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PART 5: OSLO, A CULTURAL METROPOLIS FOR MUSEUMS, ARTS, FABULOUS FOOD, THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE, AND SO MUCH MORE!

Polar ship Fram

In PART 4: THE TROLL’S DAUGHTER DANCES, WATERFALLS PLUNGE, AND THERE’S SALMON… LOTS AND LOTS OF SALMON! We have left behind the jutting mountains, roaring waterfalls, and orchards planted on sloping hills like grapevines for the country’s largest city.

OSLO translates to Field of the Gods. It is a city undergoing vast urban revitalization.

Where we stayed:

Travellers of all shapes find their way to Thon Hotel Opera

Thon Hotel Opera is a convenient location that will become even more advantageous when the Oslo Opera House opens half a block away in 2019. Right now, the 480-room hotel is ideal for its location to shopping, restaurants and attractions, but what is particularly ideal is its Read the rest of this entry »

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The Viking Museum in Roskilde

PART 1: VIKINGS DID NOT HAVE HORNS ON THEIR HELMETS

Plunging waterfalls descending from steep rocky mountain walls and glacial gray splashing water into deep shimmery fjords of Norway are not photo-shopped by travel magazines.

Danish pastries are actually called Vienna bread in Denmark, and contrary to belief, they are not one of the country’s better known exports. Bacon is.

Pretty much everyone in Denmark and Norway speaks better English than many Americans.

Scandinavian countries take great care to preserve their heritage, architecture, and cultural norms.

Those are just some of the truisms my husband and I learned during our week’s stay in Denmark Read the rest of this entry »

The Whitby, a stylish new hotel in midtown Manhattan, NY

HOT DEALS!

Time is running out to book a stay at Gran Meliá Nacional Rio de Janeiro and receive both a 20% discount with MeliáRewards, plus $200 in resort credit. Stay by August 31 at this beautiful São Conrado beach location.

www.melia.com ; 1-(844) 425-9969.

Whimsically-colorful, cozy and being within walking distance to Central Park and Broadway, are just a few factors that make The Whitby, a new hotel and one of the latest additions to Design Hotels’ Collection, a charming treasure for small groups. It’s one of the few midtown Manhattan hotels with numerous balconies, several private event rooms, and its own and a 130-seat state-of-the-art cinema. The Whitby has 86 rooms and suites spanning 16 floors. The rooms range from 330 to 1,845-sf. Contemporary interior design is by Kit Kemp. The Whitby is the second New York property owned by Firmdale Hotels. Book now Read the rest of this entry »

Halloween approaches and the call came for Natasha, The Psychic Lady to get her spook on!

Halloween approaches and the call came for Natasha, The Psychic Lady to get her spook on!

You know how Christmas trees, wrapping, and twinkling lights crash land in stores these days by August, bypassing all the other approaching holiday celebrations? That’s how I’ve looked at Halloween parties that have already been in full swing in September. For you readers who live in countries that don’t celebrate Halloween, you won’t understand the frenzy of costume parties that has increasingly attracted adults to attire themselves as characters from favorite books, TV or movies, or to parody trending political figures. Halloween used to be about youths dressing up as pirates, princesses, and super heroes one night a year to amass all the candy they could carry from neighbors doling out sweet treats. Halloween has morphed into one of the biggest expensed holidays in the world.
I mention Halloween because many of you who don’t know me personally have asked about the part of my bio that says I am also Natasha, The Psychic Lady. Yes, this is not a joke or just an act. Come October, I am put to the sleep-deprived test of having more work entertaining at corporate and social parties than I can possibly do. I constantly have wished some of this work would spread out to other months, and this year, it appears that wish has been granted. By the end of September, I have already worked several Halloween-flavored parties. At this rate, it won’t be long before I’ll be dressing for an assortment of themed Halloween events in August. Here’s just one of my looks for the “darker, witchier” themes that seem to be trending.
Now, on to the reason you regularly read this column: what exotic destinations are offering discounted deals, events to amuse or educate, and where you can travel either leisurely or with a group.
HOT DEALS FOR INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS
Design Hotels offers exceptional international destinations with unique venues and great promotional discounts. Here are just a few of current offerings. Save up to 20% for a stay til December 31 at the 101-room Avalon Hotel (Gothenburg, Sweden). The deal includes Read the rest of this entry »

Anchor Bar, original creators of Buffalo wings, is crammed with memorabilia.

Anchor Bar, original creators of Buffalo wings, is crammed with memorabilia.

In Part 1, Architectural Icons Were Examined

Before I met my husband Russ, I would have looked at ornately-designed buildings or décor and thought, “How pretty” and likely that would have been the end of it. Married to someone who has taken me travelling internationally and domestically just to admire fine, sleek lines or fanciful carved motifs or intricately-patterned ceilings and has made a career from his knowledge and creative building skills, has turned my passing admiration into deeper appreciation for the art, skills and craftsmanship necessary to erect these structures. That so many cities have managed to preserve, restore and renovate buildings that could never again be (cost-effective) to be built in our lifetime is worthy of recognition. Buffalo is one such city.

