Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quest to See World’s Smallest Primate Draws Visitors Deep into Peru’s Amazon Rainforest With Wild Planet Adventures

Fewer than 3,000 travelers annually access one of the planet’s most bio-diverse regions in Peru’s Amazon rain forest  While getting there is half the fun, the payoffs, for starters, may include sightings of the world’s smallest primate, the pygmy marmoset and the elusive jaguar.

Wild Planet Adventures( offers 12 departures of its 13 day signature Peru Ultimate Wildlife Adventure from April 3through Dec. A shortened nine day version is also offered that shares the same departure days. The per person double rate of $4,798 for 13 days and $3,298 for nine days also includes a tour of Machu Picchu. Private departures are also available for a minimum of only 2 travelers.

Wildlife expert Josh Cohen, Director of Wild Planet Adventures, says “Our Peru trip represents one the world’s greatest wildlife destinations. The protected regions visited on this itinerary are home to up to 30 percent of the world's species; a single hectare of forest may have more than 480 species of trees alone.”

Manu National Park is the perfect destination for Wild Planet’s wildlife expertise; it is the number one park in the world for biodiversity, and one of two Amazon reserves visited on Wild Planet’s itinerary. Manu’s extreme biodiversity offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to see 200 species of mammals and 1,000 species of birds –the highest concentration on earth -- plus 13 species of primates including woolly monkeys, monk saki and the extravagantly mustachioed Emperor tamarins. Travelers also enjoy a unique pack-dinner at a wildlife camouflage blind to photograph tapirs at night.

The second reserve visited is Tambopata Biosphere Reserve, where travelers venture deep into the remote Reserved Zone – visited by less than 3,000 visitors a year – to witness the spectacle of the world's largest clay-lick where up to 1,000 vibrantly colored macaws and parrots cluster during peak activity, turning the sky into a rich tapestry.

Wild Planet is known for its exclusive wildlife activities that are designed to see rare animals, with special arrangements for silent approach and intimate habitat access. No other company offers these exclusive wildlife activities. In Manu Wild Planet mounts special excursions to see the pygmy marmosets, the world’s smallest primate, and in Tambopata travelers can enjoy the company’s exclusive sunrise Jaguar Kayak Float looking for jaguar and tapir riverside.

The wildlife portions of the trip are balanced with cultural visits to Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley, with options to visit Lake Titicaca, the Nazca Lines, and Colca canyon.

Accommodations include intimate jungle lodges where guests mingle with staff from nearby indigenous communities and who, in the case of the lodges in Tambopata Reserve, actually own the lodge. Some 170 native and ribereño (second or third generation settlers) families work and profit from the operation of these Amazon lodges, which feature wellness and holistic centers utilizing traditional Amazonian medicinal herbs, massage and aromatherapy. Guests will also meet an authentic Ese'eja Amazonian Shaman, tour his medicinal garden and learn ancient secrets used in healing.   

For more details please see Ultimate Wildlife - Amazon & Machu Picchu 13-Day andUltimate Wildlife - Amazon & Machu Picchu 9-Day.

About Wild Planet Adventures
The expert wildlife guides of Wild Planet Adventures go the extra mile to explore remote wildlife habitat and study wildlife patterns in destinations not often accessible to the general public. Thanks to the company’s comprehensive itineraries that balance diverse and complex ecosystems and habitats, guests enjoy wildlife and game viewing that is carefully aligned with animals’ seasonal, daily and nocturnal migrations.

Following a philosophy that interacting with nature has the power to transform lives, tours are conducted in Africa, Baja, Belize, Borneo, Brazil, Costa Rica, Galapagos, India, Laos, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Thailand and Zambia. Wild Planet Adventures is recognized by top publications in the travel industry for its itineraries that combine intimate encounters with wildlife and local culture.

For a more information and a complimentary catalog call toll-free 1.800.990.4376, or e-mail: To review current trips, schedules and itineraries log onto:

Follow Wild Planet Adventures:

Follow us on Twitter: @TraveloreReport

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Art Institute Of Chicago Opens Major Picasso Show, Through May 12th

