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4 Days in Paris: Musee D’Orsay Highlights Day 1

The grand Musee D’Orsay, one of the most important museums in the world, is housed in a magnificent Beaux-Arts train station built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

On my first morning in Paris, as I set out from the Hotel Napoleon just across from the Arc de Triomphe in the tony 8th Arrondisement, at 10 am for a beautiful walk down Champs-Elysee to Place de la Concorde, passed the Grand Palais, across the Seine, passed the National Assembly to my destination, the Musee d’Orsay, I am immediately under the city’s spell.

Paris is regal. Majestic. Monumental. The scale of the boulevards, the buildings, the structures. It is big and bustling, but curiously, you don’t feel choked or overwhelmed – probably because no structure is taller than the Eiffel Tower and you can see out, and because the city is designed around open spaces –the wide boulevards, gigantic plazas, parks, the Seine flowing through. There are places to sit, even water fountains and misting stations, while the smaller neighborhoods, with their narrow twisting roads, are quaint and quiet (little traffic).

The level of grandeur is breathtaking, and for a moment I am thinking that only a monarchy could have built this, a democracy never would have. But in the next, I am reminded that only the Revolution opened them for public purpose.

A view of Le Louvre. Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, making strolling ideal.
© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

I walk everywhere and Paris makes it easy (and safe). Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, making strolling ideal. But for getting around, Paris is also a biking city with superb bike lanes, traffic signals (get preference over cars, in fact), and huge number of bike share stations.

It is helpful to have paper map, and not just rely on cell phone GPS (remember to download maps when you have WiFi so can access offline – I keep forgetting), but it is part of the joy of the travel experience to rely on the kindness of locals to point you in the right direction, even with limited French.

It is essential to plan your visit to Paris’ top museums and attractions in advance, and pre-purchase timed ticket, or book a time if you have the Paris Museum Pass (http://en.parismuseumpass.com/) or Paris Pass (parispass.com), and try to book as early a time as possible, or evening hours.

And though it is better to try to visit on weekdays, considering that the Musee D’Orsay is closed on Monday (I book my Le Louvre visit for that day), I pre-booked my visit for Sunday.

Musee d’Orsay

The grand Musee D’Orsay, one of the most important museums in the world, is housed in a magnificent Beaux-Arts train station built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

The Musee d’Orsay is housed in what had been a truly grand train station, a Beaux-Arts jewel built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. It is famous for its fabulous collection of French art from 1848 to 1914 – paintings, sculpture, furniture, photography – including the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world.

Here you can experience for yourself (in relative peace, mind you) the exquisite works of Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gaugain and Berthe Morisot – actually it seems just about all my favorite paintings by my favorite artists, as well as being introduced to outstanding works I am unfamiliar with.

The grand Musee D’Orsay, one of the most important museums in the world, famous for its collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists including Van Gogh, is housed in a magnificent Beaux-Arts train station built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The layout of the galleries is exquisite, and the views from the fifth floor gallery where the Van Goghs are displayed and from the Restaurant (you look through the massive clock to Sacre Coeur on Montmartre, like those scenes in the movie, “Hugo”) take your breath away.

The Musee D’Orsay makes for exquisite viewing of masterpieces © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Though the Musee D’Orsay is one of the largest museums in the world and the second most popular to visit in France after Le Louvre, it doesn’t feel large or crowded or intimidating. The clever layout – a warren of smaller galleries off a main, open hall – makes it feel more intimate and calm, even as I stand in front of such a popular painting as Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” (I think this is the equivalent of the Mona Lisa in Le Louvre). The way you realize just how vast the museum is – at any time about 3,000 art pieces are on display – is by realizing you’ve been there for four hours. Time melts away, like the humongous clocks you get to see through to Paris’ magnificent skyscape.

View to Montmartre through the Musee D’Orsay clock© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The museum has 24 Van Goghs including such renowned works as L’ArlésienneBedroom in ArlesSelf Portrait, portrait of his friend Eugène BochThe SiestaThe Church at AuversView from the ChevetThe Italian WomanStarry NightPortrait of Dr. GachetDoctor Gachet’s Garden in AuversImperial Fritillaries in a Copper VaseSaint-Paul Asylum, Saint-RémySelf Portrait.

As popular as Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” is, you still get a moment almost to yourself to enjoy it, at Musee D’Orsay © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Van Gogh gallery on Level 5 has an added attraction: the most magnificent views across the Seine of Le Louvre to Montmartre from one set of windows, the Eiffel Tower from another.

View from the Van Gogh Gallery at Musee D’Orsay © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are 81 Renoirs including “The Swing” (significant when I visit the Musee de Montmartre and see the spot where he painted it!), and 18 by Toulouse-Lautrec, plus James McNeill Whistler’s famous “The Artist’s Mother’, better known as “Whistler’s Mother.”

As I go through galleries of portraits, I wonder whether the sitters contemplated becoming immortal, that their visages would be admired and their personas wondered about for centuries.

“A Street in Paris,” by Maximilien Luce shows the power of painting to document © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Besides seeing “in person” the art works that are among the most famous in the world (and it seems just about all my favorites), there are masterpieces by artists that may not be as “top of mind” to explore and discover as well. One, “A Street in Paris,” by Maximilien Luce, that is so haunting, depicting “Bloody Week” of May 21-28, 1871, and the brutal suppression of the Commune, a revolutionary movement that emerged from the political chaos after the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the fall of the Second Empire, events immortalized in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” and the musical “Les Mis” which Luce painted 30 years after the event that so affected Luce.

It is a further demonstration of the power of art to document history, events, and bring faraway places to people, especially before photography.

Thank goodness, the really excellent notes are presented in French and English (not so in many other places).

The atmosphere of the museum is like putting yourself into the canvas.

Restaurant at Musee D’Orsay © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Besides the full-service restaurant, there is an absolutely delightful café in the lower level – reasonably priced and very comfortable, where I get refueled.

Towards the end of my visit, I find myself in a grand ballroom which feels weird.

Captivated by the clocks at Musee D’Orsay © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

It’s a feeling of complete joy of being in that space stays with you, that rushes back like warm water, even as I review my photos later.

Open from 9.30 am to 6 pm daily, except Mondays; late night on Thursdays until 9.45 pm

Musee D’Orsay, Esplanade Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, 75007 Paris, https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/

Ile de la Cite

From the Musee D’Orsay, I stroll down the quai along the Seine, with the marvelous book/magazine sellers, to the Pont Neuf (the oldest bridge in Paris) to Île de la Cité, a small island in the center of Paris where Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle are found. It is the historic heart of Paris.

Colorful vintage magazine and newspaper sellers line the Quai © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

I am really interested to see the progress on the restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral, after that devastating fire of April 15, 2019.

There is an excellent photo exhibit by photographer Tomas van Houtryve with notes documenting the dramatic story of the restoration.

A photo exhibit explains the reconstruction project of Notre-Dame Cathedral © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

A short walk from Notre-Dame, in a small park, I come upon Holocaust Memorial to the 31,000 Parisians sent to Auschwitz.

Holocaust Memorial near Notre-Dame Cathedral © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Also close to Notre Dame on the Ile de Cite is Sainte-Chappelle, famous for its stained glass windows.

Sainte-Chapelle is considered one of the finest examples of Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture. Built between 1238-1248, the royal chapel was commissioned by King Louis IX to house his collection of Passion relics, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns – one of the most important relics in medieval Christendom. It served as the residence of France’s kings until the 14th century.

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

A curious chart outside the chapel shows that Sainte-Chappelle cost 266,000 gold francs for the elevation of its spire and the restoration of the roof, equivalent to 1.06 million Euros, total weight 232.4 tons, 75 meters high from ground level, work done between 1853-1855.

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Notre Dame Cathedral: cost 500,000 gold francs for the elevation of its spire, equivalent of 2 million euros today; total weight 750 tons, 96 meter high from ground, work from 1859 to 1860.

Adjacent to Sainte-Chapelle is La Conciergerie, the palace where Marie-Antoinette was held before her execution (it’s closed by the time I arrive).

Sainte-Chapelle and Conciergerie, Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Sainte-Chapelle and Conciergerie are operated as a museum by the French Centre of National Monuments.

La Sainte Chapelle, https://www.sainte-chapelle.fr

I pick up food for my dinner at a boulangerie on the quai.

Tuileries Garden, Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Walking back to the Hotel Napoleon, I stroll alongside the full length of Le Louvre museum – once a palace – stunned by how large, and how exquisitely ordained it is (I will be visiting the next day), through Tuileries Garden to the Place de la Concorde, the largest square in Paris, where King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and Robespierre were executed by guillotine during the French Revolution.

Place de la Concorde, Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

I walk by the Petit Palais (where there is a Sarah Bernhardt exhibit I wish I could have seen; free admission to the collections!), to the Champs-Élysées. (There is really good signage that direct you to the places visitors most want to see.)

Petit Palais, Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Eiffel Tower

I get back to the Hotel Napoleon and rest awhile before heading out again to see the Eiffel Tower at night.

I walk down the Champs Elysee, cross over toward the Seine and take in the classic café scene. There are innumerable couples in this City of Love.

Café George V, Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The view from across the Seine – with the Bateaux Mouches (sightseeing boats) passing by – is enchanting enough, but seeing the Tower from its base is breathtaking.

View of Eiffel Tower across the Seine © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Eiffel Tower is one of most beautiful structures in world – so elegant, so graceful, seemingly as light, delicate and intricate as filigree. I am surprised to learn that the design was criticized, even ridiculed when Gustave Eiffel, the engineer whose company designed and built the tower from 1887 to 1889, proposed it.

Eiffel Tower, Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Nicknamed “La dame de fer” (“Iron Lady”), it was constructed as the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair, and to crown the centennial anniversary of the French Revolution. (The tower also was supposed to be a temporary installation, but Eiffel pushed to have its lease extended and ultimately, became a permanent fixture of the city.)

Eiffel Tower, Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We marvel at its beauty but in 1889, the tower was celebrated more as a historic feat of engineering: the first structure in the world to surpass both the 200-meter and 300-meter marks in height. At 330 meters (1,083 ft.) high, the Eiffel Tower is equivalent to an 81-storey building, and still is the tallest structure in Paris, dominating the skyline from wherever you are. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until dethroned by New York City’s Chrysler Building in 1930.

Eiffel Tower, Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The tower has three levels that visitors can reach, with restaurants on the first two. The top level’s upper platform is 276 m (906 ft) above the ground – the highest observation deck accessible to the public in the European Union.

It is fascinating to learn that the top level was actually a private apartment built for Gustave Eiffel’s personal use, which he decorated with furniture by Jean Lachaise and invited friends such as American inventor Thomas Edison. Today, you can’t visit the entire apartment, but there is a reconstruction of Gustave Eiffel’s office. Through the windows, you can see wax figures of Gustave Eiffel and his daughter Claire being visited by Edison.  

Eiffel Tower, Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There is also a new immersive experience that takes you inside Gustave Eiffel’s office (accessed by scanning a QR code on the first floor). While waiting for the lift on the first floor, you can also peruse historical documents with monitors, tactile screens, display cases, digital albums and photocopies of objects.

There are also new guided tours which must be booked online

The Eiffel Tower is one of the highlights of visiting Paris – in fact, one of the most-visited pay-to-enter monuments in the world, with almost 6 million visitors a year. It is almost essential to book a timed ticket ahead of time.

The wait for tickets – if they are not totally sold out – can be long. If you have interest in going to the top, book your tickets as soon as you know your dates for Paris. (Online tickets go on sale 60 days in advance for the elevator.) 

But for a completely different experience (and if tickets for the elevator are sold out), you can also climb the stairs – from ground level to the first level is over 374 steps, and 300 more to the second, making the entire ascent 674 steps – about 20 minutes per level.

Stairway tickets for the second floor are sold online (up to 10 days in advance) or sold on-site. If you want to go to the top, you would need to purchase “stairway + lift” tickets. These tickets are only sold on-site in the South leg of the tower, guaranteeing minimal queueing times (only the most gung-ho visitors), where you take the stairs up. In peak periods, another leg may be opened for stairway ascents.

Other experiences: Madame Brasserie offers a lunch and dinner menu on the first floor (reservations strongly advised; the reservation includes the ascent to the 1st floor of the Eiffel Tower, but not to visit to the 2nd floor or to the top).

Reservations for dining or eating at the Jules Verne (2nd floor) must be made on the dedicated website. If you make a reservation for the Jules Verne, a private lift in the south pillar will take you directly to the restaurant when you arrive. The visit of the Eiffel tower is not included.

You can book your ticket for the top of the Eiffel Tower and add a glass of champagne at the champagne bar. The champagne bar at the top is open every day, from 10.30 am to 10.30 pm. 

I would say the most enchanting time to experience the Eiffel Tower is at night.

Eiffel Tour, Champ de Mars, 5 Av. Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France, https://www.toureiffel.paris/en/planning-smooth-visit, https://www.toureiffel.paris/en/rates-opening-times

I stand in a park at the tower’s base, where there is a festive atmosphere among the throngs of people gathered – but for the Olympics, there will be a stadium built in front of the tower, before walking back to the Hotel Napoleon.

What a day – I must have walked 12 miles plus 3 hours worth in the museum. Here’s where I went:

Musee D’Orsay

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Sainte-Chapelle

Tuileries Garden

Place de Concorde

Champs-Elysee

Eiffel Tower at night

More planning help from the Paris Tourist Office, https://parisjetaime.com/eng/. Online ticketing at https://parisjetaime.com/eng/tickets.

Next: Day2 Highlighted by Le Louvre

See also:

ROMANCE IS AT THE HEART OF THE HOTEL NAPOLEON IN PARIS, CITY OF LOVE

VISITING PARIS THIS YEAR? PLAN IN ADVANCE

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

Visiting Paris This Year? Plan in Advance

If you have a hope of seeing the Mona Lisa at Le Louvre, book your timed ticket as soon as you book your travel to Paris © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

If you are planning to visit Paris his year, it is especially important to make plans really early, lock in reservations to visit the sites, attractions, restaurants, hotels, even train or bus transportation you most want to include if you are going outside Paris.

Paris (with 85,000 hotel rooms) is expecting about 15 million visitors as it hosts the Olympics (July 26-August 11) and Paralympics (August 28-Sept. 8. Other events to keep in mind: Tour de France, from June 29 to July 21; and Tour de France Femmes, from August 12 to 18.

The fact is, Paris is so popular (for good reason), there is no longer the “shoulder” season or “off season” (especially as more travelers seek the comparative comfort of cooler seasons, known as “coolcationing”). No matter when you travel, to get the most out of your visit, it is essential to do pre-planning. The days of just strolling into the major attractions are well gone, so advance purchase of timed- and capacity-controlled tickets will still be essential. Book online as soon as you know your dates of travel. In that way, you can avoid wasting valuable time and money waiting on line for tickets (followed by the line for security). Moreover, having a set time to visit the key attraction on your list will help you structure your day – while still allowing for serendipitous experiences and discoveries.

I must admit that my decision to spend four days in Paris at the end of my European Waterways canal boat cruise in the Alsace-Lorraine was a bit spontaneous and I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to do the research and preparation which I am recommending here. (So I didn’t get to go up the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower.) And planning out my visit for a city as big (and yet, as I found, not so big that I couldn’t walk everywhere), with as many highlights, was intimidating from a logistics point of view. So I began as I would hope other travelers do: I consulted what other travel writers have written about “four days” in Paris, and checked the various lists of “top attractions” like on tripadvisor.com.

Listen, while most travel writers will focus on the “off the beaten track” and “hidden gems” and “local favorites,” if, like me, you haven’t been to Paris in eons or ever, you want to experience what everyone else is talking about. They are the top attractions for a reason. But by preparing in advance in order to reduce wasting time waiting on lines, you will (I guarantee) have those serendipitous discoveries of “hidden gems” and “less known” that you can then boast discovering.

I had my list of top attractions, but how to organize in the best way?

Book your tickets to Musee D’Orsay in Paris in order to have more time to really enjoy the spectacular art collection, housed in this former Beaux Arts train station, in relative calm © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

I started with figuring out the priority attractions – Le Louvre, Musee D’Orsay – that would require advance, timed tickets, and made each of them the centerpiece of a day. Musee D’Orsay is closed on Monday; Le Louvre is closed on Tuesday. Then I looked to what was around, but much of how I spent my day after was pretty spontaneous.

The city was hopping with visitors this year – as tourism recovered globally after pandemic closures and it seems the world decided never to put off again their dream destinations. I visited in late August, a very busy time in any year, and the city is already preparing for the Olympics (I happened upon a city-wide practice run for security street closures.)

And most surprising to me, was how easy it is to get around Paris – especially walking and by bicycle (with loads of bicycle share stations), with its special biking lanes and traffic signals, and traffic signals and crossings that favor pedestrians. For those who prefer, the superb metro and bus system has multi-day tickets.

