Friday, October 16, 2020

Bozeman, Montana: college town, foodie haven, with nature, museums and more

"Big Mike" greets visitors to the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, reopened since June.



Snow can last into the summer on the peaks
above the pretty town of Bozeman, Montana.

I SPENT the first months of my life in Bozeman, where my parents were university students. They lived in a Quonset hut from World War II, which was recycled to provide married student housing.
I've nurtured a lifelong fondness for this lively and picturesque town of 40,000.
Beautiful Bozeman's population has increased by 20 per cent since 2012 making it the state's fastest growing town by far.
What attracts people to this place?  Perhaps the call of nature, for one can hear elk bugle in the suburbs.  The occasional black bears wanders into town and terrific fly fishing attracts both tourists and locals.  Restaurants offer variety, including tasty ethnic fare as well as good old western cooking.  And since the 1860s when prospectors opened up the Bozeman Trail, this lovely part of the Gallatin Valley north of Yellowstone has been a road trip stop-over. 
The drive from Bozeman, past
Big Sky to West Yellowstone,
offers many scenic stops.

Lure of Big Sky Country
BOZEMAN, MONTANA is popular with tourists in both summer and winter. Direct flights come from many major U.S. cities including Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, Nashville, Dallas, Denver, Newark and Houston. The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is in Belgrade, a quick eight miles northwest of Bozeman. It's owned by the Gallatin Airport Authority and is the busiest airport in Montana.  Even in Covid-19 times, Bozeman's thriving tourism and outdoors-related economies have held their own. It's the county seat of Gallatin County, famous for gorgeous views of the mountains, spectacular sports and nature access. Another draw is Bozeman's proximity to the country's oldest national park, Yellowstone.
Bozeman's International Airport is in Belgrade,
busy with many direct flights to big U.S. cities.

It also hosts the wonderful Museum of the Rockies, Gallatin County Museum and the American Computer and Robotics Museum.
Hollywood has discovered the Gallatin Valley, too.  Many award winning, big budget films have been shot there, including scenes from "A River Runs Through It" and "Far and Away." Fittingly, film star Gary Cooper was born in Helena and finished high school in Bozeman.
In 1864, English born W.W. Alderson described Montana’s Gallatin Valley as “one of the most beautiful and picturesque valleys the eye ever beheld, abounding in springs of clear water.” In the late 1800’s many agreed, calling it “The Egypt” or “The Garden Spot of Montana.”
The Gallatin Valley has attracted an array
of film makers. Motion pictures shot here
include "A River Runs Through It," above. 
The fame of the region dates back to April of 1805, when captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and the Corps of Discovery entered what is today Montana.
Over five months, they traveled up the Missouri and Jefferson rivers and along the Bitterroot Mountains, making some of the most significant discoveries of their epic adventure. Clark made a map of the Gallatin Valley, showing the three forks of the Missouri, the valley's “level open plain,” and the snow covered Bridger mountains. (Lewis and Clark split their party on the return trip, so Lewis could explore north of Great Falls, while Clark explored the Yellowstone.)
Not far from Bozeman is West Yellowstone, one of five
entrances to Yellowstone National Park and bison viewing. 

that booming resort where Montana born TV newsman Chet Huntley broke ground in 1967, is only 32 miles away. It opened with a flourish in 1973.  The award winning anchorman of Huntley-Brinkley fame had suffered a midlife crisis, moved to the mountains of Montana and created this resort town under the dreamy banner, Big Sky.  He said in an interview with Life magazine, "Maybe where there's clarity of air, there's clarity of thought." Could be.....
It's only 82 miles from Big Sky to Old Faithful, and an hour's drive to the closest park entrance, West Yellowstone. Many tourists base in Big Sky to tour the park, and it's a favorite drive of locals.

The foliage is beginning to turn golden, with splashes of red
as Montana and the northern Rockies head into autumn.

: Autumn imagery in the west is a spectacular blend of oranges, yellows, and bits of red.  As leaves are turning, ranchers are moving their cattle to their winter pastures. Bears are feasting on the last of the chokecherries and there's a definite nip in the air. Explore this changing time, with sunrises and sunsets, and enjoy the beautiful autumn scenery wherever you area. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at nature, travel, family, the arts and more:

Friday, October 9, 2020

Buffalo Bill Dam near Cody boasts spectacular views, history

The Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center offers a sweeping view of the reservoir.
Writer-photographer Rick Cosgriffe takes his camera for a
walk on the dam, with its fine views and interesting history. 



