« July 2013 | Main

August 2013 Archives

August 27, 2013

10 Places to Learn about New York’s Erie Canal

By Sandra Scott

The Erie Canal is a New York State treasure. In the early 1800s when New York governor DeWitt Clinton proposed building a canal that would connect the navigable Hudson River to Lake Erie by a 300-mile canal through the wilderness, Thomas Jefferson said, “It is a splendid project and may be executed a century hence... but it is a little short of madness to think of it at this day.” With foresight, DeWitt Clinton claimed, “By this great highway, unborn millions will easily transport their surplus production, procure their supplies, and hold a useful and profitable intercourse with all the maritime nations of the world.” When the canal opened on October 26, 1825 it was an immediate success.
The Erie Canal has been enlarged and altered over the years, but today this gem is enjoyed by boaters, hikers, bikers, fishermen, bird watchers, history buffs, nature lovers, and those looking to spend time in the “slow lane.” The 363 miles can be explored in its entirety or in segments. Today there are 57 locks that allow boats to make the 573-foot change in elevation from the Hudson to Lake Erie. Canaling is the perfect vacation. It is historic, adventurous, romantic, and nature-filled. And, on a canal it is impossible to get lost.

1. Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Visitor Center: Peebles Island State Park in Waterford, where the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers meet, is home to the Erie Canal Visitor Center and where the Erie Canal is joined by the Champlain Canal. It is just one place to learn about this historic canal.

2. Erie Canal Village: Erie Canal Village in Rome is the only place in New York State where people can ride on a horse-drawn canal boat. In its day it was state-of-the-art travel. The Erie Canal Village has three museums dealing with the canal, transportation, and cheese. The Village includes a blacksmith shop, a one-room school, a church, a livery stable, the Ft. Bull Railroad Station, a canal store, and a settler’s house.

3. Canastota Canal Town Museum: All along the canal towns grew up. The small town of Canastota strives to preserve its canal town ambiance. Canal Town Museum, in a former bakery, is now home to the museum. It is one of the oldest structures on Canal Street, displaying canal memorabilia, a replica of a canal boat cabin, and exhibits about local businesses that served the canalers.







4. Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum: Check out the three-bay dry dock where Erie Canal boats were built and repaired. The on-site interpretive center and library provides hands-on activities and exhibits. There is also a sunken canal boat, blacksmith shop, sawmill, stable, warehouse, and woodworking shop.

5. Old Erie Canal Historic Park: The 36-mile linear park between Rome and Dewitt near Syracuse has been designated a National Recreation Trail by the National Park Service and is a great place for biking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding, and picnicking. The towpath which parallels the canal is part of the New York State Canalway Trail system.

6. Weighlock Museum: Ever notice those places along the highway where trucks are pulled over to be weighed? Well, they were doing the same thing with canal boats on the Erie Canal 150 years ago. Syracuse was one such station on the canal. The museum includes a history of the Erie Canal, tales of the canal days, a canal boat typical of the era, a recreated weighlock office, a typical tavern, and a general store. Visitors should start with the informational video about the life and times of the Erie Canal.

7. Camillus Erie Canal Park: Camillus was midpoint on the original canal. The Erie Canal Park preserves a seven-mile stretch of the Erie Canal and includes the impressive Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built to carry the Erie Canal over Nine Mile Creek. Also visit Sim’s Store, a recreated nineteenth-century general store with a small museum on the second floor.

8. Lockport: Next to Locks 34 and 35 is the Flight of Five Locks, considered an engineering marvel when it was built. Located at the bottom between the two sets of locks is a small museum. Above the locks visit the Erie Canal Discovery Center, a state-of-the-art interpretive center, to learn about the role the canal played in the history of New York State.

9. Mid-Lakes Navigation: Several companies offer canal trips. Mid-Lakes, located midway along the Erie Canal in Skaneateles, offers day trips on the Erie and Oswego Canals plus self-skippered traditional canal boats for multi-day trips. Stopping points along the canal have places to moor along with water and electrical hookups.

10. Feeder Canals: The Erie Canal was so successful that everyone wanted a canal. Today the Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals are still operational. They offer 524 miles of navigational and recreational fun and adventure. Along the way there are great historical sites, cities, quaint villages, and nature refuges to visit.

For more information check Midlakesnav.com and Iloveny.com.

If you would like to purchase this article for your publication, please click here to contact the author directly.


