Barcelona is a blaze of lights up during the holidays making it the perfect time to explore the city’s stunning architecture including the famed works of Antoni Gaudi-– the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Casa Batlló. Barcelona, with its Mediterranean climate, makes it the ideal destination during the holidays.
For those who love iconic historic architecture and the ambience of luxury and opulence, the award-winning Majestic Hotel & Spa is the perfect place to stay while enjoying all that the Barcelona, a stunning seaside city known for its gastronomy, culture, vibrant neighborhoods, museums, and so much more including myriad holiday celebrations.
Europe’s Most Vibrant Holiday Spot: Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona
The five-star Majestic Hotel, located in the heart of Passeig de Gràcia, considered to be the city’s most expensive and stunning boulevard, is a vivid part of Barcelona’s holiday celebration, a vivid tapestry of colors, flavors, and festivities, features an array of exclusive offerings. With its spa, outdoor plunge-pool on the rooftop and amazing views of the city, guests are at the heart of the holiday activities including the start of the festivities—the illumination of Passeig de Gràcia, which this year celebrates in 200th anniversary.
“At Majestic Hotel & Spa, we believe in creating magical moments that linger in the hearts of our guests. This holiday season, we invite you to immerse yourself in the splendor of our offerings, where luxury meets tradition, and every detail is designed to enchant,” says Pascal Billard, General Manager at Majestic Hotel & Spa. “It is our pleasure to be part of your celebrations, ensuring a season of joy, warmth, and unparalleled experiences.”
In line with the city’s captivating ambiance, the hotel will serve its traditional holiday program of dinners and brunches and exhibit the next edition of the Wine Dinners, an intimate bi-monthly wine dinner based on a selection of wines from a prominent winery. Majestic Wine Dinners defies the conventional dinner setting. Following the delightful evening with Castell d’Encus, the hotel has already scheduled the next Wine Dinner in collaboration with the Pere Ventura Winery, set to take place on November 16th.
When/Where: Christmas Eve dinner will be served at SOLC Restaurant from 8:00 PM until 10:30 PM.
Cost: The dinner is priced at €120 per person.
When/Where: After a morning of gifts, it’s time to dine at Majestic’s SOLC Restaurant and enjoy its traditional Christmas Gourmet Brunch served from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Cost: €145 for adults and €60 for children.
St Stephen’s Day Brunch:
When/Where: On December 26, the celebrations continue with the traditional St. Stephen’s Day lunch, a unique lunch at SOLC Restaurant served from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Cost: €105 per person.
New Year’s Eve Dinner: Celebrate the beginning of 2024 with a choice of outstanding culinary options.
When/Where: Salon Mediterraneo from 8:30 PM until 3:00 AM
Cost: €385 per person.
When/Where: SOLC Restaurant from 8:30 PM until 3:00 AM
Cost: €585 per person.
New Year’s Brunch:
When/Where: To start the new year on the right foot, indulge in culinary delights at SOLC Restaurant from 11:30 AM until 2:30 PM.
Cost: €75 for adults and €45 for children.
Pop-up Oyster Bar:
When/Where: Enjoy an evening of oysters, caviar, and drinks at Terraza La Dolce Vitae from 6:00 PM until 1:00 AM.
Cost: different options including oysters, caviar and drinks starting from 120€ up to 420€
About Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona
“In the world of great luxury hotels, the old is now the new,” is the perfect description of hotels with such stunning traditions and histories as the neo-classical French style Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona which recently underwent a five-year renovation led by interior designer Antonio Obrador. Since its opening in 1918, the five-star hotel owned by the Soldevila-Casals family has played an exemplary role in Barcelona’s architecture, society, and lifestyle. Its guests included such notable guests such as American writer Ernest Hemingway and Spanish poet Antonio Machado.
With a privileged location in the heart of Barcelona on the ultra-stylish Passeig de Gràcia, the 271-room property is home to an outstanding 1,000-piece art collection with works by artists such as Antoni Tàpies and Josep Guinovart. Under the direction of Michelin star Chef Nandu Jubany, a robust gastronomic offering is highlighted by the Majestic Breakfast Experience, named Europe’s Best Breakfast in 2018 by Prix Villégiature. Additionally, The Leading Hotels of the World, a prestigious organization representing independent luxury hotels from around the world, recognized the property with the Remarkably Uncommon award in 2018; the hotel has been a member of the organization since December 2014. Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona is also home to the city’s largest suite, a 5,000-square-foot penthouse with capacity for six, a dining room, two panoramic terraces and access to a personal butler and chauffeur. www.hotelmajestic.es.
A travel guide for the intellectually curious, Tony Burton’sWestern Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury provides an insider’s entry to this extraordinary region of Mexico. The book, published by Sombrero Press and now in its fourth edition is less about logistics and instead focuses on the myriad of reasons–historical, ecological, cultural, and/or scenic–that make each place featured in this well-written and well-researched book both special and worth visiting.
Burton, an award-winning travel writer, educator, and ecotourism specialist, who was born in the United Kingdom and has an M.A. in geography from the University of Cambridge and a teaching qualification from the University of London, moved to Mexico in 1979 and subsequently was granted Mexican citizenship, looks for the road less traveled.
And in this book, he encourages us to explore the smaller, lesser known community with their many local customs, seasonal celebrations, sites, and events, places that, in his words, “offer a glimpse of the Mexico behind the mask; they are places where Mexico has retained her ancient culture and her ancient traditions.”
