Family-friendly Skiing in Idyllic Innsbruck

InnsbruckA major city in Austria’s Tyrolian region, Innsbruck is a gorgeous destination. Nestled in a valley between several high mountains, it’s the ideal spot for winter sports and has been lauded as one of the best skiing locations in the world. Twice the site of the Winter Olympic Games, Innsbruck is one of those cities that has it all – including not only lots of snow and great downhill terrain but also plenty to do off the slopes, including museums, excellent cultural events, and great culinary and après ski scenes.

If you’re traveling as a family, you’ll also find that Innsbruck is one of the most kid-friendly ski destinations in Austria and in Europe in general. As a matter of fact, ski magazines dub it one of the most stress-free locations for winter vacations with children. Ski schools are abundant and many of the resorts have a plethora of easy runs that new and almost-new skiers can tackle with relative confidence. Furthermore, outside the ski areas, there are plenty of things to do, from exploring snow-covered Old Town to visiting the Alpenzoo to spending time in surrealistic Crystal Worlds. The kids will love it!  (more…)

Experience Quiet Italy with a Visit to The Cinque Terre

Vernazza, ItalyIf you’ve never visited Italy and you’re planning on making your first trip to this spectacular country sometime in the near future, chances are you’re considering destinations such as Rome, Florence, Venice, and perhaps even Milan or maybe Sicily. But if you’ve already done the “Big 3” and visited some of Italy’s other most-popular destinations, perhaps it’s time to see the other side of Italy.

The Cinque Terre is a good example of Italy’s alternate personality. This rugged coastal area in the Ligurian region is nothing short of stunning, but it’s not the place to go if you’re looking for non-stop activities and lots of man-made attractions. As a matter of fact, The Cinque Terre is delightfully “under-developed”, content to be a place of rare beauty, lined with olive and lemon trees, where daily activities consist mostly of taking a dip in the warm waters of the Mediterranean or walking over to the next village to visit with family and friends. For that reason, it’s the perfect destination for those who seek something different on their next (or first) trip to Italy.  (more…)

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Dublin This Spring

Four Courts and River LiffeyAlways dreamed of an Ireland vacation? Then pack your gear and get ready to go, because spring is a wonderful time of year to visit the Emerald Isle. And what could be more wonderful then a springtime trip to Ireland’s beautiful capital city, bustling with life yet still old-fashioned enough to provide you with a trip that’s a combination of the best of old and new.

Here, modern buildings that reach towards the sky are nicely blended with traditional Georgian architecture. Old pubs that have been owned by the same family for generations sit beside sparkling new eateries that serve a variety of international cuisines in an atmosphere that says. “Look at us! We’re just as special as Paris, Rome, or London.”  (more…)

Brussels: Truly a “Capital” City

Given its role as the capital of not only Belgium but also the European Union, there’s plenty of “la-di-dah” in Brussels. Certainly, it’s not unusual to encounter a lot of people with a lot of power. Also home to the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Brussels is home to large numbers of diplomats and politicians, host to lots of soirees and red carpet events, and a place where it means a lot to say you’ve rubbed elbows with so-and-so.

That’s not to say, however, that Brussels and its people – the regular people – are pretentious. Even though the buildings are grand and the per capita income high, the city isn’t snobby; visitors feel welcome and can sense a sort of laid back feel that’s prominent throughout, especially in the neighborhoods that are home to long-time Belgians who’ve been around long enough to remember what the city was like before it became the political center of Europe. (more…)

Experience the Best of Austria on a Leisurely Honeymoon in Vienna

154188932There’s nothing more romantic then a city where relaxation – Gemütlichkeitis a way of life. Honeymooning in Vienna, where the citizens are serious about time set aside to play or just enjoy “the view,” is ideal for couples who don’t mind moving at a nice, slow pace, content to saunter leisurely from one activity or another…or perhaps enjoy no activity at all!

Indeed, you won’t be at a loss for things to do in this wonderful city that’s an excellent mixture of old-fashioned and new-fangled, but you may simply find yourself doing those things a little more slowly than usual. Practicing the fine art of Gemütlichkeit, couples might linger a few minutes longer over their morning coffee and sachertorte, or perhaps take some extra time to explore the morning Naschmarkt before moving on to the first museum of the day. If you’re looking for a whirlwind honeymoon, this isn’t the place. But if you seek beauty, fun, and plenty of romance, you’ll have made the right choice in Vienna.  (more…)

Be Enchanted by the Castles of Croatia

Ancient walls of Dubrovnik, CroatiaPicture the castle of your fantasies and you’ll most likely see in your mind’s eye Germany’s memorable Neuschwanstein or perhaps France’s magnificent Château de Chenonceau. While those are among the most well-known and – without a doubt – some of the most beautiful castles on the planet, you might be surprised to know that there are a number of breathtaking castles in places you might not expect to find them, including in many of the countries of Central Europe such as Croatia.

