TRAVEL PURSUITS – Encounters of the out of the ordinary kind

What I enjoy most about planning Classical Pursuits trips is seeking and arranging special encounters, the sort of thing that brings us into close contact with local people who help deepen our relationship to the trip’s theme and to our destination.

Here are several examples, from two upcoming trips, of the out of the ordinary activities we cook up.

IN SEARCH OF THE NEWFOUNDLAND SOUL: Tales of Survival and Celebration (Aug. 6-10, 2011)
Newfoundland is known for many things, but perhaps these two above all — its spectular natural setting of rocks, sea and sky and its unparalleled down home hospitality. We will experience both first hand during our five days in Eastport, where we will take part in a literary festival like no other. Winterset in the Summer is set in the communities of the Eastport Peninsula,  among a myriad of islands in the inner central part of Bonavista Bay.

The uniqueness of the festival derives from its combination of excellence and informality. Among the  Newfoundland literary and musical talent taking part will be Michael Crummey, author of one of the books we will be discussing (Galore). Readings, interviews and performances are top notch, but the ambiance is informal and friendly. The Royal Canadian Legion hosts a fish supper. Story-telling and music take place at an historic church in the still active fishing village of Salvage.

A highlight for us will be an evening at home. Eternal Newfoundlanders Norma and Walter Pinsent have graciously invited us to join them and their friends  for a Newfoundland tradtion of household entertainment — a kitchen party. A crowd of people gather in someone’s kitchen and its a time of plankin’ ‘er down (dancing), havin’ a scoff (great meal) and playing music late into the night. The only rule of a kitchen party is that you cannot just sit back and take it all in, you actually have to participate ~ sing a song, tell a story, dance a jig. The kitchen party has been enshrined as an iconic image of the Newfoundland lifestyle and it continues to thrive around the province. We are among the few “from away” who will experience it first hand.

SACHERTORTE AND PAPRIKASH: Musical Meanderings Along the Blue Danube — (Sept. 27 – Oct. 7, 2011)
As you would expect, we will attend world class performances of opera and symphony in Vienna and Budapest. And, naturally, our ears will be attuned by our regular pre-concert talks with our fabulous leader Rick Phillips. But we will  also get back stage to meet musicians and learn about their working life in these musical capitals of Europe.

Among the plans in the formative stage in Vienna are a choice of home concerts and conversation with working musicians and a private tour of the Bosendorfer showroom and new hall in the world famous Musikverein building.

In Budapest we will talk with Monika Barabas, a lovely young woman I met on the Camino last fall. She will tell us about her early musical education the the Kodaly Method, and the years she spent in choirs and playing the violin. We hope to meet her teachers as well.

We will spend some time with Dan Brooks, a recently retired American-Canadian professor of biology and currently a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Collegium Budapest. Dan is an extraordinary photographer and will both show and tell us how this city and country impress a fellow North American.

Finally, a friend in Paris has put me in touch with her friend in Budapest. Here is what she says. “Szuszanna is a poet and translator, deeply immersed in literature, but in all that is cultural. (When I visit, she’s the one who knows what’s happening in music and theater). So if you want someone for talks or walks or to point out which café Frigyes Karinthy describes when he first realizes something is wrong in the marvelously dark and funny A Journey Round My Skull [with intro by Oliver Sacks], or simply to translate when things get confusing… she’s the person you want on your team.” Szuszanna and I are exploring several unusual musical options.

I thought you might like to know some of the  behind- the-scenes work that goes on for each Travel Pursuits trip. It is a part of what makes my job so much fun and an essential element of what I think sets Classical Pursuits trips apart.

Four spots remain on each of these trips. Time to CARPE DIEM!

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