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Archive for April, 2014

The End of the World

By Linda Tancs

On the west coast of Galicia, Spain, is Cape Finisterre, the Spanish equivalent of Britain’s Land’s End. The rocky peninsula was thought to be the end of the road, so to speak, in medieval times. The area is rife with memorials and dedications, a place where pilgrims celebrating the end of their Camino burn their clothes and boots in the fire pit. The area’s famed lighthouse sits atop Monte Facho, bearing witness daily to the ferocious Atlantic and its storied shipwrecks.

The Highs and Lows of South America

By Linda Tancs

In Argentina, you can truly experience the highs and lows of South America.  That’s because the highest and lowest points of the continent are found there.  Mount Aconcagua is the highest point at 22,837 feet.  Less than 10 miles from the Chilean border, the summit beckons via the northern route, a non-technical climb devoid of axes, ropes and pins.  The lowest point is the Valdes Peninsula at 131 feet below sea level.  This whale-watching destination in the South Atlantic, one of the largest mating grounds in the world, is renowned for its conservation of marine mammals.

 

The Largest Theatre in Paris

By Linda Tancs

Grand Rex is the largest theatre in Paris and one of the largest in Europe.  Boasting the city’s largest screen, the cinema’s outsized lines and Art Deco-style dome are out of sync with the hotels, bars and pubs along rue Poissonniere but nevertheless befitting a shrine to Parisian cinema.  Inaugurated in 1932, the Ministry of Culture has decreed it a national monument.  Discover its legend through an interactive, 50- minute long audio guided tour.

The First Veterans’ Monument

By Linda Tancs

The traumatic fate of nine colonists in 1676 is commemorated in a wooded area near the public library in Cumberland, Rhode Island.  Known as Nine Men’s Misery, the stone memorial there is reportedly the first veterans’ monument in the United States, a tribute to nine colonial militiamen slaughtered at the site by the Narragansett tribe during King Philip’s War.  The conflict, named for its Native American leader Metacomet (referred to as King Philip by the British), pitted tribes in New England against the British colonists and their allies as the Puritans increasingly encroached upon Native American settlements.  Despite the colonists’ eventual victory, the war ravaged the population and economy of the region.

Persian Pearls

By Linda Tancs

The ancient kingdom of Persia, now known as Iran, isn’t exactly a tourist magnet yet boasts 16 World Heritage sites worthy of distinction.  Some, like the pre-Christian monumental ruins of Persepolis, represent one of the greatest ancient sites outside the Holy Land.  Another top attraction is Isfahan’s Masjed-e Jāmé (“Friday mosque”), the oldest preserved edifice of its type in Iran and a prototype for later mosque designs throughout Central Asia.  Created to exemplify Eden, the Persian Garden is a collection of nine gardens selected from various regions of Iran, maintaining an ancient geometric model and integrating cultural and social aspects of society in a manner intended to harmonize with natural surroundings.  Thankfully, many of its historic sites are far removed from the more problematic border zones around Iraq and Afghanistan, a plus for the many university groups seeking tours of Persia’s pearls.

All in the Family

By Linda Tancs

In Little Silver, New Jersey there’s an old house that predates the founding of the United States.  Known as the Parker Homestead, the unassuming white Colonial with green shutters dates to 1725 or so.  Descended from the earliest English settlers in New Jersey, the Parker family retained ownership of the home for over 300 years.  This National Historic Site also boasts a horse barn, livestock barn and wagon barn.  Together with the house, all four structures sit on land acquired by Joseph and Peter Parker under a land grant in 1665.

A Year of Homecoming

By Linda Tancs

Although national gathering festivals are nothing new, it’s easy to appreciate each country’s unique artistic, cultural and ancestral heritage.  This year, it’s Scotland’s turn to shine.  Dubbed the Year of Homecoming, the slate of events includes a whisky festival, a re-enactment of Britain’s battle with Robert the Bruce, a celebration of Forth Bridges’ 50th anniversary and the Highland Games, a tradition since 1867.

The Centre of the World

By Linda Tancs

Have you ever pondered which town is the nearest to the centre of the world?  The people of Ludbreg in Croatia would have you believe that since ancient times certain circles of the earth expanded concentrically from their fair town, determining the position of major European cities.   And so every year the citizens of Ludbreg add another tile bearing the name of one of the cities of the world to their main square on 1 April, Ludbreg’s birthday.  It’s no April Fools’ Day joke; today is the Day of the Centre of the World.

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