Destinations

7 Continents | 46 Countries | 50 States

Over the years, we’ve traveled millions of miles around the globe. And we’re still traveling. In our Destinations section, you will find stories and resources written exclusively from our personal experiences. And in every story, our award-winning photography is certain to inspire your travel dreams. If like us you seek off-the-beaten-track destinations and more meaningful experiences, we’ll help you discover the unexpected and extraordinary wherever you go.

Use the “Destinations” drop-down menu at the top of the page to navigate directly to a continent that interests you. Each continent landing page has menu bars by country directly under the image. Or simply browse our travel stories below or use our “Quick Navigation” icons to pique your travel curiosity.

Quick Navigation – A few of our favorite places

Africa California Bay Bridge San Francisco Sunset Maine Lighthouse New York City The Vessel Louisiana Houmas House Plantation Germany Bamberg Norway Honningsvåg Austria Kitzbuhel

iVisa.com

Over the years, we’ve traveled millions of miles around the globe. And we’re still traveling. In our Destinations section, you will find stories and resources written exclusively from our personal experiences. And in every story, our award-winning photography is certain to inspire your travel dreams. If like us you seek off-the-beaten-track destinations and more meaningful experiences, we’ll help you discover the unexpected and extraordinary wherever you go.

Quick Navigation – Favorite Places

California Bay Bridge San Francisco Sunset Maine Lighthouse New York City The Vessel Louisiana Houmas House Plantation
Africa Germany Bamberg Norway Honningsvåg Austria Kitzbuhel
iVisa.com

Browse all our stories

Discover San Francisco secret gardens, rooftop parks and open spaces

Discover San Francisco secret gardens, rooftop parks and open spaces

POPOS may sound like a funny name for something you’d munch on during happy hour, but that is so wrong. POPOS stands for “Privately Owned Public Open Spaces,” a.k.a. San Francisco secret gardens, urban parks, and city open spaces. Whether you as a traveler call them POPOS, secret gardens, or rooftop parks, they are ideal respites and secluded open spaces when wandering and touring cities for anyone who just needs to rest weary feet or simply take in the surroundings or do a little people-watching – for free, and often in a really pleasant venue.

What Chernobyl looks like today: the Chernobyl disaster in photos

What Chernobyl looks like today: the Chernobyl disaster in photos

What does apocalypse look like? To see what Chernobyl looks like today, I visited the Chernobyl disaster zone in early 2020, nearly 34 years after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine exploded. The disaster forced tens of thousands to leave their homes, many more to perish from radiation exposure, and countless others to suffer from disease.

Houmas House: a luxurious plantation country estate

Houmas House: a luxurious plantation country estate

Houmas House estate is a New Orleans area attraction located in Louisiana’s River Parishes. Once one of the biggest and richest plantations in Louisiana’s plantation country, it’s now a destination for lovers of architecture, gardens and fine dining, as well as an entertainment venue.

Plan a trip to coastal Maine: A MidCoast Maine travel planner

Plan a trip to coastal Maine: A MidCoast Maine travel planner

Explore MidCoast Maine on a coastal Maine road trip. Sit in a classic Adirondack chair and enjoy coastal breezes, eat fresh lobster while taking in ocean views, visit with local craftsmen, and explore back roads winding through quaint Maine towns. Our MidCoast Maine travel planner will help you organize your vacation.

What to do in Fresno on a Highway 99 road trip in California

What to do in Fresno on a Highway 99 road trip in California

Located along Highway 99 in the Central Valley, Fresno doesn’t immediately grab you as a place worth spending much more than a night. But appearances can be deceiving. There are quite a few historical, cultural and culinary gems waiting to be explored in California’s fifth-largest city. Read on to know what to do in Fresno.

Nazi Mauthausen concentration camp was notorious

Nazi Mauthausen concentration camp was notorious

The Mauthausen Memorial in Austria offers a sobering look at Nazi terror during World War II. The former Mauthausen concentration camp, located not far from the Danube River, was one of the Nazis most notorious camps. It is estimated that of the 190,000 prisoners held at Mauthausen during the seven years the camp operated, at least 90,000 died. 

Discover the secret Ostannya Barykada restaurant in Kyiv

Discover the secret Ostannya Barykada restaurant in Kyiv

Ostannya Barykada restaurant, also known as the Last Barricade restaurant, is a hidden secret worth discovering in Kyiv. It is not just a restaurant with historic décor and astounding, creative, all-Ukrainian food and drink. Think of Ostannya Barykada as a gastronomic space in a museum that gives a huge bear hug to the essence of Ukraine.

