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How to Staycation in 6 American Cities



The pandemic has decimated urban tourism as Americans, if they choose to travel, have fled populated areas to spread out in rural and wilderness destinations where social distancing comes easier.

With business travel all but stopped, city hotels and tourist organizations have made a full-court press to attract especially locals and nearby leisure travelers with bottom-barrel rates and extra perks. Such campaigns to coax visitors within driving distances have shown signs of success. In downtown Los Angeles, the Hotel Figueroa reported nearly 80 percent occupancy on a recent weekend, largely in response to its deal extending 26 percent off to California residents. In Austin, Texas, the Fairmont Austin has been filling to 70 percent on some weekends with a “Texas Strong” offer from $150 a night including parking and a $25 credit. Since July, about three quarters of the weekend guests at the Pendry San Diego, where rates start at $295, have come from within a 300-mile radius.

A staycation — specifically one where you stay in a hotel rather than at home — may be convenient, but nowadays it’s hardly spontaneous. More so than ever before, you’ll need to schedule key staycation activities; with capacities limited, most museums, tours and restaurants require advance reservations.

If you live near one of the following six cities and have decided against traveling farther afield, here are some tips on how to be a local tourist. You’ll save some money — and maybe your town’s tourism industry — in the process.

PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS The city currently limits indoor dining to 40 percent occupancy; however, due to a surge in local infections, it will ban indoor dining and limit gatherings to 25 people beginning Oct. 30. Bars may operate outdoors only. Dining and bar tables are limited to six people. In hotels, daily housekeeping is available on request. Face coverings are required in indoor and outdoor public settings.

LODGING DEALS The new art-filled 21c Museum Hotel Chicago just off Michigan Avenue is offering 30 percent off rates, starting at $120, until Dec. 1. Guests have unlimited access to the hotel’s art galleries. Nearby, the Peninsula Chicago, where the glassed-in pool offers skyline views, starts at $525 a night after a 39 percent discount, with the second night half off and including daily breakfast, a $50 hotel credit and other perks through December. For more deals, see the tourism bureau’s offers page.

THINGS TO DO Through Jan. 18, the blockbuster Impressionist show “Monet and Chicago” is on at the Art Institute of Chicago, now limited to 25 percent capacity (reservations required, from $25). In tandem, the Garfield Park Conservatory has planted “The Flowers of Monet” under its soaring glass roofs, through Oct. 31 ($5). The 90-minute architectural river cruise with the knowledgeable docents from the Chicago Architecture Center is a worthy splurge (through Nov. 15, from $46). Or take a walking tour covering the city’s gangster past or architectural landmarks with Free Tours By Foot (free). Explore the downtown Riverwalk on foot, or cycle the 18-mile Lakefront Trail (Divvy bike-shares start at $3 for 30 minutes).

DINING As winter approaches, many Chicago restaurants are finding ways to continue serving outside, from tented patios (Mon Ami Gabi) to rooftop heaters and fire pits (Aba). Restaurants including the Publican and Duck Duck Goat are using igloos and greenhouses erected in the Fulton Market district.

HOLIDAY AFFAIRS Holiday celebrations are outdoors too. Beginning Nov. 12, Art on theMART, a digital projection on the 2.5-acre facade of a building formerly known as the Merchandise Mart, will project “The Nutcracker” by the Joffrey Ballet (free). ZooLights illuminating the Lincoln Park Zoo will run Nov. 21 to Jan. 3 (tickets $5).

PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS In Los Angeles County, face masks are required in public, including on beaches. Restaurants, breweries and wineries may serve outdoors only. Museums remain closed. Shopping malls are open at 25 percent capacity. Hotels may operate at full capacity but social distancing measures include limiting elevator occupancy to four or less.

LODGING DEALS The Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles has a progressive deal, starting at 20 percent off for one night, from $149, and going up to 30 percent off for three or more nights, including coffee and pastries. Rooms at the beachfront Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica start around $495, but with a four-night stay the nightly rate drops 20 percent to around $400. Discover Los Angeles has a list of hotel deals good through the end of the year.

THINGS TO DO Museums might be closed, but beaches, parks and hiking trails are all open as Los Angeles embraces the outdoors. Take a hike through Griffith Park to the iconic Hollywood sign (free) or join a guided walk through Koreatown or Hollywood with DTLA Walking Tours ($25). The exhibitions at the La Brea Tar Pits are closed, but visitors can visit the grounds and see the paleontologists at work excavating ice age fossils (timed tickets required, from $6). Next door, snap a selfie in front of the “Urban Light” installation of 202 antique cast-iron street lamps outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. While the traffic is relatively light, tour Los Angeles’s vibrant outdoor art scene, including the new murals devoted to the Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Splurge in every way, including athletic, on the six-hour “L.A. in a Day” 32-mile bike tour with Bikes and Hikes L.A. ($162, including bikes).

