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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Stepping back into NYC's "club era" -- the Yale Club today, the University Club in March

McKim, Mead and White's University Club, at Fifth Avenue and West 54th Street

by Ken

This morning I made sure to get enough of my day's posts posted so that I could go out and play, notwithstanding the arctic weather here in the Big Apple. Today that meant a special of the historic "club" districts of Midtown Manhattan, including a visit to the largest of them all, the Yale Club (which survives in part by sharing its facilities with a bunch of other clubs, like that of my alma mater, I was surprised to be reminded).

Matt Postal has been doing a series of tours for the Municipal Art Society of some of the surviving clubs, namely those that have responded at all positively to his entreaties. He has explained that when he was attending graduate school at the City University of New York in the '90s, he was involved in a massive project into the clubs built during the great era of clubs in Midtown, the later part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th. It was a natural project for the CUNY Grad Center when it was located on the block north of the New York Public LIbrary, on 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, a virtual stone's throw from the graet club blocks -- 43rd and 44th Streets between Sixth and Vanderbilt Avenues and -- opposite the south side of the library and its neighbor to the west, Bryant Park, 40th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. But before the project could be completed and brought to whatever form it might have taken, the grad center moved -- not that far, to its present location in the gorgeous, landmarked former B. Altman building at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, but far enough that the "club district" was now judged to be out-of-neighborhood. The project was shelved, leaving Matt with all that work expended and all those reams of files.

On earlier MAS tours with Matt, I've gotten to see the inside of the Players Club (on Gramercy Park South) and the Century Association (on 43rd Street just west of Fifth Avenue). A number of the city's most prestigious architects designed those club buildings, and setting foot inside them also carries the feeling of stepping into another era.


On a recent MAS tour with Francis Morrone, part of a series exploring the "side streets" of Midtown, our group had spent time at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 54th Street, onl partly sheltered from the rain, looking at the extraordinary pile of a building on the northwest corner, McKim, Mead and White's University Club of 1899.

Which gave Francis the opportunity to mention that on March 3rd he will be giving this year's 14th Annual McKim Lecture, co-presented by the Institute for Classical Architecture and Art and the University Club (in the form of the 1 West 54th Street Association), in the club itself. It was a date he suggested we might mark on our calendars, though he warned that they charge a really lot of money.

I actually remembered to do some Web searching, and was able to confirm the March 3rd date, but for details and reservations In was instructed to check back later. Perhaps inspired by the upcoming Yale Club tour with Matt P, I remembered to check back, and sure enough the full information is now available, including this:
The topic of the lecture will be “The City Beautiful and the Urban Landscape in America.” The talk will explore the movement to beautify America’s cities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the impact and legacy of that movement, its relevance today, and the many misconceptions about it (including that of Jane Jacobs). All of this will be discussed with specific reference to the contributions of McKim, Mead and White.
I know from my recent experience of (finally) reading Jane Jacobs's storied Death and Life of Great American Cities, and from doing bunches of tours with Francis where her writings have come up, including one last August devoted specifically to "Then and Now: The West Village of Jane Jacobs," that he's one of the few people who invoke her work who's actually familiar with what she wrote. So I'm especially psyched for the promised corrective to her view of the City Beautiful movement, which could most politely be described as scathing.

Beyond which, in my experience Francis takes his public presentations very seriously. Like when his latest book, Guide to New York City Urban Landscapes (written with Robin Lynn), had a festive do of a public book-launch party in the historic chapel of Green-Wood Cemetery, at a time when many authors would coast on the labors of book-writing now comfortably behind them, Francis seemed to have devoted as much effort to the presentation he gave as most people would devote to actually writing a damned book. The way he tied Green-Wood itself into the first of the successive eras of NYC urban landscapes it had a lot to do with settiing in motion (starting with two of the city's still-greatest urban landscapes, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted's Central Park and Prospect Park) was, in a word, masterful.