IF YOUR travels take you through Cody, Wyoming, and into the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park, you'll be near one of the world's great man made wonders.
Don't pass it by.  
You have an opportunity to visit Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center, just 40 miles from Yellowstone and a scenic six-mile drive from Cody. So you can visit it going either direction.
The impressive concrete arch-gravity dam on the Shoshone River is a much visited Wyoming site, known internationally as a remarkable engineering experiment.
Named after the famous Wild West figure, William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, founder of the nearby town, the dam's visitor center provides a sweeping view of the reservoir formed by its construction.
Rivers and streams running the reservoir deposit fallen trees which collect beneath the viewing area. 
A walkway from the Visitor Center takes one over the dam.
the time of its construction as Shoshone Dam, it was renamed in 1946 to honor Cody, whose celebrity, dreams and generosity actually made the dam possible. The showman was among visionaries and investors who formed the Shoshone Land and Irrigation Company, dreaming of turning the arid area into farmland.
But even after acquiring water rights from the Shoshone River to irrigate 60,000 acres, the project proved cost prohibitive.  So Wyoming's State Board of Land Commissioners asked the Federal Government for help.  
Scrub land near the dam shows how arid the region is.
The dam made farming in the nearby valleys possible.
Then Bill Cody stepped saved the day. In early 1904, Cody transferred his water rights to the Secretary of the Interior and in July of that year, exploratory drilling began for Shoshone Dam.  
Thirty-six years after completion, in 1946, it was renamed Buffalo Bill Dam in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Cody, the man who made it possible.
THE DAM changed the face and future of Wyoming and was the key to opening 90,000 acres in the northwestern corner of the state. 
Wyoming's parched prairie gave way to irrigated farm land. So dry and forbidding was this part of the state prior to the dam that it was one of the last regions in the United States to be settled. 
It wasn’t until the 1890s, with dreams of irrigating the region and turning it into productive farmland, that a wave of people began to settle there.
That surge in the population coincided with Wyoming's statehood, July 10, 1890.
A series of photos and commentary details
the construction of the dam.
Those facts, and more about the Dam's sometimes troubled history are detailed in the Visitor Center.  Most of us aren't aware that there were deaths during the perilous project. 
BECAUSE THERE was no steel reinforcement used to build the dam, construction crews went through a huge amount of dynamite. Over the six years of construction, seven workers died in accidents -- from blast injuries and falls. It's worth spending an hour with the handsome displays in the Visitor Center to realize the human sacrifice.
The 350 feet high structure was designed by engineer Daniel Webster Cole and built over a six-year period between 1905 and 1910, originally 325 feet, enlarged in the 1980s. 
Today, the dam attracts plenty of tourists as well as local fishermen, even in the winter.
Golden eagles may be viewed around the dam. This one was
 injured on the road and brought to the Buffalo Bill
Center's rescued bird habitat.

Ice fishing has become popular here;  most of these intrepid fishermen pursue trout. The reservoir  contains both warm and cold water fish species including cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat rainbow hybrids, brown trout, lake trout, walleye and perch.
If you've got the time, picnic tables with pretty views are set about the grounds and there's a small boat ramp. Swimming and bird and wildlife viewing are another attraction. We were thrilled to see both golden and bald eagles on our recent visit.

Cookie and Keller, with Yorkie Nick stand on the
lawn of the Museum of the Rockies by "Big Mike."

UP NEXT: Bozeman, Montana, is a college town, haven for nature lovers, with enough cosmopolitan attractions to to draw visitors from all over the world.  It's also a museum and foodie haven.  After being closed for several months, the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman is open again, and showcasing wonderful exhibits. The Gallatin County Museum is a charming diversion, too. Find out more about this fast-growing town, a gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a fresh look at nature, travel, the arts, family and more. Share the links you like from

Friday, October 2, 2020

Fun time with Buffalo Bill legend, lore in Cody, Wyoming

Cody's Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a world class complex of interesting and varied museums.

Irma diners enjoy a leisurely meal, with Queen Victoria's
beautiful bar as a backdrop, a gift to Buffalo Bill.

MORE THAN 100 years after his death in 1917, Buffalo Bill Cody lives on in the western town of Cody, Wyoming.
Buffalo Bill Cody rode throughout the world
in his famous Wild West show.

