Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for December, 2016

Japanese Woodworking in Pennsylvania

By Linda Tancs

Descended from samurai families, Spokane-born George Nakashima is recognized as one of America’s most eminent furniture designers. The George Nakashima Woodworker Complex, a National Historic Landmark located in New Hope, Pennsylvania, was his home until his death in 1990. The 12-acre complex has 21 buildings, all designed by Nakashima in the International Style infused with elements of traditional Japanese architecture. His brand of “organic naturalism” showcases the wood’s natural beauty in items such as table lamps, dining tables, wall units, desks and chairs that are coveted by collectors worldwide. The complex is open to visitors on Saturdays, and admission is free. Visitors may see examples of his work in the showroom and Conoid Studio and take a self-guided tour of three of the buildings.

Twenty-Five Years of Holiday Magic

By Linda Tancs

The Holiday Train Show® in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at New York Botanical Garden is celebrating 25 years of its stunning exhibition of G-scale locomotives (the largest model train available) winding through replicas of New York landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Rockefeller Center. The recent exhibition expansion features more trains, an all-new Queensboro bridge and a finale featuring a whimsical tribute to iconic Coney Island. Each landmark is re-created with bark, leaves and other natural materials in exacting detail. The show runs through January 16, 2017. Advance ticket purchases are recommended.

Oxford’s Bridge of Sighs

By Linda Tancs

Although never intended to pay homage to Venice’s famous bridge, Oxford’s Bridge of Sighs (Hertford Bridge) is England’s lesser known replica of sorts. Completed in 1914 by Sir Thomas Jackson (one of the most distinguished English architects of his generation), it acts as a skyway connecting two sections of Hertford College. It’s located on New College Lane.

An Island of Adventure in Plymouth

By Linda Tancs

Almost in the middle of Plymouth Sound, Drake’s Island marks the spot from which Sir Francis Drake (the isle’s namesake) sailed in 1577 to circumnavigate the world. His statue stands on the Hoe, overlooking the island. Fortified as a British defense against the French and Spanish, Drake’s Island held a strategic position guarding Devonport’s growing naval base. Later, it was used as a prison. The most prominent person to be imprisoned there was Major-General John Lambert, who had hoped to succeed Cromwell as Lord Protector. Nowadays, it’s privately owned. Content yourself with views from the Hoe and Smeaton’s Tower.

A Swiss Shortcut

By Linda Tancs

Switzerland’s Gotthard Base Tunnel (not to be confused with the original Gotthard scenic line) entered into full service yesterday. Decades in the making, the rail tunnel is the world’s longest, stretching for 35 miles. It’s also the deepest, with over 6,500 feet of rock between the tunnel and the earth’s surface in some places. This engineering marvel provides an efficient shortcut through the Alps, paring an hour off the travel time between Zurich and Milan, Italy.

The Crags of Santa Barbara

By Linda Tancs

California’s Rattlesnake Canyon trail moves north and eastward for nearly three miles up Rattlesnake Canyon and ends on Gibraltar Road. Besides the beautiful views of Santa Barbara, Montecito, birds and wildflowers, this part of Santa Barbara’s back country offers the intrepid the formidable Gibraltar Rock. Located next to its namesake road, the formation’s south face is akin to a bunny slope. Those desiring more of a challenge should head for the west face and the cliff’s subsidiary formations. There you’ll meet up with climbs bearing names like Sweating Buckets, The Nose, Toxic Waste Wall and The Bolt Ladder. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Denver’s First Block

By Linda Tancs

Denver, Colorado, was officially chartered in 1861, and Larimer Street (named after the city’s founder) became the city’s first street. Historically preserved for 51 years now, the site saw its fortunes fall with the crash of silver and rise again during Prohibition as host of the city’s hottest speakeasy. The luster quickly faded when the old street became skid row amidst rising development in other parts of the city following World War II. Community activism resulted in restoration beginning with the 1400 block of Larimer Street, now known as Larimer Square. Located in historic Lower Downtown (LoDo), the tony locale now boasts a lively mix of restaurants, clubs and shops. Its oldest retailer, Gusterman Silversmiths, is still a treasured tenant.

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