Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for short reads

A Mansion in Miniature

By Linda Tancs

In the 18th century, doll houses were used by aristocratic women in their younger years to practice running a country house and to learn the finer points of life to the manor born. Only a handful of these houses have survived, one of them being the Nostell dolls’ house. Newly restored, it replicates Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire, England, right down to the ionic pilasters and a heraldic ornament on the tympanum. And unlike many doll houses, it’s located in the very house that it mimics. Over 6 feet in height, no detail is spared in its elaborate features, like grand beds with carved headboards, hand-painted wallpaper and hallmarked silverware. You’ll no doubt feel welcome by its tiny occupants, including the footman on the ground floor.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

The Story of Humans in New Mexico

By Linda Tancs

The first public museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology is dedicated to telling the history of humankind. Although their catalog includes vast anthropological collections and archives from around the world, the majority of their 3 million objects comes from the U.S. Southwest. They even boast a skeletal collection of people who have donated their remains to the museum for study and teaching. The facility is located on the University of New Mexico campus.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Picturesque in Kent

By Linda Tancs

A picturesque scene may be in the eye of the beholder, but the term itself is an aesthetic category developed in the 18th century and most often associated with fashionable landscape gardening. A celebrated example of the picturesque style is the garden at Scotney Castle in Kent, England. It surrounds the ruins of a 14th-century, moated castle and is particularly noted for the cloud-like plantings of rhododendrons and azaleas. Overall, the estate boasts a Victorian mansion (where former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had an apartment during her time in office) bounded by 780 acres of woodland, including the stream that feeds the moat.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Spain’s Fairy-Tale Castle

By Linda Tancs

Touted as one of Spain’s greatest castles, Alcázar de Segovia invites imitation. In fact, some say that it inspired two iconic Disney castles. That’s high praise for a structure that grew from a small Moorish fortress. Historically a favored retreat for Spanish kings, it later became a prison, an artillery college and even a filming location for Orson Welles’s Chimes at Midnight and the Arthurian musical Camelot. Now a museum, it serves as the emblem for the Old Town of Segovia, a UNESCO site. You’ll get great views of this ancient Roman city from the castle tower. About an hour north of Madrid, it’s an easy day trip from the capital.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

A Prodigy in Lincolnshire

By Linda Tancs

A prodigy house is a large, showy, late-Elizabethan or Jacobean English country house built by a courtier and other wealthy families. One of England’s grandest surviving examples of such a place is Burghley House in Stamford. It was conceived by William Cecil (the first Lord Burghley), Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, one of the most powerful courtiers of the first Elizabethan age. Direct descendants lived in the house for over 500 years, and it’s still very much a family home, with a direct descendant overseeing the charitable trust that governs operations at the estate. Among its many treasures, the house boasts one of the finest private collections of Italian Old Master paintings, and its gardens and parkland were largely designed by Lancelot “Capability’ Brown” in the 18th century. Enjoy a guided or self-guided tour of 18 sumptuous state rooms.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Small But Mighty in New Zealand

By Linda Tancs

Abel Tasman National Park is a wilderness reserve at the north end of New Zealand’s South Island. Despite its small size, it’s the country’s most popular national park, making the case that good things come in small packages. It’s known for the Abel Tasman Coast Track, a 33-mile trail between the seaside village of Marahau and Wainui. Along the way you’ll experience golden sand beaches and a 154-foot-long suspension bridge over Falls River as well as plenty of lookouts and rocky headlands. Don’t miss a side trip to Cleopatra’s Pool, a natural rock pool with a moss-lined waterslide. It’s best to take the trek in stages; there are four huts and 18 campsites along the track, which must be booked in advance all year round.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Smoking Mountain

By Linda Tancs

They say that only the most adventurous dare to climb Mount Fitz Roy, the highest peak in Southern Patagonia’s Glacier National Park. At over 11,000 feet above sea level, you can understand why. Due to a fairly consistent atmospheric haze over its peak, it was originally named Chaltén, a word meaning “smoking mountain” in the indigenous Tehuelche tribe’s dialect. The current moniker, Fitz Roy, is a nod to Captain FitzRoy of HMS Beagle, the ship that voyaged around South America with Charles Darwin. Although there’s nothing volcanic about the revered granite walls, you’ll get smokin’ views of Fitz Roy from Laguna de Los Tres, some 1,400 feet from the base camp reserved for mountaineers.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Japan’s Atlantis

By Linda Tancs

You may recall the legend of Atlantis, the lost civilization created by Plato, submerged by a cataclysmic earthquake. Scholars occasionally muse whether the place really existed, especially whenever a spectacular underwater rock formation is discovered. Japan has its own version of Atlantis, Yonaguni Submarine Ruins, a submerged rock formation off the coast of Yonaguni. The southernmost of the Ryukyu Islands, it’s located about 62 miles east of Taiwan. The primary structure is an ancient underwater pyramid measuring a staggering 500 feet in length, 130 feet in width and 90 feet in height. Is it the remnant of an ancient Pacific civilization or a natural wonder? You can take an underwater sightseeing boat tour or dive there and decide for yourself.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Bristling in Nevada

By Linda Tancs

Characterized by their growth in twisted fashion at high altitudes, bristlecone pines are one of the longest-lived life forms on Earth. The name bristlecone refers to the dark purple female cones that bear incurved prickles on their surface. Nevada’s Great Basin National Park is noted for its ancient grove of bristlecone pines, a species only otherwise found in California and Utah. Although the largest grove of pines in the park is on Mt. Washington, the most accessible grove is located on the northeast side of Wheeler Peak, where a short, self-guided nature trail passes through a portion of it. The tree is legendary for its ability to thrive in impossible conditions, as is evidenced by the roots set among quartzite boulders. That no doubt accounts for the longevity of Prometheus, once recorded as the oldest tree in the world at between 4,700 to 5,000 years. The stump of that ancient bristlecone is in the park. You can count its rings at the visitor center.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Victoria’s Marine Emblem

By Linda Tancs

The weedy sea dragon is a marine emblem in Victoria, Australia. You’ll find it at Churchill Island Marine National Park, a protected marine national park located in Western Port, Victoria, Australia. Boasting 1,700 acres, it’s an important roosting and feeding site for migratory waders like whimbrels and bar-tailed godwits. So, needless to say, bird watching is a popular activity, as is snorkeling among the seagrass beds where black swans and fish congregate. You might also enjoy canoeing among the mangroves. Just off the coast of Phillip Island, Churchill Island holds an important place in the history of European settlement in Victoria.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

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