The Hippest Spot in Havana

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History is on the move and Cuba’s capital is no longer a prisoner of the past. A recent New York Times feature on Cuba noted that El Cocinero restaurant, where our January travelers to Havana will enjoy dinner, “makes Brooklyn look as cool as a suburban Ikea.” After sampling the empanadas and hot crab dip at this cooking-oil-factory-turned-hipster-haven, you can wander next door to the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Factory), which the Times called “a mix of CBGB, Art Basel Miami, a community center, a coffee shop, a bar (or two or three), and a bomb shelter.” Who could resist?

The Art & Architecture of Havana
January 14 – 21, 2017

With Stephanie Herdrich, Assistant Research Curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

The Least Stuffy Speaker You’ll Ever Hear

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Sandra Jackson-Dumont

Don’t miss the chance to travel to Cuba this fall with Sandra Jackson-Dumont of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sandra, who leads The Met’s education programs, is known for her refreshingly non-academic lectures, which use pop culture elements like music and movement to engage non-traditional audiences. (Her signature “Teens Take The Met” events consistently draw thousands of young people — with no eye-rolling.) Even if you’ve been to Cuba with us before, Sandra’s approach will open a new window onto this intriguing Caribbean island. Watch her talk about Soul Train and impostor syndrome and learn more about the trip.

Travel with The Met . . . and Arrangements Abroad!

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Venice, Grand Canal

This week, we had a big request from our flagship client, The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Web copy and images for 9 upcoming Travel with the Met programs to Venice (pictured above), Berlin, Iran, Cuba (2 programs by land, 1 by sea), Portugal & Spain, Burma & Indonesia, and Morocco.

Thanks to a coordinated effort between our Operations, Sales, and Communications teams, we managed to meet The Met’s tight deadline. Now that it’s done and we can relax a bit, we thought a photo-driven blog post might be nice for a Friday afternoon. Here are some places we’ll be taking travelers in 2017 on the aforementioned trips:

Bagan temples

Bagan pagodas

Bagan, Burma (Myanmar) is known as “the city of a thousand pagodas.” But those are just the ones that are left–there used to be thousands more!

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Fishermen in Cienfuegos. Photo by Alistair Kitchen.

We’ve been taking groups to Cuba by land since 1999, and now we’re offering a unique cruise of the country’s less-developed southern coast, from Cienfuegos to Santiago. Think rugged mountains, pristine beaches, picture-perfect colonial architecture … and all the pleasures of an intimate luxury yacht. For more on this exciting program, click here.

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Merida, Spain. Photo by Juan Antonio F. Segal.

Maybe you’ve been to Portugal or Spain, but have you ever been to Alentejo (pronounced “A-len-TAY-zho”)? Or Extremadura (“Es-tray-ma-DOO-ra”)? These off-the-beaten-path regions of Portugal and Spain, which border each other, offer cultural influences from Celtic to Roman to Moorish to French. Mérida, former capital of the Roman province of Lusitania, is just one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites visited on this program.

Vakil mosque, Shiraz, Iran

Vakil mosque, Shiraz, Iran

Like Cuba, Iran is a favorite destination for Met travelers, but next year we’re doing something new: “Undiscovered Iran,” led by The Met’s head curator for the Department of Islamic Art. The program begins in northeastern Iran at Mashad, the country’s holiest city, and goes to Nishan (to see the tomb of Omar “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou” Khayyam), Kashan, Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Pasargadae, and Persepolis.

For more information about any of these trips, contact us at trips@arrangementsabroad.com or 800-221-1944. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Meet Our Talented Team: Frank Dabell

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The son of a French mother and British father, Frank is a distinguished scholar of Italian art who lives in Rome, where he teaches art history for Philadelphia’s Temple University program. His expertise in the Italian Renaissance will greatly enhance our Jewels of the Western Mediterranean cruise, sailing May 11. In September, Frank will take landlubbers off the beaten path to lesser-visited, historically rich towns in Lombardy and Piedmont.

6 Unusual Attractions in Amsterdam

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The Cat Cabinet Museum, copyright Jorge Royan, via Wikimedia Commons

Move over, Rijksmuseum. Step aside, Barney’s Coffeeshop. These 6 unusual attractions will give you an insider’s look at Amsterdam most tourists never dreamed of.

1.  The Cat Cabinet Museum

If you have a fondness for felines, pussyfoot on over to this cathouse, created in honor of John Pierpont Morgan (the founder’s pet, not to be confused with the American fat cat). The Katten Kabinet, as it’s known in Dutch, is full of posters, sculptures, drawings, and paintings of adorable furballs.

