Bermuda – A North Atlantic Historical Gem

The historical home of Bloomfield.

The historical home of Bloomfield.

Many think of Bermuda as a subtropical island get-away in the north Atlantic, where sun, pink sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters of the Sargasso Sea can wipe away the ever-present stresses of our hectic every day lives on the main land.

But there is so much more to these tightly clustered islands then meets the eye. Bermuda was discovered in 1503 by a Spanish explorer, Juan de Bermúdez., then was permanently settled by the British in 1612 as they sailed to Virgina. Bermuda’s town of St. George (originally named New London) has now been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its depth in world history and culture.

St. George is rich in historical homes and gardens, seaports, quaint lighthouses and museums of the likes one could not find anywhere else in the world. Beautiful gardens surround private white and pink-washed Georgian houses of Bermuda coral limestone, furnished with Bermuda-made cedar furniture and still owned by the original families.

The Royal Navy dockyard has attracted visitors with specific interests military history as it was the acting principal base of the Royal British Navy in the Western Atlantic between the periods of American independence and the Cold War.

Should you be thinking of visiting these islands, it is worth mentioning that the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be hosting a terrific tour to Bermuda November 1-6, 2009.

Specialists will join in for visits, discussions and receptions to share their expertise on such topics as architecture and decorative arts, British forts and native and resident artists. Time to simply relax and absorb the gracious atmosphere of this enchanted island are ample – where narrow lanes, winding roads and well-tended gardens blend easily with pink sand and that famous turquoise sea.

Highlights of this journey include a tour of Verdmont, the “crown jewel” of the Bermuda National Trust; a walking tour of Hamilton and time to explore the famous Front Street; and a visit to Tucker House, home to Bermuda’s most famous families.

Inside the Bloomfield home.

Inside the Bloomfield home.

Bermuda holds a special interest for National Trust members because of the programs of our sister organization, the Bermuda National Trust. Since its establishment in 1969, the Bermuda Trust has acquired more than 60 historic properties and open-space areas in Bermuda, and is a formidable force in the preservation of this fragile island. Hosts from the Bermuda National Trust’s Cultural Tourism Office share their experience and knowledge of preservation issues of their well-kept monuments. To learn more about his tour, download this brochure from the National Trust for Historic Preservation or visit their website here or contact the tour operator, Academic travel Abroad for more information about Bermuda and this one of a kind tour.

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Across Russia by Train

tsx-lisa-tilley-213 The Trans-Siberian Express

Completed at the end of the 19th century, the Trans-Siberian Railway allows adventurous travelers to journey 6,000 miles across Russia’s great expanse. Smithsonian Journeys and Academic Travel Abroad offer a unique travel experience in 2009 aboard the newly-renovated, luxury Golden Eagle Express, traveling from the enigmatic Russian Far East and its legendary outposts to Moscow’s Red Square, crossing eight time zones and two continents.  Along the way stopping in remote outposts to learn about the fascinating peoples and cultures of Siberia and Mongolia, visit museums, and enjoy a traditional meal in a private ger (tented home). Exclusive lectures by historian George Munro highlight Russian history from before the Romanovs to the present. Even the most experienced travelers will be spellbound by this special journey. Click here to read more…

The Trans-Siberian Expert:

George Munro

George Munro

George Munro is Professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University. He received his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the recipient of several Fulbright grants, fellowships, and distinguished service awards. George has lived and studied in the former Soviet Union and served as Study Leader for many Smithsonian Journeys.

In a recent interview, Dr. Munro reflected on train travel in Russia:

“For a century and a half trains have been one of the important means of transportation in Russia. Railroads figure largely in Russian literature-see Anna Karenina! Railroad workers and factories producing equipment for the railroads played a critical role in Russia’s revolutions in the early 20th century. From train windows one glimpses some of the most beautiful Russian scenes as well as the disadvantaged areas that no country deliberately shows its visitors. The view from the train combines a little bit of everything in Russia. To actually live on a train while seeing Russia is a real treat.”

Learn more about this unique adventure here


presented by Smithsonian Journeys
and Academic Travel Abroad

It just doesn’t get any better than this.

MaryBeth Mullen, Deputy Director of Smithsonian Journeys, took her son Jack on the Smithsonian’s Family Odyssey Through Greece trip earlier this month. She shares her impressions and experiences. To read about future trips in Greece aboard the Pantheon, please see:

If you are interested in learning more about this family voyage and others, email MaryBeth at

I just returned from Smithsonian Journey’s Family Odyssey in Greece, our family cruise in the Greek Islands! Our group of 19 parents and children enjoyed calm seas and warm weather on this incredible learning vacation. We began in Athens, and then boarded the Pantheon, our private yacht, for seven days of sailing in the Aegean. Following are highlights of our journey.

Exceptional Educational Travel: Our study leader, Eleni Zachariou, was a master. She is so well versed in ancient history that the stories just flowed and we were enchanted. Our youth leader, Eleni Premeti, captured the children’s imagination immediately. She told them stories about the ancient Greeks on Delos, led them on a charge of the fortress at Mycenae, home to Agamemnon’s Palace, and engaged them in the ancient work of Aristophanes through a short reenactment of his play, The Birds.

The Ship and Crew of the Pantheon: The ship was fabulous! Sparkling, clean, and relaxed. The Captain was very eager to raise the sails and allow us to swim off the ship, which was enormously popular with the children (there were safety precautions in place with one crew member in the zodiac watching the kids, and two other crew member in the water with the kids). We used tenders at several ports, which worked well with this group. Our hotel manager also played photographer. He took photos of the kids swimming off the boat, and photos of our passengers enjoying the views. We all enjoyed our “down time” on board this comfortable ship. There was some star gazing at night and it was amazing; kids also got a tour of the ship from the captain, he taught them how to tie a true nautical knot.

Shore Excursions: Our island shore excursions were well paced and meticulously timed. The sequence of visits worked well. In Delos, Eleni presented a content rich history on ancient Greek history. Our Naxos day was truly rich with several private home visits. Mykonos and Santorini included cultural tours, complemented by beach and swim opportunities. Upon arrival to Milos, the captain found a private beach for us to tender to where we enjoyed a swim. At Nafplion, we toured some of the most dramatic sites, the ancient theater and temples, followed by the play, the Birds, starring the kids! We all sat down on the large stones that were in a circle, then watched the children come out slowly in their costumes of wings and beaks and headdresses. They all had a role, and they performed beautifully. The final island visit to Aegina included stops at several temples and a very personal and welcoming lunch at Eleni Z.’s home. We all enjoyed a wonderful lunch and sweeping views of the surrounding olive groves. Eleni P. staged a treasure hunt for the kids by providing key words and descriptions of things learned on the trip while they ran all over the house and property to find the treasures.


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