Dining at Drago’s Seafood Restaurant on the Louisiana Oyster Trail

Dining at Drago’s Seafood Restaurant on the Louisiana Oyster Trail

We were following the Louisiana Oyster Trail in the town of Metairie just outside New Orleans. Our first stop was at the door of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, home of the charbroiled oyster. Oysters were on the menu, and Michael was eagerly looking forward to sampling the promised charbroiled oyster dish. Drago’s offers so much more than oysters though, as we were to discover.

What to do in Bergen: The ultimate Bergen city guide

What to do in Bergen: The ultimate Bergen city guide

Our What to do in Bergen city guide will help you make the most of your upcoming visit. It is so very easy to fall in love with Bergen. Visit Bryggen a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Theta Museum, the Bergen Maritime Museum, Bergenhus Festning, and ride the Fløibanen funicular for starters.

How to get from Spain to Tangier Morocco

How to get from Spain to Tangier Morocco

The trip from Madrid Spain to Tangier Morocco is not difficult and not that expensive, using the Spanish train system called Renfe and the ferry company called FRS. And you get to pass across the Strait of Gibraltar, the narrow body of water that is the only entrance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic. 

Hiking and relaxing in Theth Albania

Hiking and relaxing in Theth Albania

Albania, more known for beaches than mountains, is a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts. We loved our hiking vacation in the mountains of Theth Albania. With Albania poised to join the European Union a hiking in Albania holiday should be on your list now.

Things to do in Oslo: a pocket Oslo city guide

Things to do in Oslo: a pocket Oslo city guide

Our Oslo city guide will help you make the most of your visit. Central Oslo is compact, cozy, walkable and enjoyable, especially with our Ultimate City Guide to Oslo. You’ll see Norway’s Resistance Museum, Akershus Fortress, The Viking Ship Museum, the Royal Palace, Vigeland Park and so much more.

A sacred place: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

A sacred place: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

To visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is like stepping into a real-life Jurassic Park. The Gwich’in people call the Arctic Refuge, “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.” You have to see the Arctic Refuge for yourself to believe it. This story was awarded a Silver Medal for travel writing by the North American Travel Journalists Association.

Enchanting Botanical Nights at the Berlin Botanical Gardens

Enchanting Botanical Nights at the Berlin Botanical Gardens

Botanical Nights in the Botanical Garden Berlin make visiting a botanical garden something full of mystery, magic, intrigue, musicians, lightshows and fun. Plants, trees, greenhouses and ponds come alive during Berlin’s Botanical Nights. The cover photo for this story was awarded a Gold Medal by the North American Travel Journalists Association for travel photography.

Is Morocco safe? Insider’s guide to traveling safely in Morocco

Is Morocco safe? Insider’s guide to traveling safely in Morocco

Is Morocco safe to travel in? Many people wonder. We talked with Open Doors Morocco to get traveling tips on travel safety in Morocco. Morocco is an African country with French roots, a conservative culture and Muslim religion, and it intrigues travelers with its culture and landscape certainly, but travelers still wonder about safety. We can tell you that Morocco is very safe if you travel smart. The cover photo won a Silver Medal from the North American Travel Journalists Association for travel photography.

The 7 best things to do in Doha, the capital of Qatar

The 7 best things to do in Doha, the capital of Qatar

Looking for the best things to do in Doha? Now one of the fastest growing cities in the world, Doha, in the tiny country of Qatar, is worthy of a best place to travel nod. Know what to do in Doha with our 7 top tips including the Souq Waqif, The Pearl Qatar, the Doha Corniche, and the Museum of Islamic Art.

Great carnival parades in Europe: Think small (Updated February 2019)

Great carnival parades in Europe: Think small (Updated February 2019)

Known in the United States as Mardi Gras (actually French for “Fat Tuesday), the traditions of excessive celebrations and outrageous carnival parades prior to the pre-Easter fasting during Lent date back many centuries in Europe. But you don’t have to head to the crowd-filled streets of big towns like Germany’s Cologne or Dusseldorf, France’s Nice, or Switzerland’s Basel to experience some great carnival parades in Europe. And you don’t even have to indulge in excess!

Newseum: Washington DC museum for news, politics & history buffs

Newseum: Washington DC museum for news, politics & history buffs

Whether you are a history enthusiast, news and politics buff, or a student or fan of media and first-amendment rights, the Newseum is a must-go museum in Washington, D.C. Even though the spectacular Newseum is not free, it offers an insider look at all things news, current events, past history and First Amendment. There is something for everyone, not to mention great lessons for students visiting Washington, D.C.