2.  The Museum of Bags and Purses

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Photo by Bert Knottenbeld.

Housed in a historic canal house, this collection of more than 5,000 items dates back to the 16th century and includes purses that once belonged to Madonna and Margaret Thatcher. (Fun fact: The oldest purse on display was worn by a man.)

 

3.  Micropia

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By Goldstein lab – tardigrades 

Just next door to Amsterdam’s acclaimed Artis Royal Zoo, this museum is dedicated to the two-thirds of all life that is invisible — microorganisms too small to be seen with the naked eye. It’s teeming with fascinating information about these surprisingly beautiful creatures (our favorite is the cuddly-creepy tardigrade, or “water bear” — the only animal that can survive in outer space).

 

4. The John & Yoko Suite

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By Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989

In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a week-long “bed-in” at the Amsterdam Hilton in protest of the Vietnam War. Today, Suite 702, where the couple stayed, contains photos, a guitar, song lyrics, and other memorabilia approved by Yoko herself. It can be reserved for about $2,000 per night.

5.  The Museum Vrolik

Named for its founders, a team of father-and-son anatomy professors, this display of preserved skeletons, body parts, fetuses, and other oddities assembled in the 19th century is not for the fainthearted.

6. Dutch Funeral Museum (website in Dutch only)

Far more palatable is this interesting small museum on the grounds of a turn-of-the-century municipal cemetery. The room with seven coffins illuminates the funerary traditions of the Netherlands’ diverse religions and cultures: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Chinese, Creole, and Hindu; other exhibitions explore how we remember our dead and our emotions toward the final stage of life.

By the way, there are still a few cabins left on our Dutch & Flemish Landscapes cruise. It includes an afternoon at leisure in the Dutch capital, during which you may want to visit some of these quirky places.

If you liked this post, you might also like our post about unusual food museums around the world.  Wait ’til after lunch to read it, though!

Academic Arrangements Abroad, together with leading cultural and educational institutions, is proud to offer a diverse portfolio of exceptional trips. For additional information, call us at (800) 221-1944 or email trips@arrangementsabroad.com.

Flower Power

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What could be lovelier than an April picnic amid fields of tulips? Last fall, the landscapers at Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands planted seven million bulbs for visitors to enjoy this spring (photo, above). They also arranged about a hundred thousand crocuses, tulips, and muscari into a mosaic showing a 17th-century sailing ship docked alongside gabled canal houses, representing the Dutch Golden Age (see below). If you stay on for the Amsterdam postlude on our “Dutch & Flemish Landscapes” cruise, you’ll visit Keukenhof for a picnic lunch, during which you’ll be able to admire this floral representation of Dutch cultural history.

Dutch & Flemish Landscapes
The Netherlands & Belgium
Aboard M.S. AmaPrima
April 10 to 18, 2016
(Amsterdam postlude April 18 to 20)
With Harvard professor Thomas Kelly,
Yale professor Gene M. Moore, and Metropolitan Museum of Art curator
Freyda Spira

Please click to view brochure

Netherlands_Keukenhof_mosaic

 

Britannia Rules!

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The Royal Yacht Britannia, formerly the property of Queen Elizabeth II, has been named Scotland’s best visitor attraction for the tenth consecutive year by VisitScotland, the Scottish national tourism board. Five million people from around the world have visited the Britannia in Edinburgh since she opened to the public in 1998. If you haven’t seen this beautiful ship—on which Charles and Diana spent their 1981 honeymoon—consider joining our Celtic Isles cruise in July.

Castles & Collections of the Celtic Isles
July 22 to August 2, 2016
With Met curator Beth Carver Wees,
Yale professor Gordon Turnbull,
Harvard professor Catherine McKenna
and landscape designer Patrick Bowe
Please click to view brochure

JOAN MIRÓ’S DIAMOND JUBILEE

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This year marks the 60th anniversary of the 1956 opening of Joan Miró’s studio in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The studio was central to the Spanish painter’s evolution as an artist and where he worked from age 66 until just two years before his death in 1983 at age 90. This eclectic space has been preserved exactly as Miró left it, and you can view it up close this spring on our upcoming Mediterranean cruise.

Jewels of the Western Mediterranean
May 11 to 20, 2016
With art historian Frank Dabell
and gardening author Patrick Bowe
Please click to view brochure

From Reception Desk to the Gardens of Shiraz

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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