Storm Glass Barometers Make Great Gifts

Storm Glass Barometer

You may not have heard of them, but you’ll likely be seeing a storm glass barometer in a home or office near you in the coming months and years. First created in the mid-1850s by Admiral Fitzroy of the British Royal Navy, storm glasses are now widely available in various shapes and sizes. If the name Fitzroy rings a bell it’s because his other claim to fame was being the captain of Charles Darwin’s pioneering ship that sailed the Galapagos Islands.

While old Fitzroy may have first promoted storm glass barometers, until recently they were pretty hard to build yourself. Recently, however, a number of merchants have started to offer storm glasses in nice looking gift boxes – much easier than creating one yourself!

What is a storm glass? It’s a glass vessel, often in the form of a large teardrop that contains crystals and ethanol. This makes it act like a traditional barometer that measures air pressure. As the weather changes the crystals dance around in various ways to mimic what’s going on outside. So if it’s about to snow you might see the crystals float up to the top of the liquid and start to fall down to the bottom. Very cool!

The best looking storm glasses that we have found are on the larger size (about a foot tall) with a wooden base. The smaller sizes just don’t seem big enough when placed on a shelf or desk. Amazon has a good selection of storm glasses. There are round ones and pyramid shaped ones, but to our eyes the teardrop shape looks the best.

Expect to pay around $32 for the large size of storm glass barometer. Makes a great office, graduation, or housewarming gift.

Corfu

Visit Old Town of Corfu Greece

Corfu

Corfu

Many ancient cities boast an “old town” but the Old Town of Corfu is a UNESCO world heritage site. The beautifully preserved site is located between two fortresses and showcases a collection of Renaissance, Baroque and Classical styles harnessed to artistic traditions.

Visitors will find palaces, fortresses, ascetic public buildings all united by a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, alleyways, small secluded squares, and lines of laundry drying. These streets are known as “kantoúnia” and offer the feel of visiting Genoa or Naples.

Old Town Corfu

Old Town Corfu

Things to See in Old Town Corfu

Visitors to Old Town enjoy walking the cobblestone streets as they discover a variety of interesting and beautiful places in the city of Corfu.

  • Churches: Corfu offers a number of historic churches. One favorite is the Church of St. Spyridon, the island’s patron Saint, whose relics are said to be kept there. You can easily spot this church by its tall bell tower.
  • Museums: Old Town Corfu features a number of museums including: The Museum of Asian Art, which was founded in 1927 and the Archaeological Museum which showcases important finds from the temple of Artemis as well as finds from the ancient city of Corfu. The Byzantine Museum which is found in the Church of the Virgin Mary Antivouniotissa where you’ll see a collection of iconic religious items from the 15th – 19th century. There’s also the Banknote Museum which features a collection of Greek coinage from 1822 to today, and the Dionysios Solomos Museum.

Fortress Corfu Greece

Fortress Corfu Greece

  • Old Fortress: (and New Fortress which is also old) an impressive 15th century fortress.
  • Spianáda: At the center of the city, Spianáda is the largest square in the Balkans. It’s embellished with 19th-century French architecture and is the place to visit to watch cricket games or attend musical concerts that take place throughout the year. Be sure to visit the Saint Michael and George Palace at the northern part of Spianáda.

If your stay is long enough, it’s also worth visiting the suburbs of Mandoúki, Garitsa and Sarókos.

Photo credits: UNESCO

Sycuan Golf Resort

Sycuan Golf Resort Offers Memorable Golf and More

Sycuan Golf Resort

Sycuan Golf Resort

The Sycuan Golf Resort is found in the tranquil hills of Dehesa Valley in southern California. It was voted “San Diego’s Favorite Golf Course” by readers of the Union Tribune and SignOnSanDiego.com.

It offers 54 holes of award winning golf with three courses, plus it features first-class accommodations, spa services, on-site dining, a cocktail lounge and has a lighted tennis facility.

Sycuan Golf Resort

Unforgettable Golf Experience

Sycuan Golf Resort offers two challenging 18-hole champion golf courses that promise an unforgettable golf experience from start to finish.

These courses are designed with a few surprises along the way and natural features that offer a stunning landscape as you play. A third golf course offers 18 holes of fun to help improve your game.

Willow Glen Course

Willow Glen is a par 72 course that will put your golfing skills to the test. It is known for its arduous, narrow fairways and strategically placed bunkers.

On many holes, the Sweetwater River comes into play as it runs along the course adding an element of difficulty to shots. The course’s layout includes numerous dogleg holes, changes in elevation and water crossings which all combine for an unforgettable day of golf.

Sycuan Golf Resort

Oak Glen Course

The Oak Glen Course in another beautiful par 72 course featuring tight fairways, tricky undulating greens, and tough hazards which are nestled amid mature landscape elements.

The Sweetwater River also runs through this course necessitating an accurate drive on the beautiful yet precarious 5th hole which is considered one of the best golf holes in San Diego.

Pine Glen Course

Pine Glen is also an 18-hole par 3 golf course which makes the perfect choice for those working to fine tune their game. It has a reputation as Southern California’s most challenging par 3 golf course.

Along with three golf courses, the Sycuan Golf Resort also offers specialized Golf Academies geared for adults, children, juniors, couples, or women. They also offer vacation packages that provide access to their three courses as well as a relaxing stay on the hotel’s 425 acres.

The resort is conveniently located just 20 minutes east of San Diego International Airport and has 100 guest rooms and suites which feature views of the golf courses or pools.

Photo credits: Kyle Kraska

Hiking on the Krippenstein

Winter Hiking on Krippenstein

Hiking on the Krippenstein

Krippenstein, Austria, is known for skiing, but it’s a beautiful destination for other winter activities as well.

One favorite is winter hiking which can manifest as a romantic relaxed hike, a photographer’s dream, or a more aerobic endeavor that has hikers tramping through the deeper snow with snow shoes.

Hiking on the Krippenstein

Hiking Options

Krippenstein offers a variety of hiking opportunities. In fact, the options are too many to mention in one article, but the following is a short list of easier hiking tours from the selection of possible hikes of all difficulty levels.

If you’re looking for a hiking route for the entire family, consider the Dachstein mountain plateau which also offers walks with disabled access to mountain tours lasting several hours!

  • Welterbespirale: An easy hike, this starts from the mountain station via the WeltNATURerbeblick viewing platform a few minutes from the Dachstein Krippenstein mountain cable car station. This hike is an easy walk that takes about 15 minutes
  • 5 Fingers: This is another easy hike which is wheelchair accessible. Walk time is about 30 minutes and offers views of the Trauntal valley.
  • Heilbronner Circular Route: This mountain walk is rated medium difficulty and takes about 3 hours overall. Along the way, hikers will have a chance to see the Dachstein shark which demonstrates that the Dachstein massif was once covered by sea water millions of years ago. It also shows there were pre-historic sharks at that time.

Hiking on the Krippenstein

The Weather

Winter weather in Krippenstein, like many places, varies from day to day. Sometimes fog lingers in the valley for the entire day while up on Krippenstein the sun is shining.

And speaking of the sun, for those who enjoy a gorgeous sunset be sure to watch the sunset from the Lodge’s terrace for a unique sight as the setting sun is reflected on the glistening glacier. It’s stunning!

Other Activities

Along with winter hiking, thrill seekers can also try ice climbing, paragliding, and snow-shoe hiking.

As an added benefit, dog owners will find a number of walking opportunities that accommodate their four-legged friends. Dogs are also allowed in the gondola, but only if they wear a muzzle!

Photo credits: Mark Krupa

Sights to See in Bruges, Belgium

Burges

Burges

Bruges, Belgium is a magical town with narrow cobblestone streets, medieval buildings and ornate houses lining intricate canals. It’s a well-preserved medieval town that draws more than two million visitors a year and offers plenty to see.

As you plan your itinerary, start with the Bruges’ Markt (the main square) where you’ll find Bruges’ most distinctive landmark – the Halle with the 83-meter high belfry. It’s considered one of the finest bell towers in Belgium and can be entered via the Halle’s inner courtyard.

Today 47 bells still hang in the belfry, and if you are up to walking 366 steps up you’ll be able to see them for yourself.

Memling Museum

Memling Museum

Memling Museum

Art lovers won’t want to miss the Memling Museum which showcases six exquisite Flemish art masterpieces by Hans Memling (ca. 1430-94). Among the pieces on display, the Reliquary of St. Ursula(1489) recognized as one of the master’s most important works.

The museum itself has an interesting history, too. Built in 1188, the building was once St. John’s Hospital until 1977. Learn about the unique history of this building and enjoy an exhibition of medical objects, furniture, archives, and paintings.

For more art by old Flemish masters, visit the Groeninge Museum located on the Dijver Canal.

Basilica of the Holy Blood

Basilica of the Holy Blood

Basilica of the Holy Blood

The Basilica of the Holy Blood is famous for the crystal vial kept inside which is said to contain a drop of Christ’s blood brought from the Holy Land in 1149. Each May this relic is paraded through the streets of Bruges in the Procession of the Holy Blood.

The architecture of the basilica entrance includes three Flamboyant-style arches and gilded statues erected between 1529 and 1534. On each Friday, the vial containing the Holy Blood is brought out and shown to those in attendance.

Town Hall

On the southeast side of the Burg is Bruges’ Town Hall which is one of the oldest buildings in Belgium. Built between 1376 and 1420, the Town Hall’s facade features a delicate Gothic style with a strong vertical emphasis complete with towering pilasters, three of which end in octagonal turrets which are separated by tall Gothic arched windows.

Whether you walk through the streets of Bruges or take a boat trip along the canals, you’ll fall in love with this medieval town’s charm. If you visit for more than a day, there is plenty more to see and do.

Photo credits: Eduardo Monteiro, rrz518, Guido Vanhaleweyk

Video: Why Airport Security Lines May Get Worse

More travelers are expected to go through security lines, but recent cutbacks in the TSA’s PreCheck programs may mean longer wait times. WSJ’s Scott McCartney discusses with Tanya Rivero. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg