Tag: History Travel

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How to Get To (and Escape From) Alcatraz — And Why It's Worth It

July 1, 2015 at 2:00 PM | by | ()

For 30 years, from 1933 to 1963, this tiny island 1.5-miles off the coast of San Francisco was a place that people never wanted to go. (Some even attempted to flee from it, albeit allegedly unsuccessfully.) Yet now the former island-prison is a tourist attraction that brings people from all corners of the earth to see where infamous criminals were incarcerated. Yes, the half-day trip is touristy — but it's well worth the cost and time to visit the abandoned penitentiary.

The trip will set you back about $30 per visitor, depending on the time of day; this includes the round-trip boat ride across San Francisco Bay. But don't be fooled by the multiple cruise companies offering trips to "The Rock," as Alcatraz Cruises is the only biz allowed to dock its boats at the National Park to bring visitors. (Yes, Alcatraz Island is now managed by the National Park Service.) The boat schedules include several trips per day; the early morning cruises are less crowded, but the evening trips offers some stunning views of the city as the sun sets. (Hence their higher price tag of $37.)

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Photos: Thousands of Airplanes in the Arizona Desert, at Pima Air and Space Museum

February 19, 2015 at 8:35 PM | by | ()

Last year, we called the Museu Tam outside Sao Paulo, Brazil the "greatest aviation museum you've never heard of," but what what institution can lay claim to the sister title of the "greatest aviation museum you have heard of?" For that, we go not to the Smithsonian, but to the desert outside Tucson, Arizona, home to Pima Air & Space Museum.

Before you protest to say that you actually haven't heard of it, wait a sec.

Pima has become the final resting place of many a historic airliner, including a NASA "Super Guppy" and the DC-6 which served as Air Force One to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Pima's massive museum and even more ginormous outdoor exhibition area (over 80 acres!) is a jolly neighbor to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base's 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), which you'll most likely recognize as the haunting landscape of 2,600 acres full up with retired military aircraft.

The AMARG makes occasional cameos in movies, TV shows, and on curiosity websites, but spends most of its time as a mecca for #AvGeeks from around the world.

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'The Most Beautiful Room in Canada' Lifts Ban on Tourist Snapshots

Where: Ottawa, Canada
January 30, 2015 at 6:14 PM | by | ()

You've just got to see the Library of Parliament, located within the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Ranked as one of the "7 Wonder of Canada," but more famously recognized as the "most beautiful room in Canada," the library is the only remaining piece of the original 1876 Parliament building, surviving the destructive 1916 fire thanks to iron fire doors. Inside are 1 million documents and 11 miles of books and, up until very recently, a "no cameras" zone.

Visitors to the Library fall into one of two groups: members of Parliament and their staff, or members of there public making the official (and free!) Parliament tour. The latter would find themselves disappointed by a major rule: photography was strictly prohibited if the room had anyone in it, either staff or politician. Occasionally a weekend tour would get lucky and find an empty library, but viewing the room with all its lights on, a librarian stationed, and in active use brings out the spirit of the space.

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Throwback Thursday: The Awesome Airplane Coach Lounges of the 1970s

December 11, 2014 at 1:13 PM | by | ()

Sure, we love all the speed and comfort of modern travel, but it didn't get that way overnight. Every Thursday, we're going to take a look back at travel the way it used to be, whether that's decades or centuries ago. This is Throwback Thursday, travel edition.

Before airlines considered the economy cabin worthy of nothing more than a seat 18" wide and about 8 peanuts as a complimentary snack, it used to be they would reward any passenger flying one of their newest planes with an in-flight lounge experience.

The onboard First Class lounges of the 1970s are things of legend, of course, but what about coach? On selected aircraft, they too enjoyed a dedicated space for enjoying in-flight diversions like gossiping, having a cocktail, card-playing and, in the case of American Airlines' 747-100 Coach Lounge, even piano-playing.

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Sydney Harbour Secrets: The Centenary of Seaplanes at Rose Bay

December 2, 2014 at 11:20 AM | by | ()

The Opera House, Harbour Bridge, the ferry to Manly…every tourist to Sydney, Australia knows where to go, but Sydney happens to be home to the largest natural harbour in the world. It’s in and amongst those large sites you’ll find the smaller secrets, and we’re sharing a few of our favorites all this week.

So we've already noted that Sydney Harbour is more than just some water, but an entire national park of 970 acres. Well, all that space includes some truly picturesque bays, utilized for private moorings, public swimming areas, or protected marine environments. One in particular, Rose Bay, is home to over a century of aviation history and the very founding of commercial air travel in Australia.

Rose Bay was Sydney’s first international airport, owing to regular flying boat service from 1938 clear through 1974, when the land-based airport we now know as Kingsford-Smith got going. The first seaplane flight actually happened in neighboring Double Bay in 1914, making this year, 2014, the centenary anniversary of seaplanes in Australia.

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Sydney Harbour Secrets: The 1 O'Clock Shot at Fort Denison

December 1, 2014 at 3:40 PM | by | ()

The Opera House, Harbour Bridge, the ferry to Manly…every tourist to Sydney, Australia knows where to go, but Sydney happens to be home to the largest natural harbour in the world. It’s in and amongst those large sites you’ll find the smaller secrets, and we’re sharing a few of our favorites all this week.