 Named after the famed soldier, buffalo hunter and internationally known showman, the town of Cody pays homage to the flamboyant man in its world class museum, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
WE SPENT a pleasant night and day in Cody, enroute to Yellowstone National Park, only 50 gorgeous miles away to the East Entrance. 
Cody is famous for its western ambiance, including a seasonal shootout at dusk by the Irma Hotel, named for Cody's daughter. The historic bar, built in 1902, boasts stiff drinks.  The restaurant serves up country cooking, and rooms are designed in the Victorian style. The hotels's much photographed cherry wood bar was given to Buffalo Bill as thanks for his entrepreneurial tour of Europe and the United Kingdom.  Bestowing the gift was one of his most ardent fans, Queen Victoria.
It's fun to stroll the streets for western wear, rib-sticking food, ethnic fare including Asian and Mexican offerings, and galleries featuring western paintings, pottery and crafts.
A highlight of our Cody visit was an lively hour spent aboard a green trolley of Cody Trolley Tours. Two entertaining and knowledgeable guides walked us through the history of the town, with historical stories, photos, stops at various locations and audio clips. They highlight old and new attractions around town, with video clips, artwork and relics such as a buffalo horn. 
Cody Trolley Tours offers an entertaining look at the town.
 WE ENJOYED the stories of the guides, particularly the one that  claims Bill's body rests in a picturesque gravesite atop Lookout Mountain, high above the town of Golden, Colorado. While his will stipulated he be brought back to Cody, his widow, Louisa Cody, claimed that Denver officials conspired to have Buffalo Bill buried in Denver. Others believe that's not really Buffalo Bill Cody's remains.  They think that Bill's Cody friends talked their way into the mortuary after his sudden death in Denver in 1917. Lore says the pals switched the body before it was buried, bringing him back to Wyoming.
 The controversy still fuels arguments.  
"Give us an hour and we'll give you 100 years," is Cody Trolley Tours' motto.  We take trolley tours all over the world, wherever offered.  This is one of the most fun we've experienced.
Cody is a lively place, and even with Covid, masking and distancing, we managed to enjoy ourselves. 
Cookie poses by a whimsical
Larry Pirnie art piece at the
Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The shops, restaurants, an entertaining walking tour and planning for the Yellowstone and Grand Teton visit made the visit a pleasant one.  The Irma remains the city's grand dame, and you'll not want to miss an afternoon or morning at the Buffalo Bill Center for the West, with its impressive array of museums ranging from Plains Indian exhibits, to one of the world's finest displays of western art and a firearms collection considered the most impressive in the Americas.
CODY'S ROUGH and tumble roots have spawned a town both sophisticated and "small.'' It retains the feel of a western village but offering citified amenities the seasoned traveler expects. For instance, there's a popular dinner show with western fare and cowboy music produced by Cody Cattle Company, a nightly seasonal rodeo, and the long-running shoot-out outside the Irma. 
The acting is far from Broadway quality and the script is not Pulitzer material, but the half-hour show is a fun diversion. We sat with a couple of Swiss honeymooners and a family from Sacramento, all enjoying the spectacle. 
If you book the Trolley Tour, take advantage of its front-row seat perk. For $3 more than the $25 tour price, the tour's amiable office worker Mitch places a sticker on a chair and you're sitting front-row for the action. You'll meet Butch Cassidy, Sundance, the town drunk, and a couple of lively chorus girls. A fake town backdrop is set up in the street and traffic is closed off for the bank robbery and jail break.
THE OTHER much enjoyed feature of the tour was a visit to the extraordinary Buffalo Bill Dam.
 The trolley tour does a quick drive-by, so we stopped the next morning enroute to Yellowstone.
With guns blazing, actors in Cody's seasonal
nightly gunfight entertain a global audience
At its christening in 1910, it was heralded as an engineering marvel, one of the first concrete arch dams built in the United States. Standing an impressive 325 feet high, it was then the highest dam in the world -- even surpassing New York's famed Croton Dam. That's up next.
We also enjoyed a tasty, authentic Mexican meal at Zapata's, with its welcoming outdoor patio, excellent margaritas and pleasant, accommodating service.
 Please keep tuning us in and share the link.;; 

Spectacular view from the walkway above the Buffalo Bill Dam.
: The Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center offers an eye-catching walkway across the dam, with a view down to the beautiful Shoshone River.  It's on the way from Cody, Wyoming, to Yellowstone National Park's east entrance. The dam was completed 110 years ago in 1910, an engineering marvel at the time and still impressive today.  We'll take you there next week. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at travel, the arts, family, nature and more:   

Friday, September 25, 2020

Autumn splendor: Grand Teton, Yellowstone offer splendid day tripping


Spectacular views await at every turn on a trek through Yellowstone and Teton this week.



