Three Perfect Days: Maui
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Story by Jade Bremner | Photography by Marco Argüello | Hemispheres, February 2017
Nothing can really prepare you for your first look at the West Maui Mountains. Jurassic Park may have been filmed on Oahu and Kauai, but it's not hard to imagine a pterodactyl soaring above this range's steep, pleated hillsides, or a diplodocus munching on the dense jungle trees in the distance. There are also hidden beaches, brimming coral reefs, volcanic rock formations, and virgin forests. But Hawaii's second-largest island has more to offer than natural beauty: There are hippies, aspiring chefs, and one of the best surf scenes in the world, too.
Maui also has a rich spiritual and social history. The old town of Lahaina was once the political capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the island itself, riddled with sacred sites, is named after the demigod who, according to myth, formed the Hawaiian archipelago, and who is said to have caught the sun to slow it down. Once you've seen a sunset here, that's a feat you'll believe to be true.
In which Jade goes downhill fast, meets a big wave lover, and learns who caught her dinner at Mama's Fish House
When you think of hotels in Maui, you think one word: beach. For my first night here, I've gone against the grain, opting instead for a mountainside suite at Relais & Châteaux's Hotel Wailea. I wake up amid coral and limestone walls, oak flooring, tribal-patterned furnishings, and Hawaiian ohia woodwork, all of which gives me the impression I fell asleep outside. The actual outside, as viewed from my private balcony, is even prettier: tropical gardens and the ostentatiously blue ocean beyond.This morning, I'm heading for the hills with guide Mark Werner-Gillium, who works for local tour company Maui Downhill. Wearing wind pants and Oakley sunglasses, he pulls up in a van to take me to the base of Haleakala ("House of the Sun") Volcano, the island's highest peak. After an hour or so of lurching left and right on squiggly roads, Werner-Gillium points the van upward. At 10,000 feet, we pass through the clouds and emerge into a desolate, freezing lunar landscape.Looking around, it's easy to see why Haleakala has spiritual significance—Hawaiian legend holds that the summit was home to the grandmother of demigod Māui—and odd to think that only an hour away, back on Earth, people are browning themselves on the beach. Before I can ponder this more fully, Werner-Gillium jumps onto his bike and instructs me to follow. His company, after all, is not called Maui Downhill for nothing.
Nanoseconds later, I'm on a bike, pushing 20 mph on the steep mountainside. My hands are alabaster from gripping the handlebars, my jacket cracks in the wind, and my view of the lavender fields whipping past is largely obscured by the Darth Vader–style biker's helmet I've been given "for safety." "Follow me like a bull!" hollers Werner-Gillium cryptically, followed by "Breathe it all in!" He's referring to the fragrance of pine and eucalyptus that engulfs us as we enter a thick forest. It is indeed a wonderful aroma, but I can't help feeling that "Try not to hit a tree!" would have been more useful advice.Half an hour later, having safely reached the base of the mountain, Werner-Gillium offers to take me to Kama Hele Café, a colorful food truck in the village of Haliimaile that's his favorite breakfast spot. (It better be: His wife, Andrea, is the chef.) Beneath a canopy of small umbrellas next to a pineapple plantation, we dig into island-style French toast made with sweet Hawaiian bread, candied walnuts, and maple syrup. "That's the fastest I've gone on that stretch," says Werner-Gillium, who's still glowing from the ride. "That road can be pretty gnarly."There's more gnarliness ahead, as star surfer Kai Lenny has invited me to his home just outside the former farming settlement of Paia, on the island's north shore. I arrive 15 minutes later at the designer beach house, where Lenny greets me in the surfer uniform—board shorts and a T-shirt. Sitting on the patio we talk about—what else?—surfing.
Kai Lenny, professional surfer
"In the ocean-sports world, this is Hollywood," says Lenny, who grew up here, next to a town of cute rainbow-colored storefronts, and who has been surfing since he was 4 years old. His favorite break, located 20 minutes away, is known as Jaws, a "moving mountain" that can rise to 80 feet. Jaws is rideable only around five or six days a year, but when it's on, it makes the news. Kids play hooky from school, and extreme-sporty types fly in to watch it crash. "It feels like a world championship event," Lenny says.
We drive a few minutes to a blustery two-mile stretch of sand named Spreckelsville Beach, where Lenny's been training all week for the Stand Up World Series Finals (which he later goes on to win). He says going out onto the water attunes him to the world in a completely different way. "I become a lot more aware of what's going on around me. It forces me to use survival instincts in a society where you don't have to use any of them."The sun ripples the air, distorting the kitesurfers shredding the turquoise water. We walk for a while, then head for lunch at the legendary Mama's Fish House, a few minutes away, on Kuau Cove in Paia. Mama's is booked up for weeks, but all Lenny has to do is make a call. I'm presented with a sweet-smelling purple lei as I enter the restaurant, which has a fine view of the water.
"It's like going to church every time I go out on the water. I find my rhythm, my center, and realize what's important and what's not." —Kai Lenny
"Mama's is probably the best fish restaurant in the world," Lenny says. "Fishermen go out every day and then come straight to Mama's with their catch." (The menu matches each dish with the name of the man who caught it.) I order melt-in-your-mouth ceviche made with opakapaka fish (caught by Kalae Hickcox), Tahitian lime, chili, and kula persimmon. Next up is mahi-mahi stuffed with crab and baked in a macadamia-nut crust. Lenny insists I save room for the Kuau chocolate pie, which is a very good call. I say goodbye to Lenny and head south, from Paia to Kihei, a half-hour drive that takes me through the interior and past the only remaining sugar mill in Hawaii. There's a treacly smell in the air, and thick smoke drifts incongruously over a backdrop of lush mountains. I'm observing the prelude to a historical moment: Roughly 200 years after the introduction of sugarcane production here, the mill is only months from being shut down, leaving behind no trace other than the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum, located in the old plantation manager's house. Behind the old mill, off a dirt track, is the sleepy sugarcane village of Puunene. The sparsely populated community is a kind of time capsule, a look at local life as it would have been 100 years ago. I visit the small Puunene Bookstore, which has been open for decades. After a rummage through dusty aisles stacked with hundreds of books that sell for a quarter apiece, I leave with a bargain: a rare 1970s guide to surfing .I stop for pizza and a neon-bright Endless Summer happy-hour cocktail at the low-key South Shore Tiki Lounge in Kihei, before catching another timeless local sight. In Maui, it is traditional at sundown to grab a drink, settle into a beach chair, and, joined by various dog walkers and waylaid commuters, witness one of nature's blockbuster shows. I pick a spot in Cove Beach Park and watch as pink brushstrokes appear on a blazing canvas, only just resisting the urge to applaud.
