From Reception Desk to the Gardens of Shiraz

Sara K in tower cropped

Sara Kosyk in the Mausoleum of Shah Nematollah-e-Vali, Iran               Photo by Ellen Renstrom

When Sara Kosyk started at Arrangements Abroad six years ago as a receptionist, little did she imagine she would end up a specialist on Iran. “Back then I was obsessed with Italy,” she explains. But now, just back from her third trip to the country formerly known as Persia, Sara is both maven and advocate.“I love the food, art, gardens, but especially the people,” she says. “It’s so important to be willing to look beyond politics when you travel.” A manager in the Operations Department, Sara helped design the Met’s latest Iran adventure but takes no credit for getting the group inside the private storeroom at the Friday Mosque in Isfahan. “Our amazing curator, Martina Rugiadi, arranged that,” Sara says. “For an art history nerd like myself, it was a dream come true!”

Iconic Iran
A Journey Through Persia
October 20 to November 5, 2016
With Met curator Christopher Lightfoot
Please click for more information

Persia
Wonders of Great Empires
April 23 to May 4, 2016
With Met Curator Joan Aruz
Please click to view brochure

 

7 Reasons to Spend New Year’s in Jordan

Petra candlelit ceremony

The Treasury of Petra by candlelight. Photo by Juan Luis Polo.

Celebrate the New Year in fascinating Jordan, home to the archaeological site of Petra, remarkable Roman ruins, the mineral-rich Dead Sea, and spectacular “desert castles.” This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour architectural landmarks with a professor of architecture who is collaborating on a proposed Jordan River Peace Park that would be the first ever in the Middle East.

Here are some exciting reasons to join “New Year’s in Jordan: A Journey Into Antiquity,” December 29, 2015, to January 5, 2016.

1.) Petra’s grandeur. Awaken early on New Year’s Day to visit Petra, one of the great wonders of the world. Enter the majestic siq, a narrow winding gorge accessible only on foot. Your first view of Petra’s magnificent ruins will be the Treasury, one of the best preserved of the many elegant structures carved into the sandstone mountains.

Alan Plattus2.) An expert lecturer. Learn about the region from Alan Plattus, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the Yale School of Architecture. Professor Plattus has lectured across the United States and abroad on the history of architecture and cities, as well as contemporary issues in architecture and urban design.

3.) A dip in the Dead Sea. Also known as the Salt Sea, the Dead Sea is the world’s deepest hypersaline lake. You will have an opportunity to float in its buoyant waters and learn more about the history and conservation of the area at the Dead Sea Panoramic Complex.

Jerash4.) Ancient Jerash. One of the largest and best preserved cities of the ancient Roman Empire, Jerash is a veritable treasure trove of antiquities. In walking its cobbled streets, through millennia-old colonnades of sandstone pillars, gain a glimpse of what life was like in this once booming metropolis.

5.) A visit to the site of the proposed Jordan River Peace Park (JRPP).  The first such park in the Middle East, the JRPP has been proposed as a joint project between Jordan and Israel. Tour the site with the director, and discuss historic and environmental issues with Professor Plattus and a member of EcoPeace Middle East.

6.) Jordan’s desert castles.” Travel east of Amman to see remarkable desert castles including El Kharana, a 7th-century structure likely built as a caravanserai to shelter travelers; Amra, with splendid 8th-century frescoes; and the black basalt fortress of Azraq Castle, used by T.E. Lawrence during the fight against the Ottoman Empire.

7.) Welcome 2016 in style. Enjoy a festive New Year’s Eve dinner at Petra’s luxurious Mövenpick Resort. Afterwards, you may wish to join a candlelight visit to the historic site of Petra, which is located near the hotel’s entrance.

SphinxTravelers may also wish to join an optional three-night postlude in Cairo to experience some of the historic monuments and artistic riches of Egypt. Highlights include the Great Pyramids, the impressive collection of the Egyptian Museum, and the Step Pyramid of King Zoser.

We hope you’ll join Professor Plattus on this extraordinary program. For details about “New Year’s in Jordan, ” please call Johan Steiner at (212) 514-8921 or (800) 221-1944, or email him at johan@arrangementsabroad.com

Academic Arrangements Abroad, together with leading cultural and educational institutions, is proud to offer a diverse portfolio of exceptional trips.

Other New Year’s Celebrations:

Kings, Gods & Dragons: New Year’s in Cambodia & Vietnam
December 26, 2015 to January 8, 2016

With Olivier Bernier

A Journey into Antiquity: Egypt & Jordan by Private Plane
December 30, 2015 to January 13, 2016
With Isabel Stünkel

Cuba by Private Yacht
Call for details – (212) 514-8921

15 Great Restaurants in Southeast Asia

Vietnamese cuisine at Home restaurantKnown for diverse cuisines and fresh ingredients, Southeast Asia is a foodie’s paradise. Whether you’re looking for amazing curry, a steaming bowl of pho, or something Western, here are a few of our top picks for restaurants in this fascinating region.