Besides that there are ecological wonders, such as Manantlán, the monarch butterflies, the old mining towns of Angangueo and Bolaños, coastal communities like Barra de Navidad and Puerto Vallarta, Angahuan and other Indian villages, and a host of others. He delves into Pueblos Mágicos, designated as Magic Towns by the federal government in recognition of their cultural, historical, and/or ecological significance, their nearness to major cities, and the facilities they offer visitors.
This is a travel guide but of the most intimate kind. We drive with Burton along the lovely road to Tamazula, settled from pre-Columbian times, conquered by the Spanish in 1524, and a vital silver mining town and hacienda center until the mines were worked out by the end of the 18th century. As for its name, well, interestingly enough, it translates to “place of frogs.”
Where to stay when there? Burton recommends Hotel Real de la Loma with its spacious and comfortable rooms and pool and two person tubs in the room filled from a hot-water spring at the foot of a hill. The views from the hotel are of the Tamazula River and its valley made green with sugar-cane. A good time to go for many is during the two-week Our Lady of Sagrario festival.
We learn that Mazamitla is “one of the prettiest towns in all Jalisco. It is a graceful, charming town of cobblestone streets, adobe walls, wooden balconies, old doorways and red-tile roofs, one of Mexico’s Magic Towns. Among its many attractions are the fresh air and scenic beauty of the surrounding countryside, some fine restaurants specializing in Mexican food, and the chance to shop for fresh cream, cheese, and home-made preserves. As befits a mountain town, its inhabitants also make lovely woolen sweaters and ponchos, for sale in the local shops.”
Burton, who has lived in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Jocotepec, has traveled widely, leading educational excursions and specialist ecological tourism groups to both well-known areas such as the Yucatán and Copper Canyon as well as little-known ones like Manantlán and Tingambato. At the former, at the Manantlán Biosphere Reserve visitors can experience the astonishing diversity of plant and animal life found in a cloud forest, one of the rarest types of vegetation anywhere in the world. In the latter, located near the major archaeological site of Tinganio, is one of the few sites in Western Mexico where there are genuine pyramids.
Larger than the previous editions there are dozens of new destinations and each chapter contains new material, updated travel directions, and redrawn maps.
Divided into parts, one and two are within three hours of driving time from either Guadalajara (Mexico’s second city) or nearby Lake Chapala, a popular retirement center for Americans and Canadians making them perfect for day trippers.
Parts 4 to 9 are longer journeys such as the trip to Jungapeo, where director John Huston filmed scenes from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre starring Humphrey Bogart. Here, in this small village, you can stay at Agua Blanca Canyon Resort which dates back to the 1940s. According to Burton, it is a charming spa-hotel with just 20 rooms arranged in the Purépecha Indian style around three sides of the greenest lawn in Mexico. Its pools and lawns overlook the deeply carved valley of the River Tuxpan.
“Many butterfly visitors, after the cool and dusty atmosphere in the fir forests want nothing more than a long soak in a warm tub and this is the ideal place,” he writes.
And, of course, there are the Monarch butterflies. Every winter, some one hundred million monarch butterflies fly into Mexico from the U.S. and Canada. On arrival they congregate in a dozen localities high in the temperate pine and fir forests of the state of Michoacán.
For me, a definite-not-to-be-missed is Zitácuaro, where my culinary hero Diana Kennedy lived. Famous for her cookbooks on Mexican cuisine, she made her home outside of Zitácuaro. And here again, is how deep Burton drills down into his destinations. Kennedy lived near the Rancho San Cayetano, a small, exclusive hotel on the road towards Huetamo and the Del Bosque reservoir.
“The San Cayetano’s charm lies not only in its comfortable rooms but also in its first rate cuisine,” he writes, asking if there could be a better recommendation for the food served there than the fact that Diana Kennedy regularly brought friends to dine in the hotel?
For aficionados of Mexican food, there are several outstanding restaurants to put on the list of where to go.
“Neither of my two favorites is well known to tourists, hence their inclusion here,” writes Burton. “Next to the gas station in Pátzcuaro, where the highway from Morelia and Quiroga enters the town, is the Camino Real restaurant where Sopa Tarasca, a local specialty which is a bean-based version of tortilla soup, has to be tasted to be believed.
Whatever you choose in this unpretentious restaurant, you will not be disappointed,” he writes. “The Camino Real has a sister restaurant, the Real del Cobre, in Santa Clara del Cobre.
My other favorite is an hour’s drive away, in the unpretentious town of Tacámbaro. Near the entrance to the town is the Hotel-Restaurant El Molino (The Mill), housed in a museum-piece nineteenth century flour mill, complete with grinding wheels. Simply and artistically decorated and furnished, this hotel-restaurant’s fixed-price comida features slightly finer cuisine than that of the Camino Real, with more subtle sauces and a more varied menu.”
Whether your interests are in art, architecture and/or archaeology; fiestas and folklore; unusual sights and natural wonders, or in Indian villages and indigenous handicrafts, Burton’s book is your guide to Western Mexico’s many hidden treasures.
Burton encourages opening up to new places and experiences.
“With an open mind ‘gems’ can be found everywhere in Western Mexico,” says Burton. “My greatest hope is that my book encourages readers to explore and find their own hidden gems.”
Pati Jinich’s Sopa Tarasca
½ of a medium onion
1 Cubanelle or Anaheim pepper stemmed, seeded chopped
⅓ cup chopped red bell pepper
⅓ cup roughly chopped cilantro
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3 oz. lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 oz. orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. dried oregano
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil
1 ½ lbs. flank steak
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. minced garlic
2 large green plantains
canola oil for frying
8 slices of American cheese
8 slices of ripe red tomato
Shredded head lettuce
Add the first 13 ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. With the motor running slowly drizzle in the oil.
