Shermanstravel Blog

Paris

Skellig MichaelBarcelona has its Sagrada Familia. Sydney has its white-hooded Opera House. And other places? Well, they’ve got steps – lots and lots of them. As the examples illustrate below, epic staircases aren’t just a way to reach higher ground. They can be major attractions unto themselves. From the fabled Ha’iku Ladder in Hawaii, to Norway’s never-ending Flørli Steps, these jaw-dropping ascents aren’t for the faint of heart. But once you get to the top, we think you’ll agree the views more than make up for the effort. Read more

Koh LantaWhether it’s a packed cruise ship unloading throngs of boisterous passengers, or a mob of thirty college students tearing through town, an excess of tourists can make a destination go from in-demand to insufferable, just like that. Consider avoiding these played-out locales and shift your attention to nearby spots that are lesser-known, and more worthy of the term “vacation.”

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This winter, what better way to warm up than with a piping mug of hot chocolate? But don’t just reach for a packet of Swiss Miss. There are much richer, bolder, more decadent concoctions out there. Here are five delicious indulgences from around the world – and where to find them…

1. Mexico City:churreria-el-moro-elmoro.com.mx-620Mexican hot chocolate is an update of an ancient Aztec drink that includes chili, cinnamon, anise, and other spices. The beverage is water-based with just a splash of milk and a pinch of sugar, so you can enjoy the chocolate’s dark richness and subtle kick. For an unabashedly kitschy and fun experience, try the 24-hour Churreria el Moro, a hotspot also known for its churros in Mexico City. $5 for one hot chocolate and four churros.

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Taiwan Subway Station ArtAcross the globe, urban planners have beautified some of the most basic (and essential) city structures: subway stations. Through murals, sculptures, temporary installations, or just fancy signage, they have helped turn otherwise drab transportation hubs into dazzling, and sometimes even whimsical, works of art. From Tom Otterness’ miniature bronze sculptures in New York City to Dubai’s jellyfish-like chandeliers, here are nine underground masterpieces that can’t be missed. Click here to view our slideshow.

denver-airport-long-lines-alice-daerNo matter where you’re traveling, there’s nothing like a long line to put a damper on your vacation. Which is why we were happy to learn about SecurXpress, a reservation system for security lines that’s being tested at Montréal, Canada’s international airport. After passengers submit their flight and contact info online, they receive a text with an arrival time. Then, when they get to the airport, they can head straight to security and skip the line. Not bad. This free service is available for all domestic and select international routes, and each reservation covers up to five travelers.

While it’ll take some time for other airports to adopt the system – clearance rules make it especially tricky for flights in and out of the U.S. – ticketed reservations aimed at slashing wait times aren’t new. Here’s a quick look at similar systems that are helping travelers avoid the wait…

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Air B&B PropertyIntrigued by the cost-saving hallmarks of vacation home rentals but haven’t yet taken the plunge? Let this sweet limited time deal on Airbnb sway you. For first-time users only, the site is offering a night free (up to $300) when you book a stay for two nights or more.   Read more

PicassoMuseum_620x400The great thing about traveling to Europe is that you can experience some of the world’s greatest art for an entirely reasonable price. With an abundance of free and low-cost museums, the world’s masterpieces are yours to savor. But which do you see first? Upon arrival in Europe’s capitals, most travelers head straight to the big, famous collections at the Louvre, the Prado, or the Rijksmuseum, just to name a few. But if you venture further afield, you can take a deeper dive into the world’s great artists and their work in single-artist museums. Here are some of our favorites, all of which can be visited for less than $20 USD.

