Travelrific® Travel Journal

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

The Norway of Arabia

By Linda Tancs

Situated in the north of the Arabian Peninsula and separated from Iran by the Straight of Hormuz lies the coastal enclave of Musandam, Oman’s northernmost governorate. It’s one of the most beautiful regions in the nation, dominated by 6,500-foot mountains meeting crystal-clear fjords. Because of that geography the area is appropriately dubbed the “Norway of Arabia.” Khor Najd presents the best opportunity for viewing the meeting of mountain and sea, but you’ll need four-wheel drive to access the lookout.

Father of the Forest

By Linda Tancs

A giant kauri tree abides in New Zealand’s Waipoua Forest. Known as “Father of the Forest” (or Te Matua Ngahere in the Maori language), it isn’t the largest living kauri but it does rank first in age. Estimated to be 2,000 years old, the second largest of the giant kauri trees also bests its bigger rival in tree girth at over 52 feet. A 20-minute walk will take you to a viewing platform where you can admire the tree without damaging its sensitive root systems.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

West of Key West

By Linda Tancs

Seventy miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is accessible only by a daily ferry, private boats, charter boats or seaplane. It’s worth the effort, considering that one of the nation’s largest 19th- century forts (Fort Jefferson) is there. This 100-square-mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. With so little dry ground, it’s best to see it by swimming, snorkeling or diving. Your reward will be corals and seagrass communities among the most vibrant in the Florida Keys.

The Battle of Britain

By Linda Tancs

The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of World War II, in which the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy defended Britain against relentless air raids by Nazi Germany’s air force. The successful defense is commemorated in bronze friezes at the Battle of Britain London Monument. The friezes, cast at the Morris Singer foundry (which also cast some of the lions in Trafalgar Square), depict various scenes from the battle. The monument is located on the Victoria Embankment (north side of the River Thames) opposite the London Eye.

A Spiritual Quest in Japan

By Linda Tancs

Kumano Kodo is one of only two UNESCO-registered pilgrimage sites in the world (the other being Camino de Santiago). It’s a 1,000-year-old trek in Japan, plied by aristocrats and monks alike. The route is actually a network of trails stretched across the mountainous Kii Peninsula. One of the most popular trails is Nakahechi, extensively used by the imperial family on pilgrimage from Kyoto beginning in the 10th century. Your own route will depend on your ultimate destination, which might include Kumano Sanzan, a term used to collectively describe the three most sacred shrines in the area, one of the biggest draws of the pilgrimage. The main transport hubs to the region are Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.

Serenity in Reykjavík

By Linda Tancs

There’s a hill called Þúfa (also known as Thufa) in Reykjavík, Iceland. It was designed by the Icelandic artist Ólöf Nordal, who intended it to be a place of serenity and meditation. Unlike other public art in the capital, this is a 26-foot-tall, grass-covered dome. It’s topped off with a hut, historically used to wind-dry fish, as a nod to Iceland’s fishing heritage. Þúfa is located in Grandi, a trendy part of the city in the northeast, within walking distance from the downtown area.

Darwin’s Inspiration in Kent

By Linda Tancs

It’s easy to understand why the estate known as Down House, a Georgian manor 15 miles south of London in the Kent countryside, would be so inspirational for English naturalist Charles Darwin and his family. The Sandwalk, in particular, was Darwin’s “thinking path,” a quarter-mile circuit that would motivate his musings on evolution and provoke outdoor experiments. Inside the house, the study where he wrote “On the Origin of Species” is virtually unaltered. But the estate also highlights the life of a devoted family man, featuring the original mulberry tree that his children climbed from their first-floor bedrooms. Whether inside or outside, you’ll receive fascinating insight into his life and work.

A Taste of Prague

By Linda Tancs

The Prague Foodie Tour promises real food with real people. That means you get to sample local fare with a local foodie. The four-hour tour takes in five stops along a mile-and-a-half walk. So not only will you get a taste of the best fare that the Czech Republic has to offer but you’ll also soak in the culture of its capital city with a guided walk. If you’d rather go it alone, you can download a foodie map with advice and recommendations.

Capitals of Culture in 2022

By Linda Tancs

As noted in last year’s post on the subject of European Capitals of Culture, the title holders have been shuffled around a bit given the lack of festivities during the COVID pandemic. This year’s title holders are Novi Sad, Kaunas and Esch. Interestingly, all three cities are the second-largest in their country. On the banks of the Danube, the city of Novi Sad in Serbia boasts a colorful thoroughfare known as Dunavska Street and a fortress nicknamed Gibraltar on the Danube. Lithuania’s Kaunas is known for its artistic flair, including unique modernist architecture. One of its most famous sons is George Maciunas, who founded the experimental art movement known as Fluxus. Esch in Luxembourg is known as a metropolis of iron ore, a symbol of the country’s steel industry. It’s part of the region known as the Land of the Red Rocks (also known as the “Minett”), a nod to the bright red iron ore that gives the earth its color.

The Capital of the Cotswolds

By Linda Tancs

Known as the “Capital of the Cotswolds,” Cirencester began its life as Corinium Dobunnorum, the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Prima. As you can imagine, there have been tremendous finds boasting of the city’s Roman heritage. In fact, with the exception of London, Cirencester’s mosaic collection is one of the largest in England. You can view those treasures, part of the country’s finest collections of Roman antiquities, at Corinium Museum in the heart of this market town. The exhibits run the gamut from prehistoric to modern day, including agriculture, costume, paper ephemera and social history.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

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