cultural travel

Cultural Travel to St. Petersburg and the Hermitage

There are few places on the earth that have the collection of art throughout time under one roof. One such place is the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Cultural travel to St. Petersburg and the Hermitage is a trip that we should all have on our bucket list. This is a place that houses some of the most magnificent art on the planet. As an example, one of the last paintings that Van Gogh created before he died, called “White House at Night,” was thought to be lost, but in 1995, it was found in the Hermitage. This is a culture that has always valued art.

White House at Night by Van Gogh

White House at Night by Van Gogh- .torrent with info-hash 25c90fc37ba4eaf54184bccc2e1ee5f543c8fe6b


Chris Gray Faust, in USA Today writes about the Heritage:

The Hermitage art museum, the world’s second largest art museum housed in the Winter Palace, has been on my bucket list for years. Stay tuned for a separate post on my visit there, as well as a look at the St. Petersburg Metroand an account of my day trip out to Peterhof, Peter the Great’s Versailles-style mansion and grounds out on the Baltic Sea.


Egyptian Hall at the Hermitage- Andrew Bossi

Egyptian Hall at the Hermitage- Andrew Bossi


This magnificent hall at the Hermitage is just one of the many splendid treasures that this enormous structure hosts. Cultural Travel to St. Petersburg and the Hermitage is such a treat. Many cruise lines have day trips to the Hermitage, but if you’re really lucky, you can go to Russia on a tourist visa that allows you to stay and visit all of it’s many splendors. Put Russia on your list of places to visit, and while you’re making your reservations, be sure to include travel to St. Petersburg and the Hermitage. To read more about Russia and traveling to Russia and the Hermitage, read the full article here.



The New Lisbon- A Labyrinth of Cultural Fun

If you have ever been to Lisbon, you know that the high contrast sky to sea, juxtaposed to white houses on hillsides, is a visual wonder that makes cultural travel fun. The new Lisbon, a labyrinth of cultural fun, is a different place than it once was. Re-invented neighborhoods, new eateries, and new places to enjoy fish tapas are waiting for the cultural tourist to explore. One of the newly restored neighborhoods is Cais do Sodre. Now, the sludge has been rooted out, and old buildings are resurrected to their original splendor. The place has become new again, and full with people.  In an article by Kerry Christiani, she says:

The district was given a makeover. Its main street, Rua Nova do Carvalho, was painted a welcoming bright pink and the call girls were sent packing, but the edginess and decadence on which Lisbon thrives remained. Live music venues, burlesque clubs and tapas bars began to pop up with astonishing frequency, and soon thereafter, Cais do Sodré had upstaged Bairro Alto as Lisbon’s most happening nightlife district….

Alice Wiegand

Alice Wiegand= Cais do Sodre Train Station Lisbon


Why not consider the new Lisbon? The streets alone are a labyrinth of fun, and the architecture, like the train station above, are wonders in and of themselves. Lisbon is a sensory treasure trove of tastes, smells and visual contrast. Meander along the streets, in newly restored neighborhoods like Cais do Sodre, or eat at one of the side street cafe’s. The people, the sounds of the language, and the absolute romance of Lisbon will bring you to your knees. And if you decide to go this spring, do some research. Check out the lonely planet’s guide to Lisbon. You can read the full article by Christiani, at the BBC’s site here.




Senior Travel to the City of Music

Its time to pack your bags for senior travel to the city of music. Where is the city of music? Vienna, Austria is called the city of music because it is home to a legacy of music that will inspire you to the heavens. As an example, the Vienna Boys Choir is one of the finest Boys Choirs in the world. I could listen to them all day. Vienna is also called the city of dreams because it was the home of Sigmund Freud, who was famous for the interpretation of dreams and psychoanalysis of dreams.Vienna city center is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is full of cultural wonders for senior travel. Just listen to the Vienna Boys Choir on Utube below. It takes a few moments for it to load, but what a treat!!




Opera House Vienna

Opera House Vienna


Museum of Applied Arts Vienna

Museum of Applied Arts Vienna-MAK_Vienna_4.JPG










You can hear the Boys Choirs Choir at the Imperial Palace:

Vienna: Queue up at the Imperial Palace’s Hofburg Chapel Sunday mornings to hear the Vienna Boys’ Choir(standing room free). And in April, May, June, and September, the Vienna State Opera screens live performances on a giant LED screen in the opera house square.


Senior travel is an experience that is amplified by inspiring music and culture. For your next trip, why not try senior travel to the city of music and dreams? Don’t just dream about it, make your plans today. There are lots of special airfares and cruises that can transport you to the city of music. Read a bit more here about Vienna. You may also wish to read about European travel here.




Senior Travel to Bhutan, the Last Frontier

There are few places left in the world that are still frontiers in the sense of offering an exclusive glimpse into culture. Senior travel to Bhutan, the last frontier is possible. Seniors are undervalued in the west. But in some cultures in the east such as Bhutan, Indonesia, parts of India, Japan, people are honored for their wisdom and time on the earth.  Bhutan opened its arms to the world a mere 24 years ago when the country first allowed outsiders to visit. In 1999, Bhutan became the last country in the world to introduce television and the internet. There are five distinct seasons in Bhutan, and the climate varies from sub tropical in the south, to polar in the northern parts.

Central Bhutan

Central Bhutan


Senior travel to Bhutan, the last frontier, is a place that is rather challenging to get to, however don’t let this deter you from making those plans to travel there. In an article in the Huffington Post,

The country of Bhutan is a hard place to visit — and not just because the land-locked nation is high in the Himalayas, hidden between India and China, east of Nepal.

The government puts a cap on the number of visas it will dole out to visitors annually, and in 2010, fewer than 29,000 tourists made it into the country. A government-mandated “tariff,” or amount visitors are required to spend daily, discourages independent tourism. Currently visitors must spend $250 a day for the high-season months of March, April and May; almost all visitors book a package tour that complies with the rules.

So it’s rare to get a look at the country off the beaten path, though a few foreign news sources have published stories about the country recently, including a look at Bhutan’s festivals, its luxury hotels and its incredible (and under-appreciated) hikes.


An image tells the story far better than words. Senior travel to Bhutan, the last frontier, can be witnessed in these wonderful images taken by Hadeel Halim. You can read more about Bhutan here.





The Best of the Estruscans, Cultural Travel in Italy

For a long period of time, I had the image below as my desktop background. The image was so compelling to me because it exists inside of a tomb in Tarquinia, Italy, and represents the best of the Estruscans, a people who lived around 1000 to 500BC. Cultural travel in Italy is filled with journey’s to places like the “Tomb of the Leopards,” the fresco below that is painted on the tomb walls in a burial chamber at the Etruscan necropolis of Tarquinia. This painting is a wonderful example of how art connects us with history and cultures that are long gone. The Estruscans were interesting people who were in their glory around 500 BC. They had their own language, writing, and appeared to have a serious maritime presence in places like Sardinia and areas around the Aegean Sea. They fought wars with the Romans, and eventually were integrated into the Roman Culture. They lived on the coast of western Italy, and inland to the Appennine mountains.

Tomb of the leopards-Tarquinia

Tomb of the leopards-Tarquinia


The best of the Estruscans and cultural travel in Italy, includes an exploration into the beliefs and mythology of the Estruscans. The beliefs of the Estruscans embraced the idea that immanent power comes from the Divine, and that we, as humans and everything in the visible world around us are mere reflections and manifestations of the deities that reign over us. They believed in communication with the Divine to participate and persuade the ultimate power of the Divine and this is reflected in the burial practices and beliefs surrounding the afterlife.

