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

 

11 Reasons to Sail the Black Sea this Fall

PaintedChurches_RemusPereni

Painted church of Modovia by Remus Pereni

We’ve got new experts—and new reasons—to join
“Sailing the Black Sea Aboard Variety Voyager,” September 24 to October 7.

  1. Paul Kennedy, Yale Professor of History
    The Yale historian and best-selling author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, has joined as lecturer, bringing a global perspective to strategic issues in the region.
  2. Metropolitan Museum of Art Lecturer
    Elizabeth Milleker, for many years a curator of Greek and Roman art at the Met, will enhance our appreciation of the region’s treasure trove of art, architecture, and archaeology.
  3. The Painted Churches of Romania
    Discover the region’s vibrantly colored churches, painted by artists fleeing the 16th-century fall of Constantinople, on an exclusive excursion by privately chartered plane, including the Voronets Monastery, which has been called “the Sistine Chapel of the East.”
  4. SINGLE SUPPLEMENT WAIVED ON ALL CABINS.
  5. History
    The shores of the Black Sea were colonized by the Greeks as early as 800 B.C.E. Roman rulers, Byzantine emperors, Ottoman sultans, and Russian tsars have all held sway here, reflected in the four UNESCO World Heritage Sites on our itinerary. This is also where Stalin summered (see his villa in Sochi, painted green for camouflage).
  6. Mystery
    The Black Sea is the legendary home of the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts, and of the Amazon warrior women. Some scientists even believe it’s the site of the Great Flood described in the story of Noah’s Ark.
  7. Georgian Wines
    Wine has been produced in Georgia for more than 8,000 years. After setting sail from the country’s fin-de-siécle resort town of Batumi, we’ll enjoy a special tasting of Georgian reds and whites.
  8. Variety Voyager
    With just 36 cabins, our ship—the elegant Variety Voyager—offers the atmosphere, access, and pleasure of a private yacht.
  9. Amazing Vistas
    Drive into the Caucasus Mountains, which have been viewed as a dividing line between Asia and Europe and also contain Europe’s highest peak, Mount Elbrus. With extensive areas of forests, the Western Caucasus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  10. harpist

    Anita Burroughs-Price

    Heavenly Harp Music
    Anita Burroughs-Price, principal harpist with the North Carolina Symphony, will join us aboard Variety Voyager to play melodies inspired by Constantinople and Eastern European composers.

  11. “Veni, Vidi, Vici”
    Julius Caesar wrote this famous phrase after his swift conquer of the formidable Kings of Pontus (whom we’ll learn all about during our tour of their capital city of Amasya, Turkey).

Sailing the Black Sea
Round-Trip Istanbul Aboard Variety Voyager

September 24 to October 7, 2015
From $9,995
No single supplement in all cabin categories!

Please click to download brochure

Rustem Pasha mosque

Rustem Pasha Mosque, Istanbul

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

We look forward to having you aboard!

I love Kashmiri sculpture more than anything!

Kurt2“I love Kashmiri sculpture more than anything else,” confessed our guide, Met curator Kurt Behrendt, on a recent gallery tour. “We’ve got, in this tiny room, the biggest collection, outside Kashmir, in the whole world.” Gesturing to a stunning early sculpture, seventh century (he was nonplussed), Behrendt stated that maybe only 100 or 150 examples can be found in a museum anywhere. For more than this tantalizing taste, he reminded us, “you must go to Kashmir. On our tour with the Met this fall,” he continued, “we are going to see all the early Buddhist temples, intact with their sculptures, very rare. The 7th to 8th centuries, after the collapse of the Guptas, was the great moment, not centuries later!”

A popular lecturer, Dr. Behrendt is both the leader and, in collaboration with our team at Arrangements Abroad, the designer of the Travel with the Met tour, Ancient Kingdoms & Glorious Temples, Kashmir, Punjab & Rajasthan, scheduled for October 1-17, 2015.

