A CITY A WEEK...ZAKOPANE

by adeline talbot


I have to admit to being on a Polish kick. In fact, I write from Poland where I have come to review plans for our upcoming May 2019 trip. A hunch that Poland might defy all expectations is proving to be spot on—and in all the most wonderful ways.

In the coming weeks, I look forward to posting on the individual cities on our itinerary—Warsaw, Krakow and Gdansk—but I want to start with a smaller, more out of the way spot—Zakopane, a beautiful mountain village two hours from Krakow that was suggested to me by a local Krakovian. I’m not sure why—Krakow is rich in day-trip options—but I suddenly felt an urgent need to go to Zakopane—and so I happily did.

The village is in the Tatras region of the Carpathian Mountains. The Tatras are a vast wilderness area, beloved by Poles in much the same way as the Black Forest is by Germans—and Zakopane is this region’s unofficial capital. Since the fall of Communism there has been the inevitable commercial development which seems to be the fate of many attractive spots. The town center is now full of tony shops, restaurants and other amenities but its essential soul is still there and this is a soul based solidly in its Goral—or highlander—heritage. The most well known expression of this heritage is the ‘Zakopanian Style’ of architecture, though in truth this is a relatively recent phenomenon. Much like the Arts and Crafts Movements elsewhere, this style grew out of a desire in the early 20th century to marry the local and indigenous with concepts of then contemporary design. The resulting buildings seen throughout Zakopane are charming in the extreme. Much is made these days of the Danish concept of ‘hygge’, beautifully executed expressions of coziness. I would say in Zakopane I found this concept practiced at its highest level. It made me want to stay on. Settle in. Get ready for the holidays and wait for the next snow.


A CITY A WEEK...CHOBIELIN...

by adeline talbot


…and a few other this and that’s…

This busy week before Thanksgiving is a time of easy distractions—at least for me and I suspect for many another American. Family’s coming, the house needs to be ready and the menu not so much finalized as whittled down. (This year there seems to be a particular obsession with pies. I have seen so many ‘must-do’ recipes for pies just in the last week that I already feel like I have eaten one too many. What a happy problem. Too many pies...)

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And so this week of easy distraction, I offer more of ‘small plate’ approach—a few things I want to make sure to mention, beginning with Chobielin.

Chobielin, a mystery destination if ever there was one, that is unless like me you have just finished 'Radek Sikorski’s Full Circle, A Homecoming To Free Poland. Chobielin is both a tiny dot of a village and the name of its manor house. Sikorski and his family spend the 1990’s, the first post-Communist decade for Poland, restoring this gracious country house, a restoration focused on warmth and rightness, on making the ruined and centuries-old house a home again. It’s a fascinating tale that in the end is not so much about the house itself but the history that has washed around it for its many centuries. It’s a gripping read, one that brings the necessary granularity to each epoch without ever devolving into a mere history lesson. A rare feat especially when one considers the epic sweep of Poland’s story. I finally feel like I begin to have context for that which has been eluding me for quite some time now—Polish history’s ‘big picture’ and how that has shaped its culture. I highly recommend the book to those who will be traveling with us to Poland next year. I also highly recommend it to those who will staying home. It’s just a good book and history lover’s dream.

Another and I think terrific ‘that’…we’ve added an ‘Option #2’ to our Detroit Pop Up Trip: an excursion to Cranbrook House, Garden and Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills Michigan. Click here for a bit more info.

Next up--there are a few more spots left on The Architecture of England—and I’d like to include a special shout to our new friends in this adventure The Beaufort Historical Association.

And finally if you need one more reason to consider our summer trip to Scandinavia, check out NYT’s 36 Hours in Oslo from November 1. We’ll be there a bit longer and in all honesty, we’ll be going a bit deeper—but it’s still a fun read. And come on—a floating sauna? How cool is that? 

Happy reading and all the best for a very happy T-day! AT


A CITY A WEEK...PHILADELPHIA

by adeline talbot


This one’s just for fun—a reminder of the joy of the unexpected.

I love Philadelphia to bits. I’ve lived there, led numerous trips there, have a child who lives there. I even married a Philly boy. For me it is truly my ‘2nd city’, the one I know almost as well as I know home. Even so and like any dynamic place, there are just always new and wonderful things to be experienced.

In October. on a flying visit to Philadelphia, I finally made time to visit Magic Gardens. It’s not new, not out of the way—in fact, not in anyway inaccessible. I’d just never happened to have been to this multi-decade, mosaic-crazy wonderment—and I’m so glad to say I finally have! It’s an absolute, positive dazzler.

