Cyber Monday 2012: Our Favorite Airfare And Entertainment Deals

Cyber Monday is the newfangled cousin of Black Friday, when the Internet bursts with the money-saving deals that Black Friday offers in stores the Friday before.

Cyber Monday is probably best known for deals on tech and electronics, but the online shopping extends to airfare and other travel deals, as well. In fact, Gadling has already covered the best hotel deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Here’s a sampling of the best airfare and entertainment deals we’ve found to celebrate Cyber Monday. Find any awesome travel deals, yourself? Let us know in the comments.
Air Deals
LAN and TAM: Up to 40% off flights to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Cathay Pacific: Up to 15% off flights, plus a prize drawing in which 30 passengers are selected to win 10,000 Asia Miles.
Vayama: Special Cyber Monday rates on international airlines such as China Airlines, Emirates, El Al, Korean Air, TACA, AirEuropa and more.
PayPal airfare matching: From now until December 31, PayPal will match prices for airfare you purchase, if you find that the tickets are advertised for a lower price at any merchant within 30 days of purchase. If, say, you buy tickets for $200 and the price goes down to $150, PayPal will simply pay you the difference, with a maximum $1,000 total and $250 payout per item.
StudentUniverse: Planning to offer up to $65 off certain flights to locations like Latin America, South Pacific, within the U.S. and more.
Other Travel Deals
MSC Cruises: Offering special “Cyber Monday Sale” rates on select 7-night, round-trip Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, beginning at $399.
Mauiva AirCruise: If you want something rather untraditional, you can try a sky version of a cruise with Mauiva. They’re offering 20% off select departures as part of a Cyber Monday sale.
Crested Butte ski package: Airfare to Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado and 41% off the regular season rate, starting at $649 for four nights of lodging and three days of lift tickets (plus taxes and resort fees).
Goldstar deals on entertainment: Cyber Monday offers include 20% off all Goldstar gift certificates, 40% off Cirque du Soleil’s “IRIS” in L.A., 38% off the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” 60% off the Snowbomb Tahoe Platinum Card – which grants four lift tickets, ski rentals and two free nights at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno – and more.
Extra Tips
Check out airlines that have had Cyber Monday deals in past years: Many Cyber Monday deals aren’t announced until the day-of, so start by checking out airlines that have worked in the past. These include American Airlines, JetBlue, Frontier, Southwest and AirTran.

Follow them on Twitter: Often, airlines update Twitter with their most by-the-minute deals. Try following @Delta, @AmericanAir, @VirginAmerica, @SouthwestAir and @JetBlueCheeps.


[Image credit: Flickr user Mike Miley]

Coffee Cupping In Colombia

“A hint of chocolate, a whisper of citrus,” he tells the barista. He’s a foodie, so unlike me, he actually smells these aromas. This isn’t a wine tasting – I’m at a coffee cupping in a coffee lab in Bogota, Colombia. Coffee cupping is a ritual taken very seriously by food and wine geeks, and an intriguing challenge for caffeine addicts like me.

We’re standing around a table in the pristine lab that’s tucked behind a glass wall in E&D Cafés. Locals seated at tables in the coffee bar on the far side of the glass drink espresso and stare at us, while cafe owner Jamie Duque introduces us to the ritual.

Ten empty cups sit on the table before me near a metal bowl, our spittoon. We start by taking a sip from each of the first four cups, which have been filled with different types of water. After each sip, we spit into the metal bowl before moving on to the next one. Deciding which cups hold the sweet, salty, bitter and acidic tastes helps activate our palates.

I step back to take a picture and bump into the metal counter that stretches the length of the room. On it, there’s an industrial-size coffee grinder and containers with clear water that Jean’s assistant is using to fill our coffee cups. A colorful coffee taster’s flavor wheel hangs on the wall. At one end of the room a massive coffee-bean roaster sits against a brick wall and there’s a lingering smoky scent, perhaps from the last coffee that was roasted.

Apparently there are more than 30 different aromas a truly sensitive palate can taste while drinking coffee, according to Duque. Coffee from the central region of Colombia, for example, tends to be sweet because sugar cane also is grown in the same location. Coffee from Sumatra, however, has a more earthy taste, because the beans dry on the soil, Duque says.
After this discussion, we move to three more cups that have been filled with samples of the inexpensive brands of coffee one buys off a supermarket shelf. Duque pours water into them and says, “Break the crust gently by moving the spoon back and forth to release the aroma. Then, sniff hard.”

