New Mexico – Some of What to See

New Mexico’s Crossroads

Las Cruces, with all the modern conveniences it provides, is a natural jumping-off point to the wonders of southern New Mexico and the scenic Organ Mountains and White Sands National Monument nearby. Old World charm lives on at Plaza La Mesilla; and just up the road is Hatch, where hot and spicy is a way of life.

Guests experience age-old culture, heritage, and hospitality. The relaxed atmosphere is perfect for enjoying the many activities-golfing, biking, hiking, museums, shopping, and festivals-that make your Las Cruces vacation a memorable one. Visit travellc.org.

Land of Legends

From Gallup to Farmington, Shiprock to Zuni, New Mexico’s Indian Coun­try is a veritable treasure trove of Native American culture and history, world-class fly-fishing, and enchant­ing beauty. Meandering routes take travelers border to border, past the brooding, mysterious ruins of Chaco Canyon in Anasazi country, through colorful, steep-walled canyons

and along trails used for centuries. Each offers sweeping panoramas, breathtaking vistas, and incredible geological formations.

Galleries and trading posts filled with authentic Native American art and jewelry dot the red sand­stone landscape. Discover a placewhere legends live on. Visit indiancountrynm.org.


Sites for Train and Railroad information in Europe

BEST SITES FOR TRAIN INFO

IN THE UNITED KINGDOM nationalrail.co.uk National Rail Enquiries operates the official Web site for Britain’s 26 train operators. Find departure and arrival times and ticket prices for all routes in England, Scotland, and Wales.

FOR THE REST OF EUROPE bahn.de Don’t let the name fool you: Germany-based rail operator Deutsche Bahn has one of the most comprehensive search engines fortrain times-and it covers roughly 87,000 stations throughout Europe.

FOR ALL-PURPOSE RAIL RESEARCH raileurope.com

Rail Europe’s Web site lets you find and buy tickets and passes, and features interactive maps illustrating connec­tions. If tickets on your chosen dates are not yet available, you can sign up to get an e-mail alert as soon as they are.


Wine and Food Festivals

NYC Wine & Food festival

In October, inter­national chefs and TV personalities converged to showcase their culinary chops. At the 100-Mile Brunch, all ingredients were sourced within 100 miles of NYC. Last held: October 8-11, 2009. nycwineandfood­festival.com/2009

Food & Wine Classic in Aspen

Five thousand foodies converge for three days of culinary trends, cook­ing seminars and wine tastings, with more than 50,000 bottles to be sampled. June 2010. foodandwine.com/classic

South Beach Wine & Food festival

In its ninth year, Miami’s “SoBe” Wine & Food Fes­tival draws culinary per­sonalities and winemakers from around the world for four days of seminars, tastings and live auctions. February 2010. sobewineandfoodfest.com

Singapore’s World Gourmet Summit

A celebration of interna­tional gourmet cuisine and wines, the Summit hosts more than 40 high-end events, including the Wildlife Gourmet Safari, over the course of 14 days. April 2010. worldgourmetsummit.com

Cornucopia, Whistler, Canada

Many seminars through­out the four-day festival. At night, meet acclaimed chefs and sommeliers at a tasting gala or two.  Last held: November 12-15,  2009. whistler-cornucopia.com


Bordeaux, France, Wine Region

En route to the city of Bordeaux from Bergerac, France, where Belingard is located, is the impeccably preserved medieval town of St. Emilion. Its winding, cobblestone streets are lined with expensive wine shops, all tout­ing “worldwideshipping” in English and Japanese. Here you can descend into the cramped hermitage where the monk, Emilion, received pilgrims in the 8th century. The disciples who followed Emilion herewere the ones who started a wine trade in earnest. 

At Chateau Franc Mayne, a nearby vineyard, it’s possible to tour the former limestone quarries whose pale ochre innards were used to build the town. The quarries beneath this and many other St. Emilion chateaux are now wine caves-happily, they possess the perfect conditions for aging wine in oak barrels. A tour guide points out a skylight punched into the roof of Franc Mayne’s cave. It shows the cross­-section of limestone that gives St. Emilion’s mostly merlot and cabernet franc grapes their character, along with the stories of Roman poets and monks and queens, of course. 