AUTUMN IS NO no more splendid than in our country's national parks.
Elk are bugling, leaves are changing, crowds are thinning. Cool evenings and warm days are just what the doctor ordered during these anxious Covid-19 times.
A walk to Jenny Lake yields golden autumn colors
and a short wait for the Jenny Lake Boating Co. ferry.

What could be more ideal than a leisurely gambol through Grant Teton and Yellowstone, two of our country's spectacular national parks.
WE SET OFF Thursday afternoon, to spend five days enjoying  yellow and golden leaves, with a few dark reds -- moving in the wind against blue skies and clouds straight out of Hallmark.
Glorious greens of fir, pine and tamarack trees catch the eye with our slow, "critter spotting" driving. We love the tamaracks, those showy deciduous beauties growing up to 150 feet.
Walking paths in both Yellowstone and Teton
invite Keller and Cookie to explore.
Keller and Cookie, Rick Cosgriffe and Jane
Milder atop the summit after riding

Bridger Gondola, with Yorkie Nick.


WE ENTERED Yellowstone on our annual park pilgrimage, driving the winding road through Wapiti Valley outside of Cody, Wyoming, taking our time to the park's East Entrance
The first night, we'd parked ourselves in front of Cody's legendary Irma Hotel.  We angled ourselves onto the front row after the entertaining trolley ride to the nearby dam and around the town. (More about Cody and that fun town in next week's whereiscookie).
Then a leisurely drive through the park, with its many lakes including Yellowstone, over Fishing Bridge, and south down to the Grand Tetons. The dramatic mountains were named by French-Canadian trappers who admired the "big breasts" of the range.

JUST SOUTH of Yellowstone and north of the town of Jackson, Grand Teton's sprawling 310,000 acres include lush valley floors, mountain meadows, alpine lakes and the rising peaks of the spectacular Teton Range.
The massive Jackson Hole Aerial Tram, nicknamed "Big Red," was closed. But the cozy Bridger Gondola was running, perfect for the four of us humans and Nicky, our 10-pound, 15 year old Yorkshire Terrier. We waited only a few minutes for one of several "dog friendly" gondolas to whisk by, lifting us over 4,000 vertical feet in 15 minutes to a spectacular view of the valley.
A boat ride and tram ride on Bridger Gondola,
enticed us as we explored the two pretty parks. 

OUR FELLOW gondoliers were hikers and backpackers hitting the high country.  Many others, though, took the gondola simply for the experience and the stunning view, enjoying a cup or tea or glass of wine before the the ride back down. 
The two parks offer so many pleasures
The Bridger Gondola in Grand Teton has
several dog friendly compartments.

that it is difficult to single out a few, but we advise spending at least four days if you plan to see parts of both Yellowstone and Teton.
There are activities for families, hikes for couples, places to recharge for a solo traveler. Animals are active in the crisp fall air. We saw black bears, elk and moose along to complement the changing landscape.
More than half of the world's thermal features are found in Yellowstone.  Teton boasts some of the world's most spectacular peaks. We invite you to share our national parks with your friends!

Cookie and Nick along for the ride through Yellowstone
and Teton and the lively surrounding towns. 

We look forward to sharing more of our five-day national parks adventure, enjoying the bounty of wildlife and scenery, and exploring the towns around the park.  Next week, we take you to Cody, Wyoming, with its Buffalo Bill lore and a fun trolley to see the sights. We advise on dog friendly protocol if you're taking your pup along for the ride. Down the road, we hit the reopened Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, and explore West Yellowstone.  Please share this link with your friends, and remember to explore, learn and live:

Friday, September 18, 2020

Sample a taste of Europe right here on the North American continent

A mother whale and her calf in flowers draw the eye to Victoria's famous Hotel Fairmont Empress.

Japan Center in San Francisco, offers
shopping, museums, restaurants, artwork.


