Travelrific® Travel Journal

Picture postcards in prose.™ Check out the blogroll on the front page for official merchandise and other resources!

Archive for February, 2023

The Potato Hotel

By Linda Tancs

Just 20 miles from downtown Boise, Idaho, a giant tater has earned a second life as a hotel. Originally built to celebrate the Idaho Potato Commission’s 75th anniversary, the 6-ton spud measures 28 feet long, 12 feet wide and 11.5 feet high. After touring the country for several years to celebrate the state’s prized export, a decision was made to convert the fixture into a hotel. Lest you have any doubts about its viability as a guest house, the potato hotel is air conditioned and energy efficient for optimal heating and cooling. A nearby silo has been converted into a bathroom and a spa complete with a whirlpool and a skylight for star gazing. If you’re into one-of-a-kind stays, then this is the place for you.

An Old Post Office in Hinsdale

By Linda Tancs

Opened in 1816, the Hinsdale, New Hampshire, post office is the oldest post office in the United States operating continuously out of the same location since its inception. Other post offices have been in operation longer than Hinsdale’s 200-plus years, but not out of the same locale. Located on Main Street, the postal service was once a small part of a general store. One of its most cherished features is the line of brass mailboxes from the 1800s, complete with letter combination locks. 

The King of Ragtime’s House

By Linda Tancs

Scott Joplin, an American composer and pianist, was known as the “King of Ragtime” because of the fame he achieved for his ragtime compositions. Many of his best-known works (like “The Entertainer,” “Elite Syncopations,” “March Majestic” and “Ragtime Dance”) were written between 1901 and 1903 in a small flat on what is now known as Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis, Missouri. Ragtime enjoyed a renaissance in the early 1970s when the motion picture “The Sting” used “The Entertainer” as its theme song. The Scott Joplin House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and is now a State Historic Site filled with turn-of-the-century antiques and exhibits interpreting Joplin’s life and work.

Norway’s National Museum

By Linda Tancs

The largest art museum in the Nordic countries, Norway’s new National Museum (Nasjonalmuseet) in Oslo is also one of the largest art museums in Europe, right behind Russia’s Hermitage and the Louvre in Paris. Its signature architectural feature is the Light Hall. Reserved for temporary exhibitions, its exterior walls are made of marble glass, a thin layer of marble between two panes of glass. Reaching 22 feet in height, the hall also boasts 9,000 adjustable LED lights and can be completely darkened, depending on the nature of the art installation. From the roof terrace you can enjoy stunning views of the facility’s location at Rådhusplassen (City Hall Square) as well as Aker Brygge (the waterfront area) and the fjord.

Enchanted Ice in Edmonton

By Linda Tancs

Named after Britain’s Queen Victoria, Victoria Park is a picnic and activity park forming part of the North Saskatchewan River Valley park and trail system in Edmonton, Canada. This time of year it’s best known for the Victoria Park IceWay, a skating trail wrapping through the majestic forests of the park. At night it’s illuminated with colorful lights, making the experience all that more magical. Public skating is from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and admission is free.

Israel’s Highest Waterfall

By Linda Tancs

Located in the center of Israel’s Golan Heights, Gamla Nature Reserve is a nature reserve and archaeological site. It’s where you’ll find the country’s highest waterfall (at around 167 feet) flowing year round. An easy path leads to a lookout terrace for the best views. Other features of the area are the eagle observatory and Bronze Age burial mounds. The reserve is about a 15-minute drive from the Sea of Galilee.

The Rhubarb Triangle

By Linda Tancs

Most of the rhubarb eaten in Britain is grown in Yorkshire. Specifically, the area is marked by three points of what’s called the Yorkshire (Rhubarb) Triangle, which are Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell. Native to Siberia, the plant thrives in West Yorkshire, a “frost pocket” with nitrogen-rich soil and cold, wet winters. After a growing season outdoors in the cold, the plants are brought into sheds where they’re plunged into darkness, a process called “forcing” that produces tall, strong, straight stems with smaller leaves. You can hear the crack and pop of the plant as it grows in forcing sheds, a phenomenon that has triggered its own tourism industry, including the Rhubarb Festival in Wakefield this weekend.

America’s Oldest Theatre

By Linda Tancs

Founded in 1808, Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia is America’s Oldest Theatre. Given its historic bearing, it’s also the Official State Theatre of Pennsylvania as well as a National Historic Landmark. As with any historical property, stories abound. During a backstage tour, you’ll hear many of them, like who took the first curtain call and how the venue started as an equestrian circus. Some of the world’s most famous performers have played there, including Marlon Brando, Paul Robeson, Audrey Hepburn, Helen Hayes, Groucho Marx and Sidney Poitier. If only the walls could talk, and in some cases they do, considering that centuries-old brick is exposed in some places. The theatre is conveniently located in the heart of Center City.

Amazon of Europe

By Linda Tancs

The world’s first five-country UNESCO biosphere reserve represents the shared nature of wildlife and ecological preservation among Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia. The reserve covers the riverine and estuarine ecosystems of the Danube, Mura and Drava rivers, an area in Central Europe so rich in habitats that it’s been dubbed the “Amazon of Europe.” Forming one of the great wetlands, its range of rare habitats includes large floodplain forests, river islands, gravel and sand banks, side branches and oxbows, providing shelter for endangered species such as the little tern, black stork, beaver, otter and some vulnerable fish species.

The Little Apple

By Linda Tancs

Nestled in the heart of the scenic Flint Hills, Manhattan, Kansas, is probably best known as the home of Kansas State University. Given its name, it should come as no surprise that it’s nicknamed “The Little Apple” as a play on New York City. Like its eastern sister, you’ll find great dining, shopping and outdoor activities. Just outside the city is Konza Prairie scenic overlook, where reportedly you’ll find some of the most picturesque Kansas sunsets. Hike the trails and learn about the endangered tallgrass ecosystem.

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