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In Beijing encounters, a wayward soul stumbles toward self-discovery

I like to watch the beautiful women of Beijing spit on the street. My journey to get to the capital of China was arduous. I got an hour of sleep on the plane. My first 24 hours here came without closing my eyes. That first evening, a friend insisted on giving me a long walking tour of the city. Over the next few days, I visited the Forbidden City and Summer Palace, and they were awe-inspiring, like...

Where to find Bangkok’s best street food while you can

It was a few minutes after 6 p.m., and Lim Lao Sa, a fishball noodle stand tucked into an alleyway near the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, had just opened. Rain was falling, hard. A series of deftly arranged tarps sheltered patrons sitting on red plastic stools at a handful of tables. Water drizzled off the tarp edges, down the concrete walls and past exposed wiring. Fluorescent bulbs cast harsh shadows...
Retiring travel editor names his top 10 trips

Retiring travel editor names his top 10 trips

Over my 20-year career writing travel stories for The Seattle Times, a question I’ve fielded (happily, I should say) when meeting someone for the first time was almost as predictable as the number of pretzels I got flying Coach: What’s been my favorite trip? I usually fudged. Prettiest place? Nicest people? Most fun? Educational? How does one judge? What I’ve learned through travel...

In Bangkok, an intimate hotel with an inky past

1 Lan Luang Road; bpresidence.com   Double rooms from 4,800 baht (about $154).  Stop the presses. The fading glories of books and printing receive a retro-chic resurrection at Bangkok Publishing Residence, an intimate eight-room hotel that opened last year in the former offices of Bangkok Weekly magazine. The atriumlike four-story structure features throwback factory architecture &mdash...

What Joy Bryant can’t travel without

Actor Joy Bryant, originally from New York, now lives in Los Angeles, where she filmed the television series “Parenthood” for six years. Her next role is a public defender in the fourth season of “Ballers,” which will have its premiere on HBO in August.  Bryant’s favorite vacation spots are Jamaica and Kauai. “I love island life, man!” she said. &ldquo...

Doing good, deliciously: Sustainable dining in Amsterdam

The Dutch, packed into a small country that lies mostly below sea level, are known for their experimentation and ingenuity. For a long time, that was not necessarily reflected in the traditional culinary offerings, which have relied on comfort foods such as bitterballen bar snacks, sweet or savory pancakes, and raw herring. For sure, you should indulge in those specialties, as well as try an Indonesian...
Norwegian Cruise Line approved to build new terminal at Miami port

Norwegian Cruise Line approved to build new terminal at Miami port

MIAMI — A sleek new terminal proposed by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings at PortMiami has officially gotten the green light to begin construction. The Miami-based cruise company and Miami-Dade County reached an agreement for the terminal, settling on a location east of the existing Terminals B and C. That puts the new Norwegian terminal just west of Terminal A, where Royal Caribbean Cruises is...

Wyndham Hotel Group unites brands under one name

Wyndham Hotel Group is bringing its economy and midscale brands together with one of the largest name changes in the history of the hospitality industry, the company announced this week.  At least a dozen brands will add the "by Wyndham" suffix to their names in a move aimed at uniting hoteliers under a common mission and improving brand awareness.   The 12 brands receiving...

Beautiful, complicated Bogotá: A traveler’s starter kit

“So, where are you going in Colombia?” someone, usually Colombian, would ask me with anticipation. “Medellín? Cartagena?”  “No, Bogotá.”   “Just Bogotá?”   “Just Bogotá.”   “Are you sure? Can you change that?”   One Bogotá resident even used an expression...
Finding the aloha spirit in three Hawaiian Islands

Finding the aloha spirit in three Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Islands hold a special, almost mystical, appeal for many mainland Americans and Asian visitors, myself included. Recently I traveled to Oahu, the Big Island and Kauai to see which island I liked best, and to discover new places to stay and activities not to be missed. I began my odyssey in Oahu, the most well-known and populous island. Using the centrally located Laylow Waikiki hotel...

Alaska Airlines shrinks its permitted carry-on bag size

Passengers traveling with Alaska Airlines should make the most of the carrier's generous carry-on luggage size. Throw in that extra Scandinavian crime novel while you can, because soon travelers will have to edit their packing list and might even need to purchase new luggage.  Starting on June 4, the airline will reduce the carry-on size limit to 22-by-14-by-9 inches - a 2-by-3-by-1-inch trim...
Finding the aloha spirit in three Hawaiian Islands

Finding the aloha spirit in three Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Islands hold a special, almost mystical, appeal for many mainland Americans and Asian visitors, myself included. Recently I traveled to Oahu, the Big Island and Kauai to see which island I liked best, and to discover new places to stay and activities not to be missed. I began my odyssey in Oahu, the most well-known and populous island. Using the centrally located Laylow Waikiki hotel...

Alaska Airlines shrinks its permitted carry-on bag size

Passengers traveling with Alaska Airlines should make the most of the carrier's generous carry-on luggage size. Throw in that extra Scandinavian crime novel while you can, because soon travelers will have to edit their packing list and might even need to purchase new luggage.  Starting on June 4, the airline will reduce the carry-on size limit to 22-by-14-by-9 inches - a 2-by-3-by-1-inch trim...

Souvenirs 101

“Nobody sits us down and tells us to collect objects when we’re young,” Rolf Potts writes, “it’s just something we do, as a way of familiarizing ourselves with the world, its possibilities, and our place in it.”  Few of us would call ourselves collectors, but most travelers have, at some point or other, bought a key chain, pocketed a seashell, or saved a ticket...

Learn how to take better photos, ‘time travel’ in Europe and more

Visionary Wild is a company that offers travel experiences to photographers looking to move their work to a higher level. It holds workshops led by professional photographers in picturesque locations around the world. A workshop set for Nov. 5-9 offers a chance to blend photography and wine with the Autumn Color in Wine Country workshop, based in California’s Napa Valley. This workshop combines...

In Windsor, England, a look at Harry and Meghan's (relatively) low-key wedding site

St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle is about the most down-home place for a British royal wedding that American Meghan Markle could have hoped for. Compared with the spectacular public wedding of Prince Harry's parents at St. Paul's Cathedral, and big brother Prince William's to Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey, the May 19 wedding there promises to be intimate - well, intimate for royalty...

A Nashville spot serving bar food that is anything but standard

Wood-roasted rabbit sliders. Chesapeake Bay oysters. Osetra caviar. This is not your typical bar food.  Black Rabbit, which opened in November in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, is the latest brainchild of the local chef Trey Cioccia. He and his business partner Robert Compton fell in love with an 1890s brick building near Printers Alley, the hub that buzzed with night life many decades ago. They...

Priceline discontinues Name Your Own Price for rental-car bookings

For many budget travel shoppers, Priceline's Name Your Own Price tool held the same promise - and heartbreak - as gambling. Choosing the right number for a rental car triggered an adrenaline rush equal to watching the roulette wheel land on your bet. Of course, learning that no company accepted your bid hurt. Adding to the insult: Having to incrementally increase the price for, say, a Ford Focus. ...

Fly now, pay later: Are travel loans a good deal?

Dreaming of a spring getaway with white-sand beaches and a cool drink in your hand?  A search for airline tickets can bring your dream down to earth, if the steep fares charged by many airlines outstrip your savings.   What if you could book your trip today and pay for it later — without maxing out your credit cards?   Major airlines including American Airlines, JetBlue...

Forget spritzes, shopping and fancy hotels. The best part of Lake Como is being on it.

'Mom! Do you have the permit?? WHERE IS THE PERMIT???" I yelled above the engine of our custom Cantiere Ernesto Riva motorboat while zooming along Italy's Lake Como.  My heart was beating fast and my hands were shaking on the steering wheel. I had just gotten comfortable in my captain's perch, and was trying to adjust to the throttle and watch where I was going despite the wind whipping...

Travelers have plenty of reservations about hotels

Of all the hotel annoyances, the one that bothers Louise Sattler the most is the smells.  "Scents," she says, "and smoking in hotel rooms."   Sattler, a psychologist from Los Angeles, is one in a billion. That's about the number of annual guest nights in the American hotel industry. And for every guest, there is at least one pet peeve - and often many.  ...

If the Boston Marathon is too easy for you, try these crazy runs

For runners, one of the most storied-and feared-stretches is Heartbreak Hill, 20 miles into the Boston Marathon. The 90-foot elevation gain over one-third of a mile would be a painful climb in any marathon, but here it's compounded because it occurs at the distance where many runners hit the proverbial wall.  Last April, Erik Rasmussen, a 42-year old trail seeker, runner, and triathlete, finished...

