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Archive for March, 2018

Europe’s Cave Capital

By Linda Tancs

Budapest, Hungary, is famous for its natural underground caves, formed by thermal waters over millions of years. The Pál-völgyi cave, the longest in the Buda Hills, is famous for its unique dripstones. The Szemlő-hegyi cave, on the other hand, has no stalactites but instead is filled with several beautiful crystal formations. Its exceptionally clean respiratory environment has been used in the treatment of breathing disorders. There are about another 198 caves to explore in this cave capital of Europe, many a short bus ride from downtown.

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Apache Tears

By Linda Tancs

Thanks to its monument status granted in 2001, New Mexico’s Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a popular, otherworldly attraction featuring teepee-like rock formations arising from volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago. You’ll find a three-mile trail used for hiking, walking, nature trips and birding, where sandy washes are littered with black obsidian (volcanic glass) known locally as Apache Tears. Forty miles west of Santa Fe, the area is signposted starting from exits 259 (NM 22) or 264 (NM 16) of interstate 25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

The Oak Chapel

By Linda Tancs

The oldest known tree in France is an oak located in the small French farming village of Allouville-Bellefosse known as le chêne chapelle. Dating back purportedly at least 1,000 years, it presided over such seminal events in the nation’s history as the French Revolution, the reign of Louis XIV and Napoleon’s expansion of the empire. Its ancient trunk is now hollowed out and home to two chapels accessible via a spiral staircase around the trunk. Given its age, you’d better make haste to see this heavenly treehouse.

Desert Conservation in the Southwest

By Linda Tancs

The Desert Botanical Garden is a 140 acres-wide botanical garden in Phoenix, Arizona. A pioneer in desert conservation, it’s an indispensable resource in the Southwest for helping individuals learn about Sonoran Desert plants as well as desert plants elsewhere in the world. One of only 24 botanical gardens accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, it boasts over 50,000 plant displays showcased in beautiful outdoor exhibits. The garden includes five unique desert trails as well as temporary exhibits and seasonal events highlighting desert life and its preservation.

A Sea Candle in Japan

By Linda Tancs

An inverted cone tower overlooking the scenic Shonan beaches of Enoshima Island is one of the largest lighthouses in Japan. Known affectionately as the Enoshima Sea Candle, the nearly 200-foot-high tower completed in 2003 was built for the 100th anniversary celebration of Enoshima Electric Railway. Take the elevator to the top if you must, but the circular stair climb gives lingering views of sites like Mt. Fuji, Izu Peninsula and the mountains at Hakone. In addition to the spectacular panoramic view at the top, the lighthouse is illuminated at night, a sight that’s viewable nearly 30 miles away.

Denmark’s Sunny Isle

By Linda Tancs

The sunniest part of Denmark is Bornholm, the nation’s easternmost island in the Baltic Sea. Its charms include round churches and arresting granite cliffs, great fodder for painters who are perennially attracted to this popular resort area thanks to its dreamy natural light. Historically a fishing village, be sure to try Sol over Gudhjem (“sun over Gudhjem,” a local fishing port), an island dish featuring an open sandwich with rugbrød, smoked herring, chives and a raw egg yolk on top. Book your summer rental now so you don’t miss their food and crafts festivals.

The Rooftop of Wales

By Linda Tancs

At 3,559 feet, Snowdon Mountain dominates the landscape of Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. The land of fairies, giants and kings, legend has it that the mountain hosts the burial place of the giant ogre Rhita, vanquished by King Arthur. The views from Wales’ highest peak are spectacular, and what better way to see it than on a scenic railway ride from Llanberis to the summit. Operating from March to October, Snowdon Mountain Railway operates diesel and steam-powered locomotives that push vintage viewing cars on a journey through the clouds experienced by 12 million intrepid travelers since 1896. A round-trip ticket includes a 30-minute stop at the summit from May to October, weather permitting. Between mid-March and May, the trains will normally run to Clogwyn, where the summit is about an hour’s walk away.

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