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Archive for September, 2017

Poland’s Salt of the Earth

By Linda Tancs

The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. One of Poland’s largest tourist attractions, it offers themed tours for all ages, featuring underground tunnels and a mine with chapels, chambers and saline lakes. You can choose between the Tourist Route and the Miners’ Route, an authentic experience allowing participants to play the roles of miners and, under the keen eye of a chargeman, gain their first ever experience working underground. The routes don’t connect. If you don’t want to miss the crown jewel of the attraction, the Chapel of St. Kinga, then be sure to take the Tourist Route.

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Austria’s Fair Spring

By Linda Tancs

Dating to the Middle Ages, Schönbrunn Palace is one of Austria’s top tourist attractions. Originally called Katterburg, its current name was adopted in 1642, derived from Emperor Matthias’s alleged discovery of the schöner Brunnen (“fair spring”) during a hunting expedition in 1612. A former hunting lodge, the grand estate seen today was used as a summer residence by the imperial family beginning in 1745. The tour of the imperial apartments and the magnificent state rooms includes the residential suite of rooms occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth in the west wing, the state rooms in the central section of the palace, the imperial apartments of Maria Theresa and Franz I Stephan and the Franz Karl Apartment, which was occupied by Franz Joseph’s parents, Archduchess Sophie and Archduke Franz Karl. The property is easily reached at Schönbrunn station in Vienna via underground, bus or tram.

The Niagara of Pennsylvania

By Linda Tancs

Popularly referred to as the Niagara of Pennsylvania, Bushkill Falls encompasses eight waterfalls amidst 300 acres including more than two miles of hiking trails, bridges and walkways. Privately owned by the Peters family, Charles E. Peters first opened Bushkill Falls to the public in 1904 with a single path and a swinging bridge over the head of the Main Falls, a majestic cliff with a 100-foot drop. You can view those falls from the green or yellow trails. Take the blue trail for Pennell Falls or the red trail for the popular Bridal Veil Falls. Nestled in the Poconos, Bushkill Falls is an easy drive from locales in eastern Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

On the Edge in Toronto

By Linda Tancs

The tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, Toronto’s CN Tower is a signature icon of the city’s skyline, jutting over 1,800 feet into the air. If you think the lookout at 1,136 feet is dizzying, then the tower’s latest attraction will put you over the edge—literally. Appropriately called the EdgeWalk, the hair-raising attraction gives visitors the opportunity to take a harnessed stride outside along the circumference of the tower’s restaurant roof, a mere 1,168 feet above the ground. The thrill is yours seasonally from April through October.

The Oldest State Capitol

By Linda Tancs

The Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol still in continuous legislative use and is the only state house ever to have served as the nation’s capitol. The Old Senate Chamber is where George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the Treaty of Paris was ratified, marking the official end of the Revolutionary War. Of particular interest is the lightning rod on the dome of the state house—a Franklin rod, constructed and grounded to Benjamin Franklin’s specifications. Protruding 28 feet into the air, the rod is anchored at its bottom to the top of the dome, which has been the defining landmark of the Annapolis skyline for more than 225 years.

Earth’s Largest Lizard

By Linda Tancs

The closest living example of the legendary dragon in folklore and mythology is the Komodo dragon, the largest living species of lizard on earth. Reaching 10 feet in length and topping nearly 200 pounds, the monitor is protected from extinction in its native land of Indonesia at Komodo National Park. Sitting at the center of an archipelago, the park (which recently celebrated its 37th year of conservation) consists mainly of three volcanic islands and landscapes varying from dry savanna conditions to lush forests. Bounded by white sandy beaches and clear blue waters, the area attracts underwater enthusiasts as well. Divers claim that Komodo waters present one of the best diving sites in the world, with 385 species of beautiful corals alone.

Land of the Blackbuck

By Linda Tancs

The blackbuck is an antelope indigenous to the plains of India, epitomized by the twisted, ridged horns of adult males. Thriving in grassland, their dwindling population has found a haven at Velavadar Blackbuck National Park. Located in the Bhavnagar district of the state of Gujarat, this sanctuary for blackbucks features grassland habitat, shrub lands, saline plains and mud flats. The park also embraces over 140 species of birds, 14 species of mammals, 95 species of flowering plants and many reptiles.

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