heard of these far away places with strange sounding names that hover below the
average traveler’s radar. However, trust me…once you have been there you will
never forget them.
again, let’s have some fun and test your knowledge of geography. Before
you read beyond the name of each place, see if you can name what country it is
in. The country’s name is included somewhere in the text that follows
town of Szentendre, Hungary. Just north of Budapest, Szentendre is home to the
fabulous Margit Kovács Ceramic
Museum, It is also the best place to buy paprika and Helia-D, the magical face
and eye creams in the little black glass jars…cheaper than in Budapest, and
less than in the US.
SQUARE IN SZENTENDRE
the port town of Visegrad, the 13th-century medieval citadel,
originally built to protect the Danube valley, looms over the
town. The Renaissance Restaurant is a fun place that takes tourists
500-years back in time and fills their hand-made crockery pots with down-home
Hungarian food. This theme restaurant, furnished in medieval
renaissance style, brings a new meaning to the phrase “guest is the king”.
precariously perched atop cactus-clad cliffs on the isle of Sicily. With
Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, as a backdrop, 3rd-century
B.C. Greeks built the still-standing Greek Theater (Teatro Greco). In
the 2nd-century A.D. the Romans rebuilt this impressive theater, the
second largest in Sicily.
GRECO IN TAORMINA
is the premier hotel of Taormina. Adjacent to the Greek Theater, the
hotel dates back to 1873. Lunch on the exquisite terrace, with the
magical background of Mt. Etna, is a delightful treat.
FLAM: In Flam, a tranquil Norwegian village dwarfed by
towering mountain peaks,I boarded the Flam Train to begin an overland adventure
to the port of Gudvangen. One of the world’s most remarkably engineered
railway lines, it zig-zags its way far above the sea.
tiny town of Voss was followed by a visit to the Folk Museum for a fascinating
step back in time. Americans may be familiar with the Norwegian-based Voss bottled water. However,
contrary to popular belief, the water is not bottled in the municipality of Voss, which is more than 250 miles from the actual bottling
on past Tvinde Falls and Oppheim Lake we arrived at the Stalheim Hotel perched
on a cliff face with thundering waterfalls cascading over 1500 feet to the
valley floor below. Descending the Stalheims-kleivene, Norway’s
steepest road, we arrived at Gudvangen where I embarked on Crystal Symphony, after
she had cruised from Flam during our overland adventure. Flam, and
the fjords, was a fabulous finale for Norway.
part of the Portuguese archipelago that hugs the North Atlantic Ocean 400 miles
west of North Africa. This flower-filled island of volcanic origin is a
magical meld of Europe and the tropics. The beauty of nature is
harmoniously contrasted with the cosmopolitan throb of Funchal, the capital of
Madeira. No visit to Funchal
would be complete without going up to Monte, to ride (or just watch) the famous
wicker toboggans. The
Monte toboggan is a wicker basket assembled on an iron frame with wooden
runners. It carries two passengers and is controlled by ropes and
manpower. Two men, traditionally decked out in white cotton clothes
and Madeira-emblazoned straw hats, and using their rubber-soled boots as
brakes, pull and push the toboggan down the winding, narrow streets at speeds
of up to 30 miles per hour.
miles north of Funchal is Santana, the village famous for its A-framed,
thatched-roofed, cottges called palheiros. Parque Tematico da
Madeira (Tematico Park), opened in October 2004, is called a
Theme Park, but in no way does it resemble a Disney Park. With no amusement
rides, this park depicts the history, culture, and traditions of the people of
Madeira in pavilions and open-air spaces.
city of Waterford is a bustling maritime city with an historic Viking
Heart. Vikings, as well as other eager invaders who followed them, left
their mark in the history and mystery of this Irish city. The city’s name
comes from the Norse word ‘Vadrefjord’. Reginald’s Tower, dating from
1003, houses a city museum and the charter roll of Richard II.
ROOFED COTTAGE IN COUNTY WATERFORD
a trip to Waterford (also known as Crystal City) be without paying a visit to
the Waterford Crystal Factory? For two centuries, the city of Waterford
has produced some of the world’s finest crystal. In 1783, George and
William Penrose founded the Waterford Glass House, promising to make crystal in
“as fine a quality as any in Europe.” A tour of the facility features the
world’s largest display of Waterford crystal and gift items that range in price
from two to six figures. You can purchase a crystal ring holder for
approximately $25, a crystal grandfather clock for $75,000 or an 11-cluster
crystal chandelier for $175,000. Of greatest interest is a scaled-down
replica of the Millennium Ball produced for the 1999-2000 New Years Millennium
Celebration on Times Square. It took forty craftsmen six months to
produce the 2-ton, 504-panel Millennium Ball that was the largest project ever
undertaken by Waterford.
Melk, Austria is most renowned for its ornate Benedictine Abbey. Said to be one of the most magnificent
Baroque structures in Austria, the Abbey boast of an exquisite chapel, and an
extensive Baroque library with 85,000 rare books.
CONTAINING 85,000 RARE BOOKS
current Melk Abbey, designed by architect Jakob
Prandtauer, was built between 1702 and 1736. It has 365 windows
(one for each day of the year) and is still used by
|THE PRELATE’S COURTYARD OF THE MELK ABBEY
PHOTOS by JANET STEINBERG
the winner of 43 national Travel Writer Awards. She is also a Travel Consultant
with The Travel Authority in Cincinnati, Ohio.