Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for August, 2021

Bears and Unicorns in Bolivia

By Linda Tancs

Located in the so-called Elbow of the Andes, Bolivia’s Amboró National Park is a place of tremendous ecological diversity. In fact, its location features the convergence of three ecosystems: the high-altitude Andes altiplano, the dry Chaco region and the lush pampas of the Amazon Basin. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the fauna varies widely as well and includes some rarities. For instance, spectacled bears roam there, the only wild bear remaining in South America. You’ll also find the horned curassow, a rare bird species. Its trademark blue “horn” above the orange bill is responsible for the nickname, “unicorn bird.” Several tours are available to guide you through this immense region. If traveling independently, it’s best to hire a local guide.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Railway History in York

By Linda Tancs

Billed as the world’s largest railway collection, the National Railway Museum in York, England, brings to life centuries of locomotive history. It’s also where they brought to life the Flying Scotsman, restoring it to its former glory and offering it for special passenger tours across the U.K. Boasting a collection of over 1 million railway-related objects, the facility hosts Mallard (the world’s fastest steam engine), a replica of George Stephenson’s Rocket (a pioneering steam locomotive invention) and the only bullet train known to exist outside Japan.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Turkish Battlefields

By Linda Tancs

One of the bloodiest conflicts of World War I occurred at the Gallipoli Pensinsula in Turkey at the Battle of Gallipoli, where the Allied Powers unsuccessfully attempted to control the sea route from Europe to Russia. Today those battlefields are protected as a historical national park honoring over 500,000 war dead. The park includes memorials, monuments and cemeteries ringed by green hills, sandy beaches and inviting waters. You can visit from Istanbul via car or bus or via ferry from Canakkale to Kilitbahir or Eceabat. Taking the route from Istanbul will give you a better view of the battlefields.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Local Color in Tirana

By Linda Tancs

The future literally looks bright in Albania. Billed as the last unturned stone of Europe, the small Balkan country across from the heel of Italy is enjoying a boost in tourism, especially in its color-happy capital, Tirana. That’s where you’ll find boldly rehabilitated Soviet-era buildings, repainted in blue, green, orange, purple, red and yellow. Some local favorites are the “rainbow” building at Wilson Square, the “Titanic” (a purple behemoth at Bajram Curri Boulevard) and geometric chaos around Unaza.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

The Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks

By Linda Tancs

The oldest and largest natural attraction in New York’s Adirondacks, Ausable Chasm is a sandstone gorge featuring a vertical-walled canyon made of 500 million-year-old rock touted as the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks.” Adventure reigns there, with enough heart-thumping tours to satisfy the undaunted. A family-friendly option is the guided via ferrata, a protected climbing route characterized by a steel cable that runs along the rock, offering a unique journey through a region of the chasm not accessible from any other trail. You’ll also find scenic walking and hiking trails, mountain biking, tubing and river rafting options. Their Classic Tour is the most popular offering, a two-part walk and float tour that allows visitors a complete end-to-end visit of the chasm with a trolley/shuttle return to the welcome center once completed. 

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Tall Trees in Britain

By Linda Tancs

Some of the tallest trees in Britain are located in the gardens of Blair Castle near Pitlochry in Scotland. You’ll find them in Diana’s Grove, a tranquil wooded area adjacent to the castle. The Banvie Burn runs through the grove and is crossed by two 18th-century bridges giving access to the ancient Celtic ruins of St. Bride’s Kirk. The herbaceous borders are particularly resplendent in Hercules Garden in summertime, where a life-sized statue of Hercules presides over a nine-acre walled Georgian garden. If you can tear yourself away from the exquisite environs, then be sure to take a self-guided tour of 30 rooms in the castle, covering 700 years of history of the Atholl family.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

New Zealand’s Volcanic Wonderland

By Linda Tancs

Located in the Central North Island region, Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest national park. Established in the late 1800s, it’s recognized as much for its volcanic landscape as for its religious and cultural heritage. At the heart of the park are its three active volcano mountains—Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu—part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. To the Maori people who have inhabited the land for centuries, it’s a sacred place. The park’s natural and cultural attributes have earned it two World Heritage designations. Ruapehu has two of the largest ski fields in the country, catering to everyone from beginner to advanced, making it a perfect destination for this winter season. If summertime is more to your liking, don’t fret. Scenic chairlift rides operate on Whakapapa (the larger of the two fields) throughout most of the year offering spectacular views over the region.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

The Pilgrim’s Way

By Linda Tancs

Arguably one of the best known of England’s pilgrimage routes, Pilgrim’s Way is a journey from Winchester (or alternatively, Southwark) to Canterbury. It’s a well-trodden route, having been walked since 1172 to a shrine of Saint Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was murdered there two years earlier. A typical journey from Winchester Cathedral lasts about 12 days; the Southwark route is shorter. Medieval pilgrims would’ve borne a rough tunic, heavy cloak and a wooden staff along with safe-conduct, written permission from their local priest in an effort to secure safe travel. These days, modern pilgrims can avail themselves of a pilgrim passport from cathedrals on the way as well as from Canterbury Cathedral on receipt of a self-addressed, stamped envelope. As you progress along the route, get at least one stamp in each place you stay. Some churches also have special pilgrim stamps and post a notice telling you who in the locality will stamp your passport.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

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