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Archive for short reads

Urban Arctic

By Linda Tancs

You might not think of the Arctic as urban, yet Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, is an arctic metropolis. Brimming with a diverse dining and shopping scene (and the country’s largest microbrewery), it’s the heart of modern Greenland. A walkable city, Imaneq Street is a go-to destination for traditionally made goods, like knitted musk ox items. If you’d rather eat it than wear it, musk ox steak is a featured delicacy. And you won’t want to miss out on Greenlandic coffee, which gives Irish coffee a run for its money.

Where the Blues Began

By Linda Tancs

Clarksdale, Mississippi, hails as the birthplace of the blues. That’s where you’ll find the Delta Blues Museum, the state’s oldest music museum. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the facility, which includes photographic exhibitions, musical instruments, recordings, sheet music, posters, costumes, folk art, paintings and other memorabilia. Among its many highlights are displays devoted to Muddy Waters and Big Mama Thornton as well as guitars played by B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and Big Joe Williams.

Undercover in London

By Linda Tancs

Ever wonder what it was like being a Cold War spy in London? You can catch a glimpse into the world of espionage with a spy and espionage tour conducted by an expert in the subject. A three-hour bus tour visits real-life sites used by British Intelligence as well as sites where secrets were exchanged, even by double agents. The tour ends at St. Ermin’s Hotel, former headquarters of MI6, where a very James Bond-like vodka martini awaits you.

The Garden City of Chile

By Linda Tancs

Chile’s enchanting Viña del Mar is called The Garden City. Its gardens are indeed beautiful, as are its castles, old mansions and beach resorts. Think of it as a cross between Miami and Beverly Hills. And throw in a little Monte Carlo thanks to its glamorous Municipal Casino. You can admire all its charms with a horse and carriage ride along the breathtaking promenade. It’s easy to lose track of time, but you’ll find that, too, at the giant botanical clock (Reloj de Flores) on a sloping lawn at the foot of Cerro Castillo. An icon of the city, this fully functional musical flower clock was built for the 1962 FIFA World Cup. Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, it flowers year round.

Aspiring in New Zealand

By Linda Tancs

Named for Mount Aspiring, one of New Zealand’s highest peaks, Mount Aspiring National Park provides inspiring walks for trekkers eager to view its glaciers, waterfalls, braided rivers and acres of native beech forest. Short walks around one hour include the Devil’s Punchbowl and Wainui Falls, featuring native forests and waterfalls. If you’re interested in a more serious walk, consider treks such as the Gillespie Pass Circuit, the Wilkin Valley, Aspiring Hut, Liverpool Bivy and Cascade Saddle. Of course, the park is also easily accessible by plane, helicopter or jet-boat, and a glacier landing high in the mountains can’t be beat.

The Most Beautiful Place in America

By Linda Tancs

Miles of sand beach, bluffs that tower 450 feet above Lake Michigan, forests, clear inland lakes and unhindered night sky views are just some of the charms of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Reportedly named after a Native American legend of a mother bear who swims from Wisconsin to escape a forest fire, the locale was once voted “the most beautiful place in America” by Good Morning America. It certainly does offer spectacular views, like the ones from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive (named for the lumberman who initiated the road), a 7.4-mile loop with overlooks of the Glen Lakes, the dunes and Lake Michigan. The Lake Michigan Overlook (stop #9 on the drive) is a visitor favorite, where the sunset is particularly outstanding. Pick up an interpretive guide for the scenic drive at the Visitor Center in Empire.

Bodacious Trees in South Carolina

By Linda Tancs

South Carolina is not lacking in bodacious trees, even champions. Literally. A champion tree is the largest of its species according to a standard measuring formula based on trunk circumference, tree height and average crown spread. They’re the star attraction at Congaree National Park, where you’ll find two champions for every three square miles. In fact, the park represents one of the tallest temperate deciduous forests in the world, the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. A great way to experience it is by canoeing or kayaking on the Cedar Creek Canoe Trail. You’ll learn even more if you take one of the limited, reservation-only, ranger-guided canoe tours.

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