Pages

27 December 2013

Making new friends on my Viking River Christmas market cruise

Making friends onboard Viking River Cruises. All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless specifically attributed. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Making friends onboard Viking River Cruises. All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless specifically attributed. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

If you know me, then you know how I love to savor the journey as well as the destination, and my last voyage, my "Danube Waltz" with Viking River Cruises was no exception! Soon after our cruise began, I realized that I was having the greatest time of my life, not only because my dream of a Christmas market cruise through Europe was coming true but because of something even more special—paramount to any journey as far as I am concerned—the friends I've met along the way; those special people who touch our hearts and enrich our lives immensely. Actually, it comes as no surprise really because the intimate gathering places onboard the Viking longships create the perfect settings to cultivate and nurture those new found friends from afar. From the Viking crew to the traveling guests, chances are you're going to bump into each other quite often—an exchange that I welcomed and embraced at every chance encounter. Here's my story of some pretty special people I've met during my voyage.

23 December 2013

In search of Christmas: A Danube Waltz Christmas market river cruise

Welcome aboard the Viking River Cruises Longship, Viking Skadi, our home upon the Danube for our Christmas market voyage. All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless noted. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Welcome aboard the Viking River Cruises Longship, Viking Skadi, our home upon the Danube for our Christmas market voyage. All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless noted. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Welcome to a Viking Christmas! I can't think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than with a visit to the enchanting European Christmas markets, and to have Viking River Cruises transport us from one city to the next was the star at the top of our Christmas tree; for this was a week of making dreams come true—not only to finally visit the Christkindlmarkts as they're known locally, but to do it while sailing onboard a Viking River Cruises longship for a weeklong cruise down the Danube.

02 December 2013

T'was the Night Before my Viking Christmas River Cruise

Basel Christmas Market. Photography: Property of Viking River Cruises unless noted. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Basel Christmas Market. Photography: Property of Viking River Cruises unless noted. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
T'was the night before my Viking cruise, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The suitcases were packed by the doorway with care,
In hopes that our ride would soon be there.

25 November 2013

In search of Christmas: Spending the holidays in Bulgaria

Christmas in Sofia, Bulgaria. Photo: SetTimes.
Christmas in Sofia, Bulgaria. Photo: SetTimes.

Each year during Christmastime, I begin a new journey "In Search of Christmas" to discover how Christmas is celebrated in various regions of Europe and to bring these Christmas tidings to you! This year, my Yuletide chronicles take us to the eastern-European nation of Bulgaria to uncover their time-honored traditions. Unlike most European countries, Bulgaria is not known for its festive Christmas Markets [yet], but there are fascinating customs observed here as I have recently discovered in an impromptu interview with a resident and new friend, @Kristian_Mitov. It all started with a simple question on Twitter, "has anyone celebrated Christmas in Bulgaria?" Kristian replied "many times." At that moment, those two words spoke volumes to me and I knew he was going to be able to open a new window into the world of Christmastime in Bulgaria. I must admit I had a lot of fun talking with him especially when some of our exchange got lost in translation as you'll read below. Join me as we discover the sights, the sounds and the flavors of the holidays in Bulgaria.

21 November 2013

A journey to Shakespeare country in Warwickshire, England

Perhaps one of the most picturesque of the Cotswold villages is Arlington Row in Bibury. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Perhaps one of the most picturesque of the Cotswold villages is Arlington Row in Bibury. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

Warwickshire and nearby Gloucestershire in the southeast of England are renowned not only for their literary connections but the area's idyllic beauty of rural countryside and quintessentially English sights from "chocolate-box" villages and English gardens to formidable medieval castles and cobblestone streets. Many of you know Stratford upon Avon as the home of the literary giant William Shakespeare, and as such, you will be spoiled once you arrive in this enchanting place. However, there is so much more to see in the surrounding villages as well! Let’s take a look at what to see and do in Shakespeare country today.

17 November 2013

Discovering Oslo, Norway, one cultural attraction at a time

Norway's capital city of Oslo. Photo: Nancy Bundt / Innovation Norway. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Norway's capital city of Oslo. Photo: Nancy Bundt / Innovation Norway. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Having recently celebrated its 1,000th birthday at the turn of the 21st century, the capital city of Oslo, Norway, is a vibrant urban center steeped in Nordic heritage but yet surrounded by scenic splendor of Norway's world-renowned fjords. Once here, you'll travel back in time to encounter 1,000-year-old Viking ships at the Viking Ship Museum, as well as soar to the highest heights at the top of the Holmenkollen Ski Jump for some of the most jaw-dropping views of Oslo and the Oslofjord. In between, a bustling city center awaits replete with an opera house, fascinating galleries and museums, plus two remarkable sculpture parks that cannot be missed. And don't forget to stroll along the revitalized waterfront promenade for wonderful views of the city and fjord. The real bonus is that most of these places are within walking distance of the city centre. Be sure to check out VisitNorway.com for planning the perfect visit to Oslo.

16 November 2013

Highlights of Stavanger, Norway

Welcome to 'Old Stavanger' in Norway. All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Welcome to "Old Stavanger" in Norway. All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

While I've introduced you to many of my intrepid adventures through Norway's fjords, I want to take you on a tour, a closer look at some of the villages and cities we visited and their main attractions. And so our Norwegian immersion begins, well at the beginning of my epic journey, our first stop in the country's oil capital of Stavanger. A coastal port city that owes its life to the sea—from shipbuilding to herring and sardine production to its recently discovered oil fields in the North Sea, Stavanger thrives because of its ability to adapt, to change; to embrace new opportunities as they arise.

28 October 2013

Haunted Inns and Ghosts of Norway

Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand looks positively frightening in this altered view. Photo: Kviknes Hotel. Effects: EuroTravelogue™.
Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand looks positively frightening in this altered view. Photo: Kviknes Hotel. Effects: EuroTravelogue™.