CAMBODIA

Malis Restaurant, 136 Norodom Boulevard, Phnom Penh Serving traditional and contemporary Khmer cuisine as well as Western dishes, Malis is known for its lovely outdoor garden, excellent service, and exceptional food. Chef Luu Meng, a Cambodian celebrity who has appeared on television with Gordon Ramsay, has created an impressive menu filled with grilled meats, fresh seafood, and complex curries.

Mahob Restaurant, #137, Traing village, Group 3, Siem Reap This restaurant, whose name is the Cambodian word for “food,” uses the freshest local ingredients to create Khmer cuisine such as local clams with tamarind and fresh basil, green mango salad with roasted prawns, and wok-fried local beef with red tree ants. The restaurant offers a daily cooking class.

FCC Angkor Kitchen, Pokambor Ave., Siem Reap Located in a lovely colonial-style building next to the Royal Residence, the restaurant offers Cambodian cuisine as well as Western items ranging from pizza to steak. Sit outside on the verandah to watch the street life and enjoy views of the river.

Madame Butterfly, National Road 6 – Airport Road, Siem Reap A great spot for a romantic dinner, Madame Butterfly serves authentic Cambodian cuisine in a traditional wooden house surrounded by tropical gardens. Travelers recommend the Khmer crepe, lobster in coconut, and chicken curry.

Sugar Palm, Taphul Road, Siem Reap  Located on the second floor of a traditional wooden structure, this restaurant dishes up old-fashioned Khmer food. Sit at a table on the terrace. Starters include pomelo salad and crispy spring roll, and popular entrees include fish amok, grilled eggplant, and chicken stir-fried with ginger. The restaurant also has a location in Phnom Penh.

Cafe Indochine, No. 44 Sivatha Boulevard, Siem Reap
Among the city’s longest-running restaurants, Cafe Indochine serves Khmer specialties in a romantic setting.  The restaurant’s menu also has a “steak house” section with locally sourced beef, Italian pastas, and salads.

MALAYSIA

Bijan, 3 Jln Ceylon, Golden Triangle, Kuala Lumpur Award-winning Bijan serves up Malaysian specialties in a sophisticated setting. Some of the restaurant’s best dishes include the Rendang Kambing (lamb shoulder cooked in spices) and Opor Rusuk, (slow cooked beef ribs). Desserts include homemade ice creams and creamy durian cheesecake.

SINGAPORE

Image by Edsel Little

Image of food at Iggy’s in Singapore by Edsel Little

Iggy’s, Hilton Hotel, 581 Orchard Road, Level 3, Singapore Spearheaded by owner Ignatius Chan, an award-winning sommelier, Iggy’s offers a set tasting menu for lunch and a “gastronomic” menu for dinner. Dishes vary depending on the season, but the menu includes items such as crab with white asparagus, ginger, and radish.

Restaurant André, 41 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore Chef André Chiang serves up exquisite Southern French nouvelle cuisine at his award-winning restaurant. Located in a peaceful, art-filled space in Chinatown, the establishment serves an imaginative tasting menu (dishes change daily) and fine wines.

THAILAND

Gaggan, 68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Bangkok Serving “progressive Indian cuisine,” Gaggan has been recognized by the press as one of Asia’s top restaurants. Chef Gaggan Anand creates playful dishes such as Green with Envy, green peppercorn chicken kebabs with coriander foam, which are served in an elegant colonial-style dining room.

Nahm, Metropolitan Hotel, 27 South Sathorn Road, Tungmahamek Sathorn, Bangkok This “temple to Thai gastronomy” serves authentic Thai cuisine in an understated dining room. Executive chef David Thompson and his team create dishes from all of the country’s regions as well as delectable desserts.

L’Elephant, 7 Sirimangkalajarn Soi 11 | Suthep, Muang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai This gourmet bistro specializes in casual French fare and has an impressive wine list. Menu items include smoked duck breast salad, steak tartar, and pork tenderloin in morel mushroom sauce. In addition to serving food, it is a gallery and boutique.

VIETNAM

Bahn Mi 25, 25 Hang Ca Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. This small bakery specializes in bahn mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) that are among the best in the city. Pick between three types of meat, or opt for a vegetarian version.

Image courtesy Home restaurant

Image courtesy Home restaurant

Home Restaurant, 34 Chau Long Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi Located in a former French residence in Hanoi’s Truc Bach neighborhood, Home Restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese as well as fusion dishes. The establishment tries to use organic ingredients and free-range meat.

