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Archive for the ‘guest lecturers’ Category

From November 21 – December 13, 2009, Travel Dynamics International will follow in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton, cruising to South Georgia Island, the South Orkneys, Elephant Island (where Shackleton climbed a mountain range following a 700-mile open-boat trip) and the Antarctic Peninsula. For a voyage of this magnitude, celebrating the impossible achievements of one of the world’s greatest explorers, it’s only fitting that a great explorer should accompany us. We have two.

Peter HillaryPeter Hillary made history in 1990 when he and his father, Sir Edmund Hillary, became the first father-and-son team to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. On another expedition, Peter blazed a new overland route to the South Pole. For more than 25 years Peter has challenged some of the most demanding, most dangerous environments on Earth: he is the first man to traverse the 3000-mile length of the Himalayas; he made the first ski descent of Mount Aspiring, known as “the Matterhorn of the Southern Hemisphere;” and he has participated in more than 38 mountaineering expeditions, including ascents of Mount Everest, K2, Makali West Pillar, and Mount Vinson, Antarctica’s highest peak. Peter holds a commercial pilot’s license, is a much-sought-after speaker, and is the author of eight books, most recently In the Ghost Country: A Lifetime Spent on the Edge.

dave-hahnDave Hahn holds the record for reaching the summit of Mount Everest—ten times (out of 14 tries), more than any other non-Sherpa climber. He has guided climbers to the summit of Mount Rainier 245 times, and led 25 attempts on Denali, reaching the summit 18 times. Dave also holds the world record for the Vinson Massif in Antarctica—he has reached the summit 25 times. In 2006 Dave led a team of professional athletes on an expedition to ski Mount Everest. In 1999 Dave participated in the expedition that recovered and identified the remains of explorer George Mallory, who died trying to scale Everest in 1924. A renowned expert on Ernest Shackleton, Dave has led seven expeditions to South Georgia Island and led trekkers overland on the “Shackleton Traverse,” which in 2004 won Outside magazine’s Trip of the Year Award. Dave shot high-altitude video for the PBS NOVA program Lost on Everest, and led the film crew into the mountains of Antarctica on a journey of discovery that resulted in the Emmy-Award-winning film, Mountains of Ice.

If you book this trip before JULY 9, you’ll receive FREE AIR TRANSPORTATION from Miami to Ushuaia, Argentina, economy class, on LAN Airlines. If you’d like to upgrade to business class, we can arrange that for you for just $2,500 more (availability limited). All guests on this trip will enjoy free limousine transportation from your home to the airport (if you live within 50 miles of your departure airport). Opportunities like this, with such illustrious travel companions, don’t come often, so we encourage you to download the brochure from our main site and give us a call at (800) 257-5767.

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corinthian-iiCruisecritic.com has published a review of a recent Travel Dynamics International cruise taken by user pisque, who joined us for a journey from Rome to Istanbul aboard the Corinthian II.

Here are some excerpts:

Travel Dynamics International has it all together. This is small-ship cruising designed for a full intellectual barrage. No casino and night club fru-fru….just a great immersion into the world of ancient artifacts and thought.

We heard about this trip via an opera association. It had all the places we wanted to see, a full lecture format, and we wanted to try a smaller vessel….we were amply rewarded…

Fellow passengers were fascinating. Some were experts in Greco-Roman history, others ran the gamut from financial tycoons to physicists…

Local excursions were terrific, with local guides at each port, commodious buses, with two lunches at local places included, with one in Sicily being exceptional, and another in Santorini being adequate.

The staff put together a dinner by candlelight in Ephesus, with local cuisine equal to the ships great dinning room, together with a string ensemble providing music…This was a night to remember.

Disembarkation and transfers were handled with aplomb. We opted for a two night extension in Istanbul. The Hotel was luxurious, and again the tour buses and guide were outstanding.

I would not hesitate to book a cruise with this company in the future.

Read the full review here.

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la-fenice1We stride on two levels, I think. There’s the domestic life, the day-to-day, the gainings of friendships and expertise. And then there’s the moment of deep insight, a flash of a hidden facet – the pattern of a façade, a new interpretation of a famous piece of music, that makes you believe you’ve comprehended the shape of things.