Meet the Spoon Family – Leipzig, Germany

Meet the Spoon Family – Leipzig, Germany

Meet the Spoon Family — This classic neon sign was installed in 1973 at the former East German company headquarters of VEB Feinkost Leipzig, a food manufacturer of canned soups, vegetables and other items. After the Berlin Wall came down the sign fell into disrepair. It was declared a cultural monument in 1993.

Stasi Prison in Hohenschönhausen Berlin a house of terror

Stasi Prison in Hohenschönhausen Berlin a house of terror

The Stasi Prison in Hohenschönhausen is a memorial in Berlin to 44 years of terror and political persecution at the hands of the GDR. This prison was in a restricted military area in Soviet occupied East Berlin and was never marked on any East German map of East Berlin. The former prison of the Ministry of State Security (Stasi) is preserved as a memorial and is unlike any other memorial in Germany. It is a must-see destination.

Know what it’s like to go bike touring in Europe

Know what it’s like to go bike touring in Europe

While no bike tour company is exactly alike — and no two tours will likely ever be identical, there is common ground when bike touring in Europe. Follow along with us as we give you an idea through photographs and quick tips what a day in the life bike touring in Europe is like.

A Croatian lady and her figs

A Croatian lady and her figs

The fruit grown in Croatia and the farmlands reminded me of my childhood. When I happened across this woman dressed in traditional garb sitting quietly at the side of the road beside her tray of drying figs, I had to stop.

A traveler’s guide to European coffee culture

A traveler’s guide to European coffee culture

We have experienced coffee culture around Europe. And we’ve sampled the many various ways of serving the caffinated elixer, from nearly syrupy dark tablespoons of caffeine in doll-sized cups to huge bowls of espresso and frothy milk. It’s what you do as a traveler – enjoy a cup of local coffee as the locals enjoy it.

Trekking Patagonia: Seeking adventure on the Huemul Circuit

Trekking Patagonia: Seeking adventure on the Huemul Circuit

Trekking Patagonia. Whatever guidebook you read about trekking in Patagonia, this South American region most certainly is on the “to-do list” of any mountain or outdoor person. Arthur Kudelka, director of the service department for outdoor footwear brand LOWA, headed to Argentina in 2017 and shares his journal and amazing photos with us.

Forestiere Underground Gardens: Fresno stop for curious travelers

Forestiere Underground Gardens: Fresno stop for curious travelers

The Underground Gardens tourist destination offers an intriguing tale for all ages that is well worth a stop. The Underground Gardens is what it sounds like: A weaving labyrinth of caverns, rooms and passages all dug underground and filled with fruit trees, vines and plants in spaces that open to the sky. This oddity was built – or shall we say, dug – by Italian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere for about 38 years starting in 1906.

Rocky Mountaineer luxury train trips in Western Canada: Do it your way travel tips

Rocky Mountaineer luxury train trips in Western Canada: Do it your way travel tips

The Rocky Mountaineer website is detailed and the staff helpful. However, it can still be a bit baffling to decide what route to take. Turns out the “most popular” one may not be the “best,” depending on your definition. And you also can “have it your way” with any Rocky Mountaineer luxury train vacation you choose. Just ask! We did – and we’re sharing a few Rocky Mountaineer tips to help you get the most out of your luxury train holiday in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.

Rocky Mountaineer luxury train planning and travel tips for Western Canada

Rocky Mountaineer luxury train planning and travel tips for Western Canada

The Rocky Mountaineer train trip through the Canadian Rocky Mountains is an adventure of a lifetime, remaining for many a bit of a luxury indulgence. Before you book your Rocky Mountaineer train trip, read our insider tips detailing which class of service is the best for you – gold, gold plus, or silver. Choices are so important in making the most of what for many is a bucket list item.

Louvre Museum: Historic meets modern in Paris

Louvre Museum: Historic meets modern in Paris

Depending on who’s talking, the Louvre Museum in Paris is the second-most-visited site in the French city. And the world’s most-visited museum, with nearly 10 million people touring the grand halls in 2016 (although that number slides up and down a bit from different sources). This, for example, is where the Mona Lisa resides.

On safari in India to see tigers, and much more

On safari in India to see tigers, and much more

Jill and Dan Pavlat wanted to see a tiger. To help make that dream come true, they signed up for a Journeys international trip to India that included took them on safari in India twice. You double down on your opportunities when your goal is to see such an elusive creature.

