Shermanstravel Blog

Paris

Louvre

We all love a good art heist, don’t we? They’ve been romanticized in films like Monuments Men, The Thomas Crown Affair, and, of course, the unforgettable, but not-so-great 2004 flick Art Theft. People have been stealing art for centuries. Some pieces have been recovered, others damaged, and many are still are hiding in an attic. Because art theft seems to always be in the news — see: Picasso thieves finally on trial; art recently stolen from Cairo Museum of Islamic Art; and a stolen painting of Elton John from an English pub — here’s where you can see world-famous art that’s been stolen (and recovered) over time.

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Flickr Steve Montgomery National Gallery London 2

As tourism destinations, many major cities across the globe — New York and Paris, Stockholm and Sydney — are certainly monumental or historical or beautiful or all of the above. What they often aren’t, however, is cheap. The good news is that if you’ve got your mind set on visiting any of these metropolises, you can often find free activities to enjoy when you’re there. We’ve built a list of museums, cultural events, and even transportation that won’t cost you a thing in 10 notoriously pricey locales.

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Reto Klar 2

For Lynne and Tim Martin, retirement wasn’t about slowing down — it was about seeing the world.

In 2011, the couple revealed to their family and friends that they were taking the unusual step of selling their California home, donating the furniture, and putting the rest of their belongings in storage so that they could travel the globe. But rather than set up shop in hotels, the Martins make themselves at home in vacation and apartment rentals through HomeAway, never staying less than a month in each destination. We sat down with Lynne to chat about how they manage this lifestyle — to get some advice for other roving renters.

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miramarriodejaneiro

As much as we appreciate hotel loyalty programs, accumulating points from just one hotel brand can feel like quite a slog, and a little uninspiring — who, besides the very frequent business traveler, wants the same brand experience each and every time they check in?

Just over a year ago, Preferred Hotel Group introduced a loyalty program, iPrefer, that honors stays at the more custom, bespoke hotels over the big box brands; it’s the world’s only loyalty program available at a global collection of truly independent hotels. Here’s how it works, and how you can join.

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The Peninsula Paris

Ready for some amazing hotel eye candy? On August 1, The Peninsula Paris will open its doors as the first European outpost for this iconic hotel brand. Located on Avenue Kléber in the 16th arrondissement, guests will be just a stone’s throw to the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysées.

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ProvinsTravelers looking to experience one of France’s medieval towns often head to Chartres or, even further afield, Orleans in the Loire Valley. But for those visiting Paris, there’s a more convenient option that’s just an hour away by train: Provins. Once a center of commerce, this is a prime choice if you’re looking for a picture of rural life and French history while still being able to get back to Paris for an evening out.  Read more

BellevilleFirst-time visitors to Paris should definitely visit the Marais for art galleries and falafel shops, and Bastille for modern art and antique records, but these areas are just too “bobo” to impress your Parisian friends. Instead, head for these lesser-known neighborhoods for a rendezvous that will show the world that you’re very chic. We’ve offered tips on a couple of places to visit in each neighborhood, but be sure to explore on your own to see what other surprises you can find.

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Flickr/Sharat Ganapati

Parisians typically flee the city for their summer holidays in August, but for travelers heading to the City of Light, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat (or bask in it). A bonus? You’ll experience smaller crowds and the sunniest of sunny days. Here’s how to do it:

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Cottage Guest Room - 620

As with other major holidays like Thanksgiving, it hasn’t been easy to find great discounts for the Fourth of July. But if you’re still on the lookout for a last-minute getaway, not all hope is lost. Here are a few ideas for savings next week:

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Absolutely Chicago SegwayA Segway tour is a great way to get an overview of a new city or region. You’ll cover more ground than you would on foot, and your guide can teach you about the local history, suggest restaurants, and refer you to other great tours in the area. Plus, Segways are just fun to ride. Here are 10 awesome Segway tours to add to your bucket list.

Chicago: Several companies operate in Chicago, but Absolutely Chicago Segway offers a few unique options in addition to the standard tour past Grant Park, the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Soldier Field. We like the Chicago Gangster tour ($65) featuring the hangouts of Al Capone and other wise guys and the Chicago Haunted Tour ($65) that glides you past haunted hotels, murder sites, and even a morgue. If you are in town during Halloween, the guides dress up as ghouls for the haunted tour.

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XL Airways Plane - In Flight - 620x400 - flickr airlines470Last fall, I began to plan a spring trip to Paris for a group of six friends in celebration of my boyfriend’s birthday. I set up daily flight alerts through airfare search sites like Kayak and AirFareWatchDog, and did manual searches every so often to keep tabs on pricing fluctuations. My goal was to score flights for $800 or less. Then, one day, I stumbled upon round-trip, direct flights to Paris from New York for less than $600 on Hipmunk.com, flying in May – prime time for a Paris getaway. Sounds amazing, right? Surely there must be a catch, and there was one. The flights were on a relatively obscure airline called XL Airways. Read more

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.

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