Travel Dreaming: Pique your Curiosity with these Virtual Seminars on Art, History and Gardens

(Lead Image: Context Travel)

What does your dream travel experience include? 

by Carolyn Ray, JourneyWoman Publisher 

As curious creatures, there are many things that can pique our interest in travel. For me, it’s history. Often, reading a book does it. There’s no question I wouldn’t have followed Hemingway’s footsteps to Paris, Spain, Cuba and Key West had I not read Paula McClain’s The Paris Wife about eight years ago.

We asked you what your ideal travel experience includes – and you told us. The responses were varied, once again demonstrating the voracious JourneyWoman appetite for learning. At the top of your list was history, fart, architecture, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and even Gardens!

To help you manifest your interests, we asked our Advisory Council to suggest their top virtual sessions to help stimulate your curiosity! We hope you enjoy them!

To Book Your Seminar

JourneyWoman subscribers receive a 15% discount on your first purchase when you use code TRAVELJWCC. Click HERE to get started. 

11 Ideas for Virtual Travel to the Places of Your Dreams

All photos from Context Travel


1. Monet’s Garden in Giverny  

 I’ve been to this lovely spot, and it’s so utterly inspiring. Bursting with colour! The only thing that was missing when I visited (oh so long ago) was hearing more about Monet’s enjoyment, and use, of the garden. I’d love to watch it come alive.”  – Amit Janco

Claude Monet is one, if not the most famous of the impressionist painters. But he was also a fantastic gardener, who could not move into a new house without spending hours with his shovel planting colorful flowers.  His last house happened to be in a little village of Normandy called Giverny, an hour away from Paris. There, he spent the last 43 years of his life, surrounded by his family, trying to keep his fans at bay, working on his two gardens and his series of paintings. This is where the Haystacks and the Poplars were painted. But the series that fascinated him the longest was the Water Lily paintings

buildings in scotland

2. Japanese Gardens: A Kyoto Introduction 

 “I picked this because I was fortunate to be in Kyoto and toured all the wonderful temples and gardens. Very organized, beautiful and restful.” – Joy Fox

Few cultures have gardened with a greater passion than the Japanese. The attention to garden detail in Japan is unlike any other culture. Their spellbinding tranquility and their bold use of color, shape, and rhythm, gardens are one of Japan’s greatest artistic triumphs. And nowhere is there a greater concentration of these masterworks than Kyoto. This tour provides a basic overview of these mesmerizing spaces of emerald green and ancient stone. We delve deep into a number of representative gardens, including the Zen rock garden of Ryōanji, the tea garden of Kōtō-in, the warrior garden at Kinkakuji, and a Kyoto merchant’s townhouse garden. Each of these jewels illuminates basic design principles, while also showing how the needs of different clients gave rise to different gardening styles.

3. The Best English Gardens  

 “I have been to many gardens in England, but still have more I want to see. Also Kew Gardens, which I have been to, more like a beautiful park.” – Joy Fox

England is considered by many to be the most garden-loving country in the world; and there is certainly a lot to love. This conversation will explore 10 of England’s loveliest gardens, all abounding in individual charm and character. We will see the Arts and Crafts movement-inspired garden at Hidcote, the creation of the American Major Lawrence Johnston, and the delightful Sissinghurst designed by the fascinating Vita Sackville-West. Stourhead Gardens have been described as a ‘living work of art’, and the gardens at Chatsworth which were originally designed by Capability Brown, have something new to delight on every visit. Cliveden is lovely in every season, and the Italian gardens, water terraces, and rose garden make a suitably grand setting for Blenheim Palace. The head-gardener at Harewood, Trevor, ensures that there is always something new to see there – be it in the Himalayan Garden, the Lakeside Garden, or the wonderful Walled Garden. Closer to home is the lovely and historic Chelsea Physic Garden, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kew. We’ll discuss both charming gardens before our final stop as we hear about the Chelsea Flower Show – probably the most famous flower show in the world.


4. Glass Art: From Murano to Dale Chihuly  

“I’m a big fan of Chihuly (saw his exhibition in Jerusalem’s Old City), and would love to learn more about the art (and science?) of glassmaking.” – Amit Janco

Glass production in Venice dates back to the medieval period when artisan glassmakers were required to move to the island of Murano, thus creating a unique community of craftspeople still active today. This seminar will trace the long history of glassmaking in Venice, emphasizing artisans of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Explore several of the key fornaci or glass workshops–such as Venini, Cenedese, Seguso, and Carlo Moretti–with a view toward how key designers from across the globe, from Carlo Scarpa and Tapio Wirkkala to Ettore Sottsass and Dale Chihuly, have been commissioned to create new iconic designs. Finally, we will visit virtually some of the best sites in Venice for exhibitions of glass today, such as the Cini Foundation on San Giorgio Maggiore, as well as the Glass Stress exhibitions since 2011.

