Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights

This winter was the peak of the 11-year solar cycle, the period during which the sun produces sunspots and solar storms, resulting in high auroral activity. Since there’s nowhere better to view the aurora borealis than Lapland, my husband and I stocked up on extreme cold-weather gear and headed north. Way north. We were prepared […]

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Icehotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Since we were sort of in the area, of course we had to spend a night at the original Icehotel in Sweden. If you’ve never heard of the Icehotel, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a hotel built of ice (well, ice and snow). Each year, the hotel is built anew. It takes three months […]

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STF Mountain Station Abisko and Aurora Sky Station

Abisko, Sweden is located 195 km north of the Arctic Circle in the middle of the auroral zone and is considered the best place to see the Aurora Borealis. It’s in the middle of nowhere, so the air is clear and there’s limited artificial lights. Additionally, the sky is typically free of clouds, thanks to […]

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Tromso, Norway

When my husband and I decided to head to Lapland, Tromso seemed like a good start- and end-point. It is in the middle of the Aurora Borealis zone, there were regular flights to and from Oslo and it was large enough to comfortably spend a few days in the Polar Night, which is the period […]

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St-Émilion, France

Medieval St-Émilion is the oldest wine town in France. It is about 22 miles northeast of Bordeaux and sits high on a limestone rock overlooking the seemingly endless vineyards, châteaux and Romanesque churches of the Dordogne valley. St-Émilion is a cluster of stone houses, churches and wine shops surrounded by ramparts. The most famous sight […]

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Marathon du Médoc, Bordeaux, France

When I heard about Marathon du Médoc, I could not wait to run it. A 26.2-mile scenic course that winds through Bordeaux’s vineyards and past world-famous chateaux sounded spectacular. The wine and extravagant food (cheese, oysters, ice cream) along the course sounded…well, not like things I usually consume while running, but an interesting twist to […]

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Canelé

Bordeaux’s signature pastry was borne of necessity, as wineries had an abundance of egg yolks and no use for them. The wineries were not making egg-white omelets, but rather going about their usual wine-making business. An important step in the wine-making process uses egg whites. Toward the end of the wine’s barrel aging process, vintners […]

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Château Pape Clément, Pessac, France

One thing I’ve learned after visiting a few wine regions in France is that popes really liked wine. Château Pape Clément was Clement V’s love. The vineyard was given to him as a gift when he was appointed Archbishop of Bordeaux. It was an ideal grant since the pope (well, back then he was known […]

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Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, France

This was the least-interesting wine visit of the week, but the wine was exceptional. There was nothing wrong with the tour; there just wasn’t anything about the operations or history that stood out. I guess that’s probably a good thing when it comes to turning out a dependable product year after year! Though the winery […]

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Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac, France

Since Pauillac is famous for its dense concentration of outstanding châteaux, we visited a second area winery, Château Lynch-Bages. Here, we toured the facilities, learned about the process and toured the cellars. A unique part, however, was the second-floor museum, situated over the steel vats, where old equipment including transport rails, presses and sorting table […]

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