Close
Conde Nast Traveler Concierge.com
Q&A

Mark Connolly: Worst Photo Shoot Ever

Atacama_dt
They don't look miserable. Do they? 
Photo: Sheila Metzner / Conde Nast Traveler 

You all met Style Director Mark Connolly when he was in Milan and Paris for fashion, fashion, fashion. The Daily Traveler felt like you needed a proper introduction, so we cornered Mark for a Q & A session right before he left for his next photo shoot in India. In today's follow-up to that interview, Mark tells us the story of his worst photo shoot. Ever.

"Chile started off badly. I knew it was going to be a nightmare trip. Our flight to Miami was delayed--fortunately the photographer and I were on the pointy end of the plane, and the gate to Santiago was just three gates down from the gate we landed at--but they were not going to let us on the plane, let alone the three assistants running behind with tons of equipment. The photographer had to sit down and block the doors being closed, even though you could see everybody running down the corridor toward the plane. We just managed to get on, very late. Of course no baggage arrived in Chile.

"So we arrived and we had a long drive during the middle of the night to get to our final destination, which is San Pedro de Atacama. We all had to go shopping in a Chilean mall at 8 o'clock at night, 28 hours later, for survival clothing. Then we get to the hotel, and it's a tiled affair--tiles on the walls, tiles on the floors--and it smells like a public toilet. It looks like a public toilet. So I vow that we are not going to spend more than one night in this horrendous place. The producer has to find another hotel for nine people for the next day, which he duly manages to do. We all move into this tiny hotel in the middle of town.

"The town is all terra-cotta earth; there isn't one paved road. It's very bohemian; it's quite cool, actually. We go for dinner that night, we've been scouting for locations during the day, everybody's really tired, we get to bed kind of late-ish, and we are woken by the sound of an oompah band that sounds like it's next to your bed--a big brass band, tubas, you name it, people wailing, explosions&"

Continue reading "Mark Connolly: Worst Photo Shoot Ever" »

DISPATCHES

Vera Zvonareva's Paris Picks

Vera Zvonareva
Vera Zvonareva discovers that being
injured in Paris in the spring has its
advantages.
Photo: Ben Wyatt

Guest blogging from Paris for the Daily Traveler is international tennis sensation and UNESCO ambassador Vera Zvonareva. Over the next several days, Vera will be sharing her favorite Parisian spots and offering a glimpse of what life on the road is like for a professional tennis player at the top of her game. Take it away, Vera!

by Vera Zvonareva

I hoped I would be blogging this from the player lounge in the bowels of the Stade Roland Garros, having successfully navigated my way through a few sets of hard, dirt-track tennis and into the third round of the French Open at Roland Garros.

Unfortunately, my worst fears, which I had tried to banish with a positive frame of mind coming into this Grand Slam, were realized late on Monday when I had to withdraw from the championship. My ankle just isn't quite ready for the rigors of two weeks on clay, fighting against the best in the business for one of the four top trophies in tennis. Despite intensive treatment, there weren't enough seconds on the clock to get me to the start line.

What this did mean was that I would have a little more of what every player on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour guards preciously: free time, and in the great city of Paris. I told you on my first post how I love the French capital, especially in spring. For the first time in years, I would have a chance to stroll--well, hobble--around.

Actually, I did something I rarely do: ride a bike (a great way to keep my fitness level up without straining the ankle). This was a fantastic way to get around in Paris, since they have Vélib', this cool system of public bikes parked on many of the rues. You drop a few euros in the coin slot and a bike is yours for however long you want, and all you have to do when done is return it to one of the stands.

From the hotel, I rode straight to the Eiffel Tower, which dominates the skyline from any view. It's impressive from afar and stunning up close. I biked down a pathway along the Seine and out to the Bois de Boulogne, the green lung of Paris--all under a brilliant blue sky.

There are only two other things the girls on the Tour value as much as free time: their phones and fashion. For that I had to visit the famous, signature Louis Vuitton store in the city center. Grand, historic, and stylish, it is a window on the soul of this town.

I did my bit for the fashionistas on Tour by doing a photo shoot for London's Sunday Times Magazine last week at the Lagardère Paris Racing Club Croix Catalan. Have a look at the pics I got someone to take with my phone. A beautiful day, fabulous dresses, killer shoes, and one of the few grass courts in the city should make for some great photos coming out just before Wimbledon starts. (Which is where my mind is now. London is calling and I'm desperate to be fit and competitive for that wonderful traditional tournament at the height of summer.)

Bye for now. Thanks for reading, guys!

Further reading:
* Vera Zvonareva's first post: Training and touring in Paris
* Story: The Cradle of Paris
* Story: Isn't It Romantic?
* Video: Bicycling in Paris

Scenes from the photo shoot after the jump.

Continue reading "Vera Zvonareva's Paris Picks" »

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Old San Juan Street

San Juan StreetThis week, Photo of the Day highlights images from our pool of Dream Trip entries that relate to Condé Nast Traveler's June 2009 issue. Read below for a taste of what's on the pages, then pick up your copy of the magazine, on newsstands now.