WITH TRAVEL outside our continent limited by the virus scourge, it's time to look for the exotic without leaving North America. Do come along.
It's possible to sample a bit of Europe, Asia or South America, right here in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
WITH A VISIT to Victoria, B.C., you'll enjoy the feeling of the British Isles. The city's British connection is time honored in the lovely Hotel Fairmont Empress, opened in 1908 as one of Canada's grand railway hotels.
Its central downtown harbor location on Goverment Street offers a dazzling view of the city's Parliament, and its Chatequesque style reminds of Switzerland.
Since its opening, the hotel experienced two expansions, in 1910, and again in 1928. The building received designation as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981 and underwent a $60 million restoration in 2015.
THE CITY'S Colonial past shows in its Victorian architecture, including stately Craigdarroch Castle mansion. Butchart Gardens, with 55 acres of vivid floral displays, statuary, ponds and a carousel, is one of many formal gardens near or in the city.
A street in Solvang -- complete with windmill -- could be
a street in the Netherlands, with all manner of Danish goods.
Restaurants have a continental feel. You'll find fish and chips as tasty as any in merry olde England, bakeries with yummy scones, pubs galore and tea shops including decades old Murchie's, with an array of all things British for a stylish afternoon tea. You'll feel you've crossed the pond in British Columbia.                      SAN FRANCISCO is home to a huge Asian community and nowhere is it more alive than in the city's artistically designed Japan Center. Pagados, hotels, shrines, galleries, restaurants and the beautiful Japan Center Malls display authentic cultural icons and excellent, reasonable shopping.  New York City's Chinatown is world renowned for its shops, its bustling feeling -- much like Hong Kong or Shanghai, and its authentic Chinese food, shops with herbs and remedies, and temples. It's a unique, lively and expansive neighborhood full of people, scents and the feel of China.
New York's Chinatown is bustling, authentic.

SOLVANG, in southern California's pretty  Santa Ynez Valley, is known for its Danish-style architecture and fine wineries. The Elverhøj Museum of History and Art explores the city's Danish heritage through stories and photos. The Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum exhibits dozens of classic American, Japanese and European motorbikes while the Old Mission Santa Inés is an early-1800s Franciscan church. Solvang's nightlife is exciting -- with a cosmopolitan feel. Many Danish Americans consider Solvang their cultural home, visiting regularly, even purchasing second homes in the quaint town and pleasant valley.             HERE'S A FEW other places where we've felt   connected to our ancestry. So much of culture carries on its time honored links with our motherlands -- in architecture, historical sites, dining, museums, clothing and grocery stores, souvenir shops and more.   
A charming hotel, the Queen Mary, is
permanently docked in Long Beach,
reminding of cruising days abroad.

NASHVILLE'S Parthenon was built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition. It stands proudly as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, Nashville's premier urban park. The re-creation of the 42-foot statue Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building and the Athena statue are both full-scale replicas of the Greek originals.  
Nashville's Parthenon is a full-sized
replica of the one in Athens.


THE QUEEN MARY, docked in Long Beach, is the place to go if you are a fan of cruising and miss sailing the oceans and high seas. Now a beautiful hotel,, the Queen Mary set a new benchmark in transatlantic travel, which the rich and famous considered as the only civilized way to travel. She quickly seized hearts and imaginations on both sides of the Atlantic, representing the elegance and spirit of an era known for its class and style.  
MEXICO OFFERS Latin feel in its music, architecture, food and the pulsing mix of cultures.  Try Mazatlan, Mexico City and Guadalajara for history, museums, cathedrals and old-fashioned Mexican spirit. Cancun, Cozumel and Cabo San Lucas offer modern hotels, beaches, fine contemporary restaurants and an interesting mix of tourists from Europe and both Americas.  
This church in Mazatlan is one
of many popular for weddings.
San Miguel de Allende is a lovely mile-high oasis in the central Mexican mountains.  Its history dates to 1542 and it is famous for its fine Mexican cuisine and luxurious hotels -- one with a cooking school.
ALSO CONSIDER Leavenworth, Washington, 200 miles east of Seattle, which looks as if it were plucked form the Bavarian Alps. New Orleans offers Creole and Cajun treats, spectacular dining and food reflecting the mixed cultural bag -- from beignets to gumbo and spicy po boy sandwiches. When seeking European atmosphere in North America, consider Quebec City, where you'll hear French and find an array of cultural, historic and gastronomic attractions -- cobblestone streets, lively arts, fun-loving people.
 From France to Scandinavia, Italy, Greece, England, China, Japan and South and Central America, we can find the trappings of other cultures in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Safer than international travel right now -- and most of us are within driving distance to at least one of these.