Put steak in a glass baking dish or large Ziplock bag. Pour marinade over steak. Marinate refrigerated for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to grill, build a hot hardwood charcoal fire or preheat gas grill. Remove steak from marinade, removing excess. Grill over high heat for about 5 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile make tostones. Heat about an inch of oil in a large skillet to 350°F.
Cut the ends off plantains. Cut the peel along a seam lengthwise then peel starting at the cut. Cut plantains in half crosswise and then again lengthwise so there are eight equal pieces.
Fry plantains for about 4 minutes until cooked through, remove to paper towels.
Place a plantain piece on a cutting board covered with waxed paper. Fold paper over the plantain and smash flat with another cutting board or heavy skillet. Flatten all eight pieces.
Return plantains to hot oil and fry until crisp, about another 4 minutes. Remove to paper towels, season with salt.
Make garlic butter by melting 2 tbsp. butter, then stirring in 2 tbsp. minced garlic. Garlic is meant to be raw.
Thinly slice flank steak on a bias, against the grain.
Spread 4 tostones generously with mayonnaise. Layer on sliced steak. Top each with 2 slices of cheese, two slices of tomato and shredded lettuce. Top each sandwich with remaining tostones and spoon a little garlic butter over the top.
Going batty, bat guano crazy, bats in the belfry–these are a few of the less than enduring terms applied to what may be one of nature’s most misunderstood creatures, often depicted by myths, books, and movies as being ruthless, bloodthirsty and generally not fun or cudddly at all. Well, we have to agree there’s nothing cuddly about bats. Weird looking creatures who like to sleep upside down in caves and trees, but as far as we know they’ve never driven anyone crazy or indulged in any vampire blood drinking throwdowns. Instead consider this: Bats are incredibly important to the ecosystem and by pollinating plants and eliminating pests, they save American farmers billions of dollars a year by preventing crop damage and helping eliminate the cost of pesticides.
So why not pay homage to these winged creatures during International Bat Week that runs from October 24th to, appropriately enough, October 31st better known as Halloween making it a perfect time for a bat road trip. Yes, you read that correctly.
Yes, the name says it all. The cave is absolutely mammoth … the longest and largest cave system in the entire world and one of the oldest tour attractions in North America with some 426 miles have been explored and at least another 600 miles to go. In other words, as huge as it seems, less than half of the cave is what you see. Rangers are on hand for guided tours through what is one of the oldest tour attractions in North America and are experts at pointing out all the wildlife on the property. That, of course, includes bats. A total of 13 types of bats have been confirmed at this national park, with two other species reported but so far that hasn’t been confirmed.
But don’t look for all the bats in the cave. Sure some are including species that live in the cave while waiting to give birth or during their very long winter naps–a hibernation lasting from mid-October to mid-April. Other species choose to hang out (and we do mean hang) in trees, under bridges, and the eves of buildings around the park.
The federal government had declared that three of Mammoth’s bat species are either “threatened” or “endangered.” Both the Indiana bat and grey bat are considered endangered; the northern long-eared bat is threatened.
Scientists at the national park constantly monitor the health of the bat populations, and the parks hosts occasional public “Bat Nights” at which visitors are invited to watch as bats are captured from the cave, assessed and released.
Immerse yourself in all things bats by becoming a Bat Biologist during Mammoth Cave’s annual Bat Night.
Because Lost River has a body of water inside the cave, it’s prone to dampness and flooding … which doesn’t work for bats.
Occasionally a young male bat will enter the cave looking for love … but when he doesn’t find a girlfriend, he heads back out.
Then head to Marvel Cave, the deepest cave in Missouri (383 feet below the ground at its deepest point) which today is located near the entrance to Silver Dollar City, one of the nation’s most celebrated theme parks. Interestingly, the park evolved from the cave, which was Branson’s first tourist attraction.
The Osage Indians discovered the cave around 1500 and was regularly explored starting in the late 1800s by miners searching for marble and lead. What they found instead was lots and lots of bat guano. You might be thinking that’s a load of crap but consider this. Bat guano at the time was used for both fertilizer and ammunition and for those willing to mine it, the payoff was $700 a ton or more than $20,000 in today’s dollars) per ton. Yes, back in the day, you could get rich off bat poop!
Missouri is nicknamed “The Cave State,” and that means it’s also home to lots of bats. Of the 46 species found in this country, a third – 16 – call Missouri home. Of the 16, four species live in Marvel Cave, including two types of brown bats, plus tricolor bats and endangered gray bats. But, unfortunately, because of disease, pollution, and pesticides, the bat population inside the cave is about a tenth of what it used to be. These days, there are only approximately 40,000 bats at Marvel Cave.
The best time to see them is during the last two tours of the day. During those evening tours, guests stand a good chance of seeing bats in the cave’s Mammoth Room and Cathedral Room.
Silver Dollar City loves its bats and pays homage to them at its annual Harvest Festival where pumpkins are carved to look like bats.
Bat Facts*: Gaining an Appreciation for Fascinating Flying Mammals
🦇Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight. (Take that, “flying” squirrels! You guys glide, not fly.)
🦇There are more than 1,400 bat species around the world, with 46 species found in the United States.
