I'm trying to find information on painting workshops in France -- small groups. Can you suggest any?
Head straight to the ShawGuides Directory to Art & Craft Workshops, where you can find dozens of workshops in France and a fine search engine that lets you sort for focus, ability level, location and date.
The directory and other art-related information also can be found at the Artist's Magazine site.
A search for intermediate painting workshops in France in June turned up 31 matches, including California's Artists Workshop Tours Agency, which is offering a two-week program in Provence, and Paris' En Plein Air, which is offering a "Monet's Garden" program in late May, a "Paris Keepsake" program in June and "A Taste of France" in September.
The Educated Traveler newsletter has a specialty-travel search engine, too, which turned up a seven-day painting workshop in France this month aboard the luxury riverboat Caprice.
An annual six-issue subscription to the newsletter is $57. To subscribe or order a single copy, call (800) 648-5168. Past issues with art articles include Travel With Art (July/Aug. 1997), Seeing and Sleeping in Art (May/June 1996), Artist Workshops (July/Aug. 1995) and Supporting Art Through Travel (May/June 1995). Back issues cost $8.
Another source is the Specialty Travel Index, which lists dozens of companies offering art, art history and artist workshop programs around the world. An annual subscription, including Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter issues, costs $10 from Specialty Travel Index, 305 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo, CA 94960.
During a family trip to Disneyland, we'd also like to see the Grand Canyon. What's the best way to do this in four or five days?
You've got several options, depending on how much you want to spend in airfare and driving time. Among possibilities:
- Drive all the way from Anaheim, Calif., to the Grand Canyon, which means you'll spend a big chunk of time on a grueling drive. Selecting this method hinges on whether you and the family are accustomed to the long haul. The drive time is about nine-and-a-half hours, nearly 500 miles. This is probably the least expensive, but most travel-intensive, way to get there.
- Fly to Flagstaff, Ariz., then drive the 80 miles to the Grand Canyon in two hours or so. This is a scenic drive, but during peak summer periods is heavily traveled and can be jammed as you get closer to the park entrance. There are several ways to fly to Flagstaff, and the least expensive involve stopping in another city, such as Phoenix on America West Airlines.
- Fly to Las Vegas, then drive 280 miles to the canyon in about six hours. This isn't a bad compromise, as there are plenty of nonstop flights to Las Vegas and the fares can be quite reasonable; several airlines recently were posting round-trip fares around $80. (Besides Los Angeles International Airport, check fares from other area airports such as Burbank and Orange County.) This could also give you a peek at Vegas, if you're interested.
- Finally, for tops in speed -- and expense -- you can fly to the little airport just south of the Grand Canyon. For instance, you could fly out of Los Angeles International at noon, reach Vegas by 1, and be at the Grand Canyon by 5, with aerial views to add to your experience. This will probably cost you $300 or more per person.
To plan your Grand Canyon National Park trip, visit the site or write Trip Planner, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023. The park's phone number is (520) 638-7888. Also available is "The Guide," a seasonally updated publication that describes ranger talks and other programs, gives sunrise and sunset times and offers good maps with distances of various trails.
I've heard about Web sites that track a flight and tell you exactly where it is in the journey at any given time. Where can I find this feature?
The flight-tracking programs you mention can be very useful if you're planning to pick up someone at the airport and don't want to arrive too soon or too late. Typically you provide a flight number and, when all is working right, the program quickly tells you how far along the flight is, as well as its estimated arrival time.
The FlightTracker provides arrival and departure cities, flight status, departure and arrival times, distance to arrival city, altitude and speed. If you've selected the graphic mode, it pinpoints the current location on a map. Very impressive.
Many of the airlines' sites also have a less-sophisticated flight-status option. Be wary of these, however. Despite recent vows to be more forthcoming with such data, the airlines have a pretty poor reputation for telling passengers quickly when they know about delays. If they're not promptly informing passengers at the gate, they're probably not going to post better information on the Web site.
I was trying to track an America West flight a few months ago and noted that its Web site information contradicted what I'd heard from a connecting passenger whom I planned to pick up. When I pointed out to an agent that the Web site showed no departure yet, she nonchalantly said the status feature was often not updated until 45 minutes after the flight was gone.
One hopes the pilots are getting better information on their computers.
Revisiting a previous Travel Advisor Q&A:
A recent column item about the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, to be held April 28-May 7, drew this advice from a festival spokesman:
Prime lodging for festivalgoers can be found at hotels and B&Bs in the French Quarter, Central Business District, Warehouse District, Faubourg Marigny, Garden District and Uptown. And you can find lots of little B&Bs near the festival site itself in the Bayou St. John and Mid-City neighborhoods.
The New Orleans Hotel and Motel Association offers a toll-free number that's a catch-all for available rooms in the city: (800) 695-2264.
A really good resource is the Jazz Fest Concierge message board on the festival's Web site.