Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for February, 2011

Dutch Treat

By Linda Tancs

Curacao is a Caribbean island in the Netherland Antilles.  Independent from the Dutch politically, culturally the ties are as strong as ever.  The official language is Dutch, but this country sandwiched between Aruba and Bonaire has a multicultural flair as well.  They call it authenticity.  With European and African roots, influences abound from the early slave trade, the Spanish and Portuguese migration and, of course, the Dutch occupation.  Largely undiscovered and devoid of tourist traps, the island offers lazy beach days, unparalleled diving and world-class shopping among the sherbet-colored Dutch colonial buildings dotting the capital city of Willemstad.  Bon Bini!

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Disney’s Wild Side

By Linda Tancs

Africa meets Orlando in Disney’s newest animal park, Wild Africa Trek.  This is truly where the wild things are, complete with a savanna hosting teeming numbers of native African species like hippos, rhinos, crocs and giraffes.  Three hours long, this expert-led adventure includes a clip onto a lifeline to the edge of a cliff to get amazingly close to the hippos and crocs.   Imagine navigating through a bushwalk and breezing through the savanna in an open air vehicle.  Admission is not included as part of the Animal Kingdom Park.  The new park’s introductory rate was $129 and will vary seasonally.  The price may be a bit steep, but still cheaper than the Serengeti.

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Winterlude

By Linda Tancs

If wintertime pursuits are your passion, then head to Canada’s capital city, Ottowa, for Winterlude through 21 February.  Taking place downtown, most events are free and include skating, snow and ice sculpture, concerts, sleigh rides and tobogganing.  Events are held at Jacques Cartier Park, Festival Plaza at Ottawa City Hall, and Confederation Park, but the highlight is most certainly Rideau Canal, which transforms into a giant skating rink, the Rideau Canal Skateway.  A skater’s paradise, this canal linking the Ottawa River with Lake Ontario is the oldest continuously operating canal in North America.

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Fresh Horses

By Linda Tancs

Almost 100 years ago the near-Olympic sport of skijoring was born in the Engadine valley of Switzerland.  Skijoring is the running of thoroughbreds without riders but rather with skiers attached. The Olympics’ loss is St. Moritz’ gain; it’s there each Sunday in February that the races take place over a 2,600-meter course ladened with thick ice. Known as White Turf, the race is a test of wills between man and beast.  The skier with the highest points is crowned King of the Engadine.

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Phil’s Inner Circle

By Linda Tancs

Surrounded by his inner circle of men in black tails and top hats, Phil is a solitary creature who leaves his abode at Gobbler’s Knob in the Punxsutanwey region of Pennsylvania just once a year to reckon the start of spring.  You see, Phil is a groundhog–and today is his day.  Legend has it that if a groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather.  If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.  Punxsutanwey Phil has been making predictions since the 1800s, but the celebration of Groundhog Day began with the Germans.  Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers, they associated groundhogs with their observation of the Candlemas legend “for as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May….” 

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A Revelation in Telluride

By Linda Tancs

Of all the opportunities to commune with nature among the slopes, arguably few match the majesty of Telluride in southwestern Colorado, where 115 trails dot over 2000 skiable acres dusted with over 300 inches of snow each year. Sitting in a box canyon, Telluride is surrounded by steep mountains and cliffs, offering a picturesque backdrop for television commercials as well as a place of respite for cognoscenti. Daring skiers can navigate one of the popular bowls, or ski runs, opened at Telluride Ski Resort—the Prospect Bowl, Black Iron Bowl or the Revelation Bowl. A group of skiers voted Telluride the #1 terrain park in the Rockies in 2008. Will you agree?

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