Cultural travel in Italy to explore the Estruscans, and other cultural wonders can be a life changing moment. The Guardian has a wonderful article about Italy and includes the Estruscans:

On a hilltop just outside the town are these painted Etruscan burial chambers which inspired DH Lawrence to write what was to be his final, most heartfelt travelogue, Sketches of Etruscan Places. Although there are more than 6,000 tombs, only about 15 are open to visitors each day. The wall paintings are surprisingly celebratory, depicting scenes of dancing, music, feasting and sex! The town’s Tarquinia National Museum is devoted to Etruscan exhibits and sarcophagi excavated from the necropolis. Be sure not to miss the pair of winged horses from the pediment of a Tarquinian temple, one of the greatest Etruscan masterpieces ever discovered., adults €8, children €4

Why not explore the best of the Estruscans in your cultural travels to Italy? While you are there you can visit all of the other wonderful places filled with history, art and great food. Read more about Italy in the full article in the Guardian here.


Cultural Tours to Guatemala

     There is nothing that parallels real authentic experience. Cultural tours all around the world offer dance, smells, tastes, sounds and visual wonder of of a place that embed’s itself in memory. Cultural tours to Antigua, Guatemala are no exception. There are learning experiences that one can never access through a book. The sensory wonders that accompany cultural tours, are a way of “knowing” a place in the sense of the experiences being embedded in one’s whole being.


The University of Texas Continuing and Innovative Education is but one place that offers cultural tours and cultural exchanges. This cultural tour to Guatemala changes a student’s life, the accompanying educators, and the people who they encounter on their journeys. This is like a ripple effect, offering a story that travels from one student to another, to a family member to another, until a whole culture is illuminated with differences that exist between cultures. Read the whole article including what the students have to say here….


Cultural Travel and a Growling Stomach

Imagine being on a plane for 5 or 6 hours, packed with people, and you got up at 4:00am to catch the first flight, so you haven’t eaten a thing all morning. Has this happened to you? Cultural travel on airplanes becomes increasingly challenging as airlines cut the perks such as meals, and new baggage rules. Some people have to eat, due to low blood sugar or other dietary concerns. And then there are the cultural travelers who have a case of the growling stomach. I was once on a flight, squeezed in between two rather large people, and their extended family was across the aisle. After take off, they began to pull out paper bags filled with tupperware containers with deviled eggs, fried chicken, biscuits, and collard greens. I felt like I was in a movie or something. They were passing the deviled eggs across me, and the aisle, and doling out paper plates and napkins. I am not a fan of deviled eggs, especially not on an airplane. So what was I to do? I almost got sick, which would have ruined the ambiance of the moment. Have you had this experience before?

Green deviled eggs on serving tray- photo by Jonathunder

Green deviled eggs on serving tray- photo by Jonathunder


In an article on CNN’s site, I discovered that I am not alone in the cultural traveler’s quest for food. Here is an excerpt from CNN’s article.


(CNN) — Sandi Mays was flying home from a business trip recently when she was seated next to a couple who couldn’t wait to eat. She, on the other hand, was about to lose her appetite.

The minute the seatbelt sign was turned off after takeoff, her neighbors rushed to open their carry-on in the overhead bin and pulled out a plastic bag with a surprise.

“Within the grocery bag, there were Tupperware containers full of some kind of food that had a lot of curry and garlic and onions and all those yummy scents. They’re fine when you’re not enclosed in a tube,” recalled Mays, 42, a telecom executive from suburban Denver, Colorado.


It turns out there is a real etiquette for bringing food on an airplane. For the cultural traveler who goes on a trip around the globe with a growling stomach,  good manners are essential when it comes to food. Read this delightful article by A. Pawlowski here.



Cultural Etiquette around the World

Cultural etiquette around the world is a requirement for the cultural traveler. Cultural sensitivity is something that every cultural traveler needs to be aware of before venturing out into the world. How does one become culturally sensitive? One becomes sensitive through awareness, education,  and by engaging oneself in dialogue with people from the particular place that one wishes to travel. This is essential for anyone traveling to different cultures because there are so many different ways of  practicing beliefs, and traditions that a traveler must understand and acknowledge. Otherwise, there is confusion and a misunderstanding in communication. So how does one learn the cultural etiquette around the world?  Etiquette is not so much manners as it is “understanding and sensitivity” to cultural beliefs and traditions. Learning cultural beliefs before traveling to a culture is not only sensitive, but also essential for integration and communication within a culture. Chris Prichard talks about these differences in “The West Australian.”