Travel deals: Southwest nonstop airfare sale and $500 off Cuba packages

This week's best travel bargains around the globe.  - More than 40 Hilton hotels in New York City and New Jersey are offering half-off rates for Sunday stays, plus other perks. For example, at the Millennium Hilton New York Downtown, pay $564 for a Friday and Saturday night stay in May and $144 for Sunday. Add $115 in taxes per night. The deal also includes a$15 taxi credit through Curb, a taxi...

Affordable, Springtime New England Getaways

If peak summer prices at hotels along the coast of New England are cost prohibitive, travelers may want to explore shoulder season deals in April and May. From Nantucket and Cape Cod in Massachusetts to Newport, Rhode Island, substantial savings are available alongside cooler temperatures and peaceful beaches.  At the Nantucket Hotel and Resort, rooms are available in April and May starting at...

Five ways to get some culture on your next cruise

Culture lovers don’t always think of cruising when planning a vacation, according to Doug Prothero, the managing director of the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.  “Cruises are stereotyped as getaways with lots of eating and drinking and little culture in sight,” he said.   While that may be true for some cruises, Prothero said it’s not the case all-around, and...
Chill out or be chilled in St. Augustine after dark

Chill out or be chilled in St. Augustine after dark

Hair standing up on the back of the neck? Check. Chill running down spine? Check. No one standing behind you? Double check. St. Augustine visitors traditionally pack the pedestrian-friendly streets of downtown during the day, soaking up historic landmarks amid art galleries, restaurants and shops galore. But while there’s plenty to do in the daylight, the nation’s oldest city has a sleepy...
Paradise takes many forms on this Indonesian archipelago

Paradise takes many forms on this Indonesian archipelago

WAIGEO ISLAND, Indonesia — When I enter the rainforest of Indonesia’s Waigeo Island, the first thing I notice is the equatorial air. It’s so thick, I feel as if I’m walking through a cloud. The next thing that hits me is the deafening hum of cicadas. They drown out the noise of my feet crunching leaves as I step ever closer to my destination: a tiny thatched-roof hut in a muddy...

Will U.S. Withdrawal from UNESCO Affect Heritage Sites?

Last fall the Trump administration announced it would withdraw from UNESCO, the cultural organization of the United Nations that is known to travelers for its list of World Heritage sites.  The withdrawal is scheduled to go into effect at the end of 2018. There are 23 World Heritage sites in the United States, including Grand Canyon National Park, Independence Hall, Yellowstone National Park...
In Jerusalem's crush, is there room for peace?

In Jerusalem's crush, is there room for peace?

I'm in Christendom's epicenter, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, and I'm waiting to feel the holiness.  The last five stations on Jesus' final journey surround me - including the crucifixion hill at Calvary, the anointing stone and his empty tomb, all encased in the giant domed church originally conceived by Saint Helena in the 4th century - but I'm crushed by people...

Alaskan illuminations: I went in winter to see northern lights. In the daytime, I saw much more.

Where were they?  The hour was closer to midnight than noon, and the sky above the small Alaskan town of Talkeetna was as black as a bear's button nose. Several stars twinkled their encouragement. Before stepping out in the minus-numbing-degree air, I had checked the Aurora Forecast. The rating was a 5, which the Geophysical Institute described as meaning "Auroral activity will be high."...
Disney’s California Adventure expansion will feature Marvel superheroes

Disney’s California Adventure expansion will feature Marvel superheroes

LOS ANGELES — Several aging toddler attractions at Disney California Adventure Park could be bulldozed in the next year or so to make way for an expansion based on some of the world’s most popular fictional characters. The new land in Anaheim will feature superheroes made famous in Marvel comic books, movies and video games, including Spider-Man, the Hulk and Iron man, among others. But...
How to catch the lowest possible airfares

How to catch the lowest possible airfares

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: airfares are volatile. While it’s true that flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday is cheaper than on a Friday or Sunday, there is no magic time of day, day of week or month of year to book a low airfare. Airfares can change in a heartbeat, high one minute and low the next, and the trick is to buy when a fare on your route becomes a bargain. Fare drop...

A family adventure in the wild heart of Tanzania

Few wildlife parks in Africa allow you to drift lazily along a calm stretch of water like something out of “The African Queen” and take in an incredible amount of wildlife from a boat. The Selous Game Reserve, a remote and spectacular wildlife refuge in central Tanzania, is one of them.  Last year, I took a wonderful safari here with my family, and on one of our first afternoons,...

