New York City Expected to be Top Thanksgiving Destination

Thanksgiving Day Parade
Associated Press

Whether it’s for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, to visit relatives or just to do a little drinking, New York City is expected to be the top U.S. travel destination this Thanksgiving, according to TripAdvisor. If you’re planning on being part of that in-crowd, here are some dining and entertainment options for you.

And if you’re heading home to New York City, here are new places for you to check out.Thanksgiving Dinner

That same TripAdvisor report said that 16 percent of Americans will eat at a restaurant on Thanksgiving, largely to avoid cooking. The Refinery Hotel’s Refinery Rooftop $25 continental breakfast comes paired with a view of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. At The Maritime Hotel’s La Bottega, chef Lucia Piscopo is putting an Italian spin on Thanksgiving dinner with dishes like sautéed Tuscan black kale and offers a vegetable lasagna.

Entertainment

Looking to get away from the relatives for a spell (or at least get everyone out of the house)? The New York Pass can get you into 80 attractions. It comes in one- ($85), two- ($130), three- ($160) or seven-day ($210) increments. If the options are overwhelming, make use of one of its itineraries, which are based on neighborhood or theme. The New York Pass also includes fast-track entry to 15 marquee sites.

Airport Dining

Not only are U.S. airports are continuing to increase their health dining options, they’re getting tastier too. Restaurants by OTG in Delta’s gates in LaGuardia Airport (concourses C and D) feature collaborations with famed New York chefs Michael White (Cotto), Andrew Carmellini (Victory Grill) and Anne Burrell (Vagabond Burger Bar). And if you’re traveling with kids, the iPads on every table should keep them occupied, at least until boarding time. Then, you might want to follow these tips for flying with kids.

And this May, Delta unveiled a revamped terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which features Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack and Blue Smoke on the Road. Terminal 2’s dining options are undergoing a similar overhaul. While renovations aren’t slated to be finished until next summer, some temporary eateries opened in September.

Thanksgiving Parade in New York

Archaeologists Looking At Stonehenge In A New Light

StonehengeStonehenge is the world’s most iconic prehistoric monument. Scientists have argued about its significance for generations, but few have been allowed to excavate there. Archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson is one of those lucky few, and he’s documented his finds in a new book.

Stonehenge: A New Understanding chronicles a seven-year excavation of Stonehenge and the surrounding countryside.

Pearson and his team took an innovative approach and came up with some innovative interpretations. Instead of looking at Stonehenge as an isolated monument, they studied the landscape and other prehistoric monuments around it. This led them to determine that Stonehenge was part of a ritualistic network of monuments and natural features.

But what was it all for? Pearson believes that despite the astronomical alignments and the regular meetings of people at Stonehenge, it was not a monument to nature or the seasons or fertility as many archaeologists have concluded, but rather a monument to the dead, similar to other enclosed cremations burial grounds in the British Isles. Other constructions nearby were symbols of life and were intimately connected to Stonehenge just as the concepts of life and death are intimately connected with each other.

The main connection is with a site called Durrington Walls, two miles away from Stonehenge. Both had avenues leading to a nearby river. Durrington Walls, however, had a settlement while Stonehenge only had burials. Natural features in the landscape aligned with important astronomical events, making the location of Stonehenge perfect for any monument concerned with the heavens.

Weighing in at 350 dense pages, this is not for the casually interested reader. Luckily Pearson has a clear writing style, avoids getting overly technical, and the book is richly illustrated with maps and photographs that help the reader follow the text. I would suggest this to anyone with a serious interest in archaeology and science.

I had the good fortune to hear Dr. Pearson talk a few years ago to a packed auditorium at Oxford University. Once he was done, Oxford professors gathered around in their self-important way to talk with this leading scientist. Before they could start posturing, a twelve-year-old girl came up to him and chirped, “I want to be an archaeologist!”

Dr. Pearson could have patted her on the head, replied, “That’s nice darling” and gone on to speak with the professors, but he didn’t. Instead he sat her down and spoke with her for a good five minutes about what she needed to do to become an archaeologist and all the fun she could have in that career.

The professors looked ruffled and impatient. The girl left glowing with enthusiasm.

That’s my kind of scientist.

