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Welcome to Travel Writers' Tales, an independent travel article syndicate that offers affordable and professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. Over the course of a 52 week term, we will meet your need for travel copy, whether it is one story a week, bi-weekly or monthly. We provide two CD ROMs, each covering your six month supply. The lively and up-to-date travel stories are written by accredited travel writers. As well as diversified destinations, the compilation of articles is thematically selected to suit the calendar year. The pre-packaged CD ROMs not only simplify publishing deadlines, but also promote increased advertising sales on a monthly basis. Travel Writers' Tales offers the discerning armchair traveler, as well as the active adventure seeker, glimpses into the excitement and mystery of worlds that lie beyond our horizons.

If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.
....Henry Miller (1891–1980)

May 2015
SANTIAGO IN A RUSH
by Hans Tammemagi

I faced a challenge. How could I explore Santiago, located smack in the middle of the 6,000-kilometre-long shoestring that comprises Chile, in only 24 hours?

Under an azure sky I headed up San Cristobal Hill to the gleaming white statue of the Virgin, a religious and visual focal point of the city. Surrounded by parkland and accessible by funicular, the site is popular, drawing walkers, bikers, and picnickers. Panoramic views of the city and Andes foothills lay before me with the 64-storey, 300-metre-high Costanera Centre skyscraper-the continent's tallest edifice-towering over the rest of the city. ... read more »


PADDLEWHEELING UP THE FRASER RIVER
by Margaret Deefholts

It is one of those perfect days - brilliant sunshine, powder blue skies and a soft breeze that carries the scent of summer on its breath. Along with a group of friends, I board The Native, a pretty paddle-wheeler moored on the Fraser River alongside the New Westminster boardwalk. ... read more »


NEW YORK'S TENEMENT MUSEUM
A Salute To Early Immigrants

by Chris McBeath

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is one of the more intriguing activities New York has to offer. Housed at 97 Orchard Street, the museum is part of a unique network of 'social conscience' museums that use real life stories and heirlooms to recreate history. Here, it's of the everyday lives of those immigrants who helped shape New York's history and culture. ... read more »


ONTARIO'S HEARTLAND -
Exploring St. Jacobs And The Waterloo Region

by Jamie Ross

I remember as a young boy when my father, during the weeks leading up to one particular Christmas, had ensconced himself in our basement for hours on end. I was warned that the depths of our home were temporarily out-of-bounds, so I sat upstairs and listened to the strange sounds from below, with an over-powering sense of curiosity and wonder. On Christmas morning I was invited down. He had built a wonderful model railway that would eventually take up the majority of my bedroom. ... read more »


TALLINN: ESTONIA'S GOTHIC SPLENDOUR
by Irene Butler

I suddenly feel my hand being clutched, and not by my husband Rick! I turn to see a knight in chainmail armour falling before me on bended knee - not for undying love, but for a 1€ photo op. We are in front of the Old Town Hall which has been on this spot since at least 1322, the present building dating back to 1404. Vana Toomas (Old Thomas), symbolizing Tallinn, appears as a weather-vane atop the hall. Legend has it that as a peasant lad, Old Thomas won an archery contest reserved for nobility, and instead of being punished he was invited to become a guard. ... read more »


April 2015
ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA
World Heritage City

by Chris Millikan

Cruising through the Panama Canal to San Diego offers us a string of riveting Central American excursions, including a memorable daytrip from Puerto Quetzal to Antigua.

With other early birds, we disembark the Veendam, stream past marimba musicians and through a handicraft marketplace to our waiting coach. "Welcome," greets guide Karen, "Today, we'll visit our colonial capital in the central highlands, heart of the Mayan world." Ninety-minutes of rolling countryside, lush forests and distant volcano views bring us to Guatemala's World Heritage city. ... read more »


BELLINGHAM , WASHINGTON - A THOUSAND MEMORIES
by Hans Tammemagi

I settled into the Semiahmoo Resort, no ordinary hostelry. Located at the tip of a curving, mile-long spit - a county park - the resort is secluded and surrounded by nature. A cannery operated here from 1882 to 1964 and several of the buildings, including an iconic tower, have been preserved and incorporated into the resort. Historic photos and artifacts abound. There's a sense of times past. ... read more »


HELPLESS IN HELSINKI
by Colleen Friesen

You can't say we weren't warned.

Upon announcing our pending trip to Finland, the cautions came thick and fast. The well-intentioned advisories all ended up sounding fairly similar, the gist of which was this: people in Finland are reserved, rarely smile and like to keep to themselves. ... read more »


THESE GEESE FLY AWAY HOME EVERY SPRING
by John Geary

I expected to hear honking. But these greater snow geese are too busy searching for food in the low-tide mud along the banks of the St. Lawrence to honk much.
The drizzling rain mutes sound further, so what noise there was did not travel far. We stood in the rain for several minutes, watching some slip-slide their way along the slippery mud, others swimming about, close to shore. ... read more »


March 2015
JOURNEY TOWARD THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
by Irene Butler

In each country we visit, my husband Rick and I keep our eyes peeled for something unique to that country; something that cannot be seen or experienced anywhere else in the world. While blazing around the best of Iceland's geothermal activity of billowing geysers, steaming hot springs, thunderous waterfalls, we get wind of such a phenomenon: Thrihnukagigur. Further investigation reveals, we can be lowered "into" a volcano. Normally, after a mega-volcanic eruption the magma hardens closing the crater opening. Not so with Thrihnukagigur which, after its mega blast 4,000 years ago, an anomaly of nature occurred-the magma did not remain in the cavity! Volcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson's explanation, "It's like somebody came and pulled the plug, and all the magma ran down out of it." We are hyped up to see this oddity of nature! ... read more »


LEÓN, NICARAGUA
SOUL OF CENTRAL AMERICA

by Rick Millikan

In the center of this venerable city stands World Heritage León Cathedral. Blending a unique baroque flair and neo-classical grandeur, a haloed Virgin Mary stands gloriously atop. And just below, sculpted pairs of husky Atlanteans support the heavy beams between its central gable and bell towers. Interestingly, these supermen refer subtly to the 17th century's vision of Atlantis and its link to the New World. The façade's twelve ornamental columns conjure the eras of Rome and Greece. ... read more »


THE JEWEL OF SOUTHERN ONTARIO:
Prince Edward County

by Julie H. Ferguson

Prince Edward County (PEC) is a rural treasure that floats in fresh water and is linked to mainland Ontario by a short isthmus at its northwestern corner. Self-contained and tranquil, it is a delightful place to relax awhile. Good hotels, cottages, and B&Bs await the tired explorer. Although recommended for weekend getaways, as a first-timer and someone from BC, I opted for a week. I tried two hotels: one, a restored colonial-style mansion overlooking Picton Bay; the other in the County's heart, based on an 1860 farm with its own brewery. ... read more »


VISIT STRATFORD FOR THEATRE, FOOD AND FUN
by Jamie Ross

We are at the end of a wonderful tour of the Stratford Festival's Costume and Props Warehouse, the world's largest performing arts archive, when we are afforded a chance to try on some of the stage-worn costumes. I had hoped for Macbeth, Hamlet or Lear, but instead am coerced into dressing up as some Scandinavian opera singer, in gown, horned-helmet and golden pigtails, while the rest of the group giggles and snaps photos that I know will not be flattering. I had hoped for a Shakespearean lead man, but was rather playing the fool. ... read more »


February 2015
LEPRECHAUNS AND LIBATIONS AT MERRIDALE CIDERY
by Cherie Thiessen

We're on a mystical hunt. Signs on the 1.5-kilometre trail around the 9-hectare orchard and especially along the riparian section, tell us about the flora, the fauna, and the Leprechauns. It doesn't take long before my friend, Mirjam, is crouched down in front of a Lilliputian door in an alder trunk. "Here's one!" Several diminutive dwellings begin to appear, thumbnail sized lounging chairs, twig shelters, coloured stones. Who would have guessed faeries, gnomes, elves and dryads lived in Vancouver Island's Cowichan Valley? ... read more »


ANCIENT FOOTSTEPS IN SANTA FE
by Lauren Kramer

Sante Fe is rich with murmurs from the ancient past and to hear them you only have to visit Tsankawi, an unexcavated site that forms part of Bandelier National Monument. Here, once you've trekked up the dusty paths and slipped through the narrow channels of the hillside, you find yourself on a centuries-old path where the ancestral Pueblans once lived. ... read more »


REMOTE AND WILD: THE SCOTTISH HEBRIDES
by Julie H. Ferguson

Three weeks and fifteen islands developed into a trip of a lifetime. Every September morning I wondered why I hadn't explored the Scottish Hebrides before. White sand beaches and turquoise sea, purple-washed mountains and golden glens, no tourists and little traffic tempted me to explore every day. Then there were the sheep - more sheep than people. ... read more »


MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: MISSION REVEALED
by Chris McBeath

We were given two minutes to accept our mission before the room darkened and shielded us from the evidence. Just two minutes to assume our legend-our cover-which was to be our only protection over the next three hours as we lied, side-stepped and tried to stay alive in the cold, unforgiving world of espionage. It's a world few of us ever realize up close, but at Washington DC's International Spy Museum, it's one which is as captivating as it is imaginative, from the moment you step out of the 'briefing' room. Assuming, of course, that you've accepted your mission. ... read more »


January 2015
EXPLORING THE MANGROVES: WE 'CAYMAN' BY KAYAK
by John Geary

I'd read so much about the dangers of jellyfish, I couldn't believe our guide, Bob, was about to reach into the water and pick up one up-in his bare hand. "Hmmm…I wonder if we can navigate back out through the mangroves, to the beach ourselves?" I thought, visions of a suddenly incapacitated guide dancing through my head. ... read more »


BOOM OR BUST IN DAWSON CITY
by Karoline Cullen

They lean into each other. With blackened windows and peeling paint they are obviously abandoned. Yet next door, a modern cafe is abuzz with patrons. The contrast between these buildings encapsulates the boom and bust cycle of a Klondike Gold Rush town. ... read more »


THE TREASURE OF THE BLACK PEARL
by Chris McBeath

Say the words 'black pearl' and images of saucy pirate Jack Sparrow may flash into your mind. After all, black pearls have always been among the most sought jewels in the world and have, no doubt, been the treasure of many a pirate's swag. In the Marquesas Islands, however, these luminescent gemstones are a beachside commodity. ... read more »


SAVOURING VANCOUVER ISLAND-ONE BITE AT A TIME
by Colleen Friesen

Along with some fellow travel writers, I've arrived in Victoria, British Columbia. We've been outfitted with some cool cruiser bikes from The Pedaler, along with the aforementioned promise of sweat-free city-riding. In retrospect, I wish Ms. Lee had taken us on a hilly marathon to help combat the calories we were about to take in, because this bike-propelled food tour was merely the start to an epic four-day Savour Vancouver Island culinary press trip. ... read more »


DAY TRIPPING TO XIHUACAN
Zihuatanejo, Mexico

by Chris Millikan

Cruise ship tenders shuttle us across sparkling cobalt waters to Zihuatanejo's docks. And joining fellow history buffs aboard a waiting tour bus, we head out into the Mexican countryside. Within thirty minutes, we're standing inside Xihuacan (she-wha-cahn) Museum, keen to investigate this archeological site open since in 2013. ... read more »


December 2014
CHRISTMAS IN CARTAGENA - COLOMBIA'S SEASIDE HAVEN
by Irene Butler

With Christmas only days away the town's streets are busy with merry local shoppers. Next to our Stil Hotel is a small outdoor bar where men with cold cervasas sit on dozens of plastic chairs. A stone's throw away women rummage through the best display of running shoes ever seen spread on concrete-knock-offs of every major brand. Onward for blocks, sidewalks are laid with electronics, the latest Hollywood blockbuster DVD's, plastic toys, and all manner of gift items. Fresh fruit and savoury food carts feed the masses. My husband Rick and I veer towards the Arepas con Queso stand - not caring if these delectable fried cakes of ground maize stuffed with melted salty cheese are turning our middles Santa-rotund. We stock-pile them for our Christmas Eve feast, along with chicken and potatoes roasted together in a divine herb sauce, a fruit-laden cake, and mucho vino. ... read more »


HAVANA HOPES
by Colleen Friesen

In the English language, we have two different words for two separate concepts; wait or hope. For instance, in Canada I might sit in a hospital's waiting room and think I am only counting the minutes: I am waiting (the odds are, that if I'm sitting in a hospital waiting room, I might be hop-ing as well, but that is considered a separate action). ... read more »


HEMET (AND AREA) HAUNTS
by Jane Cassie

When Old Man Winter makes his annual appearance, my husband and I snowbird south to Hemet, California and The Golden Village Palms (GVP) RV park becomes our home away from home. Although there's more than enough summer-camp-type activities to keep us content, this year we venture beyond this lush playground and discover there's even more just beyond our RV door. ... read more »