In which Jade stumbles across a clothing-optional drumming session, snorkels in a submerged crater, and samples sushi-style Spam
"Shark! Shark!"I've just arrived at Molokini, a snorkeling site in a crater, two and a half miles from the island's southern harbor. I woke up at dawn and, after a flavorful yogurt-filled papaya breakfast at the beachside Kihei Caffe, jumped aboard the Pride of Maui, captained by Jason Correll. What could possibly go wrong?" Don't worry, snorkelers never see sharks—they're always swimming behind you," Correll joked on the way here. Visibility in the warm waters around Maui is world-class, reaching up to 300 feet in the spot where we sit now, which accommodates 250-odd species of marine life. These include aggressive tiger sharks and unaggressive whitetip reef sharks. Right now, I'm hoping it's the latter."Shark!" I look behind me. Nothing but a few tropical fish. Then, 15 feet to my left, I spot a baby whitetip idly skimming the seabed. I bravely follow the sharkling for a bit, then turn my attention to other species, which are so bright and varied they make my head spin: Moorish idol fish, rainbow butterflyfish, pencil-thin trumpet fish, plump parrotfish. At a nearby spot named Coral Gardens, a two-foot Hawaiian green turtle surfaces, takes a big gulp of air, then dives to the security of a mini coral cave.
The Nakalele Blowhole
Back in Kihei, I meet chef Travis Morrin at his Three's Bar & Grill, which serves Pacific Rim, Hawaiian, and Southwestern cuisine. I start with a platter of hurricane fries—Morrin's take on the local custom of eating popcorn with Japanese furikake rice seasoning. Hawaiian poké is known the world over, but Morrin is interested in more obscure local food customs, many of which stem from immigrant communities. "You go to any good local place, and it's not a specific style of cuisine," he says. "It's a culmination of a melting pot of cultures over generations."To demonstrate, Morrin invites me to climb (literally) into his menacing monster truck. Our destination is a nearby gas station, where we pick up a $2 Spam musubi (Spam and rice wrapped in nori seaweed). The cheap, long-lasting processed meat became popular here during World War II and was later adapted by the Japanese community into this handheld snack. In the giant vehicle, I unwrap the musubi and bite into it. The Spam, flavored with teriyaki, is warm, rubbery, salty—and weirdly delicious. For dessert, we have traditional shave ice from Ululani's, a roadside hole-in-the-wall with picnic tables. "It's a great business model; someone actually found a way of selling frozen water," Morrin says as we join a line 10 people deep. I go for a No Ka Oi ("the best"), a tooth-tingling mixture of coconut, mango, and passion fruit.
Zach Sato, Chef de Cuisine, The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea
As we eat our ice, Morrin lets me in on another local secret: Sunday sunset at Little Beach in Wailea. "Every Sunday is different, depending on who shows up," he says. "It could be the best night of your life." Intrigued, I order an Uber. My driver smiles when I tell her where I'm headed, which strikes me as odd. Wailea is mainly known for its luxury resorts, but a 20-minute drive takes you to an entirely different place. Sheltered by a rocky outcrop, Little Beach is one of those hidden patches of sand that you dream about. Across the water, you can see the island of Kahoolawe and Molokini crater, where I met that turtle earlier. Over the years, this spot has attracted hippies and sundry art types, and as I walk along the sandy path I hear the faint sound of bongos. A man with dreadlocks and a tie-dye T-shirt wanders past; another has a CND-sign necklace. Moments later, I spot a dozen or so people with various percussion instruments, none of them wearing any clothes.
"Grown here, not flown here. It's important to serve food relative to where you are." —Zach Sato
As the sun goes down, the tempo picks up, and the revelers clap, whoop, and dance. "Would you like a go?" asks a woman brandishing a Hula-Hoop. I have a twirl or two, but give up when I realize my movements could be mistaken for a seizure. As darkness descends, a man lights a fire stick and twists it in time with the beat. As much as I'd love to carry on with the clothing-optional percussionists, I've got a reservation at the considerably more sedate Restaurant at Hotel Wailea. Once I'm seated, I meet chef de cuisine Zach Sato, a rising star whose motto is "grown here, not flown here" and who readily admits to coveting a Michelin star. "It's possible," he says. "We're doing some really cool stuff." His European-style menu places an emphasis on local produce, with small area farms and orchards among his suppliers. "It's important to serve food relative to where you are," he says. I order the Tamimi Farms tomatoes with burrata, pickled shallot, and kale oil to start, followed by prime tenderloin circled with pomme puree, corn, and sea bean salsa verde. Both are delicious. Back in my suite, I sit on the balcony and look out onto the tiki-lit garden. Everything is silent, save for some strangely melodic crickets. I'm not sure if it's bongos or the tune from Jaws looping in my head, but I'm smiling as I drift off to sleep.
