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view of the Royal Clipper from Bonifactio, Corsica
A view of the Royal Clipper from Bonifacio, Corsica

A 12-Day Mediterranean Dream
On the Royal Clipper
Story by Ed Boitano
Photographs by Deb Roskamp (unless otherwise noted)

ravel writer and novelist Paul Theroux once said – and I paraphrase – that it's one thing to be happy, but to be aware of the happiness at that very minute is something unique and gratifying. The end of October I was happy. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon. Standing on a seemingly impenetrable granite cliff on the island of Corsica, the late western Mediterranean sun was just setting, but still creating warmth that counteracted the breeze from the sea. I gazed in wonder at all the anchored cruise ships in the harbor. One easily outshined the others: The 439 foot long sailing ship the Royal Clipper, which will continue to be my mode of transportation for the next eleven days. Ports of call will include four in Spain, three in Morocco with debarkation in Lisbon, Portugal – destinations that I had only dreamed of visiting. Plus there will also be three days at sea. The dream was already beginning, and the chaos and stress of stateside airports, just two days previously, were now just an afterthought. As the sun disappeared below the expansive sea, I snapped to attention, realizing that I had to hurry to catch the last tender to the vessel. As I ran down a hill, I realized that I was just as excited about going back to the ship as I was exploring Corsica.

the Royal Clipper
The majesty of the Royal Clipper. Photo courtesy Tony Chisholm

The Royal Clipper

climbing to the Crow's Nest on the Royal Clipper
Climbing to the Crow's Nest on the Royal Clipper.
Photo Courtesy Tony Chisholm

At 439 feet, the Royal Clipper; it is the largest and only five-masted full-rigged sailing ship on the sea. Inspired by the tall ship Preussen, which sank in 1907, the Royal Clipper is the only tall ship built in the last 100 years. With her complement of 42 sails, it is a magnificent vessel to behold, a hybrid of the old world grandeur, adventure and tradition of sailing with all the modern technology of today such as state-of-the-art navigation systems. I noticed that many of the 148 passengers were sailboat buffs, with some owning their own sailboats. For them the voyage was as important as the destinations. A full 19,000 square feet of open deck and three swimming pools offer a spacious and expansive outdoor environment, where there are also quiet and ample areas for sunbathing and reading. A highpoint for many is climbing the mast (with safety harness provided) to one of the 197 feet 'Crow's-Nests' for spectacular views of the sea and landscape. There is also a marina platform which lowers from the stern for various water sports. Evening sailings begin with the hoisting of the sails to the accompaniment of the title theme music from the film "Master and Commander."

Interior creature comforts include a dazzling three-deck atrium, elegantly appointed state rooms, three-level dining room featuring gourmet cuisine, spa and health club, and a lounge area with full bar that features evening entertainment like fashion shows, dancing and games. It also serves as a location for pertinent news about the voyage and discussions. I was fortunate to be with a small group as Russian Captain Sergey shared unique tidbits. He spoke about the corruption and payoffs in African ports. Usually it is all done with cigarettes. The ship carries dozens of cartons of smokes to pay off the pilots and harbormasters. Without this they would require the ship to wait outside port and totally disrupt their schedule. He told us that in Russia a maritime superstition no one should whistle on a ship. Evidently it is thought they would be calling the wind. Also a ship never leaves port on a Monday. This is very bad luck and sailors will come up with any excuse to stay in harbor another day.

Selected Ports of Call

the Royal Clipper off Corsica
The Royal Clipper sets sail from Corsica. Photo Courtesy Tony Chisholm

BONIFACIO, CORSICA: The island of Corsica is the birthplace of Napoleon. I should have done more research for Napoleon was born on the other side of the island so there was no Napoleon experience. Bonifacio, Corsica is now part of France, and the ancient citadel town rests high on the granite cliff, and features totally protected harbors, an array of local seafood restaurants and a modern marina.

MAHON, SPAIN: The capital of the island of Menorca, this pristine city enjoys one of the world's largest natural harbors, which is why Lord Nelson used it as a base for the British Mediterranean fleet during the Napoleonic Wars. Mahon's heritage includes the invention of mayonnaise (though the French claim it as their own) and the first distillation of gin from juniper berries. A popular stopover in the harbor area is the Xoriguer gin distillery, where you can help yourself to free samples. I saw numerous senior locals wearing Menorcan Sandals with the soles made from discarded tires. Judging by the battered look of some of them, they seem to last forever.

