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Lonely Planet launches Signature Tours Partnering with Intrepid Travel
The launch of Lonely Planet Experiences www.lonelyplanet.com/experiences is the latest new venture by the guidebook publisher, “designed to bring Lonely Planet guidebooks to life for the first time.” A significant aspect of these tours is to have a low environmental footprint while having a positive impact on local communities. All tours will be in small groups (16 or less) and led by a local leader, using local transportation, support locally owned-businesses and, like all Intrepid Travel trips www.intrepidtravel.com, be 100% carbon-neutral.
The portfolio includes 200 day tours in 65 cities, operated by Intrepid Travel’s day-tour company, Urban Adventures and more than 130 multi-day tours. Clients will benefit from exclusive discounts on Lonely Planet’s guidebooks, free access to Lonely Planet’s flagship Guides app, plus additional Lonely Planet insight throughout the tours.
These trips are designed from the ground up for independent travelers who want the freedom to explore while still having the essentials covered. Share the experience with a small group of like-minded people and get unrivalled insights from local leaders – now combined with the epic knowledge of Lonely Planet editors to help guests get to the heart of a destination like never before.
The Lonely Planet Experiences were created to be enjoyed by travelers of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. For most tours, the minimum age is 15, and mature travelers aged 45-80 and beyond are certainly welcome! Appealing to people with something of an independent spirit, each itinerary has a mix of included activities and free time where the leader will offer suggestions you can take or leave. Each tour in the Lonely Planet Experiences is outlined on its webpage in detail with an itinerary, inclusions, physical activity rating, price, and more.
Intrepid Travel CEO James Thornton is delighted with the new partnership. “These experiences combine our expertise to create a new tour range that will support local communities, protect our natural environment and ensure travelers see the world in a responsible and sustainable way,” he says.
Are You a Set Jetter in Your Travels?
In an October 2017 survey of 19,000 travelers across 26 countries, Booking.com captured the rising importance of vacation set jetting. It reported that people are turning increasingly to pop culture for their travel inspiration and that “on screen locations from television, film or music videos will win over 36% of travelers in the coming year.”
While destination backdrops benefit enormously from the launch of new movies and the hype that comes with award nomination, TV series and mini-series have an equally significant influence on travel decisions. The top TV program locations that the Booking.com survey participants most want to visit were Croatia, Spain and Iceland inspired by Game of Thrones (29%), London as seen in Sherlock and The Crown (21% and 13%), and New York/Manhattan from Billions (13%).
For several decades, Vancouver, British Columbia www.tourismvancouver.com has been a popular destination for film-making, primarily for its architectural and geographical distinctiveness and diversity. Hosting 400 productions a year, Vancouverites are accustomed to the disruption of shoots – whether superheroes are swinging down from skyscrapers or car chases are diverting traffic from bridges and streets.
As with many movies and series, the intriguing destinations, buildings, hotels or eateries often go by another name, but it is not difficult to track down the real shoot locations simply by consulting the internet or joining a local set jetting tour that will point them out to you. For example, Vancouver has been portrayed as Tokyo, New York, Minnesota, North Korea, some futuristic locations (as in I, Robot and Deadpool) or even as Seattle only 143 miles to the south.
Grouse Mountain with the largest aerial tramway system in North America is a coveted venue among film and TV crews. Dozens of movies and hit television programs have a Grouse Mountain backdrop that set jetters may well recognize as they take in the multifaceted attraction just 15 minutes’ drive from the city’s downtown core.
While smoothly cruising up and down, expect epic views of the Pacific Ocean, Coastal Mountains and the lush topography of Vancouver and surrounding Gulf Islands. Once at the 4,000-ft/1,200-meter top, a full day of activities awaits with this four-season attraction, including hiking or skiing, mountain zipline adventures, an amazing show of lumberjack skills in summer, and a chance to admire from a safe distance two orphaned grizzly bears, now full grown and awesome to see in the natural backdrop of their environment. Best plan that last experience when Grinder and Coola are not taking their long winter naps!
