Shermanstravel Blog


Best Pedestrian-Only Areas in CitiesAcross the globe, one trend is uniting many great cities: a push to develop pedestrian-only spaces in city centers. These street reclamations are taking place everywhere from Paris to New York, where scenic zones that used to be flooded with cars are now home to park benches, art installations, and safe areas for families to soak it all in. Here are some of our top picks for pedestrian-only areas in big cities worth checking out on your next trip. Read more

Madeira Lava PoolsIs the summer heat getting to you yet? There’s relief to be found at one of these public pools in Europe. Whether it’s panoramic views of the Mediterranean, or a 295-foot-high bungee jump you’re after, these 10 municipal water parks are guaranteed to add a little excitement to your summer getaway.

1. Lava Pools, Madeira, Portugal

Naturally-occurring volcanic rock has formed a series of tiny, stunningly beautiful pools on the northwestern coast of Madeira in Portugal. These ocean-filled ‘lava pools’ are the main attraction in the village of Porto Moniz, located about an hour north of Madeira’s capital, Funchal. Despite the wild geography, the area around the pools contains tourist-friendly amenities like changing rooms, lockers, showers, a restaurant, and a team of lifeguards. Entrance fee: $2.60. Read more

Hawaiian Airlines StopoverLike anyone else, we love the idea of a free trip. And that’s just what major airlines are offering when they advertise a “free” stopover in one of their home cities — essentially a bonus side trip to another city while en route to your final destination.

Not to be confused with a layover (a few hours in the airport while waiting for your connecting flight), a stopover is any stay longer than 24 hours in which travelers leave the airport and go explore the surrounding city. The length of a stopover is entirely up to the traveler, and since there is often no extra cost added to the original ticket, the stopover is considered free. (In airline speak, this is known as a “dual destination vacation.”)

But how exactly does one go about booking a stopover? And is it a better deal in the long run?

First off, it is important to understand why certain airlines provide free stopovers. In almost every case, these are major international carriers based in major hubs (Emirates/Dubai; Singapore Airlines/Singapore; Japan Airlines/Tokyo; etc.) that want to lure more tourists to their destination. Enticing travelers with a “free” stopover leads to hotel bookings, restaurant meals, and other tourism dollars that otherwise wouldn’t have been spent.

To book a stopover, select “multi-destination” or “multi-city” on the airline’s website and plug in the specific dates for your desired stopover. As long as your stopover is in the airline’s home city, chances are it will cost the same price as a ticket without a stopover.

For example, if I’m looking up flights from New York to Budapest in October, Kayak tells me that Aeroflot offers the cheapest route for $808, with a 3.5 hour layover in Moscow. If I then go to Aeroflot’s website and type in a multi-destination trip that includes two days of sightseeing in Moscow, the flight is the exact same price: $808.

Here are some more examples:  Read more

After-Hours Museum PartiesA visit to the museum needn’t be a serious, subdued affair – despite whatever you were told on the field trips of your school days. Many museums are catching on to the trend of keeping doors open after hours so that guests can combine a love of art and culture with good food, drinks, music and dancing. Here are a few of the best.

Warm Up at MOMA PS1, Long Island City, New York

This experimental summertime dance party is one of New York’s hottest tickets and runs on Saturdays from late afternoon through the evening. The museum’s courtyard is taken over by an installation created by the winner of their Young Architects Program while a stellar lineup of international DJs plays to the crowd. You can also expect food, drink and al fresco dancing come rain or shine. Read more

French Towns You Should SeeYou’ve strolled Paris’s cobblestone streets; soaked up the sun (and imbibed your fair share of rosé) in Provence, but France – the world’s most visited destination, welcoming more than 79.5 million international travelers in 2011 – isn’t limited to just these popular destinations. As a resident of Paris, I’ve been lucky to explore hidden corners of the hexagon. I’ve found an incredible diversity of landscapes, culture, and even cuisine. Here are four of my favorite off-the-path places.

Cap d’Ail: Cannes and Saint Tropez get most of the action on the Côte d’Azur with sun-worshipers crowding the beaches during the day, and trading couture swimsuits for designer threads to hit the nightclubs by night. But if you travel east along the French Riviera, you’ll find a series of villages that have retained an air of authenticity because they’re not on the main highway heading to Italy. Abutting Monaco, Cap d’Ail is one of these treasures. It’s still glam (there’s a Philippe Starck-designed restaurant on the water) – but it’s not overrun. Read more

Accor Hotels Super SaleThis summer, take the international vacation you’ve always dreamed of with Accor Hotels’ Super Sale. Enjoy a romantic vacation to Paris, explore the sights of Hong Kong, soak up the arts and culture of Sydney, and many more international destinations. With this sale, you’ll save up to 50 percent on seasonal rates at the same hotels. Valid for stays from July 6 through September 1, select properties include: Read more

Hotel Le Bristol GardenThe City of Light is rich with haute hotels. The grandest of dames line the posh streets of Paris’ 1st and 8th arrondissements, where affordable room rates are as rare as the 130 euro entrecôte steak served at dinner.

This summer, travelers with Veuve Clicquot tastes but PBR budgets can still sample the high life at three of the city’s ritziest digs. Luxury icons Le Bristol, Mandarin Oriental, and Raffles have debuted swank summer gardens currently open to the public. From Michelin-starred snacks to Dom Pérignon by the glass, these new spots provide the perfect taste of luxe Parisian hospitality – for considerably less than your average overnight. Read more

Paris Restaurants for LessWhoever told you that dining in Paris is expensive…pretty much told you the truth. It’s exceedingly difficult as a traveler to find affordable dinner spots in Paris. Fortunately, I can let you in on a little secret: Lunch is where it’s at.