5 great Berlin street food markets

5 great Berlin street food markets

As the burgeoning and bustling capital of Germany, Berlin offers an addicting restaurant scene with any international or trendy cuisine you may desire. But in keeping with its gritty, artistic ways, Berlin has a superior street food market scene. We show you 5 great Berlin street food markets you won’t want to miss.

Visit Papua New Guinea: Tribal dances, Goroka Show, friendly people

Visit Papua New Guinea: Tribal dances, Goroka Show, friendly people

There were a great many unknowns leading into our 14-day Papua New Guinea adventure with Journeys International. Safety in Port Moresby was a concern as was hygiene, malaria, the quality of food and drink, and transport reliability. Although there were a few minor glitches, everything went to plan and it was easy to enjoy the friendly people in Papua New Guinea, a seldom-visited part of the world.

What to see in Lijiang – a quick video tour

What to see in Lijiang – a quick video tour

Old town Lijiang is not unlike Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco in its tourist-trap draw; however, as you will see in this video, like Fisherman’s Wharf, if you look, you will find plenty of history and beauty amid the almost unimaginable concentration of shops and vendors. The maze of streets and canals of old town Lijiang invites you to get happily lost — and lost you will get. Hopefully, the sound of running water from the many canals will serve as a soothing backdrop to the press of tourism from mostly Chinese tourists. If you were wondering what to see in Lijiang, this video is a good place to start.

Whiskey and color inspires artwork in old town Lijiang, China

Whiskey and color inspires artwork in old town Lijiang, China

It was while wandering old town Lijiang with iPad in hand that I became fascinated with the colors and textures of an old restaurant with the word “whiskey” emblazoned over its windows. I am not really sure what street I was on as I had been happily wandering for several hours in this tangled world of artistic inspiration.

9 tips to guide your visit to Arlington National Cemetery

9 tips to guide your visit to Arlington National Cemetery

The first time I visited Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., was when my Uncle Ara Mooradian, MIA in the Korean War, received a memorial service in 2004 with full military honors – horse-drawn caisson, soldiers on horses, 21-gun salute, Missing Man Formation, the whole deal. I have a tie to Arlington that may be different than many, but that doesn’t mean your visit to Arlington National Cemetery will be any less memorable.

Pray for peace: Riot of colorful prayer flags in Shangri-la

Pray for peace: Riot of colorful prayer flags in Shangri-la

Most tourists end up on the Shangri-la main square where the huge golden Prayer Wheel and glittering Golden temple sit. Amazing, yes. But I had been eyeing a small temple I could not quite make out on a low hill on the edge of town. “What is that?” I kept asking and never quite got a satisfactory reply. Michael and I headed up and out of town on our break, thinking we’d just explore a little bit. And what a fantastic temple it was.

Six things to do in Washington DC that are often overlooked

Six things to do in Washington DC that are often overlooked

If you have a trip to Washington, DC, coming up soon, the Smithsonian Museums are a standard to fill time. How about a change of pace? Here are six things to do in DC that many visitors overlook – including The George Mason Memorial, The National Gallery of Art free concerts, the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Air Force Memorial, and the National Archives.

Kirkenes Travel Tips: An Arctic frontier at road’s end

Kirkenes Travel Tips: An Arctic frontier at road’s end

Kirkenes is quite literally an Arctic frontier at road’s end, located as far northeast as possible in Norway, close to the Varangerfjord. It is both the endpoint for the northbound Hurtigruten ferry and the northern terminus of the E6, the main road that runs north-south between Kirkenes and Oslo.

Photographing red flowers on barren trees in Kirkenes

Photographing red flowers on barren trees in Kirkenes

On a few hour break from our Hurtigruten ship, the Midnatsol before it would depart the dock to head back south along the Norwegian coast toward Oslo, we took a little walk through Kirkenes. We came across red blossoms on a tree, beautiful in the snow. Learn how Therese took the photo and how the beauty of Kirkenes inspired her.

The Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow near Berlin, Germany, is an engineering marvel

The Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow near Berlin, Germany, is an engineering marvel

The Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow was completed in 1934 and is part of the Haavel-Oder waterway connecting the Elbe and Oder river basins. The waterway begins in Berlin at the Spandau lock and opens into the West Oder at the border area between Poland and Germany. Watching ships being raised and lowered in this ship elevator is amazing. A true engineering marvel.

Kirkenes – Arctic light becomes artist’s delight

Kirkenes – Arctic light becomes artist’s delight

Kirkenes is located in the farthest (and iciest and darkest) reaches of northeastern Norway, a stone’s throw from the Russian border. It is approximately 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle off the Barents Sea. The small town serves as the northernmost port for the Hurtigruten coastal ferry and the northern terminus of the E6, the main road that runs north-south between Kirkenes and Oslo.

