Shermanstravel Blog

Paris

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 reviews

Last 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.

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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