Two years ago I wrote about the MacMania cruise to Alaska, which was, at least to me, a fascinating and innovative combination of technical training and vacation adventure. That such a mix would succeed shouldn't be surprising, since for many of us, the Macintosh is as much a hobby as it may be a profession, so learning something new is as enjoyable as discovering a new city or touring some local attraction. As an added benefit, less-technical spouses can come along for the vacation and simply go off on their own during the sessions.
Although Tonya and I haven't been able to participate in the last few Mac Mania cruises, we're starting to make plans with a group called Techie Tours for a slightly different sort of training/vacation combination that's even more focused. For five days in the middle of November, 07-Nov-04 through 13-Nov-04, Tonya and I will both be teaching a workshop about iPhoto in conjunction with a photo safari on the island of Gozo, 58 miles off the coast of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea.
We're really looking forward to it, and not just because it's a chance to have an adult vacation that won't require train-, ship-, and dinosaur-intensive activities followed by early bedtimes. When Jim Sims of Techie Tours first approached me about it, I was initially astonished. "Five half-days about iPhoto?" I replied, "I can't imagine what I'd say after the first two hours." But as I talked about it with Tonya, she made the point that this wasn't about explaining the features of the program, but was instead about showing people how to accomplish real-world projects using iPhoto. In other words, it's not a lecture, but a workshop with 25 people all actually working away in iPhoto (laptops required!) on pictures they've just taken.
It will also be fun to concentrate on projects that make sense in the context of a vacation, such as uploading photo-journal Web pages, printing personalized postcards to send to friends and relatives, creating a shared archive of the group's photos to share, and building and ordering an iPhoto book of the best pictures. And since it's going to be just us and the group, I'm sure there will be plenty of time for chatter about Apple, new Mac models, Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, TidBITS, wireless networking, and anything else that comes up.
I don't know much about Gozo beyond what Jim has told me and what I've read in the guidebook, but for those of us heading into the snowy days and frigid nights of winter, it sounds pretty darn attractive. Warm and sunny, with the oldest standing architecture and monuments in the world and an entirely modern five-star hotel with wireless Internet access... it's hard to imagine a better place to hang out with Mac folk taking photos. From what I gather, it's easy to fly to Malta and take the ferry to Gozo, and the cost of the conference is highly reasonable for this sort of thing: $1,100 (discounted for TidBITS readers through 15-Aug-04), which includes six nights at the hotel and five days of photo safaris around Gozo, plus ferry and museum tickets, and mini-van transportation around the islands. Spouses not attending the morning workshops pay only $800. Space is limited.
And besides, it's a great excuse to get a new digital camera that's completely different from my Canon PowerShot S400. We hope to see some TidBITS readers there!