In which Jade gets a pterodactyl's-eye view of west Maui, meets penguins, and learns how the stars can lead the way to paradise
"Shark!" I mean, "Helicopter!" The chopper rattles and clatters as we swoop over a bright green canyon in West Maui. Below us, waterfalls tumble down cliffs; before us, rain spatters the windscreen. "I love this weather," says Air Maui pilot Dylan Dacus, who likens flying a helicopter to "riding a motorcycle in the sky." He looks at my expression and smiles. "Feel free to use the Aloha [sick] bags!" We head north, flying over the coastal Kahekili Highway, one of Maui's most spectacular and perilous drives, and then the Nakalele Blowhole, which, obligingly, spouts as we pass. We cut west and cross the Pailolo Channel to Molokai, "the Friendly Island," skirting the Kalaupapa Cliffs—the tallest sea cliffs in the world at 3,300 feet. There's an eerie feeling about this beautiful place. The peninsula was once a leper colony where at least 8,000 Hawaiians were exiled (and legally declared dead) between 1866 and 1969. Some remained, and today Molokai is home to around 8,000 residents.
Snorkelers at Molokini Crater
After a thrilling landing at Kahului Heliport, I go in search of food. One of last night's drummers insisted that I try a food truck next to Kahului Harbor, home of "the best shrimp in the world." I'm not convinced as I pull onto the dirt shoulder, next to a plain white truck emblazoned with "Geste Shrimp." The menu is simple—hot dogs or shrimp in four flavors: Hawaiian scampi, lemon pepper, hot and spicy, and spicy pineapple. My hot and spicy shrimp arrive on a Styrofoam tray, alongside crab salad and a scoop of rice. "Word of advice: don't eat them in your car," says a man in line. He's right—it's a messy process—so I sit by the waterside and eat. The world's best shrimp? I don't know, but it's got to be up there. My next stop is the front desk at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, on Kaanapali Beach, at the island's northwestern tip. The lobby is so big it could be an airport terminal. There are palm trees growing in the center of the atrium, plus a pool with African black-footed penguins in it. I wander through the hotel's enchanting grounds, past a flamingo lake, waterfalls, and a hot pool filled with Champagne-sipping guests. It's all very inviting, but tonight I'm set for a different kind of uplifting experience. In the lobby, I meet Faafetai Tialino. "Aloha! Aloha!" he says, resplendent in an elaborately patterned shirt. For 30 years, Tialino has been part of the traditional luau dance-and-dinner outfit Drums of the Pacific. When he was younger, he did the show's finale, the dangerous fire knife dance. "I would look out to the crowd, and people would be hiding behind their hands," he says of his old routine. "If I ever got burned, I knew the audience got their money's worth." Now he plays drums.
While a luau could be seen as one of the more touristy things to do on Maui, it does offer a glimpse into Polynesian culture and cuisine. As Tialino leads me to my communal table, a smiling woman offers me a pink lei. Over the next three hours, I watch dances from the Hawaiian, Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, and Maori cultures. My meal consists of poi, starchy taro root paste; lomi lomi salmon, cured raw fish mixed in a salsa; and kalua pig, a whole hog baked in the ground for hours. "Family is very important to Polynesians," Tialino tells me as the evening winds down. "The luau is when the family gets together. It's a celebration of life." I wander off into the dark. Maui is a never-ending vision of beauty, but you should look up every now and then. Situated so close to the equator, the island is one of the best places on Earth for stargazing—you can see 80 of the 88 constellations from here. Consequently, the Hyatt has a Director of Astronomy, Edward Mahoney, who has promised to take me on a Tour of the Stars. We meet in the lobby, then take the elevator nine flights up to the very dark roof. Good thing I'm a trusting person.
"A lot of people measure themselves with money and success, but in Polynesia, and especially here in Hawaii, family and how you treat each other is very important." —Faafetai Tialino, fire dancer, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa
We stop at a terrace stocked with various pieces of astronomical equipment, including a 14-inch reflector telescope. "When I was 7 years old, Sputnik, the very first satellite, was launched, and that's when my treehouse became an observatory," Mahoney says. "I've been in love with the sky ever since." We admire Saturn's rings, and then the orange glowing orb of Mars, millions of miles away. "It would be fascinating to go to Mars to check out the tunnels," he says with a small sigh. "I think that's where we'll find life—in lava tubes under the ground."As we move from star to planet, planet to star, Mahoney tells me of the Polynesians who first navigated their way to Hawaii centuries ago. "They used straw mats, into which they wove pieces of coral representing the islands," he says. "Then they'd have another straw mat representing the stars. They would pull one mat over the other and tell the young sailors which stars go over which island." I search the sky in silence, thinking of mats and coral and the people who patched these things together, and how strangely simple finding paradise turned out to be.
Lonely Planet author and former Time Out editor Jade Bremner now has a lifelong association between large waves, small sharks, and loosey-goosey bongo players.
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3 under the radar places to travel to in October
For travelers who enjoy cooler temperatures and fall festivals, these are the perfect under-the-radar destinations to check out this October.
Head to Stuttgart in Southern Germany to experience a combination of German culture and a passion for fast cars and innovation. Here, you'll also find the country's second largest beer festival. It's considered the ideal home base for exploring the Black Forest mountain range and its surrounding towns. Throughout the city, historic government buildings coexist with contemporary architecture with green spaces and parks galore. Germany's sixth largest city is also home to the Porsche and Mercedes-Benz headquarters, both of which have impressive automobile museums that are open to the public.
What to do
The main event attracting visitors in October is the Stuttgart Beer Festival. Second in size only to Munich's Oktoberfest, this fairground-style festival presents more activities for all ages. There are still plenty of beer tents for adults, as well as theme-park style rides for kids. Everyone will enjoy the authentic German food stalls, music and dancing.
Stuttgart is also home to two car museums, the Mercedes-Benz Museum and the Porsche Museum. You don't have to be a car buff to enjoy their contemporary architecture and elegant interiors, both of which feature impressive collections of pristine historic cars. Visit Market Hall Stuttgart in the city center to peruse booths and stalls from local farmers, restaurants, producers and artisans. Another unique Stuttgart attraction is the Wilhelma zoological-botanical garden, which houses the largest collection of exotic animal and plant species in Europe. Spend a leisurely afternoon strolling through Wilhelma's many gardens and footpaths, which were previously a king's private retreat.
