19 December 2014

In search of Christmas: Where spectral lights brighten dark winter nights—Norway

The dazzling display of the Northern Lights over Tromsø, Norway. Photo: Mark Robinson.
The dazzling display of the Northern Lights over Tromsø, Norway. Photo: Mark Robinson.

God Jul!

In search of Christmas this year brings us to the land where mystical northern lights dazzle the nights of winter while echoes of Nordic traditions resound throughout the valleys of the fjords—welcome to Christmas in Norway and with that, I wish you God Jul or Glædelig Jul (Good Christmas or Happy Christmas).

Blogger Tricks

30 October 2014

A Visit to Gstaad, Switzerland

Welcome to Gstaad, Switzerland. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Welcome to Gstaad, Switzerland. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

According to legend, it was God's hand that created Switzerland's Saanenland region when He set it down to rest while creating the rest of the world. His imprint became the valleys and within His fingers, nine enchanting villages cradled within Alpine grandeur—chief among them is Gstaad. Located in Bernese Oberland (Highlands) in Switzerland's southwestern Alps, nearly smack dab in between Zurich and Geneva, Gstaad is renowned for its popularity among the royals, celebrities and jet set.

05 October 2014

Falling in love with Europe at the movies

Peles Castle in Romania plays a leading role in 'Princess for Christmas.' Photo: Adam Shafer.
Peles Castle in Romania plays a leading role in "Princess for Christmas." Photo: Adam Shafer.

It's undeniable that every time I see a movie filmed in Europe, I fall deeper in love with the continent—"Roman Holiday," "The Sound of Music," "Chocolat," "Under the Tuscan Sun," "Letters to Juliet," "Before Sunrise," "Midnight in Paris"—among hundreds of others, my wanderlust ignites and my longing to visit all of these places becomes insatiable. While I have traveled to many of the locations mentioned in the films above, there are a few that still elude me. One day, I plan to conquer all but for now, the visits are relegated to the stuff of dreams, at least for the moment anyway.

17 September 2014

Verona, Italy—Cultural immersion in the city of love

Benvenuti a Verona, Italy—The City of Love. The piazzas dell'Erbe to the left and dei Signoria on the right. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Benvenuti a Verona, Italy—The City of Love. The piazzas dell'Erbe to the left and dei Signoria on the right. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

In just a few weeks, I depart on a journey of cultural discovery in Italy. It all begins at the Travel Blogger Destination Italy conference, aka #TBDItaly, in Rimini along Italy's eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea. I'll be one of 30 travel writers comprising the Culture Cluster—a company of travel bloggers who thrives on exploring cultural connections in the places we visit. We'll be meeting three additional clusters of travel bloggers recruited for their expertise as well: Food, Fashion and Travel; and together, we'll engage with representatives from all points of the compass.

01 September 2014

Berlitz's 'River Cruising in Europe' guidebook lands in US

The Rhine River bisects Germany's fourth largest city—Cologne or Köln with spectacular views of the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom). Photo: WikiMedia.org.
The Rhine River bisects Germany's fourth largest city—Cologne or Köln with spectacular views of the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom). Photo: WikiMedia.org.

In July, Berlitz announced the US release of "River Cruising in Europe" by veteran cruiser Douglas Ward who's been sailing the rivers and the seven seas for the last 49 years. When Insight Guides aka Berlitz contacted me with the news, I jumped at the chance when they asked me to review the book. As you well know, I am a HUGE fan of European river cruising so I couldn't wait to get started. To make it even more interesting, I requested an interview with Ward to find out the inside scoop about his new-to-the-US release.

17 July 2014

ArtOdysseys: The Art of Norway and Nikolai Astrup

'Kari: Motif from Sunde.' Image: Courtesy of Nikolai-Astrup.no. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
"Kari: Motif from Sunde." Image: Courtesy of Nikolai-Astrup.no. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Welcome to July's ArtOdysseys—my ongoing series that unites my love of travel with discoveries in art along the way. This month, we head north to Norway to explore the art of Nikolai Astrup, an early 20th-century Norwegian artist whose brush flows with the essence, the visual romance of Norway. It was a year ago this month when I embarked on my epic voyage through the fjords but only recently did I become familiar with the remarkable work of Nikolai Astrup. It was love at first sight when I saw his magnificent paintings, instantly I was transported back to the idyllic splendor of Norway through his extraordinary talent to immerse his viewers into his surroundings. When you see his work below, I think you'll agree. It's no surprise Nikolai Astrup, "the artist of western Norway," is one of country's most beloved.