After a 25-year career as a biochemistry professor, Arthur Sacramento took a 180 degree turn in his retirement, starting Fans of Vancouver Tours seven years ago. He couldn’t have picked a richer environment than “Hollywood North” which is currently third in productions in North America, behind Los Angeles and New York.
While Arthur and his guide team mostly lead walking tours featuring downtown urban adventures to point out current and past film shoot venues and tell entertaining tales about them and their celebrity stars, some tours by minibus venture into the “burbs” and parklands that have served as countless backdrops and sets for TV series and movies. The most rugged tour is 250 kilometers and eight hours by bus, roaming many sites across Metro Vancouver. Now that one is for seriously dedicated set jetters!
Where to stay? Why not sleep with the celebrities at The Burrard Hotel, located on the edge of Vancouver’s downtown core? First opening its doors in 1956 as the Burrard Motor Inn (in the first grand era of automobile culture!), it remains the ultimate in retro-cool design six decades later, decorated in you-can’t-miss-it yellow, turquoise and white walls and plenty of neon. No wonder it has attracted the attention of visiting film producers who recognize camera appeal when they see it. The 72 rooms around an interior palm-tree decorated courtyard are super modern with nice extras like complimentary umbrellas for rainy days and free bike rentals.
Check out this comprehensive introduction to films and TV series that have been shot in Vancouver and a handy map of key filming locations around Greater Vancouver.
Food for ThoughtFood tastes different in an airplane because of the pressurized cabin. For example, our ability to perceive salty tastes is weakened, so tomato juice tastes sweet.
World’s Top Museums and Galleries Showcase the World, Not Just Their Own Country
Should important national museums and art galleries shine a light on the cultural and artistic heritage of their own countries, or should we expect that the world will be the backdrop for their illustrious collections? Until I spotted this intriguing study recently unveiled by Barratt London/Barratt Homes, I admit I had not considered what should be the balance of domestic and international displays and information that greets visitors who enter their often remarkable buildings.
In total, the study analyzed the work featured in nine of the world’s most popular museums including The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, The Louvre in Paris, The Prado in Madrid, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Detailed results for each museum or gallery make for intriguing reading at the Barratt website.
The British Museum in London, England is dedicated to human history, art and culture. Its permanent collection of some eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence, much of it having been widely sourced during the era of the British Empire. It consists of 94 galleries in total. The study analyzed 55 galleries and found that 12 of them showcase works from Greece, six from Italy, eight from the rest of Europe and there is only one displaying the history of the United Kingdom itself. Beyond Europe, it also has four galleries on China and Korea and a further three on Japan, with additional galleries dedicated to Africa, Ethiopia, the Americas and more. It is definitely a museum for visitors looking for a global perspective!
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is one of the most architecturally-recognizable museums in all of Europe and one of the most visited attractions in Spain. Opening its doors in 1997, this is a museum of modern and contemporary art works by the likes of Mark Rothko, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol. Almost half of the work featured in its exhibition spaces is native to Spain, while around one fifth is made up from artists hailing from the USA with the rest hailing from Germany, France and Japan. In fact, the museum’s structure itself is arguably a work of modern art, designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry.
A contemporary art museum opened in Tokyo, Japan in 2003, the modern art exhibitions of the Mori Art Museum reflect a variety of universal genres, including fashion, architecture, design, photography, and video. With almost 60% created by Japanese artists, it has the highest proportion of local art out of the nine in the Barratt Homes study. Artwork by celebrated Chinese, Thai, Malaysian and Korean artists also makes up a significant portion of the existing collections. Its learning programs engage an audience ranging from young school children to students and senior citizens, from people living in the local community to the whole region and around the world.
Commonly known as “The Met”, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is the largest art museum in the United States with three New York venues: The Met Breuer, The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. It represents more than 5,000 years of art from across the globe. Looking at more than 470,000 items in the collection, the study found that only 11% comes from the US, matched by the same quantity of artwork from Asia, while Europe makes up the largest proportion. In 2020, The Met is celebrating 150 years as a museum with plenty of special programs and events. If you are traveling to New York this year, check the website before making all your plans.