Our Star Alliance™ partner airlines offer service to Stuttgart (STR) from multiple U.S. cities, including direct flights from New York/Newark (EWR).
Jazz, food and friendly locals in Ireland's unofficial capital
Often overshadowed by Dublin, you might be surprised by everything that Ireland's second-largest city has to offer. Some even refer to Cork as the unofficial capital of Ireland. The city's smaller footprint makes it easier to navigate, and Cork's genuinely friendly locals are more than happy to rub elbows with visitors at its cozy pubs and restaurants. Cork was even recently named the world's third friendliest city by Condé Nast Traveler, and October is an especially good time to visit. Cork's long-running jazz festival brings international talent and well-known acts to the stage. Lastly, Cork is known as Ireland's food capital thanks to its many world-class restaurants and delicious local specialties.
What to do
The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival held at the end of October gets a little bigger and better every year. The music festival has been running since 1978 and welcomes famous talent and up-and-coming jazz performers alike. It kicks off with a jazz parade that winds its way through the city streets. If you're not a jazz enthusiast, The Fringe Festival runs in parallel with live theater and musical performances from other genres.
The heart of the city's lively food scene is the English Market, an 18th-century covered market that's Ireland's most famous food emporium. Shop for produce, meat and other provisions alongside Cork's chefs on the ground level, or sample traditional Irish fare at restaurants on the second floor. After you've had your fill, make your way to one of Cork's most popular and peculiar attractions — Cork City Gaol — a castle-like building that was once a 19th-century prison. Ireland's famous Blarney Castle (and home of the Blarney Stone) is also just a 20-minute drive from Cork.
United and our Star Alliance™ partner airlines offer services to Cork (ORK) from multiple U.S. cities.
An underrated Sonoma destination with rustic charm
Though Sonoma welcomes fewer visitors come October, wine country is a popular year-round destination. Do as the locals do and head to Guerneville for a charming wine country getaway, just a 90-minute drive from San Francisco. This rustic ex-logging town in the Russian River Valley has welcomed several new restaurants, art galleries and shops over the last few years. Spend your time visiting tasting rooms at the many nearby wineries. Stroll underneath majestic coastal redwoods in the 806-acre state park just a few minutes from town, or pop into the eclectic storefronts along Guerneville's Main Street. This casual, unpretentious town is an ideal destination for a couple or a relaxing getaway with a group of friends.
What to do
Guerneville sits in the heart of the Russian River Valley, where pinot noir and chardonnay grow plentifully in the cool climate. More than 50 wineries are within a 20-minute drive. Between established Champagne houses like Korbel to the many family-owned wineries dotting the region, you can easily spend a day or two sampling the region's wines while taking in the valley's scenic vineyards. Beer lovers can make the short trip to Russian River Brewing Company, one of California's most well-known craft breweries.
Back in town, enjoy the retro vibe strolling along Guerneville's Main Street. From antiques and used books to clothing and collectibles, you'll find an eclectic variety of shops and boutiques. The Main Street dining scene has many options, including San Francisco-inspired farm-to-table bistros and more casual, laid-back eateries with live music. To see the nearby redwood forest, head north, just a short drive to the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. The reserve has many self-guided trails ranging from an easy one-mile walk to a more strenuous nine-mile hike. The Russian River runs right next to Guerneville, where outdoor adventurers will enjoy fishing, kayaking or swimming.
United offers service to San Francisco (SFO) from multiple U.S. cities. Guerneville is a quick 90-minute drive from San Francisco.
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What to do in Zurich
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On the surface, Zurich, Switzerland, is known for banking and finance — but those who dig a little deeper discover just how enchanting the city really is. If you have the opportunity to visit, check out some of our favorite spots in this charming, upscale destination.
Known for its scenic environments and outdoor attractions, Zurich is a perfectly walkable city. The waterfront is also a great location for picnicking and sailing. To refuel after your lakeside adventures, head to one of the area's charming restaurants — we loved Seerestaurant Quai 61 and Fischers Fritz.
After you've refueled, embark on a shopping trip for Swiss goods and souvenirs in Bahnhofstrasse, a thoroughfare that connects Lake Zurich with the city's main railway station. Home to an array of boutiques and department stores, this area presents countless opportunities to soak up the surrounding views.
Since Bahnhofstrasse is a highly popular locale, you'll get a more intimate experience if you venture off of the main thoroughfare and explore the areas of Augustinergasse and Rennweg Street. While they are home to a number of beautiful shops, they also acted as the city's most significant streets during the Middle Ages. Today, the popular areas are filled with boutiques, but photographers will attest that the historic, pastel buildings are now the streets' biggest draw.
For a closer look at Zurich's history, visit one of the city's most famous landmarks: the Grossmünster Cathedral, a Protestant church dating back to 1100. If you climb to the top of one of the building's two towers, you'll be greeted with views of Zurich's lake and rooftops beyond.
Another one of Zurich's famed churches is St. Peterskirche, which also happens to be the oldest in the region. Built in the ninth century, St. Peterskirche is home to the largest clock face in all of Europe, measuring 28.5 feet (8.7 meters) in diameter. The tower also features five bells that date back to the late 1800s. Visitors can explore the stunning clocktower and tour the church's minimal — yet historical — interior, which features remnants of a medieval mural.
Swiss flag along stairwell in Zurch
St. Peterskirche in Zurich
Taste the traditions
No visit to Switzerland would be complete without sampling the country's sweetest delicacy — chocolate. Zurich's famous confectioner Confiserie Sprungli is a dream for visitors with a sweet tooth. With a legacy of over 175 years, the shop's popularity endures with delicious handmade desserts ranging from truffles to cakes.