Creaking floors? Phantom maidens? Mysterious footsteps in the hall? Perhaps figments of your vivid imagination? Perhaps not! While on a recent tour through Norway last summer, inn keepers and restaurant managers regaled our group with their spooky tales of the happy haunts that frequented their establishments and from the first tale of a ghostly encounter, I was captivated. I wanted to hear more! And so I set out on a mission to seek out these ephemeral phantoms who exist between our world and theirs so I could share some haunting tales during this Halloween. I've also taken some unearthly liberties with my photos so I hope you enjoy these views from the "other side." Dare to join me on a frightfully-fun ghost adventure in Norway?

25 October 2013

Disney's 'Frozen'—Powered by Visit Norway!

The enchanted kingdom of Arendelle from Disney's 'Frozen.' Photo: ©Disney.
The enchanted kingdom of Arendelle from Disney's "Frozen." Photo: ©Disney. Click on the image to view widescreen!

Who wouldn't be inspired by the grandeur of Norway? Once you experience magnificent fjords in western Norway, you're left in a state of awe and wonder as you begin to sense the awesome power of nature at work. Suddenly you come to realize why Norway's fjords have inspired artists for centuries— majestic glacial valleys with crystal blue waters cradled by soaring mountains; this land steeped in legend and lore, not to mention the stuff of Disney dreams. So, it's no surprise that Disney sought out Visit Norway during production of its latest animated feature-film, "Frozen," to help bring to life this comedy epic that combines lovable Disney characters with a Norwegian accent, and the wondrous settings of Norway!

21 October 2013

Top 5 Reasons to go on a European Christmas Market River Cruise

The Annaberg-Buchholz Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market. Photo: Archers Tours UK.
The Annaberg-Buchholz Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market. Photo: Archers Tours UK.

I am thrilled to welcome my guest Saloni, a travel writer who specializes in luxury travel for a number of online publications. When Saloni asked if she could contribute an article about the top five reasons to take a Christmas market river cruise, what do you think my answer was? Of course my response was an emphatic, jump-up-and-down-in-excitement, yes! She pretty much nailed two of my top five experiences in the world! Without further ado, here's why you should embark on a European Christmas market cruise and you can read more about my guest at the end of the article.

20 October 2013

Discovering the splendor of Crete

Welcome to Crete, Greece. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Welcome to Crete, Greece. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

As the largest of the Greek islands, Crete has plenty to shout about. It's a huge, diverse island that's packed to the rafters with amazing sights, superb beaches and wonderful things to see and do.

For anyone who likes to get away from the beach, Crete offers plenty of mountain ranges, gorges and rivers. There is an expansive mountain range crossing from east to west, formed by various ranges including the Dikti Mountains, White Mountains and the Kedros range, which offer superb walking, hiking, biking and exploring opportunities. Dotted around these beautiful peaks are deep cutting valleys with fertile plateaus, along with a number of rocky gorges, rivers and waterfalls.

14 October 2013

In Search of Christmas: The magic and wonder of Santa's Lapland

Welcome to Santa's Lapland. All photography is the property of SantasLapland.com unless specifically noted.
Welcome to Santa's Lapland. All photography is the property of SantasLapland.com unless specifically noted.

Deep within the forests and fells of northern Finland, nestled in hills laden with snow beneath a canopy of stars and emerald lights, awaits an enchanting Lapland holiday, a land filled with the magic of Christmas—Santa's Lapland. If you know me, then you know how much I love Christmas with all its festive traditions celebrated around the world but a visit to this winter wonderland that is Lapland is quite extraordinary and magical! When I stumbled upon Santa's Lapland, I just had to share this enchanting place that lies far above the Arctic Circle. What child could resist a visit to meet and spend a few days with Joulupukki as he is known in this part of the world? I may just run out and adopt a few to take along with me. If you're too old for Santa Claus, perhaps a visit to Santa's Lapland with your family this holiday season will reignite the hopes and dreams and the magic of Santa. Imagine seeing the wonder of Christmas through a child's eyes or a sleigh ride through the snow-covered hills with only the sounds of jingle bells ringing softly in the winter silence. Wouldn't a visit to this enchanted realm be the ultimate Christmas present?

09 October 2013

Five Unforgettable Destinations in Italy

The formidable Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. All photography property of EuroTravelogue unless specifically noted.
The formidable Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. All photography property of EuroTravelogue unless specifically noted. 

Hands up who loves the idea of touring winding passages of Italy, seated on a cherry-red Vespa, zipping through the cobbled lanes of Tuscany and beyond, to the elevated villages of the Amalfi Coast? Ever since I first tasted Rome, I have been in love with Italia; the language, the culture, the unbridled passion and of course, the spell-binding sights hidden behind jagged coastlines and a lush veneer of acceptable tourism. Go to Rome, everyone must; once you’ve stayed a while, caught up with the "Fountain of the Four Rivers" in Piazza Navona, toured the Pantheon, and felt staggered by the Colosseum, cut loose from the traditional trappings and treks. Another beauty can be found beyond Rome, four more in fact, resplendent in history combined with the modern age.

07 October 2013

ArtOdysseys: Aert van der Neer—Dutch painter of the moonlight

'River Scene with a Bonfire, Moonlight.' Photo: Hepworth Wakefield Gallery.
"River Scene with a Bonfire, Moonlight." Photo: Hepworth Wakefield Gallery.

Welcome to the October ArtSmart Roundtable—a company of travel bloggers passionate about discovering art while traveling around the world. Each month, we highlight a particular theme and October is dedicated to the "artist." It's no secret that I love the Dutch masters from Avercamp to Vermeer but my artist of the month is one whom captured my imagination during my last visit to the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery in The Hague, Netherlands—Aert van der Neer. Up until then, I knew very little about this artist of the Dutch landscape but while examining Vermeer's "View of Delft" and Avercamp's "Winter Scene"—among others, Van der Neer's winter scenes and moonlit landscapes drew me in so much so that I needed to find out more about this Dutch master of the moonlight. Like Vermeer and Avercamp, Van der Neer captured life in the Netherlands but it was his passion for the nighttime and frozen winters that's unique and through his paintings, he invites you to glimpse a moment frozen in time. Let's go in for a closer look at some of his finest work and at the end of this article, be sure to check out the contributions by the artists of the roundtable!

29 September 2013

A barging holiday in France and life onboard Brave Bart

Welcome to Barging in France onboard <i>Brave Bart</i>.  All photography unless noted is the property of Barging in France. Unauthorized used is prohibited.
Welcome to Barging in France onboard Brave Bart.  All photography unless noted is the property of Barging in France. Unauthorized used is prohibited.

Ever since my river cruise in Europe and a canal-boat tour of Amsterdam, I've become quite enchanted by the romantic notion of traveling through Europe upon its waterways. And while my passion for river cruising has not waned; there is yet another mode of slow travel upon the waterways that captivates me—barging. The thought of spending a week onboard a classic canal barge ignites from within a wanderlust that must be satiated—not only to sail upon the waters, but immerse myself into the destinations and cultures. If you know me, traveling is not only about the places I visit but the journey along the way; and a boating holiday in France provides a means to that end.

26 September 2013

Valletta: Europe’s Most Underrated Capital?

Welcome to Valletta, Malta and to the Alexander Ball Temple in the Lower Barracca Gardens. Photo: Cebete.
Welcome to Valletta, Malta and to the Alexander Ball Temple in the Lower Barracca Gardens. Photo: Cebete.

When you think of grand European capital cities, places like Rome, Paris and Vienna probably come to mind at first and while these famous cities are undoubtedly brilliant, it’s easy to forget about some of the smaller, yet equally fascinating, capitals across Europe.

Valletta, Malta’s historic capital city, is a prime example. Its incredible beauty, history and culture make it one of the best city break destinations in all of Europe, yet this tiny Mediterranean island of Valletta  on Malta remains well under the radar of many holiday-goers.

25 September 2013

Ekeberg Sculpture Park comes to Oslo, Norway

Rodin's 'Eva,' 1881, will be just one of the 30 sculptures located in Ekeberg Park when it opens in Oslo, Norway. The park will celebrate 'feminine inspired in all its diversity.' All photography is the property of Ekebergparken.com. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Rodin's "Eva," 1881, will be just one of the 30 sculptures located in Ekeberg Park when it opens in Oslo, Norway. The park will celebrate "feminine inspired in all its diversity." All photography is the property of Ekebergparken.com. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

As you know, recently I accompanied Innovation Norway on an epic tour of the Norwegian fjords and had the opportunity to discover the art, culture and history of this spectacular country. It's also no secret that I am a huge fan of discovering art as evidenced by my ArtSmart Roundtable series published on the first Monday of each month. And so it with this theme that I am thrilled to announce a remarkable new sculpture park opening in Oslo Sept. 26, 2013 that will surely become one of Scandinavia's finest!

22 September 2013

Twilight in Paris

La Trinité and Place d'Estienne d'Orves. Designed by Théodore Ballu, La Trinité, tower of which is in foreground, was completed in 1867 and is located at the Place d'Estienne d'Orves in the 9th arrondissement in northern Paris near Montmartre. All photography: ©Brian Jannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
La Trinité and Place d'Estienne d'Orves. Designed by Théodore Ballu, La Trinité, tower of which is in foreground, was completed in 1867 and is located at the Place d'Estienne d'Orves in the 9th arrondissement in northern Paris near Montmartre. All photography: ©Brian Jannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." Ernest Hemingway
"Paris is always a good idea." Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina Fairchild in "Sabrina"
"America is my country and Paris is my hometown." Gertrude Stein
"Paris… is a world meant for the walker alone, for only the pace of strolling can take in all the rich (if muted) detail." Edmund White
"A final reminder. Whenever you are in Paris at twilight in the early summer, return to the Seine and watch the evening sky close slowly on a last strand of daylight fading quietly, like a sigh." Kate Simon

By day or by night, Paris truly is the City of Light but at twilight, something magical happens—the fading light of the day reveals an ethereal beauty, fleeting moments of poetic expression onto the magnificent canvas of iconic landmarks, Parisian cafés and quaint cobblestone ways.

Once again, I am thrilled to be working the master of light and lens himself, Brian Jannsen who captures the visual romance of Paris with such exquisite artistry that it takes your breath away literally! Join me this unforgettable guided tour through Paris—from the rive droite and rive gauche (right and left banks) and whether you walk, hop onto the metro or hire a car with SmartShopping.com, you'll never look at Paris the same way again. Finally, be sure to read more about Brian at the end of this article. For now, bienvenue à Paris.

09 September 2013

Celebrating a Country Christmas in the UK

Castleton
Castleton at Christmastime. Photo: Paul Simpson Photography.

If you’re living in the city, whether it’s by choice or because of business, it certainly does have its advantages but by the time the holidays roll around and you're anticipating that first Christmas snow fall, you won't find the winter wonderland of your imagination within the city centre; for as soon as it does snow, it quickly turns brown and melts away. But all is not lost. If you’re looking to enjoy a white Christmas then you’ll have to take a few days and venture outside the city limits into the less populated areas of the United Kingdom.