Contributed by Caryn Roussau

In this Feb. 14, 2013 photo, an attendee checks out Pablo Picasso's "The Red Armchair" during a media preview for "Picasso and Chicago," a major exhibition showcasing the works of Picasso at the Art Institute of Chicago. More than 250 works will be on display at the exhibit running Feb. 20-May 12, 2013. The Art Institute was the first museum in the nation to feature Picasso's work a century ago in 1913. Today's exhibit features paintings, drawings, works on paper, ceramics and sculptures. (AP Photo/Caryn Rousseau)
 (AP) - A century after the Art Institute of Chicago became the first American museum to show work by Pablo Picasso, the institution is celebrating the Spanish artist with a major exhibition featuring his art and its relationship with the city.
"Picasso and Chicago" opens Wednesday, featuring 250 works - nearly half of the museum's own Picasso collection along with pieces from private collections and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It's the Chicago museum's first major Picasso exhibition in three decades.
"One of my hopes is that people can appreciate the art and enjoy it but then also at the same time sort of fall back in love with these works for the history that they represent," exhibit curator Stephanie D'Alessandro said.
One of Picasso's designs is a well-known city attraction, a 50-foot-tall (15-meter-tall) steel sculpture at the downtown Richard J. Daley Center. Children often play on the massive piece in summer, while visitors debate what the enigmatic artwork depicts.
But the artist and the city have a deeper relationship than simply a tourist attraction, museum president and director Douglas Druick said.
"There's a link between Chicago and Picasso in terms of temperament," Druick said. "A restlessness, a desire to improve, a desire to change, a desire never to stand still."
D'Alessandro believes Picasso's art has a boundary-breaking, revolutionary vision similar to Chicago's character and energy.
"That bold vision, that interest in the new and the modern and the technologically interesting is something that Picasso was," she said. "I think his personality was perfectly akin to that and I think that that kind of spirit really appealed to Chicagoans."
The museum became the first in the nation to feature Picasso when it decided to give space to the 1913 Armory Show, which the museum says introduced European modernism to an American audience. It was a move Druick describes as bold and daring for the time because even though the exhibit was presented in New York and Boston, it was only shown in a museum in Chicago.
"We were the only museum willing to take the risk to show the paintings and sculpture that had drawn so much criticism and ire when shown in New York," Druick said.
"Picasso and Chicago" features paintings, drawings, works on paper, ceramics and sculptures, including "Old Guitarist," ''Mother and Child" and Picasso's 1906 self-portrait. It runs chronologically from the artist's early years in Barcelona to his late years in the south of France.
The exhibit is open through May 12. It is accompanied by related exhibitions throughout the Art Institute's other galleries, including installations such as "Picasso and Cezanne," ''Picasso, Paris and African Art" and "Picasso and American Art."
Online: and

Sunday, February 24, 2013

'Time Machine' Being Built For The Philadelphia International Festival Of The Arts, A City Wide Festival From March 28th Through April 27th

Workmen begin Preparations for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts 2013, at the Kimmel Center Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, in Philadelphia. The citywide festival is scheduled to run from March 28 to April 27. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
 (AP) - An enormous "time machine" is under construction to mark the upcoming Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, a month long citywide event.
When completed it will be 100 feet long and 16 feet across, spiraling across the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
The festival, with a theme is "If You Had a Time Machine...," runs from March 28 to April 27. More than 50 arts and cultural organizations are presenting dance and theatrical performances, concerts and art exhibits.
The inaugural 2011 festival, which had a Parisian theme, attracted more than 400,000 visitors to its 135 events, and a street fair that closed the festival was attended by nearly 200,000 people.
"In addition to dozens of fun-filled activities and incredible performances by our PIFA partners, we are building Time Machine - an artful, interactive, time-travelling spiral," Anne Ewers, president and CEO of the Kimmel Center, said Tuesday. "Hundreds of thousands were in awe when they saw our 81-foot Eiffel Tower in 2011. This year, hundreds of thousands will see Time Machine."

For more details about planning your visit to Philadelphia please visit:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Jerusalem, More Than Just A Destination For History-Minded Travelers...

Jerusalem is no longer just a destination for history-minded travelers, but a bustling, modern metropolis teeming with high-end hotels, unique art galleries and museums, as well as culture and sport festivals for travelers of all tastes and interests.

