SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINES GREAT ESCAPES 2002
TRAVEL TREASURES - CONSERVATION & CULTURE
From around the corner to around the world, travel provides an escape that can be intellectually stimulating, culturally unique, conservation- and ecotourism-oriented front, and just plain fun. Weve rounded up an enticing variety of destinations and travel companies that will get you going, whatever your interest. From culture to conservation and so much more, the world is full of great escapes!
THE CARIBBEAN & CENTRAL AMERICA
The most easterly of the Caribbean islands, Barbados boasts an array of natural and historic attractions, beaches, watersports, golf courses, fine dining and nightlife, friendly people, a range of accommodations, and a wide variety of events throughout the year.
Barbados is a land of remarkable contrasts, from its craggy northern coastline, to vast meadows of sugar cane, and on to its serene Caribbean coastline--all on an island only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide. Whether you go for the renowned golf, the unique culture, lots of history, or the spectacular beaches and resorts, Barbados will become a lifetime favorite.
The island boasts a unique range of natural and historic attractions, from stunning plantation great houses that reflect a bygone era to vast caves filled with prehistoric artifacts. The island is also known for distinctive coastlines: the wonderful west coast beaches line the crystal Caribbean waters, while the rugged east coast is a breathtaking stretch ideal for surfing and other watersports. In addition, seafaring tours aboard historic ships, submarine rides, and excursions from private boats can be savored on any shore.
Diverse sightseeing options feature a wide array of natural attractions, world-class shopping, and lively nightlife. A tourism office list of insider classics that visitors simply must see runs several pages including a wide range of sightseeing, food and drink, shopping, pampering, and more! Travelers interested in history, culture, and architecture will enjoy a wide selection of plantation great houses on the island. Tours provide excellent insight into the life and times of early settlers.
Despite more than 30 years of independence from Great Britain, Barbados still enjoys a delightful British atmosphere--a statue of Admiral Nelson graces Bridgetowns Trafalgar Square and afternoon tea remains a custom for many residents and hotel guests. Popular island sports include cricket, croquet, polo, and soccer, as well as renowned golf, tennis, sailing, diving, and more.
For those looking for great golf while vacationing in the Caribbean, Barbados is the island of choice. With some of the regions most luxurious and breathtaking courses, Barbados has gained unprecedented attention among golfers.
The infrastructure of the island is technologically advanced and its business operations sophisticated, allowing for convention and meeting business to flourish at a host of internationally acclaimed resort hotels. The Sherbourne Centre is known as one of the Caribbeans finest conference facilities, featuring state-of-the-art technology and a wide selection of meeting space and services.
The island features an unbeatable range of accommodations, from elegant resorts to intimate guesthouses. Dining in Barbados is a feast for all senses, including fabled folk recipes for flying fish (a culinary specialty) to gourmet experiences that rival the worlds finest cuisine.
Proud of their island, Bajans are always willing to share a rich cultural heritage and provide insights into favorite local attractions and finds off the beaten track. Any visit to Barbados, whether for a leisurely sojourn or more, is an adventurous escape. Its an island that gracefully blends progress and tradition.
For further information, call (800) 221-9831 or visit www.barbados.org.
British Virgin Islands
The importance of preserving the British Virgin Islands' unique and fragile national parks system, which comprises some of the world's most ecologically diverse environments, as well as the importance of safeguarding the thousands of pristine acres that encompass and surround the parks, was highlighted by the visit earlier this year of a group of influential and environmentally aware Americans.
The visit was arranged by the Trustees of the BVI National Parks Trust, USA, a philanthropic trust. The Trustees seek to raise awareness of important issues impacting the BVI's national parks. ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings, former CBS Anchor Walter Cronkite, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Lt. Governor Winthrop Rockefeller of Arkansas, actor Cliff Robertson, and editor George Plimpton are some of the well-known Americans serving as Governors on the Board of Trustees. They, along with David Fanning, Remar Sutton, columnist for The Washington Post, and Lester Hyman, Washington, D.C.-based presidential advisor, are lending support for the parks and for the efforts to strengthen, expand and preserve them.
