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Painting the Sky

By Linda Tancs

Legend has it that the gods dipped their paint brushes into Costa Rica’s Rio Celeste (Blue River) while painting the sky. The river gets its amazing blue hue from sulfur emitted from volcanic activity courtesy of Tenorio Volcano, which lends its name to Tenorio Volcano National Park. Located in northern Costa Rica, it’s one of the country’s youngest national parks, prized not only for the volcano but also for Rio Celeste waterfall. You’ll find an abundance of natural hot springs, along with mud pots and a beautiful cloud forest at the summit of the volcano. A trek through the entire park will take four or five hours.

Beasts in Salzburg

By Linda Tancs

Forget coal in the stocking. In some countries, like Austria, there’s something much more fearsome awaiting children who’ve been more naughty than nice. Coinciding with St. Nicholas Day on December 6, Salzburg celebrates Krampus parades in late November and early December. The Krampus is a legendary creature sporting a hand-carved wooden mask, shaggy pelts and heavy bells. The typical beast is a costumed young man, who roams the streets and scares children who look like they’ve misbehaved. It’s all in good fun, of course, a centuries-old folk custom that has even made its way to America via New Orleans. 

The Lighthouse of Felgueiras

By Linda Tancs

Among the many charms of Porto, Portugal, the lighthouse of Felgueiras sits at the mouth of the Douro River where it meets the Atlantic. Thanks to its location, the swells at this 19th-century hexagonal lighthouse can be immense. Although it was deactivated in 2009, it’s still a popular landmark, offering visitors a bit of ocean spray along with enviable views.

An African Amphitheatre

By Linda Tancs

A hikers’ paradise, Royal Natal National Park in South Africa is best known for its Amphitheatre. Park of the Drakensberg escarpment, it’s a massive cliff face that spans 3 miles and reaches nearly 1,700 feet. One of the world’s tallest waterfalls cascades from the clifftops, feeding the Tugela River below as it heads east to the Indian Ocean. You’ll find an abundance of trails to explore on foot and on horseback with a comprehensive guidebook available for visitors, so take your time. Accommodations include a lodge, cottages and chalets.

The Revolution in Pawling

By Linda Tancs

From September to November 1778, George Washington based his military movements during the Revolutionary War in Pawling, New York. One of the places he headquartered in during that period was the John Kane House, the home of John and Sybil Kane. Located on East Main Street, today it serves as the local historical society’s main museum. Visitors will learn about the area’s indigenous and European settlers, Washington’s use of Pawling and the effect of the war upon the Pawling community.

Canada’s Little Jamaica

By Linda Tancs

Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto, Canada, is ground zero for Little Jamaica. One of the city’s many ethnic neighborhoods, it’s been a hub for Jamaican and the wider Caribbean communities since the 1950s. Savor the jerk chicken and beef patties and, for some visual appeal, be sure to check out Reggae Lane’s large-scale mural featuring portraits of renowned local and international reggae musicians. Take public transit to Eglinton West subway station.

Dwelling in the Wind

By Linda Tancs

Thomas Stone was the youngest member of the Maryland delegation to vote for the Declaration of Independence. He was also one of the politicians responsible for the Olive Branch Petition, a letter to King George III petitioning for the avoidance of conflict between Great Britain and the colonies. You can learn more about this peace-loving planter, lawyer and politician at the Thomas Stone National Historic Site near the historic town of Port Tobacco in Maryland. Take a 30-minute guided tour of the Thomas Stone House, unique not only for its blended architectural styles but also for the estate’s historical name, Haberdeventure. Although owners of the house over three centuries spelled it differently, the National Park Service chose to use “Haberdeventure” as the place name, which is generally agreed to be a loose variation of the Latin phrase “havitatio de ventus,” meaning to “dwell in or of the wind.” Living up to its name, the park area has endured a tornado, a derecho and the remnants of two tropical storms.

The Highway that Goes to Sea

By Linda Tancs

In 1912 millionaire Henry Flagler built what became known as the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad from Miami to Key West. An engineering marvel of its time, it fell into disuse after being badly damaged in a 1935 hurricane. It later served as the blueprint for the Overseas Highway, a span of U.S. Highway 1 from Key Largo to Key West boasting 42 bridges spanning the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. No wonder it’s dubbed “the highway that goes to sea.” The route is populated with coral and limestone islets comprising the Keys, locales that boast everything from yacht clubs to wildlife refuges. One of the best-loved spans of this idyllic road is its longest—the Seven Mile Bridge near Marathon, surrounded by water from start to finish. The highway was designated as Florida’s first and only All-American Road under the National Scenic Byways program, one of a short list of other roadways in the nation that have earned this prestigious title.

Chestnuts in Portugal

By Linda Tancs

Gothic arches, Manueline windows, wrought-iron balconies and other embellishments are typical fare for the Portuguese medieval town of Marvão. It’s located in the Alentejo region, commonly known as the “bread basket of Portugal.” Just a kiss from Spain, the views from the castle keep offer some of the most mesmerizing views in the country. This time of year, though, it’s the annual chestnut festival that delights visitors the most, an occasion where nearly three tons of chestnuts are expected to be consumed.

Blooms in Malaysia

By Linda Tancs

As if Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands weren’t scenic enough with its tea plantations, forests and waterfalls, it now boasts a Flora Park. Boasting a sea of blooms bounded by winding trails, the park features a series of private picnic areas available in timed sessions. November is considered the best month to visit the region. The travel time from Kuala Lumpur is roughly four hours.

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