Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for January, 2020

A View of Slovenia

By Linda Tancs

With views stretching as far as Slovenia, the castle fortress known as Veliki Tabor in northwestern Croatia has a storied past. Some of its parts date to the 12th century. Later, it was remodeled by a family that ruled for three centuries. It would undergo several transformations since then, including use as a prison, a nunnery and a warehouse. Now a museum, a guided tour includes a walk through the fort center and the courtyard gallery, highlighting the castle’s  architectural elements, from Late Gothic to Renaissance and Baroque.

Grey Towers

By Linda Tancs

Gifford Pinchot is legendary in Pennsylvania. Son of a wealthy wallpaper merchant, he was twice Governor of Pennsylvania and the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. His family’s summer home, Grey Towers, is in Milford, under the care of the Forest Service. Designed in the style of a French château to reflect the family’s French heritage, it’s open for guided tours during the summer season. The stunning grounds, however, are open year-round.

MUM in Binche

By Linda Tancs

Think of all the carnivals in the world and the masks traditionally associated with them, sometimes accompanied by parades, flamboyant costumes or all-night parties. Maybe Venice or Rio comes to mind. If you can’t possibly attend them, don’t despair. You can experience many of them at the International Museum of Carnival and Mask (MÜM) in Binche, Belgium. A permanent exhibition there journeys across the continents, exploring the European winter festivals, the ceremonies of North America and Latin America, customs of Africa and traditions of Asia and Oceania.

Older Than Dinosaurs in Chemnitz

By Linda Tancs

Chemnitz in eastern Germany might be better known as a city formerly named after Karl Marx, whose colossal monument still graces Brückenstrasse. That, you might say, is ancient history, but not nearly as ancient as the petrified tree stumps dating back hundreds of years. They were discovered in the city around the 16th century and can be viewed in the inner courtyard of the DAStietz cultural center.

A Thousand Minarets

By Linda Tancs

Its preponderance of Islamic architecture has earned Cairo, Egypt, the moniker “the city of a thousand minarets.” Indeed, there’s no shortage of minarets piercing the city’s skyline. One of many standouts is the Alabaster Mosque (alabaster being very common to ancient Egypt and Greece), reported to be the most visited mosque in Egypt. Its unusually high minarets offer sweeping views, including the Giza Plateau. Another mosque, Al-Azhar, sits in the heart of Islamic Cairo. Not only is it almost as old as Cairo itself but it also houses the world’s oldest university and claims to have originated the black graduation gown worn universally today.

Wren’s Legacy in Missouri

By Linda Tancs

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, is a 17th-century English church located in Fulton, Missouri. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of 1666 devastated London (and subsequently badly damaged during the Blitz), it was shipped piece-by-piece to its current location at Westminster College in Fulton, where it was faithfully restored to Wren’s specifications and serves as the only building in the U.S. designed by him. Beneath the church is the National Churchill Museum, honoring the prime minister’s visit to the college in 1946 and recognized in 2009 by  Congress as America’s permanent tribute to him.

The Pearl of Minsk

By Linda Tancs

The capital of Belarus, Minsk is a colorful city full of historical places, monuments and sports centers. Among its many offerings, a true gem is Trinity Suburb, located in the historic part of Minsk, on the left bank of the Svisloch River. Dating to around the 12th century, the development then known as Trinity Hill was a thriving commercial center. No less so today, this picturesque setting with pastel-colored homes boasts museums, antique shops, souvenir stores (bearing items with iconic views of Trinity), cafes, restaurants and art galleries. Get there via Niamiha station on the metro.

Landmark Luxury in NYC

By Linda Tancs

In 1882, prominent NYC financier Henry Villard commissioned the design of six Italian Neo-Renaissance townhouses around a Madison Avenue courtyard. Little could he have imagined that his vision gave birth to a landmark. Ultimately, famed real estate developer Harry Helmsley transformed the property into a 55-story hotel, the largest luxury hotel in the city. Now known as Lotte New York Palace Hotel, the historic Villard Houses occupy the foreground of this luxury retreat offering a storied setting for business and leisure travelers as well as for television shows and movies. Maybe this is the place to call home for the upcoming NYC Restaurant Week.

A Shell Cemetery

By Linda Tancs

At first glance it might look like abandoned granite sidewalk slabs on a beach, but Thailand’s Shell Cemetery is actually thousands of shells stuck together to form a solid mass. At least 20 million years old, the cemetery came into being after limestone deposits in the water covered and fossilized gastropods, creating these prehistoric blocks. The site, reportedly one of only a handful in the world, is located just miles east of Ao Nang, a resort town in southern Thailand’s Krabi Province.

The Heart of Skiing in Austria

By Linda Tancs

Some say that Lech is the heart of skiing in Austria. That’s a fair statement, as is the fact that it attracts blue bloods galore. The ritzy resort in the Arlberg region no doubt earns its chops as the cradle of Alpine skiing thanks to 190 miles of ski runs and over 124 miles of high Alpine powder runs, an area teeming with enough snow to guarantee a season from November to April. The free local and ski buses provide convenient transport, along with 88 cable cars and lifts. The most popular ski track is the White Ring (Der Weisse Ring), where the legends have trained, but you’ll find tracks for all ages and performance levels. Off the pistes why not visit Skyspace Lech, a futuristic-looking dome built into the landscape that provides an interesting convergence of light, sky and earth.

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