I’m not sure if it was Benjamin Franklin, or Albert Einstein who said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.” Errr… not really. According to Ryan Howes, Ph.D in Therapy, it’s actually a legal term pertaining to a defendant’s ability to determine right from wrong when a crime is committed. Well, a crime has been committed alright! It’s called THE TEXAS HEAT! 75+ days over 100F (39C) and still counting with little to no relief in sight. That’s usually when my mind starts to drift, and I begin to dream of being somewhere cooler than my beloved Austin, Texas. Until about… right now… 100% of my travel blog entries have been about places I’ve already been. While I enjoy blogging about my trips, I’d much rather get some feedback and participation from the 5-6 of you (7 if I include myself) who actually read this Travel Blog and change things up a bit by conversing about destinations I WANT to visit.
I was recently asked, “Hey Cooke, how do you come up with these crazy trips like South Island – New Zealand, Vermont, U.S.A., and Lake Bled, Slovenia of all places?”. Although a magician typically doesn’t tell you how he picked the Seven of Spades with your signature on it from the jacket pocket of your cousin’s next door neighbor’s uncle’s pharmacist, I’m here today (and today only) to reveal my secret weapon for absolutely awesome fantastic make you say “OH WOW!” destinations. The answer is quite simple – and highly recommended – National Geographic Traveler’s 133 Destinations Rated. Currently Ranked #1 on their list… NORWAY.
As they clearly state… it isn’t a popularity contest. It is an assessment of authenticity and stewardship, evaluating the qualities that make a destination unique and measuring its “integrity of place.” So far, we have been to 8 out of their top 20, and have been able to say “OH WOW!” each and every time. You could almost count Medieval Granada and the Alhambra, Spain as 9 out of 20; however, if you read my previous blog, you already know that I only made it as far south in Spain as Seville. Take a look at the list and you will see what I’m talking about.
133 Places Rated: The List, by Score
Best-Rated Places [Published: November/December 2009]
Next year, we are supposed to go to England for The Olympics, visit family, and go to another TBD (to be determined) destination in Europe. The problem I’m having is the British Pound versus the US Dollar. STINKS! Plus, I’ve only been to England about 20 times as an adult, and lived there for the first 11yrs of my life. Not much I haven’t already seen. Which leads me to my dilemma. While I don’t want to disappoint family members, and would absolutely love for my kids to see “where Daddy was born and raised”… I keep going back to National Geographic Traveler’s 133 Destinations list with a selfish dream to visit their TOP RATED #1 out of 133 destinations – Fjord, Norway. Just can’t get my mind off that place. Fjord Norway? Yes Please!!!
The Internet is a beautiful beast! Only tamed by those capable of putting information in a concise and bad ass arrangement for me to locate what I want (and need) to plan a trip. Vist Norway is definitely one of the BEST travel web sites I have ever seen in my life. In addition to a GREAT web site, VisitNorway.com also has a solid YouTube Channel – http://bit.ly/nQmo7L .
VisitNorway.com has only fueled my desire to see Fjord Norway by about 789.26%. Yeah, I made that number up; BUT… I am absolutely fascinated by the fact Norway has a population of about 4.8 million and covers an area of 385,155 square kilometers of astonishing nature (fjords, mountains, waterfalls, glaciers), unbelievable history (Vikings and the Sami), arts & culture, and of course… Norway is the home country of my favorite pro-cycling sprinter – Thor Hushovd – God of Thunder – World Champion – recently signed on BMC Racing Team for the 2012 pro-cycling season. So, what’s not to love about Norway?
I’m learning new words that I can’t spell OR even pronounce, and LOVING every minute of it! Places like Bergen – The Gateway to the Fjords – known for Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf, the Fish Market, and surrounding mountains and fjords, such as the Hardangerfjord and Sognefjord. The Sognefjord is Norway’s longest fjord and one of its arms, the Nærøyfjord, is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, so that alone tells me… I MUST see this. The city of Ålesund – known for its architecture in Art Nouveau style, its surrounding fjords, and the high peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps. And if the timing was right… it’s hard to beat viewing The Northern Lights from Norway. Just looks incredible!
But more than anything, IF… let me rephrase that… WHEN I get the opportunity to visit Norway… I am most excited about seeing the panoramic views of the fjords and mountains along the world famous Flåm railway (Flåmsbana) as the train loops its way from Myrdal on the Oslo-Bergen railway to the city of Flåm, nestled in the innermost corner of the Aurlandsfjord. I also want to explore the Geirangerfjord , another fjord on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. There are a LOT more places I’d love to see; but, for now… check out this video on The Flåm Railway and you’ll quickly understand my fascination with Fjord Norway: http://bit.ly/q4WgKl
I would LOVE to hear some thoughts/ideas from those of you who have insight on Norway and/or have visited recently, so Join the conversation! Until then…
TRAVEL | EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER