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Archive for international travel

Art Without Walls

By Linda Tancs

Art without walls. That’s the moniker for the open-air gallery at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Britain’s first sculpture park, it’s set in a beautiful landscaped garden laid out in the 18th century located 20 miles south of Leeds in West Yorkshire. Current exhibitions include Ai Weiwei’s 12 colossal Chinese zodiac heads and Giuseppe Penone’s bronze trees, the tallest of which (L’ombra del bronzo) is an imposing 52 feet high.

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In Search of Santa Claus

By Linda Tancs

You’ll find a lot of interesting things in Uummannaq, Greenland. For starters, it’s one of the most glacier-rich areas in the world, featuring the world’s fastest moving glacier. Also, the Uummannaq district is dominated by a nearly 4,000-foot-high mountain, Hjertefjeldet (meaning “heartshaped mountain”), which changes color during the day like Australia’s Ayers Rock. And then there’s Santa Claus, whose summer residence is nestled at the foot of the mountain. Known locally as Juulimaaq, he’s pretty busy tonight!

The Roof of Indochina

By Linda Tancs

A trekkers’ paradise, Sapa is a small, Vietnamese mountain town close to the Chinese border abounding in iconic rice paddies. It’s where you’ll find the nation’s largest mountain peak, Fansipan. At over 10,000 feet, it’s commonly referred to as the “roof of Indochina.” It’s easier than ever to reach the “roof” thanks to the cable car, but intrepid trekkers might enjoy the multiday tours from Hanoi anyway.

Spain’s Geological Hotspot

By Linda Tancs

Some of Europe’s most original geological features are located in Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in Spain’s Almería region. Nearly 94,000 acres strong, the reserve is Andalucía’s largest coastal protected area and a mecca for geologists. Formed during the Tertiary Period, it’s an extensive volcanic region dominated by lava domes. Other points of interest are the ancient volcanic chimneys at the iconic Mermaids Reef, fossilized tongues of lava at Mónsul Beach (the reserve’s most famous beach) and mountains formed entirely by volcanic material like El Cerro Negro in the village of Las Negras. To learn more about the volcanic origin of this area you can visit the exhibitions in the House of the Volcanoes in Rodalquilar or the Las Amoladeras Interpretation Center.

The Christmas Spirit in Montreux

By Linda Tancs

Along the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the Montreux Christmas Market is a long-established delight. You’ll likely find that last-minute gift in one of the 160 decorated and illuminated chalets (stalls). As the holiday music swirls, meander around with a glass of mulled wine (like the locals) and enjoy some culinary tastings. Not to be outdone by other popular markets in the region, Montreux offers a nightly 3D light show projected onto the façade of the renowned hotel, Fairmont le Montreux Palace. Go there during the week and avoid the weekend frenzy.

A Pristine Paradise in Micronesia

By Linda Tancs

Located in the western Pacific Ocean, Palau is a pristine paradise, and the locals intend to keep it that way by implementing the Palau Pledge. It’s the world’s first conservation pledge that is stamped in passports; visitors sign a declaration to protect the local environment and culture for the next generation. That environment includes native forests and mangroves that are the most species-diverse in Micronesia with 1,400 species of plants and an estimated 194 endemic plant species, including 23 endemic species of orchids. You’ll also find phenomena like the Rock Islands (collections of largely uninhabited, mushroom-shaped islets housing one of the world’s greatest concentrations of coral and marine life) and Jellyfish Lake, where two types of resident jellyfish have completely lost their sting because they have not had to fight off predators.

Gingerbread Town

By Linda Tancs

Your experience with gingerbread might be of the gastronomical kind, but in Norway there’s a full-blown miniature city made of the seasonal fare. Think of it as an edible Legoland. Dubbed the world’s biggest gingerbread city, Gingerbread Town in Bergen has been constructed every year since 1991 by thousands of volunteers. The city contains everything from tiny homes to local landmarks, trains, cars, boats and international signature buildings. It’s open throughout the month and, not surprisingly, you can buy cookies there.

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