Jerusalem's Israel Museum, the 
largest cultural institution in Israel, unveiled a new exhibition this week detailing the life and legacy of King Herod the Great, featuring hundreds of ancient artifacts, on display through October 5, 2013. The exhibition features never-before-seen carved stone elements from the Temple Mount and an imperial marble basin believed to be a gift from Augustus, among   
Travelers to Jerusalem can now explore the historic Old City sites with a new self-guided tour application for smartphones. The new application offers 16 different self-guided audio walking tours complete with maps, photos and written explanations of each site, including "The Jewish Quarter," "Via Dolorosa," and "Marketplaces in the Old City," among others. The app also features five handicap-accessible
Jerusalem recently unveiled the first section of its newly renovated "Train Track Park" near HaRakevet Street, featuring new walking and bicycle paths along the city's old train tracks that once led to Tel Aviv. Modeled after New York City's Highline Park, the once derelict stretch of land along the tracks from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv will connect various neighborhoods and sites in Jerusalem and will feature signs detailing the history of each location. 
Jerusalem will host the second annual International Ice Festival in the Old Jerusalem Train Station compound, February 20 - April 30, 2013. The festival will take place in a 5,000-square-foot space imported from Belgium and decorated in a special Far East décor by more than 60 artists from China. The festival's "Ice City" will boast three central areas featuring colorful ice sculptures, huge slides, mazes, rain forests, snowstorms and bridges made of ice. The festival will also include a spectacular ice skating performance with more than 30 artists, acrobats and Chinese dancers.
Athletes from Israel and around the world will arrive 
in Jerusalem for the third annual Jerusalem International Marathon on March 1, 2013. Taking place during Israel's 65th anniversary year, the race will include 26-mile, 13-mile and 6.2-mile running routes through a unique course combining historic sites, beautiful landscapes and modern attractions, including the Old City of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus and Hebrew University, Sultan's Pool, Mount Zion, American and German Colonies, the Alrov Mamilla outdoor mall and streets adjacent to the Mahane Yehuda Market. 
The second annual Sounds of the Old City Music Festival will feature live musical performances throughout the cobblestoned streets and squares in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 20-22, 2013. This year's festival will include live music and art videos in various areas of the Old City of Jerusalem, including Muristan Square, the Cardo and courtyards in the Jewish quarter, Jaffa Gate and Mamilla Boulevard, as well as musicians offering street-side performances.
Jerusalem's historic Ottoman-era train station will reopen as a major entertainment hotspot this April, 
boasting restaurants, art galleries and concert spaces. The 1.7-acre complex will include seven restaurants, four ice cream and coffee stands, an expansive art gallery, a farmers' market and a 2,000-person concert space. Much care has been taken in the preservation of the original building -- enlarged and beautified in 1898 for the visit to Jerusalem of Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II -- to retain the elegant atmosphere of rail travel, including preservation and restoration of the wooden doors, stained glass windows and carved stone.
A new wave of luxury hotels have recently opened in Jerusalem, including the Alegra boutique hotel, located in the picturesque Ein Kerem neighborhood with views of the city and Judean Mountains. The refurbished building boasts seven individually designed suites surrounded by a lush Mediterranean orchard.  In addition, the long-awaited Waldorf=Astoria Jerusalem will open in fall 2013 just a minute's walk from the Jaffa Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem, Alrov Mamilla mall and Independence Park. In addition to its 223 lavishly designed rooms, the hotel will boast a fitness suite and two full-service spas, as well as two restaurants and a chic lobby bar. 

For more information about travel to Israel please visit:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show Will Be Themed "Brilliant"; Spotlighting British Gardens, Landscapes, and London.

 The British have a word for something that’s inventive,
dazzling, extraordinary. They say it’s “Brilliant!”

The 2013 Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's  Philadelphia Flower Show, entitled “Brilliant!,” promises to be all those things and much more.

 Inspired by the majestic beauty and creative genius of Great Britain, “Brilliant!” will be
presented March 2 through 10 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Magnificent floral and garden
exhibits, special programming and new attractions will pay tribute to centuries of influential British
culture, culminating in the urbane style of 21 st -century London.

“This will be a Flower Show that celebrates Britain’s amazing landscapes and cultural icons, as
well as the city that has become the design capital of the world,” explained Drew Becher, President of
the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. “It will also lift up the British passion for gardening, which has
contributed so much to the appreciation of horticulture and its role in our lives.”

PHS has developed partnerships with Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society in preparation for
“Brilliant!” and will feature British experts and designers, including presentations by Mark Lane,
Gardens Manager at Buckingham Palace. The British-American Business Association is working with
PHS to bring specialized products from Britain to the “British Village” in the Convention Center’s
Grand Hall, which will also house a photo exhibit of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee visit to the RHS
Chelsea Flower Show.

  The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show will open a new chapter in its 184-year history by adding
an extra day to the show’s run in 2013 to provide greater opportunity for visitors to see the nation’s

premier horticultural event. For the first time, the show will open on a Saturday and will include two
full weekends.

The revised schedule will move the black-tie Preview Party to Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m. The
celebration will be held entirely on the show floor, where guests will get the first look at the just completed displays and witness the new ceremony for the Best in Show winners. (The PHS Young
Friends’ After Party swings in at 10 p.m.)