So next time you’re in Philly you should go—and if you do then you may want to buy your tickets in advance. They tend to book up early. I may be late to the Magic Gardens party but the rest of world seems to have long known that it’s a very special place.

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Oh and while you’re exploring you may also want to make time to visit another amazing spot in Philly. This one is in Fairmount Park—Shofuso, a traditional Japanese tea house and garden. It’s gorgeous, simply gorgeous. Profoundly sublime to precisely the same measure as Magic Gardens’ over the top exuberance. My guess is that you’re going to love both of these not so hidden treasures in the marvelous/topsy turvy/raucous/stately City of Brotherly Love where the list of things to see and do never seems to end.


A CITY A WEEK...DETROIT

by adeline talbot


Anywhere.  Any time.

That about sums up the way I feel.  

If Benjamin Briggs, director of Preservation Greensboro, recommends a spot, then by golly we’re going! 

Benjamin and I have partnered on quite a number of trips at this point--seven, I believe by last count—and even though we already have a trip on for next year,  we’ve added a second. We just couldn’t seem to stop ourselves.

 Benjamin recently visited Detroit and absolutely, positively could not stop raving about this unexpected delight of a city hence what we like to call one of our ‘pop up’ trips--a quick in and out weekend deep dive to this great Phoenix of city.

Between Benjamin’s excellent advance work and his equally excellent contacts we think we’ve pulled together a terrific introduction to the Motor City, one that showcases the city’s glorious story through its many decades. Detroit-based Christman, the restoration group behind Greensboro’s Cascade Saloon as well as Hemingway’s Cuban retreat, Finca Vigia, and such closer home projects as the Fisher Building, the Michigan Central Railway Depot and Fair Lane, the Henry Ford Estate, are excited about our visit, so much so they have signed on to help by opening doors and making contacts to ensure a truly exceptional, one of kind tour.

So I ask you—what are you waiting for?

Click this link for the Detroit Pop Up itinerary.  

Click this link for the itinerary of the Architecture of England trip next September.


…and read on for a few words from Benjamin on as he puts it  ‘The Motown Lowdown’…

Perhaps you heard that Detroit has begun a remarkable rebound, but you can’t fully understand the scope and scale of revitalization efforts in the Motor City…unless you visit!

For a generation, Detroit has been the tagline for commentary on the ills of urban America. As cities like New York, Cleveland, and Buffalo have achieved revitalization their city centers, Detroit seemed left behind…until now. Within sixteen months of emerging from the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy, partnerships between city and state government, business leaders, and the city's philanthropic community have led a massive community re-investment including the construction of an iconic 912-foot tall mixed use development, new developments to attract Millennial urban dwellers, and the recently announced Ford Motor Company rehabilitation of the abandoned Michigan Central Station. Detroit is experiencing a remarkable revitalization that you should see for yourself!

                                     BB November 2018


A CITY A WEEK...LISBON AND FABULOUS PORTUGAL

by adeline talbot


My mom had a wonderful expression that I have been trying—and failing—to remember all week.  What it was not is the phrase that keeps suggesting itself to me which for some completely unaccountable reason is ‘keep the ditch in the road’.  Nonsensical and bad advice.  As I say—not it.

I think it must have been along of lines of ‘keep the plow in the row’ only with a bit more lyrical zing.

And why, you may ask, so much thought given to this during this particular week? Because this week despite all best intentions and efforts, the Tuesday blog is coming out on Friday, that’s why. 

You know that kind of week—the kind when one is just sort of glad to be able to claim to have a row much less a plow.  All aspirations of a higher order perfections shoved to the side.  Head down. Full steam ahead until you can at least see the end.

And here it is--Friday! Mission accomplished!!

End of the week and of the figurative row, and may I say, with plenty to show for all the effort despite a certain lack orderliness...

In my case, the week's accomplishments include the new, complete and I think very exciting itinerary for Portugal, my new favorite place.

You’ll find it in its entirety below.

The itinerary starts in Lisbon, moves on to the Alentejo town of Evora then to Porto.  

All fa-bu-lous.

(No kidding, I know I say every place is my favorite but this really is…honest…)

Portugal is gorgeous, delicious, friendly, safe and, based on experience the last bargain on the planet.

You. Need. To. Come. Along.

And you need more info—so read on (or click the tab above in 'Navigation').

In the meantime--Happy Friday, all. We did it.

Time to put up your plow, don't you think?