Many governors of the Trust toured BVI territory, including the national parks, as part of their board meeting in late-January. "Like so many people in these islands, I have a home near the border of a national park," said David Fanning, founder and executive producer of PBS Frontline and a Governor of the Trustees. "That this land has been saved is an extraordinary gift," Fanning said. "There is something fragile about all these places, something so easily lost."
"The land and ocean are inextricably linked together," added Jean-Michel Cousteau, President of Ocean Futures and the eldest son of Jacques Cousteau. "Parks are the symbol of this relationship. The British Virgin Islands has an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen and protect its economic future by protecting its parks, and the other land and waters which surround them. I look forward to working with the BVI National Parks and the BVI Government on this challenging and historically important project."
Walter Cronkite, a Governor, avid yachtsman and frequent visitor to the territory for over thirty years, complimented the Government and Parks for their efforts to safeguard the BVI environment. Cronkite said, The beauty undoubtedly is the greatest asset of the British Virgin Islands, as the majority of citizens seem to agree. It is their support that has made possible the protection of the unspoiled beaches, the glorious hills, the pristine waters of what is certainly one of God's great gifts to humankind."
The BVI National Parks Trust actively manages nineteen national parks, including eighteen terrestrial parks and one marine park. In total, the Parks Trust manages 4,167 acres, or eleven percent of the land and marine area of the BVI.
The National Parks Trust's program consists of five key project areas in Biodiversity Assessment and Management, Management of Terrestrial Parks, Marine Conservation Program, Historical Preservation and Public Awareness, and Environmental Education. For further information on the Trustees of the BVI National Parks, USA, Inc., interested readers can contact Remar Sutton at email@example.com. The BVI National Parks Trust, found on the Internet at www.bvinationalparkstrust.org, can be reached at (284) 494-3904 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information, call (800) 835-8530 or visit wwwbvi.touristboard.com.
If you want a wide variety of exotic options packed into a small country, then go to Costa Rica. Covering an area of just less than 32,000 square miles (about the size of West Virginia), Costa Rica is internationally famous and recognized for the diversity and density of its natural resources and for the fabled kindness of its approximately four million inhabitants. These facts set Costa Rica apart as an especially attractive destination for the more than one million visitors the country welcomes each year.
The small, mountainous country of Costa Rica boasts an ever-changing panorama of steaming volcanoes, rainforests, lowland jungles, Pacific surf and Caribbean beaches that combine to offer visitors a diverse selection of travel experiences that are unmatched in the region. The 700-plus miles of coastline offers world-class sport fishing and surfing, while divers can choose from more than 20 dive sites replete with huge schools of fish, rocky coral and undersea canyons.
While only presenting .03% of the planet's surface, Costa Rica is home to 6% of the world's biodiversity, including more than 800 species of wild birds, 200 species of mammals, 200 species of reptiles and 13,000 species of plants. Costa Rica has more than 400 trained natural history guides to help visitors identify and interpret the enormous amount of biodiversity within its nearly 20,000 square miles of territory.
Travelers to Costa Rica can select from a number of experiences including: the Central Valley, home to the country's capital, San Jose; the tropical Caribbean Coast; the sunny North Pacific area; the Mid Pacific, home to many favored surfing points; the South Pacific, an area known for its biodiversity and indigenous culture; and the Northern Plains, the site of several majestic volcanoes.
To emphasize that Costa Rica is a convenient, tranquil, and diverse destination with a proven track record, the Costa Rica Tourist Board (ICT) launched a multi-faceted initiative to encourage North American travelers to visit Costa Rica. "Costa Rica has a long-standing and close relationship with American travelers--in fact, half of the one million-plus visitors to our country each year are from the U.S.," says Costa Rica's Minister of Tourism, Walter Niehaus. "Through this enhanced communications effort, we aim to highlight the distinct advantages and benefits of Costa Rica--proximity, people, biodiversity, and tranquillity."
