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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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PART 4: THE TROLL’S DAUGHTER DANCES, WATERFALLS PLUNGE, AND THERE’S SALMON… LOTS AND LOTS OF SALMON!

In PART 3: STEPPING INTO THE FAIRY TALE WORLD THAT IS NORWAY–GOAT FARMS, SKI RESORTS, FJORDS AND WHITE-KNUCKLE MOUNTAIN ROADS, we visited one of Norway’s most dramatic fjords, dined at a goat farm, and mellowed to the music of Composer Edvard Grieg.

The pastoral elegance of Lofthus

We leave Bergen, the second largest city in Norway, for the serene pastoral elegance of Lofthus, a city in Norway’s Fjord District. Small farms and villages tuck onto mountainsides. Slopes embrace sparkling fjords. Wild flowers grow haphazardly, creating a landscape of emotionally-charged blues, whites, greens, yellows and pinks. This is the Norway of picture postcards, of a place where time has paused to let one breathe crisp clean air and soak in the relentless natural beauty.

Lofthus

Where we stayed:

Over the bridge and to the water-surrounded decking at Hotel Ullensvang

Hotel Ullensvang may be one of the most beautiful resorts at which my husband Russ and I have ever stayed. From the moment we enter the Read the rest of this entry »

PART 3: STEPPING INTO THE FAIRY TALE WORLD THAT IS NORWAY–GOAT FARMS, SKI RESORTS, FJORDS AND WHITE-KNUCKLE MOUNTAIN ROADS

a private wedding and event center, in Oslofjord

In PART 2: DANISH ROYALTY– FROM THE QUEEN’S RESIDENCE TO HAMLET’S CASTLE TO KAREN BLIXEN’S SANCTUARY, reminders of Denmark’s history thrive today in castles, heroic citizens and the Arts.

We stepped onto the Pearl Seaways, an 1800-passenger cruise liner that masquerades as a ferry, in Copenhagen, Denmark and stepped off in Oslo, Norway. If our Odysseys Unlimited tour group of 24 had been awake during the overnight journey, we’d have seen some of the islands and landmarks along Norway’s 1,100-mile coastline.

Over the next 10 days Tour Director Karin Hansen led us by bus on hairpin mountain roads to gaze Read the rest of this entry »

PART 2: DANISH ROYALTY– FROM THE QUEEN’S RESIDENCE TO HAMLET’S CASTLE TO KAREN BLIXEN’S SANCTUARY.

a classic building in Copenhagen

In PART 1: VIKINGS DID NOT HAVE HORNS ON THEIR HELMETS, we began our three week trip by spending a week in Denmark, with a brief foray into Germany, with friends.

Copenhagen is a worldly metropolis without pretensions, much like the royal family who are called by their first names, or the 50% of the population who daily commute by bicycle and think nothing of leaning them unlocked against a building wall.

Fashion styles are typically in muted colors and casually sophisticated. Furniture has smooth, clean lines. People are friendly, direct, no-nonsense and unfailingly obey traffic lights. Healthcare for citizens is free, but the taxes are among the highest in the world. Open-faced sandwiches, herring, and Vienna Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

HOT DEALS!

River Terrace Inn living room in Napa City, CA

I’ve written about the Napa Valley Wine Train throughout many years. I’ve had the pleasure to ride this turn-of-the-century train, munch on gourmet appetizers and sip on wines from local vineyards. I’ve also been fortunate enough to dine during a media tour at The River Terrace Inn in Napa City, an eclectically designed boutique hotel with gorgeous garden and a prime spot on the Napa River. These two very special places have combined their unique assets to offer stay-and-ride promotions. From stopping points along the train route at name vineyards such as Charles Krug, to dining riverside at The Read the rest of this entry »

MADRID, BARCELONA AND TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS

In Part 3, Churches were once Mosques and Synagogues, Novelists pay homage to Spain’s bullfighters and castles, Tapas tantalizes and Flamenco fiery passions ignite.

Spain rolls out the welcome mat

Madrid was the last stop of our guided Odyssey Tour. For five of the 10 couples, our next stop was Barcelona, a three-day tour extension. Odyssey arranged our transportation to the airport from Madrid to Barcelona and had a local guide waiting to escort us to our final hotel. Transportation was also arranged to take us to the airport for our journey home.

Downtown Spain, where many buildings have sculptures decorating the skylines.

Where we stayed: Wellington Hotel, an old-world property near some of Spain’s luxury shopping. Many of the stores were brands popular in the United States, such as Tiffany or Benetton.

What we saw: Plaza Mayor, located in the heart of the city, and Palacio Real, a 2,800 room residence that was home to Bourbon kings from Charles III to Alfonso XIII. The palace today Read the rest of this entry »

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