Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for January, 2013

68 Miles of Art

By Linda Tancs

Most underground maps serve no other purpose other than to help travelers navigate the labyrinth of tunnels among terminal points.  Not so in Stockholm.  You’ll be guided not only to the underground system but also to its art.  Sweden’s capital city has the largest collection of underground art in the world, gracing more than 90 of its 100 stations along the 68-mile route.  Guided tours are available.

Riding the Circuit in Patagonia

By Linda Tancs

Torres del Paine National Park is a UNESCO biosphere reserve in Chilean Patagonia. Rich with mountains (particularly the iconic Paine massif), glaciers, lakes and rivers, small wonder the area offers a plethora of activities like fishing, climbing, ice trekking, whitewater kayaking, environmental education and wildlife observation. The park offers a number of trails, or circuits, for day or overnight trekking. Those include the Pingo Zapata, Dickson and Grey Glacier circuits (leading to glaciers), the Paine Circuit (no pun intended–an arduous trail requiring seven to 10 days of walking), and Las Torres circuit (leading to the base of Torres del Paine). Get there via Santiago to Punta Arenas by air or via Puerto Natales overground.

Simply Cool

By Linda Tancs

Amidst the aerial highway linking Zermatt and Matterhorn lies a castle of ice worthy of a princess.  Zermatt’s palace of ice is the highest glacier palace in the world.  Created in 1999, the 990-square-meter palace, 15 meters below the glacier surface, is accessible from an elevator at Matterhorn glacier paradise station.  Your entry begins with a walk through an ice tunnel, accompanied by soft lighting and mood music.  Besides the view, the site features ice sculptures and an ice slide.  If you dare, walk back via a glacier crevasse.

Three Centuries of Hospitality

By Linda Tancs

The Madam Brett Homestead is the oldest building in Dutchess County, New York.   Located in Beacon, a city used as a signaling point during the American Revolution, the house has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.  Built circa 1709 by Roger and Catheryna Rombaut Brett, the home’s original acreage of over 28,000 was inherited by Catheryna from her father, who purchased the land from the Wappinger Indians.  Seven generations, spanning three centuries, have lived in its rooms.  During the Revolutionary War, special guests included George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette and Baron von Steuben.  Today visitors can enjoy period furnishings, including a colonial-era kitchen, China-Trade porcelain and 18th and 19th century furniture scattered among the drawing room, colonial-era bedroom and Federal-style dining room.  The property’s remaining six acres include woodlands, gardens and a brook.

Hitting the Rails

By Linda Tancs

Delayed or cancelled flights.  Lost luggage.  Long check-in lines.  Is air travel leaving you frazzled?  Maybe you’re ready to hit the rails–in a good way, that is.  Rail travel in the U.S. is on the upswing.  Why not wind your way through Montana’s Glacier National Park on an Amtrak train, taking in the sights from the panoramic windows of the observation car.  Or combine your train ride with a sailing on a Rail and Sail package.  Headquartered at Union Station in Washington, D.C., Amtrak began operations in 1971 as an intercity passenger train service.  They’ve glammed things up quite a bit since then, packaging their offerings into escorted journeys and getaways.  Is rail travel for you?

The Winter God of Breckenridge

By Linda Tancs

In Norse mythology, Ullr (stepson of Thor, the god of thunder) is the winter god.  He’s honored each year in Breckenridge, Colorado at the Ullr Fest.  Now in its 50th year, this year’s event promises the usual skiers and snowboarders adorned with hats sporting Viking horns, “Ullympic” competitors, a parade, and floats with ski jumps.  Join them now until 12 January.

On Ice in Niagara

ByLinda Tancs

Sir Winston Churchill called Niagara River Parkway the prettiest drive in Canada.  And that was before the series of orchards and vineyards that have graced their way from the parkway to the shores of Lake Ontario for 35 years now.  In all, 28 wineries (the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake) call this region home.  Their show-stopper is icewine, a multi-course delight made from grapes frozen on the vine in winter.  The Icewine Festival this month is one of four month-long events offered during winter in Niagara-on-the-Lake wine country.  A weekend getaway offers you the festival experience, a wine tasting with leading insiders and an icewine-laden dinner.

Gathering in Ireland

By Linda Tancs

If you want to understand what it means to be Irish, then make your way to Ireland for the year-long Gathering Festival.  Of the 70 million folks worldwide claiming Irish ancestry, many will enjoy a homecoming to the cities, towns and villages of their heritage.  The festivities include sporting and music events and clan gatherings.  Someone once remarked, “There are two kinds of people in the world.  The Irish, and those who wish they were.”  Are you lucky enough to be Irish?

European Capitals of Culture

By Linda Tancs

Marseille-Provence in France and Košice in Slovakia ring in 2013 as the year’s European capitals of culture.  The cultural heart of Marseille Provence includes an area stretching from Martigues to La Ciotat.  As usual, the opening ceremony in each city promises to be a spectacular kick-off event.  In Marseille, the opening is a two-day event on 12 and 13 January.  The twelfth features such events as a flyover of Patrouille de France, an art trail in Aix, and the Grande Clameur (a wall of sound incorporating ships’ sirens, bells and fog horns).  The thirteenth offers treasure hunts across the region and a fireworks display at dusk over the Rhone at Arles.  Košice will likewise inspire with a two-day opening beginning on 19 January.  One of the most architecturally significant symbols in old Košice is the indoor pool, a structure experiencing an exciting makeover as an art and media showcase thanks to aid from the European Commission and the European  Capital of Culture project.

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