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Archive for international travel

Little Big Town in Wales

By Linda Tancs

Hay-on-Wye is a Welsh market town nestled along the English border. It’s little in size (you can walk it in around 20 minutes) but big on books—really big, considering there are more than 30 bookstores, many specializing in out of print or hard to locate titles. No wonder, then, why it’s called the Town of Books. Today marks the start of one of the signature events of the year, Hay Festival. Running through June 3, the extravaganza comprises over 600 events featuring writers, artists, academics, thinkers and performers selected by the program committee. Special festival bus service linking Hay with trains and coaches at Hereford’s train and bus stations and Worcester Crowngate Bus Station runs for the duration of the event.

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A Heavenly Estate in the Forest of Dean

By Linda Tancs

Best known for its gardens and Roman temple complex, Lydney Park is a 17th-century country estate surrounding Lydney House, located at Lydney in the Forest of Dean district in Gloucestershire, England. You might call it a heavenly place, given that its ownership descends from William Bathurst, a composer of church hymns. Open only from April to June (and some select days thereafter), the spring gardens are abloom with flowering cherries, magnolias, scented spring flowering shrubs, azaleas and rhododendrons, to name a few. Excavation on the estate in 1805 also exposed evidence of settlements dating back to 100 B.C., a Norman castle and extensive ruins of a Roman camp including a temple.

The Jordan Trail

By Linda Tancs

The Jordan Trail is a continuous route crossing the entire country of Jordan, offering over 403 miles of trails through diverse terrains and landscapes. From Um Qais in the north to the Red Sea in the south, it flows alongside the Great Rift Valley, overlooking rugged wadis and cliffs, breathtaking scenery and archaeological monuments. If the route sounds intimidating, then take advantage of the groups and companies leading hikes. Nevertheless, a complete through-hike is physically demanding; take that into account when planning your journey.

Frozen in Norway

By Linda Tancs

If you’re a fan of Disney’s Frozen, then you might know that the fictional locale Arendelle got its name from Norway’s southern city, Arendal. The picturesque archipelago even has its own Elsa look-alike. That’s not the only thing that will please the kids. There’s also the opportunity to practice endless science experiments at the Science Centre along the pier. Arendal (as well as Grimstad and Tvedestrand) even hosts Southern Norway’s first national park, Raet, which contains visible traces of the ice age around 12,000 years ago.

Home of the Pencil

By Linda Tancs

England’s Lake District might be best known for its inspiring vistas, but it’s also the home of the world’s first pencil. The North Lakes region, in particular, boasted a graphite mine in Keswick which would have served as the source of the pencil industry over three centuries ago. Nowadays you can enter a replica of that mine to visit the Derwent Pencil Museum. Inside you’ll find gems like secret WWII pencils with hidden maps, the Guinness World Record for the largest color pencil (measuring almost 26 feet), the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee pencil and miniature pencil sculptures.

Europe’s Renowned Pilgrimage

By Linda Tancs

For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have trekked over the Pyrenees from France into Spain via a network of trails that make up the Way of St. James—El Camino de Santiago—converging at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Originating as a spiritual pilgrimage in honor of St. James, the 500-mile trek offers intrepid travelers a cultural immersion as well with cathedrals, bridges, Roman roads, monasteries, palaces, stately homes and traditional regional architecture placed amidst varying landscapes like plateaus and mountains, meadows and coastline. Be prepared for a 30-day hike if you commit to the entire route from France to Spain. Shorter routes could take less than a week to complete.

Prehistoric Paintings in Finland

By Linda Tancs

Opened in 2017 to celebrate Finland’s centenary of independence, Hossa National Park is the nation’s 40th national park, featuring crystal clear fishing waters and ancient rock paintings. An old Sámi hunting ground, Hossa’s oldest dwellings are almost 10,000 years old. The park also sports a series of rock paintings at Värikallio Cliffs dating back nearly 3,500 years, the largest prehistoric paintings in Finland. You’ll find a wide range of hiking and biking trails (almost 56 miles of them) and ample opportunities for canoeing and fishing like the first inhabitants.

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