Staying in Luxury on Sri Lanka's Plantations

The road from Colombo to Kandy was a traffic jam of cars, tuk-tuks (three-wheeled taxis), and buses—along with the occasional cow—so we didn’t arrive at Mackwoods’s Labookellie Tea Estate until after dark, missing the scenic hills and waterfalls of Sri Lanka’s central highlands. The next morning, when we opened the doors out to the patio, my friend Oleg and I were greeted not only by the stunning, terraced hills, but also by the strong, rich fragrance of tea coming from the thousands of surrounding bushes. We spent the morning strolling the grounds of the plantation and taking a tour of the tea factory. (The company makes its own brand of tea and sells wholesale to companies like Lipton). Then I had an in-room massage. Not a bad way to start a holiday.

Contemporary Art on the Rise in Eastern Europe

Among the well-established galleries from New York, Paris, and London showing works at Art Basel Switzerland last month, a smattering of galleries from Central and Eastern Europe stood out, showing video installations, photographs, and huge landscape paintings. They are among those from the former East bloc fast gaining a reputation as important players on the international contemporary-art scene.

East European Designers Make a Statement

Almost two years ago London’s Victoria and Albert Museum held an exhibition titled Cold War Modern, examining how the U.S. and the countries of the former Eastern bloc were fighting a proxy war in the world of design. Besides the obvious geopolitical aspects of the show, I was most intrigued by how much of the region’s design I had never seen before. Well, that’s all over now. Designers from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have become increasingly ubiquitous, making creative waves in some of the world’s biggest markets. In April, London’s Mint gallery held a monthlong exhibition called Chez Czech, which featured Czech glass and ceramics. At Milan’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile in May, designers like Slovenia’s Nika Zupanc and Hungary’s János Hübler created some serious buzz with their avant-garde pieces, and the Polish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo features building structures made from paper cutouts—an ironic nod to iconic Polish folk art.

Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski on Greece

The April plane crash that killed 80 Polish leaders, including President Lech Kaczynski, is known in Poland as “the catastrophe.” The leaders were en route to a commemoration of the 1940 Soviet massacre of Polish officers in Katyn, Russia. Poland had to call early elections, now scheduled for June 20. Kaczynski’s twin brother, Jaroslaw, who heads the ultraconservative Law and Justice Party, faces Acting President Bronislaw Komorowski of the pro-European Civic Platform party.

Holidays for Learning All the Right Moves

I've never been much of a dancer. I took ballet and tap classes for years as a child but never managed to graduate to pointe shoes or the high-heeled tap shoes the cool, older girls wore. Since then, the dancer in me lay dormant—until a recent trip to Spain, where I saw a flamenco dancer whiz across the floor with poise and precision. It reawakened my inner ballerina, and I started fantasizing about all the opportunities I had missed to trip the light fantastic. So I decided to see if age has made me more graceful; this summer I plan to visit Spain and take flamenco classes in the very place the dance originated. No matter where you live, it's easy to find dance classes of every variety—thanks in part to the popularity of shows like Strictly Come Dancing and So You Think You Can Dance. But I intend to try one of the growing number of high-end companies that offer a more authentic experience, providing total immersion in the culture associated with the dance.They can be found all...

Russsian Art Gets a Boost from Women Promoters

When Dasha Zhukova, the glamorous girlfriend of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, opened her Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in a converted bus depot in Moscow last autumn, art connoisseurs scoffed. What did a 27-year-old socialite, born in Russia but raised mostly in Los Angeles, know about the international contemporary-art scene? As it turns out, quite a bit; Zhukova quickly won over critics with the quality of her exhibitions. The opening show featured the rarely displayed works of expat Russian conceptual artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, including the large-scale installation The Red Wagon (1992), which is made up of a series of platforms and ladders decorated with various socialist-realist murals and ramps that lead to nowhere. Next month, Zhukova will exhibit the English artist Antony Gormley's striking Domain Field, an installation of 287 sculptures made from body molds. Zhukova, who is also the editor of the British fashion magazine Pop, and her boyfriend are...

Bosnia Reborn

Elvir Causevic left sarajevo in 1990, just before the war engulfed Bosnia and smashed it to smithereens. Now 33 and educated in America, a member of Yale University's research staff, he recently moved back --and continues to be amazed at the town's transformation. The city he had seen so often on TV during the dark years was devastated, full of scarred and burned-out buildings, bereft of its once vibrant cosmopolitanism.But no more. Sarajevo today is the very image of a thriving European capital, chockablock with chic restaurants and upscale art galleries. Cranes punctuate the skyline, erecting offices and putting a new face on, among many other things, Bosnia's postmodern Parliament, ruined during the war. Strolling the cobbled streets of the capital's ancient Old Town--a twisty maze of bars and tourist shops selling everything from Turkish coffee sets to T shirts reading i'm muslim, don't panic--Causevic is positively boosterish. "Now is the time for this country," he exults. His...

‘I Just Want to Play’

For a tennis player who is impressively vocal and aggressive behind the net, hunky Rafael Nadal is surprisingly demure off the court. There is almost a little-boy-lost quality about him. Nadal still lives with his parents and grandparents in a four-story apartment building in Manacor, Spain, where his favorite pastime is fishing....