The Flower Show will introduce an exciting variety of new features in 2013.
For the first time, the public is invited to purchase Pre-Show Sneak Peek ticket packages to
visit during set-up week, Feb. 25 to 28, allowing behind-the-scenes access during construction of the
elaborate exhibits, plus refreshments in a room overlooking the show floor.
 The colorful “New Plant Showcase” will introduce recently developed varieties of flowers and
plants by internationally acclaimed growers.

 New “Make & Take” workshops will offer opportunities for visitors to design, craft, and take
home their own fashionable “fascinators” – stylish hats popularized at the Royal weddings -- or other
creative projects.

 A new attraction especially for guys will be “The Backyard,” a room devoted to outdoor living,
featuring decks and patios, grills and fire pits, new garden tools and techniques.
 All the entrants in the competitive heart of the Flower Show will be awed by the unveiling of the
“PHS Hamilton Horticourt,” a grand, redesigned structure and staging for the individual plants grown
by veteran and novice exhibitors.

The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is the nation's largest indoor flower show, which blooms
every March at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  The show features the country's premier
landscape designers and florists, who turn 10 acres of the Convention Center into a floral fantasy
world with beautiful plants and cutting-edge designs.

 In addition to the major garden displays, the Flower Show hosts world-renowned competitions
in horticulture and artistic floral arranging, hundreds of gardening presentations and demonstrations,
special events, a mammoth indoor Marketplace, and a city-wide Flower Show Week celebration
throughout the Philadelphia region.

For more details please visit:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Three Cooking Classes Introduce Cuisine and Culture of Spain’s Catalan Region On 8-Day Self-Guided Biking Tour

 An eight-day culinary immersion into the cuisine of Spain’s Catalan region is the razón de ser of a new, eight-day self-guided cycling adventure designed by Europe’s active travel leader, Pure Adventures

The trip that takes its name from Catalan cuisine called Mar i Muntanya (Sea and Mountains) begins in Girona where the bounty of sea, plains and mountains is introduced with wines from the coastal Emporda region of Catalonia. Here fresh ingredients come from terraced olive groves dating to the ancient Greeks, rice paddies near Pals, kitchen gardens, small farms and always the sea. See:

The ideal season for biking this region is from April 1-Oct 31. Trips are planned per individual request and can start any day of the week, subject to hotel availability.

The per person, double occupancy, rate from 1,589 Euros includes three cooking classes, a guided visit of the Palamos port and fish market and a cheese or olive oil tasting, seven nights deluxe lodging, daily breakfast, two gastronomic dinners with one tasting menu, four lunches, luggage transfers between hotels, local Girona-based emergency support orientation and bike set up, road books with riding route maps and cue sheets, suggestions on where to visit and more. Bike rentals, not included in rate, start at 105 Euros for a Cannondale Hybrid. Although not included in the itinerary, reservations can be made in Girona at Celler Can Roca, rated the world’s second best restaurant by Michelin in 2012.

Cycling on average 30-50 leisurely kilometers a day through a landscape laced with agriculture and an ancient past, guests lodge at exemplary hotels in Girona’s Old Town before cycling to the Gavarres Mountains for a stay in a medieval town and on to the port town of Palamos. They visit a small cheese farm, Mas Marce, famous for its traditional fresh cheese recuit, usually eaten as a dessert with honey but also in salads. The farm’s recuit is hard to get because most of the production goes to restaurants, including as yoghurt to El Celler de Can Roca. One of the cooking classes is in Palamos, a port city famous as the last bastion of traditional fishing practices.

About Pure Adventures
Pure Adventures ( emerged in 2004 from Discover France Adventures (founded in 1994 by Loren Siekman) to meet North American client requests for high-quality, self-guided cycling tours beyond just France. Pure Adventures leverages and utilizes local expertise for route development, sites to see, people to meet, where to eat, shop and experience life as a local would. Pure Adventures award-winning tours are competitively priced and meticulously planned with substantial behind-the-scene support creating a unique combination that makes a Europe adventure more easily accessible to today’s active traveler.