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#lpmemories: Some Personal Reminiscences And Reflections

Lonely Planet memories lpmemoriesWhen news emanated from the Melbourne headquarters of Lonely Planet two weeks ago that the iconic publisher of guidebooks and related travel titles was laying off up to 80 editors and other staffers, shock waves reverberated throughout the travelsphere. LP is the world’s largest guidebook publisher, with 500 titles covering 195 countries, produced by hundreds of writers and editors, and speculation surged in social media and old school journalism circles alike that this move portended the end of print guidebooks, or at least the demise of LP as a guidebook power.
Shortly after the announcement and its aftermath, LP’s new owners, NC2, which had purchased the publisher from BBC Worldwide in March, released a statement saying “At the end of last week, Lonely Planet began engaging with its global workforce regarding its plan for the future, which includes a restructure of the business. Since that process began, reports have emerged in the media that Lonely Planet has plans to exit the content business. These reports are untrue and stand in stark contrast to the company’s renewed commitment to great content for both print and digital offerings. … Lonely Planet remains committed to delivering quality content to our travellers, as we have over the last 40 years. There are currently no plans to reduce our breadth of destination content, or our product offering in digital or print. Large scale cuts to our guidebook publishing list are unfounded and categorically untrue and Lonely Planet is committed to continuing to publish guidebooks.”

Despite this assertion, debate about the fate of print guides in general and LP’s in particular has spread, and some other publishers have been moved to reaffirm their commitment to keep their guidebooks in print. Pauline Frommer, who with her father recently reacquired the Frommer trademark from Google, wrote to me in an email: “Starting this October, we’re going to be putting out 30 new editions: 10 will be updates from the very popular Day by Day series, and 20 new guides in a series we’re calling The Easy Guides. … We hope to be up to 80 titles by next fall. (We do recognize that digital media is a huge tool for travelers and so concurrent with the print publication of the guides will be the publication of e-books and apps, and the upkeep and expansion of Frommers.com.)” And Rick Steves, head of his own eponymous empire, wrote me: “I am very much committed to print. … Our guidebooks are literally selling better than ever. I have 30 or 40 in print and, as I have every year for the last 25, I’m in Europe right now for 4 months researching with my team.”

No clear conclusions about the future of publishing can be drawn at this point from the LP news, but one truth has emerged very clearly from the reaction to that news, and that is how deeply important guidebooks are to many people, how they become intimately interwoven into the narrative of our lives. This truth has found poignantly rippling expression in a Twitter thread – hashtagged #lpmemories — started by longtime LP author Celeste Brash.

“I started #lpmemories in reaction to all the layoffs because I was sad and sharing the good times with people was a therapy,” Celeste wrote me.

“The first post was on July 19th: ‘Once, in Sulawesi I had the honking King of taxi drivers. He honked at sticks in the road when he had nothing else to honk at #lpmemories.’ I followed this with two more #lpmemories, then Zora O’Neil, another LP author, chimed in. I did a few more, then LP authors Sally O’Brien and Sara Benson got in on it. Elizabeth Eaves got in on it somewhere in between as the first non-LPer, so I tweeted: ‘Thanks @ElisabethEaves! Hoping #lpmemories are for everyone, @lonelyplanet users, authors, whoever.’

“The first reporter to pick up the story was Bronwen Clune from the Guardian. Then everyone started writing about it, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Time, the Telegraph and then the New Yorker. It’s just taken on a life of its own. But the story was always the same (and based on Bronwen’s information — she was the only one who reached out), that #lpmemories was a sort of eulogy for LP and guidebooks in general. I’m not sure either of those are dead. My original intention was just to think about the good times in honor of my colleagues who had just lost their jobs and LP which had just fired a big part of the heart of the company, the many people who made it what it is.”

A week after it launched, the #lpmemories thread had lengthened to many hundreds if not thousands of tweets, with posters ranging from battle-scarred LP author-veterans to everyday on-the-road enthusiasts. Reading the thread feels like attending a joyous-sad, wanderlust-full wake-cum-celebration, filled with nostalgia-drenched 140-character recollections of misadventure and magic.


Tracking this journey has been profoundly poignant for me. I was the Global Travel Editor at LP from 2001-2007, and I have my own treasure chest of indelible memories from that period, but much more deeply, the company has been an integral part of my traveling life since the summer of 1978, when I set off from Tokyo for a two-month meander through Southeast Asia with a compact yellow book titled South-East Asia on a Shoestring in hand.

Already dubbed the Yellow Bible by fellow backpackers, this guide — increasingly tattered, beer-stained, curry-spattered, starred, underlined, and scribbled-in-the-margins as the trip progressed — became my invaluable travel counsel and companion; it told me where to eat and stay and what to do, but even more importantly, it gave me essential bits of history and culture that taught me how to act respectfully in a place and how to peer under its surface and get a sense of its heart and soul. Years before Lonely Planet co-founders and Shoestring authors Maureen and Tony Wheeler became actual friends of mine, they felt like friends because of their ground-level approach to foreign cultures and their personal voice that seemed to speak directly to me -– and to all my fellow tribe members who traipsed around Asia clutching their tome like a talisman.