In "Treasure in a Teacup," author Amy Engeler explores Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, a colonial gem once left to decay that's been restored to its original glory.

Dream Trip entrant mebreadlatte discovered one of facets of the jewel while walking through the streets of old city, a stroll captured in the Dream Trip 2008 entry Wandering Along.

"While we were wandering along the streets of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, my friend and I started down this street only to find it was gated at the end," mebreadlatte writes. "The scene looked so serene with the calm colors and the near emptiness."

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest. You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.

ON THE FLY

Skybus: The Sequel

by Barbara S. Peterson

Introducing JetAmerica, a new budget airline start-up aiming to fly between Newark and destinations in the Midwest and South. But wait, the $9 fares Jet America is shamelessly hawking sound a little too familiar. Hmmm. . . .

Remember Skybus? It was that Columbus, Ohio-based budget airline which used the same gimmick (except it was $10 fares) to grab free publicity, only to shut down in 2008, less than a year after its debut. Skybus was started by John Weikle, the same entrepreneur behind JetAmerica. Poor John. He apparently suffers from a strange compulsion to pilot an airline despite what he obviously knows firsthand: that the odds of succeeding are almost nil.

Or perhaps he has learned something from the Skybus debacle because JetAmerica--if nothing else--is starting out modestly, with one leased 737 that will fly from Toledo, Ohio, to Newark when it launches on July 13. Other cities to get service this year are Lansing, Michigan; South Bend, Indiana; and Melbourne, Florida. The cities are reportedly subsidizing some of JetAmerica's costs to lure flights to their airports--smaller depots like these have suffered disproportionately from the big airlines' cutbacks in the past year.

The $9 fares will be good for the first 9 to 19 seats on the plane, which can hold more than 150 depending on the configuration. I checked a few fares for future flights, and they were more in the $59 and $79 range, sans fees. With fees, the total tab for a trip from Newark to Florida was in the $189 range, not bad but not amazing, either. 

The original Skybus barely lasted a year. Officially, soaring fuel prices were to blame. But how about a dubious business model? Yes, Ryanair has succeeded along these lines in Europe by stripping down the airline experience to the basics--you get a seat--and then layering on the charges. Recently the European carrier has raked in the free publicity by threatening to make its passengers pay to pee.

Ryanair also flies to unsung airports that are conveniently near major cities. But that doesn't necessarily transplant to the United States. JetAmerica's proposed routes aren't likely to generate a huge demand. 

And Skybus, you may also recall, also got dinged for its lack of customer service. Judging from its Web site, jetamerica.com, customer service isn't in the plan--there's no phone number or information on where to reach the company. A small disclaimer tells the story: The airline is actually a charter line operating under the aegis of Miami Air International.

When doing business with start-ups, keep in mind that more than 200 have gone out of business since the airlines were deregulated 30 years ago.  Caveat emptor.    

BOOM BOX

Berlin's Karneval of Kool


Of all the amateur videos I've come across online, I like this one of a Bolivian Tinku group from last year's festival. Tinku dance has its roots in combat, but you might not know it from the bright Andean costumes, festooned hats, and synchronized choreography.

by John Oseid

One and a half million happy people will fill the streets of Berlin's Kreuzberg district this weekend. With a hundred floats and 900 performers from around the world, the Karneval der Kulturen (May 29-June 1) will turn the German capital into a riot of colors for a fourteenth year of celebrating the city's diversity. If not the city's biggest fete, the Carnival of Cultures is surely the coolest since the recent demise of the famously hedonistic Loveparade techno-bash.

In addition to the main parade, artists on four stages will showcase sounds from Turkish pop and Brazilian funk to Dixieland and Algerian raï, as well as some you've likely never imagined: electro-gypsy, Angolan reggae, Chilean ska, and yes, even Deutschrap. Hmmm . . . I may just have to check that last one out. The weekend activities are intended to challenge xenophobia and address issues of integration that Berlin's large immigrant community faces. There's a children's parade if you've got kids in tow, and with 350 food stalls, you can take a culinary tour of the world.

More music:
* Carnival of Culture compilation albums are available from the excellent German world music label Piranha.
* The New York Times recently covered the Bolivian ritual of Tinku.
* Boom Box: An unabashed gusto for music of the world.

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: A Girl and Her Sailboat in the Jardin du Luxembourg

Paris Park  

This week, Photo of the Day highlights images from our pool of Dream Trip entries that relate to Condé Nast Travelers June 2009 issue. Read below for a taste of what's on the pages, then pick up your copy of the magazine, on newsstands now.

The country of France is dripping with enviable landscapes made memorable by their connection to water-meandering rivers, turquoise seas, tinkling fountains. In "The Story of Eau," author Cristina Nehring writes of the land-liquid-love connection, accompanied by stirring panoramic shots by the celebrated photographer Harf Zimmermann.

Dream Trip entrant isachsen knows the joys to be had in Paris where earth meets water, as the entry "A Girl and Sailboat in Jardin du Luxembourg" demonstrates.

"To walk through Paris's Jardin du Luxembourg is always a pleasure, be it winter or summer," reads the entry that accompanies this photo of a petite Parisienne wrangling a toy boat on the pond in front of the French Senate building. "I like standing at the statue of the flute player and wondering how many famous artists and writers have walked by here through the decades."

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest. You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.

The Global Gourmet

Times Square: A Piazza It Ain't

Times_square_dt
Public square face off: Siena's Piazza del Campo vs. New York City's Times Square
Photos: Michele Ferretti (Siena) and nickdigital (NYC) on Flickr using Creative Commons

by Clive Irving

New York City's Times Square is a misnomer. It never has been a square, in either form or function. It's okay, if you wish, to call it the Crossroads of the World, although that too is grandiose. Occasionally, on New Year's Eve or to mark epochal events like the end of a world war, it is appropriated for mass celebrations. Otherwise, it's a traffic intersection. This week, however, Mayor Mike Bloomberg has cleared a section of Broadway of traffic in an attempt to create an urban space where people can sit and . . . do what, exactly? Stare at one or two nice old buildings and a lot more really ugly newer ones? Nice of them to provide some cheap lawn chairs, but this is so not a square.

A square, or piazza, or plaza, should be a place where cafés and bars line each side, where people-watching is the great sport, where every current of a city's life meets, converses, flirts, and is inspired to flights of philosophy and fancy. Somewhere, for example, like the Piazza del Campo, in Siena, that jewel of a Tuscan city. As you approach the Campo from a curving side street, long before you see it you can hear the hum. It's not traffic. It's the light, gaseous exhaling of pleasured voices and laughter wafting to the heavens. It's everything a real square should be, and then some.

To be fair to New York, there is a very handsome public space only a block east of Times Square, Bryant Park. It too is a confluence of activities--people eating snacks, sharing stories, and gazing across an expansive lawn. There's even an old-time carousel for kids to ride. But it is not a square.

So, as I gaze down from the offices of Condé Nast Traveler on the lawn chairs in Times Square and despair at the sight, I invite you, dear reader, to send in your own pictures of favorite squares, piazzas, and plazas from your travels so that we may remind ourselves (and Mayor Bloomberg) of what composes a true public space. Upload your photos to the Condé Nast Traveler Flickr Pool. Or go ahead and e-mail your pix to thinkagain@condenast.com. We will publish some of our favorites on the Daily Traveler in the days to come.

Q&A

Meet Mark Connolly: CNT Style Director

Marktotherescue!
Mark zip-lining in Nicaragua.
See, he doesn't just do Chanel.

You all met Style Director Mark Connolly when he was in Milan and Paris for fashion, fashion, fashion. The Daily Traveler feels like you need a proper introduction, so we cornered Mark for a Q & A session right before he left for his next photo shoot in India.

How many shoots are you doing per year now?

About five, I think. 

How much are your shoots ideas for what people can actually wear and how much are they fantasies?

If you look at Nicaragua (see Condé Nast Traveler's May 2009 issue), that's very wearable. That's easy breezy, what you could wear if you wanted to dress chicly on vacation. But there's no set clear answer to that question. You can look at the stories as fantasy, you can shop them, or a combination of both. I'd love it if people bought clothes off the pages, but I just want them to enjoy it. I mean, I want to give a sense of experience--it's a narrative telling a story via clothes with the models almost like actresses. The clothes give them a character, and that helps you have a multi-layered experience of the place. (God, that was good!)

So are things in place for the next shoot in India?

Never say never. You just never know; everything can seem to be in place and everything can fall by the wayside in 24 hours. Just right now we learned there were major problems with our female model for India and that we might lose her, but I'm leaving tomorrow. 

Tiffany Gifford, associate style editor, told us about the problems on the Broome, Australia, shoot. Has there ever been a smooth shoot?

Yes, there has. The less places you go, generally, the smoother the shoot. I used to travel hours to go get a shot. Well, five years down the line I'm like, "You know what? I ain't doing that again." I started doing resort shoots the last two or three years, where you don't move because it's about the resort, and that's wonderful. I'd always thought no pain no gain, so I'd travel far and wide to get "the shot," climbing up a mountain for three hours to discover the most holy temple that your Buddhist guide has taken you to see, and we get there and go, "Nah, don't like it, it's not right." Three hours back down.

Continue reading "Meet Mark Connolly: CNT Style Director" »

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Provence Villa

Provence Villa  

This week, Photo of the Day highlights images from our pool of Dream Trip entries that relate to Condé Nast Traveler's June 2009 issue. Read below for a taste of what's on the pages, then pick up your copy of the magazine, on newsstands now.

In her "Worldwide Guide to Affordable Villa Rentals," Consumer News Editor Wendy Perrin shares her field-tested tips for scoring the best house rental--and furnishes a directory of 49 vigorously vetted villa rental specialists who hold the key to properties from Paris to a private island estate in New Zealand.

Dream Trip entrant paulap knows the special appeal of renting a home of one's own. She encapsulates the experience in her entry "Provençal Lunch," which includes a photograph taken at the villa that she and her friends rented near the village of Les Baux-de-Provence.

"Every day after lunch, we'd head to whatever town had a local market going on and get our food for that evening and the next day," paulap writes. "It was hot, dry, and lovely. Our covered porch was perfect for sitting in the sun-dappled shade, wine in hand, chatting about the day."

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest. You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER

Yosemite by Bike

Yosemitebike
You'll be much happier navigating Yosemite Valley on two wheels, not four.
Photo: nps.gov

by Brook Wilkinson

I spent part of last week in Yosemite National Park, and one of my favorite finds was renting bikes in Yosemite Valley. The valley's few roads were clogged with cars, even on a weekday in mid-May, but the bike paths were blissfully empty. You can navigate along these paved trails to a number of the valley's best spots--Mirror Lake, the trailhead to Vernal and Nevada falls, the swinging bridge over the Merced River. You can also take the bikes onto the valley's roads, though be aware that there aren't any shoulders and you'll be competing for space with SUVs and tour buses. Parking your car is a nightmare anywhere in the valley, but there's always a bike rack nearby (and you don't even have to lock up your rental). With all these reasons to rent a bike, need I add that it'll save some fossil fuels, too?

My only disappointment was seeing how few bikers wore helmets. They're free with the bike rental, and well worth the bad hair day. Don't think you can do without one just because you're riding only on the trails, away from vehicular traffic--one trip over the handlebars after stopping short for a scurrying animal and you'll be happy that dent is in your helmet, not your head. 

You can rent bikes at Yosemite Lodge (also a great option for overnighting in the valley) or Curry Village.

Further reading:
* No more wrong turns: Put a GPS on that bike
* Responsible Traveler: Making a difference

DISPATCHES

Tennis Star Vera Zvonareva Blogs Paris and the French Open

Vera Zvonareva
Vera Zvonareva: Tennis star, UNESCO
ambassador, blogger

Photo: Getty Images

Guest blogging from Paris for the Daily Traveler is international tennis sensation and UNESCO ambassador Vera Zvonareva. Over the next several days Vera will be sharing her favorite Parisian spots and offering a peek or two into what life on the road is like for a professional tennis player at the top of her game.  Take it away Vera!

by Vera Zvonareva

I have been in Paris a few days now, preparing for the second Grand Slam of the year, the French Open at Roland Garros. I love being in Europe at this time of year-- spring is in full flow, and it just feels like the right time of year for tennis. Paris in particular is one of my favorite cities, although I have only had a small window to see the city and that has just been through a car window!

I have been staying at a tennis center in the leafy suburbs. Here I have been doing light training and have had a lot of treatment on an injured ankle, working hard to be fit for Roland Garros. I desperately want to play, having been forced out of action on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour since the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami in March. You probably have no idea how frustrating it is for professional athletes to be kept from the thing that drives them. I couldn't begin to put it into words, but tennis players accept that injury is part of the job and have to manage their mindset accordingly.

I got my first proper glimpse of this beautiful city on Wednesday when I was traveling to UNESCO's headquarters. Here I attended a press conference announcing me as a new Promoter for Gender Equality, an ambassadorial role for the UNESCO-Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Partnership. It means a huge amount to me to have been chosen for this role, helping women and girls fulfill their full potential, striving to be treated and respected on an equal plane with men. Tennis has given me an incredible life, allowing me to make all of my own choices. Hopefully in my work for UNESCO, I can help do that for other women around the world.

After the conference I was given a tour of the UNESCO building, which has a dynamic interior and is well worth a visit. The walls are covered in art from all over the world, with the pièce de résistance being a mural by the Spanish artist Joan Miro along one of the original foundation walls. Visitors are free to touch it, and it really sets the tone for this incredible educational organization. And there's great views of the Eiffel Tower too!

In the meantime, it's back to treatment and training. I move into a Paris hotel tomorrow, and I have a fashion shoot to do at one of the great old sporting clubs of France, Paris Racing Club, a green oasis right in the heart of the city. More on that in my next post!

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Our Latest Issue, On Sale Now!

Issue-resized

Condé Nast Traveler's June 2009 issue is on newsstands now! To coincide with the publication, for today's Photo of the Day, we picked an appropriate Dream Trip 2009 entry, with an image of what might be our very youngest regular reader with the May 2009 issue of her mag of choice, on location at Casa del Soul in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. We pass along her words of travel wisdom:

"Nicaragua has warm weather and it's very relaxing," writes eight-year-old Maria Philip in the Dream Trip entry "Your Number One Fan" of her stay in Central America, one of five trips she says she'll take this year. "Believe it or not, it's more relaxing than Hawaii. I've been to Hawaii once or twice, and people there are running around town even if they are on vacation. In Nicaragua, all people really do here is hang out by the pool and read."

