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Spain: Girona, Cathedral (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

Nicknamed the City of a Thousand Sieges due to all the invasions the city withstood, Girona is often passed over by travelers set on Barcelona or the coastal beaches. Girona sits on the banks of the Onyar river, and is split into an old and a new town area. The old town offers charm and history, while the new town rivals other Spanish cities for cosmopolitan dining and shopping. ...read more»

Hotel: Man Holding Glass (Photo: Shutterstock/olly)

We can think of a lot of words to describe airlines. But "cuddly" probably wouldn't be one of them. Find out why Budget Travel thinks one carrier is as huggable as the Snuggle Bear, and catch up on other interesting travel stories from this week, including a piece on rising hotel rates and a roundup of the best brunch cities in the U.S.

Hotel Rates Are Going Up

Travel + Leisure published a snapshot of recent average hotel rates in major cities, and it looks like properties across the country are raking it in. Average nightly prices have shot up by as much as 14 percent in cities including San Francisco, New York, Oahu, and Miami. According to Travel + Leisure, "By and large, you can expect to pay more for your hotel room this year in the United States."...read more»

Tech Gadgets: Able Planet Headphones (Photo: Able Planet)

What Is It: Clear Harmony Sound Isolation Earphones from Able Planet.

Price and Where to Buy: $139.99-$169.99 from Able Planet, Target, and other retailers.

Pros: The headphones use a patented LINX Audio system to enhance sound quality and filter out outside sound and distortion, meaning that you can hear your music better without having to increase the volume—an important consideration when your audio has to compete with the roar of a jet engine while flying. The earphones also come with a flexible hook to anchor them over ears of any size. The included carrying case and tangle-free cord design help keep the headphones neat and un-knotted during travel.

Cons: The hefty price point! ...read more»

Car: Woman Paying for Gas (Photo: Shutterstock/Danny E Hooks)

The number of travelers hitting the road over Memorial Day weekend will rise by 1.2 percent this year compared to 2011, according to the American Automobile Association's (AAA's) annual Memorial Day Travel forecast; this is despite recent rises in gas prices.

Why are more people willing to travel by car when fuel costs have been at a premium this spring? Heather Hunter, a representative from AAA told us, "Auto is the most popular mode of transportation due the convenience and flexibility it offers, as well as the cost savings it can offer. Particularly if traveling with a large group, say, a family of four, the savings can be significant compared to four round-trip airline tickets."

Hunter gave us more good news: Although average gas prices increased steadily throughout the spring, they appear to be coming down after peaking in April. Currently, the national average cost of a gallon of regular gas is roughly $0.25 lower than it was at the same time last year....read more»

JetBlue Airplane in Sunset (Photo: JetBlue Airlines)

JetBlue and Turkish Airlines have entered into a new interline agreement. The carriers will connect at JFK and Dulles International Airport, providing U.S. flyers with easier access to a host of new European destinations.

According to a post on JetBlue's blog, "This summer, Turkish will offer three daily nonstop flights from JFK to Istanbul and one daily flight from Dulles to Istanbul, with transfer via either U.S. city between Turkish Airlines- and JetBlue-operated flights while enjoying one-stop ticketing and check-in plus hassle-free baggage transfer and other benefits."...read more»

Travel brochures (Photo: IndexOpen)

Following is our regular summary of the best frequent-traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car-rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly....read more»

Beach: Sunbathing Man (Photo: Thinkstock/Creatas)

Read on to find out which country strips down for the sun, why a dead guy was in charge of airport security, and all about a UFO sighting.

Despite the stereotypes about which countries are the sexiest and the most adventurous, it turns out that the Germans are most likely to sunbathe nude while on vacation. According to a survey done by Expedia, 15 percent of Germans admit to going full monty in the sand, while only 2 percent of Americans will take it all off.

If there's no Weekly Weird next week, I've probably been abducted by aliens. The Daily Mail reports that a commercial jet pilot told air traffic controllers that a mysterious flying object almost crashed into his plane. The FAA is looking into the incident, and no injuries, damage, or alien probings were reported. ...read more»

New Mexico: Taos, Pueblo Setting (Photo: Thinkstock/Photodisc/Karl Weatherly)

Ranked number two in Smithsonian magazine's 2012 list of Best Small Towns in America, Taos is one of New Mexico's best destinations. In the winter, Taos Ski Valley lures snow-sports enthusiasts from around the world who want to tackle the southern Rockies.

Year-round, Taos attracts visitors intrigued by the town's famous pueblos (adobe dwellings), southwest art scene, and spicy Meixcan food.

Rent a car and drive the 86-mile scenic route known as the Enchanted Circle. Don't miss the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, America's second-highest suspension bridge....read more»

Man: Clenched Fists at Laptop (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

For the past three years, industry consulting company IdeaWorks has conducted a study of the availability of award seats from the world's top airline frequent-flyer programs.

The findings of this year's study have just been released. As in their previous studies, the researchers attempted to make award bookings on the airlines' websites, for two travelers, on 280 different dates, at the restricted award levels. Specifically, the results reflect "6,680 booking queries made by the IdeaWorks Company at the websites of 23 frequent-flyer programs during March 2012. Travel dates spanned June through October 2012, with top routes for each carrier checked to assess reward seat availability."...read more»

Pinterest: Paris in Love Contest

Ever dream of selling your house, taking a sabbatical from your job, and moving to beautiful Paris? Best-selling author Eloisa James did just that. Her enchanting memoir, Paris in Love, chronicles her year in the City of Light.

Interested in reading more? SmarterTravel is giving away a copy of Paris in Love to one of our Pinterest followers. To enter the contest, follow these simple rules:...read more»

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