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Volcanic Splendor in Sicily

By Linda Tancs

Stromboli is more than an Italian-style turnover. It’s also one of a string of UNESCO-designated islands north of Sicily known as the Aeolian Islands. Shaped over the millenia by volcanic activity, the islands are named Lipari, Vulcano, Panarea, Salina, Alicudi, Filicudi and Stromboli. Charming and idyllic, each island has its own flair, from the street-free, donkey-fueled transport of Alicudi to the drama of a night cruise in Stromboli to witness its volcano’s fiery emissions, one of the most active volcanoes in Europe. From the largest of the islands (Lipari) to the smallest (Panarea), enjoy some local treats, like a sulfurous bath in Vulcano, sweet Malvasia wine and seasoned bread. Milazzo, Sicily, offers the most reliable ferry services to the islands.

A Bit of Everything in Tresco

By Linda Tancs

St. Mary’s is the largest island in England’s enchanted archipelago, Isles of Scilly, but Tresco is the only one that’s privately owned. That won’t stop you from experiencing the world renowned Abbey Garden, though. Established in the 1830s by Augustus Smith (an ancestor of the family responsible for the island), it hosts a spectacular collection of more than 20,000 exotic plants from 80 temperate coastal regions around the world. Smith also founded Valhalla Museum in a far corner of the garden, which displays figureheads salvaged from the islands’ shipwrecks in the 19th century. The garden is open daily. Fly to St. Mary’s with Skybus from Land’s End, Newquay or Exeter, or sail aboard Scillonian III from Penzance. Boat services from there will bring you to Tresco.

From Vaudeville House to Arts Incubator

By Linda Tancs

Opened in 1927 as a vaudeville house and movie palace in New Jersey, the Brook Theatre is one of only eight surviving vaudeville houses in the country. Located in Bound Brook and known today as the Brook Arts Center, the historic property was once known for vaudeville acts and circus shows. These days it serves as an arts incubator for artists’ plays as well as talent shows, musical performances and movies.

Heating Up in Iceland

By Linda Tancs

Though not faithful like Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, the Great Geysir in southwestern Iceland is the stuff of legend. The first geyser described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans, its name provides the origin for the English word “geyser.” Mostly dormant now, it’s aided by an otherwise active geothermal field starring Strokkur, which propels hot water as high as 100 feet into the air every 10 minutes or so. A peculiar offering in the area is the ability to assist a chef in the making of “hot spring bread,” which involves boiling eggs outside in a hot spring and digging up rye bread that has been “baking” underground for 24 hours. Located about 62 miles from Reykjavik, the geothermal field is part of Iceland’s famous “Golden Circle” tour.

Made From Scratch

By Linda Tancs

Brazil’s third most populous city, Brasília was built from scratch (an empty plateau in the heartland) in the 20th century, intended to replace Rio as the nation’s capital. It’s perhaps best known for its futuristic buildings such as the National Congress, the crown-like, hyperboloid structure of the cathedral and the presidential palace. Take in the bird’s-eye view from the TV tower, the highest point in the city.

The End of the World Train

By Linda Tancs

There’s a certain finality to Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego National Park, the southernmost tip of the Andean-Patagonian forest, a place where a particular variety of red fox resides and birch forest predominates. It’s there that you’ll find the final part of the Andes. It’s also where you can catch the End of the World Train (Tren del Fin del Mundo), a historic, narrow-gauge steam railway journey between Ushuaia (commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world) and the park. The hour-long journey (one way) presents stunning vistas accented by the Pipo River, Macarena cascade, a tree cemetery and the forest. An onboard audio tour is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and the train runs year-round.

Moon Dance

By Linda Tancs

Since ancient times, full moons have been associated with strange behavior. So imagine the fun at a full moon party—as the name implies, it’s a party that takes place once (or more) each month during the full moon. It’s a cherished event at places like Trellis Bay in the British Virgin Islands, not that you need an excuse, of course, to dance and have fun on a beach in the Caribbean. Calypso music wafts through the night, punctuated by fire and stilt dancers as well as giant metal fire balls. As the song goes, it’s a marvelous night for a moon dance.

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