Let's GoMediterranean paintingIf you’re the type who likes to pursue your painting while on vacation, you might find the right situation through . The company, based in England and Sardinia, offers painting holidays in Sardinia and Malta.

The painting groups are small and taught by experienced teachers. The equipment, lightweight easels, boards, sun umbrellas and folding chairs, are provided. Accommodation is in country houses, bed-and-breakfasts and small family-run hotels.

A Sept. 12-19 holiday in the foothills of Monte Minerva, Sardinia, for example, costs 775 pounds (about $1,135). It includes instruction by professional artist David Webb, airport transfers, seven nights’ accommodation in a rustic hunting lodge, all meals (including wine), welcome drinks and sightseeing and painting excursions in the Sardinian countryside.

The 10-day Malta holidays include five nights in a 16th-century historic building in Malta’s capital, Valletta, and five nights in one of the top hotels on the island of Gozo.

Packages also include the option of side trips, cooking and photography classes and two yoga courses.

Find details at

Mucha exhibitionType "Alphonse Mucha" into any poster sales Web site and you’ll find a wide choice of the artist’s popular art nouveau pictures of women, most created at about the turn of the 20th century. Popular ones today include "Bières de la Meuse," "Monaco, Monte-Carlo 1897" and those of Paris’ celebrated actress, Sarah Bernhardt.

Mucha, a Czech, worked in advertising in Paris, his work portraying young, happy and sensual women with long hair showing off the product. He also worked for six years in the United States, where he was considered the leader of the art nouveau movement, before returning home to Czechoslovakia.

A collection of his works is showing in Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts until June 7. "In Praise of Women — Alphonse Mucha, Czech Master of the Art Nouveau" exhibits the best of his posters as well as paintings, drawings and photographs from the artist’s Parisian, American and Czech periods.

The exhibit is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m daily except Mondays. Tickets cost 2,000 Hungarian forints (about $9) for adults, 1,000 for children. Get more details at

London cooking coursesWhile in London, try something different for lunch: learn to cook a new meal. L’atelier des Chefs, located off Oxford Street, offers 30-minute lunch-time cooking classes as well as longer classes throughout the day.

L’atelier des Chefs is open Monday through Saturday. Its three chefs are from the Netherlands, England and France. Classes can include a 30-minute "Cook, Eat & Run" menu of fresh ravioli with roasted butternut squash, Parmesan cheese and sage butter sauce (18 pounds or about $26); or a 60-minute "60 Flat" menu of green chicken curry with spring leek, basmati rice and beef, and green papaya salad with chili and lime dressing (36 pounds).

Longer classes include chocolate master classes, ethnic menus and healthy eating menus.

Make reservations at L’atelier des Chefs’ Web site,

Best Bets'BELGIUM: Are you into movies such as "REC," a Spanish film in which a TV reporter is trapped in an apartment building full of zombies? How about "The Substitute," a Danish teen chiller about a substitute teacher from outer space? Or maybe "Gong Tau," a Hong Kong/China orgy of contemporary voodoo and Buddhist magic with exorcisms and flying vampire heads? If so, then head to Brussels’ International Fantastic Film Festival, continuing through April 21, which features an international program of horror, science fiction and fantasy films competing for one of several categories of awards. Also on the program are a body-painting contest, Japanimation Day, make-up contest and an all-night vampire ball. Find more details at

ITALY: Easter Sunday is a lively affair in Florence, complete with a large procession and fireworks. The traditional Scoppio del Caro ("explosion of the cart") had its origins in the First Crusade, when the European expedition captured Jerusalem and lit a holy fire for purification. This lighting was continued in Florence with the holy fire paraded around the city, eventually sitting in a cart as it was transported. In the late 1300s, the fire was replaced by firecrackers. Today the festival takes place on the Piazza del Duomo, where a cart pulled by oxen and loaded with firecrackers and fireworks is escorted by a large procession and set on fire at noon. The Florence tourist board site, , has more on Easter activities.

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