Kashmiri sculpture at MetThe Vale of Kashmir is, he said, is a lovely green place—“like an island in the mountains, not very high, maybe 6,000 or 7,000 feet with big rivers and lakes, and rich agricultural land.” Known for its pine trees and rhododendrons, the Kashmir valley a place, Behrendt emphasized, “where everyone through history wanted to go.  All the Bollywood films are filmed there.” Off the world stage for decades, the situation in Kashmir calmed down, he explained, about five years ago. “My friends are visiting Kashmir, with their kids,” he added.

We continued to the next room, dominated by a simple white statue of a seated Buddha, perfectly enlightened.  This statue, he admitted, was pretty great—and the temple bay above even better. “What they are doing in the Jain tradition,” he explained, “is creating heavens.”  The sites we will see in Rajasthan, like the temples of Rankapur, he went on to say, are the very best of the Jain temples, more than hinting that lucky participants would be all but participating in the celestial abode.

Our guide saved enthusiasm for Gandhara—the ancient Buddhist kingdom that was the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation and first book. When India and Pakistan were divided, he explained, the museum in Lahore got half the riches of Punjab and the other half sits in the middle of nowhere in Chandigarh, which Corbusier created as India’s first planned city. The collection of Gandhara sculpture at the Chandigarh Museum, just to give one example, is maybe 40 times that of the Met. We will visit, he noted, at the tail-end of the monsoon season, when the desert is in bloom. All should be green!

KashmirThe goal of this trip, he emphasized, is to see great sculpture—a very good thing! How could you possibly go wrong, Behrendt added dreamily, with fabulous vistas, 3-D mountains and rivers, great forts surrounded by desert and clusters of great temples dating from the 8th to the 14th centuries?  Unlike some parts of India, good roads and world-class infrastructure make life easy.  Berhrendt will be leading an optional tour on the last full day to Chittorgarh Fort—one of the largest in India and probably the grandest in the state of Rajasthan. Most people, Berhrendt stated, drive right by. But not us! Chittorgarh was one of the six majestic forts inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. The tour culminates with two-nights at the Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel. The Taj Majal is included as an optional 4-night postlude. More details in the brochure.

Suggested Reading:

Darsan, Seeing the Divine Image in India  by Diana Eck

Kurt recommends starting with this book, “a great short read that frames the big ideas.”  A fascinating and rigorous guide to deciphering Hindu symbolism, this book will help you understand and appreciate religious art in India. Despite its scholarly paraphernalia and language, the book (whose title translates as “seeing”) is tremendously useful for the traveler. With a useful glossary.

 

Indian Art by Vidya Dehejia

A volume in Phaidon’s excellent “Art and Ideas” series, this illustrated book, geared for students, considers the religious and intellectual contexts of three thousand years of Indian art and architecture. It’s particularly commendable for its extensive coverage of modern art — which gets short shift from many such surveys. This very readable book features 250 color illustrations.

 

The Hindu Temple by George Michell

In The Hindu Temple, considered the standard introduction to the subject and first published in 1977, George Michell explains the cultural, religious, and architectural significance of the temple. He illustrates his points with a profusion of photographs, building plans, and drawings of architectural details, making the book a useful guide for travelers to Asia as well as an illuminating text for students of architecture, religion, and Asian civilizations.

Kurt Behrendt

 

Kurt Behrendt
Associate Curator in the Department of Asian Art, Behrendt is curator of the current exhibition, part of the celebrations of the centennial of the department, One Hundred Years of Tibetan Art at the Met, and Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas, for which he is giving gallery talks, free and open to the public with museum admission, on Monday, May 11 and Tuesday, June 2 at 10:30. Go if you can! He’s among the most engaging speakers we’ve met in a while.

Contributed by Darrel Schoeling and with thanks to Aiza Keesey and Kasia Vincunas of Travel with the Met, who arranged the talk and let Darrel tag along.
Chittorgarh_Fort_3 Chaumukha_Jain_temple_at_Ranakpur_in_Aravalli_range_near_Udaipur_Rajasthan_India

Architectural Digest Visits Cuba with Arrangements Abroad!

