It is difficult to travel far in either Ireland or Scotland without seeing a lake, river or the ocean. Both have rolling countryside, charming hamlets, sheep and old castles, many said to be haunted.
But, they have their differences. Faeries and leprechauns frequent Ireland while the Loch Ness Monster haunts Scotland. Irishmen prefer Irish knits, potatoes, Guinness and Irish Whiskey. The Scottish consume haggis (a pudding made of sheep innards), drink Scotch, wear kilts and play bagpipes.
With snow-covered peaks, iceberg-dappled seas and dramatic wildlife, the Arctic has lured adventurers for centuries. On a Hurtigruten Explorer Voyage to Spitsbergen, midway between Norway’s mainland and the North Pole, modern-day adventurers thrill to the same pristine landscapes that inspired early Norwegian explorers, see polar bears, walruses and beluga whales cavort in their natural habitats, and kayak alongside glaciers and historic coastal villages.
Sicily has come into its own as a great vacation destination. It's not surprising with new upscale hotels, direct flights from the US and recent improvements in infrastructure. Top luxury tour operators like Absolute Sicilia are now offering a new concept of luxury travel in Sicily with creative customized itineraries. www.absolutesicilia.com
JAX FAX recently had the opportunity to visit and spend some time on the island of Tenerife, Spain. For agents unfamiliar with Tenerife, it is the largest of the seven Canary Islands, and it boasts that is the most populous island of Spain, with a population of just under one million people. The island has a surface area of 785 square miles.
Germany is the undisputed monarch of Christmas markets, with decorated stalls filling the main squares of its villages, and multiple markets lending a festive holiday aura to larger cities. Especially in Southwest Germany and Bavaria, you can plan entire itineraries for your clients that include a different market - or several -- each day, with minimal travel between them.
Streaks of purple, pink and green, the Northern Lights dance across Arctic skies, from September through April, when solar winds collide. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, the lights can be seen close to home in Alaska and Canada. But, these days, savvy travelers are heading to Norway. At the center of the Northern Lights belt, and with low-lying mountains and miles of coastline, Norway offers some of the world’s clearest and most unobstructed views. The Gulf Stream also keeps winter temperatures relatively warm—a big plus when hunting the nighttime lights.
Buoyed by the success of last year’s UNESCO tourism initiatives, which resulted in a 5% increase in foreign tourists, the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) is building on this momentum with its 2015 emphasis on Germany’s cultural and culinary traditions.
My first morning on the island of Losinj was a treat for the senses. As I jogged into the town of Mali Losinj, boats floating on placid harbor water filled my vision, the smell of jasmine, lavender and salt air was in my nose, and church bells clanged in the distance. I knew right away that this was a place I was going to thoroughly enjoy, and the next few days here didn’t disappoint.
Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, combines a charming historic Old Town with chic designer shops, lively clubs and cafes and a vibrant cultural vibe. Its wide range of offerings is epitomized by three recent additions to the scene: the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Torture and the newest, the Museum of Illusions, which just opened this spring. Families especially enjoy the Zagreb Zoo and kid-friendly museums while quality hotels and event venues are ideal for weddings and conferences.
Two hours east of Zürich, across Lake Constance from Austria and Germany, and bordering Liechtenstein, the Appenzell is close to Switzerland’s heart, but a world apart. Farmers in embroidered red vests, yellow breeches, and black hats embellished with flowers and ribbons parade their cattle to the high pastures; artisans craft big shiny cowbells; rustic mountain inns welcome hikers, and fresh-farm meats, produce and herbs provide down-home gourmet fare.