Souvenir Sunday at CDG Airport

Greetings from Paris- Charles de Gaulle Airport, where there are plenty of Valentine’s Day-themed souvenirs available right now.

Chocolates, of course, and pink-tinted macarons are not that expensive and are easy to carry.

And then there are selfie-spots around the airport right now offering a fun way to make a free Valentine.


If you’re lucky enough to be in the airport on February 14 between 8 am and 3 pm, keep an eye out for hostesses who will fanning out in the terminals offering fortune cookies that will filled with messages of love.

Two of those cookies will have something extra: a prize of a weekend in Paris. (Details here... in French.)


Chinese New Year at airports & on planes

Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year celebrations begin this weekend and airports and airlines are celebrating the Year of the Rooster with decorations, special meals, promotions and events.

Vancouver International Airport, a major trans-Pacific hub, has special decorations in the terminals and a wide variety of events planned for this Friday, including a traditional Lion Dance, retail specials and an appearance by the Fortune God who will hand out red envelopes to lucky passengers who will have a chance to win prizes.

At San Francisco International Airport, which boasts that it serves more cities in China than any other North American airport, look for special Lunar New Year graphics on signs, on the airport’s social media outlets and on its website.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will celebrate the Lunar New Year on Friday, Jan. 27 with traditional and modern Chinese music from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Asleep at the Wheel stage, located across from Gate 10.

Lunar New Year activities at Hong Kong International Airport include daily Lion Dance performances and multiple chances to meet and greet the God of Fortune.

At Singapore’s Changi Airport, which does everything in a big way, the terminals are decorated with festive decorations and plants, the popular Pokémon installation has receive a seasonally-appropriate makeover, and there will be an award-winning Lion Dance troupe performing in the terminals on multiple days. The Fortune God Mascot will also be on hand distributing fortune cookies.

To mark the Lunar New Year, Cathay Pacific will be serving two types of festive puddings (Red Dates Pudding and Turnip Pudding with Conpoy and Chinese ham) to travelers in first and business class cabins on many long haul flights.

Qatar Airways is also celebrating the Chinese New Year by serving a special Spring Festival-inspired menu on board flights to popular Asia destinations from January 28-30.

Deal-wise, United Airlines is offering promotional fares (through Feb 1) on its flights to Hangzhou, China from San Francisco and other cities and Plaza Premium Lounge is running a Chinese New Year ‘Buy 3 Get 2 Free’ offer on lounge gift cards that is valid through February 6.

And Eva Air is celebrating the year of the Rooster with a special Chinese New Year menu on flights outbound from Taipei to North America and Paris on January 27, 2017 and special Chinese New Year-themed service items on these same flights from January 27 to February 5, 2017.

Many service items on Eva Air’s Hello Kitty Jets have also been refreshed for the Chinese New Year, and some new characters – Gudetama and Bad Badtz-maru are featured on the themed paper napkins, headrest covers and the traditional red envelopes handed out to family members and loved ones  to wish them health and prosperity this time of year.


Where to go in 2017? Somewhere with an airport

If one of your New Year’s resolution is to see the world in 2017 – or at least to visit more cool parts of it – there are plenty of places to consider and lots of advice from travel experts.

Consider Canada

There will be partying up north as Montreal celebrates the 375th anniversary of its founding and Canada celebrates the 150th anniversary of Confederation across the country. The festivities kick off New Year’s Eve with major celebrations in 19 cities  and continues throughout the year with free admission to all Parks Canada locations and a wide variety of local, regional and national celebrations.

The U.S. dollar is still quite strong against the Canadian dollar, so a trip to Canada also offers a good travel value.

Catch America’s Eclipse

The path of the first solar total eclipse to be visible from the continental United States since 1979 will take place August 21, with viewing opportunities for the less than three-minute minute event stretching from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina (weather permitting).

The “point of greatest eclipse” has been identified as Hopkinsville, KY and “Eclipseville” has planned a long of pre and post-eclipse events, including the Summer Salute Festival (August 18 – 20).

More 2017 Hot Spots

AFAR put together a somewhat overwhelming list of 100 places to consider visiting next year, including 16 cities in the USA, but created a 25-question quiz to help you narrow down which locations might be a good match for you.

Travel + Leisure polled its travel specialists to come up with its list of the 50 Best Places to Travel to in 2017, giving the nod this year to Bermuda; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Belgrade, Serbia; and Angra dos Reis, Brazil as well as Columbus, Ohio; Honolulu, Hawaii and Indianapolis, Indiana.

And Lonely Planet editors shared a list of the top 10 places in the United States they urge travelers to visit this year.

At the top of the list is Asheville, North Carolina.

 “It’s one of America’s most vibrant and eclectic small cities, with a welcoming, creative spirit, a thriving artistic community and music scene, and now world-class dining,” said Lonely Planet magazine managing editor Rebecca Warren.

Western Washington takes the #2 slot on Lonely Planet’s list.

“We were excited that iconic locations like Snoqualmie Falls and North Bend will once again get the spotlight in the Twin Peaks comeback in 2017,” said Lonely Planet’s Western US destination editor, Alex Howard, noting that “Seattle is a perennial favorite and a great springboard for exploring the area’s national parks. The San Juan Islands are also emerging, with new openings and farm-to-table restaurants next year.”

Other cities on the list include Lincoln, Nebraska (#3), which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year; Palm Springs and the southern desert area of California (#4), and Montana’s Flathead Valley (#5), which encompasses one of the largest wilderness areas in the contiguous states.

Atlanta, Georgia, home to The BeltLine and new state-of-the-art sports stadiums, sits at #6 on the Lonely Planet list, while New York’s Adirondack Mountains, which have 42 peaks over 4000 feet, claims the #7 spot.

“The Adirondacks are one of New York’s hidden gems,” said Ron Ofner, executive director of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council. “We are known as a year-round destination for adventure seekers, and I think new visitors will be surprised by the incredible variety of unique breweries, distilleries, and wine trails, as well as how close we are to major metro centers.”

Rounding out the Lonely Planet list this year is the not-often-talked about Texas Hill Country wine region (#8), which is home to a long list of tasting rooms along Wine Road 290, the 10th Dripping with Taste Wine & Food Festival, and this year is celebrating the 46th annual Kerrville Folk Festival; and the Mile-High City of Denver, Colorado (#9), which has oodles of microbreweries, plenty of music and (legal) marijuana, and a new Ski Train that takes skiers and boarders from the city to the slopes.

And, at #10, is Florida’s Emerald Coast, with its 100-mile stretch of sugar-fine sand and laid-back beachfront towns.

(A slightly different version of my story about where to go in 2017 appeared on CNBC)