The U.S. effort is part of a larger program being undertaken by the ICT that includes working with local tourism-related businesses to reduce rates; launching new local and regional advertising campaigns; working more closely with tour operators, airlines, and other travel partners; and increasing participation in travel and tourism events. Tourism is Costa Rica's number one growth industry, accounting for 44% of all new jobs generated in the last 10 years. As the pioneer of ecological tourism in the Central American region, the country has taken strategic steps to preserve and protect its biodiversity--currently 30% of its territory is under some level of protected status.
For further information, call (800) 343-6362 or visit www.tourism-costarica.com.
For the traveler who would like to discover an exotic culture but also wants hip nightlife, five-star accommodations, and sophisticated art galleries and museums, the answers lie an easy cab ride away from Helsinki's Vantaa, recently named Europe's top mid-sized urban airport.
Travelers sho love opera and also want to disciver the definitive Arctic peoples can travel to Finland's Lakelands for the world famous Savonlinna Opera Festival or to Finnish Lapland, where hiking, mountain biking, fishing, birdwatching, and horseback riding in a pristine environment and enjoyment of temperatures of 72-degrees and 24 hours of sunshine encourage you to be ambitious enough to "try it all."
Finland is a land of 187,888 lakes, 29 national parks, and 170,000 archipelago islands. While there, you can visit a futuristic, interactive museum of modern art or traverse King's Road Finland, a route across southern Finland established by emissaries of kings and czars in the Middle Ages. You can sample 40 varied cuisines and learn again the real meaning of "fresh and pure." You can savor 770 years of history in Turku and, a train ride away, on the Esplanade in Helsinki, have cocktails in the rooms where nation builders shared their dreams of independence and helped shape a democracy just 86-years young.
You can savor the exotic blend of cultural influences as you walk from a Russian Orthodox Cathedral to a Lutheran Cathedral celebrating its 150th anniversary and then on to the modern architectural wonder of a Church that seems to emerge from a rock. The home of Sibelius is also a Mecca for jazz lovers. With natural wonders as vast as their Northern Lights, the traveler will still find Finland scaled to the human being. A magnet for Europe's hippest youth, Finland is also as family-friendly as Santa's homeland would be expected to be. For the endless days of summer's Midnight Sun or the brilliant, culture-rich nights of Fall and Winter, Finland's contrasts are its visitors' riches.
For further information, call (212) 885-9700 or (800) FIN-INFO (automated orders of the free tabloid Finland 2002 only) or visit www.finland-tourism.com.
Whether its history, culture, conservation, or the great outdoors, Norway has an incredible array of year-round attractions to experience. Each season brings different possibilities country-wide and the Norwegian transportation infrastructure makes it easy to explore.
The hand-picked adventure roads give visitors the best insight into the natural highlights of Norway, including the Atlantic Ocean Road, the famous Norwegian Coastal Voyage, the Flam Railway, and much more.
Norwegian cities are cosmopolitan and bursting with character, conservation, culture, and nightlife. Here, tradition sits easily alongside modern lifestyles and visitors can be assured a warm and friendly welcome from English-speaking locals. The capital city of Oslo is a must-see, thanks to many attractions and sights (including a daytrip to the fabulous Hadeland Glassworks).
When people think of Norway, many dream of the countrys most spectacular asset--the fjords. Formed millions of years ago, the serene beauty of these craggy inlets has impressed and moved visitors for centuries. One after the other, they cut into the country for miles, surrounded by steep mountains, glaciers, rushing waterfalls, and blooming orchids. To explore the fjords is to experience fresh clean air, pure crystalline water, and nature at its unspoiled best. Bergen is the gateway to the fjords of Norway and this charming coastal city of tradition and history is not to be missed.
Norway also boasts forests and mountains, lakes and rivers-a vast range of contrasting scenery to suit any taste (with unique and creative cuisine!). From the North Cape, Europe's northernmost viewpoint, to the Lysefjord near Stavanger in the south, Norway is a land of extremes- with everything in between. Walking, cycling, and skiing are all popular outdoor activities.
