Originally created 11/10/05

Travel briefs



Graveyard travel

NEW YORK - Hank Williams' gravesite in the Oakwood Annex Cemetery in Montgomery, Ala., draws so many tourists that the grass had to be replaced with artificial turf. Jim Morrison's grave in the Pere-Lachaise cemetery is one of the top tourist attractions in Paris. And there is no cemetery where Grateful Dead fans can pay tribute to Jerry Garcia - he was cremated, and his ashes scattered.

Music fans interested in making a pilgrimage to burial sites for favorite singers can find these stories and others in "Stairway to Heaven: The Final Resting Places of Rock's Legends" (Wenner Books, $18.95) by J.D. Reed and Maddy Miller.

Famous early rockers like Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and Elvis are listed, along with musicians from other genres - like Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters and members of the Carter family - that influenced pop.

Also included are stories about what led to each star's demise. Allman Brothers bandmates Duane Allman and Berry Oakley - buried side by side in Rose Hill Cemetery, Macon, Ga. - died in motorcycle accidents within a year of each other, just two blocks apart.

Winter getaways

NEW YORK - Looking for a getaway for the holidays or winter break? Check out Travel + Leisure's November issue for 20 great trips and destinations for the season. They are:

-The Ritz-Carlton's new Grand Cayman islands resort - http://ritzcarlton.com.

-A 21-day cruise to Mexico aboard the Crystal Serenity - http://www.crystalcruises.com.

-The coast of Southern Maine, including York Beach and The White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport - http://www.whitebarninn.com.

-The Bahamas International Film Festival, Dec. 8-11, on Paradise Island - http://www.bintlfilmfest.com.

-Azul, a new beach resort in Ambergris Cay, Belize - http://www.azulbelize.com.

-Whitepod, a collection of geodesic dome tents east of Lake Geneva, near Vilars, in the Swiss Alps - http://www.whitepod.com.

-The Little Nell, Aspen, Colo. - http://www.thelittlenell.com.

-Merano Thermal Baths, the Italian Dolomites, Merano, Italy, opening in January - http://www.termemerano.it.

-Indoor skiing in the Middle East, at Ski Dubai in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates - http://www.skidubai.ae.

-Washington's Methow Valley, four hours north of Seattle, where more than 100 miles of groomed trails await cross-country skiers - http://www.mvsta.com.

-Punatapu, a lodge and cooking school in Queenstown, New Zealand - http://www.punatapu.com.

-Park City Mountain Resort, Park City, Utah - http://www.parkcity.com.

-Dinner at Cyrus, 29 North St., Healdsburg, Calif., (707) 433-3311.

-Dinner and a private concert with musicians from the Orchestra Filarmonica at the Carlton Hotel Baglioni, Milan, Italy - http://www.baglionihotels.com.

-Christmas Eve Cuban-style feast at Nacional 27, 325 W. Huron St., Chicago, (312) 664-2727.

-Mozart 2006 celebration of Mozart's 250th birthday, Vienna, Austria - http://www.wienmozart2006.at

-Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard," starring Annette Bening, at the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, Feb. 12-March 19 - http://www.centertheatregroup.org.

-The Christmas Market, Cologne, Germany - http://www.stadt-koeln.de.

-Benjamin Franklin tercentenary, Philadelphia - http://www.benfranklin300.org.

-A ballet of "Edward Scissorhands," Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, Nov. 22-Feb. 5 - http://www.sadlerswells.com.

Washington skiing

SEATTLE - After last winter's warm, dry weather doomed most of the ski season throughout the Pacific Northwest, a hefty dose of mid-fall snow has some Washington resorts gearing up to open earlier than they have in years.

"I cannot even see five feet out my window, it's snowing so hard! There's really no sign of it letting up anytime soon," Crystal Mountain spokeswoman Tiana Enger said gleefully, as the resort announced it would become the first in the state to open its slopes, on Nov. 4.

That will make it the earliest opening in a decade at the resort east of Mount Rainier. The season started on Nov. 5 in 1994.

