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Ever since Bergen was the inspiration for the kingdom of Arendelle in the hit Disney film Frozen, this Norwegian town has been getting a lot of attention from travelers. But the city is more than a fairytale setting — although the vibrant colors on the historic buildings in Bryggen wharf may seem straight out of a storybook. Teeming with culture, nature, and adventure alike, some of Bergen’s other proud badges include Norway’s second largest city, the Gateway to the Fjords, and a European City of Culture. Here are five ways to experience the best of all that on a budget:
By Claudine Zap
Really want to get away from it all? Consider a hotel that’s so remote, you can get there only by boat (or seaplane if you’re a tycoon). Think Robinson Crusoe without the shipwreck. Here, some of the standouts.
The dock leading to paradise — Ilet Oscar Guest House (Photo: Ilet Oscar Guest House)
Swiss Air Lines is offering some good fares to a number of European cities for the fall and winter, but you will have to make your mind up quickly as the sale ends at midnight tonight. If you’re wondering whether you’re ready to make a spontaneous booking, take a look at our handy checklist. Otherwise, you can book through our Travel Search tool, or visit the airline’s web site directly.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Disney’s animated film Frozen has become a global sensation since its release last year. It’s currently the highest-grossing animated film of all time, and the demand for film merchandise at Disney Stores led to the implementation of a limit of two items per guest. Guests hoping to meet the film’s animated stars, Anna and Elsa, in the Magic Kingdom have reported wait times of three to five hours.
Cashing in on the movie’s success, Disney is bringing more Frozen offerings to its parks this year, and even to its Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney vacation company in 2015. Here’s what’s brewing…
Travel is filled with emotions. Anytime you go somewhere, you’re giving yourself the chance to be delighted, to fall in love, to feel out of place, to find comfort. That’s a big part of why we like to get out there — and yet sometimes nothing in the English language adequately explains these experiences. Or at least not as succinctly as these foreign travel-related words we’ve gathered below. We’re keeping these in our back pocket for the next time we’re grasping for a word to capture a specific, evocative moment from our journeys, and we invite you to do the same.
If you’ve ever taken a Disney vacation, you’re probably familiar with the company’s focus on customer service, and its commitment to helping you make lasting memories. Clearly, there’s a reason why families head to Walt Disney World and Disneyland over and over again. But everyone could occasionally use a change of pace. (After all, you can only ride Dumbo so many times.)
As views go, lakes provide a backdrop that is at once soothing and full of mystery. Unlike oceans, these mighty bodies of water are contained. You can row across their surface, dive for shipwrecks, or simply go bird-watching, all in the safe knowledge that land is never too far away. More than anything, lakes can provide a refreshing change of scenery from days spent shopping in town or hiking in the surrounding mountains.
Here are a few lakefront views worth traveling for.
Barcelona has its Sagrada Familia. Sydney has its white-hooded Opera House. And other places? Well, they’ve got steps – lots and lots of them. As the examples illustrate below, epic staircases aren’t just a way to reach higher ground. They can be major attractions unto themselves. From the fabled Ha’iku Ladder in Hawaii, to Norway’s never-ending Flørli Steps, these jaw-dropping ascents aren’t for the faint of heart. But once you get to the top, we think you’ll agree the views more than make up for the effort. Read more
If you’ve been entertaining the idea of a warm, sunny Caribbean getaway to reward yourself for making it through winter (hang in there, we’re almost in the clear!), here’s something to make you reconsider: Norwegian has just launched a “Nonstop Europe” sale with one-way flights starting at $201 to top urban spots like Copenhagen, London, Stockholm, and more. This is easily one of the best flight deals to Europe that’s currently available. Read more
Located two-hundred miles above the Arctic Circle, Tromsø, Norway isn’t exactly an ideal winter getaway. The city receives two hours of sunlight on a good day; temperatures hover at around 5°F; and any exposed skin is subjected to a vicious beating by polar winds. Though these conditions are probably only be pleasing to a puffin, Tromsø, home to a bustling college town and polar paradise, attracts thousands of tourists each winter.
So what’s there to do in the arctic, other than freezing half to death? Here are five options for any budget:
Yes, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi have been mired in controversy, but we can’t help but get into the Olympic spirit as the opening ceremonies (February 7) draw nearer. After all, what beats watching a trained professional athlete go hurtling down the luge track at 90 miles an hour? We’ve taken a look back at previous winter Olympics host sites, and all the fun activities that visitors can still do there. Now, who’s ready for some bobsledding? Read more
Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world for Americans to visit. But it has almost nothing to do with the currency conversation rate. Currenly $1 USD translates into approximately 6 Norwegian krones, which sounds positive, but consider that a single beer will run you about 60 or 70 krones. Yikes. There’s no getting around the price of a meal in most cases, but we found a few ways to save cash in this spendy destination… Read more
There is generally one main factor at play when it comes to cruise prices during the holiday season: the strength of the cruise industry. If it’s been a gangbuster year, don’t expect the cruise lines to wave you aboard for a pittance. Conversely, if sales have been lagging over the past ten months, they’re more likely to roll out holiday deals in a bid to shore up fourth quarter revenues. Value offers will vary by line, so consumers will benefit from some comparison shopping.
Though 2013 brought some challenges to the cruise market – remember the Carnival Triumph power loss in February? – deals seem to be on the scarce side this season. Nevertheless, we found a few decent ones floating around: Read more
Angkor Wat, the Grand Canyon, the Blue Lagoon: just a few of the natural and man-made wonders many of us, if we’re lucky, get to experience during a lifetime of travel. In most cases, visiting them is as easy as just showing up. But what about the countless other jaw-dropping sites we’ll never get to see? Whether too remote, or frozen under ice, or sunk at the bottom of the ocean, here are a few “hidden” sites that no technological advancements – or wishful thinking – can ever bring us closer to.
Earlier this month, a team of scientists discovered a previously-unknown volcano, located deep under the Pacific, 1,000 miles off the coast of Japan. Confirmed as the largest volcano in the world (about a hundred times bigger than Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, which previously held the title), the rock mound, nicknamed Tamu Massif, would make for a pretty impressive sight – too bad its summit lies 4,500 feet below the ocean’s surface. Evidence shows that the 124-million-year-old volcano likely went dormant shortly after it formed, though that doesn’t bring us any closer to traversing its wide, craggy surface. Read more
Eurostar recently tested service between London and Aix-en-Provence. Later this year, the TGV will begin running a direct service between Paris and Barcelona, and, starting in 2016, a new Deutsche Bahn route through the Channel Tunnel will link London to Amsterdam, Cologne, and Frankfurt. Ditching Europe’s budget airlines in favor of its railways is beginning to look more attractive. Not only is rail travel throughout Europe often as quick as, if not quicker than flying, it also has the bonus of spectacular scenery along the way.
Our favorite European rail journeys are not necessarily the fastest, but they are some of the most memorable.
The Bergen Line: Bergen to Oslo, Norway
Traveling along the 231-mile-long highest mainline railway line in Northern Europe offers you a front row seat for some of Norway’s most spectacular landscapes; think dramatic fjords, lush forests, and crystalline waterfalls. If you have the time, take the branch line that runs from Myrdal to Flåm, a village at the inner end of Aurlansfjord, an arm of Sognefjord, Norway’s biggest fjord. This 12-mile route takes around one hour and climbs more than 2,838 feet making it the steepest standard-gauge railway in Europe. Read more
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