"What exactly is that down there?"
Ever look out an airplane window and see an extraordinary landscape? Well, here's a guide to what you probably saw.
Astonishing aerial images taken from commercial and NASA-operated aircraft form the heart of the new book, America from the Air: A Guide to Landscape Along Your Route. When seen from the air, Lake Powell, Boston Harbor, the Caprock Escarpment in Texas, and other sights may inspire you to hum "Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies."
In a clever move, the book provides maps of 15 popular flight corridors, making it easy for you to find aerial photographs that correspond to about 40 popular routes you are likely to fly. Authors Daniel Mathews and James S. Jackson have helpfully annotated each image with captions that identify important features of the landscape.
We've put together a slide show of 10 images from the book to give you a taste. Enjoy.
MORE ON THE WEB A pilot is blogging photos and stories from his travels, including photographs of the aurora borealis ("northern lights") and unique cloud formations as seen from 35,000 feet. The blog is Flight Level 390.
Hotels: W offers free car service
Want a lift? Guests at all 18 W Hotels in the United States now have access to a luxury SUV that can take them to restaurants, the theater, and the airport. The car service offers begins today and lasts through Jan. 31, 2009. At most of the W properties, Acura’s seven-passenger 2008 MDX comes with a driver and is stocked with free bottled water. Gas and tolls are included, and drivers are instructed not to accept tips. Mercifully, there's no time or mileage limit. (When I stayed at the W in the French Quarter, New Orleans, this would've saved me a $29 cab ride to the airport.) There are a few catches, of course: The car service only offers a one-way ride from the hotel to your destination. The car can't be called for a pickup, but you can use it as many times as you want during your stay. Two W properties aren't playing ball. The W Silicon Valley in Newark, Calif., and W Honolulu-Diamond Head in Hawaii don't offer on-call chauffeurs. But they do allow guests to take the car out for drives with a full tank of gas. Guests don't even have to refill the tank before they return a loaner car. I recommend you reserve the car at the time of your reservation. Each property only has two SUVs, and the vehicles will probably be booked up quickly. That said, if you went to the lobby in the morning on the day of your arrival, you should theoretically be able to reserve the car for 6 p.m. or later that night. Find more info at whotels.com/acuraexperience.
Paris: An ace food blogger shares her perfect Parisian food day
I'm not big on having tour guides lead me around when I visit a place (no matter how full of interesting facts they might be, I always find myself stifling yawns and plotting my escape). I do, however, love when I have a friend in the area who can introduce me to great local spots. I've never met Clotilde Dusoulier, author of the hugely popular blog Chocolate & Zucchini, but after reading her new book, Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris, I'm going to consider her that friend. She focuses on exactly what I focus on when I travel (food), and she describes everything in the most delightful, conversational way. Divided into two sections—Eats and Shops—the book covers all Clotilde's (see? we’re already on a first-name basis) favorite food spots in the city. She also gives some great tips on eating in Paris: when to drink café crème (morning only), where to put your hands during dinner (on the table, not under), whether you should eat while walking (unless you want stares, no). She’s not at all snooty about these rules, just looking out for you—as any good friend would. Recently, Clotilde took a couple of minutes away from her culinary adventures to answer a few questions… You write such intriguing descriptions of restaurants—I want to try them all! Sadly, I'll never have enough time in Paris to get to even half of them. If you were to design the perfect food day in Paris, where would you go and what would you eat? I would pick a Saturday: in the morning I'd go to the Marché des Batignolles (an organic farmer's market in the 17th), then I'd have lunch at Rose Bakery (in the 9th). I'd take the metro to La Grande Epicerie de Paris (large food shop in the 7th) to see what's new, I'd pick up some chocolate from Jean-Charles Rochoux a few blocks away (in the 6th), and then I'd go home and take a nap before I head out to dinner at Ribouldingue (neo-bistro in the 5th). You give a great tip about buying ready-to-eat foods—bread, cheese, charcuterie, crudités, pastries—and having a picnic in one of Paris's many parks. Do you have any favorite picnic spots you could recommend? The choice of a picnic spot depends on the mood of the day, and I have several favorites listed in the book, but one I could mention is the Quai Saint-Bernard in the 5th, along the Seine by Austerlitz Bridge, where there are large lawns and several arenas in which you can dance (or watch people dance) ballroom dances on summer nights. I get the impression you can't walk down a single Paris street without discovering a great new shop or restaurant. Any new finds since the book went to press? I'm certainly keeping myself updated on what new, and making notes for the next edition! In the meantime, there are sneak previews on my blog and my moblog, where I post pictures of restaurant meals. SAVE THE DATE On Tuesday, May 13, Clotilde Dusoulier, author of the new book Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris and a terrific blog, answers your questions on Paris and food in a live online chat at BudgetTravel.com.
D.C.: A new museum, dedicated to a free press
Today in Washington, D.C., the Newseum opened on Pennsylvania Avenue diagonally across from the National Gallery of Art. It's a 250,000 square-foot museum honoring journalists, who many Americans feel are out of touch with their fellow citizens, and the First Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of the press. (On the side of the modernist façade, the First Amendment* is etched in giant letters.) The Newseum has seven levels of galleries, theaters, and retail shops. There are exhibits on the past five decades of news history, a collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning photography, a mock-up of a TV newsroom where you can play reporter, and a sobering permanent exhibit on how the events of September 11th were covered. You'll also find wall panels that list the reporters who have been killed while doing their jobs. In all the hoopla, the roughly $450 million project was criticized by media gadfly Jack Shafer on NPR as a "vanity operation." (He's calling for a boycott, and recommends that travelers instead go to the Paley Museum in New York City.) Still, the Newseum might be worth a stop, especially for families looking for a different type of attraction on the National Mall. The Newseum uses the latest technology in its displays. And c'mon, taping a "report" in front of a simulated White House? That's just cool. (It may become even cooler for kids after MTV launches its new reality TV show about journalism, The Paper, next week.) Decide for yourself with a virtual tour. Tickets are $20 apiece. *Corrected 3:02 p.m. ET: The First Amendment is printed on the side of the building, not the Fourth, search and seizure (as originally posted, due to an editing error). ELSEWHERE The Washington Post offers tips on navigating the Newseum.
Deals: Travel like Indiana Jones
In honor of the new movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Expedia has created travel deals either based on or inspired by Indy's escapades. Trips go to locales such as India, Nepal, Jordan, and Egypt, and include thrills such as an elephant safari and a night tour of the Amazon (without snakes, hopefully). The full list of deals is available at www.expedia.com/indianajones. Sample deal: Egypt Tour from $2,299 A 10-day escorted tour round trip from Cairo with transfers and local transportation (train, plane, bus, boat), five nights' hotel, a three-night Nile cruise, one overnight train, a desert camel ride, and more. International airfare isn't included. Book by: Sept. 31. When: Until Dec. 31, 2009. Single supplement: $1,200. Expedia, 866/925-1793, expedia.com. MORE Watch BudgetTravel.com's narrated video of the ancient desert city of Petra, where Indy is pictured above. [CORRECTION: This blog post originally said that the picture above was a still from Raiders. In fact, it's a still from The Last Crusade. We regret the error.]