours worth your while. Instead of wasting away your leap day, let these 5 travel ideas inspire you to make the day something to remember.

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One More Disney Day
For starters, Disney wants your leap day to be extra magical, so they are officially calling leap day, “One More Disney Day.” To commemorate the day, Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando’s Disney World and Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, will be open 24 hours straight. Once the gates open at 6 a.m. on Feb. 29, Mickey fans can have the run of the park until the rides shut down at 6 a.m. on March 1. The lines will probably be short in the wee hours of the morning, offering maximum opportunities to ride.

Leap at Martha’s Vineyard
If peace and quiet are more your speed, then head to Martha’s Vineyard for a little rest and relaxation. But don’t take yourself too seriously there; at the Vineyard Square Hotel you can score a free bottle of wine if you bring a photograph of yourself leaping over something. So let loose, find the closest leap-able object and bring someone who has a camera.

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Humpback whales at Virginia Beach

We’ve loved them ever since we saw them burst onto the scene in those cheesy insurance commercials. And heard their cool underwater vocals. Now it’s your chance to get up close and personal with the whale family’s most beloved member: the humpback.

This winter, Virginia Beach has reported double the sightings of humpback whales over last year. More than 30 have been spotted since late December, as little as 2 miles off the coast. Local marine biologists have been naming the frequent visitors — Woodpecker, Batcave and Literal, among them – who are typically too young to head south to the West Indies for the calving and mating season. Instead, they’ve been arriving from the northern Bay of Fundy (between Maine and Nova Scotia) – and sticking around in larger-than-usual numbers.

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