Rose Hill Cemetery at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve

Rose Hill Cemetery at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve

The San Francisco Bay Area hills are spotted with numerous parks where one can hike or picnic, often with great views of the rolling countryside or even the ocean. Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve east of San Francisco has another secret worth a traveler’s exploration: the Rose Hill Cemetery dating back to the Gold Rush.

Picturesque Mousehole Harbor a favorite of artists

Picturesque Mousehole Harbor a favorite of artists

Mousehole has retained much of its charm with narrow streets, art galleries, quaint shops and half-timber cottages. The harbor wall and two breakwaters are there to shield the Mousehole village from winter gales and pounding waves as well as to create a peaceful shelter for visitors to sit and stroll.

Colorful Buildings Along Trondheim’s Nidelva River

Colorful Buildings Along Trondheim’s Nidelva River

Trondheim is a colorful city, and while it is the third largest city in Norway, it feels much more intimate than its size might imply. The Nidelva river runs through the city, beside the Nidaros Cathedral and past an historical area called Bakklandet situated on its banks north of the Old Town Bridge.

Travel to Bolivia, land of stark contrast and breathtaking beauty

Travel to Bolivia, land of stark contrast and breathtaking beauty

If travel to Bolivia is not on your current dream destination list, it needs to be. The fifth-largest country in South America, it is land-locked and bordered by Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Paraguay. Two ranges of the Andes, as well as the Amazon basin, split Bolivia, creating a uniquely diverse mix of cultural, scenic and natural wonders. But it is the stark contrasts in climates and experiences – from legendary sunsets on the shores of Lake Titicaca to the modern and hip tropical vibe of Santa Cruz to the expansive salt flats near La Paz. Bolivia magically weaves heritage, architecture, culture and natural wonders into an experience that relatively few tourists experience even today.

An exotic taste of Latin America in Cartagena, Colombia

An exotic taste of Latin America in Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia, promises an exotic taste of Latin America even if you only have a week or less of vacation time. What you’ll discover: some of the best seafood of your life (so good, Anthony Bourdain counted it among his top picks); colorful streets that ooze Spanish-colonial charm and beg to be photographed; regionally made, artisan keepsakes such as wide-brimmed straw hats and iconic mochila bags; boutique properties so sumptuous and inviting they feel more like a stay at your friend’s historical mansion than a hotel; and day trips to remote islands for snorkeling and seafood straight from the ocean to the grill.

Travel to Colombia, a destination with a warm welcome

Travel to Colombia, a destination with a warm welcome

Travel to Colombia offers renewed possibilities for adventure and tourism fun that many countries do not. First-time Journeys International travelers Judith and Clive Kamins talk with us about their February 2016 trip to Colombia. Although Journeys newbies, the retired seniors from Chicago have in fact “touched every continent except Antarctica, as our grandchildren remind us.”

Monk on a walk at Huating Temple, Kunming, China

Monk on a walk at Huating Temple, Kunming, China

On our daylong adventure to get to Dragon Gate, we climbed steep stairs and ventured into caves and small temples – what a worthwhile trek! At our last stop at the end of the day at Huating Temple, I ambled silently around the pond. It was very quiet, I felt peaceful, and no tourists were in sight since it was only minutes before 5 p.m. when the gates would close.

Stone Forest in Yunnan great day trip from Kunming

Stone Forest in Yunnan great day trip from Kunming

A UNESCO World Heritage site in part since 2007, the Stone Forest (“Shilin” in Chinese) in the Yunnan province of China is considered to be a unique natural wonder and represents one of the best examples of karst rock formations in the world. Simply put, it is magical, mystical place where culture, legend, and natural history share the stage with limestone rock formations that will delight visitors of any age.

Top 6 things to do in Kunming, China

Top 6 things to do in Kunming, China

If a visit to China takes you to the Yunnan province, you will most likely end up passing through Kunming, the region’s large and quite bustling metropolitan area. Here are six top things to do in Kunming on a stopover, whether you are traveling there to visit the city itself, or need a few days to acclimatize to jet travel or altitude (Don’t forget that Kunming is 6,200 feet elevation).

Experience tranquility inside the Yuantong Temple of Kunming

Experience tranquility inside the Yuantong Temple of Kunming

Take a tour of the Yuantong Temple, considered the most famous Buddhist temple in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. Unlike other Buddhist temples into which you ascend, Yuantong is unique in that you enter into the temple grounds from above and descend from the city streets along a garden path and into the center, a large pond with wondrous stone bridges and surrounded by magnificent buildings.

