December 6, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
2006 marks another big birthday; this time on our side of the big pond. January 17, 2006 is the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin—the first founding father to reach this milestone. In honor of this extraordinary man (what career and hobby didn't he pursue?), Philadelphia is hosting year-long celebrations. The most noteworthy is the major international traveling exhibition: Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World, which opens in Philly on December 15, and then travels around to four other museums nationwide, before its final showing in Paris in 2008.
2006 marks Wolfgang's 250th birthday, and Austria is celebrating in style with an extensive calendar of events. The musical genius will be honored with new museums, operatic performances, extraordinary concert series, festivals and galas, expos and special exhibitions, all across the country. In Vienna--for example-- Mozart's big day will be marked by an open party for the whole city on January 27-29. He will be celebrated all over the city with music, films and readings on a variety of themes-- arranged in to five different tours (Mozart. Friends and Enemies; Mozart. Viennese and Cosmopolitan; Mozart. Art and Love; Mozart. Life and Death; and Mozart. Yesterday and Today). On each tour, visitors experience four different events and a special children's program. My favorite event? The Vienna Boys' Choir will give a concert in St. Stephen's Cathedral on January 27, featuring Mozart's most beautiful works of sacred music.
After a recent redesign, the legendary apres-ski scene at the Little Nell is hotter than ever. Savor the delicacies from the fresh seafood bar, followed by some fondue, and of course there's drinks all night at the Bar. Thaw by a roaring fire in the Living Room, or "ski-watch" the day away.
The Little Nell, Official Site
The Little Nell, Five Star Alliance
Attempting the impossible task of booking a luxury hotel in the Caribbean for the holidays? Most luxury hotels have been booked solid for months. But don't be discouraged in your quest for a well-deserved (albeit last-minute) Caribbean respite! I've found a few delightful gems that still have availability:
Casa Colonial in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: Long stretches of white sand beaches. Elegantly furnished all-suites hotel. World-class spa. Conde Nast Traveler's 2005 Hot List. Impeccable service. Enough said.
Casa Colonial, Official Site
Casa Colonial, Five Star Alliance
Anse Chastanet Resort, in the lush mountain paradise of St. Lucia. With 600 acres of tropical foliage, the soaring peaks of Petit Pitons, and extraordinary beaches, this is paradise on earth. Romantic and secluded. Scuba, spa, waters sports and mountain biking.
Anse Chastanet, Official Site
Anse Chastanet, Five Star Alliance
Petit St. Vincent Resort is available for the Christmas week, though not the post-Christmas week. Individual cottages set on a 113 acre privately-owned island of exquisite white sand beaches.
Petit St. Vincent, Official Site
Petit St. Vincent, Five Star Alliance
Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Official Site
Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Five Star Alliance
After all, the guy turns 400 next year. And the country is going nuts in celebration. Rembrandt 400 is a yearlong party for the artist's 400th birthday. Unique exhibitions and events are scheduled, and travel agents are jumping on the bandwagon with special packages galore. The first of the spectacular exhibitions-- Rembrandt's Mother, Myth and Reality-- opens on December 16 in the Municipal Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden (the artist’s birthplace). In Amsterdam, The Masterpieces opens on January 2, exhibiting 400 exceptional paintings. Why not stake out a room at The Dylan Amsterdam, situated in a 17th century landmark on one of the city's most famous canals? Smack in the city center, but the essence of tranquil.
The Dylan Amsterdam, Official Site
The Dylan Amsterdam, Five Star Alliance
Hahaha, get this. The International Herald Tribune reports that Norwegian Aviation authorities have issued warnings that "Santa Claus flights could cause delays for Norwegian airline passengers" during December. Huh? Apparently so many tourists flock to visit "Santa's village" on the Arctic Circle in Finland-- that Norwegian airspace gets clogged.
Starting next year, art and sculpture from one of the world's finest collections will be on view at Atlanta's High Museum. This seems truly unprecedented: that Paris' cultural gem has agreed to share part of its collection with another museum for an extended period. The "Louvre in Atlanta Project" is to be launched in January, with an exchange of French and American high school students, followed by the appearance of Louvre exhibits at Atlanta's High Museum in the fall. So much for botched Franco-American relations!
Through January 8, 2006, check out the exhibit: Mimesis. Modern Realism. 1918- 45 at the Thyssen-Bornemisza. It focuses on the spread of realism between the World Wars. The whole museum is pretty mind-blowing; a stroll through the permanent collections is like a walk through the best kind of art history class. (Hint: Start on the second floor with the oldest paintings, and work your way down to the 20th century on the ground floor.)
Since Belize counts as both Lonely Planet's and my personal destination of the month, thought I'd raise a glass to Placencia's classic cocktail: the Panty Ripper. Concocted with coconut rum and pineapple juice. Belize's One Barrel is arguably the best rum in the Caribbean. Or maybe Cuban reigns supreme? What’s your vote? Bored of mojitos, and care to share your choices of exotic Latin cocktails? Travel and Leisure sings the praises of Guaro (Costa Rica’s spirit of choice, fast becoming the fave of music and entertainment highrollers) in the November issue.
November 23, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Can't find a turkey in Japan? How 'bout cooking up a Cornish hen with wasabi? Feasting in Amsterdam? Let your host invite every single guest in the hotel (the more the merrier, right?) No supermarket in El Salvador? Chase down the turkey (and chop off that head) yourself! Our stories pale next to yours. Send 'em in! We’d love to hear about your adventures gobbling down turkey in foreign lands.