The company adheres to eco-friendly living and low-to-no-impact travel. Vehicles and other energy consuming resources are not used to support self-guided tours. Electronic communications, cloud storage systems and document sharing help diminish paper printing and storage. Through annual donations the company supports sustainable travel and carbon offsets. Contact them by phone: 800-960-2221 or 480-905-1235, Email:, or visit online:
# # #

Monday, February 18, 2013

Marc Chagall Exhibit Showcases Lesser-Known Works, Now At The Dallas Museum Of Art Through May 26th As The Only U.S. Venue

Contributed by Jamie Stengle/AP

In this photo taken Feb. 13, 2013 Museum curator Olivier Meslay talks about a 1963 Marc Chagall piece titled "Final study for the ceiling of the opera Garnier," included in the "Chagall: Beyond Color," exhibit during a preview at the Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas. This will be the only U.S. venue to host the exhibit that opens to the public on Sunday. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
 An exhibit opening this weekend in Dallas showcases some of artist Marc Chagall's best-known paintings alongside his rarely seen, lesser-known works including sculptures, ceramics and ballet costumes.
"Chagall: Beyond Color" opens Sunday at the Dallas Museum of Art, the only U.S. venue for the exhibit of more than 140 works by the artist best-known for his paintings with vibrant colors and imagery that includes people and animals floating through space. The exhibit, organizers say, is a way to revisit Chagall's entire career.
"Chagall is so well-known for the painting, the color, that suddenly you realize that he was exploring all the different media," said Olivier Meslay, the Dallas museum's associate director of curatorial affairs and curator of the exhibit.
"He's a very playful artist. He's so inventive. When you are in front of each piece, there is sort of joy coming out," Meslay said, adding: "Even the goats are smiling."
The exhibit, arranged in chronological order, shows visitors that while Chagall continued to paint with oil on canvas throughout his career, he also worked on theatrical costumes, ceramics, sculpture and even collage. Some of his best-known paintings are shown alongside the other works, showing that similar themes can be found in all of the art forms.
"There is sort of incredible ability from Chagall to play with the same topics but to be endlessly creative," Meslay said.
For instance, a bronze often called "The Fantastic Beast" from 1952 depicting a pair of lovers who appear on the side of an animal is shown alongside a painting from 1953 called "The Bastille," which with striking blues and reds also depicts lovers embracing and an animal.
"It's very interesting to see that there are correspondences everywhere and you could look at objects as different as a collage and marble and they are working so well together. And it explains far more than we thought, what Chagall's work is," Meslay said.
Among the displays are ballet costumes painted on by Chagall that have not been seen in the U.S. for more than 70 years. The costumes Chagall designed in 1942 for a production of "Aleko" choreographed by Leonide Massine and set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky are displayed along with sketches he made for the production and a film of one of the performances. The ballet premiered in Mexico City in September 1942, and it was performed a month later in New York City.
Chagall, born in 1887 in the then-Russian city of Vitebsk, which is now in Belarus, started his artistic training with Russian painter and costumer Leon Bakst in St. Petersburg. In the following years he moved to Paris and then back to Russia before returning again to Paris. As World War II broke out across Europe, he went to New York City. He then returned to France in the late 1940s, dying in 1985 at the age of 97 at his home in the French Riviera.
Also included in the exhibit are sketches he made in the early 1960s as he prepared to paint the ceiling of Paris Opera House and sketches he did for the costumes and set designs for Igor Stravinky's ballet "The Firebird."
Chagall's granddaughter, Bella Meyer, a floral designer in New York City, said that by showing his work in different areas, the exhibit displays her grandfather's desire to learn how to "conquer the material."
"His imagination was immense," she said. "His ability to take in whatever surrounded him was so strong. You sort of can follow his life path through his work because of the energy which comes out of it."
The exhibit runs through May 26. The Dallas Museum of Art co-organized with the Musee Piscine in Roubaix, France, where the exhibit ran through last month.
The Dallas Museum of Art,

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mummies, Monet & Napoleon’s Toothbrush: Discover London’s Top Museums

  • Contributed By Clifton Wilkinson
  • Lonely Planet Author
Face sculpture outside British Museum.

London is home to the world’s greatest collection of museums and galleries, from blockbusters to tucked-away treasures. The result of private and royal collections, and years of imperial acquisitions and plunder, these museums are one of the main attractions of the British capital for locals and visitors alike. Here we shine a spotlight on our favourites, and introduce some of their lesser-known, yet equally intriguing, cousins.

