The Vatican stays open to help Abruzzo earthquake victims
This Sunday, the Vatican Museums are opening their doors and donating all admission fees to families left homeless by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked Abruzzo, a region northeast of Rome, on April 6.
Museum staff will donate their salaries for the day and admit visitors from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. close. Admission is €14 ($18.60) for adults. The museums are typically closed on Sundays, except for the final Sunday of each month when they're free.
Pope Benedict XVI visited Abruzzo at end of April. His stops included a shattered medieval basilica near L'Aquila and the tents that have sprung up around the devastated town of Onna, where he offered hugs, prayers, and promises.
Worth reading: Destination weddings in Mexico are jilted at the altar
Some interesting items around the Internet. Some wedding couples have jilted their destination weddings in Mexico out of fear of swine flu. [The New York Times] The latest place for literary ex-pats? Berlin. [World Hum] The National Trust for Historic Preservation named its 11 most endangered sites in the U.S. last week, including a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed temple in Illinois. [Intelligent Travel] Some favorite Aussie abbreviations—a little more voddy, anyone? [Carry On (welcome to the blogosphere!)] Three customer-service policies that should be revived. [MSNBC] Mind that waistline: European chain Concorde is offering an 800-calorie, three-course meal. [HotelChatter] For more travel blogs, go to Alltop.com.
This weekend: Fly high in Branson, Mo., with a new airport and air show
Branson, Mo., receives 8 million visitors a year, who are drawn to its more than 50 theaters and 100 live shows. But getting there isn't easy. Located in southern Missouri, Branson's closest airport has been Springfield, Mo.—about an hour away. Thankfully, on Monday, a $155-million airport opens in Branson. (Fun fact: It's the first commercial airport in the country to be financed, built, and operated privately.) To celebrate, Branson is hosting its first-ever air show, with performances by the elite U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, a collection of F-16s whose pilots execute 30 high-flying maneuvers in one show—including a six-plane formation that's so close you'll hold your breath. The US Army Golden Knights and the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, among many others, will also perform. The show starts Friday night, with events scheduled through Sunday. Besides fantastic displays of aerial wizardry in the sky, there will also be historic aircraft on display. The Branson Airport officially opens on Monday, with a 7,140-foot runway and a terminal with four gates. AirTran and Sun Country will provide service from cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Milwaukee (Airfarewatchdog.com spotted a $129 round-trip flight between Dallas and Branson). Read more about the airport on msnbc.com. For more info on all of Branson's year-round shows and activities, visit its official website. Tickets to the air show are $18 for adults at the gate and $6 for kids 6-12 (kids under 6 free).
Cheap shopping in Paris--isn't it bromantic?
Springtime in Paris is the season of bromance. With apologies to Paul Rudd, however, the local version isn't about platonic male bonding. The 'bro' that sets Parisian hearts a flutter is a secondhand sale—the brocante. French love for the brocante is blooming now as dealers begin to organize their spring and summer sales. You'll find them popping up all over town and selling a mix of antique furniture, charming old posters, and obscure collectables. These sales, organized by professional brocanteurs, are temporary and mobile but offer the same sort of goods that you'd find at one of the city's more permanent flea markets (marchés aux puces) on the outskirts of town. To learn which brocantes will be operating during your visit, consult this website. Brocantes are joined in good weather by the equally romantic vide-greniers—neighborhood sidewalk sales that invite residents to "empty the attic." These tag sales are a fascinating mix of junk and treasure and offer a unique window into the lives of the local population. They're also a great source for funny and inexpensive gifts—what friend back at home wouldn't love a French action figure or an old Johnny Hallyday calendar? This website provides a list of vide-greniers by arrondissment, and also lists the city's brocantes and marchés aux puces. To get you in the mood for bromance, here's a list of some of the sales that are scheduled in May: Brocantes • May 10 in the 18th arrondissement • May 10 in the 20th arrondissement • May 29 in the 3rd arrondissement • May 30 in the 3rd arrondissement • May 31 in the 3rd arrondissement Vide-Greniers • May 2 in the 13th arrondissement • May 2 in the 14th arrondissement • May 3 in the 18th arrondissement • May 8 in the 14th arrondissement • May 10 in the 11th arrondissement • May 16 in the 13th arrondissement • May 16 in the 13th arrondissement • May 17 in the 2nd arrondissement • May 17 in the 13th arrondissement • May 17 in the 13th arrondissement • May 17 in the 13th arrondissement • May 17 in the 14th arrondissement • May 17 in the 17th arrondissement • May 17 in the 17th arrondissement • May 17 in the 18th arrondissement • May 17 in the 20th arrondissement • May 24 in the 14th arrondissement • May 24 in the 14th arrondissement • May 24 in the 15th arrondissement • May 24 in the 15th arrondissement • May 29 in the 3rd arrondissement • May 30 in the 3rd arrondissement • May 31 in the 3rd arrondissement
