I’m always on the lookout for interesting tours or destinations. I don’t like the typical tour that you purchase with hundreds of other people so you can cram on a bus and mob a museum.
Docents probably ring a large bell when they see a caravan of buses arrive.
“Here they come! Remember your training!”
Did you know that one such docent dies on every tour? (Joking, of course)
I went on one such excursion in Sicily to tour a winery but everyone on the bus could care less about the winery, the landscape, the history of the region; all that the guests wanted was the free bottle of wine that was offered. At the end of the tour, when the guide brought out boxes of wine, the tour goers descended on them like a pack of hyenas over a zebra carcass. Never again, I said.
Scandinavia (July, 27 – August, 6, 2018)
At this year's Travel Show, I was able to sit down with the folks at The American Institute of Architects (AIA) who offered something different called, Architectural Adventures. They offer something unique to the touring experience and you don’t have to be an architect or have a PhD in architecture to enjoy.
As you know, my mindful approach to travel makes me want to know more about certain aspects of my experience. Take churches for example, especially European. You stand in front of one or get a chance to go inside and look up at the buttresses, balconies, high arches and gargoyles and tell me that there isn’t a story behind it all. It has nothing to do with being religious or spiritual just to be an awe of an amazing piece of architecture probably built hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. Just putting myself in the shoes of someone that lived a hundred or more years ago connects me.
English Architecture (October 7, 2018 – October 14, 2018)
The 2-year-old program of Architectural Adventures brings long time industry experts from all around the globe, specializing in the exploration and appreciation of the world’s architecture. They lead small group tours that go well beyond the usual sightseeing and hopefully give you something you didn’t know before and something that you just can’t Google.
In 2018, Architectural Adventures travelers will or will have explored Berlin, Japan, Rome, Eastern Europe, Portugal, Spain, Detroit, Vienna, Cambodia, Southwest UK, and unique trips along the Rhine River and the Atlantic Coast of Europe.
Vietnam (February 24 - March 12, 2019)
You can be assured that you will be walking alongside like-minded travelers experiencing each destination – its culture, history, and heritage - while gaining a deeper appreciation of its architecture. You might not receive a free bottle of wine, but just maybe, some inspiration to design your own architectural wonder. You will also get exclusive behind-the-scenes access to popular sights as well as lesser-known, yet equally fascinating architecture.
One destination that I thought was very unique was Detroit, not a locale that was anywhere near the top of my list. For a long time, Detroit was America’s nation’s economic dynamo but has struggled in recent times; however, it’s architectural innovation has not diminished. From early 20th-century mansions, Art Deco skyscrapers, and mid-century masterpieces, the Motor City has more to offer than most realize.
“I am thrilled to be able to show travelers Detroit’s incredible architecture and the changes to the city I have witnessed over the past fifty years,” says Stephen Vogel, Professor of Architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy.
Stephen is one of the many experts asked to guide these tours as he takes you on a private tour of Eero Saarinen’s General Motors Technical Center, usually closed to the public, and tour private homes designed by Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright, and enjoy a visit to the Eastern Market, the largest historic public market district in the United States. Just a few of the sites you visit on this 5-day tour. To button it all up, you just happen to stay in the Foundation Hotel, once the Detroit Fire Department Headquarters, a Neoclassical brick building.
Detroit (September 25, 2018 – September 29, 2018)
Past adventures brought people to New Orleans with its magniﬁcent architecture and rich cultural heritage; from the famous Creole Townhouses and Cottages in the French Quarter and the spectacular homes in the Garden District to post-Katrina sustainable neighborhoods.
Recently, young people have been interested in the time warp that is known as Cuba, now that it is open to more travelers. Highlights of the tour included Havana’s largest square, Plaza de la Revolution; Finca Vigia, which was Ernest Hemingway’s home from 1939 to 1960; El Morro Castle, a 16th-century stone fortress that guards Havana Bay; and walking tours of Old Havana.
Remaining for 2018 includes Bauhaus in Germany, Scandinavia, Vienna, and England. It even includes destination that I listed in My Top 10 of ‘18 like the Kii Peninsula of Japan and Krakow, Poland. It seems you can find a unique and mindful experience almost anywhere.
“2019 will offer unforgettable tours to Paris, Morocco, Vietnam and Peru to name a few. We’ll also be repeating some of most popular tours to Barcelona, Japan and a Palladio-themed trip to Italy …..” according to Courtney Holmes, Sr. Director of Marketing for Architectural Adventures. The AIA was looking for “ways to elevate architecture to the public eye”.
Based in Washington D.C., the AIA has over 90,000 members and advocate for the value of architecture, giving architects the resources they need to do their best work.
“Our work drives positive change through the power of design,” according to the AIA website.
Tours range from 5-day to 17-day tours and prices from $2,995 to $5,995. These do not include round trip airfare and meals not included in the itineraries but you do get the expert travel guide, accommodations, any internal flights, land transportation, one drink with lunch and dinner, all dependent on what tour you take.
Cheers, Now Get Lost!