Experience Narnia in Philadelphia
Intrigued by the filming locations depicted in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, but can't make it to New Zealand, Poland, or Slovakia this winter? Well, head to Philadelphia instead to get your fill of all things Narnia at the Franklin Institute when "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition" opens there this Friday, Nov. 28.
The 10,000-square-foot interactive exhibit features scene displays, creatures, props, and costumes from both movies, while also explaining the science and natural history behind the fantasy world. Guests enter in a re-creation of author C.S. Lewis's study and then step through a wardrobe to find themselves in a wintry Narnia scene, complete with wind and falling snow.
Highlights include a replica of the White Witch's throne that visitors can sit on to feel its icy chill, accompanied by a display on climate change; a section on King Miraz's castle from Prince Caspian where guests can build an arch, learn about the architectural strategies used in the design, and also witness a demonstration of a medieval catapulting weapon; and an area showcasing pieces of petrified history, including a 5-million-year-old cave bear tooth.
The displays—supported by input from NASA and California Institute of Technology scientists—are especially designed to allow kids to question the validity of the fantastical elements in the movies: Can animals communicate with humans? Can a waterfall really freeze? Can we manipulate the weather?
In the movies, the magic was grounded in reality. As Prince Caspian executive producer Perry Moore explains, "That kind of magic is related to nature. It's about the power of the planet and the power of the earth."
The exhibit runs at the Franklin through Apr. 19, 2009. Tickets cost $22.25 for adults and $17.50 for kids before 5:30 p.m., which also includes regular museum admission; after 5:30 p.m., adults pay $10.50 and kids pay $9.50. Tickets are sold online. Narnia-themed packages are also available at local hotels. narniaexhibition.com
Philadelphia is the second stop on the traveling exhibit's multi-city tour. It debuted in Phoenix's Arizona Science Center in June and will visit eight more cities in the U.S. and Canada over the next five years.
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New York: A cool hotel for under $100 a night is adding rooms
A visit to New York—one of the most expensive cities in the country—might not seem wise in the current economic climate, but maybe this will help: We know of a hotel where you can pay less than $100 per night. Are the rooms big and plush? Well, no. They're tiny, and most guests share a communal bathroom. But they're stylish, clean, and have more high-tech amenities than some hotels that cost three times as much. The Jane Hotel The West Village location is a whole lot cooler than midtown, where most of the city's hotels are, and the newly restored 1907 building has a heck of a lot more character. The $99 rooms each have a single bed with built-in drawers, a luggage rack, free Wi-Fi, a phone with voicemail, an LCD television, a DVD player, and an iPod docking station. Sixty rooms are currently open, and the remaining 140 will open in the New Year. If you're feeling flush, you can go for one of the 30 queen rooms, most of which will have their own bathrooms (rates haven't been set yet, but will probably be in the mid-$200s). In February, a ballroom bar and breakfast venue will open (breakfast will be included in the $99), and in the summer, look for a rooftop bar and basement pool. 113 Jane Street, 212/924-6700, thejanenyc.com. MORE GREAT HOTELS New York City at a Price That's Right 2008 We found eight affordable hotels, including The Pod Hotel in Midtown East where a room with bunk beds starts at $89 per night. Rooms have iPod docking stations, LCD televisions, free Wi-Fi, telephone with voicemail, in-room safes, closets, and a table and chair. Larger rooms, some with private bathrooms, start at $109. Check out the full list of hotels…
Should churches have gift shops and coffee shops?
Some of Europe's greatest contributions to art and architecture have been in its churches. But Europeans are donating less and less money to churches. So there's less money on hand to maintain these gorgeous buildings. This trend really hit home for me during a summer visit to Haarlem, a town in the Netherlands. I dropped by the Grote Kerk (or Sint Bavokerk), a Protestant church. Its Gothic buttresses inspire passersby to look upward. Its organ (shown here) has an astonishingly rich sound despite being more than three centuries old. Handel and Mozart are said to have played on it. I was surprised to see a coffee shop in one part of the church. Some pews had been cleared away, and an espresso machine with some tables had been filled in. The goal was not to offer treats after a service to encourage parishioners to mingle. Instead it was to earn some extra cash. I had never seen a café in a church before, but I've often seen churches try to earn money on tourists. Elsewhere in Europe, the line between where a church ends and a gift shop begins is often blurred. Have you ever witnessed this? If so, feel free to share any thoughts or stories.
