Lonely Planet Adds Food-Forward Guides

With food a major part of travel, publisher debuts titles.

lonelyplanet-logoLonely Planet, now the world’s largest travel guidebook publisher (and my favorite line of titles), is launching the Lonely Planet Food imprint. Food is a key way in which we experience a place when traveling. Out on October 18 is Food Trails: Plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the World’s Tastiest Destinations ($24.99), promising “a gastronomic tour of the greatest, most memorable food experiences worth planning a trip around – from barbeque in Texas to patisserie in Paris, fine dining to cooking classes.”  Also coming this fall are Food Trails (October), From the Source: Spain, and From the Source: Japan (both September). Coming in May 2017 is Lonely Planet’s Global Beer Tour.

The new imprint is launched with impressive ambitions. Associate publisher Robin Barton says, “We will be publishing a wide range of titles, including recipe books that feature food in its place of origin, and travel companions to food and drink trails around the world. We show chefs cooking, customers eating and ingredients being bought in markets, giving readers a true sense of place. A huge part of the food experience is the surroundings, atmosphere and people – our aim is to bring the complete package to people at home who are keen to experience world food at its most authentic.”

In Lonely Planet fashion, the publisher says that its “experts scoured the globe to create a comprehensive guide to a year’s worth of weekends in food heaven. Both practical and inspirational, Food Trails features culinary experts, reviews of restaurants, cafes and markets, and maps and information on where to go when and how to get there.” And did I mention that the food and ambiance photography promises to whet travelers’ appetites?

Cross-posted to Culinary Colorado.

New SCOTTeVEST Garments for Travel Ease

Multi-pocket garment line expanded.

scottevest-logoFor several years now, I’ve been traveling internationally without a purse, but rather I wear an early model of the multi-pocket SCOTTeVest. It holds a lot and holds it all securely.  It came with an illustration showing all the pockets and what each is designed for, but I have adapted it to my own needs: at the very least, passport, wallet, room or apartment key, street map, glasses for sun or reading,  transit pass.  Sometimes I stick in a lightweight GoreTex shell for rainy or windy weather, or sunscreen on a bright day.

Principles of SCOTTeVEST garments include lots and lots of secure pockets of different sizes.
Principles of SCOTTeVEST garments include lots and lots of secure pockets of different sizes.

Now, the Idaho-based travel company has a couple of new products, and in watching the promotional video, I discovered that the line has grown to include jackets and cargo pants too. I was intrigued by the new Off The Grid (OTG) Jackets for men and women. These jackets feature 29 engineered pockets that include two patented front Rapid Access Panels, which reveal large compartments designed to hold a laptop (except Women’s XS and S) without showing bumps or bulges. Since my XS and even S days are behind me, I’m especially intrigued.

Oktoberfest Aloft

Meet Lufthansa’s ‘Dirndlcrew’ on select fall flights.

Lufthansa-logoThis is the 10th anniversary of Lufthansa’s Dirndlcrew, which, since 2006, has flown to some 20 destinations on four continents. Two days prior to the beginning of this year’s Munich Oktoberfest, two cabin crews take-off in Angermaier attire  — first on flights from Munich to Toronto and from Munich to Washington, DC., and then to destinations including Shanghai and Hong Kong on September 20, Denver on October 2 and Boston on October 3.

Lufthansa's variations on the theme of Dirndl during Oktoberfest,
Lufthansa’s variations on the theme of Dirndl during Oktoberfest,

At the beginning and the end of the Munich Oktoberfest, a crew from Lufthansa CityLine swaps regular uniform for the distinctive Dirndl on Belgrade, Birmingham, Cluj, Nice, Olbia and flights.  During Oktoberfest, Lufthansa passenger service employees at Munich airport also wear this endearing national costume. Since Denver celebrates its own Oktoberfest, I’m glad that the Dirndlcrew is assigned the MCH-DEN route early next month.