Fun fact: Sydney Harbour is itself a giant park. Some 970 acres of waterways, islands, shores, beaches, and historic sites make up the Sydney Harbour National Park, and there’s no one better place to begin exploring it than Fort Denison, a tiny island which claims much less space than even one of those acres.

Known as "Mat-te-wan-ye” to the Aboriginals and “Pinchgut Island” to the military who arrived with the First Fleet in 1788, Fort Denison only earned its Fort title after 1862 and the establishment of a tower and sandstone fortifications. These days it’s home to a small maritime museum and restaurant, not to mention a traditional 1pm cannon firing to help mariners keep correct timing.

So why should you go?

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Photos: Inside the Reopened Delta Flight Museum at Atlanta Airport

October 30, 2014 at 8:21 PM | by | ()


Above: the Delta DC-3

2014 has been a huge, huuuuuge year for airline anniversaries, and at the top of the list is Delta's 85th Anniversary of passenger service, which they celebrated with a reopening of their aviation museum at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Why a re-opening? Well, as it goes with museums, sometimes exhibits need polishing and the Delta Flight Museum had originally opened back in 1995. It's so much more than spit-shining some cases, however; an entire new aircraft was waiting to be added to the permanent collection.

Now visitors can finally get up close with the Boeing 767 "Spirit of Delta," which was actually purchased by donations totaling $30 million from Delta employees. This plane almost single-handedly allowed Delta to weather the tough economic times of the early 1980s and begin modernizing their fleet. She flew for 23 years and is now half time capsule, half museum-within-in-a-museum, and completely open for visitors to tour.

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How to Go Yacht-Spotting on Fort Lauderdale's Intracoastal Waterway

October 23, 2014 at 2:30 PM | by | ()

The mere mention of Fort Lauderdale conjures up thoughts of sand between toes, endless beaches, and spending most of the day simply relaxing. While the city does offer some of the best spot to work on your tan, the ballers head a bit more inland, to the Intracoastal.

Starting from the impressive beach-side marina of Bahia Mar Yachting Center, we hitched a ride with the Gondolas West boat canal tour for some yacht-spotting. Our gondola boat was humble, but could be packed with any light nibble or libations for floating by all those yachts and waterfront mansions.

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Inside the Greatest Aviation Museum You've Never Heard Of: Brazil's Museu TAM

September 5, 2014 at 10:22 AM | by | ()

Every aviation museum worth its salt these days can boast of classic warplanes, military fighter jets here and there, and perhaps a pre-jet-age Lockheed Constellation, but few go the extra mile to secure and preserve the rarest, most historic, and, in some cases, most expensive airplanes nearly lost to history as does the Museu TAM.

The museum is the baby of TAM Airlines and is now the largest museum in the world maintained by an airline. Unfortunately it isn't the easiest daytrip destination; the Museu sits in a spacious pair of hangars just outside the town of São Carlos, an hour's drive from the city of Ribeirão Preto (location of the nearest commercial airport), which is itself an hour's flight (or 3-hour drive) from São Paulo. You'd never expect to find one of the world's most important aviation museums way out here, in this part of rural Brazil better known for sugarcane plantations, but here it is.

The museum opened to the public in 2006 with only around 32 aircraft, but they've been quite busy since and the collection now numbers 89 vintage and rare flying machines (49 of which are incredibly still in flying condition).

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You Won't Believe What Showed Up on This In-Flight Map

August 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM | by | ()

Twitter user @nycsouthpaw was onboard the notoriously lengthy Hawaiian Airlines nonstop flight from New York-JFK to Honolulu yesterday, when he noticed a little something special within the seatback entertainment moving map:

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Visiting the Wyoming Ghost Town Amelia Earhart Hoped to Call Home

June 16, 2014 at 12:42 PM | by | ()

Everyone always talks about taking "the road less traveled." Well, just in time for prime summer road trips, have we got a barely traveled road to suggest: the route to Wyoming's ghost town of Kirwin.

Just outside Cody, known as the gateway to Yellowstone, is the Shoshone National Forest. it's here you'll find the abandoned mining town nestled in an alpine meadow. Originally incorporated in the late 1880s by William Kirwin and Harry Adams, the village saw its heyday in 1902 when the population reached about 200.

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Delta's Revamped History Museum Gets More Aircraft, More Awesome

May 21, 2014 at 11:32 AM | by | ()

Mark the date on your iCal: the Delta Flight Museum at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport reopens after major renovations on June 17. The buildings and Delta's historic 1940s maintenance hangars have been updated with fresh exhibits, new displays and cases, improved public spaces, an expanded store, and three more aircraft for the collection.

Furthermore, the museum boasts the US' only full-motion, official flight simulator open to the public (a 737-200). Actual aircraft on display include a DC-3, Waco 125 bi-plane (last in existence), Travel Air 6B Sedan, Stinson SR-8E Reliant, an L-1011 prototype section, and the Boeing 767 "Spirit of Delta," which was the airline's first 767 delivered after Delta's own employees banded together in the 1980s' tough times to raise money and fund the purchase.

Thanks to the renovation, three more aircraft are coming to join the fun: a DC-9, a Huff-Daland Duster, and a Boeing 757-200.

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