And the Winner of Sound of Music Live Is…

Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg
Jasper180969 via Flickr

Last night’s live production of The Sound of Music on NBC got more flak than Maria did for being an unsolvable problem nun. The acting was bad, the costumes St. Pauli-esque and the mountains… gasp! They were fake!

But there was one winner in last night’s performance: the city of Salzburg, Austria. Home of the Von Trapps, setting of the original movie and now site of thousands of Edelweiss-blasting tour buses and gazebo-worshipping 16-going-on-17-year-olds, Salzburg enjoyed a flurry of love last night.Some viewers reminisced about past visits to the Austrian city (and the nearby lake district):

Many were eager to show off their inner Maria:

For some, it inspired new interest in traveling to Austria:

Others piped in from Salzburg, where the Sound of Music is apparently still a hot jam after almost 50 years:

There was also the inevitable “there’s more to do in Salzburg than the Sound of Music”:

And finally, more Sound of Music Live bashing — this time in defense of the real place:

So while Carrie Underwood and Vampire Bill may not be winning Emmys, it was a good night for the beautiful city of Salzburg. Which by the way does have more to offer than the Sound of Music, including a wonderful Christmas Market, which is open right now.

10 Most Expensive Places to Rent a Car: Is it Worth the Cost?

High Gas Prices Have Rental Car Companies Going Green
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Travelers who rented cars in U.S. cities shelled out quite a bit of money this summer. Skift reports on a study by CheapCarRental.net that lists the most expensive cities to rent a car in the past two months. While New York and Boston came in at number 2 and 3, the winner, Portland, Oregon, was a bit more surprising.

The results beg the question: why bother getting a car when you’re visiting a city?

We’ve rounded up the top 10 most expensive car rental cities in the U.S., and found a reason in each that might make it worthwhile. Some of these places can be reached by taxi or public transportation, but most visitors drive themselves. Check out the slideshow below and be the judge: is this place worth renting a car?

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What Travel Websites Do People Actually Use?

expedia expedia.com online travel website
Alamy

You probably have your own online travel planning regimen, but are you using the same websites as everyone else?

Tnooz reports on the most popular travel websites last month, listing what online travel agency, lodging and destination, airline and general travel search terms were most popular. Here are some of the winners:
Top 3 online travel agency websites:

  1. Expedia
  2. Priceline.com
  3. CheapOair

Top 3 accommodations websites:

  1. TripAdvisor
  2. Booking.com
  3. Hotels.com

Top 3 airline websites:

  1. Southwest Airlines
  2. Delta Airlines
  3. United Airlines

Top 3 travel search terms:

  1. mapquest
  2. google maps
  3. southwest airlines

You can see the top 10 in each category at Tnooz.

Do these results surprise you?

South Florida Tries A New Way To Stop Speeding Drivers: Magic

low angle view of a signboard with the speed limit on it
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South Florida transportation officials want drivers to slow down, but rather than relying on radar guns or speed traps, they’re trying a new trick: an optical illusion. The Sun Sentinel reports that the state has painted the road with hash-marks (think football field yard lines) that get closer and closer together. This creates the illusion that a driver is going faster, and will (in theory) cause them to hit the brakes and slow down.You can see a diagram of the new system here.

This isn’t the first time “magic” has been used target speeders. Oregon installed a similar system last year to save money, and Virginia, Texas, Kansas and Mississippi have all tested the program as well. In Vancouver, a more chilling pavement image was added to the road a few years ago:

What do you think? Are pavement illusions the magical solution to heavy-footed road warriors?

What Hotel Amenities Do People Really Care About?

hotel snacks
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Luxury hotel offerings run the gamut, from 5-star restaurants and pet concierges to granting absurd guest bacon-based requests — but how many of these services do travelers really want? According to Skift, a new study by MMGY and Harrison Group shows that limited-service hotels are growing in popularity. American travelers are choosing these more budget-conscious options, which generally do away with in-house bars and restaurants, bed turn-down service, spas, airport shuttles and other amenities.This doesn’t mean pillow mints will become extinct overnight. According to Skift:

While those travelers preferring limited-service hotels are still in the minority, their ranks grew 55% from 2012 to 2013, according to the survey, and was the fastest-growing trend among the categories about hotel preferences [in the table here].

But it does indicate a growing trend away from travelers relying on the hotel to cater to their every need on the road. Many hotels are doing away with in-room telephones and pay-per-view television options, while free Wi-Fi is on the rise, especially at budget hotel brands.

Would you book a hotel that doesn’t have a bar or restaurant if it meant saving a few bucks? What hotel amenities can you live without?