Tag: Learning HolidaysView All Tags
If the London storefront known as The School of Life is "an apothecary for the mind," then what they prescribe are cures for boredom, sluggish creativity, and an overall feeling of being "stuck." Tough times these may be, and call us equally tough for saying so, but we've grown tired of hearing the same tired moan and groan of pessimism.
Travel is about exploration, not least of all self-exploration, so we were excited to hear about this small shop offering big ideas—a place to break the touristy routine of museum visits and double-decker buses and get a little more out of our next London experience.
Early this year, before "staycation" finally, regrettably, caught on, learning holidays looked to be the emerging travel trend of 2008. And at least one celeb is trying to keep the dream alive: Mischa Barton has been traipsing around India--and blogging about it!
From her official site:
I must admit I used to make fun of people who were all into yoga and chai tea thinking it was another ridiculous health fad. But now I'm that person! First of all Masala Chai tea, the traditional way with milk and sugar is delicious, and this is coming from a brit who only likes my breakfast tea!
I must say my goal coming here was to learn to play the sitar and it's coming along real slow as apparently it's not that easy to procure a great sitar teacher here, I guess it not late 60's with Ravi Shankar and George Harrison roaming around unfortunately!!!!
Even all those exclamation points, it seems, don't make it easy to pick a 20-something-string lute.
[Photo of Mischa in Dubai earlier this year: Mischa Barton]
Not that we are like, totally on top of our lives or anything--we do that procrastinating thing and don't always love our in-laws--but a ski vacation is something we want to enjoy. Psycho-babble on the ski lift and analysis of what our ski style says about our life decisions might just spoil that a bit.
But the UK Times journo who took up the challenge of life coaching-plus-skiing reckoned he got a lot out of it. Putting your body on the edge on difficult slopes apparently helps you get your life in perspective too. Just don't plan on seeing us along for the ride.
This sounds like the ultimate geeky-but-cool week in Italy. Studios like Orsoni will give you hammers and bits of glass and some instructions on what to do with them, and let you take your grand creations home with you after your week-long learning experience.
Since wandering around Venice now seems to have so many rules, we reckon holing up in a mosaic workshop is a good way to escape tourist-ville. Being creative is still allowed (so far).
How come high school kids have all the fun--and why didn't this stuff exist back when we were still in school? We're talking about National Geographic's Student Expeditions, which send American teenagers from the ninth to twelfth grades out into the wild for three weeks at a time.
Of course, the hope is that they'll learn something, but it sounds more like a wild vacation to us.
Student expeditions head all over the place--the Galapagos Islands, China, Mali or our personal favorite, Iceland. And although the kids have to turn in a few assignments at the end and do 10 to 20 hours of community service along the way, we're still jealous as hell. Sure beats math tests and history quizzes back in the classroom.
It's a bit embarrassing, but we're going to admit it: we really love playing Scrabble. And while we're not usually winners, the idea of combining our love of Scrabble with a vacation is an intriguing prospect.
We're not talking tiny magnetic Scrabble boards for the plane--we're talking a vacation where playing Scrabble with strangers is the whole point of leaving home. In England, a UK Times reporter recently had a weekend away in Cumbria at a resort where Scrabble coaching and endless games were the main activities.
Now remember: Geek is the new cool. With England's unpredictable weather, a Scrabble weekend might be one of the safest holiday strategies around. And FYI, Jaunted is an official Scrabble word, and we encourage you to use it: 15 points ain't bad.
Camps / Wine / Venice / Learning Holidays / → All Tags
We thought our summer camp days were long passed, but a recent list publicized by Reuters of the top ten camps for adults has got us thinking twice. The list includes a few camps we're personally not so interested in--poker camp in Vegas, or crossword puzzle creation camp on an Eastern Caribbean cruise--but there are also a few we're really hoping our parents will spring for.
Winemaking camp in the Napa Valley, for example, sounds like a nice way to spend a few days, especially if we get to sample plenty of what the camp leaders have already prepared. In Venice, there are gondolier training camps, vet safari camps in Africa where you can follow a micro-chipping, ear-notching vet on his travels and elephant care camps in Northern Thailand.
The list is full of programs offered by hotels or tour operators that perhaps aren't strictly vacation camps at all, but we do like the idea. We're going to put the gondolier camp on our birthday wish list. Are you listening, Mom?
· Top 10 Quirky Vacation Camps for Adults [Reuters]
· Hilton Venice Offers Gondolier Training Classes [HotelChatter]
[Photo: Ayres no graces]
The travel reporters at the UK Times seem to have decided that vacationing without an educational purpose is strictly off the agenda this year. Continuing their long line of learning holidays reports, they've just published a round-up for cooking holidays throughout the world, and this time they've got suggestions way beyond your standard French or Italian cooking escape.
For example, you might want to spend a week in Turkey, shopping and preparing a six course vegetable and fish feast, or alternatively you might whip up some tagines or almond pastries at the Dar Liqama near Marrakesh in Morocco. And learning how to make tapas from El Txoko del Gourmet, in San Sebastian, Spain, sounded great until their website said that you'll learn "how to enhance a simple potato to obtain an unsuspected taste scum."
Farther afield, there's the so-called "School of Wok" in Thailand, south Indian vegetarian cooking in Kerala or cheese-making courses in the Cape region of South Africa. If these ideas don't make you hungry for travel, nothing will.
Last week it was the New York Times suggesting we head to Italy to make tortellini in Bologna. And this week it's the UK Times pointing us in the direction of southwest France to brush up both our cooking and our language skills in the town of Brantôme.
Just like we've said, learning holidays seem like the big thing for 2008. And these cooking and language "escapes", as they call them, at La Borderie de la Cole, kill two birds with one stone. Three, maybe. Learn to cook, brush up your French skills and eat decadent French meals cooked by the chef who's trying to teach you how to make Hollandaise.
This is one of those cooking classes where the students follow the chef to the markets: In the Times story, the chef picks an eggplant half eaten by a slug, because he says that proves it is sweet and chemical-free. Ingredients in hand, you'll then all don aprons and hats to chop veges, peel apples and roll pastry. All the while looking out for eggplant-eating slugs, of course.
[Photo of southwest France: PhillipC]
We really wanna try one of those learning holidays in 2008. But rather than our previous suggestion of learning Indian head massage, we're salivating over a recent NYT report on making tortellini in Bologna. A hearty plate of self-made tortellini topped with at-the-origin Bolognese sauce certainly makes for an appetizing destination.
The course in question is held at the Fattoria Corte Roeli convent and run by graphic designer-turned-cooking teacher Leonardo Iacono, and while you make your tortellini you'll also be discovering some of the fine old rules that govern the process. For example, when you're making the dough that creates the pockets of tortellini, it
should be rolled thin enough that you can see San Luca, Bologna's hilltop church, through it.
And yes, it sounds like that's as tricky as it sounds. Folding attractive-looking tortellini is another great challenge, but fortunately they still taste the same even if they're not perfect. Just don't tell anybody in Bologna we said that.
[Photo: Florian Seiffert]