Artists We Love: Maria Cienfuegos

Travelers on our people-to-people Cuba programs sometimes visit the Miramar home of visual artist Maria Cienfuegos, where she showcases her work as well as that of other young artists.  Her artist-run cooperative, dubbed Studio 7 y 60 (or Septima Y Sesenta), has existed since 2010, when Maria and three collaborators decided to use her family’s apartment as a venue to present their creations directly to the public.

maria-cienfuegosMuch of Maria’s art explores the concept of memory. On her website, Maria, who has a background in biology as well as art, writes: “I approach my work from the hybrid sensitivity that arises from the mutual influence of art and science. My photographs emerge from the counterbalance between these two forms of operation, which I regard as complementary. Within this dynamic I am interested in the social/anthropological processes which traverse the categories of thought and image. It is my personal quest to go inside spaces of remembrance and forgetfulness. Photography is my way of not only adding and revealing layers to the process of reminiscence; but also of participating in this cryptic accumulation.”

On a recent journey to Havana, we captured these images of the artist and her studio space. Find out more about her artist-run space, Studio 7 y 60, here.You can also read an article about the studio on Cuban Art News.

To find out more about Academic Arrangements Abroad, one of the pioneers in offering legal travel to Cuba, visit our website. Since 1999, we have helped thousands of Americans discover the rich history and culture of this once-inaccessible nation.

Our president, Jim Friedlander, who has traveled to Cuba more than 50 times, has also created the Havana Heritage Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting and preserving the architecture and culture of Havana.  For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, click here.

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The Hippest Spot in Havana

Cuba_FAC_Vimeo_snip

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

Sandra_Jackson-Dumont

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!

GrandCanal

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.

Merida_Spain_by_Juan Antonio F. Segal

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 One of Our Tour Coordinators, Kalea Wiseman

Kalea in Patagonia

Kalea in Patagonia

Kalea Wiseman just celebrated her one-year anniversary at Academic Arrangements Abroad, where she started out as an Assistant Tour Coordinator. Prior to joining the firm, Kalea worked designing, selling, and leading educational trips to Cuba. She attended the University of San Diego—where she earned degrees in political science and Spanish—and also studied abroad in Havana, Cuba, and Montevideo, Uruguay. In early 2016, Kalea will become a Tour Development Coordinator working in Cuba and New York.

What is your hometown?

The Pacific Northwest is my homeland. I was born in Seattle, Washington, and raised in Salem, Oregon. I’ve traveled around that whole part of the country.

Who would play you in a movie?

Being the girl from Dirty Dancing Havana Nights would be my ideal situation.

City you most recommend to friends

Havana. Always Havana. It’s just such an enchanting, mysterious, welcoming place. It surprises me every time I go. It also changes every time I go.

What city would you drop everything to see?

I would love to go to Istanbul. I have a dear friend from college who is from Turkey, and she always brought back the most beautiful jewelry and crafts. I think it would be interesting to visit.

What do you enjoy working on the most for Arrangements Abroad?

I really love tour directing, which is probably why I’ll be doing a lot more of it next year. I love helping people have really interesting and unique experiences on the ground.

Special skills

Salsa dancing, speaking Spanish, and enjoying life!

Most visited websites

Cuba Absolutely, OnCuba, and The Havana Times  for information about Cuba, and The New York Times for general news.

Kalea WisemanWhat is something about you that surprises people?

The first time people hear me speak Spanish. Native Spanish speakers are especially surprised because I look so American, but I speak Spanish with a strong Cuban accent.

What are some things you can’t travel without?

A few nice dresses (they’re easy to wear, but they look good), a notebook (to take notes about trips and remember details and experiences), and a sense of humor.

Number of trips traveled on

While I was studying abroad in Montevideo, I traveled around Uruguay and also visited Buenos Aires and Patagonia in Argentina. Other countries I’ve visited include Spain, Portugal, and Mexico.

With Academic Arrangements Abroad, I’ve taken three trips to Cuba, with another one coming up soon and many more to come.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m looking forward to spending more time in Cuba and working with our really experienced Tour Directors there.

Kalea in Cuba

Kalea in Cuba

Travel to Cuba: Learning from the Experts

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John Welsh and Kate Klorer on the Bacunayagua Bridge, Cuba

Arrangements Abroad has been taking Americans to Cuba since 1999, and those 16 years recently paid off for Assistant Tour Coordinator John Welsh. He just returned from accompanying a Metropolitan Museum of Art group to the island and can’t stop raving about the trip.“The combination of tour guide David Camps and tour director Kate Klorer, and a wonderful group of flexible, attentive travelers made for a fabulous program,” John says. His favorite experience? Meeting the people: “I now have this intimate, positive view of Cubans that’s so different from what we often see in American media,” he says. “It was also an awesome opportunity to learn from a great team about how to take care of travelers.”