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Savannah MansionWhat could be more fun than a daytrip through Area 51? Or a road trip through Dracula’s hometown? On the eve of the season’s spookiest holiday, we’re looking back on our recent travel stories that made us go “Aah!” (or, at the very least, contained awesome photos of electric guitar-playing skeletons and UFOs). Now, grab your passport – and a flashlight – and read on! Read more

The travel gods must be angry this month – otherwise, we don’t know how to explain the recent spate of transportation breakdowns happening around the world. France, New York City, San Francisco; you name it, something’s going wrong. As a result, we feel like crawling under a rock and hiding until the madness has passed. But for many of you, not traveling is simply not an option – and anyway, that’s just part of the fun of traveling, right?

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Sure, you have your pick of any number of great hotels in France, but why not try something a little different on your next visit? These ten unique accommodations are not only memorable, but very affordable, too.

A 15th-Century Castle

France, Castle, Chateau

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Red Star Line Museum, Antwerp, BelgiumBetween 1873 and 1935 the Red Star Line shipping company transported more than two million European migrants from Antwerp, Belgium to new lives in the “New World” of the United States and Canada. The shipping line’s former warehouses, which stood empty and decaying (and slated to be turned into apartments) since the line ceased operations, will reopen as a museum on September 28th.  Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, the architectural firm behind the renovation and preservation of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and Grand Central Terminal, were responsible for the warehouses’ restoration.

The museum will likely draw many American visitors who will be able to research their ancestry and see the very place, in a warehouse at the port of Antwerp, where their ancestors embarked on these life-changing journeys. Also of interest will be the stories of the famous passengers who left Europe on the Red Star Line, such as Irving Berlin, whose family loaned his transposing piano to the museum, and Albert Einstein who, as he fled Nazi persecution, wrote a letter on Red Star Line stationery announcing his resignation from the Prussian Academy of Sciences — also on loan to the museum.

The museum’s slogan is “People on the Move,” drawing attention to the fact that “migration is a universal phenomenon” and links the experience of the Red Star Line’s passengers with that of contemporary migrants. Interactive exhibits will attempt to simulate the experience of immigration, including a visit to, first, a Warsaw travel agency and finally an intake center in New York City or Philadelphia.

Here are some other migration museums around the world where you can trace your heritage…

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Tourism Campaigns to LoveWhen was the last time you were inspired to visit a destination based on a commercial you saw on TV, or a poster ad in the subway? Savvy tourism marketing offices are on a never-ending crusade to bring new visitors to their country; and with a well-placed, visually striking, simply-worded ad, they often manage to achieve their goal. But what is the key to a successful tourism campaign? Well, if you follow the lead of these five winning campaigns, the answer is: cute animals, drag queens, and a great sense of humor. Read more

Ways to Save Time at The LouvreMillions of tourists flock to The City of Lights each year, almost all of them at least considering a visit to the Louvre – and with good reason. It’s one of the world’s largest museums, and it houses paintings and statues that have been famous for centuries. As always, a Paris trip requires serious planning; here are a few ways to maximize your time at the museum, avoid stress-inducing long lines, and beat the crowds once and for all. Read more

400th Birthday of Le Notre EventsFor travelers to France this year, there’s a big birthday bash you won’t want to miss. 2013 marks the 400th anniversary of André Le Nôtre, the father of the jardin à la français (the French formal garden), and the Île-de-France region is honoring the man who left a profound mark on French cultural heritage. This rock star of the garden world (if such a thing exists) experimented with landscape design on a grand scale; the Louis XIV’s royal playgrounds became Le Notre’s blank canvases. Wildly ambitious, Le Nôtre leveled landscapes to open up endless perspectives, diverted rivers, and created incredible fountains – complete with powerful jets – that continue to mesmerize visitors today. Here’s a round-up of celebratory events, many of which make for fabulous day trips from the French capital. Read more

Finnair Flight DealWe’re really excited about this incredible Finnair sale to popular destinations all across Europe. Jet to Dublin, London, Helsinki, and beyond with these amazing round-trip rates. The one catch? You’ve got to leave from New York’s JFK Airport. The travel window is huge (now through May 31, 2014) and you must book by July 31 and stay for a Saturday night, so hurry up and check out some of our favorite rates below! Read more

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