World Cup fever kicks off today in Johannesburg and Cape Town, as host team South Africa takes on Mexico and ’98 winner France plays Uruguay. If you’re tempted to make a last-minute trip, you might be out of luck: Return tickets are currently priced around $3,500. But don’t despair—this might be a good time to start planning for the 2014 tournament in Brazil. The futebol-mad country is aiming to put on the “most ecological” World Cup ever (unlike this year’s competition, which has eight times the carbon footprint of its 2006 predecessor). For anyone who, like us, is staying home this time around, here’s our list of Washington-area bars offering World Cup specials.One standout vacation deal this week: Gate1Travel is offering a seven-day vacation package to Costa Rica for $499 per person, including round-trip flights from New York to San Jose, six nights’ accommodation in three cities, breakfast, and a seven-day SUV rental with unlimited mileage. Travel is valid through April 2011, and the deal must be booked by June 23.
The ever-sliding euro might be wreaking havoc across the Atlantic, but over here it’s nothing but good news for Americans summering on the continent. According to the price-comparison site Trivago, hotel rooms in June have dropped in price for the first time this year, even before you factor in the advantages of the strong dollar. Dublin, Milan, and Munich have been hit particularly hard, while Paris, London, and Vienna aren’t faring much better. The New York Times has a handy blog post about how to get the most out of your money while abroad.
Looking for an alternative vacation plan? The Audubon Society has been hit with an influx of volunteers looking to help the Gulf oil-spill cleanup effort, with 5,000 people registering last weekend alone and more than 13,000 expected to be utilized. A new Volunteer Response Center in Mississippi is welcoming people willing to assist with logistical efforts, surveys, transportation, species monitoring, and phone operation. (Only professionals will be handling wildlife.) Register online at audubon.org.)
Blue Ridge Parkway’s fifth annual Cherry Pickin’ Festival kicks off this weekend, along with the Thunder on the Parkway car show. From 9 to 5 on Saturday, June 12, visitors can enjoy food, crafts, antiques, a Civil War reenactment, and lots of activities for kids. There’s also a cherry-flavored bake-off. The festival is at Blue Ridge Pkwy (between mileposts 177.7 and 199.5) in Fancy Gap, Virgina. And for those wondering how to get there, Hotwire.com has rental car deals starting at $16.95 from Reagan National Airport.