By Judy Newell
Mexico Travel News
The world’s best city is…San Miguel de Allende
Condé Nast Traveler has announced the winners of its 26th annual Readers’ Choice Awards. The magazine said this year’s list was the most comprehensive ever, with 1.3 million votes cast for a whopping 16,000 properties around the world.
The “Top 25 Cities in the World” list had refreshingly surprising additions and rankings. The very top spot was seized by the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico.
World’s best cities
Budapest and Florence tied for second, Italy snapped up five of the top 25 cities, while Spain managed to take three. Despite its slide from the top spot last year, Charleston was still voted the top city in the United States for the third year in a row, for its “sand, sun, history, good food and friendly people.”
In the “Top 100 Hotels and Resorts in the World” category, La Residence in South Africa and Lodge at Kauri Cliffs in Matauri Bay, New Zealand tied for first place, while Virgin America was named the No. 1 airline in the United States. Singapore Airlines came in first for international airlines.
Here’s a small selection of the rankings.
Top cities in the world
1. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
2. Budapest, Hungary
2. Florence, Italy
4. Salzburg, Austria
5. Charleston, South Carolina, United States
5. San Sebastián, Spain
7. Vienna, Austria
9. Siena, Italy
10. Québec City
Top cities in the United States
1. Charleston, South Carolina
2. Sante Fe, New Mexico
3. San Francisco
Top hotels and resorts in the world
1. Lodge at Kauri Cliffs in Maturi Bay, New Zealand
2. La Residence, Franschhoek, South Africa
3. Singita Sabi Sand, South Africa
4. Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, South Africa
5. Grand Hotel Timeo, Sicily
Top US airlines
1. Virgin America
2. Jetblue Airways
3. Hawaiian Airlines
4. Southwest Air Lines
5. Alaska Airlines
Top international airlines
1. Singapore Airlines
3. Virgin Atlantic
4. Etihad Airways
5. Air New Zealand
Vienna’s Jewish Museum marks 25th anniversary
On November 18, Vienna’s Jewish Museum will celebrate 25 years since its foundation and the 20th anniversary of its location in the Palais Eskeles in the historic city center.
The celebration will be highlighted by the opening of a new permanent exhibition that traces Jewish life in Vienna from the medieval period through the Holocaust. The exhibit starts in 1945 and wends its way back through fin de siècle Vienna, before continuing though to the waves of 19th century immigration to the 17th century Unterer Werd ghetto and the original medieval Jewish citadel.
Visitors will also be guided through some of the darker sides of Vienna’s history, in an unflinching look at the extremes that have characterized Jewish life in the city over the ages.
AmaWaterways offers D-Day excursions in 2014
AmaWaterways will commemorate the 70th anniversary of World War II D-Day landings with an enhanced “Paris & Normandy” itinerary. Priced from US$2,599, the seven-night river cruise will include two “D-Day Remembered” excursions from April 10 to November 27, 2014. Active and retired military personnel will save an additional US$200 per person.
Perfect Journeys is offering a small group trip May 8-17, 2014 on this itinerary, with special discounted rates. The staterooms must have been booked by October 31.
Guests may choose from one of two D-Day excursions. Both start with a visit to Arromanches, a village renowned for its artificial harbor used during the June 6, 1944, landings and served as a base for Allied troops.
Guests choosing the US Sector tour will visit the D-Day Museum before traveling to St. Laurent-sur-Mer, home to Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Guests can also see Point du Hoc where the Ranger Monument was erected by the French to honor the American Second Ranger Battalion that scaled the 100-foot cliff and stopped German artillery firing on troops on the shore below.
Guests on the British and Canadian sector tours will visit the landing sites of the British 50th Division on Gold Beach and the Canadian 3rd Division on Juno Beach. The excursion includes opportunities to see the Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, the Memorial Pegasus and the British Cemetery in Ranville, the first French village to be liberated on D-Day.
The AmaLegro will show WWII-themed movies on the Infotainment system in staterooms or suites. The “Paris & Normandy” itinerary also includes Giverny, Honfleur, Rouen and Château Gaillard in Les Andelys.
Princess launches short cruise program from Los Angeles
Princess Cruises launched a new short-cruise program from the Port of Los Angeles on Golden Princess and Sapphire Princess. The three- and four-day round-trips will operate into early spring and will resume in fall 2014 through spring 2015.
The three-day “West Coast Sampler,” which visits Ensenada, departs on Golden Princess in October and November 2013, and Sapphire Princess operates the same itinerary, departing in January and March 2014.
The four-day version will visit different ports, including Catalina Island, Santa Barbara or San Diego in addition to Ensenada. Golden Princess will sail on cruises departing in September, October and November 2013. Sapphire Princess will sail on voyages departing in January and March 2014.
Deal of the Week
Among the Great Whales
Baja California and the Sea of Cortez
In Baja California’s gray whale nursery lagoons you’ll experience miraculous, up-close encounters with these gentle animals. Plus, explore the other side of the Baja California peninsula and experience the breathtaking wildness of the Sea of Cortez.
Get into expedition landing craft for eye-level thrills with schools of dolphins, varieties of whales, flocks of seabirds, and more. Explore UNESCO World Heritage site islands, see jaw-dropping cactus forests, sculpted sandstone, and much more.
Eight day itinerary from US$5830 pp aboard National Geographic Sea Bird, cruising from La Paz to San Carlos.
Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys, which specializes in custom-designed independent tours, cruises and travel for singles, couples and friends. Perfect Journey’s small group tours for 2014 include Paris and Normandy, a Seine River cruise departing May 7 and Argentina and Chile for wine lovers in October. Contact Judy by cell phone at 415-111-8765, by email at email@example.com, or view the latest travel specials on the website www.perfectjourneys.net.
Sources: CNN Travel, Travel Pulse, Lindblad Expeditions