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Archive for October, 2019

Made From Scratch

By Linda Tancs

Brazil’s third most populous city, Brasília was built from scratch (an empty plateau in the heartland) in the 20th century, intended to replace Rio as the nation’s capital. It’s perhaps best known for its futuristic buildings such as the National Congress, the crown-like, hyperboloid structure of the cathedral and the presidential palace. Take in the bird’s-eye view from the TV tower, the highest point in the city.


The End of the World Train

By Linda Tancs

There’s a certain finality to Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego National Park, the southernmost tip of the Andean-Patagonian forest, a place where a particular variety of red fox resides and birch forest predominates. It’s there that you’ll find the final part of the Andes. It’s also where you can catch the End of the World Train (Tren del Fin del Mundo), a historic, narrow-gauge steam railway journey between Ushuaia (commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world) and the park. The hour-long journey (one way) presents stunning vistas accented by the Pipo River, Macarena cascade, a tree cemetery and the forest. An onboard audio tour is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and the train runs year-round.

Moon Dance

By Linda Tancs

Since ancient times, full moons have been associated with strange behavior. So imagine the fun at a full moon party—as the name implies, it’s a party that takes place once (or more) each month during the full moon. It’s a cherished event at places like Trellis Bay in the British Virgin Islands, not that you need an excuse, of course, to dance and have fun on a beach in the Caribbean. Calypso music wafts through the night, punctuated by fire and stilt dancers as well as giant metal fire balls. As the song goes, it’s a marvelous night for a moon dance.

The White Temple

By Linda Tancs

Typically adorned in brilliant colors, there’s one temple in Thailand that breaks the mold—the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) just outside Chiang Rai. The brainchild of artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, its ghostly, otherworldly appearance is intended to convey Buddha’s purity. Funded entirely by the artist, the structure depicts Buddhist ideals of life and death. For temple “purists,” there is an ornate, gold building next to the temple; it houses a public restroom popularly referred to as the most beautiful in Thailand.

A Thousand Rice Paddies

By Linda Tancs

Shiroyone Senmaida (meaning “a thousand rice paddies in Shiroyone”) is a rice terrace outside Wajima, Japan, comprising 1,004 small rice paddies on steep slopes beside the Sea of Japan. Nationally designated a “Special Place of Scenic Beauty,” each field is farmed by hand. The view is stunning at any time of year, but from mid-October to mid-March (when farming ceases), the fields are illuminated at night with thousands of LED lights that change color every 30 minutes. To get there, take the local bus toward Ushitsu to Shiroyone Senmaida station.

Valparaiso’s Museum House

By Linda Tancs

Pablo Neruda was a Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, diplomat and politician. Of his three homes, his writer’s nook in Valparaiso became his favorite hideaway—although hardly hidden, since it towers above the other rooftops overlooking the south side of a broad, open bay of the Pacific Ocean. The multilayered, multicolored abode is named La Sebastiana after its original owner, Sebastian Collao, who assigned the whole third floor of the building as a bird cage. Neruda’s taste was no less whimsical. Some of the windows resemble a ship’s skylights, and the interior is littered with old maps, paintings, a merry-go-round horse and a large portrait of Walt Whitman, his “father in poetry.” The audio guide is available in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.

Island Hopping in the Maldives

By Linda Tancs

Known for its beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs, the Maldives represent, as local tourism puts it, the sunny side of life. As more of the islands comprising its ring-shaped atolls open to tourism, island hopping is a popular way to experience life like a local. That’s especially true for locales within a reasonable distance of the capital Malé, like Dhigurah. Considered one of the most beautiful islands in the nation, its long, sandy beach is easily walkable and ends in the south with a sandbank. Whale sharks preside year round, offering safari opportunities. Take the speedboat there from Malé.

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