Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for May, 2016

Where California Began

By Linda Tancs

One of the most familiar landmarks in San Diego, California, the Junípero Serra Museum stands atop the hill recognized as the site where California began. Indeed, at that site in 1769 a Spanish Franciscan missionary, Father Junípero Serra, with a group of soldiers led by Gaspar de Portolá, established Alta California’s first mission and presidio (fort). Alta (Upper) California was a region comprising California and other states that was ceded to the United States at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. The missions of Alta California were founded for the purpose of Christianizing the American Indian population in those vicinities. Using Spanish Revival architecture, the museum was built to resemble the early missions that once dominated the landscape of Southern California.

Into the Cliffs

By Linda Tancs

A time capsule from World War II, Fan Bay Deep Shelter is a labyrinth of tunnels built underneath the White Cliffs of Dover in 100 days for bombproof accommodation. Now open to the public, hard-hat and torchlit tours are led by specialist guides for intrepid tourists. There is a 45-minute walk along the cliffs to reach the site, and the tunnels are only accessible by a steep 125 steps to get into the shelter and back out again.

The Singing Tower

By Linda Tancs

The Singing Tower at Bok Tower Gardens delights visitors with a 60-bell carillon sitting atop 298-foot Iron Mountain, the highest point along the Florida peninsula. Developed as a bird sanctuary, the peaceful respite in Lake Wales, Florida, is awash in moss-draped oaks and a garden designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. that give way to the 205-foot pink tower of marble and coquina stone. A National Historic Landmark, it’s particularly ablaze with springtime blooms of azaleas, camellias and magnolias.

Countless Canyons

By Linda Tancs

It’s four times the size of Arches National Park, yet Canyonlands  attracts half the visitors. It’s easy to think of them as arch rivals (pardon the pun), considering that they’re located on opposite sides of U.S. 191 outside Moab, Utah, and just 10 miles away from each other. But these two national parks are hardly duking it out, each boasting its own distinct advantages. Canyonlands is less developed, a haven for hikers with a yen for accessibility (like Arches) coupled with a mix of backcountry and hardcore hiking. It offers a wilderness of countless canyons and buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into districts, the most accessible being Island in the Sky and the most remote, the Maze. The Maze district offers guided hikes in Horseshoe Canyon most weekends during spring and fall.

In the Heart of the Reef

By Linda Tancs

In the heart of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is Hayman Island, a private island open to the public and the nearest of the Whitsunday Islands to the Outer Reef, including the famous Heart Reef. It’s home to One&Only Hayman Island, a premier resort where guests can enjoy their arrival by luxury yacht. With direct access to the reef, visitors flock to Blue Pearl Bay, located on the northwestern side of the island. A must for snorkelers and divers, its charms include the resident Maori Wrasse, defending the reef by eating its arch enemies. Best coral cover is in the shallow waters off the southern beach.

Kuwait Will Implement DNA Testing for Tourism

By Linda Tancs

In a one-of-a-kind move, Kuwait has announced the imminent implementation of an earlier law requiring the collection of DNA from visitors, residents and citizens in an effort to thwart crime and terrorism. A swab of saliva or drop of blood will do the trick, which is intended to form a national database. Citizens and expats can perform their civic duty via mobile collection centers and visa renewal requirements, respectively. Tourists will be required to submit a sample at the airport to gain access to the country’s archeological and cultural delights.

Down on the Ranch

By Linda Tancs

Less than a half hour from the bright lights of downtown Las Vegas is Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, a peaceful haven sporting a historic ranch house that was once home to luminaries of a different kind. Through the corridors once roamed millionaire Howard Hughes, German actress Vera Krupp and Chester Lauck of the comedy team Lum & Abner. Open for tours, the house features Hughes’ bar as well as personal belongings of Krupp.

A Shot in Dubuque

By Linda Tancs

Standing sentinel over Dubuque, Iowa, is the city’s icon—a 120-foot-tall shot tower. One of few remaining in the United States, it’s the only one west of the Mississippi River. Shot towers were designed for the production of lead shot balls (ammunition), which assumed their spherical shape as the molten lead fell from the top of the tower to a water basin below. Used both prior to and during the Civil War for lead shot production, Iowa’s tower was subsequently used as a watchtower. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Swinging in Germany

By Linda Tancs

Germany’s longest rope suspension bridge is a relatively new tourist attraction, having opened in October last year. The pedestrian bridge spans Geierlay canyon between the towns of Mörsdorf and Sosberg near the border with Luxembourg. The 1,200-foot-long bridge sits nearly 300 feet above the canyon floor, offering thrill seekers dizzying yet picturesque views of the forested valley. The footbridge complements the area’s hiking trails.

A Celebration of Indigenous Cultures

By Linda Tancs

The National Museum of the American Indian has one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world. Numbering over 825,000 items, its inventory represents over 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americas. Located on the National Mall between the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol, the museum’s innovative curvilinear architecture, its indigenous landscaping and exhibitions were all designed in collaboration with tribes and communities from across the hemisphere. A satellite location is within the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York City.

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