Category: Vacations

Unfinished Spanish cathedral is being built on 53 years of faith

Posted on December, 20 2014

There are hundreds of magnificent cathedrals across Europe, so why do streams of visitors journey to a Madrid suburb to see an unfinished cathedral being built largely with discarded materials and without blueprints by an eccentric, elderly man?

My wife, two friends and I decided to see for ourselves, leaving behind the museums and tapas bars of Madrid. As we traveled to Mejorada del Campo, we wondered about the cathedral’s builder, 89-year-old Justo Gallego Martinez, better known as Don Justo. Is he a modern-day Don Quixote flailing at an impossible dream, or is he a visionary of extraordinary persistence, perhaps even a genius?

As we entered the cathedral, rays of sunlight poured through an unfinished dome, creating a sunburst of filtered light. Don Justo, a small, wiry man, greeted us with a wide smile. He told us that his first ambition — to become a Roman Catholic monk — was shattered when he contracted tuberculosis and had to leave the monastery. He prayed, meditated and finally came up with a plan to serve God. He would build a church, or better yet, a cathedral.

Don Justo was neither an architect nor engineer and lacked construction experience. No matter. He consulted books and photos of cathedrals and other famous buildings and began construction in 1961.

In that era, during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, Mejorada del Campo was a tiny farming community. No one paid much attention to construction that began without building permits.

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Category: Vacations

Tired of waiting at border crossings? Now, there’s an app for that

Posted on December, 17 2014
 Tired of waiting at border crossings? Now, theres an app for that

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has a new mobile app that will tell travelers how long they’ll have to wait in line at land border crossings to Mexico and Canada.

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Category: Vacations

32 best new theme park additions of 2015

Posted on December, 15 2014

Looking ahead to 2015, theme parks around the world are planning to add a host of new attractions designed to thrill ride enthusiasts.

Consider this a tentative and fluid list of new attractions on tap across the globe. As is often the case, some projects may get delayed while new ones get announced.

Let’s take a look at the 32 most anticipated additions planned for 2015 at theme parks close to home, across the United States and around the world.

1) Shanghai Disneyland – New park

The 800-pound gorilla on the theme park horizon is Shanghai Disneyland, the $ 4.4-billion resort expected to open in late 2015 or early 2016 with a Magic Kingdom-style theme park, two hotels and a Downtown Disney shopping center. The Chinese government wants Shanghai Disneyland to be sharply different from the other five Magic Kingdom theme parks around the globe, with several all-new attractions related to Chinese culture and myth woven into and around classic Disney attractions.

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Category: Vacations

Holiday window displays light up New York, Philadelphia and London

Posted on December, 10 2014

Here’s a shopping spree at some of the world’s finest retailers that won’t cost you a dime: viewing holiday displays in store windows. The only thing you’ll spend is time.

Think of fancy store windows as a sort of early television, although they were really a way of selling, according to the 1924 book “Window Dressing: The Principles of Display”  by G.L. Timmins. That tome seems quaint at times (“lady window trimmers” probably aren’t going to be successful) and an eerily prescient peek at modern merchandising at others.

“About 1835, London had a number of show windows of small glass panes, but very little thought was then given to window dressing,” it says.  “About 1838, London’s first plate glass windows were installed and this gave rise to further attempts at window dressing.”

By the early 20th century, holiday windows had hopped the pond, and New York City’s displays began catching the public’s attention — and affection.

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Category: Vacations

Letters: Roaming thoughts

Posted on December, 08 2014

Regarding “Poetry in Motion,” by Peter Mandel [Nov. 30]: I had to smile at the line from the reader who wrote about, “the tension … between the experience of traveling and the longing for home.”

Toward the end of a wonderful 4,500-mile West Coast/southern Canada road trip, I experienced for the first time the redundancy built into the word “sightseeing.” It had become something of an “eyesore.”

I didn’t want to “see” another thing that kept me from a straight line home: pedal to the metal!

