a little lingo
Air France rolls out a test program that allows passengers on some long-haul flights to take 30-minute or hourlong lessons in 23 languages. Lessons are at the beginner level and offered in partnership with Berlitz World Travellers. And the best part? It's free, even if you're in coach. So skip the movie and speak up.
— Mary E. Forgione
Let it pour
Rain in Southern California this year has been as rare as snow in the Sahara, but spring downpours are commonplace elsewhere. For travelers looking for an umbrella sturdy enough to weather the strongest showers, there's a new high-end kid on the block. Davek Accessories of New York calls it "the last umbrella you'll ever need" — and sells it with an unconditional lifetime guarantee. The umbrella has a steel shaft and a reinforced frame to keep it from self-destructing in high winds. It retails for $95 and comes packaged in a gift box. Available at Neiman Marcus, Los Angeles; Bloomingdale's, San Diego; G.B. Harb & Son, Beverly Hills; and on the website http://www.davekny.com .
— Rosemary McClure
Soothing a split
Yes, there is life after divorce, and you can prove it while basking in the sun on a beachfront balcony on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Celebrate the beginning of the next phase of your life with the Ultimate Divorce Vacation, a new package at the Grand Velas Resort near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Guests receive an ocean-view suite, four hours of spa rejuvenation and a consultation with a jeweler who will help you explore the next challenge: what to do with your wedding ring. The package doesn't come cheap: From May 13 to Dec. 21, it is $879 per night, single occupancy, or $537 per person per night. If the settlement was sweet, you can upgrade to the hotel's three-bedroom Imperial Suite for $6,238 a night. Information: (877) 398-2784, http://www.grandvelas.com .
If you're seeking the cushy outdoors life, seasonal high camps with tent cabins, beds and hot meals are the way to go. Reservations for a string of Yosemite High Sierra Camps that open in mid-June are filled each year by lottery. The lottery for this summer is closed, but you may be able to snag cancellation dates. Dorm-style lodging and two meals cost $136 per person per night; guided saddle trips between camps are extra. Info: (559) 253-5676, http://www.yosemitepark.com . Reservations are available at two other sites: Sequoia High Sierra Camp at 8,200 feet in Sequoia National Forest, open June 15 to Oct. 7 (hike in 12 miles or walk a mile from a drive-in spot). Lodging in tent cabins with three meals, $250 per person per night. Info: (866) 654-2877, http://www.sequoiahighsierracamp.com . Bearpaw High Sierra Camp at 7,800 feet in Sequoia National Park opens in mid-June and requires an 11.5-mile hike on the High Sierra Trail. Lodging and two meals cost $175 per person a night, double occupancy. Info: (866) 807-3598, http://www.visitsequoia.com .
Santa Fe refined
The Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe recently reconsidered how its permanent collection might better present the history of New Mexico. The result is a retreat from separating works by cultures — Native Americans, Latinos and European Americans — and an accent on weaving them together in "How the West Is One: The Art of New Mexico." The exhibit — including "Washington Landscape With Peace Medal Indian," by T.C. Cannon, above — features 70 artworks, among them new acquisitions by Stuart Davis ("New Mexico Peak") and Georgia O'Keeffe's "Red Hills and the Pedernal." Opens April 20. Info: (505) 476-5072, http://www.mfasantafe.org .