Friday, June 29, 2012

There’s Lots To Do in Southern Delaware, Rain or Shine


 
Best known for its great beaches, Southern Delaware has a great history as well.  So when its not a “beach day” there is a wealth of great things to explore here. 
 

                                               Guestroom at Bellmoor Inn in Rehobeth.

Located where Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic, it has a long and illustrious maritime history. Captain John Smith of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia explored and mapped the rivers Southern Delaware in 1608-09. Surveyors Mason and Dixon established the southern boundary of Delaware in 1764, the line that separated North from South during the Civil War. At the small stone marker you can stand with one foot in Maryland and the other in Delaware.  You can also visit a marker in Lewes, where the Dutch first landed in Delaware in 1629. 
 
The first state in the United States (by virtue of being the first to sign the U.S. Constitution in 1783) Delaware might never have been a separate state. Pennsylvania and Maryland both wanted the land, but in the end because it had been first settled by the Dutch it was granted separate statehood.
 
For more modern attractions, you can tour the historic Lightship “Overfalls” in Lewes.  Coastal waters could be treacherous and ships needed signal lights to guide them. Anchored lightships were used where light houses could not be built. Only 17 lightships remain of the 179 commissioned between 1820 and 1952. The Overfalls is one of very few open to the public.
 
In Bethany Beach, you can tour the Indian River Lifesaving Station built in 1876.  When ships ran a ground on coastal sand bars during storms and were sinking, the exceptionally brave men of the Lifesaving Service came to their aid.  Its a fascinating story that is little known. 
 
Nearby in Fenwick Island you’ll find the Discover Sea Shipwreck Museum.  This free museum is located on the upper floor of a souvenir shop, but don’t be fooled.  Its an excellent museum filled with millions of dollars worth of treasure and artifacts reclaimed from dozens of sunken ships off the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean.  Many of the ancient sunken ships were Spanish vessels loaded with treasure from the “new world” headed back to Europe.
 
Even before the America entered World War II, there was much concern that Germany would
attack our Atlantic coast. In 1941, the military began building massive coastal fortifications.  Today, at Fort Miles Historic Area just north of Lewes you can visit one of these facilities built to defend the Philadelphia Ship Yards, oil refineries along the Delaware River, and Dupont chemical works from attack.  There is a massive artillery piece here with a 12 inch bore. Originally there were two, plus a number of smaller guns.  The big guns could fire a 275 pound payload up to 25 miles -- really big bang.
 
A gun barrel from the U.S.S. Missouri (the battleship where the peace treaty was signed ending the war with Japan) has been acquired recently. The Missouri was the last American battleship ever to be built and went into service in early 1945 just months before the treaty signing.  The gun barrel is 66 feet long and has a 16 inch bore.  It will be placed on a (yet to be built) outdoor mount for public display at Fort Miles. 
 
Southern Delaware also has some great food.  At Luca Restaurant in Millsboro they always use the freshest local ingredients in keeping with Italian tradition of following the rhythm of the seasons. The daily features are chosen from what is delivered fresh each morning.  Its pasta and bread are made fresh daily. Wines are hand picked by an Italian Master Sommelier, some specifically for Luca. It is an Italian wine experience like no other. Located in a former bank building, the vault at Luca has been converted to a private dining area that can seat up to six guests.
 
The difference is in the extra little touches at Nage Bistro in Rehoboth Beach. From the specially formulated cocktails to the handcrafted garnish on the bistro's chef-created sandwiches, entrees and desserts, everything is just a little bit better here.  Its a great meal at a reasonable cost.
 
The Bellmoor Inn & Spa offers upscale lodging in Rehoboth Beach, with a variety of luxury hotel features and special amenities. Its elegant, beachside accommodations are the ideal lodging option for family vacations or romantic weekend getaways.  Its centrally located near the best attractions, beaches, museums, entertainment, shopping, and dining. The Bellmoor the ideal hotel choice in Rehoboth Beach.
 
Southern Delaware has an abundance of ecotourism activities. There's everything from whale and dolphin watching to beach combing, nature walks, photo opportunities, canoeing, and bicycling. Part of the Atlantic Flyway, the area home to a variety of land and sea birds.  Other options include a choice of great beaches, camping, nature trails, boating, and fishing including surf, ocean, bay, and freshwater.
 
The cultural experiences are numerous here, including a summer arts festival, a winery, art galleries, dinner theater, historic train rides, outdoor performances by the ocean, and sounds an annual Nanticoke Indian Powwow, which draws native Indians for tribal dances from near and far.
 
