Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for October, 2015

Monkeying Around in Israel

By Linda Tancs

At the Ben-Shemen forest near Modi’in is a monkey park containing 250 species of monkeys from locales around the world like Africa, Asia and South America. You’ll find one of the smallest monkeys in the world–the marmoset–here.  Another citizen is the crab-eating macaque, a medium species of monkey found in the tropical and subtropical forests and jungles throughout southeast Asia. The white-ringed eyes of the dusky leaf langur, a native of Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia, give it the appearance of wearing eyeglasses. Located halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the park provides guided tours every half hour on weekends.

The Shrine of Democracy

By Linda Tancs

President Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to Mount Rushmore as America’s “shrine of democracy.” Created by famed sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his army of workers, the granite portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln represent the birth, growth, development and preservation of the country. Borglum created an opening called the Hall of Records behind the heads that was intended to house important information on the significance of these four presidents in American history. The chamber was left incomplete at the time of the sculptor’s death but was finished over 50 years later. The Hall of Records houses both original texts and copies of important American documents. Due to its precarious location, public access to the vault is closed, forever to remain a mysterious part of this national treasure. The mountain housing this monumental carving is named for Charles E. Rushmore, a New York City attorney who visited the area in 1885. The park is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota near Keystone and draws millions of visitors annually.

Water on the Mountain

By Linda Tancs

Ricketts Glen State Park is an oasis in Benton, Pennsylvania. Covering over 13,000 acres in three counties, it’s named after Col. Ricketts, a Civil War soldier who led the defense against a Confederate attack on Cemetery Hill in 1863 and acquired much of the parkland after the war. Ricketts named the 22 waterfalls gracing the area after native tribes, family and friends. Ganoga Falls is the highest at 94 feet, named after a Seneca Indian word meaning “water on the mountain.” Most of the waterfalls are visible from Falls Trail, the most difficult hike of all the trails. Less difficult, especially this time of year, is leaf peeping. You’ll experience true splendor thanks to the rich crimson shades enveloping the gum, dogwood and oak trees.

The Island of 20,000 Saints

By Linda Tancs

Just a short boat ride west of the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales is a place of pilgrimage since the early years of Christianity. That’s Bardsey Island, a wisp of a place that became a focal point for the Celtic Christian Church. Its moniker, Island of 20,000 Saints, dates from the early Middle Ages, when three pilgrimages to Bardsey were said to equal one to Rome. Although day trips are limited to around 3 ½ hours, visitors who want to stay longer can choose from nine self-catering houses managed by the island’s trust. The renting week is from Saturday to Saturday, April to October. The island is designated a National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is in the Llŷn Peninsula Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Young Europeans

Kosovo is a young country—in more ways than one. The small, landlocked country in the Balkans declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. Apart from its political infancy, though, Kosovo boasts a youthful population. Purportedly with more than 70 percent of the population under the age of 35, they’ve taken on the moniker “the young Europeans.” But don’t let all of this youthfulness get in the way of centuries-old delights awaiting you. A series of monasteries dating to the 12th century are at Peja Patriarchate, just down the road from the Church of Saint Catherine, built between the two world wars. Vushtrri’s iconic arched stone bridge is one of the oldest bridges in the country. Five of its arches originate from early medieval times; four semi-arches were added in the 18th century. And then there are caves. Although discovered in the 1960s, the marble cave in Gadime is one of the most popular attractions. So named for the marble limestone rock, it is believed to originate from the Paleozoic or Mesozoic Era.

Gateway to the Dukeries

By Linda Tancs

Worksop is at the northern edge of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England. It’s known as the Gateway to the Dukeries thanks to the number of ducal estates in its environs. One such gem is Clumber Park, boasting the longest avenue of lime trees in Europe at around two miles in length. Another attraction is Thoresby courtyard and gallery, a place where local artisans mix and show off their wares. It sits beside Thoresby Hall (rebuilt by the third Earl Manvers in 1860), which is now a luxury resort. Welbeck Abbey was first mentioned in the Domesday Book. Although privately owned, some of its outbuildings have been renovated and are open to the public in the form of a cooking school, a farm shop (selling prized stichelton) and an art gallery. The town’s namesake estate, Worksop Manor, is where Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. The mansion, however, was destroyed in the 1800s after some fire damage, leaving only a servant’s wing. This peaceful country escape is just one hour away from Nottingham city centre.

The Cliffs of Kauai

By Linda Tancs

Sheer cliffs with crayon hues descending into the deep blue sea, playing host to an array of dolphins, sea turtles, whales (in season) and colorful fish. That’s the promise along Na Pali, the rugged coastline on the northwest shore of Kauai, Hawaii’s oldest inhabited island. Widely acclaimed as one of the most beautiful views in the world, it is best viewed by sailing, rafting or hiking the Kalalau Trail (an 11-mile trail that leads from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach). Rainbows are virtually guaranteed.

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