5. Iconic American Photography From Alfred Stieglitz to Annie Leibovitz 

“LOVE photography and especially Annie Leibovitz!” – Marillee Carroll

Join art historian Alette Fleischer to explore the evolution of photography in the United States. Through the camera lens, we will look at how art and culture are intrinsically linked. In the USA, photography matured as an independent art form. Photographers, both male and female, captured the construction of America: the cities, countryside, and societies. Nobody could escape from the eye of the camera. From politicians to members of the First Nations, from the high society to poor peddlers, everyone was a subject to be captured on film. Equally, the seemingly never resting photographers revealed in photos the vast planes, lush hills, and the breathtakingly gorgeous valleys and mountain ranges of the American landscape.

woman mexico face painted

6. Edinburgh in August: Enjoying the World’s Largest Festival 

 “Where I was born and a wonderful city. The Tattoo in August is my to do list.” – Joy Fox

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, surpassed only by the Olympics and the soccer World Cup in ticket sales. With performances ranging from music, to dance, opera, physical theatre, and the visual arts, and taking place in diverse venues from barren islands to domestic drawing rooms, and taxi cabs to telephone booths, the Festival embraces an “anything goes” philosophy that for three weeks in August places Edinburgh at the centre of the artistic world. As we await news on what shape the festivals will take in 2021, this conversation is the perfect primer.

7. Le Corbusier’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Building Modernity Across the Globe 

“Enjoy architecture and visiting UNESCO world sites!” – Marillee Carroll

Long considered a luminary for his modernist forms and forward-thinking urban planning, Le Corbusier (born Charles-Èdouard Jeanneret, 1887-1965) left a legacy of residential, religious, and institutional architecture across several continents. This seminar will introduce learners to his life and career, focusing on several of the seventeen works that UNESCO designated as World Heritage sites in 2016. Highlights of this lecture include, amongst others, the Villa Jeanneret, Villa La Roche, Villa Savoye, Unité d’Habitation Marseille, Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp, and The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.

woman mexico face painted


 8. Visiting the Historic Scottish Border Lands: Ruins, Ride-outs, Rhymers and Reivers

 “An area I have not yet visited but was due to go to last year. A friend invited me to stay with her in the Borders, so this would interest me, as a Scot.” – Joy Fox

The bewitching landscape of the Scottish Borders was an inspiration to Walter Scott, James Hogg, and John Buchan.  The rolling hills, fertile valleys, and ruined abbeys of the Scottish Borders are less familiar than the famed Highland shielings or misty Isles, but there is much to be discovered in this accessible Scottish Lowland region. Stretching from the eastern coastal village of St. Abbs Head in Berwickshire, through the rural central mill towns of Galashiels, Innerleithen, and Peebles, to the grandeur of St Mary’s Loch in the west, the Border country is steeped in legend and Scottish history, from the rise of William Wallace to the death of James IV at the battlefield of Flodden. In this seminar, we’ll roam the ancient and magical landscape, visiting the medieval abbeys at Jedburgh, Dryburgh, Kelso, and Melrose, where the Eildon Hills were split in three by the wizard Michael Scott; the great houses of Traquair (the oldest inhabited house in Scotland), Mellerstain, and Floors Castle (where Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan was filmed) and the lonely keeps and castles of Darnick, Smailhome, and Neidpath.

9. Pompeii Uncovered: From Daily Life to Disaster  

“One of my most vivid memories as a 19-year old travelling in Italy is walking through the ruined streets of Pompeii, imagining molten lava from Mount Vesuvius streaming toward me. I dreamed of becoming an archeologist. I think it stimulated my sense of curiosity and desire to learn about history.” – Carolyn Ray

Recent archaeological work in Pompeii offers us new information about the long history people in the city had with the looming volcano, still seen towering in the near distance. What was life like next to an active volcano? Who lived here, and what do we know about the everyday life in the city?

woman mexico face painted

10. Walking the Inca Trail 

 “I’ve heard so much about this trail and would love to learn more about the history of the Inca. What better way than walking along the trail, a truly immersive experience?” – Amit Janco

In the thirteenth century, the Incas expanded already existing pre-Incan civilization roads to an extensive 25,000 miles (40,000 km) network stretching from Colombia to Chile. This was certainly the biggest and most advanced roadwork of that time and an essential system for communicating between regions and the administrative and spiritual Inca capital of Cuzco. This seminar explores this crucial path as we look at its origins, its impact, and how to hike the Inca Trail today. We’ll explore what it is like on each hiking day on the trail today, as well as what fauna and flora can be discovered in the cloud jungle.

