Meet Our Talented Team: Dayzjah Thomas

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Dayzjah Thomas dancing

We love our interns (and former interns) at Arrangements Abroad. Today we learned more about employee Dayzjah Thomas, who first started out at the company as an intern.

When did you start interning at Arrangements Abroad, and what is your position here? 

I started working at Arrangements Abroad in June of 2018 as a TRAMS/Finance intern right after I graduated from the Alvin Ailey School for Dance. Before Arrangements Abroad, I was working at school for my program director as his assistant. I was referred here by one of my peers, Sophia! I have upgraded to a general Client Services assistant, and now I assist with outreach and administrative duties.

If you are still in school, what are you studying? 

I’m not in school anymore, I’m a freelance dancer! I plan to go back to school for something involving the medical industry or food.

What is your hometown?

I was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but I grew up in Los Angeles, California.

Who would play you in a movie? 

I would love to have Lupita N’yongo play me in a movie. I love how poised and well-spoken she is, not to mention her beauty!

Which city do you most recommend to friends? 

Los Angeles. Beautiful weather anytime!!

Which city would you drop everything to see? 

I would drop everything to go see Tokyo, Japan, or Phuket, Thailand. I studied Mandarin Chinese in high school and fell in love with Asian culture. I’d love to take a food tour!

Which department(s) are you in at Arrangements Abroad? What do you enjoy working on the most?

I work for the Client Services and  Finance departments. Sometimes I assist the Operations & Communications departments as well. I enjoy Trams inputs the most! It’s what I started out doing here first, and it keeps me calm!

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Dayzjah Thomas

Do you have any special skills?

DANCE. DANCE. DANCE. (Click here for a YouTube video of Dayzjah dancing.)

What are your three most visited websites or apps? 

Amazon.com, Playbill.com, and Instagram.

What is something about you that surprises people?

I’m really scared of birds, mostly pigeons, especially when they fly in flocks.

What is one of your favorite trips that you’ve taken? 

When I was younger, we went on a family vacation to the Bahamas via Disney cruise. Best trip ever!

What would your dream trip be? 

Honestly, any Disney vacation still! I loved it so much, and I believe I’d have fun at any age. My dream Arrangements Abroad trip is the Met Buddhism & the Himalayas program. I love learning about spiritual enlightenment and the hotels look amazing.

What are three things you can’t travel without?

Headphones, my Pillow Pet Unie the Unicorn, and socks!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

My uncle is a famous actor and comedian. You may know him: Norbit, Undercover Brother, Double Take, Malcolm & Eddie….

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

 

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Meet Our Talented Team: Katarina Lopes

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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.

 

Meet Kieran McCarthy Fell

Hiking at Machu Picchu at dawn

Kieran hiking at Machu Picchu at dawn.

Arrangements Abroad has welcomed several new staff members in recent months. For this post, we’d like to introduce you to Kieran McCarthy Fell, who joined our Client Services team.

When did you start working at Arrangements Abroad, and what is your position here?

I started August 6, 2018, and I’ve loved every day so far! I’m a Client Services Coordinator.

What were you doing right before you started working for Arrangements Abroad? 

Panicking about when I would find a job! No, I had just graduated from grad school and come back from a week playing Irish music in the Catskills with friends.

What is your hometown?

Huntington, New York.

Kieran skiing in the Alps

Skiing for the first time ever, in the Austrian Alps! The bunny hill was at the top of Kitzsteinhorn.

Who would play you in a movie?

My boyfriend claims it would be Anna Kendrick. I’m okay with that. She’s spunky!

What is your favorite travel book?

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.

City you most recommend to friends

There are so many amazing places for different interests! Some I’ve raved about are Stockholm, Krakow, Seattle, and Prague. And Alaska’s Glacier Bay area, though I know it’s not a city.

City you would drop everything to see

Of places I’ve been before, Vienna. It definitely has a hold on me. Of cities I haven’t gotten to see yet, I’d go to Istanbul or St. Petersburg in a heartbeat. Also, although they are not cities, I’d love to visit Georgia, Patagonia, and Mongolia. And Antarctica before it’s completely melted away.

What is your favorite thing about working at Arrangements Abroad?

I’m really enjoying the people I get to work with, coworkers and travelers alike. Everyone in the office has been so helpful and patient that I’m looking forward to the day I can help each of them in return. And our travelers are so passionate about seeing the world! That’s something I have great admiration for.