In Bordeaux, the busy Place de la Comedie is the city’s social center. Mayor Alain Juppe launched an ag­gressive clean-up and modernization initiative when he was elected in 1995, and today the city is an obvious “after.” A sleek tram makes it easy to get around, and the bulk of 8th ­century facades have been sandblasted to remove centuries of built-up dust and grime from the porous yellow limestone. The broad avenues gleam, and the tiny squares at the ends of the St. Pierre quarter’s narrow streets are packed with students, young couples and families, caffeinating, kissing and splashing in fountains. 

On the banks of the Garonne River, many plaques adver­tise the offices of negociants, or wine merchants. Negociants have been trading from this port since the mid-r2th century, when Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henryof Plantagenet, the future Henry II of England, which led to many trade exchanges between Bordeaux and England and the golden age of claret. 

That tidbit is imparted duringatwo-day course called “Bordeaux Wine Tasting, from A to Z” at L’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux, a few blocks from the Regent Grand Hotel. After this crash course in a classroom with white-slab countertops and chrome spit-sinks, it’s practically required to apply the new knowledge downstairs at the posh Le Bar a Vin. More than go wines by the glass are available, and little foldout maps on each table pinpoint where each wine originat­ed. The servers are well equipped to steer people toward clarity when the breadth of choices becomes overwhelming.


North Carolina Arboretum

If you don’t already have an appre­ciation for nature, you will after visiting The North Carolina Arboretum. The 434-acre site includes 65 acres of cultivated gardens, 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, indoor and outdoor exhibits, guided Segway tours, two gift shops, the Savory Thyme Caf6 and one of the finest bonsai collections in the nation.

An affiliate of the University of North Carolina, The North Carolina Arboretum  educates visitors in a fun, hands on way. For example, the arboretum was the first to offer Segway tours in the Asheville area, a concept that is now hugely popular.


South Carolina Vacation Ideas

HIKING: From South Carolina’s nook of the Blue Ridge Mountains to its scenic Atlantic Coast, the state offers hundreds of miles of trails in its parks, historic towns, and seaside villages. In autumn, South Carolina’s fall foliage peaks upstate in October, when hickories, maples, and oaks paint the hillsides in vivid hues of amber, gold, and red. Table Rock State Park in Pickens County has some of the state’s loveliest trails. (SouthCarolinaParks.com)

KIAWAH ISLAND & PAWLEYS ISLAND

With plentiful lush courses stretching from the mountains to the sea, South Carolina has earned its reputation as “The Golf Capital of the South:” Under crisp fall skies, tee off on greens that Golf for Women has deemed some of the country’s best. The luxurious Kiawah Island Golf Resort (KiawahResort.com; 800-576-1570) and meander­ing Willbrook Plantation Golf Club (mbn.com; 843-237-4900) keep jumping up on their list of favorites.

GREENVILLE & BEAUFORT

BIKING: Whether you’re a mountain biker or a beach cruiser, South Carolina has excellent cycling destinations. For thrilling mountain biking, check out the Old Firetower Bicycle Trail in Paris Mountain State Park near Greenville (SouthCarolinaParks.com; 864-244-5565), which passes through wildberry-dotted woodlands populated by deer, squirrels, and colorful birds. If a retro cruiser is more your speed, quiet seaside communities, like Beaufort, provide gorgeous backdrops for relaxing rides on sunny fall days.

MOUNTAIN & BLACKWATER RIVER AREAS

RAFTING, BOATING, AND KAYAKING: In early fall, the warm weather holds out for a few more waterside adventures. For thrill-seek­ers, rafting on the renowned Chattooga River is an absolute must-do in the Upcountry’s Waterfalls and Whitewater region. In the central Lakes and Blackwater Rivers region, scenic rivers provide well-mapped water trails for avid kayakers and cancers. (PaddleSC.com; SCTrails.net)

MYRTLE BEACH

STYLISH SHORES: The Market Common, located on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, (MarketCommonMB.com) is a sleek, modern complex where urban meets ocean. Among the great shops, you’ll find Anthropologie, Banana Republic, and Copper Penny Shooz, which carry the hottest brands in footwear and handbags, including Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Sigerson Morrison.