Another favorite of ours is Zeughauskeller, a locale serving traditional Swiss cuisine and local beer. Built in 1487, Zeughauskeller is also historically significant, as the building was initially used to store weapons in medieval times — though in 1926, it evolved to be a welcoming social spot for hungry patrons. As an added bonus, the menu is traveler-friendly — meaning it's written in eight different languages — and includes Zurich specialities like zürcher geschnetzeltes (sliced veal in gravy) and rösti (Swiss hash browns).
After taking in Zurich's stunning sights, you might want to view them from an entirely different perspective. If that's the case, consider embarking on a Limmat River Cruise. While riding a motorized boat along the Limmat River, you'll pass the quaint features of Old Town and Lake Zurich — so be sure to bring your camera along! A round-trip cruise lasts about 50 minutes and costs 4.40 CHF (roughly 4.43 USD) for adults.
Regardless of what time of year you visit, Zurich always has plenty to offer.
Great places to enjoy a Fall weekend
Just because summer is nearly over, it doesn't mean that the travel season is over. Cities across America continue their efforts to attract autumn tourists wanting to take a trip somewhere new. Here are seven cities that offer plenty of things for you to do over a weekend.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
This region, located on a hook-shaped peninsula, is known mainly for its beaches and busy summer season. While fall is still warm enough to visit the beach, there's even more to do with less crowds and no "Cape traffic". There are plenty of fall festivals to choose from to celebrate the season. From the 6th Annual PumpkinFest to Martha's Vineyard Food and Wine Festival — there is no shortage of events. Additionally, take a free, self-guided walking tour on the 1.6 mile Kennedy Legacy Trail, which celebrates the role the family played in the history of Hyannis and Cape Cod. Or visit the Hyannis HyArts Cultural District, home to local artists, galleries, concerts, theatrical performances and classes year-round. Indulge in the bounty of the sea at restaurants like Hyannis institution Cooke's Seafood, known for its fried clam strips, or Ocean House if you want to enjoy a meal with a view.
The Mile High City has recently become one of the hottest craft brew cities in the country. Be sure to check a few out on the Denver Beer Trail, which covers more than 100 brewpubs, breweries and taprooms. Beer lovers should plan their trip around the Great American Beer Festival that takes over Denver in September with brews from 800 breweries. Take a stroll or a shuttle bus down the 16th Street Mall and indulge in outdoor cafes, shopping and the D&F Tower, a two-thirds replica of the Campanile of St. Mark's in Venice built in 1909. Depending on the venue's schedule, you can also catch a concert at the city's famous Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre or hike the trails around the park which is especially beautiful in the fall. Other must-see places include the Colorado Railroad Museum, Denver Union Station and Punch Bowl Social, a restaurant and entertainment venue that used to house the old Stapleton International Airport's air traffic control tower.
Key West, Florida
Florida's southernmost point — a mere 90 miles from Cuba — is known for its diving, snorkeling and beaches. And visiting during the fall means the humid summer months are over, bringing cooler ocean breezes and refreshing water temperatures making outdoor activities great options. Go on a sunset cruise, take a tour of the island on a wave runner, participate in a pub crawl or rent a moped, a scooter or a bike to explore the Keys. Sunbathe at beaches like Fort Zachary Taylor, an 87-acre state park that is home to a pre-Civil War Fort. And make sure to visit author Ernest Hemingway's home, where he lived from 1931 to 1939 and where he wrote a few classics including the novel, To Have And Have Not.
The tagline for this Southern city is the Home of Blues, Soul and Rock 'n' Roll. You can hit iconic locations covering all three by visiting the Blues Hall of Fame, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and Sun Studio, the birthplace of Rock 'N' Roll. Walk down the city's iconic Beale Street, where you can check out bars, restaurants, clubs and shops. Take a cruise on a Memphis Riverboat and indulge in a barbecue dinner at the famous Rendezvous. Cooler temperatures also mean a variety of festivals to choose from, including Gonerfest, — Goner Records' annual music festival —Mempho music festival, Memphis Pride Festival and more. And no visit to Memphis is complete without visits to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. passed away and Elvis Presley's Graceland.
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Located 154 miles north of San Francisco, this region is mostly known for ski resorts like Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. But there are still plenty of things to do in the fall with fewer crowds and off-season specials with lower prices. For example, take a hike along the 1.9-mile Lake of the Sky Trail, ride on the M.S. Dixie II Paddlewheeler or play a round of golf at the Lake Tahoe Golf Course. But the best way to take in all that Lake Tahoe has to offer is to do the 72-mile most beautiful drive in America, where you can take a ride on the Heavenly Gondola, visit the historic Donner Memorial State Park or try your luck at the Crystal Bay Casino.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park is located 124 miles west of Washington, D.C. and one of the best places in the country to enjoy fall foliage along the 105-mile Skyline Drive. View the leaves changing colors and enjoy beautiful scenery by going on a hike in the park — home to 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail along the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Take a guided tour through Luray Caverns, a series of large rooms with 10-feet-high ceilings, stone columns and pools. Go horseback riding or do a tour of the Blue Ridge Whisky Wine Loop, which showcases the region's wineries, a whiskey distillery, breweries and dining.
It's a given that you'll do a wine tasting or two in this world-famous region, though keep in mind that during fall months, wineries tend to close by 5 pm so plan to start early. And even if wine tasting isn't for you, witnessing the fall foliage while driving on the Silverado Trail from Napa to Calistoga is worth it. Or indulge yourself by visiting one of Calistoga's wonderful day spas, play a round of golf at the Vintner's Golf Club in Yountville or take a sunrise hot air balloon ride. There are no shortages of delicious restaurants — the valley is home to six Michelin-starred restaurants, including Chef Thomas Keller's French Laundry. Or you can scout out the next generation of dining talent at the Culinary Institute of America's The Restaurant at CIA Copia. If you're looking for a unique wine experience, consider doing the Art in the Afternoon tour at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, which pairs a tasting with a tour of its world-class collection.