If you’ve never thought of visiting Croatia, perhaps it’s because you remember the Croatia of the late 20th century when it was an area in turmoil. Indeed, after World War II the country became a Socialist federal unit, ruled by the Communist party. The region remained explosive for nearly 50 years but, finally, in 1995, after a war with Yugoslavia, Croatia gained its independence and recognition by the United Nations and the European Economic Community. Today, it continues to have a developing economy but has worked towards making itself more visitor-friendly. That’s good news for castle fanatics, since there are more than 5 dozen castles, manors, and fortresses spread throughout this 21,000 square-mile country. (more…)

Cooking Your Way Across Europe

VeniceThese days, visitors to countries around the world often enjoy doing something other than visiting museums, sitting on the beach, or exploring the city or countryside. Many travelers delight in hands-on experiences that teach them a bit about the culture of the country they’re visiting. For that reason, experiences such as cooking classes have become more and more popular, providing a way for those interested in the culinary arts to truly immerse themselves in the region’s food while also learning about the fine art of preparing delicious food in general.

If you’re a true foodie, you know that what you eat and where you eat it during your European trip is nearly as important as whether you see the Eiffel Tower at night or take a gondola ride through the canals of Venice. Cooking classes and other similar culinary-related activities simply add another dimension to that food experience and, happily, such activities are available all across Europe, from 2-hour classes in the humble kitchens of Ireland to multi-day experiences with some of the world’s best French chefs. Check out these fun and informative cooking classes:  (more…)

World War II Tours of Germany a Best Bet for the History Buff

Brandenburg Gate, BerlinNearly 70 years after the end of World War II, it’s safe to say that there are probably only a handful of American World War II veterans remaining. Yet, there are many Americans that were touched by the war in one way or another. Some were small children when the war was fought and perhaps have vague memories of the goings-on. Others were affected by this particularly brutal war because they lost loved ones, either in battle or in the atrocious genocide spearheaded by the Hitler regime. Perhaps others fled Europe or other parts of the world when the war started simply to find safety and freedom.

Whatever the connection to World War II may be, over the years many individuals have made trips to Germany to view the region where the war was fought, either for a very personal reason or – in many cases – for reasons that stem simply from being an avid history buff.  Indeed, a trip to Germany can be a fascinating excursion as well as a sobering reminder of what took place during that era.  (more…)

Family Fun in Kid-Friendly Copenhagen

Old Town in Copenhagen, DenmarkMany adults, even those with children at home, prefer to travel on their own. Other parents, however, delight in the opportunity to take their children with them on their adventures. And why not? For the most part, kids – especially after they’ve reached about age 7 or 8 – are excellent traveling companions. At the risk of being cliché, they literally see the world through different eyes, catching things that adults might otherwise miss or may not otherwise appreciate if not viewed with the benefit of that wonderful childlike exuberance demonstrated by our kids when they’re seeing something for the first time.

That said, of course, it’s evident that not every destination is kid-friendly. There are some locales where it’s definitely advisable to leave the little ones at home. No 9-year-old wants to spend their vacation going from one museum to another, for example, so if you find that’s the case with a destination you have in mind, skip it or plan an adults-only trip to that location. If, however, you’re open-minded as to vacation spots that kids will love, consider wonderful Copenhagen, Denmark, where the locals love children and there’s plenty to keep them busy.  (more…)

Travel Holland’s Flower Route this Spring

Tulips and Windmill in HollandHistory tells us that the first tulip was planted in the Netherlands some 420 years ago. Since that time, the Dutch and tulips have become synonymous. Perhaps you’ve seen the photos of the expansive fields of red, orange, and yellow tulips blanketing the Dutch countryside, sun shining and windmills turning in the background. If you’re an avid gardener or amateur horticulturist, a whiz with a camera, or someone who just admires great beauty, maybe you’ve always wanted to admire that sight in person.

The time is now! Spring provides the perfect opportunity to make a tulip trip to Holland. Specifically, April – especially around mid-month – is ideal as the flowers are at their most glorious about that time of year. Holland has even provided a “Flower Route” for those who wish to spend time amid the tulips, whether you prefer to drive at your own pace or to sign up for escorted tours that include a chance to admire the springtime colors of Holland while enjoying wonderful cities, towns, and villages along the way. (more…)

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