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Pack light and carry on: Aer Lingus teaches a lesson with baggage fees

I just returned from a vacation in Ireland, with a short break in Paris. I flew American Airlines on the way there and British Airways home. Neither charged for my one checked bag. But I flew Aer Lingus from Dublin to Paris and was charged 50 euros each way (about $130 total) on top of a ticket that cost $300. I was not a happy camper. I know that low-cost carriers are charging bag fees, but I didn't know Aer Lingus was. Moral of the story: You really need to check baggage charges on all airlines when you travel.

Donal McGonagle

Echo Park

 

If there were a prize for complicated baggage fees, Aer Lingus would be a contender. Even if you check its website, you'll need to invest a certain amount of time to do the math that comes with figuring out how much you'll owe.

On its website (under "Travel Information") Aer Lingus trumpets this put-on-a-happy-face language: "As baggage needs vary depending on your destination and duration of travel, we offer you even more choice and flexibility...

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More for your money: The unexpected costs of traveling abroad

When you travel abroad, you know you must budget for airfare, lodging, transportation and meals, but some costs may catch you off guard. Among them:

Visas: In addition to a U.S. passport, which is valid for 10 years and costs $110 for adults, some countries require a visa, the document that gives you permission to enter or leave a country. Some countries don't require a visa, but they will charge reciprocity fees based on what the U.S. charges residents from those countries for a tourist visa.

Generally, the reciprocity fee applies to each person traveling. Budget $640 for a family of four traveling to a country that charges a $160 reciprocity fee.

Some countries, including Argentina, require travelers to pay those fees in advance, by the way. Those who don't pay the $160 fee online before departing may be refused entry. Argentina's fee is good for 10 years of entrance to the country.

There is some good news about reciprocity fees: The U.S. and Chile ended them this spring. But several...

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Colorado: Georgetown train also gives you a cool look at mining's past

Forecast for Monday: about 92 in Los Angeles, about 104 in Woodland Hills. Forecast for Monday for the now-abandoned Lebanon Mine in the Colorado Rockies: about 44. In fact, the forecast for the mine is about 44 every day, which makes it a heat-stopper in my book.

A ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad with the optional mine tour affords you heat relief — the forecast for the week in Georgetown shows highs in the 60 and 70s with a chance of fall foliage.

Besides the chance to chill, you also get a glimpse into the past as you chug along the tracks through Clear Creek Valley, about 45 miles west of Denver. The three-mile journey on the narrow-gauge train, which dates to 1880, takes you from Georgetown to Silver Plume; the Lebanon Mine tour is about midpoint in the trip.

There may be better rides for train buffs. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is 3 1/2 hours of breathtaking scenery in southern Colorado. The Cumbres

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Web Buzz: Hotel comparison shopping a snap at smartdepart.com

Here's a website that makes choosing a hotel a snap.

Name: smartdepart.com

What it does: Allows you to drag two hotels onto the page so you can do side-by-side comparisons of price, ratings and reviews as well as night life, dining, shopping and tourism.

What's hot: I've never seen a comparison feature like this on other hotel booking sites — it's the key to making your decisions easier. You can use additional tools at the top of the page to fine-tune your search by price, amenities, star ratings and more. If you're not familiar with the area, you can easily open and close a map to see where the hotels are located. If you want to know why one hotel was recommended over the other for dining, click on that topic to read the Yelp reviews.

What's not: Double-check the prices. I found inconsistencies between search results and prices on the final booking page.

 

travel@latimes.com

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Letters: He set off to see Junípero Serra's birthplace in Spain

Thank you, Father Serra

Christopher Reynolds' wonderful coverage of the California missions ["21 Journeys," Sept. 7] evoked memories of being both a project-making fourth-grader (in the '40s) and an inquisitive traveler (all my life).

While serving in the military in Germany during the mid-1950s, I took a leave with friends to France and Spain. From Barcelona, we flew to Majorca, where I rented a motor scooter in Palma and navigated the 28-mile partially paved road to the town of Petra, Father Junípero Serra's birthplace.

With a limited command of Spanish, I was able to convey to a young local that I was from California and wanted to see Serra's birthplace and church. I was successful in doing both.

This first adventure resulted in my having the good fortune to travel to all seven continents and more than 100 countries. I'm still at it and always looking for a new experience in travel.

Jim Morrow

Culver City

 

Off to see the bears — or not

Huge thanks for the exciting, informative...

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Travel-related events in the L.A. area the week of Sept. 14, 2014

NEPAL

Presentation

Jeff Greenwald will give a reading from the 25th anniversary edition of his travel book "Shopping for Buddhas."

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Monday at Distant Lands, 20 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

Admission, info: Free. RSVP to (626) 449-3220.

 

CALIFORNIA

Presentation

Tom Courtney will introduce multi-day hiking adventures featured in his new guidebook, "Walkabout Malibu to Mexico: Hiking Inn to Inn on the Southern California Coast."

When, where: 7 p.m. Wednesday at the REI store in Tustin, 2962 El Camino Real, and Thursday at the Rancho Cucamonga store, 12218 Foothill Blvd.

Admission, info: Free. (714) 505-0205 for Tustin; (909) 646-8360 for Rancho Cucamonga.

 

JOSHUA TREE

Photography

This weekend workshop will focus on the mechanics of photography as well as personal interpretation and expression, enhanced by camping in Lost Horse Campground.