The gold panning world championships – not just about panning for gold

The gold panning world championships – not just about panning for gold

Since HI Travel Tales is based in California’s so-called Gold Country, we naively thought that this was the center of the panning for gold world. You know, Sierra Nevada gold rush, gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill, gold miners, ‘49ers, and all that jazz. Boy did we learn a thing or two, like gold panning is a world-wide pursuit and there is even a world championships each year.

Hong Kong airport layover: Getting into Hong Kong is so easy

Hong Kong airport layover: Getting into Hong Kong is so easy

A good number of flights to and from various Asian cities experience a Hong Kong airport layover — for a few hours or even much longer, like our layover of 17 hours. No need to hunker down in the airport, though. Hong Kong has made taking a quick trip into town such child’s play. So go ahead, pop into Hong Kong for a meal, a walk, the famous Hong Kong waterfront light show, or even a night’s sleep.

Spectacular Hong Kong skyline from Victoria Harbor waterfront

Spectacular Hong Kong skyline from Victoria Harbor waterfront

While my wife and I were wandering along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade during a 17-hour layover in Hong Kong (we were on our way home to San Francisco following an adventure in mainland China), I became entranced. I, like most others out that night, could not tear my gaze from the colorful and dramatic skyline of Hong Kong Island across the busy waters of Victoria Harbor.

Wagging Bambi tails at Jardin des Plantes in Paris

Wagging Bambi tails at Jardin des Plantes in Paris

Paris is a city that is filled with parks – more than 400 — from postage stamp size ones on street corners to sprawling green spaces, like the Jardin des Plantes with its 28 hectares (69 acres) that were first planted in 1626. The most beautiful thing about this plant-filled wonderland for visitors? It’s free.

Creative, tasty meals at Basque Ogi Deli in Elko, Nevada

Creative, tasty meals at Basque Ogi Deli in Elko, Nevada

When you’re driving along Interstate 80 across frequently spectacular yet periodically desolate Nevada desert, eatery choices can be, well, less than inviting. So when we first found this amazing deli in Elko – now called Basque Ogi Deli, but it was “2 Dames and a Deli” when we discovered it – we were utterly delighted.

Historic Gold Rush town Michigan Bluff off beaten path

Historic Gold Rush town Michigan Bluff off beaten path

Situated at about the halfway point of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, Michigan Bluff is a California Gold Rush town so tiny nobody even bothers to count how many people live there. Could be about 20. Give or take. An old mining hamlet that once teemed with thousands of gold-seeking pioneers, this is what they call in true Old West cowboy slang a “one-horse town.” No, there’s not much there, but that’s what makes it charming and worth a stop for a hike or a walk when in the Sierra Nevada Gold Country.

Haunting history on Berlin Underground tours

Haunting history on Berlin Underground tours

Underground city tours always seemed to be a tourist come-on to me, but then I discovered Berlin Underground tours. Not a for-profit business, not a tour that drops you off in a gift shop, not a tour that starts in a bar and highlights raucous partying, this is the real deal in Berlin’s Underground.

Everyone Loves a Parade! Musikfest Bregenzerwald

Everyone Loves a Parade! Musikfest Bregenzerwald

Everyone loves a parade! This parade took place in July 2016 in Egg, Austria, and is part of a festival known as Musikfest Bregenzerwald. This festival takes place in a different village every year in Bregenzerwald and is organized by the village hosting the event. Each village in Bregenzerwald has its own musicians group and each marches in the parade.

Quick Prenzlauer Berg travel guide to a Berlin hotspot

Quick Prenzlauer Berg travel guide to a Berlin hotspot

One of our favorite areas in Berlin is the artsy cool Prenzlauer Berg. Our Prenzlauer Berg travel guide will point you to the top things to do in this Berlin hot spot. Kollwitzplatz and Kastanienallee are particularly beautiful Prenzlauer Berg streets. Farmers markets, street festivals and more are regular occurrences.

Kanisfluh Sunrise in Bregenzerwald Austria

Kanisfluh Sunrise in Bregenzerwald Austria

On July 11, 2016, HITravelTales was part of the jury for the Scandinavian Outdoor Awards (ScandinavianOutdoorGroup.com) and was fortunate enough to be able to experience a spectacular sunrise from the summit of Kanisfluh in Bregenzerwald, Austria. Enjoy our hike with headlamps as the sun begins to crest the horizon and then the beauty of the area as the sun’s rays bring to life the color of this amazing place.

