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A Farm in Brooklyn

By Linda Tancs

Wyckoff, Wycoff, Wykoff, Wikoff or Wicoff.  No matter how you spell it, the vast majority of Americans and Canadians bearing the surname can trace their lineage to a tenant farmer on a homestead located in present-day Brooklyn, New York.   Their common link is Pieter Claesen, who ultimately chose the surname Wykhof (later Wyckoff) when required to do so by the British when they assumed control of what was then the Dutch-controlled colony of New Netherland.  Now a museum and testament to Dutch architecture and farm life, the Wyckoff family occupied their Brooklyn homestead for eight successive generations until 1901.  Wyckoff House is open to guided tours on Fridays and Saturdays.   Located on Clarendon Road, the site is easily accessible via public transit.

The Highest Tides

By Linda Tancs

Atlantic Canada’s Bay of Fundy captures the world’s highest tides.  Stretching between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, this ocean bay bests the combined flow of the world’s freshwater rivers in every tide cycle with 160 billion tons of seawater.  It takes six hours and 13 minutes for the tide to go from low to high (or vice versa).  Needless to say, a tidal coastline like this offers plenty of hiking and kayaking opportunities.  And don’t miss the rare northern right whale at the bay’s mouth.  Previously in January the tides were exceptionally high, but great viewing is yours year-round.  The best airport for arrivals is Halifax Robert L. Stanfield Airport.

Shetland’s Ancient Capital

By Linda Tancs

On the southern peninsula of Mainland, Shetland, you’ll find its ancient capital, Scalloway.  Derived from Old Norse meaning “bay of the huts,” the picturesque village with Viking roots can trace its habitation back to the Bronze Age.  Its breathtaking view is punctuated at the Scord, an approach by road that encompasses the harbor, the castle, a bridge and some islets.  The four-story castle dominates the village and is probably one of the only fortified structures that a visitor can see by obtaining a key from the local hotel.

Visiting Nancy

By Linda Tancs

Who would think that a deposed Polish king would contribute much to 18th century European architecture in northeastern France?  Well, that’s what you’ll find in Nancy, a historic French city.  Thanks to an uprising in the 1700s, Nancy and its environs (formerly the Duchy of Upper Lorraine) were granted to Stanisław Leszczyński, former King of Poland.  The new duke built Stanislas Square to honor his son-in-law Louis XV of France.  Befitting its royal connection, the square boasts immense classical façades laden with wrought-iron railings embellished with gold.  City Hall, the Grand Hotel and the opera house complete the panorama of what is considered to be one of the most beautiful royal squares in Europe.  Nancy is 90 minutes by high-speed TGV train direct from Gare de l’Est in Paris.

An American Story

By Linda Tancs

Memphis, Tennessee, the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, has another jewel in its crown:  the National Civil Rights Museum.  Chronicling the history and development of the civil rights movement, it begins with a multi-sensory exhibition concerning the slave trade.  And it includes other poignant displays surrounding every historical milestone in the battle for equal rights, featuring in many instances the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (whose birth is celebrated in the United States on the third Monday of January each year as a national holiday).  The museum is housed at The Lorraine Motel, site of Dr. King’s assassination on April 4, 1968.  Today marks the museum’s annual King Holiday Celebration.

The History of Photography

By Linda Tancs

Photojournalist Dorothea Lange once remarked that a camera is a tool for learning.  That’s certainly the goal at the Museum of Photography in Charleroi, Belgium.  Touted as the largest photography museum in Europe, the facility’s learning tools include a discovery trail, digital laboratory, darkroom and mobile studio.  Housed in a former Carmelite monastery, the museum is home to 80,000 prints and three million negatives representing the entire history of photography from the 19th century to the present day.  The collection is spread across the renovated monastery and a newer contemporary wing.

South Pacific’s Only Kingdom

By Linda Tancs

Tonga‘s monarchy is over 1,000 years old and is the only remaining kingdom in the South Pacific.  The harborside capital Nuku’alofa is where the Royal Family resides.  In Longi you’ll find the tombs of past Tongan kings.  Blessed with a year-round tropical climate, there’s no end to princely indulgences for everyone–from beaches and untouched rainforests to mountains and ancient lava tubes.

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