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Archive for July, 2013

The Wurst of It

By Linda Tancs

Sheboygan, Wisconsin’s claim to fame is the bratwurst. Not surprising, considering that the spicy little sausage emigrated to the area with its German settlers.  Sheboygan celebrates its annual Bratwurst Days tomorrow through Saturday, a tradition begun in 1953 to celebrate the city’s 100th anniversary.  Don’t miss the brat eating contest on Saturday.  Where else can you see the best of the wurst?  Park at Memorial Mall and take the free shuttle.

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The Bridge of God

By Linda Tancs

In southern Ethiopia the twin lakes of Abaya and Chamo are divided by a spit of land called the Bridge of God, seemingly named for its heavenly nature.  On the Lake Chamo side, its animal inhabitants might seem equally divinely inspired–or otherworldly, depending on your perspective.   For instance, the area sports the world’s largest population of giant crocodiles, measuring nearly 20 feet in length.  A boat trip will take you safely through the so-called crocodile marketplace, where you’ll also see hippos and a magnificent array of birds (including rare species).  The lake’s northern end lies in Nechisar National Park, east of Arba Minch.

Last of the Corn Mills

By Linda Tancs

In 1132, 13 monks came to England’s Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire to live a simpler life and created what now remains the most complete Cistercian corn mill in the country.  You can have a whack at grinding some corn and watch the water wheel go round.  But that’s only part of the charm of this estate, a World Heritage Site.  The locale lays claim to some interesting monikers:  The Temple of Fame in Studley Royal Water Garden; Anne Boleyn’s Seat (site of a decapitated statue before John Aislabie inherited the estate in the 1700s); The Serpentine Tunnel (a dark, winding tunnel cut through rock that was designed to spook guests of Aislabie); and the Temple of Piety (originally dedicated to Hercules).  There’s also the Hermit’s Grotto and The Way of the Roses, a 170 mile coast-to-coast cycle route passing through the deer park.

The Chicago River Experience

By Linda Tancs

The Willis Tower in Chicago occupies an enviable position in the city’s skyline, offering sweeping views of such landmarks as 900 North Michigan, Park Tower, John Hancock Center, Trump Tower and the Aon Center.  But just a 90-minute boat ride along the Chicago River to Lake Michigan offers an even more comprehensive view of the city’s assets.  Just as much a center point as the transit system famously known as the “L,”  the river offers unparalleled views of Chicago’s architecture and skyline.  Operating since 1935, Wendella’s combination river and lake boat tour departs from the Wendella Dock at The Wrigley Building and includes a trip through the Chicago Lock.

The Del Celebrates 125 Years

By Linda Tancs

Not far from San Diego, California in nearby Coronado, the Hotel Del Coronado (the “Del”) is an iconic red-turreted Victorian hotel built in 1888.  Part of Historic Hotels of America, this National Historic Landmark’s Hollywood connections (helped by its proximity to Los Angeles) draw many a curious visitor.  If only the walls could talk.  Notable guests have included Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Clark Gable, along with a variety of political figures and royalty.  The Del is celebrating 125 years with a series of special packages this summer, like a fourth night free or an upgrade to a cottage or villa at Beach Village.  Look for the festive gold bow atop the turret, and say ‘happy birthday’ to the grand dame of beachfront luxury.

Summer Lotus at Shimabara

By Linda Tancs

Japan’s Shimabara Castle is located in Shimabara, Nagasaki prefecture.  The five-storied castle keep was originally constructed in the 17th century.  Although it survived the Shimabara Rebellion (arising from a ban on Christianity) and feudal rule, its keep and outer towers were subsequently demolished in the 1800s and the grounds used for municipal purposes instead.  Today’s bright white castle was reconstructed in the 1960s, a faithful reproduction that houses a museum featuring exhibits concerning the rebellion and feudal reign.  Summer visitors are treated to a magnificent carpet of lotus flowers at the castle’s original base.

Pikeville’s Famous Feud

By Linda Tancs

Pikeville, Kentucky lies in the heart of Appalachia, appropriately nicknamed “the city that moves mountains,” a reference to the cut-through that relocated the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River.  It’s probably better known, though, as the site of that infamous feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys.  Rival families in the Tug Valley, their animus was fueled by opposing philosophies during the Civil War.  For starters, a member of the McCoy clan was killed by some Hatfield boys for being a Union sympathizer.  The ensuing years saw additional bloodshed between the families arising from forbidden romance, political intrigue and property disputes.  A two-hour tour will take you to several locations where the feud ensued.  So what do the descendants of these famous families have to say on the matter?  Oh, they’ve mended fences, you might say.  They united for a special taping of the game show Family Feud in 1979.

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