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DISPATCHES

London Health Care, Medieval Style

StBartHospital_dt
St. Bartholomew's courtyard in the early 19th century by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd

by Clive Irving

Health care was a big concern in 12th century London. There wasn't any. That is, until a humble citizen called Rahere went to Rome on a pilgrimage. There he fell sick with malaria. Roman health care, it turned out, was so good that he recovered. And so it came to pass that to thank God for his recovery, Rahere returned to London and founded a hospital, in 1123, on a site on the edge of the city called Smithfield. The Roman hospital had been dedicated to the apostle St. Bartholomew, and that was the name Rahere gave to his London hospital.

Today it is a key player in Britain's National Health Service. A huge new wing dedicated to cancer treatment is just being completed. Smithfield itself is a storied location, still the home of London's central meat market (and, allegedly, the source of the phrase a bull in a china shop, when an animal fleeing its fate ran amok through nearby high-end stores). The core of the hospital remains four 18th century wings enclosing a piazza. And it was on the edge of the piazza that I found what is one of London's smallest (and least-known) museums devoted to the hospital's history, beginning with Rahere, whose tomb is in an adjacent church.

Continue reading "London Health Care, Medieval Style" »

Fashion

Road Test: Tumi "Just in Case" Tote

Tumi-just-in-case-tote
TUMI's "Just in Case" tote in magenta.

by Mark Connolly

I've just returned from a wonderful and well-earned vacation in Hvar, Croatia. But boy, you really have to want to go there. Talk about trains planes and automobiles--getting there alone involved an overnight in London, a 3:30 a.m. Gatwick Express from London Victoria full of drunken girls in short tight dresses flashing their crotches, and a not-so-divine 5:55 a.m. flight on easyJet to Split followed by a catamaran from Split to Hvar.

As the Style Director at Condé Nast Traveler, I am used to taking trips around the world for photo shoots and fashion shows; trips for which I must pack relatively light. But honestly, what fashionista can be restricted to a 20k baggage limit for a two-week vacation (a requirement of easyJet)? I know I tend to over pack but I like to think of myself as being pro choice when it comes to vacation outfits. That's why I packed the new fold-up TUMI "Just in Case" tote in my hand luggage. If I had to do the embarrassing re-pack at check-in at 4 a.m. in front of the whole of Gatwick South, at least I'd have a chic emergency bag to do it with. (No need to worry; I had packed with restraint this time.)

Little did I know then that the TUMI bag would prove itself useful all over Croatia. The tough nylon tote made for a lightweight and durable but also roomy beach bag. And the little pouch it folds and zips into made for a very chic evening clutch! I want the teal one and the purple one.

Further reading:
* Road Test: Michelle Jonas dresses
* Mark Connolly's dispatches from Paris fashion week: Stella, Salma, and 3,000 Appointments
* Mark styled Queen Rania for the September cover of Condé Nast Traveler

WORD OF MOUTH

Giglio, Italy and Pardini's Hermitage

Pardinis_Hermitage_Giglio_Italy
Pardini's Hermitage in Giglio can only be reached by the sea.
Photo: Pardini's Hermitage

by Ondine Cohane

This past week I continued on my quest for new Italian discoveries (an undertaking that is far from disagreeable, I may add) with a jaunt to Giglio, a small island off the Tuscan coast, the lesser known sister to Elba and an hour ferry ride from Porto Santo Stefano. It's a lovely spot, a mostly mountainous stretch that drops into some of the most beautifully clear water in Italy--when you snorkel you can see about 20 meters below you and the diversity of the fish is a testament to how the Tuscan coast has really campaigned to clean things up in the last few years.

I stayed at Pardini's Hermitage perched on its own little bay above the Tyrrhenian Sea and I loved the vibe of the place; it's old school, eccentric, slightly madcap and bohemian, and somewhere you really feel away from everything despite being only a fifteen minute boat ride from Giglio's main port and having free WiFi access. I was also very impressed by the quality of the food (a delicious pappa al pomodoro soup, just-caught orata, and creamy risotto with fresh seafood) and the overall organic ethos of the place--the homemade vinegar is made with local thyme and other herbs, the olive oil comes from the owners' other farm in Grosseto and the ricotta and yogurt are from the owners' goats just up the hill.

