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A Museum Goes to the Dogs

By Linda Tancs

It’s been an ambassador for Bavaria, a hunter’s indispensable partner and a friend to nobility. We’re talking about the dachshund (“badger dog” in German), a popular dog breed worldwide. And now the first museum devoted to the breed awaits your visit in Passau, Germany. Dackelmuseum sports the 4,500-strong collection of two enthusiasts, showcasing the beloved pet’s role in history and culture. Not surprisingly, dogs are welcome visitors.

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The Church of Bones

By Linda Tancs

It’s certainly not unusual for a church to have an accompanying graveyard. What is unusual is an unearthing of tens of thousands of bones—bleached, carved and arranged into decorations in the form of a chandelier, a pyramid, crosses and a coat of arms. That’s what you’ll find in an ossuary in Sedlec near Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. It contains the remains of over 40,000 skeletons, a popular resting place owing to the sprinkling of dirt from Golgotha in the Holy Land and a subsequent expansion resulting from victims of the plagues. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, it’s about an hour away from Prague.

High Drama in Perth Amboy

By Linda Tancs

Proprietary House in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, is a jewel in the crown of America’s colonial history. Completed in 1764, it is the only remaining official royal governor’s mansion still standing in the original 13 colonies. It became the home of William Franklin (Ben Franklin’s son) when he was appointed Royal Governor of New Jersey by King George III. Drama ensued at the mansion when Ben unsuccessfully attempted to win his son over to the Loyalists during the Revolution. William’s loyalty to the Crown was ill-fated. He lost possession of the mansion and was imprisoned in Connecticut until freed in a prisoner exchange in 1778. Nearly lost to history after decades of ruin and decay, the restored house is open for tours every Wednesday and Sunday.

Capitals of Culture in 2019

By Linda Tancs

Happy New Year! And you know what that means—another set of European Capitals of Culture! This year’s honorees are Matera (Italy) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria). Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe, with a history dating back to 4,000 B.C. During Roman times, it was a thriving industrial center and remains so today. Its annual International Fair is an epicenter for international business, conducted on fairgrounds representing one of the largest exhibition venues in southeastern Europe. Matera is a city on a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata in southern Italy. It includes the Sassi area, a complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside. Many of the caves are now hotels, bars, restaurants and homes. Take the train from Bari to Matera and explore the area on foot.

New York’s First Capital

By Linda Tancs

Burned by the British on October 16, 1777, after the Battles of Saratoga, Kingston is New York’s first capital city. About 59 miles south of Albany, the current capital, it’s situated at the point where the Rondout Creek and the Hudson River meet, in the shadows of the scenic Catskill Mountains. The locale is perfect for a ride on the Catskill Mountain Railroad, a heritage railroad featuring day trips through scenic mountain and village terrain. The historic city boasts American architecture spanning four centuries from the early Dutch and English, including Federalist, Georgian, Greek Revival, Victorian, Romanesque, Italianate, Neo-Classical, Art Deco and Contemporary. You’ll also find almost two dozen original, pre-revolutionary stone houses, a lighthouse and a host of museums highlighting local history and heritage.

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.

Sunshine City

By Linda Tancs

Considering that Florida is the Sunshine State, it might seem silly to call out any one locale as “Sunshine City.” But St. Petersburg makes a strong case for it, holding the title of “most consecutive days with sunshine” at 768 days! That’s good news for sun worshippers, but there’s so much more to do there. The city is home to the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum, housing the largest collection of his works outside Europe. It also hosts Mahaffey Theater, home of the Florida Orchestra, and a fine arts museum with a collection spanning 5,000 years.

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