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Archive for international travel

A Match in Sweden

By Linda Tancs

The next time you strike a match, think of Jönköping, Sweden, site of the world’s only matchstick museum. This southern city was a match-producing capital beginning in the 1800s; by 1858 it was churning out 12 million matchboxes a year. The factory-turned-museum explores the history of the matchstick and introduces both the people and the machines that built the industry.

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On the Rocks in Colombia

By Linda Tancs

It’s not unusual for a mansion to be converted into a museum, but they don’t all command jaw-dropping, cliffside views like Tequendama Falls Museum in San Antonio del Tequendama, Colombia. Originally built as the opulent home for a successful architect in the Roaring ’20s, the French-style mansion later became a luxury hotel for a number of years until its abandonment in the ’90s. It reopened in 2013 as a museum celebrating biodiversity and culture, a fitting tribute given the beauty of its natural surroundings.

An Epic Mountain Trail in Lebanon

By Linda Tancs

The 292-mile-long Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT) traverses the length of Lebanon. The country’s first long-distance hiking trail, it extends from Andqet in the north to Marjaayoun in the south. Both rugged and pastoral, the trail transects more than 75 towns and villages at altitudes ranging from 1,840 to 6,000 feet above sea level. Among the fields, orchards, forests, waters and fortresses the route traverses some of Lebanon’s best known natural areas, like Al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve and the Qadisha Valley. LMT maps can be bought at some of the lodging facilities on the trail and at the LMTA office in Baabda.

The Bamboo Bridge

By Linda Tancs

Located three hours from Cambodia’s capital, Kampong Cham is arguably an overlooked city along the Mekong River. A bit understated with some French colonial architecture, one of its greatest charms is its bamboo bridge to Koh Pen. As you might suspect, it needs to be rebuilt after each rainy season, so its appearance is only seasonal. In the past, it did accommodate vehicles (bamboo does, after all, possess tremendous tensile strength), but that ceased when the new concrete and steel bridge was built downstream. Now it’s used by pedestrians and bicyclists. Let’s hope there’s enough foot traffic to keep the quaint bridge going.

Eye Kandy

By Linda Tancs

Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka, so famed for its sacred Buddhist sites that the entire metropolis is designated a Sacred City by UNESCO. The highlight is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, housing a tooth of Buddha. From that hub springs a feast for the eyes, like man-made Kandy Lake and its breathtaking views from the walking and jogging paths. Also nearby are the Royal Palace, home to the monarch of the Kingdom of Kandy until the early 1800s, Udawattakele Forest Reserve and the famous orchid collection at Royal Botanical Gardens.

A Taste of Margaret River

By Linda Tancs

The Margaret River region in western Australia is known for its craft breweries, wine and beaches. But don’t neglect its natural wonders, like Cape Naturaliste at the northernmost point. In addition to  excellent walking trails, the area features Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse with breathtaking panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, Cape Naturaliste, Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and the beautiful Geographe Bay coastline. A fully-guided lighthouse tour will regale you with stories of shipwrecks and lighthouse keeping.

Bountiful Pitcairn

By Linda Tancs

A UK Overseas Territory in the South Pacific, Pitcairn is bountiful in unspoiled habitats, pristine waters and endemic plants and wildlife. Its bounty also includes HMS Bounty. Three weeks into a journey from Tahiti to the West Indies, the HMS Bounty (helmed by Captain Bligh) was seized in a mutiny led by Fletcher Christian, the master’s mate. The mutineers ended up in Pitcairn, where the remains of the ship (a delight for scuba divers) are still visible in shallow waters offshore. All but a few of the 40 or so permanent residents of this remote island are descendants of Bounty mutineers. The territory includes three other nearby uninhabited islands. You can visit this legendary place aboard a dedicated passenger/supply vessel, MV Claymore II. Island accommodations include a home stay, semi-private apartments or a fully private bungalow or chalet rental.

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