We view New Jersey's success and ours inextricably linked
As a proud resident of the New Jersey and New York area for the past thirty years, I know firsthand how vitally important Newark Liberty International Airport is to the success of the communities and families throughout the state – the jobs it creates, the economic activity it generates and the businesses and people it connects to markets around the globe.
We are one of the top ten employers in the state, with 14,000 employees as part of the United family and are Newark Airport's largest airline, together with our Star Alliance partners, account for more than two-thirds of both total flights and passengers. It's obvious that keeping Newark competitive requires a competitive United Airlines.
That's why we've invested more in Newark Airport than any other airline, making both our service and the airport better. We've committed $2 billion in unsubsidized airport investments since 2000 and nearly $400 million over the past two years alone.
Not only are we giving back at the airport, but we are also supporting the communities we call home. This July, we announced two new partnership grants totaling $1 million for the cities of Newark and Elizabeth supporting the Community Foodbank of New Jersey and Urban League of Essex County. These grants will greatly expand opportunities in each city, helping hundreds of young people and adults on the path to meaningful carriers and economic mobility. This commitment complements our longstanding support across New Jersey, from schools to local shelters, to vital community anchors such as the Newark Museum, the Liberty Science Center and New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
We view New Jersey's success and United's as inextricably linked, which is why the negative tone that's been adopted recently has been extremely disappointing. I am determined to get us back on the right track.
Case in point: the discussion regarding our recent decision to transition some of our operations from ABM Aviation to United Ground Express (UGE) has been unfair. Let me clarify a few things.
The current contract held by ABM was up for renewal and we began a competitive bidding process in order to improve our customers' experience at Newark Airport. After our review, we determined that UGE was the right vendor to achieve this for United's passengers and in turn, our overall operation at Newark airport.
To date, we've hosted seven job fairs and received hundreds of applications, many from current talented ABM employees and, we expect our employment figures to remain where they were before the transition to UGE. These newly created jobs will be represented by IAM, one of our union partners.
As a company we believe it's appropriate for the state to determine the minimum wage and as a good corporate citizen we continue to observe and comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. We remain committed to treating all of our employees fairly, providing them with competitive compensation and benefit packages which feature a progression wage scale, paid time off (PTO), double-time holiday pay and company subsidized health care plan for full-time employees. Under UGE, employees also receive United flight benefits, which is a notable and unique addition to our employees' overall compensation.
United is important to the region. Without United's continuing investment in the airport, not only would jobs be lost, but also it would be a major blow to the state's economy and to the New Jersey taxpayer. We pay local taxes; the Corporate Business Tax (which was increased earlier this session); and the jet fuel tax and in addition, we pay more than $400 million a year in rates, charges and fees to the Port Authority to fund operations and infrastructure development at Newark airport. All told, United pays our fair share and creates nearly $16 billion in economic output in New Jersey and we're very proud to be doing our part to drive the New Jersey economy.
The stakes are too high for this issue to be turned into a political football and subject to overheated, misleading rhetoric.
We care deeply about our employees, our customers and our state and take our responsibilities as a good corporate citizen very seriously. We're determined to remain competitive so we can continue offering the service and standards our customers and this community deserve. United is proud to call Newark home, I hope you'll support our efforts to continue investing and growing in the great state of New Jersey.
Introducing Better Boarding
The feedback from customers and employees was clear: we needed to improve our boarding process. As part of our ongoing efforts to put customers at the center of everything we do, we identified boarding as an opportunity to improve the airport experience. We tested a variety of different boarding processes on thousands of flights across multiple airports. Best practices emerged from each test, and combined, they now form what we are calling "Better Boarding".
Better Boarding consists of three key improvements
Less time in line:
By reducing the number of boarding lanes, there is more space for customers to enjoy the gate areas, many of which have been completely remodeled with more comfortable seating and in some airports, the ability to have food and drinks from within the airport delivered directly to the gate area. Over the years, we have invested millions of dollars in our terminals, and now with less time spent standing in line, customers will have more time to dine, shop, relax, work or enjoy a United Club℠.
Simplified gate layout
Say goodbye to the five long lines we see today
Group 1 will board through the blue lane.
Group 2 will board through the green lane, followed by groups 3, 4, and 5.
Late arriving customers in Group 1 and 2 will use the blue lane.
Customers in groups 3, 4, and 5 always use the green lane.
We are providing customers with more information throughout the boarding process so that they feel more at ease, and more equipped with the latest information about their flight. Customers with the United app can receive a push notification once their flight starts boarding. Customers will only receive the notification if they've opted in for push notifications and have a mobile boarding pass in the app's wallet.
Be in the know about boarding
Customers will receive boarding notifications through the United app (if they've opted in for notifications).
Improved gate area digital signage to guide customers through boarding.
Balanced groups and better recognition:
United MileagePlus® Premier 1K® customers will now pre-board and United MileagePlus Premier Gold customers will be boarding in Group 1. For more information on our boarding groups, visit: https://www.united.com/web/en-us/content/travel/airport/boarding-process.aspx
Improved premier customer recognition
We're happy to make them happy
Improved premier recognition and better positioning of customers to create balanced boarding groups.
The new Better Boarding process is just one of the steps we are taking to improve the customer experience. We will continue to collect feedback from customers on ways we can further improve boarding and you may receive a post-travel survey to tell us more about your experience
Towns in the U.S. with unusual names
You don't have to travel to Timbuktu or Dull, Scotland to check out a uniquely named place — there are plenty in the United States. It's true that you might not find much to do in Boring, Oregon, or anything peculiar about Peculiar, Missouri — and who wants to go to Hell, Michigan? But there are even more places with strange names worth seeing.
Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, Massachusetts
And you thought “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" was a mouthful. The 45 letters in the name of this lake in Webster, Massachusetts, makes it America's longest-named place. The lake's name means, “English knifeman and Nipmuck Indians at the boundary or neutral fishing place." Hundreds of pricey homes on its shoreline can be seen during a ride aboard the Indian Princess, one of America's last authentic paddle wheel boats. For those looking to do more than laze along the shorelines, unique fishing spots and a range of water activities are popular attractions in this town. The nearest airports are Boston and Hartford/Springfield (Bradley), each a 75-minute drive away.
This easternmost town in Virginia, with a name derived from its Native American name, is the southern gateway to Assateague Island National Seashore, best known for its wild horses. About 150 Chincoteague ponies, which stand only four-and-a-half feet tall, roam the island where visitors also can tour Assateague Lighthouse, a candy cane-striped 1867 national landmark that stands 142 feet tall. The nearest airport to Chincoteague is Norfolk, Virginia, approximately a two-hour drive away.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra's “(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo" was the #1 hit song of 1942, putting the Michigan town on the map. How can you not like a song with lyrics like, “I liked her looks / when I carried her books / in Kalamazoo"? Even now, it's performed by the Western Michigan University marching band at football games. The college town is also known for being home to prestigious Kalamazoo College, many brewpubs, the nearby wine village of Paw Paw and the Gilmore Car Museum. United flies to Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport.
Mammoth Lakes, California
Mammoth Lakes was named after the Mammoth Mining Company, which brought it into existence as a gold rush boomtown. It's a fitting name because it also describes the mammoth-sized Sierra Nevada mountains that surround it, including the famed granite rock faces of nearby Yosemite National Park. Mammoth Lakes has emerged as one of America's leading destinations for trout fishing, hiking, mountain biking — and most of all — snowboarding and skiing. The Mammoth Ski Museum is a big draw. United flies into Mammoth Yosemite Airport from San Francisco December through April.
It's not a tech company or an expression of joy. Wahoo is a town named after the native eastern wahoo shrub. The town of 4,500 is best known for being named “home office" of the David Letterman Wahoo Gazette Top-10 List after town boosters bribed Dave with a wall clock made of cow dung and free checkups at Wahoo Medical Center. Wahoo Creek feeds into the town's biggest attraction, Lake Wanahoo, where you can hike, kayak, fish and camp. The nearest airport is in Omaha, Nebraska, a one-hour drive away.
This spot in the Mojave National Preserve is last on any alphabetical list of places and not far behind on any list of Southern California hotspots (except literally in the heat of summer). Many drive past Zzyzx Road on road trips from Las Vegas to L.A., but few know what's at the end of the road or the history behind the small town. Today, the only thing you'll find there, after taking Zzyzx Road off I-15, is the California State University-run Desert Studies Center on the land of a former hot springs resort. But the hiking is a treat if you like desert-mountain solitude. The nearest airport is an 80-minute drive away in Las Vegas.
Spending a week in Iceland
Passion Passport is a community-based website that tells meaningful travel stories and facilitates global connections. Our team hails from across the United States and Canada and is always up for an adventure. To learn more about where we're going and what we're doing, visit our website: PassionPassport.com
Iceland is a place of incomparable beauty. We recently visited some of the country's most popular destinations and explored the stunning landscapes that it is most known for. If you have the opportunity to travel to this country full of otherworldly views, be sure to check out some of our favorite places.
Visit the capital city
Reykjavík may not be a large city, but it still offers plenty to do and see. The capital's relatively small size makes it easy to visit its most notable attractions on foot or by bicycle. Architecture enthusiasts should stop by Harpa Concert Hall to marvel at the iconic glass building, while music lovers should check out the hall's events and enjoy its array of shows, such as Iceland's Symphony Orchestra performances.
For great photo opportunities and gravity defying architecture, seek out Hallgrimskirikja, the largest church in all of Iceland. Designed by Guðjón Samúelsson in 1937 and inspired by the shapes that emerge when lava cools, the church can be spotted from almost anywhere in the city. Visitors can also climb to the top of its tower for the best views of the city below — so don't forget your camera! Once you've seen this architectural beauty, explore the city center on foot. If you're looking for a place to shop, visit Laugavegur Street, Bankastræti, Skólavörðustígur, and Lækjargata.
If you want a truly Icelandic experience, visit one of the many swimming pools in the Reykjavík area. Located behind Hallgrimskirikja, Sundhöll Reykjavíkur is the country's oldest public bath. Or, take some time to relax at Iceland's famous Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, located just 30 minutes from the capital city by car — though, if you're not looking to rent a car, you can also take a bus from Reykjavík to the spa. The locale is open year-round, and the water in the large lake is always warm and beautifully hued. Experience the seemingly magical powers of geothermal seawater at this natural spa and enjoy a mask bar, a massage, an in-water bar, and a sauna and steam room. Note: this is a popular activity, so be sure to book in advance.
Travel along the Golden Circle
If you want to road-trip around iceland, the Golden Circle is the perfect route for you. It features three of Iceland's most popular destinations: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Springs Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. There are also many Golden Circle tours to choose from, if you prefer to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery without the hassle of driving.
Your first stop will likely be Thingvellir, which became a national park in 1930 and later, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to Thingvellir's fascinating geology and unique history, visitors are often enchanted by its proximity to tectonic plates, lava rocks, and surrounding volcanoes. Interestingly, the land was once used as a meeting place for the parliament of the Viking Age commonwealth (its name actually means "the fields of parliament"). Today, the park is also a popular draw for those interested in bird-watching, diving, snorkeling, and viewing the Northern Lights (come winter).
The second stop along the route is Gullfoss Waterfall, a stunning waterfall located in an ancient valley. The two-tiered fall is beautiful during both the winter and the summer, offering cascades of ice in cold weather and an abundance of rainbows just after the spring thaw.
From here, Geysir Hot Springs Area is just a short drive away and a 50-minute trip from Thingvellir. Although the geysir is a famous hot spring, it isn't the only geyser in this geothermal area. Keep an eye out for the region's most active, Strokkur, which sprouts hot water approximately every few minutes. Have your camera ready and keep a safe distance from the boiling eruption.
