Travelrific® Travel Journal

Picture postcards in prose.™ Check out the blogroll on the front page for official merchandise and other resources!

Brown Bluff

By Linda Tancs

A tuya is a flat-topped, steep-sided volcano formed when lava erupts through a thick glacier or ice sheet. A spectacular example of this rarity is 2,500-foot-high Brown Bluff on the Tabarin Peninsula in Antarctica, named for its brown/black slopes. Conditions permitting, you can venture there via many cruises in the region. The star attraction is the penguin population, particularly Adélie penguins (20,000 or so pairs) and gentoo penguins (around 550 pairs), who converge for breeding this time of year.

White Gold in Fulda

By Linda Tancs

Originating in the town of Fulda, Germany, in 1740, the porcelain factory became known for gilding and low-fired colors in the production of items like figurines and tableware. Popularly referred to as “white gold,” a permanent collection of this prized porcelain is on display on the ground floor of the north wing of Fasanerie Palace, which boasts the kind of treasures you would usually expect to see only in a museum dedicated to porcelain and ceramics. The castle is also renowned for its antiquity collection, considered one of the finest private collections in Germany. Its gems include the marble portrait of Caligula (considered his best surviving image) and an Attic vase over 2,400 years old that is frequently mentioned in archaeological journals and pictured in numerous school textbooks. A guided tour of the porcelain collection is available at appointed times daily; you can also take a more comprehensive tour of the palace throughout the day. The castle, surrounded by baroque gardens, is located about 4 miles outside the city center of Fulda.

Zigzag in Oregon

By Linda Tancs

Named for the switchbacks early settlers used to traverse its river canyon, Zigzag, Oregon, sits right in the middle of Mt. Hood National Forest along the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway. It’s regarded by many as a gateway to this million-acre playground of forested mountains, creeks, alpine lakes and lush wildflower meadows, boasting plenty of campsites and trailheads. And, of course, the icing on the cake is glacier-topped Mt. Hood, the highest point and mountain peak in the state. Visit the U.S. Forest Service office on OR-35 for trail maps, recreation passes and forest product permits.

A Fortress in Oslo

By Linda Tancs

Akershus Castle in Oslo, Norway, was originally a military stronghold built in the late 13th century by King Haakon V. Once a royal palace, it survived many a siege during the Middle Ages and even served as a prison for part of its history. Far from a relic, this medieval gem along the city’s waterfront hosts two museums: the Norwegian Resistance Museum covering German occupation during World War II and the Armed Forces Museum covering military history dating from the Viking Age. Although the museums charge admission, entry to the fortress area is free.

Painting the Sky

By Linda Tancs

Legend has it that the gods dipped their paint brushes into Costa Rica’s Rio Celeste (Blue River) while painting the sky. The river gets its amazing blue hue from sulfur emitted from volcanic activity courtesy of Tenorio Volcano, which lends its name to Tenorio Volcano National Park. Located in northern Costa Rica, it’s one of the country’s youngest national parks, prized not only for the volcano but also for Rio Celeste waterfall. You’ll find an abundance of natural hot springs, along with mud pots and a beautiful cloud forest at the summit of the volcano. A trek through the entire park will take four or five hours.

Beasts in Salzburg

By Linda Tancs

Forget coal in the stocking. In some countries, like Austria, there’s something much more fearsome awaiting children who’ve been more naughty than nice. Coinciding with St. Nicholas Day on December 6, Salzburg celebrates Krampus parades in late November and early December. The Krampus is a legendary creature sporting a hand-carved wooden mask, shaggy pelts and heavy bells. The typical beast is a costumed young man, who roams the streets and scares children who look like they’ve misbehaved. It’s all in good fun, of course, a centuries-old folk custom that has even made its way to America via New Orleans. 

The Lighthouse of Felgueiras

By Linda Tancs

Among the many charms of Porto, Portugal, the lighthouse of Felgueiras sits at the mouth of the Douro River where it meets the Atlantic. Thanks to its location, the swells at this 19th-century hexagonal lighthouse can be immense. Although it was deactivated in 2009, it’s still a popular landmark, offering visitors a bit of ocean spray along with enviable views.

An African Amphitheatre

By Linda Tancs

A hikers’ paradise, Royal Natal National Park in South Africa is best known for its Amphitheatre. Park of the Drakensberg escarpment, it’s a massive cliff face that spans 3 miles and reaches nearly 1,700 feet. One of the world’s tallest waterfalls cascades from the clifftops, feeding the Tugela River below as it heads east to the Indian Ocean. You’ll find an abundance of trails to explore on foot and on horseback with a comprehensive guidebook available for visitors, so take your time. Accommodations include a lodge, cottages and chalets.

The Revolution in Pawling

By Linda Tancs

From September to November 1778, George Washington based his military movements during the Revolutionary War in Pawling, New York. One of the places he headquartered in during that period was the John Kane House, the home of John and Sybil Kane. Located on East Main Street, today it serves as the local historical society’s main museum. Visitors will learn about the area’s indigenous and European settlers, Washington’s use of Pawling and the effect of the war upon the Pawling community.

Canada’s Little Jamaica

By Linda Tancs

Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto, Canada, is ground zero for Little Jamaica. One of the city’s many ethnic neighborhoods, it’s been a hub for Jamaican and the wider Caribbean communities since the 1950s. Savor the jerk chicken and beef patties and, for some visual appeal, be sure to check out Reggae Lane’s large-scale mural featuring portraits of renowned local and international reggae musicians. Take public transit to Eglinton West subway station.

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