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Laurie Miller’s Winter

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Nordurljosavegur 9, 240 Grindavík, Iceland
Iceland’s largest and most famous geothermal spa lies around an hour outside Reykjavik, quite close to Keflavik Airport. With a dramatic setting amidst large black lava boulders, the steam-filled, creamy-blue pool area is a striking and...
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Improvement District No. 9, AB T0L, Canada
Alberta, Canada is an all-seasons destination thanks to an abundance of rugged beauty. In the winter months though skiing seems to take center stage, which is a shame since there are so many other great adventure activities in the region. One of...
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Lille, France
Popped across the border into France over the weekend to hit the Christmas market. This is something that I have been doing every year for at least the past dozen years. Every year they erect a very large ferris wheel and its usually a freezing...
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Haukadalur, Iceland
We got to the Langjokull Glacier by Super Jeep, reaching an elevation of 4,500 feet above sea level. Being the second largest glacier in Iceland, approximately 950 square kilometers with a volcano occupying over half of this area, you can imagine...
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California, USA
I started to rock climb outside this year. Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne meadows can be climbed in 5 pitches. This is the view from the top.
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Marienplatz 1, 80331 München, Germany
I would compare Marienplatz to the Grand Place in Brussels, but with a Bavarian twist. The square in Munich is almost as large, and its town hall just as impressive. A beautiful destination for lovers of architecture. While the square itself is a...
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NE Entrance Rd, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, USA
When snow blankets the meadows and outlines the spewing hot pots of Yellowstone National Park in winter, bison and elk head to lower ground where grasses can still be reached beneath the powdery forest floor. Wolves follow, primarily to the Lamar...
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Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy
Near the base of the landmark Rialto Bridge, the historic Rialto Market is well worth a wander. Seek it out in the early morning when it provides an authentic local experience (and awesome social-media ops), with fishmongers hawking their fresh...
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1535 NE Butte Rd, Jackson, WY 83001, USA
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On the crest of East Gros Ventre Butte, Amangani offers 360-degree views of the Grand Teton mountains and the Snake River Valley. The resort’s 40 suites feature fireplaces and windowside daybeds for taking in the landscape. Winter activities...
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The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder PH3 1NF, UK
There may not be a lovelier place to golf than Scotland, and Gleneagles resort has one of the most impressive backdrops for a game. The hotel, located on 850 acres in the Perthsire countryside, has three championship golf courses and is home to...
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4 Jingshan Front St, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100006
Beijing's number one tourist attraction is a massive former imperial palace known as the Forbidden City. Between 1416 and 1911, it was home to 24 Ming and Qing dynasty emperors and their families and staff. In 1912, after the abdication of...
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1274 Miyanomori, Chuo, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0958, Japan
Coming from a tropical country, it was interesting for me to explore the unfamiliar world of winter sports in one of the actual Olympic sites. Mt. Okura was one of the venues for the 1972 Olympics and home to ski jumping events. Today, it holds an...
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2961 Kinderdijk, Netherlands
When waterways in the Netherlands freeze into glittering paths, overjoyed residents take to the ice. Visitors can buy or rent a pair of noren (traditional long-blade skates) to glide across town or take part in one of the country’s dozens of...
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Bahnhofstrasse 25, 7002 Chur, Switzerland
I didn’t even realize that the Bernina Express scenic train journey was on the UNESCO World Heritage list until I arrived at the small northern Italian town of Tirano to start the trip. There are several different routes from which travelers may...
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E6 80, 9146 Olderdalen, Norway
Situated on the Lyngen Fjord, this timber lodge is well suited for boat skiing. From March through May, a skipper ferries guests to nearby islands, where they hike up peaks and ski back to the beach. From $4,500 per week. 47/ 4762-7853. This...
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Abisko Turist Station, 981 07 Abisko, Sweden
Around me was utter silence even though dozens of people were above and below me. Nearby towering mountains were coated in snow. Unnerving and eerie in one sense yet utterly humbling. The chairlift I was riding in had to be stopped for every...
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Iceland
One of the most popular day trips from Reykjavík, this dramatic and scenic rift valley is both the historical site of Iceland’s Viking parliament and a geological wonder in its own right. Among the highlights are the...
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Berlin’s Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg is home to one of Berlin's most hip Christmas markets: the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt. Located on the grounds of a former brewery, the Lucia Christmas market is the “Nordic”-themed market in Berlin. You’ll...
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Sint-Katelijneplein, 1000 Brussel, Belgium
The most interesting part of Brussels' Christmas Market is in St Catherine's Square, where there are not only food and drink stalls, as well as those to buy gifts, but also a chance to go ice skating and ride a very big Ferris wheel. The square is...
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Trg bana Josipa Jelačića, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
Reflecting on my Christmas in Croatia, I can only feel tremendously blessed. Though my flight from Budapest was cancelled, I ended up in a taxi with four other interesting people. Upon crossing the border into Croatia, we handed the officials five...
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27 Rue des Cordeliers, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
Unfortunately, I haven't been to enough European Christmas markets to know whether this one is truly extraordinary, but I really love the marché de Noël in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. The little stalls are set up along the Cours...
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Römerberg, 60329 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
There’s no better way to experience the festivities of the holidays than Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) in Germany, and Frankfurt's is particularly beautiful. The markets take place usually in the center of the town, and you'll find all...
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Staroměstské nám. 1/4, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město, Czechia
Old Town Square, founded in the 12th century, is the center of Prague. In the middle of it all, the Old Town Hall (which also houses the famous Astronomical Clock), built in 1338, still provides the best  360-degree views of the city. For a...
