Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for international travel

Moose-Spotting in Sweden

By Linda Tancs

Summer is a great time for moose-spotting in Sweden. And we’re not talking about zoos or farms. You can spot them in their native habitat in a forest in Skinnskatteberg, just two hours from Stockholm. That’s where you’ll pick up a 5-hour moose safari beginning in the early evening, where you may also see fox, deer, owls, wolves or lynxes. The journey begins on foot with a walk through a taiga forest abundant in moss and berry bushes for an orientation of the ecosystem, followed by a minivan safari ride. Although the largest number of moose is spotted in May, June and July offer the best lighting conditions for photography.

A Unique Island Community

By Linda Tancs

The Thames Estuary is one of the United Kingdom’s major estuaries. It extends from the tidal limit of the River Thames at Teddington Lock to the North Sea. The region comprises a cluster of cities, towns and villages. One of those places is Canvey Island, the whole of which is below sea level. Originally a salt marsh before being reclaimed by sea waters in the 7th century, it eventually became home to around 200 Dutch immigrants in the early 17th century, who reportedly sought refuge from the Duke of Alba (Alva), notoriously known as the “butcher of Flanders” for disposing of those who allied themselves with or provided aid to the troops leading the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule. The island’s Dutch connection is part of the history told in murals along the 14 miles of high sea walls safeguarding the locale against devastating flooding. The journey time from London via rail is about one hour.

A Beauty in Aveyron

By Linda Tancs

Belcastel is a French beauty. That’s not just mere opinion; it’s been officially annointed by the authorities as one of the most beautiful villages in France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). Located in the Aveyron region of southern France, the bulk of the village and its medieval castle are situated on the steep north bank of the Aveyron River. More than just a historical landmark, the castle hosts several art galleries. It even features a royal suite, where visitors can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Aveyron countryside, the village of Belcastel, the drawbridge and moat and some of the chateau’s gardens and courtyards.

To the Heights in Korea

By Linda Tancs

Near Chungju-si (where a martial arts festival takes place each year), Woraksan National Park in South Korea is a hiker’s paradise. The highest peak (at 3,600 feet) is Yeongbong, a steep ascent aided by stairs with railings bolted to boulders. Ma-aebong Peak is just below at 3,150 feet. It’s called a false summit because it’s commonly mistaken as the ultimate peak, but there’s nothing fake about its glorious vistas. While you’re in the park, keep an eye out for the nodding lily, an indigenous species with leaves like pine tree leaves.

The Gorge of Samaria

By Linda Tancs

Open for hiking from May to October, Crete’s Samaria Gorge is the focal point of Samaria National Park in Greece. Although strenuous and rugged, the 10-mile hike offers rewarding mountain views and 16 endemic species, most notably the feral goats (kri-kri, the park’s official icon). You’ll find plenty of like-minded adventurers on a bus from Hania to a region called Xyloskalo, where the trail begins.

The Road in the Ocean

By Linda Tancs

Opened in 1989, Atlantic Road is Norway’s answer to Florida’s Ocean Highway. Dubbed “the road in the ocean,” the 22-mile scenic route hugs the Atlantic Ocean, connecting islet with islet over seven bridges. Along with great ocean views, the journey presents the fertile cultural landscape of the coast across moorland to windswept crags. You’ll find ample opportunity for sightseeing along well-marked trails and elevated paths. Eldhusøya is the largest rest area along the way and is located on a scenic spot at the ocean’s edge. The road runs from Kårvåg to Bud.

Iceland’s Basalt Gully

By Linda Tancs

Studlagil is a ravine in eastern Iceland in the Jökuldalur Valley. It’s best known for its towering basalt rock columns, reportedly the largest collection in the country. It isn’t a usual stop on the tourist trek, so getting there may be a bit challenging. You’ll need to head north on the Ring Road and pick up road 923 to Jökuldalsvegur. Although the terrain is loose in some places, there are hiking trails around the canyon. Watch out for pink-footed geese, who lay their eggs along the gorge in May and June. 

An Electrifying Home in Northumberland

By Linda Tancs

Surrounded by one of Europe’s largest rock gardens, Cragside is a Victorian country house near the town of Rothbury in Northumberland, England. Built in 1863 by Lord Armstrong (a civil and mechanical engineer), it was the first house in the world to be lit using hydroelectricity, harnessing lakes on the estate to generate electricity through a turbine. You can take a walk around two of those lakes, one of many waymarked trails among the estate’s 1,000 acres.

The Inca Trail

By Linda Tancs

The Inca Trail is a hiking trail in Peru that terminates at Machu Picchu. Lauded as one of the most iconic treks in the world, you’ll be following in the footsteps of the ancient Incas, who ultimately designed a network reaching 25,000 miles through their South American empire. The classic route to Machu Picchu is 26 miles from the trailhead known as Kilometre 82 to the ancient citadel, which is sprinkled with ruins and cloud-cloaked mountainsides. That trek generally takes four days and includes camping. A shorter trail from Kilometre 104 can be accomplished in a day. Whichever trek you choose, you’ll need a permit so it’s advisable to book several months in advance. The end of April or May is a good time to visit; the ground is drier and permits generally won’t sell out as fast as during the peak season from June to August.

The Redwoods of Micronesia

By Linda Tancs

Yela Ka Forest is a conservation area of “ka” trees (Terminalia carolinensis) on the island of Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia and represents the last stand of such trees in the world. The dense vegetation in the island’s interior, with almost no invasive species, is likely the reason for the trees’ preservation there. Their immense size strikes comparison with California’s redwoods, leading to the moniker “Redwoods of Micronesia.” Be sure to take an interpretative nature tour with an experienced guide. You can reach Kosrae via flights from Guam or Honolulu.

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