Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for January, 2016

Celebrating the Sami

By Linda Tancs

The Sami are the indigenous who inhabit northern Scandinavia in a region called Sapmi, stretching across the high plains of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia’s Kola Peninsula. They celebrate their own National Day on February 6 each year, marking that day in the year 1917 when they gathered for their first meeting in Norway to address common concerns. Nowadays around 40,000 Sami live in Norway, 20,000 in Sweden and some 7,000 in Finland. In addition there are an estimated 2,000 Sami in Russia. In the city of Tromsø, Norway, their culture is celebrated with a weeklong festival known as Sami Week. Taking place this year from January 31 to February 7, the celebration includes reindeer racing, lasso-throwing, food, art and language classes.

Bubbles in Grenoble

By Linda Tancs

Located in southeastern France, Grenoble is prized for its winter sports, especially skiing, considering that it sits in the middle of three mountain ranges. Not up to seeing the city via a downhill run? Spherical cable cars called “Les Bulles” (the bubbles) connect the town to the summit of La Bastille hill, named for the fortress on its slopes built to defend France against its great Alpine rival of the early 1800s, the Duchy of Savoy.

Old Florida

By Linda Tancs

The winter estates of inventor Thomas Edison and auto magnate Henry Ford are representative of a bygone era, tropical “old Florida.” Their historic homes are located in Fort Myers at Edison & Ford Winter Estates. Henry Ford purchased his home, The Mangoes, in 1916, providing him the opportunity to vacation with his good friend Thomas Edison. The porch, adjacent to the vintage garage, offers a spectacular riverfront view of the Caloosahatchee River. Edison’s Seminole Lodge contains the oldest structure at the Edison Ford complex, the caretaker’s cottage. Over the years Edison renovated and expanded his getaway to include more family bedroom suites in the main house, a guest house and pool complex. Besides their beautiful homes, the estate features over 20 acres of botanical gardens, nine historic buildings (including Edison’s botanic research laboratory) and the Edison Ford Museum, which contains an impressive collection of inventions, artifacts and special exhibit galleries sure to stir innovation and creativity among its visitors.

China’s Grand Canal

By Linda Tancs

Officially known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the route of China’s ancient thoroughfare (dating as far back as 495 B.C.) runs from Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south and is the longest man-made waterway in the world. Although much of the Grand Canal is no longer in use, various sections running through Suzhou can still be toured. In fact, canals are such a prominent part of this ancient city in eastern China that it’s been dubbed “Venice of the East.” More than 50 miles of scenery dot the waterway, including hundreds of old-world river dwellings, 10 ancient city gates, dozens of stone bridges and two of Suzhou’s crown jewels, Hanshan Temple and West Garden Temple.

Spoonbridge and Cherry

By Linda Tancs

A beloved icon of Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota, the Spoonbridge and Cherry is a giant sculpture of a spoon topped off with a cherry. It’s located in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of the nation’s largest urban sculpture parks. Designed by husband and wife Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, the giant 5,800 pound spoon stretches 52 feet across a small pond shaped like a linden tree seed. A fine stream of water, just enough to make the aluminum 1,200 pound cherry gleam, flows over the cherry from the base of the stem. A second stream of water sprays from the top of the stem over the cherry, down into the spoon and the pool below. See it now; a major renovation of the park is scheduled for the spring, and its garden artworks will be placed in storage during construction.

An Architectural Gem in Newark

By Linda Tancs

One of the few remaining early gambrel-roofed stone houses in New Jersey, Plume House is one of two 18th century dwellings still standing in Newark, the state’s largest city. Formerly a colonial farmhouse surrounded by an apple orchard with sweeping river views, it now stands sentinel at Broad and State streets adjoining a thunderous interstate highway and rail station. Built by John Plume in the 1700s, this old house bore witness to many events of the Revolutionary War, including George Washington’s retreat from the Battle of Long Island. Later it became the site of invention of flexible photographic film by Rev. Hannibal Goodwin, founder of Goodwin Film and Camera Company. Nowadays the house serves as the rectory for the House of Prayer Episcopal Church.

Germany’s August City

By Linda Tancs

Reputedly Germany’s oldest city, Trier is quite august. Founded as Augusta Treverorum in 16 B.C. during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, its Roman heritage is omnipresent. You’ll find the famous Imperial Baths where the Romans went to relax, remnants of the St. Barbara Roman Baths from the second century and the Roman Bridge, which is still part of a main road into the city. And don’t forget the iconic Porta Nigra, the tallest Roman gate north of the Alps, measuring 98 feet high, 71 feet wide and 118 feet long. It’s one of the city’s eight UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Slavery and Emancipation in the Bahamas

By Linda Tancs

The Pompey Museum in the Bahamas boasts a permanent collection exploring the history of slavery and emancipation in the island nation. Located in Nassau, the museum is named in honor of Pompey, a courageous slave who led a revolt against unfair conditions on the Rolle Plantation in Exuma. The site of several renowned exhibitions on slavery, the museum is located in a historic arcaded pink building at Bay and George streets.

The Birthplace of America

By Linda Tancs

Unearthed by a local farmer in 1898, the Kensington Runestone is a grey, earthy rock with an inscription purportedly made by the Vikings more than a century before Christopher Columbus sojourned to America. This artifact is displayed in Alexandria, Minnesota, a town therefore proclaiming itself to be the “birthplace of America.” Doubtful of the claim? Maybe you can coax a response out of Big Ole, a 28-foot fiberglass statue of a Viking that has welcomed visitors to town since 1965.

New York Airport Goes to the Dogs

By Linda Tancs

Boasting the world’s first air terminal for animals, New York’s JFK Airport is going to the dogs—and the cats, horses, cows, reptiles, fish, birds and any other animal you can think of. Appropriately named The ARK, the new facility under development is a luxury terminal that will handle more than 70,000 of our furry (and not so furry) friends annually. Transiting and quarantined animals will be treated to a variety of creature comforts (no pun intended), like swimming pools, luxury stalls, flat-screen TVs and massage therapy.

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