The good, the bad and the bizarre from around the world of travel!
FALLING LEAVES, RISING PRICES
As the days grow shorter, travelers start longing to get away. If you’re one of them, shop carefully and be prepared to act fast.
So I’m scouting airfares and ticket prices for the coming holiday travel season, and what I find so far is that the airlines this year are turning the upcoming holiday travel fare structure on its head.
Usually, it’s cheaper to fly during the Thanksgiving holiday than during Christmas/New Year’s vacation time. Or so it’s been until this year.
So far, looking at packages to Europe, Thanksgiving is actually more expensive than Christmas. I don’t know yet why that is, and I can’t think of one logical reason for this.
You can bet, however, that I’ll be asking.
PLACES IN THE KEY OF LOVE
Certain cities in the world have a way of binding themselves to your soul and refusing to let go — and the first link in the chain is music. There may be no better example of that than San Francisco.
When I was a kid, I used to think I was the only one who associated a song with a special place, one that I’d seen or dreamed of seeing. I took this as evidence that I was nuts.
Now that I’m older, I find that, while I may indeed be crazy, I am by no means alone. Lots of folks out there do exactly the same thing. And few places have inspired more such connections than San Francisco.
By some counts, the city known as “The City” inspired more than a thousand songs. The singers range from Judy Garland to John Lee Hooker, to Tony Bennett to Scott McKenzie, Harry Chapin to Carmen McRae, to name a very few.
Then last night, though, in a story on the San Francisco Chronicle’s Web site, SFGate.com, I came across one I hadn’t heard.
The writer, originally from France, had been haunted for many years by a song by French artist Maxime Le Forestier. Depending on who’s talking, it’s called either “La Maison Blueu,” The Blue House, or simply “San Francisco.” It was inspired by his brief stay in The City back in the 1970s, where he met Allen Ginsburg.
Music can connect you to a place in ways no amount of pics or postcards or videos can. This song evidently has helped inspire French dreams of seeing San Francisco the way a lot of Americans dream of seeing Paris.
Here’s a YouTube video that a couple of French visitors to San Francisco visitors paired with it.
You need not understand a word of French. If you love San Francisco, or dream of seeing it someday, you’ll “get it.”
Or it will get you.
What song ties your soul to a special place, and why? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
And now, here’s this week’s Digest:
from MSN Money
The best credit cards for earning free travel. Also, ranking lists of major hotel chains and the number of stays it takes to get you a free night’s sleep. (Thanks to Kimberly Major for spotting this!)
from A Luxury Travel Blog
Not sure what makes a good shot? This camera will tell you.
from Yahoo! Travel via concierge.com
Tropical rainforests and northern glaciers aren’t the only natural wonders in danger of disappearing. So are some of the world’s great beaches. Here’s a list of seven to see before they’re submerged, washed away or polluted for good.
from Lonely Planet
“The amazing Race” returns tonight for its 17th running on CBS. In honor of Ghana being on of its featured stops, IBIT features aGhana travel guide from the folks at LP.
Fields of lavender. Century-old olive trees. Provence? Catalonia? Not even close — but if you live in the United States, you’re already a lot closer than you think. Writer Melinda Quintero givers us a taste of agritourism, California style.
from Brilliant Tips
Chicken, Swordfish, Beer. Great flavors…for ice cream? The folks in this small Puerto Rican mountain town seem to think so.
Where to go for the best tasting of the grape in Paris. Wine bars, wine shops, wine festivals, tasting classes. Paris is one of the cities that qualify as Ground Zero for oenophiles. (NOTE: If you can spell or pronounce “oenophile” — or remember what it means — after your third tasting, you may not have had enough wine!)
The best U.S. cities for walking that excess weight off. Most of them happen to be pretty good travel destinations , besides. So get moving, America!
Our national parks are sorely under-visited these days, but if sleeping in mummy bags in a tube tent is not your idea of a grand time, there are pretty plush alternatives.
from Lonely Planet
Want to experience India, but afraid you might succumb to sheer sensory overload? Daniel McCrohan has five tips for newbies to the subcontinent.
from the Guardian (London, UK)
Ten of the best rail journeys around India, along with tips on how to navigate the Indian railway system.
from the New York Times
Leave it to the French to put sparkling water in public water fountains. Bubbly refreshment without the plastic bottle. One more reason for me to love Paris.
Another reason to admire Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. The air terminal with its own museum of classic Dutch paintings is now the first major airport in the world with a library. Suddenly, that long layover between flights doesn’t seem so daunting anymore. What a simple, brilliant idea.