Indra Purmale started working as an Assistant Tour Coordinator at Academic Arrangements Abroad in August 2010. She later became Co-Manager of the entire Tour Coordinator department and then advanced to become Manager of Tour Operations and Development.
Riga, Latvia. I actually just got back from a wonderful vacation there with my friends and family.
I was also able to attend the famous Song & Dance Festival that occurs there every five years. It has taken place since 1873 and is a way for our small nation to develop and strengthen our identity. UNESCO has recognized this unique event as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity!
City you most recommend to friends:
Barcelona, Spain. However, after my recent trip to Colombia I find myself recommending Medellín more and more!
City you would drop everything to see:
Tokyo, Japan. I’m a very detail-orientated person, and the Japanese are all about the details, from their fashion and interior design to their anime and food creations!
Which AAA programs do you enjoy working on the most?
Honestly, I enjoy working on all of them, but I have a special place in my heart for our Baltic programs since I often get to work with our partners in my native Latvia.
I also enjoy all of the South America itineraries I’m currently working on. There always seems to be something new I discover or learn!
My secret Latvian language abilities. I am actively trying to get back to the Spanish fluency I had in college. I’m very involved with the trips we offer to Cuba and other Spanish- speaking destinations, so it is a useful language to have on the job!
Most visited websites:
The New York Times, Facebook, The Sartorialist, Travel + Leisure, Kayak, and Oanda (Currency Converter)
Something about you that surprises people:
I am the Vice President of the American Latvian Youth Association! Or perhaps that’s not so surprising… So I’ll divulge another one: I want to write a book someday.
Three things you can’t travel without:
An iPad mini (movies, magazines, books, news, all in one place!), iPod nano (music is mandatory!), and a comfortable pair of shoes that are also chic (gotta look good while doing lots of sightseeing!).
Number of trips you’ve been on:
I’ve been a Tour Director on several of our firm’s programs, but have been on countless trips throughout my life.
Growing up, I traveled extensively with my family, which inspired me to continue traveling as I entered college and eventually made my career choice, which landed me here at AAA!
As Susan Sontag said: “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”
Who would play you in a movie?:
Ideally one of my best friends because she would be able to portray me best, through her perspective and interpretation of me of course! If asked to choose a celebrity, I would be honored to have Charlize Theron play me in a movie. I think she’s extremely talented AND beautiful!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I love quotes and aphorisms, something I inherited from my late grandmother. Here’s one of my recent favorites to share with you today: “I don’t want to be the one who says life is beautiful. I want to be the one who feels it.” – Marty Rubin
We’re pleased to announce the winners of Academic Arrangements Abroad’s first Focus on Travel photo contest!
More than 50 people submitted images of everything from lovers embracing in a Barcelona doorway to a playful polar bear gamboling atop a glacier. There were so many wonderful images that it was difficult to choose the very best, but now, after much deliberation, our panel of experts has finally selected the top three photos.
First prize—a brand-new iPad mini—goes to this image of two Karenni women from Burma. With its unique composition and casual feel, this photo “speaks to the universal quiet moments in life,” noted one of our judges. It shows respect for these women’s culture “yet doesn’t exoticize their dress or adornments.”
A wintry scene of Paris took second prize, a NiteCore Tiny Monster flashlight. This picture of boats along the Seine, with Notre Dame in the background, has an Impressionist quality. With its subdued palette and haunting light, it offers a fresh take on one of the most photographed cities in the world.
This shot of a Buddhist monk took our third prize, a micro luggage scale. Captured at noon in a temple in Yangon (Rangoon), the impassive cleric simultaneously attracts and resists the viewer’s gaze as he peers out from under his ceremonial fan.
Finally, with 41 votes, our People’s Choice Award goes to this shot of the London Eye, a 400-foot-high Ferris wheel on the banks of the River Thames. Its winner will also receive a micro luggage scale.
Several other entrants also received honorable mentions. Congratulations to all!
“I’m always excited to explore new destinations, which is one of the reasons this job is so worthwhile,” she says. Originally from Oklahoma City, Sarah frequently directs tours in Cuba and has visited more than 50 countries.
Hometown: Oklahoma City
City I would recommend: I love Barcelona. It has it all – art, architecture, good food and great weather!
Tour you were on recently: A Cuba trip with MIT alumni. It was a terrific, very enthusiastic group and a great itinerary. The week flew by!
Something that surprises people: I grew up playing poker at family gatherings, so I’m a bit of a card shark.
Three things I can’t travel without: I received a grid-it as a Christmas present and use it to keep all my jewelry and cords together. I also love my Tumi suitcase, which has a tracker on it in case it ever gets lost. And I never leave home without my iPad to entertain me on all the long flights.
Number of trips: I’m not sure how many trips I’ve been on, but I’ve been to more than 50 countries, and counting.
By Ingrid Ahlgren
This coming spring, travelers on our Korea and Japan program will spend a night at Seoul’s Lotte Hotel, which has its own art gallery. Located on the site of Bando Gallery, the country’s first commercial art gallery, which opened in 1956, The Lotte Hotel Gallery aims to promote Korean culture and history with exhibits of sculpture, photography and other art by upcoming and famous artists.
The Lotte Hotel is just one of a growing number of hotels that have notable collections of art. For example, Dublin’s historic Merrion Hotel houses “a spectacular collection of 19th– and 20th-century art which is widely considered to be one of the most important private collections in Ireland.” Artists whose works hang on the hotel’s walls include Martin Mooney, Jack B. Yeats and Pauline Bewick. The Merrion can even arrange for guests to tour the hotel’s art collection with a guide from the National Gallery, which is located nearby.
In Paris, the Hôtel Atmospheres claims to be “the first art-gallery hotel in Paris” and describes itself as “mid-way between a boutique design hotel and a contemporary photography gallery.” Located in St. Germain, an area known for art galleries and antique shops, the hotel is decorated with prints by photographer Thierry des Ouches.
In the United States, travelers can also enjoy fine art at hotels large and small. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas is currently showcasing paintings by Impressionist Claude Monet. New York City’s Gramercy Park Hotel has a collection of art, including works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In Los Angeles’ Sunset Marquis, an upscale boutique hotel, guests can visit the Maximillian Gallery, which connects collectors to creations by emerging street artists.
Some hotels, designed by famous architects, are works of art in and of themselves. These include the Hotel Marqués de Riscal by Frank Gehry in Elciego, Spain; the Le Meridien Lingotto by Renzo Piano in Turin, Italy; the Hotel Gaudí by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain; and the Four Seasons by I.M. Pei in New York City.
Do you have a favorite hotel that has great art or amazing architecture? Please share your experiences and suggestions.