I walked everywhere – because it is the whole of Paris that is the attraction – the architecture, the people, the street activity, and the sheer beauty of the city, absolutely one of the most beautiful, enchanting in the world. And not just around the stunning sites of the Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre, Musee D’Orsay and Notre Dame (which you can see as it is restored), but neighborhoods that are so picturesque, interesting, and full of character. So I plot the walking time into my day.

It is thrilling to watch the progress of the restoration project at Notre Dame © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

But walking around, is the best way to come upon those “hidden gems” that no one else knows about. You have a cascade of serendipitous experiences, compelling places and surprises around every corner. It’s like surrendering yourself to the universe, or in this case, the city, and let it find you. And sometimes, when you set out in search for something, all these other things emerge.

(GPS is only helpful when you already have internet, but you should plot your route and then download so you have the maps offline or at least download the Paris map, which I kept forgetting to do, so I often relied on actual maps and the kindness of wonderful strangers, even with my very limited French, to point me in the right direction.)

During my four days in Paris, I visited:

Arrival afternoon:

Arc de Triomphe

Stroll the quais along the Seine for the magnificent views of Eiffel Tower at sunset into the night

Day 1: (Sunday)

Musee D’Orsay

Isle de la Cite (to see the restoration of Notre Dame)

Sainte-Chappelle

Tuileries Gardens

Place de la Concorde

Stroll the quai along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower at night

*

Day 2 (Monday)

Le Louvre

Notre Dame (again)

Isle de France

Marais District/Holocaust Memorial

*

Day 3 (Tuesday)

Marais District/Holocaust memorials

Place des Vosges

Museum of Paris History (a highlight)

Musee d’Art D’Histoire du Judaism

Musee Picasso-Paris

Bastille monument

Place Royale

*

Day 4 (Wednesday)

Montmartre

Musee Montmartre

Dali Gallery

Sacre Coeur

(Not on my list: Versailles, which I visited many years ago but any first-timer should visit)

And here are my regrets at having missed out: Victor Hugo’s House (turns out I was right there but didn’t know to look); Petit Palais which has marvelous exhibits (couldn’t time it right); the Crype Archeologique de L’Ile de la Cite (right beside the Notre Dame, but I never time it right to visit); and Catacombs (intriguing!). And yes, I regret not climbing the stairs up the Eiffel Tower (didn’t realize you can get that ticket on the spot) and seeing the museum and climbing inside the Arc de Triomphe

Yes, these are the most popular sites, but they are popular for very good reason, and if you are not a frequent visitor to Paris, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to experience them yourself. But there are ways to make the experience your own. Your list of “highlights” might be different – like the bateaux mouches cruise on the Seine (included in the Paris attractions pass).

Try to book your visit to Le Louvre either early in the morning or on one of the evenings the museum is open late © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

I highly recommend getting the Paris Museum Pass (https://www.parismuseumpass.fr/t-en, which provides admissions to 34 museums in Paris and 11 more in the region) or the Paris Pass (parispass.com) which not only makes attractions and experiences more affordable, but will absolutely add to what you see and do, and also provides such helpful information as hours, location, proximity to where you are. When booking, try to book the earliest available times or evening times, and midweek over weekend.

You are likely to arrive in Paris at the Charles de Gaulle Airport, which has easy train connection to downtown – purchase your metro ticket in advance at a wonderful visitor information office as you walk out, and even a multi-day ticket. This will cut down on wasted time waiting on line to buy a ticket and the confusion of knowing what zone you need. And it saves quite a lot of money. But the best part is you don’t think about how much you are spending – it all seems free.

If you are traveling in France, remember to book your train or bus tickets in advance © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Coming from Strasbourg by train at the end of my six-day canal cruise of the Alsace Lorraine aboard European Waterways’ Panache, I arrived at Gard d’Est and made my way on the metro (after going in the wrong direction on the metro) to a stop just in front of the Arc de Triomphe. My hotel, the Hotel Napoleon Paris, a five-star boutique hotel which put me perfectly into the atmosphere of Napoleon’s Empire period, is not even a half-block away, and one boulevard over from the magnificent Champs Elysee. (Note: book train tickets in advance, www.raileurope.com)

It was afternoon, and I quickly checked in to this charming boutique hotel, dropped my bag, and went out to explore the Arc de Triomphe.

Arc de Triomphe

Visitors along the Champs-Elysee on their way to the Arc de Triomphe © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

This iconic symbol of France is set in the middle of a roundabout (the Place D’Etoile, like a star”) where 12 busy boulevards converge, including the magnificent Champs Elysee which is aligned with its center. Don’t even think about trying to cross the roundabout – you must walk through underground passageways to get across the busy boulevards that encircle the monument (There’s a pedestrian tunnel at Place Charles de Gaulle on the north side of the Champs-Élysées that will take you down to the arch.)

Don’t even think about trying to walk across the roundabout encircling the Arc de Triomphe. Use the underground walkways © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 

Building the Arc de Triomphe began in 1806 on Napoleon’s orders. Just a year earlier, in 1805, Napoleon’s forces won a decisive victory over Russian and Austrian troops at the Battle of Austerlitz. French architect Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin took his inspiration from the great arches of the world and designed Triomphe to be the largest in the world. The arch is 164 feet tall, and twice a year, the sun sets directly in the center. It took 30 years to complete the arch which was officially opened by King Louis-Phillipe on July 29, 1836.

The Arc de Triomphe is a triumph of architecture and decoration © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In the years since, soldiers have marched past the arch as a victory lap – France and its allies did in 1918, 1944 and 1945; Germany in 1871 and  1940. Every year, a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, buried below the arch, marks the anniversary of the armistice signed on Nov. 11, 1918.

The Arc de Triomphe is a triumph of architecture and decoration © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Today, the Arc de Triomphe is more of a symbol of peace and is very recognizable as the end point for the Tour de France cyclists. For the French, the Arc de Triomphe goes well beyond being commemorative, but is foundational in the French national psyche.

Each day at the Arc de Triomphe, there is a ceremony to honor France’s fallen soldiers © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In 1921 the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was incorporated into the monument, and today the tomb’s flame is rekindled every evening at 6.30 p.m. to show respect for All of France’s fallen.

One such event was just winding up as I arrived.

The Arc de Triomphe is a symbol of the French people’s national pride © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

I was transfixed by the arch, the spectacular bas-reliefs of historic events that grace each pillar – The Entry of Napoleon, The Conquest of Alexandria and The Battle of Austerlitz. The most famous of them, The Departure of the Volunteers, also known as La Marseillaise, was created by the Romantic sculptor François Rude in 1792. The others were crafted by two other sculptors, Antoine Etex and Jean-Pierre Cortot Plaques list the names of hundreds of generals and battles.

Stunning reliefs decorate the Arc de Triomphe, recalling France’s history  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Admittedly, I didn’t know that you could enter the monument and climb the 284 steps to to the terrace (an elevator is available for those who require it) for a view, or that there is a museum inside – The Permanent ‘Great Moments of French History’ exhibition which traces the story of the Arc de Triomphe and explains the architecture, friezes and sculptures. So I definitely did not book tickets in advance. But the line to purchase tickets was ridiculous so I happily contented myself to just study the stunning reliefs and be transfixed by the arch’s form. (Having a Paris Museum Pass would have provided free admission without the need to reserve a time.)

Stunning reliefs decorate the Arc de Triomphe, recalling France’s history  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

What I missed though was the dramatic view from the top: looking down the Champs-Élysées to the Louvre, out to La Defense, around to the Eiffel Tower. And you look straight down at one of the world’s largest round-abouts, where the 12 avenues come together.

The Arc de Triomphe is a triumph of architecture and decoration © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

You can purchase tickets in advance; the Arch is also included on the Paris Museum Pass http://en.parismuseumpass.com/

I continued my walk well into the evening, following the route the concierge at the Hotel Napoleon laid out for me: strolling down the Champs Elysee, turning onto the Avenue George V (and passed the famous Hotel George V), to the Seine.

Paris is truly magical, truly the City of Light and romance. Couples walk along the quai, attach a lock to just about any wrought iron they can find, pose for a selfie.

That first view of the Eiffel Tower at night, reflected in the Seine, is breathtaking © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

That first view of the Eiffel tower from across the Seine, the bateaux mouches sailing by (I’m seeing Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant in “Charade”) as the sky takes on the rosy tones of sunset, fills you with a giddiness that can be described as joie de vivre. By the time I headed back along the quai, passing couples in amorous embraces, night has descended and the views of the lighted tower, bridges, and reflections on the river take your breath away.

Walking back to the Hotel Napoleon on a tony residential street just off the Champs Elysee, I felt more like I am going back to my swank Parisian apartment rather than a hotel. I get another view of the Arc de Triomphe as I turn the corner.

Walking back to the Hotel Napoleon Paris at night, you get a view of the Arc de Triomphe © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Hôtel Napoléon Paris 5,40, av. de Friedland 75008 Paris, Direct phone   +33156684480, www.hotelnapoleon.com, https://www.historichotels.org/hotels-resorts/hotel-napoleon-paris/, https://preferredhotels.com/hotels/france/hotel-napoleon-paris

More planning help from the Paris Tourist Office, https://parisjetaime.com/eng/. Online ticketing at https://parisjetaime.com/eng/tickets.

For Olympics planning (and where you can purchase tickets that become available), https://www.paris2024.org/en/

Next: Musee D’Orsay Highlights Day 2 in Paris

See also:

ROMANCE IS AT THE HEART OF THE HOTEL NAPOLEON IN PARIS, CITY OF LOVE

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

Romance is at the Heart of the Hotel Napoleon in Paris, City of Love

The Hotel Napoleon, a boutique five-star hotel just steps away from the Arc D’Triomphe in the fashionable 8th Arrondisement, began with a love story that continues to this day © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Romance is at the heart of the Hotel Napoleon in Paris, the City of Love. Romance is in its genes.

The Hotel Napoleon, just steps away from the Arc D’Triomphe off the Place d’Etoile in Paris’ fashionable 8th Arrondisement, began with a love story that continues to this day.

The Hotel Napoleon, a boutique five-star hotel  just steps away from the Arc D’Triomphe in the fashionable 8th Arrondisement, began with a love story that continues to this day © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Built on the site of the former Tolstoy family mansion in Art Deco style in 1928 by architect Henri Porteau, shortly after its opening, it was bought by Alexander Pavlovitch Kliaguine, a wealthy businessman from Russia, as a wedding present for his bride. A young Parisian student of literature, they had met at a salon, and fell in love at first sight. Kliaguine wanted to provide his bride a place to entertain Parisian high society (she later became the Baroness de Baubigny) and both resided there all their lives.

A portrait of the bride who stole Alexander Pavlovitch Kliaguine’s heart, in the Hotel Napoleon lobby © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

To this day, the Hotel Napoléon Paris is owned by the Kliaguine family, and a new generation Kliaguine, now the general manager, still lives in the hotel with his family. Indeed, the hotel, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide, was named to its The 2022 Top 25 Historic Hotels Worldwide Most Romantic Hotels

And as Kliaguine had promised his bride, the Hotel Napoleon became a popular gathering place for Paris’ social elite and illustrious artistic and literary expatriates (“The Lost Generation”): F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Orson Welles, Errol Flynn  (who nicknamed the Napoleon “The Place”), Miles Davis, Josephine Baker and Ella Fitzgerald, who signed its Golden Book.

This all prompts images of  Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” (where a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight), and the Algonquin Hotel in New York (famous for its Algonquin Round Table of New York City writers, critics, actors, and wits) to dance in my mind.

The hotel has appeared in movies, such as Jean Gabin’s 1930’s movies and even had a star turn in, Le Cave se rebiffe (1961), where the character played by Jean Gabin, one of French cinema’s greatest stars, declares he is staying at The Napoléon, “as always”.

The grand Empire décor of The Hotel Napoleon transports you back in time © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The exterior of the seven-story hotel may be Art Deco, but the atmosphere of this luxury boutique hotel will put in mind not of the Jazz Age or Art Deco, but the elegance of the Empire Period of Napoleon.

The Napoléon Bonaparte opened in 1928 as a “hôtel de charme” (a small distinctive hotel or boutique hotel) and only a year later, in 1929, reached the grade of “petit palace” and was renamed Napoléon Paris for its location steps away from the Arc de Triomphe. It was designated a five-star hotel by the French Agency of Tourist Development in 2013.

It is perfection that the historic Hotel Napoleon is just steps away from the Arc D’Triomphe, along Avenue de Friedland, one of the 12 boulevards that radiate from the Place Etoile and just one over from the famous Champs Elysee in the toniest of Parisian neighborhoods, you might as well be in “Midnight in Paris,’ the way you feel transported back into France’s Empire period of Napoleon with its furnishings and collection of 400 historic paintings.  

The gracious lobby at The Hotel Napoleon, once a gathering place for Parisian social elite and the “Lost Generation” of literati and artists © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The boutique hotel is elegant, yet intimate and comfortable. You feel more like you are invited to into a gracious mansion or even that you are occupying your own grand Paris flat in the toniest of Parisian neighborhoods, the fashionable 89th Arrondissement. The Napoleon has remained an undeniably romantic retreat, offering private terraces with views of the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe and an enviable location in the Triangle d’Or.

You can’t help but swoon at the collection of art which is also featured in the sumptuous guestrooms and suites inspired by Parisian Empire design by interior design firm Malphettes & Biz.

One of the suites at The Hotel Napoleon. Each is individually decorated family © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Napoleon boasts more suites (57) than hotel rooms (39), recently refreshed and renovated. Each is individually decorated and blends the extravagance of Empire design with contemporary elegance. Each has fine furnishings, sumptuous linens, grand drapery, lush fabrics and wallpaper, striking artwork, and luxurious marble-and-mahogany bathrooms, stocked with Nuxe luxury skincare products.

Some of the terrace suites overlook the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower, while others provide views of Avenue de Friedland or the flowers of the inner courtyard. Seven of the rooms have a terrace and four have a balcony.

One of the suites at The Hotel Napoleon. Each is individually decorated family © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Suite 319-320 is opulently decorated with Chinese black-and-gold wallpaper. The most luxurious suite, 618, is named for Josephine – not Napoleon’s wife, but Josephine Baker.

There are niceties including a refrigerator stocked with snacks and soft drinks and juice that are replenished each day at no charge and free WiFi.

A battery of concierges who are members of the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or readily share knowledge of the city, make you feel really at home and get the most of the precious time you have in Paris. The hotel can even arrange child care. And small pets are welcome.

The Napoleon has a gracious lobby, a lovely dining room (which before COVID served as a restaurant, but is where breakfast is served), and a lovely bar, the 1807, with outdoor terrace which serves as an outdoor café.

Enjoy breakfast in the lovely dining room at The Hotel Napoleon, you may meet Mon. Kliaguine, the general manager and owner of the hotel, who lives in the hotel with his family © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The tradition of celebrities staying at this intimate hotel is maintained, with a photo gallery of autographed photos of sports heroes– some who stayed here, some who were friends of the owner – outside the 7th floor fitness room (and what a fitness room it is!).

The Napoleon Hotel offers a selection of massages and treatments, available in the spa or in your room (daily from 9am to 9pm) and can be booked before your arrival or directly with the concierge.

There is also a very pleasant (and private) courtyard and for convenience of guests. Another luxury: a number of parking spots in front of the hotel (41E/day) and EV charging stations.

The Hotel Napoleon makes available parking and EV charging for its guests © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Hotel Napoleon Paris offers packages, such as Romance in Paris includes Champagne, chocolates, and flowers; the Family package features connecting rooms.

The hotel is walking distance to everything on the first part of my four-day itinerary.

And so, on this first afternoon after I arrive by train from Strasbourg at the end of my European Waterways canal cruise through the Alsace Lorraine and pop out of the metro station at Place Etoile, I drop my bags in my room and set out to explore the Arc d’Triomphe, stroll the Champs Elysee, and walk along the quai of the Seine for the exquisite views of the Eiffel tower at sunset into the night.

Paris, the City of Light (and Love), is magical at night © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

I stroll back to the hotel along the grand Champs Élysées– the view up to the Arch at night is so dramatic – and for my brief time in the city, live a very Parisian experience. And the Empire ambiance completes the fantasy.

Midnight in Paris, indeed.

Hôtel Napoléon Paris 5,40, av. de Friedland 75008 Paris, Direct phone   +33156684480, www.hotelnapoleon.com, https://www.historichotels.org/hotels-resorts/hotel-napoleon-paris/ https://preferredhotels.com/hotels/france/hotel-napoleon-paris

Historic Hotels Worldwide

The Hotel Napoleon is a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2011, the sister collection of Historic Hotels Worldwide®, a prestigious collection of more than 350 legendary historic hotels including many that were once castles, chateaus, palaces, academies, haciendas, villas, monasteries spanning ten centuries. Historic Hotels Worldwide recognizes authentic cultural treasures that demonstrate exemplary historic preservation and their inspired architecture, cultural traditions, and authentic cuisine, and in this way, preserves them.

