This weekend: Storm the Bastille... in Philly?!
Just 10 days after our Independence Day celebrations, France has its own party—the Fête Nationale, or Bastille Day, marking the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789.
Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary is hosting an event Saturday with actors recreating the storming of the Bastille prison. Organizers say the re-enactment is "influenced more by Monty Python than the French Revolution," and participants dress up in period garb, so break out your own so-bad-it's-good French accent and join the "révolution!" There's a free French-themed street party, pet parade, and Tricycle Tour de France for kids before the show, where Marie Antoinette will throw out 2,000 Tastykakes to the audience. The event is free, but you can also take daytime tours of the penintentiary for $12 per person—or rare nighttime tours for $10 per person.
Can't make it to Philly? In Boston's Harvard Square, thousands are expected on Sunday for the free all-day block party, with a beer garden, French food, and family events like face painting and magician performances. After a waiter's race at 5 p.m., a DJ will spin into the night to encourage dancing in the streets.
In case you're a little rusty on your 18th-century French history: On July 14, 1789, a French mob overtook the Bastille, then a state prison that held political prisoners. The day has since become a symbol of the ideology of the French Revolution that followed.
Readers' best Italy photos
We pored over hundreds of your Italy submissions to pick these 20 outstanding photos. Some capture iconic images like a Tuscan hill town or homes piled on Cinque Terre's craggy coastline. Others hit on quieter, unexpected moments—a gondolier pausing for a break or a rainbow-colored umbrella brightening a dreary afternoon in Siena. See for yourself in our slide show. RELATED Real Deals: Italy From $699 Italy: 6 Authentic Ways to Spend the Night
Worth reading: Dillinger's Chicago tourist trail
A few of our favorite links from around the 'net this week: Famous gangster John Dillinger's story on the big screen means more tourists in his old Chicago haunts. [Chicago Tribune] AIDS Levy for Air Travelers? [World Hum] How do people survive airline crashes? It's not an exact science. [CNN.com] Alaska's Bering Sea Crab Fishermen's Tour—like Deadliest Catch, minus all the work. [Jaunted] Can rock festivals get green? Denmark's Roskilde certainly tries. [Treehugger] Readers write about what makes a good travel companion. [Gadling] For more travel blogs, go to Alltop.
This Weekend: Norfolk celebrates the Fourth with Harborfest
America's birthday falls conveniently on a Saturday this year (or perhaps inconveniently, if this means you won't get a day off from work). A great way to celebrate the big day is to head to the 33rd annual Harborfest in Norfolk, Va., which takes place at the newly revamped Town Point Park over three days, July 3–5. One of the highlights of Harborfest is the annual Parade of Sail, when a large group of sailboats, tugs, motorboats, and, the highlight, several tall ships make their way along the Elizabeth River, arriving at the downtown harbor at noon. This year's Parade of Sail will feature the Brazilian Cisne Branco and the Pride of Baltimore II, which celebrates the early-19th-century Baltimore clippers, ships built for speed and small cargoes that were a key element in the U.S. Navy in the War of 1812. The ships will be open for tours after the parade. (Ship fans should also make sure to check out the USS Wisconsin—or, as her crew called her, the Wisky—at the maritime museum Nauticus, a short walk from Town Point Park.) This year's festival has fireworks each night, including two shows in full darkness, on Friday at 10 p.m. and Saturday at 9:30 p.m., and a 7:30 p.m. twilight show on Sunday. The seven-acre Town Point Park, which hosts the weekend's events, has recently been updated—thousands of new shrubs and flowers have been planted, and new lighting has been installed to improve visibility and safety (and minimize energy use). The park is also a free Wi-Fi zone, a very welcome feature. Harborfest events, most of which are free, take place on Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. Plan on crowds: Nearly half a million people are expected to show up over the course of the weekend. RELATED My Hometown: Norfolk, Va.
A Graceland for Jackson fans?
Reports are still streaming in about fans building impromptu shrines and tributes to Michael Jackson worldwide, including at spots in London, where Jackson was scheduled to perform a sold-out 50-concert set. And I don't know about you, but it seemed all I heard this weekend was the King of Pop's greatest hits, spilling out of apartment windows and car sunroofs. But I'm curious: Where will Jackson's ultimate shrine be, the mecca of his famous (and often infamous) career? Elvis has his Graceland, and there's speculation that Michael Jackson could have the same kind of touristy, pilgrimage-like following. Will it be Gary, Indiana, the place of his birth? The mayor sure hopes so, as an influx of tourism would help the ailing steel town. Or will it be the Motown museum in Detroit, where the Jackson 5 recorded their first songs? What about creepy Neverland Ranch in California? Roger Brooks, the CEO of Destination Development International, was quoted in an AP article saying, "It was his place as an adult. It was his vision that built the place from the ground up." We'd also throw NYC's Apollo Theater into the ring. Jackson performed there in 1967 at an amateur night with his brothers (and won). As was everything with the King of Pop, it'll be interesting to see what happens.