🦇Since bats are mammals, they give birth to live young. A baby bat is called a “pup,” and most mamas give birth to just one per pregnancy.
🦇Bats clean themselves much like cats do. They spend a lot of time grooming … so they always look good for the humans who get those rare glimpses of them!
🦇You’ve heard the term “blind as a bat.” Compared to other animals, bats do have very poor eyesight. But they more than make up for that by having incredible hearing and amazing brains.
🦇Most bats are nocturnal, so they have special adaptations that help them get around and find food in the dark. They can fly fast and track small prey using “echolocation.” This means they emit high-frequency sounds that bounce off objects. They listen for those echoes and then their brains interpret the sounds so they can figure out what the object is. This is what allows them to avoid crashing into things (and each other) while grabbing insects to munch on mid-air.
🦇If you have mosquito problems in your backyard (if you have a pool back there, for example) but are hesitant to use pesticides, consider taking the natural route and using bats to combat the pests. You can make a “bat house” to try to attract them. A bat can eat its body weight in insects in each night … and that can be up to 600 mosquitos!
🦇Climate change is making life incredibly difficult for bats. Heat waves and droughts cause overheating and starvation; wildfires destroy habitats; storms and heavy rainfall impact caves and flood bat roosts; and freezing temperatures block cave entrances or cause bats to freeze to death.
🦇A big risk for bats today is “white-nose syndrome,” a fungal disease that spread rapidly up and down the East Coast and has now moved across the country. The fungus, which appears as a white, fuzzy growth on the nose, doesn’t kill the bat. But the itching from the fungus causes bats to wake up during their hibernation – when there are no insects to eat – and results in the bat slowly starving to death. Though scientists have tried several ways to help bats build an immunity to the fungus, bat populations have plummeted in recent years.
*Facts provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior; National Park Service; and Marvel Cave guide Vivian Ireland, who referred to “Bats of Missouri” by Justin Boyles, John Timpone and Lynn Robins for Indiana State University Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation.
8 ounce frozen whole kernel corn (Fresh corn is certainly an option in this recipe)
8 ounce yellow summer squash
8 ounce diced/chunked chicken (pre-cooked)
4 ounce green peppers
4 ounce of onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Butter flavored Vegetable Oil, as needed
1 Saute onions and peppers with butter flavored vegetable oil. Remove from the skillet. Saute chicken in the same skillet with oil. Remove after heating thoroughly. Saute corn and squash in the same skillet with oil. Remove.
2 Fry okra in skillet until golden brown. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. When okra is done begin adding all the ingredients back into the skillet until reheated to desired temperature.
Photos courtesy of Silver Dollar City, Mammoth National Park, and Marvel Cave.
The sun will soon set on peak summer season in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, and though the destination is known for its pristine beaches and fun in the summertime, we’re excited to share the many reasons why it’s also a great place to visit in all the OTHER seasons. If we listed out all those reasons, we estimate that you’d be reading a short novel … because there’s an incredible array of experiences available outside the summer season. So instead, we’re sharing two big reasons to visit each season. We hope you’ll want to learn more, and we encourage you to connect with us if the idea of hitting the beach outside of June, July and August appeals to you.
Fall: Mild temperatures, fewer crowds, and fantastic festivals give Gulf Shores and Orange Beach autumn appeal.
Easy Access to Sand & Sustenance: With its colorful sunsets, fall is an amazing time to enjoy 32 miles of sugar-white sandy beaches and the clear – still warm – waters of the Gulf of Mexico without the summer crowds. There’s also less competition for reservations and shorter wait times at the destination’s long list of incredible restaurants. Sure, you could say this about any destination’s “off” season, but it’s especially important here because there are so many fabulous and beloved culinary offerings. One such standout is Jesse’s Restaurant, which opened its second location on Fort Morgan this year. Offering casual fine dining, Jesse’s on the Bay is known for its steaks, fresh local seafood and signature entrees.
Festivals & Events: While Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are home to great events throughout the year, there are a few standout festivals worthy traveling to each fall.
The 50th Annual Shrimp Festival, which features 50 local and regional vendors, will be held October 12-15 in Gulf Shores. Festival attendees will find shrimp just about any way you can think of it.
After a successful launch last year, The Hangout Seafood Festival presented by Murder Point Oysters will be serving up the half shells for a second year on November 3 and 4. This culinary weekend features chef and farm demos, live music, oyster shucking, and samplings of oysters, shrimp, gumbo, jambalaya and more.
Winter: With monthly averages between 50 and 60 degrees, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offers mild winter temperatures so you can still enjoy the great outdoors.
Birding: Thanks to its prime location along the Mississippi Flyway migration route, Gulf Shores is a popular destination for birders. During the winter migration, birders might spot bald eagles in Gulf State Park and other sites. As part of a larger statewide birding initiative, the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail features six birding loops totaling 200 miles along the Gulf Coast. With snowbird clubs, events and deals, the destination welcomes flocks of human snowbirds, too!
Golf on the Gulf: With mild winters and great shoulder-season rates, golfing on the area’s 15 courses is a year-round sport. Course terrain ranges from lush foliage of nature preserves to courses that overlook the Gulf. Among the course designers are such legendary names as Arnold Palmer, Bruce Devlin, Jerry Pate and Earl Stone.
Spring:The temperatures in this season often make it feel like summer, but visitors can beat the summer crowds and prices by going to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach between March and May.
Spring Break: Planning ahead for spring break, the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach community caters to families in a variety of ways:
Rules: The destination truly caters to families … so much so that alcohol has been banned on the beach during the spring break schedules of most major colleges and universities for the past seven years.
