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Archive for international travel

A Super Grove in Singapore

By Linda Tancs

There are trees and then there are “supertrees.” In Singapore, the latter consists of a trunk core made of reinforced concrete wrapped with a steel frame. Planting panels are installed on the trunks for the planting of the living skin. Each canopy, shaped like an inverted umbrella, provides shade during the day and a light and sound show at night. Over 162,900 plants comprising more than 200 species and varieties of bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers have been planted on the panels. Towering at 16 stories, these unique trees can be found all around the Gardens by the Bay– 12 at the Supertree Grove and six at the Golden and Silver Gardens. Take in a different view of the Gardens and stroll along the OCBC Skyway, a 419-foot-long walkway at a height of 72 feet connecting two trees at the grove. Admission to the outdoor gardens is free. Tickets can be purchased for the Skyway and conservatories.

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Art and Life in Amsterdam

By Linda Tancs

Rembrandt, Netherlands’ greatest artist, lived and worked for 20 years in a building in the heart of Amsterdam. Now the Rembrandt House Museum, it has an almost complete collection of his etchings. That’s enough of a collection to inspire contemporary artists, who likewise have their works exhibited there. The 17th century home has been extensively refurbished with period art, objects and furniture. Free etching demonstrations take place twice daily in Rembrandt’s former graphic workshop, illustrating etching technique and the printing process of centuries ago.

Stairway to Heaven

By Linda Tancs

You’ll be knocking at heaven’s door at China’s Tianmen Mountain, called one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Located near Zhangjiajie, it boasts a water-eroded hole (cave) between two peaks, the highest hole of its kind in the world. After an investment of 999 steps and 30 minutes (your stairway to heaven), you’ll find yourself at the cave, where unforgettable photos await. If the hike is too arduous, then visit the new glass skywalk stretching around the mountain’s vertical cliffs, overlooking Tongtian Avenue (Avenue to the Sky), a mountain road with 99 turns. For a different perspective, take the cable car ride from a nearby rail station to the top of the mountain. April to October offers the best weather for a stunning visit.

Talking to the Animals in Australia

By Linda Tancs

Pat a kangaroo, howl with the dingoes or laugh with the kookaburras. It’s entirely up to you at Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland, Australia. Visits are guided and interactions with the animals are monitored by staff. It’s located just 30 minutes from Hervey Bay, the whale watching capital of Queensland and the gateway to spectacular Fraser Island.

Ancient Sovereignty in Southeast Asia

By Linda Tancs

One of the most ancient sovereign states in Southeast Asia (dating as far back as the 5th century), Brunei Darussalam is a tiny nation on the island of Borneo bordered by the South China Sea. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is home to the opulent Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque and its 29 golden domes, one for each of the nation’s 29 sultan rulers. The capital’s massive Istana Nurul Iman palace is the residence of Brunei’s ruling sultan, a dwelling recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest living residence of a head of state. Despite its grandiose accoutrements, Brunei is a quieter alternative to other oil-rich countries like Dubai. It features the unpretentious water village Kampong Ayer, pristine beaches and a biodiverse rainforest.

The Brothers of Charterhouse Square

By Linda Tancs

The Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery in London, to the north of what is now Charterhouse Square. Since the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century the house has served as a private mansion, a boys’ school and an almshouse, which it remains to this day. The residents of the almshouse are known as “Brothers” and conduct tours of the grounds and buildings. The site upon which the Charterhouse stands was acquired in the middle of the 14th century as a burial ground for victims of the Black Death. Earlier this year the Charterhouse permanently opened to the public for the first time in its 660-year history. The centerpiece of your visit is the museum providing a chronology of the site’s history from the Black Death to the present.

Poland’s Salt of the Earth

By Linda Tancs

The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. One of Poland’s largest tourist attractions, it offers themed tours for all ages, featuring underground tunnels and a mine with chapels, chambers and saline lakes. You can choose between the Tourist Route and the Miners’ Route, an authentic experience allowing participants to play the roles of miners and, under the keen eye of a chargeman, gain their first ever experience working underground. The routes don’t connect. If you don’t want to miss the crown jewel of the attraction, the Chapel of St. Kinga, then be sure to take the Tourist Route.

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