Tag Archives: Europe

Island Hopping In Croatia

Have You Been to Paradise Yet?

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Why has Croatia become such a hot destination in recent years? Its Old World charm, friendly people, and unique buildings are a start. But its natural beauty–including beaches–is hard to find anywhere else.

We’d like to thank one of our readers, Nicholas, for sending us his travel story (and photos) about Croatia, including and especially a place called Brač Island. Found off Croatia’s southern coast, Brač is beautiful. Don’t just take our word for it though; read Nicholas’s account below…

It’s well known that Croatia is a nautical haven with favorable winds and currents, which allow sailors to comfortably cruise through the Adriatic Sea. The islands and coastal towns are replete with sheltered harbors so that tourists may dock their boats and enjoy the local flavors of the Croatian cities.

Everyone who decides to go sailing in Croatia must make a stop at the island of Hvar to enjoy the sunshine and the lavender fields. Same goes for the island of Brač – which is better known as home to the horn-shaped beach of Zlatni Rat. Another popular sailing destination is Kornati National Park, a collection of islands, islets, and reefs surrounded by turquoise blue water and adorned with pristine flora.

Taking an Adriatic voyage is a perfect way to go island hopping (Croatia counts more than 1000 islands!) and experience the different facets of this colorful and welcoming country.

Thank you again, Nicholas, for sending this our way! We always like hearing from our readers. If you have a travel story you’d like to share with UndiscoveredWanderings for publication, please visit our Share Your Travels page to learn more. Reader contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

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A Sunken Ship Reborn

This Ship Has a Story to Tell

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We would like to thank one of our readers, Melissa, for sending us photos of the Vasa from her recent trip to Sweden. We enjoy hearing from our readers, and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible. We would also like to thank the Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet) of Stockholm for assisting UndiscoveredWanderings with this article.

The Vasa, a sunken ship raised from its watery grave centuries after it met its untimely demise, is one of the most popular attractions in Scandinavia, but virtually unknown in America. We certainly weren’t aware of it until we received this postcard from our friend, Melissa, addressed to UWanderings’s Founder/Editor:

Intrigued, We Set Out to Learn More
The year is 1628. The Vasa was a grand spectacle, complete with two decks of cannons, 10 sails, and beautiful artwork and carvings. The pride of the Swedish Navy; the might of Scandinavia. The ship was a force to be reckoned with. At least it would have been if it ever made it to sea. The ship, it turned out, was top-heavy and very much overloaded. There were plenty of warning signs to indicate design flaws during its construction 400 years ago—including the yet-to-be-completed ship’s dangerous rocking—but political pressure of the day demanded the biggest and most intimidating ship, so such concerns were overruled or simply ignored.

The Vasa at its current home, the Vasamuseet, still drying out.

On its maiden voyage, less than a mile out of dock in Stockholm Harbor, the Vasa keeled over and sank. It was a complete disaster that was keenly visible to the watchful public that day, plus a major diplomatic embarrassment. King Gustav II Adolf was not pleased, even though he approved the ship’s design in the first place. Investigations ensued, but no one officially took the blame once concluded. Perhaps the powers that be would rather have forgotten this whole failure altogether.

And so the Vasa sat, beneath the murky, cold Swedish waters for over three centuries, until a major salvage operation in 1961 brought the world’s attention to this relic of the past, reintroducing it to a brand new, welcoming public. The cold waters actually helped to preserve its hull, but its journey was far from over. Preserving the Vasa’s waterlogged wood required constant spraying of polyethylene glycol; otherwise the wood would quickly dry out and fall apart.

Archival footage of Vasa’s 1961 salvage operation, courtesy Vasamuseet YouTube channel.

Vasa was moved to its current home, the Vasa Museum (or Vasamuseet, in the original Swedish) in 1990, the story of which is an interesting read.  The Vasa is still under restoration since the polyethylene glycol continues to slowly dry, and will for many years to come. We hope to have the opportunity to visit the Vasa someday ourselves; it’s truly remarkable. Here’s a complete visual timeline of the Vasa’s journey. For more information on the other exhibitions at the Vasa Museum, click here.

Vasa Museum official website

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Stuck in an Airport for a While? Go Yotel.

Micro-Sized Living

You’ve got a long layover in a noisy airport with no place to sleep–and it’s already been a long trip. Do you dare try to sleep in the terminal?

Fortunately for us, while we waited patiently at London’s Gatwick Airport to return home last summer, Yotel offered an easy and affordable solution. So what is this curious-sounding hotel chain?

Yotel is capitalizing on the ever-growing popularity of micro spaces–think efficiency apartments and tiny houses. The genius behind Yotel is that it mostly operates out of airports, so it’s perfect for those who don’t really need a hotel so much as a safe and comfortable place to sleep and put their luggage during a longer-than-usual layover. 18 hours was too much for us to just wait around at an airport bar, so this place was perfect. It was extremely comfortable, including the alcove of a bed.

When we say it’s small, we mean it. In our case, the Yotel at Gatwick was built into the airport; rooms and corridors to those rooms were styled like a spaceship, which added to the aura of the place. With 24-hour check in and all the amenities of any hotel–including WiFi and your own bathroom–it was exactly what we needed for the 12 hours we stayed there. And that’s the beauty of it: you can book a Yotel room for hours if needed. You don’t have to pay for the whole day. Pretty cool for our modern age.

Yotel is growing around the world. Learn more!


Become an UndiscoveredWanderings Guest Poster! We always enjoy hearing from our readers and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. We’ll always publish under your name. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

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Madrid’s San Miguel Market Just Works for Everyone

Fish Heads, Anyone?

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Looking for something fresh? How about just a sample? Tapas? Atmosphere? Mercado San Miguel in Madrid has just that!

We don’t really know what drew us to Madrid’s Market of San Miguel. As far as offbeat attractions go, it’s not like it’s hard to find, since it’s in the center of the city, near Plaza Mayor. But the chic iron and glass structure—recently renovated since our first visit to Spain in 2008—called out to us.

Maybe it was the oversized saw tooth fish on ice that was smiling at us (see above), or the casual European atmosphere at the height of the Spanish summer, but San Miguel is a good stop for something different and relaxing, especially if you came a long way like we did. We didn’t eat anything.

We didn’t buy anything. We just explored. Sometimes that all you need to do to experience a place. It just works. And for all you hardcore foodies out there, this might just be your version of heaven. Enjoy!

LINKS
The Market of San Miguel
Visit Madrid

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Spain’s Kilometer Zero

Every Country Has One

Americans like to go to places that are geographically weird—for example, a road or bridge where you can be in more than one state at once. The Four Corners monument also comes to mind. It’s just a thing about us. Perhaps not as popular outside the United States, virtually every country on Earth that uses the metric system has a Kilometer (or Kilometre) Zero, a point from where distances to other parts of said country are measured. All roads lead to somewhere, but they have to start somewhere, right?

Since we spent so much time in Spain, it’s no wonder that we found the Spanish Kilometre Zero. Not surprisingly, it’s in Madrid, since these markers are usually in capital cities. It’s right in the middle of Puerta Del Sol, a public square. It’s not hard to find, but it’s actually fun to hunt for it without GPS and your smartphone, which is why we’re not including a map link to it. Go out and be adventurous, young reader!

Spain’s marker is fancier than most; the “origin of the radial highways”. It is also frequently, though inaccurately, referred to as the geographical center of Spain. But it’s close enough.

LINKS
Kilometre Zero Explained

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