Of course, having walked and gawked all day, one must eat to refuel energy. Just as architects and patrons of the arts have left their imprint on Buffalo, so have culinary artists who have created legendary dishes, such as Buffalo wings, that are (likely) known across the globe.

RESTAURANTS WE RECOMMEND

Panorama on Seven in the Buffalo Marriott Harborcenter was one of three places A Chamber of Commerce woman suggested we’d find the best Beef on Weck sandwiches in the area. What separates these three, including Schwabl’s and Bar-Bill Tavern, from others is that the seasoned meat is slow-cooked for hours, contrary to places that import frozen beef and then reheat at the last minute. For those of you not from Buffalo, Beef on Weck is a signature sandwich. Mounds of thin-sliced roast beef are piled onto a Kümmelweck bun, which is salted and caraway-seeded. The Panorama’s were served on sliders. Russ enjoyed the sliders and was eager to try the sandwich at Schwabl’s.

Schwabl’s began serving German-styled cuisine and Beef on Weck sandwiches 1837. Their current West Seneca restaurant is a step back in time. The waitresses might call you honey, the tables are close together, and you watch the chef slicing the meat on a counter, after Read the rest of this entry »

The Silver Chalet Dome at St. Louis Union Station wants to be your group party venue

The Silver Chalet Dome at St. Louis Union Station wants to be your group party venue

In this issue: Vintage Trains roll on in St. Louis and Napa Valley
Making Moonshine: the new teambuilding event guaranteed to bring smiles
Exotic destinations and discount offers
HOT DEALS!!!!!
Exotic getaways that offer discounts or incentives is always exciting, but Design Hotels, has cranked up their summer offerings. Take for instance, the chance to enjoy a three-course set menu dinner in The Dining Room, a trendy new restaurant at Blakes Hotel in London, UK. The South Kensington couture hotel designed by former Bond girl, Anouska Hempel, features individually-styled boutique furnishings in each guestroom. No minimum stay requirements. At the Nakar Hotel in Palma De Mallorca, Spain you will have to book at least three nights, but you get great rates, free breakfast and WiFi, and the chance to be on Avinguda Jaume III, one of the area’s liveliest shopping streets. The 57-room hotel is fashioned from local materials and the onsite restaurant serves authentic “urban Majorquine” cuisine. Of course, if you’re looking for a relaxing, food-driven stay without all the

C-hotel, Lake Como, Italy

C-hotel, Lake Como, Italy

glamorous décor, check out C-Hotel & Spa in Cassago Brianza, Lake Como, Italy. You can smell the rich chocolate notes of freshly ground coffee the moment you step in to the stone-clad lobby that emanates from the family-owned 18-room hotel’s Italian bar and confectionary shop. Incentives include breakfast and those tantalizing dishes made from locally-sourced products.
http://www.DesignHotels.com
Omni Hotels & Resorts knows you work hard and wants to reward your efforts by using your work travel as a vacation opportunity when staying at one of their luxury hotels. Group guests (at participating Omni properties) can extend their stay by two days either before or after the original stay dates at an exclusive rate. Simply apply the promo code EXTENDG for 15 percent* off the best bar rate. Omni will also send a “reminder” email two days after a room reservation to notify the guest that the reservation is eligible for the exclusive rate extension. The offer only applies to reservations that are originally less than six nights. There are other restrictions but you can check Read the rest of this entry »

The beauty of Patagonia outside our hotel window in Torres del Paine National Park

The beauty of Patagonia outside our hotel window in Torres del Paine National Park

Google Patagonia, Chile and the iconic picture that pops up is likely of The Masif. Photos of the 10,000 foot high giant rarely do it justice, especially when you’re staring at its snow-bald cap under a startling blue sky streaked with puffy white clouds. Few get to see The Masif preening in all its glory. Mostly the base is visible under a heavy blanket of fog or grey rain. Once again, the weather gods were kind to our intrepid group.

We’d seen the Masif in the distance, but our six-hour bus ride from Punta Arenas (where we’d disembarked from our ship, the Stella Australis) brought us up close and personal. For the next few days, the rustic 95-room Hotel Rio Serrano, located near the entrance of Torres del Paine National Park, would be our home. Our

An early morning rainbow bursts from the mountain in Torres del Paine area, just outside of our hotel. photo by Russ Wagner

An early morning rainbow bursts from the mountain in Torres del Paine area, just outside of our hotel. photo by Russ Wagner

Smithsonian Journeys-arranged lodging backed up to a horse farm, green and gold grasses, glaciers glinting in the sunrise orange sky and a rainbow bursting from the cracks of steep craggy Read the rest of this entry »

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