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the SUNDAY TRAVEL DIGEST

A roundup of the good, the bad and the bizarre from the world’s best travel media

Michael Jackson and Bubbles in gilded porcelain, Versailles

Michael Jackson and Bubbles in gilded porcelain, Versailles | ©Greg Gross


Twas the day before Tax Day,
and all through the house,
the grown-ups were shouting,
“Where’d I put those receipts?!”

This year, the normally dreaded April 15 tax filing deadline was moved up to April 18. For that, you can thank the calendar and Abraham Lincoln.

The District of Columbia celebrated a holiday I’d not heard of before this year — Emancipation Day, the day Lincoln freed the slaves in, of all places, Washington DC. The actual date of the order was April 16, 1862 — months before the better known Emancipation Proclamation.

Since April 16 this year fell on a Saturday, federal government offices, including the IRS, closed a day earlier. And that’s why you got an extra weekend to finish up those tax forms.

So why even bring up this onerous subject? According to the folks at Reuters, a lot of you plan to use your tax refunds this year to travel.

Of roughly 1,000 Americans polled by an outfit called Travel Leaders Franchise Group, about 57 percent said they were going to use at least part of that refund check to take them somewhere.

If you’d like to see where they said they wanted to go, you can read the entire Reuters story as it was published in the Los Angeles Times here.

Speaking of places to go, regular readers of this blog already know the ongoing love affair I have with Paris. If you’re not clear why, Entreé to Black Paris, will clue you in on some of the reasons why.

It’s written by American expat Monique Y. Wells, and one of the things she does is highlight beautiful, creative black American men and women, each doing their own thing and adding their own glow to the City of Light. Truly inspiring stuff.

Read this blog at your own peril, however. After the first few entries, you may feel a sudden, uncontrollable urge to start packing. If you do, give Monique a shout. She does tours.

And now, here’s this week’s Digest:

AIR
from USA Today
A little over a month after a tsunami trashed it, drowned it and threatened to swallow it whole, Sendai’s battered airport is back in operation. It’s not at 100 percent by any stretch, but the fact that it’s operating at all borders on the miraculous.

from CNNgo.com
A secret study done by a Canada-based group of airport operators ranks the world’s top ten airports. There’s one from Europe, one from the Middle East and believe it or not, ATL. The other seven, including the top three, are all in Asia.

from US News & World Report (via Yahoo! Travel)
America’s meanest airlines. See if your list jibes with theirs.

from USA Today
United Air Lines at one point did away with their $75 fee for using your frequent-flier miles on a flight sooner than 21 days in advance. Guess what? They’re reinstating it. They’re also dropping other fees. Is it just me, or does this sound like the corporate version of a shell game?

from the Associated Press via Yahoo! Travel
So you paid the extra fee for the airline to check your bag — and they lost it, anyway. Do you think the airline should refund your money? If so, the federal government agrees with you.

from Budget Travel
You already knew that airlines could charge you more money for being too fat. Here’s one that will kick you off the plane for being too tall.

LAND
from the Associated Press via Yahoo! Travel
Meanwhile, ever wonder where lost luggage and their contents end up? The correct answer is Scottsboro, AL.

from MSNBC Travel
Bike cafes — a latte for you, a check-up for your bike, and space to safely lock up your precious wheels. As trends go, I love this one.

SEA
from MSNBC Travel
Here’s something you don’t see very often: a female cruise chip captain. Denmark’s Inger Olsen is skipper of Cunard’s massive new Queen Victoria. She took command last year. The world’s first female cruise ship skipper was named only in 2001.

from Cruise Critic
A new cruise line catering mainly to Mexican passengers has a ship lose power in an engine fire off the Mexican Pacific coast. No injuries, but the ship had to be evacuated. The vessel is an older ship that once belonged to Royal Caribbean.

AFRICA
from the Guardian (London, UK)
Do you run marathons? Ever feel yourself turning green with envy watching the world-class runners from Kenya leaving everyone else in the dust? Ever wish you could train how they do, where they do? Well, you can. Kenya is now offering runners camps.

AMERICAS/CARIBBEAN
from the San Francisco Chronicle
What kind of fun can you have at an old Army fort, without playing soldier? If it’s Fort Baker, at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, the answers include everything from hiking and biking to luxury lodging, a cooking school and a restaurant with a Michelin star. The view’s not too bad, either.

ASIA/PACIFIC
from the Guardian (London, UK)
A new eco-lodge in India gives you a chance to see wild tigers in environmentally-friendly comfort. Here, kitty-kitty-kitty…

EUROPE
from the New York Times
In the era of fast-food and shopping malls, the department-store restaurant is kind of an old-school thing that’s almost extinct here in the United States, but it remains very much alive across the Atlantic. Equally handy for hurried travelers and dedicated foodies.

from the New York Times
Amsterdam’s city center is endlessly enjoyable, but to really appreciate the city, the NYT’s Gisela Williams says you need to go farther.

from the Associated Press
Iceland has a museum devoted to the penis. No, I’m not kidding…and not another word out of you!

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