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Budapest, 1051 Hungary
There's no better way to connect with a culture than through food. It's a universal language, tangible and immediate. Street/market food is particularly insightful. I recently spent time in eastern Europe and was pleasantly surprised by the...
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Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V, Denmark
I got to Copenhagen with zero idea that there would be an amusement park right in the middle of it. Let alone a 19th century amusement park, which makes it all the more magical and romantic (in the antiquated sense). At age 23, I still enjoyed...
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Ludwigsburg, Germany
Cinnamon, vanilla and anis lead the way. Bells and laughter invite. Two golden angels greet you as you walk through the gate. It's such a special time and no place really seems to bring the joyful feeling of Christmas closer to my heart than the...
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Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona's Fira de Santa Llúcia may not be as big or diverse as some of the Christmas Markets in other parts of Europe, but it has some very unique decorations. There's the Caganer, a long-time figure in Catalan nativity scenes, that's most often...
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V Kotcích 516/15, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město, Czechia
One drizzly December day I came across this intrepid soul teaching archery to a knot of bored preteens in the Czech Republic. I couldn't put my finger on why, exactly, but the scene very much seemed to belong in a tenth story from "Nine Stories."...
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Hauptallee 10, 01219 Dresden, Germany
Every other year my wife and I travel to Europe for Christmas Markets. Why? To begin with, most of these markets are traditions stretching back hundreds of years, so each market takes on it's own distinct personality. This trip we visited Erfurt...
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The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo, occupies a site that’s been holy since the time of the Romans, but it wasn’t until the early 19th century when the finishing touches were finally placed on this massive building. The Duomo is the fifth largest...
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Domplatz, 99084 Erfurt, Germany
After three Christmases and countless holiday markets since our move to Germany, the Erfurter Weihnachtsmarkt has definitely become one of our favorites. Whether it's for the impressive Dom overlooking the main part of the market, the Medieval...
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111 29 Stockholm, Sweden
December in Stockholm is a great time to explore various Christmas markets (Julmarknader) around town. At Stortorget in Gamla stan (Old town), you'll find the city's most popular Christmas market where you can pick up a variety of porcelain...
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Champs-Élysées, Paris, France
“People can either be over-the-top romantic about Paris, or they think life is ridiculous here,” saysDavid Lebovitz.“I try to strike a middle ground.” Lebovitz, an American, worked for 13 years in the pastry department at Chez Panisse in Berkeley,...
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Potsdamer Platz 1, 10785 Berlin, Germany
With only my nose peeking from my scarf, the smell of toasted almonds, melting sugar, and mulled wine warmed all my senses. Christmas in Berlin made me feel 5 years old all over again and I had the revelation, “This is what Christmas carols are...
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La Défense, France
If you're in Paris during the wintertime, you're obligated to visit at least one of the many magical Christmas Markets set up across the city. Although often overlooked because of its location in the business sector of Paris, the La Defense...
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Piazza di Santa Croce, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
I studied abroad in Italy and, since they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, my friends and I dove right into Christmas as soon as November came around. I listened to my professor sing in a choir for a Christmas concert, attended the magical tree...
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Spandauer Damm 20-24, 14059 Berlin, Germany
Berlin’s showpiece schloss is one of the main sights in the Charlottenburg neighborhood. Initially a country house built for (the future) Queen Sophie Charlotte in 1695, it served as a summer residence for Prussian kings throughout the 18th...
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Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin, Germany
The Christmas Market, or Weihnachtsmarkt, at the Gendarmenmarkt plaza is one of the city's most scenic. Located directly in front of Berlin's concert house and in between French and German Cathedrals, the backdrop at Gendarmenmarkt is majestic....
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6301 Valkenburg, Netherlands
Every year, the little town of Valkenburg creates a Christmas Market atmosphere in the municipal caves of Valkenburg aan de Geul. Considered the largest and oldest underground Christmas Markets in Europe, the caves are very inviting to visitors...
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Alter Markt 47, 50667 Köln, Germany
One of the best Christmas markets in Europe is in Cologne. The market is open right next to the Cathedral and it is open from the 25th of November till the 23rd of December. Gluhwine, ornaments, great food and allot of Christmas spirit is what you...
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Graz, Austria
Advent, the month before Christmas, holds great significance in all of Austria, but the city of Graz takes holiday spirit to a whole different level. The entire city is transformed into a glowing winter wonderland, with ornate light decorations...
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Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
August 6th, 2004 As a non-religious person, I am still a big fan of church architecture. Its hard to get more iconic than the Cologne Cathedral. If you visit and arrive from the train station, you are dumped out directly beside it. Climb the...
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1080 Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria is home to numerous Christmas Markets. Spend the day visiting as many of the traditional Christmas markets as possible. Short on time? Head to the Christmas market in front of City Hall, the Rathausplatz, or the Christmas village...
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Barfüsserpl., 4010 Basel, Switzerland
Switzerland’s favorite cold weather libation is a piping hot glass of glühwein, a German-inspired mulled wine infused with the sweet and spicy flavors of cinnamon, clove, and star anise. The best place to enjoy a glass? The Basel Christmas Market,...
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Just south of the Botswana border, in the Kuruman River Reserve, you’ll find meerkats so friendly they occasionally jump on volunteers’ heads. Visitors study the effects of the mammals’ cooperative breeding, in which adults help raise each other’s...