A headline in a press release about an offering this year in the “Oscars gift bag” — a bulging mix of high-end swag presented to Academy Award nominees in five top acting and directing categories — caught my eye today.
I was even more intrigued when I continued reading from the release, which was distributed by Visit Sweden USA, the Swedish tourism organization:
“When the whole world turns its eyes to the Oscars on April 25, Sweden’s remote lighthouse island of Pater Noster will once again be in the spotlight.
“While just four actors and one director will bring home the gold in the top individual categories, all 24 Oscars nominees receive a gift bag including a stay at this lighthouse turned hotel perched at the… Continue reading
I admit I was a little surprised several years ago when I toured the entire island of Ireland and discovered that St. Patrick — the patron saint of Ireland and largely credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland — actually did much of his missionary work and is reputedly buried in County Down, which is now part of Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
It was less than a quarter-century ago (April 1998) that “The Troubles,” as they were called — an often violent class-related and sectarian three-decade conflict in Northern Ireland between those who wanted to remain in the UK (mostly Protestants) and those who wanted to break away and join the Republic of Ireland (mostly Catholics) — ended in the Good Friday Agreement to settle the issue peacefully.… Continue reading
The last time my wife and I were in Oslo, we did exactly what contributing writer Robert Waite advises against: we skipped town too quickly, flying off to Bergen and our Hurtigruten coastal voyage the day after we arrived.
Walking around Oslo during our free afternoon there, on a beautifully sunny late spring day, we soon realized our mistake. It had been some years since we’d been to the city, and much had changed — by the looks of it, much for the better. But I’ll let Bob delve into all that.
One particular memory stands out among the people we encountered there.
After having dinner at a local restaurant on the evening of our arrival, I left a tip in cash that I knew was way too… Continue reading
Like Contributing Writer Robert Waite, I was also thrilled to finally set foot on the Rock of Gibraltar — in our case, it was a few years ago, when my wife and I approached it by sea from Morocco.
Previously, we had passed it a few times while crossing the Straits of Gibraltar from Spain to North Africa, but from a distance all you see is a…rock. Not that it isn’t an impressive rock — one time I wasted almost an entire roll of film trying to photograph it from too great a distance — but when you approach it it quickly becomes apparent how alive it is with people and activity.
I’ll let Bob take it from here — with a hearty recommendation that you visit when you can.
By Robert Waite… Continue reading
In the second part of a two-part series, contributing writer Robert Waite finally gets to turn his Albanian travel dream into reality. Among other things, he finds a wealth of bizarre historical remnants — including former dictator’s Enver Hoxha’s vast nuclear bunker — which have now become tourist attractions.
Here’s Part I of the series, By Travel Obsessed: Albanian Edition, in case you missed it.
By Robert Waite
Tirana, Albania – After narrowly escaping having our car impounded and my decades-long dream of visiting Albania dashed, we were finally on our way.
Barred from driving ourselves, we engaged Roberto, a Dubrovnik-based guide, to take us to Kotor in Montenegro.
Along the way, he proved quite gregarious, providing colorful commentary on the traits we should expect to observe upon meeting the locals in Kotor. It… Continue reading
Here is the third installment in contributing writer Robert Waite’s literary tour of what I call “countries that I really want to visit but haven’t yet.”
I came tantalizingly close to the latter a few years ago while on a cruise that stopped in Corfu, Greece, just 22 miles (35 kilometres) from Albania. Ferry boats heading to Albania beckoned, but the cruise ship — during just a four-hour stop in Corfu — would not wait.
Longtime readers of this blog might also recall that I’m something… Continue reading
As of January 1, 2020, “Holland” — the storied land of wooden shoes, windmills, bicycles, and tulips — is no more.
Did it finally succumb to flooding, with little Dutch children no longer able to stick their fingers in the dykes to hold back the rushing waters?
No, the country isn’t disappearing, just its commonly used monniker.
It seems that the name “Holland” has fallen victim to a government rebranding effort designed to ease overtourism in Amsterdam and its nearby tourist magnets such as The Hague, Delft, and Haarlem, all part of historical Holland.
The official name of the country — the Netherlands — encompasses more than historical Holland, and the Dutch government is spending €200,000 on the rebranding so that tourists will expand their horizons and visit its… Continue reading
When we last left Sandy Coghlan, an Aussie baby boomer who has written up her 1969-70 European travels in her new book, Yesterday: A Baby Boomer’s Rite of Passage, she was in Monaco enjoying the somewhat casual changing of the guard in front of Prince Rainier’s and Princess Grace’s fairytale palace.
If you haven’t read Part I of excerpts from her travel diary, you can go there now. As with Part I, I’ve added some of my own notes to provide context. Sandy has included her vintage photos and a few postcards from her travels.
We pick up the narrative in Rome, where she has gone to work as an au pair, looking after five children under the age of seven. (She confesses she got the job by saying she was the oldest of five children and had lots of experience looking after her… Continue reading
Today I have the pleasure of introducing guest poster Sandy Coghlan, an Aussie Boomer who has written a diary-style book, Yesterday: A Baby Boomer’s Rite of Passage, about her sojourn in Europe in the magical mystery tour days of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Back then, it was literally cheaper to travel on the Continent than it was to stay home — especially if you were willing to catch a few winks on some overnight ferries, crash with friends or in inexpensive hostels, and maybe do some hitchhiking that didn’t always take you where you planned to go. (And many young travelers did just that.)
I enjoyed Sandy’s account in part because — despite our differences in nationality, gender, and travel experience — it reminded me of my own first adventures in Europe nearly 50 (gasp!) years ago: memorable moments of discovery and revelation, and perhaps even more… Continue reading