Apart from eating, swimming and snorkeling, reading, visiting the animals on the property's farm (including a donkey named Spartico) and hiking, there wasn't a lot to tempt me away from the area. (Not to mention it is still high season in Italy, which means the main beaches and towns were crawling with people.) I'll save my sightseeing for next spring when the wildflowers are blooming and the island is blissfully empty, though at the Hermitage things already felt that way. Just a couple of words of warning: the place isn't ideal for toddlers (think steep stone paths and drops into the sea off rocks) or people who like a jam-packed itinerary, and don't be alarmed by the Web site, which could do with a bit of an update.

Further reading:
* Ondine on Vernazza, the budget-conscious crowd's Portofino.
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide.

THE AGGREGATOR

Aspen and the Bears of Summer

by Sara Tucker

Resort areas have been inundated with bears this summer, and the death toll is mounting. Last week in Aspen it reached five: one human and four bears. So you can imagine the relief of the bear stuck in a Snowmass skate park on Tuesday when a posse arrived armed with a ladder.

It's been a trying season. In Glenwood Springs, Colorado, the drama began when a young female black bear walked into the lobby of the Hotel Colorado. That was in early July. Since then, officers with the Colorado Division of Wildlife have been working as much as 20 hours a day to keep up with all the bear calls. "It's insane what is going on with bears right now," a DOW spokesman told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

DenverChannel.com has run no fewer than 18 separate stories about bear burglaries since Memorial Day, with headlines such as "Bear Breaks Into Home for Biscotti" and "Pepsi-Craving Bear Breaks Into Beaver Creek Bar." Have you heard the one about the bear that walked into the fur shop? (It happened in Aspen.) How about the midnight raider that snuck into a home on Aspen's Sneaky Lane? He was nabbed stealing candy. Sounds kinda cute, right?

Continue reading "Aspen and the Bears of Summer" »

BOLDFACE

Cooking With Top Chef Fabio Viviani

by Beata Loyfman-Santora

What do you get when you combine a suave Italian chef and a bumbling editor who doesn't know the difference between risotto and Rice-A-Roni? Click above and see for yourself.

I recently had the good fortune of getting a private cooking lesson from Top Chef Season 5 finalist Fabio Viviani. After his successful stint on Bravo, the Florentine charmer published a cookbook called Café Firenze, named for his popular restaurant in Moorpark, California. Fabio was kind enough to create a few simple dishes just for us and, amazingly, he didn't even flinch when we asked him to teach yours truly, a kitchen nitwit, how to make them. On camera. We're lucky the whole place didn't catch fire.

After cooking, Fabio's best pal and business partner, Jacopo Falleni, made a fabulous summertime drink he calls "Tranquility" (see page 107 in the book for details). Now, this was one lesson I could really get behind.

Although it wasn't easy to keep my composure with these Italian stallions around, I managed to remain vertical for much of the time. Check out the fabulous recipes after the jump.

Continue reading "Cooking With Top Chef Fabio Viviani" »

ON THE FLY

To Tarmac or Not to Tarmac


Kate Hanni, founder for the Coalition for an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, talks to CBS news about being "Trapped on the Tarmac"

by Barbara S. Peterson

The notorious overnight stranding of a commuter plane at an airport in Minnesota and a six-hour delay of a plane at Kennedy last week have made a federal "airline passenger bill of rights" seem almost inevitable. Something else that is equally inevitable: another barrage of news stories about "tarmac delays," "stranded on the tarmac" and the like. We have the Department of Transportation's "tarmac delay task force" and House and Senate bills setting out clear requirements for how to handle these "tarmac" holdups. One senator was once moved to decline the verb "to tarmac." Now for the latest, shocking development in this debate: what if this word has been misused all along?

That's what one reader wrote to us recently, after I used the word in one of my posts:

"Can't we please retire the inappropriate word 'tarmac' to specify the place where modern mega-ton air-transport aircraft park?" lamented stepwilk. "There hasn't been a tarred MacAdam surface (named after the 19th-century Scots road engineer, as I remember) in a century, except for the odd lightplane airstrip. A 767 or Airbus A330 would sink through a true tarmac like an ice-road trucker in April."

I hope he also complained to the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, CBS news, and the countless other media organizations that have ushered "tarmac" into the popular lexicon.

Continue reading "To Tarmac or Not to Tarmac" »

In This Issue

Haiti: Where to Stay, Eat, and Play

Haiti_road_port_au_prince
This road above Port-au-Prince leads to the nineteenth-century Fort Jacques
and, beyond it, the recently opened Adirondacks-style Ranch Le Montcel.

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe, Condé Nast Traveler

Years of political instability kept tourists from this Caribbean nation, but all that is changing now, making Haiti the perfect getaway. In Condé Nast Traveler's September issue, Amy Wilentz explores the country's white sand beaches, vibrant culture, and mountain fortresses. Here are a few of her favorite spots:

* Up in the mountains, 5,000 feet above the city, the breezy 40-room Ranch Le Montcel, is set on 16 lush acres in Belot-Kenscoff. Mountain bike, horseback ride, or just hang out on the restaurant terrace. If you don't stay here, book a day-trip from the city--the staff will pick you up (3708-0330; doubles, $140).

* The spacious Brasserie Quartier Latin serves excellent salads and fish soup (10 rue Goulard; 3460-3326; entrées, $15-$25).

* In Pétionville, Galerie Monnin has an amazing, soigné collection of the country's best, most progressive artists (19 rue Lamarre; 2257-4430).

For more on Haiti, pick up a copy of the September issue or read "Love and Haiti" at cntraveler.com.

BOOM BOX

BélO, Haiti's Newest Music Man


Haitian guitarist/songwriter BélO takes on the subject of AIDS awareness in "Pap Negosye"

by John Oseid

Amy Wilentz describes her September Condé Nast Traveler feature, "Love and Haiti and the Whole Damn Thing," as a love song to the island. This got me thinking about the enormous amount of musical talent that the country produces, from artists recording in Port-au-Prince to those performing for the diaspora in Miami, New York, and Montreal.

Last year I spoke with Wyclef Jean about his Yéle foundation and brought you a bit of his music. Recently, I started hearing about a 30-year-old from Wyclef's hometown, Croix-des-Bouquets, who goes by the stage name BélO. In a short time, BélO's versatile guitar work and slightly raspy, soulful voice have made a fan of me. His MySpace page has a handful of nice cuts from his new album, Référence. My favorites: He plays "Deblozay" in straight-up reggae style; switches to a jazzy, horn-filled R&B sound on "Pa Ri Nan Malem"; and even throws in some rock power chords on "Istwa Dwol." I missed BélO's recent gig at New York's Joe's Pub, but here's a great clip of the show. I won't be making that mistake again.

More music:
* Almost a decade ago, Emeline Michel's album Cordes et Ame introduced me to Haitian rhythms.
* BélO was featured in a 2007 PBS Frontline piece that explored the challenges of mounting an international music festival in Haiti.
* BélO's song "Lakou Trankil" comes from an album of the same name.
* Boom Box: An unabashed gusto for music of the world.

In This Issue

Surf, Sun, and Food in the Bahamas

Bahamas_conch
You can find plenty of conch shacks
in the Bahamas, where the goods
go from the sea to your plate
right before your eyes.

Surf and sun make everyone hungry. Whether you prefer a quick bite at a beachside bar or a five-course meal at a haute restaurant, Condé Nast Traveler's September-issue Bahamas guide has something to fill your belly--and plenty of conch for to go around. Here's a peek at a few of our favorite spots for noshing:

THE BEACH BAR
Snorkels and swim trunks are perfectly acceptable at Chat 'n' Chill, a beach party/restaurant on Exuma's Stocking Island. People float in by motorboat, kayak, and sailboat to settle into pastel-colored lounge chairs scattered across the sand. The grill turns out nicely charred chicken sandwiches and conch burgers, and on Sunday there's a rowdy pig roast complete with live music and dancing (no phone; sandwiches, $4-$7).

THE SWEET SPOT
Early birds get the pastries at Arthur's Bakery, a modest family-owned café on Harbour Island. If you miss breakfast (the famed sticky buns sell out by 8:30 a.m.), you can console yourself with the island's best coffee, hearty sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, and puckery Key lime pie (Dunmore St.; 242-333-2285). In Gregory Town on Eleuthera, a tiny hand-lettered sign points the way up a steep street to the bright-green Thompson Bakery. Pineapple tarts are the specialty here: tender pastries filled with delicately spiced fruit (Sugar Hill St.; 242-335-5053).

THE GRANDE DAME
White gloves are only the beginning at Graycliff, a mansion turned hotel in downtown Nassau. Old-school dishes prevail (lobster Thermidor, anyone?), and a nightcap in the parlor is de rigueur--or a glass from the 250,000-bottle wine cellar (242-322-2796; entrées, $38-$68).

For more restaurants in the Bahamas, check out the September issue of Condé Nast Traveler or read "Must Love Conch" on cntraveler.com.

Further reading:
* Video: Watch senior editor Kate Maxwell dive into some lobster quesadillas at Sip Sip Eleuthera's Harbour Island
* Video: Exuma, a sailor's paradise
* Video: Cat Island is all about unplugging

Video

The Bahamas: Cat Island

Condé Nast Traveler's Kate Maxwell kicks off her heels to explore Cat Island's natural beauty. You don't need to pack much--this island is all about unplugging.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER

Mongolia's Golden Eagle Festival

Kazakh_Eagle_trainer_Golden-Eagle_Festival_Mongolia
A proud golden eagle hunter and his magnificent pet.
Photo: Nomadic Expeditions

by Brook Wilkinson

No matter how many places I travel to, there are always dozens more I'm dying to visit--like Mongolia. What's not to like: some of the world's last nomadic herders crossing the plains on horseback, a name that is synonymous with the middle of nowhere. But it's not an easy place to visit, which is why I'd want to book my trip through Nomadic Expeditions, a New Jersey-based tour operator founded by Mongolia native Jalsa Urubshurow. If I had the time and funds, in fact, I'd be booking a trip right now to the Golden Eagle Festival, which takes place in northwestern Mongolia every fall. Several tour operators now run trips to the festival, but Urubshurow himself started it back in 2000, as a way to revive this traditional Kazakh hunting technique, and to bring money into these subsistence-based communities. All proceeds from the festival go to the Berkut Association, which works to uphold the traditions of the country's largest ethnic minority group.

Continue reading "Mongolia's Golden Eagle Festival" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Video: New York's Marea Restaurant

by Mollie Chen

Last year Michael White's New York restaurant Convivio was one of the stars of our Hot Tables list--and with good reason. The chef is a serious talent in a city already spoiled with kitchen wizards. This year he's back with a brand-new restaurant in Manhattan, the sleek and elegant Marea, which takes Italian seafood to new levels. We couldn't resist going behind the scenes with White in his new spot--taking a peek into the freezers and getting a firsthand look at what goes into some of his best-selling dishes.

Fashion

Road Test: Michelle Jonas Dresses

Michelle-Jonas-long-goddess-dress-blue
The "long goddess dress" from
Michelle Jonas is perfect for
both work and play
when on the road.

Photo: Michelle Jonas

by Tiffany Gifford

As Condé Nast Traveler's Associate Style and Accessories Editor, I accompany our esteemed leader, Style Director Mark Connolly, on fashion shoots all around the world. Needless to say, I have packing couture gowns and fragile jewels down to a science. When it comes to my own bag, though, I never know what to fill it with--nor how much. Our team is generally hopping to and from different destinations on these photo shoots, so I need to be comfortable. But I must also be chic: Often, after all that running around dressing models, comes dinner at the newest hot spot.

My packing problem has met its Ms. Fix-It in Michelle Jonas. She was kind enough to let me try out several of her dresses and caftans during our most recent shoot in the Dominican Republic. Let's just say they will be coming with me to every future shoot. Jonas's clothes are mainly jersey and cotton gauze, which are light, comfortable materials that don't require dry-cleaning or machine washing. You can just hand wash them and hang them in your shower and they are fresh and ready to go the following day--not a wrinkle in sight. For this shoot, I just alternated the six dresses that I brought as my uniform. Easy as that.

I even got several compliments from Mark on how great the dresses were, the equivalent of getting knighted in the U.K.--such a feat! To test whether or not the Jonas dresses can double as office wear, I've been sporting them to work the past couple weeks. Answer? Yes. All I hear is "Love your dress!" and "I must have that!" from my colleagues. Since I shared my dress secrets with the women of Condé Nast Traveler, I feel it's only right to share it with our readers, too. Get ready to love packing and all the compliments you'll receive.

Further reading:
* Mark Connolly's dispatches from Paris fashion week: Stella, Salma, and 3,000 Appointments
* Mark styled Queen Rania for the September cover of Condé Nast Traveler

Video

The Bahamas: Exuma

This 120-mile-long Bahamian archipelago is a sailor's paradise. Condé Nast Traveler's Kate Maxwell goes by boat to hit Exuma's blue waters, pristine sands, and weekend-long beach parties.

DISPATCHES

The London Olympics: A Ride to Nowhere

London-2012-Olympics-Map
The London 2012 map: Still a work in progress, but looking good. (Click on the image for a larger version.)
Photo: london2012.com

by Clive Irving

It's exactly three years to go for the London 2012 Olympics. How are the preparations going? From the air, the site looks impressively advanced. The shell of the deep bowl stadium is in place. The Olympic village is taking shape. And at the heart of the site the railroad station is impressive, indicating the ambitious infrastructure commitment. From ground level it is hard to get an overview. An official Webcam site makes it seem as appetizing as open-cast coal mining.

The geography of the Olympic Park has, from the moment that London won the games, been controversial. As early as the 1820s, London earned the label of The Great Wen (from the wonderful social critic and fiery polemicist William Cobbett) for its sprawling, formless growth and early industrial squalor. The city's social balance has always been loaded in favor of its western reaches. The smartest part of town remains the West End, around Mayfair and Knightsbridge; the poorest has forever been East London, stretching out from beyond the financial center called The City eastward, first into the former docklands, now largely gentrified, and then into a grim desert where bleak suburbs mingle with random industrial sites ranging from small workshops to horrendous oil and gas terminals.

It was into this eastern morass that the British government decided to drop the Olympic Park.

Continue reading "The London Olympics: A Ride to Nowhere" »

WORD OF MOUTH

The Green T. House: Beijing's Bathing Beauties

GreenTHouse-Beijing-bath-house
You can stay overnight in Green
T. House's Beijing bath house.

Photo: The Green T. House

by Ondine Cohane

I am a bath fan. It could be because I spent my first decade on earth in Ireland and England--drafty houses and infernal cold rain make them a must--or the fact that I am a water sign, or that lying in a tub with a fashion magazine and a glass of wine is one of my favorite ways to relax. But regardless, tubs (and steam rooms, saunas, and Jacuzzis) are a mania for this correspondent.

So it was with great interest that I found out about a newly opened "bath house residence" on the outskirts of Beijing. Set in the Green T. House living complex, which is also home to a funky restaurant and tea house, this new private villa has a huge bath area based on those favored by the Tang emperor, and a 20-person Jacuzzi as well as a circulating mineral pool with a waterfall on the roof terrace. You can book the place for the day, enjoying spa treatments and a meal, or throw a high-end slumber party by renting it for the night (the house sleeps up to eight in loft bedrooms). I like the idea of an overnight, especially with the option of getting an eight-hand massage in front of an open fireplace after dinner, and languishing in a bath before falling asleep. If I were heading to Beijing anytime soon, I would certainly take a dip.

Further reading:
* Ondine on Vernazza, the budget-conscious crowd's Portofino.
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide.

Video

The Bahamas: Harbour Island

The Bahamas have been a glamorous destination for decades, and none has a glitzier vibe than Harbour Island, with its fabulous list of residents. Condé Nast Traveler's Kate Maxwell eats, drinks, and shops her way through the island.

THE AGGREGATOR

Magic Moments in the Great American West

by Sara Tucker

It didn't hit the stride of, say, Teddy Roosevelt's "The Man With the Muck-Rake" speech, but "Cool! Look at that! That's a geyser there" has its own kind of poetry. Call it the rhetoric of spontaneous delight.

That, of course, was our president last weekend, speaking off-the-cuff at Yellowstone National Park as Old Faithful gushed into the air. It was a memorable moment in a three-day family tour of some prime American wilderness, a tour dogged by pesky problems. Questions such as whether it's really a good thing to allow guns in our national parks and what to do about the growing number of pot farms on park land. Not to mention whether the move to reduce wolf populations through hunting is a good idea, considering that wolves were on the endangered list a few short months ago. Then, of course, there was the inevitable hubbub about health care reform, since this was, after all, a working vacation.

The Obama family's western tour was modeled after a historic trip made by Teddy Roosevelt in 1903. Loosely modeled, you'd have to say. Vanity Fair's Power & Politics blog reminds us that TR "explored Yellowstone on horseback with naturalist John Burroughs, declared the Grand Canyon off-limits to mining interests, and slept under the stars in Yosemite with the inimitable John Muir." Obama, as the AP was quick to point out, is "no Marlboro Man" (oh, ouch), but reporters hoping for a western twist on the Pennsylvania bowling fiasco were disappointed. His western tour was very much the family vacation, with peach picking, zip lining (the president's sister tried it), s'mores, and white-water rafting ("Mrs. Obama is an incredible paddler," a guide told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle). The president tried out his new fly rod (the press was not invited) and fielded questions about insurance.

The tour was a whirlwind, but there were moments, and Old Faithful was one, when this presidential walk on the wild side reminded us why we care about our national parks. As a fountain of steam and spray exploded into the blue sky of a perfect day, everything else fell away--guns, wolves, health care--leaving behind only a welcome sense of childish wonder. "Cool. Look at that. That's a geyser there."

Further reading:
* "National Parks Welcome the Obamas" (The Daily Traveler on CNT)
* The 10 greatest parks and how to visit them (CNT, September 2009)
* "How the West Was Saved" (Vanity Fair)
* The Aggregator: News of the week in links

ON THE FLY

The Hell Hole of Heathrow's Terminal Five

Heathrow-terminal-five-london
Not a line in sight at Terminal 5's main terminal.
Photo: garybembridge on Flickr using Creative Commons

by Clive Irving

Nearly 18 months after the disastrous opening of British Airways Terminal 5, its early teething troubles are behind it. The overall experience is as advertised: The main terminal T5A provides speedy check-in, efficient security and clear signage. Once in the passenger areas it may feel too much like a shopping mall, but it's a polished, light and airy one, with a wide and good choice of food and refreshment. (The owner is not British Airways, but the British Airports Authority, which has a history of being more energized by the profits of shopping than the convenience of travelers.)

Note my caveat, "the main terminal T5A." There is another limb, the satellite terminal T5B, and that is where most BA flights between the U.S. and London have their gates. Between the two concourses is a large area of taxiways. In order to get passengers to and from terminal T5B into T5A (where immigration and baggage halls are for incoming flights), the architects built a tunnel for robot shuttle trains.  This tunnel is deep--to reach the train outgoing passengers have a choice of either a steep and long escalator or elevators.

The real problems begin, however, with arriving passengers.

Continue reading "The Hell Hole of Heathrow's Terminal Five" »

Video

Road Trips: How to Save

Looking to get away this weekend but don't want to spend an arm and a leg? Make it a road trip and you can squeeze in one more affordable vacation this summer. Condé Nast Traveler senior editor Kate Maxwell stopped by the Today Show yesterday to share her tips for how to save money on the road. There's even good news for gas prices.

BOLDFACE

National Parks Welcome the Obamas

by Beata Loyfman-Santora

President Obama brought his girls and the Mrs. to visit Grand Canyon National Park this past week. The September issue of Condé Nast Traveler has a feature on the National Parks. Coincidence? We think not. (Someone on the prez's efficient staff probably sneaked an advance copy out of our offices in the middle of the night.)

One thing's for sure: Seeing at least one of the 58 National Parks is a must for every citizen. The mountains of Yellowstone and Glacier, the wildlife in Denali--all of these are fascinating trips that won't burn a hole in your bank account. In fact, a good many parks, and other National Parks Service sites, are free to enter.

So pack the car with some snacks, and make like the Obamas. Then you can ace our nifty National Parks Quiz and feel superior to (and more patriotic than) your friends.

Further reading:
* Boldface: Celebrity travels

ON THE FLY

JetBlue Sells Out Travel Pass Deal, But Don't Give Up on September Travel

by Barbara S. Peterson

If you were thinking of ducking work obligations for a month to take advantage of that wild JetBlue deal--a 30-day unlimited travel pass for $599--better cancel that meeting with the boss. JetBlue has halted sales of the pass ahead of its original deadline, August 21, due to what the airline claims was higher than expected demand.

