New New Things

2014-01-17 16:26:34

Barossa
Kingsford Homestead is a place a lot like what California was a century ago: rolling golden hills, sunny blue skies that go on forever and not many people around to get in the way when you put your feet up. Less than an hour north of Adelaide, in South Australia, at the east end of the Great Australian Bight, this is Australia’s prized wine country. The freshly renovated 160-year-old sandstone homestead holds only 14 guests, and each suite is outfitted with early 20th-century décor and thoroughly modern touches. If you want even more peace and quiet, the Stonemason’s Cottage is out back. The Kingsford Kitchen features a seasonal menu of fresh, local vegetables and fruits along with gourmet country cooking. Beer and wine are served with the meals, and there is wine tasting in the cellar. After a long walk over the countryside looking for kookaburras, eagles and kangaroos, or maybe a hot air balloon trip over wine country, have a relaxing outdoor bath or get an in-room spa treatment. The all-inclusive two-night minimum stay is $813-$905 per night. :: kingsfordhomestead.com.au

Florence
UNESCO added to their World Heritage Sites in 2013 with their 49th Italian location, the Medici Villas and Gardens. Even for travelers who’ve been to Tuscany, it’s unlikely you’ve seen all 12 villas and two gardens that were built by the wealthy Medici family between the 14th and 17th centuries. UNESCO describes the spots as “an innovative system of rural construction in harmony with nature and dedicated to leisure, the arts and knowledge.” The striking country houses were originally built to oversee farming and mining estates, and even served as a hunting lodge. They have since become museums, hospitals or private schools, but retain their original beauty, and most are open to the public. Keeping in the spirit of the villas, Abercrombie & Kent offers nearby villas to rent while touring the sites, Florence and the Tuscany countryside. The Podere Alle Torri is a farmhouse secluded among vineyards and olive groves for $5,500 per week. The hillside Casa Vittoria is furnished with antiques and is $4,100 per week. whc.unesco.org :: akvillas.com

Orange County
Flying out of Orange County will be easier in 2014 thanks to some improvements at John Wayne Airport. For those enrolled in the TSA Pre-Check program, terminals A, B and C have dedicated lanes for it. Those enrolled in Global Entry are automatically enrolled in Pre-Check and can use the lanes as well. The lanes for Pre-Check in Terminal A and C are open all day, while Terminal B will have more limited hours. The TSA’s goal is to process at least half of passengers in the U.S. through Pre-Check by the end of the year. Also, the expansion of Parking Structure C, which started in 2013, will bring more than 1,000 additional parking spaces. Meanwhile, the airport is hoping to expand routes to Washington, D.C. and Hawaii in the coming year. tsa.gov :: globalentry.gov

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