Summing up the data collected by Barratt Homes, the study reports that about 92% of works on show in the British Museum come from outside the United Kingdom, the Louvre in Paris dedicates 31% of its collections to French history, culture and artists, while the Museo Nacional Del Prado in Madrid dedicates 44% of gallery space to Spanish culture. In the National Museum of Scotland collection, none of the works were from Scotland specifically and only half a percent was from the UK. Instead just over 10% of pieces were from China and a further 10% of pieces from Japan.
Each of these treasured national institutions has gone its own way, while leaving doors open to welcome thoughtful visitors to join the adventure of learning deeply from the cultures and histories of their own and other places. They present original perceptions of our world whether these be something from 5,000 years ago or 21st century shiny and new.
Join the Globetrotters Club to Travel in Budget Style
In 1970 I was introduced to the Globetrotters Club globetrotters.co.uk, based in the U.K., when my friend, Helen, was retiring at age 65 from her job as a university librarian. Life had been hard for this always-optimistic, encouraging lady, widowed and penniless in her mid-thirties with three young sons under eight to raise. Head down for decades with no money for luxuries like travel, her health was failing and she had been told by several doctors that she would not live long at all after retirement. Best if she just put her feet up and did as much resting as she could. Not Helen …
She had somewhere discovered the Globetrotters Club (in an era way before the Internet), and joined up. When a fellow member put together a budget trip itinerary and cast about for candidates, Helen signed up instantly despite cautions from alarmed friends and family members. I remember that first group trip she did with about a dozen other members of all ages was from London to New Dehli overland by rickety rented bus, mostly sleeping in hostels across Europe and on the bus in places like eastern Turkey and Afghanistan, eating from food markets.
Helen’s journey was priced at 50 days for 50 British pounds. She was hooked, and spent the next 20 years in bonny health with bright eyes flashing and masses of white hair piled haphazardly on top of her head. She saw the world on a tight budget, stayed in people’s home in places like China and Israel or in hostels before older people considered such things, always with a heavy backpack as her suitcase, and always scribbling notes about all she experienced. Many of her great adventures were with fellow Globetrotters, including one trip across the entire Sahara Desert by jeep. Helen lived a healthy and grateful life into her nineties.
What is the Globetrotters Club? The aim of the club is simple: to encourage people to travel and see new things. Started in 1945, this is the oldest travel network in existence offering an opportunity to make new friends who share an interest in travel.
Club membership fees are £12 a year (roughly US$16) for every member wherever they live in the world. Once a member, you will receive a copy of Globe Magazine, access to the website’s members area so as to be able to contact other club members around the world to hear about firsthand experiences, and even stay with some of them or offer to put up fellow Globetrotters yourself as they are passing through your area! Anyone can join as long as they pay the membership fee. Some travel clubs require that members spend a minimum period traveling. GT does not, and it welcomes all ages.
How do Seniors Select Their River Cruises?
A 2019 survey of 1,000 travelers aged 50-plus suggests that river cruise lines should consider marketing the countries visited in their itineraries rather than the rivers cruised. This research was unveiled at the November 2019 Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) River Cruise conference in Amsterdam.
The bottom line of the survey was that this important senior client base is more interested in selecting their cruise by destinations they are curious to visit than in rivers cruised or special themed cruises. The poll found 59% of over 50s said the countries and regions were top of mind, compared with just 28% who said the rivers cruised mattered most and 20% who said the cruise theme was most important.
Are you a fan of small-ship river cruising? Drop us an email and let us know where you like cruising. Do you select your itineraries by country, by river or by special themes like painting, wine or whisky tasting, or WWI and WWII anniversary events?
From our Travel Article Library, here are three European canal and river cruise stories to sample the diversity among small-ship travel options:
Holland is One Big Art Museum: Art Appreciation Tour by Canal Boat.
River Cruising in France on a seven-day Rhone River Uniworld cruise.
River Cruising Right Across Europe from Amsterdam to Vienna.