DINING Taking advantage of the weather, Los Angeles has embraced outdoor dining with entire areas moving operations outdoors including Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, home to The Butcher’s Daughter and Greenleaf Kitchen & Cocktails, and the restaurant-rich Arts District. (Check the California Restaurant Association for updates).

HOLIDAY AFFAIRS Few holiday events have been confirmed, except the new “Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey,” a one-hour drive-through show coming to the Fairplex event campus in Pomona Nov. 6 to Jan. 3 (from $24.95).

PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS Miami-Dade County requires face masks indoors. Indoor and outdoor dining is unlimited as long as establishments maintain six feet between tables. No more than 10 people may gather and a curfew runs from midnight to 6 a.m. The beaches are open without face-covering requirements as long as visitors maintain six feet of social distance from others outside their households. Movie theaters, concert halls and other indoor entertainment venues are limited to 50 percent capacity.

LODGING DEALS The bohemian Freehand Miami in South Beach has a 30 percent off family rate from $60 a night with a two-night minimum through Dec. 29. Luxury hotels are throwing in extra amenities; at the InterContinental Miami downtown, overnights start at $229 and include access to a beach club on South Beach with lounge chairs, use of bicycles and early check-in. More deals are posted at the Miami visitor’s bureau website.

THINGS TO DO Apart from beach time, explore the wild side of the city within view of the skyline at Biscayne National Park on Key Biscayne. Paddle trips with the Biscayne National Park Institute include kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding in 90-minute-to-six-hour outings (from $39). Newly relocated in the emerging Allapattah neighborhood, the expanded Rubell Museum, devoted to contemporary art, is open at less than 25 percent capacity with a show of more than 300 works by 100 influential artists including Ai Weiwei, Yayoi Kusama and Kehinde Wiley (tickets $15). Nearby, wander the mural-filled Wynwood neighborhood, home to the Wynwood Walls (free). Indulge in lurid local history on a “scandals” walking tour of South Beach with the nonprofit t Miami Design Preservation League ($30).

DINING It’s not hard to find outdoor dining or drinking in Miami, from the cocktail garden of Casa Florida in Little Havana to the new food hall The Doral Yard with outdoor seating on Main Street, in the city of Doral west of the airport.

HOLIDAY AFFAIRS Visit the 1920’s-era Deering Estate, a coastal compound developed by the industrialist Charles Deering, to see its vintage holiday décor Nov. 27 to Jan. 8 (admission $15).

PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS In New York, face coverings are required in public, including on the subways. Hotels do not have guest-room capacity restrictions, though gatherings are limited to 50 people. Restaurants may serve indoors at up to 25 percent capacity. Indoors, museums and historical sites are also at 25 percent capacity. Broadway and theaters throughout town remain closed.

LODGING DEALS In Midtown, the Dylan Hotel NYC is offering 25 percent off its best rates through year’s end using the promo code NYCGO, often bringing rooms in the 1911-vintage former chemist’s club to $104. Among luxury hotels in the neighborhood, The Langham New York is offering a package including 10 percent off rates, a $50 credit and complimentary parking (from $495, pre-discount). See more hotel offers on the visitor office’s deals page; a partnership with Mastercard offers $25 back on every $100 spent on hotels, up to $100 through year’s end.

THINGS TO DO You can go back indoors to the capacity-controlled Metropolitan Museum of Art. But perhaps now is the time to explore its more remote Met Cloisters, built with elements of medieval European cloisters and devoted to European medieval art, on four acres in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan (timed, ticketed admission $25). With the usual tourist throngs gone, take unfettered walks across the Brooklyn Bridge or along the High Line, the elevated linear park on the west side of Manhattan (free, but High Line requires a timed entry pass through Nov. 1). See the city lights at night with Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises through Oct. 31 (from $27). NYC & Company maintains a useful page detailing what’s open in the city.

DINING Outdoor dining, a formerly temporary solution to indoor restaurant closures, has been made permanent. More than 10,000 restaurants have moved outdoors and many are adapting to winter with heat lamps, tents and plastic igloos. In addition, the city’s Open Streets: Restaurants program will continue, shutting down blocks — such as the NoMad Piazza on Broadway between 25th and 31st Streets — to allow restaurants to expand into the streets.

