Travelrific® Travel Journal

Picture postcards in prose.™ Check out the blogroll on the front page for official merchandise and other resources!

Archive for December, 2019

A Rewarding Experience

By Linda Tancs

Most folks probably wouldn’t consider a trek through an airport (particularly on a layover) to be a rewarding experience. But you might feel differently at London’s Heathrow airport, where retail therapy is made more encouraging with Heathrow Rewards. Similar to other loyalty programs, you simply use your card at virtually any retail location at the airport to collect points toward spending on shopping, dining or transportation services. You can even boost your frequent flier balance by applying rewards points to your account. The program is free to join.

A Dutch Hansa Town

By Linda Tancs

The Dutch Hanseatic towns are seven towns along the IJssel River, part of the Hanseatic (Hansa) League, a once powerful confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in northwestern and central Europe. One of those towns is Kampen, a charming place boasting its mercantile roots with historic warehouses and a fish market near the old town hall that has been doing business since the 14th century. It even hosts a replica of the medieval merchant ship De Kamper Hanze Kogge. Once the site of a prosperous tobacco industry, De Olifant is the only brand still produced in the factory on Voorstraat. Take the Kamperlijntje train from Zwolle, just nine miles away.

Seattle’s Hidden Treasure

By Linda Tancs

There’s a side to Seattle, Washington, that you definitely haven’t seen. That’s because it’s hidden underground, a city entombed when the locale rebuilt on top of itself after the Great Fire of 1889. The result is a series of interconnecting tunnels revealing subterranean storefronts and sidewalks with plenty of stories to tell. You can experience it via a 75-minute underground tour beginning beneath Doc Maynard’s Public House and ending at Rogues Gallery. The easiest way to get there is by bus or light rail.

The Little White House

By Linda Tancs

Florida’s only presidential museum, the Little White House in Key West was a sanctuary and working office for numerous U.S. presidents. It was foremost the winter White House for President Harry S. Truman and remains an occasional site for government functions. Tours are given daily. This is a great time to enjoy vintage Christmas decor from a bygone era. Merry Christmas!

World’s Longest Sea Bridge

By Linda Tancs

Dubbed the world’s longest sea bridge, China’s Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge connects the Chinese mainland to Hong Kong and Macau. When it opened last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed it as a showpiece of innovation and integration, spanning 34 miles across the Pearl River estuary. Now you can shave some time off the journey from the mainland to enjoy the Christmas celebrations in Hong Kong and Macau.

The Spanish Tuscany

By Linda Tancs

Matarranya (Matarraña) is a Spanish gem bordering Catalonia and Valencia. Dubbed the Spanish Tuscany for its natural and cultural highlights, each part of the region boasts its own delights, like vineyards, olive groves, cheese and black truffles. Named after the Matarraña River, its most rugged terrain is the Puertos de Beceite range, a scenic area with a significant forest mass. Historically, the earliest civilization is evidenced by prehistoric rock art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin (known as Levantine art), a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing over 700 locations. If you’ve never heard of this locale, it wouldn’t be surprising given that it is relatively unknown outside the immediate area. It’s reachable from Barcelona or Valencia by bus or train, and Reus airport is an hour or so away.

Intrigue at the Palace

By Linda Tancs

Who doesn’t love a good story? The walls of Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, England, are filled with them. At the Great Hall, for example, Edward II was forced to abdicate in 1327 upon rising tensions with his French wife. Centuries later, Robert Dudley (Earl of Leicester) laid out the iconic tower and a formal privy garden in a final attempt to gain the hand of Elizabeth I, who stayed at the castle several times. Those gardens have been reconstructed, along with a staircase leading to Elizabeth’s chambers. One of the best castle ruins in the country, its view across the fields is one of the most famous landscapes painted by English Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner.

Kale in Macedonia

By Linda Tancs

Kale in Macedonia: no, we’re not talking about today’s trendy vegetable. Turkish for “fortress” (and pronounced “kah-lay”), Kale is a historic fortress located in the old town of Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. You can’t miss it, situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River, the longest one in the country. Along the river’s eastern bank is the Old Bazaar, another landmark in the country, touted as the largest bazaar in the Balkans outside Istanbul. You can see these and other significant sites on a free walking and sightseeing tour (tips are appreciated).

The Cajun Food Trail

By Linda Tancs

Cajun cuisine is a staple of Louisiana’s food culture. That’s especially true in the Cajun Bayou. Just 45 minutes south of New Orleans, it flows through wetlands and Cajun communities, the perfect place for a Cajun Bayou Food Trail. Along the route you can sample the Cajun delights of over a dozen restaurants. Stop by the visitor’s center in Raceland for a foodie passport and trail information. You can exchange your passport for a free, commemorative t-shirt once you’ve visited seven restaurants.

The Southernmost Post Office

By Linda Tancs

Move over, icebergs. The star of the show in Antarctica is…a post office? Well, not just any post office—the most southerly in the world. Located at Port Lockroy, it’s a British outpost run by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust. Each letter sent from there (at least 70,000, at last count) will receive a highly-prized local stamp and postmark. The office, which also hosts a gift shop and museum, is manned for five months during high season, when, as luck would have it, a colony of gentoo penguins swarm the area to mate and raise their young.

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