Ibiza from the sea.

IBIZA, SPAIN: For me, the stunning architecture of D'Alt Vila (or High Town), Europe's most ancient fortress city, perched high on the summit, is the one place you must visit. Stroll twisty, narrow cobblestone streets up to the 14th-century cathedral for views of the city and the Mediterranean beyond.

inside the Calat Alhambra in Grenada, Spain
Calat Alhambra in Grenada, Spain is a Moorish palace and fortress.

GRENADA, SPAIN: Calat Alhambra, is a Moorish palace and fortress; the last stand of the Moors (Arab and Berbers) in Spain. Touring the palace I was overwhelmed by its Islamic architectural splendor. The majority of the palace buildings are quadrangular in plan, with all the rooms opening on to a central court.. Alhambra was extended by the different Muslim rulers who lived in the complex. The palace follows the consistent theme of "paradise on earth." Resting high in the mountains, it is filled with the sound of running water from several fountains and cascades. Alhambra was finally overrun by the Spanish in July 3 of 1492, ending the Muslim's 800 year-long rule of of Spain. The next day was chrisened the Spainish day of independence.

a stall or medina at a Berber souk in Marrakech, the cultural center of Morocco
Marrakech is the cultural capital of Morocco

SAFI to MARRAKECH, MOROCCO: Safi is a minor port, but gateway by a three hour bus ride to Marrakech, the cultural center of Morocco. Like many Moroccan cities, Marrakech comprises an old fortified city packed with vendors and stalls (medinas), bordered by modern neighborhoods. It is one of the busiest cities in Africa and serves as a major tourist destination, which is strongly advocated by the reigning Moroccan monarch, Mohammed VI. Be prepared for chaos with locals aggressively selling souvenirs. Marrakech has the largest traditional Berber market (souk) in Morocco.

snake charmer at Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech
The surrealistic Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech.

the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco
The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is the largest mosque in Morocco and Africa. It is open to the public.

Then there's Djemaa el-Fna square with its snake charmers, fire eaters, tooth pullers, acrobats, hundreds of makeshift restaurants, musicians, and peddlers selling everything under the sun.

CASABLANCA, MOROCCO: The country's largest city, Casablanca (white house), is located in the western part of the country on the Atlantic Ocean. It is a bustling metropolis and economic hub, and features The Hassan II Mosque which is the largest mosque in Morocco and Africa and the 7th largest in the world. For fans of the movie, "Casablanca," don't be fooled, it was not shot there, but you will be told the opposite.

TANGIER, MOROCCO: Nestled by the Strait of Gibraltar, this where the Moors crossed the sea and conquered Spain. The official language is Arabic, followed by French. It is an exhilarating town for exploring with a guide, sipping a mint tea at an outdoor café, taking in the entire exotic atmosphere that tantalizes your senses.

street scene in Tangier, Morocco
Daily life in Tangier.

CADIZ, SPAIN: The cruise was winding down and I found Cadiz to be a good town for sightseeing on foot or shopping for that last minute gift. Like all of our Spanish destinations it was remarkably well-kept and a great place for tapas.

The voyage disembarked in Lisbon, Portugal, and I was excited for more exploring.

Go here for a special video on the 12-day Rome to Lisbon cruise by Tony Chisholm.

For further information visit the Star Clippers website.

Related Articles:
Eastern Mediterranean Odyssey; Spain, Portugal and Morocco with Insight Vacations; A Food & Wine Tour of Alcala, Spain; 3 Things We Didn't Know About Portugal; Driving Ourselves Crazy in Spain; Doing the Douro with Uniworld

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Let Ed know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for "Spokane, Pullman and the Palouse"

Loved the Spokane article – my mom was born there and my grandparents are interred there. Haven't been back in decades.

--- Nancy, Hawaii

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Feedback for "Norway's Fjords"

Hi Ed. I was just reading your great story about traveling through the Norwegian countryside and the voyage along the coast - sounds amazing. I’ve been to Oslo, but definitely would like to return to Norway one day to explore exactly what you wrote about.


--- Sasha H.

