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Archive for short reads

Community Art in Denmark

By Linda Tancs

Helsingør, also known as Elsinore, is a port city in eastern Denmark and home to Kronborg Castle, the purported setting for Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” These days it also serves as the locale for a community art project at King’s Quay known as “Life in the Sound.” In addition to colorful street murals around town, there’s a curious large fish made entirely of marine waste and miscellaneous garbage. Designed by the Japanese artist group Yodogawa Technique, the fish is designed to raise awareness of environmental issues.

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Man Meets the Sea

By Linda Tancs

Located on a shoreline a few miles from Esbjerg in southwestern Denmark is a colossal sculpture known as “Man Meets the Sea.” The “man” in this case is a series of four nondescript, white alabaster male figures measuring 30 feet in height. Their outsized lower legs are designed to resemble the columns of a Greek temple. Created by sculptor Wiig Hansen to celebrate Esbjerg’s 100th anniversary as an independent municipality in 1994, the ghostly figures gaze out towards Skallingen and the entrance to the harbor. On a clear day they can be seen over six miles away. You can access the site via bus from the train/bus terminal or the central square.

Take Your Valentine to Valentine

By Linda Tancs

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Maybe with some chocolate and a candlelit dinner. Well, there’s so much more awaiting you in Valentine, Nebraska, where of course you can obtain a postmark to commemorate the day of love. But most visitors travel there to start a float trip or to tour the river valley, a good starting point for the 76 miles of the Niobrara National Scenic River that winds through  bluffs, waterfalls and fossil resources along a largely undisturbed shoreline. Less than one percent of U.S. rivers have received a scenic river designation by the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System, an honor reserved for those that are flee flowing with clean water and a largely undeveloped shoreline. The area features notables like the Allen Bridge; listed on the National Register of Historic Structures, it’s the longest single span bridge across the Niobrara. You can paddle among sandstone cliffs and visit public landings like Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge and Smith Falls State Park, both of which have beautiful views of the river.

A Writer’s Inspiration in France

By Linda Tancs

Jules Verne was a French novelist, poet and playwright best known for his adventure novels like Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. A native of Nantes, France, he was inspired by the sailors’ tales that he heard on the docks of this maritime city at the mouth of the Loire River. So it’s appropriate that the Jules Verne Museum overlooks the river, in the Loire hillside where the Verne family’s country house can still be seen nearby. Located on rue de l’Hermitage, the museum is an easy walk via Chronobus 1 (Lechat) or Tramway 1 (Gare maritime).

A Community Under the Sea

By Linda Tancs

Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument includes federal submerged lands off the island of St. John supporting a diverse and complex system of coral reefs and other ecosystems such as shoreline mangrove forests and seagrass beds. In fact, an area within the monument known as Hurricane Hole includes some of the least disturbed mangrove ecosystems remaining in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mangroves act as nurseries for grunts and other fish like queen angelfish and gray snappers. St. John is accessible via ferry service from St. Thomas. Once on St. John, the only part of the monument accessible by land is in Hurricane Hole. To get there, follow route 10 from Cruz Bay to Estate Hermitage. The majority of the monument extends eastward from Borck Creek to Haulover Bay along the southern shoreline of the island.

Valley of the Temples

By Linda Tancs

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Valley of the Temples is a testament to Magna Graecia (Great Greece) in Agrigento, Sicily. It boasts remarkable temple ruins dedicated to the gods and built by the rulers of Akragas (now Agrigento), one of the largest Greek cities on the Mediterranean in the sixth century B.C. Now in ruins, the colossal Temple to Zeus was one of the biggest Greek temples in antiquity. The oldest temple is Hercules, but the best preserved is Concordia. Most city buses leave from Piazzale Rosselli and ride by the site.

History, Horses and Hospitality

By Linda Tancs

Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, Tennessee, is the land of history, horses and hospitality. Historically, native tribes used the woodlands and meadows as a place to hunt wild game, carving a trail over time that was eventually known as the old Natchez road by European settlers. John Harding, a skilled farmer and businessman, purchased some of those hunting grounds in 1806 for farming and thoroughbred breeding, calling the property Belle Meade (beautiful meadow). Harding expanded the family home in 1853, introducing the Greek Revival style mansion seen today. In its heyday, the old Southern plantation was a popular destination for luminaries like President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland, Robert Todd Lincoln, General U.S. Grant, General William T. Sherman and Adlai E. Stevenson. Belle Meade Plantation is open daily, with mansion tours starting every 30 to 45 minutes.

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