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Archive for February, 2014

A Leek or a Daffodil

By Linda Tancs

The Brits celebrate St. George.  The Scots revere St. Andrew.  What about the Welsh?  Their patron saint is St. David, and 1 March marks St. David’s Day.  Declared a national day of celebration in the 18th century, the first day of March was chosen to commemorate the saint’s death on that day in 589.  Many miracles are attributed to Dewi Sant (St. David), who reputedly caused the ground to rise beneath him so he could be heard and seen by the congregation.  The capital city of Cardiff will host its annual parade on 1 March beginning at 12:30 p.m. outside City Hall.  The national emblems, leeks and daffodils, are typically worn on that day.

Running the Rapids in Chile

By Linda Tancs

Where is the best whitewater in the Western Hemisphere?  Some would say it’s the Futaleufú River in Chile.  The stunning, turquoise-colored river is 65 miles in length, of which 44 miles are in Chile.  With rapids boasting monikers like Throne Room and Terminator, you’re likely in for a white-knuckle ride.

The Fairy Tale Route

By Linda Tancs

Over 200 years ago, Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm published a collection of children’s and household fairy tales, widely known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Germany’s Fairy Tale Route is a 370-mile odyssey that takes you from their birthplace in Hanau to such sights as Hameln (famous for the Pied Piper legend), Trendelburg (featuring a castle associated with the Rapunzel tale), Kassel (home of the Brothers Grimm Museum) and Steinau, where the Grimm family home is located. This is one route that will no doubt leave you happy ever after.

Ice Alaska

By Linda Tancs

At George Horner Ice Park in Fairbanks, Alaska, they’d like to wish you an “ice day.”  That’s because it’s time for the World Ice Art Championships.  Now in its 25th year, the event features single-block and multi-block competitions as well as an amateur open exhibition.  Visit today through 30 March, and be on the lookout for the Northern Lights!

Port Vila Delights Cruisers

By Linda Tancs

One of the most culturally diverse countries on earth, Vanuatu is an island nation in the South Pacific boasting 113 distinct languages.  Its capital, Port Vila, is an increasingly popular cruise destination–and no wonder, considering that it is located around a magnificent natural harbor surrounded by barrier islands and verdant countryside.  Day trippers should check out the Summit Gardens (11 gardens including a sandalwood plantation), Mele Cascades (several waterfalls) and Mt. Yasur, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

A Movable Feast

By Linda Tancs

Tourists are accustomed to eating on the run, often sacrificing finer gastronomic experiences in favor of squeezing in one last attraction.  In Barcelona, though, there’s a better alternative:  the Gourmet Bus.  Imagine dining on a terrine of rock fish and mild mayonnaise coupled with guinea fowl à la royale with parmentier of potato and wild mushroom on a glass roof bus with multilingual attendants, route cameras and commentary.  The year-round panoramic sightseeing tour includes such gems as Casa Batlló, Torre Agbar, Plaça d’Espanya and Sagrada Família.

Where Russia’s Winter Begins

By Linda Tancs

In Siberia’s Yakutian permafrost some say Russia’s winter begins.  With winter temperatures easily hitting minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit there, it may even seem neverending.  Yakutian settlements also boast world records as the “pole of cold,” the coldest place in the northern hemisphere. It should come as no surprise that this is where you’ll find the Permafrost Kingdom, an ice cave some 492 feet long located at Chochur Muran mountain.  After donning a warm coat and boots, you’ll see ice crystals and sculptures aglow in rainbows of light through the slippery corridors.  Opened in 2008, the “kingdom” is in its infancy compared with the prehistoric permafrost underscoring the entire Yakutian region, the onetime home of the extinct woolly mammoth.

A Birthday Parade in Alexandria

By Linda Tancs

It’s parade day in Alexandria, Virginia, the hometown of first U.S. President George Washington.  The largest parade in the United States celebrating Washington’s birthday, the festivities kick off at 1:00 p.m. in Old Town.  Thereafter, take advantage of free admission at historical sites such as the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, the Lyceum, Carlyle House and Christ Church. 

The Heart of Buddhism

By Linda Tancs

Tomorrow marks the full moon day of the third lunar month.  That means that in Buddhist-majority countries like Thailand they’ll be celebrating Makha Bucha Day.  Held in honor of Buddha, the event commemorates Buddha’s sharing of his enlightenment with a congregation of disciples.  The day ends with a closing ceremony where thousands of monks light candles, chant scripts in temple grounds and perform the ritual of wien thien (circling the temple three times) in major shrines.

The Life and Times of Romans in Jordan

By Linda Tancs

In yet another nod to the appeal of gladiator contests and chariot races, Jerash, Jordan is the latest site for the staging of gladiator fights and chariot races at its restored hippodrome.  This “Rome away from Rome” as the Tourism Board so aptly puts it is a perfect locale for the reenactments of ancient sporting events.  After all, the excavated colonnaded paved streets reveal chariot tracks worn in the original stone.

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