Thứ Ba, 28 tháng 6, 2011

Visitors to the grand state of Arizona

Arizona proudly reflects long lines of Latino and Hispanic heritage for visitors to experience from celebratory fiestas, and festivals to southwest style cuisine, art and architecture, each express the vibrancy of the state’s rich and dynamic history. Visitors and locals alike embrace roots which run as deep as the Grand Canyon itself.

September 15th marks Mexican Independence Day and the kick-off of Hispanic Heritage Month. Offering a wonderful artisanal shopping experience year round, and an especially merry Mexican Independence Day, is Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village in the red rock country of Sedona, Arizona. Fashioned authentically after a traditional Mexican village, Tlaquepaque with its fine tiled fountains, and over-arching balconies is known as, “The Art and Soul of Sedona.” Streets flower strewn, and filled with the footsteps of fiery flamenco dancers, resound with the music and spirit of the strolling mariachi, during the 38th annual Fiesta del Tlaquepaque to take place September 10, 2011. Here, visit with the village’s artists, each representing one of the unique galleries, shops, or exhibits among the charming courtyards, and patios comprising Tlaquepaque. “The artists at the Fiesta are a great expression of the diversity, artistry and spirit of the community,” says Wendy Lippman, Tlaquepaque General Manager and Resident Partner.

Celebrating the Day of the Dead
The last weekend of October, communities across Arizona come to life for the Mexican celebration, Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos. This traditional holiday commemorates the dead and honors ancestry through the creation of an offerenda or offering to display in the home. A spellbinding blend of dancers and stilt-walkers costumed as skeletons, march to drummers’ beats through downtown Tucson for the All Souls Procession, November 6, 2011. Watch or join in as people create a human powered parade, moving through the streets carrying photographs, wearing giant masks, skeleton make-up, costumes, or clothing belonging to loved ones. This ever popular procession has now become an entire All Souls Weekend celebrating and mourning lives of loved ones past. Sprinkled through Tucson, offerendas displaying music and art reflect the city’s colorful arts and heritage scene.

Also a lively expression of community, The Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff will celebrate the Day of the Dead with the 8th Annual Celebraciones de la Gente, the last weekend of October. More than a dozen local families feature a display of offerendas in the museum’s courtyard. Vibrant expressions of mariachi music, arts, and storytelling teach about migration and the blending of cultural traditions of Latino and Hispanic origins.

Enjoy the beauty of the desert in the fall while listening to your favorite salsa, mambo or Spanish guitar song. Situated at the base of a beautiful mountain butte, The Desert Botanical Garden of Phoenix brings the Music in the Garden Fall Concert Series. The romantic blends of Spanish guitar and authentic Flamenco by internationally celebrated Acoustic Guitarist, Domingo DeGrazia bring the spirit of the southwest to life. Commemorating Dia de los Muertos, the staple of the band Calexico, Sergio Mendoza creates a supernatural musical experience as he and his band sing and dance on stage dressed as skeletons. Enjoy Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta as they play a lively combination of traditional Cuban rhythms mixed with American Jazz. Energizing the audience, Fuerza Caribe entertains with a spicy mix of Latin and Caribbean beats true to their Dominican Republic roots. Authentic music and charismatic performers will bring you to your dancing feet during any one of the Desert Botanical Garden’s Fall Concerts.

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Keukenhof Tulip

Avalon river cruises to include major horticultural show Floriade in 2012

Avalon Waterways is pleased to announce that for the first time it will be including a visit to Floriade on all of its Tulip Time cruises to Holland and Belgium next year.

Held in the Netherlands only once every 10 years, Floriade is a major world horticultural expo enjoyed by more than two million visitors. The 2012 show will be held in Venlo, near the Dutch and German border, and will feature over 100 exhibitors from dozens of countries.

Keukenhof Gardens
A visit to Floriade is included in all nine Tulip Time departures, which sail from Amsterdam. Also included is a visit to the legendary Keukenhof Gardens, sure to make these cruises an unforgettable holiday gardening enthusiasts.

Next year’s Floriade will have five core themes showcased by Dutch designer Jan Taminiau, each separated by woodland areas: health, sustainability, culture, innovation and the green city.

Avalon Waterways’ 8 day Tulip Time cruises featuring Floriade depart between April 7 and May 5, and also include stops in Antwerp, Ghent and Rotterdam. Including accommodation in staterooms measuring at least 172 square feet on the youngest river fleet in Europe, all meals – with elegant dinners served with wine – and daily sightseeing, the cruises are priced from $2,028 Cdn. Avalon will be happy to arrange airfare and pre-or-post cruise stays in Amsterdam if requested.

Find out more about Avalon at; about Floriade at and Keukenhof Gardens, . For reservations, see your travel agent.

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Thứ Năm, 23 tháng 6, 2011

The Rubens Hotel
For the traveller who wants to bed down in a central location when visiting London there is, in my opinion, no better place than the Rubens. Yes it's expensive, but the experience and convenience is worth it.

The Queen's mail delivery
Apart from being a great place for people watching, from the Rubens  lounge you can sip your morning tea and watch a carriage pulled by horses leave the Royal Mews to deliver mail to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. 

Want to catch a glimpse of the 1902 Landau that William and Kate rode in after their wedding, The Rubens is directly opposite the Royal Mews. 
The Gold State Coach
Even more spectacular is the Gold State Coach, used for coronations and other grand occasions.  Considered to be the finest coach in the world, it's like something out of a fairytale.  It's been transporting the present Queen and past Kings to coronations, the State Opening of Parliament, the Queen's Birthday Parade and Jubilees for close on 250 years.

Maasa performing
When I was in the Mews just last week, one of the Queen's horses was putting on a fine show for a group of kindergarten children.  One minute Maasa, a magnificent Windsor Grey stallion, was grimacing, the next he stood for minutes with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.  The children thought it was hilarious.

Almost opposite the Rubens is the Queen's Art Gallery, and another few steps brings you to Buckingham Palace where at 11.30 a.m. each day the Changing of the Guard, an exhibition of royal pageantry, draws thousands to the palace gates.

St. James's Park
From Buckingham Palace cross over to St. James's Park, a great place for a peaceful stroll after a day's touring.  Along the left side of the park is Clarence House once home to the Queen Mother.  Prince Charles and Camilla use it as their London address, and Princes William and Harry have an apartment there.

Horse Guards
 From St. James's Park to the Royal Horse Guards.  Hardly a visitor to London leaves this great city without a photograph with one of the Guards.

There are theatres within minutes of the Rubens.  A fleet of buses leave from Victoria Station for destinations around London, and the Express train - just 30 minutes from Gatwick Airport - also arrives and leaves from Victoria Station.

Bag O' Nails, London pub
A great place for a London pub meal - it's reasonable compared to dining at a restaurant - is the "Bag O' Nails" pub also across from the Rubens.

Getting around London can be a tiring exercise and a night or two at this special hotel can at least provide easy access for the royal aspect of a visit.

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Posted by Anne Gordon on Thursday, 23 June, 2011.