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The Blue Forest

By Linda Tancs

There’s good reason why Belgium’s Hallerbos is called “the blue forest.” Around mid-April the bluebells bloom, turning the entire forest floor into a sea of purple-blue wonder. You’ll find two marked trails: the Achtdreven (in the middle of the bluebell area) and the roebuck walk, more than half of which passes through the blooms. Just south of Brussels, the forest is located predominately in Halle.

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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.

Racing in Germany

By Linda Tancs

Do you have a need for speed? Then maybe the Nürburgring is for you. Located in western Germany, it’s one of the most famous, historical racetracks in the world. You needn’t sit idly by as a spectator, either. Anyone with a license and a validly titled vehicle can enter the track. The North Loop is especially prized by race fanatics. Of course, the ring hosts several important races, including the World Touring Car Championship’s Race of Germany. The track is just one hour away from Cologne.

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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.

Country Life in Dorset

By Linda Tancs

Mapperton has been touted as England’s finest manor house. Located in Dorset, it was entered in the Domesday Book 1086 as Malperetone and was owned by a sheriff. Today’s Jacobean manor house still shows vestiges of the Tudor manor of the 1540s from which it originated. It’s the home of the Montagus, currently the Earl and Countess of Sandwich. Their ancestor, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, is credited with putting roast beef between two slices of bread. Perhaps his more notable achievement was reorganizing the navy and improving its ships. Seafaring achievement is likewise evident in the life of Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, who became Charles II’s first general-at-sea. Their portraits are in the Sandwich collection, along with pictures by Lely, Van de Velde the Younger, Scott, Reynolds and Hogarth. Be sure to visit the gardens, rated as one of the top in the southwest. Tucked into a steep north-south combe, the period gardens descend among tumbling hills and unspoiled countryside.

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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.

Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley

By Linda Tancs

Lascaux is the setting for a complex of caves near the village of Montignac in the department of Dordogne in southwestern France. It’s part of the prehistoric sites and decorated caves of the Vézère Valley. Anthropologically significant, it’s also a draw because of cave paintings, especially those of the Lascaux Cave. Discovered in 1940, the cave is of great importance for the history of prehistoric art. You’ll find richly detailed and colorful drawings in sectors with evocative names like the Hall of the Bulls, the Chamber of the Felines, the Apse and the Shaft. Best of all, you can tour it from the safety and convenience of your armchair.

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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.

Spelunking in Slovenia

By Linda Tancs

Slovenia’s Postojna Cave is heralded as the “Queen of the Underground World.” Carved by the Pivka River, the cave system is the second-longest in the country (at nearly 15 miles) and a top tourist draw. It sparkles like a diamond thanks to flowstone deposits from the stalagmites. It’s also inhabited by olms, the only exclusively cave-dwelling salamander species found in Europe. The locals like to think of them as baby dragons. The attraction also boasts the world’s first railway in an underground cave. Opened in 1872, the underground train is a 2-mile-long journey on the world’s only double-track cave railway.

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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.

Rock Art for Members Only

By Linda Tancs

Quinkan rock art refers to a large body of significant Australian Aboriginal rock art of a style characterized by their unique representations of “Quinkans,” found among the sandstone escarpments around the small town of Laura in Queensland, Australia. It’s regarded by UNESCO as one of the 10 most significant bodies of rock art in the world. You can tour this remote area exclusively with Jarramali Rock Art Tours and admire an area regarded by archaeologists as a 20,000-year-old outback museum. The tour site is nearly six hours away from Cairns.

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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.

South Africa’s Spice Route

By Linda Tancs

Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest city, established in the 1600s as a refueling station along the Spice Route for eastbound ships. The story goes that ancient mariners would blow their horns to signal their arrival at Cape Town harbor, inviting farmers to trade. That spirit is captured today along the modern Spice Route, a tourist destination in Paarl featuring arts and crafts, local wines, draft beer and dark chocolates. The artisans chosen to participate in the route represent the best of the culture, art and taste of South Africa. The site is just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town’s city 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.

An Entry to the Black Sea

By Linda Tancs

Constanța is a port city in Romania along the western coast of the Black Sea. It’s the fourth largest port in Europe, after Rotterdam, Antwerp and Marseille. Its history dates back over 2,000 years and is amply documented at the National History and Archaeology Museum, which features an impressive collection of artifacts from Greek, Roman and Daco-Roman civilizations. One of the city’s most beautiful buildings is the abandoned casino, an Art Deco-style structure overlooking the sea. In its heyday, it was a prime seaside meeting point for the glitterati. Nowadays the pedestrian area around the casino is the city’s most popular promenade.

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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.

Buggy Capital of the South

By Linda Tancs

Barnesville, Georgia, was once known as the “Buggy Capital of the South.” And, no, that has nothing to do with those pesky mosquitoes arriving around now. The buggy in this case refers to the horse and buggy, and Barnesville produced more buggies than any other location south of Cincinnati, Ohio. By 1900, nearly 9,000 were produced there annually. The locals celebrate their commercial heritage with a festival in September. The city is about 50 miles from Atlanta.

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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.

Russia’s Gate to the Orient

By Linda Tancs

In the 17th century, Astrakhan was developed as Russia’s gate to the Orient. As a result, it was settled by many merchants from Armenia, Persia, India and Khiva. To this day, it remains a hub for commercial activities, strategically located on the Volga delta where the river meets the Caspian Sea. It’s also where you’ll find the Astrakhan Kremlin, a fortress built in the 1500s at the command of Ivan the Terrible. Its walls and towers served as a blueprint for the development of other fortresses in the Russian State. During World War I there was an infantry regiment there; cannons arrived during World War II to protect the city against German air raids. Today this historical landmark serves as a museum.

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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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