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Archive for international travel

Bringing Art to Life

By Linda Tancs

You might feel like a million bucks (as the saying goes) in Portsea, Australia. That’s where you can see how the other half live along Millionaire’s Walk to Sorrento. But you can’t put a price tag on vistas, like the ones along Sorrento-Portsea Artists Trail. Following the cliff line between Portsea and Sorrento, it’s played the muse to many an artist. In fact, the route is lined with images of paintings positioned as closely as possible to the scenes depicted by the artists. Located 37 miles south of Melbourne, the tony destination also sports a labyrinth of 19th century tunnels and fortifications in Point Nepean National Park that were built to guard Port Phillip heads. Pay a visit to the historic Quarantine Station, established in the early 1800s as grazing land and repurposed as a haven for refugees.

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Giant-Sized Fun in Barcelona

By Linda Tancs

In Spain, Barcelona’s biggest street party of the year is La Mercè Festival. Held near the end of September each year in honor of La Mare de Déu de la Mercè (Our Lady of Mercy, the patron saint of Barcelona), the event heralds the advent of autumn. A major highlight is the giants parade, where oversized effigies of kings, queens and nobles march through the streets to the delight of children. You also won’t want to miss the fire run, the human towers (like a cheerleading squad on steroids), the cathedral illumination and the projection of images on buildings at Plaça Sant Jaume. This year’s festival runs from September 21 through September 24.

Stone Skimming in Scotland

By Linda Tancs

Are you an ace stone skimmer? There’s a competition just for you on Easdale Island in Argyll, Scotland. The annual World Stone Skimming Championships is open to anyone of any age and any level of skill. To qualify, the stone (no more than 3 inches in diameter and formed naturally of Easdale slate) must hit the water three times and sink within the designated lane as marked by the buoys. The event takes place this year on September 23.

Glimpsing Pembrokeshire’s Past

By Linda Tancs

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales is Britain’s only coastal national park, a place full of archaeological icons. One of its most famous attractions is Pentre Ifan, a stone structure marking the entrance into the heart of a burial chamber dating back to the Neolithic Period. Other stone ramparts dating from the Bronze Age encircle the hilltop of Foel Drygarne, dominated by three massive and well-preserved cairns. Excavation at the heart of the park has also revealed Iron Age settlements, like those found at Carew Castle. Covering 240 square miles of spectacular landscape around Wales’ southwestern shore, you’ll find visitor centers in Tenby, Newport and Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre in St. Davids.

All About ABBA

By Linda Tancs

Swedish band ABBA took the pop world by storm in the 70s and 80s, arguably one of the greatest pop bands in musical history. The pride of Stockholm in particular, a museum there is dedicated to the group’s history. ABBA The Museum not only chronicles the band’s development through displays and memorabilia but also gives visitors the chance to feel like a musical icon. You can try on ABBA’s costumes (virtually) or sing, play, mix original music and become the fifth member of ABBA by performing on a large hologram stage together with bandmates Björn, Benny, Frida and Agnetha. iPad users can also choose different instruments from the studio and listen to how they sound on a recording when all the other instruments have been removed or listen to Frida and Agnetha’s voices without the surrounding music. In some cases, you can record your personal participation and download the results to your computer with your personal ticket number.

On Route 62

By Linda Tancs

Offering a scenic alternative to the N2 highway, Route 62 is South Africa’s tourist route (much like Route 66 in the U.S., after which it was modeled). Meandering between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, the highway is reputedly the longest wine route in the world and includes views of red soil, stark cliff faces, mountain passes, green valleys, rivers, orchards and indigenous scrub. The area’s dams and wetlands are known to host the blue crane, South Africa’s national bird, an endangered species often spotted along the route. Some popular stops are Montagu (known for its mountain views), Oudtshoorn, the principal town of the Little Karoo, a semi-desert), Robertson (the heart of the route) and Worcester (the commercial center).

The Forgotten World Highway

By Linda Tancs

Built on colonial bridle paths formed in the late 19th century, New Zealand’s Forgotten World Highway is its oldest heritage trail. Otherwise known as State Highway 43, the 93-mile route meanders over four mountain saddles, through a one-lane tunnel and over a river gorge in a way that many describe as a roller coaster experience. Located between Stratford and Taumarunui, a highlight along this scenic route is Whangamomona, a little village that declared itself a republic in 1989. You can get your passport stamped at the local hotel.

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