08 September 2013

ArtOdysseys: Norway — Then and Now

Norway: Then and Now. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand. The photo on the left shows a modern-day view while the photo on the right shows the original building that was completed in 1894. In 1912, the 1894 building was extended westward to complete the inn as we see it today. Photography: Left - Courtesy of Kviknes Hotel. Right - Nelson Minar.
Norway: Then and Now. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand. The photo on the left shows a modern-day view while the photo on the right shows the original building that was completed in 1894. In 1912, the 1894 building was extended westward to complete the inn as we see it today. Photography: Left - Courtesy of Kviknes Hotel. Right - Nelson Minar.

Welcome to the September ArtSmart Roundtable. We're a company of travel bloggers—art aficionados who love to share our passion for discovering art while during our travels. Each month, we highlight one art subject and this month's topic is "Travel Art." With my recent voyage to Norway back in July, I remain awe-struck by the all the historic places we visited, some dating back to the 18th century, others to the dawn of time. While researching some of the articles I have published and yet to publish, I stumbled upon vintage travel photography of the places I had visited. To my surprise and delight, I was astonished to find that some of my current perspectives mirrored those in photographs snapped over a century ago! So, it with this theme of vintage travel photography that I dedicate this month's article to Norway: Then and Now—a look to the past and present of Norway's fjord country. At the end, be sure to review the rest of the Roundtable's contributions.

01 September 2013

Is there an age limit on cycling holidays?

Niedermorschwihr Vineyards in Alsace, France. Photo copyright: CRTA - Zvardon. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Niedermorschwihr Vineyards in Alsace, France. Photo copyright: CRTA - Zvardon. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

It goes without saying that people of all ages are into cycling, holidays and perhaps even cycling holidays, but the challenge lies in whether our physical fitness is up to putting the mettle to the pedal for extended periods of time. We would like to believe that it is, but we must ask ourselves whether or not there is an age when we have to think about giving up the wheels in favor of a less physically strenuous holiday. I say not!

26 August 2013

The scenic world of European River Cruises

The Hungarian Parliament Building is just ONE of many sights you'll see when you embark on your river-cruise journey! All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless noted.
The Hungarian Parliament Building is just ONE of many sights you'll see when you embark on your river-cruise journey! All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless noted.

Have you ever dreamt of drifting down scenic European waterways while magnificent castles, storybook villages and pastoral countrysides pass you by? How about docking at the city's front door just a few steps from the city centre that promises an unforgettable cultural immersion in centuries-old surroundings? When you consider visiting multiple European cities in a single trip, do you find the thought of having to pack and unpack and pack and unpack a little daunting? What about hopping from train to train to train to squeeze it all into your trip of a lifetime? While that can be certainly one of the most romantic ways to travel through Europe, something I can personally attest to, visiting all of these European destinations from the convenience of your river-cruise vessel holds a certain appeal—moving from place to place and reveling in the journey along the way! Welcome to European river cruising and once you embark, you may never look back! Isn't it time you embarked on your dream of exploration to discover new places, historical treasures and most of all, the people of distant lands?

19 August 2013

ArtOdysseys: Norway's Historic Stave Churches

Welcome to Heddal Stave Church and to August's ArtSmart Roundtable: Architecture and the study of Norway's historic stave churches. All photography: WikiMedia.org.
Welcome to Heddal Stave Church and to August's ArtSmart Roundtable: Architecture and the study of Norway's historic stave churches. All photography: WikiMedia.org.

Welcome to the August edition of ArtSmart Roundtable. We're a company of travel bloggers who share our passion and love of art during our travels. This month's topic is "architecture" and because of my recent journey to Norway, I've decided to write about the unique architecture of stave churches for which Norway is renowned. Emerging throughout northern Europe during the Middle Ages, stave churches are a medieval architecture of another kind, unlike anything I was familiar with until now. Resembling gingerbread houses on the outside, their construction tells of a rich history based on Viking building traditions. Follow me back to the dawn of the Norwegian stave church and we'll discover its origin, construction and examine how 28 of them have survived for more than 800 years, in some cases! At the end of this piece, be sure to see the rest of the roundtable's contributions. Tusen takk!

10 August 2013

The Algarve: Top Attractions for a Summer Visit to Portugal

Algarve's beaches beckon to sun worshipers everywhere. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Algarve's beaches beckon to sun worshipers everywhere. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

As pretty much THE place to be during the summer months along the southernmost coast of Portugal, The Algarve is an excellent choice if you’re looking for the coveted sunshine. Beach hotels are in abundance, scattered along the popular beaches such as Marinha Beach and Armacao de Pera.

04 August 2013

All aboard the Flåm Railway in Norway

All aboard the Flåm Railway in Norway, one of the world's most scenic railway journeys! Content and photography are the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
All aboard the Flåm Railway in Norway, one of the world's most scenic railway journeys! Content and photography are the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

One of the most magical moments along my recent tour through Norway, was the journey onboard one the world's most scenic railways—the Flåm Railway or Flåmsbana. From the Myrdal station, a lofty perch at 866 meters (2,850 feet) in the Norwegian mountains, we meandered through darkness and light as we made our way along our 20-km (12.5 mile) descent to the storybook village of Flåm nestled on the shores of the Aurlandsfjord. This hour-long adventure descends through the Flåm valley along one of the world's steepest railroad gradients (adhesion on normal gauge) at a rate of 1 meter of height for every 18 meters of distance. To quote an old friend, T.S. Eliot, "the journey not the arrival matters" and I couldn't agree more. The train winds around the mountains through some of the most dramatic landscapes I have ever seen— sweeping panoramas replete with precipitous mountain cliffs, cascading waterfalls, enchanting villages and of course the fjord! Welcome aboard the Flåm Railway!

26 July 2013

Song of the Fjords

Seasgulls chasing the boat on a voyage down the Sognefjord in Norway. All content and photography are the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless specifically noted. This photo only: Jens Henrik Nybo and Visitnorway.com.
Seasgulls chasing the boat on a voyage down the Sognefjord in Norway. All content and photography are the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless specifically noted. This photo only: Jens Henrik Nybo and Visitnorway.com.

