The largest Oktoberfest in the world, known by the locals as ‘The Wiesn’ is located in Munich, Germany. When times are normal more than six million visitors gather for the 16 days of festivities, to celebrate and enjoy all the wonders of German tradition, beer and the cuisine. The feast takes place in an area called Theresienweise, which means the Meadow of Therese.
The origin of Oktoberfest started in 1810, when Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on Oktober 12th. He threw a party and invited all Bavarians to join in the celebration. The party became an annual event known simply as Oktoberfest. Yearly the feast takes place in an area called Theresienweise, which means the Meadow of Therese.
When Prince Ludwig married in October 1810, he threw a party and invited all Bavarians to join in the celebration. The party became an annual event known simply as Oktoberfest.
However, with warmer temperatures in September making for a better party atmosphere, the event was pushed back into September, ending on the first Sunday of Oktober to keep the name in place. Septemberfest just doesn't have the same ring to it.
Up until the 1920s, the Svalbard archipelago was essentially a no man’s land until it was officially recognized as belonging to Norway by the Spitsbergen Treaty.
Located 814 miles from the North Pole, Svalbard is known as “The Wildlife Capital of the Arctic”. Svalbard is dark four months of the year, a perfect time to see the Northern Lights, which is even possible during the day. The the sun returns in April when the days become longer every day until Midsummer night on June 23rd when the sun never sets. (and then the days begin to get shorter again).
The summer is the perfect time for for viewing the wildlife that has made Svalbard so popular with travelers who come to observe polar bears and other wildlife, such as arctic foxes, reindeers, walruses, beluga whales, seals and seabirds.
Approx. 60% of Svalbard’s land is covered in ice. Svalbard is a frozen desert made up of mountains and glaciers. Large areas of the land are covered in ice all year round. If you are a foodie you may wonder what kind of cuisine is characteristic for this Arctic destination.
So what do people really eat on Svalbard?
You may be surprised to find out that Longyearbyen, Svalbard's only town with more than a few inhabitants and the world’s northernmost town has numerous exciting dining options. In fact two of Norway's best restaurants are located in Longyearbyen.
Huset, a restaurant rich in traditions, with its focus on Nordic techniques, and local raw materials was noticed on the international radar as the world’s northernmost fine dining restaurant when the wine cellar was established in the 90s. Today the legendary wine cellar has over 20,000 bottles, being one of the most well-stocked in Europe.and critically acclaimed wine cellar. Since 2006, Wine Spectator magazine has awarded their wine list with the Best Award of Excellence.
The beautifully renovated Funktionærmessen restaurant is filled with local history and has the best view in Longyearbyen! This restaurant tempts with French inspired dishes served with Arctic views.
Vinterhagen restaurant, is a popular place, and while the dishes are seasonal, you will often find delicacies such as seal stake in red wine sauce, vegetables & potato gratin, or reindeer fillet with root vegetables, game sauce lingonberries and mashed potatoes. Fish, such as boknafish with carrot stew, boiled potatoes and bacon as well as whale steak with roasted potatoes, garlic butter, prawns and vegetables can of course also be found on the menu. You can even wash your meal down with locally brewed beer from Svalbard Brewery.
When discussing dining in Svalbard American entrepreneur Ben Vidmar definitely deserves to be mentioned. Ben works in Svalbard as a chef in addition to having his own business, Polar Permaculture. Ben is located 1.2 miles south of Longyearbyen in Nybyen, where he does arctic farming. Here he grows micro greens and other plants, which are sold to local hotels and restaurants.
Ben's vision is to help create a truly sustainable town. His plan is to open a zero-waste restaurant called the Greenhouse providing fresh, locally-grown food. He aims to solve one of the biggest headaches of life - obtaining fresh food while reducing waste.
For anyone spending time in Longyearbyen, can join one of Ben's permaculture tours to learn more about the process. There is a four-hour ‘Arctic Farm to Table' tour, which is part tour of Longyearbyen, part conversation, part cooking class. A trip to Svalbard will not only be an amazing nature experience, but a culinary one as well!
