The Orient Express
Watch the Alps go by during breakfast.
Hours From New York: 7
TYPE OF VACATION: Romance
It’s not cheap ($2,605 per person; 401-351-7518), but it’s incredibly romantic to spend two nights aboard the Orient Express. Take an overnight flight to London, arriving Saturday morning. Head straight to Victoria Station, where you will board the Orient Express’s luxurious antique British Pullman, which leaves promptly at 11:15 a.m. You’re served a three-course lunch as you pass through Kent, rural England at its loveliest. The required switch to a bus at Folkestone (it’s loaded onto a flatbed railcar for a 100-mph whiz through the Chunnel) brings you back to modernity briefly, but in twenty minutes you’re in France, boarding the blue-and-gild antique cars of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Your steward settles you into your compartment, complete with an overstuffed sofa that transforms into comfy bunk beds. Pack robes and slippers; the bathrooms are down the hall. Dinner is black tie. Somewhere around dessert, you will pass through Paris. The party in the bar car lasts into the wee hours. After your morning croissant and coffee, read the International Herald Tribune or play cards in the lounge as you watch the Alps pass by. By teatime, you’ll be heading through the dramatic Brenner Pass; you pull into Venice’s Santa Lucia Station a little after 6 p.m., and check into the Hotel Danieli (from $396; 39-04-1-522-6480) for the last night. Fly home Monday morning if you must (it’s an eight-hour flight), but stay another day to explore Venice if you can.
Rough it (sort of) in wine country.
Hours From New York: 8
TYPE OF VACATION: Adventure
You love Napa’s golden light and rolling hills. You hate the prescribed trudges from winery to winery. Mix in a little adventure, like Sonoma County Grape Camp (707-522-5860), a three-day workout of hand-harvesting grapes and blending your own wine, or Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards’ (707-833-5501) pulse-raising four-hour eco-hike that climbs 1,400 feet up the Mayacamas Mountains on the winery’s 1,850-acre property. The $75 fee also gets you a wine tasting (its unoaked 2005 Chardonnay Nu has pretty citrus and apple notes) and lunch outside. Stay at the casually sleek Hotel Healdsburg (from $260; 707-431-2800), or the low-key Dawn Ranch (707-869-0656), a century-old fifteen-acre resort of little yellow cabins, creeks, and an apple orchard, near the Russian River; you can rent canoes and kayaks at nearby Johnson’s Beach or bike and hike along trails beneath the great redwoods of the 805-acre Armstrong Redwood State Reserve park. Reward yourself at Zazu Restaurant & Farm (707-523-4814) with chef John Stewart’s truffle salumi and wife and co-chef Duskie Estes’s lemon-cucumber gazpacho.
Debate art and modernity at Documenta 12.
Hours From New York: 9
TYPE OF VACATION: Art
It’s going to be a big art summer in Europe: the Venice Biennale, Art Basel, then Documenta, the once--every-five-years ultraserious art show. Most of the 100-plus artist list is under wraps until the official opening; Spanish chef Ferran Adrià will be making his art-festival debut. Kassel doesn’t have a major airport, so you have to take a train from the Frankfurt airport (about an hour and a half); if you’re coming from Basel, trains run hourly (travel time is about four and a half hours). The colorfully decorated Art Hotel Schweizer Hof (from $85; 490-5619-3690) is within walking distance of the train, letting you conserve energy for Documenta’s spread-out series of projects (which typically spill from the galleries into the city’s passageways and shop windows, in a kind of scavenger hunt). Rooms for the opening weekend will be hard to come by; consider catching the show toward the end of its run, in late August or early September—after all, you’ll have the next five years to discuss its leitmotifs, including “Is modernity our antiquity?” (Documenta 12 runs from June 16 through September 23; go to documenta12.de.)
Go beyond the pink beaches.
Hours From New York: 2
TYPE OF VACATION: Adventure
The famous pink-sand beaches, pastel cottages, and oceanfront golf courses might seem like a travel-brochure cliché, but a more interesting Bermuda exists for the slightly adventurous. Stay in one of the clean, no-frills studios at Munro Beach Cottages (from $250; 441-234-1175). Spend your first afternoon rambling around Nonsuch Island, a fourteen-acre conservation project 45 minutes away by boat (book before you leave through the Bermuda Biological Station at 441-297-1880). The next day, take a brisk off-road hike with the Walking Club of Bermuda, through Blue Hole Park and its nearby caves. Stop into the Black Horse Tavern for a fish sandwich and a Dark and Stormy (rum, ginger beer, and lime) before a mellow walk through St. George’s Parish, the exquisite World Heritage Site that’s been a functioning town since 1612. Ditch the cruise-ship crowd and head out on a bike (not a scooter) along the railway trail to Somerset and rent snorkeling gear at Church Bay’s concession stand. Hubie’s Friday-night jazz gets rolling at 7 p.m.; get there early to snag a booth.