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Feedback for "In Search of Movie Locations In the Land of Aloha"

Mahalo for your article on Hawaii film locations. You should check out our new "The Hawaii Movie and Television Book" at:

--- Ed Rampell (Co-Author), Los Angeles, CA

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Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!

--- Christian Louboutin, U.K.

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Cool site.

--- Donna Namaste', San Francisco, CA

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Great work as always.

--- S. Wyatt, Seattle, WA

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Hr. (Danish for sir) Ed,

Thanks so much for your article on Copenhagen, DK...loved it! Very well done actually I used to live in Christianshavn (just next to Christania) and Danish is my second language.

You really did a quite grand job and pulled me ALL of the way into your analogy and experience from my other home.

Just one detail that I thought might have been included.....the bakeries & cheese shops in the mornings in nearly every 5 or so blocks as they waft the incredible hypnotizing aromas of those amazing Danish specialties.

I most especially and absolutely love the fact that you included the "hyggeligt" element...wonderful!!

Another aspect of the Danish language that I have found interesting is that we only cuss to devil rather than the more typically religious icons and that love (elsker) is only very rarely used.

All-in-all you have me totally on your team and I will always look forward to your future writing.

Med venlig hilsen...(with kind regards).

--- Breeze

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Hi Ed,

Thank you for your article on the Cherokee Nation. I really appreciate the historical perspective and recognition of their contribution to American culture.

--- Nora Weber, British Columbia

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Another cool issue. You da' man. One question: Is that Mark Lindsay on the front page?

--- Brent, Seattle, WA

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This would be a fascinating place to visit. There is so much history within our reach that we don't often acknowledge in more than a token way. I am wondering if any individual or group has ever gone on a vision quest, or perhaps a memorial march, by retracing the path of the Trail of Tears? This would be a painful journey, for most, I imagine.

--- Sandra, Seattle, WA

Osiyo! From Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism: What a great description of Kauai! The pictures are awesome and I loved reading your travel report! Keep pushin' on!

--- Lisa Long, Tulsa, OK

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I'm getting hungry again just reading your article! It's hot today and I could really use a shave ice right now.

Hope you're having a great day!

--- Melissa, Honolulu, HI

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Thanks so much for sharing! Wow. The beauty even from the few pictures here and your descriptions is breathtaking... I can't even imagine being there for real! The food looks and sounds exquisite, I'm not sure my kind of exquisite, but I do like to be adventurous on occasion :).Quite the story there.

--- Emily, Boise, ID

Great pictures!

--- Anna Harrison, Palmdale, CA

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Tough job, Ed! Thanks for sharing.

--- Brenda Hughes, Richland, WA

Ed, Tim from the team of Jack and Tim - Star Clipper. Great trip. Always enjoy your postings.

--- Tim & Jack, Washington DC

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Hi Ed,

I really enjoyed your story on the Empress of the North. I was an Assistant Cruise Director aboard her in 2004, and you gave me a treasured walk down memory lane with her.You might know this, but if not .... you can cruise the Columbia again late this summer and early fall. The Empress' sister boat, the Queen of the West, was purchased by American Cruise lines and will offer a Columbia River itinerary which almost mirrors the one my Empress used to travel. Just thought you'd like to know.

--- Paul Penta, 2004 Assistant Cruise Director, Empress of the North, Copperas Cove, TX

Ed, you are by far the most interesting of all the Boitanos. Your coverage is extensive and captivating. It's a real treat to read your blogs. Your article on the Baltic Sea Nations is no exception. But don't get me wrong, the other Boitanos have their own charm and perspective. Thanks for all your articles. I can see it's a work of art. I just now noticed your Dog Quotes --- what a great collection! Keep up the good work. Keep on sharing your travels! This is better than the more popular travelogues.

--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA

Hi Ed,

How's life? Hope all's well in sunny Cal.

Having just received the latest issue of the Traveling Boy newsletter I popped back over to your site to take a look around and came across this article which I had not previously read:

Loved it! First of all, this is a part of the world that I absolutely adore so reading about it is always a pleasure. Secondly, I'm happy to see you crossing things off your Buck with such gusto! Myself, I have already been to Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen, and Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Moscow are all on my Buck. After reading through the article I reminded once again why!

One of my favourite lines in the piece is:

"Granted, eight to twenty-fours in world-class cities like Helsinki and Tallinn hardly does them justice, but a sketch is always better than a blank canvas."