Accommodations: The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton property, is one of the world’s leading eco-friendly hotels. It’s also family-friendly, with one-third of its guestrooms featuring built-in bunk beds.
Activities: A can’t-miss family activity is Sand Castle University, where families can build a sand castle under expert supervision.
Explore Gulf State Park: This is one that can (and should!) be explored any time of year, but spring is an especially good time. Each April, in celebration of Earth Day, the park hosts special programs and celebrations to showcase its incredible sustainability efforts. This park is an especially good place to get a handle on this fascinating coastal region that’s home to nine different ecosystems. In the past few years alone, the 6,150-acre park has restored its sand dunes; expanded its Backcountry Trail to 28 miles; and constructed an Interpretive Center.
As an original supporter of the National Book Festival, C-SPAN’s Book TV is contributing the following for this year’s event – held on Saturday, August 12, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center: • live coverage of author interviews and panel discussions. • lengthy live call-in interviews with nonfiction authors on location from the grand lobby. • 20,000 totes promoting both the Library of Congress and C-SPAN’s Book TV available to Festivalgoers. • public access to its video coverage via C-SPAN’s online archives at C-SPAN.org.
C-SPAN’s Book TV has been providing live, in-depth, uninterrupted coverage of the National Book Festival – and partnering with the Library of Coverage on promotion – since the event began on September 8, 2001.
Book TV’s LIVE coverage has taken C-SPAN’s audience to the Festival’s various venues – U.S. Capitol grounds (2001), a vast tent city on the National Mall (2002-2013), an expo-style event in the Washington Convention Center (2014-2019), a virtual event during the pandemic (2020-2021), and back to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (2022).
Book TV’s extensive coverage of nonfiction authors appearing at the National Book Festival kicks off the network’s coverage of book fairs held throughout the country in the fall. And the celebration of C-SPAN’s 25 years of Book TV will launch from this year’s festival.
About Book TV: Book TV – Sundays on C-SPAN2 – is the only television service dedicated to nonfiction books. Book TV features programming on a rich variety of topics, such as history, biography, politics, current events, the media and more. Watch author interviews, book readings and coverage of the nation’s largest book fairs. Every Sunday on C-SPAN2 starting 8 am ET or online anytime at booktv.org. Use that website as well to connect with Book TV via social media and the email newsletter.
About C-SPAN: C-SPAN, the public affairs network providing Americans with unfiltered access to congressional proceedings, was created in 1979 as a public service by the cable television industry and is now funded through fees paid by cable and satellite companies that provide C-SPAN programming. C-SPAN connects with millions of Americans through its three commercial-free TV networks, C-SPAN Radio, C-SPAN Podcasts, the C-SPAN Now app, C-SPAN.org and various social media platforms.
The network’s video-rich website contains over 270,000 hours of searchable and shareable content. Engage with C-SPAN on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and stay connected through weekly and daily newsletters.
Full 2023 National Book Festival Book TV Coverage Schedule, Saturday Aug. 12 9amET Interview Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden
The Library of Congress National Book Festival now includes the year-round series of events – National Book Festival Presents – featuring high-caliber authors, their books and corresponding Library treasures. For more literary programs and book-related events, visit the poetry and literature events calendar.
From Hoosier History Live the Award Winning Show by Nelson Price; Produced by Molly Head.
“I love that there are still inns where Lincoln stayed,” says travel writer Jane Ammeson, who has been a popular Roadtrip correspondent on Hoosier History Live for several years.Although her radio reports, magazine articles and books cover a range of historic topics, Jane has narrowed her focus in her newest book,Lincoln Road Trip: The Back-Roads Guide to America’s Favorite President (Red Lightning Books).As most Hoosiers know, Abraham Lincoln grew up in southern Indiana. As a 7-year-old, he and his family moved from Kentucky to the wilderness area that became Spencer County; the Lincolns arrived in 1816, the same year Indiana achieved statehood.We will reach beyond the boundaries of Indiana when Jane joins Nelson as a studio guest to explore some of the inns, homes, mills and recreated historic sites with a connection to Lincoln (1809-1865), his extended family and the historical events associated with his life.
Our itinerary for the show will include traveling to Kentucky to explore the Old Talbott Tavern in Bardstown, which opened as an inn in 1779. Abe Lincoln was about five when he stayed at the inn; according to Lincoln Road Trip, it is considered “one of the oldest taverns in continuous operation in the United States and the oldest stagecoach stop west of the Allegheny Mountains.”
Guests at an inn in Corydon, Indiana’s first state capital, included Josiah Lincoln, Abe’s uncle. Josiah (the brother of Thomas Lincoln, father of the future president) visited the Kintner Tavern after he moved to Harrison County to establish a 160-acre farm near Corydon in the early 1800s, according to Lincoln Road Trip. Although the original tavern was destroyed by a fire, its owner, Jacob Kintner, later opened the Kintner House Inn, which still stands. And here’s another Lincoln-connected bit of trivia about Harrison County: Because there are no direct descendants remaining of Abraham Lincoln – the last, his great-grandson Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, died in 1985 – descendants of Josiah Lincoln are considered, as Jane puts it, “among the closest living kin of the greatest American president.”
