Europe

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The Huskies of the North

The air is bright cold. That is how I'll remember it. And noise through the air is so loud I almost reach my mittens to my ears. The dogs just want to run. They are made for this and they are pulling and squealing to be set free to run. I'll admit, one of the deciding factors in choosing Lapland as a destination was the appeal of mushing huskies I saw in all the photos; something about it seemed so far away from city life. So when we booked our trip, it was my top priority. In the van on the…

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Helsinki

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, was a natural stopping place for us on the way up to Lapland in the north on our recent trip. I didn't realize until later it would have been possible to fly straight from Amsterdam to Lapland, but we're still so glad we made the stop. Just look at these golden hued homes! We made two visits to Helsinki, and spent a total of three nights in the city: two on the way up and one on the way back from Lapland. And we wish it had been more. I'd heard the city had a…

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The Lapland Snow Globe at Kakslauttanen

The land is white below the plane, and the pines straight up, not a hint of an aching back among them. We are flying over the land I have been imagining almost a year, the land above the Arctic Circle: Finnish Lapland. We land in a field of snow, and even more falls around us.  I'm simultaneously glad I have carried my heavy coat on the plane, but also stinging with cold and trying not to slip as I head toward the airport. When I dreamed of a surprise trip for Walker's birthday, I knew it…

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Saint-Tropez, France

Having never been to southern France, when I imagined visiting Saint-Tropez, I thought of bright beaches and sparkling sunglasses and navy blue bathing suits. But after a  6½ hour flight direct from NYC into Nice and a quick drive, we arrived in a town that I can only describe as quaint, quiet and pristine. The pastel buildings were painted pale colors, as perfect as a fresh box of chalk. We learned from a waiter, after pronouncing it phonetically for months, that the real pronunciation is…

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Florence

Since there last, I have remembered Florence as the city that smells like leather and warm waffle cones toasting on the open streets. This time several weeks ago, the air was a bit friskier and the shops not quite so exposed, and yet, the mystery behind the cobbles and closed wooden doors on every alley drew me in yet again. Third time, and still such a charm. We arrived via train from Nice fairly late our first evening, and queued up for one of what seemed like only three taxis in town. Our…

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Cinque Terre by boat

Back to our morning on the boat, the highlight of our travels through Cinque Terre! When my mother-in-law mentioned we'd like to take a boat, Stephano, our hotel owner, told us we might not find one this late in the year but to head to the harbor to see. We took the train from Monterosso (home base and the northernmost town) to the southernmost of the five, Riomaggiore. The train announcements sounded like rio-ma-CHEE-or-ay; love how they drag out the vowels. We walked down to the harbor, just…