Fed up with violent passengers, Hong Kong Airlines recently announced that it’s cabin crew will now be required to learn Win Chun, a form of Kung Fu, to fight off aggressive flyers. Apparently in Asia, it is not too unusual to encounter disruptive passengers. The Hong Kong based carrier claims that such incidents occur at least three times a week and bosses at the airline have had enough of flyers hitting out at their staff when flights are delayed or canceled. The short, sharp martial arts techniques are ideal for close combat in the confined spaces of an aircraft cabin, and will be applied to dealing with unruly passengers whose reasoning have been impaired by too many drinks. Itâ€™s all part of the carrier’s new marketing campaign designed to appeal to Asian business travelers, who enjoy the mystique of attractive women defending their honor. No word on whether or not staff will have license to engage in a full-on takedown, but it still sounds pretty badass, if you ask me.
What do Lady Gaga, George Washington, Hugh Jackman, Shakira and Ben Franklin have in common? Theyâ€™ve all admitted to enjoying an old-fashioned skinny dip. Movie stars, musicians and entertainers today might be openly professing their comfort level with getting naked while swimming. But cleaning house? Gardening? Washing the family pet in your birthday suit? Absolutely – if the American Association For Nude Recreation has any say in the matter. The AANR promotes the stress-relieving freedom of shedding your inhibitions â€“ and swimsuits â€“ each July with a Nude Recreation Week at over 250 clothing-optional and clothes-free clubs across North America. Plus, as a grand finale in the buff celebrations this year, theyâ€™re plotting a world record skinny dip on July 13. Staycations are so last year (and the year before that); strip down and get ready forÂ the rise of the Nakation.
Itâ€™s hard to imagine that we owe our fair city â€” and state â€” to the insubordinate wanderings of a Brit in the pay of Dutch taskmasters, a sailor chasing marinersâ€™ centuries-old dream of a shorter route to the Orient.Â Yet 400 years ago, Henry Hudson encountered bad weather off Norway and, despite orders to return to Amsterdam, opted for a 3,000-mile detour to America instead.Â Needless to say it was one slow â€” and lost â€” boat to China. But he did chance upon â€œa very good harbor for all windes,â€ and a river that would eventually bear his name. Hudsonâ€™s happy accident gave quick rise to Nieuw Amsterdam and, ultimately, the Big Apple.Â Modern New Yorkers can tip their caps to Hudsonâ€™s pluck and celebrate the quadricentennial of his epic adventure this spring, summer and fall â€” while discovering the many beautiful facets of the present-day Hudson Valley.Â READ MORE.
From The Daily Meal comes an insightful look at those airlines that are giving airplane food an epicurean transformation. From the best French toast you will ever eat to a wine selection that changes bi-monthly, the all things food and drink websiteâ€™s ranking of the Best Airlines for First Class Food contains delicacies and culinary feats that are rarely associated with flying above 30,000 feet. While top chefs Joel Robuchon, Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay, and Neil Perry are some of the famous names working with airline kitchens these days, the list makes it all too clear how far behind US carriers are when it comes to sky high food and drink. Here are the top five. Check out The Daily Meal for the complete list.
1. Etihad Airways:Â From the anytime snack-and-sandwich kitchen to the chefâ€™s signature dishes on the Taste of Arabia menu and the extensive tea selection (rose with French vanilla or Arabian mint and honey), Etihad’s first-class offerings cater to all of your culinary whims. But it’s the ability for passengers to customize meals from The Grille menu with sides like mixed garden vegetables and Â Mediterranean ratatouille and sauces including veal jus, herb cream, and CafÃ© de Paris butter that remind you just how one-of-a-kind Etihad’s in-flight dining experience really is. If thatâ€™s not enough, they also have a chef on board whose job it is to explain menus and make sure that each guest has the best dining experience possible.
2. Singapore Airlines:Â Singapore Airlines is known for immersing first-class passengers in the traditions and tastes of Asian cuisines; take their baked Chilean bass in Oriental XO sauce with mixed vegetables and fried rice as well as braised beef short ribs in Chinese wine and five-spice with mixed vegetables and egg noodles as examples. The pecan-crusted veal with red onion marmalade and candied sweet potatoes paired with vintage Dom Perignon is a nontraditional delight, however, for those who may want something a little more familiar. But whatever your entrÃ©e selection (passengers can select their meals ahead of time if they wish), itâ€™s Singapore Airlines desserts, like raspberry tiramisu, that bring the travel experience to heavenly heights.