To be nominated and selected for induction into Historic Hotels Worldwide, historical lodging properties must be at least 75 years old; utilize historic accommodations; serve as the former home or be located on the grounds of the former home of famous persons, or be a significant location for a historic event; be located in or within walking distance of a historic district, historically significant landmark, place of a historic event, or a historic city center; be recognized by a local preservation organization or national trust; and display historic memorabilia, artwork, photography, and other examples of its historic significance.

The Empire décor and a collection of 400 historic paintings make you feel you have slipped back in time, at the Hotel Napoleon, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

These historic hotels are in diverse cultural settings: a 12th-century castle set among the rolling hills, prehistoric  monuments, and Celtic landmarks of Ireland’s Ancient Eastin, (Kilkea Castle, Castledermot Ireland, circa 1180); a medieval village nestled in the Tuscan countryside that dates back to the 11th century (La Bagnaia Golf & Spa Resort Siena, Curio Collection by Hilton, Siena, Italy circa 1081), a 1650 manor house which was the former summer residence of Eugénie de Montijo, Empress of France and wife of Napoleon III (Hotel Claude Marbella, Marbella, Spain).

Travelers can find and book these historic hotels them at HistoricHotels.org, which since 2012 has served as a global travel website, or call 1-800-678-8946. The Annual Directory can be found by visiting HistoricHotels.org/Directory. More information at HistoricHotelsWorldwide.com.

Must Plan in Advance

The days of just showing up in a city as popular and as culturally rich as Paris are over – and not just because the Olympics are coming to Paris this summer. There is no longer a “shoulder” or “off” season. Lines for tickets at attractions can take literally hours, or you can be shut out altogether as capacity is reached. And this caveat is especially the case this year: Paris (with 85,000 hotel rooms) is expecting about 15 million visitors as it hosts the Olympics (July 26-August 11) and Paralympics (August 28-Sept. 8. Other events to keep in mind: Tour de France, from June 29 to July 21; and Tour de France Femmes, from August 12 to 18.

As soon as you know your dates for travel, book your hotel, and pre-purchase timed tickets directly with the attractions you most want to see.

Walking back to The Hotel Napoleon, I get to appreciate this gorgeous night view of the Arc D’Triomphe. To visit during the day, best is to pre-purchase the Paris Museum Pass © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Even better, purchase a Paris Museums ticket, which provides admission to 55 different museums (34 within Paris and another 11 in the Paris region), including the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre and Musee d’Orsay – but you still need to pre-book a timed ticket and go through security (which also takes time). You can purchase the pass according to the number of days: 2 (E35), 4 (E70), and 6 (E85), which not only saves time (priceless), but money on buying tickets individually (https://www.parismuseumpass.fr/t-en).

There is also a Paris Pass through GoCity.com, which adds on attractions and experiences (the Paris Museum pass is included) for a total of 90. Among the experiences: Seine river cruises on the famous bateaux mouches (E18 if purchased separately); Perfume mini workshop by Fragonard (29E); French wine tasting at Les Caves du Louvre (E36); and even Ballon de Paris Generali, where you fly over Paris on the world’s largest balloon at 150 meters altitude (E20 ticket value).

The pass can save up to 50 percent off purchasing tickets individually. It comes with a GoCity app that lets you plan your visit and book your ticket. You sync your All-Inclusive Pass with the Go City app and download your Paris Museum Pass (parispass.com).

More planning help from the Paris Tourist Office, https://parisjetaime.com/eng/. Online ticketing at https://parisjetaime.com/eng/tickets.

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players Keep These Popular Masterpieces of Musical Theater Alive

New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players take their bow at the end of this season’s “The Mikado” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players company is one of New York City’s cultural treasures and fortunately, many outside the Big Apple will also have the opportunity to revel in the company’s artistry and talent as it finishes its stellar production of “The Mikado” and begins its annual road tour, this season featuring “The Pirates of Penzeance.”

Now in its 49th year, this extremely talented and creative company NYGASP, which is based out of the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, has been hailed as “the leading custodian of the G&S classics” and has created its own special niche in the cultural mosaic of New York City and the nation. NYGASP’s mission is “giving vitality to the living legacy of Gilbert & Sullivan,” says the company’s Founder/Artistic Director/General Manager Albert Bergeret.

Bergeret typically hosts a preview and introduction during a series, typically before a performance geared to families.

The new/ updated NYGASP production of The Mikado premiered in NYC in late 2016, features an original prologue that introduces the audience to the real life characters of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company who originated The Mikado in 1885 London. The production centers the fantastic elements of juxtaposing a Victorian world with an imagined Japanese setting allowing the opera to be a truly inclusive experience for all audiences and artists. 

The show abounds with absurdity and astounding wit, clever wordplay, memorable tunes and endearing characters, performed to perfection by clever patter man David Macaluso as Sullivan and Ko-Ko (who brings extraordinary physical comedy and a sweet voice); blustering Matthew Wages who plays Richard D’Oyly Carte and pompous Pooh-Bah; creative David Auxier as author Gilbert and town leader Pish-Tush (who also authored the new Prologue and is the director, and choreographer); charming John Charles McLaughlin as romantic hero Nanki-Poo, rising star Hannah Holmes as lovelorn and overbearing Katisha; beautiful soprano Rebecca L. Hargrove  as self-aware Yum Yum;  Sarah Hutchison as maiden sister Peep-Bo; mellifluous mezzo Elisabeth Cernadas as adventurous Pitti-Sing; and dynamic bass David Wannen in the title role. 

The brilliant ensemble is rounded out by Caitlin Borek, Camilo Estrada, Chris-Ian Sanchez, James Mills, Katie Hall, Abby Kurth, Lance Olds, Logan Pitts, Maurio Hines, Michael Galante, Michelle Seipel, Sabrina Lopez, Viet Vo and Alexandra Imbrosci-Viera.

To their artistry and talent they exude a joy of performance.

The production showcases gorgeous scenery designed by Anshuman Bhatia, clever and inventive costumes by Quinto Ott and lighting by Benjamin WeillThe Mikado is produced by NYGASP Executive Director David Wannen. Founder and Artistic Director Albert Bergeret,sharing the podium with Associate Conductor, Joseph Rubin conducting the 25-piece orchestra.

NYGASP’s brilliant re-creation of Gilbert & Sullivan’s classic, “Mikado,” was first introduced in 2016, aimed at exorcizing the production of offensive stereotypes that might offend Asians that were embedded in the 1885 original. “It is a balancing act to respect the original but take out what people considered offensive,” Bergeret says.

A specially created “prologue” and creative costuming ensure there is no confusion that “Mikado” represents Englishmen satirizing Victorian society and politics, capitalizing on British fascination with all things Japanese in the 1880s, to defuse the pointed references that might have gotten Gilbert & Sullivan (already under censorship of Lord Chamberlain) into trouble. And frankly, the depiction of The Mikado (who doesn’t even appear for the first 2 ½ hours of the three-hour show) as a cruel but ridiculous tyrant is reminiscent of how the Red Queen is depicted in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (1865). If anything, the Mikado’s character may resonate in 2024 more than in 2015 or even 1885.

The clever Prologue. authored by the director, choreographer David Auxier-Loyala takes place on June 6, 1884 – one day after their “Princess Ida” opened, brings together D’Oyly Carte, the actual producer, with Arthur Sullivan, the composer and W.S. Gilbert, the lyricist and author (played by David Auxier), and has them talking about the Japanese exhibition that is all the stir in London. D’Oyly Carte is pushing them to come up with their next musical, and in their verbal interplay, these fanciful interjections become the fanciful names for characters – Pish-Tush, Pooh-Bah – and suggest plot points. Gilbert “dreams” the performance of “Mikado” – he becomes Pish-Tush, a Noble Lord; Sullivan becomes Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, and D’Oyly Carte becomes Pooh-Bah (“the Lord High Everything Else”).

Of course British audiences of 1885 could have cared less about “political correctness.” The object of Gilbert & Sullivan’s satire was British society

Before the “Family” performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Mikado,” Music Director/Conductor Albert Bergeret, who founded NYGASP 49 years ago, accompanied by David Macaluso (Ko-Ko) and Hannah Holmes (Katishaw) give a playful explanation of the show © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We take advantage of seeing January 13 afternoon “Family performance”, which features a before-show talk introducing the plot and music presented by the esteemed Conductor and Musical Director Albert Bergeret, who founded the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players 49 years ago (and was the original Nanki-Poo), I learn that my comparison of “Mikado” for Gilbert & Sullivan to “Madame Butterfly” by Puccini is not entirely unfounded. While the music that Sullivan composed runs the gamut of British musical styles (ballad, madrigal, march), he incorporates the Japanese five-note scale and an actual Japanese folk song, Miya-sama (though for this production, new English lyrics are substituted for the Japanese) – music which Puccini also appropriates in “Madame Butterfly.” (Miya-sama was not used in this production.)

“We took out what’s incomprehensible or inappropriate,” Bergeret says, who adds that Sullivan was a brilliant, classically trained musician who was well versed in all genres of music and composers from around the world. In “Mikado” Sullivan demonstrates his virtuosity in writing in many different forms.

Just as Gilbert incorporated contemporaneous digs, so too does this Ko-Ko, a “cheap tailor” (which means he made clothes for common people) taken from the county jail where he was scheduled to be executed (for flirting), and elevated to Lord High Executioner, update his “List” of those who shan’t be missed, to be as current as yesterday’s tweet, sometimes changing it each performance, surprising even the rest of the cast.

New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players production of “The Mikado” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.comIn an earlier season, David Macaluso (Ko-Ko) hosts audience members on a backstage tour of the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, homebase for the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

During our performance, Ko-Ko, brilliantly played by David Macaluso, who is not only brilliant at patter but physical comedy, inserts digs at A.I. and the “plagiarist” that got him on the list, and natural gas which somehow puts the “environmentalist” also on that long, long list as the scroll unfurls.

And The Mikado’s updated long list of who to punish and how, includes the Instagrammer “made to endure a dungeon cell without not one cellular bar” and “political pundits, who must sail for weeks on a boat full of leaks on a sea of alternative facts.” (That gets tremendous laughs.)

But Bergeret notes they do not want to do too much contemporizing. “We are proud to share this production, which upholds The Mikado’s musical score, setting, characters, storytelling, themes, and most of all its universal satire of human nature.”

So, the Mikado looks to execute Ko-Ko (the Lord High Executioner), Pooh-Bah (the “Lord High Everything” and Pitti-Sing (one of the “three little maids from school” for carrying out the Mikado’s orders to execute Somebody and unwittingly execute the Mikado’s son and heir to the throne, Nanki-Poo. The Mikado appreciates their effort (he only wishes he could have witnessed the execution) but insists they still should be executed for, well, killing the heir and looks for the entertainment value in their lingering death.

The Mikado justifies executing the three because, after all, this is an unfair world where the virtuous suffer and the undeserving succeed. This leads to the song that probably best sums up the moral of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Mikado,” in which the three condemned sing, “See how the Fates their gifts allot/For A is happy, B is not/Yet B is worthy, I dare say/Of more prosperity than A…If I were Fortune which I’m not/B should enjoy A’s happy lot/And A should die in misery/That is, assuming I am B.”

In the end The Mikado is less a jab at all-powerful monarchal misrule, than a comic contemplation of what human beings do when in faced with existential situation. Their focus is on human nature and the human condition. In Mikado, we see self-preservation – even by Yum-Yum who is willing to marry Nanki-Poo who loves her so much he is willing to be executed after just a month, until she realizes that as the wife of an executed man, she would be buried alive.

This production makes another change at the end, stopping the show for a return to the Gilbert & Sullivan characters trying to figure out an ending that would not rely on a magical or fantastical device like the “magic lozenge” they used in their 1877 opera “The Sorcerer” and almost breaks up their collaboration. (Gilbert finally gets to use the device in “The Mountebanks,” written with Alfred Cellier in 1892). Instead, Gilbert comes up with an argument that actually makes sense given the circumstance: Any order by the Mikado must be carried out, so having given the order, it must have been carried out (not much more absurd than “Anything the President does is legal and immune from prosecution, even if he orders Seal 6 to kill his political opponent.”).

New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players perform the joyful finale of “Mikado” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“The Mikado, or The Town of Titipu” – the ninth of Gilbert & Sullivan’s 14 collaborations – was immensely popular when it opened on March 14 1885 in London, running for 672 performances, the second longest run for any musical theater production. By the end of 1885, some 150 companies in Europe and America were performing the operetta. It even was widely performed in Japan (apparently they took no offense).

Indeed, “The Mikado” is one of the most popular productions of musical theater of all time. Performed for the last 135 years – by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, NYGASP and others including Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park festival – there were decades when “Mikado” was being performed somewhere in the English speaking world any day of the year. Some of its word inventions have entered the lexicon, such as “the grand Poo-Bah” and “Let the punishment fit the crime.” They have also been performed in languages including Yiddish and French, though Bergeret notes that the French don’t seem to get the jokes.

G&S were very popular in their own time – all their 14 shows were popular and “Mikado” was one of most popular written out of their 14 (one, “Thespis,” was lost). Their nods to classical and digs at British society and conventions and their union of witty lyrics and lyrical music, appealed to high and low class. Both wrote with others but were never so successful as when they collaborated together. “They were very different characters – Sullivan was a lady’s man” – aspects that come through in the specially written “Prologue” to Mikado.

“The only one who doesn’t like Gilbert was Queen Victoria, Bergeret tells us. “We are not amused,” Queen Victoria once commented. The Queen knighted Sullivan as the “savior of English classical music.” (Her son, King Edward VII, knighted Gilbert.)

Gilbert & Sullivan actually invented musical theater. At the time Gilbert & Sullivan were writing, there were opera, light opera and music hall theatricals, but nothing like a musical show with story – music that had both class and pop – with real story lines, music advanced the story, Bergeret tells us. This is where musical theater started,. Watching “Mikado” you see a straight line to Rogers & Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim.

Since its founding in 1974, the company has presented over 3,000 performances of the G&S masterpieces throughout the United States, Canada, and the U.K. delighting audiences of all ages.

The company’s celebrated ensemble of G&S experts, developed by introducing new singers each year from New York’s immense pool of vocal and theatrical talent, has collaborated with such guest artists as world-renowned G&S exponent the late John Reed, O.B.E. in numerous comic baritone roles, Tony winner John Rubinstein and Frank Gorshin both as King Gama in Princess Ida, John Astin as Sir Joseph in H.M.S. Pinafore, Hal Linden and Noel Harrison as the Major General in The Pirates of Penzance, Pat Carroll as Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore, and Steve Allen as The Mikado.

The company’s repertory consists of 13 complete G&S operas (cast, orchestra and crew of 50-80 people), special versions of the most popular operas designed for children’s audiences, and a variety of charming sextet concert programs. The company has also produced a cabaret act.  I’ve Got a Little Twist, created and directed by David Auxier, won a 2010 Bistro Award, has toured the country and appeared at Lincoln Center’s 2011 Atrium series.

NYGASP Founder/Artistic Director/General Manager, Albert Bergeret is a career-long professional specialist in the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, having performed, staged, conducted and designed every opera in the repertoire since the company’s founding in 1974. He has conducted and staged all 13 of the works in the G&S canon as well as the company’s smash hit production of George Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing.

New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players are worthy of a Tony Award.

Coming up, NYGASP will present G&S’s “The Sorcerer” and “Trial by Jury” on April 6-7.

Also, NYGASP regularly tours its shows, and this year is featuring “Pirates of Penzance”:

Feb. 28: An Evening of G&S Favorites, Lincoln Center, Fort Collins, CO

Feb. 29: The Pirates of Penzance in One Act/Evening of G&S Favorites, Lone Tree Arts Center, Lone Tree, CO

Mar. 3, 2024, The Pirates of Penzance, Popejoy Hall, Albuquerque, NM

Mar. 5: The Pirates of Penzance, Mesa Arts Center, Mesa, AZ

Mar. 7: The Pirates of Penzance, Gallo Center for the Arts, Modesto, CA

Mar. 8: The Pirates of Penzance, Clark Center for the Performing Art, Arroyo Grande, CA

Mar. 9: The Pirates of Penzance, Torrance Cultural Arts Center, Torrance, CA

Mar. 10: The Pirates of Penzance, McCallum Theatre, Palm Desert, CA

Apr. 26: The Pirates of Penzance in One Act/Evening of G&S Favorites, Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, Joplin, MO

May 10: The Pirates of Penzance, Mayo Performing Arts Center, Morristown, NJ

More information at www.NYGASP.org, 212-772-4448.