Beyond that, there's the sheer thrill of penetrating the mighty exterior of the University Club. Here are a few paragraphs from a post by Scott on the IWALKED Audio Tours website:
As it is likely that most of us will never see the insides of the University Club let me share what I have been able to learn of its interiors from my research. The highlight of the building is the library on the second floor which you can sometimes get a glimpse into from street level. The library is said to contain vast vault ceilings with murals painted atop its ceiling by Henry Siddons Mowbray that emulate the Vatican Apartments. Also amongst the interior is an extensive art collection, including a series of portraits by Gilbert Stuart, and a series of swimming pools allowable for usage with either swimming or birthday suits (at least in the male-only pool).

Speaking of male-only, the University Club underwent an overhaul of its membership policy in 1997 due to the passage of the New York City Public Law 63. Public Law 63 required all fee-collecting clubs with members greater than 400 (of which the University Club has over 4,000 members) to begin allowing the membership of women, or else the club would be forced to alter its charter.

The University Club has been located within this nine-story Italian High Renaissance Revival building since 1899. The Club which took on a series of temporary homes since its founding acquired a lot that was formerly owned by St. Luke’s Hospital to build on this site. They then hired the famed architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White to construct themselves new quarters for the sum of $1 million. McKim, Mead and White’s unique design integrates pink Milford granite on its exterior, along with a series of twenty-five feet columns that grace each side of the front entrance. Also integrated above each of the building’s windows are crests that are representative of various prominent universities. Perhaps the most intriguing element, however, is the deceptive appearance of the building’s exterior. By glancing at the outside of the building it seems apparent that there are no more than three levels, when in actuality the interior maintains nine.
You'll notice that phrase of Scott's, "as it is likely that most of us will never see the insides of the University Club," well, that's what I was thinking too, that day when we stood in the rain looking at the building's exterior. Well, I put that all together, swallowed hard, and -- reminding myself that a good part of the money goes to the worthy causes represented by the prsenting institutions -- shelled out the $75 they're asking for just the cocktail reception preceding the lecture and the lecture itself. That'll get me inside the building and into Francis's lecture. I didn't give serious consideration to the higher-priced option, which adds on a dinner following the lecture, at a jacked-up total of $150. It occurred to me afterward that maybe I should have really gone hog-wild, if only to see the dining facilities of the club.

I know enough from my club tours with Matt to know that the dining facilities of these places are a key feature of their design. Maybe I should have thought of the extra $75 as a fee for on-site inspection, with the meal as an added bonus. I'm not sure I could have sold myself on that, though, and anyway it's done, though I suspect an upgrade wouldn't be entirely impossible. Probably if I called the phone number listed for reservations, and mentioned that I've already registered for the recpetion and lecture, and wondered if I might still be able to tack on the dinner. . . . Oh no, now I've planted a bug in my head!

These are, of course, decisions each of us has to make for him/herself. And I just thought some of you might want to know about this. There aren't a lot of people I'd seriously consider shelling out the basic $75 for, but put Francis in a package with the University Club itself, and I'm already kind of glad I overcame my habitual cheapness.

For information about current and future Municipal Art Society walking tours, go to the MAS website,, and click on "Tours."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Are You Ready For Cuba? Is Cuba Ready For You?

The U.S. airlines don't have their shit together when it comes to the lucrative market opening between the U.S. and Cuba. This morning, the NY Times reported that the major airlines are missing the initial rush. initial: first year on the lifting of the travel restrictions.
[B]efore airlines can schedule direct flights to Havana and other airports, the two countries must still negotiate a new air service agreement.

Until that happens, travelers will have to rely on charter flights booked through specialized travel agencies, and that is not expected to change for the next 12 to 18 months, according to travel experts and industry officials. The timeline could be further complicated by opposition in Congress as well as the presidential election next year, which could delay matters in unpredictable ways.

...About 100,000 Americans already visit Cuba each year, a number that has surged since more flexible travel rules were introduced in 2011. Cubans living in the United States make an additional estimated 400,000 visits a year.

Still, the new policy means that those numbers are certain to increase. Travel agencies have already reported a jump in interest since the Obama administration announced that it was restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba last month, and they are increasing charter capacity in the coming months to address the expected growth in demand.

“This will make a huge difference in the numbers of people who can go,” said Bob Guild of Marazul Charters, a travel agency that has been organizing trips to Cuba for 36 years. “This opens up a chance for the American people to go to Cuba that they didn’t have before.”