3. Emirates:Â The essence of the United Arab Emirates cuisine is evident in the regional and seasonal ingredients used in the seven-course first-class lunches and dinners. The meals include the passengers’ choice of three hors dâ€™oeuvres; soup; salad; at least four entrÃ©e options; two desserts along with five types of cheese, served with port; fresh seasonal fruit; and freshly brewed coffee, a selection of teas and liqueurs, and friandises. It’s appetizers like thin-sliced tangerine-marinated smoked chicken breast, served on lentil salad with za’atar dressing and a glass of Dowâ€™s Vintage Port 1985 that transport you. Guests are also provided with bone china tableware, fine linens, and flowers.
4.Thai Airways:Â Timeless traditions are at the core of Thai Airways’ Royal First Class menu, which is evident in dishes like Prawn Chu-Chee, a traditional Thai dish made with prawns, chiles, coconut milk, fish sauce, and Kaffir limes. With almost 40 dishes on their menu, Thai Airway’s advanced-order service caters to even the most innovative individual preferences. Not to mention that Royal First Class passengers are welcomed on board with a glass of Dom Perignon or Bollinger champagne, served in crystal glasses of course. In addition, the premium bar service includes aged whiskies, Napoleon brandies, and a full range of ports and liqueurs.
5. Swiss Airlines:Â Swiss Airlines’ Taste of Switzerland program was designed to highlight different regions of the country on flights throughout the year. Until September 2013, first-class passengers will enjoy meals inspired by the cuisine of Canton Nidwalden, featuring dishes such as beef tenderloin with ofetori, Nidwalden-style mashed potatoes made with veal bacon and cheese. First-class meals are also complemented by regional wines, and of course, no Swiss meal would be complete without a selection of local cheese.
Just a couple of weeks before President Barack Obama lands in Africa for a week-long official visit, interesting stories about his historic visit to the continent are coming up every day. News about Obamaâ€™s cancellation of a two-hour safari to Tanzaniaâ€™s southern wildlife park of Mikumi has so far, attracted the most attention. The Washington Post covered the story over the weekend, quoting a source in the White House as saying the President would require more resources to beef up his security in case he gets attacked by lions, cheetahs, or other wild animals. â€œThe safari would have required the President’s special counterassault team to carry sniper rifles with high-caliber rounds that could neutralize cheetahs, lions, or other animals if they became a threat,” the document made available to the Washington Post said. The preparations even included sniper teams with high-powered rifles that would shadow the first family on a safari in Tanzania, ready to kill any animal that might become a threat. Misinformed perceptions of Africa aside, it begs the question: has the First Familyâ€™s safari fallen victim to the sequester, or are they just a bunch of scaredy cats? A comment on the story as it appeared in Kenyaâ€™s Daily Nation, a leading newspaper in East Africa, summed up the local response succinctly: â€œYou should get a Maasai to deal with that. Bow and arrows or spears are enough to protect you, Mr. Obama. We do not use rifles in Africa.â€
If youâ€™re like me youâ€™ve long dreamed of Cuba, the faraway, so close island off the coast of Florida thatâ€™s been off-limits to US citizens for more than fifty years. Rich in history, culture, and all that glorious music, itâ€™s an American travelerâ€™s version of Snuffleupagus: a rare creature able to be seen by everybody but us. Insight Cuba, a leader in small group people-to-people travel, is about to change all that. As travel to this enigmatic island is made legal for only the third time in fifty years, this licensed tour operator has me salivating at the chance to explore the once-forbidden island with a sweepstakes, running now through June 17th. To take part, ‘Like’ the Insight Cuba Facebook page and enter via the “Win a Trip to Cuba for Two” tab at the top. A winner will be selected at random on June 18th and receive a free trip for two on the tour of their choice: Undiscovered Cuba, Cuban Music & Art or Classic Cuba.Â The grand prize includes round-trip airfare from Miami to Havana; first-class accommodations, meals and activities; an Insight Cuba tour leader and Cuban guide; entrance fees; in-country ground transportation and transfers; 24-hour emergency service and maybe most important of all, a U.S. Department of the Treasury License and Letter of Authorization. Underdeveloped,Â stubbornly unchanged for decades,Â the revolution and the resulting embargo may have decimated the travelÂ industryÂ in Cuba, but it didnâ€™t kill it. AndÂ theÂ irresponsible policies of our own government have done nothing toÂ squelchÂ the abiding curiosity about ourÂ neighborsÂ 90 miles to the south.