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

Experts at NY Travel Show Offer Tips for Satisfying, Meaningful, Purposeful Travel

A wedding couple in Hangzhou, China. Travel is how ideas, innovations and progress, improved living standards and quality of life are spread among peoples, as Marco Polo proved. Travel is humanity’s best hope for peace and cooperation as people from different places see and appreciate that we are more alike than different, and appreciate the differences. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

It’s like this: travel is humanity’s best invention to promote the advancement of civilization. Travel is how ideas, innovations and progress, improved living standards and quality of life are spread among peoples, as Marco Polo proved. Travel is humanity’s best hope for peace and cooperation instead of zero-sum annihilation, as people from different places see and appreciate that we are more alike than different, and appreciate the differences. Travel is a community’s best hope for providing the economic underpinnings that provide jobs, upward mobility and enable people to stay on ancestral lands, have the funds to preserve and protect the environment, culture and heritage, and yes, make the adaptations and mitigations to prevent the ravages of climate change. Indeed, just as the travel industry has led the way with e-commerce, yield management, and  loyalty programs, the industry – the third largest in the world – is leading the way on climate solutions,

Tourism is what provides the economic underpinnings to support jobs and upkeep of such treasures as the Treasury at Petra, Jordan. To avoid crowds, stay overnight and enter the ancient city in the early morning © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Travel also is life-enhancing, enriching, potentially life-changing and among the best therapies against despair – providing a conduit for forging social connections, self-improvement, overcoming fear, anxiety and apprehension by fostering understanding and empathy, broadening perspectives. The experience of travel fosters resilience, self-confidence, self-reliance, adaptability, forges lasting bonds of family and friendship and broadens perspective and outlook.

That’s not just me saying it. It’s what travel experts with collective experience of decades (including myself), have seen and experienced firsthand.

“When we travel, experience the world, it changes us in a deep and profound way,” Pauline Frommer of frommer.com, told a standing room only audience at the most recent New York Travel & Adventure Show at Javits Center. “Right now we live in such a divided word – different facts inform our view but when we travel, we see the truth on the ground, that other countries have something to teach us, we can bring that back, and present an impression of America that is positive in places that may not have positive impression of America. Even with climate change, travel is one of the best tools in our ongoing search for creating world peace. So have wonderful, relaxing vacations, but your trips also can be meaningful and you can make a difference when you travel.”

“Consume news, but don’t let that make you a frightened person,” advises Rick Steves of ricksteves.com. “Be outward looking. If we want world to be peaceful, we have to build bridges. We can be challenged and stimulated by smart people who do things in smart ways. We can celebrate the Moroccan dream, the Bulgarian dream, just like the American dream – there is room for lots of dreams, As a traveler, we get to enjoy them all….[If we want a world of] peace and stability, the most powerful thing we can do as individual Americans is to travel and get to know people.”

Machu Picchu, Peru: travel has the potential to be life-enhancing, life-changing. But don’t put off your “bucket-list” experiences because you never know if there will be a pandemic, a political issue, a climate disaster. “Carpe diem,” says Patricia Schultz, author of “1000 Places to See Before You Die”

The COVID pandemic reinforced the value of travel – the three years of lockdowns and constrained travel upended local economies, while shutdowns that kept people from traveling underscored the human need for connection, for renewal, for new horizons to broaden perspectives.

“A life lesson we took away from COVID and postponed pleasure is that there is never a guarantee that we will be able to travel tomorrow or next year- our health, our need to care for people, political situation, climate disasters. Carpe diem,” says “1000 Places to See Before You Die” author Patricia Schultz.  She reflects on the places that she had included but have had to drop off her list recently – Ukraine, Syria, Iran even Jerusalem. “The lesson from this image [of people at the Western Wall] is carpe diem – if some place is on your bucket list and you think, well, the Pyramids will always be there, guess what? Don’t take anything for granted.”

And so with the pandemic in the rearview mirror (at least for now), people are traveling with furor and we are back to worrying about being crowded out and the potential impacts – and actions to prevent – overtourism. COVID-generated technologies and policies for advance purchase, capacity control are here to stay.

The excitement for traveling to the four corners of the globe and in every style, from decompressing on a beach, to joining an expedition to see gorillas in Uganda, to standing up for Ukraine by showing up in Ukraine, was evident at the New York Travel & Adventure Show, where booths were crammed and talks by experts including Rick Steves, Peter Greenberg, Pauline Frommer, on traveling smart, well and meaningfully were standing room only.

But because there is a whole world out there, you can make choices of where and when to travel. Don’t like crowds? Try to visit a destination when less crowded (though there is less of an “off-season” or “shoulder” season these days); find the “hidden gems” that offer as much atmosphere, experience and character; visit attractions either very early or later in the day (to avoid the hoards of cruise passengers and daytrippers); overnight in those charming, historic cities and villages (preferably in or within walking distance of the historic district) so you are there in the early morning and the evenings to enjoy the stillness and light without the hoards of cruisers and daytrippers; and pre-purchase tickets, city/museum/attractions passes so you don’t waste valuable time and money standing in line to purchase tickets. Climate and weather also have become major issues that should factor into where and when you travel.

Their message: By all means, experience the highlights of a place, but go further afield to seek out local experiences, opportunities to visit or stay in neighborhoods. Be a mindful traveler, a purposeful traveler: enhance the experience by learning the background, the stories and back-stories, hire a local guide, take a “free” walking tour (you basically tip the guide), sign up for some volunteer opportunity to give back to the community; seek out those tour programs that provide immersive opportunities to engage with locals.

The Pont du Gard aqueduct, for example, is the most-visited ancient monument in France. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the best-preserved Roman sites in the world. Most people see it as a pretty photo op and do not understand how innovative the engineering was – how the Romans brought water from 30 miles away – and what a difference it made in the lives of people who didn’t have to spend hours of their day in pursuit of water.

Meet the people who live on Inle Lake, Myanmar © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“For a lot of tour groups, it is just a pretty bridge, a potty break, a souvenir stand. [But learning the backstory], humanizes this site,” says Rick Steves says. “How to carbonate the travel experience is about how to connect with people..Too many tourists sit on folding chairs watching yodeling on stage, but not connecting, and back in the hotel, only interact with other Americans. It’s a vacation, to be sure, but what is missing is what it means to travel.

Steves urges travelers to “get out of their comfort zone, to see culture shock not as something to avoid, but as the growing pains of a broadening perspective.”

“Become a cultural chameleon – physically change from culture to culture because it’s different.” That means going to where the locals hang out in the evening, drinking Ouzo in Greece, whisky in Scotland, tea in England, red wine in Tuscany, beer in the Czech Republic.” Go three blocks off the main drag to find the restaurants popular with locals; for some meals (breakfast, lunch) go to local groceries and markets and picnic. Seek out the family owned two-star hotel, inn, lodge, hostel or AirBnB – that not only saves money but adds enrichment because of a more “authentic” experience.

Pre-planning is the way to mitigate wasting time and money in line or with crowds.

“There are two types of travelers: those who wait in lines and those who don’t. Think carefully of minimizing lines,” Steves notes.

Crowds in front of the “Mona Lisa” in Le Louvre in Paris. Travel experts at the New York Travel & Adventure Show offered tips on how to avoid crowds and the lines, especially in places like Paris, where advance purchase of tickets to major museums and attractions is essential. In Paris, purchase the “Museum Pass.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Before you go: get an idea of the attractions and sites you want to visit (I query “Three days in….” at TripAdvisor and other travel writers to get some idea). Then, go to the attractions’ websites to get all the visitor FAQs (can I take a water bottle into the Vatican; a backpack into Le Louvre – not likely after the latest incident of vandalism against the “Mona Lisa”). As soon as you have your travel dates (that is, your air fare), immediately reserve the tickets– if the attraction is a highlight for you it is a highlight for most others. Your priority places will set the framework for your itinerary, and the time saved by not waiting on line can go to those serendipitous experiences and discoveries. The same with restaurants you have your heart set on frequenting – book a reservation as soon as you settle your dates.

Take advantage of city passes, museum passes (a must for Paris) and attractions passes from companies like GoCity.com and CityPass.com, as well as the passes offered by the cities themselves, like the PragueCoolPass.com. They not only let you breeze through, but give extremely helpful information about current exhibitions, hours, directions, visitor information.

The PragueCoolPass maximizes your enjoyment of this historic city, like visiting its famous Castle © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

Try to book the earliest opening hour of the day in order to minimize the crowds, but in any case, book the earliest time available in order to have the most amount of time.

If you are visiting an outdoor site like the Acropolis in Athens, avoid mid-day when it is not only hot as blazes, but overrun with thousands of visitors who have come off cruise ships or day trippers. Come either as soon as the Acropolis opens in the morning, when it is cool and uncrowded, or at the end of the day (as I did), when the light is a gorgeous golden, the views of the city are amazing, it is cooler and the biggest crowds have left.

Visit attractions like the Acropolis at the beginning or at the end of the day to avoid the crowds and the heat and enjoy the golden light © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

This is also the advantage of overnighting in the most charming cities like Bruges, Strasbourg, Seville, Venice, Prague, Amsterdam, Fez and important sites like Petra – choose a hotel in the historic district that is walking distance to everything but you get to enjoy in the early morning and evening when the lights/lighting/colors are so amazing, the canals like mirrors, the city streets are quiet and empty, before the onslaught of cruisers and daytrippers.

Overnighting in the boutique Flanders Hotel in Bruges’ historic district means you get to have this impossibly picturesque city to yourself at night and in the quiet of the morning before the daytrippers overrun it © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

Take advantage of “free” walking tours in cities – local guides work for tips. These are great way to get an orientation. Search “free walking tours” and read the reviews.

Also, in major cities like Paris and London, you can buy mutli-day transit tickets for the train/bus (you can also do bikeshare), so that instead of paying the price of a taxi or Uber from airport into downtown, you can purchase the pass that includes the train or tram from the airport, and not have to wait on lines to purchase individual tickets from machines and deal with the confusion of zones and station names.

Searching muiti-day tour finders is a great way to get an idea of how to organize your time, what to see, what you should pay, and find tour programs that might best meet your needs. Frommer recommends Travelstride.com and Tourradar.com. These marketplace sites, she notes, can introduce you to local companies instead of the big-name tour operators.

Considerations for choosing the right tour company: price (per diem) is only one consideration, also consider what is inclusions (all meals aren’t necessarily a good thing, you might prefer to be able to go off and find those local favorites instead of a restaurant that caters to foreign groups); traveling companions (it is fun to travel with people from other countries, not just Americans); expertise of the guide; demographics of the tour company (often there are family itineraries; women-only; solo travelers; small groups (EF Tours, Audley Travel); price (luxury versus mass market) and age such as younger travelers (Contiki) versus older (Road Scholar) (visit www.frommers.com: How to pick the right tour company for you”).

Discovery Bicycle Tours stops at a winery at the end of the day’s ride in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Bicycle tours are ideal for women and solo travelers © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

To find day tours, attractions, guides: Getyourguide.com; airbnb.com/experiences; tripadvisor.com. Foodies could look to TravelingSpoon and Eatwith. I like contexttravel.com.

Also be sure to pre-book rail (for example, raileurope.com) and bus transportation (flixbus.com is terrific) between cities. Find schedules at Rome2Rio.com.

Taking the train from Paris to Strasbourg, France. Be sure to book your ticket in advance © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

To find the best airfares (always tricky), Frommer recommends searching Momondo.com/Kayak.com, Skyscanner.com, and CheapoAir.com. Momondo (and Kayak, which are owned by the same entity) tended to consistently find the lowest fares, and have filters that let’s you select for everything from the type of plane (if you wanted to avoid a Boeing 737 Max 9, or if you wanted to find the airlines with the cheapest fares with a checked bag.

But the experts also recommend that after searching for the best fares, you book directly with the airline, ”because if you book through a third party, you can’t rebook as easily as directly through the airlines” if there is some delay, cancellation or need to change. “Search but don’t book,” Frommer says.

Frommer also railed against “drip pricing” – the extra fees that airlines attach (even though Biden has waged a campaign against junk fees.) US airlines average $78 in added fees; European airlines average $58. So for United, the average is 122% of the base fare; for jetblue it’s 147%; but for Sun Country its 201% and for Frontier, its 376%, so the added fees can be higher than the fare.

When you search for an airline, Frommer consistently recommends you “Hide your identity” “Use a privacy setting on the browser, or use a different browser and different computer if you return to search fares” because the airline will track you, gauge your interest and post higher fares.

Also, there are optimum times to search and book:

  • Purchase airfare on Sundays (6% cheaper domestic travel, 13% cheaper international)
  • Book 28 days out (“the sweet spot”) for domestic travel (24% savings), 2-4 months out for international (10% savings)
  • Start your trip on a Thursday (16% savings over flying on a Sunday)
  • Fly before 3 pm (to avoid the 50% increased risk of being cancelled or delayed)

For best hotel rates, book 3-plus months in advance for resorts like Hawaii, Mexico, Caribbean, Florida but just one week before in business cities (New York, London, Paris, Denver). “It takes courage to wait to book one week before travel, so book a refundable room in advance, then search a week ahead of travel.”

“For first time in 20 years, I am having to research New Jersey hotels for people coming to New York City, because on September 18, the city got rid Airbnb, and all the cheap hotels are filled with migrants. Hotels were  charging $900 in December compared to $129 in January for the same room.”

Welcome to Riad el Yacout, built in 1347 for Professor Laharchi, philosophy who taught at the famous Al Qaraouvine university, which stayed in the family until 2000, when it was converted to a 33-room guesthouse, Fez, Morocco, booked on hotels.com © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

To find “secret hotel discounts, Frommer is recommending seeking out travel clubs like RoomSteals, the new Travel & Leisure Club, professional associations’ travel clubs – some which have fees to join – and @Hotel on Instagram (no fee to belong).

How do clubs have “secret: rates? “Hotel companies have contracts with Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity etc. and are not allowed to offer publicly deeper discounts (more than 5-10%) than they give to expedia, orbitz). But if they can’t fill their rooms, they turn to the clubs.”  On the other hand, the clubs often do not show as much information as you need about services and the like.

Also, Frommer notes, Airbnb isn’t necessarily a bargain over hotel rates. “Now because so many extra fees, a recent study showed in 48 of 50 states you pay more at Airbnb than hotel (two exceptions are Nevada and Louisiana). But AirBnB is great for groups, families, if you need a kitchen (and want to save money cooking), but on average, you no longer save money on a rental vs. hotel.”

On the other hand, Frommer has always been a big booster for home exchanges – where you actually trade the use of your home for someone else’s – a way to save money but also really live like a local.

“You can go anywhere in the world – a Paris apartment, a houseboat in Sausalito.” Among the exchanges are HomeExchange.com.

Pauline Frommer cautions about getting too cautious – fearful – of traveling abroad,

Pointing to the recent US State Department’s worldwide travel advisory in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war, she notes that Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Uruguay, and Venezuela all have travel advisories against coming to the US because of the gun violence epidemic. “Venezuela thinks it is too dangerous to come here.”  The State Department’s worldwide caution for Americans, is as if to say, “’Don’t travel anywhere, the world is too dangerous. That’s mind boggling. Yes, listen to the US State Department, read the cautions, but understand the rest of the world is terrified to come here.” There is a lot to listen to, though – such as where women of child-bearing age should be mindful of Zika, or where there is political instability or widespread crime, and urges travelers to enroll in the State Department’s “Smart Traveler” program.

The experts advise purchasing travel insurance and soon after you purchase your flights, so that you are covered if for some reason you have to cancel.

Pauline Frommer suggests looking for travel insurance that covers “Cancel for any Reason” (CFAR), includes medical evacuation and covers pandemics (policies do not necessarily cover “fear of travel” if there is a pandemic but a destination isn’t closed by authorities).

“Say the destination has a new strand of COVID but didn’t shut down, and you decide not to go – if you cancel with regular insurance, it won’t be covered – because ‘fear of travel’ is not included. A CFAR policy allows you to cancel for any reason – it’s more expensive, but will repay 75% of costs.

All the experts discourage purchasing travel insurance from the travel provider (tour operator, cruiseline), but to use apps that give you different policy recommendations based on your needs (date of travel, who traveling, age, destinations) such as Squaremouth.com, Insuremytrip.com and Travelinsurance.com.

“Inevitably the most expensive policy covers the least, but the best is usually in the middle,” Frommer advises. “Never ever buy from the travel company you are going with – if they go belly up, you’ve lost insurance too.”

Angel Castellanos (www.angelestravellounge.com) offered more tips on traveling smart with technology, like Google Fi (which makes its own SIM cards and has free international data roaming in most countries) and T-Mobile (which do not charge roaming fees for international calls; calls are 25c/minute; unfortunately, it is rare to get internet service with T-mobile abroad; you use the available WiFi) instead of having to pay for an international phone/data plan. Also, consider purchasing an international SIM card for $2.

For digital safety, he recommends installing a VPN (a virtual private network) on to mask your identity when you are on a public network, with digital thieves trying to steal passwords. He recommends ExpressVPN which works all over the world.

Flying, definitely register for TSA Precheck (costs $75, good for 5 years, and some credit cards rebate the charge), and CLEAR, which uses biometric data to verify your identify, and let’s you go directly from the kiosk to the front of the line “like a VIP. In certain airports that can make the difference in making the flight.” And several business credit cards like American Express Platinum rebate the cost of Clear.