Talk Travel: Is Turo - the 'Airbnb for rental cars' - a good bet?

The Washington Post's Travel section writers and editors recently discussed stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts:  Q: What's your take on Turo, the so-called Airbnb for rental cars? What happens if the car breaks down?   A: I have used Turo a few times and texted the owners with all of my questions. They responded pretty quickly, though my needs weren't very...

What’s it like to visit Wakanda? You had some (great) ideas

When “Black Panther” was released in theaters in February, it became a cultural phenomenon. Millions of moviegoers around the world became acquainted with Wakanda, the mythical African nation whose advanced society is hidden from the outside world behind a holographic camouflage. In the film, technology plays a big role, from the prevalence of vibranium to the use of kimoyo beads to remote...

Travelers can protect themselves from hidden fees

Travel fees are getting more creative than ever - and so should you.  When it comes to new travel fees, the sky's the limit. Or, in Liz Pollock's case, the fourth floor of her hotel. Pollock recently checked out of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Golf Resort Palm Springs Area in Cathedral City, California, and discovered a mysterious fee on her hotel bill: a "top-floor" surcharge of...
Trump slump? International arrivals data may be wrong

Trump slump? International arrivals data may be wrong

That "Trump slump" we've been hearing about in travel may not be as bad it seems.  The U.S. Department of Commerce says government statistics showing a decrease in international arrivals to the United States may be wrong. Publication of the data has been suspended until it can be revised.   The most recent government statistics showed a nearly 4 percent drop in international...

Cuernavaca: A side trip into opulence, only an hour away from Mexico's capital

In the 1950s and '60s - nearly five centuries after Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés built himself a palace in Mexico's lush Cuernavaca - Rita Hayworth, Gary Cooper and Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton followed suit with their own lavish hideaways. Other notables attracted to the city have included Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I and his wife, as well as Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the former...

Travel dilemmas: On that mad rush to board

Question: Don't you think it is strange that airplanes are still designed to be boarded from the front? And that airlines board the passengers starting with those sitting in the front rows?  — Gary Kazanjian   Hermosa Beach, Calif.   Answer: Don’t I think it’s strange? That’s such a wonderful straight line I can hardly contain myself.   But...

Loving Las Vegas, from its glittering Strip to its alluring desert

If you tell people you're going to Las Vegas for a week, the reaction tends to be either a raised eyebrow, implying that's a long time to spend there, or an overly excited and equally presumptuous "Vegas baby!" Sometimes it's easier to just tell people you're headed "out West" to avoid the backstory.  Here's mine. Las Vegas is one of my home towns, a place where, in my 20s...

A hotel for you and your little dog, too

1600 Wewatta St., Denver; hotelborndenver.com   From $329.  Hotels that pretend to be dog friendly yet charge extortionate fees are my literal pet peeve. Not so Kimpton, which is perhaps the paw-friendliest chain. Downtown Denver’s 200-room Kimpton Hotel Born opened in August 2017, with a Wild West-goes-modern aesthetic, and when we checked in with our papillon, Huckleberry, we...

How you can get paid to travel and create a new yogurt flavor

Noosa is no stranger to interesting flavors.  With Mexican chocolate, pear cardamom and raspberry habanero, the Colorado-based yogurt company isn’t afraid to go beyond the basic tastes for its products.   Now Noosa is seeking help in coming up with more flavors.   The company is seeking five “flavor finders” to come up with new varieties. Applicants can go...

Tired of the Smithsonian? These small, quirky DC museums are worth a visit

WASHINGTON - Washington is known for its museums. But venture beyond the Mall, which is home to four of the 20 most-visited museums in the world, and you'll find plenty of smaller, quirkier institutions. Want to learn about great inventions, the history of horse racing in America or how drugs are smuggled across the border? You can, and it's free.  These nine museums are, for the most part, targeted...