A quick chat with a taxi driver let us in on the fact that the Temple of Aphaia is Aegina’s majorÂ archaeologicalÂ site, and before you know it we found ourselves driving at breakneck speed through fields of pistachios trees and toward the northeastern corner of the island. I’m glad we took his advice – and his cab – as the ruins were certainly impressive: a Doric temple has stood on this spot since the 5th century BC. Legend has it the temple forms an isosceles triangle with the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, which makes for a great story, whether or not it holds true. On a clear day it feels like you can see forever, or at least allÂ theÂ way to the port of Piraeus. Click the panorama below, then click again for greater detail. AndÂ don’t forget to tip your driver.
Couples traveling together to Thailand this month can speed their way through the traffic at Bangkokâ€™s Suvarnabhumi Airport faster than you can say, â€œno tuk tuk, no massage.â€ Register at one of the â€œAmazing Thailand, Amazing Romanceâ€ counters â€“ located on both the East and West concoursesÂ â€“Â by providing some basic information and receive a heart-shaped sticker and a key chain with the Thailand tourism mascot, Sook Jai, which entitles couples to use the â€œpremium laneâ€ for a fast track through the notoriously congested immigration process. Befitting a country known for its embrace of a third gender, theÂ program applies to same-sex couples, too. I think I feel an emoticon coming on.
Just when you think there’sÂ nothingÂ left to do, no corner left unexplored, Incheon Airport travels back in time as the Korean RoyalÂ FamilyÂ of the Josean Dynasty make aÂ ceremonialÂ procession through the terminal. Dressed in colorful traditional costumes, an enfilade of noblemen and women (staff from the Cultural Heritage Foundation actually) re-enact a scene from a bygone era: the daily walk of the Royal Family. It turns out that transit travelers spend an average of 5.2 hours at Incheon waiting forÂ connectingÂ flights and the procession is part of a push to make the gateway more than just an airport but also a destinationÂ representingÂ Korean society. A Cultureport, if you will, which also includes a Traditional Craft Gallery, the Korea Culture Museum, and the Korean Traditional Cultural Experience Centre, all within the terminal confines.Â DeliriousÂ after five hours of shopping and walking and eating and staring at the departures board it made for one of the more intriguing distractions I’ve ever witnessed in an airport and a fun photo-op, too – not to mention a very royal send-off.
But first, snacks. Tom Yum crisp: an addictive, crunchy mix of dried shrimp, lemongrass, squid and cashews – and surely the oddest airport breakfastÂ I’ve ever eaten. Good as it is, I’ve a sneaking suspicion I’ll be tasting it again at 35,000 feet.
I love the James Bond films Â – even the lame ones -Â for so many reasons: the geeky gadgets and kooky villains for a start. Then there’s the crazy chases and death-defying stunts and, of course, Bond’s bevy of double entendre-toting beauties. Plus, there’s all the exotic locales. In film after film, few heroes have given us wider license to travel the far corners of the world than Agent 007. Here are just a few memorable highlights.