Then again, you should be thinking of traveling in September even if you missed out on this one. September is typically one of the slowest months for the airlines, and that will be especially true this year if the disappointing summer numbers are any indication. So look for a flurry of short-term discounts to drive up sales.  And the notice can be short--very short, as in hours. So check out @JetBlueCheeps on Twitter every Monday, when it posts the latest and greatest discount fares, follow airlines such as @UnitedAirlines for sale notices, and check out travel forums. We found this discount deal from Southwest at about.com.

BOOM BOX

Otto: High Energy Brazilian


A Fellini cast of characters frolic on Copacabana beach in the video to Otto's jazzy drum and bass tune "Bob." (And don't worry, the first 33 seconds are meant to be silent.)

by John Oseid

Brazilian percussionist/singer Otto has the air of an ancient Greek pugilist, and he bounds around a theater with so much energy that he might spontaneously combust. Last winter I discovered the Pernambuco native at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Red Hot + Rio 2 benefit concert, where his turbulent act stole the show from a handful of major artists.

The title of his top-notch new album, Certa Manhã Acordei de Sonhos Intranqüilos ("One Morning I Awoke from Uneasy Dreams"), echoes Kafka's opening of "The Metamorphosis." Otto has put together a hodgepodge of electronic symphonies with nods to his Tropicália forebears; he's thrown in some psychedelic organ and rock guitar riffs, and, of course, he uses samba's squeaky cuíca drum. (The album comes out September 1.)

And the vocals are splendid. CéU, another hot young Brazilian singer of the moment, performs a duet with Otto on the sweet, slow-tempo "O Leite" (Milk). He's joined on "Lágrimas Negras" (Black Tears) by my favorite Mexican pop/rock star Julieta Venegas, who also sings on "Saudade" (Nostalgia). Only a Brazilian could make longing sound so desirable.

More music:
* Tomorrow night Otto will be joined at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in NYC by a few Brazilian DJs. And it's all free.
* Today's New York Times has a great piece on Otto.
* Here's a nice video of a berobed Otto performing the song "Por Que" live for Brazilian MTV.
* Boom Box: An unabashed gusto for music of the world.

JUST IN

Plastic Panic: Credit Card Snafus for Americans Abroad

No-ticket-gare-du-nord
Don't try your card here:
Crashed ticket machine
at Gare du Nord.

Photo: acb on Flickr
using Creative Commons

by Barbara S. Peterson

In June I spent a week in Paris--hard to complain about that--but one thing has been bothering me ever since:  I almost didn't make it home when my supposedly no-brainer plan to get to Charles De Gaulle International Airport (CDG) via one the city's enviably quick rail links got derailed by a piece of plastic. 

Before I get into the somewhat arcane explanation of all this, a warning:  a lot of American travelers are facing similar frustrations as Europe moves to the "chip-and-pin" cards that will render our old magnetic stripe cards obsolete overseas.

Here's what happened: I arrived at Gare du Nord with my bags and enough euros and time to get me a ticket to CDG, about a 20-minute ride.  (Taxis weren't a good option--it was Friday afternoon and they're expensive.)  I was prepared for the self-service thing: I'd traveled every day on the Metro. I'd also already had my American Express and MasterCard rejected by ticketing machines, but in each case I was able to use euros. 

No such luck this time.

Continue reading "Plastic Panic: Credit Card Snafus for Americans Abroad" »

RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER

Massages for Breast Cancer Awareness

Four-seaons-biltmore-santa-barbara
Women's health is the focus at the Four Seasons The Biltmore's spa.
Photo: Four Seasons

by Brook Wilkinson

Summer may be wrapping up, but there will be plenty of travel deals to be had this fall. Case in point: the "Life is Suite" promotion, from The Four Seasons The Biltmore, in Santa Barbara, which offers 20%-40% off any suite booked during the week, from September 7 through the end of October. The Biltmore is a perennial Condé Nast Traveler Gold List property.

What's more, for every Swedish, shiatsu, or deep-tissue massage that you book at the resort's spa during October--National Breast Cancer Awareness Month--the Four Seasons will donate 10% of the treatment price to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. Who knew that a good rubdown could make your heart feel good, too.

Further reading:
* The 2009 World Savers Awards: Honoring the airlines, cruise lines, city hotels, resorts, hotel chains, and tour operators that are dedicated to saving their communities and our world
* Responsible Traveler: Making a difference

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

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