Monthly Archives: November 2016

Pack for a Trip to Norway

Norway is one of those travel destinations where you need to be ready for weather changes in an instant. We took a road trip in the Fjord region in late August and our days would range from sunny and warm temps to snow on the ground while driving from one fjord to another.

 

When visiting destinations with fickle weather, like Norway, it’s always best to bring layers — even when visiting in the summer months. We consulted our Alaska packing guide before this trip, but added a few different items for the days we spent in Bergen and Alesund.

We got so accustomed to clear skies during our visit in late August that we found ourselves unprepared on an extremely long hike to Feigumfossen waterfall in Lusterfjord. At the top of the steep climb, buckets of rain began pouring down on us and we were in for a very wet and extremely muddy shuffle down the mountain. We used the only warmth we had to cover our camera gear because we even forgot our backpack rain cover in the car!

If you plan on doing any intense hiking in the fjords, make sure to be prepared for colder temperatures at the top! I cannot stress this enough. Bring WARM layers and rain gear, even if it means carrying a larger backpack.

Trolltunga, one of the most famous hikes in Norway, is known to be extremely cold at the top. We hiked Molden in Sognefjord and the temperature dropped at least 30 degrees from the bottom to the top of the hike.

 

Women’s Packing List for Norway

  • Rain Boots (These are great if you are visiting during winter or spring.)
  • Waterproof Hiking Shoes
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • 2 Dresses (Both the red & blue dresses you see in our photos were from Lulu’s.)
  • Down Jacket (Not too bulky for layering.)
  • 2 Thermal Tops
  • 2 Pairs of Fleece Lined Leggings
  • 1 Pair of Slip On Comfortable Shoes or Flip Flops (To go with dresses on the warmer days.)
  • 4 Other Tops
  • 1 or 2 Pairs of Jeans
  • Waterproof Pants (You can layer these with leggings for hiking.)
  • Beanie
  • Scarf
  • Hat
  • Pajamas
  • Bikini
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Women’s Trail Socks

How to find best European road trips

To mark the launch of our latest Best Trips book we asked Lonely Planet staff to share their stories of times spent on the road. Ever the adventurous bunch, these daring drivers recall time spent navigating hairy mountain paths, drifting down coastal roads on the hunt for brilliant beaches and driving into the downright bizarre on off-the-beaten track escapades.

 

A well-deserved picnic in the Pyrenees, France

I can confirm, hand firmly on steering wheel, that the craggy beauty of the Pyrenees is unimpaired by vertigo and a carload of terrified loved ones. As a student living in the south of France, I was the naive host of a family road trip through the range. Setting off from my hometown of Pau, picnic blankets in tow, we climbed through the foothills breakfasting on local pâté and bread, and remarked on the farmers drinking red wine at 9am. Rising higher, we spotted marmots gambolling in the grass, bought sheep’s cheese at a roadside stand, and started to see patches of snow.

Even higher, as an eagle hovered alongside our car, my mother closed her eyes and started clinging to the seat belt. Crawling around the switchbacks, the mountain dropping away below me, I had my own Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter moment: ‘What if I just turned the wheel?’ Somehow we made it over the border to Spain, the landscape opened up in a glorious green valley and we had our picnic, delicious chunks of cheese trembling in our hands.

 

Searching for the edge of the world on the Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is a terrible place for a road trip; every five minutes or so, you have to pull over… to gawp, goggle-eyed, at the grandeur of your surroundings. Provided you’re a fan of such stop-start journeys, though, the most myth-steeped island of the Inner Hebrides delivers Game of Thrones-style spectacle at every turn.

At a push, you could drive around Skye in half a day; but that, in my mind, would be a mistake. For while such a bat-out-of-hell tour would give you a glimpse of the major sights – the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, Uig Bay and, of course, the awesome Cuillin Hills – you’d forgo a host of lesser-known marvels. Far better to linger, as we did for three days, exploring every back road in changing light as we searched for the edge of the world.

Swedens sublime Bohuslan Coast

Drifting across the mirror-still surface of a shallow bay in Kosterhavet, Sweden’s first national marine park, the reason why the Bohuslän Coast beguiles visitors becomes as clear as the water barely stirring beneath the kayak.

In a country lauded for its stewardship of the environment (Swedenranks first and third in the world respectively in the most recently published Global Green Economy Index and Environmental Performance Index), the west coast is a showcase of sensitive development.

