New Private Nile River Cruises from Abercrombie & Kent

I just got word about a new Nile River cruise that actu­ally hear­kens back to the days when daha­biehs — lanteen-rigged sail­boats — were the main method of trans­porta­tion on this water­way. These sail-powered ves­sels were used exten­sively up until the 19th cen­tury when steamships made their debut in the area. The pop­u­lar­ity of daha­biehs waned as they were slower than steamships and so fell out of favor with many. Today, these sail­ing ships have been retro­fit­ted for high-end travel up and down the Nile.

Aber­crom­bie & Kent is now offer­ing pri­vate travel aboard the new lux­ury daha­bieh, Zein Nile Chateau. This ship is part of A&K’s Tai­lor Made Pri­vate Travel pro­gram. These inti­mate boats are per­fect for small groups. And, since daha­biehs are smaller and more agile than tra­di­tional Nile River boats, they can visit more areas than their competitors.

Zein Nile Chateau was purpose-built for the lux­ury mar­ket with two expan­sive suites and four state­rooms. Unlike other daha­biehs, the cab­ins on this sail­boat are air-conditioned. Pub­lic areas include the din­ing room with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, cigar lounge, library, sun deck, oasis pool, and out­door lounge designed for stargazing.

Trav­el­ers may char­ter Zein Nile Chateau. Seven-night itin­er­aries start at $29,600 for up to 12 peo­ple. An expe­ri­enced Egyp­tol­o­gist trav­els with all Aber­crom­bie & Kent Nile River tours and with just 12 trav­el­ers on this ship, you’re sure to enjoy a per­son­al­ized jour­ney down the Nile.

Musings — Museums, Gardens, & Love

Have you ever wanted to cre­ate a des­ti­na­tion with-in a des­ti­na­tion? Places that both spark and sate curios­ity?  Muse­ums and gar­dens that restore and moti­vate the human spirit?

In the midst of Marekkesh, Morocco, Yves Saint-Laurent, helped cre­ate an artis­tic oasis that now offers vis­i­tors a won­der­ful Museum of Berber cul­ture, the restored gar­dens of Majorelle, and a rest­ful café . In the 1920s and 30s,  Jacques Majorelle a French artist, land­scaped the gar­dens as canvases.

He also used blues and yel­lows and oranges in build­ings for con­trast, and the vivid cobalt like blue is named after him– Majorelle bleu.  In the 1980s, fash­ion designer Saint-Laurent and his part­ner Pierre Berge  restored the place and now vis­i­tors can walk peace­ful paths between cacti, palms, coconut trees, bam­boo and foun­tains as well as immerse in authen­tic Berber arti­facts in the museum.  There’s even a YSL gallery that includes the “love” cards he made each year for friends as hol­i­day greetings.

This eclec­tic des­ti­na­tion within the great des­ti­na­tion of Mar­rakesh was one of many mem­o­rable places we vis­ited as part of my recent, won­der– filled  Access Trips culi­nary jour­ney of Morocco, and it prompted many mus­ings while I meant to be writ­ing about the delight­ful  riads of the royal king­dom of Morocco. Good trav­els tend to stir dreams, mem­o­ries, and ideas for new mixes.

FAMOUS MAGNETS

I grew up explor­ing the Hunt­ing­ton Library and Gar­dens in San Marino, Cal­i­for­nia just a few miles from the Pasadena Rose parade route.  Thanks to Henry E. Hunt­ing­ton, and the trans­for­ma­tion of his for­mer home, the Guten­berg Bible, Gainsborough’s Blue Boy paint­ing, the Shake­speare Gar­dens, an imag­i­na­tive range of grow­ing fauna, and the big bell in the Japan­ese gar­dens were a part of my child­hood and are avail­able to the many thou­sands who visit the peace­ful grounds and rich repos­i­to­ries of knowl­edge and beauty.

The Getty Museum, thanks J.P Getty, is another visual feast inside and out in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.  Perched on a moun­tain top over free­ways and high-rises with far reach­ing views out­side and exten­sive art inside, it’s one of my favorite spots to meet friends and fam­ily for a meal, shared walks in the gar­dens and some sati­at­ing gawk­ing in galleries.


Thanks also to Solomon R. Guggen­heim whose epony­mous spi­raled museum in New York is a lovely respite from the inten­si­ties of New York city streets.  The Guggen­heims also spon­sored pub­lic muse­ums in Venice, Berlin, and Bil­bao, Spain.

The Bil­bao, designed by Frank Gehry, inspired the trans­for­ma­tion of a whole region of the Basque Coun­try for locals and tourism. Who knows how many vis­i­tors the art­ful des­ti­na­tion has sparked?

YOUR OWN

Many trav­el­ers I know, have places in their homes that are aes­thetic sanc­tu­ar­ies with good­ies culled from the globe, inte­grated domes­tic shrines to the won­ders of the world. But those places are only avail­able to friends.

What cul­tural pub­lic oasis would you love to leave that oth­ers could enjoy?

POSSIBILITATOR PARK
If I were to write a mega best seller or win some stu­pen­dous lot­tery so I had a sur­plus of funds, I would love to cre­ate “Pos­si­bil­i­ta­tor Park”  with a library full of eclec­tic inspir­ing works from around the world and dif­fer­ent times , and gar­dens full of places to sit and think or stroll and muse. Trees that are sym­bolic and lit­eral parts of sto­ries would be spa­ciously placed so peo­ple could pic­nic or nap or sketch the lyri­cal branches.  It worked for Bud­dha and New­ton… There would also be con­served wilder­ness with run­ning water, and open spaces for cloud watch­ing, and, and.. well I have more than a few ideas gath­ered over the year while think­ing about such a place.

Right now I imag­ine this sanc­tu­ary and stim­u­lus on some moun­tain top acreage in the Santa Mon­ica Moun­tains with a view of the Pacific Ocean, but places along the Hud­son River in New York also come to mind—some gor­geous nat­ural set­ting not far from an urban cen­ter, acces­si­ble to locals and trav­el­ers.  The library would make avail­able (via lat­est tech­nol­ogy) all kinds of exem­plary sto­ries, quotes, art, social his­tory,  and research about cre­ation and inven­tion and “dreams turned deeds”—tales of true “Pos­si­bil­i­ta­tors”  both the famous and the unsung.

On our first date, hours into our con­ver­sa­tional mean­der­ing, I told this attrac­tive, intel­li­gent man named Vic­tor that I wanted to res­ur­rect a word I had found in the OED(Oxford Eng­lish Dic­tio­nary)– the verb “pos­si­bil­i­tate” mean­ing “to ren­der pos­si­ble.”  “How could the Amer­i­can lan­guage have lost the active use of a verb con­vey­ing such a great con­cept?” I asked him.

He leaned over the wooden table at the Mir­a­cle Grill in New York and said,  “Why don’t you and I be Pos­si­bil­i­ta­tors?”  He made it a noun, and a lov­ing chal­lenge.  I had writ­ten in a jour­nal weeks ear­lier “I want to meet a man who is a vic­tor not a vic­tim.” Now I had met him. We were mar­ried five months later– the first mar­riage for both of us. We will enjoy our 15th wed­ding anniver­sary this Fri­day, 12/21/12 on the Sol­stice.  And I smile deeply think­ing how for­tu­nate I am to be in love with the per­son I am mar­ried to, a man who inspires mus­ings and is amusing.

Luxury Kayaking: Top Tips and Trips

This is the week I hope to be kayak­ing in a lake with the world’s only fresh water sharks, amidst vol­canos, islets, and pro­lific birdlife as part of Austin-Lehman Adven­tures’  com­pelling flag­ship tour in Nicaragua. To pre­pare, I con­tacted fel­low Explorer’s Club mem­ber Alan Feld­stein who teaches kayak­ing in the Pacific waters of Los Ange­les, and leads a com­pany that offers cus­tomized water safaris via kayaks in Tan­za­nia, Africa—Infi­nite Safari Adven­tures(More on Feldstein’s other col­or­ful ven­tures below.). He shares some tips and trips with me and Lux­ury Travel Mavens readers:

What is “lux­ury kayaking”?

Feld­stein: “Most kayak trips, which I have done and love to do, involve pad­dling to a remote site with your gear in the boat, set­ting up camp, and then pad­dling the next day.  Us aging boomers are less into camp­ing so the bet­ter way is to pad­dle to a lodge or pad­dle to and from a com­fort­able won­der­ful lodge with nice beds, hot show­ers and great meals.”

What does it take to be a kayaker?  How does it relate to health?

Feld­stein: “Kayak­ing is a great sport for active peo­ple who do not want high impact.  Any­one can kayak and our trips are offered with no expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary.  Gen­eral good health is all that it takes.  You use your core and are not putting stress on knees, hips and other joints.”

What are your five best tips for “good” kayaking?

Feld­stein: “Have good equip­ment, have guides who are cer­ti­fied and know what they are doing, eat and hydrate well before pad­dling, and remem­ber ‘the jour­ney is the des­ti­na­tion’ so go out and enjoy, and do not worry about how far or fast you pad­dle.  It is that Zen rhythm you get into when pad­dling that I enjoy so much.”