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Travel tips

One fine day: Durham, North Carolina

By The Hub team , July 26, 2018

Story by Lauren Vespoli | Rhapsody, Summer 2018

You're in the start-up-filled City of Medicine for business, and you have the day off. Here are the must-hit spots in the hippest corner of the Research Triangle.

9:30 a.m.

Forget grits: Start your morning with a hearty bowl of congee with shiitake mushrooms, Chinese bacon, and mustard greens at Rose's Noodles, Dumplings & Sweets, a former butcher shop turned all-day café and bakery that was on Bon Appétit's Best New Restaurant list in 2014. If you crave something sweet to balance out the savory East Asian–inspired menu, order Chinese crullers with fresh soy milk for dipping, or peruse the pastry case and stow away a coconut Meyer lemon macaron for an afternoon snack.

Macarons at Rose's Noodles, Dumplings & SweetsMacarons at Rose's Noodles, Dumplings & Sweets

10:30 a.m.

Duke University is one of America's most beautiful college campuses, thanks in large part to the splendor of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. The 55-acre grounds are planted with 2,200 kinds of plants, including 900 species of native Southeastern flora. Make your way to the Italianate Terrace Gardens, designed by acclaimed landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman, or swing by the South Lawn to marvel at the whorls of woven red maple saplings and sweetgum twigs in the Patrick Dougherty sculpture The Big Easy.

Sarah P. Duke GardensSarah P. Duke Gardens

11:30 a.m.

It's a short walk from the gardens to the Nasher Museum of Art, where the university's 13,000-piece art collection is housed in a Modernist building by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly. In the great hall, admire the colorful geometry of Nigerian painter Odili Donald Odita's mural Shadow and Light (For Julian Francis Abele), which pays tribute to the African-American architect who built Duke's chapel. Then visit Solidary & Solitary, a vibrant traveling survey of abstract African-American art from the 1940s to the present.

Nasher Museum of ArtNasher Museum of Art

1:30 p.m.

It's time for some fried chicken. Catch a taxi downtown and take the cobblestone alley jutting off Foster Street to restaurateur Michael Lee's M Kokko. There may already be a line of locals on lunch break, but it's worth the wait for Lee's “KFC": Korean fried chicken wings, which come twice-fried, with your choice of garlic or spicy sauce (watch out for the lingering red chilies). In a perfect meld of Southern and Korean cuisines, the wings are served with kale, prepared collard-greens-style (bacon included), and cubes of pickled daikon radish.

"KFC" wings at M Kokko"KFC" wings at M Kokko

2:30 p.m.

Time for a rest back at your hotel, The Unscripted Durham. The newest arrival on downtown's booming boutique hotel scene (three new properties have opened on this block in the past three years) is a nearly $20 million restoration of the landmark midcentury Jack Tar Motor Lodge, complete with the iconic turquoise facade. The 74 rooms nod to the property's Swinging '60s heyday with playful retro design elements (pendant lamps, trippy geometric wallpaper), but the highlight of the revamp is definitely the rooftop pool. Recline on one of the chaise longues and look out at the skyline until you drift off in the sun.

The rooftop pool at the Unscripted DurhamThe rooftop pool at the Unscripted Durham

6:30 p.m.

Instead of trying to erase its history as a tobacco town, Durham has repurposed the industry's infrastructure at the American Tobacco Campus. The former factory now houses luxury apartments, a start-up incubator, a documentary film theater, and Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the home of the city's minor league team (the subject of Bull Durham). The stadium brews its own beer—try the Baltic Porter, aged with maple-wood baseball bats—and every time the Bulls hit a home run, look out toward the outfield wall, where the Snorting Bull puffs celebratory smoke from its nostrils.

The Old Bull Durham tobacco sign and Lucky Strike TowerThe Old Bull Durham tobacco sign and Lucky Strike Tower

9 p.m.