Kieran with flute at the Cliffs of Moher

Kieran with her traditional flute at the Cliffs of Moher.

Do you have any special skills?

Playing traditional Irish music, and I’ve recently discovered I do a pretty okay job of impersonating Janice from Friends.

Your most visited websites

Condé Nast, Facebook (sadly), and everything affiliated with Google (especially Gmail and Google Maps).

Something about you that surprises people.

I’m REALLY not a fan of butterflies! Also I’ve published a research paper.

Three things you can’t travel without 

Some variety of photo-taking device, a list of useful words and phrases in the local language, and something to read on the way.

Number of trips traveled on

None for AA yet, though hopefully someday! So far, I’ve traveled to 17 countries (some more than once), 43 states (some more than once) and Puerto Rico; and the rest of the world is on my bucket list!

A Taste of Summer

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Baltic Red Houses

June 21st marks the official first day of summer! In addition to traveling on some of Arrangements Abroad’s trips to destinations including the Baltic, staff members are taking vacations to places near and far. Here’s a roundup of some of the locations they’ll explore this summer.

“I’m going to Ecuador for two weeks with my son. The trip will be half business and half vacation.” –-Ute Keyes, Director, Tour Operations & Development 

Morning on the Lost Coast, photo by Wendy Seltzer

Morning on the Lost Coast, photo by Wendy Seltzer

“I’m taking an extended camping trip from San Francisco to Seattle and Lost Coast in between.” –Ethan Long, Client Services Outreach Coordinator

“I am planning to go to Oregon and Los Angeles in July. Oregon is very beautiful in the summer, but I’m most excited to go hiking and support the local businesses in the Columbia Gorge, which is recovering from a devastating wildfire.” –Amy Wilson, Client Services Associate 

“I am going to Montana to ride horses on a dude ranch!”  –Olivia Post, Operations Manager

Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia

“I’m traveling to the Republic of Georgia. Will stay in Tbilisi and do some day trips out of the city.” –Christine Echeverri, Client Services Associate 

“For personal travel, I will be going to Maine in August for the first time, to visit Acadia National Park with my family. At the end of this month I am doing a work trip accompanying a small group to Austria. One of the things we are doing is attending a day of performances at Grafenegg.  Should be interesting!” –Erin Balderrama, Vice President, Tour Operations 

Where would you like to travel this summer? For additional information about Arrangements Abroad’s upcoming tours, please visit our website.

 

Sea Cloud: A Ship with a Story, a Secret, and a Song

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Sea Cloud has been called “a ship with a soul.” More than that, she is a ship with a story, a secret, and a song.

SeaCloud_SailingCrew_23Her story has many chapters. The first begins in 1931, when Sea Cloud was built (as the Hussar V) for Edward F. Hutton, a stockbroker and expert yachtsman, and his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post. At a cost of over a million dollars—more than $15 million in today’s money—this four-masted windjammer was bigger and more spectacular than similar yachts owned by Morgans and Vanderbilts. Measuring 316 feet from bow to stern and with 55,000 feet of sail, Sea Cloud was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest private sailing yacht in the world.

Befitting a ship designed for an experienced sailor, Sea Cloud was exceptionally seaworthy. Her steel hull was so strong and moved so steadily that the yacht later served as a battleship during World War II.

SeaCloud_CatA_Cab2_01While E.F. was responsible for designing Sea Cloud’s exterior, Marjorie took care of the ship’s interior. “Luxurious” does not do it justice. Marjorie’s stateroom, decorated à la Louis XVI, was so opulent that when Queen Maud of Norway glimpsed it, she gasped, “You live like a queen, don’t you?”

Indeed, the queen of this “queen of the seas” has her own fascinating story. Marjorie, the only child of C.W. Post, founder of the Postum Cereal Company, had been groomed by her father as a business leader since the age of 10, when she began attending company board meetings. When C.W. passed away in 1914, Marjorie, then 27, took over. Through a series of canny mergers, she transformed Postum into General Foods, the company behind Jell-O, Maxwell House, Birdseye, and other household names.

