Tag Archives: Europe

Island Hopping In Croatia

Have You Been to Paradise Yet?

Click icon to view map

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.

 

 

A Sunken Ship Reborn

This Ship Has a Story to Tell

Click icon to view map. Detailed directions and parking instructions in Stockholm can be found here.

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

When Reagan Met Gorbachev

This is the True Story…of Two Strangers…

Click icon to view map

Actually, they’d already met once before, but for those of us who lived through the waning years of the Cold War, this place has a lot of history. Located in downtown Reykjavik, Höfði House was the site of the famed Reykjavik Summit between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in October 1986.

Their second in-person meeting, the Summit itself was not viewed a success at the time, but it did pave the way for further talks and warmer relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, which eventually fostered nuclear arms reduction agreements and, in time, the end of the Cold War.

We can learn something from this in today’s chaotic world. Just saying.

Höfði House is not open to the public, but you can easily see it from a distance when in downtown Reykjavik. Definitely worth a couple of pictures from across the street.

Learn more about Höfði House here.

In Europe, You Can Always Visit Your Friendly Neighborhood Christmas Market

Plenty of Christmastime to Go Around

They’re a growing trend in the States, but a staple of Christmas in Europe. A Christmas Market is pretty much what it sounds like:

Markets. At Christmas.

Each year, for about a month before Yule, many towns and cities across the continent set up makeshift marketplaces in their center squares, with food, drinks of all kind, and Christmas-themed trinkets. Lights are just part of the show, including those that adorn buildings and churches (see below). Larger Christmas markets usually have ice skating rinks set up in the middle of them. 



Roasted chestnuts are some of the favorites, along with Glühwein and well-decorated cookies. Of course, if that’s not your thing, there’s plenty of other local eats, depending on the country. We’ve visited a number of Christmas markets in Western Europe and found Germany and Belgium host some of the most elaborate ones (perfect places to get chocolate-covered Belgian waffles!). Although we haven’t made it to Switzerland yet, we’ve heard the Christmas Market in Zurich is by far the best anywhere.

And then there’s the Christmas trees. Europe really takes their Christmas trees seriously, putting the one at Rockefeller Plaza to shame.

Northern Italy, Part III: The Dolomites

There’s More

Click icon to view map

Located about an hour and a half northeast of Baselga di Pinè, the Dolomites, part of the Alps, can’t be missed. There’s plenty to do! For more information, the visitor website can help you out and provide ideas for a wide range of activities.