Suddenly, the music reached a crescendo as I became acutely aware of my surrounds—my spirit soared to the highest height and I how I wished at that moment that I could fly with the song of the fjords in my soul. Alas, after my euphoric ascent, I realized that I was grounded firmly to the deck but nonetheless still in awe of majestic mountains climbing 2,000 feet, cascading waterfalls plunging down craggy slopes, a cacophony of seagulls alongside our fjord-going vessel as they chased us through these glacial valleys, tales of legends and lore, and the waves gently lapping along the ship's hull—truly a symphony of sights and sounds—but you must listen carefully in this idyllic splendor for it endures in many forms—this song of the Norwegian fjords!

23 July 2013

What's on in Majorca this Summer?

Welcome to Formentor, Majorca or Mallorca, whichever you favor or savor! Photo: Rafael Gomez.
Welcome to Formentor, Majorca or Mallorca, whichever you favor or savor! Photo: Rafael Gomez.

Majorca. The very name conjures up heavenly images of golden beaches, sun-dappled squares and steaming plates of paella. This beautiful Spanish island might seem like a tiny speck in the Mediterranean compared to the mainland, but what it lacks in square mileage, it certainly makes up for in diversity.

14 July 2013

The Norway Fjord Chronicles

Welcome to the fjords of Norway. Fjærland was one stop along our epic journey! All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Welcome to the fjords of Norway. Fjærland was one stop along our epic journey! All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

From my first glimpse of the Norwegian landscape from the plane on approach to Stavanger, the clouds parted to reveal the scenic splendor and glory that is the Norway fjords—God's country as I would continue to discover throughout my unforgettable epic journey in a country I have long wanted to visit. Ever since I received my invitation from Innovation Norway and Fjord Norway to accompany them on this epic voyage through the breathtaking Norwegian Fjords along the southwest coast, I started to imagine that soon, I too, like many Vikings before me, would traverse these legendary fjords—spectacular glacial valleys and sparkling azure waters cradled by majestic mountains that stretch upward through diaphanous clouds that shroud their peaks with soft wispy-white billows. And clinging to their shores, the most picturesque villages and pastoral farmlands—welcome to the grandeur of Norway! And once you're here, you'll understand immediately that awe-struck wonder that captivates all those who embark on this journey through idyllic splendor!

24 June 2013

Getting to know Venice, Italy

Getting to know Venice, Italy, and some of the top attractions to see in this timeless, legendary city on the lagoon. All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless noted. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Getting to know Venice, Italy, and some of the top attractions to see in this timeless, legendary city on the lagoon. All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless noted. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

It mystifies, it enchants, it intrigues—this is Venice, Italy, a city floating in the Adriatic Sea that has been frozen in time for centuries! When viewed from above, it's a brick-red mosaic of more than 100 islands that collectively resemble a giant fish with the Grand Canal, Venice's "main street" so to speak, snaking for 2 miles through its interior from the mouth to its tail, and lined with Gothic and Byzantine architecture harkening back to the days when this once mighty maritime empire controlled the flow of all trade between the east and the west. Upon closer inspection, we find Venice is laced with a vast network of canals and labyrinthine alleys linked together by more than 400 ornate bridges that beckon for exploration; and don't worry about losing your way because getting lost in Venice is a rite of passage to this city and the best way to experience it! If you haven't yet visited, then Venice should be at the top of your "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" list, to borrow the title from one of my favorite travel resources.

03 June 2013

ArtOdysseys: Vermeer's 'The Art of Painting'

Johannes Vermeer's 'The Art of Painting' completed c. 1662—1665. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Johannes Vermeer's "The Art of Painting" completed c. 1662—1665. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

Welcome to the June ArtSmart Roundtable! We're a group of travel bloggers who seek out experiences in art while traveling around the world and then share them with you. Each month, we focus on one art subject and this month's topic is "painting." With that, I decided to revisit the Dutch masters, specifically a painting from the 17th century by Johannes Vermeer, "The Art of Painting," completed c. 1662—1665. I invite you in for a closer look at this Dutch masterpiece and at the end of this article, be sure to check out my fellow roundtable members' contributions.

26 May 2013

Guided Tour Through Guernsey in the Channel Islands

Welcome to Saint Peter Port of the Channel Island of Guernsey. Photo: John M1061.
Welcome to Saint Peter Port of the Channel Island of Guernsey. Photo: John M1061.

I am thrilled to welcome Zoë Dawes of TheQuirkyTraveller.com to EuroTravelogue to recount her quirky chronicles of her voyage to Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Ever since I first read "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"—an all-time favorite of mine—I have been intrigued and fascinated by the Channel Islands especially that of Guernsey because of its leading role in the book. But then I heard about Zoë's what was then her upcoming trip, and I knew that I needed to follow every step of her journey so she could bring it and its people to life for me even more than the book. Her first-hand accounts of the island, small on size, 30 sq. mi. or 70 sq. km., but big on history and charm, are chronicled below. I hope you enjoy your journey through Guernsey as much as I did and be sure to read more about Zoë at the end of the article.

23 May 2013

Travelling for the non Traveller

Saint Peter's Basilica and the Piazza San Pietro in Rome at the Vatican. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Saint Peter's Basilica and the Piazza San Pietro in Rome at the Vatican. Photo: WikiMedia.org. 

If you haven’t yet caught the travel bug, what are you waiting for? There are so many wonderful sights and attractions to explore in the world, and each trip you take will enrich your knowledge of other cultures as well as your own. Not sure how to get started? Follow these tips to plan an unforgettable trip.