"Also, there are cute dogs and great massages," she adds. "And if you swim to a beach and dig, you can feel boiling-hot water."

Happy reading to Maria and all our loyal readers. Check Photo of the Day all this week for highlights from our pool of Dream Trip entries that relate to Condé Nast Traveler's June 2009 issue.

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest. You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.

BOLDFACE

Clinton Kelly: Fashionably Smart Travel

Zinnia
Clinton Kelly always knows what to wear.
Photo: clintonkelly.com

by Beata Loyfman

Hey, you! Yes, you with the pleated khakis, Scooby-Doo T-shirt, and fanny pack, I'm talking to you. If you continue in your fashion disaster ways, don't be surprised if you're ambushed by one Clinton Kelly, style guru of TLC's popular What Not to Wear. If you're lucky, Kelly will take you from zero to hottie faster than you can put down those greasy french fries and invest in healthy carrot sticks.  

Searching for makeover candidates takes Kelly all over the United States. And after racking up almost a million miles per year, he's learned a thing or two about efficient travel. Thankfully, Kelly was all too happy to share his pearls of wisdom with us this week:

DT: With all of the traveling you do for What Not to Wear, you've probably mastered the art of packing light.

CK: I will brag and tell you that I haven't checked a bag in four years. One day, I did the math and calculated that I would have wasted an entire day of my life just waiting for luggage at airports. So packing light became the goal.

DT: Impressive. What's the trick?

CK: I just bring the essentials: a great pair of jeans, a jacket/blazer, a pair of multi-purpose shoes.
Also, I pack travel-size options of all my favorite products. And if they don't make a travel size, I transfer the products into small plastic containers. Lastly, if I'm traveling for work and need multiple outfits, I'll ship clothes ahead of me.

Read after the jump for more of Kelly's travel insights. 

Continue reading "Clinton Kelly: Fashionably Smart Travel" »

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Glacier National Park

Glacier-resized Dream Trip 2009 is well under way! For inspiration, here's a new entry that caught our eye:

The upcoming Memorial Day weekend has Photo of the Day thinking about summer road trips--and great memories made on family vacations to great all-American destinations like our national parks. Dream Trip entrant pudgesan is right on our wavelength with this shot taken in Montana's Glacier National Park.

"We hiked to Hidden Lake spotting bear and deer along the way," pudgesan writes in the Dream Trip entry Julia Skipping Rocks on Hidden Lake. "My daughter learned to skip rocks, and made one rock skip three times. I will always remember her joy and delight in such a simple action in a beautiful place."

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest. You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.

BOOM BOX

Divine Music from Fez to Fort Greene

by John Oseid

Buckle up, I'm about to zip a season's worth of world-class performances past you all happening within a span of three weeks.

The most spine-tingling week of music I ever heard was seven years ago, when I wandered through the steep, twisty medina in Fez, Morocco, going from one late-night recital to another. Sufi chanting here, drumming and horn blowing there. The Fès Festival of World Sacred Music has grown immensely since I was there: This year the headliners include Lebanese oud master Marcel Khalife; one of my favorite young artists, the Paris-based Algerian singer/guitarist Souad Massi; and Celtic singer Loreena McKennitt. How I'd love to return May 29-June 6 for the show's fifteenth edition.

If Fez is too far for you, you'll find veterans of the festival at New York City's kindred series Muslim Voices, which runs from June 5 to June 14. Many events--performances, films and discussions--will be held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Fort Greene and Manhattan's Asia Society. Some things to look out for: 

* Senegalese powerhouse Youssou N'Dour will launch the series on June 5 with his band the Super Étoile. I've been getting acquainted with Amir El Saffar, an Iraqi-American composer who will open for Youssou. His band's MySpace page features several beautiful works in the traditional musical style called maqam.

* The 2004 documentary I Bring What I Love will screen at BAM on June 6. Filmed during Youssou's world tour for the Egypt album, his tribute to Sufism, I Bring What I Love recounts the accusations of blasphemy back in Senegal over the continent's biggest pop star singing spiritual music. (The collective glory of a Grammy award smoothed all that over quickly.)

* On June 6, the Aissawa Ensemble will bring its trance music direct from Fez, while on June 11, the Persian classical singer Parissa will sing to the poems of the great Rumi.

* A souk will be set up in the BAM neighborhood the weekend of June 6, with 150 crafts and food stands.

More music:
* U2 found inspiration for their new album No Line on the Horizon at the 2007 Fez festival. They recorded the anthemic "Magnificent" in a riad.
* I once used Loreena McKennit as a clue in the Where Are You? contest.
* Boom Box: An unabashed gusto for music of the world.

ON THE FLY

Oprah's Skyping with Virgin America

by Barbara S. Peterson

Did you know that air travel history is being made today? That you, too, could witness a feat rivaling that of Chuck Yeager and Buzz Aldrin?  