The top of the body is as much of a problem as lowly feet. Thais (whose Buddhism is mixed with animist beliefs) commonly regard the head as the spirit’s residence.

Patting a kid’s head is frowned upon – even though you may see modern-day Thais doing exactly that.

Pointing with hands or feet upsets many Burmese. British colonial officials thought they’d found a workaround by pointing with umbrellas (commonly carried because of frequent tropical deluges). But, in a Rangoon market recently, I see a handwritten sign warning: “No umbrella-ing.”

Ignoring local etiquette is usually an innocent oversight – but it ensures you’re labelled a travel jerk.

Children in Thailand

Children in Thailand- Photo by Anthony Hopkins


Cultural etiquette is awareness of “what” is important to a particular culture’s beliefs and traditions. It does not take a tremendous amount of time to explore culturally sensitive issues within a culture. The reward is in the communication and connection you will receive by taking the time to research culturally sensitive body gestures, and mannerisms. Cultural etiquette is a genuine exchange and sensitivity in honoring the riches of a culture’s traditions and beliefs. Learn more here.


Cultural Travel on the Rise

Everything goes through ebbs and flows, and cultural travel is no different. Perhaps it is because of the increase in Baby Boomers, that cultural travel and guided tours are on the rise, but this appears to be a trend that is steadily rising. Seniors especially want to be assured that they can experience a culture without fear of glitches or the concern over where to go and what to do.   At the IBT tourism fair in Berlin, new research has revealed interesting new trends in travel.

tour bus

Tour Bus-Cultural Travel is Up


Releasing its latest trends report at the event, tourism analyst IPK International revealed that the fastest-growing type of holiday in 2011 were tours, which jumped by a whopping 12 per cent on the number taken in 2010.

The total number of outbound trips taken by Europeans rose 3.5 per cent to 414 million, IPK said, slightly below the global growth of five per cent.

What about the United States? Is cultural travel a growing trend in the U.S.? According to the “Americans for the Arts” research relevant to cultural travel, the movement is vital in the U.S. as well.

TIA studies also found that cultural travelers are one of the industry’s most lucrative markets.  In fact, 81 percent of the 146.4 million U.S. adults who took a trip of 50 miles or more away from home in the past year are considered cultural tourists.

In addition to its direct economic impact, tourism can improve quality of life and build community.  When the arts and tourism communities work together to highlight the unique character of a place, they can harness market forces to educate and entertain visitors, preserve cultural assets, and engender community pride in its heritage and way of life.

Whether you are a baby boomer seeking meaningful experiences with cultural travel, or a younger traveler, cultural travel is here to stay. Traditional cultures and their ceremonies and beliefs are fading as technology seeps into their environments. It is essential that we, as human beings, embrace diversity and difference through a willingness to travel and open ourselves to new experiences. Cultural travel is on the rise. You can read more about the European changes in travel here. Go to the Americans for the Arts statistics here.


Cultural Travel To Burma

Cultural Travel to Burma has not been an option until the past two decades. Burma is filled with temples, and beauty that the rest of the world has not known. To travel to Burma, a cultural traveler must plan ahead. There are visa’s, and many regulatory restrictions to travel. This should not deter one who wants to experience a unique and beautiful culture. There are numerous tours that go to Burma.

“Myanmar is the sleeping dragon of Southeast Asia. Political and economic reforms will have created a new impetus to increase the tourism sector of the nation. Myanmar is the cool new place for savvy travelers who want to be the first to discover new destinations. Of course, Myanmar has attracted travelers for decades thanks to its abundant forests, rich wildlife, ancient cities and fascinating culture.” Henry, Tour Manager of Luxury Travel Ltd Myanmar.


Monastery Burma-Photo by Ralf-André Lettau

Monastery Burma-Photo by Ralf-André Lettau

Continue reading




My Favorite Books