New Year, New Travel Experiences: Exploring Europe

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Travel with Terri

Story by Terri Marshall

 

 

 

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

 

This is just one of many travel quotes that inspire and encourage the adventurer inside of us. Another favorite of mine is: Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before. I tend to take that one to the extreme: going places I’ve never been before several times each year. Hey, I’m just doing my job!

As we start down the 2017 highway, I want to share with you just a few of my recent European travel experiences that offer something a bit different. From the world of Robin Hood, to the home of the Smurfs, to a stunningly beautiful Swiss town where you can surf in the city center, these destinations capture your imagination, make you smile and leave you wanting more.

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Robin Hood in Nottinghamshire

Spend A Little Time with Robin Hood

 

Was Robin Hood real? No one really knows for sure, but the legend lives on especially in Nottinghamshire, England. From St. Mary’s Church in Nottingham where Robin Hood sought refuge from the Sheriff of Nottingham, to the church in Edwinstowe where he married Maid Marion, to the Sherwood Forest with its gnarly knotted oak trees, this is Robin’s world and there are many ways to immerse yourself in the legendary stories.

In fact, Robin Hood himself will introduce you to his world with a guided tour through the streets of Nottinghamshire—which he graciously tailors to the ages of the participants. I had the good fortune to join Robin Hood for a pint at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, the oldest pub in Nottingham dating back to 1189. The pub’s an excellent place for a meal too—I highly recommend the fish and chips.

While you’re in town, don’t miss the chance to explore Nottingham Castle and its labyrinth of sandstone caves and tunnels.

My visit to Nottinghamshire included an overnight stay just outside Sherwood Forest in the Sherwood Pines Park where I spent the night in the whimsical Alice in Wonderland tree house. The park offers a selection of self-catering cabins that are ideal for families and larger groups.

The morning brought an archery lesson—you never know when Robin Hood might need a little assistance—followed by a walk through Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest. As I explored the royal forest past the centuries old knotted trees, it wasn’t hard to imagine them coming to life to share tales of all they’ve witnessed. Be sure to see the Major Oak (estimated to be 800 to 1000 years old) this massive tree is the largest in Britain and a site to behold.

Connect with Robin Hood and plan your Nottinghamshire adventures here.

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Major Oak in Sherwood Forest

It’s Where the Smurfs Were Born: Why Brussels Is the Place to Go for Comic Relief

 

The people of Belgium are an interesting group. They eat fries with everything—dipped in mayonnaise, of course. Beer, waffles, mussels and chocolate are also staples of their diets and they’re funny, but they don’t think so. Well, at least, my Belgium friend, Geert, says he’s not funny at all. But Belgium has more comic strip artists per capita than any other country and Brussels, in particular, is the capital for the 9th art. And it’s where the Smurfs were born, so it has to be funny.

In Brussels, comic strip characters are everywhere: on street corners, in the metro, on walls and in bars. Follow the Comic Strip trail to discover your favorites. Brussels is also home to the Belgian Comic Strip Center which is housed in a splendid Art Nouveau building.

Connect with the Smurfs and other comic strip heroes here.

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Comic strip trail in Brussels

Get To Know Thun, Switzerland

 

Situated on the shores of Lake Thun in the canton of Bern, Thun is an undiscovered gem. My visit began in Schadau Park where I enjoyed a delicious lunch on the patio of Schadau Castle with panoramic views of Lake Thun and the surrounding Alps. An ideal place for children, Schadau Park has a maze for the kids to master in search of the playground. And on Sunday afternoons in the summer months, a small narrow gauge steam train takes the kids on a ride through the park gardens.

Be sure to visit the Thun Panorama—a huge 360° painting of central Thun painted in the early nineteenth century by the Swiss artist Marquard Wocher. It’s the oldest surviving 360°panorama painting in the world and is displayed in circular building that puts you at the center of the painting.
A climb to the top of the medieval Castle of Thun in historic Old Town is rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding area. And along the way, the kids can earn the designation of knighthood.

Don’t be surprised to see surfers in the summertime. The wooden bridge that spans the River Aare in the center of town draws surfers who tie themselves to the bridge to catch the waves of the waters released through the dam.

For superior lodging and cuisine suitable for couples, friends and families, the Hotel Seepark is hard to beat. Located at the edge of Schadau Park just steps from the Schadau Castle, Hotel Seepark offers luxury lodging and gourmet dining including the opportunity to dine at the Chef’s Table just steps away from where all the cuisine magic happens. For entertainment, there’s even a bowling alley inside the hotel. And if you want to experience transportation luxury, opt for the Tesla package. Now THAT’s a cool ride!

Explore the many offerings of Thun here.

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Thun, Switzerland

 

Wherever your travels may take you in 2017, I wish you the joy of discovery. Happy New Year!

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