Well, if you take that teaser from Virgin America literally, you haven't been near a Virgin plane lately, where tongue-in-cheekiness is mandatory. Tune in to the Oprah Winfrey Show today and you can listen in on an air-to-ground Skype call to the daytime TV host, marking the fact that today Virgin America becomes the first U.S. airline to offer Wi-Fi access on its entire fleet. The airline beat out several other contenders, including Delta, Alaska, and AirTran, which have all pledged to soon wire themselves up so you can surf the Internet from 30,000 feet. (American is also moving swiftly to add Wi-Fi to some 300 planes by next year.) 

Don't think you will be able to duplicate the phone call to Oprah or to anyone else, though: Voice communications are still banned aloft in the United States. Why? Not because the calls would endanger the plane but because the traveling public likely won't stand for a planeload of people screaming, "Guess where I am?" into their mobiles.

And if you can't get enough of Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson and his antics, tune in on his ongoing feud with Stephen Colbert. It began on the eve of the Virgin America launch in 2007 when the two had a dustup on TV, but it had its latest round on Letterman last night.

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Wisconsin Cows

WI-happy-cows-resized


Dream Trip 2009 is well under way! For inspiration, here's a new entry that caught our eye:

It's only Thursday, but Photo of the Day is already focusing on the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of road-trip season. This shot of black-and-white bovines on a grassy slope puts one in mind of bucolic scenes throughout America's heartland--which is exactly where Dream Trip entrant plruegg captured this moment.

"I spotted these happy cows as I drove along a country road in central Wisconsin, and made a quick U-turn to snap this shot," plruegg writes in the Dream Trip entry "Wisconsin Happy Cows." "These girls seem to be very happy enjoying the sunny July day. I like this shot because these cows are great ambassadors for America's Dairyland."

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest. You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.

In This Issue

Victoria Falls, Guilt Free

Think you have to wear a hair shirt and dig a well to give back when you travel? Think again. Below, a trip idea from "Eight Great Trips That Give Back," a piece running in the May issue of Condé Nast Traveler.

Suddenly, sundowner cocktails are interrupted as the tracker shouts "Get in the jeep--now!" Fifteen yards away, a cheetah has killed an impala--not an unusual scene at South Africa's five-star Phinda camp, known for helping to save the cheetah. So begins the Southern Africa itinerary set up by Exquisite Safaris Philanthropic Travel. Next stop: Botswana's Okavango Delta, where huge herds range across the terrain, and another five-star lodge, Kwando Lagoon Camp, which employs Bushmen as trackers. But for Pam Donlin, a former banker who traveled there last year, the most memorable moment came in the Zambian bush at the Butterfly Tree Project: A nonprofit supported by Exquisite Safaris, it runs a school and health center near Victoria Falls. Donlin, her husband, and her two kids met AIDS orphans and gave out clothes. "If part of travel can be helping others, and can create awareness in one's self, it's a great thing," says Donlin, who donated a $2,500 water well and educational funds. The trip wound up at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, where monkeys scamper through the marble lobby. You can hear Victoria Falls and see the mist from the hotel. Says Donlin: "I thought, Do I ever have to leave?"

The Give:
Just by going with Exquisite Safaris, you are donating $250 to a local nonprofit.

The Get:
The knowledge that you are helping children receive education and clean water.

Going Local:
Take photos with Mothusi Kebusitswe, a guide and camera buff at Kwara Camp.

Further reading:
* 7 more trips that give back.
* Paul Theroux on the Peace Corps and the lesson of his life.
* Responsible Traveler: Making a difference.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER

Garmin GPS: No More Wrong Turns

GPS
The Garmin nuvi 205,
friend to lost travelers everywhere
.
Photo: garmin.com

by Brook Wilkinson

Summer driving season is almost upon us. Don't own a GPS unit yet? Here's another reason to go out and get one: It'll save you some gas. In fact, a recent study indicated that using a navigation system can be equivalent to increasing your fuel efficiency from 27 mpg to 30 mpg. To be fair, the study was commissioned by NAVTEQ, the "leading global provider of digital map, traffic, and location data." But the point is a fair one: I know that my Garmin nuvi 350 has saved me from many a wrong turn.

Plus, Garmin's new EcoRoute program (which you can download for free from the company's Web site, though you have to own a compatible nuvi model) will help you drive even more efficiently. Its "Less Fuel" route preference takes into account things like the number of stops and speed limits along various routes from point A to point B. It'll also measure your average fuel economy, which is great if you're a hypermiler like me but your car doesn't have a built-in mpg readout.

One thing that worried me about getting a GPS unit was that it'd take the spontaneity out of travel. But it's actually made me more willing to wander off the beaten path these days because I know that I can always find my way back. I even bring it along on my bike; no more sweaty route maps.

