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 √ñstersund 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.
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‚Äôs 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.)
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 Gaud√≠‚Äôs ingenious works grab hold of your imagination.
photo courtesy of Nikkodem, flickr creative commons
Year-round, picture perfect Colmar is a lovely destination to visit. Visitors can’t help but fall in love with this destinations fairytale-like backdrops in and around the old town. Half-timbered buildings line the cobblestone streets and a charming canal sleepily flows through the Little Venice district. Come late November, the city and local businesses transform Colmars historic quarters into quite possibly the prettiest place in the world for you to ring in the holidays.
photo courtesy of Office de Tourisme de Colmar, flickr creative commons
Situated nearby Germanys border and about 70 miles southwest of Strasbourg, the self acclaimed Capital of the Alsace Wine Route just opened its Christmas Markets for the holiday season on November 23rd, 2012. Colmars winter wonderland of hand-crafted goods, festive treats and merry entertainment will run until December 31st, 2012.
photo courtesy of Osmenda, flickr creative commons
There are five markets scattered amongst the towns main plazas, and as the sun sets late afternoon, tasteful white Christmas lights cast their soft glow upon the streets down below. A steamy cup of mulled wine is the perfect for keeping warm while shopping for those one of a kind gifts. There’s even a Childrens Christmas Market in Little Venice, complete with handmade toys, holiday themed kiddie rides and a large mailbox to send Santa present wish lists.
photo courtesy of Office de Tourisme de Colmar, flickr creative commons
Book your flights to Strasbourg today, and rent a car in France so that you can follow the Alsace Wine Route on your way to Colmar. Over 30 Alsatian vineyards open their wine cellar doors to the public during the holiday season.
Tour Europe in real time without ever having to leave the comfort of your swivel chair. Some of the following travel webcams allow you to control the views from your computer and others offer stunning 360 degree panoramic vistas. Watch gondoliers paddle down Venice’s Grand Canal or enjoy an evening glimpse of the illuminated Eiffel Tower as the camera sweeps Parisskyline. The lucky few may be able to catch the Northern Lights from the Borealis cam in Norway and let your children search for Santa at his workshop on the Arctic Circle in Finland. Without a doubt, these are some of the best scenic webcams across Europe!
Click on the images below to open the webcam link. Some cameras may go down from time to time, and there are others that are best viewed during daylight (their time). For a different perspective, check back different times of the day.
Panoramic of Ski Area in Soelden, Austria
Brugge, Belgium and historic Belfry Tower
5 alternating webcams in Opatija, Croatia
Prague Castle Panorama and more
South Bank of the River Thames in London
Santa’s workshop on the Arctic Circle
panoramic views of Parisian skyline
pans in and out of scenes from downtown Berlin
Adrian’s Gate in Athens
Blue Lagoon in Iceland
View from Guinness Gravity Bar in Dublin
watch the activity along Venice’s Grand Canal
Overlooks Port Hercule and Monaco’s old town
great people watching along one of Amsterdam’s canals
City Hall in Belfast
Borealis Livecam panorama
pans the Main Market Square in Poland
control the camera and pan around Edinburgh’s City Centre
panoramas of Barcelona’s Old Harbour area
Icehotel in Jukkasj√§rvi, Sweden
panorama of Zurich, Switzerland
Oludeniz Beach, Turkey
Don‚Äôt just live vicariously through the internet, book flights to Europe and experience the real deal.