21 May 2013

Take a Trip Back in Time at the Alcazaba in Málaga, Spain

Welcome to Málaga, Spain, and the Moorish fort of Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle. Photo: Silvia. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Welcome to Málaga, Spain, and the Moorish fort of Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle. Photo: Silvia. Unauthorized use is prohibited.  

Since the 11th century, Málaga has been watched over by the Alcazaba, a Moorish fortified palace that sits atop a hill in the centre of the city. Built over the ruins of a Roman fortress, and close by the remains of a Roman amphitheatre, the Alcazaba was initially used to defend Málaga against pirates as it offers clear views of the sea and Africa in the distance, but in more modern times the Alcazaba serves as a magnificent tourist attraction that helps to tell the story of this colourful city.

19 May 2013

Viking Cruises Launches Viking Ocean Cruises

The launch of Viking Ocean Cruises and its first ship in the new ocean-going fleet, 'Viking Star' scheduled to debut in May 2015. All photos: © Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
The launch of Viking Ocean Cruises and its first ship of the new ocean-going fleet, the Viking Star, scheduled to debut May 2015. All photos: © Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Viking Cruises made a huge Nordic splash in Beverly Hills, CA, on Thursday with the launch of their brand new Viking Ocean Cruises product line! Sister company to the global leader of river cruising, Viking River Cruises, Viking Ocean will take the Viking brand to the next level with the launch of destination-focused European ocean cruises to sail in the Mediterranean, Adriatic, North and Baltic Seas. With the debut of its first ship, the Viking Star in May 2015, you can expect this new class of ocean liners to be infused with the finely appointed elegance that Viking is world renowned but on a grander scale. A sister ship, yet to be named, will sail on her maiden voyage in 2016 and right now, Viking has conditional orders and options for four additional ocean cruise liners—a mark of their aggressive plan to expand this new venture. But it's not all about ocean liners because after Viking River Cruises set world records with the debut of 10 Viking Longships at a mega Christening event last March, they plan to kick it up a notch and debut 12 more next year! Now that's growth!

13 May 2013

Celebrating the Holidays with Viking River Cruises—'Danube Waltz' Christmas Markets Cruise

Decked in all its festive finery, the atrium lobby onboard the Viking River Cruises Longships welcomes guests with Christmas cheer! Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Decked in all its festive finery, the atrium lobby onboard the Viking River Cruises Longships welcomes guests with Christmas cheer! Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.  

If you know me, then you know I love European Christmas markets and despite the fact that it is May, I am thrilled to announce once again, that I will be embarking with Viking River Cruises on the "Danube Waltz" Christmas markets cruise from Passau, Germany, through Austria and Slovakia, and finally to Budapest, Hungary—my first-ever Christmas market cruise and I am over-the-moon excited! Every holiday season, Europe transforms into a winter wonderland with its Christmas markets or Christkindlmarkts that enchant travelers in search of twinkling lights and Alpine chalets brimming with tantalizing aromas and handcrafted gifts. Undoubtedly for the last few years, I've imagined myself strolling down the lanes of festively decorated town squares and this year that dream becomes reality aboard Viking River Cruises' "Viking Skadi" longship! After all, who can resist the magic of Christmas in Europe? Surely not I! 

06 May 2013

The Art of Édouard Manet, Pioneer of Modernism

Portrait of Édouard Manet at 34 years of age. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Portrait of Édouard Manet at 34 years of age. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

Welcome to the May installment of ArtSmart Roundtable! Each month, a company of travel blogger art aficionados highlight a particular focus in art and this month, we feature the "artist." While I was writing the March installment when we focused on art worth traveling for, two of my all-time favorite paintings by Manet were among those featured and so I thought I would explore the world of Manet in more depth and share some additional works that have established Manet as one of the pioneers of modernism.

29 April 2013

Top 5 Hidden Gems of Europe

La cathédrale Notre Dame d'Amiens or Our Lady of Amiens is the largest and tallest cathedral in all of France. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
La cathédrale Notre Dame d'Amiens or Our Lady of Amiens is the largest and tallest cathedral in all of France. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

Europe is a playground for travelers across the globe and those who visit these famous stomping grounds are more than likely to return. With a variety of fun-filled travel opportunities and experiences to enjoy, Europe is one of the most visited destinations in the world offering something for every type of traveler, whether you love to ski and hike or sunbathe and explore ancient ruins.

28 April 2013

Travel essentials for your summer holiday in Europe

The allure of Positano, Italy, and the Mediterranean Sea beckons in the Summertime! Photo: WikiMedia.org.
The allure of Positano, Italy, and the Mediterranean Sea beckons in the Summertime! Photo: WikiMedia.org.

Summer holidays in Europe are the best way to put some distance between you and the real world. The street cred of many European summer destinations, from France’s Provence to Andalucía in the South of Spain or even the picturesque Amalfi Coast in Italy, revolves around the relaxing vibes of a sandy strip and crystalline waters.

20 April 2013

An Epic Adventure to Norway's Fjord Country!

An epic journey through Norway's fjord country. Fjærlandfjord, a tributary of the Sognefjord, is just one of the many spectacular places we'll explore! Photo: Wikimedia.org.
An epic journey through Norway's fjord country. Fjærlandfjord, a tributary of the Sognefjord, is just one of the many spectacular places we'll explore! Photo: Wikimedia.org.

The land of the midnight sun … where northern lights dance with the stars ... where intrepid Vikings sailed a thousand years ago ... where majestic mountains cradle the fjords that beckon for gentle sails upon their waters so serene … this is allure of Norge or Norway—a land steeped in mystery and natural splendor, and a place I have until now, only dreamed of visiting! It is with those images in mind that I announce that this summer, I will embark on this intrepid journey to discover the land that is Norway. Thanks to my friends at Visit Norway, I have been invited on a tour this summer that will introduce me to Norway's scenic wonder, captivating history, intriguing culture, regional cuisine and for the first time ever, the midnight sun! Euphoric doesn't begin to describe the excitement stirring within and the mounting anticipation that's growing exponentially by the day! At the end of June, I will join a small group of travelers and together we will embark on an epic voyage through the fjords of Norway.