Immerse yourself in beauty
Stunning vistas are not uncommon in Iceland. It seems like everywhere you look, there are natural wonders to observe and photograph. One of Iceland's most beautiful destinations is Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, an area filled with blue waters dotted with glistening icebergs. What's more, this particular location is also popular among those aspiring to spot the Northern Lights. If you want to get up close and personal with the frozen landscape, the lagoon hosts amphibian boat tours, which allow you to sail alongside the icebergs. You might even spot some seals leading the way. While the lagoon is nearly six hours from Iceland's capital, it's a beautiful drive, which offers roadtrippers the chance to observe a range of Icelandic scenery along the way.
Update on Tropical Depression Florence
September 17, 2018
Today, we've resumed normal operations at all impacted airport locations with the exception of Wilmington (ILM), which is expected to reopen Thursday, September 20 once power is restored.
See below for a full list of our current operations:
|Airport||Monday, 9/17||Tuesday, 9/18|
|Asheville, NC (AVL)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Columbia, SC (CAE)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Charlottesville, VA (CHO)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Charleston, SC (CHS)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Charlotte, NC (CLT)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Charleston, WV (CRW)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Fayetteville, NC (FAY)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Greensboro, NC (GSO)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Greensville, SC (GSP)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Wilmington, NC (ILM)||No operations||No operations; |
Expected to resume on
|Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Norfolk, VA (ORF)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Richmond, VA (RIC)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Roanoke, VA (ROA)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Savannah, GA (SAV)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
|Shenandoah Valley, VA (SHD)||Normal operations||Normal operations|
September 16, 2018
We continue monitoring the latest weather forecasts, airport conditions, road closures and other activities as a result of Hurricane Florence which has been downgraded to a tropical depression. We are resuming normal operations at all stations today, with the exception of Myrtle Beach (MYR), where we expect to resume service Monday and Wilmington (ILM) which is expected to reopen Tuesday. A travel waiver is in place for customers traveling to, from or through locations impacted by the storm, offering additional flexibility to change or cancel their travel plans, and waiving baggage and pet-in-cabin fees.
Our thoughts are with all those impacted by the storm. We continue to encourage customers to check their flights on united.com or the United app for the latest flight status prior to leaving for the airport.
Stay tuned for more information as the storm progresses.
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Five magnificent stops between Honolulu and Guam filled with spectacular scenery along the way, and then back again. Join Big Metal Bird host, Phil Torres, as he explores our unique Island Hopper route, and discovers what the route means to the people of Micronesia.
It was an unusual sight: a flame on a plane -- but that's exactly what passengers on a flight from Boston to Chicago witnessed as we transported the very special cargo on July 18. The flame was enclosed in a secure lantern and accompanied by a Special Olympic athlete and two Guardians of the Flame – members of a group of more than 100,000 law enforcement officers whose role is to protect and ensure the delivery of the Special Olympics Flame wherever it travels.
This wasn't just any flame, however; it was the Special Olympics' Flame of Hope, the flame which lit the Eternal Flame of Hope to kick off Special Olympics' 50th anniversary celebration Friday morning.
CEO Oscar Munoz, General Counsel and EVP Brett Hart; and Community Affairs VP Sharon Grant, along with many employees and customers, greeted the Flame upon arrival to O'Hare International Airport, where it was presented to local Guardians of the Flame.
We didn't just transport the Flame of Hope on board one of our flights, said Oscar. "That flight symbolized how we are taking the values of inclusion and respect, which that Flame represents, fully on board as a company."
From O'Hare, the Flame traveled to Soldier Field, the site of the very first International Special Olympics Summer Games 50 years ago, and where the Law Enforcement Torch Run® took place the morning of Friday, July 20. More than 100 employees participated in the event, a four-mile course along the lakefront in downtown Chicago, along with hundreds of law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes from throughout Illinois and the world.
I saw people from all over the world come together for a great cause, said Global Catering Operations Projects and Performance Manager Yana Strutz, who participated in the Torch Run, "It is wonderful to see my colleagues take time out of their busy schedules to ensure that Special Olympics athletes get the time and attention they deserve."
The run concluded with the lighting of the Eternal Flame of Hope monument, a flame that symbolizes the eternal hope that Special Olympics provides to athletes and their families. The flame will stay forever ignited inside the permanent, 30-foot monument outside of Soldier Field.
United will go beyond just flying the Flame of Hope on one flight, we will 'carry the torch' everywhere we fly and spread the light of this inclusion revolution. We intend to be ambassadors for this movement everywhere we operate, said Oscar.
Our partnership with Special Olympics represents our continuing effort to break down barriers and further build on Special Olympics' remarkable legacy of inclusion by engaging our employees around the world.
On March 8, 2018, we announced a new global relationship with Special Olympics, an organization we've partnered with for many years focusing on supporting the spirit of inclusion with our employees through local communities and through our Charity Miles Program. United's increased sponsorship includes support for major Special Olympics events, including the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary celebrations in Chicago, site of the very first International Special Olympics Summer Games in 1968, and the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.
In addition, United will engage with local Programs in our key markets around the world. Special Olympics embodies our shared purpose to connect people and unite the world. With more than 5 million athletes and 1 million coaches and volunteers in 172 countries, our employees and customers will join forces with Special Olympics to achieve our shared vision of inclusion. Together, we hope to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities.
Our relationship with Special Olympics represents a continued effort to break down barriers and further build on the organization's remarkable legacy by engaging our customers and employees around the world. Working together, we created new training that specifically reflects insights from Special Olympics, including training scenarios with real-life situations that individuals with intellectual disabilities face when traveling. By the end of 2018, more than 60,000 United frontline employees will have participated in the new training modules that reflect Special Olympics insights as United takes steps to deliver a world full of inclusion.
Check back this summer for coverage from Special Olympics 50th Anniversary celebrations in Chicago and 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.