Stretching north from Gothenburg to the Norwegian border, the region features pine forests framing fjord-like lakes, charming coastal towns and, of course, a vast archipelago of 8000 islands, islets and skerries, whose distinctive Bohus granite glows orangey-pink in the rising and setting sun.

In summer, that sun shines for 18 hours a day at this latitude, giving you plenty of time to explore what Bohuslän has to offer; better still, the E6 motorway, which runs parallel to the coast for about 100 miles, forms the backbone of a readymade route for independent travellers. The only decision that remains is what to see along the way.

 

First stop: Marstrand – find the perfect place to drop anchor

Calculate the total value of the yachts gliding to and fro in Marstrand’s gästhamn (guest harbour) and you’d probably end up with a figure that dwarfs some countries’ GDP.

This small island, which lies about 30 miles north of Gothenburg, has been a compulsory stop for the Swedish elite ever since King Oscar II built a summer house here in the late 19th century; these days, Marstrand is a chic backdrop for world-class sailing events and welcomes up to 10,000 people a week in high season.

The king’s old residence – the regal Grand Hotel Marstrand, which has some satisfyingly old-school rooms and a swish restaurant – is one of the town’s two big historical sights; the other looms above it in the form of Carlstens Fästning, a hulking fortress built in the 17th century after Denmark-Norway ceded Marstrand to Sweden as part of a peace treaty.

While Carlstens Fästning trades on its storied history, offering guided tours and historical reenactments, Marstrand’s other old fort – the smaller 18th-century Strandverket Konsthall – opts for radical reinvention as the Strandverket Art Museum (www.strandverket.se), an unexpected outpost of contemporary sculpture, photography and more.

Don’t confine yourself to the history-steeped town, though – the rest of Marstrand is beautiful and begs for exploration. It’s also accessible thanks to well-marked trails, which range from easy to challenging. If you strike out west, scan the horizon for the red iron tower of the Pater Noster Lighthouse (paternosterlighthouse.com), now a small hotel for those who really, really want to get away from it all.

Marstrand is car-free, so you’ll need to park on the neighbouring island of Koön then hop on the ferry, which takes a couple of minutes.

Best food and drink when traveling

Hawke’s Bay is the larder of New Zealand: apples, figs, peaches, squashes and, most notably, grapes. Hugging the east coast of the North Island, this is the country’s oldest wine-growing region, and in April the grapes are being plucked: 4700 hectares of vineyards harvesting 45,000 tonnes of fruit. The serried vines begin to glow russet and gold under the autumn sun too.

Still reasonably warm and dry, this is a great time to explore by bicycle. Hawke’s Bay has New Zealand’s biggest network of gentle cycle paths, many of which link wine estates, cafes and cellar doors. Try the flat, off-road 22-mile (36 km) Wineries Ride, which navigates the grape-growing heartland of Bridge Pa, Gimblett Gravels and Ngatarawa Triangle. Napier, with its art deco architecture and Saturday Urban Food Market, makes a good base.

  • Trip plan: Enjoy the historic streets and fine eats of Napier and Hastings. Then follow a couple of easy cycle trails – perhaps one along the coast, another between wine estates.
  • Need to know: There are flights to Hawke’s Bay daily from Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.
  • Other months: Dec-Feb – warmest; Mar-May – wine harvest; Jun-Sep – winter, cool. Oct-Nov – spring produce, warming up.

 

Discover bazaars, ancient wonders and culinary secrets in peace in İstanbul, Turkey

You might debate which is the greatest treasure of the former Constantinople: the incredible 6th-century basilica-mosque-museum Aya Sofya? Sprawling, opulent Topkapı Palace? The domes, minarets and ornate azure tilework of the Blue Mosque? Wander among them to decide for yourself, by all means – and in April, as things are warming up at the end of the low season, you can enjoy discounts, smaller crowds and more forgiving weather.

But save some time for the greatest legacy the Ottomans left the world: food, of course. Why do you think the Spice Bazaar is so huge and bustling? From simple kebabs to meze feasts and the luscious aubergine (eggplant) masterpiece, imam bayıldı, there are few cuisines that are as indulgent as Turkish. Over the past couple of decades a roster of excellent food-themed walking tours and cookery schools has sprung up in İstanbul, providing the opportunity to combine a spring city break with a culinary reboot.

