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Readers Recommend: Loire Valley inn

This July my husband and I spent four wonderful nights at the delightful Au Reflets du Cher in France's Loire Valley. Central location (near Tours), on the the river Cher. Beautifully appointed and immaculate with gorgeous grounds. Our hosts Annie and Jean-Claude gave us an warm welcome, made our dinner reservations at the best local restaurants and helped us plan our days. About $115 a night, including breakfast. Aux Reflets du Cher, 29 Quai du Vieux-Moulin, Veretz; www.auxrefletsducher.com, 011-33-2-47-25-18-78 Sherry Rappoport San Diego

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How to get to LAX during this weekend's 'Century Crunch' road closure

Ready for the "Century Crunch"? The closure of Century Boulevard at the entrance to Los Angeles International Airport starts at 9 p.m. Friday (today) and will last until 6 a.m. Monday. It's a roadway used by about 92,000 drivers every day, so plan for the jam. During this period, the intersection of Century and Aviation boulevards will be closed, and Aviation will be closed between Arbor Vitae and 104th Street. Drivers heading into the airport on Century Boulevard will be diverted onto northbound La Cienega Boulevard for a three-mile detour. The weekend closure allows workers to demolish a bridge and make way for a stop on a new 8.5-mile light-rail line on Crenshaw Boulevard. LAX is expecting to handle about 200,000 passengers a day on more than 1,700 flights over the busy summer weekend, an airport statement says. So you won't be alone in your frustration with getting in or out of the airport unscatched. Here are some workarounds recommended by LAX. --Drivers should leave plenty of...

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Airfare: $391 round trip on Delta from LAX to Montreal

It's very cosmopolitan, and French is the language you'll hear. We're speaking, of course, of Montreal, for which Delta is offering a $391 airfare round-trip from LAX. That's about a third the cost of a ticket to Paris this summer. The fare is for travel any day of the week from September through June, excluding peak holiday periods. It is subject to availability. Info: Delta, (800) 221-1212. Source: Airfarewatchdog Follow us on Twitter at @latimestravel

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Pennsylvania: Brew fest set for grounds of Gettysburg seminary

A brew fest on the grounds of a seminary? Really? Really. And it’s happening in historic Gettysburg, Pa. The inaugural Gettysburg Brew Fest  will be held 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 23 at the historical Lutheran Theological Seminary. The seminary location might seem odd if you don’t know its history. On July 1, 1863, the grounds of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg became a battlefield. Its dormitory cupola served as a watchtower, and the seminary building became a hospital for the wounded on both sides.  “When doing a festival, I want it to be something you can’t experience anywhere else, so I approached the Lutheran Theological Seminary expecting to be told, ‘Get the heck out of here,’” said Randy Prasse, the festival’s executive director. “But there is a history of Lutherans brewing, and they were actually thinking of producing a brew festival themselves.” Beyond tasting as many as 60 brews, guests can sample a variety of ciders and custom-brewed sodas. Several of the 35...

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Italy: Cruise of Venice and its lagoon starts at $630 per person

If you haven't tried a river boat in Europe, Italy's storied Venice lagoon might be a good place to get your feet wet. CroisiEurope offers two short cruises in October with prices as low as $630 per person. The deal: The trip aboard the MS Michelangelo lasts five days and sails in the Venice lagoon. Meals (wine and beer too) are included with a cabin, or course, and the price is based on double occupancy. Nights are spent in port in Venice, which means you can explore the city on your own or pay for the cruise line's optional tours to Murano and Burano. On the fourth day, the ship sails to nearby Chioggia and offers an excursion (which costs extra) to the town of Padua before returning to Venice for a final gala dinner on board. When: Cruises at the sale price leave Oct. 22 and Oct. 30. Tested: I checked online and  found the same cruise ranging from $832 to $951 per person on dates from September to mid October. Cabins with a double bed or two single beds were available at the $630...

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Jam band Phish set to play dates in California and Nevada

Love 'em or hate 'em (and I'm really not getting into that), jam band Phish will be coming to the West, including the Santa Barbara Bowl on Oct. 21 and 22. It's a homecoming of sorts for the band, which opened at that venue for Carlos Santana in 1992. The band's fall tour will stop at seven cities in the West from Oct. 17 to Nov. 2: Eugene, Ore.; Seattle; the Forum in Inglewood; Chula Vista, Calif.; three nights in San Francisco; and three nights in Las Vegas. Tickets go on sale at 11 a.m. Pacific time on Aug. 7, but Phish Phans may request tickets from now until Aug. 3. There's no guarantee you'll get them, but you can fill your shopping cart at the Phish website and hope for the best. Santa Barbara tickets go for $60 plus a $5.70 service fee. If your request is granted, expect to pay an additional $11.50 per order for shipping. The Vermont band -- Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman -- recently released "Fuego," its first album in five years, and took off on a...