Victoria: A Rare Opportunity to Experience Royalty at an Affordable Price

By Shelli Elledge
Photographs by Ron Elledge

ITWPA Members

Have you ever wanted to partake in an experience where you would be tended to like royalty? Would you like to take a seat at an Edwardian-style tea party where delicately prepared menu choices are served on magnificently painted fine china and staff members provide the utmost in superb personal service? The illustrious and classical Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, offers these delights in an Afternoon Tea that is truly fit for a king or queen.

The tradition of the smaller British meal known as afternoon tea was made famous by the Duchess of Bedford, who was a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria. Walking into The Fairmont Empress Hotel’s historical dining room is like walking into a life-sized diorama depicting the splendor of that era. The room is decorated splendidly from the high, wood-carved beams in the ceiling to the plush expanse of richly-designed carpeting under your feet. Huge windows provide views of the hotel’s sweeping grounds, wisteria-lined walking paths, and the famous Inner Harbour. The room’s historical grandeur is also reflected oh so elegantly in the richly upholstered chairs and lavish furnishings.

One of the most notable features is the graciousness of the staff. Even though they serve hundreds of guests each day, they move flawlessly about the room as if rehearsed to ensure that each guest is pampered and comfortable. They serve an array of delicate tea sandwiches, croissants, scones, meringues, and berries with cream that are almost too beautiful to eat. However, each morsel is tastefully delicious!
The famous Afternoon Tea is referenced in many guidebooks. However, few write-ups do it justice. It is an authentically British opportunity to be transported to a bygone era, and it is one you won’t want to miss! Each time my fingers closed around the dainty handle on the beautiful floral teacup, it really was fitting to point my little finger in the air!
The price per person runs CAD $60 to $70 and reservations are suggested. The Fairmont Empress Hotel is located just off the Inner Harbour, 721 Government Street, Victoria, British Columbia. TEL + 250 384 8111. http://www.fairmont.com/empress-victoria/

[photo Empress from Harbor-Scaled]

If you would like to purchase this article for your publication, please click here to contact the author directly.  Additional photos are available.

American Dream Vacation -- Palau, Micronesia

By Bina Joseph

A vacation truly made up of the stuff of dreams must happen in faraway corners of the world with musical, exotic-sounding names. Immediately, Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia spring to mind.

The Micronesian archipelago of Palau has been spotlighted by the popular “Survivor” TV series. Among the youngest nations in the world, Palau gained its independence on October 1, 1994, upon the signing of the Compact of Free Association with the United States. Until then, since the end of WWII, it had been a United Nations Trust Territory under U.S. administration.

However, carbon-dating of artifacts found in the oldest known village sites on the Rock Islands and Babeldaob illustrates the existence of habitation since 1,000 B.C. -- a civilization spanning 3,000 years.

This amazing dichotomy is both its essence and its charm.

Palau’s early history is still largely lost in the mists of time. The means and modes of human arrival are uncertain, but studies indicate that Palauans are descended from the Malays of Indonesia, the Melanesians of New Guinea, and Polynesians.

An isolated, idyllic existence continued with little outside contact until 1783, when the ship Antelope, commanded by the English Captain Henry Wilson, ran aground on a reef near Ulong, a Rock Island between Koror and Peleliu. High Chief Ibedul of Koror not only gave sanctuary but also assisted with repairs. The secret was out, and henceforth regular explorers arrived, establishing continued European contact.

The inevitable buffets and whimsies of history followed. The first foreign governance began when Spain asserted sovereignty over the Caroline Islands in 1885. Churches were established, the Roman alphabet was introduced, and internecine warfare ended.

In 1899, the Carolines were sold to Germany, which began a wholesale exploitation of the abundant natural resources.

With Germany’s defeat in WWI, the islands passed to Japan under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Japanese influence transformed Palauan culture from subsistence-level to a market economy and property ownership from communal to individuals. The administrative center established in Koror in 1922 converted it into a stylish metropolis with manufacturing, shops, public amenities, restaurants, and attractions.

Palauans are still strongly aligned with ethnic culture. Traditional ceremonies such as omersurch (birth), ocheraol (first-house), and kemeldiil (funeral services) are widely-observed, revered rituals and practices of their forefathers.

