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After a year-long absence from Eurail’s Select Pass program, France officially returned to the network last month, becoming the 27th participating European country. (Other changes: Eurail has chosen to do away with passes that allow travel between three and five pre-selected countries, in lieu of a four-country pass only.) To celebrate, we’ve put together three wanderlust-worthy itineraries for taking advantage of the newly revamped program.
Whether established as a joke, to make a political point, or purely by accident, these 10 micronations across the world show that, if you don’t like your own country, you can just go ahead and start your own. Of course, like all of the ones we’ve listed, yours might never be recognized as a real nation, but you may not mind.
Visit our slideshow to learn about the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, The Empire of Atlantium, a dictatorial banana-republic in Nevada, and more.
Sweden’s capital may have a reputation for being expensive (restaurant prices are 15 percent higher than in New York), but those who live in the city full-time know how to hang onto their Krona. Here are some tips on low prices go, straight from the mouths of in-the-know locals…
If you’ve ever dreamed of splashing around with dolphins, Flipper-style, singing with crabs like a certain redheaded mermaid, or simply like the sound of “sleeping with the fishes,” then here are eight epic hotels that bring you as close to the deep blue as you’ll ever get.
Pemba Island, Zanzibar
What if you could book your own, private island? Well… you can, kinda. Essentially a three-story, private, floating island in the midst of the Zanzibar archipelago, The Manta Resort (from $900 per night) features everything from a perfect sunbathing deck, open-ocean swimming, and a bedroom submerged 13 feet below the ocean.
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
Norwegian, the third largest low-cost airline in Europe, is celebrating its new fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners with some crazy low rates. The new aircraft will be flying nonstop between Stockholm and New York’s JFK Airport three times a week, and round-trip fares are going for as low as $391. For less than the cost of a West Coast getaway, a trip would be worth it even for just a long winter weekend.
If you’ve been following FX’s current cross-border crime drama, The Bridge, you might not know that the show is actually a remake of a joint Swedish/Danish series based on a border in the Øresund Region. The region, which encompasses the Danish capital, Copenhagen, and Sweden’s third largest city, Malmö, is truly binational. Many residents commute back and forth across the five-mile Øresund Bridge that connects the two cities for work or play. Tourism boards tout the area as a “two nation vacation,” highlighting the ease of crossing between the two countries – you don’t even need a passport, though you do have to change currencies.
If you’re in Copenhagen with a day (or a few) to spare, we have some tips for what to do in Malmö, the city on the other side of the bridge. Read more
The 201-room Nobis Hotel in Stockholm sits on Norrmalmstorg Square and is in close proximity to the city’s business, shopping and entertainment district. It houses a restaurant and a bistro, offers good service, and it’s a pretty good-looking building. The rooms are modern (automated check-in, free Wi-fi) with mellow colors like mauve, creme, and mahogany, and many of them look out over the Square. While these are all reasonably interesting details about the hotel, its most notable attribute has more to do with history. Read more
Looking to expand your travel horizons this summer or fall? We’ve got the deals for you. From Bonaire to Bali to Bulgaria, travel outside the usual domestic or Caribbean destinations and head somewhere truly special this season – and still save in the process. Read more
Even if the cold doesn’t bother you, the trouble with winter is that nightfall arrives sooner than most of us would like it to. There is however, one good reason to venture out into the frigid winter air during the darkest months of the year: the Northern Lights. Also known as aurora borealis or the “northern dawn,” this electrical phenomena is approaching a peak period that will last until about 2016. In other words, if you haven’t seen this shimmering display before, the odds of catching a glimpse in the next few years are higher than usual. Clear skies on or around the spring equinox (March 20 in 2013) will up your chances even further. And for travelers planning a trip to see the aurora, the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks helpfully posts a forecast online. Read more
I arrived in Stockholm for what would be the start of a seven-week journey through Europe. I figured I would start up north and make my way to warmer climates in the days ahead. Stockholm in summer is terrific because the days are long and the way the sun hits the city makes its colors come alive.
