Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for March, 2009

Red River Valley

By Linda Tancs

When I practiced playing the organ as a child, one of the songs in my songbook was “Red River Valley.” A memory long forgotten, until the recent climatic catastrophe in this section of the U.S. straggling northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. The river’s crest of over 40 feet this past weekend broke a 100-year record. Now a snowstorm threatens to dump 16 inches in and around the valley, putting the river level in peril once again. As a line in the song goes, “remember the Red River Valley.” Indeed, let’s keep the folks of this region in our hearts and prayers.

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Mini Wonderland Draws Mega Crowds

By Linda Tancs

If you thought Legoland was the only expression of world travel in miniature, that would be no surprise given that it receives the lion’s share of publicity. But there’s another micro world drawing large crowds in Hamburg, Germany. That’s where you’ll find Miniatur Wunderland, a warehouse sporting three floors of tiny replicas of life in Europe and America–a dollhouse world of such sights as alpine pistes, Scandinavian castles, the glamor of Las Vegas and a bird’s eye view of the host city, Hamburg. Although the site has been in operation since 2001, it has gained distinction for its labyrinth model railroad system comprised of eight miles of track winding its way through this little universe. Sort of gives new meaning to the expression, “it’s a small world.”

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Tempest in a Teapot

By Linda Tancs

I read an article recently about Irish teapots. Apparently, in the antiques and collectibles market, those little shamrock-adorned porcelain Belleek teapots make hearts go aflutter. One of the best known products of Ireland, they say. That may be true, but it’s doubtful that the area responsible for its production rolls off the tongue of most people. That would be County Fermanagh, the westernmost of the six counties that form Northern Ireland. Reputedly translated to mean Men of Monach, the region is supported largely by tourism and agriculture. The pottery visitor centre in the tiny hamlet of Belleek is nicely situated at the banks of the River Erne. Inside the lobby, the 28-inch tall Belleek International Centre Piece takes pride of place as the winning entry at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. Seems like teapots aren’t the only thing causing a tempest.

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Baja Tourism

By Linda Tancs

With tourism reportedly halved in Tijuana due to kidnappings and other misdeeds, it might be easy to forget about the assets of the rest of the state of Baja California in northwest Mexico. Located at the northern end of the Baja California peninsula, the area is rife with activities for landlubbers and seafarers alike. Just 20 minutes south from Tijuana you’ll find the beaches of Rosarito. Or go a little farther inland for some golf at one of two resorts in Ensenada. If it’s white-knuckle action you crave, then why not take in a bullfight at Mexicali? A few hours’ drive away is the port of San Felipe, a fisherman’s delight. There may be a 120 things to do in Tijuana, but the rest of the state is a peninsular jewel in the crown.

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Old Stones and Recipes

By Linda Tancs

Forget the glitz and glamor of promotional travel writing. In the Bergerac region of the Dordogne in France, they call it like they see it–old stones and recipes. That sums up the food and lodging respite befitting a swashbuckling Cyrano at the 17th century Le Manoir du Grand Vignoble and its 3-star restaurant. There’s plenty of old stone in this western part of the Dordogne, on the northern bank of the Dordogne River. Just head for the old town–vieille ville–immediately north of the river to the 12th century cloister Maison de Vins de Bergerac. You’ll find their recipe for wine-making success at the exhibition housed there.

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Andalusian Provinces

By Linda Tancs

Heavily influenced by Muslim rule during the Middle Ages, the Andalusian region of Spain is well known for its Moorish architecture. Experience the grandeur of Seville, Cordoba and Granada. Listen in at Travelrific® Radio.

Equinox Approaches

By Linda Tancs

An equinox is an astronomical event at which the sun is directly above a point in the equator. Occurring twice yearly (in March and September–the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, respectively), the practical effect is equal parts day and night. The mystical effect, however, is something else entirely. For thousands of years the Mayans have celebrated the equinox with a convergence of architectural and astronomical glory at Chichén-Itzá and Dzibilchaltun. The event begins at sunrise at the ancient city of Dzibilchaltun where the rising sun aligns with the Temple of the Seven Dolls. As magnificent as it is, nothing compares with the global audience in attendance at El Castillo, the great pyramid of Chichén-Itzá . The structure, honoring the feathered snake god Quetzalcoatl, has a staircase on all four sides, the steps of which total the 365 days in a solar year. On the afternoon of the equinox, the temple is aligned perfectly so that the sun and shadows create the appearance of a giant snake going down the side of the stairwell. Snake phobics might want to sit this one out.

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