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6 Everything-But-the-Plane Trips

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Leave the hassles of air travel behind on these all-American vacations.

1. Road Trip: Music, Mountains, and Monuments Westbound

G Adventures’ 8-day itinerary covers notable American cities—New York, D.C., Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans—and scenic roads like the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll ride in a private van with a small group averaging about 10 people (typically 20- and 30-somethings). The trip includes entrance fees to all National Parks and National Monuments with hiking and walking excursions, plus orientation tours in D.C. and New York, and a visit to Arlington Cemetery. From $110/day per person, gadventures.com.

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New Album Released by Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble

Fifteen years ago, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who was already busy with a full and demanding career as a recitalist, a soloist with orchestras, and chamber music, launched the Silk Road Project, a music collective inspired by the cross-cultural exchange along the ancient Silk Road route. As befits an ensemble that performs music diverse in style and from varied musical traditions, the group includes Western classical instruments—violin, cello, double bass—but also features instruments from throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East, South Asia, and China: Galician bagpipe; a kamancheh, a Persian fiddle; tabla or Indian drums; and the pipa, an ancient Chinese plucked string instrument, among others. The aim was to foster contemporary music, incorporating varied and established traditions, and that they have.

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Harlem's Newest Old Jazz Joint

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Harlem has a new (old) jazz joint. Ever want to get up and groove at a swanky jazz club, but the crowd is too stuffy to dance?

Just head to Minton’s in Harlem, a restoration of the historic Minton’s Playhouse that opened on October 21st.

With three seatings a night, guests can don their best attire (that means jackets only, men), graze on prix-fixe Low Country grub, and share a spontaneous dance in the aisle between the supper club’s two rows of seating.

The new joint lets you enjoy music as you please—just like the renowned jam sessions held at the Minton’s of the 1940's. A mural from the original Minton’s still hangs behind the stage, featuring Hot Lips Page, Charlie Christian, and a sleeping woman that’s supposedly Billie Holiday.

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If a Museum's Admission is "Recommended," Must I Pay it?

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A: According to Harold Holzer, senior vice president for public affairs at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (where the suggested admission is $25), the institution’s pay-as-you-wish policy is in line with its mission to remain fully accessible to the public. So if your income is limited, or you’re just planning to run in quickly to see a single painting, you should not feel obligated to pay the full amount. Holzer does point out, however, that it costs roughly $50 per visitor to run the enormous museum. It’s worth keeping in mind how much you value an institution—and how much it relies on you to continue operating—as you consider what amount you’d like to pay.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Photo © Sylvain Sonnet/Corbis

At Least It’s Not SpongeBob: Buddhist Fresco Restored in Cartoon-ish Style

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It’s sad when an ancient painting or fresco becomes almost unrecognizable due to vandalism or just time. But it may be even worse when it gets fixed so badly that it goes from “ruins” to “ruined.”

That seems to be the case with a nearly 300-year-old Buddhist fresco hanging in a temple in Chaoyang, in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning. The original paintings had been crumbling for years, and a recent “refurbishment” gave them a serious face lift, according to this article in the Daily Telegraph.

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Irish Singer Declan O'Rourke Makes U.S. Debut

“Divine Intervention.”

That’s how Irish folk-rock star Declan O’Rourke characterizes his foray into music. How else to explain the circumstances behind the acquisition of his first guitar, gifted to him by a priest as a ten-year-old boy in Melbourne, Australia?

It’s been a faith-driven journey from there to here, another string-picker on the Dublin open-mic circuit to opener for cult-band Snow Patrol and the legendary Bob Dylan. On October 8th, O’Rourke celebrated his first U.S. release with the album “Mag Pai Zai”, which, along with records “Since Kyabram” (2004) and “Big Bad Beautiful World”(2007), has been a mainstay on the Top Ten charts across the pond. The latest ballads stay true to O’Rourke’s classic, crooning sound, yet unfurl with a newfangled sense of self-assuredness.

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New MoMA Exhibit Highlights Surrealist Painter, Magritte

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If you’re on the hunt for a thought-provoking dip into the Surreal, you can’t miss Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary exhibit at the MoMA (running through January 12, 2014). Curated by Anne Umland, the exhibit covers what the famed Belgian painter described as the most defining period of his career from 1926-1938.
 
The exhibit features many of his most acclaimed works including “Le Trahison Des Images” (pictured) wherein he notoriously paired his painting of a pipe with the beautifully scripted words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (“This is not a pipe”). After you absorb the whimsically provocative contradictions in his narrated paintings, check out “Les Amants” to peek at his popular portrait of two lovers kissing.

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Frieze and 1:54, World's First Contemporary African Art Fair, Open in London

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This week, the culturati makes its annual pilgrimage to Regent’s Park for the 11th Frieze London (Oct. 17-20), with pieces from 152 contemporary galleries from around the globe plus specially commissioned performances, pop-up restaurants, and let’s not forget the party scene. In an unprecedented partnership, British fashion house Alexander McQueen is a sponsor this time around; artworks curated by local gallerist Sadie Coles will be displayed at the brand’s London stores throughout the fair.

Of course, there’s also the second edition of Frieze Masters, the historically minded spin-off, and a full schedule of satellites. Among this year’s standouts, in collaboration with Tanzanian architect David Adjaye, Somerset House has unveiled 1:54 (through Oct. 20), the world's very first contemporary African art fair. Founded by Touria El Glaoui, daughter of Moroccan painter Hassan El Glaoui, it’s a platform for more than 70 artists—from DRC painter Chéri Samba (see La Vraie Carte du Monde, above) to Benin’s Romuald Hazoumé, with his colorful tribal-inspired “masks” made from discarded jerricans, and Gonçalo Mabunda, who turns AK47s and rocket launchers deactivated after Mozambique’s civil war into whimsical, Modernist thrones.

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Hot Tickets: Fall 2013 Museum News

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Thanks to dramatic transformations, these five world-class museums are casting a whole new light on their collections.

Amsterdam: After a 10-year renovation, a grand atrium now greets visitors to the Rijksmuseum (pictured). More than 8,000 objects, including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals, have been rearranged as a historical survey. —Raul Barreneche

Honolulu: The extraordinary story of how Pacific Islanders developed their diverse cultures is told—with canoes, costumes, musical instruments, and more—in the renovated Pacific Hall, debuting this month at the Bishop Museum. —Peter Webster

New York City: Housed in a pavilion built for the 1939 World’s Fair, the Queens Museum reopens in November at twice its original size. One of the first shows, “The People’s UN,” nods to the building’s former role as host to the General Assembly.—Peter Webster

Mexico City: The Museo Jumex, displaying artists both Mexican (Gabriel Orozco; Carlos Amorales) and global (Olafur Eliasson; Tacita Dean), expands into David Chipperfield’s sawtooth-roofed building in November. —Raul Barreneche

Cleveland: Come December, the Cleveland Museum of Art will unveil the last of three wings by Rafael Viñoly, showing works that range from Chinese bronzes to Impressionist paintings. —Peter Webster

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"The Rubber Duck" Makes U.S. Debut in Pittsburgh

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Move over penguins, there’s a new bird in Steel Town.

Currently floating down the Allegheny River is a 40-foot-tall (and 30-foot-wide) inflatable yellow duck. An art installation that simply goes by “The Rubber Duck,” created by Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman.

Since its launch in 2007, the giant duck has swum the shores of Amsterdam, Belgium, Osaka, Sydney, São Paulo and most recently, Hong Kong.

The international sensation has debuted stateside as part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. The festival is a four-week long series of dance, music, theater, performance and visual arts, presented by international artists making their U.S. debuts.

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