Duck out of the game a little early for dinner at Counting House at the 21c Museum Hotel, an Art Deco former bank designed by the architects of the Empire State Building. You can't go wrong with the pan-roasted Carolina catch in korma sauce or a series of small plates, such as plancha octopus with potato gnocchi and heirloom squash. Pair your meal with one of the seasonal cocktails, like the Morning Glory (a take on the Negroni with Cocchi Americano, Carpano Bianco, grapefruit, and Peychaud's bitters). After dinner, order another to take with you into the old bank vault and the hotel's 10,500-square-foot contemporary art museum.

Drinks at Counting HouseDrinks at Counting House

Introducing a more personalized experience on united.com

By Gladys Roman , July 13, 2018

Our united.com homepage is getting some big enhancements. Yesterday, we announced the launch of the new site, which will offer a more modern, user-friendly design, allowing users a more personalized digital experience.

Each one of our customers is unique and has different needs for his or her travel, and personalizing our digital offerings is just another step toward giving our customers the experience and the products that they ask for, said Digital Products and Analytics VP Praveen Sharma. "Our goal with this new homepage is to provide customers with a more seamless experience."

The new website will provide personalized content based on a customer's MileagePlus® status as well as upcoming, current or prior trips. It will also include a new display that will be fully responsive for optimal viewing on desktop and mobile devices. Later this year, the site will include a travel section that will provide customers with curated content from destinations United serves.

We began rolling out the new homepage in April and continued expanding it to more users while we added more functionality throughout the phased rollout. The site will be live to all customers in early August.

These efforts are part of our commitment to improve our customers' travel experience through every step of their journey. Earlier this year, we updated our mobile website, adding a more optimized display, additional flexibility to adjust flights throughout the site, Japanese language translations and more.

Our new homepage will also appear on our mobile website, creating a more seamless experience when customers are managing travel and bookings across multiple devices.

United offers Star Alliance flight status information

By The Hub team , June 18, 2018

We're expanding the availability of flight status (FLIFO) information for our customers and employees. On June 14, we began offering access to flight status information for all Star Alliance member flights within the United app, and through Google Home and Amazon Alexa (e.g. "Alexa, ask United to check the status of my flight on Lufthansa").

We're committed to providing our customers and employees with the tools they need to ensure a seamless journey when connecting with our partners," said Alliance Partner Operations Senior Manager Katie Russell. "These enhancements will allow our employees to make real-time decisions for customers with connecting flights and provide our customers with easy access to information from partner carriers without requiring them to use another app.

While onboard United flights, customers can even check the most current status of their connecting Star Alliance member flight utilizing our complimentary access to the United app through United Wi-Fi℠, available on all mainline and two-cabin regional aircraft.

5 global tech hubs you can reach easily from Silicon Valley

By The Hub team , June 12, 2018

Story produced in partnership with Business Insider

United has been an industry leader adding new flights and additional services between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and rising tech centers worldwide, as part of a deeper strategy to connect business customers conveniently and easily - Learn more about five global tech hubs near SFO.

The perfect day trips from Milan

By The Hub team

Aerial view of Lake Como

Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.

By: Digital Engagement and Advocacy Programs Manager, Jamie Rutter

Three days in a foreign country may not seem like enough time for some. For me? I squeezed in more than five Italian cities and think you should do it that way, too.

Stop 1: Lake Como

The plan was to visit Mendrisio, Switzerland. We picked up a tiny rental car and headed to the Swiss border, less than an hour from Milan. What we didn't plan for was a $50 toll, which didn't seem worth it just to get chocolate and window shop at a designer factory outlet. So, instead, we decided to make a U-turn and head for nearby Como, one of three major towns that line Lake Como and mostly host vacation homes.

From Como's central church plaza, we wandered through streets lined with shops and cafes and made our way to a dock to soak in the view. We could have hopped on a ferry to visit the other, even prettier towns but decided to go a different route. While looking up into ridges that feed into the Alps, we noticed buildings at the top of the nearest one. There were four choices to get up there: a switchback-filled road with steep drop-offs, a bus going up that same narrow road, a cable car or walking over four miles uphill. We chose the first.

A few hairpins, near run-ins with scooters and many deep breaths later, we found ourselves sipping espresso on a terrace perched over the edge of the ridge facing Lake Como. Distant, snowcapped Alps provided a dramatic backdrop for some Instagram photos.

From there, we revisited those switchbacks on the way down and set our GPS on Maranello.

Parma ham and fried bread in Parma

Stop 2: Parma

Yes, it's exactly what you're thinking. Parmesan cheese comes from Parma and Parmigiano-Reggiano comes from the nearby Reggio Emilia. Prosciutto (referred to as Parma ham) also hails from this region, so Parma is a must for any food lover. About halfway between Milan and Maranello, Parma was the perfect stop for lunch.

We ate near the city center at Trattoria Corrieri that included a plate full of local charcuterie, gnocchi, ravioli and regional fried bread called gnocco fritto. North of the city is a Parmigiano-Reggiano factory farm called Caseificio Sociale Bassa Parmense. You can schedule a tour in advance (or just show up on Saturdays), otherwise just pop into their shop to taste various ages of cheese and purchase fresh-cut wedges, vacuum packed so they stay fresh through the rest of your trip.

Whiskey store in Maranello

Stop 3: Maranello

There's really only one reason to visit Maranello: Ferrari. The corporate headquarters, factory and museum are housed here. Unfortunately, you can only get in for a tour if you're an owner, so we just joined the other tourists outside the gates taking selfies and peeking inside whenever an employee or truck opened the gates to leave. There's a Ferrari store conveniently across the street as well.

If you're a whiskey fan, there's actually an unexpectedly fun detour to make from there. Just north in the town of Formigine is one of the biggest, most well-stocked whiskey stores I've ever seen. The owner of Whiskey Antique even has part of his private collection on display for you to gawk at.

Lamborghini factory in Modena

Stop 4: Modena

Aziz Ansari fans will recognize this city from the most recent season of Master of None and Ferrari fans will recognize it as Enzo Ferrari's birthplace. It's also the center of the region known for producing balsamic vinegar and a wine called Lambrusco. For relaxed outdoor shopping, every Sunday there's a street market in the church's plaza selling antiques and knickknacks. We elected to do this instead of tastings or tours.

Not far from town is another gearhead hotspot: the Lamborghini factory. This one and its museum are open to the public, but don't try to drive your rental Fiat into the parking lot like we did. If you're not in a Lamborghini (which you'll see plenty of heading that way), you get to park down the street.

Duomo in Milan

Stop 5: Milan

Last but not least, back toward the Milan–Malpensa Airport is the fashion capital of Italy, Milan. The beautiful city hosts a massive duomo, the gorgeous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" and much, much more. That's all for a different guide, but I'll leave you with this: Both the gelato at Cioccolati Italiani and the panzerotti at Luini are worth the wait.

Essential photo apps for the traveling shutterbug

By Nick Harper

Broken down into the three key stages for modern photography

Stage I: Click

Five essential apps that will help you capture a more professional shot.

1. The native camera built into most modern mobile phones is already powerful, but for those who want more options, ProCamera delivers. Offering a wide array of hi-spec DSLR-like controls but a simplified interface, this app will appeal to the most demanding of snappers.

(iOS only)

2. If the point-and-click functionality of your mobile phone is just too simplistic, Manual offers a more complicated but gratifying alternative. By manually adjusting your camera phone's settings for shutter, white balance, focus, zoom and plenty of other options, you'll get the shot you want every time — not the default shot your camera assumes you want.

(Android and iOS)

3. For any photographer struggling to frame their masterpiece, Camera51 offers foolproof assistance. Automatically detecting and analyzing faces, scenes, objects, lines and accidental photo bombers, Camera 51's “aim box" guides you to the perfectly framed shot every time. This app is simple but pleasingly effective.

(Android and iOS)

4. Looking for the type of motion blur on your images that only professional photographers seem to know how to capture? You know, the sort that shows five lanes of traffic driving past as a neon streak, or the stars blurring in the night sky. It's all about controlling your shutter speed, which is where the Magic Shutter app comes in. With the tap of a few buttons, the titular shutter allows you to blur your surroundings and create long exposure and double exposure photos like a pro. And the handy Smart Exposure feature is designed to avoid over-exposed shots.