Sea Cloud 15.-25.August 2010Celebrated for her glamour and style, Marjorie was also renowned for her philanthropy; she gave generous, often anonymous gifts to the Red Cross, Boy Scouts, and other favorite charities. Still, the Huttons worried that their wealth could attract the wrong attention. Thus Marjorie, E.F., and their only child Dina (who later became the movie star Dina Merrill) spent much of the Depression safe in relative isolation aboard Sea Cloud, sailing the world. In 1935 E.F. and Marjorie divorced, and 20 years later, Sea Cloud was sold to Rafael Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic, who renamed it the Angelita after his daughter.

Therein lies Sea Cloud’s secret: In 1961, Trujillo was assassinated, and his son Ramfis tried to spirit his father’s body away to Europe by hiding it in the ship’s smoking room, along with a rumored $5 million in cash. En route, the ship was intercepted by a Dominican gunboat and forced to turn back. (The smoking room where the body was hidden no longer exists; it was removed to make way for the newer staterooms when Sea Cloud was remodeled.)

And Sea Cloud’s song? If you have ever been lucky enough to sail with the talented Tom Hook aboard as cruise director, you’ve probably heard him perform the classic rock song, “Ripple.” What could be a more fitting soundtrack for a moonlit night aboard this elegant lady?

“Ripple in still water / When there is no pebble tossed / Nor wind to blow…”

To find out more about upcoming cruises aboard Sea Cloud, visit Arrangements Abroad’s website or call us at 212-514-8921

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Portugal Restaurant Recommendations

panorama of beautiful Porto with traditional boats. PortugalPortugal is known for its five-star cuisine. You may wish to enjoy a meal at leisure at one of these restaurants, which specialize in everything from Portuguese delicacies to Asian fusion.

Lisbon

100 ManeirasRua do Teixeira 35, 1200-459

This intimate eatery serve a nine-course tasting menu of seasonal Portuguese dishes

JNCQUOIAv. da Liberdade 182-184

This fashionable spot offers “timeless artisan food with clever twists”

Olivier Avenida, Rua Júlio César Machado 7

Noted chef Olivier da Costa’s restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere

Yakuza (sushi), Rua da Escola Politécnica 231

Another Olivier da Costa restaurant, Yakuza specializes in sushi, sashimi, and East-West fusion cuisine

Loco (one Michelin star), Rua dos Navegantes 53-B

Alexandre Silva, who won the first Top Chef de Portugal competition, offers two enticing tasting menus

Belcanto (two Michelin stars), Largo de São Carlos 10

In the heart of historic Lisbon, this sophisticated restaurant serves “revisited Portuguese cuisine”

Cervejaria Liberdade, Tivoli Avenida Liberdade

This elegant restaurant specializes in fresh seafood sourced from the Portuguese coastline

GambrinusRua das Portas de Santo Antão 23

This classic spot offers superb seafood and other local specialties in a comfortable setting

Darwin’s CafeAv. de Brasília Ala B

Known for its lovely views of the Tagus River, Darwin’s Cafe serves modern European cuisine

Tapisco, Rua Dom Pedro V 80

Created by chef Henrique Sá Pessoa, cozy Tapisco celebrates both Spanish and Portuguese gastronomy

Porto

Antiqvvm (one Michelin star)Rua de Entre-Quintas 220

Overlooking the Douro River, this lovely restaurant is known for its excellent tasting menu

Cantinho do AvillezRua Mouzinho da Silveira, 166 R/C

This unpretentious place serves exceptional Portuguese cuisine “inspired and influenced by travel”

Cafeína, Rua do Padrão 100

Among Porto’s best restaurants, elegant Cafeína specializes in contemporary European creations

TerraRua do Padrão 103

Split into two floors, Terra is known for top-quality Mediterranean food (upstairs) and sushi (downstairs)

FlowRua da Conceição 63

This relaxed restaurant and bar dishes up Mediterranean specialities, Portuguese favorites, and sushi

OficinaRua de Miguel Bombarda 282

Art and gastronomy mix at Oficina, which serves innovative cuisine in a revamped auto repair shop

For a full list of restaurants in Portugal that have been awarded Michelin stars: http://portugalconfidential.com/2018-michelin-star-restaurants-portugal/

 

Meet Elizabeth Viliani

Elizabeth V in Asolo

Elizabeth Viliani at Villa Cipriani in Asolo, Italy

Elizabeth Viliani, Manager, Operations, one of the newest staff members at Arrangements Abroad, says her love of travel was forever fused when she landed a sales job with CIGA Hotels, the Italian luxury hotel company. When CIGA was acquired by Starwood Hotels, Elizabeth added even more amazing properties—including a tented desert resort outside Dubai and a Frank Gehry masterpiece in Rioja, Spain—to her portfolio. When she’s not traveling, you can find Elizabeth walking her dog in Central Park, reading mystery novels, watching classic films, or searching flea markets for vintage jewelry.

