Washington, DC, February 21, 2007 – Smithsonian Journeys casts new light on the Old World this year with unusual itineraries that venture beyond Europe’s urbane capitals to delve deep into the heartland of Austria, England, France, Russia and Spain. Recapture the romance of Europe’s medieval villages and bucolic landscapes; imbibe with locals at pubs and cafés; savor regional specialties prepared by outstanding chefs; and celebrate Guggenheim Bilbao’s 10th anniversary. Led by engaging study leaders who share their insights into the fine arts, history, literature and architecture of each country, you will experience the very soul of Europe.

Alpine Summer Sojourn (July 13-21): Enjoy the rustic charms and breathtaking landscape of the Tyrolean countryside, a short distance from Insnsbruck, during your stay at the family-run Sporthotel Igls, famed for its sumptuous “farmer’s corner” breakfasts. Study leader Angelika Mair, an expert on regional folk art and castle restoration, leads you from mountainside hamlets to Mozart’s birthplace in Salzburg; Bavaria’s magnificent Neuschwanstein Castle; and the Italian alpine town of Balzano, famed for its 5,600-year-old “Iceman” mummy. End your trip with a visit to a working farm in the charming Australian village of Seefeld, where you will enjoy the hospitality of a local family; attend a strudel-making demonstration; and discover the art of flower binding. Based in Igls, explore village life through special meetings with local residents and opportunities to experience traditional village festivities.

Rates are $3,640 per person, based on doubles, land only, and include: accommodations; excursions; most meals; study leader; local guides; and emergency trip evacuation insurance.

England’s Cotswolds (May 19-27, Sept. 8-16): Discover the undulating English countryside dotted with limestone villages and golden-hued cottages under the tutelage of local expert Marilyn Parker. The sublime English gardens at Hidcote Manor and Sudeley Castle are just the beginning of a picturesque journey that includes a behind-the-scenes tour of Blenheim Palace. Here, Sir Winston Churchill’s cousin, Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill, personally hosts a guided tour of the statesman’s birthplace and the country’s largest private residence. Revel in the storybook villages of Stow-on-the-Wold and Burton-on-the-Water, before commemorating the life and work of William Shakespeare at his birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon. Delight in afternoon tea at your “home” in the Cotswolds, the Queen’s Hotel of Cheltenham, founded in 1838, and distinguished by its neoclassical façade, modeled after Rome’s Temple of Jupiter.

Rates are $3,995 per person, based on doubles, land only, and include: accommodations; excursions; most meals; study leader; local guides; and emergency trip evacuation insurance.

The Dordogne (May 24-June 1, June 7-15): This rural river valley in southwest France is a true hidden gem, with cliff-side villages dating from the days of the Templar Knights. Explore medieval castles and churches, prehistoric wonders at Lascaux II, and the ancient paintings in the “Cave of a Hundred Mammoths.” Stroll the bustling streets of Sarlat, France’s ancient and lively market, and admire some of Europe’s finest medieval architecture, from Richard the Lionheart’s Beynac castle to the dramatic village of Rocamadour. Each evening, return to the comforts of your 19th-century townhouse, the Hotel de la Madeleine in Sarlat-la-Canéda, owned by renowned chef Philippe Melot, who hosts daily evening meals of southern French cuisine. Long-time resident Christine Desdemaines-Hugon, an anthropologist and expert on Paleolithic art, leads the program and shares her vast knowledge of the region’s history, culture, and cuisine.

Rates are $3,495 per person, based on doubles, land only, and include: accommodations; excursions; most meals; study leader; local guides; and emergency trip evacuation insurance.

St. Petersburg: The Imperial Legacy of the Romanov Tsars (Aug. 12-20): St. Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 to introduce Russia to western culture, and today this city captivates with its pleasing amalgam of palaces, churches, monasteries, theaters and museums. With Fulbright scholar George Munro, explore the city’s finest treasures: Amber Room at Catherine Palace, Hermitage Museum, and Pavlovsk Palace. For a taste of Russian hospitality, join an English-speaking Russian family for a reception and dinner at their home.

Rates are $5,195 per person, based on doubles, land only, and include: accommodations; excursions; most meals; study leader; local guides; and emergency trip evacuation insurance. Bring a Friend who is new to Smithsonian Journeys, and both of you will receive a $250 discount.

Bilbao and Spain’s Basque Country (Nov. 2-9): Celebrate Guggenheim Bilbao’s 10th anniversary on this brand-new tour by Smithsonian Journeys. On a private guided tour, explore Frank Gehry’s architectural icon and a world-class museum; its construction ten years ago marked the beginning of the dramatic makeover of this old Spanish city. Be among the first to visit the new museum in the seaside city of Getaria; opening in the fall of 2007, it is dedicated to resident fashion designer, Balenciaga. Enjoy a presentation on Basque cuisine and a hearty dinner at the home of a local architect, and taste Rioja valley fruit of the vine at wineries designed by architects, Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava.

Rates are $3,495 per person, based on doubles, land only, and include: accommodations; excursions; most meals; study leader; local guides; and emergency trip evacuation insurance.

Smithsonian Journeys also leads intriguing discoveries into Eastern Europe, such as Slovenia: Legends and Landscapes and Baltic Heritage to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. For journeys along Europe’s famed waterways, consider Danube River Journey, Splendors of the Rhine, Russian Imperial Waterways and The Heartland of Ukraine.

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