Architectural Digest cover This February, Arrangements Abroad organized one in a series of stellar trips to Cuba with a focus on art & architecture for the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation. Among the travelers was journalist Mitchell Owens, whose article A Design Lover’s Guide to Cuba for the May 2015 Architectural Digest just hit the stands. His short video on Havana, with spectacular images, may be seen here. The accompanying slide show is also terrific!

Tour Director Kate Klorer reflects on the trip:

“The Soane programs draw many architects and interior designers, so we put together an itinerary focusing on historic houses and some of the best 20th-century architecture in Cuba.

The incredible thing about Havana is that the city itself is like a museum, with examples of nearly every architectural style of the last centuries—from dramatic Baroque buildings of Habana Vieja to the Neoclassical villas of Vedado and elegant Art Deco and Art Nouveau structures throughout the city. Even with so many buildings in heartbreaking condition, Havana is one of the most astonishingly beautiful cities—by far the most captivating place that I have ever visited in all my travels across the globe for its architectural heritage.

Cuban architecture

Image of the Lopez Serrano building by Chas A. Miller, III

It was a lot of fun to be in Cuba with Mr. Owens and lecturer Hermes Mallea (author of Great Houses of Havana) as they pointed out unique architectural details that are distinctively Cuban— like the intricate ironwork that allows breeze to flow through windows on hot Havana days and colorful stained glass that brightens door frames and louvered shutters.”

Mr. Owen’s Architectural Digest video gives a superb glimpse of our week exploring Havana’s great buildings. You can also read the article about his journey here.

Come join us on the next trip! Mr. Mallea is leading a just added Art & Architectural of Cuba program that features the XVII Havana Biennial June 6-11, 2015!

Meet Inés Powell

ines_powell
Watch Metropolitan Museum of Art educator and popular Travel with the Met lecturer Inés Powell reflect on her Spanish homeland in this Connections episode, produced by the Museum—and join her on a nine-night tour from Brussels to Amsterdam in October.  “Anytime that I feel a little bit nostalgic about Spain,”  she notes in the video clip, “all I have to do is walk around the galleries.” And, anytime that you want to thrill at seeing art, especially European art of a certain age, turn to Inés Powell!

Originally from Bilbao and trained at NYU Institute of Fine Arts, what really gets Inés Powell going is 17th-Century European Painting.  She was still in graduate school when she gave her first gallery talk at the Met and today, almost thirty years later, she’s developed a devoted following for both her talks at the Met and her lectures on Travel with the Met tours around the world.

She will next lecture next on Belgium & The Netherlands, October 11 to 21, 2015, including Brussels and Antwerp and a visit to the recently reopened Mauritshuis in The Hague (where Girl with a Pearl Earring is back on display!).

Belgium & the Netherlands:
In Search of Flourishing Genre Painting


338_thumb_4
338_thumb_5Discover outstanding museums and palaces in Holland and Belgium. Begin in Brussels, where highlights include a tour of the Museum of Fine Arts and a chocolate-making demonstration. In Ghent, admire the magnificent Cathedral of St. Bavo and Jan and Hubert van Eyck’s famous Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, better known as the Ghent Altarpiece. Stop in Antwerp to visit the Rubens House, Rockox House, and Museum Mayer van den Bergh. In The Hague, with its stately townhouses, see the outstanding collection at the newly reopened Mauritshuis, home to Vermeer’s celebrated Girl with a Pearl Earring. Marvel at works by Bruegel the Elder, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh at Rotterdam’s Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum. In charming Haarlem, explore the Frans Hals Museum, with the world’s largest collection of works by the Golden Age artist, and the Teylers Museum, the first and oldest museum in the Netherlands. Conclude in Amsterdam with visits to the Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt House Museum, and Museum van Loon. Sample Dutch cheese during a specially arranged tasting, and enjoy an excursion to stunning Het Loo Palace.