Bordeaux is often referred to as France’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ since, after significant government restoration work, the enchanting city today has fully blossomed into a beautiful, gracious Grande Dame. Bordeaux is the center of the esteemed wine-growing region surrounded by wonderful vineyards and chateaux.
Cutting through the elegant city is the Garonne River which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. In the past, it served as a port for transporting wine. Today, cruise ships dock there for a couple days and you can also take a boat ride.
The cityscape is exceptionally beautiful. You can’t miss the city’s dominant monumental buildings like the towering Gothic St. Andre Cathedral, the Palais de la Bourse and remaining medieval city gates. You’ll also find beautiful town squares rimmed with cafes and small parks where the locals gather to socialize with family and friends. A must-see in Bordeaux is the Mirroir d’Eau (reflecting pool). Any wine lover should also set aside at least half a day to la Cite du Vin, a unique cultural centre dedicated to the heritage of wine. The museum is the first of it's kind and offers a spectacular journey around the world, throughout the ages, across countless cultures and civilizations. La Cité du Vin is a must to see, visit and experience!
Whether you are looking for natural beauty, delectable cuisine, historical sites or idyllic island beaches, Greece offers endless activities and is a magnet for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors.
Greece balances its past, present and future in a way managed by few other countries. The result is a country with endless cultural pursuits. It's easy to understand how so many myths of gods and giants originated in this vast and varied landscape, with wide open skies and a sea speckled with islands, where days melt from one to the next, while you relish the white-sand and palm-fringed beaches. Wander along cobbled, Byzantine footpaths, hike through arid forests, and enjoy a locally caught and produced meal while sitting by the sea on an island in the Aegean.
Let the Greece you've been imagining fill your senses, whether it's the Parthenon - solitary and pristine - lording over the hazy sprawl of Athens, the rural farmlands of the Peloponnese, the tang of home-made tzatziki, or the blinding light of the Aegean sun over Santorini. The endless miles of aquamarine coastline, sun-bleached ancient ruins, and the Greek's unquestioning hospitality and zest for life make Greece the perfect place for luxury travel. Sip on a glass of ouzo or wine while you tempt your appetite with grilled souvlaki, fresh seafood and strong feta mixed with the purest olive oil on the planet.
With 6,000 Greek islands to choose from (only 300 are inhabited), why not experience a few of the the lesser known islands that are beyond Mykonos and Santorini?
Why not plan a trip to Greece for your next vacation? Please contact me at 703-927-0588 or Lene@PerfectlyPlannedJourneys.com if you would like some help.
Mykonos is often the destination that comes to mind when you are looking for great nightlife in Greece. When the locals need their party island fix, chances are they’ll choose Paros, an island south of Mykonos and oozing local flavor. Known for its white marble in antiquity, today the island offers plenty of beach fun, a hopping bar scene in the main town of Parikia (where the ferries come in from Athens), and plenty of Cycladic charm in Naoussa, on the island’s northern side.
Monastiraki and Psirri, Athens
After visiting the Acropolis, tourists often wander around the Plaka because it’s the neighborhood at the bottom of the hill. Plaka is full of tourists and tacky souvenir shops, and area where the locals would not chose to go. The adjoining neighborhoods of Monastiraki and Psirri (just north of Plaka) are where real Athenians go eat, drink and shop. Here you will find plenty of cafes, and shops with better prices as well as lots of vibrant street art.
Kythira Island is the birthplace of Aphrodite, goddess of love, according to Hesiod (ancient Greek poet who lived during Homer’s time). It’s a place endowed with great beauty: valleys that end on the seashore; mountainsides dressed in green, or rocky and barren; spring waters gurgling or cascading down the slopes; wonderful beaches; beautiful picturesque little villages, local tasty dishes, and an architecture that blends the apparent Venetian influences and the style found in Crete. A good example of this is the Venetian castle dominating the hill above Chora.