Whatever your interest or time of year you can visit, Norway is more than accommodating. You're sure to enjoy the good life, Norwegian-style!
For further information, call (212) 885-9700 or visit www.visitnorway.com.
Norwegian Coastal Voyage
Long known for offering a great way to see Norway and much more, Norwegian Coastal Voyage (NCV) has greatly expanded its product line for 2002 with the launching of two Millennium-class ships, its first escorted cruise tours, enhanced packages for independent travelers, and the introduction of expedition cruises to Spitsbergen, Greenland, and Antarctica & the Chilean fjords. Providing a great alternative to the traditional cruise experience, each Norwegian Coastal Voyage is a unique combination of first-class cruise ship, a working ship carrying local passengers and cargo between ports, and a lifeline to remote coastal towns and villages.
This spring, the 643-berth MS Finnmarken and the 674-berth MS Trollfjord will come into service as the first 15,000-ton Millennium-class ships for NCV, sailing daily year-round along the 1,250-mile west coast of Norway between Bergen and Kirkenes, which is above the Arctic Circle. The new generation of ships has 40% more berths and 50% more deck space than ships built in the 90s, as well as many more suites and the lines first private balconies and Jacuzzis.
Norwegian Coastal Voyage's Silja Line has four comfortable ships to transport travelers between Finland's vibrant cities and other sparkling European ports. Each Silja ship features restaurants, nightclubs, swimming pools, and children's activities. Explore Silja's cruises at www.coastalvoyage.com/silja.
NCV Independent Vacations is the new name for seven air-sea packages with new features that add value and convenience: the Oslo Card, a Bergen city sightseeing tour, a three-course dinner inn Bergen, and transfers. Value-packed options include a Scandinavian Capitals combination and two packages that add Finland or Iceland.
The exciting, soft-adventure voyages feature air-inclusive programs, naturalist guides, shipboard lectures, and Zodiac landings.
For further information, call (800) 323-7436 or visit www.coastalvoyage.com.
Turkey is a country of diverse scenery, culture, history, monuments, and culture, often making it difficult to choose which places to visit and experience. However, the nations extensive website (www.tourismturkey.org) provides a perfect place to start making those choices!
Once there, Istanbul is the obvious place to start and end your tour. It is a fascinating city, rich in historical treasures preserved from the citys days as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. There are also many places of natural beauty, like the Istanbul Bogazi (Bosphorus).
Situated between Europe and Asia, Turkey literally links eastern and western history and culture. Turkey is approximately 301,000 square miles and features more than 5,000 miles of coastline. The high plateau landscape is bordered by the Black Sea Mountain chain (the Pontic Alps) to the north and the Taurus Mountains to the south. Turkeys diverse terrain includes mountains, steppelands, lakelands, rivers, coastal plains, forests, and rich agricultural valleys. This means the weather varies greatly by region, ranging from typical Mediterranean climate to long snowy winters.
Turkey is known as the cradle of civilization for good reason. Human settlement has been dated more than 10,000 years ago, but Turkey was also home to many famed ancient cultures, including the Hattis, Hittites, Phrygians, Urartians, Lycians, Lydians, Ionians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, and Ottomans. Following the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the modern democratic and secular Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal. Known as Ataturk, an army general and World War I hero, Kemal is cited as one of the worlds great statesmen. In 1952, Turkey joined NATO and now Turkey is a candidate for full membership in the European Union.
Whatever your interest, theres obviously a wealth to see and do. Some of the numerous possibilities include: Istanbul and all its attractions; exotic Turkish cuisine like meze and shish kebab; world-famous shopping (many come just for the carpets); a wide array of museums and archaeological sites country-wide; sports and recreation opportunities, including lots of watersports, hiking, skiing, biking, and more; many special festivals and events; the Aegean coastline, with its fun, sun, and lots of history; the Turkish Riviera, on the Mediterraneans Turquoise Coast; the Black Seas charm and mystery; the volcanic terrain of Cappadocia; eastern Turkey, which is often termed one huge national park by adventurous visitors; and so much more.
