Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for February, 2022

Glowing in New Zealand

By Linda Tancs

New Zealand’s Waitomo has a certain glow to it—literally. It’s home to glowworm-studded caves, a popular tourist destination. The most famous of the caves, The Glowworm Caves, offers visitors a boat ride through a grotto displaying a galaxy of these illuminating creatures. The narrators of this hour-long tour include direct descendants of the Maori chief who originally explored the cave. Waitomo is located less than three hours from Auckland.

The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue

By Linda Tancs

Known as “the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue,” New York City’s Congregation Shearith Israel is the first Jewish congregation to be established in North America. It was established in 1654 in what was then New Amsterdam by Jews who left Dutch Brazil. Members of the congregation have led distinguished lives, enriching both the city and America. Its famous members include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo and poet Emma Lazarus, whose poem “The New Colossus” is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. The synagogue is located on 70th Street at Central Park West.

Getting to The Point

By Linda Tancs

There’s a point in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet. Known appropriately enough as The Point, this water gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains also offers views of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Lower Town (the most-visited area of the park) and a short walk from the Lower Town shuttle bus stop.

Israel’s National Trail

By Linda Tancs

From the northernmost border to the southernmost tip of the Red Sea, Israel’s National Trail was once named by National Geographic as one of the 20 best “epic hiking trails” in the world. It stretches around 683 miles, boasting a variety of landscapes from deserts in the south to forests, rolling hills and beaches in the north. A popular hike is the Big Fin, requiring a steep climb up the side of a makhtesh, a geological formation unique to the region that’s formed when soft sandstone is washed away by erosion, leaving behind steep walls of harder limestone. You may be lucky enough to find a “Trail Angel,” part of a network of volunteers assisting hikers through the mammoth trek as well as in the preparation.

Hoboken’s Chairman

By Linda Tancs

Frank Sinatra spent his formative years in Hoboken, New Jersey. The city’s most famous son, he was known by many nicknames, among them Old Blue Eyes, The Voice and Chairman of the Board. The chairman reference is arguably the most popular and stuck with him for life, a moniker that arose from his founding of Reprise Records in 1960. His legacy is celebrated at the Hoboken Historical Museum, which offers a Sinatra Walking Tour map. In addition to a plaque commemorating the former site of his childhood home (destroyed by fire), a tranquil walk awaits you along the waterfront at Sinatra Park. Start your tour at the museum at 1301 Hudson Street.

The Venice of Brazil

By Linda Tancs

Embraced by the Atlantic Ocean, the Brazilian city of Recife developed as a city of trade and as a major port. It’s known as “the Venice of Brazil” because the city is crossed by waterways linked by numerous bridges. Recife Antigo (the old town) offers glimpses into the city’s colonial past following the Dutch and Portuguese occupations. Other sites to visit include the Mamulengo Theatre (puppet theatre, a staple in northeast Brazil) and Paço do Frevo, a cultural space dedicated to frevo dance and music, which has been recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Ancient History in Romania

By Linda Tancs

Once a major fortress in Transylvania, Rupea Citadel is one of the oldest archaeological sites in Romania with human settlements dating to the Paleolithic period. The 14th-century, stone fort sports 10 towers, the most spectacular being the Pentagonal Tower, its angular structure being uniquely suited to act as a sundial by reading its shadow. Sitting on a basalt cliff, many forts occupied the site over the ages. It would’ve been lost to history if a restoration team hadn’t rehabilitated the site around a decade ago.

A Path Through Italy

By Linda Tancs

The Italy Trail (Sentiero Italia) is a hiker’s paradise through Italy. Encompassing around 4,300 miles, it’ll take you from the Alps in the north to the southern Apennines. In between are 20 regions, 655 passes, 360 villages, towns and hamlets and six UNESCO sites. It’s hard to imagine improving upon such a path, but a project is in the works to do just that. Known as the Path of the Parks (Sentiero dei Parchi), the route will expand the backbone provided by Sentiero Italia and connect all of Italy’s 25 national parks, including those on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. The project’s completion is anticipated in 2033, so don’t strap on those hiking boots just yet.

The Tunnel of Love

By Linda Tancs

It might be hard to imagine that a section of industrial railway could attract romantics from around the world, but that’s what happens at the Tunnel of Love in Ukraine. Located outside of Klevan, the 2-mile passage of track is wrapped head-to-toe with vegetation. The resulting canopy provides an irresistible tunnel of sorts for romantic strolls. Just keep an eye out for the train.

Kalahari Sands

By Linda Tancs

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a national park formed from the merger of South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park. It’s a vast wilderness area stretching for over 14,000 square miles in the Kalahari, boasting five sands ranging in color from red in the dunes to yellow-brown in the riverbeds along with fossil river valleys and grasslands. Wildlife is abundant, including over 170 species of birds, several species of antelope, the famous black-maned Kalahari lion, jackal, brown hyena and wild cats. The park is also completely unfenced, allowing for wildlife to move freely along the ancient migration routes so necessary for their survival in the desert. The main entry and departure point between South Africa and Botswana is at the Two Rivers/Twee Rivieren gate, which also has camping facilities, chalets, shops and a restaurant.

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