No one can deny the beauty and cultural value of the majestic cities of Spain. Madrid and Barcelona are steeped in history and full of age-old architecture that leaves you in wonder. When travel resumes, you may want to visit less known destinations where the crowds will be smaller. As you travel through this amazing country, you'll find a whole new world of splendor in Spain's tiny towns and villages sprinkled throughout the nation. From the beautiful Mediterranean coast to the mountainous Basque region, Spain offers charming towns all across the Iberian Peninsula. Here are a few hand-picked picturesque towns that you may want to include on a dream trip to Spain. One you will cherish forever.
I would love to help you plan a trip for you. Please contact me at 703-927-0588 or Lene@PerfectlyPlannedJourneys.com.
Halfway between Barcelona and Valencia, on the coast of the Balearic Sea, Peñíscola you will find one of the prettiest little villages in Spain. This idyllic fishing village has other names like “Gibraltar of Valencia,” and the “City in the Sea.” It gets the latter title because the striking Templar Castle of Pope Luna and its medieval walls are surrounded by water. Over time, Peñíscola has gone from a quiet fishing village to popular tourist spot with a family friendly list of seaside activities to enjoy. Fans of the TV show Game of Thrones will want to make this a must-see stop because some of the famous scenes from Meereen were shot here.
Cuenca is another gorgeous Spanish gem that just exudes charm and character. Its Old City has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to a collection of haunting medieval buildings painted in vivid, earthy hues and perched on a steep outcrop of rocks at the fork of two deep river gorges. These architectural marvels leave you wondering how they don’t crash over the cliffs into the rivers below. But the views from the balconies belong in the picture-books. Some of the casas colgadas (hanging houses) have even been turned into modern art galleries and museums.
Lastly, in southeast Spain, in the province of Almeria, the town of Mojacar clings to a rocky hillside like an ornament hanging over the Mediterranean Sea. This beautiful seaside town is made up of two parts, Mojacar Pueblo (the town) and Mojacar Playa (the beaches) and has the feel of a beach town with the history and scenery of a mountain village. The history of Mojacar goes back 4,000 years and has been populated by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Greeks, and Moors. Even today it still remains an intersection of many cultures. The town’s trademark is its bright white architecture that dates back to the 14th century. If you climb to the top of Torre Pirulico, a 13th-century watchtower, you will get breathtaking views of the coast.
“Angel’s Share”, is what distilleries call the portion (share) of a whisky’s volume that is lost to evaporation during aging in oak barrels.
In case you forgot to mark it on your calendar, today, Saturday, July 27 is National Scotch Day, and in 2019 it falls on the 525th anniversary of that fateful day in 1494 when Scotland’s whiskies were first taxed. Today there are more than 350 distilleries barrel aging and bottling what has become one of the most drinkable and collectable of all distilled spirits.
In order to be considered scotch, this classy and distinctive spirit must be made in Scotland. It must be fermented from malted barley, aged in oak barrels for at least three years and have an ABV or alcohol content of less than 94.8%.
While most scotch is made with barley, water and yeast; other grains can be included. All fermentation additives are excluded, per law. There are five distinct classifications of Scotch whisky including single malt scotch, single grain scotch, blended malt scotch, blended grain scotch and blended scotch. Scotch is often identified by the region where it was produced and each region has its own characteristics that influence taste.
Despite scotch being made in Scotland, you can enjoy the spirit anywhere. Kilt not required.
Balvenie Stories Collection Speyburn 18 Year Old Single Malt
Dewar’s Double Double
Glenmorangie Refreshed Extra Matured Range Ardbeg Drum
The History Scotch Whisky Day
The Babylonians of Mesopotamia were likely the first people to distill alcohol in 2nd millennium BC. The earliest records of the distillation of alcohol for the purpose of drinking date back to 13th century Italy, where harder alcohols were distilled from wine. Soon, the practice of distillation use spread through medieval monasteries and was used largely for medicinal purposes, such as the treatment of smallpox and other illnesses.
