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A Towering View in York

By Linda Tancs

York boasts some of the finest medieval churches and buildings in England, so you’ll want one of the best vantage points to absorb the skyline. That would be Clifford’s Tower, where you’ll find unmatched views of the historical city as well as York Minster and even the North York Moors in the distance. The tower is all that remains of York Castle (built by William the Conqueror), a site which also served as a prison and a royal mint. Your self-guided tour features a tactile model in the courtyard, showing how the site once looked.

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The World’s Highest Monastery

By Linda Tancs

Tibet’s Rongbuk monastery is the highest monastery in the world, located just miles from Mount Everest’s base camp. As you would expect, it’s the perfect locale to see eye to eye, as it were, with one of the highest mountains on earth. Along with its colorful flags and golden stupas you’ll find an observation deck there to take stunning photos. April, May, September and October are great months for a visit.

The Lace of Queens

By Linda Tancs

The lace of queens or the queen of laces. Anyway you label it, the Normandy commune of Alençon has long been celebrated for its lace-making traditions. Thanks to the French court in the 17th century, a large number of women entered the lace-making trade to supply nobility with elaborate designs. The craftsmanship of this local lace is recognized by UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It takes seven to 10 years of training to master the Alençon form of needle lace-making.

The Top of Texas

By Linda Tancs

How can you view the top of Texas on foot? Take the Guadalupe Peak Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, site of the four highest peaks in Texas. Not for the faint of heart, the day hike (8.5 miles round-trip) climbs 3,000 feet and travels through a conifer forest to reach the top of Guadalupe Peak. You’ll be rewarded with amazing views to the west and to the south.

Peat and Reed in the Netherlands

By Linda Tancs

Thanks to human hands cutting peat and reed, the largest lowland bog in Northwest Europe was formed. That area now comprises Weerribben-Wieden National Park in the Netherlands. It’s a unique landscape brimming with lakes, reedlands, marsh and bogs. Some species are even dependent on the bogs for survival, such as water soldiers, water lilies and round-leaved sundew. The park also houses almost the entire Dutch population of the large copper butterfly and the Norfolk damselfly. The best way to explore the park is by boat. Electric boats, rowboats and canoes can be rented in Giethoorn and other places in the park. Be on the lookout for rare animals that live there, like otters and black terns.

California’s Largest Lake

By Linda Tancs

The Salton Sea is an inland saline lake in southeastern California, bordered on the south by the Imperial Valley and on the west by Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The state’s largest lake (at 34 miles long), both the Salton Sea State Recreation Area and the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge are located on its shores. The lake region boasts the most diverse species of birds anywhere in the West, recording more than 375 species. The wildlife refuge is especially important for migrating and wintering waterfowl (like geese, avocets, black-necked stilts, pintails, teal and grebes)
as well as endangered species including the year-round presence of the Yuma clapper rail.

 

An Archaeological Journey in Jerusalem

By Linda Tancs

Jerusalem’s Terra Sancta Museum houses artifacts culled from excavations carried out for more than 100 years by a Franciscan order. Located in the Old City along the Via Dolorosa, the museum’s new archaeological wing boasts collections from the age of Herod and from daily life in the Holy Land during the time of the New Testament writers as well as a striking stone room used by Crusaders in the 13th century. The facility is open daily.

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