I follow his instructions but have to swallow a giggle listening to my friends sniff like they are in the fourth day of a cold. Here’s when the suggestions start flowing. “Chocolate,” “bitter,” “sweet,” different people reply. I keep quiet, recognizing that subtle coffee tastes are not my forté. To me, it’s “just right,” “too strong,” or “too weak.”The remaining cups are filled with carefully measured amounts of three different types of ground coffee beans that were picked in different growing areas in Colombia. (To create good coffee, the amounts used are very important, according to Duque.) After going through the sniff routine, we move on to the “slurp” movement we were taught when tasting the first three cups. We gently skim off the crust that’s formed on the top of the coffee in our cups and toss it into the spittoon. Then, as Duque had explained, we proceed to “slurp” a bit of the brew and move it around our mouths to sense the coffee’s essence. For the next few minutes, it sounds as if we are in a Japanese noodle shop, slurping noisily to show our appreciation for the taste.

Finally, the specific coffees we are tasting, and the region each comes from, are revealed. After amiable arguments about which brew has the best taste, we’re each allowed to choose our favorite and take 100 grams of beans back home to the States.

As we’ve been tasting, Duque has been scribbling facts about Colombian coffee on the glass wall with a black pen. Duque has a friendly face, with a smile that invites friendship but disappears when he starts giving you facts about the coffee industry in Colombia. At times, listening to him is like learning from a college professor teaching a popular class. He explains that there are 800,000 coffee farms in this country and about two million people make their living directly or indirectly from coffee. The coffee is grown mostly in small farms on land that’s between 1,100 and 2,000 meters above sea level. The types of soil differ greatly, ensuring different coffee profiles.

Duque knows these facts because he’s a driving force in Colombia’s coffee industry. An agricultural engineer by training, his youthful looks – despite slightly thinning black hair – belie that fact that he has spent 20 years working with coffee growers and producers. His focus: to help coffee growers reach social, technical and environmental sustainability, in part through the implementation of certification programs to ensure quality coffee. In the lab he designed at E&D Cafés (which stands for Education and Development of Coffees), he works with coffee producers and retains an overview of the coffee chain, from the growers to the baristas making cappuccinos for the line of locals in the coffee bar.

If you’re visiting Bogota, you can arrange to partake in a coffee cupping in the lab at E&D Cafés. It takes about one- to one-and-a-half hours, and it costs approximately $25 a person, although the price for bigger groups is flexible.

Drink, slurp, spit! The essence of a coffee cupping. Back home, after brewing the coffee I purchased at E&D Cafés, it’s strictly “drink, drink, drink” – and savor the memory of a special day.

Video: Living In The Sewers Of Colombia

Living in the sewers isn’t just for teenage mutant ninja turtles. In Colombia, there’s a culture of sewer-dwellers. There’s even a counterculture to this counterculture: people who are known as the “death squads” who routinely pour gasoline into the sewers and fire rounds in an effort to scare the sewer-dwellers off, or at least torment them. On top of this threat, these people also face the daily threat of flash floods, rats, feces and the unpredictable behavior of drug addicts who also wander into the sewers. Follow VICE through this video as they navigate the sewer life in Colombia.

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Margaritas, Cuba libres, piña coladas and mojitos are drinks with Latin American origins that have become staples at bars across America. But what about the drinks being mixed up further south? Whether you want to know what to order up at the bar during your next trip to South America or you are looking for a way to raise the bar at home, these mixed drinks will leave you thirsty for more.

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Trek the Colombian Andes in El Cocuy National Park with Mountain Madness

colombia adventure travelAcclaimed Seattle-based adventure travel company and guide service Mountain Madness debuts its newest trip on February 4th: an excursion to Colombia’s El Cocuy National Park. Although Colombia is often characterized as being mostly tropical jungle or coastline, the Andean Cordillera Oriental crosses a significant portion of the country. The El Cocuy trip will allow trekkers to explore glaciers, alpine lakes, and remote colonial villages.

Mountain Madness owner and president Mark Gunlogson has years of experience as a mountaineering guide all over the world, and the company is renowned for its reputable and distinctive trekking trips and alpine climbing schools, particularly in South America and the Himalayas. For this inaugural El Cocuy adventure, Gunglogson will lead five other trekkers and climbers as they “explore this area’s potential for adventure travel. The team hopes to dispel the myth of danger with travel in Colombia and open up a new, cutting-edge trip.”

Activities will include mountaineering, trekking, rock climbing, and cultural exchange, a Mountain Madness hallmark. Check out the company’s blog for dispatches from El Cocuy. Buena suerte, team!

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