Distillation spread to today’s Great Britain in the 15th century, and the first evidence of whisky production in Scotland comes from an entry in the Exchequer Rolls for 1494 where malt is sent “To Friar John Cor, by order of the king, to make aquavitae”, enough to make about 500 bottles. Whisky production later moved out of a monastic setting and into personal homes and farms when King Henry VIII of England dissolved all the monasteries in his country due to his feud with the Pope, causing the monks to find a way to earn a living for themselves. However, the distillation process in those days was much more basic than it is today, and the whisky itself was not allowed to age, meaning it must have tasted much more raw than it does today.
How to celebrate Scotch Whisky Day
There are hundreds of distilleries in Scotland you have likely never heard of that make whisky better than you’ve ever tried before, and this day is the day to experience them. Rocquefort cheese go well with whiskey, as does dark chocholate and for a little more substantial slow roasted pork ribs is also a perfect match.
Why not watch a movie that carries the theme as well? There are also quite a few films to choose from that would be perfect for this day, one to recommend is "The Angel’s Share", an acclaimed Scottish comedy-drama about a man trying to get his life back on track after narrowly avoiding a prison sentence.
News about the Coronavirus, also known as the Wuhan Coronavirus, is now all over the news. Originating in China, 15 countries, including the US, have confirmed cases of the virus.
Whenever we are faced with contagious diseases like this, there is a domino effect of other events that take place, such as people wanting to cancel/delay travel plans.
Canceling a trip can be costly, which is why purchasing travel insurance is recommended.
There are however, a few very important points to keep in mind, even when purchasing travel insurance.
—Shandana A. Durrani
International cities have long been ahead of the curve in terms of environmental initiatives and sustainability. European cities often lead the way, especially those found in Nordic countries. While cities such as Malmo, Sweden, and Reykjavik, Iceland, have adopted sincere green practices, in terms of livability and quality of life, Oslo, Norway, is tops. That’s why it’s the winner of the first GreenLux Award for most environmentally friendly international city.
Why Oslo? It has a long history of environmental concern, long before other cities jumped on the eco bandwagon. The government spurs on the populace by promoting sustainability. The Oslo city council voted to replace heating oil in city buildings with renewable energy sources by 2012, which is ballsy considering how much energy the metropolis uses. The government provides incentives for new buildings to promote energy efficiency. All buses running on fossil fuels will be converted to biofuels in 2011. The city is lowest of all European metropolises when it comes to CO2 emissions. Eighty five percent of school children walk, bike or use public transportation to school (the rail system is run on hydroelectric power). Ninety four percent of household waste is recycled. A majority of the population lives within a short distance of public green space, which they utilize in record numbers. All of this in a city that is one of the wealthiest in the world.
Walking around Oslo, you can see its environmental commitment. The air quality is good and the streets are free of trash and refuse. Locals are active year-round, enjoying the public parks and numerous waterways, even in winter. One can’t help but notice that everyone walks, bikes or takes the train/subway everywhere. Maybe it’s the unique topography of Norway that lends itself to this. Fjords, those majestic inlets created by glaciers, surround so much of the country. The scenery is breathtaking but the terrain can be tough to traverse if you aren’t careful, making driving a bit hazardous as times. Thus, this isn’t a car-crazy city. Most residents don’t have one car, much less two or more and the rail and bus system is so efficient that getting around is a breeze.
The city’s isn’t a culinary mecca like New York or London, but Oslo still has a number of great slow food purveyors, farmer markets and community gardens. The three-day Matstreif food festival is held every September on Town Hall Square. Fresh produce, baked goods, cheese and cured meats are available. Overland Community Garden sits on 25 acres at which 300 part owners cultivate herbs and produce. Erling Mos As sells fresh fish and seafood and has been a local favorite for four decades. Additional small-scale farmers markets occur throughout the summer and fall at Karl Johans Gate.
