Santillana del Mar
The caves of Altamira in Spain have been described as the Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic art. But the vivid, graceful drawings of bison and deer, dating back 14,000 years, have been off limits to most visitors since 1982, when it emerged that body heat and CO2 promoted a white fungus on the walls. Now every line, crack and crevice of the homage to the hunt has been recreated, a few hundred meters from the entrance to the caves, near Santillana del Mar in northwest Spain. The 4,400-sq.-m facility also houses a permanent exhibition and library of books about human prehistory in the region.
Sabu was set to follow in his father's footsteps and become an elephant handler-until filmmaker Robert J. Flannery chose the 12-year-old Indian mahout for the title role in his 1937 docu-drama Elephant Boy. Pupils at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center's Mahout Training School may not get a chance at stardom, but they'll gain a deeper appreciation of the pachyderm way of life. Tourists not looking for a new profession can attend a three-day mahout homestay program at the center, near Lampang in northern Thailand. The course costs $90, including accommodation, meals and elephant-riding classes. For information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tourism can be a tool for peace, according to the World Tourism Organization. To honor that aim, Japan Airlines has planned a cycling tour between Seoul and Osaka, Japan, the joint host cities of the 2001 WTO general assembly. Starting on Sept. 24, participants will cycle 300 km over seven days, with time out of the saddle for sightseeing in Korea and Japan. The journey ends with a 3.3-km stroll past the 1 million spectators who line Osaka's city streets each year to view the Midosjui Parade. The tour costs $1,160, including hostel-style accommodation, meals, travel insurance and transportation by coach and ferry. Participants will need to bring their own bikes. For more information, see www.jal.co.jp/bicycle/.
Established in 1816 near the site of Australia's first European settlement, Sydney's Botanic Gardens is a 16-hectare showcase for wild and cultivated plants from Europe, North America and the Orient, many of which are collected in specialized sections like the Fernery and the Rose Garden. But the gardens' latest display has a more local flavor, and exposes a history that, according to gardens directors, visitors could find "deeply confronting." "Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters" presents an Aboriginal perspective on the site through displays that include a 50-m-long "storyline" featuring plants used by the local Cadigal tribe for food, medicine and tool-making.