Travel News

By Judy Newell

Mexico Travel News

Frida Kahlo: Art-Garden-Life

The New York Botanical Garden has re-imagined Frida Kahlo’s home and studio in Mexico City, La Casa Azul. The revered Mexican painter is best known for her intense, evocative self-portraits and her turbulent marriage to muralist Diego Rivera. But she also possessed a serious affinity to the nature that surrounded her at La Casa Azul.

Frida Kahlo lived out her life at the “Blue House” where she was born, spent her years with Rivera, and died at age 47. They filled the grounds with folk art, Mexican votive paintings, and pre-Hispanic artifacts and it became a meeting place for both political and artistic influencers. As her health declined, Kahlo’s work became more concentrated on still-life works with fruits and flowers.

For six months, visitors will be transported to Coyoacán as they wander alongside the cobalt-blue walls of Tony Award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask’s version of La Casa Azul and follow lava rock paths wending around patches of vibrant Mexican flora. Also on view: an art exhibition of 14 original Kahlo paintings and illustrations, including lesser-known still-life works and portraits such as Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1940) and Flower of Life (1944) that spotlight the botanical imagery Kahlo often featured.

It is said that Frida Kahlo’s final request before she died was to be moved into a room with a better view of her garden, one that, through November, lives on in the Bronx.

Playa Resorts offer summer savings for families

Two all-inclusive resorts in Cancún and Playa del Carmen are offering savings of up to 55 percent off published rates for vacations booked by June 30. Playa Hotels and Resorts’ 480-room Gran Caribe Resort and Spa in Cancún and 287-room Gran Porto Resort and Spa in Playa del Carmen additionally offer that one child under 12 can stay free per paying adult (maximum of two). The offer applies to families booking ocean-view suite accommodations and higher.

Both properties feature kids clubs for children four to 12, and what Playa calls “T-Zone programming” for teenagers. Each resort also features accommodations custom-designed for families, eight restaurants and lounges, two pools, a fitness center, and spa.

See an opera in Mazatlán

There’s another Ángela Peralta Theater; this one’s in Mazatlán. It’s also named after the Mexican opera diva that died in 1883 of yellow fever shortly after she arrived in Mazatlán for a performance. Founded in 1874, the lovely venue has been returned to pristine condition and hosts an array of performances throughout the year, including opera, theater, and orchestral music.

Vacationers may know Mazatlán primarily as a beach destination, but the city’s nickname, “the Pearl of the Pacific,” also refers to the precious treasures that lie in its historical city center. In the 19th century, Mazatlán became an important port and a cultural hub, and many of the handsome structures that dot the city center have been restored to their original beauty. It’s a delightful place to stroll, dine, and enjoy an increasingly rich cultural life.

International News

Rhinos moved to safe ground in Botswana

Two safari operators, andBeyond and Great Plains Conservation, have transported the first group of rhinos that the companies plan to move from South Africa to Botswana. In total, 100 rhinos will be moved as part of the Rhinos Without Borders initiative launched by the two companies to try to help save rhinos from extinction.

The rhinoceros are in danger of extinction because a substance found in the rhino horn is thought to be a sexual stimulant and brings high prices in certain black markets in Asia. They are at high risk of being poached in South Africa.

They were moved by plane using an elaborately devised system to protect the animals from distress or danger. The operation was kept secret so that poachers would not be able to foil the plans in any way. The announcement was made only after the operation was completed successfully. Great Plains Conservation and andBeyond are operators of safari lodges and camps in Africa and South Asia. Both are highly concerned with conservation and with preventing the extinction of some of Africa’s greatest animals, many of which are now in danger.

Deal of the Week

South Africa 2-week tour for US$2,499

Check out this extraordinarily low price for a two-week South African safari and city package with international air included. Tour operator SmarTours has slashed prices on its 14-day South Africa Highlights and Safari to US$2,499 per person double occupancy. The package includes accommodation in 4-star hotels and lodges, transatlantic air, a sightseeing program, and safari game drives.

The sightseeing itinerary includes a trip to the top of Table Mountain, an exploration of the Cape Peninsula, the Apartheid Museum Johannesburg, and daily game drives while staying in Kruger National Park. The package includes international airfare from New York’s JFK, four nights in Cape Town, two nights in Hluhluwe, one night in Swaziland, two nights in Kruger Park, and two nights in Johannesburg.

You must book by June 25 for departures August 2015 through March 2016. An extension to Victoria Falls is available for US$989 per person double occupancy.

Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys that specializes in crafting personalized cruise and land itineraries for couples, families and small groups. She designs trips that are carefully tailored to suit client’s interests, ability and budget. Please contact Judy for reservations or further information on any of the Travel News topics; cell phone 415 111-8765; Vonage 949 300-3682; email or view the latest travel specials on the website where you can book your hotels, tours and cruises online.

Sources: Travel+Leisure, Travel Pulse, Travel Weekly


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