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Archive for international travel

Playing with Vegetables in Austria

By Linda Tancs

Your mother no doubt encouraged you to eat your veggies, not play with them. Turns out playing with them is a good idea. Just ask the members of Vienna’s Vegetable Orchestra. A unique Austrian ensemble, they’ve been creating sounds from vegetables since the 1990s, playing concerts around the globe. Now there’s some food for thought.

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A Towering View in York

By Linda Tancs

York boasts some of the finest medieval churches and buildings in England, so you’ll want one of the best vantage points to absorb the skyline. That would be Clifford’s Tower, where you’ll find unmatched views of the historical city as well as York Minster and even the North York Moors in the distance. The tower is all that remains of York Castle (built by William the Conqueror), a site which also served as a prison and a royal mint. Your self-guided tour features a tactile model in the courtyard, showing how the site once looked.

The World’s Highest Monastery

By Linda Tancs

Tibet’s Rongbuk monastery is the highest monastery in the world, located just miles from Mount Everest’s base camp. As you would expect, it’s the perfect locale to see eye to eye, as it were, with one of the highest mountains on earth. Along with its colorful flags and golden stupas you’ll find an observation deck there to take stunning photos. April, May, September and October are great months for a visit.

The Lace of Queens

By Linda Tancs

The lace of queens or the queen of laces. Anyway you label it, the Normandy commune of Alençon has long been celebrated for its lace-making traditions. Thanks to the French court in the 17th century, a large number of women entered the lace-making trade to supply nobility with elaborate designs. The craftsmanship of this local lace is recognized by UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It takes seven to 10 years of training to master the Alençon form of needle lace-making.

Peat and Reed in the Netherlands

By Linda Tancs

Thanks to human hands cutting peat and reed, the largest lowland bog in Northwest Europe was formed. That area now comprises Weerribben-Wieden National Park in the Netherlands. It’s a unique landscape brimming with lakes, reedlands, marsh and bogs. Some species are even dependent on the bogs for survival, such as water soldiers, water lilies and round-leaved sundew. The park also houses almost the entire Dutch population of the large copper butterfly and the Norfolk damselfly. The best way to explore the park is by boat. Electric boats, rowboats and canoes can be rented in Giethoorn and other places in the park. Be on the lookout for rare animals that live there, like otters and black terns.

An Archaeological Journey in Jerusalem

By Linda Tancs

Jerusalem’s Terra Sancta Museum houses artifacts culled from excavations carried out for more than 100 years by a Franciscan order. Located in the Old City along the Via Dolorosa, the museum’s new archaeological wing boasts collections from the age of Herod and from daily life in the Holy Land during the time of the New Testament writers as well as a striking stone room used by Crusaders in the 13th century. The facility is open daily.

The World of Ice Giants

By Linda Tancs

Just a small town in the northern part of Salzburg′s Pongau area, Werfen, Austria, has a big claim to fame—home of the world’s largest ice caves, a labyrinth reaching for almost 25 miles. The World of Ice Giants ( Eisriesenwelt) is known as a dynamic ice cave, allowing for a chimney-like flow of air as the cave galleries and fissures form a link from lower entrances to higher openings, a process begun about 100 million years ago. The seasonal changes in outside air temperature result in amazing ice sculptures in the interior of the limestone caves, particularly when water entering the rock fissures in the spring drips into the cooler areas. Open from May to October, the cave tours begin directly at the cave entrance, which offers panoramic views of the Salzach valley in good weather. Dress for freezing temperatures inside the caves, even in summer.

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