Order your free Visitor's Guide at www.visitsoutherndelaware.com and begin enjoying Southern Delaware.
 
Photo Information ---
 Recovered artifacts on view at Shipwreck Museum.
 

                                      Overfalls Lightship is open to public in Lewes.


                                   12” Gun from WWII is on exhibit at Fort Miles
                                                     outside Lewes.
 

 
                                   Lifeboat at Rescue Service Museum at Bethney Beach.




                                              Bank Vault seating at LUCA Restaurant.
 
James Weaver
GolfWiz Blog
Senior Travel Editor

Friday, June 22, 2012

Golfing In Western Canada Offers Spectacular Views



Some of the most scenic views in the world are in the Canadian Rocky
Mountains.  Resorts here have the very best, plus lots of great golf.
See if you agree.

15th Hole, The Fairmont Banff Springs
:
This 479-yard par 4 is the original first hole of this historic course,
nestled against its famed Waldhaus Restaurant and pub.  The view
from the elevated tee includes a distant view of the valley, edged by
mountain cliffs and the Bow River


18th Hole, Stewart Creek Golf Club
The par-5, 520-yard finishing hole at Stewart Creek not only provides
one last crack at making birdie it also saves the golf course's best
view for last. The view may cause you to lose focus on the golf shot as
it provides a panoramic view of the 18th green, #9 green and Hole #1
with Cascade mountain providing the back drop.  Take a virtual tour
of the hole via Stewart Creek’s website.

                       
10th Hole, Canmore Golf & Curling Club:
The first and tenth holes are great opening holes running side by side,
featuring a large bunker between the approach of both holes.
  A 520-yard par-5 hole, the 10th is situated in the valley between
two towering mountain ranges.

                       
9th Hole, The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge:  Known
as Cleopatra, this voluptuous par 3 measures 231 yards from the back
tees.  Any of the tees have an incredible view from a high elevated tee,
with a mesmerizing backdrop of Pyramid Mountain. Check out new
flyovers of the course from The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge’s Website.

4th Hole, Mount Kidd Course:  This 197-yard par-3 hole
is Kananaskis Country’s most photographed hole.  The backdrop to your
tee shot is the impressive Mount Kidd to your left and directly in front
is Mount Lorette, the namesake for the other 18 holes at Kananaskis. 
To the right of the tee is the crystal clear, fast flowing Kananaskis
River and further right is the snow covered Mount Evan Thomas.

18th Hole, Silvertip Resort:  The
par-4 finishing hole sums up your Silvertip experience, with tees
sitting at the highest point on the golf course.  A dogleg-left
orientation drops dramatically to the Timbers Clubhouse below, allowing
both golfers and diners on the outdoor patio with a view of great golf
shots, the breathless Bow Valley and towering peaks of the Rocky
Mountains. An online webcam gives travelers a wide-angle view of
the hole each day.

Canadian Rockies Golf courses are easily accessible via Calgary
International Airport, with service by most major air carriers.
Learn more at www.canadianrockiesgolf.ca.





By Jim Weaver
GolfWiz Blog
Senior Travel Editor 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Berlin, Now 775 Years Old, Is An International Symbol For Peace and Unity


I went to Berlin hoping to learn how it has changed since the collapse of  Soviet controlled
East German government, the GDR, in 1989.While most visitors are simply looking for the
tourist sites, I was looking for something more.
 
Having visited Leipzig just days earlier, I had seen St. Nicholas Church near the city center and learned of the “Peaceful Revolution” of October 1989 inspired there. It resulted in  nonviolent demonstrations in Leipzig, in Berlin, and in other GDR cities and the collapse of the Soviet controlled government.  Berlin was a divided city for nearly 30 years and the Berlin Wall (the "Wall of Shame" according to former mayor Willy Brandt) had symbolized the "Iron Curtain" that separated the city and Germany.  Today, only a small section of the wall remains and its a graffiti art gallery.
 
The Berlin Wall Memorial is a stark reminder of the division of Germany.  Located next to the former border, there is a piece of the Berlin Wall next to the infamous border strip and watchtower. The facility shows how the border facilities were constructed and imparts to the visitor a lasting impression of the nation’s tragic division.  The Reconciliation Church was located at this site. It was blown up in 1985, as it stood right on the no man’s land “death strip”. After the fall of the Wall, a Chapel of Reconciliation was erected and opened in 2000.
Victims of the Wall (more than 1,100) are regularly remembered during church services.
There are also several other “Wall Memorials” in the city. 
 