Image courtesy of Hoa Tuc

Image courtesy of Hoa Tuc

Hoa Tuc Restaurant, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City This elegant restaurant whose name means “Poppy” is located in Saigon’s old opium refinery and serves contemporary Vietnamese cuisine. Hoa Tuc has an a la carte, set lunch, and kids’ menu, plus an extensive wine list. The restaurant also offers cooking classes.

Academic Arrangements Abroad, together with leading cultural and educational institutions, is proud to offer a diverse portfolio of exceptional trips.

“Kings, Gods & Dragons,” our upcoming journey to Cambodia & Vietnam, features meals at several of these restaurants including Malis Restaurant, Madame Butterfly, and Hoa Tuc. For additional information, call us at (800) 221-1944 or email trips@arrangementsabroad.com.

Congrats to our Adventures Abroad photo contest winners!

After much deliberation,  Academic Arrangements Abroad‘s panel of experts has selected the winners of this year’s photo contest, titled Adventures Abroad.

Chinese New Year in Rome

Chinese New Year in Rome 1st Place Winner — by Lisa Shalom

The first prize— $1,000 credit on one of our 2014/2015 cruises—goes to Lisa Shalom for her photograph “Chinese New Year in Rome,” taken in the Eternal City during this vibrant celebration. ” I love the gorgeous color and composition, and the stop action of the woman’s jeweled headpiece across her face while she was moving,” says panelist Cathy Farber, Vice President of Marketing & Communications.

Burano boats

Adrift in Burano 2nd Place Winner — by Casey Cochran

 Casey Cochran’s shot of boats in Venice took second prize: a $500 credit on any of our 2014/2015 cruises. “The rich color palate and composition are what first drew me in,” says guest judge Daniel Kukla, who was recently selected for the Arctic Circle Residency, a sailing expedition in the High Arctic in October 2014. Kukla adds: “But what kept me looking was the reflection in the water, which shows the shows the buildings and sky and provides a unique view of this unique place.”

Tasmania

Tasmania, Australia 3rd Place Winner — by Haley Hunter

The third prize, a micro luggage scale (handy for avoiding overweight bag fees), goes to Haley Hunter for her image of a Tasmanian landscape. “This photo shows one of the most remote and stunning places in the world,” says Farber. “We hope travelers will join us to discover other less-visited destinations, like Colombia, Central Asia, and Kashmir.”

Acro yoga in Puerto Rico

Acro yoga in Puerto Rico by Danielle Robidoux

Finally, this year’s People’s Choice award goes to Danielle Robidoux for her shot of Acro yoga, which blends yoga and acrobatics, on a beach in Puerto Rico. She also received a micro luggage scale.

Academic Arrangements Abroad sponsored this photo contest to raise awareness of its adventure travel programs–a newer offering for a company that has long been known for its culturally-focused tours. On these more active trips, travelers can enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences like discovering ancient temples in Sri Lanka, exploring Roman ruins in fascinating Tunisia, or hiking along the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

What the Best of the Travel Press Says: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka elephants by Gloria DeLuca

Sri Lanka elephants by Gloria De Luca

 

Travel & Leisure magazine has just named Sri Lanka one of the best adventure travel destinations for 2014.

“On the rebound from a quarter-century of civil war and the 2004 tsunami, Sri Lanka is coming into its own as an adventure destination,” writes Peter Koch in the article. “People have long been drawn here for the rich culture: Sri Lanka has eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the fifth-century city of Sigiriya. Now they’re discovering the incredible wildlife, including some of the world’s best whale-watching.”

Pole fishermen by Gloria DeLuca

Pole fishermen by Gloria De Luca

If you want to explore Sri Lanka this year, consider joining John Guy, Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asia at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in November for “Tracing Ancient Buddhism”. Travelers on this Met Adventures program will visit Sri Lanka’s modern capital of Colombo, then travel to other parts of this magical island nation to discover magnificent temples and timeless ruins.

Highlights in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle include the former capital of Polonnaruwa, the extraordinary site of Sigiriya, and the well-preserved Dambulla cave temples. Travelers will also visit Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to see the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. In vibrant Galle, they will stroll through the 17th-century Dutch fort with a local historian, author, and photographer.

Sri Lanka tea country

Sri Lanka tea country by Gloria De Luca

For additional information about traveling in Sri Lanka, read our blog post “Top Tips for Visiting Sri Lanka.”

Other picks on T&L‘s list of adventure destinations include Patagonia, Iceland, and Bhutan.

Adventures Abroad Photo Contest Deadline Extended. Plus–Our Adventures Abroad!

Yunnan Red Earth

Yunnan Red Earth by Erik Hyman

Staff at Academic Arrangements Abroad are ineligible for our Adventures Abroad photography contest. However, we have had a few adventures of our own, and lots of talented photographers work here.