The NAVTEQ study also cites an annual savings of $192 in gas, but since the study was carried out in Germany, where gas currently costs more than $6.50 a gallon, I'd be willing to bet that that number is a little inflated when used for the American market. Still, it's a good down payment on the cost of a GPS unit like the Garmin nuvi 205, which retails for $169.

Read on for three tips from Garmin on how to save gas.

Continue reading "Garmin GPS: No More Wrong Turns" »

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Peru Train Tracks

Peru

Dream Trip 2009 is well under way! For inspiration, here's a new entry that caught our eye:

Ah, the lure of the open road! Or, in this case, the romance of the rails.

Talkingbean's Dream Trip entry "Peruvian Training" depicts the intoxicating serendipity of travel:

"I did this Peruvian journey solo, having originally planned a trek trip with my sister, who was forced to cancel at the last minute," writes talkingbean, who discovered that one of the joys of traveling alone is comparing notes with other single travelers met along the way. "Life is a long road with endless horizons and opportunities posing the question, 'What--and who--is just beyond that bend?' "

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest.You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.


Hot List: 5 U.S. Favorites

Zinnia
One of chef Sean O'Brien's
jewel-like morsels at Zinnia.

Photo: Zinnia

Although Tuscany and Tokyo are perennially enticing, lately we've been getting more excited about our own backyard. And we're not the only ones; this year's Hot Tables list is full of stellar domestic restaurants. Here are some of Condé Nast Traveler editors' picks for low-key charmers:

Spur, Seattle: Helmed by two 20-something chefs, Spur is both playful and and ambitious. Homemade tagliatelle, served with a duck egg cooked sous vide, is topped with oyster mushroom and Parmesan foam; a smoked potato soup arrives in six different pieces. Whiskey is the liquor of choice, with some 90 varieties behind the bar.

Zinnia, San Francisco: After the city's celebrated Myth restaurant closed last year, chef Sean O'Brien found new digs just around the corner. At Zinnia, he continues to serve rustic modern Italian dishes such as rigatoni with foie gras and seared gnocchi with wild boar Bolognese.

Avondale, Avon, CO: Inside the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, this refreshing addition to Vail's après-ski scene has a stylish dining room and massive windows looking straight up the valley. Chef Thomas Salamunovich, of the area's celebrated Larkspur restaurant, has a long, market-driven menu ranging from adobo skirt steak with slow-cooked veal cheeks to roast chicken with crisp onion rings.

Holeman & Finch, Atlanta: It's hard to decide what's best about Atlanta gastro-preneur Linton Hopkins's classy new Holeman & Finch. Is it the food, a bracing hodgepodge of Southern and neo-Southern delicacies like crawfish beignets and griddled hen-of-the-woods mushrooms with Anson Mills polenta? Then again, maybe it's the fact that at 10 P.M. a bullhorn proclaims it's "burger time" and a crowd clamors to order the supremely juicy hamburgers before they sell out (about five minutes later).

The Redhead, New York: The Redhead's bacon brittle may be the year's top (or at least most blogged-about) snack, and with good reason: Salty cocktail peanuts tossed with crumbles of lightly candied bacon are an addictive combo. But that's just the beginning at this cozy East Village charmer. In addition to that famed brittle, chef Meg Grace has a contender for the city's best buttermilk fried chicken, plus smoky duck and andouille sausage gumbo and well-balanced salads.

CATCH OF THE DAY

Bar Harbor Cheat Sheet

Cleonice
Cleonice executive chef Rich Hanson
shows off his paella.

Photo: Cleonice

by Mollie Chen

It's not quite white pants weather, but with Memorial Day around the corner I'm ready for some seasonal escapes. I got a taste of summertime this past weekend when I took a little father-daughter trip up to Acadia National Park. Owing to our poor map-reading skills, Papa Chen and I had more intensive hiking and biking experiences than we meant to. (A word to the wise: Pay attention to those contour lines on the map, and study the trails before you set off!) To replenish all those calories we spent scrambling up ledges and slogging up hills, we sought out the area's best places to eat:

2 Cats Café: This cute café has light-filled dining areas, ultra-friendly service, and a healthy/organic bent. We sat between a table of rugged outdoorsy types plotting their next rock-climbing trip and a family of locals who knew our server by name. The granola at  2 Cats is deservedly famous and comes with thick Greek yogurt and lovingly sliced bananas; fluffy omelets made with farm-fresh eggs are a gorgeous buttery yellow and come with tender homemade biscuits.

Morning Glory Bakery: Down a small side street, this prolific bakery has everything from muffins and bagels to textbook-perfect tarts and fresh sandwiches. Equally appealing for Sunday paper reading--cappuccino and scones, anyone?--or for grabbing picnic supplies.