Revisiting Greenland

Picking pix for upcoming presentation  on South Greenland.

changesinlatitude-logoMy husband and I visited South Greenland a few months ago on the ‘Sea Spirit,’ a small expedition ship. On Wednesday, I’m giving a presentation on Greenland at Boulder’s wonderful Changes in Latitude, a wonderful Boulder travel store. Preparation prompted a run though our images. Take a glance at one or two from each stop:

Boardi8ng the 'Sea Spirit' at the pier in downtown Reykjvik. There followed two days at crossing the Greenland Sea and the Stait of Denmark
Boarding the ‘Sea Spirit’ at the pier in downtown Reykjavik. There followed two days crossing the Greenland Sea and the Strait of Denmark
Cape Farewell, southern tip of Greenland.
Cape Farewell, southern tip of Greenland.
Locals in Nanortolik at the dock to welcome us -- the first sea visitors of the 2016 season.
Locals in Nanortolik at the dock to welcome us — the first sea visitors of the 2016 season.

Continue reading Revisiting Greenland

Latest Air-Travel Add-On: Complaining

U.K. Passengers may pay to complain.

ComplaintDeptThis is rich. In an effort to lighten its workload, Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) wants to shift some passenger complaints to Alternative Dispute Resolutions”(ADRs). There are three, and oddly,  two of them propose to charge an upfront fee £25 that will only be refunded if if the customer’s complaint is deemed “successful.”

The first step in complaining remains to address the airline itself. The second step, in case the problem is not resolved or the airline does not respond, would be to proceed to an ADR, which in theory should avoid an eventual court case.  The ADR’s decision would be binding, but it it anything like the way FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) handles investor complains in the U.S., it’s usually futile to go that route.

Nineteen airlines have reportedly moved their conflict resolution to an ADR. These include  British Airways, easyJet and Thomas Cook Travelers.

Boat Sharing Promoted for Travel to Cuba

Boatsetter provides perivate option for travel to Cuba.

boatsetter-logoWhen Ernest Hemingway traveled between Key West and Cuba, he often did so on “Pilar,” his 1934 speed boat. It was described in a 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine as having been “marketed by Wheeler as a 38-foot, twin-cabin ‘Playmate’ with a 70-hp Chrysler Crown gasoline engine reportedly capable of generating a cruise speed of 8 knots and a top speed of 16 knots. But Hemingway had specified some addendums (and would later specify a few more), thereby making her one of the first—if not the first—custom sportfishing vessels of the 20th century.”

Now Boatsetter, likened to “the Air BnB of boating,” is promoting boatsharing as a way for visitors to reach Cuba in the Hemingway way.   (Sorry. Couldn’t resist. ) Who would have thought it?  The company offers a knowledgeable team from the boat rental community that includes boat owners and captains who know the southern waterways, as well as what needs to be done before setting sail for the island so newly accessible to American travelers. Boatsetter will walk customers through the process of filling out the right paperwork to finding the right yacht with boat rental options available in Miami and Key West.

Boatsetter Cuba is an international peer-to-peer boat rental service headquartered in Aventura, Florida. Currently, the company boasts the world’s largest network of U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains and has a fleet of over 4,000 boats worldwide. Boatsetter provides safe and fun boat rentals, including “world-class insurance, 24-hour free cancellations, access to our network of certified captains and worldwide fleet of privately-owned boat rentals of all sizes and styles.”

It’s not a bargain way to travel, of course, but it certainly is a memorable way to reach Cuba. FoMoInfo: 305-570-4768.

All National Parks Free to Celebrate Centennial

Visit, appreciate and protect our National Park lands.

NatlParkServiceLogoThe centennial of the National Park Service as been promoted and written about and covered in the broadcast media for months, but the agency’s celebratory freebie long weekend is Thursday, August 25 through Sunday, August 28. On those days, all 412 National Park Service units (Parks, Monuments, Historic Sites) are open to the public for free.

That means no charge for entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees. Other fees collected by concessionaires (lodging and food service, camping, tours and outfitters such as fishing or climbing guides) are still in effect.

Expect normally busy parks like our nearby Rocky Mountain National Park and communities just outside park boundaries (Estes Park and Grand Lake adjacent to RMNP, for instance) to be crowded. But even as we celebrate, we should be aware of the increased development pressure directly at the edge of popular parks. The 1916 legislation that created the Park Service had a mandate to leave park scenery and wildlife “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” That was then and this now.