SCHILTHORN, SWITZERLAND: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) took us to the mountaintop, literally: the 2,970-meter-high Schilthorn, which George Lazenby skied down at breathtaking speed with Telly Savalas as Blofeld in hot pursuit. It’s one of the great movie ski chase scenes, now documented in an exhibit at Piz Gloria, which doubled as the Bleuchamp Institute for Allergy Research in the film. Organized Bond-themed excursions start from the car-free town of MÃ¼rren, or you can glide up the mountain yourself on a 32-minute aerial cable car trip that originates in Stechelberg. For more Bond-style adventure, ski the mountain’s 15.8 km mixed-terrain Inferno course. Experienced skiers usually cover it in about 45 minutes; competitors in the annual Inferno Race – the largest amateur ski race in the world – can do it in 15.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY: Several locations in Turkey – where East meets West on the banks of the mighty Bosphorus – are featured in Skyfall, the newest adventures of James Bond. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar has been a must-see since 1461. More than 550 years later, it attracts nearly a half-million visitors daily. Presumably few of them other than SkyfallÂ director Sam Mendes envision its narrow, crowded aisles as a location for a high-speed chase. It is, however, an excellent place to buy local handicrafts and to engage all your senses as you immerse yourself in the city.
KEY WEST, FLORIDA: Licence to Kill (1989) kicks off with Timothy Dalton parachuting in with CIA pal Felix Leiter to Felix’s wedding at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in Key West after some insane aerial maneuvers. Other scenes shot in the area include a car chase on Seven Mile Bridge, the segmented concrete (to make it hurricane-resistant) span you’ll cross if you’re driving to Key West, and a scene at the Ernest Hemingway Home in which M demands that Bond relinquish his “license to kill.” Hemingway, no slouch in the adventure department himself, moved to the house at 907 Whitehead Street in 1931. A guided tour shows off his writing studio as well as the descendants of Hemingway’s famous six-toed cats, who have unlimited license to roam the house and grounds.
THE BAHAMAS: Of Bond’s many visits to the Bahamas, the most memorable is Sean Connery’s 1965 Thunderball battle in the underwater caves of the Exuma Cays. They’ve been known ever since as the Thunderball Grotto. (Connery returned there in 1983 for Never Say Never Again.) Several charter companies, including Four C’s Adventures and the Island Routes 007 Thunderball Luxury Tour, will take you out to the grotto by boat and guide you on a snorkeling route to the inside of the caves, where the light streams in and colorful fish dart about below the water’s surface.
PARIS: With an “I’m too old for this stuff” look on his face, Roger Moore chased Grace Jones to the top of the Eiffel Tower in A View to a Kill (1985), only to watch her parachute off, land on a boat conveniently waiting along the Seine, and make a spectacular getawayÂ in one of the film’s more memorable scenes. (It was almost as good as Duran Duran’s video for the movieâ€™s theme song.) On a tour of the tower, you’ll learn about Franz Reichfelt’s tragic demonstration of his “parachute suit” in 1912, which should convince you that parachuting off the observation deck is not the thing to do here. However, if you’re feeling fit, climb the 704 steps from the ground to the second floor. From there, you can catch the lift to the top, where you’ll find a champagne bar with killer views of its own.
AUYUITTUQ NATIONAL PARK, CANADA: Nobody does it better, ahem, than the opening sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), in which Roger Moore BASE jumps off the edge of a mountain and – whoosh – a Union Jack parachute opens and glides him to safety. The mountain, with its distinctive twin flat-topped peaks at 6,598 feet, is Mount Asgard in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island, Canada. Serious outdoors people find the 7,370-square-mile arctic park a haven of pristine beauty offering 24-hour daylight in summer. Accessible via the Inuit hamlets of Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq, which can be reached only by small plane, the park requires that all visitors attend a safety orientation before they embark on their travels. For this level of adventure, only experienced wilderness travelers — and MI-6 agents — need apply.
With the addition of two new American Airlines flights from Miami International Airport to St. Kitts, arriving in paradise has never been easier. And you know when I speak of paradise I can only mean one place: the sublime Four Seasons Resort Nevis. (Star Alliance loyalists take note: Cape Air continues its scenic, low-flying service into Nevis direct via San Juan, too).Â On arrival, take a stroll on untainted stretches of golden sands; play amid dramatic tropical backdrops on the acclaimed Robert Trent Jones II-designed course; unwind in a private outdoor cottage at the Caribbeanâ€™s poshest spa; and recount the day’s events as you savor excellent seafood and spectacular ocean vistas at Mango. Or do what I love most: snuggle into a gingerbread-trimmed beach house and be pampered. Even better, book a five-night stay – good through December 19thÂ -Â and receive a $1000 airfare credit.