Palauan culture is intrinsically interwoven with the ocean. The sea was their source of sustenance and their livelihood, and the means of transportation. An unbreakable relationship resulted from an intimate knowledge of the pattern of ocean currents, the phases of the moon, and the sea life.

Palauans are extremely sociable. Before the advent of written language in the 1800s, traditional history, lore, and knowledge were passed down through the generations by word of mouth. Palauans still practice that time-honored method, congregating when the day’s work is done, exchanging stories with friends and families.

Palau is the ultimate tropical, diving, and surfing paradise, blessed with dazzling white beaches, pristine reefs, coral gardens beneath clear waters, lush forests, caves, waterfalls, and spectacular marine life. The unspoilt islands are far removed from the ravages of man.

The 1,450 species of fish and 500 species of coral have caused Palau to be described as “The 8th Natural Wonder of the World” and “One of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World.”

A moderate, warm climate year-round (82° F), plentiful sunshine and rainfall, and relative freedom from typhoons make for a worry-free holiday.

Already recognized as a premier destination for water- and land-based activities, Palau now boasts a new dimension for adventure in the sky. A three-course zip line (the only one in Palau) strung above the Taki Waterfall Park is a featured attraction of the recently opened Palau Eco Theme Park in the state of Ngardmau. The rides between the platforms, at a height of 820 feet, range from 984 to 1,115 feet, and are the longest in the world.

Palau boasts a variety of dive sites to suit any level of expertise. Each assures a limitless array of marine life, from the famous Jellyfish Lake to dropoffs, tunnels, channels, and shallow reefs. PADI-certified dive schools, liveaboards, instructors, and equipment all guarantee an unforgettable marine experience.

Palau offers accommodations to suit all pockets: full-service, luxury resorts, moderately-priced bungalows, economical motels, and backpacker accommodations. Choices depend on price, comfort, and lifestyle.

Palau is accessible by air from Guam, the gateway to Micronesia, and is served by several scheduled carriers from Tokyo, the U.S., Manila, and other metropolises. In addition, there are scheduled charter airline services from South Korea, Taiwan, and several Japanese cities. Citizens of the United States are issued a one-year visa upon arrival.


If you would like to purchase this article for your publication, please click here to contact the author directly.

Lost Palace of the Byzantine Emperors

By David Elliott

Seraglio Point in Istanbul is dominated by the magnificent, sprawling structures of two of the world’s architectural masterpieces. These are Haghia Sophia, the Byzantine Church of the Holy Wisdom, and the Ottoman Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Camii. They’re like prize fighters sizing one another up across the park that separates them, champions of two great civilizations and the city’s top tourist attractions today.

But I came here looking for a sorry derelict, the old Bucoleon Palace, a seaside annex to the ancient Great Palace that was home to the emperors until the Fourth Crusaders sacked the city in 1204 and systematically looted it for the best part of the century.

The Great Palace of the Byzantine emperors occupied the site of the present Blue Mosque and stretched all the way down to the sea. With over 500 gold-lined walls, gardens, fountains, and courtyards, it was the marvel of the age and stunned contemporary visitors with its unsurpassed glamour and riches. All that remains of it are the magnificent floor and wall mosaics now protected by the Mosaic Museum next to Sultanahmet, and a wall of the Bucoleon Palace overlooking Kennedy Boulevard down on the shoreline of the Sea of Marmara.

Despite having a guidebook and a map, finding the remains of the Bucoleon Palace involved a lot of sweaty walking and doubling-back in the maze of alleyways and back streets beyond Haghia Sophia. After more than an hour of searching and asking directions my companions decided enough was enough, and I left them behind at a café near Sultanahmet moaning about the heat and tired feet, and continued on alone.

Just as I was on the verge of giving up, I rounded a bend on the coast road and suddenly there it was. This crumbled section of old wall would be as unremarkable as any other were it not for the three huge windows still in place in a recess of the masonry. In their heyday they would have looked out across the Great Palace’s private harbor, protected by two huge lion sculptures which can now be seen in the Archaeological Museum. A few remaining corbels of a long balcony, too, can still be seen at ground level.

The magic of this place lay in the stillness, the absence of tourists, and the remarkably touching way in which the distant past came irresistibly back to life. Emperors and empresses, courtiers, and visiting dignitaries once stood up there and looked out over the harbor and the Sea of Marmara beyond, or strolled, chatting, along the balcony in the cool evenings. It sounds clichéd, but I could almost touch them here as it’s impossible to do in the hectic and crowded atmospheres of the better-preserved monuments of that great civilization.

