Travelrific® Travel Journal

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

Archive for international travel

A Time Capsule in Durham

By Linda Tancs

It isn’t every day you get to literally walk through a time capsule, so a place like the Beamish Museum in England’s County Durham is a real treat. Arguably one of the best open-air, living museums in the world, it offers faithful replicas of life in the Northeast from the 1800s to the 1950s. Among its many charms you’ll find a look at Rowley Station as it existed in Edwardian times, a replica of renowned Georgian quilter Joseph Hedley’s home, coal community cottages and a farm from the 1940s. The 300-acre site is served by vintage trams and buses. The closest train station to the museum is Chester-le-Street, where regular bus service from the town centre to Beamish takes about 20 minutes.

A Pearl in the Gulf

By Linda Tancs

Manama, the modern capital of the Gulf island nation of Bahrain, has been at the center of major trade routes since antiquity. More than 6,000 years of its history is recounted at the Bahrain National Museum, the largest and oldest public museum in the country. One of the facility’s highlights is the Hall of Dilmun (the name of an ancient independent kingdom), which explores the island’s supremacy as a trading route linking the Near East to the Indian subcontinent. It houses archaeological finds from ancient settlements, including Dilmunite pottery and remains of a Barbar temple. One of the nation’s main cultural landmarks, the museum is centrally located on an artificial peninsula overlooking the island of Muharraq.

A Giant in Italy

By Linda Tancs

Nearly three times the actual size of its subject, the Colossus of Barletta in Italy is a bronze statue of a Roman emperor (thought to be Theodosius II) in Barletta’s city center. An icon of the city, the 16-foot-high structure is also known as “the Giant.” Legend has it that the statue was found in 1204 on a rock in the port of Barletta following the sinking of a Venetian ship returning from a crusade. The more sensible explanation for its appearance is that it was transported to Puglia from Ravenna by imperial decree to serve as an embellishment. You’ll find it in front of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher.

The Most Flemish City

By Linda Tancs

Sometimes referred to as “the most Flemish city of the North,” Haarlem is one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands, its historic city center boasting hundreds of listed monuments. Many of them surround Grote Markt (great market), the oldest part of the city in the shadow of St. Bavo Cathedral. Situated along the river Spaarne, one of the locale’s icons is the functional and imposing De Adriaan windmill, where guided tours are offered in English. An easy day trip from Amsterdam, Haarlem has two railway stations and a bus connection with Schiphol Airport. 

Wild Countryside in Belgium

By Linda Tancs

The Ardennes is a region of unspoiled nature that spans Belgium, France and Luxembourg. In southeastern Belgium, the Ardennes sports a matrix of fairy-tale castles, many dating back to the Middle Ages. One of the largest is Walzin Castle, perched on a cliff nearly 165 feet high. It overlooks the Lesse River, a popular spot for kayaking. In fact, kayaking is the best way to view this imposing 11th-century castle. Take some time to walk or hike the nature reserves and prehistoric caverns dotting the area.

An Impressionist’s Dream in Normandy

By Linda Tancs

Étretat is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Normandy region of France. Long a haunt of Impressionist painters, it’s well known for striking rock formations carved out of its white cliffs, including the Porte d’Aval arch and L’Aiguille (the Needle), a pillar rising up from the Atlantic. The clifftop views are unforgettable and free to access. Once upon a time, Étretat thrived on its fishing trade and kelp was commonly harvested and burned on the beach for its iodine. At low tide, you may be treated to a kelp-covered beach at Porte d’Aval. Arrive at sunrise or sunset for spectacular photos.

Holy Water in Ecuador

By Linda Tancs

Nestled at the foot of Tungurahua (an active volcano) in Ecuador is Baños de Agua Santa (baths, or springs, of holy water). A major tourist center between the central Andes and the Amazon of Ecuador, it’s prized for its hot springs credited with healing powers. The views aren’t bad, either, surrounded as it is by mountains and waterfalls flowing into deep ravines. You can view the cascades on a gondola-style cable car strung from one hilltop to the next. As you might imagine, it’s a great locale for landscape photographers. Enjoy a three-and-a-half-hour drive south from Quito through the Andes.

Denmark’s Garden Island

By Linda Tancs

Dubbed Denmark’s “Garden Island,” Fyn boasts a treasure trove of castles and manor houses. Arguably its biggest tourist attraction is Egeskov Castle, reportedly Europe’s best-preserved Renaissance water castle. Since 1784, Egeskov has been in the possession of some remnant of the Bille family, who still live in the castle today. Some of the palace’s notable exhibitions are the dolls’ house with over 3,000 objects, a historical toys collection and a paper doll designed by Hans Christian Andersen. The fastest way to Egeskov by train is from Odense to Ringe, where you can pick up a taxi.

Kenya’s Grand Canyon

By Linda Tancs

The Marafa Depression is a vast canyon-like area resulting from soil erosion located near Malindi, Kenya. Known locally as “Hell’s Kitchen,” the view is actually heavenly. It’s a sandstone gorge punctuated with crayon box colors like red, white, orange and pink that are particularly luminous when mirrored by the sun at sundown. That’s why many tours will be timed to take in the sunset. Be sure to take a guided tour of the canyon, and don’t forget your camera.

A Romanian Wonder

By Linda Tancs

Dubbed one of the Seven Wonders of Romania, Corvin Castle is a Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara and one of Europe’s largest castles. Built in the Middle Ages, it served as a fortress against the Ottomans before its makeover into a palace by John Hunyadi, a Hungarian general and governor. It bears the dubious distinction of being located next to a steel plant, the result of the 19th-century industrial revolution that overtook the area. A popular legend is that Dracula was imprisoned there. The closest big city is Deva; minibuses run regularly from there to Hunedoara.

%d bloggers like this: