The shot heard round the world" was fired 230 years ago, launching this country's War of Independence, but the phrase has been running through my mind during the three weeks since the tsunami swept away so many lives, buildings, and livelihoods in South Asia. This disaster with global reach affected not only local peoples and vacationers on a human and often tragically personal level, but so many of us everywhere who have been transfixed and deeply saddened by the news. The death and destruction it caused will live on in our memories, and in sermons, meditations, and scientific investigations that attempt to explain the cataclysmic event.
One hears and sees everything instantly these days. Modern communications networks have put an end to the very notion of isolation, transporting images, information, and people to most parts of the world with ease and speed. Whether it's shouts of joy in Ukraine greeting the victory of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, or the explosion of gunshots in the civil war in Sudan, emotions and experiences are shared.T+L's mission remains the same: to provide access to far-flung worlds, but now in a broader sense than ever. This month, we offer an update on areas affected by the tsunami, and in coming issues we will provide reports on both the region and the relief efforts on Asian islands and in coastal areas. At www.travelandleisure.com/tsunami, you will find a list of charitable organizations for donations as well as news coverage and firsthand accounts of the reconstruction. Because, thankfully, so many parts of Thailand, Indonesia, and India were untouched, we will also continue to cover travel in this quadrant of the globe, with perhaps even more fervor: tourism is a powerful force in sustaining and supporting economies and cultures, and, as we well know, families and individuals.
Finally, it is my pleasure to introduce two new features of Travel + Leisure: Intersections, a column that identifies the pulse points of a destination, the meeting places where cultural trends are so often revealed, and our first annual T+L Design Awards, celebrating the crucial impact of design and architecture on travel. I would like to thank our distinguished jury of experts—and officially welcome moderator Chee Pearlman to our masthead. Chee's role as consulting design editor underscores the importance of the subject to my editors and me. Read on this month for stories ranging from a modern look at that great Eurail tradition, the Grand Tour; the real Jamaica; the restoration of Milan's fabled opera house, Teatro alla Scala; and America's latest wine country, Walla Walla, Washington. The wonders of travel endure—here, there, and everywhere.