Where are you from originally?

Elizabeth eating lasagna in Florence

Elizabeth eating lasagna in Florence, Italy

I grew up in South Jersey near Philly and had a double major in psychology and sociology at Drew University. After college, I moved to New York City, feel in love with the urban lifestyle and have been here ever since. My first job right out of college was at a company placing advertising in the Yellow Pages. This was definitely not for me so when I I had the opportunity to work for a small company representing Italian hotels, I jumped at the chance. I fell in love with travel AND Italy. My next job landed me a sales job at the iconic Italian luxury hotel company CIGA (where I met my Italian husband while on a sales call). Over the next years, a series of acquisitions led to my job at Starwood Hotels where I managed a sales territory selling their luxury brands.

So far, what do you enjoy most about working at Arrangements Abroad?

The small scope of the office. It’s not a huge corporate setting. It isn’t bureaucratic. I enjoy working on the itineraries and learning about new places, and I like the vendor visits. Coming from a corporate environment, it is a nice change. Also, people are interested in cultural travel and not just luxury.

Which city do you most often recommend that your friends visit?

Elizabeth Viliani at Savoy Hotel in London

Elizabeth having tea at the Savoy Hotel in London

There are so many wonderful ones! I guess my two favorite ones to visit are London and Rome. In London, there is a ton to do and great visits outside of the city. Rome has so much history and so many facets. There are hidden components to it even after many visits. I’ve been to Rome at least 15 times.

Which destination would you drop everything to see?

Maybe Peru. I want to see Machu Picchu and Cusco and experience that culture. It sounds fascinating to me.

Do you have any special skills?

I have a good eye for vintage jewelry and know a lot about the history of it. I find jewelry at flea markets and antique shops. I wear something different almost every day.

Which websites do you visit the most?

LinkedIn for connecting to people professionally, eBay for vintage jewelry, and Google for research. I also listen to NPR.

What is something about you that surprises people?

Both sides of my parents’ families were here before the Revolutionary War. Also, both sets of my grandparents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

What are three things you can’t travel without?

A warm shawl, sunglasses, and my iPhone.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Elizabeth V Central Park

Elizabeth in Central Park

I have a lovely dog, Pluto. One of my favorite things to do is walk him in Central Park. You meet some very interesting people in the park when you have a dog!

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.

Richard Serra’s Afangar

Is this Lewis, Shetland, or Orkney? Nope: It’s the island of Videy, near Reykjavik. And these are not millennia-old monoliths but sculptures erected in 1990 by Richard Serra.

Called Afangar (“Standing Stones”), this is a site-specific installation of nine pairs of basalt columns ranging from nine to 13 feet tall.

Serra was asked to create a public work for Reykjavik but found inspiration in the wild and rugged terrain outside the city. Extracted from a nearby quarry, the stones are carefully positioned in an area of this small (.7 square mile) island, spread out to elicit wandering and viewing from different perspectives in a landscape that includes water, a working harbor, plentiful bird life, tiny beaches, a great expanse of sky, and windswept grass.

Afangar3Scoreand More

Uninhabited since 1943, this island had a population that peaked in 1930 with 138 residents.  With archaeological evidence of settlement dating to circa 900 A.D., Videy has witnessed many changes. Over the years it has housed a monastery, wool mill, printing press, dairy farm, and fish factory. In addition to Afangar, now visitors find one of Iceland’s oldest stone houses (now a café-museum), its second-oldest stone church, and an installation by Yoko Ono called Imagine Peace Tower, a circular monument from which a beam of light sometimes projects into the sky.

Travelers on September’s “Fire & Ice: Iceland Natura” program will visit the tiny, pristine island of Videy. Led by The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Pari Stave, an Icelandic art expert, visitors will discover Serra’s largest landscape project, meet local artists, and marvel at the aurora borealis.

Photo courtesy of 3scoreandmore

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!