Category: Europe

Germany Travel Recommendations

Long Night of Museums: all-night festivities in Berlin museums

Whoever thought we would stay up all night to go to museums? When the Long Night of Museums in Berlin rolled around this year, however, we were there – along with many thousands of our best friends for the night. This year, the 20th birthday of the museum night drew more than 30,000 visitors all across Germany’s capital city.

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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.

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Battle for Berlin memorial at Museum Seelower Höhen

Just 1 hour and 30 minutes east of central Berlin by car, near the Polish border and the Oder River is the site of the biggest battle of WWII fought on German soil. Memorializing this battle at at Seelower Höhen (Seelow Heights) and located at the highest point overlooking the farmlands below sits the Museum Seelower Höhen.

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Great carnival parades in Europe: Think small (Updated February 2017)

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!

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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.

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Q110 Bank of the Future in Berlin by Deutsche Bank gets revamp

Earlier in 2016, HI Travel Tales wrote about a new kind of banking experience by Deutsche Bank called “Q110 Bank” or “Bank of the Future.” We were quite enthralled by the casual and friendly, yet efficient and hard-working experience. The concept we wrote about had been active for several years without much change (the branch itself originally opened in 2005), so Deutsche Bank decided it was time to re-think its original “concept bank” and try out something different. The update was unveiled on Nov. 18, 2016, on a rainy day near the outlet not far from Checkpoint Charlie in central Berlin (Mitte).

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France Travel Recommendations

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.

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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.

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Touring Loire Valley by bike peaceful and fun

If there is “slow food,” then consider trying out “slow touring.” Touring Loire Valley by bike allows you to stop, ponder, photograph and enjoy while not missing a bit. Forget whizzing past to get to the next castle or winery. You’ll still get there. It’ll just be a bit slower and a whole lot more fun.

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Loire Valley wine tasting experience is memorable

Covering several hundred square miles with hundreds of wineries, Loire Valley wine tasting opportunities are numerous. This French region may be one of the world’s most well-known wine-producing areas – but HOLY COW how do you get to experience it all on a short visit? The wine trail (“La route des vignobles”) is nearly 500 miles! The Loire Valley tourist and wine experts have figured that out for you, so take a breath and get ready to take a sip (or two, or three…).

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Postcard Paris: Jardin du Luxembourg escape

Paris is a marvelous, invigorating city with many corners to explore but sometimes you have to make like a Parisian and go to the park to escape it all. The Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th arrondissement near the Sorbonne and only about a mile from St. Michel and the Seine River is just right for that.

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A must-visit: France’s Villandry castle gardens

The Loire Valley, about an hour south of Paris, is known for its wines – mostly a softer, lighter rosé or white but also some vibrant reds – as well as for its castles. You could spend weeks visiting all the wineries and castles – or longer. But be sure to stop in to see the Villandry castle gardens.

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Norway Travel Recommendations

Entranced by light on a Hurtigruten stop in Honningsvag Norway

I was entranced by the light. Honningsvag is of course beautiful in a simple way, but mid-day in November in northern Norway the sun is already pretending to set. This time of year there is only twilight for a few hours mid-day. The light sparkles off the windows of the homes and paints the hills with a red glow.

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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.

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Cheery red flowers on barren trees in Kirkenes, Norway

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. Although mid-day, it felt more like twilight and everything was icy and snow-covered. We ended up along the banks of an inlet with Nordic skiing tracks.

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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.

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Roros Norway – A charming historic mining town

Roros, Norway offers endless charm and, in the winter, plenty of dark days and snow! Located in central Norway on a high plain Roros is a small village that, as a historic mining town, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mid-November snowfall we experienced while visiting made it all the more charming.

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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 from our personal experiences.

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Eight reasons to visit Trondheim

How many reasons do you need to visit Trondheim, Norway? Founded by Vikings as a trading post in 997 AD, Trondheim is one of Norway’s oldest cities, and one of its largest. Located on a peninsula it enjoys a relatively mild maritime climate (by northern European standards, of course). Trondheim also boasts a vibrant cultural life and despite its size, its historic city center still feels intimate. And, the city is well known for its many festivals, variety of excellent restaurants as well as musical and art scene. But there are other very good reasons to visit Trondheim – eight of them in fact and we give them to you here.

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United Kingdom Travel Recommendations

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.

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Discover hidden Cornwall: Mevagissey and Pentewan full of charm

Discover hidden Cornwall and the surrounding countryside dotted with quaint villages along the eastern shore. It is easy to lose yourself for a few days when visiting the eastern coastline of Cornwall, England. Travel with us by photograph as we guide you to a few of our favorite destinations to travel including Mevagissey and Pentewan (including the Lost Gardens of Heligan).

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Cornwall: View from garden lawn of St Michael’s Mount

It is easy to lose yourself for a few days when visiting Penzance and surrounding areas along the eastern coastline of Cornwall, England. A few of our favorite places to visit in Cornwall include Mevagissey and Pentewan (including the Lost Gardens of Heligan), down to Penzance, St Michaels Mount (where the above image was quickly painted into my journal), and Mousehole.

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Travel Recommendations - Austria, Italy, Switzerland

Swiss Carnival parade a clean version just for kids

Carneval (a.k.a. Fasching, Mardi Gras, etc) is a time for debauchery in many locales where it is grandly celebrated. But in some small towns there are several days of parades, including ones just for kids – like this Swiss carnival parade I photographed.

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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.

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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.

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Postcard Zurich: City air smells like chocolate!

We all know Switzerland is known for its chocolate … amazing, rich, yummy, decadent chocolate. In this “Postcard Zurich” the female half of HI Travel Tales remembers when she got off the train in a small suburb of Zurich and, as she walked to her hotel, she thought to herself, “This place smells like chocolate.”

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A road with irons: Dolomites Via Ferrata Tridentina

I stood at the bottom of the cliffs, staring up at my first Dolomites via ferrata, or “road with irons,” — the Via Ferrata Tridentina.

“Where does it go?” I asked the others with me as we slipped on our harnesses and helmets to head out on the Tridentina route in Italy’s Dolomites. I squinted into the sun, trying to make out any of the iron stairs, cables or ladders along the route on the rock face stretching to the sky above. “Can we see it from here? It doesn’t go straight up THAT, does it?”

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More Travel Ideas & Inspiration

  • Asia
  • North America
  • Central America
  • South America
  • South Pacific | Oceania

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.

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