Artist’s war memorial at Berlin Bethlehemkirchplatz

Artist’s war memorial at Berlin Bethlehemkirchplatz

The memorial on the Berlin Bethlehemkirchplatz (Bethlehem Church Square) is actually the work of Spanish artist Juan Garaizabel to commemorate the Bohemian Bethlehem Church. This small church was built for Bohemian evangelical refugees in about 1735 and was a center of the community. It was destroyed by bombing in 1943.

International Donaufest Fireworks In Ulm 2016

International Donaufest Fireworks In Ulm 2016

The International Donaufest (Danube) Festival has been held since 1998 and occurs every other year. Ulm city center and the banks of the Danube river are turned into a sort of international festival to celebrate the coming together of regions and countries along the Danube that rely on the river — Bavaria, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. The festival last 10 days and includes a massive fireworks display. HI Travel Tales was there this year to witness the fireworks extravaganza from the banks of the Danube.

Visit Dragon Gate in Western Hills Xishan Park outside Kunming

Visit Dragon Gate in Western Hills Xishan Park outside Kunming

Not every must-see travel destination is so easy to get to. And that can make the journey even more of an adventure. Dragon Gate in the Western Hills Xishan Park on the outskirts of Kunming, China, is one of those. The reasons we can list are many – green hills with forested walking paths, a breather from the sensory chaos of the city, temples and pavilions dating back to the 11th century, views of the region from about 8,200 feet (2,000 feet above the city itself), winding stone staircases, strolling monks…

Dragon Gate and Western Hills in Kunming

Dragon Gate and Western Hills in Kunming

HITravelTales.com team visits Dragon Gate and Western Hills Xishan Park just outside of Kunming, China. Not every must-see travel destination is so easy to get to. And that can make the journey even more of an adventure. Dragon Gate in the Western Hills (Xishan Forest Park) on the outskirts of Kunming, China, is one of those. The reasons we can list are many – green hills with forested walking paths, a breather from the sensory chaos of the city, temples and pavilions dating back to the 11th century, views of the region from about 8,200 feet (2,000 feet above the city itself), winding stone staircases, strolling monks, gardens, sculptures and also grottoes and tunnels carved out of the mountains rock face. Watch the video for a quick taste of all that is waiting for you here.

Busy bee in Hamburg’s Planten un Blomen garden

Busy bee in Hamburg’s Planten un Blomen garden

A visit to the Planten un Blomen Garden on your Hamburg tour is a must, whether you are a flower and garden lover, adore open spaces, enjoy dancing water fountains, or just want a nice place for a stroll or picnic. Now, not many non-Germans head there – obvious in the fact that the official Hamburg tourism website doesn’t have the garden’s page translated into English!

Travel to Panama: Rainforests and beaches without the crowds

Travel to Panama: Rainforests and beaches without the crowds

Think of travel to Panama, and if you are like most, visiting the great big Panama Canal comes to mind. Take a minute, though to give Panama a closer look. Aside from the Panama Canal, the country boasts equal parts lush rainforest, exotic wildlife and pristine ocean beaches — without the Costa Rica crowds. And it is an ideal destination for traveling families.

Yuantong Temple watercolor inspired by tranquility

Yuantong Temple watercolor inspired by tranquility

Considered one of the most important and famous Buddhist temples in the Yunnan province of China, the grand Yuantong Temple in Kunming delights the senses. It was as I leaned against a wall gazing at the pavilion, mesmerized by the peacefulness and subtle magic that I was inspired to create the watercolor of the Yuantong Temple.

Colorful Signal Island snorkeling in New Caledonia

Colorful Signal Island snorkeling in New Caledonia

New Caledonia’s Signal Island (Ilot Signal) sits within what Conservation International lists as the world’s largest marine park. Within this park and nestled a mere 20 kilometers (just under 12.5 miles and 8 nautical miles) from New Caledonia’s capital city of Noumea, Signal Island is a unique marine reserve that offers its visitors unprecedented snorkeling in close proximity to a diversity of coral and tropical fish as well as hiking among sea birds and flora that is not easily replicated anywhere else in the world.

Celebrating Buddha’s birthday festival in Seoul a travel highlight

Celebrating Buddha’s birthday festival in Seoul a travel highlight

Widely celebrated in many Asian countries, Buddha’s birthday festival in Seoul, South Korea, was one of the highlights of our visit there. We took part in temple celebrations, Buddha blessings and washings, were awed by colorful lanterns and candles, and attended parades. Here are our insider tips to make the most of your Seoul visit and enjoy Buddha’s birthday festival celebrations during your visit.