New luxury hotel will cost $792,000 a night - and be 200 miles up

Aboard the International Space Station, an astronaut's life is typically work, exercise, rest, repeat. But what if your chance of having the right stuff for NASA's astronaut corps is, to say the least, minimal?  Aurora Station, billed as the "first luxury hotel in space," may be for you. Houston-based Orion Span hopes to launch the modular station in late 2021 and welcome its first...
In Verona, pizza that is all about the crust

In Verona, pizza that is all about the crust

On a raw, rainy afternoon in Verona, Italy, last November, a polyglot gaggle of photo-snapping tourists unfazed by the weather jammed the courtyard of the 14th-century Casa di Giuletta, supposedly the home of the real-life inspiration for Shakespeare’s Juliet.  Down a side street just three blocks away was a far superior attraction that most of them presumably missed: Saporè DownTown...

Into the ancient land of the cloud warriors

I was standing in a cloud forest in northern Peru, 10,000 feet above sea level. Quiet cloaked the more than 400 cylindrical homes and ceremonial buildings that make up the most important settlement of the Chachapoyas, the Cloud Warrior culture. Farther out were limestone walls up to 65 feet high. Tropical greenery sprang through cracks in the stone, while red bromeliads clung to moss-covered trees...

New products debut at International Travel Goods Show

Luggage items of all shapes, sizes, shades and styles made their debut at the 2018 International Travel Goods Show, presented earlier this year in Las Vegas by the Travel Goods Association (TGA). Among the hundreds of new cases seen on the showroom floor, here are several that will upgrade your luggage wardrobe to fashion-forward, style-savvy status.  The Lancer Series by JS Calkins features...

Trump's China tariffs stoke travel industry concerns of decline

President Donald Trump's move to impose tariffs on China and restrict travel from certain countries are helping fuel a sharp decline in international tourism and business visits to the U.S., the head of the travel industry's umbrella group said.  Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, said Trump's policies and rhetoric are steepening a drop in the $2.1 trillion industry that began...
Six simple tips for smooth travel with a disability

Six simple tips for smooth travel with a disability

Times have changed for travelers who use wheelchairs, are visually or hearing-impaired or have another disability, said Jayne Bliss, a travel adviser with Tzell, who has more than 30 years of experience in planning trips for those with special needs.  Following are some of her tips.   — Seek Help: Asking your airline for assistance, either at the time of booking or a few days...
The healthier skies

The healthier skies

Wellness isn’t a concept that seems synonymous with the ever-growing hassles of flying, but that could finally be changing. Some airlines are embracing the idea of healthier flying, offering calorie-conscious menus and new exercise videos.  According to Beth McGroarty, research director for The Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit organization for the wellness industry, even as seats...
America's robber-baron getaways are being reborn as top hotels

America's robber-baron getaways are being reborn as top hotels

You'd think the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers of the world would have been happy to entertain in their lavish mansions. But in the second half of the 19th century, as trains and cars replaced horses and buggies, American society extended the radius of how far it was willing to go for a good party.  Enter the grand hotels of the Gilded Age. They had dark bars for trysts and business deals; accommodations...

Carnival gives teen free cruise for his Snapchat handle

Now here’s a business model, kids: When you sign up on a new social-media app, make sure your handle is the name of a well-established company.  Play your cards right and you might get a Carnival cruise out of it.   In 2012, Darian Lipscomb did just that. That year, popular social-media site Snapchat was still in its infancy, and Darian, who was a fan of Carnival Cruise Line voyages...

Viking doubles down on ocean cruises, Chinese market

SHANGHAI — When Viking Sun was christened here to great fanfare in March, the big reveal wasn’t so much the influencer Viking has become in small-ship ocean travel but its powerful connection to China.  Viking — yes, that Viking — is best known for its river ships in Europe. What you probably didn’t know: This year, Viking is offering 100 sailings on the Rhine and...

Choose your gas pump wisely and other tips to keep your finances safe when traveling

These days, with all of our card options, not to mention Venmo and PayPal and Zelle, you do not need to carry huge amounts of cash - or any - when traveling. That does not necessarily mean your finances are safer. "Skimmers" can grab your financial data when you swipe your card, and you may not know anything about it until you literally pay the price.  And skimming is on the rise. Last...
In Mexico, a former factory is an artful hotel

In Mexico, a former factory is an artful hotel

L’Otel at Dôce-18 Concept House Calle Relox 22, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; doce-18.com  From $375.  Basics  L’Otel at Doce-18 Concept House is far from a traditional hotel — guests enter rooms from the second level of an open-air building that overlooks a contemporary restaurant and a sort of modern-day minimall, featuring boutiques and food stalls...

