Manhattan, New York

Which of the statements below are true and which are false? In traveling around the world, and clicking around Luxury Travel Mavens site, you may be a travel maven yourself.  Are you ready to put aside your Sudoku and try your hand at “Travel Trivia”? There’s an award to help charities for the first five people who answer them all correctly (without looking up the answers!). Photos may be a clue or a red herring.


Room Service at The Pierre, A Taj Resort





The Luxury hotels, The Pierre Hotel, a Taj Hotel,  and Le Blanc are found in France.





The Barberstown Castle, started in the 13th century and now a hotel outside Dublin, was once owned by Eric Clapton.


The “old­est, dark­est, deep­est, qui­etest, and largest suite room in the world” is in Russia.
Waterford Crystal tour in Ireland is in Waterford, once a Viking town.



You can take an Orient Express luxury train to Machu Picchu, one of the world’s great wonders, nestled in the Alps.

WILDLIFE  (Away from the cities)

True or False?

Penguins are found only south of the Equator.










You can snorkel among stingless jellyfish in the Galapagos and swimming iguanas in Papua New Guinea.

Stingless Jelly Fish



Photo by Danny Heil­prin Pho­tog­ra­phy.





Whale Sharks are not sharks.







Hear, Hear

Surprisingly, a luxury river cruise for great classical music is on the Amazon, not the Danube.

A bodhran is a Norwegian flute.

The world’s largest Hot Air Balloon Festival is in Australia, and the whooshing sound you hear while riding in the basket is all the nitrogen gas filling the balloon.


Answers & Rewards

You are on the honor system. The first five people who get all the correct answers without looking them up and email those answers to me will get a reward! I will send you a $25 Giving Certificate from the nonprofit Charity Checks, great holiday gifts for travelers because they are good for any of more than 1.8 million nonprofits and let the recipient chose — they can give back to places they love. Send me your answers —   For those who just like to know, all the answers are within pieces I’ve posted on this site.

For those who want more trivia power at your fingertips for long flights, or nights by the fire, you might want to check out my book Everything 101, with chapters on history, english, science, math, science, religion and philosophy.

Lisa TE Sonne for

The Jellyfish photo is by © Sharon Spence Leib, travel writer and photographer,  and the Whale Shark one image is courtesy of © Danny Heilprin Photography. All other images by (c) Lisa TE Sonne  (Hot Air Balloon, Morocco feature image, Pierre Hotel, Manhattan, Penguin, Machu Picchu and the luxury Cave Resort.)  Please get permission for any of the images for use other than this article. Thanks!

Who can resist the luxury of a destination where the local residents all wear tuxedos naturally, night and day?    Antarctica is home to millions of endearing penguins, and no permanent human colonies.  For visitors, the “White Continent” offers bucket list richness — chicks hatching while the parent penguin sits on the rock nest,  and huge scale floating galleries of sculptural glaciers and icebergs with striking streaks of blues and greens.  Nature’s reality show of orca whales, leopard sharks, seals, and penguins plays out in a vastness that stirs the soul.

If you have dreamed of going to the South Pole, now is a good time to book your passage to make 2012 or 2013 your best yet. The holiday zone in the northern hemisphere — a good time for travel gifts to yourself or others — is summer in Antarctica, when the ships can get passengers close to the penguin rookeries and research stations worth visiting.

Specials are now being offered by the cruise line that shines historically in polar trips – the Norwegian Hurtigruten.   It’s also the only line I can personally vouch for, having experienced great times above the Arctic Circle and into the Antarctic Peninsula.

Savings of up to $3,000 a couple are being offered on the Classic Expedition Voyages embarking November 29, 2012; December 08, 2012; January 02 & 11, 2013; and February 13, 2013, if travelers are willing to wait for cabin assignments at the pier.

Whatever your motivation —  you are looking for even more to be thankful for; you want to realize your New Year’s resolutions; you’re worried about the melting polar ice caps; or you want to make sure you visit all seven continents —Hurtigruten’s current bargains beckon for great journeys.

The MS FRAM (Norwegian for “forward”) is a modern boat with English speaking crew, outdoor Jacuzzis, a sauna, observation decks, and a team of scientists and expedition leaders to answer questions. Smaller flat-bottomed boats are used for twice-daily shore expeditions to remarkable places, weather permitting, and to get closer to floating icebergs to see playful penguins sliding down the slopes.

Fun Facts:

*There are no penguins at the North Pole! In fact, penguins north of the equator are rare. There are also no polar bears at the South Pole.

*Tired of rain and falling snow for the winter? Antarctica is actually a desert! It receives less than two inches of precipitation in a year, about the same as the Sahara Desert. It’s the driest continent on the planet.

*It’s the coldest continent, too, year-round, but when my husband and I went, summer on the Antarctic Peninsula was much warmer than most the northwest of the United States. We enjoyed sunshine and weather in the 40s. In one colony of penguins, the babies were actually overheated.
*Male penguins may lift up their heads and let out loud calls, a behavior called “ecstasy.”

*All 24 time zones converge at the South Pole, making Antarctica timeless or providing time for everything, depending on your perspective.

Please let us know if the Bottom of the World is at the top of your list!

-Lisa TE Sonne for

Photographs by Lisa TE Sonne