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Archive for October, 2012

Ghosts in the Close

By Linda Tancs

Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh, Scotland is an underground labyrinth of now defunct closes and dwelling places that once rose seven stories high.  The close was demolished to make way for council chambers in Edinburgh, leaving the remnants of the closes below ground.  These remnants are a snapshot of life as it existed in the 16th through 18th centuries.  Ghost stories abound, which makes this destination a good Halloween jaunt.  Join one of their Supernatural History Tours.

Splendid Isolation

By Linda Tancs

Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas is one of the remotest places on earth.  Named for the vast curve of the Rio Grande, native peoples have lived in and passed through this expansive park (the 8th largest in the lower 48 states) for thousands of years.  Archeological wonders are also represented, including fossils like a world-record pterosaur and a 50-foot crocodile.   No surprise that the park offers idyllic hiking trails, like Grapevine Hills with its beautiful rock formations.  Over 150 miles of trails await for day hikes or backpacking trips.  Visitor information is available at any of the five centers, two of which are open year round.  The busy season is generally November through April.  Get there now before the crowds do.  The closest commercial airport is Midland International.

Cape Cod’s Most Popular Destination

By Linda Tancs

Provincetown, Massachusetts is one of the few places on the East Coast where you can watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean.  Located at the tip of Cape Cod and preserved almost entirely as part of the Cape Cod National Seashore Park, its heritage dates back to the Pilgrims’ first landing in 1620.   Dune hiking is a popular attraction.  You can take a 40-minute hike on your own at the Snail Road entrance or opt for an organized tour, complete with lobster bakes or sunset and champagne tours.   Provincetown is a regional public transportation hub with fast ferry, bus and air service from Boston and frequent local shuttle service.

Holland in a Day

By Linda Tancs

You can experience over 200 years of Dutch culture at the Netherlands’ Open Air Museum, the biggest folk museum in the Netherlands. Located in a beautiful park on the outskirts of Arnhem, the property brings the past to life. Exhibits include old farmhouses, windmills, Dutch houses and plenty of craft demonstrations. Better hurry, the season ends on 28 October—unless, of course, you’d prefer to experience a winter celebration from days gone by. From 1 December 2012 to 13 January 2013 you can experience stew and green beans amidst an atmosphere of music and song. Try skating on the festively lit skating rink or whiz down the toboggan run at the Delft windmill.

Hemingway Lives On in Hotel Chain

By Linda Tancs

Writer Ernest Hemingway made his mark around the world–and not just for his writing.  He wintered in Key West, safaried in Africa and yachted in Cuba, to name just a few places.  No wonder the much-anticipated Hemingway Hotels and Resorts is looking at these and other destinations where the great raconteur left an indelible imprint for luxurious getaways.  You might not write like Hemingway, but you’ll be able to live like you do–at least on holiday.

The Barbecue Capital of Texas

By Linda Tancs

Lockhart, Texas has about 15,000 inhabitants but welcomes over 250,000 visitors each year to its four barbecue restaurants:  Blacks, Chisholm Trail, Kreuz and Smittys.  Not surprisingly, the Texas Legislature has proclaimed that Lockhart is the barbecue capital of Texas.   No doubt you’ll find barbecue nirvana.  And remember, good barbecue doesn’t need sauce.

On the Case in London

By Linda Tancs

It’s elementary, you see.  Combine a whodunit atmosphere with the swanky feel of a trendy watering hole and you get a bar/restaurant posing as a detective agency in London’s Earls Court.  Located on Earls Court Road, Evans & Peel Detective Agency has that speakeasy flair, encouraging you to “make an appointment” with Detective Peel.  Upon your visit, you’ll be discreetly guided beyond a bookshelf to a cavernous tavern where innocent-enough concoctions like Auntie May’s Marmalade Bronx will be tugging at your bootlegging soul.  Better hurry; the appointment book is filling up.

Tacos in Arizona

By Linda Tancs

Two dollar tacos, anyone?  That’s not the only draw at the Arizona Taco Festival in Scottsdale, Arizona this weekend.  Located at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Saturday and Sunday, you will see 30 plus teams duke it out in categories like chicken, beef, pork and seafood tacos along with sidecarts including salsa and guacamole for a prize purse of $10,000 overall.  You can expect the usual events to return, such as lucha libre wrestling, the famed tequila expo, live surf music and cooking demonstrations, along with events for the kids to round out a family fun day.

Tick Tock in Wycombe

By Linda Tancs

Church Loft is the oldest building in the high street of West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, reputedly the sunniest county in England. Dating from the 15th century, the timber-framed building sports a turret clock of its own renown. Over 300 years old, the side-by-side birdcage mechanism resides inside the building’s tower; the clock faces and dial drum were placed to overhang the street during the reign of Queen Victoria. For over 300 years the clock was wound daily until the recent installation of two electric motors above the birdcage rendered the task unnecessary. You can view the clock movements by appointment only.

Celebrate At a Refuge Near You

By Linda Tancs

It’s National Wildlife Refuge Week, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service wants you to celebrate at a refuge near you.  You’ll find an open house this week at the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on the Big Island in Hawaii.  Take a guided bird hike or a tour of the greenhouse where native plants are being propagated.  Among the lower 48, why not join the staff at New Jersey’s Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge for a sunset nature walk to view the migrating ducks.  As the poet William Wordsworth so aptly put it, “Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.”

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