Belgium_Netherlands_coverOther highlights during this exceptional journey include a private tour and lunch at Chateau Beloeil and an after-hours, behind-the-scenes visit and private dinner at Panorama Mesdag. In addition, we are planning an opportunity to draw at the Boijmans Van Beuningen with a museum instructor.  Click here for a PDF of the trip brochure. For additional details about this tour, please contact Abigail Grazl at (212) 514-8921 or abigail@arrangementsabroad.com

 

News from Abroad: February 2015

那智の滝(Nachi Falls)

ModelYSL in Paris

Yves Saint Laurent, who died in 2008, was one of fashion’s greatest icons, dressing Catherine Deneuve, pioneering the pantsuit, and introducing ready–to–wear. Watch the legendary designer at work in this excerpt from a recent documentary—and step inside his studio (normally closed to the public) on our upcoming trip to Paris and London.

Courtiers & Couturiers
A History of European Fashion
in London & Paris
March 13 to 21, 2015

Kate with TulipsKate Blooms in Bruges

Kate Klorer, one of our most popular tour directors, says she’s “absolutely thrilled” to be taking a group to Holland and Belgium during tulip season: “These countries are as filled with art treasures as the Keukenhof is with flowers!” Travelers will visit the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh, Frans Hals, and Kröller-Müller museums; the last is a special favorite, Kate adds: “I was blown away by its incredible collection and magnificent grounds.” Another must-see is the Ghent Altarpiece. Besides Holland and Belgium, in 2015 Kate will accompany our groups to Cuba, the Arabian Peninsula, and France.

Amsterdam & Beyond
Holland & Belgium
May 2 to 11, 2015

KoyasanCelebrate 1,200 Years with Kukai

Experience a temple stay at Koyasan, Japan—the sacred mountain and UNESCO pilgrimage site—founded 1,200 years ago this spring by the revered monk and scholar Kobo Daishi Kukai. The Buddhist monasteries of Koyasan and the sacred Nachi waterfall and shrine (pictured at top) are just two highlights on “Ancient Sacred Sites of Japan,” designed and led by John Carpenter, Curator of Japanese Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Way of St. James in Spain, a better-known UNESCO pilgrimage route, is also on our schedule this year!

Ancient Sacred Sites of Japan
May 5 to 15, 2015

Sea CloudPlato in the Google Age

Author Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s latest book, Plato at the Googleplex, catapults the ancient Athenian into the 21st century. Dr. Goldstein will be lecturing on Plato during our summer Sea Cloud cruise,“Sailing the Mediterranean in the Age of Odysseus.” Read The New York Times review of her book here, watch Dr. Goldstein discusses the book at Google’s Silicon Valley campus, and join us in June to hear her speak live. Also on board will be her husband, Harvard professor Steven Pinker, and Joan Aruz, Curator in Charge of Ancient and Near Eastern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sailing the Mediterranean
in the Age of Odysseus
Istanbul to Athens Aboard Sea Cloud
June 27 to July 5, 2015

Simon Bordwin CubaAn American in Cuba

Kudos to our own Simon Bordwin, whose Cuba slide show was recently featured on the Condé Nast Traveler website! The Brooklyn-based photographer and Arrangements Abroad sales associate took these images during his stint as tour director on the “Art and Architecture of Cuba” program with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has another Cuba trip coming up in March. Have a look at the captivating slideshow and consider joining us on a future trip.

Jose Fuster Jaimanitas photo by Simon Bordwin

CC_1_15_web_-1(1)Click here to read our Cultural Calendar of 2015 and 2016 travel programs.

What the Best of the Travel Press Says: Inhotim Contemporary Art Complex, Brazil

Inhotim by Cesar Cardoso

Inhotim by Cesar Cardoso

One of the highlights on our 2015 “Art & Architecture of Brazil” program is a visit to Inhotim Contemporary Art Complex, which was conceived in the mid-1980s by businessman Bernardo de Mello Paz. Located about a two-hour drive southwest of Belo Horizonte, Inhotim (pronounced In-yo-cheem) has an impressive collection of works by artists from around the world. The late landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, a friend of Paz’s, designed the gardens.