(iOS only)

5. The HDR in ProHDR stands for “high dynamic range," a technique used in photography to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than you get with standard techniques. That means you'll get a sharper image through a variety of control options — including extensive but simple exposure adjustments, tone mapping, pre-set filters, digital zoom and many more. (Android and iOS) 

Stage II: Edit

So you have the shot you want. Here are five great apps for editing them into shape.

1. Enlight is perhaps the most powerful all-in-one editing app currently available. An unrivaled blend of Photoshop-style control options with artistic filters and effects, Enlight's depth could easily fool the amateur photographer were it not for an intuitive, user-friendly interface that places it into the category marked “Essential."

(iOS only)

2. If Enlight's price tag is stopping you from downloading, Snapseed is an exceptional free alternative. Like Enlight and many other photo apps, Snapseed offers a wide array of editing and enhancement tools to maximize the quality of any and every shot you take. As with Enlight, you can keep it simple or go as deep and advanced as your ambition requires.

(Android and iOS)

3. No one's perfect and sometimes you'll probably have an imperfection in a photo that you'd like to change. That's where Facetune comes in — it takes your image and allows you to airbrush it to the point of perfection.

(Android and iOS)

4. Do you consider your images to be works of art? If so, you need the Brushstroke app. It allows you to transform your image into a painting with just a single click of the touchscreen. That sun-drenched cityscape you shot can become an instant Canaletto and that smoldering selfie can be transformed into a vision from Van Gogh. There's even an option to turn your masterpiece into a physical canvas print that can be hung proudly upon your wall.

(Android and iOS)

5. And for the amateur snapper who likes the idea of making money from his or her photographs, there is the revolutionary EyeEm app. Pronounced more like “I am," this is a global photography community and marketplace where photographers can share their knowledge and interact, as well as where images — your images — can be bought by brands, agencies or individuals. EyeEm is home to more than 18 million photographers and 70 million images.

(Android and iOS)

Stage III: Exhibit

Finally, five great apps for storing, showing off and sharing your shots.

1. Are you one of those traveling photographers who snaps every shot several times, just to be sure the right image has been captured? The problem there is that we're then left with a billion images we may never view again but don't dare delete. Google Photos offers a sleek solution to organize your photos. It analyzes and organizes your images into groups based on people, places and things, allowing you to find and view them fast. Where the app truly excels, however, is in the fact that it offers free, unlimited cloud storage for every shot you ever take. Until you become more selective in your photography, this is the perfect app for you.

(Android and iOS)

2. Layout from Instagram allows you to showcase your chosen images by presenting them in a variety of customizable layouts. Choose the number of shots per layout — from two shots side by side, to horizontal or vertical, to up to as many as nine images presented in a 3x3 grid. Share seamlessly to Instagram (other social networks are also available) and give the world a snapshot of your vacation or wedding, or piece back together that night on the town.

(Android and iOS)

3. Moments is the new, easy and extremely clever way of getting ahold of the photographs you didn't take but wish you had. This after-the-event app groups images taken by your connected friends based on who is in the shots, then with a single tap allows the photos to be synced and shared among the members of the group, so everybody's happy.

(Android and iOS)

4. When it comes to effortlessly syncing photos between devices and services, PhotoSync makes life a lot easier. Other apps offer a similar service, but few are as pain-free as PhotoSync.

(Android and iOS)

5. Picjoy is a photo library that offers a solution to the modern culture of snapping anything that moves. Essentially a photo organizer, the app automatically tags your images by date, season, weather conditions, holidays, events, locations and places. The best part of the app is that it allows your photos to tell a story. Mark the images you want to use, hit 'import' and those shots are automatically loaded into an album that can be ordered and annotated as you please, then shared wherever and with whomever you like. This allows you to quickly prioritize the photos that matter — and delete the ones that don't.

(Android and iOS)

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