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Harry was in London today for launch of Antarctic expedition

Trafalgar Square was chilly today, good preparation for Prince Harry's polar trek.

The young prince was at the central London square for the media launch of the expedition.

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Ben A. Pruchnie

Taking to the stage he said, "Even when you've lost a leg or lost an arm, or whatever the illness may be, you can achieve pretty much anything if you put your mind to it…The cause is for one cause and one cause only and that is to raise awareness for all the wounded, sick and injured, whether it's in military life or whether it's in civilian life."

What a World

The Luxury Salt Mine

Ever windsurfed across a saltwater lake or visited a 400-year-old chapel—underground? Try it out in Poland, at an unbelievable mine-turned-subterranean playground outside Krakow.

More than 1,000 feet underground in Poland, seemingly impossible things are happening. Hot-air balloons have been launched. A bungee jumper has taken the plunge. A windsurfer has been propelled across still saltwater. A brass band has bellowed on its instruments.

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The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the world's oldest operating salt mines, which has been in operation since prehistoric times. (Jan Morek/Getty)

Stretching nine levels beneath the earth, Poland’s Wieliczka Salt Mine is roomy enough to fit the Eiffel Tower and then some. For centuries, miners have been carving out spectacular chapels and sculptures of the country’s most beloved figures underground, not far from the medieval city of Krakow. And in the past half century, as salt mining slowed and then halted, and tourists began arriving, the cavernous chambers have been transformed into an incredible underground amusement park of grand halls, health spas, museum-worthy art, and record-setting spectacles.

The descent into the chilly salt mine caves is 800 steps down the shafts. But the winding venture is worth the trek. Hundreds of years of excavation has left seven gorgeous chambers carved into the salt rock throughout the floors. Today they host hundreds of guests at weddings, business meetings, concerts, fashion shows, and galas.

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Ultimate Aussie Getaways

Eyewitness

The Rebirth of 1800s Paris

Paris wasn’t always the city of wide boulevards and elegant parks. A new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art displays Charles Marville’s photographs of the city in transition.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize an important artist. In the case of French photographer Charles Marville, the wait has lasted two-hundred years.

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Percement de l'avenue de l'Opéra (Construction of the avenue de l'Opéra), December 1876

On the bicentennial of his birth, Marville and his work are featured in a fantastic new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., titled “Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris.”

Over a hundred years before sections of news sites and Flickr pages devoted to “ruin porn” sprang up, Charles Marville set out to document a Paris that had been subjected to an incredible amount of destruction, and would undergo its most dramatic changes yet under city-planner Baron Haussmann.

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Animal Planet

The View From London

London: Love It or Leave It?

It’s got great restaurants and world-class museums—as well as soaring rents, crowded buses, and nonstop construction work. What’s a lifelong Londoner to do?

It’s more than two centuries ago that Samuel Johnson made the observation: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…” (He goes on, “for there is in London all that life can afford.”)

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Unfortunately, we don’t get a say in where we’re born or where we grow up. Geographical decisions begin when you take a job, or apply for university, although they still depend on external, practical factors, such as where we can afford to rent or buy property, where our family or partner lives, where we can find work.

I was born in London and have lived here most of my life. Wherever I end my days, it’ll always be in my marrow. But it has changed a lot in recent years: battalions of buses, lorries, taxis and cars clog the centre of town, contributing to dire levels of pollution, and general malaise. On top of the near-permanent gridlock, much of London is being excavated for Crossrail, a mega new train network linking the capital with surrounding regions to the east and west. Costing billions of pounds, Crossrail is Europe's largest infrastructure construction project, with 73 miles of railway—26 miles of this in underground tunnels. Massive drilling machines are at work beneath our pavements, and whole swathes of the city centre will continue to be disrupted until the completion date of 2018.

I sometimes wonder what my great-aunt Virginia Woolf would have made of all this. One of Virginia’s greatest pleasures in London was "street-haunting"; it provided inspiration for her writing and solace when she felt depressed. She thrived on the energy of London, and suffered terribly during her nervous breakdowns, when she was moved out of her town for her health. In a low moment in 1934, she wrote: "I’m so ugly. So old. Well, don’t think about it, and walk all over London; and see people and imagine their lives." Now, as I walk the same streets Virginia walked, the sights are cranes and bulldozers, the sounds are pneumatic drills and emergency sirens. (For several nights now, a police helicopter has been hovering in the skies around my area; it’s a menacing noise.)

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Earth From Space

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100 Years of Beverly Hills

Romantics

The Lost Epic Travel Book

One of the greatest travel books ever published, the late Patrick Leigh Fermor’s two-volumes of his walk across Europe in the 1930s, is finally finished.