PORTUGAL

SEPTEMBER 23rd to October 1st, 2017

Eight days to introduce this fabulous gem of a country? We like to think we’ve done just that with this itinerary designed around the country’s many, many charms.  Whether it is Lisbon’s post-empire glory, the Alentejo’s profound—and delicious—sense of place or Porto’s hip-meets-history vibe, we have created an itinerary that is busy while never rushed; rich with 'must sees' as well as ‘only for us’ experiences.  For a thousand and one reasons the time to visit Portugal is now!

$4150

Includes 7 breakfasts, 1 afternoon petisco break, 5 lunches, 5 dinners, 8 nights accommodation, all trip–related fees, admissions and transportation. Not included: airfare, airport transfers and alcoholic beverages unless otherwise stated. Single supplement $850.

ACCOMMODATIONS :: VALVERDE HOTEL, LISBON; M'AR DE AR ADEDUTO, EVORA; PORTO AS 1829, PORTO

Saturday SEPTEMBER 23rd

Architectural Walking tour

As those of you who have traveled with us know—we love to start with a good walk.  We believe it is simply the best way to get to know a new city.  Lisbon makes this particularly rewarding with its fabulous architecture, walkable streets and vibrant neighborhoods.

‘Tea’ at MEMMO ALFAMA

Another of our first afternoon favorites, this time tweaked just a bit to better enjoy the customs of the country.  This 'tea time' we opt for petiscos (Portuguese tapas) and a favorite tipple or two at this fabulous spot in the Alfama, where the river views are as famous as the fare.

Dinner :: Open

We keep it flexible tonight—you can call it a day, venture out for dinner at one of the many neighborhood spots or stay in for dinner at SITIO , Valaverde’s celebrated restaurant.

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 24th

Today we begin with a tour of one of Lisbon’s singular attractions, The Monastery of St Jerome. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a superb example of Manueline architecture built to commemorate Vasco Da Gama’s voyage of exploration. In both spirit and fact, the monastery lies at the heart of the Portuguese soul.

Lunch :: POPULI

We stop for lunch at this popular spot on the grand Praca De Comercio

MUSEU DO AZULEJO

We tour this small gem of a museum which tells the outsized story of azulejos—tin-glazed tiles—and their continuing delight, influence and importance in Portuguese culture.

CASTEL DE SAO JORGE

Saint George's Castle, with its earliest ramparts dating from the 6th century, is a magnificent oasis of calm that belies its  fourteen centuries of turbulent history.

DINNER :: TABIK

Stylish, excellent and a short stroll from our hotel.  I’d say that about sums it up! 

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 25th

We depart after breakfast for a two hour bus ride through the gorgeous Alentejo region of central Portugal arriving in Monsaraz in time for an introduction to its justly famous textile tradition. We follow this with a guided stroll through this fabulous ancient hilltop town.

Lunch :: TAVERNA OS TEMPLARIOS

  A charming restaurant with terrific local specialties and equally terrific views.

A QUINTA DO MOUROS

Vineyard Tour and Dinner

The Alentejo is Portugal’s most important wine region. We combine a delicious crash course in Portuguese wine with a vineyard tour to be followed by a private dinner in the vineyard's elegant manor  house.

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 26th

EVORA

Charming and very walkable, Evora’s centuries of history are evident at every turn.  In addition to its stunning Roman aqueduct, there is its Temple to Diana, the 13th century cathedral, the imposing 14th century ducal palace and the macabre Capela dos Ossos--Chapel of The Bones--to name a few.

LUNCH :: RESTAURANTE FIALHO

This picturesque restaurant has been Evora’s most celebrated since opening in 1945.

ALMENDRES CROMLECH

The Alentejo region has an abundance of prehistoric menhirs and other megalithic monuments.  The Alemedres Cromlech, located a few kilometers outside Evora, is one of the largest and best preserved of these in all of Europe.

Open :: Dinner

A bit of self-guided time to explore the delights of Evora, culinary and otherwise.

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 27th

We depart Evora for Porto. It’s a three hour trip and we thought we’d break it up just a bit with a stop in COIMBRA,

 one of the oldest university towns in Europe.

CAFETARIA DO MUSEU

We have a light lunch upon arrival in Coimbra in this charming 17th century laboratory turned cafe.

UNIVERSIDADE DE COIMBRA BIBLIOTECA JOANINA and

 CEPELA DE SAO MIGUEL

We tour two stunning examples of Manueline Baroque architecture--the university's glorious 18th century library and the adjacent Chapel of Saint Michael.