At La Push, walk wild Washington beaches and commune with native culture

LA PUSH, Wash. — Gazing out across First Beach to 160-foot-high A-Ka-Lat, a small island that has forever been sacred to the Quileute people, I was transfixed by the idea of what life would have been like on this windswept coast — barely more than a rock’s skip from America’s northwest corner — in the days before electric lights and heat you could summon with a switch...

How London sometimes outshines the lights of Broadway

LONDON - We had assembled to see Carey Mulligan in a sold-out solo show called "Girls & Boys," the harrowing account of a young woman whose husband commits an unspeakable horror. But before the play, there was another ritual to be performed at the esteemed Royal Court Theatre: drinks and a bite in the vast theater bar downstairs.  It is a big, boisterous, welcoming room, reminiscent...

13 awesome outdoorsy wheelchair-accessible experiences in Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — There’s been a big push in recent years to make the outdoors accessible to all, as it should be. Thankfully, a few destinations around Colorado are making an effort to do so. Here are a few great outdoorsy Colorado attractions that go above and beyond to cater to the ADA community.  1. Garden of the Gods   One of Colorado’s most iconic destinations...
How travelers can help hurricane-damaged islands

How travelers can help hurricane-damaged islands

Last fall, Kelly Hepburn, a real estate broker in Denver, thought about traveling to the Virgin Islands, but then hurricanes Irma and Maria blew in. In March, Hepburn decided to go to St. John to volunteer cleaning trails in a national park, painting at a school and assisting at an animal shelter.  “I’m only one person and I know I’m not a huge impact, but getting the word out...

Trip insurance with a preexisting condition? What's possible might surprise you.

Connie Matlin wants to do the impossible: buy travel insurance for what she thinks is an uninsurable trip. "My family and I would like to travel to Europe this summer," explains Matlin, a financial planner from Cleveland. "I want to purchase airfare as soon as possible to secure a good price, but I'm also nervous."  That's because her husband has cancer, and although he's...

Travel deals: Summer fare sale to London and $520 off an Italy package

This week's best travel bargains around the globe.  - EF Go Ahead Tours wants you to enjoy your tax return with savings of up to $300 on all 2018 trips around the world. For example, the 10-day Alaska's National Parks: Denali & the Kenai Fjords tour departing July 20 costs $2,999 per person double, down from $3,299. The tour includes eight nights in hotels; daily breakfasts, one lunch and three...

Memories of traveling with Churchill

Winston Churchill has been a source of admiration and criticism ever since he was elected as Britain’s prime minister in 1940, when the country was in the midst of World War II. “Darkest Hour,” a nominee for best picture at this year’s Academy Awards, tells the story of how Churchill helped lead the nation to victory; the actor Gary Oldman won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar...

There's a lively culinary scene brewing in Bend, Oregon

Locals have dubbed Bend "Beer Town USA" and "Beervana." There are more than 20 craft breweries in this central Oregon high desert town of 91,000. But man cannot subsist on beer alone, even if it's some of the best beer in the country. Whether the city's brewers have set a high bar for quality or because Bend producers and growers benefit from the highest average number of sunny...
Hawaii Four-Oh!

Hawaii Four-Oh!

Roy Sakuma placed the tips of my fingers on the strings of his ukulele. My only lesson from the master of the instrument on my first day in the Hawaiian Islands. He taught me a simple Hawaiian tune, as we sat together in the soaring, sun-drenched lobby of the Four Seasons Resort in Ko Olina, Oahu. I had flown across the Pacific the day before to begin my 12-day Extraordinary Experience stay at a quartet...

At City Mouse in Chicago, it starts with cheese (of course)

Cheese plays a tempting role in the Aesop’s fable “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse,” so it only stands to reason that a restaurant that takes its name from the tale does so well by dairy: lush feta-style cheese from France, burrata from California that smoothly buddies up with crisp Brussels sprouts, bold cheddar in a bite called Country Mouse.  The location could have...

In an 1860s DC museum, a sensation of no-holds-barred, open-air Burning Man desert art

In the low-lit, second-floor room of Washington's Renwick Gallery, a cluster of three ceiling-height plastic mushrooms glows in a shifting kaleidoscope of neon colors. At each mushrooms' base is a pad that users can press, causing the sculptures to heave, sigh, and expand in and out.  The installation, "Shrumen Lumen" by the FoldHaus Art Collective, was initially on view under the night...
Spend the night at a lighthouse

Spend the night at a lighthouse

For centuries, lighthouses have offered a beacon of light for ships seeking safe passage through fog, storms and treacherous waters. Today, many of those towering structures also provide a safe harbor for families interested in sleeping amid seafaring history. Here are five to consider: 1. Saugerties Lighthouse, Saugerties, N.Y. Stunning beauty and rich history beckon visitors to this alluring locale...

