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Ancient Sovereignty in Southeast Asia

By Linda Tancs

One of the most ancient sovereign states in Southeast Asia (dating as far back as the 5th century), Brunei Darussalam is a tiny nation on the island of Borneo bordered by the South China Sea. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is home to the opulent Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque and its 29 golden domes, one for each of the nation’s 29 sultan rulers. The capital’s massive Istana Nurul Iman palace is the residence of Brunei’s ruling sultan, a dwelling recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest living residence of a head of state. Despite its grandiose accoutrements, Brunei is a quieter alternative to other oil-rich countries like Dubai. It features the unpretentious water village Kampong Ayer, pristine beaches and a biodiverse rainforest.

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Paulding’s Folly

By Linda Tancs

New York City mayor William Paulding constructed a Gothic Revival mansion in the 1800s overlooking the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York. Unusual in the post-Colonial era, it sported fanciful turrets and an asymmetrical design that earned it the moniker “Paulding’s Folly.” Its second owner, merchant George Merritt, doubled down you might say by adding to the fanciful Gothic structure and naming it Lyndenhurst after the abundance of Linden trees on the property. Railroad tycoon Jay Gould was the third owner of the estate who, like other wealthy patrons of his day commissioning the construction of mansions along the bluffs of the river from New York City to Albany, used the property as a country retreat. Known today as Lyndhurst, the art, furnishings and antiques remain intact and reflect the character of its three owners, and its grounds survive as an outstanding example of 19th century landscape design.

The Brothers of Charterhouse Square

By Linda Tancs

The Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery in London, to the north of what is now Charterhouse Square. Since the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century the house has served as a private mansion, a boys’ school and an almshouse, which it remains to this day. The residents of the almshouse are known as “Brothers” and conduct tours of the grounds and buildings. The site upon which the Charterhouse stands was acquired in the middle of the 14th century as a burial ground for victims of the Black Death. Earlier this year the Charterhouse permanently opened to the public for the first time in its 660-year history. The centerpiece of your visit is the museum providing a chronology of the site’s history from the Black Death to the present.

Poland’s Salt of the Earth

By Linda Tancs

The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. One of Poland’s largest tourist attractions, it offers themed tours for all ages, featuring underground tunnels and a mine with chapels, chambers and saline lakes. You can choose between the Tourist Route and the Miners’ Route, an authentic experience allowing participants to play the roles of miners and, under the keen eye of a chargeman, gain their first ever experience working underground. The routes don’t connect. If you don’t want to miss the crown jewel of the attraction, the Chapel of St. Kinga, then be sure to take the Tourist Route.

Austria’s Fair Spring

By Linda Tancs

Dating to the Middle Ages, Schönbrunn Palace is one of Austria’s top tourist attractions. Originally called Katterburg, its current name was adopted in 1642, derived from Emperor Matthias’s alleged discovery of the schöner Brunnen (“fair spring”) during a hunting expedition in 1612. A former hunting lodge, the grand estate seen today was used as a summer residence by the imperial family beginning in 1745. The tour of the imperial apartments and the magnificent state rooms includes the residential suite of rooms occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth in the west wing, the state rooms in the central section of the palace, the imperial apartments of Maria Theresa and Franz I Stephan and the Franz Karl Apartment, which was occupied by Franz Joseph’s parents, Archduchess Sophie and Archduke Franz Karl. The property is easily reached at Schönbrunn station in Vienna via underground, bus or tram.

The Niagara of Pennsylvania

By Linda Tancs

Popularly referred to as the Niagara of Pennsylvania, Bushkill Falls encompasses eight waterfalls amidst 300 acres including more than two miles of hiking trails, bridges and walkways. Privately owned by the Peters family, Charles E. Peters first opened Bushkill Falls to the public in 1904 with a single path and a swinging bridge over the head of the Main Falls, a majestic cliff with a 100-foot drop. You can view those falls from the green or yellow trails. Take the blue trail for Pennell Falls or the red trail for the popular Bridal Veil Falls. Nestled in the Poconos, Bushkill Falls is an easy drive from locales in eastern Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

On the Edge in Toronto

By Linda Tancs

The tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, Toronto’s CN Tower is a signature icon of the city’s skyline, jutting over 1,800 feet into the air. If you think the lookout at 1,136 feet is dizzying, then the tower’s latest attraction will put you over the edge—literally. Appropriately called the EdgeWalk, the hair-raising attraction gives visitors the opportunity to take a harnessed stride outside along the circumference of the tower’s restaurant roof, a mere 1,168 feet above the ground. The thrill is yours seasonally from April through October.

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