Friday, January 18, 2013
By : Matthew G. Kadey
You love it when the mercury dips low enough for you to break out your knee-high boots and sexy tights. But there's nothing fun about chapped lips, lingering fatigue, and other cold-weather bummers. Cut them all off at the pass by filling your shopping cart with foods that will fight for your right to look and feel amazing. Researchers agree that these edibles have healing powers that can help keep you in top shape, inside and out. Start noshing on them now and your body will never suspect that it's winter.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Airlines, hotels, and car rental companies are piling on the travel fees. Here’s how to avoid them.
From March 2011 By Everett Potter
When Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, jokes about soon charging people for using the bathroom onboard his aircraft, he may not be kidding. Ryanair already makes you pay a fee for using your credit card to make a booking. Nothing seems to irk travelers more than paying travel fees. What’s especially maddening about these charges is that in many cases - think checked luggage and in-flight pillows and food - we’re paying for things that were free until very recently.
Why don’t the airlines simply raise their fares and do away with these extra travel fees? Because when they do raise fares, they drive travelers away. It’s easier to advertise low fares to entice buyers and then saddle them with a bevy of non-negotiable fees. Hotels and rental car companies do the same thing. And the fees are big business, bringing in an estimated $700 million per month for the major U.S. airlines. Clearly, these travel fees are not going to go away anytime soon. In fact, they’re on the increase, as the travel industry seeks to find more ways to nickel and dime us when we fly, stay in a hotel, and rent a car. The recession has simply forced many companies to get smarter about taking money out of our pockets.
If there’s a single travel fee that ticks off many travelers, it’s paying for Wi-Fi access at a hotel. Ironically, it’s the higher priced hotels that are guilty of this practice - low-flying chains often include it with your room rate. With charges typically ranging from $9.95 to $24 per day, plus local tax, it’s a fee that adds up quickly and goes straight to the hotel’s bottom line. Why do they need it? Now that cell phones have vanquished the revenues that hotels used to make on telephone surcharges, charging for Wi-Fi is one way to replace that lost cash.
Or, take the redundant collision-damage and loss-damage waiver coverage, a.k.a. CDW/LDW, on rental cars, which can be as much as $16 per day - a fee that adds up over the course of a weeklong car rental. Here’s the rub: most car rental companies require you to pay with a credit card knowing most major cards already offer this protection. Annoying? You bet. The good news is that if you’re aware and proactive, you can avoid paying some of the worst fees you’re likely to encounter. Read on for 10 of the most annoying travel fees plaguing travelers - and ways you can avoid paying them.
Monday, January 14, 2013
From a baby-eating sculpture in Switzerland to Mongolia’s giant statue of Genghis Khan, the world’s weirdest monuments display local quirks.
From October 2009 By Lyndsey Matthews
A sculpture of a dead horse strung upside down, with Saint Wenceslas mounted on its belly: that’s the odd sight that greets visitors to Prague’s Lucerna Palace. In a city revered for its Gothic beauty, this supine equine - with its tongue lolling out of its mouth and its tail hanging lifelessly - catches most people off-guard. Yet its subject and placement are hardly random: in 1999, artist David Cerny created it as a spoof of the right-side-up Wenceslas horse sculpture nearby.
Typically, of course, monuments are built to commemorate a significant event or celebrate an extraordinary life. But not all of them are heroic paeans to military victories; plenty, like Cerny’s dead horse, tend toward the bizarre. Some are created to shock and disturb, while others are meant to make a statement, tell a story, or just entertain. Still others have unknown origins. Either way, these strange creations are often worth seeking out, as they can help visitors get to know a place through its quirky traditions and local oddities.
Quirky tradition, in fact, is the entire reason that a number of travelers visit the Duke of Wellington statue in Scotland. The monument itself is so typical as to be unremarkable: a poised aristocrat rides atop a regal steed. But for the last 20 years it has been a magnet for pranksters, who scale the statue most nights to top the nobleman’s head with traffic cones. Though it started as a weekend prank for locals wandering home after a few drinks, the coning of the Duke soon escalated into a year-round game.
But strange monuments can reflect a more serious side of history as well. Statues like Cerny’s horse in previously Communist countries are often meant to demonstrate the sense of humor that survived in spite of an oppressive regime. Others reconfigure Soviet-era relics to serve as a reminder of the painful past, like the collection of cast-off Communist statues in Budapest’s Memento Park. Not surprisingly, visitors here find an unending parade of grandiose monuments saluting the red regime. But one of the park’s more unique pieces is a colossal pair of boots standing alone on an even larger pedestal - a replica of what remained after a mob toppled a 27-foot-tall Stalin statue in 1956.
For some unconventional statues, sheer size is what sets it apart. And size was clearly the point of the 131-foot-tall, 250-ton Genghis Khan statue unveiled in 2008 in the remote Mongolian steppe. The stainless steel giant - an epic symbol of the rapidly growing Mongolian nationalist movement - is visible from miles away.
Charge your camera batteries before visiting these monuments: You might need photographic evidence to prove that they’re not just a figment of your jet-lagged mind.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Adnan Alagic, Amila Hrustic and Bojan Kanlic are the names of three young designers who have designed the new pedestrian bridge over the Miljacka River in Sarajevo. The basic idea of the bridge is the union of the secular and spiritual and to establish a balance between left and right side. The Festina Lente (lat. hurry slowly) is the result of a 2007 competition. Crossing the bridge is a unique experience because of it’s specific layout and views that we encounter when going through the gate (closed part of the bridge) preparing us to enter into another dimension, and awakes spirituality.