Denver International Airport. Use TSA PreCheck, CLEAR, MyTSA, to breeze through the airport © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

You can also install the MyTSA app on your device, a free app that gives real time information for what is happening at airport – how long the security line is taking, if one area of the airport is closed and you need to go through TSA in a different location.

Now, the Homeland Security department offers mobile passport control, even if you are not registered for Global Entry (which is similar). You can enroll by submitting passport information and responses to CBP (Customs & Border Patrol) – the free version requires you to enter passport information each time – answer the questions, then you get to whisk through a third line (the regular line, the Global Entry kiosk, and now the Mobile Passport control).

“Google is one of biggest game changers for international travel,” he notes. You can download maps in advance so they are available when you do not have access to WiFi.

The same is true for languages. “Language is no longer a barrier. You can program a phrase like ‘I’m allergic to peanuts,’ and it will show it written as well as speak. You can download the language in advance so it can translate even when offline. You can use the camera function to translate foreign languages into English.”

Of course this eliminates the delight and satisfaction of finding a local person who can either speak English or mime an answer to “I’m lost, Can you tell me how do I get to….?”

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

Best Viewing Spots in New York State for Total Solar Eclipse April 8 – Plan Now

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. Miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience when the moon completely covers the sun, turning day into night and sparking all sorts of eerie reactions and you’ll have to wait 400 years for the next total solar eclipse in New York State. (Map:  I LOVE NY/NYS Dept. of Economic Development)

Edited by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. The total solar eclipse will begin around 3:20 pm (the time will differ depending what part of the state you are in), and last up to 3 minutes and 38 seconds depending on your vantage point, with about an hour before and after totality when you see the moon begin to cover and then recede.

The regions, cities, towns and villages where the viewing is most ideal – a 124-mile wide path stretching from Chautauqua-Allegheny to the majestic Niagara Falls in Greater Niagara, over the pristine Finger Lakes, mighty Adirondacks, and magical Thousand Islands-Seaway are taking on a festival atmosphere, and attractions, from the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory to the Rochester Museum & Science Center  are hosting events even days before.

(See Part1: NYS WILL BE IN PATH OF TOTALITY: BEST PLACES TO VIEW SOLAR ECLIPSE ON APRIL 8)

Grab your eclipse glasses and head to upstate New York State for the best viewing of the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024. Many places are hosting three-day festivals. Plan early and book now. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Best Eclipse Viewing Spots in Greater Niagara

Curated by Emma Frisbie, Digital Content Coordinator for ILOVENY.com

Imagine viewing the total solar eclipse while overlooking the roaring waters of Niagara Falls, surrounded by the 14,000-acre “Grand Canyon of the East,” or enjoying all kinds of festivities leading up to lively celebrations on the big day. At most of these sites, trained staff will be on site with proper equipment for safe viewing including telescopes with specialized filters and eclipse glasses.

Niagara Falls: Elevate your total solar eclipse viewing experience from one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, Niagara Falls State Park. The park itselfhas 400 acres of stunning landscapes, so you’re sure to find a prime location for this once-in-a-lifetime event. Prospect Point and Goat Island offer waterfall vistas with unobstructed skies. Not only will Niagara Falls prove to be an exceptional vantage point, but whenthe eclipse is viewed through the perpetual rainbow that lingers just above the falls, the color of the light will change from rainbow to monochromatic pink. About a 10-minute drive north is Whirlpool State Park where you can watch the event alongside the roaring Niagara River Rapids. On the days leading up to the eclipse, NASA will be providing free public programming and exhibits throughout the area, including Niagara Falls Public Libraries, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, the Aquarium of Niagara, the Niagara Power Vista, the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, and Niagara Falls State Park.

Beaver Meadow Nature Center: Watch the eclipse surrounded by the natural beauty of the Beaver Meadow Nature Center with 324 acres of meadows, ponds formed by glaciers, boardwalk trails and wooded forests. Significantly, this spot is known for its breathtaking clear skies, ideal for viewing our galaxy at night throughout the year so is sure to be an amazing spot for the bigday-turned-to-night event. The center will also be hosting a family-friendly viewing event so everyone can safely admire this celestial phenomenon. Book a stay at the rustic and cozy Beaver Meadow Cabin on-site for a more secluded experience. For the days leading up to theevent, check out the Buffalo Astronomical Association Observatory’s schedule for monthly public nights where you can learn more about the eclipse, take a tour of the solar system, and pick up solar eclipse viewing glasses for a $2 donation. 

Fort Niagara State Park offers unobstructed skies combined with waterside views of the Lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario. The 504-acre park is home to gorgeous scenery, woodland hiking trails, year-round living-history programs and the historic Old Fort Niagara, which controlled access to the Great Lakes during monumental wars. Check out the museum and 18th-century military architecture including the oldest building in the Great Lakes area: the French Castle. (Parking: $8/car.)

Buffalo Harbor State Park, 10 minutes from Downtown Buffalo, offers gorgeous viewing spots from sandy beachside vistas of Lake Erie to the outdoor patio at Charlie’s Boatyard restaurant. Also, the 264-acre Tifft Nature Preserve is next door with five miles of hiking trails, boardwalks, and hands-on exhibits. 

Genesee County, with its sprawling rural landscapes and low light pollution, makes for an ideal eclipse viewing experience, plunging the county into a deep twilight revealing stars, planets, and a level of darkness larger metropolises won’t be able to rival. Plan to spend the weekend for four days of eclipse festivities throughout the county. The Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel is planning an eclipse-themed party complete with on-site hotel packages, themed menus, live music, gaming promotions and giveaways and viewing glasses to watch the eclipse from the infield race track. The Genesee County Park, Forest, & Interpretive Center will be presenting informational videos, self-guided activities, crafts and activities for the kids, and a telescope with a solar filter special for eclipse viewing.    

Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium at Buffalo State College, which has been holding public programs focusing on the eclipse’s main players – the sun, moon, and earth, and the mythology, history, and safety behind it all is hosting a watch party complete with special viewing glasses.

At the 14,000-acre Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East you can revel at totality alongside one of the three magnificent waterfalls, named Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

At the 14,000-acre Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East, you can revel at totality alongside one of the three magnificent waterfalls, named Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls. Scenic views are accessible by bike or car throughout the park and on 66 miles of hiking trails.Make it an eclipse weekend and stay at one of Letchworth’s 19 cabins and cottages, which can be booked now at ReserveAmerica.com. The Glen Iris Inn is also within the park and provides a special viewing experience next to Middle Falls where it might even get a little misty.​ (NOTE: While Letchworth State Park will be open for public viewing, space will be limited. For public health and safety, no new visitors will be admitted once capacity is reached.)

You can also view the Eclipse at: Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel, Genesee County Park, Forest & Interpretive Center, Lakeside State Park, Orleans County Marine Park

Campgrounds such as Four Mile Creek State Park with 50 campsites and Golden Hill State Park with 25 campsites make for great eclipse stays that can be booked now on ReserveAmerica.com.

See the full blogpost: https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-greater-niagara/

Best Eclipse Viewing Spots in Chautauqua-Allegheny

Curated by Marta Zielinska, Managing Editor of ILOVENY.com

Chautauqua-Allegheny region offers the chance to experience solar eclipse totality amid enchanting mountains, tranquil lakes and bountiful vineyards.

Many of the best solar eclipse viewing sites are in New York State parks which have campgrounds, like Letchworth State Park, adding to adventure to the experience © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Allegany State Park Red House and Quaker areas: Allegany State Park offers 65,000 acres of primitive forested valleys, two sandy beaches, pristine lakes, miles of hiking trails, and picnic spots under the open sky for viewing the celestial spectacle. With 165 campsites, cabins and cottages open for booking, you can turn your eclipse adventure into an extraordinary eclipse getaway, giving you more time to experience the park’s natural beauty and its two museums and restaurant.

Griffis Sculpture Park, one of America’s oldest and largest sculpture parks, features 250 enormous structures of steel and other materials that set in the woods, fields, and even ponds of this sprawling 450-acre art wonderland, creating a spellbinding setting to witness the cosmic dance of the sun and moon. Typically open from May through October, the park will welcome visitors for this rare celestial spectacle. 

The 360-acre Long Point State Park, a moraine left long ago by a retreating glacier, juts peninsula-like into Chautauqua Lake and is popular for fishing, hiking, and picnics. Head over to the marina or beach on April 8, 2024 for the park’s best views of the total solar eclipse over Chautauqua Lake. After the main event, explore the quaint shops, restaurants, and charm of the lakefront village of Bemus Point.

Jamestown Riverwalk: Jamestown, the hometown of the iconic comedienne Lucille Ball, is the first city in New York State to achieve totality on April 8, 2024, happening justseconds shy of 3:18 pm. Experience the cosmic phenomenon from a bridge or bench on the Jamestown Riverwalk, a five-mile urban trail system that winds its way through downtown along the Chadakoin River. The trail connects to the National Comedy Center and is an easy walk to the Lucy Desi Museum

Views from Lake Erie:  The 355-acre Lake Erie State Park in Brocton is located on a high bluff that offers breathtaking views of the sky and water. Evangola State Park’s beautiful arc-shaped shoreline and natural sand beach lined with low cliffs of Angola shale makes for another great spot for eclipse and Lake Erie views; the park has 25 campsites that can be reserved for eclipse weekend. The historic Dunkirk Lighthouse has some of the most stunning views of Lake Erie. Pick up lunch from the Boardwalk Market in Dunkirk Harbor and settle in for an eclipse watching picnic in the park grounds surrounding the 60-foot tower.

Scenic Vineyards in Lake Erie Wine Country: The oldest and largest Concord-grape-growing region in the world, is where you can raise your glass as you raise your gaze to the skies at any of the more than 20 wineries nestled along the southern shore of beautiful Lake Erie. Toast to the total solar eclipse at any of these fine choices including Johnson Estate WinerySparkling Ponds, and Noble Winery, which delivers stunning panoramic views of Lake Erie from its expansive porch.

Audubon Community Nature Center, a 600-acre wildlife sanctuary, has five miles of easy hiking trails that wind through fields, woods, and wetlands with observation towers and an accessible overlook offering ideal views of the natural landscape and spectacular celestial show.

You can also view the eclipse at: Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, Chautauqua Lake Rest Area, Dunkirk Harbor, Point Gratiot Park and Lighthouse, Barcelona Lighthouse State Park

See the full blogpost: https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-chautauqua-allegheny/

Best Eclipse Viewing Spots in the Thousand Islands-Seaway

Curated by Emma Frisbie, Digital Content Coordinator for ILOVENY.com

That spot on the right is the International Space Station passing by the sun as the moon finishes its eclipse, during the Great American Eclipse, August 21, 2017 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Thousand Islands-Seaway offers awe-inspiring lighthouses, historic battlegrounds, and celebratory atmosphere in which to experience this once-in-a-lifetime cosmic phenomenon on April 8, 2024. Here are some of the best places to view the total solar eclipse from the Thousand Islands-Seaway. 

Historic Thompson Park in Watertown. has a Total Eclipse of the Park weekend of festivities starting April 5 with the grand finale viewing event on April 8. The park is 574 acres and sits atop a hill that overlooks the city of Watertown which means you’ll be able to look up and look out across the city (www.watertownnewyorkeclipse.com). 

Tibbetts Point Lighthouse: Frame your eclipse experience at the point where the sparkling St. Lawrence River meets the powerful Lake Ontario at the Tibbetts Point lighthouse in Cape Vincent. Get a closer look at the lake and river through the telescope or explore the historic lighthouse which was built in 1827 and features the only working fresnel lens on Lake Ontario. 

Witness this star-studded celestial occasion from the star-shaped fort dating back to the 1840s at Fort Ontario State Historic Site. This clear sky viewing spot is right on Lake Ontario and offers 36-acres of open air and waterside views. The fort was the site of many monumental battles from the French and Indian War and War of 1812, as well as a WWII US Army base. Take a guided tour where you’ll get to see officer quarters, the Enlisted Men’s Barracks, and the Storehouse. (Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors 62+ and students, free for children under 12 and active military.) 

Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, 70 acres of open fields and lookouts of Lake Ontario makes for excellent eclipse viewing. Afterward, follow the Battlefield Historic Trail through Centennial Grove and the Navy Yard, with sweeping views of Black River Bay. For more history, follow the trail to the village’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Trail connection for a six-mile circuit.

Robert G. Wehle State Park offers 17,000-feet of Lake Ontario shoreline from which to view the eclipse. The 1,100-acre parkfeatures unobstructed skies and waterfront views, some visible from 80-foot limestone cliffs overlooking the lake. Once the estate of Robert G. Wehle, who was an avid conservationist, sculptor, and lover of English pointers (hence the canine sculptures you’ll find throughout the park), you can explore the Wehle residential compound and even make a reservation for up to eight people to stay at the cottage overnight for the ultimate secluded eclipse weekend. 

Peer up at this cosmic event while you peer out at the sparkling waters of the St. Lawrence River at Wellesley Island State Park, with 2,600 acres boasting sandy beaches, miles of scenic hiking trails, and breathtaking Thousand Islands views. Plan an eclipse weekend at the campground with 21 cabins and cottages (book your reservation now at ReserveAmerica.com). Stop by the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, one of the largest nature centers in the NYS park system.  

You can also view the eclipse at Fort de La Présentation/AbbéPicquet Trail.

See the full blogpost: https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-the-thousand-islands-seaway/

More information at iloveny.com

See also: NYS WILL BE IN PATH OF TOTALITY: BEST PLACES TO VIEW SOLAR ECLIPSE ON APRIL 8

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

NYS Will Be in Path of Totality: Best Places to View Solar Eclipse on April 8

Grab your eclipse glasses and head to upstate New York State for the best viewing of the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024. Many places are hosting three-day festivals. Plan early and book now. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Edited by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. Miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience when the moon completely covers the sun, turning day into night and sparking all sorts of eerie reactions and you’ll have to wait 400 years for the next total solar eclipse in New York State.

The total solar eclipse will begin around 3:20 pm (the time will differ depending what part of the state you are in), and last up to 3 minutes and 38 seconds depending on your vantage point, with about a half-hour before and after totality when you see the moon making its dramatic pass to cover and then recede.

Look closely and that spot you see is the International Space Station passing by the sun during the August 21, 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The regions, cities, towns and villages where the viewing is most ideal – a 124-mile wide path stretching from Chautauqua-Allegheny to the majestic Niagara Falls in Greater Niagara, over the pristine Finger Lakes, mighty Adirondacks, and magical Thousand Islands-Seaway are taking on a festival atmosphere, and attractions, from the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory to the Rochester Museum & Science Center  are hosting events even days before.

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. Miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience when the moon completely covers the sun, turning day into night and sparking all sorts of eerie reactions and you’ll have to wait 400 years for the next total solar eclipse in New York State. (Photo:  I LOVE NY/NYS Dept. of Economic Development)

Editors at New York State’s tourism bureau, ILoveNY, have curated the best places in each of the regions to go. You should plan early and book accommodations (and check the weather three days before), and remember to bring your eclipse glasses (though some festivals and events will be handing them out) and filter for your camera:

Best Viewing Spots in the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks Region is going all-out for the Solar Eclipse, with many venues and festivities.  More than half of the Adirondack Park will be in the path of totality, when the entire face of the sun is obscured by the moon.

Because there is likely to still be snow on summits in the Adirondacks, unless you are an experienced hiker with crampons, steer toward fields or parks (especially the ones that are hosting special events).

Rachel Dymond, Editorial Project Manager of ILOVENY.com, has prepared this curated list of destination-worthy sites that offer ideal vantage points for the rare astronomical event.

Olympic Legacy Sites in Lake Placid: Lake Placid, home to four distinct Olympic sites used in the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympics, is hosting “Glow for the Gold” where you can marvel in the eclipse for free from historic venues including the James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval; Olympic Jumping ComplexMt Van Hoevenberg; and at Whiteface Mountain (a free event, but discounted lift tickets for a once-in-a-lifetime ski day, then party at Cloudspin Bar & Grill deck, eclipse glasses included). Festive events will feature eclipse sunglasses, glow sticks and music (www.lakeplacid.com/events/glow-for-the-gold-at-lake-placid-legacy-sites).

Tupper Lake is in the center of the path of the Solar Eclipse and will experience 3 minutes and 35 seconds of totality. Totality in Tupper, a free community event at the 115-acre Wild Center in the Adirondacks, will feature free solar viewing glasses, telescope and binocular view stations, make your own pinhole viewers, XL Solar viewing glasses, livestream of NASA coverage, special programming in Planet Adirondack, live creature features that focus on how the sun affects animals’ lives, circadian rhythms, and yearly behavior, solar-powered maple tastings, tours, tapping demos, special themed foods, food trucks, New Forest Music composition, live glass-blowing demonstration from reps from the Corning Museum of Glass, live community mural creation, solar-powered silent disco with live DJ, and opportunities to get commemorative eclipse tattoos from hand poke tattoo artist Jane Romm (wildcenter.org/eclipse).

Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory is hosting free family-oriented activities include a 36’ mega-screen that will provide numerous multimedia experiences, live music, food, NASA live streaming, guest speakers, demonstrations, and crafts.

Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center: The VIC’s 25 miles of trails, including six miles of interpretive nature trails, showcase the natural beauty of the Adirondack Mountains and provide unparalleled opportunities to view, hear, photograph, and enjoy nature– and the Eclipse! Connect with nature, astronomy and weave through woodland and marshland, by ponds, brooks, and bogs. Eclipse events are being hosted on campus at Paul Smith’s College.

Saranac Lake: Head downtown on April 8, 2024 for “Saranac Lake Solar Fest” where there will be live music, art exhibitions, food and drinks, and a supreme vantage point to view the eclipse surrounded by scenic mountains and lakes. The Village Main Street is the venue for the community wide viewing party. Additional viewing points downtown include: Hotel Saranac Terrace, Saranac Waterfront Lodge’s waterfront yard, Riverside Park extending to Riverfront Park, and Berkley Green.

Lake Placid, with the sparkling Mirror Lake, is in the path of totality. Pack a picnic and settle in at Mid’s Park, a grassy area along the shore with Adirondack chairs and a pavilion, where there will be live music and activities throughout the day. Additional activities will be held at nearby John Brown Farm, and Marcy Field. The Lake Placid Horse Show Grounds and North Elba Athletic Fields are also fantastic wide open viewing areas to catch the Eclipse.

Nestled along the picturesque northwestern shore of Lake Champlain, Point Au Roche State Park is an ideal destination for viewing the Solar Eclipse. This stunning location perfectly aligns with the path of totality, and the combination of its protected beach area, expansive open shorelines, and diverse network of walking and hiking trails makes it an exceptional setting for observing celestial phenomena.

Ausable Chasm, touted as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, makes for an extraordinary place to view the Eclipse along any of its five miles of well-maintained hiking trails © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Ausable Chasm, touted as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, makes for an extraordinary place to view the Eclipse along any of its five miles of well-maintained hiking trails. As you walk along you’ll reach multiple scenic vistas that provide different perspectives of the natural beauty of Ausable Chasm, while interpretive signage describes the native flora, wildlife, and geologic history. Immerse yourself in geological and astronomical splendor, all in the same spot! (This is a private attraction so expect to pay admission fee to go on the trails but there is viewing on a bridge as well before you enter the attraction.)

Blue Mountain Lake: Total Solar Eclipse Experience at The ADKX (Adirondack Experience): The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake ($25 admission includes live music, eclipse glasses, food trucks, museum exhibits, commemorative photos.)

High Peaks Resort on the shores of Mirror Lake in the heart of Lake Placid is offering a Total Solar Eclipse package . In addition to the eclipse viewing on April 8, 2024, High Peaks Resort is throwing a lawn party from 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM with food, drink, and entertainment at Lake House. (Book: https://www.highpeaksresort.com/events-at-lake-placid/total-solar-eclipse).

Also, The Lodge at Schroon Lake (210 Registration Way, Schroon Lake, (www.lodgeatschroonlake.com) is hosting a community watch party on the resort’s property.

Another lodge that can serve as an excellent base is Lorca Adirondacks, Indian Lake (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916).

More lodging: https://www.adirondackhub.com/lodging

You can also view the Eclipse at these Adirondack sites: Cadyville Recreation Park, City of Plattsburgh Beach. Byron Park, Arrowhead Park – Inlet, Mt Sabattis Recreation Area, Makomis Fire Tower / Sacandaga River Community Park, Newcomb Overlook, Crown Point State Historic Site, Jay Village Green, Westport Golf, Powerhouse Park – Port Henry Public Beach, “The Grove” municipal park, and Frontier Town Gateway.

Visit Eclipse ADK 2024Lake Placid 2024 Total Solar EclipseAdirondack Coast Eclipse, and ​Tupper in Totality to stay up to date on the latest events, deals, and other eclipse offerings in the Adirondacks.

More information at www.2024-eclipse.com.

 (See the full blog at https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-the-adirondacks/)

Best Viewing Spots in the Finger Lakes

Curated by Emma Frisbie, Digital Content Coordinator for ILOVENY.com

The Finger Lakes offers the perfect pairing of picturesque views with the total solar eclipse experience on April 8, 2024. Witness this once-in-a-lifetime event from the sandy shores of Lake Ontario, at multi-day magical eclipse celebrations, alongside a 96-foot Rochester High Falls. Here are some of the Finger Lakes’ best viewing spots:

Seneca Lake, the largest of New York State’s Finger Lakes, will afford plenty of sites to view the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Rochester Museum and Science Center is hosting a four-day ROC The Eclipse weekend festival featuring music and food, 200 hands-on activities and exhibits, live science shows and programs at the museum or travel through the universe under the 65-foot dome theater of the Strasenburgh Planetarium (www.rochestereclipse2024.com). 

On any day, Rochester’s High Falls is an extraordinary view – where else can you see a 96-foot waterfall amid a bustling cityscape? But on April 8, 2024, this view will be spectacular and totality will last 3 minutes and 38 seconds. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Rochester’s High Falls: On any normal day, High Falls, the tallest waterfall on the Genesee River, is an extraordinary view – where else can you see a 96-foot waterfall amid a bustling cityscape? But on April 8, 2024, this view will be spectacular and totality will last 3 minutes and 38 seconds. Exceptional angles of the falls can be seen from the overlook in High Falls Terrace Park or the rooftop of one of the largest and oldest continually operating breweries in America, the Genesee Brew House. The 9,200-square-foot former century-old packaging center also features interactive exhibits, historical artifacts, a pilot brewery and tasting room, and pub-style restaurant to explore after the celestial event.   

Sodus Point Beach Park: Witness this celestial phenomenon from the sandy beaches of Sodus Point Beach Park alongside the mingling waters of the peaceful Sodus Bay and the spirited coast of Lake Ontario. You won’t have any trouble finding a great spot on the 1,150-foot pier with views of the original 140-year-old Sodus Point Lighthouse and Lighthouse Museum to the west, the magnificent Chimney Bluffs to the east, and the Sodus Outer Lighthouse straight ahead. Pack a lunch or grab a bite to eat from one of the village’s restaurants and settle into one of the pavilions. (Free admission.) 

Fair Haven Beach State Park offers views from 1,500 feet of sandy beaches at one of the finest public lakefronts on the eastern shoreline of Lake Ontario amid dramatic bluffs, hilly woodlands, and endless scenic views. Enjoy hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, a ball field, an 18 hole golf course.

Green Lakes State Park: Admire the wonder of the eclipse alongside the geological and biological wonders of two deep glacial pothole lakes. Green Lakes State Park has 2,100 acres of forested hiking trails, a sandy public beach with swimming access in the summer, seven cabins, 137 campsites, a playground, an 18-hole golf course (opens mid-April), and the famous Crystal Kayak rentals with glass bottoms (available to rent on weekends from mid-May until early-October). The park’s focal points are the two green lakes which were carved out of bedrock by glacial-melt waterfalls, making them very deep (195 feet!). Because of this, the lakes have a still, mirror-like appearance, revealing ancient plant and animal life and creating an amazing photo and viewing spot. 

Geneva, on the scenic north shore of Seneca Lake, is hosting a three-day “Embrace the Dark Festival” with exciting eclipse-themed events © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Geneva, on the scenic shores of Seneca Lake,the largest of the Finger Lakes is hosting a three-dayEmbrace the Dark Festivalwith exciting eclipse-themed events. Kick the weekend off with a tour of a historic observatory from the 1800s, live music, science-based winery and brewery tours,special viewing hotel packages. For the grand finale on April 8, make your way to the Geneva Lakefront or Seneca Lake State Park, a 141-acre park located on the northern end of Seneca Lake, for an unobstructed view of the beautiful blue waters and wide open skies(www.eclipsegeneva.com).

Genesee Country Village & Museums Solar Spectacle is three days of historical happenings leading up to the eclipse including special programming, performances, and activities. Throughout your journey through the 19th-century village, discover how Americans of this time period viewed, understood, and recorded total solar eclipses, viewing location experiences from the historic village, South Field Drive-In, or one of the other exceptional spots.

Other Eclipse viewing spots: Upper Onondaga Park, Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, Genesee Valley Greenway State Park, Livingston County Fairgrounds. Also, the lakefronts of the Finger Lakes will be a prime viewing locations – Seneca Lake, Canandaigua Lake, and Honeoye Lake each have public lakefront parks.

Visit Total Solar Eclipse 2024 in Finger LakesRochester Eclipse 2024LivCo Sol: 2024 Total Solar EclipseExplore Steuben: Experience the Solar Eclipse, and Eclipse Geneva to stay up to date on the latest events, deals, and other eclipse offerings in the Finger Lakes. (www.fingerlakes.org/eclipse-2024)

See the full blog at https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-the-finger-lakes/

More information at iloveny.com

Next:  Best Solar Eclipse Viewing in Greater Niagara, Chautauqua-Allegheny, Thousand Islands Seaway

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

New York State Ski Areas Welcome Beginners to Olympians to Slopes

Gore Mountain is New York State’s largest ski and ride resort with 439 skiable acres spanning four mountains, with expansive views of the Adirondack wilderness © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate,  www.goingplacesfarandnear.com

It always is a surprise to realize New York State has more ski areas (50+) than any other state, and they range from the world-class Whiteface and Olympic venues at Lake Placid, to a small, family-friendly, learn-to-ski area, ThunderRidge, reachable on Metro North, where families can ski into the night.

New York State’s Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) actually owns and operates three of our favorite ski destinations: Whiteface and Gore Mountain in the magnificent Adirondacks, and Belleayre, so easy to reach in the Catskills (orda.org).

Whiteface Mountain, Wilmington

Feel like an Olympian! Ski Whiteface Mountain, site for the 1932 and 1980 Olympics © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

Top of the list for ski areas with a world-class reputation is Whiteface, site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympics, where in addition to skiing, you can visit Olympic venues and even participate (biathalon, anyone? skate on the Olympic Oval, drive a coaster down the bobsled track).

Whiteface offers the greatest vertical (3430 ft. from the summit at 4867 ft.) of any lift-serviced mountain in the Northeast. This is a serious mountain – actually three mountains, Whiteface summit is a 4,867 ft.; Lookout Mountain tops at 4,000 ft.; Little Whiteface at 3,676 ft. – with more expert terrain, more long, rolling groomers (including one of the longest single intermediate runs in the Northeast, the 2.1 mile-long Wilmington Trail) in the East.

This season, Whiteface has a new detachable quad lift, “The Notch,” from the Bear Den learning center to just beyond the Legacy Lodge (the only one of its kind in the East that is two lifts in one operating seamlessly) which will significantly improve the experience for beginners.

Whiteface Mountain also has made snowmaking upgrades including adding150 high efficiency snow guns, and two snow cats, as well as improvements to the Cloudsplitter Gondola.

Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the cross-country and biathlon venue, has upgrades to snowmaking system as well as grooming and trail improvements (mtvanhoevenberg.com).

At Mt. Van Hoevenberg, experience the thrill of what it was like to be an Olympic Bobsledder during the 1980 Winter Games on the Cliffside Mountain Coaster, which boasts one of the longest year-round mountain coasters in the USA.

At Mt. Van Hoevenberg, experience the thrill of what it was like to be an Olympic Bobsledder during the 1980 Winter Games on the Cliffside Mountain Coaster, which boasts one of the longest year-round mountain coasters in the USA © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

Other attractions include the Sky Flyer Zipline  at the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex, the SkyRide Experience, an 8-person gondola that brings you from the Olympic Jumping Complex’s base lodge to the 90-meter and 120-meter ski jump towers, a glass-enclosed elevator ride to the top of the ski jumps for a panoramic vista of the Adirondack High Peaks (and to experience what the jumpers see as they start to accelerate towards the end of the ramp!), Nordic trails at Mt. Van Hovenberg (where you can try your hand at the biathalon).

The Lake Placid Legacy Sites Passport includes a one-time admission to the Whiteface Cloudsplitter Gondola, The Olympic Jumping Complex Skyride, Skating on the James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval, entry to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum at the Olympic Center, 20% off a cross country trail pass, and admission to both the FIL World Cup Luge and the IBSF World Cup Bobsled & Skeleton at Mt Van Hoevenberg. The pass comes with Legacy Sites branded lanyard, sticker set at each venue, 10% discount on retail and food and beverage purchases at the venues (https://whiteface.com/legacysitespassport/).

There is no lodging on the mountain (it’s a wilderness area, after all), but many lovely inns, bnbs, hotels and resorts nearby, including the Whiteface Lodge Resort & Spa and Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa; The Lake Placid Inn and the Saranac Waterfront Lodge, an eco-luxe independent boutique hotel; and Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort (www.golden-arrow.com).

Also, High Peaks Resort  overlooking Mirror Lake and the Adirondacks offers a traditional hotel with 105 guest rooms and suites; Lake House with 44 guest rooms; and the private and serene Waterfront Collection, with 28 guest rooms including 10 suites on the Lake. (High Peaks Resort, 2384 Saranac Avenue, Lake Placid, NY 12946, 518-523-4411, 800-755-5598, www.highpeaksresort.com

Whiteface Mountain, 5021 Rte 86, Wilmington, NY 12997, 800-462-6236, 518-946-2223, 877) SKI-FACE (snow report). Olympic Center, 518-523-1655; vacation planning assistance at  whitefacenewyork.comlakeplacid.comwhiteface.com.

Gore Mountain, North Creek

Enjoy long, gorgeous blue trails at Gore Mountain with stunning views of New York’s Adirondack Mountains © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

As a perennial blue-trail/intermediate skier, Gore Mountain is one of my favorite places to ski. Nestled in the Adirondacks, it offers expansive views of a real wilderness. You actually feel as if you were in the Rockies.

Gore Mountain is New York State’s largest ski and ride resort with 439 skiable acres spanning four mountains, including Gore, Bear Mountain, Burnt Ridge Mountain and Little Gore Mountain, a vertical drop of 2,537 feet from the summit at 3,600 ft, 108 trails  (longest is 4.4 miles), accessed by 14 lifts.

The big news this year is that Gore opened The Bear Cub Quad, replacing its beginner skier lift. This lift is double the length and unloads at an easiest trail for beginners, significantly enhancing the learning experience at Gore. At their beginner run they added two new conveyor surface lifts to make it easier for newer skiers to learn.

Gore Mountain they have expanded snowmaking at the North Creek Ski Bowl, added snowmaking to the Moxham trail and upgraded to more energy efficient snowguns on 46er as well.

Gore’s North Creek Ski Bowl has a marvelous cross-country ski center, and offers Twilight Nordic Wednesday through Friday (2 pm-6 pm and Day & Twilight Nordic on weekends (9 am -6 pm) where you can do cross-country skiing or snowshoeing after dark. (A valid lift ticket or season pass gives you free access to the Nordic Center.) Check online for the most up-to-date information on Nordic hours and the snow report. (Ski Bowl Road, North Creek, NY 12853, 518-251-0899.)

Exciting news: for 2024-25 Gore plans to construct a new ski bowl lodge, chairlift, zipline and mountain coaster.

Gore Mountain has no on-mountain lodging but there are plenty of charming places throughout the Adirondacks, and marvelous dining in North Creek. Among them, Lorca Adirondacks at Indian Lake, about 40 minutes away, which is owned by a Great Neck native (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916). For a luxurious stay, choose The Sagamore, a historic, grand resort in Bolton Landing on Lake George, 45 minutes away (www.thesagamore.com).

Gore Mountain, 793 Peaceful Valley Road, North Creek, NY 12853, Snow Phone: 518-251-5026, info 518-251-2411, [email protected],  goremountain.com.

Belleayre Mountain, Highmount

Belleayre has natural separation of beginners (from the mid-mountain to the base, with long beginner trails) and more advanced skiers © Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Belleayre Mountain is especially popular with families because of its proximity (just about 2 ½ hours drive) and perfect size, with marvelous beginner trails and learn to ski programs, and a natural separation between beginner and advanced skiers.

Belleayre has made improvements this season including replacing an older triple chair ski lift from the Overlook Lodge to the summit, changing a few trails to expand intermediate terrain high on the mountain, modified the Upper Cathedral Brook trail so it returns to forest, added a hybrid groomer with a winch for better grooming on steeper terrain.

What I love best about Belleayre is its natural separation of beginners (from the mid-mountain to the base, with long beginner trails) and more advanced skiers. It affords a 1404 ft vertical drop from a 3429 ft summit, 63 trails, terrain parks, glades and an X-course. Intermediates will enjoy Deer Run, which meanders through a beautiful part of the mountain. Cross-country skiers can enjoy 9.2 kilometers of ungroomed, unpatrolled trails.