In 1933, at the age of 18, Patrick Leigh Fermor set off to walk across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul, or Constantinople, as he always called it.  He reached his destination at the end of 1934, after many memorable adventures and encounters, but he did not write about the journey until nearly thirty years later.

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Getty

By then, he was a war hero, celebrated for his part in the abduction of a German general in occupied Crete in 1944, and a writer whose books included two loving tributes to his adopted home of Greece.  He was supposed to be writing a 5, 000 word article for an American magazine, but within months, he had written 84, 000 words.  Most of the book, which he provisionally entitled A Youthful Journey, covered the last stage of his walk, between Bulgaria and Turkey but when he returned to the subject in the early 1970s, he started again at the beginning.  In the next twenty years, he wrote two celebrated books that covered the first two thirds of a journey that has been described as ‘the longest gap year in history’: A Time of Gifts, which was published in 1977, took him from his lodgings in London to the borders of Hungary, and Between the Woods and the Water, which appeared nine years later, when he was 71, took him as far as the Iron Gates, a gorge on the River Danube where A Youthful Journey began.

Between the Woods and the Water ended with the promise that the account was ‘To Be Concluded’.  Since Leigh Fermor had already written a draft of the third volume, he must have hoped that finishing it would be relatively easy. Yet his literary executors Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper (who is also his biographer) say that the “commitment was to dog Paddy for the rest of his life.”

Eco Crusaders

Putin vs. the Environmentalist

Marina Rikhvanova has devoted her life to cleaning up the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake—but her activism has made enemies in high places.

She fell hopelessly in love with Lake Baikal—and this love caused all of her troubles.

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Marina Rikhvanova of Baikal Environmental Wave, an organization that has been lobbying for the closure of the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill for decades, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 in Irkutsk, Russia. (Brendan Hoffman)

Marina Rikhvanova, the soft-spoken but persistent leader of the environmental group Baikal Wave, has fought for more than 20 years to save the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake. Last Month, she apparently won the battle: Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, which had been polluting Lake Baikal and threatening its plant and animal life for over 40 years, finally shut down.

Rikhvanova was the one who, back in 2011, waded into snow up to her chest to discover and photograph the mill’s illegal dumping of lignin-based slurry, an industrial waste product. Her group’s report on the practice to UNESCO played a crucial role in the mill’s closure.  “At the end of the day, the main argument for shutting down the mill was its waste. To put the end to the pressure from international community, President Putin promised UNESCO to close the mill,” the executive manager of Baikalsk pulp mill told The Daily Beast.

Stowe Away

A Healthy Dose of Vermont

With a beautiful location and rustic charm, a weekend in Stowe, Vermont can cure any life woes…especially during the fall.

I was the prodigal son returned.

Despite a raft of happy childhood memories at Smuggler’s Notch Resort, I had recently tossed Vermont aside for the bigger, fancier, and more famous escape of Colorado. With the dramatic Rockies, endless outdoor activities, a foodie heaven in Boulder, and lots of easy flights into Denver, Colorado had stolen my heart.

Stowe, Vermont

Downtown Stowe. (Alan Copson/Getty)

So it was with trepidation similar to a visit back to your old middle school that I took a long weekend to return to Stowe, Vermont just as fall was transitioning into winter. After being away for four years, would the things I once found charming or exciting now seem dull? The mountains less gasp-inducing? The long drive a buzz-kill?

Ready for Christmas?

TOMS Launches Charity Gifts Market

TOMS Launches Charity Gifts Market Donato Sardella / Wireimage-Getty Images

For those do-gooders on your list.

Because it's not always easy to guess your relatives' shoe sizes, TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, who popularized the buy-one-give-one charity model, launched an online marketplace for similarly do-gooder-type gifts on Tuesday. All the 200 or so products are projects from 30 different entrepreneurs and charities—they range from whistles made of gunmetal that promote peace in the war-torn Congo to wooden headphones that provide hearing aids to the 275 million in need. Better get stocked up on holiday goodies that hail from across the globe soon, before you have to actually venture into a store.

Read it at Toms Marketplace

Hanging Jewel

A Trip to the Tiger’s Nest

On a cliff at 10,000 feet hangs the Bhutanese monastery dubbed the Tiger’s Nest. From its roots in the Second Buddha’s legend to the sheer drops on the way there, all about the complex.

Like an improbable mirage from a James Bond movie, the Tiger’s Nest hangs off a sheer cliffside drop, nestled among green foliage, 10,000 feet above sea level. But there’s no espionage here, in the mountains of Asia’s other hermit kingdom, Bhutan. Colorful prayer flags drape the forest path and a waterfall flows near this sacred Bhutanese monastery, where one of the holiest figures in Buddhism was said to have arrived in the country more than a thousand years ago.

