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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!