Archive for May, 2009

sound-pic5I just got word of a remarkable internet-radio experiment out of Cape Town. The Pan African Space Station was a 30-day musical intervention broadcasting music from global Africa, and greater Cape Town, from September 12 (Biko Day) to October 12, 2008.

Some of the most beautiful, interesting, and cutting-edge developments in melody and rhythm are coming out of contemporary Africa, and the musical traditions being blended in PASS’s broadcasts – well, you can’t help but smile. In the archive, you’ll find a live performance by Madala Kunene in a slave church, with guitar and choral vocals, that is especially beautiful and stirring. Sampling from the rest of the archive, you’ll experience West African melodies, Francophone savoir-faire, American jazz and electronic music, and tribal rhythms converging all at once. It’s an endlessly fascinating look into African-based musical traditions – like jazz and hip-hop – that were formulated in America, now returning and becoming adapted and developed and accented by Africa once again.

And if you’re not too fond of it, I guarantee: your grandkids will love you for turning them on to this station. They’ll think you’re the coolest.

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In the Kalahari Desert of Namibia, tribesmen practice one of the most ancient methods of hunting practiced by the human species. David Attenborough narrates how the tribesmen track, scent, and then chase a Kudu – for eight hours, until the animal literally collapses from sheer exhaustion.

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…until someone gets their head stuck in a 3,600-year-old Sumerian pot. From McSweeney’s Internet Tendency:

Beautiful piece. In excellent condition. One of only two complete pots from a pottery works at Larsa, dated to the reign of Rim-Sim I.

I honestly didn’t think my head would fit into it.

But it did, and now I can’t get it out. In addition to my extensive knowledge of the ancient Near East, I am blessed with a near-inexplicable touch-typing ability, so, if you will, picture me sitting at the computer with a pot on my head that dates from roughly the time when the Hittites invented iron-forged weapons. Or, to put it in more familiar terms, the pot on my head was about 400 years old when Troy was sacked.

It is of course priceless, which means I must extract my head without breaking it. Or, perhaps, my head should be cut off. But that would still leave the head-in-a-pot problem unresolved, wouldn’t it?

Welcome to Friday Funnies, Travel Dynamics International-style. Read the rest here. But don’t break your head trying to understand it.

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Taberna del Alabardero's skin-on, pan-seared monkfish

On the August 22-29, 2009 edition of our classic Great Lakes cruise, we’ve got a real treat in store for you: Dani Arana, Executive Chef of the Taberna del Alabardero, will be your personal guest chef, offering special meals, wine tastings and master classes.

When the Taberna del Alabardero opened its doors in 1989, The New York Times lauded the restaurant for “…finally bringing a sophisticated Spanish kitchen to the nation’s capital.” Designated as “The Best Spanish Restaurant Outside of Spain” by the Spanish Government, the Taberna del Alabardero was recently described by The Washingtonian as one of the “100 Very Best Restaurants”:

Alabardero's paella for purists

Alabardero's paella for purists

“The food, drawn from or inspired by Spain’s regional cuisines, is so vibrant and robust you’ll think you were sitting down to lunch in the Spanish countryside.

Flavors run deep in a plate of squid steeped in a thick black squid-ink sauce, in zurrukutuna, a garlicky Basque soup, and in pork belly with its fat seared wonderfully crisp. Paella purists will stick with the classic seafood version, but two other combos worth trying are the rusticky chicken-and-chorizo and the unusual baby-back-rib-and-scallion. Other notable choices are veal sweetbreads with spinach and pine nuts and a caramel cream custard with caramel ice cream.”

A native of Huelva, Spain, Chef Arana began cooking for his family while still a boy, receiving his formal

Chef Dani Arana

Chef Dani Arana

training at the Escuela de Hosteleria de Sevilla. While at school he completed an externship at Mugaritz, consistently rated one of the top restaurants in the world. After school he began as the sous chef at the Michelin starred Café de Oriente in Madrid, then moved up to the position of chef.

Chef Arana moved to the United States in 2008 and became executive chef at Taberna del Alabardero.

Travel Dynamics International’s classic Great Lakes cruise between Toronto, Canada and Duluth, Minnesota features the Ojibwe Native American community of Manitoulin Island, Michigan’s historic Mackinac Island, and the rugged Keweenaw Peninsula – and transits the seven locks of the Welland Canal which links Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.

The cruises, which operate throughout the summer (though you can enjoy Chef Arana’s splendid Spanish  cuisine only on the August 22-29 departure), are aboard Clelia II, which recently completed a million-dollar refurbishment. It’s a luxurious all-suite cruise ship for just 100 guests. Renowned for its spaciousness, beautiful design, and impeccable service, Clelia II offers travelers an intimate ambiance akin to a private club.

For more information about the Great Lakes cruise with Chef Dani Arana or to make a reservation, please call Amalia Ciprijan toll-free at 1-800-257-5767, extension 511.

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casa-milaFrom William Powers in The Washington Post:

“One look at Mila was enough to surface deep wells of ambivalence. I have, it seems, a love-hate relationship with Gaudí. Despite how touristy the place was, I couldn’t help admiring how he ingeniously weaves nature’s curves and angles into his designs. Nobody but Gaudí would have thought to give a building’s rigid verticals a subtle lilt by mimicking the way people stand upright. I stood there adoring the Mila’s cacophonous balconies and the way the entire building waved and rolled around the corner, as if a Mediterranean tsunami were flooding the city.”

Read more on Gaudí’s radical Barcelonan architecture here. Join Travel Dynamics International in Barcelona on our gorgeous, wide-ranging “Historic Cities of the Sea” cruise, aboard the “gold standard of expedition cruising,” the 114-guest Corinthian II, from April 22-May 6, 2010. BOOK NOW FOR SAVINGS OF $3000 PER PERSON!

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