UP NEXT: Yellowstone and the Tetons in autumn.  Come along with us to two of our country's most beautiful national parks.  They're no prettier than in autumn, when the golden and reddish tones of 
Bison graze on fall grasses while geyers steam.
fall blanket the valleys.  Wildlife viewing is splendid in autumn, and we're on the lookout for bison and bears, swans, elk and moose.  Perhaps even a wolf or two in the beautiful Lamar Valley.  Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a unique look at nature, the arts, family, travel, health and more.
Please share this link and our stories with your friends!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Awesome Oslo: Norway's capital, handsome hybrid of old, new, arty

If you enter Oslo by boat, you will transit Akershus Harbor and its Renaissance Fortress.


A statue honoring playwright Henrik
Ibsen invites one to the National Theater.
MY NORWEGIAN is showing, so indulge me, please, as I wax affectionately about Norway's capital, Oslo.
It's a proud city, which grew from a rustic 9th Century village to a bustling region of nearly a million people.
Cookie and Keller in Akershus Harbor.
Norwegian wood escape

Oslo is also a city of graceful architecture, scenic landscapes and rich history, proud of its artistic heritage and long legacy of maritime life.

For art lovers, it's a place to honor Norway's great dramatist, Henrik Ibsen, and its most famous painter, Edvard Munch. Both men's accomplishments are featured in many places in the city -- from galleries to concert halls, parks to museum exhibits.
FOR FANS of the sea, Oslo offers world class maritime museums celebrating Norway's centuries old shipping history.  The country has long been a major player on the world's oceans.  In 1875, Norway was the world's third largest shipping nation with 60,000 sailors. The first regional shipowners association was formed in Norway in 1899. The Norwegian Maritime Museum is rich in experiences and activities with indoor and outdoor exhibitions in a unique maritime environment. The waterside Viking Ship Museum displays impressive Viking ships from the 9th century.
Oslo's Radhus, Town Hall is a striking
building with twin red brick towers.

 capital of Norway sits on the country’s southern coast at the head of the Oslofjord. It’s known for its green spaces, many on picturesque Bygdøy Peninsula.
If you're feeling athletic, the Holmenkollbakken is a ski-jumping hill with panoramic views of the fjord and a world class ski museum. 
A word about safety.  Unlike other European cities, you'll have little to worry about in Oslo. Crime is nearly non-existent, people are helpful and speak beautiful English, city streets are clean. Norwegians proudly tell visitors that they're more likely to fall off a cliff or be hit by a meteor than be attacked in Oslo.
Oslo's maritime history is celebrated in a pair
of striking museums along the water.

Oslo is also a wonderful city to navigate -- whether solo or with a family or group.
WE'RE BIG FANS of city passes and the Oslo pass is a nifty one, offering entry to more than 30 museums and attractions, free travel on all public transport and other attractive perks.
If you enjoy museums and public transportation, it's cheaper to get the Oslo pass before your trip.
You'll likely want to buy some Viking art, also known as Norse art. Viking souvenirs abound,  because since the 10th Century, my Viking ancestors adorned myriad objects with carving and fine metalwork. 
Oslo's Nobel Peace Center is a proud testimony to Sweden's
generous inventor, Alfred Nobel, and his ideals. 

The Viking symbol is found on everything from bedspreads to tablecloths, coffee mugs to plates and pajamas.  I love my sterling silver earrings -- shaped like Viking helmets.
WHILE STOCKHOLM is home to the Nobel prize hall, Oslo is proud of its Nobel Peace Center. One of the five Nobel prizes, the Peace Prize, is awarded in Oslo. The recipient of this coveted prize is chosen by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Inside the graceful building is a permanent exhibit about Swedish born Alfred Nobel, who -- like his native country -- had deep ties to Norway. Two Americans, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barrack Obama, won the Peace Prize, given annually to someone who has “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
Sculptor Gustav Vigeland donated his collection. 

