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Chocolate in Paradise

By Linda Tancs

There’s nothing like a little chocolate in the jungle.  In Bali you can tour Pod Chocolate, a hillside cacao farm located amidst jungle, rice fields and an elephant camp near Ubud.  One of the few places in the world where chocolate is made just minutes from where it’s grown, your tour there includes an educational foray into the cocoa pod and a chocolate-making exercise.  Their equation is simple:  chocolate + antioxidants = health.  So is yours:  you + Bali = paradise.

The Graves of Arles

By Linda Tancs

Southwest of the center of Arles in southern France is the ancient Roman necropolis, Les Alyscamps.  Later a Christian burial ground, the path lined with numerous sarcophagi was a subject of paintings by Van Gogh and his onetime roommate, Gauguin.  Van Gogh was quite prolific while residing in Arles; the Van Gogh trail is a self-guided walking tour highlighting points of artistic inspiration.

A Movable Feast

By Linda Tancs

Tourists are accustomed to eating on the run, often sacrificing finer gastronomic experiences in favor of squeezing in one last attraction.  In Barcelona, though, there’s a better alternative:  the Gourmet Bus.  Imagine dining on a terrine of rock fish and mild mayonnaise coupled with guinea fowl à la royale with parmentier of potato and wild mushroom on a glass roof bus with multilingual attendants, route cameras and commentary.  The year-round panoramic sightseeing tour includes such gems as Casa Batlló, Torre Agbar, Plaça d’Espanya and Sagrada Família.

Hong Kong Foodies

By Linda Tancs

If you have no idea what a Chinese menu says but want to eat like a local, then maybe a Hong Kong Foodie tour is for you.  Lasting nearly four hours, these guided walking tours are conducted by a local.  You’ll taste samples at six local restaurants serving Hong Kong food.  All participants will receive a map with the tour route and directions to the closest MTR stations.  Bring your appetite.

A River Runs Through It

By Linda Tancs

Minutes from Nashville International Airport and next door to the Grand Ole Opry, Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center beckons visitors with a glass atrium stretching seven football fields in length.  Beneath the atrium  lies a stunning display of indoor gardens and cascading waterfalls, viewable along an indoor Delta River tour aboard a Mississippi-style flatboat.  Look out for Danny, the 80-pound catfish and mascot of the meandering indoor river.   And what better time to visit Music City than during the holidays!  The resort’s 30th annual “A Country Christmas” features more than two million lights and dozens of shows and attractions.

Liberty Bells

By Linda Tancs

Fans of shows like Downton Abbey surely wonder what life was truly like above or below stairs.  At Liberty Hall in Union, New Jersey you can quench your curiosity.  Built in 1772, the mansion was home to New Jersey’s first governor and later occupied by members of the Kean political family.  Like any dynasty, their needs were met by the ringing of a servant’s bell.  Open through November 2013, the exhibition “Ring for Service:  The Role of Servants in a Country House” welcomes visitors to all four floors of the family estate.  The house museum is located on Morris Avenue at Kean University.

The Bunny Trail

By Linda Tancs

Easter is fast approaching.  That means the usual Easter egg hunts, decorated eggs and Easter Bunny photos with the kids.  Want something a little different?  How about a train ride aboard a 1916-vintage steam locomotive through the scenic Chehalis Valley in Washington State? Just a 90-minute drive from either Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, the nine-mile journey along former Milwaukee Road track winds through pastoral settings featuring several wooden trestles and historic farms.  One of the few remaining steam-powered passenger railroads in Washington, the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad offers Easter train rides for kids of all ages, along with other seasonal special events.  And, of course, the ride ends with a search for eggs hidden by the Easter Bunny and Chicken Little in the fields.

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