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FAA lifts ban on flights to, from Tel Aviv

The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. airlines flying to and from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. “The agency will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions, as necessary,” the FAA website said. On Tuesday, the FAA banned U.S. airlines from flying into the airport after a rocket landed about a mile from the facility amid ongoing clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants. The notification about cessation of service had disappeared from United Airlines' website today, and Delta Air Lines announced on its website that it has reinstated service. Those wishing to contact airlines about rebooking can go to this list of phone numbers and websites. Some cruise lines, meanwhile, have changed itineraries that would have had them stopping in the Israeli ports of Haifa and Ashdod. Haifa, a city of about 275,000 people, is an important deepwater port on the Mediterranean Sea...

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Europe: Motorcycle tour of the Alps with no engine sound, no emissions

Motorcycle riders who insist on revving their engines won't enjoy a new two-wheel tour of the Alps. Edelweiss Bike Travel based in Austria is offering guided journeys through Europe's most famous mountains from the seat of a zero-emission bike. Rainer Buck, the company's chief executive, personally tested the route on a Zero Motorcycle (made in Northern California) to see what it's like "to sweep through the Alps on silent feet, to enjoy nature with all your senses," he writes on the company's website. Buck liked the high-performance electric motorcycle so much that the company bought a bunch of bikes and designed a 700-to-1,000-mile ride during a seven-day tour. The tour begins in Mieming, Austria, where the company is located, and follows a counterclockwise loop through Switzerland, Italy and the Dolomites before returning to Austria. The route includes the Silvretta High Alpine Road and high passes such as Stelvio, Gavia, Mendel and the Timmelsjoch, at more than 8,000 feet high....

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Yellowstone: Tour brings best photo spots into focus

Brrrriiing! Like a hammer shattering glass, the alarm broke the silence of our West Yellowstone motel room. It was 3 a.m. We needed to get up and out to meet a small group of fellow photographers for our first-ever photo tour. We’re no strangers to sunrises, but June temperatures in the low 30s made it more painful than we expected. We rallied and joined Don Mammoser, who was about to take us on a 90-minute drive to the West Thumb area of Yellowstone National Park to shoot the sunrise — if there was one. Mammoser, a former Kodak photographer in Yellowstone National Park, has been guiding tours for 19 years and had invited us to join this Yellowstone tour just as my partner, Gloria Cortes, and I were thinking about visiting the nation’s first national park. Timing, as always, is everything. Navigating a new place — for anyone but especially for a photographer — can be tough, and Yellowstone, at 3,472 square miles, may add a degree of difficulty. But Mammoser knows the area, which was...

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Israel: Some cruise ships drop Ashdod and Haifa stops over conflict

First, U.S. airlines were banned from flying to Tel Aviv. Now some cruise lines said Wednesday that they will skip the Israeli port towns of Ashdod and Haifa because of the deadly conflict between Israelis and Hamas rebels. Costa Pacifica canceled stops in Israel for departures from Sept. 15 through Nov. 20 and instead will visit Istanbul in Turkey and Volos, Greece, according to Travel Pulse. Costa Deliziosa also will substitute Istanbul as well as Volos and Heraklion, Greece, on a Sept. 5 cruise. Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner and sister line Oceania replaced port calls in Israel on upcoming itineraries too. Germany-based AIDA Cruises dropped Israeli ports from its itineraries after 2,700 passengers and crew members witnessed explosions in the air while in Ashdod on July 7. "The situation on board was calm," a  July 11 company statement says. "However, small particles that may have come from defense missiles according to first expert assessments were found on the open deck." Holland...

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Las Vegas: Monorail turns 10, and the celebrations begin

The Las Vegas Monorail, which has carried more than 60 million riders in its first decade, will celebrate its 10th birthday at all seven stations on Saturday. Entertainment, prizes, food and beverages are among the offerings from 11 a.m-4 p.m. Here’s a sampling of what's on track: --Bally’s-Paris station will host a caricaturist and a live DJ. Showgirls from Jubilee!, the long-running theatrical production, will greet guests between 1 and 3 p.m. --Harrah’s/The Quad station will serve cupcakes from Sprinkles, which has a location at the Linq, a dining, entertainment and retail district. --Westgate Las Vegas station will feature an airbrush tattoo artist and an ’80s dance party. Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino is the new name of the property previously known as the LVH and, before that, the Las Vegas Hilton. A full list of activities is available online. Until the end of July, riders can also obtain $10 passes good for 24 hours. That’s a $2 savings. The monorail welcomed its first...

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Family forced off Southwest Airlines flight after tweeting a complaint

A Minneapolis family was asked to get off a Southwest Airlines flight in Colorado because of a tweet the father sent out complaining about the airline’s service before the departure from Denver International Airport. Duff Watson told CBS News in Minnesota that he experienced poor customer service Sunday while at his gate from one of the airline staff members, so he tweeted about his displeasure, the station reported. He tweeted "Something to the effect of, 'Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA'," he told CBS. "Unreal exp. Awaiting resp. from airline. Asked for name of rude gate agent. We board. I tweet. Kids & I pulled off unless I delete. AYKM?" Watson tweeted. Watson has since switched his Twitter feed to private.  Southwest Airlines confirmed the family was asked to leave the plane after the confrontation and tweet, but was ultimately allowed to board the flight. But Watson was asked to delete the tweet first, and he complied, he said. Watson told CBS...

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