I used the Yellow Bible to navigate Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It took me to Lake Toba and Yogyakarta and Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca. When I was marooned by a missed bus connection in what seemed a middle-of-nowhere place called Kuala Kangsar, it comforted me with news of a historic temple I should visit. And when I arrived exhausted and famished in Penang, it led me to a soul-reviving guesthouse and a street-stall feast that was one of the best meals of my trip. The Wheelers’ advice was straightforward and simple, and delivered with we’ve-done-this authority and god-we-love-travel passion.

Recalling this period now, 35 years later, it feels to me like the beginning of a travel revolution. Coinciding with larger economic and technological changes that suddenly enabled more and more travelers to venture more and more widely around the world, the LP guidebooks inspired and empowered people to explore on their own. And crucially, by example and edification, they encouraged travelers to take seriously the history and culture of the places they were visiting, to take time to learn about the beliefs and practices prevalent there. Do so and you’ll have a deeper, richer, happier experience, they preached. And they were right. But the usually unspoken and even more important message was that this kind of attitude/approach was fundamentally important on a human level.

In this sense, I believe that the Wheelers, and other early, enterprising guidebook creators who promulgated similar principles, played an immeasurably important role in encouraging travelers to become better world citizens, to be both knowledgeable and empathetic about other peoples and places, and to appreciate the everyday from the local person’s perspective. Like the best travel writing of all kinds, their work — and the works of the hundreds of similarly impassioned and empathetic writers and editors they hired over the years — brought the world closer together.

Consider the ever-expanding ripples of this effect over the company’s 40-year history, and you could argue that on a popular, person-to-person level, LP has contributed as much towards world understanding and peace as any other institution on the planet.

Of course, I’m biased. From 2001 to 2007, I wrote a weekly column for lonelyplanet.com and was the global spokesperson for LP. I’ve edited seven LP literary anthologies, with an eighth scheduled for publication next year. I’m the author of LP’s Guide to Travel Writing, which has been the signature creation of my professional career. So I owe a great, great deal to Lonely Planet. In addition, Tony and Maureen Wheeler are personal friends, and though I left the LP staff six years ago, I’ve maintained friendships with dozens of colleagues in its Melbourne, London and Oakland offices.

But for two decades before I joined the LP staff, I was just a far-flung fan like any other, relying on its guides to find my way around and into more than 80 countries, from the haute cafes of Paris to the hinterlands of Pakistan. Perusing the guidebook on the plane became a rite of passage for me, the blessing of each new adventure. It opened the portals of possibility, posing the head- and heart-quickening question: What wonders await?

Many of those wonders were pointed out in the books, but equally important, the books gave me the grounding confidence to venture out and find other wonders on my own. This is just as much a legacy of LP for me as the hostels, festivals, and off-the-beaten-path attractions it spotlighted. LP gave me the courage to leave the guide in the guesthouse and explore beyond its pages. Ironically enough, it made the planet less lonely, more friendly. It paved the path to a truth I found time and time again: that people around the world generally care for each other, whatever their background, ethnicity, and political and religious beliefs, that kindness is the glue of human connection.

I began this rambling word-journey thinking I would recall some of my own most poignant #lpmemories. But I realize now that the path has led in a different direction, that the hashtagged signpost has pointed me to a very personal celebration of the past and a heartfelt hope about the future of LP. From the Yellow Bible to the Blue-Spined Book, LP has immeasurably enriched my life’s journey and, as that ever-lengthening Twitter thread testifies, the life journeys of innumerable people around the world. In an age when intractable divisiveness, superficial advice, and anonymous expertise threaten to become the norm, its legacy and calling seem more important than ever before.

The Best Travel Book You’ve Never Read


“These beaten and vandalized towns are the bloodshot eyes of America. … This is America muttering to itself late at night in the kitchen before stumbling off to bed. The allure of places like Two Guns is that they feel like prophecy: this is how the world might look if civilization ever came undone. But it hasn’t. Not yet. So you look around and wonder what the hell happened here, how it got to be like this.

Two Guns, Arizona, is one of the burnt-out and gritty places James Reeves writes about in The Road to Somewhere (W.W. Norton, 2011), as rich a travel memoir as you’ll ever read and the best one you never have. The cover is glossy, the paper stock expensive, many of his lonesome photos full-bleed. There are 400 pages, and two are dedicated to nothing more than an image of the author’s grandfather and three words. You might think books this lush don’t get published anymore.

But the words themselves-those are caked in the dust and grime of the author’s vast and aimless wander across the country. Reeves initially intended to reacquaint himself with America beyond New York City in the aftermath of 9/11. Soon, the six-year quest turned into a soul-search about modern manhood, as Reeves wondered what had become of his father’s and grandfather’s America, that dignified place where a 30-year-old could easily afford a house with a tidy lawn, raise a family, and find a job that would support those things-and be perfectly happy.