On the Costa Rican coast, finding fun by escaping exclusivity

Some nights on Peninsula Papagayo, on the northern Pacific side of Costa Rica, the moon shone so bright, with so little evidence of human life, that I felt like an interloper just for bearing witness, for breathing through its stillness. Then I would remember how much it cost to be able to look at that moon from this particular part of the world and the poetry was quickly shattered.  If this...
Margaritaville: Resort making room for big-group renters

Margaritaville: Resort making room for big-group renters

Margaritaville is getting a skyline. A high-roofed hotel for Margaritaville Resort Orlando is taking shape in Osceola County, Fla. The 187-room establishment will operate near the center of the 320-acre resort that also will feature rental homes, time-share units, apartments, restaurant-retail space and a water park. “We look at it as a destination-resort business,” said Jim Bagley, project...
Avocados, okra, wine: some of this traveler’s favorite souvenirs

Avocados, okra, wine: some of this traveler’s favorite souvenirs

I was on the hunt for the perfect souvenir. Standing over a collection of gorgeous specimens, I knew just what I was looking for: something smooth and flawless. I wasn’t perusing a high-end boutique or rifling through antiques; I was staring into a bin of beautiful avocados. And for less than a dollar apiece? I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather bring home from California. (After...
This way to Carnegie Hall

This way to Carnegie Hall

NEW YORK — Tine Thing Helseth, a 30-year-old Norwegian trumpeter, had just made her Carnegie Hall main stage debut with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Now she stood center stage, applause resounding around her, a surprise up her sleeve. Instead of raising her trumpet for an encore, she started singing, no microphone, no accompaniment. The song was the old standard “Smile.” Helseth&rsquo...

5 tips to travel light and dress well at the same time

Traveling is challenging enough without worrying about looking fashionable while you do it. But Kate Young, a New York-based stylist who counts actresses Margot Robbie and Michelle Williams among her clients, says that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to look stylish on the road.  “Anyone can look chic while traveling, and there’s no need to spend a lot or pack a lot to do it...
Carnegie side-trips: Get a bite, make art, see shows

Carnegie side-trips: Get a bite, make art, see shows

A few places to visit nearby Carnegie Hall. Russian Tea Room The Russian Tea Room is next door to Carnegie Hall, but that doesn’t mean you must eat there. Because of this restaurant’s long history as a Carnegie Hall-adjacent hangout (Leonard Bernstein wrote music here), I felt obliged to take a seat beneath the old samovars and gold ceiling. I had been warned that it would be garish, expensive...

Talk Travel: Everyone should see Hawaii at least once

The Washington Post's Travel section writers and editors recently discussed stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts:  Q: To celebrate my son's graduation, we let him pick somewhere to travel in the U.S. He said he'd like to see the Rockies. So, where would one travel to see the Rockies in late May or early June? We are a family of four adults. We appreciate the outdoors...

Fewer Americans will be in Gorky Park, or World Cup seats

The United States national soccer team failed to qualify for the men’s 2018 World Cup in Russia, the first time it will miss soccer’s biggest event since 1986. This won’t keep all American fans away from Moscow and the 10 other cities hosting the tournament in June, but it’s one of many factors that might have dampened interest.  Dan Wiersema, head of communications for...

In Mexico, turning the tide for Bacalar's threatened Lake of Seven Colors

Looking down from the hilltop through the palm fronds, the sight took my breath away: at least seven hues of blue, stretching out before me to a green-fringed horizon. This was the Lagoon of Seven Colors, and it was everything I'd been told, and then some.  Set like a sparkling strip of blue ribbon amid the coastal jungle and mangrove of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula near the border with Belize...

5 beautiful Mexican getaways to take this spring

Plan your Mexican getaway before May to get the most for your money, according to Zachary Rabinor, the founder and chief executive of Journey Mexico.  “Mexico is coming off its peak tourist season, and hotels, tour operators and restaurants lower prices to bring in more business,” Rabinor said.   Mayan Trail from G Adventures is an 11-day trip that begins in Playa del Carmen...

