Travelrific® Travel Journal

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

Archive for May, 2009

Steely Determination

By Linda Tancs

You’ve heard the expression “making lemonade out of lemons.” How about “turning steel into slots”? That’s what they’ve done in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with the opening of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. Officials hope that the once mighty Bethlehem Steel mills, converted into what is a hoped-for gambling mecca, will steal (no pun intended) market share from economy-bashed Atlantic City with 3000 slots and video gaming. Don’t miss the gala grand opening on 9 June, when the Bethlehem blast furnaces will officially inaugurate the new digs.

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What is Culture

By Linda Tancs

A special issue of a major magazine is dubbed “The Culture Issue.” This got me wondering–what is “culture”? Don’t mind the dictionary. Just think about it. What does culture mean to you? If you had to gather a compilation for your own issue, what would you include–and why? It seems almost daring to lay claim to culture in a single issue as it’s susceptible to as many meanings as there are sensibilities–or, to borrow the words of late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material but I know it when I see it.”

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Casino Resort Towns Offer Genteel Charm

By Linda Tancs

Less than five miles from the bright lights, big city atmosphere of Atlantic City, New Jersey is a Southern-style genteel charm offered up by the cities of Ventnor and Margate. Look out for the wrought iron-terraced homes, white picket fences and covered porches reminiscent of Charleston and other Southern U.S. cities. Even more surprising, against the backdrop of this style and sophistication, Margate hosts a giant elephant–that’s right, an elephant–named Lucy. It’s a museum, actually, celebrating 128 years this July. Six stories high and shaped like an elephant, the museum (on the National Register of Historic Places) offers a view into southern New Jersey history. You won’t want to miss this stop on a tour of roadside America.

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Let the Good Cheese Roll

By Linda Tancs

Most of us would likely prefer our double Gloucester on a cheese plate with some table crackers, but on Cooper’s Hill in the Cotswolds they’d rather roll it down a very steep slope. Yes, it’s another centuries-old custom across the pond. Think of it as bowling without the pins, but you don’t lose your grip on the ball! Conditions on the hill are expected to be favorable this year, with the first race starting at noon on 25 May. The cheese wheels weigh between 7 and 8 pounds. Not surprisingly, their escorts have suffered an injury or two on the Alpine-like slope. Spectators, too, should be wary of wayward cheeses. Though only one will get the brass ring (in this case, a lot of cheese), the joy for the rest will surely be the thrill of competition, and maybe the agony of ‘de feet.’

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Vermont–Green Mountains and More

By Linda Tancs

Vermont, the Green Mountain State, is small in population but big on culture. Check out some fun facts about this northeastern state at Travelrific® Radio.

A Different Kind of River Walk

By Linda Tancs

Morecambe Bay, just south of England’s Lake District National Park, gives new meaning to the phrase “to walk on water.” Every year from May to September, intrepid travelers brave the shifting sands in a six-mile walk from Arnside Promenade to Kents Bank Station–dependent on the tides, of course. If it sounds dangerous, make no mistake–it is. That’s why this centuries-old jaunt is led by an official guide with an ancient moniker, Guide to the Kent Sands. Best to wear your shorty shorts and plimsoles or sandals. Leave the fancy gear at home.

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Hail, Victoria

By Linda Tancs

Canada celebrates Victoria Day today, initiated in the 1800s to mark the birthday of Britain’s Queen Victoria. What better place to partake in the day’s festivities than in her namesake city, Victoria, B.C. Over 120,000 people are expected at the parade downtown. It’s a bit chilly (12 degrees Celsius) but it better be sunny. Victoria Tourism offers a sunshine guarantee during the months of April and May; you get $500 if it rains more than 1.25cm in one day during your visit.

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The Other Twin City

By Linda Tancs

Between the “twin” cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minneapolis may get top billing, but St. Paul bills itself as the most livable city in America. Why? Maybe it’s their dedication to the arts through the sidewalk poetry program. For the second year, the city will hold a poetry contest throughout the month of May; winners get their musings inscribed on city sidewalks as part of the sidewalk replacement program. Or maybe it’s because they honor those in military and civilian life who keep us safe and healthy by offering them loans for first-time home purchases. The collective public conscience in this twin city would certainly make its founding father, Lucien Galtier, quite proud. The city derives its name from a Catholic chapel built by Galtier, a missionary sent there to minister to the French-Canadian population. Good thing the chapel name caught on; the area was originally known as Pig’s Eye. And that’s no hogwash.

Answers to yesterday’s trivia: Hudson River and East River (New York).

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River Trivia

By Linda Tancs

Calling all smarty pants: what’s the world’s longest river below sea level? Name a body of water having “river” in its name in the northeastern U.S. that is actually not a river but rather an estuary. Answers to appear in tomorrow’s post–and no cheating.

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Secure Flight Means Tighter ID Requirements

By Linda Tancs

The Transportation Security Administration recently announced the implementation of its Secure Flight program, an initiative from 9/11 requiring airlines to collect precise identity information to match up against the no-fly and warning lists. The program requires that a party present ID at check-in that matches the name given to the airline when making a reservation. Of paramount concern is whether a problem will arise if a driver’s license or passport omits a middle name or middle initial or some other hiccup in identity that is otherwise revealed on a boarding pass, or vice versa. Perhaps it’s too early to tell what the ramifications of the new rule will be, which ultimately will apply to both domestic and international travel (international rules taking effect in late 2009). The best advice? Have the appropriate ID handy when making that reservation or when instructing your travel agent.

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