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Archive for April, 2012

Paris on the Half Shell

By Linda Tancs

The City of Light conjures up dozens of gastronomic delights: snails, frogs’ legs, bouillabaisse, pot au feu, boeuf bourguignon and….oysters?  Mais oui.  France is Europe’s number one grower, exporter and consumer of the bivalve extraordinaire.   King Louis XIV even had fresh oys­ters deliv­ered from Can­cale to Ver­sailles every day, or so the story goes.  So where is the best place for half shell cuisine in Paris?  The favorite appears to be Huîtrerie Régis.  Do you agree?

Charting Checked Bag Fees

By Linda Tancs

Ever wish you could have a handy reference for each major U.S. airline’s checked bag fees?  Your wish is granted.  Airfare Watchdog has published an updated list of checked bag fees for first and second bags, additional bags, overweight bags and oversized bags.  With all those fees, you’d be tempted to make do with a carry-on.  Not so fast.  Airlines impose weight limits on carry-on bags, too.  Maybe that checked bag charge for your overweight carry-on will give you a lump in your throat.  But that’s better than a lump on the head from an overhead bin, isn’t it?

The Flying Duchess

By Linda Tancs

Woburn Abbey has been the home of the Dukes of Bedford for nearly 400 years.  As with any historical manor, the stories of its occupants over the centuries are what bring it to life for contemporary guests.  In the case of Woburn, the ladies of the house are just as compelling as their male counterparts.  Take, for example, Mary Russell, wife of the 11th Duke.  In the spirit of our modern era Amelia Earhart, she embraced aviation and flew record-breaking flights from Kent to India and later Cape Town.  An ill-fated flight in 1937 resulted in her plane washing ashore near Great Yarmouth; her body was never recovered.  Her adventurous spirit is reflected in the Flying Duchess’ Room at the Abbey.

A Fortress in Manhattan

By Linda Tancs

At the foot of Manhattan in New York City lies a fortress, a national monument that celebrated its 200th anniversary last year.  Known as Castle Clinton (named after Governor Dewitt Clinton of New York State), the structure was one of the New York Harbor forts built just before the War of 1812 with Great Britain.  Over the last two centuries, the fort has also served as an entertainment center, an immigration landing depot and an aquarium.  Saved from demolition in 1946, the Castle was restored to its original design by the National Park Service and today houses the ticket office for the Statue of Liberty, welcoming over 3 million visitors annually.

Celebrating the Bard

By Linda Tancs

The biggest celebration of Shakespeare ever staged begins today in the UK. The World Shakespeare Festival is the first ever collaboration between Tate Modern, the British Museum, National Theatre, British Council and the Royal Shakespeare Company.  Considering that over 64 million children worldwide study Shakespeare, part of the event’s focus is its collaboration with teachers. An education conference in September will bring together education professionals, international artists and academics to investigate learning through Shakespeare and the arts. Another highlight of this months-long event is the staging of Shakespeare-inspired productions with 7200 amateur theatre makers in 260 groups across the UK. Overall, thousands of artists from around the world will take part in almost 70 productions, events and exhibitions in locations including London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle/Gateshead, Birmingham, Wales and Scotland. Can’t travel? No worries. An exciting digital platform called My Shakespeare will give you a chance to create your own visualization and release your own works onto the site. Over a million tickets will be sold for the festival, which runs through November.

A Little Piece of France

By Linda Tancs

A little joie de vivre awaits you just south of the Canadian province of Newfoundland.  There you’ll find Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, France’s smallest and oldest remaining overseas territory.  Once a mecca for cod fishing, the area is now prized for its ancient trails drawing hikers and birdwatchers.  Every spring, whales migrating towards Greenland are spotted off the coast of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon as well.  You can reach the territory by air, ferry (at Fortune, Newfoundland) or set sail on your own.  Bon voyage!

A Beehive of Activity in London

By Linda Tancs

With the Olympics fast approaching, you can well imagine the beehive of activity in the great city of London.  But the beehive of which I speak today is of a different variety: 40 colonies, to be exact.  That’s how many families of bees are tucked away in secret locations in London’s Regent’s Park, producing some of the tastiest honey in Britain under the watchful eye of bee farmer Toby Mason.  Did you know that a queen bee can lay as many as 2000 eggs per day?  With that kind of production, there’s plenty of need for more beekeepers and farmers.  You can take beekeeping classes in Regent’s Park and grow your own dynasty.

The Towers of San Marino

By Linda Tancs

San Marino is the world’s oldest republic and is surrounded by Italy.  This medieval gem is beloved for its three towers, perched atop Monte Titano in the capital city of San Marino.  The oldest of the three towers is Guaita (constructed in the 11th century).  Next is the 13th century Cesta, located on the highest of Monte Titano’s summits.  The youngest, 14th century Montale, is on the smallest of Monte Titano’s summits and is still privately owned.  As you might expect, the landmark takes pride of place on the flag and coat of arms of this enclave.  It also boasts its own confection, the Torta Di Tre Monti (“Cake of the Three Towers”), a layered wafer cake covered in chocolate.

Iceland’s Tallest Church

By Linda Tancs

You’ll get about 10 hours of daylight this time of year in Iceland.  That’s enough time to soak in the stunning views of Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik, a church resembling a giant ice carving.  At 244 feet, it is the nation’s tallest building.  Located in the city center, its bell tower (accessible via an elevator) provides the best views in the city.

Titantic Centennial Remembered in Halifax

By Linda Tancs

April 15 will mark 100 years since the luxury liner Titanic sank in the cold, dark waters of the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.  One of the greatest maritime disasters, it would be hard for anyone to ignore this seminal anniversary of the tragedy, least of all the folks in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where recovery operations were staged.  The Titanic Memorial in the Fairview Cemetery in Halifax is the final resting place of 121 of the 1523 souls lost, and Ambassatours Gray Line will offer tours to the location to commemorate the event.   Elsewhere, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic will be featuring a special photographic exhibition through June 2012.  Stay tuned to Twitter on 14 April, where a real-time account of the wireless messages of the distressed ship will take place.  Also on 14 April is Night of the Bells, a free event in the Grand Parade square featuring performances expressing the story of the sinking of the ship, her passengers, and Halifax’s recovery efforts.  A moment of silence will be held at 12:27 a.m., marking the time of the last wireless messages from Titanic.  You can view a model of the liner’s position on the ocean floor at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.

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