FINALLY don't miss Viegland Park, with its 212 enormous sculptures by Gustav Viegland, the country's most prolific and generous sculptor.  He worked in granite, bronze and wrought iron over a period of 40 years, donating the lion's share of his imaginative work to Oslo.
The Park is one of the most popular attractions in Scandinavia.

The culture of Japan is celebrated at San Francisco's Japan Center,
where an entire neighborhood features all things Japanese. 
UP NEXT: Perhaps you're missing international travel.  You're not alone. So if you'd like a taste of Europe, South America or Asia without leaving the continent, join us next week for a special column on "foreign pleasures close to home." The piece will feature ethnic neighborhoods, with museums, restaurants, architecture and attractions that reflect the influence of other cultures, but on our own continent.  We have suggestions for visiting U.S. and Canadian cities with a European feel -- San Francisco, New Orleans, Montreal, Victoria and more. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at travel, nature, family and the arts:  

Friday, September 4, 2020

Sprint over to Skagen for color, art, boating, dunes, laid back R&R

Skagen's distinctive yellow houses always sport orange tiled roofs, an artistic tradition.


Fishing is an important part of Skagen's economy.

WE'D VISITED Denmark several times, but never its picturesque port town, Skagen, sitting peacefully at the north end of Denmark’s Jutland peninsula. Its population of 8,000 people increases by 2,000 during the summer months.  We visited in September, a year ago, when travel was safe and unencumbered.  Slowly, Denmark is reopening to tourism and this northernmost township on the east coast of the peninsula, welcomes travelers. Because of its prime seaside location, the town of Skagen is the main fishing port for all of Denmark. Another reason for Skagen's popularity, we discovered, is its beautiful turquoise blue waters and the vast expanse of the sea.
Skagen's yellow houses and orange tiled roofs.

We were among a couple hundred tourists who came to enjoy the town's scenic views, old-fashioned streets and charming waterfront.  The unique Skagen architecture is a draw, too -- yellow houses with orange tiled roofs.
The picturesque little town of Skagen owes its popularity to an artists' colony which settled there in the 1880s. Known as the "Nordic Light Painters," their work was prized for the shimmering light.  A Nordic Light exhibition celebrates the movement each August and several museums exhibit works by these eccentric and talented Skagen painters, who were inspired by Skagen's light and landscape.
TODAY, SKAGEN is both a fishing port and a tourist destination.
An oil by Michael Peter Ancher of Skagen.

The characteristic yellow and orange roofed houses are still occupied by fishermen and painters. A few are b&bs, and the town also offers several pleasant hotels.
The people of Skagen are proud of both legacies -- their expert fishing fame and stable of famous artists.  The Local History Archive in Skagen's former courthouse, exhibits town history, artistic tradition and maritime heritage. 
Skagen's shifting dunes provided a pleasant hike for us. 

A main attraction is Grenen Beach, on Skagen’s northeastern outskirts.  It boasts the convergence of the Skagerrak and Kattegat seas. The trick -- we couldn't resist the temptation -- is to stand with one foot in the Skagerrak and the other in the Kattegat. One body in two seas!
The shifting dunes are another attraction.  These migrating wonders are pushed by the wind and sea, moving and changing each year.  The shifting sands have covered entire buildings, including a church known, literally, as Den Tilsandede Kirke. Now only the steeple is visible on this buried 17th Century house of worship.
SKAGEN IS also home to some of the world's great eagles, who fly free in the Eagle Sanctuary. We listened to folk music, too, with Skagen's street buskers doing a brisk business. 
 If your idea of a holiday means watching the sun setting over the water, enjoying a panoramic view of the sea, strolling a welcoming village, visiting  its beaches and waterfront, and eating freshly caught seafood, Skagen's your place for laid back R&R.
And don't worry if you aren't sure how to pronounce Skagen. Three acceptable pronunciations are listed in a local guidebook: Skah-guhn,” “Skay-gen,” or “Skay-en" as in "just sayin'."

Sculptor Gustav Vigeland gave his many statues to Oslo. 
UP NEXT: We end our salute to Scandinavian capitals with a visit to the Viking land of Oslo, Norway, and a trip to a farm near the city. Founded in 1050, Oslo sits on the left bank of the Akere River and is an intriguing blend of modern and historic. The Viking influence is felt everywhere, and the country's noteworthy artistic heritage is celebrated in Vigeland Sculpture Park, which hosts Gustav Vigeland's impressive sculptures. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at nature, travel, family and the arts: