Visiting the Famous Snowhotel in Kirkenes Norway

Hello from Norway!  I think I'm somewhere near the city Trondheim which is also referred to as the Paris of Northern Europe.  I decided to take a 12 day cruise beginning and ending in Bergen Norway with Hurtigruten Cruise lines

One of the tours I decided to do was halfway through the cruise at one of our northern most stops in Kirkenes which is only a few miles from the Russian border.  Many people on my ship took a tour bus to see the Russian border.  There was only time to do one chore and I chose this one I'm so glad that I did and spite of being colder then I think I've ever been in my life.  I grew up in the state of Vermont but have lived in Florida for nearly a decade and it just isn't as easy to travel to cold-weather places. 

I took a lot of photos at the Snowhotel because it was so interesting and I haven't ever seen anything like it.  People pay as much as $600 and more of a night to stay there.  There is a bar and a restaurant.  There are also reindeer on the property and dog sledding is available. 

I have mixed feelings about dog sledding. This was my second such excursion. When I was in Alaska I wanted to try it and especially see if the dogs were treated well. You can read my account here:

Dog Sledding in June on the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

 

DSC03248-1_ppOne of the things I like most about going dog sledding is playing with the dogs.  They just love attention and are so well behaved! 
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A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Gaylord Palms ICE! Exhibit 2016

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It has become a tradition in my family to visit the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida to see the ICE! Exhibit as well as the acrobat and light shows.  We love the festive atmosphere as well as the variety of restaurants available at this resort.  The 2016 exhibit is over but the atrium view rooms where you can see the shows start to book up several months in advance.  This year's theme was  "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and was one of my favorite so far and I wanted to share my photos.

 

 

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Wandering and Searching Yogi Offers a Few Balancing Tips

 

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 I hope you like the new name of my blog!  I didn't want to change my domain but thought the island girl part of my blog name needed to go.  I'm not saying I will never visit another island again, but the type of travel I will be doing is likely to change at least for a while.  You can read my previous post to see why I have become disillusioned with visiting tropical islands especially if the UV rays are very high which most are.  I live in Florida as it is so I get more than enough UV rays already! 

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Why I Might Be Renaming my Blog...

 

 I haven't written any new posts on my blog for quite a while.  I have at least 100 excuses why and I'm afraid only a couple of them are good ones.  I haven't felt really well in the past couple of weeks which has made writing and editing photos difficult.  I've also had some health issues which I have written about previously.  The main problem I am having has to do with a precancerous skin condition.  The skin condition is called Actinic Keratosis which I am likely to continue having from time to time throughout the rest of my life.

Here is the post I wrote about my first scare with a precancerous skin condition: 

Island Girl's PSA: Tanning is OUT and Your Skin is IN!!!

460881_4208426543007_1838610959_oThe above photo was taken in Kauai at an area called Queen's Bath

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Exploring Croatia's Coast Aboard the Norwegian Jade

"It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better."

Sir Francis Drake, Sea Captain George

I do love cruises!  I really like seeing the coast line when I arrive at different destinations.  I also like exploring different areas that I'm unsure if I would like to visit for a week or two versus just a day trip.  During my seven day Mediterranean cruise we visited two cities in Croatia including Dubrovnik and Split.

I had thought that immediately going on a cruise after a 12 1/2 hour overnight flight from Florida to Italy would be a good idea.  I was really jet lagged during the majority of my seven-day Mediterranean cruise.  One would think that with how much I travel that I am good at dealing with jet lag.  That is not the case!  I know that it is not a good idea to take a nap immediately after arriving in Europe where the time is six hours ahead but I just can't seem to stop myself.

I learned that going on a cruise immediately after arriving in Europe after a long overnight flight is not the best idea - at least for me.  There are too many opportunities to nap and eat too much which makes me want to sleep even more.  Upon reflection, I would spend a couple of days near the port before boarding the ship and do my best to acclimate to the new time zone.

Here are a few snaps I took of Dubrovnik Croatia from the balcony of my cruise ship.  Thank goodness I splurged on a balcony which really wasn't that much more sailing with Norwegian.  I flew into Venice and went directly to the port to board my ship.  Luckily I was escorted to my room soon after arriving at the port and was able to take a nap - I am a BIG baby when it comes to long flights and dealing with jet lag!

 

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"Venice Never Quite Seems Real, but Rather an Ornate Film Set Suspended On the Water." ~ Frida Giannin

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 I was fortunate enough to visit Venice for the second time in two years  during July 2016 and this time it didn't rain the entire time!  I was there for five days following a Mediterranean cruise that left from Venice and visited Greece as well as Croatia.  I've never been really excited about the thought of visiting Venice and wasn't overly impressed with this incredible city after my first visit but definitely fell in love with this area that is like no other during my second visit!

Here is one of my very edited HDR images that I took two years ago when there was a slight break from the rain that happened most of the time I spent there:

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Going on a Mediterranean cruise was at the top of my bucket list at the beginning of the summer.  When I started to do research into this trip I realized that leaving from Rome, Athens or Venice were some of my options.  I chose to leave from Venice for two reasons.  I thought it would be easier to get to the cruise ship and I plan to spend some time at whichever port I chose to leave from.  I was most drawn toward Venice as Rome and Athens seem like a really large cities to me.  I was traveling solo and felt more comfortable in a smaller city like Venice versus Rome. 

For those of you who are interested in a Mediterranean cruise leaving from Venice it costs 45 euros to get from the Venice airport to the port.  I gave the driver a €5 tip which I could tell he was quite shocked!  I was unpleasantly surprised when I exited the ship one week later and learned that a water taxi was my only option to get to my hotel.  The water taxi cost me €80.  I didn't let it bother me too much as there was no choice at that point. 

I stayed at a wonderful hotel right on the Grand Canal that had a balcony and an amazing view.  The view was so incredible I had to drag myself out of the room to go do things as opposed to just watching the action on the Grand Canal.  The sunrises and sunsets were not a disappointment either!  The name of the hotel I stayed at is called Hotel NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci.  This hotel is in the San Marco area of Venice.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to stay on the Grand Canal.  The location was great as I could walk everywhere I wanted to go, the breakfast was good, the Wi-Fi was reliable and the beds were comfortable.  The staff was also very friendly and accommodating!

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