CHARLESTON

This past March, King Street cinched its reputation as Charleston’s fashion center when top designers and celebrity fashionistas converged in Marion Square Park for the city’s second annual fashion week. Boutiques and big-name shops line this popular promenade, where established brands, such as Brooks Brothers, Nicole Miller, and Ann Taylor, sit next to showcases for emerging designers, such as Hampden Clothing. And the various book shops and music stores will also catch your eye.


Bangkok Dining

At first glance, Bangkok seems to be one of the world’s most tumultuous cities, with mad­dening traffic and crowded sidewalks. But the Thais have mastered the art of creating tran­quility in their homes, hotels and restaurants. From a dazzling array of street food to the flower market, royal sites and sophisticated hotels, Bangkok is a dream destination.

Drink With a View

Bangkok is a sprawling city whose main artery is the always-churning Chao Phraya River. The very best way to get a handle on the city is from on high-like 63 stories up, at the world’s highest al fresco restaurant, Sirocco, atop the State Tower downtown. Watch Bangkok’s lights come on at sunset over a signature drink at the adjacent bar. If you suffer from vertigo and find the perch too scary, opt for Breeze, u stories down, where the outdoor seating is more enclosed.

Bangkok by Boat

Inexpensive taxi boats ply the Chao Phraya, but it’s more fun to take a private tour of the klongs, or canals, that branch off from the river by hiring a long-tailed boat at the Oriental Pier, next to the famed Mandarin Oriental Hotel. These slim, long boats are driven by entirely-too ­powerful automotive engines mounted above the water line and wielded by expert drivers who can turn on a dime. You’ll cruise down se­rene waterways, past homes built on stilts with lush gardens-and get a close-up look at how many of the locals live. Negotiate a price of $15 an hour and refuse a detour to a common rip­off stop, a pathetic snake farm.

Street Food

Ask any tuk-tuk or motorcycle taxi driver to take you to Yaowarat Road in the heart of Chinatown around 8 p.m. and have dinner the Thai way at any of the hundreds of street-food stalls 0. Cleanliness standards are excellent, and the eating is among the best in town. Figure on $6 per person for an enormous fried fresh fish seasoned generously with sublime Thai spices, rice and drinks. Or visit the Suan Lum Night Bazaar, a popular night market where you can walk off your dinner visiting small stores selling stylish household items and clothing.


Golf in Asheville, NC

Where can you find awe-inspiring views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lush emerald fairways and Tiger Woods?

That’s right – only in Asheville, where the plethora of beautiful, mountaintop courses make the area a golfer’s paradise.

As for Tiger Woods, the mega-champion has chosen to design and build his first golf course in the United States here in the area.

Woods’ new course joins more than 20 championship courses in the region, several of which were designed in the 1920s by legendary Scottish architect Donald Ross, the father of American golf.


Asheville, Whitewater Rafting

The free-flowing French Broad River that winds its way through the scenic Pisgah National Forest in Asheville is recognized as one of the most exciting white­water destinations in the country.

River currents range from easily navigated Class II – which are suitable for beginners – to thunderous Class IV whitewater – recommended for experienced rafters only.

And you don’t have to bring a thing to get in on the action. Local outfitters can set you up with rafts, instruction and experienced guides for an excursion that is appropriate for every generation of your party.


Botanical Gardens, Asheville, NC

Breathe in the sweet scent of flowers at one of the area’s garden spots, situated in the heart of the most botanically diverse spot in North America.

Increase your gardening savvy at the 434-acre North Carolina Arboretum and The Botanical Gardens at Asheville, where you can enjoy beautiful hiking and walking trails and other educational programs.

You won’t want to miss nearby Chimney Rock, State Park and Grandfather Mountain, which was named a United Nations Biosphere Reserve.