British Museum

The mother (or should that be ‘mummy’?) of all museums, the British Museum (or BM, as it’s known by staff and regulars) is the world’s oldest national public museum and London’s top free attraction. Since opening in 1759 to ‘all curious and studious persons’, people have come to view the unrivalled collections of antiquities from EgyptGreeceRome and Britain, among others.
With over six million objects it’s impossible to see everything on one visit so either pick one or two civilisations and spend an hour or two exploring their cultures in depth, or head straight for the highlights – the Rosetta Stone (the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics), the Parthenon Sculptures (controversially brought to Britain from Athens in the early 19th century), the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial hoard and, of course, the mummies. From March to September 2013, the exhibition Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum will showcase objects from the city famously buried by a volcano in 79AD.
If you like the British Museum check out Sir John Soane’s Museum in Holborn. London’s worst-kept secret, this eclectic collection of ancient artefacts and paintings is housed in the eponymous architect’s stylish 18th-century townhouse.
The British Museum. Image supplied by

National Gallery

For a who’s who of Western art, from Michelangelo to Van Gogh, head to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Sq. If it’s a chronological run-through you’re after then start in the Sainsbury Wing with the likes of Botticelli and his racy (for its day) Venus and Mars, then amble past Rubens, Velazquez and Turner until you reach one of the most popular galleries, the Impressionists, with masterpieces by Monet and his pals. Or plot and print out a personalised itinerary using the ArtStart multimedia system – ask at one of the information desks for details. The main exhibition this year, Barocci: Brilliance and Grace, is showing from February to May and will bring this relatively unknown 16th-century Italian painter’s work to the attention of the wider public.
If you like the National Gallery stroll along the Strand to the Courtauld Gallery, a small but exquisite collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings within Somerset House.

Science Museum

You don’t have to be a geek to enjoy London’s Science Museum – but if you are, you’ll be in heaven. Seven floors cover humanity’s scientific achievements, from the 1829 Rocket train that started the railway revolution, to a display on how astronauts go to the toilet in space. It’s a big and busy place so if time is short, or you just want to tick off the biggest wows in the collection, focus on the Making the Modern World gallery with its show-stealing selection of objects that have changed history over the last 250 years. A special exhibition on Alan Turing, computer pioneer and WWII codebreaker (he was part of the team that cracked the Enigma Code), is on until July 2013.
If you like the Science Museum especially its medical section, then the Wellcome Collection in Bloomsbury has fascinating displays on the history of medicine. Look out for Napoleon’s toothbrush and the story of the human genome.
Interior of the Science Museum. Image supplied by

National Maritime Museum

The best way to get to Greenwich’s National Maritime Museum and learn about when Britannia ruled the waves is, appropriately, by boat down the Thames from central London. With an hour or two you’ll be able to uncover highlights such as the bloodstained (and surprisingly small) coat that Admiral Nelson was wearing when he died at the Battle of Trafalgar, exhibits on the British love affair with the seaside, and a compelling display examining Britain’s role in the slave trade. Photography from the Mountains to the Sea, an exhibition of photographs by Ansel Adams, is on until the end of April 2013 and focusses on works by the famous American photographer that have a particular connection with water.
If you like the Maritime Museum then visit the Cutty Sark clipper, just a five-minute stroll away. Beautifully restored in 2012, its exhibits cover the ship’s history, especially its time as the fastest boat plying the tea trade between China and Britain.

Tower of London

Part medieval fortress, part museum, the Tower of London encapsulates over 900 years of London’s history. Famous for being a prison, its lesser-known roles include being a former royal mint, military garrison and even the capital’s first zoo (in the Middle Ages monarchs liked sending each other exotic animals). The execution site may be gore-free (just a small plaque listing seven names – most people were executed on nearby Tower Hill), but join a Beefeater tour (included in the admission price) and have the place brought to life with an hour of gruesome and historical tales. Then get your sparkle fix at the Crown Jewels – the queue is inevitable, but they’re worth the wait.
If you like the Tower and want more on London’s history, check out the Museum of London. Perched above a section of original Roman wall near St Paul’s Cathedral, the museum has enough prehistoric axe heads, medieval church paintings, plague-related objects and reconstructed Victorian streets to keep the most enthusiastic historian happy.

After an amazing year, the magic continues in London. Come celebrate everything the capital has to offer and see for yourself just how special London is: 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Caribbean Islands Selling Passports For Investments

