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Archive for June, 2019

Australia’s Jumbo Shrimp

By Linda Tancs

Jumbo shrimp takes on a whole new meaning in West Ballina, Australia, where you’ll find The Big Prawn, billed as “the world’s largest artificial prawn.” Nearly 30 feet high and weighing around 40 tons, the beloved crustacean survived demolition years ago and was relocated to its current site beside Bunnings, a hardware store. As you might imagine, the prawn was built to celebrate the local fishing industry.

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China’s Water City

By Linda Tancs

Some might say China invented canal culture, boasting the longest man-made waterway in the world, the Grand Canal. Stretching over 1,100 miles from the city of Beijing to the city of Hangzhou, the UNESCO World Heritage Site was built over 1,300 years ago to supply agricultural products to major cities like Beijing. Liaocheng was a key commercial port along the route, one reason why it’s known as the “water city.” Not surprisingly, its prominent association with this famous canal is highlighted at its Canal Museum. The city is also dotted with lakes, the centerpiece being Dongchang Lake. The museum is located within its scenic district. Liaocheng is about four hours away by train from Beijing.

Africa’s Best-Kept Secret

By Linda Tancs

Portuguese is the official language of São Tomé and Príncipe, a country located in central Africa on the Equator in the Gulf of Guinea. It consists of two main islands—São Tomé and Príncipe, and several rocky islets. Its colonial heritage is evident in the capital city of São Tomé (Portuguese for Saint Thomas), dotted with pastel-colored, colonial-era buildings with arched windows and ornate balconies. The dry season extends from June to September in the northeast but scarcely anywhere else, which makes for lighter tourism than other places in the region. Nonetheless, intrepid travelers will reap the benefits of unspoiled nature in Ôbo Park, quiet beaches and spectacular volcanic plugs.

The Light of Things in Bourges

By Linda Tancs

A popular medieval city in central France, Bourges is known for its half-timbered buildings. It’s also home to Saint Etienne Cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage Monument) and Jacques Coeur Palace, a national monument in the flamboyant Gothic style commissioned by an influential French nobleman. As if the view by day isn’t fine enough, the city outdoes itself in summer with Illuminated Nights, bathing the top attractions in a light and sound show beginning at dusk. Lasting almost two hours, the show starts at Le Jardin de l’Archeveche beside the cathedral.

Argentina’s Final Frontier

By Linda Tancs

The southernmost city in the world and the gateway to Antarctica, Ushuaia is Argentina’s final frontier. In the past, the town has been a missionary base, a penal colony and a naval base for the Argentine navy. Perched on a steep hill, it’s surrounded by the Martial Mountains and the Beagle Channel, where adventures with penguins and orcas await. It’s also a prime site where “the longest night in the world” is celebrated. Although the festivities continue from June 20 through June 22, the longest night of the year and the winter solstice take place in the Southern Hemisphere on June 21. That’s the focus for the city’s festival, drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists. A key event is a “burning of obstacles and impediments,” wherein participants write down all the difficulties that have prevented them from fulfilling their goals. The papers are then thrown into a large bonfire on the solstice night.

The Flower of the Cyclades

By Linda Tancs

Situated between Mykonos and Santorini, the Greek island of Íos (or Niós, as the locals call it) is one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades, named for a Greek word alluding to flowers. It might be best known for its vibrant nightlife, but the hilly isle’s quieter reputation lies in its charming Cycladic architecture of whitewashed sugar houses and windmills, historic sites and, of course, beautiful beaches. Known as the resting place of the epic poet Homer, Homer’s Tomb is arguably the most well known historic site, located on the north side of the island. Other areas of note are Skárkos (a Bronze Age settlement) and Palaiókastro, an old fort from the Byzantine period. Be sure to check out the amazing view from Panayia Gremiótissa, a church built on the edge of a cliff. A ferry from Santorini takes under an hour.

Italy’s Butterfly Haven

By Linda Tancs

Nestled in the mountains in northeast Italy, Bordano hosts the largest butterfly enclosure in the country, Casa della Farfalle. Thousands of butterflies of every species fly about in greenhouses designed to replicate ecosystems in Africa, the Amazon and Asian and Australian rainforests. The facility is open daily from March to September.

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