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Archive for short reads

A Christmas Treat Down Under

By Linda Tancs

Christmas doesn’t normally conjure thoughts of tropical equatorial climates unless, of course, you’re visiting Christmas Island. Just a tiny dot in the Indian Ocean, the Australian territory northwest of Perth is largely a national park. It’s perhaps best known for its native wildlife, particularly the imposing bright red crab. At the beginning of the wet season (usually between October and November), most adult red crabs suddenly begin a spectacular migration by the millions from the forest to the coast to breed and release eggs into the sea, a process that can last up to 18 days. Movement peaks during cooler hours, early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Talk about a red carpet!

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Medieval Splendor in France

By Linda Tancs

Château d’Angers, a medieval fortress in Angers, France, is a massive fortification in schist and limestone. Punctuated by 17 towers, it extends over 1,600 feet, surrounded by gardens large enough to complement its size. The gardens include the usual box trees and yews, as well as a vineyard, vegetable garden, rose garden, hydrangea garden at the royal dwelling, the hanging garden with medicinal and tincture plants and a number of species depicted on the Apocalypse Tapestry. A magnificent work of art, the tapestry is based on the New Testament’s Book of Revelation. Like every other part of the castle, its scope is grand, measuring 338 feet in length and nearly 15 feet in width. Once the property of René of Anjou (of the ducal line who occupied the fortress in the 14th and 15th centuries), the tapestry is situated in a specially-lit room to preserve it.

Ireland’s Medieval Mile

By Linda Tancs

The colorful hues and commercial comforts along High Street in Kilkenny belie the city’s storied past as the medieval capital of Ireland. You’ll learn all about that on the Medieval Mile, a discovery trail running through the heart of the city linking St. Canice’s Cathedral (the second longest in the country) and a stunning Anglo-Norman castle. South of Dublin, Kilkenny is named after St. Canice (Cill Chainnigh – Canice’s Church), who founded a sixth century monastic settlement. The Round Tower beside the cathedral offers fantastic views over the city. At the center of it all is the new Medieval Mile Museum, located in a converted 13th century church featuring medieval sculpture and Renaissance-era tombs.

Belgrade’s Central Park

By Linda Tancs

Kalemegdan is Belgrade’s central park and fortress complex in Serbia. Lying on a hill overlooking the Sava and Danube confluence, its pleasant grounds contain a treasure trove of history and archaeology. It boasts the Belgrade Fortress, a citadel first built by the Romans in the first century and then razed and restructured by its conquerors, reaching its present form in the 18th century. The fortress contains the Roman Well, built during the baroque reconstruction of the ramparts during the 18th century. The fortress area also hosts the Statue of Victory, erected in 1928 to commemorate the Kingdom of Serbia’s war victories over the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary. Other highlights include the medieval Nebojša tower (a four-level cannon tower built around 1460 to protect the entrance to the Danube port) and the Military Museum in the middle of the park.

New York’s Salmon Capital

By Linda Tancs

The quaint village of Pulaski is the salmon fishing capital of New York and one of the premier salmon fishing destinations in the world. This time of year there’s potential for a major daily run of 1,000 to 3,000 king and coho salmon in the Salmon River. Charter boats will take you where the trophy fish are biting.

America’s Best Bike Tour

By Linda Tancs

Ernest Hemingway said, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” So what could be better than a nearly level bike path along 150 scenic miles? That’s what you get on the Great Allegheny Passage (the GAP), a holy grail for bicyclists. Winding its way between Cumberland, Maryland, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the trail comprises a series of retired rail corridors—the longest rail trail east of the Mississippi. Aided by interpretive signage, the path crosses the Cumberland Narrows, the Mason-Dixon Line and the Eastern Continental Divide and is dotted with a chain of cyclist-friendly trail towns.

Sweden’s First City

By Linda Tancs

Hailed as Sweden’s first city, Birka is an ancient city located on the island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren. It was an important Viking Age trading center which handled goods from Scandinavia and Finland as well as Europe and the Orient. In addition to the museum, a guided tour will take you back in time to the Vikings by strolling through the ancient fields that have been excavated. Past the museum is another interesting site: the Monument of Ansgar. Known as the Nordic apostle, Ansgar was a missionary who brought Christianity to Sweden. Boats to Birka depart from Stockholm (Stadshusbron), Hovgården, Härjarö and Mariefred.

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