To the north, Mount Baker planned to open Nov. 8. It had about three feet of snow near the summit and two feet at the base - slightly more than Crystal was reporting.

With the National Weather Service predicting snow on both sides of the Cascades throughout the week, Mount Baker spokeswoman Gwyn Howat said the ski area east of Bellingham was expecting another three to four feet to fall by opening day.

"With that additional snow, we feel we'll be able to open the mountain with as many lifts as possible and good conditions," Howat said.

The dismal 2004-05 ski season didn't surprise John Gifford, general manager at Stevens Pass east of Seattle. "We knew it wasn't going to be a great year, but we didn't expect it would be as bad as it was," Gifford said, citing forecasters' predictions about El Nino conditions.

Stevens Pass needs at least three feet of snow to open, Gifford said. It had nearly a foot at the base on Nov. 1, and Gifford estimated the summit had 15 or 16 inches.

Walls of Jericho

HYTOP, Ala. - After waiting nearly three decades to visit the jagged rock formation known as the Walls of Jericho, Olivia Howard was stunned by the view.

Howard, a member of the Birmingham Sierra Club, gazed up at the semicircle of limestone walls towering around her. The bluffs resemble an ancient Greek theater smack in the wilderness of northeast Alabama on the Tennessee state line.

Normally bathed in the waters of the Paint Rock River, which typically shoots through rock holes and crevices, the formation was mostly dry and easily accessible because of weeks of arid weather when Howard and a group of hikers visited.

"Oh, I love it," Howard told The Decatur Daily. "The rock formations and riverbed are very interesting. I want to come back up and see the water."

Most hikers couldn't visit the Walls of Jericho until recently because it was on private property, and few people knew how to reach it.

The Nature Conservancy bought the land in 2003 and sold it to Alabama's Forever Wild Program, which purchased about 12,500 acres that included the formation. The area is now open to the public with well-marked trails for hiking and horseback riding.

But the seven-mile round trip is steep in places and can be treacherous after a rain.

The Walls of Jericho gets its name from a traveling minister who found it in the late 1800s and decided the cathedral-like beauty was so captivating it needed a biblical name. The 150-foot-wide natural amphitheater sits between 200-foot-tall walls.

For more information, go to http://nature.org/success/jericho.html.

Connecticut museums

HARTFORD, Conn. - Interested in puppets, helicopters, garbage or the circus?

Connecticut has an astounding variety of museums devoted to unusual subjects.

They include the Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut in Storrs (860-486-4605); the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, dedicated to the most famous circus-meister of all time, P.T. Barnum - http://www.barnum-museum.org; and the Barker Character, Comic & Cartoon Museum in Cheshire (203-699-3822), with a collection of more than 80,000 toys and cartoon memorabilia, including 1,000 lunchboxes and 3,000 Popeye items.

The Carousel Museum of New England, in Bristol (860-585-5411) displays antique carousel art, while the Golden Age of Trucking Museum in Middlebury (203-577-2181) features three dozen antique trucks. There's also the Old Lighthouse Museum in Stonington (860-535-1440) and the Connecticut Trolley Museum, in East Windsor (860-627-6540).

If you're interested in environmental issues raised by garbage, check out the Trash Museum in Hartford (860-757-7765) and the Garbage Museum in Stratford (203-381-9571). The Lock Museum of America in Terryville (860-589-6359) offers a large collection of locks, key and ornate hardware, while the Menczer Museum of Medicine & Dentistry in Hartford (860-236-5613), displays medical and dental instruments from the last 300 years.

check out the Trash Museum in Hartford (860-247-4280) and the Garbage Museum in Stratford (203-381-9571). The Lock Museum of America in Terryville (860-589-6359) offers a large collection of locks, key and ornate hardware, while the Menczer Museum of Medicine & Dentistry in Hartford (860-236-5613), displays medical and dental instruments from the last 300 years.

For more information, go to http://www.ctvisit.com.

Rembrandt's birthday

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - Holland is getting ready to celebrate the 400th birthday of Rembrandt with events, exhibits, tours and performances.