Outside the United States, many airlines already serve Cuban destinations. Travelers can also go to Canada, Mexico, or several Caribbean countries first and take connecting flights there, a loophole that many Americans have taken to circumvent restrictions imposed by the United States, since Cuba does not ban Americans from entering.

The biggest carriers, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, among others, quickly signaled interest in Cuba after the new policy was announced, but so far have not made plans to fly there. “We look forward to expanding service into Cuba as more opportunities become available,” Delta said.

JetBlue operates charter flights from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., while American Airlines has been operating charter flights booked by travel agencies into Cuba for 15 years from Miami and Tampa, Fla. Neither is expected to schedule its own commercial flights until a new air service agreement can be established to replace an agreement dating to 1953.

“We are reviewing the changes to the Cuba travel policy and will continue to be guided by the laws and policies of the U.S. government and the governments of the countries we serve, as they evolve,” American Airlines said in a statement.

United said on Thursday that it planned to seek approval for regular flights from Newark and Houston.

...While specific trips for tourism remain officially banned, the government will no longer be able to enforce any direct oversight. The new rules therefore represent a momentous change, and there is likely to be a major touristic rush to Cuba in the coming years, according to travel specialists.

“The floodgates have opened,” Arthur Frommer, founder of the Frommer’s travel guide series, wrote on his blog. “Starting now, any determined American will be able to travel, without hindrance, to Cuba.”

Travelers will also be permitted to use credit cards, spend more money in Cuba, and bring back more souvenirs, including up to $100 in tobacco or alcohol.

Mr. Frommer added, “It’s obvious that Americans who honestly believe they fit within 12 permitted categories of travel for Cuba can simply pack up and go.”
Americans have been traveling to Cuba for years but the new rules that went into effect today make it much easier. Here's now:
You no longer have to chose between applying or a license or sneaking into the country

there are no longer restrictions on how much money you can spend in Cuba

U.S. credit cards and debit cards will be allowed to be used in Cuba

Americans will be able to bring back $400 worth of Cuban goods, including $100 worth of cigars
But is Cuba ready for Ma and Pa Kettle? Can typical American tourists hack the realities of Cuba? Michael Weissenstein and Andrea Rodrigues, reporting for the Associated Press, say Obama's new travel policy will depend more on the availability of hotel hand towels than the deranged howling of Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez.
Not just hand towels, but working air conditioning, breakfast waffles and the hundreds of other amenities that American tourists will demand when they flood to Cuba in numbers that travel experts expect to double this year, thanks to the loosening of travel restrictions on Friday.

U.S.-based Cuba travel companies say there's simply no more room in the handful of top-end Cuban hotels that meet international standards. That means that if visitors come in numbers as great as expected, they will have to find lodging either in grim, lower-end state facilities or one of the most vibrant parts of Cuba's small, new private business sector: family-run guest houses that offer independent sources of private income to thousands of Cubans.

That scenario is exactly what Obama said he hopes to achieve. When he announced the policy on Dec. 17, the president said that the U.S. wants to be "a partner in making the lives of ordinary Cubans a little bit easier, more free, more prosperous."

The first test of the new U.S. approach may come down to where new American travelers choose to lay their heads at night.

"A significant increase in U.S. travelers would overwhelm the system and overwhelm the availability of the Cubans to keep tabs and keep controls on these travelers," a U.S. official involved in the execution of the new policy told The Associated Press on Friday. "The hotels aren't going to be able to handle it. You're going to see a spillover into the private sector, which is a good thing."

Juan Hernandez Rabelo, 65, is taking English lessons three times a week to help him communicate with future clients at Casa Vitrales, an immaculately restored high-end colonial guest house he runs with his son in Old Havana.

"This is going to help our business and the country," Hernandez said of Obama's new policy. "It opens new opportunities for guest houses to absorb a greater number of tourists."

The new Treasury Department rules that went into effect Friday eliminate a burdensome and costly requirement for specially licensed tour groups to obtain federal permits to take U.S. travelers to Cuba on trips with educational itineraries that needed approval in Washington.

Most U.S. travelers still will be required to go on supervised group trips, but now virtually any U.S. company or organization can offer such trips without the paperwork and inspections that discouraged past expansion of travel to Cuba. Some tour operators, already seeing unprecedented interest in legal travel to Cuba, expect some tourists to simply ignore the restrictions.

