Travel Edition

From music-related adventures in Latin America to an accessory that any traveler can use, here are a few gift ideas for the traveler on your list.

Artes Latinas music-themed tours
The tours offered by Artes Latinas give participants a chance to experience lots of music and local culture along with sightseeing and outdoor activities. Led by U.S.-based Colombian musician Karin Stein, Artes Latinas currently has three 2019 tours in the works; to Costa Rica Jan. 11-22, to Colombia Jan. 24-Feb. 5, and to Peru March 13-29. The itinerary for the Colombia trip is typical of what participants will experience on all trips; it includes a visit to the World Heritage Site in Cartagena, a visit to Rio Clara Natural Reserve where swimming, hiking and rafting are options, a look at the archaeological site at Piedras de Tunjo, visits to colonial towns and the underground salt cathedral at Zipaquira and lots more. As to the music, there'll be a lunch concert with local musicians in Raquira, an evening concert by local musicians in Medellin, a drummers and dancers performance in Cartagena, and music from Stein all along the way. For more information including the cost of the tours go here.

Trans Siberia by train with Great Dane Journeys
Few adventures are as intriguing as traveling from Moscow, Russia to Beijing, China (or vice versa) by rail. The two-week journey across the expanse of Siberia includes two days in Moscow, stops in Kazan, Yekaterinburg and Siberia's biggest city, Novosibirsk. The train continues on to Irkutsz, a day at Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake in the world, and Ulan-Ude before crossing into Mongolia for a day exploring Ulan Bator. The Mongolian Alps and the Gobi Desert will be on the agenda before the train arrives in Beijing where travelers will experience the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The Great Wall of China and the Ming Tombs will also be visited. And passengers will be treated like royalty aboard the train; in fact part of the journey takes place on the "Czar's Gold" train. Passengers will spend some evenings on the train and in 4-star hotels other evenings. Informative talks will take place all along the route. The Trans Siberia train begins its 2019 season in May; departure dates and all the other information you'll need is here, along with details of the other exotic tours offered by Great Dane Journeys here.

"Meow Wolf: Origin Story" DVD, Blu-ray and digital Video on Demand
One of the most unique attractions in the entire Southwestern U.S. is The House of Eternal Return, an immersive art experience in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The installation is the creation of Meow Wolf, a 300-person strong collective of artists who work in media ranging from sculpting, architecture and painting to cross-reality (AR/MR/VR), music, performing and costuming. The result is stunningly trippy, and today a huge success. It wasn't always that way though. The "Meow Wolf: Origin Story" documentary film chronicles the project from its beginning in 2008 to the present day, and takes the viewer through the years of sweat and tears and spilled paint that it took to bring the dream to fruition. The initial concept was simply for the group of involved artists, who felt ignored by the established hierarchy in art loving Santa Fe, to have a voice and a place to show their art. The film takes viewers through the struggles and heartbreak, through the fundraisers and minor successes, and through the infighting, which ultimately culminates with the group approaching novelist George R.R. Martin ("Game of Thrones") for financial assistance. Skeptical at first, Martin agrees to help and Meow Wolf, who also suffered the death of one of their most-beloved members, set their sights on creating what would ultimately become The House of Eternal Return. A great gift for anyone who has seen the installation or is hoping to and a source of inspiration for struggling artists, the film ends on a bright note with the collective scoping out Denver and Austin for future installations, both of which are now being created. Digital copies of "Meow Wolf: Origin Story" can be purchased or rented here.

CGEAR Sand-free tote
You've heard of hands-free technology; now experience sand-free technology! A trip to the beach is always fun but it's no fun to bring it home with you in the form of sand stuck to towels, footwear, seashells or whatever. CGEAR's new sand-free tote is a large and durable tote bag that has a special mesh bottom that allows sand (or dust, dirt and crumbs) to fall right out the bottom, and a double layer of the mesh means that once dislodged the debris cannot re-enter the tote. The tote also has an internal pocket that seals with a flap that's just right for phone-sized items. Five styles of sand-free totes are available and CGEAR also offers sand-free backpacks, mats for beach to backyard (and big ones for use adjacent to an RV) beach chairs, footwear and even a sand-free beach wagon. To see all of CGEAR's products go here.

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