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The Mercer Mile

By Linda Tancs

In the heart of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is a tribute to archaeologist Henry Chapman Mercer. Known as the Mercer Mile in Doylestown, it’s an area comprising his three concrete landmarks: Fonthill Castle, Moravian Pottery & Tile Works and the Mercer Museum. Fonthill, a 44-room castle, was Mercer’s home, a National Historic Landmark with 32 stairwells, 18 fireplaces and 21 chimneys. An avid tile designer, he also founded Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, another historic landmark that functions as a “working history” museum and produces handmade tiles and mosaics in the same style as Mercer’s original designs. His love of early American craftworks is also evident at the Mercer Museum, housing artifacts representing 60 early American trades as well as large objects including a whale boat, stage coach and Conestoga wagon.

Sightseeing With a Twist

By Linda Tancs

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, encompasses 14 islands on an extensive Baltic Sea archipelago. With a city center virtually situated on the water, traditional sightseeing on foot just won’t do. That’s where the water bus comes in. Coining it “sightseeing with a twist,” the city’s Ocean Bus offers travelers an enviable way to experience the most populous city in the Nordic countries without ever having to leave your seat. The amphibious vehicle tour starts near the Royal Opera House and, once the bus dives into the water, captures both a land and sea perspective of the city’s most notable attractions, like the Royal Palace, Vasa Museum (showcasing an almost intact salvaged ship from the 17th century) and Skansen (Sweden’s first zoo).

Gateway to Samoa

By Linda Tancs

Upolu is coined the Gateway to Samoa. It’s a volcanic island, formed by a massive basaltic shield volcano rising from the seafloor of the western Pacific Ocean. There you’ll find the country’s capital, Apia, site of a giant swimming hole (To Sua Ocean Trench), consisting of two giant holes joined via an ancient lava tube cave. The swimmable side, with its inviting turquoise water, is accessed by descending a long ladder into the grotto. The site also offers lush gardens, blowholes, sea arches and rock pools to explore.

Sail Away in Barcelona

By Linda Tancs

Tired of the usual land trekking tours of a major European city? Then come sail away in Barcelona on a three-hour private tour of the coastline with Barcelona Sail. Instructed by your skipper, you can even steer the boat. Sailings are year round and include other offerings like a sunset sail and a daylong sail to Masnou.

The History of Susquehanna

By Linda Tancs

The Susquehanna River, named for the Susquehannock Indian tribe, is the Chesapeake Bay’s main tributary river, stretching from Upstate New York to Havre de Grace. The Indians depended upon the river for food and transportation for thousands of years, leaving their mark among the petroglyphs visible at landmarks such as Rock Run Gristmill. The mill is just one of many attractions located within Susquehanna State Park in the Rock Run Historic Area along the river valley. You’ll also find the Carter-Archer Mansion (a 14-room stone structure), Jersey Toll House and the remains of the Susquehanna & Tidewater Canal. You can take a self-guided walking tour. When you’re finished, head for the biking trails. The park is home to some of the most popular mountain biking trails in the state.

Norway’s Hidden Gem

By Linda Tancs

Located just south of the Arctic Circle, Norway’s Vega archipelago is one of its best-kept secrets off the tourist trail. And you have 6,500 reasons to visit there—one for every island, reef and skerry. This UNESCO site is one of the oldest places of inhabitance in northern Norway, with fishing and hunting settlements dating back 10,000 years. Vega is home to 228 species of birds, including the prized eider ducks. In fact, the tradition of tending eider ducks can be traced to the 9th century when locals sheltered them, an important source for the supply of down. Hiking and kayaking are popular pursuits. History buffs should check out Ylvingen Fortress war memorial as well as the remains of bunkers, tunnels and cannon sites from World War II. And with Syttende Mai right around the corner, what a great time to be in Norway!

New Jersey’s Last Mill

By Linda Tancs

Ralston Cider Mill is New Jersey’s last remaining cider mill. Located in Mendham just minutes from historic Morristown, it’s the site of the state’s once thriving cider and applejack industry, where millions of gallons of apple cider, applejack and bootleg New Jersey Lightning were produced until 1938. Still evident is a hidden still that allowed the mill to operate through Prohibition. It’s the only operational cider mill functioning as a privately funded museum and educational experience for students of all ages. Volunteers lead tours, explaining the production process and history of the mill.

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