Many of Josiah Lincoln’s descendants continue to live in Harrison County or nearby.Thousands of visitors from across the country have seen the burial sites of Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, and his older sister, Sarah Lincoln Grigsby, at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Spencer County. The site includes a recreation of the log cabin the Lincolns built when they moved to the Little Pigeon Creek settlement in the wilderness. “It was a region with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods,” Lincoln recalled later in life. “There I grew up.”Our guest Jane Ammeson notes that the Lincoln family was related through marriage to the extended family of frontier explorer Daniel Boone. So Lincoln Road Trip highlights historic sites associated with the Boones, which we also will explore during our show.
These sites include Squire Boone Caverns in Harrison County, which Jane describes as a “magical and mystical” cave system with an underground waterfall. Squire Boone, Daniel’s younger brother, lived near the caverns in southeastern Indiana for the final 11 years of his life. When he died in 1815 at age 71, Squire Boone asked his children to bury him in one of the passageways of the cave system.
Today, Squire Boone Caverns is a popular tourist attraction, and visitors often stop in the area that includes his casket.Also during our show, we will explore the Colonel William Jones State Historic Site near the town of Gentryville in southwestern Indiana. Jones ran a general store during Abe Lincoln’s teenage years, employing him as a clerk and discussing political issues with him. After the Lincoln family moved to Illinois, Abe Lincoln spent the night at Jones’ house during a return visit to Indiana.During the Civil War, Jones was killed at the Battle of Atlanta in 1864, his former clerk serving as commander-in-chief. The house in Gentryville, which Jones designed in the Federal style, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A special post from guest blogger and cruise specialist Kathy Witt takes us aboard for a most unique cruise experience.
An embalmer’s technical reference handbook—and the machine that accompanies it. The exquisitely sculpted ballerina from “Black Swan” standing en pointe. And a mythical harbinger of doom that evolved into the centerpiece of an annual festival attended by 20,000 people from around the world.
One of the biggest draws of a river excursion with American Queen Voyages (besides the luxury-level experience, genuinely friendly crew and outstanding cuisine) are all the unexpected surprises on the itinerary. As the vessel calls at one charming river town after another, a mix of highlights—museums, bustling markets, scenic parks, historic homes, Main Street shopping—offer variety and allure. The specific attractions of a given destination are detailed during a daily port review, and all are included as part of the line’s guided hop-on hop-off tours.
Especially intriguing are discoveries aboard the American Countess’ Ohio River voyage between Louisville, KY, and Pittsburg, PA, that include a taboo topic, a creature from the paranormal realm and one of the world’s finest collections of miniatures.
Wander through the Palladian-style gallery filled with miniature houses, room boxes and vignettes—each showcasing exquisite and historically accurate re-creations right down to the tiny accessories, like a pair of vintage roller skates and a key to tighten them; building materials such as bricks on the Russell Theater’s exterior; and authentic carpets made on real looms.
In the “Lincoln Herndon Law Office,” the artisan room box replicates the office Abraham Lincoln shared with his partner, right down to the miniscule handwritten documents scattered across the desktop. The necklaces, bracelets and baubles in the “Savage & Sons Jewelers” room box are made with authentic gold, gems and crystals. Tiny copper pots and pans hang from the wall in the kitchen of “Le Plaisir De Venice” and itty-bitty puppets dance at the end of strings held by the toymaker in “McTavish Toys & Fairy Garden.”
The collection’s pièce de résistance is the re-creation of Spencer House, the magnificent eighteenth-century aristocratic palace and ancestral home of Princess Diana. Three floors showcase the fine furnishings and decorative arts objects that are true to the mid-1700s era and the exterior replicates the home’s neo-classical architecture.
RUN, DON’T WALK: IT’S MOTHMAN!
“What stands six feet tall, has wings, two big red eyes six inches apart and glides along behind an auto at 100 miles an hour?” asked reporter Mary Hyre in a November 1966 newspaper article. Hyre was covering the spectral sighting of a creature that became known as the Mothman, first seen hovering over an abandoned government WWII ammunition manufacturing facility—dubbed the TNT area—north of Point Pleasant, WVA, and later dubbed a harbinger of doom.
Coverage of Mothman sightings held the nation in its grip for more than a year. Every time the winged creature was spotted, tragedy seemed to follow in its wake, including the Silver Bridge collapse 10 days before Christmas in 1967, which resulted in the deaths of 46 people. The sightings spawned dozens of newspaper articles; a New York Times bestselling book, The Mothman Prophecies, written by journalist and UFOlogist John A. Keel; the 2002 movie of the same name, starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney; and a 2017 documentary, “The Mothman of Point Pleasant.”
The legend of the Mothman is recounted at the world’s only Mothman Museum. Memorabilia includes a recreation of Harris Steakhouse—considered a time capsule of 1960s Point Pleasant—which would eventually become known as the Mothman Diner. The museum’s small theater runs the documentary on a loop.
Outside, a 12-foot-tall, polished steel sculpture of Mothman standing atop a landscaped pedestal shows off his claws and glowing red eyes. And every third week in September, 20,000-plus visitors from around the world converge on Point Pleasant for the Mothman Festival (www.mothmanfestival.com).
‘KEEP EXERCISING. WE CAN WAIT.’
A little gallows humor framed and hanging on the wall of the garage greets those arriving at the Peoples Mortuary Museum. Tucked in a residential neighborhood in Marietta, Ohio, it was one of the most unexpected stops on American Countess’ itinerary—and a real eye-opener for those who braved a visit.
The museum began as a place for William Peoples, current owner of and a funeral director at Cawley & Peoples Funeral Home, to store his antique car collection. Peoples had a particular interest in hearses and several of them are parked in the museum among the caskets, funeral equipment and clothing, mourning jewelry and other artifacts.