Don Salper


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Category: Vacations

At California’s Sugar Bowl ski resort, a 75-year run of rustic charm

Posted on December, 06 2014

In the 1941 Walt Disney cartoon “The Art of Skiing,” Goofy slips and slides out of the shed-roofed Sugar Bowl Ski Resort lodge, where he’s bunking, and heads to the slopes for several spectacular spills. In the background, there’s occasional melodic yodeling performed by resort founder Hannes Schroll, an Austrian ski racer and instructor who also spent time at Yosemite National Park.

The yodeling has declined markedly since the ski area opened 75 years ago, but the still privately owned resort and lodge looks much as it did in 1939. Moreover, the black-diamond runs remain as challenging.

In the last few years, Sugar Bowl has invested $ 20 million in upgrades, such as adding the Crow’s Peak lift. Sugar Bowl also acquired the nearby 6,000-acre Royal Gorge cross-country ski resort and is investing $ 750,000 in improvements. With additions and changes, Sugar Bowl now has 102 trails spread over 1,650 acres, with 13 lifts and slopeside parking at the foot of the Mt. Judah Express.

Disney, an early investor and an avid skier, as well as the many other Hollywood luminaries who frequented Sugar Bowl in its early days, would still feel at home in the resort’s car-free core. Most homeowners at the resort were members of prominent San Francisco families, but film stars such as Robert Stack, Jean Arthur, Claudette Colbert, Errol Flynn and Marilyn Monroe also skied at Sugar Bowl.

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Category: Vacations

Las Vegas: Saddle up for the National Finals Rodeo

Posted on December, 03 2014

Las Vegas returns to its Wild West roots as the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo gallops into town starting Thursday and continuing through Dec. 13.

The rodeo is one of the biggest events of the year in Las Vegas. Tens of thousands of fans will don their finest hats and boots to cheer on the top-ranked contestants in categories such as barrel racing, bull riding and steer wrestling.

Most of the events take place at the Thomas & Mack Center east of the Strip, but the whole city is gearing up to welcome the cowpokes.

Marketplaces full of western wear and memorabilia will spring up, as will autograph parties, concerts and even special menus at restaurants.

The CBS Sports Network will have live coverage all 10 days. The action will also be shown on big screens scattered throughout various resorts.

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Category: Vacations

12hrs.net is for when your sightseeing time is limited

Posted on December, 01 2014

Here’s a website that can help when you’re hot to travel but short on time.

Name: 12HRS

Available: 12hrs.net

What it does: Provides 12-hour itineraries for travelers who are fond of great discoveries and love design, music and fashion. Available for 13 destinations in Europe and North America, including Berlin; Copenhagen; Paris; Vancouver, Canada; San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; and more.

What’s hot: The giant magazine-quality photos are beguiling, but make sure you read the text. If you delve deeper, you’ll find experience-driven travel tips that hit the mark for romantic hipsters as well as practical travelers. Unlike most time-based travel itineraries, these are paced correctly. You might be tired at the end of the day, but you’ll have visited heaps of brag-worthy hot spots that may or may not be in the guidebooks.

What’s not: Sometimes 12 hours are not enough. Additional content on a city, for example, might have its own page. Make sure you scroll all the way past the map to the bottom of the guide to link to additional content, if available, in the “Still Curious?” section.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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Category: Vacations

Car-sharing rental service opens an LAX pickup-dropoff spot

Posted on November, 12 2014
 Car sharing rental service opens an LAX pickup dropoff spot

Your idle car + LAX = making money? That’s the newest equation in the Southland from RelayRides, which is introducing a service that puts your car to work for you while you’re gone.

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Category: Vacations

Warning on returning from Ebola-affected countries

Posted on November, 10 2014
 Warning on returning from Ebola affected countries

In an Oct. 24 travel warning, the U.S. State Department explains that the Department of Homeland Security will now require travelers coming from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will need to fly through New York’s Kennedy; Newark, N.J.; Washington Dulles; Chicago O’Hare or Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airports and undergo screening for Ebola.

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Category: Vacations
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