Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for June, 2014

Shaw’s Corner of Hertfordshire

By Linda Tancs

The writer Franz Kafka once remarked that writing is utter solitude. All great writers express the need for solitude–and some find it–like George Bernard Shaw. The Irish playwright moved at the height of his fame to an Edwardian villa in Ayot St. Lawrence in Hertfordshire, England known as Shaw’s Corner. In his garden he installed a shed–his writer’s nook–where he wrote Pygmalion, Man and Superman and Major Barbara. He named the little hut (which swivels to catch the sun) “London” so his wife could inform curious callers of his destination and avoid interrupting him. How clever!

Fire and Brimstone

By Linda Tancs

The one-time sugar cane island of St. Kitts in the West Indies boasts one of the best-preserved historic fortifications in the Americas, located at Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park.  Its walls, up to 12 feet thick, were built by African slaves from blackened basalt rock.  A testament to British military engineering, it was dubbed the Gibraltar of the West Indies due to its imposing size and design.  The 24-pound cannons and Magazine Bastion defended against the increasing use of explosive artillery shells.  History buffs will love the remains of a complete military community of the 18th century.

Mountains of Heaven

By Linda Tancs

The Silk Road is one of the oldest and most significant trade routes to link the East with the West.  Named for the lucrative business of silk trading that lined the route, it formed both economic and cultural bridges for the many civilizations (nomadic and otherwise) formed along its path.  Among the seven countries along the route ancient sites and natural wonders abound.  One of those treasures is the Tian Shan (Mountains of Heaven), a mountain range sporting Victory Peak, the range’s highest peak (at over 24,000 feet) spanning China and northern Kyrgyzstan.  Nomadic life continues in northern Kyrgyzstan, a place of yurts and flocks. The nomadic monuments of inner Tian Shan feature grave and funeral complexes, rock carvings and epigraphs.

The World’s Highest Wheel

By Linda Tancs

There are plenty of high rollers in Las Vegas, but one High Roller is getting all the attention: the 550-foot-tall observation wheel commissioned by Caesars Entertainment.  Debuting in March, the wheel promises unparalleled views of the Strip.  At 51 stories high, it bests the Singapore Flyer, the Star of Nanchang and the London Eye, making it the world’s highest observation wheel.  As usual, Vegas will not be outdone by anyone.

Britain’s Cleanest Beach

By Linda Tancs

Part of the southernmost group of islands that make up the British Isles, Guernsey sits in the Channel Islands, less than 30 miles from the French coast.  This 25-square-mile island is home to some of Europe’s most significant heritage sites, including prehistoric burial sites, World War II gun batteries and ancient forts.   You might be surprised to learn that it also sports Britain’s cleanest beach, Vazon Bay.  Located on the west coast, Vazon Bay is the island’s largest beach, a hot spot for surfers as well as families.  While you’re living the island life, enjoy some potato peel pie.  The dish gained notoriety thanks to the historical novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which tells a story set during the German occupation of Guernsey during World War II, a time of scarcity when even potato peels were not wasted.

Asia’s Largest Transnational Waterfall

By Linda Tancs

Spanning China and Vietnam, Detian is purportedly Asia’s largest transnational waterfall.   Surrounded by karst mountain peaks, the three-tiered cascade reaches its most rapid pace in June and July.  On the Chinese side, a walking path through tropical foliage lands you great views; just bring lots of mosquito repellent.  To get there, go to Nanning and then take the coach at North Passenger Transportation Center to Daxin County.  Upon arrival at Daxin, you should transfer to the bus route Daxin – Qilong – Detian.

Land of the First Light

By Linda Tancs

Located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, the island of Martha’s Vineyard enjoys an international reputation as a summer playground for the well-heeled.  The island’s original natives called the place Noepe, which means “land of the first light.”  That may have been a prescient observation, considering the island is graced with five lighthouses: Edgartown, Cape Pogue, East Chop, West Chop and Gay Head.   The sweeping views include Vineyard Sound, the tony enclaves of Edgartown Harbor and Chappaquiddick, and the cliffs of Aquinnah.  No yacht?  No worries.  You can grab a flight to the island year round or take a ferry from Rhode Island, Hyannis or other ports.

To the Manner Born

By Linda Tancs

Britain’s summer social calendar (the “Season”) runs from April to September.  Awash in cultural and sporting events, the Season finds great favor among the British elite, but even the hoi polloi enjoy a taste of society life–even if it is laden with rules of etiquette.  If you’re a little rusty on the finer points of appropriate behavior, then More Than Good Manners is ready to help you.  Founded by British aristocrat Veronica Joly de Lotbinière (a descendant of kings of France and England), the company offers booking services for high-profile events as well as manners and etiquette training for things like that pheasant shoot with a duke.  You, too, can be to the manner born.

On an Even Keel in Annapolis

By Linda Tancs

Annapolis, Maryland is heralded as the Sailing Capital of the World.  Home to the United States Naval Academy, this seafaring city hosts the oldest and largest in-water sailboat show in the country.  If you’d like to be captain of your own ship but lack the skills, then the city’s sailing school just might be the place for you.  Boasting a blend of theory and hands-on practice known as the Annapolis Way, the school offers students an array of beginning to advanced classes.  Novice skippers will learn about boat nomenclature, steering, sail trimming, putting on and taking off of sails, finding wind direction, tacking and jibing maneuvers, points of sail, right of way rules and basic chart reading.  Ship ahoy!

In Search of Lynx in Andalucia

By Linda Tancs

The elusive Iberian Lynx is one of many lures in Andalucia’s Doñana National Park.  That’s one of only a handful of places you’ll find the world’s most endangered species of cat.  Equally endangered is the Spanish Imperial Eagle, down to 15 breeding pairs.  You might have better luck glimpsing grey herons, lanner falcons, ring and turtle doves, partridges, oxpeckers, cattle egret, storks and vultures.  That’s because the park is one of the largest heronries in the Mediterranean region and a habitat for hundreds of thousands of birds.  Springtime is particularly amazing, when wintering waterfowl commingle with summer arrivals migrating between Africa and Europe.

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