Tigers Nest Monastery

Taktsang Palphug Monastery, also known as Tiger's Nest, sits on a sheer cliff face 900m above Paro Valley, Bhutan. (Kristen Elsby/Getty)

Though the name evokes a secret cinematic lair, the roots of the Tiger’s Nest are more folkloric. According to legend, in the 700s, a Tibetan missionary known as the Second Buddha mounted the back of a tigress and flew up to this remote mountaintop in the Eastern Himalayas, where he is said to have taken up residence in one of the cliff’s caves for three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours of meditation. After, he spread Buddhism to the Bhutanese. The country continues to celebrate his legacy today with an annual festival in his honor.

Officially called the Taktsang Palphug Monastery, the four connecting temples of the Tiger’s Nest were built in 1692, tacked onto the rock face in homage to the holy leader. Today it’s believed to be one of the highest temples in the world. When the original complex partially burned down in a fire in 1998, killing one monk and damaging valuable artwork, it took seven years for the government to renovate the Tiger’s Nest back to its ancient glory.

¡Holy Mole!

Why Is Mexican Food So Good?

Is it the impossibly fresh ingredients, grandmothers' secret recipes, or even the ancient Aztecs' flair for sauces that makes Mexican cuisine so great? Mark Schatzker investigates.

There is a man selling oro mangoes at the farmers’ market in Malinalco who cuts them up into small, uneven chunks and serves them in a disposable cup, and I strongly suggest you buy one because it will be the best mango to ever pass your lips—a record that will stand for, oh, a minute. The oro (“gold”) is just a workaday mango, the man will tell you, about as good as a petacon (“butt cheek”), but nowhere near as good as the king of all mangoes, the mighty manila, a golden lobe of tropical acid-sweet balance that arrives peeled and gamely impaled on a wooden stick and dusted with chili powder.

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A chef named Rosita has one of the most popular food stands at the Mercado Carmen. Here, one of her concoctions with panela cheese, mushrooms, and squash blossoms. (Peden & Munk)

I hope you’re hungry. Because there are also pig’s-brain quesadillas; pancita, a deeply savory beef broth with chunks of tripe finished with fresh oregano and a squeeze of lime juice; tacos filled with pig’s feet cured in vinegar; woven baskets heaped with just-baked bread; quesadillas stuffed with squash blossoms; heirloom tomatoes (which, around here, aren’t considered heirloom yet); free samples of chicozapote, a red-fleshed fruit with a flavor somewhere between nutmeg and cinnamon; unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese; tamales; enchiladas; fresh-squeezed orange juice; and locally grown, locally roasted coffee beans.

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Eight Rustic Beach Escapes

Soak It Up

Last Gasp of Summer

Instagram’s Coolest Pools

Instagram’s Coolest Pools

From a submerged Bar Refaeli to a Mediterranean idyll, a voyeur’s look at the stars’ sun-soaked scenes.

Books

Brainy Beach Reads

Dive In!

Where to Take a Moonlit Dip

Zambian Safari

Wildlife, Storytelling, & Dung, Oh My!

Of Tails and Tales

Of Tails and Tales

Wildlife, storytelling, dung, and other things I encountered on my Zambian safari.

Globetrotters

Dispatches from Around the World

Marseille’s Comeback Tour

Marseille’s Comeback Tour

The bouillabaisse is just as tasty, but Europe’s 2013 Capital of Culture now has a lot more to offer. Anna Watson Carl reports.

A Climber's Paradise

The Gem of Morocco

Serengeti

Walking With Wildebeests

West Bank

My Palestinian Vacation

Choo-Choo

The Most Charming Ride of a Lifetime

Global Marvels

What a World!

The Secret Life of Cappadocia

The Secret Life of Cappadocia

More than a natural wonder, Cappadocia's formations have been a safe haven to many. Nina Strochlic reports.

What a World

The Craziest House Ever Built

What a World

Turkmenistan’s Door to Hell

conde-nast-traveler

End of an Era?

Covering Burma in the 1980s

The Good Old Travel Guide Days

The Good Old Travel Guide Days

Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet Publications, remembers the fun early days of travel guide writing, but says they're not over yet.

Beacher's Madhouse

L.A.'s Craziest Nightclub

It's A Madhouse!

It's A Madhouse!

Miley Cyrus’ fav new haunt is Beacher’s Madhouse, the craziest club in Los Angeles.

Just Like Rodman

Most Structured Trip Ever

Visit North Korea!

Visit North Korea!

Take the vacation of a lifetime—in beautiful North Korea? That’s Uri Tours’ pitch. Lloyd Grove reports.

Directions

A Love Letter to New York

Maps of the Heart of Manhattan

Maps of the Heart of Manhattan

In ‘Mapping Manhattan,’ explore the city via 75 New Yorkers’ personal geographies. By Allison McNearney.

Travel