ISRAEL BLENDS ANCIENT & CONTEMPORARY
by Lauren Kramer

If you're going to visit Jerusalem, Friday is the day to do it, to best witness the transition from a bustling, vibrant city to one settling down for 24 hours of pure rest over the Jewish Sabbath. It was Friday afternoon when I walked around the Old City of Jerusalem, marvelling at the tall limestone slabs that constitute its ancient, majestic walls. It was winter, which meant the Jewish Sabbath would begin early, at sundown. By 3pm, the city was literally shutting down as people disappeared into their homes for prayer and family meals, buses ceased operation, stores closed their doors soon after lunch and an aura of peace and spirituality descended like a mist over the city. ... read more »


November 2014
POPPY POWER
The Remembrance Flower

by Chris McBeath

As delicate as they appear, corn poppies are an enduring flower. Scattered randomly by the wind, their seeds flourish in freshly turned soil, often turning just-ploughed fields into unexpected seas of crimson. In the shell-shocked and grave-ridden landscapes of Flanders during World War I, those seas became oceans of sudden beauty across the morass of sodden wasteland. ... read more »


WINTER FUN IN QUEBEC
"Enjoy A European-style Winter Wonderland Experience."

by Jamie Ross

Somehow a family ski trip has become an annual March Break tradition - not surprising, since my wife is passionate about skiing. I'm okay with that, with the tiny proviso that every year we experience someplace different, a new unique and charming locale. This year, that would be Quebec, where winter is a season to be celebrated in toques and mitts - whether at the annual Quebec Carnival, with a stay in the Hotel du Glace, skiing the nearby slopes of Mont Ste. Anne and Le Massif, or snowshoeing, camping and ziplining in the Outaouais. ... read more »


WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO:
World Heritage City

by Chris Millikan

Front seats in the pink open-air Trolley Train seem perfect for our narrated city tour. Guide Rosa begins, "Though typical throughout Western Europe, here in the Caribbean Willemstad's colonial buildings are unique." Chugging on along Sha Caprilleskade, she points out wooden boats from Venezuela, 19-kilometers away. Docking together, they form the renowned Floating Market. "Vendors have sold fresh fish, fruit, vegetables, honey and cigars from their boats for decades, a trade handed down for generations." Street level stalls stretching along the block sport red, orange and yellow awnings. ... read more »


HUNTING HEADS IN BORNEO
by Margaret Deefholts

The human skull looking down balefully at me through a wicker framework suspended from the rafters of the Serubah Longhouse in Sarawak is unsettling, but according to our guide, Bong, it embodies a benevolent spirit who protects the community who live here. "They are hospitable towards visitors," Bong adds, catching my apprehensive upward glance. "So don't worry!" ... read more »


October 2014
HAUNTED NEW ORLEANS
City With A Spectral Past

by Lauren Kramer

There's nothing like a ghost tour to send chills down your spine, and if there's one place where a tour like this feels believable, it's New Orleans. People have been drawn to the city for hundreds of years, and many of them have found it difficult to leave, even in the afterlife. On a warm night in April, Rebecca Sell, a guide with Haunted History Tours of New Orleans, warns us what we can expect on our Haunted New Orleans tour. ... read more »


MOLOKAI ADVENTURES
by Cherie Thiessen

"Trust the mules", says Buzzy Sproat soothingly. But before I trust the mules, I have to trust the man himself: a grizzled, grey-bearded muleskinner in signature leather chaps. Nine of us are about to mount a bevy of nonchalant equine relatives and plunge down the tallest sea cliff in the world. ... read more »


PACK UP FOR PARADISE IN PUNTA CANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLICA
"All-inclusive resort a stress-free option."

by Jamie Ross

swaying in the morning breeze. The clear turquoise waters curl gently on the shore. The lounge chairs and grass shelters are empty now, but soon guests will start to wander down, to claim their place in the sun. If you believe that Caribbean cruises would be heaven if only there was more beach time and drinks were included, then here is the place for you: Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic. ... read more »


TRAVELLING ON A "TOY" TRAIN
The Blue Mountains of South India

by Margaret Deefholts

The Blue Mountain "toy" train is bound for the town of Coonoor in the Nilgiri Hills of South India. This is one of only two steam-powered locomotives in India, the other one being the Darjeeling Mountain Railway. From Coonoor the journey to Udagamandalam (formerly known as Ootacamund, and popularly shortened to "Ooty"), is powered by diesel-a more prosaic engine than this coal-fired little Puffing Billy. The entire railway line from Metapullayam to Ooty covers 26 km. The train will negotiate 208 curves, 16 tunnels, and cross 250 wooden trestle bridges in about four hours and ten minutes along one of the steepest tracks in India. ... read more »


A TOURIST IN MY OWN TOWN
by Jane Cassie

A few months ago, my husband and I took our grandson, Keegan, to a few Victoria attractions and he loved being a tourist in his own town. Well, now it's my turn. And as a Vancouverite, the options seem endless.

