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Archive for May, 2018

Russia’s Underwater Showplace

By Linda Tancs

In the shadow of the Ural Mountains in Russia’s Perm region you’ll find Orda Cave, the largest gypsum underwater cave in the world. The clarity of its waters afforded by the gypsum makes it a diver’s paradise, but, due to its maze-like quality and freezing temperatures, the inexperienced flippered spelunker need not apply. Ongoing discovery makes its total length a moving target, but 15,000 feet is a fair estimate.

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City of a Hundred Spires

By Linda Tancs

Prague is known as the City of a Hundred Spires, its UNESCO-designated landscape in the Czech Republic dotted with spired churches. Its historic heart is in Old Town, bursting with Baroque buildings, Gothic churches and an astronomical clock. Drawing wonder for over 600 years, the clock adorns the southern wall of Old Town City Hall and gives an hourly performance featuring 12 apostles passing by the window above the astronomical dial and the movement of symbolic sculptures.

 

Dynastic Splendor in Spain

By Linda Tancs

In Granada, Spain, a Moorish structure known worldwide is Alhambra. Alhambra means “red” in Arabic, defining the color of the outer bricks comprising this symbol of Granada that served as a palace and a fortress for its Muslim occupants. Resting atop a hilly terrace, the views from there are commanding, and there are plenty of sights within the complex that are worth visiting. Don’t miss the Court of the Lions and its 124 thin, white marble columns or the vaulted ceiling of the Hall of Ambassadors in Nasrid Palace, the one area of Alhambra requiring a timed ticket entry. After your visit to the palace grounds, spend some time relaxing in the Generalife (often translated as “Garden of the Architect”), one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens in the world.

Tokyo’s Oldest Temple

By Linda Tancs

Asakusa Kannon temple complex, the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, Japan, is one of the city’s most colorful and popular temples. Kannon is the goddess of mercy, and legend has it that two fishermen fished her statue from the waters and returned it from whence it came, only to have it come back to them again and again. The shrine was thereafter built in her honor. You’ll enter through two gates to the five-storied pagoda and main building of the complex. In between these two gates is a large souvenir arcade where you can purchase items such as traditional Japanese fans or sample a local cake filled with red bean paste. Be sure to look upwards at the ceilings in the temple buildings for some beautiful murals.

Little Big Town in Wales

By Linda Tancs

Hay-on-Wye is a Welsh market town nestled along the English border. It’s little in size (you can walk it in around 20 minutes) but big on books—really big, considering there are more than 30 bookstores, many specializing in out of print or hard to locate titles. No wonder, then, why it’s called the Town of Books. Today marks the start of one of the signature events of the year, Hay Festival. Running through June 3, the extravaganza comprises over 600 events featuring writers, artists, academics, thinkers and performers selected by the program committee. Special festival bus service linking Hay with trains and coaches at Hereford’s train and bus stations and Worcester Crowngate Bus Station runs for the duration of the event.

Seeing Green on the Big Island

By Linda Tancs

Hawaii has more naturally colored beaches than anywhere else, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that verdant landscaping is not limited to lush tropical forestry. Indeed, just head to Papakolea (popularly known as Green Sand Beach) for a matcha-like heap of sandy shore formed thousands of years ago from an eruption resulting in volcanic olivine silicate crystals. Not too far from South Point (the southernmost point in the United States) on Hawaii’s Big Island, the beach is accessible via a vigorous two-and-a-half-mile hike.

A Heavenly Estate in the Forest of Dean

By Linda Tancs

Best known for its gardens and Roman temple complex, Lydney Park is a 17th-century country estate surrounding Lydney House, located at Lydney in the Forest of Dean district in Gloucestershire, England. You might call it a heavenly place, given that its ownership descends from William Bathurst, a composer of church hymns. Open only from April to June (and some select days thereafter), the spring gardens are abloom with flowering cherries, magnolias, scented spring flowering shrubs, azaleas and rhododendrons, to name a few. Excavation on the estate in 1805 also exposed evidence of settlements dating back to 100 B.C., a Norman castle and extensive ruins of a Roman camp including a temple.

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