If you want to gorge yourself on all of Paris’s prizes (bread, amazing meats, cheese, and wine) for a fraction of the price, do so during the lunch hour. Most Parisian restaurants serve a prix fixe menu during the day, so diners can sop up the same quality of food for far less. Here are two recommendations that will give you both a taste of quality French food and a glimpse into how the locals live: Read more

Marseille City GuideAs a vibrant port town on the Mediterranean, Marseille has always been gritty and full of soul. But forget images of a dirty and dangerous metropolis. I’m here to tell you that Marseille cleans up real nice. Elected the European Capital of Culture in 2013, Marseille has undergone a major metamorphosis with new landmark buildings like MuCem, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations, designed by bad-boy French architect Rudy Ricciotti. The Old Port, where fish-mongers still sell their catch, has a polished new look by Sir Norman Foster, who erected a giant sun-shade called Ombrière that reflects port life like a mirror.

With the largest community of contemporary artists outside Paris, Marseille is embracing its role as one of the hottest destinations of 2013. Europe’s capital of cool is throwing a year-long party with art exhibits, dance performances, and music festivals celebrating Marseille’s melting-pot diversity. No matter when you arrive this year, there is guaranteed to be something going on in Marseille. Check out their website for the full calendar of unforgettable events. ‎To get you started, I’ve picked out a few of the best places and things to do! Read more

Spanish FlamencoIt’s no secret that there are countless unknown holidays that are celebrated around the world (Talk Like a Pirate Day, Margarita Day…you get the idea), but International Dance Day should be one that is on your radar every year. Founded over 30 years ago, the day’s message is one that transcends all barriers, “The intention of International Dance Day is to celebrate dance, to revel in the universality of this art form, to cross all political, cultural, and ethnic barriers and bring people together with a common language – Dance.” To celebrate in our own way we’re bringing you four cities to visit to experience this international language. Read more

National Fragrance DayHappy National Fragrance Day! Since many perfumes draw inspiration from places around the world, we thought there was no better way to celebrate than finding fragrances that best evoked their respective locations. Want to smell like a spring day? Maybe you’re more interested in evoking the romance of Paris at night? Either way, we’ve put together a list of fragrances that pay tribute to some of our favorite places in the world.

Read more

Rather than trying to escape the chilly weather this season, why not embrace it? Even in high season, many ski resorts offer lodging deals now, especially for travel on weekdays or toward the end of the season (late March and early April). Winter is also the cheapest time to travel to many cooler-weather metropolitan cities, both in the U.S. and abroad, so, if you can brave the lower temperatures, you’ll also enjoy reduced airfare and hotel rates.

Ski on fresh powder out West at major Colorado ski resorts like Breckenridge and Keystone, where individual condos through ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals start from just $119 per night. Most of Fairmont Hotels‘ 4-star properties throughout Canada offer rooms for 20 percent off this season, including the Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta, which sits at the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Not only can you ski at the nearby Marmot Basin, you can also enjoy ice skating, tobogganing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding. Read more

polite campaign RATPPublic transit is a cesspool of bad behavior. A cacophony of headphone music, overheard conversations, and bodily odors that invade our senses. Recently, RATP, Paris’ public transportation company, launched a courtesy campaign to end everyday rudeness in their metro. Images of cartoon donkeys, warthogs, chicken, frogs and even a sloth – each with their own quirky message highlighting mass transit nuisances like loud-talkers, line stallers, litterers, and door holders.

“It’s a cute campaign,” says Karen Fawcett, a 24-year Paris transplant and president of Bonjour Paris, an online guide to the French capital. “Do I think it will change people’s behavior? No.” The RATP conducted a poll to illustrate the need for such a campaign. According to the RATP survey results here are the habits that bothered Parisian commuters the most: Read more

pickpocket thief robberyThe cream color conjured up memories of the 1980s. It looked like the brassieres that my grandmother wore when I was a kid (unfortunately, I remember seeing them hanging in the bathroom). It fit very snuggly around my torso. When I finally unhooked the clasp, I noticed that I had indentations in my skin from the elastic band and sweat had collected where the belt made the most intimate contact with my body. I’d spent a day in Quito, Ecuador wearing a money belt and felt like I should have complemented it with a pair of control top pantyhose.

Money belts have been around for decades, and travelers have relied on them to thwart pickpockets all around the world. Are these people – and in Quito, I was one of them – being smart or paranoid?  Petty crime happens almost everywhere. Certain cities, such as Rome, Paris, and Buenos Aires, have developed reputations for being rife with pickpockets. These thieves prey on tourists, especially those who announce to the world that they’re visitors by carrying large bags, donning souvenir shirts, and taking pictures of famous landmarks. Stop paying attention for just a moment and you could find that your wallet is no longer in your pocket.

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Hotel LutetiaWe’d all love to visit Paris on a 5-star budget, stay in a luxury hotel, and have an expert staff on hand to coordinate everything from restaurant reservations to private tours of the Louvre. While that may be a bit of a rêve for most of us, you can get tips on the latest happenings (luxe and not-so-luxe) from the city’s concierges-bloggeurs.

Le Discret by Hotel Lutetia
Hotel Lutetia, in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, is a relative newcomer to the blogosphere, starting its online tip sheet last February. Le Discret (the Discreet Person) posts helpful tidbits on what to see and do during your Paris stay, as well as where to eat and shop. Top tip: the Fromagerie Barthélémy in the 7th Arrondissement, a cheese shop with over 250 types of cheese that is frequented by notable Parisians like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve.

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