I decide to stretch the sight must-see's into a three-day-long extravaganza, and instead of going solo, ask a few of my favourite people to join me. The first is my sister, a life-long artist, who is the perfect sidekick for teaching me about the city's culture. ... read more »


September 2014
THE ASTOUNDING AMAZON BASIN, ECUADOR
by Irene Butler

Standing at the front of the canoe, our guide Miguel watches for movement along the Cuyabeno River. He points in turn at red-howler monkeys in tree-tops, a Yellow Toucan, and a pair of Harp Eagles! Most unusual is the prehistoric-looking Hoatzin (a.k.a. stinky turkey); its foul odour the result of a digestive systems wherein vegetable matter ferments in its crop... read more »


OFF THE TOURIST TRACK IN AUSTRALIA
by Margaret Deefholts

"Ting! Tong! Ting! Tong!" The mellow notes float down to me from a thicket of eucalyptus trees, but although I crane my neck to peer through the branches I can't track down the songsters. They are Australian bellbirds that I'm told are very hard to spot, so I'm content to merely listen, fascinated... read more »


LEARNING THE 3R'S
by Jane Cassie

BC is home to over 1,500 campgrounds and during this trip we discover that the arid Okanagan is the perfect place to buff up on these basics. Dozens of sites dot the sagebrush hills and tranquil lakeshores, and at Camping and RVing BC Coalition we have a list of choices, photos and campground information at our fingertips-ranging from National and Provincial parks to properties that are privately operated... read more »


RYE AND STROLLING
by Colleen Friesen

It was simple really. We would do a three-day walk around the 1066 Battle of Hastings area in the south of England. We'd stroll over rolling green dales, pop into a castle or two where we'd learn the history about the Battle of 1066 (history that I knew was important, but the details of which I had somehow neglected to fully absorb during my spotty education)... read more »


August 2014
NARROW BOATING IN BRITAIN'S MIDLANDS
by Cherie Thiessen

I should never have had that second cup of coffee! We're inching along about 50' above the A3400 highway and I'm trying to keep my hands steady on the tiller so as not to bump either side of the aqueduct. I figure I have about 1" to spare on either side and why aren't there railings on both sides? We're just leaving Wootton Wawen after exploring its 1100 year-old Saxon sanctuary and this crossing, built in 1813, is by far the most adrenalin pumping of the three aqueducts we encounter on the waterway. Reaching the other end without a bump, I beam proudly as the crew from a waiting canal boat applauds. read more »


ONE HIKE, TEN SIGHTS
by Jane Cassie

We did a lot of hiking when we were first married. But that was a couple of decades and a dozen pounds ago. So, when Brent suggests that we re-connect with Mother Nature's tundra trails, I'm feeling skeptical about conquering the ascent. read more »


LA ROMANA'S CAVE OF WONDERS:
The Nature of the Dominican Republic

by Rick Millikan

"Welcome to the Dominican Republic and La Romana! The mill opposite your cruise ship inspired our city's name. We first exported sugar to Rome or Roma…so our city became La Romana," grins tour bus guide Miguel. "See those pleasant homes? Romana Company provides these to many of its eighteen thousand workers. This mill and cattle ranches once supported our city, La Romana has now blossomed into a resort area. And many, like you, go to explore our Cave of Wonders.." read more »


FROM SURF TO SCIENCE
Hawaii's Hidden Dimension

by Chris McBeath

For many visitors, Hawaii's balmy sunshine, rolling surf and soft sand is the total story but for the curious of heart, the islands' unique and isolated position offers the inquisitive traveler much more. read more »


WAGAH BORDER HIGH JINKS
India and Pakistan Face Off

by Margaret Deefholts

I'm in Wagah, on the Indian side of the border between India and Pakistan, to watch the flag-lowering and gate-closing ceremony that takes place between the two nations at every evening at sunset. It is, as Michael Palin aptly points out, a hilariously campy show of "carefully choreographed contempt!" and it draws tourists from all over the world. read more »



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