Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for September, 2022

Europe’s Largest Clock Face

By Linda Tancs

You can tell the time from anywhere in Zürich, Switzerland, thanks to St. Peter’s Church. The only Baroque church in the city, it boasts the largest clock face in Europe, with a dial measuring over 28 feet in diameter. The ninth-century church is also the oldest in the city, its tower having served as a fire lookout point for part of its history. Be sure to step inside, where the treasures include crystal chandeliers, an organ with 53 stops, a baptismal font dating to 1598 and 15th-century choir chairs.

The Gullah Geechee

By Linda Tancs

Gullah Geechee is a unique, Creole language spoken in the coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida by descendants of Africans who were enslaved on the rice, indigo and cotton plantations of the lower Atlantic Coast. Their culture is celebrated via the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, a 12,000 square mile, federal National Heritage Area. From Pender County, North Carolina, to St. Johns County, Florida, the corridor comprises places of significance to the Gullah Geechee people both historically and culturally. Attractions include McLeod Plantation in South Carolina (the only plantation in the state to tell the story of slavery from the perspective of the enslaved), Harrington School on Georgia’s St. Simons Island (the main educational structure for three Gullah Geechee communities) and Fort Mose Historic State Park in St. Augustine, Florida, site of the first free black settlement in what is now the United States. 

The Lion Rock

By Linda Tancs

One of Sri Lanka’s most popular attractions is Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Otherwise known as Lion Rock, the site in the Central Province boasts the ruins of an ancient stronghold from the 5th century atop a rock standing over 600 feet above the surrounding plain. It was built by King Kashyapa as a fortress against attacks from his brother, the rightful heir to their father’s throne. On a plateau halfway up the rock Kashyapa built a gateway in the form of a huge lion with a staircase emerging from the lion’s mouth, giving rise to the moniker “Lion Rock.” A series of stairs leads to the summit, a portion of which contains the remnants of the lion’s paws and the first stairs.

An Aristocrat in Hyde Park

By Linda Tancs

The Vanderbilt Mansion at Hyde Park, New York, was a seasonal residence and part of a portfolio of properties occupied by Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt. One of America’s wealthiest families, the manor’s design is very much in keeping with the opulence that defines Gilded Age country houses. The mansion itself is described as a Beaux-Arts interpretation of the Italian Renaissance. Inside, the rooms are lavishly decorated with exotic wood paneling, imported marble, lush velvets, French tapestries, and, as was the custom, antique building components salvaged from the great houses of Europe. Boasting original furnishings, a centerpiece of the estate is Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom. A recreation of a French royal bedroom, it features a canopied state bed, raised on a dais against a wall and separated from the rest of the room by a partition of raised columns with curvilinear balustrade, an architectural convention borrowed from many European royal palaces. Access to the mansion, a National Historic Site, is by guided tour only.

Home on the Stadium

By Linda Tancs

Home on the range (the title of an old cowboy song) is one thing. A home on the stadium is another. That’s the case for the Hank Aaron Childhood Home & Museum, which was relocated some years ago to rest at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. The house was built in 1942 by Hank’s dad and increased in size in subsequent years. Voted one of the best baseball museums in the country, the house chronicles both his life and storied career and features several family artifacts. The house is located at the front of the stadium.

A Time Capsule in Durham

By Linda Tancs

It isn’t every day you get to literally walk through a time capsule, so a place like the Beamish Museum in England’s County Durham is a real treat. Arguably one of the best open-air, living museums in the world, it offers faithful replicas of life in the Northeast from the 1800s to the 1950s. Among its many charms you’ll find a look at Rowley Station as it existed in Edwardian times, a replica of renowned Georgian quilter Joseph Hedley’s home, coal community cottages and a farm from the 1940s. The 300-acre site is served by vintage trams and buses. The closest train station to the museum is Chester-le-Street, where regular bus service from the town centre to Beamish takes about 20 minutes.

Cape Cod’s Oldest Church

By Linda Tancs

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Old Indian Meeting House in Mashpee, Massachusetts, is the oldest Native American church in the eastern U.S. and the oldest church on Cape Cod. According to many sources, it was built in 1684. Located next to the cemetery on Route 28, it’s of extraordinary importance to the Wampanoag Tribe and has been extensively renovated.

A Pearl in the Gulf

By Linda Tancs

Manama, the modern capital of the Gulf island nation of Bahrain, has been at the center of major trade routes since antiquity. More than 6,000 years of its history is recounted at the Bahrain National Museum, the largest and oldest public museum in the country. One of the facility’s highlights is the Hall of Dilmun (the name of an ancient independent kingdom), which explores the island’s supremacy as a trading route linking the Near East to the Indian subcontinent. It houses archaeological finds from ancient settlements, including Dilmunite pottery and remains of a Barbar temple. One of the nation’s main cultural landmarks, the museum is centrally located on an artificial peninsula overlooking the island of Muharraq.

Where Prairies Meet Peaks

By Linda Tancs

There’s no such thing as a bad time to visit Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada. It just depends on your taste. This time of year the wildlife viewing is best, especially for black bear, elk, bighorn sheep and deer roaming around larch and aspen groves sporting brilliant shades of yellow and gold. If springtime color is your pleasure, then you’ll love the wildflowers exploding in the prairies, including Waterton’s signature beargrass. Summer brings the thickest crowds and recreational experiences, whereas winter promises more solitude framed by snowy backdrops of the Rocky Mountains. The park borders Montana’s Glacier National Park.

The World’s Sunniest City

By Linda Tancs

Sun worshippers, take note. The sun is mostly always shining in Yuma, Arizona. In fact, the locale has been designated the World’s Sunniest City by Guinness World Records! To put that in perspective, the annual average of the possible hours of sunshine is 91 percent (a mean of 4,055 hours out of 4,456 possible hours in a year). Thankfully, there’s much to do to take advantage of that. The area boasts nearly a dozen golf courses, for starters. Or maybe you’d like to off-road on the dunes or spot desert critters at one of the three national wildlife refuges. And then there’s the Colorado River and lakes, which offer tubing, canoeing and boating opportunities. About 15 miles south of Yuma is another bit of terrain worth exploring although it requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Known as the Valley of the Names, it’s a remote desert in California (Yuma being the nearest city) comprising 1,200 acres of land filled with signatures, dates, messages and drawings made from rocks. Legend has it that the practice started during World War II, when soldiers stationed in the area for desert warfare training wanted to leave a memento for loved ones. If you go, stay on the trails, and don’t be tempted to add your own messages or take any rocks from the site.

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