Hadi Mezawi has never set foot on the Caribbean island of Dominica, has never seen its rainforests or black-sand beaches. But he’s one of its newest citizens.
Without leaving his home in the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinian man recently received a brand new Dominican passport after sending a roughly $100,000 contribution to the tropical nation half a world away.
“At the start I was a little worried that it might be a fraud, but the process turned out to be quite smooth and simple. Now, I am a Dominican,” said Mezawi, who like many Palestinians had not been recognized as a citizen of any country. That passport will help with travel for his job with a Brazilian food processing company, he said by telephone from Dubai.
Turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has led to a surge of interest in programs that let investors buy citizenship or residence in countries around the world in return for a healthy contribution or investment. Most are seeking a second passport for hassle-free travel or a ready escape hatch in case things get worse at home.
Nowhere is it easier or faster than in the minuscule Eastern Caribbean nations of Dominica and St. Kitts & Nevis.
It’s such a booming business that a Dubai-based company is building a 4-square-mile (10-square-kilometer) community in St. Kitts where investors can buy property and citizenship at the same time. In its first phase, some 375 shareholders will get citizenship by investing $400,000 each in the project, which is expected to include a 200-room hotel and a mega-yacht marina. Others will get passports for buying one of 50 condominium units.
“The more they fight over there, the more political problems there are, the more applications we get here,” said Victor Doche, managing director of another company that offers four condominium projects where approved buyers are granted citizenship in St. Kitts, which is less than twice the size of Washington D.C.
It’s impossible to say how many people have used the cash for citizenship programs. Officials in both countries declined to respond when asked by The Associated Press.
“Why do I have to speak on that?” said Levi Peter, Dominica’s attorney general. “I have no explanation to give to AP.”
But Bernard Wiltshire, a former Dominica attorney general, said there were already around 3,000 economic citizens when he left government about a decade ago. The country now has roughly 73,000 inhabitants in all.
“Investor visa” or citizenship programs are offered by many nations, including the United States, Canada, Britain and Austria. But the Caribbean countries offer a fast path to citizenship at a very low cost. The whole process, including background checks, can take as little as 90 days in St. Kitts. And there’s no need to ever live on the islands, or even visit.
A foreigner can qualify for citizenship in St. Kitts with a $250,000 donation to a fund for retired sugar workers or with a minimum real estate investment of $400,000. The minimum contribution in Dominica is $100,000.
By contrast, a U.S. program allows visas for a $1 million investment in a U.S. business employing at least 10 people or $500,000 in designated economically depressed areas. The investor can apply for permanent residence in two years, and seek citizenship after five more. Demand in Canada is so great that the country stopped accepting new applications in July.
A Dominica passport holder can travel without a visa to more than 50 countries, while a St. Kitts passport provides visa-free travel to 139 countries, including all of the European Union. That’s a big deal to people in countries from which travel is restricted or whose passports are treated with suspicion.
Critics say the programs undermine the integrity of national passports and have security risks. While there are no known cases of terrorists using the programs, experts say that’s a possibility with many visa arrangements anywhere.
“No level of scrutiny can completely guarantee that terrorists will not make use of these programs, just as background checks cannot eliminate the risk that dangerous individuals will not enter the country (the U.S.) on tourist visas, as students or as refugees,” said Madeleine Sumption, a senior policy analyst at the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute.
Canada imposed visa requirements on Dominica citizens a decade ago after complaining that suspected criminals had used island passports. And in 2010, Britain said it was considering visa requirements for Dominicans, prompting the island to review its 20-year-old economic citizenship program. Dominica never publicly released the results of its review and Britain took no action.
St. Kitts closed its program to Iranians in December 2011, shortly after Iranian students stormed the British Embassy in Tehran. Iranians had formerly been a major source of applicants, according to Doche.
Some locals worry the programs could get out of hand if conditions worsen abroad.
“There could be a flood of people with our passports relocating here,” said Dominica’s Wiltshire. “What are we going to do then? Really, this program must be halted. It’s dangerous to us and dangerous for our neighbors.”
St. Kitts opposition leader Mark Brantley said the citizenship program was bringing much needed revenue to the debt-swamped islands, but he said there should be better oversight and public accounting. “We do not see that sufficient controls are currently in place to ensure that bad people, for want of better language, do not get access to our citizenship,” he said.
It’s not just economic refugees who are interested in the programs.
American Neil Strauss wrote of securing citizenship in St. Kitts in his 2009 book on survivalist preparedness, “Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life.”
“The same way we have a backup drive for our computer in case the hard drive explodes, I just felt like I wanted a backup citizenship in case the same thing happened to my country,” Strauss said during a phone call from his home in Los Angeles. Like most economic citizens of St. Kitts, he rents out his island property.
Some other struggling Eastern Caribbean islands are looking at adopting the St. Kitts model.
Antigua & Barbuda is launching its own citizenship program to drum up money. And leaders of both main parties on the poor island of Grenada have hinted they may revive a program that was suspended after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, due to fears that local passports could be mistakenly sold to terrorists,
In Dubai, Mezawi said he keeps meeting fellow Dominica passport holders, mostly people of Iranian and Palestinian background.
“After the Arab Spring, it’s become more difficult for us to really travel around the world, even in the Arab region,” he said. “But being a citizen of Dominica, it is much, much better for us.”

