Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for February, 2016

A President’s Life in Washington

By Linda Tancs

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson is the only president who made Washington, D.C., his permanent home following his term in office. In 1921, President Wilson and his wife retired to a Georgian Revival mansion on S Street, in an area known for stately homes and diplomatic residences. Having led the nation through World War I, he made a radio address (the first nationwide remote radio broadcast) to the American people from The Woodrow Wilson House on November 11, 1923, the fifth anniversary of Armistice Day. Wilson was also a president of Princeton University and a governor of New Jersey.

Sicily’s White Elephant

By Linda Tancs

The Grande Hotel San Calogero in Sicily has been waiting for guests for over 60 years. Dubbed the ghost hotel, it stands vacant for decades now thanks to governmental gaffes and design flaws. The 300-bed, five-story hotel was intended to showcase southern Sicily’s Sciacca, a pretty seaside town built on rocky heights that overlook the Mediterranean. Sicily’s white elephant stands atop a rocky outcrop on Monte Kronio, within walking distance of the thermal springs and basilica.

An Art Colony in Connecticut

By Linda Tancs

Overlooking the Lieutenant River, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut, is a National Historic Landmark. Once the home of a wealthy sea captain, the Late Georgian-style mansion became a boarding house under Miss Florence Griswold, hosting some of the most noted names in American Impressionism forming what became known as the Lyme Art Colony. This museum of art and history tells the story of how Connecticut played a pivotal role in fostering American artists.

Ranch of the Little Cottonwoods

By Linda Tancs

Rancho Los Alamitos (Ranch of the Little Cottonwoods) in Long Beach, California, traces its history from the time of ancestral Povuu’ngna (the sacred birthplace of the native Tongva people of the Los Angeles Basin) through the Spanish-Mexican era of land concessions and grants to generations of the Bixby family, the ranch’s last private owners. Along with the ranch, the still sacred and historic land includes stunning gardens created by Florence Bixby between 1920 and 1936 with the assistance of such notable design­ers as the Olmsted brothers, Florence Yoch and Paul Howard. Admission is free, and educational programs and events for all ages throughout the year feature topics as diverse as agricultural and domestic skills, Native American, Japanese and Hispanic culture, the history of landscape design and an annual ranch-style Christmas program.

The Ancient Heart of Phoenix

By Linda Tancs

Just minutes from downtown Phoenix, Arizona, is a 1,500-year-old archaeological site left by the Hohokam, a prehistoric Indian culture. Today it’s the location of Pueblo Grande Museum. A National Historic Landmark, it’s the largest preserved archaeological site within Phoenix. The museum displays Hohokam artifacts and showcases topics from archaeology, southwest cultures and Arizona history. A fully accessible trail brings history alive through a prehistoric Hohokam archaeological village site with a partially excavated platform mound, ballcourt and replicated prehistoric houses.

The Space Walk of Fame

By Linda Tancs

The Space Walk of Fame Museum in Titusville, Florida, pays tribute to the U.S. space program, honoring the men and women who made the space program possible and the astronauts who flew the missions. The Space View Walk monument area features actual hand prints of the Mercury astronauts as well as edifices dedicated to Apollo, Gemini and shuttle missions and to those who died in the line of duty serving the space program. Inside the museum you’ll find exhibits such as photos, old launch consoles and even Soviet cosmonaut mementos.

Hooray for Hollywood

By Linda Tancs

At the Hollywood Museum, you’ll find 100 years of entertainment history under one roof. Boasting the largest collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world, its sprawling four floors are a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind costumes, props, photographs, scripts, stars’ car collections and personal artifacts, posters and vintage memorabilia from favorite films and TV shows. The museum is housed in the historic Max Factor Building, named for makeup king Max Factor. You won’t want to miss his world famous makeup rooms where Hollywood’s biggest stars got ready for their close-ups.

A City of Watchtowers

By Linda Tancs

Cádiz is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain. In fact, the Phoenicians named it Gadir and established a trading post there in 1100 B.C. It went on to become a thriving Roman port from which Christopher Columbus would later set sail for the New World. In the 18th century the city thrived thanks to international trade, a prosperity symbolized by its watchtowers. Approximately 160 watchtowers dominated the cityscape back then; over 100 remain today. The centerpiece is the Tavira Tower, located in the center of the city’s old town at its highest point above sea level. It’s named for the tower’s first watchman, Antonio Tavira.

Culture for Connoisseurs

By Linda Tancs

A small city in northwest Switzerland, Basel is big on culture. Art lovers acknowledge that every year during the giant Art Basel fair. Situated on the Rhine (a scenic plus), Basel also happens to have the highest concentration of museums in the country (numbering 40 or so), including Basel Art Museum, the museum devoted to the iron sculptor Jean Tinguely, the Fondation Beyeler and the Museum of Cultures. Foodies flock there as well for local treats like traditional Basel honey cake. Today marks the start of the city’s carnival (the largest popular festival in Switzerland), Fasnacht. The festivities begin every year at 4:00 a.m. on the Monday following Ash Wednesday with the “Morgenstraich,” when all the lights in Basel go out and a colorful  procession through the city streets begins. The party will continue until exactly 4:00 a.m. on Thursday.

Unfinished Business in Natchez

By Linda Tancs

Located in Natchez, Mississippi, Longwood is an antebellum mansion built for wealthy planter Haller Nutt for himself, his wife and their eight children. As it was nearing completion, the Civil War began and the unfinished home was abandoned by its workmen, leaving the family to reside among the completed rooms in the basement. Now a popular tourist attraction, it is America’s largest octagonal house (at 30,000 square feet) and boasts a distinctive Byzantine onion-shaped dome. This listed home and national landmark is sometimes referred to as Nutt’s Folly, a reference to the mansion’s unfinished state because the fields and land owned by Nutt had been burned by Union soldiers during the Civil War.

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