Clean Plates NYC: 5 healthy, tasty meals under $25
A slim new guide to Manhattan restaurants makes the case that eating organic, locally-sourced food—prepared in ways that respect the environment—isn't just trendy, but affordable and easy, too. Nutritionist Jared Koch and food critic Alex Van Buren ate their way through 125 restaurants to refine their selection. They deducted points for no-nos like hormone-injected meats, too many artificial sweeteners, unfiltered water, too many fake soy products, and an overemphasis on dairy, shellfish, veal, and foie gras. The appendices list the restaurants in categories like flexitarian spots (good for mixed groups of carnivores and vegetarians), brunch spots, and power lunches. Clean Plates NYC also includes practical tips for customizing your own healthy diet and a glossary explaining just what buzz phrases like grass-fed, biodynamic, and raw foodist mean. Use promo code "btravel" to get a 10 percent discount off the book ($13.95) if you purchase it from cleanplatesnyc.com by Monday, May 11. And read on for Alex's five favorite New York meals under $25—excerpts of her reviews of Back Forty, Dirty Bird To-Go, Hangawi, Lupa, and Sacred Chow… Back Forty Brightly lit, with nods to the so-called "haute barnyard" movement that has stormed the city—crisp white mantles laden with china, sturdy wooden farmhouse-style tables and a simple back patio strung with bobbing lights—the restaurant serves up seasonal American fare that is almost all organic or local. So take a bite of that juicy, antibiotic-free burger covered with slabs of heritage bacon, and relax: You're eating pretty close to home here, since owner Peter Hoffman sources within the tri-state region as often as possible. 190 Ave. B at 12th St., 212/388-1990. Dirty Bird To-Go Only in New York can you snag an order "to go" from a tiny, nondescript fried chicken joint and realize—probably after sinking your teeth into a crisp-skinned, slow-roasted rotisserie bird or an astoundingly juicy fried drumstick—that this is grub from a haute cuisine veteran and a James Beard Award (the Oscars of food) winner. Every Dirty Bird sent out the door is hormone- and antibiotic-free and locally raised. And if you have to go for the fried stuff, the oil they use for frying is recycled for biodiesel fuel. 204 W. 14th St., between 7th and 8th Aves., 212/620-4836. Hangawi The zenlike effect of the space—glowing orange walls, modern low-lit lighting fixtures, ornate Korean art—is that of an upscale yoga studio. The all-vegan fare possesses equally sedative properties: A slim all-organic menu comes tucked into a "regular" menu. Among its wide-ranging offerings were a delicious dandelion and avocado salad with a peanuty wasabi sauce in which nutty dressing and buttery fruit nicely counter the bite of super-salubrious dandelion greens. We stuck to this menu as much as possible, and were equally impressed by its entrees. 12 E. 32nd St., between 5th and Madison Aves., 212/213-0077. Lupa The West Village restaurant co-owned by Mario Batali has been churning out excellent Old World fare for many years. Don't let its hubbub dissuade you from eating there. Make a reservation or arrive early as a walk-in; you can always linger at the bar to admire the exposed brick interior and European feel of the place over a glass of vino selected from the extensive wine list. To cut the wait, consider the long wooden communal table by the front: There's plenty of elbow room, and a chance to ask a neighbor about those beets drizzled with cream sauce and speckled with pistachios (they're worth it) or the roast summer squash aromatic with thyme and mint (even better). 170 Thompson St., between Houston and Bleecker Sts., 212/982-5089. Sacred Chow The hippie vibe is on the premises in a major way: Gargantuan faux-Japanese lanterns dangle overhead; the logo is of a mellow-looking cartoon cow practicing yoga; our waiter was über-friendly despite being the only one working his shift. Cynical Gothamites will have to bite their tongues at the sincerity of it all. But the delicious, 95% organic food will get them talking again. Curried tofu scramble—so egglike we experienced momentary disorientation—was served with a side of addictively smoky new potatoes that count among the best we've eaten at brunch. Spying a waffle made with spelt and oats, we ordered it and braced ourselves (spelt, though healthy, is tricky to make tasty) only to be wowed by its plushness. 227 Sullivan St., between Bleecker and W. 3rd St., 212/337-0863.