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Oklahoma City Remembers

By Linda Tancs

The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum remembers those who were killed, those who survived and those whose lives were changed forever following the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.  The memorial comprises an outdoor symbolic garden featuring the gripping Field of Empty Chairs, one for each of the lives lost.  Indoors, the highly interactive museum takes visitors on a chronological, self-guided tour through the events of the day and its aftermath.  The 20th anniversary of this significant terrorist attack is on 19 April.

Denver’s Oldest House

By Linda Tancs

Denver’s Four Mile House is the city’s oldest structure, a testament to Colorado’s frontier past.  Operating as a stage stop in the 1860s, it was the last stop coming west to Denver along the Cherokee Trail.  The house is the centerpiece of Four Mile Historic Park, a 12-acre park just miles from downtown Denver.  The locale offers year round educational programming showcasing Colorado’s rich pioneer history.   The house museum is open for tours Wednesday through Sunday.

Great American Main Street

By Linda Tancs

What do New Jersey, Wyoming and Missouri have in common? For the current year, at least, the answer is that each state boasts a winning town in the 2015 Great American Main Street Award® contest. Each year the National Main Street Center (a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation) bestows honors on those communities it deems to be a shining example of commercial district revitalization. This year’s honorees are Cape Girardeau in Missouri, Montclair Center Business Improvement District in New Jersey and Rawlins, Wyoming. Thanks to the art of reinvention, you won’t find them rolling up the sidewalks at night.

Tropics Trivia in Taiwan

By Linda Tancs

The Tropic of Cancer is one of five major circles of latitude (the others being the Tropic of Capricorn, the Antarctic Circle, the Arctic Circle and the Equator).  In Taiwan, the Tropic of Cancer cuts through Shuishang Township (Chiayi County) and Ruisui and Fengbin townships (Hualien County), all of which have landmarks on the line.  Chiayi County is a special treasure, the only county in Taiwan with three major national scenic areas: Alishan National Scenic Area, Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, and Siraya National Scenic Area.  Some of the treasures you’ll find are Alishan (home of the renowned Alishan Forest Railway and the Tsou indigenous people), the fishing harbor of Dongshi (where Aogu Wetland Forest Park, the largest lowland forest park, is located) and the Budai salt fields, busiest this time of year when the sun is strongest and rain is scarce.

Plein Air on the Teche

By Linda Tancs

Picture this: a juried art exhibition amidst stately oak trees draped in Spanish moss framed by a classic antebellum historic house.  If that doesn’t get paint brushes moving, then what will?  This weekend marks the weeklong inaugural Plein Air Competition at Shadows-on-the-Teche, a 19th century southern Louisiana plantation.  Located in New Iberia’s Main Street District on the banks of Bayou Teche, The Shadows was built in 1834 for sugar planter David Weeks and preserves 150 years of history through four generations.

Palace of the Normans

By Linda Tancs

A stronghold of Palermo, Sicily, the Palace of the Normans is a testament to the cultural, historical and religious influence of the region’s invaders over the centuries.  The palace was begun in the 9th century when Sicily was under Islamic rule and still retains Arabian vaults in the basement.  When the Normans conquered Sicily in 1072, the building was transformed into an administrative and residential compound marked by arcades and exquisitely designed gardens, an appropriate dwelling for the Sicilian kingdom established under Norman rule.  King Roger II added the stunning Cappella Palatina, a chapel boasting Byzantine, Islamic and Norman styles that is highly prized for its elegant mosaics.  Following additional reconstruction by the Spanish and Bourbons, the palace ultimately became, and remains, the seat of Sicily’s regional parliament.

The Finger of God

By Linda Tancs

Known as the “finger of God,” the church steeple at Ulm Minster is the tallest in the world at nearly 530 feet.  You can reach the apex by climbing a mere 768 steps; congratulate yourself with a well-earned Märzen beer.  Striking as the church tower is, it’s not the only thing that sets this historic German city on the Danube apart from the rest.  For starters, it’s the birthplace of Albert Einstein.  It’s also home to such curiosities as the Schiefes Haus (crooked house) and  homes on stilts in the Fishermen’s Quarter.  And don’t miss the Rathaus (town hall), boasting beautiful 16th century murals and an astronomical clock dating from 1520.  Love carbs?  Then the Museum of Bread is for you, dedicated to the 6,000-year history of bread and the bakery trade.

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