The art complex has been covered by the prestigious publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times. Here’s what they have to say about Inhotim:

“What Paz and his team of curators have created here must rank among the most ambitious and original contemporary art museums ever conceived. There is no single, monolithic building designed by a famous architect of the kind favoured by most institutions across the world. Instead there are 22 galleries scattered in the vast, immaculately manicured landscape, which are connected via stone paths meandering through lush vegetation.”

        — Cristina Ruiz, The Financial Times, Nov. 29, 2013

“Although it is often referred to as an ‘outdoor museum,’ the term is not even close to defining Inhotim’s ambitious repertoire. It’s also a botanical garden, spiritual retreat, scientific research station, cultural center and a futuristic Brazilian answer to the bucolic artistic follies of 18th-century Europe.”

       — Tony Perrottet, Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2013

“Art historians and curators often come away marveling at the sheer scale and chaotic vision that Mr. Paz has created at Inhotim.”

       –Simon Romero, The New York Times, March 9, 2012

Inhotim path by Cesar Cardoso

Path at Inhotim by Cesar Cardoso

If you want to visit Inhotim without leaving home, check out this project through the Google Cultural Institute, which lets you take a virtual tour. However, we suggest joining Academic Arrangements Abroad and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015 to experience Inhotim as well as the art and architecture of São Paulo, Ouro Preto, and Rio.

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.

8 Great Reasons to Sign up for Our “Artistic Legacies of the Mediterranean” Cruise this September

This fall, discover the art, architecture, and landscapes of the Western Mediterranean aboard Sea Cloud II. Here are eight great reasons to sign up for this exceptional cruise.

1.)    Barcelona’s Gaudí architecture

Park GuellBegin in lively Barcelona to view the splendidly restored masterpieces of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Born in Reus, Catalonia in 1852, Gaudí received his architectural degree in Barcelona in 1878. Stunning examples of Gaudí’s works in Barcelona include modernist building Casa Batlló, the massive Sagrada Familia basilica, and garden complex Park Güell.

2.)    Sailing on the glamorous Sea Cloud II

SCII side viewExperience the grace and romance of a bygone era of travel aboard Sea Cloud II , christened in 2001. This elegant sailing yacht travels under 30,000 square feet of billowing sails trimmed by hand. Praised by the world’s most discerning travelers and travel writers, Sea Cloud II receives consistent high rankings from Condé Nast Traveler.

3.)    Marseille’s recently opened Musée des Civilisations d’Europe et de la Méditerranée

MarseilleFacing the sea in the Old Port of Marseille, this superb museum opened in 2013, focusing “primarily on the cultures of the Mediterranean, from a comparative and multi-disciplinary perspective, in which Europe and other continents that border the Med will play a major role.” Visitors to the museum praise its amazing architecture, interesting exhibits, and spectacular views.

4.)    Distinguished lecturers

A group of stellar lecturers includes art historian Olivier Bernier, whose previous lectures at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Spain and France have drawn rave reviews. Also lecturing on board will be a noted architectural historian and landscape designer, Dublin-based Patrick Bowe.

5.)    A special before-hours visit to the Matisse Museum in Nice

View the collections at the Matisse Museum during a private tour before opening hours. Situated on the hill of Cimiez, the museum’s collections include the artist’s paintings, drawings, sculptures, engravings, paper cut-outs, and illustrated books, all donated by Matisse and his heirs.

6.)    Performances by local artists

While Sea Cloud II is in Marseille, guests will gather on Lido Deck for dinner and a specially arranged concert of guitar music. During an al fresco dinner in the Isles d’Hyères, travelers will enjoy a performance by colorful folkloric group L’Arbanenco de Giens.

7.)    A private visit to Villa Noailles

Villa Noailles exterior by Claude ValetteLocated in the hills above Hyères, this château cubiste was designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens in 1924 for art patron Vicomte Charles de Noailles. Now a museum with an unusual garden, the villa has many connections to French artistic and literary circles.

8.)    Porquerolles in the Isles d’Hyères

Porquerolles aerial viewSea Cloud II calls at tiny Porquerolles, one of the world’s most protected environments. Known for its beautiful beaches, Porquerolles also has a charming village and dazzling harbor.

