Destinations

Monkey See, Monkey Wait Tables

Each monkey is limited to working a maximum of two hours a day; the Monkey-Waiter Union is powerful like that.

Tweleve-year-old Yat-chan learned how to wait tables by spending time watching the staff at a sushi restaurant.

That would not be an especially noteworthy feat except for this: Yat-chan is a monkey, one of three who tend to customers at the Kayabukiya Tavern in Utsunomiya, Japan.

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The Dunes of Lake Michigan

Picture outdoor travel in the upper midwest of the United States and an image probably comes to mind of flat forests and flat fields—if anything comes to mind at all.

In fact, the region is home to a variety of unexpected natural treasures,. Among those: the world’s largest freshwater dune system.

These dunes scattered along the shores of the five Great Lakes—Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario—were formed 3,000 to 6,000 years ago (recent in terms of geological terms) when the water level of the lakes was 40 feet (12 meters) higher than it is today. Every U.S. state and Canadian province that borders a Great Lake has at least one sand dune preserve area, including Indiana where there are some wonderfully scenic dunes not far from the powerfully unscenic blighted industrial town of Gary.

Arguably the coolest place to experience the Great Lakes dunes is at the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area in western-central Michigan.

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Spend the Night in a Pipe

Spending the night in drainage pipe in a public park is a bad thing . . . usually

It’s almost like being homeless

All the charm and safety of a bomb shelter

Our rooms are no longer full of crap

We like to imagine that those were among the tag lines rejected by the Dasparkhotel, the accommodations in a suburb of Linz, Austria where guests spend the night in a recycled drainage pipe.

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Cruise Deals for February & March, 2010

It seems there are always cruise deals of some sort to be found. But with the industry trying to jumpstart travel as the world economy rebounds, there are some especially good cruise deals to be found right now.

Here’s our selection of a few sales on cruises to the Bahamas, to the Caribbean and to Europe. As always, you can see our latest collection of discounts by visiting our travel deals archive or subscribing to our RSS feed.

Please note: All of the offers below are valid for a limited time only. In fact, all require booking before the end of March 2010 at the latest, though most allow for travel after that.

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Air New Zealand To Offer Lie-Flat Economy Service

These days most airlines are cutting back on the amenities they offer. If they still have amenities to cut back on, that is. Airlines already without frills are resorting to increasing extra fees in their quest to make your flying experience increasingly horrible—Ryanair is even considering charging for bathroom use.

In this race-to-the-bottom environment we’re thankful that a small handful of airlines are working on a novel concept: increasing their level of service. Air New Zealand is chief among them. Starting later this year, on select long-haul routes, the airline will be introducing lie-flat seats in their economy class and improved seats in premium economy.

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Tintin Goes to the Museum

Brussels might be best known as the center of European Union bureaucracy and as the namesake for terrible tasting sprouts but it is also a Mecca for comic book lovers. Cartoons are arguably the Belgian national art form and world-renoun characters such as The Smurfs, Asterix, Blake and Mortimer— and, of course, the Farting Pig—have their origins in this tiny country.

The most influential, and perhaps the most famous, of the Belgium comic characters is Tintin, an inexplicably young journalist with an even more inexplicable of hair who, together with his dog Snowy, explores the world sans visa problems solving mysteries and engaging in swashbuckling adventures. He made his debut in the politically-tinged Tintin in the Land of the Soviets in 1929. From there Tintin’s globetrotting took him to such places as Tibet, the Congo and even the moon.

In the summer of 2009 a new museum opened dedicated to Tintin and his creator, Georges Rémi. The appeal of the museum to fans of comics is obvious. For lovers of travel and architecture there’s lots to like too.

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Dine In The Sky

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! it’s . . . dinner?

For an experience that brings cuisine to new heights check out Dinner In The Sky. The Belgium-based company will hoist you and 21 guests up in a dinning platform for a gourmet meal. The hoisting is done by a giant crane!

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Spain’s Frank Gehry Hotel

There’s a scene in The Simpsons in which a cartoon rendering of architect Frank Gehry casually tosses a piece of paper onto the ground, gives it a look and then says to himself “Frank, you genius! You did it again!”

That joke is probably funnier seeing it than reading our recounting. And it’s certainly funnier if you are familiar with certain Gehry-designed buildings—like the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A., the Experience Music Project in Seattle and, especially, Bilbao Spain’s Guggenheim Museum—which really do bear some resemblance to crinkled paper (if you squint a little).

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