The 17th-century Dutch master painter was born July 15, 1606. The anniversary celebration begins Dec. 15 and lasts into early 2007.

From Feb. 24-June 18, 2006, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will host a blockbuster exhibition of two dozen paintings, on loan from around the world, by Rembrandt and the Italian master, Caravaggio.

Throughout 2006, the Rijksmuseum will exhibit all the Rembrandt works in its collection, including the famed "Night Watch" and "Jewish Bride" pictures.

The Rijksmuseum will also exhibit pieces once attributed to Rembrandt but since deemed fakes. The "Really Rembrandt?" show takes place March 9-May 31.

The Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam, where the master lived and worked for more than 20 years, will host four exhibitions, including "Rembrandt, the Quest of a Genius," April 1-June 25. More than 50 paintings and 50 drawings will be displayed with a focus on his innovation and creativity.

The Jewish Historical Museum will host an exhibit beginning late next year - Nov. 10, 2006- Feb. 4, 2007 - shedding light on Rembrandt's connections to Judaism. The artist lived and worked in Amsterdam's Jewish quarter; many of his paintings depict Biblical scenes; he used written Hebrew words in some works, and some of his works were believed to depict Jews.

The celebration will also include walking tours of Amsterdam and Rembrandt's birthplace, Leiden, as well as performances, such as "Rembrandt," a musical to be staged at Amsterdam's Royal Carre Theatre, July 2006-February 2007. In Leiden, the city where he lived for 25 years, a July Rembrandt Festival will celebrate his birthday with costumed re-enactors and other historical touches.

For more information, go to http://www.holland.com/us/.

Houston-holidays

HOUSTON - If you're in Houston for Thanksgiving or the Christmas holidays, here are some attractions worth checking out.

The Washington Mutual Thanksgiving Day Parade starts at 9 a.m., Nov. 24, near Minute Maid Park, with massive balloons, floats, costumed marchers, bands and the arrival of Santa.

On Dec. 1, a holiday tree will be lit near City Hall in a celebration that includes fireworks and music.

A candlelight tour of historic homes in downtown's Sam Houston Park takes place Dec. 9-10; look for centuries-old seasonal decorations and costumed carolers.

Shows with holiday themes include "A Christmas Carol" at the Alley Theatre, Nov. 22-Dec. 28; the Houston Ballet's "The Nutcracker" at Wortham Theater, Nov. 25-Dec. 26; and "A Pure Gospel Christmas: Coming Home," Nov. 25-Dec. 31 at the Ensemble Theatre.

The Houston Grand Opera's holiday concert features the world-famous soprano Renee Fleming in a one-night program of sacred music and holiday classics, Dec. 6.

Programs at the Houston Symphony include "Holidays Around the World," Dec. 10; "A Very Merry Pops," Dec. 9-11, and Handel's "Messiah," Dec. 16-18.

The Galleria - which claims to be the fourth-largest shopping area in the nation - will light up Nov. 24, when a flip of a switch turns on a half-million lights on 80 Christmas trees along Post Oak Boulevard.

The Children's Museum of Houston's "Seasons of Sharing" exhibit, Nov. 10-Jan. 8, explores holidays from around the world - Christmas plus Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Chinese New Year, and others.

Audubon Zoo

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Audubon Zoo, which has been closed since Hurricane Katrina, will reopen on Nov. 25.

"Reopening the zoo is a symbol that the heart and soul of New Orleans survives," said Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute president.

Officials said all Audubon-operated facilities will reopen within the next few months, beginning with the zoo and the Audubon Golf Course.

Audubon also operates the Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy IMX Theater, Louisiana Natural Center, Center for Research of Endangered Species, Wilderness Parks, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Park.

The zoo escaped major flooding, but piles of debris have had to be cleaned. Officials said two otters and a raccoon did not survive the storm and sea lions were relocated to Texas zoos because they require specialized attention.

King Tut

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will extend the King Tut exhibit by five days to accommodate near-record crowds.

The exhibit will be open through Nov. 20, according to John Norman, president of Arts and Exhibitions International, a co-producer of the tour.