Excellent airline service, friendly and helpful people, many specialized tour operators, and so many other factors have made Turkey a mesmerizing mosaic for potential visitors. This vibrant, rich cradle of civilization awaits new visitors from any direction!
For further information, call (877) FOR TURKEY or visit www.tourismturkey.org.
Egypt's ancient history and present-day attractions are a traveler's dream.
Egypt's historical sites are located within less than 5% of the land mass, mostly along the Nile's riverbanks. Ancient history is alive throughout Egypt in places like Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Alexandria, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Red Sea. A trip to Egypt wouldnt be complete without Nile cruise--the highlights include Luxor, the Temple of Karnak, the Temple of Philae, and The Valley of the Kings.
In addition, golf is now a huge draw, including world-class options in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and along the Red Sea.
Egyptians are outgoing, warm, and have a distinct sense of humor, with a respect and enjoyment of foreigners and a deep sense of tolerance for other races, religions, and nationalities.
For further information, call (877) 77-EGYPT or visit www.egypttourism.org.
Amelia Island Plantation
Amelia Island Plantation, the 1,350-acre resort on the extreme northeast tip of Florida, sets the standard for innovative barrier island developments.
From its beaches, visitors can walk inland (via a boardwalk) across the majestic sea oat-covered sand dunes into a rolling canopy of wind-sculptured live oaks--a sanctuary for plants, animals, and birds.
Since 1973, Amelia Island Plantation has maintained its strong foundation of conservation practices made to create an enjoyable and natural resort and residential environment. Tourists and turtles alike play in the sand.
Tours like "Beachside Naturalist Tour" and "Edible Plants and Wildflowers and Birds of Amelia Tours" give hands-on experience to both children and adults alike.
For further information, call (800) 874-6878 or visit www.aipfl.com.
Cruise West offers a choice of eight different small ship Alaska itineraries for 2002. The company's eight-night comprehensive 'Secluded Waterways' cruise itinerary between Juneau and Ketchikan calls on five Alaskan ports and also visits Misty Fjords National Monument, LeConte Glacier, Frederick Sound, Peril Strait, and Glacier Bay.
Cruise West also operates small-ship cruise itineraries on rivers throughout the Pacific West, including British Columbia, the Columbia and Snake Rivers, the California Wine Country, Baja Mexico's Sea of Cortes, and Costa Rica and Panama.
For further information, call (800) 580-0072 or visit www.cruisewest.com.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Pristine wilderness and towering mountain peaks are easily accessible inthe Canadian Rockies. This summer, explorers of all ages and abilities can venture out on the experience of a lifetime at Fairmont Banff Springs, The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, and The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (all situated within the boundaries of Canadian National Parks in the Province of Alberta) which preserve mountaineering heritage.
This mountaineering program includes luxurious accommodations, three meals daily, equipment rentals, parking, gratuities, and an extensive menu of outdoor activities. Guests can go whitewater rafting, golfing, mountain biking, canoeing, fishing, sightseeing, and hiking through stunning terrain teeming with the abundant wildlife of Canada's national park system. The Canadian Rockies Experience package ranges from $764 US per room ($1,147 CDN), per night based on double occupancy.
For further information, call (800) 441-1414 or visit www.fairmont.com.
North Carolina seemingly has it all--beautiful beaches, mountain vistas, historic heartland towns, golf, kayaking, hiking, and much more await you in this southern state. No matter where you choose to do, you'll enjoy North Carolina, where conservation of the past and present makes for a great future to visitors. From celebration of first flight along the coast to Pinehursts pampering new spa in the Sandhills to the ancient Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina has it all.
The frequent first stop is the 300-mile-long barrier islands chain. The welcoming beacons of the coastlines lighthouses serve as a reminder of the states hospitality, history, and conservation. The coast's pounding surf is an exciting venue for sea kayaking, surfing, and sailing.