Continue reading "Bar Harbor Cheat Sheet" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

James Beard Honors 5 Classic American Restaurants


View James Beard America's Classics 2009 in a larger map

by Julia Bainbridge

A couple weeks ago, on May 4, the 19th annual James Beard Awards turned an otherwise rainy evening at New York City's Avery Fisher Hall into quite the glitzy affair. There was Martha Stewart in sequins, Jacques Pepin all tuxed out, Daniel Boulud looking ever the stylish gent in a crisply knotted silver tie, and Lidia Bastianich. (I didn't notice what she was wearing or on whose arm she entered the building; I was in the presence of Lidia Bastianich for the love.) Sure, there were big names among the best chefs (Dan Barber of Blue Hill for Outstanding Chef; Jose Garces of Amada for Best Chef: Mid Atlantic) and some famous five-star restaurants received top honors (Jean Georges for Outstanding Restaurant; Le Bernardin for Outstanding Wine Service), but what stole the show for me were the five America's Classics honorees.

The signature of these honorees is that "they are all restaurants, diners, shake shacks, clam shacks, that really represent America and the heartland," said James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro. "They're community dining destinations that have become a fabric of their towns." In other words, these are down-home joints where everyone ends up on Sunday afternoon to dish on town gossip and indulge in regional comfort food. Read after the jump to find out a little more about each one of this year's America's Classics honorees, and click on the map above for their signature dishes.

Continue reading "James Beard Honors 5 Classic American Restaurants" »

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Safari Animals

Wildebeest-afternoon

Dream Trip 2009 is well under way! For inspiration, here's a new entry that caught our eye:

Pity the poor wildebeest. The Big Five (lion, elephant, water buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopard) are Serengeti celebrities, and safari-goers itch to fill up their memory cards with images of the elusive animals. Wildebeest? Among cognoscenti, the lowly creature, also known as the gnu, elicits a collective "meh."

But Dream Trip entrant killy discovered the beast's discreet charms, captured in the picture entitled "Wildebeest Afternoon."

"One afternoon game drive in the Serengeti we saw several wildebeest," killy writes. "I felt like they were by far the more boring and unattractive of characters. After witnessing them up close and being able to see their colors change from dull brown to luminous silver as the sun set, they endeared themselves to me. One morning as I drank my coffee from the hill at camp, I pondered their dark, constantly moving forms across the valley floor, and I realized how beautiful they are."

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest. You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.

In This Issue

Haciendas and People Power, a Trip That Gives Back

Haldiram's
This pool was made for lounging.
Photo: Haciendasmexico.com

Think you have to wear a hair shirt and dig a well to give back when you travel? Think again. Below, a trip idea from "Eight Great Trips That Give Back," a piece running in this month's issue of Condé Nast Traveler.

The history of the Hacienda Temozon resort hotel in the Yucatán Peninsula, about a two-hour drive from Chichén Itzá, isn't immediately apparent. An elegant pool, an airy dining room, a spa--all the qualities of high style are there. In fact, in 1996, when Luis Bosoms and his wife, Marilú Hernández, bought the property in the wake of the collapse of the sisal industry, they purchased not only an abandoned 350-year-old hacienda but 109 worker's houses. The first thing they did: hand over the deeds to the houses to local people. "If you wanted to create wealth where there was none," says Bosoms, "this way is one hundred percent sustainable. With homes, these people instantly have access to credit." Altogether, the couple bought five haciendas, all of which they turned into resorts. Today, from Temozón, a guide will take you to the Uxmal ruins, then to visit craftsmen trained with the help of the hotel's foundation. Back at the hotel, get a massage--a local collective owns the spa. You can also head out into the Gulf of Mexico to see migrating birds, turtles, and crocodiles, ending up at the blue stucco Hacienda Santa Rosa, which they also own. From there, Chichén Itzá is a stone's throw away. But if you feel like lazing around the pool, you're still helping the community just by being there.

The Give: Visit local shops, which are highlighted on walking maps provided by the haciendas.

The Get: The knowledge that your money is going into the pockets of the local people.

Going Local: Chic sisal bag made by Mayan villagers (fhmm@haciendasmundomaya.com; $25).

Further reading:
* 7 more trips that give back.
* Paul Theroux on the Peace Corps and the lesson of his life.
* Responsible Traveler: Making a difference.

next

About this blog
The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

Twitter: CNTraveler
RSS: RSS Feed
Email: Daily updates

WEEKLY TOPICS
RECENT COMMENTS


UPDATES ON TWITTER

TRAVEL BLOGS
Featured in Alltop

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

EXPRESS SIGN-UP Sign up for one of our exciting panels and receive the latest news, travel offers, and event invitations from Condé Nast Traveler and our valued advertising partners.

http://www.cntpromo.com/ex.asp
Traveler Magazine

My Concierge.com

Advertisement

Advertisement

I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement, Privacy Policy, and Mobile Terms and Conditions.

 
iPhone App:

Create personalized postcards out of your favorite travel photos!

Learn More ›
Subscribe to our free RSS feeds:

Get the latest destinations picks, hot hotel lists, travel deals and blog posts automatically added to your newsreader or your personalized homepage.

Learn More ›

Special Advertisement

Contests, Sweepstakes & Promotions