The collection dates back to the late 1800s, when funerals were typically held in private homes and the collection’s ice box coffin would have been the casket of choice. (Embalming wasn’t yet the customary practice.) An infant’s coffin illustrates the design—narrow at the feet and wider at the shoulders—that got it dubbed the “toe pincher.” It is fitted with a small removable cover for viewing and fancy hardware, including ornamental screws and handles, to allow a more personal touch to the coffin.
Also in the collection are a Sayers & Scovill Horse-Drawn Hearse from 1895, a 1934 Studebaker Presidential Hearse and a 1927 Henney Hearse called “Miss Henney” that has appeared in several Hollywood movies, including Woody Allen’s “Radio Days,” Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Get Low,” a 2009 movie with Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray.
SEE THE TREASURES OF SMALL-TOWN AMERICA
American Queen Voyages’ 245-passenger American Countess is a paddlewheel boat with contemporary design. Photo: Karan Kiser
Book an American Queen Voyage (AQV) to find the unexpected in America’s river towns. Besides including unlimited guided tours/shore excursions, AQV cruise fares include unlimited beverages, including wine, spirits, local craft beers and specialty coffees; open bars and lounges, including a morning juice bar; locally sourced and regionally inspired cuisine; and live, daily onboard entertainment—which is among the very best on any body of water anywhere—plus enrichment programming
AQV also now includes pre-paid gratuities and port taxes and fees in its fares. Additionally, a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay with free transfers between hotel and vessel is part of the cruise package.
Voyages are on authentic paddlewheel riverboats, boutique exploration vessels and expedition ships on America’s inland waterways and Great Lakes and shores from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to the Yucatán Peninsula and Alaska.
Award-winning writer Kathy Witt is a monthly cruise, travel columnist and the author of several books, including Cincinnati Scavenger: The Ultimate Guide to Cincinnati’s Hidden Treasures and Secret Cincinnati: Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure.
Special Guest Blogger Kathy Witt, an award winning author and journalist, takes us on a trip to historic Salem, Massachusetts in the following post:
Enter the rustic kitchen at Daniels House and step through a portal into late 1600s Salem, known then as Salem Town. Ritual protection marks are etched into the wood of the heavy door—the double V for Blessed Virgin Mary and the Blessed B—to protect the house and those who lived within its walls from evil spirits.
The fire in the massive open-hearth fireplace would have burned round the clock, licking at heavy cookpots and kettles. The house, built 350 years ago by a sea captain, sheltered its occupants from sun and rain, but it was sweltering in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. When night fell, the room was plunged into darkness, the only light source the flames of the candles burning down in their candlestands.
“If you want to know what it was like to live in Salem during the Witch Trials of 1692, this room is it,” said Vijay Joyce, whose background is in architectural history and historic preservation.
Joyce developed and conducts the tours and events that take place at Daniels House, www.danielshousesalem.com, including the new interactive “Inside the Daniels House” tour where visitors are treated to a full sensory experience: seeing the conditions in which the home’s former occupants worked, lived, played and prayed; hearing the stories of neighbor turning on neighbor; touching the China, sitting on the furniture, stepping into an abyss of darkness on the root cellar’s stacked granite stairs; smelling peppercorns—a highly prized seasoning proudly displayed on front parlor table; tasting strong and smoky Souchong black tea, a favorite brew among New England seamen.
Salem’s story is best enjoyed on tours like “Inside the Daniels House.” From candlelight, kid and trolley tours to movie sites, foodie and ghost tours, there is no shortage of ways to walk into Salem’s past—and no two experiences are alike.
On Witch City Walking Tours, www.witchcitywalkingtours.com, see what is considered Salem’s most haunted building. It sits on the site of the jail, where Sheriff George Corwin once interrogated, tortured and carried out the death sentence for those accused of witchcraft.
Stop by Witch House, former home of Witch Trial Judge Jonathan Corwin (the sheriff’s uncle), one of the few structures in Salem with direct ties to the trials. Hear the story of the tween and teenage girls who set in motion one of America’s darkest chapters, where 19 innocent people were hanged at the gallows and one (Giles Corey) was pressed to death.
“Twelve-year-old Ann Putnam accused 60 people herself,” said tour guide Jeremiah Hakundy.
On Spellbound Tours, www.spellboundtours.com, founder, guide and professional paranormal investigator Dr. Vitka takes visitors through the streets at night to share the supernatural side of Salem—tales of vampirism and paranormal activity, of hauntings and horrors related to one of the cruelest of Witch Trial judges, John Hathorne, and a young girl who may have been buried alive. Pray you don’t see the specter of Giles Corey at the very site he was pressed to death at the age of 81.
“Legend says that when his ghost walks, tragedy follows close behind,” warned Vitka.
Salem’s newest hotel is the Hampton Inn Salem Boston, www.hilton.com, featuring a bright, modern feel and an ideal location within walking distance of all Salem’s restaurants, shops and attractions. Among amenities are an indoor pool, fitness center and attached heated garage with valet parking. The third-floor breakfast area is clean and well maintained and has individual booth seating, each with its own flatscreen television.
Besides presenting a number of outstanding tours—including “Terror Next Door,” which takes place through August and focuses specifically on the Salem Witch Trials—the Daniels House, www.danielshousesalem.com, is also a bed and breakfast inn. In fact, it is America’s oldest bed and breakfast inn, offering four individually decorated guestrooms—each expressing a different facet of the house’s history. A Continental breakfast is served in the atmospheric settings of the antique-laden front parlor and the ancient kitchen, the oldest parts of the home.