To conserve the island’s lovely landscape, strict rules prohibit smoking outside the village and driving automobiles.

About Us:

Academic Arrangements Abroad, a leader in cultural travel since 1977, designs and operates travel programs for sponsoring institutions that include the nation’s top museums and alumni associations.

For more information on the Barcelona to Nice cruise (September 12 to 20, 2014), please contact Sara Kosyk, (212) 514-8921 or sara@arrangementsabroad.com

Colorful fishing boats

Top Tips for Magical Colombia

Colonial House in Cartagena A current Colombia tourism campaign exclaims, “Colombia is magical realism,” a reference to the famous author Gabriel García Márquez. Born in Aracataca, García Márquez won the Nobel Prize in 1982 “for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts.”

We’re not sure how the Colombian writer would feel about the tourism board’s tagline, but we agree that Colombia is fantastic. The South American country is home Cartagena, known for charming Spanish colonial architecture and excellent beaches; Bogota, with its top museums and great restaurants; and Medellín, noted for its gorgeous mountains and flowers.

Here are some travel tips for the capital of Bogotá, high in the Andes Mountains; historic Cartagena; and beyond.

BOGOTA:

La Candelaria BogotaStroll through Bogotá’s Oldest Neighborhood: La Candelaria is the oldest neighborhood in Colombia’s capital. Highlights of this historic part of the city include Plaza de Bolívar, La Catedral Primada, and Casa de Nariño, the home and workplace of the President.

Great Museums: Colombia’s capital is home to some remarkable museums. The Museo del Oro, the Gold Museum, which is home to over 34,000 pre-Hispanic gold pieces, the largest collection in the world. The fascinating Museo Botero includes 123 works of art by Colombian figurative artist and sculptor Fernando Botero. Other great picks for art lovers include the Museo Nacional and the Museo de Arte Moderno.

Terrific Places to Try Traditional Colombian Food: Colombia is making a culinary comeback, and options in this cosmopolitan city include French, Italian, and Japanese food. For authentic Colombian cuisine, check out Club Colombia, which is located in an old hacienda, or Casa Santa Clara, in a beautiful house that has amazing views of Bogota.

CARTAGENA:

Historic Center CartagenaSee the City’s Historic Center: Situated on the northern coast of Colombia, Cartagena is famous for its vibrant Old Town. The historic walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to many fortresses that were built to expel the pirates. Of particular interest are San Pedro Claver Church, the Cathedral, and the Inquisition Museum.

Comfortable Hotel in the Walled City: The Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa has two wings: one that dates back to the 17th century and another that was built at the beginning of the 20th century. According to the hotel’s website, accommodations have “traditional elements of Cartagena,” but rooms also feature modern conveniences such as cable television.

Convent with a View: Be sure visit to 17th-century La Popa Convent. Located on a hill at the city’s highest point, the convent offers spectacular views over Cartagena and the harbor. The convent’s chapel has a lovely image of La Virgen de la Candelaria, the patroness of the city, and there’s also a flower-filled patio.

MEDELLIN:

Luxurious Hotel in the “City of Eternal Spring”: Stay at Hotel Park 10 in the upscale Poblado neighborhood. This boutique hotel has comfortable rooms, an attentive staff, two restaurants (La Terraza, which serves gourmet breakfast, and Restaurant Bar Lussac), and a spa and gym.

Top Spot for Garden Lovers: Explore the Botanical Garden, with its many tropical and desert plants. Marvel at the wooden architectural structure called the Orquideorama, which weaves its way through the garden’s heart and features important collections of orchids.

Great Museum You’ve Probably Never Heard of Before: Visit the Museo de Antioquia, housing an extensive collection of works by Medellín native Fernando Botero.

Want to discover Colombia’s magic? Explore the colonial city of Cartagena and the capital of Bogotá during our December 2014 program “The Jewels of Colombia & Panama.” For additional details, please visit our website or call us at 800-221-1944.

For additional information about traveling to Colombia, visit the official travel guide from the government of Colombia.

Simon Bolivar Statue in Bogota