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Check Out the 'Eiffel Tower of the East' Before Russia Swings a Wrecking Ball

April 17, 2014 at 9:14 AM | by | Comments (0)

If you haven’t yet heard of the Shukhov Tower, now’s a good time to check it out (at least on Wikipedia), as it might not be around much longer. The funky landmark is a radio tower over in Russia, and some have even called it the country’s version of the Eiffel Tower. We wouldn’t go that far, but there are preservationists eager to keep it hanging around for future generations.

The thing rises 525-feet into the Soviet sky, but structurally it's a little shaky and needs to come down sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the aforementioned preservationists cite the symbolism of the tower as it relates to Russia’s history and past advances in telecommunications.

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Should Airlines Just Do Away with the Pre-Flight Safety Spiel?

April 17, 2014 at 8:28 AM | by | Comments (6)

By now, you’ve probably seen the footage of the Southwest flight attendant who made the mother of all mockeries of the safety briefing. Lots of flight attendants have put on such a routine in the past, yet few have been so transparent about their second-hand intentions. Most, we assume, are just trying to make a mundane, mandatory speech colorful and interesting. But according to this latest video’s description on YouTube, this flight attendant had a bigger vision: She wants to make an appearance on Ellen.

This writer is not even going to get into that last part, as it would only help her cause. I will tackle the bigger picture here, the well-known fact that even flight attendants aren’t afraid to advertise that the safety video is nothing more than a legal burden, that they think it’s an absolute joke, so much so that they’re consistently willing to go out on a limb to make fun of it, to joke around as if airplanes never have accidents, to refer to the lifejacket as a "teeny weeny yellow Southwest bikini."

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Wanna Help Haul a Flock of Flamingos?

Where: Mexico
April 16, 2014 at 3:09 PM | by | Comments (0)

The Occidental Grand Xcaret, located next to the eco-archeological Xcaret Park in Riviera Maya, Mexico, is giving guests two unique ways to get a hands-on conservation experience.

Option 1: an opportunity to get up and close and personal with the hotel's Flamingo Flock as a trainer. Every day hotel guests can help park trainers carry the flamingos one-by-one into a public area during their "walk around times" in the morning and afternoon. Talk about getting "hands on" with the local wildlife!

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Three New Travel Apps to Add to Your Homescreen

April 16, 2014 at 1:25 PM | by | Comments (0)

Every so often, smartphones need a good app update and refresh, and this goes doubly so for travelers who rely on discovery and informational help from apps while in a new city. Here, three apps we've recently added to our own homescreen for travel purposes:

AroundMe

Recommended by our own Max Graham, the app is simple, straightforward, and otherwise everything you need when you've got limited time and patience. We'd like to think of it as a stripped-down Foursquare but, in Max's words, AroundMe has "no recommendations, just where stuff is."

Click a category, pick a location, and be immediately shown that location on a map including address, distance from you, and relevant contact information. Most useful in a pinch would probably be the ATM, Parking, and Gas Stations categories, although you'll likely need everything in AroundMe at some point or another during your travels.

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What Steps to Climb for the Best Aerial Views of Prague

April 16, 2014 at 12:35 PM | by | Comments (0)

Prague is one of the most well-preserved cities in Europe, untouched by the wars and well-maintained. Some might say a little too maintained; a lot of the older buildings have an unexpected shine to them, but that's all a matter of opinion. As far as photography goes, our camera didn't seem to mind the blue skies beyond the pastel colors.

On a nice day, Prague shines from the clock tower at Old Town Square all the way across the Charles Bridge to Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. The best place to take it all in is at the top of said clock tower, which for $5 (100 CZK) gives you a bird's eye view of the square and out over the town.

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Where to Go with Your Tax Refund: Thailand, for Beach Days and Night Markets

Where: Thailand
April 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM | by | Comments (0)

Tax day is here, and you're probably excited...but not because you love sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip—a Tax Refund Vacation.

Now that your bank account might be a little more padded, there's nothing better than to splurge on an exotic trip more than half-way around the world to soak up the sun, sip fruity cocktails, and experience a new culture. One destination that ticks all these boxes and more is Thailand. With its beach resorts, rural charm, and mega-city metropolis style, you can definitely say that there's something for everyone.