  • Trip plan: Base yourself in the Sultanahmet district, on the west (European) side of the Bosphorus for easy access to the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar and most historic sites.
  • Need to know: Two points of Turkish etiquette – don’t point your finger or the sole of your foot towards anyone.
  • Other months: Apr-May & Sep-Oct – mild, quieter; Jun-Aug – hot, busy; Nov-Feb – cold, damp.

How to Avoid Travel Mistakes

Whether it’s your first trip abroad or you travel several times a year, we all make mistakes that can cause headaches or possibly even ruin your trip. The good news is that with a little planning, it’s easy enough to avoid some of the most common travel mistakes so you can spend your time enjoying your vacation.

 

1. Overpacking

It’s tempting to bring outfits for every possible occasion, but it makes it difficult to haul your luggage around, and you may get stuck with high baggage fees for accidentally exceeding the weight limit. Instead, pack your bag as usual, then take out half the clothes you originally planned. You won’t wear all of them, you don’t have to sacrifice style, and you can always do some laundry on the road.

 

2. Not Checking Your Cell Phone Plan

It’s important to know what your plan covers to avoid data roaming fees. Not covered? Turn off your data before you get on the plane and leave your phone in airplane mode (you’ll still be able to connect to wi-fi). If data is important to you, look into buying an international plan or buying a local SIM card once you arrive.

Alternatively, for Americans, consider T-Mobile as your carrier. We now get free data in 200 countries and it has literally changed the way we travel. (Note: We have no affiliation with T-Mobile and we pay for our own monthly plans.)

 

3. Not Booking Enough Time in Between Flights

Flight conditions can be unpredictable. If one gets delayed, you might be forced to rush through an unfamiliar airport to make your connecting flight, and you might not make it in time. It’s best to book them with a safe buffer in between. If you are traveling through Heathrow in London, plan for at least a two-hour layover here since you have to go through security just to get from one flight to another.

Summer of Love revisited

It’s 50 years since peace, love and psychedelia burst out from the San Francisco underground into the mainstream, heralding 1967’s Summer of Love.

So pop The Grateful Dead on your headphones, stick on your finest floral shirt and make for these must-see sights in the one-time heartland of the hippies.

 

Beat Museum

To understand how the hippies took over San Francisco, you need to go back to the 1950s and explore that other Californian cultural phenomenon, the Beats. The Beat Museum in North Beach is home to hundreds of original artefacts, including notebooks and photos from Jack Kerouac’s pioneering journeys across America that led to his seminal On The Road, a huge influence on the teenagers who would pioneer the hippie movement and be at the forefront of the Summer of Love.

It also looks at the influence of poet Allen Ginsberg, who linked the Beats and the hippies through his work and activism. The museum retains a chilled vibe very much in keeping with 1967, with old hippies selling tickets and sharing tales of the good old days.

 

City Lights

City Lights was and is a totem of San Francisco’s countercultural movement. Founded by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, its leftfield selections and readings by local authors made it the intellectual heart of the Summer of Love. Its street corner location on Columbus Avenue, a stone’s throw from the Beat Museum, is impossible to miss.

Pop in and you’ll find shelves stacked with everything from surrealist treatises to green politics, a true reflection of the academic side of the hippie dream. And if all that seems a bit too heavy, you can always browse the fiction section and pick up a branded tote bag instead.

 

Haight and Ashbury

The intersection at Haight and Ashbury was the epicentre of the hippie movement that began in San Francisco in 1964 and reached its peak in 1967. Known simply as The Haight, the area was home to some of scene’s biggest names, from Jefferson Airplane to Janis Joplin, as well as the first ‘head’ shop, helping the booming numbers of visiting teenagers to ‘turn on, tune in and drop out’.

 

Golden Gate Park

San Francisco’s vast Golden Gate Park was the go-to spot for the hordes piling into the city as 1967 got underway. The park’s Polo Fields were the site of The Human Be-In in January 1967, with as many as 30,000 young people gathering to see hippie pioneer Timothy Leary urge them to ‘drop out’, and Big Brother and the Holding Company play their brand of bluesy psychedelic rock. Today it’s seen as a defining counterculture event, which kicked off the Summer of Love.

Things are a touch more sedate now, with runners, walkers and cyclists outnumbering hippies. Take a stroll here on a sunny day with some vintage psych on your iPod, though, and you can still feel the vibes.