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Archive for tourism

A Romanian Wonder

By Linda Tancs

Dubbed one of the Seven Wonders of Romania, Corvin Castle is a Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara and one of Europe’s largest castles. Built in the Middle Ages, it served as a fortress against the Ottomans before its makeover into a palace by John Hunyadi, a Hungarian general and governor. It bears the dubious distinction of being located next to a steel plant, the result of the 19th-century industrial revolution that overtook the area. A popular legend is that Dracula was imprisoned there. The closest big city is Deva; minibuses run regularly from there to Hunedoara.

Spain’s Game of Thrones

By Linda Tancs

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alcázar of Seville is a royal palace in Seville, Spain. Hardly a relic, the upper chambers of the 12th-century palace are still used by the Spanish royal family as their official residence in Seville. Originally a Muslim fortress, it abounds with exotic Moorish architecture, as well as Gothic, Mudéjar, Renaissance and Baroque styles that have been added over the centuries. It’s prized for its tiles, especially those adorning Ambassadors’ Hall, the throne room of the original palace. The hall is one of the locations used to film the series, Game of Thrones. Other features used in filming were garden locales like Mercury’s Pond (a large pool decorated by frescoes and stonework punctuated with a bronze statue of Mercury) and the Carlos V Pavilion bounded by orange trees.

A Wonder in Navajo Nation

By Linda Tancs

Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly National Monument was authorized in 1931 by President Herbert Hoover to preserve important archaeological resources that span more than 4,000 years of indigenous occupation, longer than anyone has lived uninterrupted anywhere on the Colorado Plateau. The monument encompasses approximately 84,000 acres of land located entirely on the Navajo Nation with roughly 40 families residing within the park boundaries. It’s prized for its colorful sheer cliffs, sporting scenery like ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings (called the White House ruins due to a white band across the nearby cliffs) and the 800-foot sandstone spire known as Spider Rock. One of the best ways to experience these and other features is to drive along the north and south rims along the canyons, each offering several overlook points. Also, a wide range of free ranger-led programs are available between May and September, including talks and guided hikes into the canyons.

A Flooded Forest in Tennessee

By Linda Tancs

Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake State Park has an ecosystem unlike any other in the state. That’s because it’s a flooded forest, resulting from a series of violent earthquakes in the early 1800s that caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards for a short period of time, which created the lake. A variety of aquatic plants and flowers occupy the shoreline and saturate the shallow water, together with towering cypress trees with submerged stumps. As you might expect, the lake also hosts an array of shore and wading birds as well as eagles. Boating is a key activity here; scenic pontoon boat tours are offered May through September.

An Eagle’s Nest in New York

By Linda Tancs

William K. Vanderbilt II (“Willie”) was a member of the prominent and prosperous Vanderbilt family. Among his many estates is Eagle’s Nest in Centerport, New York. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was built initially in 1910 as a small English cottage and grew over the decades into the 24-room, Spanish-Revival mansion that is seen today. A world traveler, the home’s museum space showcases his collection of fish and other marine life, birds, invertebrates and cultural artifacts. The home and its museum, together with a planetarium, comprise the 43-acre waterfront Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium complex. General admission tickets can be purchased online but do not included guided tours of the estate grounds and private rooms of the mansion (available at the admissions booth) and planetarium shows (available separately).

Following the Carolina Coastline

By Linda Tancs

North Carolina’s Outer Banks National Scenic Byway follows the coastline as it juts into the Atlantic Ocean. Beginning at the northern end of the Outer Banks and ending in Harkers Island, you can drive its 138 miles without exploring the wild and scenic coastal landscape, but why would you? The area is home to two national seashores, four iconic lighthouses, two wildlife refuges and 21 coastal villages. Don’t miss the opportunity to soak up the heritage of these maritime towns. Enjoy the summertime “front porch talks” by villagers in Ocracoke at the David Williams House and the unique flared hulls of boats in Harkers Island.

Hamlet’s Castle

By Linda Tancs

Immortalized in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Kronborg is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe. Strategically located at the head of the Øresund Sound in Helsingør (Elsinore), it was a toll-collecting site for ships passing into the Baltic Sea. These days it’s better known as Hamlet’s castle. Not surprisingly, each summer you can enjoy live performances of Shakespeare’s greatest plays from Danish and international companies. Get there by train in 45 minutes from Copenhagen’s Central Station or one hour by car.

Athens’ Golden Age

By Linda Tancs

Athens’ Golden Age spans a period roughly between 480 and 404 B.C. It was a period of great flourishing, economically, politically and culturally. Of the many relics of the age, the Temple of Poseidon is one of the most breathtaking. A short hop from the city, it’s located at Cape Sounion on the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula. Dedicated, of course, to the ancient Greek god of the sea, its remaining Doric columns are an imposing sight, coupled with stunning views of the Aegean on three sides thanks to the monument’s cliffside perch. Get there via public bus, an organized tour, a private taxi or by car.

The World’s Longest Yard Sale

By Linda Tancs

Spanning the states of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, Lookout Mountain Parkway is a 93-mile drive with an abundance of natural wonders and quaint towns. This time of year it’s best known for what’s dubbed “the world’s longest yard sale.” A sight to behold, you’ll find over 5,000 yard sale vendors lining the parkway as well as the US 127 corridor, offering a staggering 690 miles of bargains on just about anything. This year’s sale takes place from August 4 to August 7.

The Emerald Coast

By Linda Tancs

Just like the French Riviera, Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) attracts the rich and famous. Indeed, the luxurious yachts anchored offshore attest to that. You’ll find many of them at the marina of Porto Cervo, the beating heart of this Italian island in the western Mediterranean. Created by Prince Karim Aga Khan for the jet-set, this resort community is equally accessible by the hoi polloi, who can enjoy enviable views from Stella Maris Church perched above the port. Inside, its charms include the Mater Dolorosa attributed to the Greek painter El Greco, an organ from the 17th century and local juniper wood pews. If you’re tempted to people watch, then you’ll want to be there this time of year.

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