Every spring, members from the small town of Elmvale wake up from hibernation to the smell of pancakes and one of Ontario’s best maple syrup festivals. Maple syrup vendors line the streets, handing out samples from this year’s batch. If you’re new to this world of liquid gold, a Sugar Bush tour is a must! This year you could visit Greenlaw Maples or Lalonde’s Sugar Bush and children under 12 can visit for free. Here you learn about all the hard work that goes into making maple syrup, how much sap it takes to make a one litre bottle of syrup, and are taught why you must always refrigerate it.
No small town festival is complete without a main stage featuring local talent, a log sawing competition and naturally, a pancake eating contest. After the initial sugar rush wears off you enjoy the fact that spring is here and summer is just around the corner.
Vianden is a one street town in Luxembourg where Victor Hugo found refuge after being expelled from Belgium in 1871. “Vianden, he wrote, embedded in a splendid landscape, will be visited one day by tourists from the whole of Europe, attracted both by its sinister but magnificent ruin and by its cheerful and happy people.” At the top of one of the many hills surrounding the town is Vianden Castle, the main attraction site of the town. The castle is one of the largest residences from the Romanesque and Gothic period built on the foundation of a roman fort from the 11th to the 14th century.
It’s a very affordable place to visit only costing 4.50 € for students (under 25) to walk through. You are guided through 18 different rooms and for a detailed explanation of all of them check out their website. My personal favourite was The Byzantine Gallery pictured to the left. Six windows face the valley while four face the west side of the castle. The most interesting room was the chapel. It was located in the tower and consisted of two floors and an open middle. This was so us commoners and servants could follow the religious ceremonies without endangering or bothering the count’s family who would sit on the upper level.