Below are a few of our favorite staff travel photos, which were taken in locations around the globe.

Assistant Tour Coordinator Erik Hyman shot wonderful images in China while he was conducting folk music research for the Fulbright program in 2011 and 2012. You can see more of Erik’s amazing travel photographs on Flickr.

Leshan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha by Erik Hyman

Nujiang Valley

Nujiang Valley by Erik Hyman

Cathy Farber, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, traveled to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands in 2013. During her journey, Cathy photographed an adorable baby seal in the Galápagos Islands.

Baby Seal

Baby seal in the Galápagos Islands

She also shot a stunning image of the Andes Mountains from Quito. (Scroll to the bottom of this blog post to see the landscape.)

Jim Friedlander, President, took a picture of a crocodile area in a national park in Panama during a trip to Central America in December 2013.

Crocodile area in Central America

Crocodile area in Central America by Jim Friedlander

In addition, Friedlander shot this dramatic photograph of Mt. Everest from a plane last November.

Mount Everest 2013

Mount Everest, Nepal, by Jim Friedlander

Gloria De Luca, Vice President, Communications, captured this image of men in turbans at the Pushkar Camel Fair in India.

Puskar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair by Gloria De Luca

Additionally, she photographed this leopard in a tree during a recent journey to Sri Lanka, where highlights included a jeep safari.

Leopard in Sri Lanka

Leopard in Sri Lanka by Gloria De Luca

We hope you’ll enter your own travel photos in our competition. The deadline was just extended to July 1, 2014, and images entered so far include everything from riding camels in Egypt to practicing yoga on a sunny beach in Puerto Rico. Show us your idea of a travel adventure!

The first-place winner, as selected by our panel of expert judges, will receive $1,000 off any 2014 or 2015 Academic Arrangements Abroad cruise. Second prize is $500 off a 2014 or 2015 Arrangements Abroad cruise, and third prize is a micro luggage scale (handy for avoiding overweight baggage fees).

You can also vote on the submitted images, which are featured in a gallery that can be accessed through the photo contest tab. The most popular photograph will receive a People’s Choice Award and a special prize.

To enter or vote, please go to our Facebook page and click on the Adventures Abroad Photo Contest icon below our name. It will take you to a new page where you can enter the contest or vote on selected entries (or both!).

Be sure to submit your entry before July 1, 2014.

 

 

Andes Mountains

The Andes Mountains from Quito, Ecuador by Cathy Farber

Don’t Forget to Enter the Adventures Abroad Photo Contest

Camel and Pyramid, Giza, EgyptWe’ve already received a number of submissions for our Adventures Abroad photo contest. Images entered so far include everything from riding camels in Egypt to practicing yoga on a sunny beach in Puerto Rico. There are also stunning shots of Peru, Antarctica, London, Italy, India, Jordan, and other destinations.

If you have a great travel photograph, there’s still time to enter it in the contest. The first-place winner, as selected by our panel of expert judges, will receive $1,000 off any 2014 or 2015 Academic Arrangements Abroad cruise. Second prize is $500 off a 2014 or 2015 Arrangements Abroad cruise, and third prize is a micro luggage scale (handy for avoiding overweight baggage fees).

India dyesYou can also vote on the submitted images, which are featured in a gallery that can be accessed through the photo contest tab. The most popular image will receive a People’s Choice Award and a special prize.

To enter or vote, please go to our Facebook page and click on the Adventures Abroad Photo Contest icon below our name. It will take you to a new page where you can enter the contest or vote on selected entries (or both!).

Be sure to submit your entry before May 1, 2014.

Adventures Abroad Photo Contest

Hiker walking towards mountainLast year’s photo contest—our first ever—was so successful that we decided to hold another one. This year’s theme is Adventures Abroad and we invite you to show us your idea of a travel adventure!

Sea Cloud shipThe first-place winner, as selected by our panel of expert judges, will receive $1,000 off any 2014 or 2015 Arrangements Abroad cruise. Second prize is $500 off a 2014 or 2015 Arrangements Abroad cruise, and third prize is a micro luggage scale (handy for avoiding overweight baggage fees).

Micro luggage scaleTo submit a travel photo, please go to the contest entry page. Or, if you prefer, you can visit our Facebook page and “Like” it, if you haven’t already. Click on the Adventures Abroad Photo Contest icon below our name. It will take you to a new page, where you can enter the contest. You can also vote on selected entries, which will be displayed in a gallery. The most popular image will receive a People’s Choice Award and a special prize.

Entries must be submitted between March 1 and May 1, 2014, so don’t delay. We hope to see you soon—maybe in Reykjavik, Istanbul, or Buenos Aires!Sea Cloud II On Deck