Celebrate by Protecting

The Los Angeles Times recently wrote an op-ed exposé, “Can America’s National Parks Defeat Developers at Their Gate?“, pointing out the detrimental proximity of wind farms in the Mojave to protected land and other projects. Grand Canyon Escalade is a frightening plan to construct a huge resort and a tramway that would ferry up to 10,000 people a day to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers, just outside of National Park boundaries. The developer tries to make a case for how wonderful it would be for the land, the river, the wildlife and the Navajo Nation, while its opponents, including the Grand Canyon Trust, document the abuse of those very same interests of that would result. My feeling is that it is preferable to stop a questionable or outright undesirable project than to “un-build.” Let’s give the parks a big birthday present and put the brakes on rampant development in the neighborhoods of “America’s Best Idea.”

Halcyon Hotel: High-Tech, High-Touch

Boutique hotel with cool Asian eatery opening in Cherry Creek area.

Halcyon-logo. pngWhen it opens on Monday the Sage Hospitality’s Halcyon Hotel in Cherry Creek North will be the high-toned neighborhood’s first new hotel in a decade. The Denver Post’s report, “Halcyon hotel welcomes its first guests in Cherry Creek North ,” lists a bunch features — some high-tech, others high-touch, and still others pure nostalgia.  No pix yet, because I haven’t been there, and there as yet are no images on the hotel’s website, but I’m intrigued enough to post it now. Amenities include:

  • E-bikes and Vespa scooters for guest use included in the room rate.
  • Instead of a front desk, there’s  a “kitchen counter” with complimentary beverages, Intelligentsia coffee and snacks served all day long.
  • With no front desk, hotel hosts equipped with some sort of satchels and iPads check guests in quickly.
  • “Gear garage” from which guests can borrow bicycles, long boards, GoPros, day packs, binoculars, fly-fishing gear–  “even a vintage Leica M3 camera and a roll of film that the hotel will get processed and sent to your home.”
  • In-room turntable and classic vinyl records.
  • In-room Nespresso coffee machine.
  • High-tech, high-speed connectivity.
  • Basic bar set-up, including the hotel’s private-label rum, made by Laws Whiskey House.
  • On-site fitness facility and roof-top pool.

Then of course there’s food, for which Cherry Creek North has a long reputation. The hotel is offering a short-run Cherry Creek North Food & Wine Package, currently priced only through August 14.

Two restaurants are on the docket, a steakhouse and a rooftop eatery to come but opening right away is an outpost of Portland, Oregon-based Departure Restaurant + Lounge. The inspiration, the food and the décor derive from Asia. Gregory Gourdet, a with-it “Top Chef” contender, designed a menu that not only includes various Asian cuisines but also reportedly accommodates guests with gluten-free, vegan and paleo dining preferences.

Europe’s Drinking Water

Is it safe or not? Depends on the country.

Europe-mapIf you’re concerned about drinking tap water when traveling in Europe, I’ve added a page to this blog about which countries have reliably safe drinking water and which don’t. Where the water is possibly unsafe, you might want to heed the usual cautions about fresh but unpeeled fruits and vegetables, water for brushing your teeth and even showering.  And I’ve cited Condé-Nast Traveler as the source of this list.

Terrorism Tragedies Scaring Tourists from Europe

Destinations large and small impacted.

globeAs the years tick past, I wonder when I will no longer be able to put a pack on my back and tow a small rolling suitcase — and head somewhere distant. Therefore, the urge to travel — to see places I’ve never visited —  has increased, not waned.  I want to go afar while I still can.  Asia, Africa and Latin America call, but most of all, so does Europe. I’ve seen quite a bit, but there’s so much more.

Bombings and mass shootings in major cities make headlines all over the world, but incidents where few or none are killed and a few are wounded get less attention. And travels embarked on, experienced and completed without incident make no news at all. But more and more news stories do surface where something happened to tourists somewhere. A recent knife attack on a mother and her three daughters in the resort of Grande-Colombe in the French Alps was reportedly because the attacker thought the victims were too scantily dressed.

In my heart, I know that the chances of being in exactly the place where violence occurs are extremely slim (about like chances of winning the Powerball), but  many tourists still don’t want to take a chance. A piece in the New York Times, Terrorism Scares Away the Tourists Europe Was Counting On, makes me sad for a variety of reasons, but also offers opportunities for travel values. I’m checking out deals. In addition to the terrible tragedy for locals, every awful incident causes nervous visitors to cancel. I will want to get on a plane and go. How about you?

Award-winning travel blog. Colorado-based Claire Walter shares travel news and first-hand destination information from around the corner, around the country and around the world.