Norman said the five-month LACMA exhibit - the first stop on a four-city tour - ultimately will be seen by about 900,000 people.

Visitors have paid $25 on weekdays and $30 on weekends to view 120 artifacts, 50 of them from Tut's tomb.

The attendance would be the second-most for an L.A. art exhibition. More than 1.25 million people turned out for the 1978 King Tut exhibit at LACMA, which featured the boy king's mummy.

Tut's next stop will be the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the exhibition opens Dec. 15 for four months.

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Arts travel means museums. History buffs visit battlefields and old homes. A culinary vacation might combine cooking lessons with interesting local cuisine.

And now here's a destination for people who care about home design and furniture. Grand Rapids, Mich., was once known as "Furniture City" because of its 19th-century roots as a center of craft and carpentry, with 44 furniture companies at one time along the Grand River.

Today modern furniture design firms like Steelcase, Herman Miller - which created the popular Charles Eames lounge chair in 1956 - and Haworth are still based in Grand Rapids. And many graduates of the city's Kendall College of Art and Design end up in the working furniture design industry.

The city's Van Andel Museum Center offers a multimedia exhibition, "The Furniture City," about the history of furniture design from the 1860s through the 20th century.

Architecture buffs may want to stay in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, which has an elaborate 1913 stone facade, and modern glass towers built in 1981. You can also tour the restored Frank Lloyd Wright Meyer May House, designed and built in 1908 as one of Wright's last Prairie-style homes. The Meyer May House is located in the Heritage Hill historic district, a neighborhood of 1300 homes dating from 1848 in 60 architectural styles. The district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Grand Rapids is also home to numerous outdoor sculptures, including Alexander Calder's "La Grande Vitesse," and "Ecliptic" on Rosa Parks Circle by Maya Lin. The renowned Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park houses more than 160 sculptures in its permanent collection.

For more information about Grand Rapids as a design destination, call (800) 678-9859 or www.visitgrandrapids.org.

Travel survey

NEEDHAM, Mass. - The devastating tsunami and hurricanes that hit popular tourist destinations in the past year have changed the way people think about traveling, according to a new survey from TripAdvisor.com.

Eighty-five percent of travelers in the TripAdvisor survey said natural disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis are now taken into consideration in making travel plans. Sixty-five percent said natural disasters were not a consideration prior to these recent disasters.

As for likely vacation activities in the next year, shopping was No. 1, followed by sightseeing and a visit to a spa. About a third of travelers said they were likely to take part in an adventure activity like whitewater rafting on their next vacation, and another third said they were likely to gamble.

If money were no object, respondents named Australia, Italy and Hawaii as their top three dream destinations.

Do you bring your own pillow when you travel? You're not alone. Eight percent of those surveyed said they travel with a pillow from home when they head out on a vacation that includes a hotel stay, while 7 percent bring disinfectant or cleaning supplies, 6 percent bring their own towels, and 6 percent bring shower shoes.

TripAdvisor.com offers reviews and advice from ordinary travelers about hotels, transportation and attractions worldwide. The survey was based on responses from 3,170 visitors to the Web site, after excluding those who work in travel and related industries; those who did not take a leisure trip this year and those who had no plans to travel next year.

Chinese tourists

HONOLULU - Congressman Ed Case wants the Bush administration to remove barriers preventing Chinese from visiting Hawaii and the rest of the United States.

The barriers are stopping U.S. destinations from realizing the benefits of overseas travel by potentially hundreds of millions of tourists from China, says Case, D-Hawaii.

The island Democrat has written Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, saying two major issues are preventing the U.S. from gaining a competitive edge in China's travel market.

He cited delays in processing visa applications by U.S. consulates in China and the need to have China designate the U.S. an approved travel destination for its citizens.

"As our tourism industry both in Hawaii and elsewhere nationally looks to potential international markets for growth opportunities, the People's Republic of China looms above all other countries," Case told Rice and Chertoff.

Case said Australia and European countries have aggressively removed barriers to outgoing China travel, reaping the benefits of rapid growth in tourism from China.