The Art & Architecture of Cuba
Havana, Matanzas & Varadero
March 26 to April 2, 2016
With Met lecturer Inés Powell
Please click to view brochure

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!

Master the Mojito!

Havana Nacional Mojito bar

Image by Ellen Renstrom

Havana’s historic Hotel Nacional, originally designed by McKim Mead & White and opened in 1930, is known to serve the best mojitos in Cuba. A past Soane Museum Foundation traveler took notes on a paper cocktail napkin about how the hotel’s barman made a mojito:

 Mojito recipe on napkin

Using tall glass:

 

1 T. of fine sugar

large sprig of mint

½ T. of fresh lemon juice

using a mortar or handle, crush in the glass

ice cubes

rum (white), pour, counting 1 to 10

splash of sparkling water or club soda

3 drops bitters

rum (dark), pour, counting 1 to 5

place straw in and enjoy!

 

Hotel NacionalDuring some of our people-to-people trips this May and June, travelers will enjoy a drink on the terrace of the Nacional. The lime and rum cocktails are also served at the hotel’s Gallery Bar, where visitors can listen to live Cuban music while relaxing with a refreshing libation. Former patrons at the bar include Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and of course, Ernest Hemingway.

Visit Academic Arrangements Abroad’s website for more information about Cuba tours and other journeys.

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.

8 Top Blog Posts of 2014

The year is coming to a close! We dug into our statistics to bring you the top blog posts of 2014. Some of these favorites were actually written years ago, but they continue to draw readers. Here is a round-up:

Bagan Temples

Bagan, Burma, The City of 1,000 Pagodas

Writing about seven hundred years apart, the great explorer and merchant Marco Polo and the noted author Somerset Maugham expressed their awe of the many temples of Bagan. Find out what’s so remarkable about Bagan in this blog post. Want to see the city’s pagodas? Join Arrangements Abroad in 2015 for our “Treasures of Burma” tour, which will visit Yangon, Bagan, and Mandalay.

Sea CloudSeeing Red

This blog post looks at the importance of the color red on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Examples include the official flower, national bird, and flag. Interested in seeing the island’s official flower, known as the Chaconia, Wild Poinsettia, and Pride of Trinidad and Tobago? Our 2016 “Gardens of the Caribbean” cruise  calls at Trinidad, where travelers will stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Manatee and ManSeven Amazing Hotels for Nature Lovers

We ran this post for Earth Day, but it continues to attract readers who love the great outdoors. Find out where you can swim with manatees, sleep in a deluxe ger in the Gobi Desert, or have breakfast with giraffes.

Meet Lonesome George

Lonesome George walking in 2008

By Arturo de Frias Marques

Who is Lonesome George? He was the last surviving Pinta Island Galapagos tortoise, and the subject of much fanfare since his discovery in 1971. Although George, who weighed 195 pounds, lived to be more than 100 years old, unfortunately he passed away in 2012.

Fusterlandia by Sara Kosyk

Fusterlandia by Sara Kosyk

Fusterlandia: A Ceramic Wonderland on the Outskirts of Havana

Cuban artist José Fuster is the brains behind Fusterlandia, a neighborhood in the village of Jaimanitas that the artist has been transforming with his ceramic creations for years. This blog post includes stunning images of Fusterlandia. To find out more about Academic Arrangements Abroad, one of the pioneers in offering legal travel to Cuba, visit our website.

Camino de Santiago Albert Rodriguez

Camino de Santiago by Albert Rodriguez

14 Fascinating Facts & Figures About the Camino de Santiago

For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have walked the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), seeking penance, enlightenment, and adventure. This blog post includes some of our favorite facts and figures about the famous pilgrimage trail. Want to explore the history, legends, and legacy of the trail? Consider signing up for “In the Footsteps of St. James,” a program of selective hikes along Spain’s Camino de Santiago in August 2015.

 An Architectural Challenge

Nimes' Maison Carree, (c) Merle ja JoonasIn 1984, twelve of the world’s most famous architects were invited to submit plans for a new museum in Nîmes, on the square anchored by a stunning Roman temple. A building designed by the winner of the competition, Norman Foster, opened in 1993. Read the post to find out more about the contest and the new museum.

Olivia in the NetherlandsMeet Olivia Balsinger

No… Olivia isn’t another giant tortoise. This post is actually one of our popular staff Q&As, and Olivia works in the tour coordination department at Academic Arrangements Abroad. Check out the blog post to find out more about Olivia’s favorite destinations, what she loves about her job at Arrangements Abroad, and her summer working at a Boy Scout camp as a lifeguard.