On Valentine’s Day, my fiancée and I attended the first opera I’d seen in many years – Mozart’s The Magic Flute, performed by the Yale Opera. It was truly a production for our age, a thing of very high quality indeed. It managed to translate Mozart’s Enlightenment philosophies perfectly into the contemporary idiom, while flashing additional little insights from the right now. The costuming of this Singspiel spoke volumes: Pamino in burgundy, Tamina in a blue-white gown reminiscent of Snow White; male choristers in turbans, female choristers in Women’s Temperance League hats, the Three Spirits as American Revolutionaries, and Papageno and Papagena – the true scene-and-show-stealers in both panache and vocal qualitybirds of a feather in 19th-century French Bohemian linens.

When you put it that way, and remember that Die Zauberflöte premiered on September 30, 1791, it’s pretty easy to gather what Mozart might have been thinking about: music as the magical, reconciling element, enlightening society and freeing it from slavery. (An excellent added touch: as Tamino and Pamina ascend to the wedding altar, the three Revolutionary Sprites are ring-bearers, and don the coats of Colonial statesmen as they bring forth the wedding rings.) (more…)

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You are sailing away from Naples. You hear a voice cry out:

“Cyclops, if any mortal man ever asks you who it was that inflicted upon your eye this shameful blinding, tell him that you were blinded by Odysseus, sacker of cities!”

That voice is your own.

Or – by the gentle shores of Ithaka, a sweet voice sings out. A beautiful woman is whispering heartfelt words to her husband:

“The gods granted us misery, in jealousy over the thought that we two, always together, should enjoy our youth, and then come to the threshold of old age.”

And that is the voice of your wife.

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Travel Dynamics International is proud to present a very special departure of The Journey of Odysseus, from JULY 31 – SEPT. 11, 2009. Collaborating with Readers of Homer, a 503(c) non-profit organization, we will not only be sailing from TROY to ITHACA, retracing the ten years’ voyage of wily Odysseus from the carnage at Illium home to Penelope. Guests will be invited to orate their favorite passages from The Odyssey in an organized reading that will span the length of the cruise. messina

In a world of intellectual candy, this is the chocolate truffle. Just imagine standing upon the deck of the Corinthian II, the gold standard of expedition cruising, and beckoning to either side of the Strait of Messina (a picture is on the right) while  declaiming:

In that cave Scylla lives (because she did), whose howling is terror. She has twelve feet, and all of them wave in the air. She has six necks upon her, grown to great length, and upon each neck there is a horrible head…

From Istanbul and Troy to Delos, Pylos, Malta, Sicily, Naples, Ithaca and Athens, (more…)

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Here’s a brief sampling (5 mins) of the type of experience Travel Dynamics International creates. In 2006, we sailed to the Mediterranean with actor Yannis Simonides, who adapted an award-winning dramatic monologue from The Apology of Socrates by Plato. We decided to stage this performance at the steps of the famed 2rd-century AD Library of Celsus in the center of ancient Ephesus. Enjoy!

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Bill Geist? Who’s he? Well, that’s okay if he’s not a household name. He’s not one of those flashy sorts. He doesn’t go in for a whole lot of self-promotion. He’s just an easy-going American journalist who really loves America in all its small-town quirkiness. For years, his segments on CBS’s “Sunday Morning” have brought home the friendly, the odd, the back-road and the out-of-the-way places all over the country.

That’s why we’re so pleased he could join us for our inaugural Great Lakes cruise this summer, from June 27-July 4 aboard the Clelia II. Here’s Bill with his granddaughter, walking through New York, telling her all about the differences between now and “Sunday Morning”‘s debut 30 years ago:

He’s going to be great fun, don’t you think?

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Granted, it’s not a question that occupies a great deal of attention, but Travel Dynamics International likes to illuminate parts of the world that don’t get a lot of attention. Last April, we were in Freetown (and we will be again, next April). We frequently arrange to have our guests meet local government officials; on this voyage, we were privileged to meet the Deputy Chief of Mission for the US Embassy, Elizabeth Susie Pratt, who gave us this excellent summary of the current political and social issues of Sierra Leone, and that African country’s ties to the United States. The address is featured prominently on the American Embassy’s website.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to be the first to welcome you to Sierra Leone. I have been the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy to Sierra Leone for nearly two years now, so I welcome you as I am preparing for my own departure. My time here has been one of exciting changes both in the Embassy and in the country as a whole. Our Embassy moved from our longtime home to a new building up on top of Leicester Peak. Sierra Leone has transitioned from being a country only just emerged from war, with a peace still guarded by a robust UN force, to a reconstructing nation, with a rapidly reducing UN presence, and a democratic election and peaceful civilian to civilian transfer of authority complete.

I think it is important, however, to begin any discussion of U.S.-Sierra Leone relations with a discussion of the historical ties that connect the two countries. The first major contact between America and Sierra Leone was through the slave trade. Captives from this part of Africa were highly sought after for their superior rice-growing abilities. The rice from this part of the world was among the best, and rice was a prime industry in the Carolinas and Georgia. Many Sierra Leoneans found their way to the United States because plantation owners sought them out. Their expertise was invaluable in the southern economy.

Today, there is a population off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia called the Gullah people who trace their roots to the Mende tribe of Sierra Leone. The language they speak is almost identical to the tribal language still spoken here. Their foods, their songs, their dances, and their rituals are all indicative of the African roots many Americans never knew they had. An American scholar by the name of Joseph Opala about 10 years ago was able to connect through DNA testing a woman from that area of the United States to a particular village here in Sierra Leone. That woman’s ancestor, a Sierra Leonean captive named Priscilla, remained in the area of the Southern U.S., and her descendants settled there for generations. When Priscilla’s descendant finally visited the land of her ancestors, it was dubbed “Priscilla’s Homecoming,” and epitomized the strong relationship between our two countries. (more…)

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One of our most exciting travel offerings this year is a late-December exploration of West Africa, beginning in legendary Casablanca, and concluding in Dakar, Senegal, on New Year’s Day 2009 — aboard the 114-guest, all-suite Corinthian II.

You can see the full itinerary here (and it’s really spectacular on its own) but we’d also like to introduce the two scholars who will be exploring this region with us, providing a lecture series en route. They are two Westerners teaching at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, and their fields of interest are especially intriguing. One thing that makes TDI voyages unique is their ability to put you in touch with cutting-edge, up-to-the-minute research about the world in which we live. “Desert Kingdoms of West Africa” is a perfect example:

(more…)

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R.W. Apple, JrWe at Travel Dynamics International were very saddened to learn of the death of R.W. Apple, Jr. in 2006 — gourmand, politico, and one of the New York Times’ very best writers. In 2004, he traveled with us along the Dalmatian Coast, and was so inspired by the fantastically fresh seafood he encountered there, he immediately returned to Manhattan to write this tantalizing, delectable survey of Croatian coastal cuisine. He was particularly impressed with Proto, one of Dubrovnik’s finest restaurants, where we took our guests for lunch one afternoon:

But restaurants like Proto — a few steps off Dubrovnik’s pedestrian-only main drag, whose limestone paving blocks have been polished to a high gloss by hundreds of thousands of feet — buy the best and know just what to do with it. We were stunned by the sweet, magically tender shrimp, cooked on a wooden skewer, and the ruddy scampi, which were so plump they could almost have passed for baby lobsters.

They were rockets of flavor intensity that scored direct hits with us both. The young waiter told us why: “They were alive when they came in this morning, and they’re barely cooked — two or three minutes on the grill, depending on size.”

Our lunch at Proto was one of those meals where everything worked perfectly. Our table, covered with a sea-blue cloth, was shielded from the fierce midday sun by an awning and cooled by a fresh breeze. I am not much of a fish salad fan, but my starter was exemplary — a mixture of delicately flavored baby octopus, succulent little mussels, chopped red onion, ripe tomatoes, fleshy black olives and round, wonderfully juicy Mediterranean capers. Betsey’s shrimp came with a mound of saffron rice, every grain distinct and slightly crunchy, and a salad of tart rocket dressed with oil from Korcula.

The espresso, with a perfect head of crema, would have pleased Dr. Illy, and it went very nicely, I thought, with a slug of slivovitz, the local plum eau-de-vie. Well, not exactly local; I thought I detected a note of regret in the waiter’s voice as he took the order, and then I realized that slivovitz is Serbian, not Croatian. The last time I had been in these parts, the rival countries were both part of Yugoslavia.

Read more of his culinary adventures with Travel Dynamics International in the Adriatic here.

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