My feet were killing me and the sweat was fairly pouring off, but I wouldn’t have missed this for the world!

If you would like to purchase this article for your publication, please click here to contact the author directly.

Lugo, Spain’s City of Witches and Saints

By Elizabeth Varadan

Every year, from October 4th through 12th, the San Froilán Fiesta lights up Lugo, the capital city of Lugo province in Galicia, the northwest region of Spain. Famous bands perform onstage. Puppeteers and street musicians rim plazas or spill along side streets. Artisans sell handcrafts on blankets. A silver cowboy statue springs to life. A witch guards a major shop on a corner. Another witch peers out a window.

Witches? Isn’t this festival about a saint (San Froilán)?

Like all of Galicia, Lugo is steeped in Celtic and Roman Catholic history. Founded by Celts and dedicated to Lugos, God of Light, Galicia boasts a belief in meigas, benevolent witches with curative powers who watch over the land. If you want a vacation to get into a Halloween mood, Lugo is the place to go.

The Romans brought Christianity to Galicia. The Roman wall encircling the old town is considered a national monument. Though wide enough to drive a car on, the wall is reserved for walking only. Inside its 10 arches, cobbled streets lead to several plazas and churches. One of these, the Convent and Church of St. Francis, houses the Provincial Museum showing Galician history and art.

The St. Mary’s Cathedral (or Lugo Cathedral) became a pilgrimage center in the Middle Ages. A chapel is dedicated to San Froilán, patron saint of both Lugo and Leon provinces. A ninth-century hermit and later a bishop, San Froilán founded monasteries in the early days of the reconquista, or re-Christianizing, of Spain.

The festival has three highlights: October 5th, the saint’s religious day; the following Sunday, dedicated to traditional Galician music and dance; and the eighth day, when plazas fill with a Medieval Fair.

The first visit my husband and I took coincided with the Medieval Fair. Artisans displayed traditional black pottery. Performers exhibited jousting and archery skills, and reenacted historical scenes. Stalls offered mead, honey, and pulpo (octopus). A falconer stood near his array of raptors -- falcons, hawks, eagles, and horned owls. In the evening, we were treated to a glittering acrobat show in the Plaza Mayor. And around 2:00 a.m., we watched a spectacular fireworks display from our hotel window.

On our most recent visit to Galicia (October 2012), we purposely went on the Sunday that celebrates traditional culture. Once unpacked, we headed out to stroll the plazas and browse various entertainments. On a side street, a man drew in crowds with his one-man band. Andean fusion music floated from one corner of the Plaza Mayor. Near the ayuntamiento (town hall), dancing groups performed folk dances. Little statues and dolls dressed like witches reminded us of Lugo’s (and Galicia’s) rich folklore.

After lunch, we came upon a band rehearsing at the Plaza Santa Maria, playing Galician music with traditional instruments -- four harps, four Galician-style bagpipes (gaitos), four violins, six tambourines, one huge set of drums and a smaller drum, and about eight “lap” organs with handles, as well as castanets and a mouth instrument “twanged” by hand. The music sometimes sounded Irish, sometimes Greek, sometimes Spanish -- and always haunting. That night, we heard the concert all over again, with the orchestra members dressed in style.
The day was topped off in the Plaza Mayor at a table outside one of the many cafés, where we sat until nearly midnight enjoying the dancing crowd and the orchestra onstage. The following morning, we indulged in a slice of Tarta de Santiago (a traditional Galician almond cake).

Like the almond tang of the cake, the San Froilán Fiesta lingers in our memories.

An interesting day trip 11 miles from Lugo:
Museo Arqueolóxico do Castro de Viladonga
27259 Castro de Rei
Lugo (province), Galicia
+34 982314255

Restaurants we enjoyed:
A Nosa Terra
San Eufrasio, 171
 27295 Lugo, Spain
+34 982250834

A Tasca
Cruz, 3
24001 Lugo, Spain

A good hotel near the Plaza Mayor:
Hotel Méndez Núñez
Rua de Reiña 1
27001, Lugo, Galicia, Spain

If you would like to purchase this article for your publication, please click here to contact the author directly.

About August 2013

This page contains all entries posted to Travel Post Monthly in August 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2013 is the previous archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.33