Companies that have been organizing travel to Cuba for years say they expect legal travel to Cuba to at least double this year, from a figure of roughly 90,000 American visitors annually over recent years.

And any significant surge, they say, is guaranteed to overwhelm Cuba's travel infrastructure.

"Even with 90,000 Americans going a year it's a nightmare to get the hotel rooms," said Collin Laverty, owner of Cuba Educational Travel. He said his company he's seen booking double over the last three weeks, to about 1,000. He said that he, too, expected Cubans to begin investing in more guest houses that are legitimate lodging options for visiting Americans.

"You've already started to see that," he said. "In the last few years, all of a sudden you've seen people who realize if I invest a little more, increase the water pressure, then you're actually competing with a four-star hotel."

Cuban state authorities say they are confident that the country can handle a surge in tourists and that they have already been getting ready for at least 1 million Americans a year, a number they expect to come after the U.S. embargo is ended by Congress.

"The country has enough hotel capacity to absorb an increase of this magnitude. We've prepared ourselves for that day," said Jose Manuel Bisbe, president of Havanatur, one of Cuba's main state-run tourism companies.

U.S. experts say that may be overly optimistic, particularly because the U.S. ban on pure tourism means the most developed high-end destination, the Varadero beach resort about 80 miles east of Havana, effectively remains off-limits to U.S. visitors. And even Bisbe acknowledged that some of Cuba's current offerings are sub-par.

"In terms of quality of service it's certain that we have a series of problems that we have to solve," he said.

The restrictions on Cuban travel have made the island either a surreptitious destination for young people who go illegally through Canada or Mexico, or an expensive, boutique product for older and better-off Americans.

Barbara Dresner, the retired owner of a New York of clothing stores, joined a five-day Havana jazz tour that cost about $5,000 per person and said she was unpleasantly surprised by some aspects of the five-star hotel where she stayed.

"There are no washcloths," she said Thursday night. "In American hotels, they always have washcloths."

Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana

Saturday, January 17, 2015

How many of the "World's Best Places for 2015" do you plan to hit this year?

Pretoria Square, Palermo
Recitative, Giovanni da Procida
Palermo! O my country!
Country so regretted!
The exile greets thee after three years of absence!
On thy enchanted shores I had my birth.
I discharge my debt toward thee.
Here is liberty!
Aria, "E toi, Palerme!" ("E tu, Palermo!")
And thou, Palermo, o beauty that's outraged!
Thou, always dear to my enchanted eyes,
ah! raise thy face, bowed under servitude,
and become again the queen of cities!
Everywhere on foreign ground
I went seeking avengers for thee,
but, insensible to thy misery, each said:
"Rise up against your oppressors,
and you will be supported: Rise up!"
And I come -- there I am!
And thou, Palermo, etc.

Samuel Ramey (bs), Giovanni da Procida; Munich Radio Orchestra, Jacques Delacôte, cond. EMI, recorded April 1988

[in Italian, as "O patria! O cara patria" . . . "E tu, Palermo"] Nicolai Ghiaurov (bs), Giovanni da Procida; London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado, cond. Decca, recorded January 1969

[in Italian, compressed to fit one 78 side] Ezio Pinza (bs), Giovanni da Procida; orchestra, Rosario Bourdon, cond. Victor, recorded Feb., 17, 1927

[in Italian, compressed to fit one 78 side] Tancredi Pasero (bs), Giovanni da Procida; orchestra. Odeon, recorded 1936

by Ken

Okay, it's possible that I was motivated to share this feature from AARP, "World's Best Places for 2015," because two of the designated places have inspired such memorable musical effusions, starting with the one we've just heard, the emotional return of the exiled Sicilian patriot Giovanni da Procida to the Sicillian capital of Palermo, his hometown (No. 6 on the list) at the opening of Act II of Verdi's Les Vêpres siciliennes" (The Sicilian Vespers).