So very true. I'll take a sketch over a blank canvas any day! Besides, sketches often lead to full-blown paintings anyway.

Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this story. Hope there are many more fun adventures awaiting you soon!


--- Ashley, Toronto

Thanks for a great trip, Ed - such a comfortable way to travel, particularly to several cities i knew very little about. I've had only one sea voyage - crossed to G.B. on the United States in the early 60s - no balconies, etc. on that ship, as she was prepared to be stripped down to carry troops in event of WWIII, but still luxurious in her own way.

Bumped into a documentary recently on PBS re the old lady who is now docked in Philadelphia, I believe with peeling paint on her sides and funnels and of course the interior stripped and auctioned off of everything...periodic moves to rehabilitate her, but so costly people back off. She was the largest and fastest - still is. Her record was 3 days crossing - we did it in a little over 5 (cruise speed I guess!). They showed regular passengers like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who happened to be on board when I was, as well as gazillions of stars who traveled on her. Charles Boyer was the only one on my crossing - we were alone in the library one time, but I didn't say anything. He looked immersed in his pursuit of a book. The Windsors were tiny little people, as was M. Boyer (and this comment from a 5'2" observer!). How's that for an ancient history lesson? Anyhow seeing the ship like she is now made me almost teary - surprised myself somehow.

--- Brenda Hughes, Richland, WA

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I loved this article!! Kept me in rapt attention, felt like I explored part of the world myself ;) nice way to start my day, sounds altogether amazing and unforgettable!

--- Emily, Boise, ID

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Great writing!! Reading, education and fabulous locations! All around WOWS!

--- E Dava, Burbank, CA

What a wonderful assortment of travel destinations. I have always been drawn to islands, and as a Pacific Northwesterner, dream from time to time about settling in the San Juans someday (like a lot of us here visualize for ourselves). Hopefully, travel will occur before this particular dream comes to pass. I enjoy reading about the connections you have with the places you write about. I will visit that fishing village in Norway, someday, just because of the photograph. Who wouldn't, after seeing it. Thanks, Ed

--- Sandee, Seattle, WA

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Another great edition!

--- CG, Central California Coast

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Hi Ed,

I sailed into Sooke on my way to port Ludlow from Portland, Oregon in my sailboat few years back. It was interesting port. The entry is snake like channel with local fisherman's local markers only to guide you into the port.

--- Larry, Portland, OR

Wow. I want to go to Vietnam! It's beautiful! Those are amazing pictures!

--- Archie, Pasadena, CA

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Kudos to Mark Twain. He knows how to honor a dog, and kudos to Cedric for all he was and still is and kudos to you for another edition of www.traveling Peace and Love,

--- Joel, Pasadena, CA

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Ed, I really enjoy your traveling adventures. Your stories are so well written and the photographs are amazing. Thank you for letting us in on your adventures. You bring the adventure to those of us who aren't able to go. Thank you.

--- Cheryl, Pismo Beach, CA

Amazing story and pictures. To think that 40 years ago we were all terrified at the prospect of going there... what a difference a few decades makes. Fantastic article!

--- Roger, Puyallup, WA

Thanks for your expert insight, Jeremy. Have you ever lived in New York? Don't tell me you are one of those tourists or former transplants. It's a very different experience when one lives here. Unlike Los Angeles, there really is a sense of community. New Yorkers love and care about their city... and, yes, their neighbors too.

--- Lisa - New York, NY

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NY sucks. It's now nothing more than a Disneyland version of its former glory. It city filled with tourists and transplants, and no longer the center of the universe. The WEST is the best. Everyone is moivng to the Coast. Even NY fashion designers check out the LA street scene before launching their new designs. Plus no one in NY knows real pizza. Take a trip to Naples sometime and try the real thing.

--- Jeremy - Los Angeles, CA

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The economic boom is what drove all the changes in New York. The mayors were in the right place at the right time, and to their credit, handled things well. It's easier to clean up the city and cut crime when you have more money to spend. The economic outlook for New York is bleak now with unemployment going up. Bloomberg already is short money and will be cutting services across the board. If things don't turn around, people may not be as friendly in a few years.The idea that New Yorkers are not nice is just a myth; people in L.A. are much more distant and shut-off.