Food and drink on Hurtigruten cruises in Norway

Food and drink on Hurtigruten cruises in Norway

You’ve booked your dream Hurtigruten cruise up the coast of Norway. Time to get ready for the onboard experience. Of course, a key part of this experience is food and drink on the Hurtigruten cruises in Norway. We learned by doing, and we hope you can also learn about Hurtigruten food choices and Hurtigruten drink options from our personal experiences.

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve – Wildflowers and waterfalls

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve – Wildflowers and waterfalls

Table Mountain reserve boasts one of the most spectacular waterfalls in California and an amazing display of California wildflowers in the spring, yet the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve (just “Table Mountain” reserve to locals) is surprisingly unknown. If you want blankets of colorful wildflowers, including periodic super blooms, Table Mountain delivers.

Table Mountain California full of wildflowers and waterfalls

Table Mountain California full of wildflowers and waterfalls

Located in the foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada, just 7 miles north of Oroville (approximately one hour drive north of Sacramento), the 3,315-acre Table Mountain preserve looks rather non-descript from afar. From Oroville, you can see the dark basalt (volcanic) cliffs and a hint of a flat plateau above, but little more. But get closer and you will experience spectacular wildflowers and amazing waterfalls.

Florida’s hidden gems: 10 more reasons to visit

Florida’s hidden gems: 10 more reasons to visit

There are plenty quiet and magical places sans crowds in Florida if you know where to look — places we like to refer to as Florida’s hidden gems. Rest assured that when Ponce de León first arrived in Florida in 1513 he wasn’t greeted by Walt Disney or Mickey Mouse. You too can get to Florida and not just find theme parks or senior citizens’ specials. The Sunshine State has hidden gems that whisk you way beyond the expected.

Eight reasons to visit Trondheim

Eight reasons to visit Trondheim

How many reasons do you need to visit Trondheim, Norway? Trondheim is one of Norway’s oldest cities and also boasts a vibrant cultural life. Despite its size, its historic city center still feels intimate. Visit Bakklandet, Old Town Bridge, Nidaros Cathedral and walk the Nidelva River.

Berlin Bank of the Future by Deutsche Bank

Berlin Bank of the Future by Deutsche Bank

A concierge? A gift and trinket store? A bar and coffeehouse? Waiters and fine décor? This is a bank? Yes, this is Germany’s “Deutsche Bank” — the so-called “Bank of the Future” in central Berlin, the company’s one-and-only concept bank where it tests ideas for the world.

Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida – Fort Jefferson 360 view

Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida – Fort Jefferson 360 view

Almost 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, lies a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the Dry Tortugas. With the surrounding shoals and water, they make up the Dry Tortugas National Park, an area noted for bird and marine life and shipwrecks. Fort Jefferson, its central cultural feature, is one of the nation’s largest 1800s masonry fort. Video shot in 360 with a Kodak Pixpro SP360 camera.

Visit Roros, Norway: UNESCO World Heritage town

Visit Roros, Norway: UNESCO World Heritage town

Roros is somewhat off-the-beaten-path of many tourists visiting Norway. Roros, a former mining town, earned a UNESCO World Heritage site designation for its rare collection of timber homes and buildings. Check out Tynset Church, Slegghaugan, and Smelthytta museum.

Fasnacht Parade Geislingen

Fasnacht Parade Geislingen

Fasnacht Parade in Geislingen, Germany — Carnival associations spend the entire year continuing the traditions, working on costumes, and planning parades and events. You can only take part if you have lived there for a minimum number of years, and costumes and masks must conform to historical precedents. Some of the costumes are quite old and handed down generation to generation to continue the carnival celebrations and their history. There, we were street side at the carnival parade in a small town called Geislingen, where many clubs have their own traditions, including the “Feuerhexen” (fire witches).

Cuddling with a koala at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Cuddling with a koala at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Roll your eyes if you must, but I’ve always dreamed of holding a koala. Not sure why that has been so important to me … perhaps the stuff of childhood fantasy. But I got my wish to cuddle with a koala in October 2013 during our stay in Brisbane, Australia at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, located a few kilometers away from Brisbane City Center.

Tiny German town answers letters to Santa for over 50 years

Tiny German town answers letters to Santa for over 50 years

It takes dedication to answer children’s letters to Santa Claus, whether he’s known as St. Nick, Father Christmas or Kris Kringle. But a few namesake towns around the world do just that – letters by the many thousands every year, year after year. There is one special town that answers letters to Santa Claus: Nikolausdorf (Nicholas village) in Lower Saxony in Northern Germany. With a population that barely brushes 1,000, it has its work cut out for it to answer nearly 8,000 letters each year.