While many in the United States might be sick of the cold, some of the coldest regions in the world have their own awe-inspiring natural beauty to warm the heart and soul. For anyone planning a cold weather adventure, you may consider one of these prime viewing locations, because while there are many places where one can see the Northern Lights, they are best viewed in particular parts of the world.
CNN Travel writer Maggie Wong compiles the 11 top viewing spots in her recent article: Jokulsarlon, Iceland; Fairbanks, Alaska, United States; Paatsjoki, Finnish Lapland; Unstad, Lofoten, Norway; Cairngorms National Park, Scotland; Kangerlussuaq, Greenland; Yellowknife, Canada; Tromsø, Norway; Abisko, Sweden; Muonio, Finnish Lapland; Southern Hemisphere, End of a Contentment.
The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon that many people are familiar with, but not everyone understands. Better known as “the Northern Lights” the natural event is referred to by scientists as an aurora. Wikipedia describes an aurora:
“Auroras are produced when the magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the solar wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere), where their energy is lost. The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emits light of varying colour and complexity. The form of the aurora, occurring within bands around both polar regions, is also dependent on the amount of acceleration imparted to the precipitating particles. Precipitating protons generally produce optical emissions as incident hydrogen atoms after gaining electrons from the atmosphere. Proton auroras are usually observed at lower latitudes.”
Holly Johnson, writer for Travel Pulse, offers some tips for planning your family Spring Break vacation.
Johnson suggests considering multiple destinations. For the budget minded, consider staying some wear near the center point of your activities if staying directly at the destination will stretch your budget. Depending on travel dates, considering multiple destinations could make a big difference in cost.
Johnson notes that while it may seem impossible, try to craft a vacation the whole family will love. While many parents might view this as an act of futility, it is possible. Neutral trips that offer a lot of variation in actives might include beach trips, resorts and cruises.
In the same light, she notes it is important to let everyone’s voice be heard, even younger children. Let everyone pick at least one of the activities. This will add variety and keep the peace, while letting you all have lots of new experiences together.
Consider an all-inclusive option as they can save you a lot of money. Johnson writes, “All-inclusive resorts offer a good option for families since they include meals, drinks (and alcohol), and most entertainment options in your nightly rate. Cruises are a good option, too. They don’t always include alcohol, but they do include your cabin fare, food, and most entertainment options in your cruise fare. Some cruise lines, like MSC cruises, even let kids under 12 cruise for free.”
On planning Johnson has several thoughts. The stress of planning a trip piled on top of day-to-day concerns might encourage some to consider repeating familiar trips that seem “easy” or fit the budget—even when the trip was only “so-so”. Don’t make the mistake of re-planning a trip for these reasons. With all the online travel research tools and price-comparison tools you don’t need a travel agent to find great deals at new and interesting destinations.
As for shopping around Johnson writes, “No matter what you do, you should plan on checking at least 3-5 travel websites before you book any trip. Not only do prices vary on various travel sites, but you could earn special benefits, too. Websites like CheapCaribbean.com, Expedia.com, and Priceline.com are great for shopping Spring break packages that include both airfare and your hotel. You should always check with the vendor (airline or hotel) to see if you can get a better deal (or special perks like free breakfast) by booking directly.”
Johnson also suggests not forgetting about Air BNB or renting condos as sharing a single room with the whole family can be frustrating and subtract from your relaxation. These options can often be cheaper and offer options for eating some easier, less expensive meals at home. Why spend loads of money on a quick lunch when you can save and have a fantastic dinner?
Finally, Johnson warns of making the classic mistake of trying to pack in too many activities. Filling everyday with morning to night activities is bound to leave at least a few members of the family upset. For the daring, you might plan a “do-nothing” trip with no pre-planned activities.
Ben Murtzabaugh reported in USA Today that Qatar Airways has earned itself the title for the world’s longest, regularly scheduled flight. On Sunday the airline rolled out the 9,032-mile route which takes passengers from its Doha hub to Auckland, New Zealand. While the outgoing flight from Doha is 50 minutes shy of the 17 hour mark, strong headwinds on the return make the flight a grueling 17 hours and 30 minutes.
Qatar Airway’s new service captures the title by a mere 10 minutes—not much longer than competitor, the Middle Eastern Emirates, whose 8,819-mile route from Dubai to Auckland is 17 hours, 20 minutes on the return and 16 hours, 5 minutes on the outbound flight.
Qatar Airways can now claim the world’s longest flight both by time and by distance, according to air travel intelligence company OAG. However, this title comes with a footnote.
Air India was also a contender after having shifted the route of its Delhi-San Francisco flight last fall. The route was shifted to take advantage of fuel-saving tailwinds and is an impressive 9,400 miles. However, without the voluntary longer route change, the distance of the flight would be only 7.700 miles, which wouldn’t even place it in the top 25 longest flights.
CNN Travel reported on the Europe’s first underwater museum Wednesday. Two years in the making, the museum is located in the deep waters off the shores of Spanish island Lanzarote. It is only accessible to snorkelers, divers and, of course, sea creatures.
The museum, named Museo Altlantico, features the sculptures of artist Jason deCaires Taylor. The 300 sculptures are submerged at depths between 12 and 15 meters on the sea floor of Coloradas Bay.
These sculptures will be more than just art, however. These sculptures are made from environmentally friendly concrete and are part of an artificial reef, which will serve as a breeding site for local aquatic wild life. The sculptures are meant to raise awareness about ocean-related environmental issues by portraying scenes from everyday life.
The Victor Crew
The Star Wars franchise has captured the imaginations of people around the world since “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope” was released in 1977. For decades fans have made journeys to these sometimes not-so-faraway places to see where their favorite film was shot.
Many of the films in the franchise feature impressive landscapes of many types, many of which aren’t as alien as some might think. George Lucas’ original three films are well known for focusing on a particular kind of landscape in each film.
The igloo exterior of Luke’s house was filmed about 300 kilometers away on the dried-up salt lake of Chott El Jerid. The igloo is still there, reachable with a decent car at the GPS coordinates 33°50’34.42″N, 7°46’44.48″E. The surrounding craters are man-made, to create the illusion that the underground house is next to it. The igloo from the 1977 movie was dismantled, but again rebuilt for “Attack of the Clones,” and later restored by a fan. Nearby is La Grande Dune, site of the Dune Sea. About 30 minutes from the igloo is the set of Mos Espa, the spaceport town where Anakin was discovered as a young slave.
Endor, the forest moon home of the furry Ewoks, was filmed among California’s giant redwoods. Most of the well-known scenes were shot on private land owned by a lumber company. Since the cast and crew worked on “Return of the Jedi” in 1982, heavy logging has left most of the landscape unrecognizable. But driving through the parks still gives a feel for the set, especially along the Avenue of the Giants highway. In Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park and the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, plates were filmed for some chase scenes.
Exteriors of the ice world Hoth in “The Empire Strikes Back” were shot in the tiny village of Finse, Norway. The cast and crew stayed at the Finse 1222 Hotel, where snowstorm scenes were shot from the back door. But the main battlefield scenes were shot on the nearby glacier. In March and April, skies are normally clear and there’s still plenty of snow. Guides in Finse can help with hikes to see the exact locations.
The new “Rogue One” Star Wars film adds to the list of impressive location shoots. Iceland’s other-worldy landscape is fast becoming the go-to destination for sci-fi movies, and “Rogue One” joins the club.
The black sand beach of Reynisfjara, a wild stretch of North Atlantic coastline close to the small town of Vik and Iceland’s southernmost tip, stands in for the stormy planet of Eadu. We stay on “Rogue One’s” Eadu for another visit to Iceland, this time Krafla, an active volcano in the country’s remote northeast. A source of geothermal energy, Krafla’s seething crater and nearby Lake Mývatn have also made an appearance in “Game of Thrones.”