Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for short reads

The History of Science

By Linda Tancs

The Whipple Museum of the History of Science was founded in 1944 when Robert Stewart Whipple presented his collection of 1,000 scientific instruments and a similar number of books to the University of Cambridge in England. Today, the museum’s collection encompasses objects dating from medieval times to the present day. In addition to models, pictures, prints, photographs, rare books and other material related to the history of science, their vast collection includes instruments of astronomy, navigation, surveying, drawing and calculating as well as sundials, mathematical instruments and early electrical apparatus. You’ll also find famous works such as Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, explaining his theory of gravity, and Christiaan Huygens’s Horologium Oscillatorium, detailing the invention of the pendulum clock. Admission is free.

Snow Monsters in Japan

By Linda Tancs

Mount Zao is a volcanic mountain range in the Tohoku region of Japan. Known for its rough winters, it’s no surprise that the tall fir trees on the mountain’s slopes are draped in snow and ice. Their surreal look has earned them the nickname “snow monsters.” They form around the peak of the Zao Ski Resort and are usually most spectacular around February. Access to the monsters is provided by a ropeway and a gondola for both skiers and non-skiers.

Greyhound Capital of the World

By Linda Tancs

Abilene, Kansas, is the heart of the greyhound industry in the United States, earning for itself the moniker “Greyhound Capital of the World.” The history of the world’s fastest canine is presented at the Greyhound Hall of Fame, where you’ll find displays of greyhounds from ancient times to the present as well as information on handlers who shaped the industry. The museum’s official greeters are two retired racers, whose only interest is in chasing after your affection. Admission is free.

Argentina’s Oldest Park

By Linda Tancs

Located in Argentina’s fabled Lake District, Nahuel Huapi National Park is the country’s oldest national park. Established in 1934, it’s named for Nahuel Huapi, the park’s largest glacial lake. The expansive environment is ringed by the Andes, featuring Mount Tronador, a dormant volcano. You’ll also find dense forest areas that provide cover for pudu, the world’s smallest deer. January is a popular time for hiking and lake rafting.

Alpine Wine

By Linda Tancs

It’s been referred to as “the Alps in a glass.” Whatever you call it, alpine wine culture in Spiez, Switzerland, is shaped by the steep slopes and varying climate contributed to by the Alps and glaciers. You can experience it through a one-hour viticultural trail on the slopes of the Spiezberg. The self-guided tour directs you to 12 information boards, each with a QR code to watch 12 short films that portray a year in the life of a winemaker. Enjoy the views of Lake Thun and Spiez, too.

Nature and Art in Japan

By Linda Tancs

Blending art into the natural environment, Hakone Open-Air Museum is Japan’s first open-air museum. The verdant lawns provide an ideal exhibition space for attractions like the sculpture garden. One of the highlights is the Symphonic Sculpture, where visitors enter and ascend a spiral staircase surrounded by colorful stained glass to a viewing platform with views of the park and the surrounding mountains. The Hakone Open Air Museum is a few steps from Chokoku No Mori Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway. Take advantage of one of the hot springs baths while you’re in town. 

Art Off the Grid

By Linda Tancs

Touted for its off-the-grid location, KaviarFactory is an international venue for contemporary art in the middle of the archipelago of Lofoten, Norway. Welcoming the likes of Ai Weiwei, Olafur Eliasson and Yoko Ono, the building itself is a well-known landmark. As the name implies, caviar was produced in the building beginning in the 1950s. The facility was ultimately transformed into the art gallery known today. Visit this time of year for Mother Nature’s own art show, the Northern Lights.

Rabbit Island

By Linda Tancs

In Okunoshima, you can rest assured that some bunny loves you. All puns aside, the Japanese island in eastern Hiroshima is known as Rabbit Island for a reason. Make that 1,000 reasons. A rabbit lover’s paradise, you’ll find them everywhere from forest to beach. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to take photos. Keep a respectful distance, don’t feed them (except for refilling water pans) and don’t try to take one home with you. The island is a 15-minute ferry ride from Tadanômi Port with services leaving roughly every 30 to 45 minutes. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Inland Sea and its many islands.

A Magical Place in Michigan

By Linda Tancs

Touted as sporting the largest collection of magic open to the public, the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan, is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of magic for audiences of all ages. You’ll find thousands of artifacts illuminating the stories of Houdini, Blackstone, Thurston and many others. Its collections are based on the vast holdings of the late Detroit-area journalist Robert Lund, who amassed apparatus and illusions, more than 12,000 books on conjuring, letters, diaries, memorabilia, photographs, 3,000 posters, scrapbooks and periodicals, costumes and approximately 350,000 pieces of ephemera. No wonder the museum has been called the “Smithsonian of American Magic.”

First Sunrise in North America

By Linda Tancs

An iconic symbol of Newfoundland and Labrador’s maritime history, Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site is the most easterly point in North America, the place where the sun rises first in the continent. With your back to the sea, there’s nothing behind you until Ireland. In addition to lighthouse tours, you can tour Fort Cape Spear, where Canadian and American soldiers guarded St. John’s from lurking German U-boats. That’s one of many attractions along the Cape Spear Path, a section of the East Coast Trail. The site is located nearly 8 miles southeast of St. John’s at the end of Route 11.

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