Looking for meaning through a windshield for thousands of miles is hardly a new idea, but Reeves’s raw observations and melancholy introspections-about the lack of grandeur at the Grand Canyon, for instance, or the way road-trippers obsessively calculate arrival times-are pure poetry, a level that would make lesser scribes want to give up. Writing, that is, not reading. It’s impossible to get out of the car when Reeves is at the wheel.

Here’s a Q&A with the author, including something special he’s creating on Route 66:This is pedantic, but how did you record such lush thoughts and observations with your hands on the steering wheel?
By pulling over every few miles, which is why it took forever to put this book together.

Also pedantic, but did you use any GPS or Google Maps while wandering the country?
I took my first drive in 2005 when I had a dumb little telephone that only made phone calls. On that trip I immediately got terrifically lost and abandoned the idea of an itinerary. I simply pointed the car west and took the roads that seemed most interesting. I truly felt off the grid for much of the trip. The following year, I took another cross-country drive with my brand new smartphone and I became phenomenally addicted to watching that little blue dot squeak along the map. Year after year technology dictated the way I drove and how I documented the things I saw. Soon I was posting snapshots and ruminations on social channels and internet people were guiding me to a great German restaurant in west Texas or a record store in Cheyenne. I no longer remember what it feels like to be lost and alone on the road.

Did you ever fail to find something worthwhile to write about?
At first I set off with a vague notion of understanding the “Main Street USA” and “real America” sloganeering that infected our political scene after the September 11th attacks. I lived in New York City at the time and I did not understand why New York was not also considered the “real America.” After all, isn’t New York simply a hyper-concentrated version of the forces that shaped this country? So I decided to rent a car and take a look around. I saw abandoned train trestles in Wyoming painted with burning towers that said “We Will Never Forget. Hoo-ah!” and I heard chatter in Memphis about a possible terrorist attack on Graceland. I thought I could connect the dots into a statement about our politics, polarization, and paranoia-then I realized this was feeding into manufactured media hype and, worse yet, boring. I gave up on seeking and simply drove around looking at things. I became fascinated by ghost towns and other American ruins, by the in-between places and the ultramundane, by what Don DeLillo called “the white spaces on the map.”

What kept the America you stumbled across from becoming rote and redundant?
Most of America is rote and redundant. I’ve driven 150,000 and most them were spent watching an endless tape loop of cruel cinderblock architecture, parking lots, and name brands promising big savings and no money down. No matter if I’m in Maine, New Mexico, or Montana, I intuitively know how to navigate these spaces, sensing where a Starbucks or a Jo-Ann Fabric ought to be. The most interesting places are those that fell victim to systematic neglect, cities like Detroit and New Orleans, or the Salton Sea and the forgotten towns along Route 66.

Were these trips just one shabby motel after another?
I love shabby motels, particularly the ones that still use blinking neon to advertise color Zenith televisions. I feel the weather of strangers passing through and I remember that the American road is a place of possibility, transition, crisis and adventure. Old motels are one of the few places along our modern roads with personality, which may not always be pleasant or hygenic but there’s more soul at the Sundown Motel than an anonymous room with flat screens, corporate furniture and free wireless internet.

I can’t quite tell - were you enchanted, or at least stimulated, by desolate America?
Enchanted, heartbroken and inspired. There are so many gorgeous buildings and dignified towns that have been left behind that could be reclaimed as meaningful spaces-which is why I’m thrilled to be working with the artist Candy Chang on transforming an abandoned gas station along Route 66 into a library of philosophy.

I haven’t read the entire book. I tend to pick it up for the poetry, read a dozen pages and become too consumed by the description to stick with your search for a higher truth. Are you more settled about your place in America?
I’m not sure if I’ve finished the book, either. America unsettles me more and more each day. We’re still debating whether automatic weapons are good for our society. We deny science. We find every opportunity to exploit the poor for profit. I’ll spare any readers who are still with me at this point my usual anti-corporate/military rant. In terms of a personal truth? I’m finally reading William James and meditating instead of ranting on the internet, so that’s an encouraging development.

Arthur Frommer To Publish New Guidebooks This Fall

Frommer's guidebooks
Flickr, David Lytle

While much of the world is on royal baby watch, there’s a new arrival in the travel world to get excited about. Arthur Frommer has just announced via the New York TImes that he will again publish guidebooks under a new name, FrommerMedia. The guides will be distributed and marketed through Publishers Group West of Perseus Books Group starting in October. He will also launch a new series called “Easy Guides,” in response to the too-lengthy printed tomes that can’t compete with quick (and free) apps and online content. Mr. Frommer and his daughter Pauline will head up the new company and expect to have 80 titles by 2014.

The Frommer’s brand was sold to Google last year and the print books were to be discontinued, causing many fans to mourn the loss of an iconic brand. Mr. Frommer bought back his name in April and announced he would publish books again, while the old content remains with Google.