07 April 2013

48 Hours In Milan, Italy

The magnificent Milan Cathedral or Duomo is the fifth largest cathedral in the world and third largest in all of Europe. Photo: Megoizzy.
The magnificent Milan Cathedral or Duomo is the fifth largest cathedral in the world and third largest in all of Europe. Photo: Megoizzy.

Milan is a thoroughly international city within Italy's Lombardy region known for high fashion and commerce. This resilient city has weathered numerous European conquests, industrialism and the Nazi occupation of World War II. Today, it emerges as a stylish tourist destination brimming with cultural treasures, distinctive cuisine and classy evening entertainment. From the Castello Sforzesco or the Sforza Castle to the Duomo and the Galleria—among others, Milan offers visitors a chance to travel back in time as well as ahead to the future of fashion. With only 48 hours in the city, here a few of the special highlights for visitors to the City of Fashion.

01 April 2013

ArtOdysseys: The Funny Faces of Manneken Pis in Brussels, Belgium

Our 'Little Man Pee' or Manneken Pis in Brussels, Belgium, has become one of the most famous sights in the city. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Our "Little Man Pee" or Manneken Pis in Brussels, Belgium, has become one of the most famous sights in the city. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

Welcome to the ArtSmart Roundtable—a company of travel writers who share a passion for appreciating art while traveling to destinations around the world. Today's April Fool's Day so we thought this month's post should be about "humor" and I couldn’t resist a certain plucky little statue that has become quite an iconic tourist sight in Brussels, Belgium—Manneken Pis! Steeped in the history of Brussels, the Manneken Pis or "Little Man Pee," a symbol of Brussels today, has been standing here happily peeing into his fountain for centuries and literally draws crowds everyday with his unique character which changes daily to reflect the mood of the city—sometimes quite the hilarious sight! I hope you enjoy the post and be sure to scroll to the bottom of the article for links to my fellow Roundtable colleagues.

30 March 2013

The Palacio Fronteira in Lisbon, Portugal — a Rousing Hymn to the Color Blue

Visitors from all over the world travel to see the vibrant blue and white azulejos at the Palacio Fronteira in Lisbon, Portugal. All photography and artwork in this post are the property of Penny Ewles-Bergeron. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Visitors from all over the world travel to see the vibrant blue and white azulejos at the Palacio Fronteira in Lisbon, Portugal. All photography and artwork in this post are the property of Penny Ewles-Bergeron. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Once again, it is my privilege and honor to welcome my guest Penny Ewles-Bergeron, an English artist and writer who briefly called Lisbon home. In her own words, she "requires art, music, dance, history, politics & good food to thrive." You can find her on Twitter @ABroadBrush tweeting her sophisticated wit and charm intermingled with points of view on art and life, and my favorite—humor! Penny has contributed to EuroTravelogue in the past with a tour through Szentendre, Hungary, but today, she escorts us through the wonder of Palacio Fronteira in Lisbon, Portugal, for a grand tour of the palace as well as its vibrant blue and white tiles or azulejos that have become synonymous with Portugal itself. As you will see, her painting of the palace is as equally brilliant as the photography throughout. 

Not far from Lisbon is a smart red 17th-century fine house, standing resplendent in crisp formal gardens. But the colour red is not what the Palacio Fronteira is all about; this palace is a rousing hymn to the colour blue. Here visitors from all over the world come to see the ravishing blue and white tiles — azulejos — that are part of Portugal's ceramic tradition.

22 March 2013

A Tour of Malia, Crete, Old and New

Malia Beach at sunset in Crete, Greece. Photo: Henry Jackson Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Malia Beach at sunset in Crete, Greece. Photo: Henry Jackson Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

One of the strange juxtapositions of European beach holidays is the wild mix of modernity and antiquity, that in a single location you can experience a fun and crazy nightlife and then spend your day exploring the deep past of human civilizations. Such is the case with iconic destinations like the Greek village of Malia, where Cretan partygoers might mend their hangovers in close proximity to budding archaeologists eager to wander pre-Homeric sites. Be it for hedonism or intellectualism, Malia holidays provide an opportunity to revel in pleasures both contemporary and historical.

18 March 2013

AmaWaterways to Christen the AmaVida Friday with Sharon Stone

AmaWaterways Christens AmaVida, their newest member of the fleet on Friday, March 22. Photo: Courtesy of AmaWaterways. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
AmaWaterways Christens AmaVida, their newest member of the fleet on Friday, March 22. Photo: Courtesy of AmaWaterways. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

AmaWaterways welcomes their newest member of the fleet, the AmaVida, Friday, March 22, in Porto, Portugal, with godmother Sharon Stone presiding over the christening pomp and circumstance.

“We are thrilled to have such an accomplished and acclaimed person as Sharon Stone as the AmaVida’s godmother,” said Kristin Karst, AmaWaterways’ Executive Vice President and Co-Owner. “We are so inspired by Sharon’s extensive humanitarian efforts over the years. Her beauty and grace make her the perfect match for the AmaVida, one of the loveliest and most technologically advanced river cruise ships in operation today.”

As you know, I am a big fan of European river cruising because of the wonderful introduction they provide to European cities along the way. From the intimate onboard settings and the convenience of docking at the front steps of European cities; to the immersive and distinctive excursions and the gourmet deliciousness of the fine dining selections onboard, river cruising is sublime holiday for all! And I just love cruising past the scenic splendor of Europe and reveling in every moment along the way of those unforgettable journeys through enchanting villages and landmark cities. With that, I am pleased to introduce to you to AmaVida, the newest member of the AmaWaterways fleet whose christening will take place this Friday in Porto, Portugal.

