On our last trip to Australia, Ruth & I went from Melbourne by train to Bendigo and discovered a vibrant, underrated city to explore. Bendigo has a hilly, 19th century feel and a lively Asian Culture best experienced in the Golden Dragon Museum and The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion. The Golden Dragon reopened on June 2 with restrictions and plans new growth soon. Bendigo had lots of smoke and nearby bush fires during the holocaust in early 2020 but survived. Most of the really destructive fires burned well east of this Victorian city.
Ruth has not been to Antwerp, Belgium, but I have. Antwerp is an unusual city with lots of jewelry stores where diamonds are reportedly cheaper than in other cities, a thriving but rather scary Diamond District, and a past that stretches back to the Middle Ages. Its old town is resplendent with Flemish Renaissance architecture. Tripadvisor rightly calls Antwerp’s central railroad station a railway cathedral. It and Grote Markt are essential places to see.
Nelson is Canada’s time warp town. Beautifully situated in British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains on an arm of Kootenay Lake, Nelson went to sleep and awakened with its past intact. Hiking, biking, coffee drinking, and festival attending are popular local pastimes. There are 350 heritage buildings in this town. The Kootenay River is a major tributary of The Columbia that flows into the United States and on to the Pacific Ocean near Astoria. Nelson is close to the part of British Columbia known as The Okanagan. Shortly after we moved to The Northwest, Ruth and I talked to a man from our hometown, St. Louis, whose only regret while taking a scenic train across western Canada was not getting off and exploring a town called Penticton, so Ruth and I made it a goal to learn about this stunningly beautiful region. We have been to and recommend Penticton, the Okanagan’s only real city Kelowna, and Vernon: then move on to Revelstoke, Nelson, and Fernie. Finish in our favorite US time warp town, Port Townsend. You won’t be disappointed by that trip!
The 4th town we hope to return to Akureyri, Iceland’s 2nd city. Only 62 miles south of the Arctic circle, Akureyri has one of the warmest climates in Iceland. We visited in October and its botanical garden was alive with plant life. Another great attraction was Akureyri Lutheran church, which looks like a concrete angel about to take flight. It’s opened in the summer for tourists from June 2 to August 28, but we got lucky. A parishioner showed up and showed us around. The interior is definitely inspired Icelandic. Another great attraction is a restaurant called RUB 23. In a red building downtown, Rub 23 has the right name because each entree is accompanied by several sauces and condiments that the chef has created to enhance every menu choice. Sophisticated Akureyri has half a dozen museums. If we get to return, we will visit, hopefully, in the summer when we can fly north to Grimsey Island, which is on the Arctic Circle. It’s Iceland’s fishing capital and is said to be home to 100 people and 1,000,000 birds.