Meet Our Talented Team: Katarina Lopes

KatarinaLopes

Katarina Lopes in one of her favorite cities: Porto, Portugal

Meet Katarina (“Kat”) Lopes, who is is currently an intern in Arrangements Abroad’s marketing and communications department.

  • When did you start interning at Arrangements Abroad, and what is your position here? I started interning at Arrangements Abroad on June 3rd , and I work in the communications department. When I’m at school at Loyola University Maryland, I work for a catering company.
  • What are you studying? I am a marketing major with a minor in environmental and sustainability studies.
  • What is your hometown? My hometown is Union, NJ.
  • What is your favorite travel-related book? The Alchemist. It taught me to pursue my dreams by following what my heart wants, and that every encounter you have will have a lesson for you.
  • Which cities do you most recommend to friends? I have two: Porto and Florence.
  • Is there a city you would drop everything to see? I would love to visit Marrakesh because I think it has a rich culture and I love its architecture.
  • What do you enjoy working on the most for Arrangements Abroad? I like sorting out images from brochures and working with data.
  • Do you have any special skills? Playing volleyball; playing guitar; and speaking three languages. In addition to English, the other languages I speak are Spanish and Portuguese. I also plan on learning Italian, especially when I study abroad in Rome during my spring semester.
  • What are your three most visited websites or favorite apps? Netflix, YouTube, and Instagram.
  • What is something about you that surprises people? I’m a pescatarian.
  • Favorite trips that you’ve taken? Portugal, Grand Cayman, and Paris.
  • What would your dream trip be? To go on a South African safari. I’d also love to visit Australia and Japan.
  • What are three things you can’t travel without? My phone, camera, and a book.
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Kat in Barcelona, Spain

Interested in finding out more about opportunities, including internships, at Arrangements Abroad? Visit the employment section of our website.

 

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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!

JOAN MIRÓ’S DIAMOND JUBILEE

Spain_Mallorca_Miro_studio_by_THOR

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

Valencia’s Vibrant Treasures

ceramicValencia, Spain, was founded by the Romans in 138 BC. Today the city is known for innovative architecture, magnificent museums, and colorful ceramics. During an eight-night cruise, see the tiles and vases for which Valencia is famous at the National Ceramics Museum, housed in a palace that dates from the 15th century.

Jewels of the Western Mediterranean
Rome to Malaga Aboard Sea Cloud II
May 11 to 20, 2016
With art historian Frank Dabell
Please click to view brochure

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

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.

 

Meet Elizabeth Kester

Elizabeth Kester with pink car in Cuba

Elizabeth in Havana, Cuba

Elizabeth Kester joined AAA in 2012.  Beginning as our Office Manager, she soon climbed the ranks and now manages our team of Tour Coordinators, who advise our travelers and spread the word about our trips.

What is your hometown?

New York, NY.

What city do you most recommend to friends?

I studied abroad in Madrid, have wonderful memories of my time there, and generally love Spanish culture. Madrid, Granada, Santiago de Compostela, Seville— the list goes on! I also love Havana, which is endlessly fascinating and enjoyable. I traveled with two friends from Chilean Patagonia up to the Atacama Desert and was particularly charmed by Punta Arenas, Chile’s southernmost city and a former penal colony, as well as Valparaiso.

Which city would you drop everything to see?

This seems to be a popular answer, but Istanbul, both for its historical significance as the gateway between East and West and because of my preteen obsession with Agatha Christie novels. Also, my maternal grandparents and everyone of their generation on that side of my family were from Berlin.  A family trip has been in the preliminary planning stages for a while now.  Perhaps this blog post will nudge it forward!

Elizabeth Kester and Ute in Spain

With colleague Ute in Cape Finisterre, Spain

What do you enjoy working on the most at Academic Arrangements Abroad?

I’ve especially enjoyed working with travelers on our new Camino de Santiago programs as the idea, development, coordination, and execution of those trips has spanned my time at the company.  My friend and colleague Ute Keyes put together a unique and exciting itinerary. We led the inaugural trip together, which was a truly special experience!

Who would play you in a movie?

I’ll go with Julie Delpy.

What are some of your favorite travel books?

One of my favorite authors is Somerset Maugham, and Pico Iyer put together a collection of his best travel writing called The Skeptical Romancer.  Although I wouldn’t place them in the category of “travel” per say, I’ve come down with Ferrante fever and am a devoted fan of the Neapolitan Novels. I also like Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald for its descriptions of the French Riviera.

Do you have any special skills?

I’m a great fly caster.  My dad taught me well.

What are your most visited websites?

 New York Magazine, The New Yorker, Slate, Quartz and Puck Daddy.

What is something about you that surprises people?

I love anything on ice or snow. There is nothing better than the Winter Olympics.

What are three things you can’t travel without?

A book, my iPhone (loaded with music and podcasts), and a big scarf for the plane.

How many Arrangements Abroad trips have you traveled on?

