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Archive for short reads

Island Hopping in the Maldives

By Linda Tancs

Known for its beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs, the Maldives represent, as local tourism puts it, the sunny side of life. As more of the islands comprising its ring-shaped atolls open to tourism, island hopping is a popular way to experience life like a local. That’s especially true for locales within a reasonable distance of the capital Malé, like Dhigurah. Considered one of the most beautiful islands in the nation, its long, sandy beach is easily walkable and ends in the south with a sandbank. Whale sharks preside year round, offering safari opportunities. Take the speedboat there from Malé.

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Maine’s Pumpkin Trail

By Linda Tancs

There’s plenty to see along Maine’s Pumpkin Trail beyond the signature feature: pumpkins! Along the 40-mile route you’ll find the Maine Maritime Museum, the small-town charm of Freeport, the antique rails at Boothbay Railway Village and, this weekend, the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta. The trail awaits you through Halloween.

South Downs Way

By Linda Tancs

South Downs National Park is England’s newest national park (as of this writing), established in 2010. Spreading across Sussex and Hampshire, it covers an area of 627 square miles boasting fragile chalk and clay landscapes, woodlands and river valleys that earned it a previous designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The park is also home to the South Downs Way, one of 15 national trails in England and Wales (as well as the first bridleway national trail in England) and the only one to lie entirely within a national park. The nearly 100-mile route extends from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne in the east. Download a walking map or details of connecting bus services to your phone and get on the Way.

The Nectar of Gascony

By Linda Tancs

Armagnac, France’s first brandy, is over 700 years old. It hails from the Armagnac region in historical Gascony, where the art of making “ardent water” has prevailed since Roman times. Sometimes relegated to the status of second cousin to its rival cognac, the production of armagnac predates it by about 150 years. The grape harvest lasts from October to January, giving way to a months-long festival known as the Flame of Armagnac, a localized event where each weekend a flame is lit in a different still. Enjoy musical performances, tastings and walks through the vineyards.

Numismatics in Germany

By Linda Tancs

A coin collector’s paradise is the Münzkabinett in Berlin, Germany, home to one of the world’s largest numismatic collections. Celebrating the 150th anniversary of its establishment as an independent museum, its 540,000 objects include not only coins but also medals, paper currencies and medieval seals. Although the museum is open only for scholarly work, many of its items are displayed in Berlin’s other museums, like Bode-Museum, which is featuring an anniversary exhibition (ending this month) highlighting the collectors, dealers, numismatic researchers and patrons associated with the Münzkabinett.

The Highlands in Malaysia

By Linda Tancs

Named after surveyor Sir William Cameron, Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands were developed during the British colonial period, serving as a hill station to escape the tropical heat. The region unfurls with emerald-green tea plantations, the largest tea-growing area in the country. Enjoy some morning tea after watching a spectacular sunrise over Gunung Brinchang, the highest peak of the highlands. A trek through the mossy, or cloud, forest of Brinchang brings views of wild orchids and carnivorous pitcher plants. You can get to the region from Kuala Lumpur by bus. Take a window seat for amazing views.

Surrounded in Minnesota

By Linda Tancs

Thanks to a geographic impossibility aided by imperfect cartography in the 1700s, the tiny Minnesota hamlet of Northwest Angle became an American town surrounded by Canada. Known by locals as the Angle, it’s separated from the rest of Minnesota by Lake of the Woods, which would boast the longest coastline of any Canadian lake were it located entirely in Canada. A fishing mecca, some resorts offer boat and ice transport services that operate within Minnesota; otherwise, you can get there via car through a border crossing. Since 1925, a joint U.S.–Canada boundary commission has maintained the boundary, which represents the northernmost part of the contiguous United States. Sorry, Maine!

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