Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for November, 2013

A Festival of Lights in Norway

By Linda Tancs

While the United States celebrates Thanksgiving today (and the start of the holiday season), Bergen, Norway, is gearing up for its own start to holiday cheer with the Festival of Lights.  Taking place in the city center at Festplassen and Lille Lungegardsvann on 30 November, the event features fireworks and torchlight processions, one last chance to be bathed in light before the onset of December, the darkest month of the year. While you’re in town, don’t miss Gingerbread Town, the world’s biggest gingerbread city with miniature houses, trains, cars and ships made from real gingerbread.

The Prize of Verona

By Linda Tancs

Verona, Italy is an ancient city, second only to Rome in the number of remains from the Roman Empire.  During those times, Piazza Erbe would have been the town center, or forum, around which the looming towers of powerful nobles stood.  One of those towers, Torre dei Lamberti, was built by the powerful Lamberti family in 1172.  Today it offers a spectacular 360-degree view of the city and its gilded past.

Fujisan’s Latest Milestone

By Linda Tancs

Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain (at 12, 388 feet), has been mesmerizing locals and wanderers alike since ancient times.  So it might be surprising that this iconic ambassador only recently became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Since June, Fujisan joins 16 other sites around Japan as a place of distinction.  Other gems include Himeji-jō Castle, historic monuments of ancient Kyoto, Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the Ogasawara Islands.

The Best Connections

By Linda Tancs

We’ve discussed airlines’ on-time performance records previously, a topic that’s even more critical when a multileg flight is involved.  How much connection time should you allot to get off one plane and onto another?  OAG has the answer.  This trusted industry resource is perhaps best known for its airline schedules and flight status databases, with future and historical flight details for over 900 airlines and more than 4,000 airports.  The information is available via subscription, but to busy travelers it may represent the best dollars they’ve ever spent.

A Cruise Ship Fit for a Queen

By Linda Tancs

Undoubtedly it’s safe to say that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t charter cruise ships willy-nilly.   So when the monarch did just that to celebrate her 80th birthday, you’ve got to think that the ship must be something special.  That ship is the Hebridean Princess, a luxury ship hosting just 50 guests.  Now in its 25th season, the former ferry boat has come a long way indeed.  From March to November the ship sets sail from Oban for Scotland’s far flung isles, offering travelers the best way imaginable to discover the remoteness and beauty of the west coast.

Mexican Resort Offers Tahitian-Style Bungalows

By Linda Tancs

If the allure of a South Pacific bungalow has you longing for a Tahitian holiday (but not the flying time), then consider its North American equivalent in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.  Rosewood Mayakoba is a 1600-acre luxury resort enveloped by silky Caribbean sand and a verdant jungle.  Imagine yourself being welcomed to a deluxe overwater lagoon suite with an outdoor terrace and a heated plunge pool.  Have your private butler hail a boat from your private boat dock, sail around the nine classes of gorgeous accommodations and meet your neighbors.  You’ve found your Bali Hai.

Matisse Returns to Stockholm

By Linda Tancs

Stockholm’s Moderna Museet (Museum of Modern Art) boasts one of the finest collections of contemporary and modern art in Europe.  Its most famous work may be Robert Rauschenberg’s Monogram, but its most celebrated work is arguably Matisse’s Le Jardin following its triumphant return to the museum earlier this year after its notorious heist in 1987.  Kudos for the homecoming go to the Art Loss Register, an unassuming London company with one of the most extensive databases of stolen art worldwide.

A Dinner to Remember

By Linda Tancs

For those of you who think that a swanky dinner for two at Monte Carlo’s Louis XV is a wallet-busting experience at a mere $700 or so (not to mention a gastronomical delight), here’s one for the record books:  Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel is celebrating its impending 60th anniversary with a culinary offering to the tune of $1954 per couple.  Called the 1954 Dining Experience, this culinary “journey” (appropriately named considering it costs as much as some summer vacations) begins with a bottle of Louis Roderer Cristal champagne and includes Petrossian Royal Osetra caviar, a 12-ounce Japanese Wagyu strip steak, an artisanal cheese selection and two sweet treats created by the award-winning pastry-making staff, among other things.  Following the meal, you’ll be escorted to the star-studded LIV lounge for a wee dram to aid your digestion (but not your dwindling bank account).

Lumiere Dazzles in the U.K.

By Linda Tancs

The medieval city of Durham in northeast England will once again be transformed into a bedazzling landscape of light during this year’s Lumiere Festival today through 17 November.  Artists from around the world will adorn the city with their light projects, such as an installation of “dancing” sparks, giving the appearance of fireflies, at Durham Cathedral.  From 28 November to 1 December the festival of light continues in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, featuring neon balloon dogs, an interactive forest, and a fire garden.

The Green Flash

By Linda Tancs

A green flash sunset, when the last sliver of sun turns green before vanishing into the horizon, is spectacular–and elusive for many.   That’s because a confluence of events must occur for a viewing of this phenomenon:  you need an unobstructed view and no haze or cloud cover at the horizon.  For these reasons, it’s a treat best caught on the open sea.  My favorite green flash moment was in Moorea in the South Pacific.  Leave a comment about your own green flash experience!

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