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Archive for December, 2014

A Sailor’s Life in London

By Linda Tancs

England’s long history as a port is revealed at the Museum of London in Docklands.  In this thriving business hub, there’s little evidence of its 18th century roots–a place where dockers, merchants and sailors mixed with smugglers and thieves as countless vessels unloaded rum, sugar and coffee from the Caribbean.  The area’s maritime character comes to life, though, at Sailortown, a permanent exhibit recreating an alehouse, sailors’ lodging house and chandlery, among other things.  Just two minutes away from West India Quay, the museum is easily reached by tube via Canary Wharf or West India Quay on the DLR.


Beachy Keen in the Lowcountry

By Linda Tancs

Just two islands north of swanky Hilton Head, South Carolina’s Hunting Island State Park is the antidote to overdevelopment.  In fact, it’s one of the few remaining undeveloped Sea Islands in the Lowcountry.  And with miles of hiking trails and one of the longest public beaches in the region, it’s easy to understand why it’s one of the state’s most visited properties.  Rising above the tall palms and natural ferns is the namesake lighthouse, the only one in the state open to the public, offering irresistible views of the Atlantic Ocean, the park and the surrounding marshes.

Remains of the Day

By Linda Tancs

Richard III was England’s last king of the House of York and last of the Plantagenet dynasty.  His remains were found, quite unceremoniously, beneath a car park in Leicester’s city centre.  Excavations of the site revealed an ancient friary church alleged to be the burial spot of the king after he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.  Along with the King Richard III visitor centre commemorating the find, Leicester also features the Richard III Walking Trail, tracing his journey from Leicester to Bosworth Field.  Nearby the centre is Leicester Cathedral, where the king’s remains will be reburied next year.

Peace on Earth

By Linda Tancs

More than 70 sculptures grace the property known as Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), a truly peaceful sanctuary in Warwick, New York.  Located along the Wawayanda River on Covered Bridge Road, the grounds sport the handiwork of its longtime owner, the late dental surgeon-turned-sculptor Frederick Franck.  Nursing an interest in human spirituality, Franck’s work complements his best known book, The Zen of Seeing, with the human eye infused into the large iron works of art enveloping the estate.  Given its moniker, the property is appropriate to highlight on this Christmas Day although it’s only open seasonally from May to September.  In the meantime, you can visit his work in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Fogg Art Museum, the Tokyo National Museum, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Nepal’s First National Park

By Linda Tancs

In south central Nepal in the sub tropical lowlands lies the country’s first protected area, Chitwan National Park.  The preserve hosts a diverse collection of mammal and fish species, but it’s particularly renowned for its protection of the one-horned rhinoceros, Bengal tiger and the gharial crocodile (one of the largest of all crocodilian species).  This time of year the Chitwan district (Sauraha in particular) is gearing up for the annual elephant festival, featuring soccer-playing elephants that double as beauty pageant contestants.

Florida’s First Luxury Home

By Linda Tancs

In Deland, Florida, you’ll find a jewel of the Gilded Age, Stetson Mansion.  Commissioned by John B. Stetson (of hat fame), the frame vernacular style home blends cottage, Gothic, Tudor, Moorish, and Polynesian details into a sumptuous manor house befitting a magnate of his day.  Holiday regalia now adorn the halls, and special Christmas tours will operate until 15 January.  Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the Stetson hat.  Return to the mansion with your validated Christmas tours ticket and a paying guest for a free tour from 1 February to 1 July.

Ouzo and Olive Oil

By Linda Tancs

Ouzo and olive oil.  Those are the two famous exports of the Greek island Lesvos.  Third largest in size behind Crete and Evia, the arguably lesser-known enclave near Turkey also boasts a petrified forest, one of the rarest natural monuments in the world.  Created 20 million years ago when volcanic materials covered and petrified the coniferous forests dominating the area at that time, the 37-acre preserve spans the Sigri-Eressos-Antissa area.  Take a break from the beach and enjoy a walk through the forest of silence.

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