Our other musically rhapsodized destination is China's Hunan province (No. 10), the much-missed home of the imperial lord chancellor Ping in Puccini's Turandot, who sings so rhapsodically about his house there on "a little blue lake all surrounded with bamboo." I suppose I might have tried to slip in something from Bizet's La jolie fille de Perth (The Pretty Maiden of Perth), except that the Perth there is the original one, in Scotland, not the namesake capital of Western Australia (No. 3).

No guidance beyond the individual recommendations is provided as to what makes these places in particular the 11 "best places for 2015," but it's certainly an, er, interesting assortment. The number is convenient -- you can hit all 11 and still take a month off from vacationing. And of course you'll want to hit all 11, because while these may be the "world's best places for 2015," who can say they won't suck for 2016?

1. Albanian Coast

Albania, tucked between Greece and Macedonia, offers a European feel at palatable prices. Sunbathe on limestone-ringed beaches on the Adriatic Sea, explore ancient ruins and abandoned forts, and kayak past Cold War submarine tunnels. Dine on fresh fish as you watch the tide come in.

2. Faroe Islands

You're in for a treat any time of year when you visit these beautiful islands northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. Boating and hiking are stellar; wildlife abounds. And here, on March 20, is one of the two places on Earth where you can witness a full solar eclipse.

3. Perth, Australia

Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is known for its beaches and aboriginal heritage. But now it's catching up, with trendy cuisine brought by international chefs to repurposed venues such as stables and cottages, and neighborhoods filled with cafes and boutiques. A riverside project is infusing the eastern side of the city with parks, shops, housing plazas, posh hotels and restaurants.

4. Yorkshire, England

England's largest historic county is well wortha visit these days. There is the state-of-the-art National Media Museum in Bradford, the sumptuous Victorian spa town of Harrogate and Haworth, of Brontë-famly fame. News flash: Yorkshire has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other English county outside London.

5. Istanbul, Turkey

As one of the few cities in the world to span two continents, Istanbul has always been a place where myriad cultures mix. What's more, its colorful history stretches back so far that even the ancient Greeks considered it old. Today, it's also one of the most affordable cities to visit, with amazing shopping in bazaars -- where bargaining is a must -- and reasonably priced, authentic accommodations and mayhanes (traditional restaurants). It's also become known for its cutting-edge fashion, art and nightlife.

6. Palermo, Italy

Been to Rome? Perhaps it's time to sample Sicily's capital city, Palermo. It's a European destination on the rise, with sophisticated wine-tasting venues, markets with some of Italy's best street food, the idyllic seaside village of Mondello and many low-key, independent hotels. You can get around the rest of the island by rail, but the best way to explore is by car -- to sample fragrant orange groves, majestic ruins, incomparable blue skies and moonrise over Mount Etna.

7. Bangkok, Thailand

Its reputation as a booming, bustling capital sets this Asian city apart, as does its delicious, wildly inexpensive and remarkably fresh food. Transportation and glorious Thai massages are consistently cheap -- and usually high quality -- enabling you to explore Bangkok on a shoestring while still enjoying the high life.

8. Tulum, Mexico

Mexico is a large country with many wonderful cities and towns worth visiting, but there's something about this small beach community that makes it especially appealing. Mexican culture and laid-back attitudes abound, as does deliciously simple food. It's hard to imagine the rustling palm trees, warm breezes and calming Caribbean waves not leaving visitors enchanted and renewed.

9. Cordoba, Argentina

For those taking a new interest in Jesuit history with the election of Pope Francis I, there's no better place for an exploration than in Argentina, his birthplace. And the center of the city of Córdoba, named a UNESCO World Heritage site, is splendid with 17th-century Jesuit structures, including Argentina's oldest university, and the tolling from more than 80 bell towers and churches. When you're done with history, take tango lessons or slip into the student scen in a lively bar or two.

10. Hunan, China

A river town in Hunan
At the start of Act II of Puccini's Turandot, the trio of Chinese imperial ministers -- the baritone Ping (the lord chancellor) and the tenors Pang (the major-domo) and Pong (head chef of the imperial kitchen) -- prepare yet again for the latest in the endless series of suitors for the hand of the beauteous Princess Turandot, subjecting himself to her infamous trial-by-riddles, meaning a feast if by chance the latest victim succeeds (which, if history is any guide, he won't) or more likely a funeral. Lamenting the draining nature of their imperial service, Ping longs for his house in Hunan "with a little blue lake all surrounded by bamboo," prompting Pang and Pong to dream of their home turf.