Come January, I’ll have been on six trips with Arrangements Abroad as a Tour Director: three to Cuba, two to Costa Rica and Panama, and one to Spain.  Many of them have been conveniently timed for when it gets cold in New York!

Elizabeth Kester with glacier

Elizabeth at the Viedma Glacier in El Chalten, Argentina

 

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

14 Fascinating Facts & Figures About the Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago Albert Rodriguez

Camino de Santiago by Albert Rodriguez

For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have walked the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), seeking penance, enlightenment, and adventure. Their destination was Santiago de Compostela, Spain, where it is believed the remains of St. James, Apostle and patron saint of the country, are buried. Here are some of our favorite facts and figures about the famous pilgrimage trail.

  1. Number of people each year who visit Santiago de Compostela (primarily by modes of transportation such as train, plane, etc): 2.5 million

  2. green valley next to pamplonaMost popular route: The Camino Frances, which begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France and passes through Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, Leon, and Astorga. The pilgrimage to Santiago concludes at the Tomb of Saint James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

  3. Length of Camino de Santiago from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela: 800 km (497 miles)

  4. Average time taken to walk this route: 30 days

  5. Camino shellThe scallop shell, commonly found on the shores in Galicia, has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. The shell is frequently seen along the trail to help guide pilgrims. In addition, pilgrims often wear shells or attach them to backpacks to denote that they are travelers on the famous trail.

  6. Santo Domingo de SilosHow do you document your pilgrimage? The official document used by pilgrims to record their journey to Santiago de Compostela is called a credencial. Pilgrims need to have at least two sellos (stamps) per day for at least the last 100 kilometers if they are walking or traveling on horseback, and 200 kilometers if they are cycling, to qualify for a Compostela.

  7. Number of Pilgrims who received the Compostela in 2013: 215,880

  8. Percentage of Pilgrims who were over 60 in 2013: 15.5%

  9. Percentage of pilgrims who received the Compostela by bicycle in 2013: 12.34%

  10. Number of pilgrims who received the Compostela by horse in 2013: 977

  11. Percentage of pilgrims in 2013 who were Spanish: approximately 49%

  12. Services offered by the Pilgrims’ Office in Santiago de Compostela include: Welcoming pilgrims and issuing the Compostela, bicycle parking, toilets for pilgrims, and a service returning bicycles home.

  13. Capacity of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela: 1,200

  14. Botafumiero courtesy Santiago de Compostela tourist boardSize of the Botafumiero: The famous Botafumiero, which is one of the largest censers in the world, weighs 80 kilograms (176 pounds) and is 1.60 meters (more than 5 feet) in height.

Want to hike along the Camino de Santiago? Join Academic Arrangements Abroad and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in August to explore the history, legends and legacy of Europe’s most famous walking trail. Additional tours are being organized in 2016.

Please call our office at 1-800-221-1944 for details and availability.

Meet Erin Sorensen

Erin Sorensen at Great WallErin Sorensen started working at Academic Arrangements Abroad in September 2003.  She’s held a number of different positions at the firm throughout the years and is currently a Vice President in the Operations Department, developing and booking programs and managing trip logistics.

Erin at AAA holiday partyWhat is your hometown?  I moved every two to four years growing up, around the country as well as some time in England, but I now call New York home.  I’ve lived here much longer than anywhere else!

What is your favorite travel book?  Hmm, I could never have just one.  I love to read!  I organize our office book club, for which we read books set in or about different parts of the world.  Some of my favorites of the books we’ve read are:

Agent Zig Zag – Ben MacIntyre

The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway

Country Driving – Peter Hessler

A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler – Jason Roberts

A couple of years ago I decided to read some Scottish books in preparation for a trip there and discovered I love Ian Rankin’s detective novels.

Erin Sorensen Easter IslandCity you most recommend to friends Vienna. I’ve only been there once, but it seems to have something for everyone – art, music, architecture, design, food, shopping. The countries I often recommend are Chile and Jordan, because they are amazing but underrated.

City you would drop everything to see I currently have two: Barcelona and Istanbul.  I can’t believe I still haven’t been to either, but it’s only a matter of time…

Erin in ArlesWhich AAA programs do you enjoy working on the most? Land programs with specialty themes (like the Mozart and Jane Austen programs planned for 2014). I can learn a lot about a specific subject or person as I work on the itinerary and organize the visits, and we get to take people somewhere they may have been before but with a different spin that keeps it new.

Special skills I love to cook and bake and have a good memory for useless pop culture facts.  I also speak French and hope to someday learn another language or two.

Your most visited websites  Probably Google Maps, Expedia and The New York Times for work purposes.  And NYPL, NPR and Amazon for other needs!

Something about you that surprises people I’ve lived in Madagascar and Mauritius. And I am left-handed.

Three things you can’t travel without A book, my camera and some kind of plan for my trip.

Number of trips traveled on  I’ve traveled for AAA about 25 to 30 times – either with groups as a tour director, or for inspection trips and travel conferences.  It’s a great learning experience every time. I also try to take an international trip as vacation about once a year if I can.  Travel is good for the soul!

Erin in Goa