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Author: debbie-stone

Beads, Glorious Beads! Mardi Gras in Mobile, The ‘City That was Born to Celebrate’

One minute I was a very sane, controlled woman watching a parade. Then, before I knew it, I had joined the masses of men, women and children jumping up and down screaming for beads. Yes, beads! And oh, did I want them. As they were tossed and thrown in spectacular fashion by the revelers on the floats, I eagerly grabbed these colorful strands. And when they dropped to the ground, I scrambled to scoop them up. I confess I became a bit competitive in my desire to acquire as many beads as possible. By the end of the parade,...

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The Yukon will leave you spellbound

To most folks, the idea of taking a vacation in the Yukon during the winter seems absurd. The geographically-challenged might first wonder where the Yukon is actually located. Then when they find out it’s in the far northwest corner of Canada, they immediately imagine enduring howling winds, thirty below temps and unfathomable amounts of snow and ice amid miles of forbidding wilderness, and emphatically say, “Thanks, but no thanks!” But, to those in the know, this remote Canadian Territory is a region of dramatic beauty with a rich history, vibrant culture, incredible natural wonders and limitless landscape that’s ripe...

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Shed your cares and your parka–and head to Maui this winter

There’s a reason Maui continuously gets rated as one of the world’s best islands by readers of various travel publications. Actually, there are multiple reasons for this distinction. Many of them hit home for me on a recent visit to this tropical Hawaiian locale. The weather is a definite enticement. Typically, Maui’s temps remain consistently balmy year-round, with usually no more than a ten degree fluctuation between seasons. The same, monotonous forecast day after day is music to most folks’ ears, especially in the wintertime for those coming from cold climates. Everyone gladly exchanges parkas and woolens for tees...

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You’ll Fall Hard for This Texas Burg

It doesn’t take long to realize there’s something special about Fredericksburg. For a small Texas Hill Country town, its attractions are numerous and noteworthy. Visitors have long been attracted to the area due to its picturesque scenery, deep historical roots, outdoor recreation opportunities, eclectic shops, colorful cultural vibe, great food and prolific wine scene. And then, there’s the people. You won’t find friendlier or more hospitable folks who truly “walk the talk” when it comes to putting out the Willkommen mat to their town. They’ve even named all of the streets crossing Main to the east so that their...

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A Giacometti Pilgrimage

Switzerland is known for many things, including top-of-the-line watches, rich chocolates, a fine selection of cheese, diversity of languages, picturesque natural beauty and its neutrality in regards to world affairs. What most folks don’t realize is that this charming country also has a reputation for art, rivaling that of numerous other European nations in regards to size and scope of collections within its museums. Additionally, many famous artists are from Switzerland, including Paul Klee, Ferdinand Hodler, Jean Tinguely, Arnold Böcklin and Méret Oppenheim. The most renowned, however, is Alberto Giacometti. As I grew up in the Windy City, the...

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Basel: Beyond Description

Single word descriptions of Basel don’t do this Swiss city justice. Titles such as “Cultural Capital of Switzerland” or “Oldest University Town” barely scrape the surface when trying to characterize this eclectic and exciting town. Attempts at encompassing the rich variety of cultural and historical sights, as well fun leisure activities available in Basel under one heading are simply futile. Resist the impulse to box this city in; instead, give yourself free rein to use as many terms as necessary to showcase this exhilarating destination. Location wise, Basel can’t be beaten. It’s a central transport hub for Europe and...

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Discover the Wonders of the Maine Coast Aboard a Century-Old Schooner

“Ready on the peak? Peak’s ready! Ready on the throat? Throat’s ready! Heave away!” With those words, I found myself pulling a thick rope in tug-of- war style as if my life depended on it. My shipmates and I were lined up single file on either side of the schooner J. & E. Riggin, each group responsible for helping hoist the massive sails. It took an immense amount of muscle to accomplish this feat and everyone grunted and strained in effort. This was just one of many tasks involved in preparing the schooner as it got ready to sail the...

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Don’t Expect Ordinary When you Journey to the ‘Edge of the World’

Kissing a codfish was never on my life’s to-do list. In fact, up until recently, I could honestly say it was not even in the realm of remote possibility. But there I was at Skipper Hots Bar in Straitsview, Newfoundland, puckering up to smack a big one on this buggy-eyed cod. I had been talked into taking part in a “Screech In,” a ceremony that folks in this Canadian province like to conduct to make visitors feel at home. Newfoundlanders are well-known for their friendliness and hospitality and they definitely live up to this reputation, though their methods are...

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Following in the Footsteps of Pilgrims

Meet Victoria Oubiña, a resident of the seaside village of Cambados in Northern Spain. She’s a retired marisquera or shell-fisher, who had to stop school at nine years old and go to work in order to help her family. Victoria spent 54 years digging for clams and cockles on the beaches of this town and became a face of the local industry, one that is dominated by women in this region. Back in 1992, she and several of her counterparts fought for their rights to organize as a recognized controlled collective and were successful in their efforts. The women,...

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Bern is a City of Superlatives

Bern is a City of Superlatives If there were a beauty pageant for European capitals, Bern would get the crown. This well-known Swiss city oozes with cosmopolitan charm, history and culture, and consistently gets high marks from visitors. They extol its accessibility, unique attractions and impressive Alpine views, as well as its ample shopping and dining options. Founded in 1191, Bern was built on a peninsula which offered natural protection on three sides. According to legend, it was named after the first animal that Duke Berchtold V. von Zähringen caught – a bear – while he was hunting during...

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An Epic Journey to Inspire the Spirit

From atop the south rim of the Grand Canyon, the trail down appears daunting. It weaves and snakes its way amid the layers of rocks, eventually vanishing from sight. I take a deep breath, step off the edge and begin my descent into this vast and imposing abyss. Most folks only see the Grand Canyon from overlooks at the rim. Some view it from down below aboard a raft, as they ply the waters of the mighty Colorado River. I have had the privilege of enjoying both these perspectives in the past, but now I was going to undertake...

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Savor Northern Ireland One Bite at a Time

To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for good food during my stay in Northern Ireland. My expectations were low based on a trip I had made to the Republic of Ireland many years ago. I recalled eating lots of potatoes, breads and bland stews, along with the proverbial Guinness to wash it all down. And though 2016 has been designated The Year of Food and Drink for Northern Ireland, I was frankly still leery about the culinary scene. Imagine my surprise then to discover a country that has become a great destination for foodies: a place that...

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