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Archive for travel writing

The Forgotten Pyramids

By Linda Tancs

If you thought that Egypt had a lock on pyramids, then you’ll be surprised to learn that the country with the most pyramids is actually Sudan. Situated in the Nile Valley, the country’s smaller, more navigable pyramid structures outside Khartoum are a relic from a forgotten civilization, memorials to Nubian kings who once ruled the ancient Kingdom of Kush. In the middle of nowhere, this off-the-beaten-track destination affords easy entrance without the queues so common in Egypt. You can even camp there.

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Beaches and Cheese

By Linda Tancs

Geographically closer to Africa (Morocco) than mainland Spain, Fuerteventura is the second largest of the Canary Islands. Given its pristine coastline of endless white sand beaches (around 93 miles), you’d expect it to be a sea and sand destination. In fact, its landscape earned the whole isle UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve status in 2009. But that’s not the only reason it’s the big cheese, so to speak. The island also boasts Designation of Origin cheeses—namely, Majorero cheese, made with milk from Majorero goats, which number in the tens of thousands across the terrain.

Reading in Rio

By Linda Tancs

If you were bored with libraries as a kid, then Brazil’s Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading will surely reinvigorate your interest. Recognized as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, its limestone exterior is no match for the ornately decorated interior that boasts the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside Portugal. Although construction didn’t begin until the late 1800s, the library was founded in 1837 by a group of 43 Portuguese immigrants who wanted to promote their culture in Brazil. Hardly a tourist trap, this cultural and architectural gem is conveniently located in Rio de Janeiro’s city center.

The Pied Piper’s Town

By Linda Tancs

Boasting magnificent Renaissance architecture of the Weserberg region, Hameln (Hamelin), Germany, is home to the legendary Pied Piper. As the story goes, in 1284 a man in multicolored (pied) dress promised to lure the rats out of Hameln but instead lured its children away. The folk tale is omnipresent throughout the city, from the open-air play (May through September) retelling the story to the mechanical Pied Piper Theatre in the Hameln Museum and the Pied Piper’s House (Rattenfängerhaus) right in the town center. You can even book the Pied Piper himself at the tourist office for a group welcome greeting or guided city tour.

Ireland’s Savage Land

By Linda Tancs

When Oliver Cromwell ordered a survey of the area surrounding Ireland’s majestic Galway Bay, The Burren was described as “a savage land, yielding neither water enough to drown a man, nor tree to hang him, nor soil enough to bury.” Derived from the word “Boireann” (meaning “rocky land” in Gaelic), it’s true that few trees grow there, but a unique plant environment thrives, causing Mediterranean and alpine plants rare to Ireland to grow side by side. The result is a cascade of colorful blooms from May to August that lights up the savage landscape.

A Royal Visit in Santander

By Linda Tancs

Widely recognized as an emblem of the city of Santander in northern Spain, Palacio de La Magdalena was the summer residence of King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia for 17 years. Situated on the highest point of the Península de La Magdalena (sandwiched between the historic quarter and El Sardinero, a famous beach), the English-style residence (evoking the Queen’s homeland) is surrounded by gardens and wooded areas, a popular place for relaxation among the 60,000 or so annual visitors. The palace also famously serves as the locale for summer courses of the International Menéndez Pelayo University presented by renowned faculty from around the world.

Frankfurt’s Secret Sauce

By Linda Tancs

Frankfurt’s secret sauce (as the expression goes) is its green sauce. The German concoction is made of seven different kinds of herbs: borage, chervil, cress, parsley, salad burnet, sorrel and chives. Throw in some sour cream, yogurt, vinegar and oil, and the city’s culinary favorite is born. And, no, it was not invented by the mother of local son Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (although it might have been the renowned writer’s favorite hometown dish). Served cold over hard-boiled eggs and boiled potatoes, it’s the star of its own festival in May. Celebrated from May 11 to May 19 this year, the Green Sauce Festival takes place at Rossmarkt.

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