There is no on-mountain lodging, but quaint inns and lodges nearby in Fleischmann’s, Pine Hill, Big Indian, Phoenicia, Margaretville and Shandaken – among them, the Lorca Catskills offering several cabin/cottage-style accommodations (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916).

See more at www.belleayre.com/plan-your-visit/lodging/)

(Belleayre, Highmount, NY 12441, 800-942-6904, 845-254-5600, www.belleayre.com).

More information at the Olympic Regional Development authority, orda.org.

Windham Mountain Club

Windham Mountain, a Catskills ski resort popular for decades, is reborn as the Windham Mountain Club with a plan for $70 million in enhancements over the next several years to the mountain’s amenities and services. © Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfaranadnear.com

Windham Mountain, popular for decades, has been reborn (actually going back to its roots) as the Windham Mountain Club, with a plan for $70 million in enhancements over the next several years to the mountain’s amenities and services.

Though reorganizing as a membership club, the ski resort is still open to the public; daily lift tickets and season passes are available up to capacity limits to ensure minimal lift lines and uncrowded slopes. Also, Windham Mountain Club is continuing its longstanding partnership with the Adaptive Sports Foundation.

Enhancements this season include improved snowmaking and upgraded lifts, a reimagined culinary program, including new food court, Mediterranean restaurant in the base lodge, Italian Alps-style restaurant with wine program at mid-mountain, and The Windham, a private members’ club dining experience.

Windham Mountain Club is a premier multi-generational, four-season resort located in the Great Northern Catskills, 2 1/2 hours north of New York City. Boasting 285 skiable acres across 54 trails and serviced by 11 lifts (four high speed), the mountain offers an award-winning Ski and Ride School, lodging, a tubing park and world-class alpine and freestyle competition teams. Future enhancements to Windham Mountain Club include a new Windham Country Club, an 18-hole golf course designed by award-winning golf course architect Tom Fazio, a luxury spa and fitness center, and expanded lodging  (www.windhammountainclub.com). 

Hunter Mountain

Hunter Mountain, only a 2 ½-hour drive from New York City through the breathtaking northern Catskill Mountains, has been a winter sports mecca for generations.

And now, Hunter is poised to benefit from Vail Resorts’ Epic Lift Upgrades initiative: Hunter Mountain plans to replace the 4-person fixed-grip Broadway lift with a state-of-the-art 6-person, high-speed lift and relocate the existing Broadway lift to replace the 2-person fixed-grip E lift, to substantially improve uphill capacity and access to key terrain. Both projects, targeted for the 2024/25 season, are subject to approvals. As a Vail Resort, it is included on the Epic Pass, plus offers variations of regional and local seasonal passes. Slope-side accommodation is available at The Kaatskill Mountain Club (huntermtn.com).

More New York Ski Areas

Greek Peak’s night skiing. The resort has a 6,000 sq. ft. deck off its Trax Pub & Grill for outdoor dining (photo by Drew Broderick, Greek Peak)

Greek Peak Mountain Resort, Cortland is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2024, has invested nearly $1 million in ski area improvements. Now in year three of a five-year plan to upgrade snowmaking, new snowmaking equipment this year means they can put out the equivalent of 16.5 football fields with a foot of snow in a 24-hour period. They also upgraded the Chair 1 lift, trail lighting, and purchased new rental equipment (greekpeak.net).

Holiday Mountain, Monticello: New owners have invested millions of dollars in renovations and upgrades including expanding snowmaking to trails that had not had snowmaking before, re-opening dormant trails, renovating and upgrading their chairlifts as well as updating the base lodge. Tubing operations are also being expanded for 12 lanes of capacity with a conveyor and 100% snowmaking coverage with lighting (skiholidaymountain.com).

Holiday Valley, Ellicottville, NY (50 miles south of Buffalo) is Western New York’s largest year ‘round resort featuring 60 slopes and trails and features a mountain coaster (photo provided by Holiday Valley).

Holiday Valley Resort, Ellicottville has invested nearly $9 million into the resort for the 23-24 season, including the installation of the new High Speed 6-Pack Chairlift that replaced their Mardi Gras Quad, a new PistenBully 600 groomer, and upgraded snowmaking. Also, the Inn at Holiday Valley has refurbished rooms, resurfaced the pool and renovated John Harvard’s restaurant in the Tamarack Club (holidayvalley.com).

Plattekill Mountain, Roxbury widened its “I Think I Can” trail, to expand beginner terrain, added new snowmaking and improved the base lodge. New ski and snowboard demo equipment can be rented for up to two hours per day. Plattekill has partnered with 25 mountains to offer free and discounted tickets for anyone who purchases a Plattekill Seaon Pass. They have also added “Platty Perks” to their season passes too that will get holders discounts to local area businesses and restaurants when the pass is shown (plattekill.com)

West Mountain, Queensbury has made improvements in the base lodge added more lighting for night skiing, two new snow groomers, and made improvements to the base lodge. (westmountain.com).

Thunder Ridge Ski Area, reachable by Metro North, is really geared for families – from the ease of access, ease of reserving lift tickets, rentals, lessons (book online, since walk-ins are only accommodated if the mountain has not reached capacity), serious snowmaking. ThunderRidge offers private lessons from age 4, family private lessons, group lessons, Mommy/Daddy & Me, and race teams. Open Mon-Fri, 10 am -9 pm, Saturday, 9-9 pm, Sunday 9 am to 5 pm. Located 60 minutes from NYC. You can ride Metro-North ski train from NYC and metro areas, and take advantage of free shuttle service to and from the Patterson train station,(137 Birch Hill Rd & Rte 22,  Patterson, 845-878-4100, ThunderRidgeski.com.)

Hidden Gems in Adirondacks: Uncrowded, Affordable, even Free Skiing

One of the best-kept ski secrets in upstate New York is that The Adirondack Mountains have a handful of hidden gem ski areas ideal for novice to expert skiers, including two ski areas that offer skiing free of charge. Nestled into historic mountain towns with a distinct Adirondack feel, all of these under-the-radar ski areas offer visitors the opportunity to ski, snowboard or snow tube on uncrowded slopes with the spectacular scenery for which the Adirondacks are renowned. Many of these fun, smaller hills also offer ski schools, snowmobile trails, snowshoeing or Nordic skiing.

Adding to the appeal of these charming community ski areas, many offer extremely affordable ski experiences that make snow sports more approachable for all. Ski passes start as low as $15; a couple even offer free skiing!

Some of the less-explored ski areas, with tips on accommodations and local eats include:

Oak Mountain ski area in New York State’s Adirondacks has been delighting skiers since 1948 © Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Oak Mountain, a quaint ski area popular with families since 1948, offers 22 trails (snowmaking on 40%), a 650-foot vertical from base at 1,750 feet to the summit at 2,400 feet, and four lifts (quad, two T-bars and a surface lift). The longest run is 7,920 feet. In addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding, Oak features four lanes of snow tubing and miles of snowshoeing trails that take you through a majestic forest. Oak Mountain is a three-season resort in the Southern Adirondacks, an easy drive from Albany and Lake George. Oak Mountain’s website lists nearby accommodations and “Play and Stay” packages. Check out Lake Pleasant Lodge or Cedarhurst Motor Lodge for accommodations. The Lorca Adirondacks is just down the road (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916). Oak Mountain, 141 Novosel Way Speculator, NY 12164 518-548-3606, www.oakmountainski.com 

McCauley Mountain (Old Forge): A charming resort near the Adirondack wilderness. Get a great night’s sleep at the Adirondack Lodge Old Forge, stop by Keyes’ Pancake House for breakfast and Tony Harper’s Pizza and Clam Shack for lunch/dinner.

Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center (Saranac Lake): A welcoming community ski hill with night skiing and tubing, with half-day weekend ski passes available for $15. Kick off your boots at Traverse Lodge or Hotel Saranac and enjoy dinner at nearby Bitters & Bones.

Titus Mountain (Malone): A family-friendly ski gem a short drive from Plattsburgh, Lake Placid, Watertown and Northern Vermont, with terrain for all levels. Check out the rustic cabins at Deer Valley Trails (and stay for dinner) and stop by The Pines Tap & Table for evening revelry.

Two community ski areas actually offer free skiing:

Newcomb Ski Slope is an ultra-local and community-owned ski hill which offers free skiing. For the last 50 years, the town of Newcomb has owned and operated this two-run ski slope, where generations of residents have learned to ski. The hill also boasts a trail through the adjacent woods along its 200 vertical feet. At this low-elevation summit, skiers are treated to a view of the snowy High Peaks.

Indian Lake Ski Hill also offers skiing free of charge with the local feel and charm of a community-owned establishment. The recreation area comprises a small hill, two ski trails, a t-bar lift and even ice skating.

SKI NY Passport Program-Kids Ski Free

The SKI NY Passport Program-Kids Ski Free returns this season with more ski areas accepting it during holiday periods. The Passport is valid seven days a week except for holiday periods at certain ski areas.

The program is open to 3rd and 4th graders from any State or country and no reservations at ski areas are required.

The program offers free skiing for your third and fourth graders with an adult purchase, it can be used up to two times per participating ski area. A valid adult ticket purchase is one on the ski area website or at the ticket window and includes season passes as well. ($41 processing fee per application; rentals and lessons arenot included).

For info, email  [email protected]; to apply, https://www.e4stores.online/GoPassSANY_UI.

Connect with SKI NY online at www.iskiny.comwww.facebook.com/ISKINY, and www.instagram.com/i_ski_ny/.

See also:

TOPNOTCH SKIING AT NEW YORK’S GORE MOUNTAIN IN THE ADIRONDACKS

A BLUEBIRD DAY OF SPRING SKIING AT WINDHAM MOUNTAIN

WHAT A DISCOVERY! SKIING OAK MOUNTAIN IN NEW YORK’S ADIRONDACKS

NEW YORK’S ADIRONDACKS: DRIVEABLE WINTER OLYMPIC PLAYGROUND

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

Our Idyllic Babymoon at Bermuda’s The Reefs Resort

Enjoying our welcome cocktail/mocktail overlooking The Reef’s private beach (c) Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Laini Miranda and Dave E. Leiberman

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Nestled in the cliffs above Bermuda’s famous pink sands and turquoise waters sits The Reefs Resort & Club, claiming an unsurpassed location along the prized South Shore. With only 54 rooms, all with ocean views, The Reefs combines the intimacy of a boutique family hotel with the luxury of five-star dining, a world class spa, and other amenities – ideal for our babymoon.

When we started planning our babymoon, we knew we wanted a relaxing beach vacation. We considered everything from Curaçao to Greece, and ultimately decided that we wanted a place relatively easy to travel to and without any risk of Zika (in 2023 we were surprised we still had to even consider this, but were advised to nonetheless). 

Bermuda is, incredibly, a two-hour flight from New York City, and while it offers dream beaches and snorkeling akin to the Caribbean, it has managed to stay 100% Zika-free. Also, we got engaged here six years ago, so this felt like the perfect place to celebrate our next chapter!

Part of what makes Bermuda’s beaches so beautiful is the fact that there are not many big resorts dotting the shoreline. The downside is that many resorts rely on shuttles to take their guests to and from the beaches and other amenities. Since we were somewhat familiar with the island from our previous trip, we knew we wanted to be on the South Shore—home to many of the most spectacular pink sand beaches. 

Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda’s most famous pink sand beach, on the south Shore, is a five-minute drive from The Reefs (c) Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Reefs, a four-star boutique hotel, is one of only three beachfront resorts on the South Shore, and the only one in such close proximity to our favorite stretch of beaches and coves. The famous Horseshoe Bay Beach is just a 5 minute drive (or 1.5 mile walk if you’re looking for some exercise), and Church Bay Beach, home to some of Bermuda’s best snorkeling, is a 15 minute walk the other way. The Reefs itself boasts its own small private beach with boiler reefs that rival some of the best known snorkel spots on the island. They offer free use of snorkel gear, kayaks, and paddle boards.

The Reefs’ private beach (c) Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We arrive on a morning flight and are greeted at the airport by our Reefs-arranged driver, whose thick Bermudian drawl brings back memories of our last visit and reminds us of Bermuda’s multicultural history. We enjoy an informative drive to The Reefs along one of Bermuda’s three main roads (North, Middle and South) and, after checking in, head straight to Coconuts for lunch. This is when, within our first hour of being here, we experience two wonderful things about The Reefs: first, the delicious fish chowder, which almost had a Hungarian pot roast sensation; second, the sweet familiarity of a few of our fellow guests at this quiet little resort. There aren’t many little kids at The Reefs during our stay, but the young family sitting at the next table, with a toddler and a newborn, become friendly faces on the beach, in the pool, and at breakfasts over the next few days.

We find The Reefs to be the perfect size. Its accessible layout enables us to easily move between breakfast, lounging on their private beach, lunch at Coconuts, daiquiris with our feet in the sand, snorkeling (weather permitting), lounging by the pool, an occasional workout in the well-equipped gym, a spa visit, etc. 

Relaxing in the Reefs’ infinity pool, overlooking boiler reefs off the private beach (c) Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Built in 1947, the Dodwell family has managed The Reefs since 1973 and has cultivated a truly warm ambiance at the resort. From the moment we arrive and are given their signature welcome drinks (Laini’s a mocktail), we feel we can fully unwind in the relaxed atmosphere of this intimate retreat. The staff remembers us day to day and we enjoy seeing their familiar faces at our meals. We aren’t surprised to hear that some of the staff have worked at The Reefs for 20 or 35 years, which makes for the family vibe at the resort.

The Reefs provides complementary use of kayaks, paddle boards and snorkeling gear (c) Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Our room is located between the pool and the main indoor dining area. As with any Bermuda resort, be prepared for stairs, since the rock walls along the shore mean that you will likely have to do some walking to get down to any beach on the South Shore. For Laini nearing the end of her second trimester, this is  still quite doable. There are also golf carts that staff use to shuttle people who prefer not to take the stairs down to Coconuts and the beach.

The Reefs maintains the charm of a 40+-year-old family-owned and operated resort, with modern property-wide renovations. As of Summer 2023, all of the rooms at The Reefs have been upgraded with fresh paint, new furniture, floors, and decor. The beautiful ensuite bathrooms were all renovated in the past five years, and the furniture by the pool and beach are brand new. Apparently there are plans to update the furnishings, windows, and carpet in the main dining room and other areas throughout the property this winter.

Our cliffside room at The Reefs opens to a patio overlooking the Atlantic Ocean (c) Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We enjoy a cliffside room, with a sliding glass door to a patio facing directly out to the water. We love waking up to the view of the ocean and winding down with the moon rising above the sea. The Reefs offers several types of rooms at different price points (though remember all have ocean views so there really isn’t a bad room!). Pool view rooms are above the infinity pool area; cliffside rooms are dotted throughout the property and are perched directly on the cliffs with nothing between you and the sea; eight Junior suites are outfitted with soaking tubs in the bathroom and step-down seating areas next to their spacious furnished balconies. 

The Reefs’ infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean (c) Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In addition to the rooms bookable online, there are several higher-end accommodations that can be booked by calling The Reefs’ reservations line. Three Point suites offer 680 square feet of luxury, with an attached sitting room opening onto a large balcony with private hot tub; the bathrooms in these suites also feature a Jacuzzi and rainwater showers. For larger families there are also two- and three-bedroom cliffside cottages. Sharing The Reefs’ prized location and amenities is The Reefs Club, a residence section of the resort open only to club members who own one of their two- or three-bedroom residences. Owners get exclusive access to a lounge, private infinity pool, fitness center and rooftop putting green. The Serena Spa physically separates the resort from the club. The Reefs offers one of these condos for rent for those wanting to experience the amenities without committing to the full club membership. 

The Reefs’ infinity pool makes for a gorgeous scene at night (c) Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The food options at The Reefs are some of our favorite aspects of the resort. Breakfast is an incredible feast held in the main dining room in the center of the property, where guests can opt for the buffet or order from the menu. Choose the “Breakfast Included” rate when booking for the full breakfast experience. Most mornings we go with the buffet because the myriad options satisfy anything we could possibly be craving: Bermudan salt cod breakfast (with the traditional stewed tomatoes and potatoes), breakfast casserole (different everyday), American hot breakfast (sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, French toast, pancakes), a waffle bar with different fresh fruit jams and all the fixings, a yogurt bar with some of the best fresh granola we’ve tasted, made-to-order omelets, pastries, and cereals. The tables overlook sweeping vistas of the ocean and palm trees, whether you choose to sit inside the dining room or on the veranda. 

Enjoying a casual lunch at Coconuts (c) Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Coconuts is the casual lunch and dinner spot right on the beach where we spend several afternoons looking out at the ocean, with fans to cool us off after baking in the sun. With The Reefs’ location tucked into the cliff face and Coconuts strategically built into the lower corner of the rock wall, you can see all the way down the shore from just about any table. Try the Coconuts’ Burger, jerk chicken wings, shrimp tacos, and fish chowder (served with optional accompaniments of dark rum and hot sauce). 

