Travelrific® Travel Journal

Picture postcards in prose.™ Check out the blogroll on the front page for official merchandise and other resources!

Wild Cats in Poland

By Linda Tancs

Located in the southernmost portion of Poland, Bieszczady National Park is one of the country’s largest national parks. It holds the distinction of being part of the first UNESCO biosphere reserve to be located in three countries, complemented by sections in Ukraine and Slovakia. It might be better known, though, as a home to the once highly-endangered Eurasian lynx, as evidenced by the wildcat’s likeness as the park’s logo. One of Europe’s largest predators, the lynx finds a safe haven in this park thanks to its extensive mountain forests. You might spot a European wildcat or two as well.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Early Brick in England

By Linda Tancs

Brick was fashionable and new in the 15th century. So it’s not surprising that it would become the building material of choice for Herstmonceux Castle in Hailsham, England. The 15th-century, moated castle is one of the earliest examples of a brick-built building in the country. In addition to guided tours of the castle, you can enjoy 300 acres of serenity in managed woodland with beautiful themed and formal gardens. But now, during August bank holiday, that serenity is broken by the Medieval Festival, billed as the largest of its kind in the U.K. Activities include jousting, banquets, twice daily battles, living history encampments, falconry and archery.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Hawaiian History in Canada

By Linda Tancs

Canada’s Gulf Islands are scattered across the Salish Sea between Vancouver and Southern Vancouver Island. Much of that natural oasis comprises Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, a place teeming with trails leading to mountaintop viewpoints, lighthouses and reminders of First Nations and pioneer pasts. Part of that pioneering past involves Hawaiians who homesteaded there. In fact, by the 1870s Hawaiians began settling in the Gulf Islands after the U.S. Government began passing legislation preventing them from becoming American citizens or owning land. In British Columbia they continued their work in the maritime fur trade and became landowners, farmers and fishermen. Part of that Hawaiian history is preserved on Russell Island at the Mahoi house, where descendants of Maria Mahoi (the sole heir to the island in 1901) share family stories about Kanaka (Hawaiian) settlement.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Maryland’s Ties to Yorkshire

By Linda Tancs

George Calvert found favor with England’s James I. The King made him Baron Baltimore and granted him a charter to found a colony in America, which became the State of Maryland. Meanwhile, Calvert built North Yorkshire’s Kiplin Hall in the early 1620s as a hunting lodge. And so began the ties between Maryland and a British manor house that many Marylanders regard as their birthplace. The Jacobean house displays furniture, portraits, paintings and the personal belongings of the four families who have owned it over the past 400 years. You can thank residents of Maryland for its preservation, considering their funding of renovations following the hall’s abandonment in the 1950s after the death of the last owner. Enjoy the historic rooms (which you can freely roam) as well as long walks around the man-made lake, parkland and woodland paths.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Iron Age Roundhouses

By Linda Tancs

A broch is a round tower found in Scotland. Dating to the Iron Age, it has an inner and outer dry-stone wall (that is, assembled without mortar) of imposing height. The best-known example is the Broch of Mousa on the island of Mousa in Shetland, Scotland. Its renown as one of the best-preserved prehistoric structures in Europe is no doubt due to its remote location. Enjoy a climb on the winding staircase to the top of the tower during the open season (April to September).

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

A Library in Chains

By Linda Tancs

A chained library is a library where the books are attached to their bookcase by a chain, which is sufficiently long enough to allow the books to be taken from their shelves and read but not removed. One such library, aptly named Chained Library, is at Wells Cathedral. One of four remaining in Britain, it was built following instructions in the will of Bishop Bubwith, who died in 1424. It was the largest medieval library in England when it opened in the 1450s. Cathedral guides offer tours of this enchanting relic.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

A Ball of Twine in Kansas

By Linda Tancs

Cawker City, Kansas, is a quintessential small town at just one square mile and less than 1,000 residents. That might sound a bit sleepy, but as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. That’s because the unassuming little town lays claim to hosting the world’s largest ball of twine. As recently as 2018, the ball weighed in at 20,511 pounds! It’s composed of sisal twine, a thread made from the fibrous agave plant, typically used to keep small bales of hay together. That’s the use to which local farmer Frank Stoeber put it. He started rolling his abundance of excess twine in 1953. By 1961, his ball had become a local tourist attraction. It’s been added to continuously—first by Frank, then his neighbors, and ultimately, by visitors who are provided pre-measured and weighed twine. That tradition continues to this day, especially during Twine-a-Thon, a festival on the third weekend each August. You’ll find the ball as you enter Cawker City from U.S. Highway 24.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Bathed in Lager

By Linda Tancs

The Czech Republic reigns year after year as the world’s top in per-capita beer consumption. But perhaps it’s surprising to know that beer spas are popular retreats. The beer isn’t fit for consumption—but it’s great for toning and relaxation, they say. One popular spa is in the town of Harrachov, where a local brewery offers a spa experience. The treatment entails sitting in a tub filled with light and dark unpasteurized beer in equal measure along with hop pellets and pure mountain water. And yes, you can drink beer (the potable variety) while you soak.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Nature and Culture in Finland

By Linda Tancs

Cultural attractions abound in Hämeenlinna, Finland, one of the country’s 107 towns. It’s the birthplace of Jean Sibelius, Finland’s national composer. You’ll also find a 13th-century medieval castle, the city’s signature attraction, overlooking Lake Vanajavesi. Add to that the forest park of Aulanko and you have the perfect mix of nature and culture. The park’s scenic lookout tower at Aulangonvuori Hill gives enviable views over the valley of Lake Vanajavesi with its bays, rocky islands and capes. Part of a nature reserve, the Aulanko area is the first national urban park in the country.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Underwater Malta

By Linda Tancs

Usually, underwater archaeological wonders are the province of scuba divers and submarine explorers. But thanks to Underwater Malta, a virtual museum, sites on the seabed off both Malta and Gozo can be viewed by anyone. What you’ll see ranges from a 2,700-year-old Phoenician shipwreck to surface craft, submarines and aircraft from both world wars. Go ahead and explore the archipelago’s underwater cultural heritage without getting wet!

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

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