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A MINI Tour of Jamaica

By Linda Tancs

There’s nothing miniature about the new MINI tour routes being offered in Jamaica. Led by a tour guide, you can drive yourself around in an island-inspired MINI on a six-hour tour from Montego Bay to either Ocho Rios or Negril. Along the way you’ll see, touch and taste the best of the island, eating local grub and taking in the ecological wonders and famous landmarks. You’ll be given a short driving orientation to keep you on track.

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Surfing in Santa Cruz

By Linda Tancs

Santa Cruz proudly claims to be the location of the very first board surfing ever in North America, at the “Rivermouth” break in 1885. A strong surf culture still prevails today, enhanced by the locale’s dedication as a World Surfing Reserve in 2012. An initiative of Save the Waves, the program serves as a global model for preserving wave breaks and their surrounding areas by recognizing and protecting the key environmental, cultural, economic and community attributes of surfing areas. At least 23 consistent surf breaks are sited along this marine protected area, including the world-class breaks of Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point. Not surprisingly, the city hosts a surfing museum overlooking Steamer Lane tracing over 100 years of surfing history in town. Winter is always the best time for surfing consistent waves, and the breaks are rated from “expert” to “beginner.”

Stone Dolls of Macedonia

By Linda Tancs

In the village of Kuklica in Macedonia is an area consisting of over 120 naturally formed stone pillars on the right bank of the Kriva River valley. Legend has it that the stone community formed from the curse of a bride as she watched her bigamous groom marry another woman. Of course, legend tends to have more appeal than fact. The real cause of the stone formations is erosion occurring over the past 100,000 years of the current geological epoch, a process creating pillars due to differences in erodibility of the area’s volcanic rocks. The village is about an hour away from the capital city of Skopje.

León’s Cube

By Linda Tancs

Its cuboid structure oddly reminiscent of Rubik’s Cube, the Castile-León Museum of Contemporary Art (MUSAC) is an emblem of 21st century Spanish architecture in León, Spain. Designed by Spanish architects Emili Tuñón and Luis Moreno Mansilla, the mosaic of 37 colored glass panes on the exterior façade was taken from the digitalization of an image of “The Falconer” (one of the oldest stained glass windows) from León Cathedral. With a nod to the city’s past as a Roman encampment, the interior floor plan evokes pavements of ancient origin characterized by squares and rhomboids. Amidst the exhibition halls and library is the MUSAC Collection, comprising more than 1,650 works by nearly 400 regional, national and international artists.

A Poisonous World

By Linda Tancs

Musée des Confluences is France’s newest museum. Located at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers in Lyon, the spaceship-like facility is a science center and anthropological museum. One of its studies on display until April 13 explores the world of poison. A subject evoking both fear and fascination, the exhibition delves into the historical, cultural, scientific and forensic aspects of poison through various media, including artifacts, art and live animals.

The Gruffalo Trail

By Linda Tancs

Inspired by a children’s book about a mouse walking through a European forest, the Gruffalo Trail is a whimsical walk in Ardkinglas Estate, one of many features awaiting visitors at this property in Argyll, Scotland. On the shore at the head of Loch Fyne, set against a spectacular background of mountains and forest, Ardkinglas is noted for its outstanding collection of plants and trees amidst over 11,000 acres. Open year round, the woodland garden includes the “mightiest conifer in Europe” as well as woodland lochan, an ancient mill, a scriptorium and a thriving population of the region’s red squirrels.

A Big Fish in the Red Sea

By Linda Tancs

The once sleepy fishing village of Hurghada has become a big fish in Red Sea tourism. Now a foremost beach resort town stretching some 25 miles along Egypt’s Red Sea coast, it’s renowned for scuba diving. Check out the old quarter (El Dahar) and consider combining a diving holiday there with Nile Valley sightseeing.

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