Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for February, 2020

Pancakes in New Zealand

By Linda Tancs

The Paparoa Range is a mountain range in the West Coast region of New Zealand’s South Island, made of ancient granite shaped by ice to form a rugged backdrop to Paparoa National Park near Punakaiki. Limestone underlies most of the park, creating its signature cliffs, canyons and caves. But of all the coastal formations, the park is perhaps best known for what’s popularly referred to as the “pancake stacks.” You also won’t want to miss the three blowholes at Dolomite Point, which put on their best performance during a southwesterly swell at high tide. Intercity buses provide regular service to the area.

A Gem in Savannah

By Linda Tancs

Wormsloe Historic Site is a gem to behold in Savannah, Georgia. The site was once the colonial estate of carpenter Noble Jones, who came to Georgia with James Oglethorpe and the first group of settlers in 1733. The ruins of Jones’s tabby house (built in 1745) represent the oldest standing structure in Savannah, but even more breathtaking are the mile-long rows of oaks with sweeping branches lining the avenue to the estate, covering the driveway like a giant arch. Along with costumed interpretation on the nature trails, the locale offers a short film on the founding of Georgia and great views over the Skidaway Narrows, where the house was built to defend the strategic section of the Skidaway River from Spanish invasion.

Florida’s Treasure Coast

By Linda Tancs

Florida’s Treasure Coast is located on the state’s southeastern coast. Comprising three counties (Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin), it might be best known (as its name implies) as the place where ship-wrecked coins wash up on the shores. That’s because over 300 years ago a fleet of 11 Spanish ships wrecked offshore between the St. Lucie River and Cape Canaveral while returning to Spain with riches from the colonies. You might still dig up a few gold coins today, but don’t miss the area’s other attractions, like beaches, tournament fishing and nature reserves including the nearly 12,000-acre Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

Land of Frankincense

By Linda Tancs

Frankincense is to Oman what peanut butter is to jelly. It’s just hard to imagine one without the other. Indeed, frankincense is so closely associated with the history of Oman that the Dhofar region is recognized by UNESCO as the Land of Frankincense. In Wadi Dawkah (the incense forest), in particular, trees have been harvested for frankincense from ancient times to the present day. You can learn more about the historical and cultural importance of frankincense at the Museum of the Land of Frankincense in Salalah.

A Little Alabama in California

By Linda Tancs

If you’re a fan of natural stone arches like those found in Arches National Park, then you’ll surely love Alabama Hills. No, it isn’t in Alabama; you’ll find it west of Lone Pine in Inyo County, California. And you’ll find more than arches (most of which bear an east/west view). In fact, you’ll be amazed at the bevy of golden granite boulders rising like sharpened pencils from the desert floor. This region of rock formations got its name from Southern sympathizers celebrating the victories of the CSS Alabama, the most successful and notorious Confederate raiding vessel of the Civil War.

Good to the Last Drop in Nashville

By Linda Tancs

The Cheek family of Nashville, Tennessee, were successful entrepreneurs. One of their ventures gave rise to Maxwell House coffee, proclaimed to be “good to the last drop” by President Theodore Roosevelt. Thanks to their efforts, the public gets to enjoy the mansion and gardens of Cheekwood. Originally built as the home of Leslie and Mabel Cheek in 1929, the 55-acre estate is now the site of a botanical garden as well as an art museum in the mansion. The estate is also one of the finest examples of the Country Place Era, a period of American landscape architecture design reflecting the commissioning of extensive gardens intended to emulate those found among the grand manor estates in Europe. The site is less than nine miles southwest of downtown Nashville.

Royal Digs in Northern Ireland

By Linda Tancs

An official residence of Queen Elizabeth II in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle in County Down has undergone a massive restoration not only to the Georgian house but also to the gardens, featuring a remodeled Walled Garden and a previously unseen Lost Garden. Entry to the manor is by guided tour only, where visitors will see the State Rooms, including the Throne Room, scene of the Queen’s coronation ball in 1953. The house is also the home of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. After the 45-minute house tour, be sure to leave plenty of time to meander the 100-acre garden.

Murals Galore in Moose Jaw

By Linda Tancs

Moose Jaw is a city in southern Saskatchewan, Canada. Situated on the Trans-Canada Highway, it was chosen as a division point for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1800s and became a boom town in the 1920s after those railway connections drew numerous manufacturing industries. Today it boasts of itself as the mural capital of North America, sporting some 46 outdoor murals on building exteriors downtown. That’s sure to please lovers of street art. While you’re there, don’t miss Mac the Moose, a giant moose sculpture on the grounds of the town’s visitor’s center on the corner of East Thatcher Drive and the Trans-Canada Highway.

The Wall of Love

By Linda Tancs

Where else but in the “city of love” would you expect to find a “I Love You Wall”? A must-see for romance seekers in Paris (especially with Valentine’s Day right around the corner), Le mur des je t’aime is a mural built on a surface of 430 square feet comprising 612 squares of enameled lava, on which “I love you” is rendered 311 times in 250 languages. Located on the square at Place des Abbesses in Montmartre, admission is free.

A Rival to Versailles

By Linda Tancs

The Medici family ruled Florence, Italy, during the Renaissance. Their contributions to local culture are legendary, as are the many villas and gardens that family members accumulated over the centuries. One of their largest estates was Villa di Pratolino, its mansion and park environment worthy of comparison to Versailles. Eventually abandoned, the villa and the majority of its outdoor trappings became lost to history, and the complex was eventually purchased by a Florentine council for use as a public park. It hasn’t lost all of its Medici charms, however. A surviving element of the original estate is the imposing Colossus of the Apennines, a gigantic, 16th-century stone sculpture by Giambologna. Pratolino is about seven miles from the center of Florence; take bus #25A from Piazza San Marco.

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