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Seeing the Light in Pula

By Linda Tancs

Pula, Croatia, is situated at the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula and is the area’s largest city. Known in ancient times as Polensium, the town is rife with Roman architecture. The Roman amphitheater, in particular, is a well-preserved spectacle in the heart of the city, retaining its complete circuit of walls. Used as a concert venue (especially in the summer), it boasts great harbor views through the ancient arena walls. This time of year, though, the main event is the Visualia Festival, Croatia’s first festival of light. This year’s celebration, taking place today through September 21, represents a first-time partnership with the ILA (International Light Association), bringing together lighting professionals worldwide.

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A Symbol of Unity in Kazan

By Linda Tancs

Of all large Russian cities, Kazan certainly has its share of unique attributes, like the Kazan Kremlin, conquered by Ivan the Terrible in 1552. It’s also the site of the Temple of All Religions, a colorful conglomeration of architectural influences across religions. Established by philanthropist Ildar Khanov in 1992, the complex is still a work in progress, intended to stand as a symbol of respect for all religious traditions. The entrance fee is nominal, and a bus from the city center will get you there in about 30 minutes.

Life in New Jersey

By Linda Tancs

Among its many collections, the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton offers a glimpse of life in the state from the 17th century to the present. Of course, those 13,000 or so artifacts in the cultural collection include the state’s agricultural heritage (it is the Garden State, after all) as well as representations of textiles, trade tools, furniture, maritime heritage and other artifacts documenting craft, work, play, community and family life. Within walking distance of the State House (the third-oldest state house in continuous legislative use in the United States), the museum enjoys views of the Delaware River.

A Tiny Piece of NYC History

By Linda Tancs

Outside a cigar shop in Greenwich Village at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Christopher Street is a small marker symbolizing a big dispute in the history of New York City. That’s where you’ll find a triangular mosaic set in the pavement in the 1920s, a memento of one family’s defiance of an order allowing for the seizing of property in the area in the early 1900s to widen the street for the Seventh Avenue subway line. Known as the Hess Triangle, it represents the Hess family’s refusal to sell to the city the one remaining piece of property erroneously omitted from the seizure order, a plot of land barely larger than a footprint. The family ultimately sold the parcel to the cigar shop, where the marker continues to be tramped on by passersby to this day.

Celebrating an American Fruit

By Linda Tancs

It may be unfamiliar to many, but the pawpaw is North America’s largest edible native fruit. Its custard-like consistency, often referred to as a cross between a mango and a banana, was favored by George Washington. No doubt he would’ve appreciated a pawpaw festival in his day. One of the largest in our times is the Ohio Pawpaw Festival. Now in its 21st year, the three-day event celebrates our native fruit with events like competitions for the best pawpaw, best pawpaw-related work of art, a cook-off and the pawpaw-eating contest. Taking place at Lake Snowden near Albany, this year’s event is September 13-15.

Playing with Vegetables in Austria

By Linda Tancs

Your mother no doubt encouraged you to eat your veggies, not play with them. Turns out playing with them is a good idea. Just ask the members of Vienna’s Vegetable Orchestra. A unique Austrian ensemble, they’ve been creating sounds from vegetables since the 1990s, playing concerts around the globe. Now there’s some food for thought.

Bluegrass Cuisine

By Linda Tancs

You don’t have to wait until Derby season for a dive into Kentucky cuisine. Enjoy a taste of the Bluegrass State now through October 31 on the Culinary Trail across nine state parks. Each park on the trail is offering a regional meal, including favorites like goetta and burgoo. Pick up your culinary passport at your first stop, and start tasting your way through the state. Then mail your completed passport back to the Department of Tourism for a free gift!

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