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TripAdvisor reviewers name Getty among top museums in the U.S., world

Los Angeles’ Getty Center ranks among the top museums in the world according to a new TripAdvisor survey, but it’s edged out for No. 1 by a Chicago favorite.

Visitors to TripAdvisor ranked the Getty as their fourth favorite museum on the planet. It’s also their second favorite in the U.S.

Reviewers also consider the Getty the top visitor attraction in L.A. out of nearly 400.

“Plan to spend the entire day there,” a reviewer posted on Sunday. “The art work on hand in the permanent collection will take away your breath and fire your imagination.”

The 2014 list ranks the Art Institute of Chicago No. 1 in the country and the world.

“The collections represent fine art from all over the world, including Africa, Asia, Europe, America, as well as Native American art,” a recent visitor wrote. “Plan to stay all day.”

Another critic urged TripAdvisor fans to “take more than one day to see it all. …[There is a] mind-boggling expansive collection of all forms of art.”

The Top 10 list of American...

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Hawaii: Bike tour lets you see the Big Island, burn some calories

Adventure travelers can work off the pounds they may gain during the holidays on cycling trips across Hawaii’s Big Island.

Bicycle Adventures, an Issaquah, Wash.-based company, offers several late fall and early winter departure dates for rides across the largest Hawaiian island. The cycling trips, intended for vacationers who prefer a good workout to a day at the beach, are offered as three packages.

The Hawaii Classic is a seven-day trek that provides overnight stays in upscale resorts. The journey begins at Waikoloa, north of Kailua-Kona. Participants average 45 miles each day, two of which are spent pedaling through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Six 2014 trips remain, including those starting Nov. 23 and Dec. 26. The price is $3,495 per person.

The Hawaii Casual follows nearly the same itinerary as the Classic, but it’s a six-day trip with more moderate lodging options. The price is $2,695 per person. Four 2014 departure dates, including Dec. 27, are available.

For families, the...

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Alcatraz to host Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's exhibit

Ai Weiwei, arguably China’s best-known artist, spent 81 days in prison in 2011, so he knows about incarceration. That's part of the reason he is helming an exhibit opening this month on San Francisco's Alcatraz Island.

He developed the works in the exhibit, part of the National Park Service’s “Art in the Parks” program, in his Beijing studio, and they will be delivered by boat and plane.

The details of the installations for "@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz" aren’t public yet, but his seven large pieces will incorporate sound and sculpture and will be themed around captivity and freedom of expression.

Of the content of his Alcatraz creations, Ai, who is not allowed to travel abroad, has said, “When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill.”

The Rock, as it's called, is about 1 1/2 miles from the city and attracts about 1.3 million visitors a year. It has been, variously, a bird sanctuary, the site of a lighthouse, a military prison and a federal prison,...

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Gear: Over-door rack keeps your garments pin-neat

Sometimes a lodging’s closet hanger space is insufficient – or nonexistent. No problem.

Just grab the Spectrum Over the Door Wardrobe Rack, a well-designed rubber-coated steel clothing rack with brackets on each end that hang over doors up to 1 5/8 inches thick.

It weighs a little more than a pound and stashes in most roll-aboard bags. The rack provides 17 inches of hanger bar cast in a wavy design so garments don’t slide around. Reinforcing diagonal bars hold the rack in place about 10 inches from the door’s surface; side bars on both ends can hold even more hangers. Vertical back bars on both sides extend about 7 inches down from the top of the door.

The rack stashes easily in a standard wheel-aboard bag. Place the rack in first, then lay out the rest of the contents between the bars. I keep an extra in my car. Works great for hang-drying garments on the back of a bathroom or closet door.

Info: Spectrum Over the Door Wardrobe Rack costs $11.99.

Follow us on Twitter: @latimestravel

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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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