However, when planning a summer trip to Stockholm, it is important to bring along some sweaters and a jacket. I have made this mistake before in packing shorts and t-shirts thinking the Baltic countries are just like the rest of Europe. Not so. The weather can be quite rainy and cool, so be prepared.
Stockholm can best be summarized as civilized. In my opinion, Sweden is probably the most civilized country in the world. Everyone is incredibly friendly and helpful. And unlike in some cultures where they are friendly and, rather than not give you any information, they sometimes give you wrong information, the Swedes are very precise and accurate. I grew to love this in my five days exploring the city.
China is notorious for pirating movies, watches, and handbags. Recently, however, a Chinese village took imitation to the next level by copying an Austrian town in its entirety, right down to its street signs. Incredibly, “pirated” places in China are not all that new. From Austria to Australia, here are some examples of China replicating famous landmarks from around the world.
Original: Hallstatt Village, Austria
Chinese Copy: Huizhou
Hallstatt is a former salt mining town turned UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its pristine alpine landscape, epitomized by the surrounding Dachstein Mountains. The town’s long history is also a huge draw for visitors who flock here to experience the world’s oldest salt mine, or view the 1,200 flower- painted human skulls at gothic St. Michael’s Chapel. No one, however, is more enamored with Hallstatt is than the residents of the Chinese town of Huizhou. A city in the southern Guangdong province, Huizhou’s latest urban plans involved cloning the Austrian village right down to its smallest detail, from Hallstatt’s pastel colors, to copies of its angel sculptures. Read more
The rapidly expanding network of Scandinavian-based Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (branded simply as “Norwegian”) is about to get a major boost, with the announcement of 34 soon-to-launch routes set to roll out throughout the Nordic region. The new offerings are scheduled to kick off in March 2012, and will feature flights between cities in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland and the rest of Europe, bringing the tally of the airline’s robust network to nearly 300 routes, which spans North Africa and the Middle East, as well.
Some highlights from the new service will include: Bergen–Edinburgh; Oslo–Reykjavik; Stockholm–Corfu; Stockholm–Amsterdam; Copenhagen–Milan; Helsinki–Paris; and more. In addition to the service debuts, Norwegian will be adding capacity to 40 of its most frequented flight routes, with a particular emphasis on Mediterranean destinations. Starting rates are advertised from €27 ($37) one-way. Read more
Stockholm is a city set on 14 islands and surrounded by nature – locals in chest-high waders even fish for salmon midstream in front of the Royal Palace! But it’s also a city of splendid architecture, fascinating history (don’t miss the hulking wooden remains of the Vasa, a 17th-century gun ship that sank in Stockholm Harbor in 1638 and remained under water for 333 years until being raised and placed in a visually striking museum) and chic, contemporary design (IKEA may be Sweden’s most notable home décor export, but there’s plenty more individual ingenuity on display). I recently spent a few days in Stockholm, which I must warn you is one of the priciest cities in Europe these days for American tourists, and had a chance to compare two hotels, one less than a year old and among the city’s trendiest, and one a waterfront legend with 133 years of history. Both offer romantic settings – just of a different kind. Here’s a quick comparison:
One holiday down… a season to go! And if there’s one thing we made sure to give thanks for at our table yesterday, it’s the bevy of queer cheer Europe provides this time of year – two Pink Christmas festivals alone.
Kicking off December 1 with a World AIDS Day gala (TicNet.se), Stockholm brings the festive flavor all month long with parties, shows, and seductive Santas. Highlights include a mondo lesbian party December 11 at Södermalm clubs Momma and Roxy and an all-night affair celebrating Saint Lucia, the queen of light, on December 12. If last year’s festivities are any indication, different bars will take a non-traditional slant on the theme before Lucia “herself” drags it up, dressed in white with a crown of candles before dawn on the 13th. For more info on Pink Christmas and the whole Pink December festival, check out QX magazine (QX.se/gaymap) or Stockholm’s LGBT blog (StockholmTown.com/gay-lesbian), which will have all up-to-date info as it’s released.
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