Learn a language, live the culture

By Kari Bodnarchuk
Globe Correspondent / July 24, 2011

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New York-based Cactus Language Training offers cultural immersion trips to 60 countries that help travelers learn more than 30 languages. This year’s new programs include learning Spanish and Latin dance at a school on the banks of the Amazon River in Colombia, studying German in a Bavarian town overlooking the Swiss Alps, and mastering Russian in culturally diverse Kiev. Cactus incorporates cultural experiences, like wine tasting, cooking, dancing, diving, surfing, and photography, into each program. Prices start at $123 per week for instruction; various types of accommodations are available. Summer specials include free private lessons in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, when you book a two-week group course. 888-577-8451,

See Jerusalem by smartphone Travelers to the Old City of Jerusalem can now tour the city’s historical, religious, and cultural sites with the new self-guided digital JerusaleMP3 walking tours. Download the tours for free and explore the Jewish Quarter, Via Dolorosa, the Temple Mount compound, and the marketplaces in the Old City, among other areas. Maps and written explanations are available in English, French, Russian, and Hebrew. These free multimedia audio tours include videos, and can be operated from a smartphone or a similar audio device. 212-499-5660,

Pedaling around Boston The Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel offers a special Tour de Boston package through Aug. 31 for guests who would like to explore the city on a bike. The package includes a “biker-to-go pack’’ with a bottle of water and a homemade granola bar, a map of local bike routes, accommodations, and access to the hotel’s health club and lap pool. After a day of biking guests can retreat to the hotel’s Capiz Lounge. Rates start at $199 per night, based on double occupancy, not including tax, parking, or gratuity; some blackout dates apply. Ask for the Tour de Boston package if reserving by phone, or enter promotional code ARN if booking online. 617-338-4111,