Q: I want to take a learning vacation, but the options are bewildering. Where do I start?
A: Find the trip that’s right for you by letting your passions guide you and then choosing the company to match. Here, five ideas to get you started.
Ecology and Wildlife
Brazil: An Ecologist’s Tour of the Pantanal,Cornell’s Adult University: Explore the world’s largest wetland on this expedition led by Cornell professors Cole Gilbert and Linda Rayor. Travelers track ocelots, jaguars, and endangered hyacinth macaws, and enjoy creature comforts at lodges such as Pousada Piuval, on a 17,000-acre ranch. 607/255-6260; 10 days from $6,430 per person.
Geology and Archaeology
Grand Canyon Trip,McCabe World Travel: Professor Keith Watts leads a tour of northern Arizona and southern Utah, with an overview of the Grand Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and trips to remote waterfalls and hidden Native American pictographs. 703/762-5049; eight days from $3,500 per person.
Papua New Guinea Through the Lens,Asia Transpacific Journeys: On a new itinerary to Papua New Guinea’s remote villages, visit sacred spirit houses on the Sepik River while getting hands-on shooting tips from Michele Westmorland, an award-winning photographer who has visited the country 27 times. 800/642-2742; 12 days from $10,695 per person.
A Mediterranean Summer,Swan Hellenic Discovery Cruising: Set sail from Portsmouth, England, to Rome on the 350-passenger Minerva—fresh from a $10 million overhaul. You’ll attend onboard lectures by noted professors, disembarking along the way at iconic sites such as the Alhambra palace, in Granada, Spain, and the Italian port town of Civitavecchia. 866/923-9182; 15 days from $2,499 per person.
Religion and Culture
Rejuvenating Himalayas,Learning Journeys: This trip through northern India focuses on the philosophies behind yoga and meditation with lectures and practice. Stops include Rishikesh and Haridwar, where wellness is central to spiritual life, as well as the Ananda resort in the Himalayas. 855/784-7687; 12 days from $3,550 per person.
The mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard makes her role debut as Blanche de la Force in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Dialogues of the Carmelites, May 4-11. Francis Poulenc’s opera, the gripping story of a convent of nuns caught up in the tumult of the French Revolution, returns to the MET for three performances in John Dexter’s landmark staging, led by conductor Louis Langrée.
Ms. Leonard, recently won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, has also just made her debut on Sesame Street. She takes time from rehearsals at the MET to speak with T+L.
Tell us about your appearances in Sesame Street. Since it is filmed in New York, I suppose it didn’t involve travel.
It actually involved a bit of travel. Last summer, I was in Glyndebourne, the opera festival in England, when the MET called to say that Sesame Street was planning a segment called People in Your Neighborhood, with Murray the Monster and Ovejita, the bilingual lamb character who speaks Spanish, and asked if I would interested in appearing on the program. I said I would be there in a heartbeat, even if I were on the moon! On a Thursday morning, I went to rehearsal at Glyndebourne, got on a plane that night from London, flew to New York and made it home around one in the morning. The next day, I got up and ran errands like any New Yorker, then went to the MET, put on my costume as Rosina from Barber of Seville, and to the shoot with the Muppets. We finished around 7 pm. I rushed to the airport, made my plane, and was back in rehearsal in Englandby the following afternoon.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel, Gatsby refutes Nick Carraway’s assertion you cannot repeat the past: "Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can.”
Hoteliers seem to agree with Gatsby, as evidenced by a slew of promotions tied in with the upcoming release of Baz Lurhman’s new film, The Great Gatsby.
New York’s Plaza Hotel, which features prominently in the novel, has announced its “The Great Gatsby Getaway Contest.” Anyone who snaps a 1920’s themed picture of themselves and posts it on Instagram with the hashtag #theplazapremiere has a chance to win seats at the New York premiere of the film, along with a night at the iconic property. Hurry though, the contest ends April 24th.
Nearby, the Trump International Hotel & Tower is offering the Trump ‘Great Gatsby’ Package. Guests spend three nights in suites overlooking Central Park, enjoying some top-notch perks. Men receive a custom-tailored suit and shirt from Bergdorf Goodman and Art Deco cufflinks, while women will go home with an Ivanka Trump Art Deco jewelry and a personalized note from Ivanka herself. Dinner at Three-Michelin-Star restaurant Jean Georges, a magnum of champagne, and chauffeured car-service are also included. This Roaring Twenties extravaganza comes with a roaring price tag… $14,999.
And while not directly related to the classic novel, these other properties do their best to bring back some of that Gatsby glamour:
° The SLS Hotel South Beach: Opened this past June, the Philippe Starck-designed waterfront hotel brings a 1940 property back to its former glory. Trompe l’oeil walls, murals, and a gigantic rubber ducky by the pool add a touch of whimsy to this art-deco gem. ° Hotel Shangrila, Santa Monica: Another art-deco property, this 1939 building has recently undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation. The 71 rooms and suites feature period furnishings and decorations. This year, there are two promotional packages celebrating the renovation.
Then again, if hotel suites don’t do it for you, why not be like Gatsby and throw a party at your own private mansion? With water frontage, a grand pool, and lots of vintage charm, the Luxury Retreats villa Locusts on Hudson, in the Hudson Valley, lets you feel like you’re living in West Egg, if only for a week.
Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Photo credit: The Fitzgerald Suite at The Plaza, a Fairmont managed hotel, designed by Catherine Martin
If you're in New York City this weekend, be sure to check out the Tribeca Film Festival, which runs through April 28th in various locations throughout Lower Manhattan. (The festival is sponsored by American Express, T+L's parent company.)
In the video above, T+L's Nilou Motamed talks about Tribeca, one of the city's most beloved neighborhoods.
If, like me, you’re as likely to read a novel about a city as a guide book when preparing for a visit, the Los Angeles Times book staff has pieced together an excellent resource for you.Their Literary L.A. map pinpoints bookstores and lit landmarks around town (the library at UCLA where Ray Bradbury tapped out Fahrenheit 451 on a coin-operated typewriter!), and also includes passages from great fiction inspired by the the city and includes hardboiled L.A. classics like Double Indemnity and The Black Dahlia to more modern works like Steve Erickson’s Zeroville. The map has been released in time to accompany this weekend’s Festival of Books at USC.
Film critic and America's best-known movie fanatic Roger Ebert has died after a long fight with cancer that robbed him of his voice but never his smart, opinionated, and humane writing. While we'll leave it to his longtime home, The Chicago Sun-Times, and others to explain the great critic's influence on American culture, Chicago (where he lived with his wife, Chaz, and celebrated places like Old Town Ale House), and movie fandom, we'd like to offer a look at some stories we image Ebert would've enjoyed.
These are for you, Roger. We'll see you at the movies:
Just downriver from Washington on the western bank of the Potomac, Alexandria has that perfect mix of historic charm—and easy access to the nation’s capital. WHERE TO STAY The 45-room Morrison House is a great choice because it’s small—just 45 rooms—plus there are so many extras, from complimentary wine from 5-6 p.m. to free morning coffee and newspaper. PRICE $165 a night.
LUXE GETAWAY: Baltimore, Maryland
For those who love a good Four Seasons hotel—and really, who doesn’t?—the new Four Seasons in Baltimore is one more reason to visit the city. Plus, the Baltimore Museum of Art just reopened its Contemporary Wing, with works by Olafur Eliasson, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. WHERE TO STAY The 256-room Four Seasons opened in 2011 in Harbor East, with a terrace, heated whirlpool, and a spa. PRICE $339 a night.
WINE TOURS: Barboursville, Virginia
Two hours southwest of D.C., Barboursville, Virginia, is a serene wine country getaway. WHERE TO STAY The lakeside 1804 Inn is a romantic escape: you’ll sleep in a four-poster bed in this historic inn set between Madison's Montpelier and Jefferson's Monticello. PRICE $240 a night.
If you haven’t made plans yet for the Season Six premiere of Mad Men on April 7th, don’t panic. Maybe you want to watch it in Connecticut?
T+L has already discussed how the TV series boosted tourism in New York City, but after last season, which saw Pete and Trudy Campbell move to the 'burbs, Connecticut is doing its part to offer some Don Draper-inspired vacations.
Citing its collection of nearly 90 architect-designed mid-century modern homes, among them Philip Johnson’s famous Glass House, the state’s tourism board is touting New Canaan, CT, as the main destination for true Mad Men aficionados. In addition to the mid-century homes, you'll find the Elm Restaurant($$$), where you can sip a "Lucky Strike" cocktail. The drink, inspired by the old fashioned that Draper drinks while working on the Lucky Strike cigarette campaign, has cherry-wood-smoked bourbon, cherry bitters, and sherry, all topped off with a garnish of, you guessed it, ash.
Following Hurricane Sandy's devastation of the East Coast in October, images of ravaged waterfront areas remain fresh in most New Yorkers' minds. To kickstart the conversation in the hard-hit Rockaways neighborhood, MoMA PS1, the boundary-pushing art museum in Long Island City, Queens, has erected a large geodesic dome close to the former boardwalk in which it hopes to address sustainability and confront the ecological challenges the area faces.
Opening this Friday, the temporary cultural and educational center (a partnership with Volkswagen) will host a series of lectures, conversations, art exhibits, video screenings, and community events. A complete calendar is still in the works, but talks in April will focus on architecture and the environment.
It’s all part of EXPO 1: New York, organized by Klaus Biesenbach, the museum director and curator-at-large of MoMA. In addition to the Rockaways dome, the far-reaching project includes an exhibit of Ansel Adam's nature photography, a cinema series, and a group show of emerging New York artists. But the showpiece is "Dark Optimism," which runs from May 12 to September 2 at MoMA PS1. Bringing together works by 35 contemporary artists, the exhibit tackles the idea that even though the world is on the cusp of disaster, there’s a bright future ahead.
Brooke Porter is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.
Walking through the stone pews of the Colosseum or admiring the statues atop the Trevi Fountain offers a glimpse into European history. These are cultural landmarks to be preserved and treasured. Outstanding architecture such as this is one reason for the bi-annual ‘Florens’ conference on culture and travel in Italy.
Programmed in Florence, the 'Florens' conference aims to promote the philosophy that economic growth is firmly based on the revitalization of culture. Though rather theoretical in nature, the conference explores the difficulties of preserving landscapes and cultural heritage in Italy. Development possiblities in food tourism, theatre, opera, and museum management are discussed.
Speakers and round-table participants include chef Massimo Bottura, television personality and natural history expert Piero Angela, anthropologist Suzanne Fish and Ferruccio Ferragamo of Salvatore Ferragamo. There are about 40 events and 350 speakers in all. Check out this article to read more about preserving Europe’s landmarks.
Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.