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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 Pymalion, 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.

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