17 March 2013

ArtOdysseys: Traveling for the Love of Art

Manet's 'At the Cafe' painted in 1878. This scene takes place in the Cabaret de Reichshoffen on the Boulevard Rochechouart, where women on the fringes of society socialize with Parisian gentlemen. While you can see many of Manet's works in Paris, this one is in the The Walters Art Museum in Ohio. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Manet's "At the Cafe" painted in 1878. This scene takes place in the Cabaret de Reichshoffen on the Boulevard Rochechouart, where women on the fringes of society socialize with Parisian gentlemen. While you can see many of Manet's works in Paris, this one is at the The Walters Art Museum in Ohio. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

Welcome to the ArtSmart Roundtable! Each month my colleagues and I publish an article highlighting a specific topic that combines art and traveling. This month, we focus our efforts on "Art Worth Traveling For," a subject I am particularly passionate about because wherever I travel regardless of the destination, I seek out art in one form or another. From frescoes and paintings to sculpture and architecture, I revel in experiencing as much as possible during each visit. And so I ask, isn't all art worth traveling for? How do you limit your experience to just one location without thinking about all that remains to be seen and explored, and so with that, I am going to highlight some of my favorites that I've encountered during my travels thus far and by no means is this list all-inclusive because that would take an encyclopedic approach. When you're finished reading, be sure to check out the rest of the ArtSmart Roundtable contributions for this month. Without further ado, I present traveling for the love of art and the sublime!

03 March 2013

A Journey Through Warsaw's Past and Present

Welcome to Old Town Warszawa or Warsaw, Poland. All photography is the property of Sharon Joseph. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Welcome to Old Town Warszawa or Warsaw, Poland. All photography is the property of Sharon Joseph. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

I am thrilled to introduce my guest Sharon Joseph, a colleague and dear friend who just returned from two-week vacation in Poland. What you are about to read is her poignant tale through the past and present of Warsaw, Poland—a journey from a ravaged past to a promising future for this eastern-European nation. Without further ado, I present Warszawa seen through the eyes of a traveler who has seen beyond the visible world before her.

02 March 2013

The Basilica of Saint Nicholas in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Sint Nicolaaskerk or the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. All photography property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Sint Nicolaaskerk or the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. All photography property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Upon landing in Amsterdam on my tour with Viking River Cruises last year, I had the afternoon to while away in the city centre. First order of the day upon my arrival from the port was to meet up finally with longtime virtual friend Keith from VelvetEscape.com who sacrificed a few hours of his day to take me on a walking tour through Amsterdam. It was a wonderful afternoon full of the sightseeing and great conversation while we got to know each other a little better outside the usual constraints of 140 characters. Thank you once again Keith for your company!

18 February 2013

An Artistic Retreat to Arte Umbria in Italy

Benvenuti  or Welcome to Arte Umbria—an artistic retreat amid scenic splendor in the Umbrian countryside of Italy. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Benvenuti  or Welcome to Arte Umbria—an artistic retreat amid scenic splendor in the Umbrian countryside of Italy. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

Have you ever dreamed of immersing yourself in the arts in Italy? Imagine setting up your easel, grabbing your note book or camera, or perhaps a lump of clay; and with the early morning light and the Umbrian countryside as your backdrop, your creative passions ignite. Sounds like an inspiring way to spend a holiday in Italy, doesn't it?

02 February 2013

Munch 2013—Celebrating Edvard Munch in Norway with a Norway Scream

The majestic mountains and deep-blue waters of the Reinefjord in Lofoten, Norway. Photo credits: Innovation Norway, Andrea Giubelli and Visitnorway.com. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
The majestic mountains and deep-blue waters of the Reinefjord in Lofoten, Norway. Photo Credits: Innovation Norway, Andrea Giubelli and Visitnorway.com. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Throughout 2013, Norway will be celebrating "Munch 2013," a series of special events and exhibitions commemorating the 150th birthday of Edvard Munch—an avant-garde artist whose work contributed to the development of "modernism" in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among his most famous works is his provocative "Scream" series among others including "Anxiety," "Melancholy," "Madonna," "The Kiss" and many more.

27 January 2013

A Tour Through Normandy, France

Welcome to our tour of Normandy, France. Mont Saint-Michel glows like a beacon on the edge of the sea. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Welcome to our tour of Normandy, France. Mont Saint-Michel glows like a beacon on the edge of the sea. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

Renowned for that fateful day when the Allied Troops landed on D-Day during World War II, the coast of Normandy indeed offers solemn journeys to those wanting to pay their respects but don't miss out on its cultural enrichment inland where you'll discover its art and architecture and scrumptious Camembert, fresh produce and those wild mushrooms for which this region is known for! Just a few hours from Paris, Normandy offers a world of opportunities of discovery from Omaha Beach and Mont Saint-Michele to Bayeux and Rouen. Join me on tour through some of the best places to visit in this one-time land of the Vikings and the Normans on the northern coast of France.

07 January 2013

ArtOdysseys: The Stibbert Museum in Florence, Italy

The Stibbert Museum in Florencce, Italy, houses one man's passion for collecting. All exterior photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™ and unauthorized use is prohibited.
The Stibbert Museum in Florencce, Italy, houses one man's passion for collecting. A very unassuming entry to such displays of grandeur! All exterior photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™ and unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the first ArtSmart Roundtable of 2013! ArtSmart Roundtable is a company of art + travel bloggers who share their passion for art while traveling to exciting destinations around the world. Each month, we focus on one theme, medium, genre, etc. that we encounter in our travels. January's topic is the Best Museum You've Never Heard Of. Be sure to scroll to the end of this feature for my fellow roundtable constituents' articles. Also, find us on Facebook.com/ArtSmartTravel too!