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New MagicBand Changes Disney Park Entry, More

PHOTO: A new MagicBand is the key to unlocking the magic at Disney Parks. With one touch of their MagicBand, Guests can enter the parks and their resort room, access their Disney FastPass+ selections and PhotoPass and pay for merchandise and dining.

Months of speculation surrounding a wrist band replacing paper tickets at Disney parks is over. An official announcement confirming the band was made Monday on the Disney Parks blog.
A Disney spokesperson told ABC News the bands would be rolling out this year over the next several months.
Worn on the wrist, the "MagicBand" will serve as a guest's room key, theme park ticket, access to FastPass+ selections, PhotoPass card and optional payment account all rolled into one.
"At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we continually push the boundaries of creativity and innovation to deliver the best possible experience for our guests," Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts wrote. "We're always looking for ways to take what we do and do it even better. Over the past few years, we've devoted considerable time and resources to create a more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience for each and every guest who spends time with us."
The introduction of the band is part of a larger effort named MyMagic+ and includes a new My Disney Experience website and mobile app.
Guests can plan dining and reserve times for their favorite attractions, shows and more in advance through an enhanced FastPass system called FastPass+. Once they arrive, they can use their smart phones to change their plans.
Of course, the gathering of data on guests makes sense from a business standpoint for Disney. The more it knows about guest preferences, the more it can tailor the guest experience. But some skeptics worry about just how much information might be stored on those MagicBands.
"Ensuring the security of our guest's information is obviously very important to us, and no one is more focused on this than we are," a Disney spokesperson told ABC News. "Everything is opt in and guests will have the opportunity to choose what information they share with us. Nothing is more important to us than protecting that information. Guests should also know that the band does not store personal information."
The FCC filing on the MagicBand reads: "The radio of the device, Model MB-R1G1, is a wrist worn arm band that transmits a 2.4 GHz signal to an indoor wireless infrastructure. The PCB assembly is potted in plastic and completely overmolded with thermal plastic polyurethane. The band has no on off switch and is powered with a nonreplaceable coin cell."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mexico: Cancun-Riviera Maya Host Wine And Food Festival From March 14 To 17th

Foodies can taste their way through Mexico's Riviera Maya from March 14 to 17 when 30 culinary events take place as part of the annual Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival.
The festival, set at several Riviera Maya resorts, will feature taste-offs, chef competitions and tastings of mescal and wine. 
Why hold the event in Riviera Maya, a slice of the Mexican coastline that stretches south from Cancun along the Caribbean? 
“The region is becoming a mecca for culinary enthusiasts,” said Darío Flota, director of the region’s marketing office. Local chefs have developed a fusion of traditional and contemporary, indigenous and international cuisine, he said.
“The festival is a great way for us to showcase Riviera Maya’s diverse dining scene as well as the immense talent and anthology of international tastes that come together in the region,” Flota said.
Among the events:
Area hotels and resorts are offering specials connected to the event. Among them are Hotel Grand VelasEl Dorado Royaleand Paradissus Playa del Carmen.
Proceeds from the festival will benefit Ciudad de la Alegria, a nonprofit dedicated to disadvantaged children, victims of violence and elder care.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Airline Fees: Dozens Of New Charges Added For 2013

Contributed by the Huffington Post.

Airlines have added more than 50 new fees over the past year, new data from the website TravelNerd show.
The finance-oriented site found dozens of "direct fee increases" on already existing charges, as well as 28 new baggage-related fees levied in January 2013 compared to January 2012.
The fees add an estimated $36.1 billion annually to airlines' bottom lines, according to TravelNerd.
Increasing fees for the same service are a big part of the uptick. For example, Spirit Airlines' premium seat fee, which was $25-$75, is now as much as $199 depending on the flight.
The only good news, TravelNerd reports, is that the increases are generally modest. "The majority of fee increases were within $5-$10," the site writes.
While some fees are nearly unavoidable, travelers can prepare for them. A newly released Airfarewatchdog super-survey of U.S. airlines' charges is a good place to start. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Kissimmee Florida Invites You To Enter Their Decade Of Memories Contest

Our friends at Kissimmee Florida invite you to enter their Decade of Memories Contest with a grand prize of
10 years of vacations for the winner and five guests inclusive of air, car rental, and 6 nights accommodations; along with $25,000 in cash. To enter submit an essay describing "What would you do with a decade of
Kissimmee vacations" by midnight February 28th. For details about the contest please visit  and for information about traveling to the region visit