NBC’s 17th annual TODAY Summer Concert Series kicks off (appropriately) … today! If you’re an early bird and in Manhattan on any Friday this summer, head down to Rockefeller Plaza around 6 a.m. to stake out your spot for a free live show. Usher is the first on the all-star roster of performers, which also includes Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band, Train and Jason Mraz. READ MORE
By Jimmy Im
The 2012 Mayan Doomsday is upon us (insert maniacal laughter). You’d think most travelers would make plans to avoid archaeological Mayan sites on Dec. 21, but it’s in fact the other way around — and with good reason.
“End of the World” packages and tours have skyrocketed with the upcoming Dec. 12 date, which Hollywood deems the end of the world (according to experts, the Mayan calendar simply indicates Dec. 21 starts a new life cycle). There’s so much popularity around this date that Mayan-civilized countries once at the top of their game (including Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and, of course, Mexico) have seen a growth in hotel and tour bookings for next December. READ MORE
This week, big-name acts rocked out at Jazz Fest, One Word Trade Center became NYC’s tallest building, and Queen Elizabeth II continued her tour of the UK to mark her 60th year as monarch.
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival …
The 42nd annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival kicked off with performances by the Beach Boys, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Buffet, along with many local musicians like Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. This weekend is set to be just as epic: Zac Brown Band, Ziggy Marley, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, the Foo Fighters, the Eagles and local bands like Rebirth Brass Band are all slated to perform. READ MORE
In 2010, the Florida-based Spirit Airlines took the historic step of being the first US airline to charge passengers baggage fees for carry-ons. That’s right — not checked bags, carry-ons. Today, the airline is in the news again, this time for raising their already-unprecedented carry-on fees even more.
Travelers be warned: starting Nov. 6, any Spirit Airlines passengers who wait until they get to the gate to pay for their carry-on (defined as a bag that needs to be put in the overhead bin and cannot fit under the seat) will get hit with a whopping $100 fee. READ MORE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.