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, is located near the Brandenberg Gate. It consists of  nearly five acres covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or "stelae", arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. According to the architect, the stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.  An underground information center here has the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims. 
 
The Jewish Museum Berlin, one of the finest (and most recognizable) examples of contemporary architecture in the city, was designed by Daniel Libeskind.  He has called it “Between the Lines”, a title that reflects the tensions of German-Jewish history.  The permanent collection extends over 2,000 years of German-Jewish history. 
 
Every Berliner over 40 years of age can remember the years when the city was divided
and the Soviet Union controlled East Berlin and East Germany.  The DDR Museum (GDR in English) here recalls life as it was for millions of Germans during the years of the Soviet regime.
Visitors can see a furnished apartment and a Soviet made car. The interactive exhibits demonstrate the many pressures and limitations that made up everyday life under Soviet rule.
 
The Brandenburg Gate, erected between 1788 and 1791, has been one of Berlin’s most important monuments for over two hundred years. A former symbol of the divided city, it drew visitors who would climb to an observation platform to glimpse of the world behind the Iron Curtain which separated East from West Berlin, geographically and politically.
 
I asked my guide what Berliners thought following reunification. “Initially everyone was very pleased,” he said. “Later, some from East Berlin missed the old system where most all of their needs were provided for, and some West Berliners complained strongly about the high cost of rebuilding East Berlin and East Germany.
 
Berlin has 170 museums (Museum Island in the Spree river alone is the site of five internationally significant museums) which makes it an impossible challenge to visit all.
However, American travelers will no doubt appreciate The Kennedys Museum and The Ramones Museum. President Jack Kennedy make a great impression on citizens when he visited here in 1963, at the height of the Cold War, and made his famous quote “Ich bin ein Berliner.”  The president and his family are remembered at this museum.  The Ramones were a punk rock band from New York City.  They had a 30 year career before retiring in 1996. The museum exhibits the impressive personal collection of artifacts from a Berlin fan.
 
Berlin is blessed with some of the world’s greatest architecture, both classic and contemporary.  One could spend weeks just
exploring architectural gems. 
 
The baroque-style Hohenzollern Palace, once the seat of German government was a landmark in the city since the 15th century, when the Prussian royal family began construction, until 1950, when the GDR decided the war-ruined palace was a reminder of a decadent old world and destroyed its remains.
 
In 1976, The Palast der Republik was built. It housed not just the East German parliament (largely a ceremonial body) but also a bowling alley, a disco, and other public space. In 1993, it was torn down because it was riddled with asbestos, but critics argue that asbestos problems in West Berlin were solved without demolishing buildings. They believe a remnant of Cold-War politics was behind its demolition and the neo-Hohenzollern palace construction project now in the works.
 
The question is when it might be finished. The due date is 2013, but its budget still has to make up an 80 million Euro shortfall in private (corporate) donations -- and 32 million Euro from the city of Berlin, which was deeply in debt even before the current financial crisis hit. For now the "Schlossplatz," or palace square, is empty, and not all of Berlin will mind if it stays that way.
 
I had hoped to see the new Berlin International Airport scheduled to open in June 2012, however, here to, construction delays have pushed the opening back a full year.  A good reason to return in 2013.  Berlin is a fascinating city and I hope to see more.
 
If you’re traveling to Berlin, you should consider staying at Indigo Hotel, a new boutique hotel
well located in the old East Berlin  www.hotelindigoberlin.com . Owned by the same folks who own Holiday Inn, it is very comfortable and has an excellent restaurant. When planning your trip view  www.visitberlin.de/en and  www.germany.travel.com.
 
 
The DDR Museum remembers life in Berlin as it was under Soviet control from 1945 to 1990.

The Berlin Wall and “No Man’s Land” strip (looking into East Berlin) as it was before the fall of the GDR regime.
 


 Brandenberg Gate was the dividing line between East and West Berlin for nearly 30 years.
 Holocaust Memorial remembers the millions of European Jews who died under Nazi rule.
  In 1989 Berliners demonstrate against the Wall and help bring down the Soviet backed government.
Olympic Stadium built by the Nazi government for the 1936 Games now fully restored was the site of the World Cup Soccer Championships in 2010.


James Weaver
GolfWiz Blog
Senior Travel Editor

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