Finding an eco-friendly hotel isn’t difficult in a city known for green businesses. Thon Hotels is a chain of environmentally sound hotels in Northern Europe. The hotels are chic and comfortable with plenty of green trappings, from organic dining to waste reduction to energy saving initiatives to utilizing only eco-friendly products and amenities. There are 12 in Oslo proper, near many tourist sites such as the Munch Museum and the Opera.
Porto, also known as Oporto is the second largest city in Portugal and located along the Douro River in Northern Portugal and probably most famous for the port wine.
On the 23 June each year, the city of Porto holds one of the liveliest European festivals. Thousands of people come to the city centre and more traditional neighborhoods to pay a tribute to Saint John the Baptist, in a party that mixes sacred and profane traditions. The Festa de São João do Porto has been held for over 6 centuries. The party begins in the afternoon and continues through the night with dance parties, street music and the release of sky lanterns and balloons. A midnight fireworks show is followed by more partying, until young people walk to the seaside at dawn and watch the sunrise.
While the festival is in honor of Saint John the Baptist, it also has a more unusual side. Elements of the festival lead back to pre-Christian traditions, and this is what leads us to one of the strangest Portugal facts − partygoers engage in Pagan-style courtship rituals. The tradition is that young men seek out attractive women, and proceed to hit them with garlic flowers or soft plastic hammers!
The party starts early in the afternoon of 23 June and usually lasts until the morning of 24 June. The traditional attractions of the night include street concerts, popular dancing parties, jumping over flames, eating barbecued sardines, Caldo Verde (a popular green soup made from potatoes and collard greens) and meat, drinking wine and releasing illuminated flame-propelled balloons over Porto's summer sky.
At midnight, party-goers make a short break to look at the sky at Saint John's fireworks spectacle. The show is increasingly sophisticated, with the fireworks being associated with themes and multimedia shows.
The party has Christian roots but is also mixed with pagan traditions, with the fireworks embodying the spirit of tribute to the Sun, which is the climax of the event and mark the end of the official festivities.
Jet lag (dysrhythmia) has by many been dismissed as merely an unpleasant side-effect of air travel, but new research suggests that the body clock is often not synchronized with an air traveller's new time zone causing common problems such as fatigue, poor concentration, trouble sleeping, irritability, minor depression, altered estimation of time and distance and digestive problems. The research also showed that more serious problems like memory loss, shrinkage of parts of the brain, negative impact on blood pressure and was even implicated in the incidence of cancer. Studies show that jet lag worsens with age, particularly after age 50.
The symptoms are at their worst in the first two days after crossing three or more time zones. The general rule is that, without any specialized treatment, adjustment time takes about a day for each time zone crossed. However, if left untreated, two or three weeks may be needed to completely realign all rhythms correctly.
For many travelers jet lag can certainly put a kink in a long awaited vacation.
So how can we combat jet lag? There are certainly no lack of products on the market claiming to beat the jet lag blues.
According to Helen Murphy, Sr. Editor, Health & Wellness Advice at Consumer Review a good jet lag remedy should contain clinically proven ingredients such as GABA, DMAE, L-ornithine, L-theanine, Magnesium and more. A good formula, should provide a dual action ‘relax and refresh’ benefit: to de-stress and relax during the travel itself plus optimize balance and re-tune circadian rhythms upon arrival at your destination.
Ms. Murphy’s recommends three products, Research Verified Jet Lag Relief (#1 top pick, but often out of stock), NO-JET-LAG, (#2 pick, and sold on Amazon), and Jet Lag Rapid Reset (#3 pick).
There is another option on the market now, however, that seem quite popular - the pocket-size Litebook Edge.
A light therapy device. Light therapy is a natural, non-pharmaceutical method to help the body adjust to a new time zone by emitting rays of bright light that mimics the sun. It can be effective enough to actually adjust the body's internal clock up to six times zones in one day. There may even be an added bonus of raising levels of alertness and enhance moods.
You can purchase the Litebook Edge on Amazon for $162. Is it worth the steep price? The New York Jets seem to think so! They recently sent their players to London with the device to help combat jet lag before a big game. They beat the Miami Dolphins 27-14.