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Archive for March, 2017

Malaysia’s First Garden

By Linda Tancs

Taiping is a small and quiet town in Perak, Malaysia. The unassuming little place might go largely unnoticed but for the popularity of its lake gardens. Taiping Lake Gardens is the first public garden, established during British rule in Malaysia (then Malaya). Built atop an abandoned tin mine (a prime natural resource in the 1800s), the park’s huge ancient rain trees drape the crystal clear waters of the lake. Spread over 158 acres, the area has 10 scenic lakes and ponds framing the gardens as well as charming bridges and tracks for jogging. Taiping is well connected to the rest of Peninsular Malaysia by express buses from the long-distance bus station at Kamunting and Simpang.

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Steel, Beer and Coal

By Linda Tancs

Dortmund, the largest city in Westphalia, lies on the eastern edge of the Ruhr in Germany’s historic Hellweg corridor. Once home to a thriving steel and coal industry, its industrial heritage is barely evident in the thriving tech-driven city seen today. That small army of industrial workers also meant there was plenty of thirst to quench; Dortmund became one of the largest beer producers in the world. Visitors can learn all about the triad of industrialization in the region by visiting the Brewery Museum on Steigerstraße 16.

Napoleon’s Water

By Linda Tancs

The second largest town in the Auvergne, the French town Vichy is known for its hot springs. Napoleon III, who developed the town in the 1800s, introduced the thermal waters to the public. Not surprisingly, this city on the Allier River is noted for its spa facilities, such as Thermes des Dômes or Spa Les Celestins. Their prized commodity is also marketed as bottled waters that are exported around the world under the names of Vichy Celestins and Vichy Saint-Yorre.

Hullensians Celebrate Culture

By Linda Tancs

The Yorkshire city of Hull is the UK City of Culture 2017, an award given every four years to a city that demonstrates a belief in the transformational power of culture. Hullensians (as locals are called) are certainly an independent, spirited bunch—it’s the only city in the UK with cream-colored phone boxes. It also sports the world’s largest Yorkshire pudding factory. As for arts and culture, you’ll find no lack. The Freedom Festival offers an incredible program each year on theatre, music, comedy and poetry. The city also hosts the region’s leading visual art space, the Ferens Art Gallery, as well as a new contemporary art space, Humber Street Gallery. Getting to this vibrant port city couldn’t be easier: Hull has its own rail link to the capital, and coaches run from all over the country.

Dino Snores

By Linda Tancs

Want to camp out amongst the dinosaurs in a museum? It’s not just for kids at London’s Natural History Museum. Their Dino Snores for Grown-ups program is offered periodically throughout the year, like tomorrow night. The sleepover includes a welcome drink, live music, a monster movie marathon, three-course dinner (edible insects are optional) and a hot breakfast. You’ll also have the chance to explore the galleries and current exhibitions after the daytime visitors have gone home. Sounds dino-mite to me.

The Legendary Pony Express

By Linda Tancs

Johnny Fry was the first rider for the Pony Express, the nation’s mail service connecting the eastern terminus of St. Joseph, Missouri, with Sacramento, California, in the west. Fry began the storied route on April 3, 1860, from historic Pikes Peak Stables in St. Joseph. Over 400 horses were purchased for the endeavor covering 2,000 miles, the riders enduring uncertain weather and rugged terrain to meet their appointed rounds until the service’s demise in October 1861. Their stories are told at the Pony Express National Museum on Penn Street.

A Model Home in Bismarck

By Linda Tancs

The former governors’ mansion in Bismarck, North Dakota, was the largest of its day in the city when it was built in 1884, hailed as a model building. In 1893 it was appropriated for use as the executive mansion. Twenty governors ultimately called the Victorian mansion their home until 1960. Thereafter it served as a mental health clinic (the first one in the nation to use talk therapy as a treatment for mental illness) until purchased by the State Historical Society in 1975. The house opened as a museum in 1984, its exterior being restored to its appearance in 1893. The interior of the house was not restored to reflect a particular time period. Instead, it was designed to present the overall life of the house, with exposed layers of historic wallpaper and paint samples showing the many changes that have taken place over the years.

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