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Archive for international travel

House of Frankenstein

By Linda Tancs

In 1816, Mary Shelley wrote the world’s first science fiction novel, Frankenstein, in Bath, England. So the locale is an appropriate spot for an immersive experience known as Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein. Set in a Grade II historic property, the Halloween-worthy experience features four floors of frights, including the 8-foot monster that Shelley envisioned and Victor Frankenstein’s Escape Room, a puzzle-based escape game that lasts for one hour. The attraction is just minutes away from the city centre at 37 Gay Street.

Hunchback Bridge

By Linda Tancs

Nestled in Italy’s Trebbia Valley, Bobbio is a medieval village between Milan and Genoa. It’s often referred to as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy; writer Ernest Hemingway even called it the most beautiful village in the world. Framed by the Apennines, one of its most popular attractions is the abbey founded in the 7th century by Saint Colombano, home today to the City Museum and the Abbey Museum. Another focal point is the Ponte del Gobbo (Hunchback Bridge), so named for the 11 unequal arches that give it an irregular shape. First documented in 1196, the 900-foot-long bridge is an entry point to this scenic locale. The best way to arrive is via car; otherwise, the nearest train station is in Piacenza, with regular bus service.

Gateway to Burgundy

By Linda Tancs

Dating to pre-Roman times, the French city of Auxerre is officially labeled a Ville d’Art et d’Histoire (city of art and history) for its cultural significance. In the Old Town sector of the city, the 15-century clock tower (part of the original Roman fortress wall) dominates among ancient roads dotted with medieval wooden buildings. Another magnificent building dominating the skyline is Saint Germain Abbey, home of the Bishop of Auxerre from 418 until his death in 448. It houses a Museum of Art and History, which traces the history of the city from prehistory to medieval times. The city is also sometimes referred to as the Gateway to Burgundy, producing all of the usual varietals of the region. Once thriving with wine merchants and vineyards, Le Clos de la Chaînette (one of the oldest vineyards in France, dating to the 7th century) remains today. You can get there in under two hours from Paris.

The Museum of the Future

By Linda Tancs

Dubai’s Museum of the Future is about—you guessed it—the future. That’s probably evident from the design itself. The exterior, covering a total surface area of 17,600 square meters, is made out of stainless steel comprising 1,024 pieces manufactured by a specialized robot-assisted process. The 225-foot, otherworldly-looking structure is embossed with quotes (in Arabic) about the future and is intended to project what the next 50 years might look like. Symbolically, the circular building represents humanity, the green mound it sits atop represents the earth and the void represents the unknown future. Using exhibitions, immersive theatre and themed attractions, the museum experience is an imagining of the future, aided by the visions of innovators, scientists, and prominent figures from leading industries. Dubai Metro (Emirates Towers Station, Red Line) is directly linked to the museum.

Portugal’s Oldest Town

By Linda Tancs

Situated on the Lima River in northern Portugal, Ponte de Lima is frequently referred to as the nation’s oldest town because it was given a charter by Queen Teresa in 1125. The small town may be most famous for its bridge over the river, particularly the Roman portion constructed in the first century. But it’s also the center of Vinho Verde (green, or young, wine) production, the history of which is recounted at the local interpretative center. Another gem is the toy museum (Museu do Brinquedo) on the right bank of the river, where you can travel in time through Portuguese toy manufacture from the 19th century to the 1980s. Almost 200 Portuguese manufacturers are represented. Driving there is recommended; public transport options are poor, even from Porto.

The Lion Rock

By Linda Tancs

One of Sri Lanka’s most popular attractions is Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Otherwise known as Lion Rock, the site in the Central Province boasts the ruins of an ancient stronghold from the 5th century atop a rock standing over 600 feet above the surrounding plain. It was built by King Kashyapa as a fortress against attacks from his brother, the rightful heir to their father’s throne. On a plateau halfway up the rock Kashyapa built a gateway in the form of a huge lion with a staircase emerging from the lion’s mouth, giving rise to the moniker “Lion Rock.” A series of stairs leads to the summit, a portion of which contains the remnants of the lion’s paws and the first stairs.

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. 

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