Italy: Decoding those tempting gelato flavors and pizza toppings
We just published a handy one-page Italy Menu Decoder, the latest in our growing series. But to do justice to popular Italian dishes and terms for dining in restaurants, we had to leave out some translations related to gelato and pizza—perhaps visitors’ biggest cravings. After the jump, read our cheat sheet of words to know for your next gelateria or pizzeria stop. At the Gelateria crema - custard made with eggs panna - vanilla cream (not whipped, lighter than gelato alla crema) panna montata - whipped cream fiordilatte - delicate vanilla cream (generally made without eggs) cioccolato/cioccolato fondente - chocolate/dark chocolate nocciola - hazelnut caffé - coffee stracciatella - vanilla chocolate chip After Eight - mint chocolate chip Bacio - chocolate hazelnut cream frutti di bosco - wild-berry fruit amarena - sour cherry cono - cone coppa - cup gusto - flavor At the Pizzeria margherita - tomato, basil, mozzarella marinara - tomato, garlic napoli - tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, capers, oregano prosciutto - tomato, mozzarella, cooked ham funghi - tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms wurstel - tomato, mozzarella, hot-dog rounds salsiccia - tomato, mozzarella, crumbled sausage atomica - varies, but always has tomato, mozzarella, and hot pepper quattro formaggi - tomato, 4 cheeses quattro stagioni - tomato, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, olives, ham, mushrooms capricciosa - pizzaiolo's, or pizza-maker's, surprise calzone - a pizza folded over, usually with mozzarella and ham inside, and tomato on top pizza al taglio - pizza by the slice —Kyle Phillips, a Tuscany-based food and travel writer
Paris: "C'est Arrivé!": The Bojo is upon us
My introduction to Beaujolais wine came, oddly enough, from an Urge Overkill song. The Chicago band sings, in "Ticket to LA," about sucking on a bottle of "boojalaaaay" while riding a westbound Greyhound bus. That certainly sounded exotic to a 16-year-old in Kansas. Having no other frame of reference, I imagined this Beaujolais tasting something like the wine coolers we drank in the Taco Bell parking lot. I wasn't wrong. Years of Paris-based wine "study" have led me to conclude that Beaujolais—at least the Nouveau variety—does indeed taste like Bartles & Jaymes. The wine is light, sweet, purple, and meant to be served cold. Thanks to the process of carbonic maceration (to accelerate the wine's aging process), it also produces famously punishing hangovers. If that stimulates your adolescent cravings, you'll be happy to know that a rosé variety (strawberry cooler, anyone?) has been recently introduced in France and Japan. I'm crossing my fingers for "orchard peach" by 2010. Nearly 50 million bottles of this sweet stuff are now sold every year. The season begins with an official kickoff on the third Thursday of November (that's tomorrow). In the Beaujolais region of France (which also produces many fine cru like Morgon and Brouilly), there are more than 120 celebrations to mark the occasion. Global marketing maneuvers aside, this is a local harvest tradition that stems from vin de l'année—a wine created to drink almost immediately in celebration of the crop. In Lyon and smaller towns of the region, the release date will be marked by fireworks, feasts, and, of course, lots of tastings. Bars and bistrots across Paris will also be celebrating on November 20. Walk down any street and you're likely to spot a sign proclaiming that "le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!" Resistance is futile, so you may as well join in the youthful spirit and have some fun. Here are a few addresses to guide your regression: L'Estaminet, an adorable wine bar inside the Marché Enfants Rouge, will put out a spread of cheese and charcuterie to accompany all-you-can drink vins primeurs (young wines) from Beaujolais and other regions. From 6-11 p.m. for €20 ($25) per person. 39 rue de Bretagne, 3rd arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-72-28-12. There's a similar happening on the Péniche la Baleine Blanche—a white whale of a boat floating in the Seine. A buffet campagnard (country cookin') will be served from 8 to 10:30 p.m., and Beaujolais and beer will flow freely from an open bar all night. DJ Robi will spin with dancing until the wee hours. Entry is €20 after 10:30pm, and €30 ($38) if you arrive early for dinner. Docked at Port de la Gare, near the Simone de Beauvoir footbridge, 13th arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-52-64-31. For a more gastronomic evening, the excellent L'Opportun, a bouchon (Lyonnais-style bistrot), will serve classic food from the region and carefully selected cuvées—the best of Beaujolais Nouveau. Menus start at €19 ($24). 62-64 boulevard Edgar Quinet, 14th arrondissement, 011-33/1-43-20-26-89. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL'S BLOG Our Affordable Paris series.