11. Chaco Canyon: Ancient Mysteries and Histories 

“I chose this because I’m inspired by JourneyWoman Jeanne Flaherty’s recent trip to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.  In a recent social media post, she says: ‘Chaco Canyon continues to be of great interest to those who study ancient cultures… evidence suggests that the Chacoan were expert skywatchers with a clear knowledge of. the cyclic. and seasonal patterns of the sun, moon, and stars”. – Carolyn Ray

The American Southwest abounds with spectacular canyons, but one, in particular, stands out not just for its natural beauty, but also for its rich cultural and historical significance. Meet Chaco Canyon, one of only 11 culturally-based UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the US. In this conversation, we will examine civilizations of the North American Southwest and Mexico, specifically how important long-distance connections predating the Spanish by centuries shaped the cultures of the ancient Southwest. Set along the banks of a remote wash in the Southern San Juan River basin of New Mexico, and even today accessible only by dirt road, Chaco Canyon harbors the vestiges of a civilization whose origins date back to the time when the Old Medina of Fez was just getting started, and whose major construction ceased decades before Richard the Lionheart of Robin Hood fame ascended to the throne of England. The people of Chaco Canyon constructed colossal structures known as “Great Houses” — the largest of which, Pueblo Bonito, rivaled the Roman Colosseum in size and laid a system of roads and outlier sites that spread out over an area the size of Indiana. Then, as the second quarter of the twelfth century dawned, they mysteriously ceased building entirely. We will attempt to answer perhaps the greatest questions of all — why, after constructing such monumental architecture, did they leave it all behind? And having done that, where did the descendants of the architects of Chaco go?

woman mexico face painted


Camera Phone Photography for World Travelers with Mikkel Aaland

We’ve had a lot of requests for an iPhone photography session – why not ask an expert? 

In the digital age, a picture is worth more than a thousand words. During this interactive conversation, not only will we learn how to use a camera phone for instant worldwide sharing and connectively, but we will also learn how to use an array of free or low-cost, user-friendly apps that will help even a novice transform a mediocre shot into a stunning one.

Led by a professional photographer with 45 years of experience, this seminar is designed is for participants who want to use a simple camera phone to take “professional-looking” photos suited for sharing in both print and screen – without needing to haul expensive camera equipment along for the ride.

To Book Your Seminar

JourneyWoman subscribers receive a 15% discount on your first purchase when you use code TRAVELJWCC. Click HERE to get started. 

JourneyWoman Book Club: Join us!

Every month, the JourneyWoman Book Club visits a new part of the world, guided by a novel written by a woman. Join us on the third Wednesday of each month, or read one. ofour selections on our own.

Disclaimer: We’re so happy that you’re checking out this page! We are committed to being transparent about all content that we publish.

Should you decide to purchase a seminar or course from Context Travel using a link from our site, JourneyWoman may earn a small commission, which helps us maintain this website and continue to produce our free monthly magazine and other free services. This commission does not come out of your pocket, it is paid by Context Travel to us. 

We only recommend things that are suggested by our community or through our own experience that we believe will be practical and helpful for you. We welcome your questions and feedback about any articles published on our site.

Carolyn is the Publisher + Editor-in-Chief of JourneyWoman and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC). A Canadian raised in South Florida, Carolyn loves all things Spanish, historic destinations and always has her backpack ready to go.



We always strive to use real photos from our own adventures, provided by the guest writer or from our personal travels. However, in some cases, due to photo quality, we must use stock photography. If you have any questions about the photography please let us know.

Disclaimer: We are so happy that you are checking out this page right now! We only recommend things that are suggested by our community, or through our own experience, that we believe will be helpful and practical for you. Some of our pages contain links, which means we’re part of an affiliate program for the product being mentioned. Should you decide to purchase a product using a link from on our site, JourneyWoman may earn a small commission from the retailer, which helps us maintain our beautiful website. Thank you!

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