When, where: 7 p.m. Friday through 4 p.m. Sept. 21

Admission, info: $170; (760) 367-5535. Must bring own camera and camping...

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Universal's Horror Nights transforms 'American Werewolf' into a haunted maze

A new Halloween Horror Nights maze at Universal Studios Hollywood will re-create the Oscar-winning man-to-beast transformation from the 1981 film "An American Werewolf in London."

"An American Werewolf in London" tells the story of two American backpackers who are attacked by werewolves on the Yorkshire moors in England. Mauled to death in the attack, Jack Goodman haunts his wounded friend David Kessler, who transforms into a werewolf during the movie.

Released before computer-generated special effects became the norm, the horror-comedy movie is best remembered for a three-minute werewolf transformation scene for which makeup artist Rick Baker won an Academy Award.

During a recent media preview, Horror Nights creative director and executive producer John Murdy offered a walk-through tour of the American Werewolf in London haunted maze.

Universal’s sister park in Orlando presented An American Werewolf in London maze at last year's Horror Nights event in Florida.

Spoiler alert: What follows...

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Hotel Monna Lisa made stay in Florence, Italy, memorable

We recently returned from Florence, Italy, where we spent five nights at the lovely Hotel Monna Lisa, near the city's wonderful attractions. The building goes back many centuries, with original stone floors and wooden ceilings. The excellent staff is willing to help in any way they can. When you need a taxi and they say, "Here in four minutes," you can expect it in four. Wonderful, spacious breakfast room with a fine array of items. For the money and convenience, it made Florence more memorable.

Hotel Monna Lisa, 27 Borgo Pinti; 011-39-055-2479751, www.monnalisa.it

Ed J. Mizrahi

Woodland Hills

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California: Ancient petroglyphs are stars of Ridgecrest fest, tours

Thousands of years ago, the Coso Shoshone people left their mark in the Mojave Desert in the form of stick figures and animals carved into rock faces. In November, the Ridgecrest Petroglyph and Heritage Festival and rock art tours in Ridgecrest, Calif., will celebrate the largest collection of petroglyphs in the Western Hemisphere.

Petroglyph tours

Tours during the festival Nov. 14-16 are organized by the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest and are expected to sell out quickly. Visitors are encouraged to sign up early for that weekend (tours also are held on other dates in spring and fall). Tickets cost $50 per person for Little Petroglyph Canyon (aka Renegade Canyon) and $60 for Seep Canyon.

The petroglyphs are on the vast China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in the desert north of Ridgecrest which has been a base of more than a million acres since 1943. Ticket seekers must complete security forms and receive clearance before they can purchase them. (The forms and information are online....

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Hong Kong and Paris chosen as Saveur's best food cities in the world

What's the best city in the world for great food? Saveur magazine's experts say pack your bags for Hong Kong while readers prefer to eat their way through Paris.

The Saveur Culinary Travel Awards 2014 announced last week point to the best cities, hotels, bars, airlines and cruise lines for food-loving travelers. Categories are ranked by readers and by experts (including chefs Lidia Bastianich and Rick Bayless as well as Fodor's Travel editor Arabella Bowen).

The result offers two perspectives of each destination and gives specific standouts of where to go for the best eats and drinks.

Best cities: The experts liked Brooklyn, N.Y., for the U.S. and Hong Kong for international as the best big-city food culture destinations; readers preferred Paris and San Francisco, respectively. Smaller cities that won Saveur's stamp of approval: Copenhagen, Denmark, and New Orleans (experts) and San Sebastian, Spain, and Portland, Ore. (readers).

Best hotel bar: The pickings couldn't be more different....

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Mexico: Leica photography excursion in Puerto Vallarta

Photo buffs with a taste for the good life can indulge their interests with a five-day Leica Akademie excursion at Real del Mar on Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta.

The Destinations in Focus photography workshop is sponsored by German optics and camera company Leica in conjunction with Exclusive Resorts, a luxury destinations company. The one-on-one workshop includes outings to markets and surf destinations, plus critiques and editing.

Guests stay in private two- to four-bedroom villas with infinity pools, hot tubs, outdoor showers and concierge services.

Date: Oct. 1-5

Price: Rates start at $2,999 per person. Price includes accommodations, breakfast, welcome and farewell dinners and access to Leica state-of-the-art equipment, daily shooting experiences with an instructor along with review and critique of images and airport transfers.

Info: Exclusive Resorts 

Follow us on Twitter @latimestravel and like us on Facebook @Los Angeles Times Travel.

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LAX: Sneak peek at $300-million renovation of airport's Terminal 2

Restaurant Barney's Beanery and shape-wear store Spanx will be two of the newcomers to a renovated Terminal 2 at Los Angeles International Airport.

The $300-million makeover will include new eating areas and shops, which are expected to be finished in 2015.

The airport this week released renderings of the terminal's new look and a lineup of hip restaurants and shops slated to open next year on a rolling basis. No specific date was given for completion of the project.

In the post-airport security area, new eateries will include SeaLegs Wine Bar and Slapfish from Huntington Beach, pie-and-coffee stop the Pie Hole, Pepita Cantina, Asian food Pick Up Stix, Fresh Brothers Pizza, organic fare from Ciabatta Bar and Built Custom Burgers

Westfield Group, responsible for designing the shopping area at LAX's new Tom Bradley International Terminal, describes Terminal 2's design theme as one that reflects "the energy, and echo the innovative, modern and always 'on-the-go' culture of Los Angeles."

...

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