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Marcus Sakey and Rafael Tovar in Chicago

Cities are more than brick and concrete. They’re made of stories. And the best stories are usually about the worst people. In the new Travel Channel series Hidden City, crime novelist Marcus Sakey travels from city to city to explore 3 crimes or criminals who reveal the dark undercurrent of that city. We kick the season off by taking a unique look at Chicago.

Marcus starts by getting into the head of America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes. Holmes built a “castle” that became a death chamber for hundreds of victims. Marcus talks with architect Carlos Martinez about how Holmes used his twisted mind to create a hotel of horrors that included torture chambers, hidden passages and asphyxiation chambers. Then he talks with a police officer and demonstrator who were on opposite sides of the baton during the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots. Marcus also gets pepper sprayed to put himself in the shoes of the protestors. His time in Chicago ends with firing a Tommy gun and learning about John Dillinger’s death from gangster expert Jon Eig.  Discover more about each of these stories in the Hidden City Crime Files: Chicago.

Catch the premiere of Hidden City on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 10|9c.

Anthony Bourdain at Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle Hotel

Anthony Bourdain is back tonight with an all-new episode of The Layover in NYC, Tony’s hometown. Tony takes us to his favorite places to eat, drink and sleep. Visit the beautiful Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle hotel in Tony’s Favorite NYC Bars. For a quick lunch and/or dinner, Tony recommends 3 burger joints in Tony’s Top NYC Burger Spots. And for dessert, hop on over to 857 Broadway during the spring for the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.

Get more of Tony’s NYC tips in the Episode & Travel Guide, along with his additional recommendations in his Travel Tips for New York.

And don’t miss the premiere of The Layover: New York, tonight at 9|8c.

Tony in Singapore

We hope you’re as excited about the first episode of The Layover as we are at Travel Channel. There are only 3 days left to go! To get you ready for the premiere, we’ve pulled together a selection of our favorite Tony Bourdain travel tips and trivia from his Singapore layover. Did you know prostitution is legal in Singapore? Or that noodles for breakfast is totally normal? Speaking of noodles for breakfast … check out this clip from the show, where Tony meets his friend K.F. Seetoh to sample the food at Sinapore’s Changi Village Hawker Center.

Also, make sure you watch the sneak peek and click through our behind-the-scenes photos to get a taste of where else Tony’s layovers will take him.

Anthony Bourdain's The Layover

We’re 6 days away from Anthony Bourdain’s  all-new series, The Layover. Between now and Monday, Nov. 21, we’ll release 1 new clip from the premiere episode — Singapore. Today’s new clip is Tony Enjoys Claypot Rice. Tony recommends Geylang Claypot Rice for a tasty local dinner.

Watch the premiere of The Layover on Monday, Nov. 21, at 9|8c.

Electric Pod Cars
Photo: ULTra PRT

Driverless pod cars may be coming to a city near you. The automated pods are already ferrying passengers to and from Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London. The 22 new, electric-power pods can carry up to 4 travelers and their bags. They travel up to 25 mph on a 2.4 mile-stretch at the airport, and instead of a railway, lines that can be used for optical navigation.

The pods can even run during light snowfall, according to their manufacturer, ULTra PRT. Officials say the pods are cheaper than high-speed rail, and they come to you, rather than you waiting for them. They systems are already under review by airports in California, New York, Oregon, Calgary, Mountain View, CA, and Tyson’s Corner, VA, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Take a virtual ride in one of these new pods. Do you think these new pods will be a growing trend at US airports?

Virgin Galactic at Spaceport America
Photo: Getty Images

Spaceport America will open its doors to the public starting this Friday, May 13. In case you didn’t know, the taxpayer-funded facility spaceport will be the hub for Virgin Galactic to take tourists on short trips into space.  Other commercial spaceflights are also planned.

The 3-hour tours, conducted by Follow The Sun Inc., will give visitors an up-close look at the spaceflight facilities before the space travel kicks into high gear and the spaceport become fully operational later this year.

Tours are scheduled each weekend and will cost adults $59 and $29 for children under 12.

Boston Marathon

In his first shot at the world-renowned Boston Marathon, Kenyan runner Geoffrey Mutai shattered the course record to finish in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 2 seconds. Each year 500,000 spectators line the streets of 8 Massachusetts towns to cheer on runners from all over the globe. Boston’s marathon is the oldest in the world, and there are strict standards to qualify. But each year 25,000 runners attempt to finish the winding, hilly 26.2 miles, including the infamous “heartbreak hill.”

It might be a difficult race, but many marathoners say that the crowds in Boston make it worthwhile. The marathon is held on Patriots Day each year — a holiday for many in the area. Bostonians take advantage of their day off, grab their cowbells and blow horns, and spend the day partying and cheering on the runners.

If you’re planning on shipping off to Boston for the race next year, make sure you plan ahead. Check out street closings, and take public transportation if you have the option. Head to the parts of the route where the runners need the most encouragement — heartbreak hill in Newton and the last few miles of the race in Kenmore Square are some of the best spots. If you know a runner, track their progress to be sure you don’t miss them.

The Federal Aviation Association will add air traffic controllers to 27 towers after another air-traffic controller fell asleep on the job. This time it was at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada.

After several attempts to contact the air-traffic controller, the pilot of an air ambulance, carrying a critically ill patient, was forced to land at the airport early Wednesday. Federal transportation officials said the controller could not be reached for 16 minutes.

In the last two months, there have been 4 other incidents where an airplane pilot was unable to reach a sleepy air-traffic controller at a U.S. airport, including Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport and Seattle’s Boeing Field-King County International Airport.

The FAA has demanded that additional controllers staff overnight shifts where only one controller works. The National Transportation Safety Board and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have announced investigations of these recent air traffic control incidents.

Disney Cruise Line to Debut 3 New Ports in 2012
Disney Cruise Line has announced that starting in 2012 they will open new ports in New York, NY, Seattle, WA, and Galveston, TX. Disney already operates out of Port Canaveral, FL, and Los Angeles, CA. In 2011, Disney Cruise Line launched Disney Dream, and 4 new ships are scheduled to debut in 2012, including Disney Fantasy, the sister ship to Disney Dream. With their expanding fleet, Disney had no choice but to make their ships more accessible by opening more ports. Along with the new ships and new ports come new itineraries to Alaska, Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada, all starting in 2012.

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The devastation in Japan after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but if you need a lighthearted distraction here are the travel stories that had us scratching our heads.

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Cyndi Lauper sings during airport layover: While on tour in South America, the singer belted out “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” to stranded passengers at the Buenos Aires airport. [YouTube]

Toddler put in overhead locker: Flight attendant fired over alleged peek-a-boo game, but child’s mother is outraged. [Herald Sun]

Delta passenger slips past security with stolen boarding pass: TSA is investigating the incident at New York’s Kennedy airport. [HuffingtonPost]

Continental cuts flight staple: Claims it will save airline $2.8 million annually. [CNN]

Homeless thrive as tour guides: Offer ‘Unseen Tours’ in London for roughly $10, “depending on your circumstances.” [Gadling]

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