• Is Nara, Japan Worth a Visit?

    Nara, Japan is one of the most popular day trips from Kyoto. Should you bother? In my opinion, yes! Nara is mostly famous for two things – wild deer and a large Buddha. The deer are both fun and an annoyance. They’re everywhere, and they expect you to feed them. People are set up in various spots where they sell “deer crackers,” and once you buy some of these, expect the deer to be quite aggressive. They’ll probably chase you when all of the crackers have been eaten. I had a deer grab hold of my shirt with its teeth ...

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  • Layover in Tokyo’s Narita Airport? Rent a Day Room & Shower!

    During a recent layover in Tokyo’s Narita Airport, I rented a day room for four hours to get a snooze and a shower before heading off on my 17-hour journey from Japan to New York City. Oh, how I wish all airports had these available! For about $10 per hour, I was given a bottle of water and a key to my own room. It was small but big enough for my purposes. I had a bed, blanket, and pillow and some space for my things, as well as a private toilet and shower with shampoo and conditioner. My only ...

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  • Princess Cruises is Creating Shows You Can’t See Anywhere Else – With the Composer of Broadway’s ‘Wicked’

    Princess Cruises is the first cruise line to create entertainment that you can’t see anywhere else. In a partnership with Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the music and lyrics to such shows as “Wicked,” “Godspell,” and “Pippin,” the shows are designed to touch the audience rather than just offer pure entertainment without a human element. Schwartz worked with Princess on a show called “Magic To Do,” which included magicians and some of his original music. The latest show is called “Born to Dance” and chronicles the progression of choreography from the beginning of Broadway to present day. It also ...

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Food & Wine

  • Chips ‘n Pints: A Norwich, England Pub Partners with a Fish ‘n Chips Shop

    To a Brit, the only thing better than fish ‘n chips is fish ‘n chips with a pint. That’s why Grosvenor Fish Bar in Norwich, England partnered with The Birdcage across its cobblestone street in the picturesque medieval city in Norfolk. Both businesses are housed in historic buildings at St. Gregory’s Green, Pottergate, in the heart of the well-known Norwich Lanes. Lauren Gregory, owner of The Birdcage suggested to Christian Motta, one of the owners of Grosvenor Fish Bar, that customers be allowed to take their fish ‘n chips to the pub. “We only had the downstairs seats, and a ...

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  • Photo/Video Essay: The Andes of Ecuador

    I recently spent two weeks in Ecuador, visiting the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon, and the Andes. More stories will follow, but I wanted to go ahead and share some of my photos from the Andes region. It was my second time in this area (the first time was about 13 years ago), and it didn’t disappoint. As you can see, the bird life in particular is special in the Andes. I’ll start with a video, followed by several stills. (All photographs copyrighted by Melanie Votaw and cannot be copied or used elsewhere without permission.) 

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