Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This is one of the reasons I love what I do: in a couple of months I am hosting a segment of a World Cruise. One of the ports of call is Bandar Seri Begawan, in the Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam. Brunei is on the northern coast of the island of Borneo: an oil-rich, peaceful enclave with one of the most diverse eco-systems in the world. Nearly 80% of Brunei is tropical rainforest. When you consider that the entire nation is just under 5800 sq km, that's a lot of forest. And most is easily accessed from Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital.
Honest to pete, this is not a place that sort of comes to mind quickly. I do not get a lot of calls from clients saying "Hey, I've got an idea! I want to go to Brunei Darussalam!" But because I am going to get there, I have to read up, learn all I can, and prepare for my new adventure. More to come.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Since Commandante Agi asked so nicely, I'm going to make some suggestions for Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris. Let's get the annoying stuff out of the way: Security at the airports in Europe is quite tough. So when you pack, if you're even remotely in doubt, don't carry it on the plane. ONLY ONE CARRY ON, not a carry on and a small personal bag, per person!
Madrid: Visit the Prado Museum which contains the world's best collection of Spanish painting, including works by El Greco; Velazquez; Goya; Ribera; Zubaran; Murillo. The Prado also contains works by Van der Weyden and Hieronymous Bosch; it houses the most complete collection of Titian's works as well as other painters from the Venice School; and also houses a collection of first class work from English, German, and French artists. And visit the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia National Museum, which has a collection of 20th Century painting and sculpture: works by Picasso, Juan Gris, Miro, Dali, Chillida and Tapies. Finish the visit with Picasso's Guernica - the most compelling visual reminder of the horrors of war I have ever seen.
I can arrange a day of private cooking lessons in an atelier in a private home, if you would like.
Visit the Malasana quarter, and witness how a middle class neighborhood is being "discovered" by Madrid's hip, younger generation. Taberna Lardosa supposedly has the best draft beer in Madrid! This quarter is loaded with off-scene theaters, modern shops, hip restaurants and cafes, intermingling with history: the Church of San Antonio de los Alemanes is an 18th Century Baroque building with lavish frescoes.
Or, you can do a day trip to Toledo, the city of three cultures. Christians, Arabs, and Jews lived here successfully and peacefully, for centuries during the Golden Age. Churches, Mosques, Synagogues make the Old Quarter a virtual museum of diversity of architectural styles (and a testement to how people can indeed live in peace with each other.) This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Barcelona: The heart of Modernism probably lies in Barcelona. The movement had its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and embodies the most innovative creations in art, literature, theater, architecture, decoration, and furniture design. Gaudi, the master of Modernist Architecture, lived in Barcelona - his works are part of what makes this city breathe. Visit his masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia Church, and also Park Guell. And visit the Picasso Museum (also the one in Paris).
I can arrange a private excursion out the the Montserrat and Penedes Wine Regions, if this is of interest.
Paris: There is a line from a movie that says "Paris is always a good idea." I could not agree more. Paris is divided into 20 districts that spiral out like a snail shell from the first, centered round the Louvre. I always walk in Paris, although the Paris underground is quite easy to navigate (and it's clean, and compared to other cities, quiet.) I walk in Paris because it's how I discover things: places like the Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris and a virtual oasis of calm in this bustling city. Located in Le Marais, it has a history - it was the first example of "urban planning" and dates from 1612. You can visit Victor Hugo's house for free!
Once you're peaceful, go to Musee Carnavalet (23-29 rue de Sévigné 75003): this is Paris from the Roman times to 1900… If you see only one museum, see this one! It goes on and on and on and on and on and on! I quite love it. Dine somewhere in Le Marais. You can't miss. Actually, dine anywhere in Paris. You can't miss.
I can create private tour experiences in each city that will give you an insider's view in each city, or the surrounding areas. Feel free to email me with questions!
Monday, November 12, 2007
I'm also talking about experiences, where you can rub elbows with locals and really get to know a place. When you break bread with someone, and conversation flows, your heart and mind opens. When you hold hands with a child in a local village, your heart and mind opens.
So this is where I am, and this will be my focus. Nothing more, nothing but travel.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I've just signed the ONE Declaration committing myself to help fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty.
I'm asking you to make that commitment, too, by adding your voice.
I think your name belongs on that declaration, too. You can put it there by visiting:
ONE is a new effort by Americans to rally Americans - one by one. So far, over two million have signed the declaration in support of a historic pact for compassion and justice to help the poorest people of the world.
Together as ONE we can make a difference!