Our romantic sunset dinner on the beach at The Reefs (c) Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

If you’re not feeling like having a sit-down meal, servers from Coconuts will also bring you food and drinks right to your lounge chair. The virgin strawberry daiquiri and piña coladas are perfect while relaxing on the beach. Reservations at Coconuts can be made for a table on the sand for a romantic beach dinner, and their famous BBQ beach party is open to all guests every Thursday evening. 

Aqua Terra is the fine dining option, in the same dining room used for breakfast. This is the place to enjoy grilled meats like pork chop, filet mignon, dry aged striploin, or a half rack of lamb. They also have plenty of vegetarian and fish options. In nice weather, reserve in advance for a seat outside on the veranda. 

Coconuts serves up a delightful virgin piña colada (c) Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Aqua Terra is also home to the Sunday brunch that seems to be a hot spot among locals. When we first arrived at The Reefs we saw hoards of people walking in and out in their Sunday best. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time if you plan to dine in on a Sunday. La Serena Spa also offers its own menu with some healthier items for those enjoying spa services, and the Clubhouse offers more straightforward fare in the bar area as well as room service, and afternoon tea with an array of both savory and sweet snacks everyday at 4pm.

We are fortunate to experience massages at La Serena Spa, which we highly recommend (Laini’s was the best prenatal massage she had during her pregnancy). The waiting room itself, with its complementary fruit bowls, comfortable lounge chairs, and wall of windows with beautiful ocean views, enhances the serene and rejuvenating experience. We enjoy relaxing there before and after our massages, carefree except for a keen interest in a lizard posing through the glass on the nearest palm tree.

The Reefs’ newly renovated tennis/pickleball courts (c) Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The property also has newly renovated tennis/pickleball courts.

Next to the courts, though not officially part of The Reefs, is Oleander Cycles, which has apparently worked with the resort for over 30 years renting mopeds and Twizies to guests. We were surprised to learn during research before the trip that tourists are not able to rent normal cars, and have to either rely on Twizies, mopeds, taxis, or public transportation. We don’t end up renting our own ride, but while there we learn about Pink, a bike sharing app, and Hitch, a Bermuda version of Uber that we find useful to “call” taxis (note that the fees end up being a little higher on the app than with old fashioned hailing).  

The Railway Trail, just up the road from The Reefs, (c) Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

At some point during your stay, perhaps on a windier afternoon (or in a tropical storm, in our experience) we highly recommend going for a walk, run, or bike ride on the lovely, sheltered Bermuda Railway Trail, which you can get to by walking just 10 minutes from the Reefs to the other side of the island. This 22-mile-long former rail line, which was the only form of motorized transportation in Bermuda between 1931 and 1948, was transformed into a gem of a scenic trail, featuring gorgeous wild tropical foliage along beautiful, rockwall-lined properties. (Pro tip: use an app like Windy to find the calm spots on the island and plan your days accordingly. When it was super windy on the south shore, we made the long journey to the Clearwater Beach area and couldn’t believe how peaceful and quiet those little beaches in the Cooper’s Island Nature Preserve were!).

Swimming in Horseshoe Bay Cove (c) Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarand.com

Throughout our time in Bermuda we are struck by the feeling of being completely detached from our day to day lives, on this very small island paradise in the middle of the ocean, yet surrounded by everything we could possibly need at The Reefs.

Bermuda is idyllic from May, June, September, and October with temperate weather, bathtub water and blue skies. July and August are also very popular times to visit, with just slightly higher humidity. November, March, and April offer slightly cooler water, with the trade-off fewer people on the beaches. Hurricane season runs June through November, but as we can attest, even hurricanes can mean fun waves in still bathtub temperature water, and virtually empty beaches. And amazingly, The Reefs will usually credit your stay in the unlikely chance a hurricane forces you to cancel your trip. 

Bermuda: the ideal babymoon destination! (c) Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect place to spend our babymoon. At the Reefs, we were able to be totally relaxed on picture-perfect beaches and enjoy amazing food and all the luxuries of a world-class resort, while being taken care of at such an intimate and laid-back place far away from our daily lives. All of that at just a 2 hour flight from NYC made this exactly the easy, stress-free, luxurious beach vacation we were hoping to enjoy before welcoming our newborn.

The Reefs is currently offering 20-30% off on stays from now through May 15th!

Book your stay at https://www.thereefs.com or call (800) 742-2008. 

The Reefs Resort & Club, 56 South Shore Road, Southampton SN02, Bermuda.

For more information or help planning your Bermuda visit, contact the Bermuda Tourism Authority, https://www.gotobermuda.com/, 1-800-BERMUDA or on the island 441-296-9200.

See also: Dolphin Quest Affords Memorable Way to Experience Bermuda

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

Experts Predict Top Destinations, Trends for US Travelers in 2024

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, www.goingplacesfarandnear.com

From French Polynesia to Tokyo, San Juan to Cancún, Skyscanner, a metasearch travel booking tool, combined its search and booking data with its annual consumer behavior survey to produce its annual Travel Trends report for US travelers for 2024. Here’s the lowdown on the top-trending destinations seeing the biggest increase in searches, and which offer the best value-for-money for travelers on a budget, compiled by Lisa Tyndall:

Top 10 Trending Destinations

Babymoon at The Reefs Resort in Bermuda. Bermuda is a top 10 trending destination for 2024, according to Skyscanner’s Travel Trends report © Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

So where are people heading in 2024? These are the top 10 destinations for US travelers which have seen the biggest increase in searches year-on-year:

Destination% increase in searches*
Cayman Islands+483%
French Polynesia+227%
Osaka, Japan+210%
Tokyo, Japan+201%
US Virgin Islands+198%
Bucharest, Romania+190%
Bermuda+184%
Taipei, Taiwan+177%
St Maarten+155%
Oranjestad, Aruba+155%

*Cities that have seen an increase in searches from the US between 7/8/22-7/8/23 vs the same period in 2021/22.

US travelers are craving island adventure, particularly the tropical climate and white sands of the Caribbean, with six of the top 10 trending destinations being island hot spots. They’re searching for the Cayman Islands, US Virgin Islands and St Maarten as destinations to relax and recharge.

Japan continues to make a comeback after re-opening last year, with Osaka and Tokyo featuring third and fourth. The only European destination on the list this year is Bucharest thanks, in part, to the “Wednesday” impact of the Netflix hit show, which was filmed in Romania, showcasing the country’s gothic beauty.

Top 10 Best-Value Destinations

Vancouver – in fact all of Canada – is one of the top value-destinations for US travelers in 2024, Skyscanner’s trends report show © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Where can you get the most bang for your buck this year? These are the top 10 cheapest international destinations (on average) for US travelers in 2024:

DestinationAverage cost
San Juan, Puerto Rico$295 return
Toronto, Canada$348 return
Nassau, Bahamas$347 return
Vancouver, Canada$300 return
Cancun, Mexico$422 return
Calgary, Canada$429 return
San José del Cabo, Mexico$429 return
Bogota, Columbia$440 return
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico$460 return
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic$460 return

**Cheapest international destinations, based on avg. return flight price between 1/1/23-7/8/23, departing from the US in 2023.

Value for money remains a key factor for US travelers, with the cost of rental cars (17%) and food (17%) being the biggest factors determining the destination.

However, 39% of US travelers have budgeted to spend more on travel in 2024 compared to 2023, while 45% will spend the same. Only 5% have said they’ll spend less.

For US travelers looking for a relaxing beach vacation, the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and the Bahamas offer some of the most affordable flights from the US, with flights to San Juan and Nassau particularly good value.

Whether drawn to the buzzing city life in Toronto, or to the mountains and outdoor pursuits offered in Vancouver and Calgary, travelers will find that Canada has some of the most affordable destinations.

EF Go Ahead Tours Sees Increase in Guided Group Travel for 2024

Porto, Portugal. Portugal is among the destinations that are trending for solo travelers joining group tours according to EF Go Ahead Tours © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

While most travel experts predict the top travel destinations “where to” for 2024, Lael Kassis, vice president of market innovation & development for EF Go Ahead Tours (GAT), a premier provider of culturally immersive experiences, is predicting a revolutionary change in the “how” travelers will experience the world in 2024: Kassis sees travelers continuing to gravitate toward traveling guided with a group tour operator, especially as they seek out destinations and travel experiences that are more complicated to arrange.

Based on a 20 percent increase in EF Go Ahead’s Black Friday sale, Kassis offers insights into trends in travelers’ motivations to book, the destinations especially popular for group tours, and the growing travel styles within group tours inspiring new itinerary introductions: 

Expert Planning-Intensive Destinations Like Asia and Africa Surge in Popularity for Guided Travel: Based on EF Go Ahead Tours’ November 2023 bookings, trips to both Asia and Africa – two highly desired but not easily accessed destinations – were up 70% in sales compared to November 2022. Looking at the first half of 2024, Thailand and Japan departures are both up 57% compared to the same time in 2023, further underscoring travelers want to access these destinations in a guided group experience. 

“Shoulder Season” is Increasingly the “WOW” Season to Travel: While “hot” seasons like summer will always be popular in Europe, other seasons are growing at rapid rates– even to one of the industry’s most popular destinations like Italy. “Shoulder Season” and off-season, Oct-April, offers less crowds and temperate weather with more access to local charm.

Social Tourism Inspires Solo Tour Expansion:  The end of 2023 saw a soaring rate of 83% more solo travelers embarking on solo-only group tours than last fall. Based on demand, EF Go Ahead added new tours bringing its collection of solo-only tours up to 18 offerings in 2023 with Portugal, Thailand, Ireland, Greece and Italy being the top sellers. After a tumultuous few years of travel disruptions, it is no wonder that the concept of going solo but never alone is very popular. Solo travelers – having experienced the safety and convenience, unparalleled access, and community created while traveling with a group – aren’t turning back. 

Influenced by Pop Culture, Custom Group Travel will Gain Popularity:  At EF Go Ahead Tours, private group tours start at just 10 people and can be fully customized or built off an existing tour. In just the last 6 months, customized tours are up 26% compared to the same time last year with Italy and Greece being popular destinations. Move over heritage family private travel: Pop-culture led travel from musicians and TV shows are driving 2024 private group travel itineraries.

Gastronomic Experiences Will Top Desired Experiences for Foodies & Non Foodies Alike: Gastronomy, or the “relationship between food and culture,” is synonymous with travel. Culinary tourism has boomed in recent years, topping $805.9 billion globally in 2022 and it’s expected to keep growing.

Audley Travel Sees Rising Interest in Asia, Off-Season, Experiential Travel for 2024

Rotorua, New Zealand. Audley Travel cites Australia and New Zealand as among the destinations that are trending for 2024 © Sarah Falter/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Travelers are more adventurous, curious and open to new experiences in 2024, a survey by tour operator Audley Travel shows.

Destination switching: With availability tight for many popular destinations, Audley’s specialists report clients are opting for alternatives to enjoy popular or iconic sights and experiences away from the crowds. South Korea is a popular switch for clients wanting to see Japan’s cherry blossom, and Nicaragua is an excellent alternative for a client keen to visit the rainforest instead of Costa Rica. The same trend is seen within destinations, with clients choosing to visit lesser-known parts of countries like South Africa – for example, flying into Durban and exploring KwaZulu-Natal’s game reserves and the Drakensberg Mountains, learning about the history of the battlefields, and then relaxing at a remote beach lodge on the coast.

Off season travel: Clients travelling in 2024 are increasingly booking popular and well-established destinations and experiences in the off-season. From booking a winter trip on the popular Glacier Express and Golden Pass trains in Switzerland, to taking a safari vacation in ‘Green Season’, Audley’s clients are taking advantage of lower prices and better availability away from the peak times.

A move back to curious travel: As borders reopened, ticking things off bucket lists was a key motivator for travel (cited by 72 percent of Audley’s country specialists for 2023 travel, but only 36 percent for 2024 travel). Clients who have taken their much longed for bucket list trips are now moving back to more curious travel exploring off-the-beaten-track for future adventures. Audley’s country specialists report an increasing interest in cultural experiences, for example around the Maasai in East Africa as well as an interest in more remote and authentic safari destinations e.g. Ruaha National Park. They also have seen more requests for ‘authentic’ hotels that reflect the culture of the country, across the destinations.

Luxury bookings continue to grow: Despite the rising cost of living, Audley reports continued growth in demand for luxury properties and experiences. Luxury lodges in Australia and New Zealand are selling faster than they did pre-2020 and there is a lot of demand for small ship expedition style cruising. Audley’s country specialists for Latin America report that people are looking for more comfort and upgrading their flights.

Further demand for more experiential and customized travel: Clients are asking for more ‘unique’ experiences when they travel. Audley’s North America specialists are responding with suggestions of experiences such as guided kayak and camping trips to see whales and wolves. This trend is also being recognized by Audley’s partners in destinations. Whilst arranging tailormade trips has always been at the heart of Audley’s operations, the country specialists report that an increasing number of partners are customizing the excursions and experiences that they offer for individual clients, moving away from set tours and adapting their plans to the needs and wants of the customer – a move that is a perfect fit for Audley’s custom travel offering.

Sustainability: Travelling responsibly remains important. Research conducted recently found that 68 percent1 say that having sustainable travel options (e.g. lower carbon flights) is important to them.

Motivations for travel: A long-awaited bucket list trip remains the top motivator for 2024 travel (albeit at lower levels than in for 2023 travel) – cited by Audley’s specialists as the reason for 36 percent of trips2. To celebrate a personal milestone (birthday, anniversary, retirement, graduation etc.) is the reason for 24 percent of trips, and to spend time with the family is 14 percent.

Where Audley’s clients are booking: Top destinations for 2024 travel are Italy, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Thailand (matching the top five destinations for 2023 bookings). The average duration for 2024 bookings is 15.8 days, up 2.6 percent from 15.4 days in 2023.

AirHelp Unveils World’s Best/Worst Airlines and Airports Of 2023

Delta Airlines, ranked a top 3 US airline, taking off from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, ranked among top 5 US airports.© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

With air travel records being broken this holiday season, AirHelp, an air passenger rights advocacy organization, reported the results of its annual AirHelp Score of best and worst airlines and airports for 2023. Among the key findings:

AirHelp found Muscat International Airport, Recife/Guararapes–Gilberto Freyre International Airport, and Cape Town International Airport to be the best global airports of 2023.

Out of 194 airports analyzed from across the globe for the report, in the U.S., Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport were found to be the best airports in the U.S. for 2023. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s highest ranking category was their restaurants and shops score and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport’s highest ranking category was on-time flights.

Among foreign carriers, Qatar Airways, Eurowings, LOT Polish Airlines, Etihad Airways and All Nippon Airways were rated highest among carriers worldwide in 2023. For U.S. airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Airlines were rated the highest in 2023.

Qatar Airways has successfully held its top position since 2018 due to consistency in claim handling, on-time performance, and customer satisfaction. Specifically, Qatar Airways scored 8.0 for claim handling, 8.4 for its on-time performance and 8.8 in customer satisfaction.   

Best United States airports:

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport – (13/194) 

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – (34/194) 

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport – (38/194) 

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport – (51/194) 

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport – (55/194) 

Worst US airports: 

Newark Liberty International Airport – (166/194) 

Fort Lauderdale International Airport – (165/194) 

Denver International Airport – (138/194) 

Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport – (136/194) 

San Francisco International Airport – (128/194) 

Top 3 US-based carriers: 

American Airlines 

United Airlines 

Delta 

Worst 3 US-based carriers:

Spirit      

Alaska Airlines    

JetBlue  

Best airports in the world: 

Muscat International Airport – (Muscat, Oman) 

Recife/Guararapes–Gilberto Freyre International Airport – (Recife, Brazil) 

Cape Town International Airport – (Cape Town, South Africa) 

Brasília–Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport – (Brasília, Brazil) 

Doha Hamad International Airport – (Doha, Qatar) 

Worst airports in the world: 

Banjarmasin Syamsudin Noor International Airport – (Banjarmasin, Indonesia) 

Malta International Airport – (Malta, Malta) 

London Gatwick Airport – (London, United Kingdom) 

Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport – (Lisbon, Portugal) 

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport – (Belgrade, Serbia) 

Top 5 international carriers: 

Qatar Airways

Eurowings 

LOT Polish Airlines 

Etihad Airways 

All Nippon Airways 

Worst 5 international carriers: 

Air Austral           

Azores Airlines   

TAROM  

Spirit      

Air Canada      

The AirHelp Score, first launched in 2015, is a comprehensive data-based evaluation of airlines and airports, ranking the world’s airports based on which deliver on passenger experience. Knowing that travel doesn’t always go as planned, air passengers need to plan ahead and use available information to know what to expect for future flights.

To calculate the scores, AirHelp used its own database of flight statistics, thousands of customer poll responses and its own experience in helping 2 million passengers around the world receive compensation following flight disruption.

To view the AirHelp Score ratings in full, visit AirHelp.com/AirHelpScore

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