Dinner :: ODE PORTO WINEHOUSE

We arrive in Porto in time to settle in to our digs, the gracious Porto AS 1829 Hotel, and then stroll to dinner at ODE Winehouse.

 THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 28th

Walking Tour of Porto

Again, what better way to get to know the history and culture of a city than to see its sites on foot and up close?

LUNCH ::  VINUM

The elegant restaurant attached to Graham Port Lodge has sweeping views and delicious fare.

GRAHAM'S PORT LODGE

Nothing is more essential to Porto than its port lodges--and Grahams is widely considered to have the finest 'caves'. We then enjoy a tasting in their renowned Private Vintage Room.

Open :: Dinner

Whether sidewalk café or Michelin-starred, Porto offers endless wonderful culinary choices.

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 29th

SERRALVES FOUNDATION

We tour Porto’s superb contemporary art museum, widely considered to be one of the finest in Southern Europe, before breaking for an open lunch and afternoon.

DINNER :: DOP PORTO

This charming and intimate restaurant is one of Porto’s most popular special occasion spots--and its just up the hill from our hotel. The ideal combination!

 SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 30th

We return to Lisbon in time for an afternoon of shopping, sightseeing—or maybe just chill time by the Tejo River.

DINNER :: SITIO

We keep it close to home on our last night in Portugal with a very festive farewell dinner at Valverde’sSITIO.

SUNDAY OCTOBER 1st

Tour ends after breakfast.

 

 

 


A CITY A WEEK...PRAGUE WITH GUEST BLOGGER RANDY SHULL

by adeline talbot


I'm a fan and have been for a long time now.  A Randy Shull fan, that is.  

A fan of his paintings, his furniture and of his design work which includes most recently his multi-year re-design of the Black Mountain Museum + Art Center in Asheville, North Carolina.  

All of Randy's varied work shares a fundamental strengtha cogency of concept and shape, not only beautiful but also deeply intelligent. 

In addition to these many talents, Randy is also a traveler. And that brings me to today's post.

 Randy spent August 2016 in Prague participating in an artist residency program that is jointly sponsored by the American Embassy and the Czech Ministry of Culture. 

When Randy and I saw each of recently at a Weatherspoon Art Museum event we discussed Prague as a city of surprises.  

The truth is that many of us think we know the real Prague.  That it is a sweet and appealing jewel box of a city—heartbreakingly beautiful but perhaps just a bit frozen in time. 

Ah, but there is so much more. Historical jewel box, yes, spared from the destructions of World War II as was no other European capital, but also a living breathing city, modern, vibrant and humming with cultural life.  

 As evidence of this one need look no further than Randy's photographs and video taken during his recent visit.  They run the gamut from the Royal Gardens to the city's justly celebrated Cubist architecture (this one with a nod to one of her most celebrated native sonsKafka) to the DOX Center for Contemporary Art, making it clear--Prague literally spans centuries.

The video above gives a view of the courtyard of the Bubec Sculpture Studio, founded by the Czech Republic’s foremost sculptor, Cestmir Suskaand host site for Shull’s  month-long residency.

Come to Prague with us next May and you will see for yourself.  It is a wonderful city, packed full of surprises...


A CITY A WEEK...CAPE TOWN

by adeline talbot


If you have traveled before on one of our trips offered in partnership with Weatherspoon Art Museum then you know—amazing things tend to happen.

Weatherspoon’s Nancy Doll has a way of creating a very special trip that brings together the major must-sees with a select group of very special private access experiences.   

I was reminded of this recently when preparing for our upcoming trip to Cape Town in late spring 2017, jointly sponsored by Weatherspoon Art Museum and Preservation Greensboro

We will arrive just after the opening of perhaps the world's most important new museum.  

Hyperbole? Not really.

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa , or Zeitz MOCAA, will be the first-ever major museum dedicated to the African contemporary art. With the opening of this museum, Cape Town is poised to become a new center of gravity within the contemporary art world.  And Zeitz MOCAA is  poised to be the cultural world's new must-see museum supplanting such recent additions as Crystal Bridges in Bentonville and The Broad in Los Angeles.

The brilliant design for Zeitz MOCCA has already garnered its share of attention for Thomas Heatherwick’s repurposing of a series of grain silos along Cape Town’s waterfront. 

In a bit of Weatherspoon synergy, Heatherwick’s name may be familiar to Dallas Fall 2014 participants where we saw to a terrific retrospective of his work at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

See what I mean?  With Nancy along things just naturally add up to extraordinary experiences.

