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Archive for September, 2009

Beijing Celebrates Diversity

By Linda Tancs

Sixty years of Communist rule will soon be feted in Beijing when National Day celebrations commence on 1 October. In addition to its spectacular military parade on Tiananmen Square, the city has erected giant columns to celebrate China’s ethnic diversity. Rivaling the attention given the Bird’s Nest of Olympics fame, the pillars of red and gold are an imposing sight in a city basked in notoriety for its reinvention. Consider the refurbished Palace (now Peninsula) Hotel, the World Trade Center, Grand National Theatre and redesigned airport. Maybe the pillars are as much a tribute to architectural diversity as anything else.

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The Ultimate Fashion Show

By Linda Tancs

Every fashionista knows that the line between art and fashion is not always clearly defined. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than at the WOW (World of Wearable Art) Show in Wellington, New Zealand, where fashion and art merge annually at this time of year. Now through 4 October the WOW Awards feature over 150 garments of worldwide designers hand picked by judges to compete for $100,000 in prize money. In this Carnivale-inspired atmosphere, the top threads are showcased in all their sartorial splendor in a 2-hour theatrical and musical presentation. Fashion meets art. Or art meets fashion? You decide.

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Hotel at the Crossroads

By Linda Tancs

Wilderness meets Baroque among the gentle peaks of the Hyblean Mountains in southeastern Sicily at Eremo della Giubiliana. A five-star hotel, it is set in a 12th century convent that served as a fortress against the incursions of Barbary pirates, surrounded by the Baroque cities of Ragusa and Modica. Above all, it may be the only hotel with its own archeological site, displaying the remains of ancient farm life with late Imperial age and Byzantine wall remains. Of course, you’d rather admire the relics than feel like one, which is why you can take in the view through the large glass doors of the hotel spa facing the site. As you might expect, the facility uses natural elements (like centuries-old olive trees hand crafted into fine soaps) to pamper its guests. As the saying goes, everything old is new again.

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Crawdaddy is King in Pensacola

By Linda Tancs

They’ll be packing away pistols in Pensacola, Florida this weekend, but it isn’t what you might think. Crawfish pistolettes, a Cajun specialty, will be featured along with southern style crab cakes, gator bites, blackened mahi mahi, bang bang shrimp, shrimp creole, boudin balls, and shark on a stick at Pensacola’s Seafood Festival in historic Seville Square downtown. The highlight, of course, is the Gulf fare for which this region in northwestern Florida is famous, but you can also shop at the arts and crafts fair or take part in a 5K run/walk, cooking demonstration, or just enjoy the music. The event is organized by Fiesta of Five Flags, a community group combining tourism promotion with local history. Thus, Fiesta is based upon the founding of Pensacola by Don Tristan de Luna in 1559 and celebrates the flags of five governments that have flown over the city: Spain, France, England, the Confederacy and the United States.

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Cranfest Draws Big Crowds

By Linda Tancs

In the tiny town of Warrens, Wisconsin, cranberries outnumber humans 3 to 1 (at least). But this is the heart of cranberry land, after all, so it shouldn’t be all that surprising. However, the human population swells to over 100,000, during the world’s largest cranberry festival, which takes place during the last full weekend in September in this little hamlet (population: less than 400). Now in its 37th year, Cranfest offers three miles of booths with everything from arts and crafts, flea markets and antiques to a farm market. After all that walking, you’ll be hungry. Why not indulge in some pancakes with cranberry syrup and some deep-fried cranberry fritters. Of course, you can take a tour of a working cranberry farm, too. Best of all, the proceeds from the event go right back to the community–civic pride at its best.

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Your Daily Bread

By Linda Tancs

At the Abbey of the Genesee, you’ll be given this day your daily Monks’ Bread. Located in Piffard, New York, the abbey grounds are graced by the Genesee River to the east, golden ponds, flora and fauna (deer and wild turkeys, for instance). All that peace and serenity belies the industriousness of its permanent occupants–the Trappist monks–who make up to nine varieties of specialty breads in a modern bakery operation. A taste of heaven, indeed.

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When Pigs Fly

By Linda Tancs

Victoria’s largest public event is taking place now through 27 September at the Royal Melbourne Show in Australia. Like a county fair, the show includes livestock, rides, exhibitions, food and competitions. Perhaps the most engaging contest of all is the pig racing and diving show. Held five times a day during the entire fair to accommodate its loyal followers, the show features flying pigs aiming for a perfect score of 10 as they dive in the water. And the crowd goes hog wild, as they say.

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