This year and next, visitors will be flocking more than ever to North Carolina to share in a wide variety of activities celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers historic flight. Statewide activities, which will serve as a cornerstone of the national celebration, range from major air shows to Centennial galas. The festivities will culminate on the Outer Banks on December 17, 2003, when EAA and Ford Motor Company re-create the Wright brothers historic first flight using an exact reproduction of the 1903 Wright Flyer. Further information about the exciting events is available at three great websites: www.firstflightnc.com; www.firstflightcentennial.org; and www.countdowntokittyhawk.com.
For further information, call (800) VISIT NC or visit www.visitnc.com.
A necklace of islands that begins just south of Miami, the Florida Keys are connected by the Overseas Highways 43 bridges over the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Each Florida Keys region has its own special flavor including historic museums, restaurants, fishing, diving, watersports, and unique, boutique-style shopping.
Soon, the Florida Keys will be home to one of the worlds largest artificial reefs. With the sinking of the Spiegel Grove off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, a unique six-year conservation effort will come to fruition. Local dive operators expect that the Spiegel Grove will attract 60,000 to 70,000 divers a year.
For further information, call (800) FLA-KEYS or visit www.fla-keys.
International Wildlife Adventures
Each fall, along the west shore of Canadas Hudson Bay, polar bears gather along the shore waiting for the bay to freeze so they can begin their annual hunt. International Wildlife Adventures and their Tundra Buggy(tm) are always there.
With more than two decades of experience, International Wildlife Adventures is expert at creating wildlife viewing and photography tour packages. From October thgrough November, they offer more tours to view the polar bears of Churchill than any other company.
International Wildlife Adventures offers trips throughout the world in addition to their famed polar bear excursions, including varied offerings in the Galapagos Islands, Peru, and Belize.
For further information, call (800) 593-8881 or visit www.wildlifeadventures.com.
Blessed with an abundance of vibrant neighborhoods and 17th and 18th century architecture, Providence has long been considered a "walking" city. This status has been greatly enhanced by the recent addition of Waterplace Park & Riverwalk, the Fleet Skating Center, and mall Providence Place.
Legendary Newports stunning coastline, glittering harbor, and charming Colonial seaport have lured the world's wealthiest people for more than 150 years. This is the home of fabled mansions, world-class yachting, the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum, diverse music and film festivals, fine dining, and spirited nightlife.
For further information, call (888) U-UNWIND or visit www.visitrhodeisland.com.
Long known as a major city with resort appeal, thanks to near-idyllic weather and 70 miles of beautiful beaches, San Diego is also home to a sophisticated cultural, culinary, and luxury travel scene.
The free San Diego Art + Sol magazine profiles of more than a dozen leading San Diego arts and cultural institutions, including Broadway/San Diego; The Globe Theatres; La Jolla Chamber Music Society; La Jolla Playhouse; Lambs Players Theatre; Mingei International Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Arts; Reuben H. Fleet Science Center; San Diego Museum of Art; San Diego Opera; and the Timken Museum of Art.
The free magazine can be ordered by calling (800) 270-WAVE. Another way to explore San Diego is through www.sandiegoartandsol.com, where guests can review the regions most comprehensive up-to-date cultural events listings, along with suggested outstanding itineraries.
San Diego's culture is definitely matched by its cuisine, where some of the nations top chefs cook up a creative storm. Culinary experts around the world agree that San Diego is an ideal gourmet location. in San Diego, food aficionados have one of the country's hottest new dining destinations to discover.
For further information, call (619) 236-1212 or visit www.sandiego.org.
Incredibly rich in fossil dig sites and paleontology resources, Wyoming has fascinating things to explore.
The Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite is the largest in Wyoming and one of only a few in the world from the Middle Jurassic Period (160 to 180 million years ago). Researchers at many colleges and institutions, from Dartmouth College to the Smithsonian Institution have made trips to the now-famed Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite.
Its obviously an exciting time to be in Wyoming and, starting in May, the grand opening of Red Gulch makes it even better! Add dinosaur fossil sites to Yellowstone National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, state parks, hiking, wildlife watching, canoeing and rafting, fishing, camping, and you are bound to have an amazing Wyoming adventure.
For further information, call (800) 225-5996 or visit www.wyomingtourism.org.