Friday, September 18, 2020

Sample a taste of Europe right here on the North American continent

A mother whale and her calf in flowers draw the eye to Victoria's famous Hotel Fairmont Empress.

Japan Center in San Francisco, offers
shopping, museums, restaurants, artwork.


WITH TRAVEL outside our continent limited by the virus scourge, it's time to look for the exotic without leaving North America. Do come along.
It's possible to sample a bit of Europe, Asia or South America, right here in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
WITH A VISIT to Victoria, B.C., you'll enjoy the feeling of the British Isles. The city's British connection is time honored in the lovely Hotel Fairmont Empress, opened in 1908 as one of Canada's grand railway hotels.
Its central downtown harbor location on Goverment Street offers a dazzling view of the city's Parliament, and its Chatequesque style reminds of Switzerland.
Since its opening, the hotel experienced two expansions, in 1910, and again in 1928. The building received designation as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981 and underwent a $60 million restoration in 2015.
THE CITY'S Colonial past shows in its Victorian architecture, including stately Craigdarroch Castle mansion. Butchart Gardens, with 55 acres of vivid floral displays, statuary, ponds and a carousel, is one of many formal gardens near or in the city.
A street in Solvang -- complete with windmill -- could be
a street in the Netherlands, with all manner of Danish goods.
Restaurants have a continental feel. You'll find fish and chips as tasty as any in merry olde England, bakeries with yummy scones, pubs galore and tea shops including decades old Murchie's, with an array of all things British for a stylish afternoon tea. You'll feel you've crossed the pond in British Columbia.                      SAN FRANCISCO is home to a huge Asian community and nowhere is it more alive than in the city's artistically designed Japan Center. Pagados, hotels, shrines, galleries, restaurants and the beautiful Japan Center Malls display authentic cultural icons and excellent, reasonable shopping.  New York City's Chinatown is world renowned for its shops, its bustling feeling -- much like Hong Kong or Shanghai, and its authentic Chinese food, shops with herbs and remedies, and temples. It's a unique, lively and expansive neighborhood full of people, scents and the feel of China.
New York's Chinatown is bustling, authentic.

SOLVANG, in southern California's pretty  Santa Ynez Valley, is known for its Danish-style architecture and fine wineries. The Elverhøj Museum of History and Art explores the city's Danish heritage through stories and photos. The Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum exhibits dozens of classic American, Japanese and European motorbikes while the Old Mission Santa Inés is an early-1800s Franciscan church. Solvang's nightlife is exciting -- with a cosmopolitan feel. Many Danish Americans consider Solvang their cultural home, visiting regularly, even purchasing second homes in the quaint town and pleasant valley.             HERE'S A FEW other places where we've felt   connected to our ancestry. So much of culture carries on its time honored links with our motherlands -- in architecture, historical sites, dining, museums, clothing and grocery stores, souvenir shops and more.   
A charming hotel, the Queen Mary, is
permanently docked in Long Beach,
reminding of cruising days abroad.

NASHVILLE'S Parthenon was built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition. It stands proudly as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, Nashville's premier urban park. The re-creation of the 42-foot statue Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building and the Athena statue are both full-scale replicas of the Greek originals.  
Nashville's Parthenon is a full-sized
replica of the one in Athens.


THE QUEEN MARY, docked in Long Beach, is the place to go if you are a fan of cruising and miss sailing the oceans and high seas. Now a beautiful hotel,, the Queen Mary set a new benchmark in transatlantic travel, which the rich and famous considered as the only civilized way to travel. She quickly seized hearts and imaginations on both sides of the Atlantic, representing the elegance and spirit of an era known for its class and style.  
MEXICO OFFERS Latin feel in its music, architecture, food and the pulsing mix of cultures.  Try Mazatlan, Mexico City and Guadalajara for history, museums, cathedrals and old-fashioned Mexican spirit. Cancun, Cozumel and Cabo San Lucas offer modern hotels, beaches, fine contemporary restaurants and an interesting mix of tourists from Europe and both Americas.  
This church in Mazatlan is one
of many popular for weddings.
San Miguel de Allende is a lovely mile-high oasis in the central Mexican mountains.  Its history dates to 1542 and it is famous for its fine Mexican cuisine and luxurious hotels -- one with a cooking school.
ALSO CONSIDER Leavenworth, Washington, 200 miles east of Seattle, which looks as if it were plucked form the Bavarian Alps. New Orleans offers Creole and Cajun treats, spectacular dining and food reflecting the mixed cultural bag -- from beignets to gumbo and spicy po boy sandwiches. When seeking European atmosphere in North America, consider Quebec City, where you'll hear French and find an array of cultural, historic and gastronomic attractions -- cobblestone streets, lively arts, fun-loving people.
 From France to Scandinavia, Italy, Greece, England, China, Japan and South and Central America, we can find the trappings of other cultures in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Safer than international travel right now -- and most of us are within driving distance to at least one of these.

UP NEXT: Yellowstone and the Tetons in autumn.  Come along with us to two of our country's most beautiful national parks.  They're no prettier than in autumn, when the golden and reddish tones of 
Bison graze on fall grasses while geyers steam.
fall blanket the valleys.  Wildlife viewing is splendid in autumn, and we're on the lookout for bison and bears, swans, elk and moose.  Perhaps even a wolf or two in the beautiful Lamar Valley.  Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a unique look at nature, the arts, family, travel, health and more.
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  1. Perfectly wonderful idea. Thanks.

  2. Always fun to see what you're doing....thanks for this original idea.

  3. Love these ideas.....fresh approach to our global angst.

  4. These suggestions are timely and appreciated. Hope to hit Solvang again soon....we're very near.