Site posts first-person tales about volunteer tourism 11 iS Traveling to do good, also known as "voluntourism" is a big trend in travel. It sounds great, but how do you know the quality of the experience you might have in a given volunteer setting? Travelocity.com, www.travelocity. com, has now made it easier. A new section on the site, called Voluntourism Stories, deals with first-person stories of those who have volunteered on vacation. Go to www.travelocity.com/ travelforgood. The eco-aware volunteering program is sponsored by Earthwatch Institute, GlobeAware and Cross Cultural Solutions. Read personal stories of working in a shelter for children in Cuzco, Peru, doing architectural restoration in Provence and teaching primary school in Africa. The next time you think about taking a tour group vacation, think about your alma mater. Most colleges or universities host alumni tours to places all Judy Babcock Wylie Online & in print over the globe, usually led by professors, former government officials or authors from the institution who give lectures or act as erudite guides along the way. The new wrinkle is that now many alumni offices are permitting non- alums to sign up, although you may need to pay a nominal fee to join the alumni association. This means you don't have to stick with your own university, and can call or write the alumni office of any institution and ask for a copy of its alumni travel brochure for the year. Most of these tours have unusual added experiences that you won't find in other packaged tours. It may be a visit with the city mayor, a private concert in a castle or other elite experiences arranged by me university- Just a mild warning: These trips may not be inexpensive. Harvard, for example, offers 75 travel programs on seven continents. For information on its travel programs, go to http://post. harvard.edu/alumni/html/ts_rovos_ 0408_main.htm. One of the offerings this year is an elegant trip through Southern Africa with Rovos Rail. The train, which features "Edwardian railway comfort," crosses the terrain of Southern Africa, beginning in Cape Town. During the two-week journey it stops so passengers can discover diamond museums, wineries, deserts, gorges, waterfalls and wildlife. Travelers are also flown by charter flight to Livingstone, Zambia and Victoria Falls. The trip is 16 days and costs $10,450 per person, double. Not all alumni trips are this expensive or elaborate. Go to the main site of any university, click on Alumni, then on Travel and the tours will be reviewed. At most alumni sites, you can sign up online to get a brochure. Online and in print "On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail," by Charles Cobb Jr., is published by Algonquin Books at $18.95. It is a fascinating and exhaustive tour of locations critical to the civil rights movement, including places people marched, sat in at lunch counters, prayed in churches and gathered to plan strategy. The author leads us through Washington, B.C., Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, and introduces us to the people who risked their lives and made a difference. Cobb takes us along on the Freedom Rides of 1961 and includes personal accounts of people and events that eventually resulted in Brown v. Board of Education. Calendar Near Celebrate spring at Wisconsin ski area Winter fun meets warmer weather at Granite Peak Ski Area in Wausau, Wis., during Avalanche Days March 17-30. The event celebrates the coming spring with family entertainment, and the excitement heats up on the slopes with lift-ticket specials and complimentary lessons and race clinics on weekdays. Also enjoy a live petting zoo, Easter egg hunt, live music, sleigh rides, bonfires and a treasure hunt. (264 miles from O'Hare, (715) 845-2846, www. skigranitepeak.com) Watch snowmobile races in Lake Geneva More than 200 of the nation's top snowmobile racers will converge upon Lake Geneva, Wis., for die final stop on the World PowerSports Association's World Snowmo- bile Tour March 1416 at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. The race is where the 2008 WPSA champions will be crowned. This annual stop on the WPSA tour always delivers plenty of up- close snowmobile racing action as the world's finest SnoCross pilots compete on a course laid out on Grand Geneva's Mountain Top ski hill and allows for indoor viewing as well as exceptional outdoor grandstand- style seating. (61 miles from O'Hare, (651) 209-7404, www.wpsaracing. com) Hop like a bunny in Vevay, Ind. Make your way to the courthouse lawn in Vevay, Ind., March 22 for the Spring Eggstravaganza. The day includes an Easter ASSOCIATE!) 1'RKSS See the Washington Monument framed in flowers during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. egg hunt, lunch with the Easter bunny, a kite-flying contest, children's puppet show, sack race and games. (314 miles from O'Hare, (800) 435-5688, www.vevayin.com) Far Florida capital hosts spring jubilee Celebrate spring on March 29 in Tallahassee, Fla., with one of the largest festivals in the state. Springtime Tallahassee kicks off with the Grande Parade, incorporating more than 70,000 participants, and features Jubilee in the Park where vendors sell hand-crafted items and national acts entertain on four stages. More than 200,000 festival-goers are expected to attend. ((850) 224-5012. www.springtimetallahassee. com) Events spotlight cherry blossoms The National Cherry Blossom Festival pays tribute to a gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo to the people of Washington, D.C., in 1912. Events planned from March 29 through April 13 include a condensed, one-hour version of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Mikado," Cherry Blossom Photo Safaris, the 42nd annual Smithsonian Kite Festival, guided bike tours, Cherry Blossom River Teas, concerts at Union Station, fireworks, a Lantern Lighting Ceremony, a parade and the Sakura Matusuri-Japanese Street Festival. ((877) 442-5666, www. nationalchenyblossomfestival. org) Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum The Third Annual Polished Palate International Rum Festival takes place March 2729 at a variety of venues in and around Tampa, Fla. This celebration of sugar-cane- based spirits has become the largest event of its kind in the U.S. and spotlights hard-to- find, and hard-to-resist, rums from around the world. Attendees will enjoy specially prepared rum-flavored foods, find opportunities to learn more about die origins and subtleties of this popular spirit and sample represented rums. ((813) 223-1 111, www. polishedpalate.com / events / irf/2008) • Event details are subject to change; contact organizers for updated information.
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