Exactly 12 hours ahead of the central time zone, this Southeast Asian country is well and truly half-way around the world. While the distance can be a plus for some, the time it might take to travel to Bangkok from the US may be a deterrent for others, but we can only tell you it's well worth the haul. Thai Airways, United, Cathay Pacific and plenty other Asian airlines do have routes with only one layover, so it's really not all that bad.

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Strip Off the Winter Coat for a Frolick in These California Flower Fields

April 16, 2014 at 10:54 AM | by | Comments (0)

Just the other day we shared a great place to tiptoe through the tulips, and now we’ve got another recommendation on where to check out all the glory that is the spring season. Pack your favorite allergy medicine—we’d recommend at least a Claritin or two—and head to Carlsbad, California, as The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch are now in the business of blooming until May 11.

Not too far north from San Diego sit over fifty acres of blossoms, as Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers take over the rolling hills and fields. The Fields are open to the public each and every day of the week and, judging from the picture, it’s well worth the cost of admission. It’ll set you back $12 for the adults in your group, and the kids will be just $6—with those under two scooting in for free. If you like what you see, opt for a season pass that'll set you back $25.

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This is Our Vote for South Jersey's Best Beach Town

April 16, 2014 at 9:52 AM | by | Comments (0)

Yesterday, this writer talked about the advantage of driving into a destination, a perspective you don't necessarily gain when you fly. I can remember specific moments when this concept was affirmed for me as fact, many from a trip I've been making almost every year of my life: Driving from the city of Philadelphia to the South Jersey coast.

I'll spare you the childhood recollections and instead point to the summer of 2012, when I made a road trip that took me to Cape May, Damascus, Hammondsport, and Beaufort. Not to take anything away from the latter three - I've already told you what I like about them - but I remember my arrival in Cape May much better than I do the others. The reason was because of the change, from the concrete of Philly to the farmland of South Jersey to the salty reeds of the shore.

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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to Get First Refresh Since the 1970s

April 16, 2014 at 9:42 AM | by | Comments (0)

We checked out the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum when we were kids, and when we visited it recently—it looked exactly as we remembered it. Turns out that things haven’t really changed much since the place’s debut back in 1976, but thankfully that’s about to change as the place is undergoing a little bit of a 21st century facelift.

There will be some temporary closures of exhibits over the next two years, but it’s a small price to pay to get things looking shiny and new once again. Obviously history hasn’t really changed, but the curator folks are changing up what they’re showing off. Things from the Apollo moon landing will now be one of the main features that greet guests, while great goodies from the past like the Spirit of St. Louis, the Mercury capsule from the first Earth orbit, and an Apollo Lunar Module will all be some of the stuff on display.

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Come On, No One Actually Took That Dutch Girl's Twitter Threat Seriously

April 15, 2014 at 3:59 PM | by | Comments (3)

Apparently there's a debate happening on the Internet - so says the LA Times - over whether the 14 year old Dutch girl who tweeted a terrorist threat to American Airlines was "a victim of security excess" or an "idiot." To which we answer, why can't it be both?

You'll recall that Sarah - of the now-deleted @QueenDemetriax_ Twitter account - tweeted to @AmericanAir over the weekend that "hello my name's Ibrahim and I'm from Afghanistan. I'm part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I'm gonna do something really big bye." The social media mavens at American responded exactly 6 minutes later (faster than they've ever done when, say, we've had a flight canceled) by publicly informing her that her "IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI."

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How to Get Last-Minute Tickets to the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival

April 15, 2014 at 3:29 PM | by | Comments (0)

Tomorrow the Tribeca Film Festival opens with a new mix of foreign films, documentaries, big budget movies, filmmaker talks, and indies including the Nas doc Time Is Illmatic and Begin Again starring Keira Knightly.

With only a few hours left until the start of the fest, tickets are running out quickly. Luckily, the festival has put together a daily list of screenings with limited tickets left to help fans navigate the packed schedule.

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Why Drive When You Can Fly? We Can Think of One Really Good Reason

April 15, 2014 at 11:59 AM | by | Comments (0)

Scenery along I-70 in Kansas. No, that's not a UFO.

To say we're obsessed with air travel would be an understatement, but keeping in line with our budget-friendly, small town travel recommendations for the summer, we have to give the good old-fashioned road trip some love.

There are obvious benefits to flying over driving. Time, for one, and the amount of options that it opens up (you can't drive across the Atlantic). We often hear people complain when they have to drive long distances, and for this writer, that used to be the case as well, until I realized how much perspective you can gain on a region when you travel via car.

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