PING: I have a house in Honan
with a little blue lake
all surrounded with bamboo.
And here I am, wasting my life,
wearing out my brain
over the sacred books.
When I could go back there
to my little blue lake
all surrounded with bamboo!
PONG: Go back there!
I have forests, near Tsaing,
than which none are lovelier,
but their shade is not for me.
I have forests
than which none are lovelier!
PANG: To go back there!
I have a garden near Kiù,
that I left to come here,
that I’ll never see again!
THE MINISTERS: And here we are,
wearing out our brains
over the sacred books!
PONG: And I could go back to Tsaing . . .
PING: And I could go back there . . .
PANG: And I could go back to Kiù . . .
PING: . . . to enjoy my blue lake . . .
PONG: Tsaing . . .
PANG: Kiù . . .
PING: Honan . . .
all surrounded with bamboo!
PONG: . . . and I could go back to Tsaing!
PANG: . . . and I could go back to Kiù!
-- English translation by William Weaver

Mario Sereni (b), Ping; Piero de Palma (t), Pang; Tommaso Frascati (t), Pong; Rome Opera Orchestra, Erich Leinsdorf, cond. RCA-BMG, recorded July 3-11, 1959

Mario Borriello (bs), Ping; Renato Ercolani (t), Pang; Piero de Palma (t), Pong; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Tullio Serafin, cond. EMI, recorded July 9-15, 1957

Fernando Corena (bs), Ping; Mario Carlin (t), Pang; Renato Ercolani (t), Pong; Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia (Rome), Alberto Erede, cond. Decca, recorded 1955

Vicente Sardinero (b), Ping; Rémy Corazza (t), Pang; Ricardo Cassinelli (t), Pong; Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Alain Lombard, cond. EMI, recorded 1977
The Chinese government is planning Sky City, the world's new tallest skyscraper (almost 33 feet taller than Dubai's Buri Khalifa). A network of superhighways, high-speed trains and a host of direct flights all bring the cities of this province, the birthplace of Mao Zedong, within easy reach of travelers. Take in the stunning scenery, rich cultural attractions and fine food.

11. Cape Town, South Africa

The Mother City of South Africa has gradually been cultivating its cosmopolitan side. it underwent a major makeover in time to host the 2010 World Cup but has since seen a dip in its tourist trade -- making it a great destination for travelers keen on bargains and real-deal local experiences, And worth any traveler's time, a ferry to Robben Island to pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela.


AARP has also offered "15 Under-the-Radar Vacation Destinations" chosen by Michael Alan Connelly of Fodor's Travel. You'll have to double up on these if you want to get to all 15 of them this year, but again, who knows if they'll be any good for 2016?

1. North Stradbroke Island, Australia ("less than 20 miles from Brisbane")
2. Hainan Island, China ("popular with Chinese and Russian tourists, but mostly unknown to other travelers")
3. Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio ("most notable for its waterfalls and dramatic rock formations")
4. Koh Lipe, Thailand ("island paradise in the Andaman Sea")
5. Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska ("home to the Brooks Range and six rivers")
6. Kobarid, Slovenia ("picturesque town in the Soča Valley . . . surrounded by majestic mountains and green pastures")
7. Schönau am Königsee, Germany ("popular for health resorts and winter sports")
8. Rangiroa, French Polynesia ("essentially a strand of coral surrounding a beautiful lagoon")
9. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia ("approximately 20 lakes plus breathtaking caves, forests and waterfalls")
10. Ulan Bator, Mongolia ("a good place for exploring one of the world's most beautiful and hospitable countries")
11. El Djem, Tunisia ("well-preserved architecture from the days of the Roman Empire")
12. Anguilla, the Caribbean ("a decidedly low-key escape")
13. Sanliurfa, Turkey ("Turkish legend has it that Abraham was born in a cave here")
14. Virunga Volcanoes, Rwanda ("acive eight-volcano chain . . . with incredible views and . . . wildlife")
15. Lombok, Indonesia ("the splendor of Bali without all of the crowds")