Archive for December, 2012

Nordic Skating in Sweden

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on December 17th, 2012

This isn’t a visit to your traditional ice-skating rink, and hockey and figure skates need not apply. Nordic skating (also called: trip skating, tour skating, long skating or wild skating) is a sport all its own, perhaps only comparable to cross country skiing. Gliding long distance over natural ice is a celebrated pastime in Sweden. It is a fantastic way to soak up the views of the serene Scandinavian terrain while getting in a great, low-impact workout.

The skates typically used for this sport have longer, more heavy duty blades than a pair of hockey or figure skates. They also have click-in bindings that secure hiking or cross country ski boots to the skate; some have been designed so that the heel can lift freely as your legs push off and you skim across the ice. Poles similar to ski poles are another common accessory. Safety gear is an absolute necessity, and each skater should have a set of ice claws (should you fall through the ice, you would use these to grip onto a slippery, wet surface to pull yourself back up) and a rucksack (a backpack that doubles as a floatation device) on them.

Nordic skating is fun and exhilarating, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. The number one rule when planning a day out on the ice is to never skate alone. In fact, the best way to set off on a skating excursion of this kind is by booking one with a professional guide.

Guided skating tours offer equipment rental and are lead by a local who is knowledgeable about the terrain and ice thickness. Stockholm and Östersund are the most popular Nordic skating locations in Sweden and have many guided tours available (click on the city names to open links to each destinations tourism and skating site). There are even four-day skating excursions like this one (click to open page), by a UK company called Nature Travels.

Skating season in Sweden generally runs from January to April. Book your flights to Stockholm now, and you will be sure to experience a one of a kind winter getaway adventure.


photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Salvador Dali Behind the Stache

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on December 7th, 2012

Salvador Dali May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989

Easily identifiable by his signature handlebar mustache, eccentric and quirky Salvador Dali was most famous for his dreamlike paintings and his unpredictably flamboyant behavior. Dali was born in Figueres, Spain, just off the Mediterranean coast and 140 km northeast of Barcelona. His parents, Salvador Dali i Cusi and Felipa Domenech Ferros, recognized their son’s artistic potential at a young age and enrolled him in drawing school in 1916.

Early on in Dali’s life, two events occurred that are said to have immensely impacted the young prodigy psyche. When he was only six years old, his mother and father brought Salvador to visit his older brothers grave, and told him that he was the reincarnation of his deceased sibling. The older brother had passed away nine months before Salvador Dal√≠ was born; both shared the same name. Then, at the age of sixteen, his mother tragically lost her battle with cancer.

Not only was Dali revered for his masterful painting skills, but he also created sculptures, filmed two short movies with Luis Butel, designed a few architectural structures and even dabbled in fashion photography. His wife (Gala or Elena Ivanovna Diakonova) was a source of inspiration for many of his works, and she was known as being the more grounded one of the two.

Interesting Facts about Salvador Dali

  • It was during the early 1920s, while studying at Academia de San Fernando in Madrid (School of Fine Arts), that Dali began sporting a shoestring-thin stache, which he waxed and twisted to point upward and out. The idea for this stylistic statement came from 17th-century painter Diego Velzquez’s mustache.
  • Dali was kicked out of Academia de San Fernando when he proclaimed that no one in the school‚Äôs faculty was qualified to evaluate his work, during the schools final exams.
  • Many Surrealist Group members in Paris enthusiastically followed Sigmund Freuds dream interpretation research during the 1930s and Dal√≠ did as well. The two met to discuss their work, and although Freud had previously stated that he thought all Surrealists were crazy, he decided Dal√≠ was the exception to this belief.
  • In 1934, Dal√≠ was booted from the Surrealist Group for supporting political beliefs the other members disapproved of. Seemingly unaffected by the incident, he sneered, “I myself am surrealism”.
  • The artist cleverly avoided payment of his restaurant tabs by doodling pictures on the backs of his checks. Most establishments would’nt dare let go of a Dali sketch by cashing one of these.
  • If asked for an autograph, Dali would sign his name and steal the fans pen.


Salvador Dali’s Most Famous Works

The Persistance of Memory (1931) is not only one of Dali’s most recognizable oil paintings but it is also the piece of art most commonly associated with the Surrealism Movement. Melting clocks and an abstract self portrait are set within a desert-scape, portraying a dreamlike world.

Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog 1929) is a 16 minute, silent movie that Salvador Dal√≠ and Luis Bu√±uel created together. It was based on two dreams each artist recalled prior to the filming. Dali’s had been about ants and a lone hand on the crawl (an image of The Addams Family ‚ÄúThing‚Äù comes to mind) and Bu√±uel‚Äôs had been about a cloud slicing the moon in half. (Open a link to IMDB‚Äôs movie trailer by clicking on Bu√±uel‚Äôs photo. Warning, view with caution; the clip has a gruesome/graphic scene.)

photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Figueres Teatre-Museu Dal√≠ (Dal√≠ Theatre-Museum 1974) is based in Dali’s home town. It boasts the worlds largest surrealistic statement, which holds the most extensive collection of the artist‚Äôs works. The locations original 19th century building was almost completely destroyed in 1939, during the Spanish Civil War. Dali designed the new theatre using the historic structure‚Äôs remaining shell and created the whimsical architecture that stands today. (Click on the image to visit the official Dal√≠ Theatre-Museum page.)

Book flights to Barcelona today and set off on an art tour of northern Spain. Let Dali, Picasso and Gaudí’s ingenious works grab hold of your imagination.


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Fare Type Round Trip     One Way
Passengers  Adults
  Children under 11