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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Delta adds more warm-weather destinations

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under Airlines, Winter getaways Updated: September 30, 2014 - 10:18 AM

Delta announced new seasonal service from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Montego Bay, Jamaica, and Nassau, the Bahamas, this winter.

Nonstop flights between MSP and Montego Bay will operate on Sundays, beginning January 18.

Saturday nonstop service between MSP and Nassau begins January 17; Sunday service begins February 15.

The flights will be operated on Airbus A320 planes with 150 seats.

Delta brings on the warm-weather destinations

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under Airlines, International travel, Winter getaways Updated: September 18, 2014 - 11:05 AM
News from the Travel Desk:
Delta Air Lines announced that it is bringing back its nonstop seasonal service between Liberia, Costa Rica, with Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. Seasonal service between San Jose and Minneapolis/St. Paul will be reinstated. Delta will also offer flights to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic from MSP during the cold months, when demand for such warm-weather destinations peaks.

Flights will be operated using Airbus A320 and Airbus A319 aircraft.

Accolades for Travel

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under Adventure travel Updated: September 17, 2014 - 3:43 PM

What kind of person hitchhikes, at age 60, across the country? A former hitchhiker. An adventurous soul. Someone who chooses to trust others, despite encountering the darker sides of humanity as a newspaper reporter. That would be Bill McAuliffe. My recently retired colleague wrote a rollicking story, entitled “Hitchhiking in a new age,” about begging rides from the Twin Cities to Washington State for Travel. The story earned gold in the Adventure Travel category of the Society of American Travel Writer’s Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition.  

The Society also awarded Curt Brown an honorable mention in the Cultural Travel category for his Star Tribune story “In Uganda, faith endures.” This beautifully told tale illuminates a world unseen by most: a small enclave of Jews in Uganda. It’s another example of armchair travel at its best. 

The Star Tribune Travel section took the bronze award for best newspaper travel section with a circulation of 350,000 and up. The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times took gold and silver, respectively. 

Windy City Screenings

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under Chicago Updated: September 9, 2014 - 4:55 PM

While other film buffs are at viewings in Toronto (where the Toronto International Film Festival is going on at this moment), you might turn your eyes on Chicago. Make a hotel reservation. Begin crafting your viewing plan. The Windy City’s own impressive film festival — slated for October 9-23 — is celebrating its 50th year.  
Among the films screened will be “The Babadook,” an Australian horror flick that was well received at Sundance; “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” the Chinese film that took the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival, and the Juliette Binoche vehicle “Clouds of Sils Maria.”
Despite excitement over this year’s newcomers, though, an old movie may prove the hardest ticket to get. Academy Award winner and cult classic “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” made its world premiere at the Chicago International Film Festival in 1975. The Milos Forman masterpiece will relieve the glory in a newly restored version this year.
Multi-screening festival passes are on sale now. The movie schedule will be online Sept. 16. Individual tickets go on sale to the general public Sept. 19. For more information, click here. JW Marriot Chicago is the headquarters hotel for the festival.

Belly up to the bar in Napa

Posted by: under U.S. travel Updated: July 10, 2014 - 2:09 PM

Like many others, I first went to Napa for the wine and came away wowed and dazzled by the food. Great restaurants use an astonishing array of fresh ingredients to create wonderful dishes, usually of the simple, vibrant ilk. Every return trip has meant exciting new (to me) venues, including Solbar in Calistoga and Morimoto in the town of Napa last month.

And as swell as it is to savor this gastro-utopia at a table, I actually prefer to eat at the bar, at least when there are just one or two of us. The full menu is available without fail. It’s generally a great perch for people-watching. The person behind the bar is usually a seasoned pro in food service — someone who has made this his or her profession, not the “I’m just doing this until I get enough acting/modeling gigs” types encountered at all too many restaurants. Plus they almost assuredly know how lucky they are to live in such a fabulous place and work at such a cool eatery.

But the big bonus is that this is where the people who do the truly important work in Napa tend to hang out. While the nouveau riche winery owners are regaling one another in the main dining area, the winemakers, vineyard managers and cellarmasters often are just enjoying a nice meal and a beverage (often a beer; as the saying goes, “it takes a lot of beer to make good wine”) at the bar.

I’ve had particular luck meeting such folks at two of Twin Cities native Cindy Pawlcyn’s superb restaurants, Mustards Grill and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. But I’ve also encountered cool Napa-ites at Press, Bistro Jeanty and downstairs in the atmospheric bar at Goose & Gander.

Oh, and most recently, the octopus seemed a little more tender and the sake a touch sweeter at the convivial sushi bar at Morimoto.


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