Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for February, 2017

Spain’s Hanging Houses

By Linda Tancs

Built sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries, three clifftop wooden homes (Casas Colgadas) adorn the Huécar Gorge in Cuenca, Spain. Once upon a time, the whole gorge was lined with hanging houses. Built in traditional Gothic style, the homes have been refurbished several times although some original elements can still be seen in the part that houses the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art. Enjoy the balcony view from the museum’s gift shop. Cuenca is located about 86 miles southeast of Madrid, by way of the N-400 or N-320.

Malaysia’s Largest Cave

By Linda Tancs

Talk about a rock of ages. Peninsular Malaysia’s largest cave system, Gua Tempurung, has rock formations aged between 250 and 400 million years. The overall length of the cave is nearly three miles; the part accessible to the public is just over one mile. Its underground river is nearly one mile long, and when rain comes, the subterranean streams turn into a churning river of froth. You can admire the underground waterfalls and pendant stalactites via walkways. Four tours of escalating difficulty are also offered. The cave system is easily reached via the North-South Highway.

Shopping in Salerno

By Linda Tancs

An important trading locale for centuries, the old merchant street in the historic center of Salerno, Italy, is a shopper’s paradise. Bottega Bossa is the go-to place for leather goods and is located just blocks from the port, much to the delight of cruise travelers. Salerno also boasts lots of specialty stores that sell wine, sweets, cheese, decorated Italian paper and stationery near Salerno Cathedral. Perhaps long forgotten, the city is also the site of the (now defunct) world’s first medical school, Schola Medica Salernitana.

A Desert Gateway

By Linda Tancs

The Negev is Israel’s gateway to the desert. Accounting for over half of the country’s land area, the arid mass has been occupied since the dawn of history by nomads, Canaanites, Philistines, Edomites, Byzantines, Nabateans, Ottomans and, of course, Israelis. After the establishment of Israel, the new country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, promoted the settlement of the Negev and moved to live in Sde Boker. Paula and David Ben-Gurion’s living quarters there have been preserved the way they were upon Ben-Gurion’s death in 1973. A visit to the house includes an exhibit that displays the connection between the prime minister and the Negev. Winter is an especially nice time to visit; despite the small quantities of rain, the Negev is covered with amazing flowers, including luscious red anemones.

The History of Forest Hill

By Linda Tancs

A jewel of the North Ward of Newark, New Jersey, Forest Hill is a state historic district (the second largest) that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The tony enclave is a treasure trove of period revival architecture dating mostly from 1890 to 1925. The range of styles includes Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Tudor, Italian Renaissance, Romanesque, Spanish/Mediterranean, Neoclassical, Beaux Arts and French Chateau. In its heyday, the area (formerly an agrarian region) was settled by some of the country’s most influential magnates, including the Ballantine brewery family, the Clarks (milling) and the Hellers (rasp and file). Despite a downturn in the early part of the 20th century and the conversion of some of the early baronial estates into commercial and multi-family dwellings, the district has enjoyed a resurgence that includes restoration of its palatial homes.

Dancing With Wolves

By Linda Tancs

Feared, loved and hated, the wolf is an apex predator with pride of place in stories, fables and myths. In fact, wolves figure prominently in the mythology of nearly every Native American tribe. You might naturally want to shy away from an encounter with an animal as powerful as this, but that’s far from the case at Norway’s Polar Park. The world’s northernmost animal park, the arctic wildlife centre offers visitors a close encounter with its wolves in an enclosure called WolfVisit. Those meeting basic requirements for entry will have the opportunity to interact with a group of domesticated wolves under the direction of an animal keeper. And in the middle of one of the larger enclosures is a luxury hotel experience called WolfLodge, where oversized windows give you and your furry friends ample opportunity to size each other up. The ambience is particularly spectacular in the winter because the wolves are most active now due to mating season from February to April.

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