Drop by Turner’s Seafood, www.turners-seafood.com, for a crabcake appetizer and a Smoked Old Fashioned. The restaurant, famous for seafood entrées like Wild Atlantic Haddock Piccata, Hake Marsala Dinner, made with local Gloucester hake, a mild white fish, and a seafood medley featuring local haddock and sea scallops, is located in historic Lyceum Hall. This coveted piece of land is presumed to have once belonged to Bridget Bishop—until she was accused of being a witch.
Witch City’s Walking Tours’ Hakundy summed up the plight for those accused: “Half the village accused the other half—that is, the half who had land. A couple days after you were accused, all your property would be sold at auction, while you were sitting in jail awaiting trial.”
Other fun foodie stops: Lulu’s Bakery and Pantry, www.lulusbakeryandpantry.com, for chocolate croissants and lattes; Red Line Café , www.redlinecafesalem.com, for ham and cheese crepes; and American Flatbread, www.americanflatbread.com, spread out in a former Goodyear tire repair shop and offering candle pin bowling alley and monster flatbreads with flavor combos like maple fennel sausage, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and caramelized onions topped with mozzarella and parmesan, garlic oil and herbs.
Treat: Grab a table at artisanal chocolate shop, Kakawa Chocolate House, www.kakawachocolates.com, for a flight of chocolate elixirs and a tasting that is velvety-smooth exquisiteness. Drawing on chocolate’s long history, Kakawa’s chocolatiers recreate original Mesoamerican, European and Colonial chocolate elixir recipes: Tzul, a rich mix of dark chocolate and caramelized milk chocolate; French lavender, highly scented, exotic and semisweet; Zapoteca, complex, unspiced, bittersweet—less and less sweet as the elixirs move toward 100 percent real chocolate.
The elixirs are paired with house-made whipped cream, light, fluffy and delicious. All the historic elixirs as well as the artisan chocolates, ice cream, milkshakes and other sweet treats are handmade onsite, and exclusively in small batches.
Part of the fun of being in Salem is immersing yourself in its history through its many tours as well as museums, including the Salem Witch Museum, www.salemwitchmuseum.com, where illuminated dioramas draw visitors into Salem’s dark period, and the Witch Dungeon Museum, www.witchdungeon.com/witchdungeon.html, with its dramatic live performance of a witch trial adapted and created from historical transcripts from 1692.
Equally enthralling are attractions like Court Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, a wax museum of filmdom’s monsters—Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera, Halloween villain Michael Myers, Bette Midler’s Winifred Sanderson of Hocus Pocus, parts of which were filmed in Salem—and indie bookstores like Wicked Good Books, www.wickedgoodbookstore.com.
“Especially with history, knowing something about what you hope to see and experience before you go makes the reality more understandable once you get there,” said Roach, currently working on Six Men of Salem. “In reading about these women, I hope readers will see the characters as real people rather than stereotypes or symbols, individual human personalities. I also hope the setting makes more sense to the readers, that the difficult circumstances of their times make better sense of their different reactions both wrong and right.”
No matter how the narrative unfolds, Salem bewitches with its blend of mystery and magic, myth and the macabre.
Kakawa Chocolate House, a specialty chocolate company located in the beautiful high desert town of Santa Fe, New Mexico, describes their passion is authentic and historic drinking chocolates elixirs. Historic drinking chocolate elixirs include traditional Pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican, Mayan and Aztec drinking chocolate elixirs; 1600’s European drinking chocolate elixirs, Colonial American and Colonial Mexican drinking chocolate elixirs. Kakawa Chocolate House drinking chocolate elixirs are representative of these historic recipes and span the time period 1000 BC to the mid-1900s AD.
“If you were visiting friends in Mexico you might be served a frothy concoction like the recipe below which has been made in one version or another for, literally hundreds of years,” said Kakawa Chocolate House owner Bonnie Bennett. “Feel free to tweak for your tastes; that is part of the fun, and each family will make it slightly different.” Makes four servings.
3.5 cups of whole milk – If you prefer dairy-free, substitute unsweetened Almond milk.
6 oz of rough chopped dark chocolate, at least 65%, and 70% is ideal or up to 80%. Buy the highest quality cacao you can as this will dramatically change the taste and texture.
2.5 TBSP of finely chopped or ground Piloncillo sugar, a traditional Mexican brown sugar often found in cone shapes, or substitute coconut sugar or honey (3 TBSP).
2 TBSP Canela (Mexican cinnamon)
1 tsp of vanilla
1/3 tsp ancho chili powder – You can also use traditional Guajillo, which is milder, or reduce amount. If you prefer more heat, use cayenne chili powder.
Warm the milk slowly on the stovetop. Do not boil. Once very warm, add sugar, Canela and chili. With a whisk, mix and blend these into the milk mixture, continue blending until sugar is incorporated. Allow mixture to continue to warm further, until steam begins to come off the surface but just before a boil.
Turn the stove off and add chocolate and vanilla, blend until chocolate has melted and all ingredients are mixed.
Create a froth with vigorous whisking, either with a traditional Molinillo or a conventional whisk. The froth is a delicious part of a traditional Mexican hot chocolate.
Divide into cups and serve. Fresh whipped cream or even 1 oz of Kahlua coffee liqueur (for an adult-only version) can be added at this stage if you like.
SATW Society of American Travel Writers│Authors Guild