Friday Escape:  Henningsvaer, Norway

Friday Escape: Henningsvaer, Norway

With this post I’m launching a new feature on traveltipgirl.com:  Friday Escapes.  I know that by the end of the week, I just want to get out of town.  If I can’t do that, I at least want to dream of escape.  Each Friday we’ll visit someplace new and learn how to get there. This Week’s Destination:  Henningsvaer, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Maybe because it’s been so hot lately, but this photograph of a small Norwegian fishing village captured my imagination.  Who lives in those houses? Do they get around town by boat instead of car?  What’s for breakfast?  I bet my bottom dollar it’s not an Egg McMuffin.  Maybe roast puffin on a muffin?  Do people actually eat puffin?  So many questions! Where: West Coast of Norway above the Arctic Circle.  68° 9′ 0″ N / 14° 13′ 0″ E. Population:  409 Things to do:  Hike, rock climb, visit the Lofoten Hus Gallery which displays local artists’ paintings in a former cannery, take a summer midnight boat safari in search of sea eagles, seals and other animals. Interesting Fact:  The sun doesn’t set between May 23 and July 24. How to get there:  Hurtigruten offers 6-12 night Norwegian coastal cruises which stop in the Lofoten Islands. Hurtigruten cruises provide an unique, authentic travel experience.  For over 120 years, its ships have transported goods, vehicles and people between Norwegian ports, as part of the country’s everyday commerce.  Comfortable cabins and fresh local cuisine enhance the journey through pristine waters and unspoiled natural beauty.  As the ship crosses the Arctic Circle, first timers are treated to a traditional Arctic sailing initiation ceremony.  For more information about trip from...
5 Fun Ways to “Travel” without Leaving Town

5 Fun Ways to “Travel” without Leaving Town

Need a change of scenery or a little adventure?  Who doesn’t?  But if you’re too short on time or cash to travel, try one of these fun escapes. 1.  Throw a location-themed party.   What’s more fun than traveling with a group of friends?  Plan a Mexican fiesta, Hawaiian luau or Italian family style dinner.  Not exotic enough?  How about a Japanese dinner complete with sushi and saki tasting, or a Moroccan feast.  Belly dancing anyone?  Keep it easy.  It is a mini-vacation after all.  Ask guests to bring a dish, pick a playlist on Pandora, put out a few accessories and voila! 2.  Dedicate a day to trying new places.  Start your day at the coffee shop your co-worker keeps gushing about and then stroll through the art museum you keep intending to visit.  Peek in the health food store/antique shop/boutique you’ve always wondered about.  Or, pretend you’re a visitor in your own town.  Try the places you’ve scoffed at as “for tourists.”  Take a guided walking tour.  For extra fun, make up a backstory:  “We’re the Nelsons from Kalamazoo!” or “I’m here from L.A. scouting a movie location.  I really can’t tell you more than that.” 3. Go out for a foreign dinner and a movie.  Pretend you’re visiting a far-away land.  Check your local independent movie theater for a sub-titled film, then go to dinner at an appropriate restaurant.  Nothing good playing (or hate subtitles)?  Dine at an Indian restaurant, then watch Slumdog Millionaire or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Or get take-out at a local Greek restaurant to eat while watching Mama Mia. 4.  Attend a local...
Hey Americans, You Can Cruise to Cuba!

Hey Americans, You Can Cruise to Cuba!

That forbidden tropical fruit, an island paradise, tempts us from less than 100 miles off our shore.  For decades, the U.S. government severely restricted travel by Americans to Cuba.  Now, one of the last Cold War era restrictions is melting like ice in a mojito sipped under the Caribbean sun. In late 2014 the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) introduced new general licenses within 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba that require no formal application, prior permission, nor post trip report to U.S. officials.  Americans can now travel to Cuba on an honor system, without obtaining prior government approval. This isn’t a forum for political debate or legal advice.  I want to help you make informed travel decisions. Understand that at this time, independent, unstructured travel to Cuba still isn’t permitted under U.S. law.  The State Department website warns “Tourist travel to Cuba is prohibited under U.S. law for U.S. citizens and others under U.S. jurisdiction.”  For now, dreams of dancing until dawn in Havana’s clubs have to stay on hold unless you want risk a fine.  Americans may explore Cuba’s culture, cuisine and landscapes on a guided tour with a Cuban-government approved guide.   So, if you don’t mind your ropa vieja with a side dish of pro-Castro propaganda, you could experience a fascinating trip. Cuba Cruise, a tour operated by Celestyal Cruises, a Greek cruise line, now provides Americans an easy way to visit Cuba.  It offers a People-to-People Cuba Cruise program in cooperation with the U.S. non-profit organization Fund for Reconciliation and Development (FFRD).  The seven day cruise embarks Montego Bay, Jamaica, spends two days in Havana and visits two other Cuban ports,...