Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for international travel

Silk Capital of the UK

By Linda Tancs

Like other medieval market towns in Suffolk, Sudbury gained acclaim as one of the famous wool towns. The textile of choice these days, though, is silk. In fact, the town has four working mills manufacturing 110 metric tonnes of Chinese silk every year which supplies 95 percent of the nation’s woven silk textiles, making it the silk capital of the United Kingdom. “Sudbury Silk” is so desired worldwide that it was granted protected geographical status in 2015. You can find exhibitions on the town’s silk industry at the former home of renowned landscape painter Thomas Gainsborough, which is now a museum and gallery.

Japan’s Bathing Beauties

By Linda Tancs

Buried in snow almost one third of the year, Japan’s Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano is home to Japanese macaques, popularly known as snow monkeys. The northernmost living nonhuman primate, they descend from the forest to bathe in naturally occurring hot springs, a pleasant respite from a cold day. Part of Jōshin’etsu-kōgen National Park, the monkey park is reportedly the only place in the world where monkeys bathe in hot springs. The park is not a zoo; the monkeys are wild and come and go as they please, enticed by feedings by professional staff. Keep a respectful distance when taking photos, or else you may go home with one less piece of equipment.

The Mother of All Ships

By Linda Tancs

At the time of her launch in 1843, SS Great Britain was the largest ship in the world, hailed as “the greatest experiment since the Creation.” She was also the first screw-propelled, ocean-going, iron-hulled steam ship, designed initially for the emerging trans-Atlantic luxury passenger trade. Her architect was Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an engineering giant voted one of the greatest Britons of all time. The ship was built in Bristol, where she’s been dry-docked since 1970 and later rehabilitated. Your ticket to visit the ship includes one year’s unlimited access to the dry dock where the ship was originally built (Great Western Dockyard), the Dockyard Museum and the new Being Brunel museum.

An Island for Every Day

By Linda Tancs

Looking for an archipelago with as many islands as there are days in a year? Then look no further than San Blas in Panama. Comprising approximately 365 islands and cays (of which 49 are inhabited), they lie off the north coast of the Isthmus of Panama, east of the Panama Canal. The islands are home to the indigenous Kuna (or Guna), who maintain political autonomy from the mainland and control tourism. Thanks to their efforts, the islands retain a quiet, pristine character—in other words, rustic. That means no Wi-Fi, all-inclusives or shopping. One of the easiest ways to get there is to take a day tour from Panama City, visiting a handful of islands and including a local lunch. You might prefer that to an overnight in a hut with no water or electricity.

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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 Norway of Arabia

By Linda Tancs

Situated in the north of the Arabian Peninsula and separated from Iran by the Straight of Hormuz lies the coastal enclave of Musandam, Oman’s northernmost governorate. It’s one of the most beautiful regions in the nation, dominated by 6,500-foot mountains meeting crystal-clear fjords. Because of that geography the area is appropriately dubbed the “Norway of Arabia.” Khor Najd presents the best opportunity for viewing the meeting of mountain and sea, but you’ll need four-wheel drive to access the lookout.

Father of the Forest

By Linda Tancs

A giant kauri tree abides in New Zealand’s Waipoua Forest. Known as “Father of the Forest” (or Te Matua Ngahere in the Maori language), it isn’t the largest living kauri but it does rank first in age. Estimated to be 2,000 years old, the second largest of the giant kauri trees also bests its bigger rival in tree girth at over 52 feet. A 20-minute walk will take you to a viewing platform where you can admire the tree without damaging its sensitive root systems.

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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 Battle of Britain

By Linda Tancs

The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of World War II, in which the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy defended Britain against relentless air raids by Nazi Germany’s air force. The successful defense is commemorated in bronze friezes at the Battle of Britain London Monument. The friezes, cast at the Morris Singer foundry (which also cast some of the lions in Trafalgar Square), depict various scenes from the battle. The monument is located on the Victoria Embankment (north side of the River Thames) opposite the London Eye.

A Spiritual Quest in Japan

By Linda Tancs

Kumano Kodo is one of only two UNESCO-registered pilgrimage sites in the world (the other being Camino de Santiago). It’s a 1,000-year-old trek in Japan, plied by aristocrats and monks alike. The route is actually a network of trails stretched across the mountainous Kii Peninsula. One of the most popular trails is Nakahechi, extensively used by the imperial family on pilgrimage from Kyoto beginning in the 10th century. Your own route will depend on your ultimate destination, which might include Kumano Sanzan, a term used to collectively describe the three most sacred shrines in the area, one of the biggest draws of the pilgrimage. The main transport hubs to the region are Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.

Serenity in Reykjavík

By Linda Tancs

There’s a hill called Þúfa (also known as Thufa) in Reykjavík, Iceland. It was designed by the Icelandic artist Ólöf Nordal, who intended it to be a place of serenity and meditation. Unlike other public art in the capital, this is a 26-foot-tall, grass-covered dome. It’s topped off with a hut, historically used to wind-dry fish, as a nod to Iceland’s fishing heritage. Þúfa is located in Grandi, a trendy part of the city in the northeast, within walking distance from the downtown area.

Darwin’s Inspiration in Kent

By Linda Tancs

It’s easy to understand why the estate known as Down House, a Georgian manor 15 miles south of London in the Kent countryside, would be so inspirational for English naturalist Charles Darwin and his family. The Sandwalk, in particular, was Darwin’s “thinking path,” a quarter-mile circuit that would motivate his musings on evolution and provoke outdoor experiments. Inside the house, the study where he wrote “On the Origin of Species” is virtually unaltered. But the estate also highlights the life of a devoted family man, featuring the original mulberry tree that his children climbed from their first-floor bedrooms. Whether inside or outside, you’ll receive fascinating insight into his life and work.

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