Zeitz MOCAA, a new must-see--and just one of the wonders we will encounter in one of the world's great cities.  

Come see for yourself!

 

 


A CITY A WEEK...PHILADELPHIA

by adeline talbot


I'm back after a little needed if unexpected September R & R.  And not only am I back but I am positively raring to go with a slew of exciting trips on offer for next year. 

This morning we announce 'The Gardens of Philadelphia’ itinerary offered in partnership with Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden—and below I will give my thoughts on why Philadelphia is the best garden city ever—but first a brief shout out on another 2017 destination--Prague. 

You may have seen the great article in a recent Sunday New York Times Travel section on Prague's latest hotspots--but if you missed here’s a link:

FIVE PLACES TO GO IN PRAGUE

 Prague is a hip and happy place—and one that always rewards an extended visit.  I’ll be there to help make sure things go smoothly but it will be my co-leaders, Marsha Gordon and Louis Cherry, who will serve as our resident experts.  Marsha is a film historian and Louis is a modernist architect and  together they know Prague better than most Czechs.  All of which adds up to a not to be missed experience! 

And as for knowing cities well, I can justly claim to know Philadelphia very well. It's my husband's hometown and where we both lived for the first 10 years after college. The tradition continues now with our daughter's recent move to Philly after her college graduation in May. That all adds up to a lot of touch points—and yet I was struck when developing the itinerary for our spring trip that perhaps the very best lens of all through which to view Philadelphia is through her landscapes and gardens. 

Not only are they magnificent—and they truly, truly are magnificent—but they strike me as uniquely suited to capture the proud and continuing heritage of this great American city and her surrounding region. 

Bartram's Garden, the oldest surviving botanical garden in the nation; Longwood Gardens, one of the world's premier botanical gardens; Fairmount Park, the largest landscaped urban park anywhere--so many must-see sites here seem to be accompanied by these superlatives. 

Even technically ‘small scale’ gardens, such as Chanticleer, are incomparably fine.  

And the splendor is not limited to past glories.  Take, for example, the very contemporary one-acre living roof high atop Center City’s PECO Building. Stunning views, stunning design and all in the service of better, more efficient energy use.

And as an added bonus, the region’s verdure seems to have inspired one of the country’s best restaurant scenes, as we will happily experience as part of our exploration of the region.

Can you tell I am excited?  Well, I am--and truly think you will be too once you give our itinerary a look.

And I hope you decide to come along!!


TWO CITIES THIS WEEK...STELLENBOSCH AND FRANSCHHOEK, SOUTH AFRICA

by adeline talbot


Planning for a trip is, in a very real way, a bit of a treasure hunt especially when planning for group travel. After all, 'on the fly' for twenty or more is just not that likely to lead to good things.   

 The challenge, though, is not lack of information.  

There are endless online sources and, of course, this very endlessness creates its own challenges.  Just so much information.  How to evaluate it all?

 There is also the always important research trip but arriving in-country without a working plan risks wasting this very investment of time and treasure.   This is the time to refine the plan--not to get one.

Don't get me wrong--I absolutely love doing online research.  I never tire of a day spent chasing down options that the hold out the promise of the best and most interesting experiences.

And I absolutely, positively love a research trip. After all, I am on record--any excuse will do when it comes to travel. 

I'm just saying that like all good treasure hunts, one must be prepared to not only to go deep but wide.  I have found that one of the most valuable strategies is to take every opportunity to ask questions--lots of questions--starting with the sturdiest pair of all--'have you been there and what did you love?'.  

All this brings me to recent conversations I have had about  a very special region.

The place--or, more accurately, places--are the two towns at the very center of South African wine country--Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Over past few months, I have developed the impression that these two small towns have the biggest fan base on the planet.  Everyone who has ever been there has copious advice about 'must do's'. 

Want to hear the partial and still growing list?  

Well here goes--for Stellenbosch and environs--

Merlust Estate

Ken Forrester Vineyards

Uva Mira Mountain Vineyards

Waterford Estate Stellenbosch

Vriesenhof Vineyards

L'Avenir Stellenbosch

Muratie Wine Estate

Clos Malvern Wines Estate

And for Franschhoek and environs--

Lynx Wines

La Motte

Stony Brook Vineyards

Haute Cabriere

Hard to fit into three days no matter how committed we are--but believe me, we're will leave no stone unturned.  In early June 2017, as a very special optional extension to our trip to Cape Town, we will be experiencing  Stellenbosch and Franschhoek at its best.  Hope you can join us!