Escape Artists offers up a global discourse ranging from great finds close to home to adventures far afield. You'll find weekly travel deals here, too. Share your road wisdom, rave about great finds and rant about roadblocks that get in the way of a great trip.

Contributor: Travel editor Kerri Westenberg.

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Posts about International travel

A trip to build on

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg Updated: July 17, 2012 - 3:24 PM



Nice things happen whem groups collaborate. Case in point:  Groupon Getaways, the nifty groupon site that offers discounted vacations; Groupon Grassroots, Groupon's philanthropic arm; and buildOn, a non-profit that provides after-school service programs for American students and builds schools in impoverished communities overseas, have come together to offer a pretty cool groupon deal. For $2,583, you can travel to Nicaragua or Nepal on a 7-day all-inclusive trip to help build a school for a community in need.  With that fee, you also sponsor an American inner-city student who is a part of buildOn's afterschool program to make the trip, too. For altruistic travelers, it's a win-win-win. The price of the trip includes meals, lodging with a host family and local travel. Fifteen slots available: there are 9 days and 7 hours left.

All (not) aboard

Posted by: Updated: May 25, 2012 - 2:07 PM

As a kid, I loved traveling by train. And one of the biggest reasons was where they started and ended their journeys. Glorious buildings, gawk-inducing for their size, scope and architecture.

I grew up in Nashville and was crushed to see Union Station later fall into disrepair before being resuscitated as a hotel (photo below). I can still picture myself at Union Terminal in Cincinnati near old Crosley Field and Grand Central Terminal in the City That Never Sleeps.

So coming across this compilation of once-beautiful, now-abandoned train stations was bittersweet, mostly the first part.

As airline fares go up and the way they treat us go down, I imagine I'm not the only one who wishes this country would take a serious look at making passenger trains, and the stations from which they embarked, a viable part of our culture again.

Not holding my breath, though.






A book lover's bucket list.

Posted by: Updated: April 26, 2012 - 7:24 AM

It would be interesting to know how close the newish downtown Minneapolis library came to making this compendium of the world's 25 most beautiful public libraries.

Perhaps a bigger question is how feasible it is to actually be able to focus on reading or research in a space such as the one below, in Paris. (Only three of the 25 are from the U.S. of A., by the way.)





Air France faces strike

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg Updated: February 6, 2012 - 11:46 AM

If you are heading to France via Air France, take note: The airline has cancelled flights and is making ongoing adjustments due to a strike by aviation workers that began today. Despite the actions, Air France is operating a majority of its flights. The strike is expected to run through Thursday, Feb. 9. According to a press release from Air France, the airline expects to operate 85 percent of its long-haul flights and 80 percent of its medium-haul flights.  They have canceled or rescheduled some flights, but only 4 long-haul flights, according to the Washing Post.

If you are scheduled to fly the airline during the strike, you will be able to postpone or alter your flights. If you proceed with travels, Air France suggests passengers ensure their contact information is thorough and accurate. You can change your plans or update contacts and check the current flight schedules at the airline website.

After a cruise, no longer taking captain for grant

Posted by: Updated: January 22, 2012 - 12:25 PM

Every day around noon on our Celebrity Solstice cruise through the Caribbean, Captain Gary would come booming over the loudspeaker and give the thousands of passengers longitudinal information we didn't understand, distance information equally confusing (sea miles vs. regular miles?) and the he'd sign off with a little joke. Three examples and I quote: "Man who walks in front of car will get tired; man who walks behind car with get exhausted and man who stands on toilet will get high on pot."

On New Year's Eve, hour after he deftly U-turned to drop off a passenger in St. Maarten for undisclosed reasons, we saw Capt. Gary sipping champagne with the revelers around the pool deck. He cemented his amiable personality on the last night in the big theater after the standup comic suggested next time, the over-70 crowd avoid napping in public spaces because, well, it's hard to be sure they're napping.

 Gary surprised us when he came up and strapped on an acoustic guitar for a nice version of Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl." Then, with the Asian cover band that had been playing nonstop in every bar and ship grand stairwell all week, Captain Gary went electric with a version of "Sweet Home Alabama" fit for an SNL skit.

But now, after the shipwreck off Italy, I'm lefting wondering a could things:

How rigorous is Captain Gary's training and certification?

Will the cruise industry survive with its floating Old Country Buffet, very 20th century (two formal nights in a week, really?) ways?

But mostly, I'm left with a sense of gratitude for Captain Gary and his mates, for steering us clear without us ever thinking twice about safety or life and death drama that unfolded in the Mediterrean. So, thanks Gary, for the jokes, songs and getting us into port.


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