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During these unprecedented times, we all need a little hope and inspiration in our lives. In the spirit of travel, we are finding ways to #RoamFromHome with our sister #XanterraTravel companies. When the time is right to once again seek unforgettable experiences in extraordinary places, Holiday Vacations will be there. For now, we are excited to virtually share some of the fantastic cultures we have the pleasure of experiencing on our tours. We hope #OneWeekofCulture will in some small way help to bring the world together in a spirit of unity with hope for better times ahead.

Posted on April 30th, 2020 in Roam from Home


Experience the North:
Alaska Native Heritage Center

Our tours offer many opportunities to learn about the native people of Alaska. The Alaska Native Heritage Center allows visitors to learn about Alaska’s indigenous peoples through art, dance, exhibits, traditional dwellings and demonstrations. In the Hall of Cultures, visitors can learn more about each of the five major culture groups. In fact, Alaska Native artist vendors demonstrate and sell their work in the work areas in the Hall of Cultures.

#OneWeekofCulture 1

Montreal, Quebec:
The Notre Dame Basilica

Amazing cultural opportunities lie just north of the U.S. border in Canada. In Montreal, the Notre Dame Basilica is a beautiful display of Gothic Revival architecture with an incredible history. This impressive structure was built in only 35 months from 1824-1829. However, after the initial construction was completed, it took more than ten years for the installation of the steeples. The interior decorations were not completed until 1880. Today, it is an active basilica with five masses held every weekend that are conducted in French. It also is home to a Casavant Frères pipe organ, dated 1891, which comprises four keyboards, 7000 individual pipes and a pedal board. Approximately 11 million people visit Notre-Dame Basilica every year, making it one of the most visited monuments in North America.

#OneWeekofCulture 2

The Missions of San Antonio

When you think of visiting San Antonio, the phrase “Remember the Alamo!” may pop into your head. However, did you know that San Antonio is actually home to five incredible missions? They are Mission San José, Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission Espada, and Mission San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo). These missions make up the Mission National Historical Park, which was named the first World Heritage Site in Texas by UNESCO. Established in the 18th century by Spanish priests, these missions were walled compounds encompassing a church and buildings where the priests and local Native Americans lived. Today, the missions represent the largest concentration of Spanish colonial missions in North America.

#OneWeekofCulture 3

Holland’s Gouda Cheese Market

Holland is a popular travel destination with a rich history. A traditional cheese market is certainly a site to behold. The city of Gouda, and the region surrounding it, produce over 60% of the nation’s cheese exports. Gouda’s Cheese Market remains a spectacle at the heart of Holland’s cheese industry, with its rituals and rich Dutch traditions. The distinctive Gouda cheese wheels are delivered by horse and cart, then stacked on the ground by the farmers, before being sold in a traditional manner in front of Gouda’s beautiful old City Hall. The farmers and traders ‘clap hands’ to confirm each sale, in what can only be described as a theatrical spectacle.

#OneWeekofCulture 4

The Luau:
A Traditional Hawaiian Feast

The first feast in Hawaii resembling a modern-day luau was held around 1819. Prior to that, the kapu system of restrictions, religion and resource management separated men and women at mealtimes, even in times of celebration. The current name of Luau is a reference to the taro leaves at the core of many of the dishes.
Popular dishes at a luau can include:
• Poi: Pounded taro plant root which is a starch and meant to be eaten with everything.
• Kalua Pig: Pork prepared in an imu (underground oven) and shredded
• Laulau: Meat wrapped in taro leaves and steamed, traditionally prepared in an imu.
• Haupia: Cocunut pudding.

#OneWeekofCulture 5

Cambodian Ballet:
Aspara Dancing

Traditional Aspara dancing has a long history in Cambodia, dating back to the 7th century according to some stone temple carvings. In Hindu mythology, Apsaras were beautiful female creatures who descended from heaven to entertain gods and kings with their dancing. This traditional dance is meaningful in many ways, as it constitutes a link between the different religions prominent in Cambodia, including Animism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. You will also notice symbolic and elegant finger gestures and the ornate silk costumes inspired by the wall carvings of the Angkor temples.

#OneWeekofCulture 6

The American Southwest:
Hopi Kachina Dolls

The American Southwest is steeped in the fascinating cultures of its native inhabitants. The Hopi people, one of the oldest native habitants of America, believe in Kachinas, which are the spirits of deities, natural elements or animals, or the deceased ancestors of the Hopi. They believe that every year, in time from winter solstice to mid-July, these spirits come as messengers of gods to the villages to dance and to sing, to bring good rains for the harvest and to bring gifts to the children. Before Kachina ceremonies begin, men of the villages make Kachina dolls in the shape of the Kachina. The children of the village receive these dolls during the ceremony. The dolls are hung on the walls and studied by children so they can learn about Kachinas.

#OneWeekofCulture 10

Riverboat Discovery / Athabascan Indian Camp

All aboard! As we rendezvous at Steamboat landing, imagine yourself transported back in time to the early pioneer days of Alaska. Trading posts played a pivotal role in the early days for many types of business transactions. From here, embark on the Discovery III sternwheeler and take a journey back in time along the Chena and Tanana Rivers. As we pull up to the Chena Indian Village, learn all about traditional methods used to harvest salmon. As you immerse yourself in the village, Athabascan guides

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#OneWeekofCulture 11

New Orleans School of Cooking

One of the best ways to discover culture is through food. When you eat a different culture’s cuisine, you’re not only learning about customs and history; you’re getting the added bonus of a traditional feast based on generations of culinary evolution that define the world’s most cherished dishes! Nestled in the heart of the French Quarter, the New Orleans School of Cooking serves up entertaining classes for eager (and hopefully hungry!) students who study the rich food culture and legacy of Louisiana. The school’s Cajun/Creole experts delight as they demonstrate cooking classic specialties such as Jambalaya and Pralines. Laugh the day away as your experience is peppered with history, trivia, and fascinating local tales. The sounds and tastes of Louisiana will inspire for a lifetime. Photos courtesy of New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

#OneWeekofCulture 12

Bomas of Kenya

The magic of Kenya is all-encompassing. From the sprawling savanna to the staggering Great Rift Valley and mountain highlands, you cannot help but find yourself captivated. Not only is the area home to a vast variety of animals, including elephants and lions, but also to several ethnic groups. Over 40 of these groups are celebrated at the Bomas of Kenya. Discover their lifestyle and heritage as you explore 23 replica villages, each unique to the group they represent. At first glance, they appear very similar. A look within the walls will reveal important differences in construction, decorations, and so much more. Learn about these ethic groups before finding yourself in the largest African hut of them all, a 3,000- capacity auditorium! Daily performances are held, telling stories from their tribes through song and dance.

#OneWeekofCulture 8

Hancock Shaker Village

Hancock Shaker Village brings to life the incredible Shaker story as a 750-acre preserved living history museum. The Hancock family founded the third Shaker community out of ten major communities on the east coast in the late 1780s. It feels like stepping into a time capsule as we explore 20 historic buildings and learn about the way of the Shakers through demonstrations of weaving, spinning, blacksmithing, tending the onsite working farm, and so much more. While the people we meet are no longer the original family, some members still live and thrive in other communities! It’s hard not to find inspiration in the Shaker’s strong sense of community and animated worship. In fact, the name “Shaker” comes from their spirited singing and ecstatic dancing.

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#OneWeekofCulture 6

Heard Museum / Missions of San Antonio

Have you heard about the Heard Museum? This internationally acclaimed museum offers an expansive collection of traditional and contemporary American Indian art, spanning over 11 exhibits and enchanting outdoor courtyards. Time spent exploring the grounds offers a spectacular portrayal of the life and culture of Native Americans in the Southwest, past and present. There is always something new to discover as the museum continually collects new fine art, paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures and so much more. It’s the perfect place to get lost in the vibrant heritage of America’s Southwest and take some time to slow down and simply enjoy the beauty around you. You might even catch a performance in the outdoor amphitheater or find yourself immersed in a hands-on activity such as bead weaving!

#OneWeekofCulture 9

Connemara Celtic Crystal

Visions of Ireland include countless shades of green, fascinating folklore, festive music, and glistening Celtic crystal. Original Celtic designs can date back as far as the 3rd and 4th century. Many of these designs have deeprooted meanings. Some of these meanings have been lost over time, whereas others allow interpreted guesses. Many of the knotted symbols have a profound representation of faith, including protection against evil spirits,and knots with continuous patterns, a reference to eternity and infinity. One of the most famous designs is the Claddagh Ring, a traditional engagement and wedding design symbolic of love, loyalty, and friendship. Connemara Celtic Crystal is a family run business that shares their passion for authentic Irish craft and heritage. Meet their talented master artisans and watch them hand-cut exquisite crystal using traditional stone cutting wheels.

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