Springtime changes at the airport

It’s finally spring, and changes are underway at the nation’s airports, including apps that allow travelers to order food and have it delivered directly to their departure gate, and the expansion of biometric boarding using facial recognition technology.  First, though, a change is coming for U.S. passports. Beginning Monday, the execution fee for a passport (which is in addition...

TSA agents ask some travelers to remove snacks from carry-ons

You've taken off your shoes and removed your laptop from your carry-on bag to go through airport security screening.  You candy bar may be next.   Although it's okay to board an airplane with food, some Transportation Security Administration agents have been asking travelers to remove their food from carry-on bags at checkpoints before putting them on the conveyor belt. Signs have also...

Spring brings boasts tasty, nutritious firefly squid to Japan

NAMERIKAWA, Japan - In Toyama Bay, it is just about prime fishing season for hotaruika, otherwise known as firefly squid.  Already well known for its rich flavor, which goes well with vinegared miso or pickled in a soy sauce-based mixture, the squid has also attracted attention in recent years for its high nutritional value.   Once spring arrives, hotaruika come to Toyama Bay to spawn...
Adventure travel is not just for the young

Adventure travel is not just for the young

Adventure travel is no longer just the purview of the young. Perhaps it never truly was a pursuit reserved for the 20-, 30- and 40-somethings. But a new survey of senior tourists conducted by One Travel and reported by Lonely Planet appears to further confirm this fact. According to the report, senior travelers have started shifting their vacation plans from traditional beachfront destinations to...

7 travel gadgets you should pack in your carry-on

Traveling brings challenges both maddening and mundane: fees for overweight suitcases, tight fits in overhead bins, lost luggage and ever-shifting security policies. Fortunately, gadget makers have your back, inventing all kinds of new devices that may bail you out on a trip and still fit in a carry-on suitcase.  After reviewing the best of what’s new, we’ve chosen seven time-saving...

Disney World: Epcot adding American Indian gallery

Change is on the way to a Walt Disney World art exhibit at Epcot’s American Adventure.  “Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art” will be moving into the American Heritage Gallery sometime this summer, according to a post on the official Disney Parks Blog. It will be a collaboration of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture of Santa Fe, N.M., and the...

Driving Mauna Kea: Four-wheeling up, brake-burning down

MAUNA KEA, Hawaii — The ranger had clearly been imparting the same advice to tourists all day.  “Use four-wheel drive, and low gears on the way down,” he said sternly through the open window of our SUV, as we checked in at the Maunakea Visitor Information Station, 9,200-feet above sea level. “If you ride your brakes, you won’t have any left when you get back down...
Grand Canyon tests change in water system serving visitors

Grand Canyon tests change in water system serving visitors

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Crews are drilling at the bottom of the Grand Canyon to test the idea of shifting the area where water is drawn to serve millions of people at the national park's popular South Rim.  The park's water supply comes from a natural spring that flows through 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) of pipeline. But the 1960s aluminum pipeline to the South Rim twists and turns around...

An Australian billionaire's $100 million Fiji resort

Lang Walker made his estimated $2.3 billion fortune by developing some of Sydney's most iconic sites, Finger Wharf and King Street Wharf. But one of the only things those projects share with his latest endeavor, a private island resort in Fiji, is a nine-figure price tag.  "This is the only project I've ever really fallen in love with," said Walker, 72. It's also the first one he hasn't...

Adventure trips are seductive, but they need a planned approach

MINNEAPOLIS — Since its founding in 1932, the Northwest Sportshow has been a dreamer’s fantasyland, where shiny new boats, cutting-edge outdoor gear and a fish tank full of whoppers summon attendees to “live, travel, adventure … and don’t be sorry,” as the late novelist Jack Kerouac once said.  Especially seductive at the show were exhibitors who didn&rsquo...

Travel deals: Airfare sale to Morocco and $700 off a Croatian coast adventure

This week's best travel bargains around the globe.  --Rosewood Bermuda, which recently underwent a $25 million renovation, has a reopening special with a restaurant credit. Rooms start at $675 a night, including tax, gratuities and resort fees, plus a $100 food and beverage credit per room. Guests can earn up to $500 in credits, which they can apply to the Island Brasserie, which serves Bermudian...
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