HOLIDAY AFFAIRS Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will televise a spectacle from Herald Square, warning away in-person spectators. But the Bronx Zoo plans to hold its Holiday Lights display Nov. 20 to Jan. 10 (tickets $34.95). The light installation LuminoCity Festival on Randalls Island plans to return with timed entry, temperature checks and hand-sanitizing stations Nov. 27 to Jan. 10 (tickets $38).

PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS In Phoenix, indoor dining is limited to 50 percent capacity. Events are capped at 50 people. Hotel pools are open. Throughout Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, face coverings are required indoors.

LODGING DEALS The run-up to the holidays offers deals across the city’s many resorts. Through Feb. 25, the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa has midweek rates from $279, including a $100 resort credit, free golf for up to four golfers and 50 percent off pool cabana reservations. The luxury resort The Phoenician, in neighboring Scottsdale, has rates from $279 through Jan. 31, about a 35 percent savings over last year. A “family excursions” package offers a second connecting room at 25 percent off.

THINGS TO DO Take advantage of fall’s cooler temperatures to do some hiking in and around Phoenix, from an easy amble around the red sandstone formations of Papago Park to the challenging hike atop city landmark Camelback Mountain (free). Stay outdoors to view the cactuses and succulents at the Desert Botanical Garden (timed tickets $24.95) or mask up and check out the comprehensive collections of Native American art at the Heard Museum, where capacity is capped at about 33 percent ($15). Among nightlife options, there are several drive-in movie theaters around town and the theater at the Musical Instrument Museum recently opened with concerts at half capacity for 60- to 75-minute shows (tickets from $23.50). October through December, the Royal Palms Resort and Spa will offer outdoor live music and movie screenings with socially distanced seating on the lawn (free).

DINING Weather in Phoenix encourages outdoor dining — especially in winter — with offerings ranging from the urban farm-to-table sophisticate Ocotillo to the suburban Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn, surrounding diners in desert blooms and adobe walls.

HOLIDAY AFFAIRS This year, visitors to ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo can see the illuminated grounds by walking ($20) or on cruise nights ($60 a car) Nov. 7 to Jan. 31. The event production company World of Illumination will stage the mile-long drive-through light and music show “Rockin’ Christmas” in suburban Glendale Nov. 6 to Jan. 3 and “Arctic Adventure” in nearby Tempe Nov. 10 to Jan. 3 (each from $29).

PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS King County, home of Seattle, is in Phase 2 of Washington State’s four-step reopening plan, limiting restaurants to under 50 percent capacity and tables to six diners maximum. Libraries, museums and movie theaters are capped at 25 percent capacity. Individuals in public and shared spaces, indoors or out, must wear masks. Because of the highly publicized protests for social justice this summer, Visit Seattle has created a web page devoted to safety.

LODGING DEALS The Thompson Seattle downtown, overlooking Pike Place Market, has a “weekender” deal including parking and a $25 breakfast credit (from $209). The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle, where the pool is closed but the gym is open with private Peloton and yoga rooms available by reservation, has a staycation deal for the whole family that waives the pet fee (normally $50) and includes breakfast and parking (from $249).

THINGS TO DO The temperate weather, with or without drizzle, makes getting outside to explore the area’s abundant coasts, waterways and mountains a seasonless attraction. The nonprofit Washington Trails Association lists hundreds of hiking trails within striking distance of the city, from the 1.5-mile urban route in Washington Park Arboretum to the eight-mile round-trip trek on Mount Si, 30 miles east of town, gaining 3,150 feet. Stay on foot to see the outdoor art at the nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park with works by Richard Serra and Louise Bourgeois (free). Rent a hybrid bike from Pedal Anywhere (from $30 a day) to explore northern Seattle neighborhoods via the 20-mile Burke-Gilman Trail. Enjoy the extra elbow room at the glass sculpture installation Chihuly Garden and Glass ($32).

DINING Temporary permits for sidewalk and curbside outdoor dining were recently extended to Oct. 31, 2021. The landmark Pike Place Market has created pop-up patios and alley seating for its restaurants.

HOLIDAY AFFAIRS WildLanterns at Woodland Park Zoo, featuring lanterns shaped like grizzly bears, snow leopards and more, takes place Nov. 13 to Jan. 17 (timed tickets $28.95).

By: Elaine Glusac
Title: How to Staycation in 6 American Cities
Sourced From:
Published Date: Thu, 29 Oct 2020 09:00:28 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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