--- Michael, Native New Yorker

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I think that overall, Manhattan has become friendlier in the last few years, not sure why but don't think Giuliani or Dinkins can take credit. There was definitely a surge of NYC solidarity following 9/11, and Giuliani was extremely popular during that period. When he supported Bush so strongly in the election that followed, his popularity plummeted, though. Bloomberg has definitely done a good job with making a lot of bike lanes, blocking off large areas of what was previously street and putting tables and chairs for pedestrian use. Not sure how this economic downturn will affect local attitudes, though....

--- Sue, New York

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This is the best. Keep them coming.--- Paul Ash

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Ed, thanks for putting the Holland button on your site.

By the way, your images really work! I opened the newsletter and was immediately tempted to click on an article. Love it. And also love the fact I can click on images in the articles to enlarge them. The short headline on the image makes me curious. Well done.

--- Bianca Helderman

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Thanks Ed, for this delightful view of this wondrous city! The first time I traveled with a husband to NYC years ago, it was for an Orchestral Conductor's conference. We lived in Newfoundland at that time, so you can imagine my shock of coming from isolation to the big apple!My heart began beating as I looked out of my hotel window at the figures of humans below, scurrying like ants, I was up so high. It wasn't the height, rather, the invisible buzz, that urgently beckoned me to go outside! But when I reached the sidewalk, the rush of pedestrians made me wonder "where's the party?" Friendly? Yes! I lived in NYC for 5 years with a later husband and loved every minute! Being an artist, I could not relax enough to paint, so I took up acting and worked with "Children In Need" a charity, instead and partook of everything NY had to offer from opera and Off Broadway plays and such to ballet and wholistic healings....a city full of everything one could imagine! I truly love NYC and years later am grateful to live in a quieter area of California so I may relax and paint and do my healing work...going back only to visit my delightful haunts. There is nothing like NYC!.

--- Yoka, Westlake Village, CA


Great issue. Well done. They keep getting better! --- Grace Conlee Micetich, San Diego, CA

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I loved all of the traveling news! It’s good to know you are still out there in the world. --- Judy Vincent


Thanks for getting me back on the Traveling Boy newsletter mailing list- I have missed it!

I do believe we need contributions of the ‘road less traveled’ in the US for those of us whose feet never leave the ground… Ahhhh… the Badlands... Two Medicine in Glacier… the Lava tubes in central Oregon… my next destination wish: Monument Valley.

--- Lorrie Sjoquist

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The photos and descriptions of this trip are wonderful. I love the idea of the slowed down pace of the train. Kind of a throwback to the "good old days." --- Larry Lombard, Puyallup, WA

I think you outdid yourself with the "Two Cities" article. I'm ashamed to admit that I knew so little about these two cities. I learned so much. Your article was jampacked with very interesting trivia. Surprised the Jazz greats and Walt Disney came from practically the same area. And those pictures --- especially the WWI museum --- what an incredible shot --- almost like out of somebody's Satyricon dream. Bravo!

--- Rod, Glendale, CA

What a great article! --- Michelle, Torrance, California


The photos are spectacular. I can envision many a romantic novel inspired by these majestic sceneries. Makes me want to do a little more research on Norway. John Lenon must have been one of the converts when he wrote "Norwegian Woods."
--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena CA

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Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to write. Indeed, Norway was paradise on earth, and I dream of returning again and again. You had a funny line about John Lennon being so inspired by the beauty of Norway that he composed the song, "Norwegian Wood." If I'm not mistaken, his reference to "Norwegian Wood" is just that: an inexpensive pine wood from Norway that was becoming popular in the UK. I did read somewhere, though, that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was inspired by Norwegian fjord trek.

Thanks again… and please keep writing.



Reading Peter's implication that "Norwegian Wood" was based on a trip that John Lennon took to Norway led me to do some research.

According to Paul McCartney at a press conference in Los Angeles: 'Peter Asher [brother of McCartney's then-girlfriend Jane Asher] had just done his room out in wood, and a lot of people were decorating their places in wood. Norwegian wood. It was pine, really, just cheap pine. But it's not as good a title, is it, "Cheap Pine"? It was a little parody, really, on those kind of girls who, when you'd get back to their flat, there would be a lot of Norwegian wood. It was completely imaginary from my point of view, but not from John's. It was based on an affair he had. She made him sleep in the bath and then, finally, in the last verse, I had this idea to set the Norwegian wood on fire as a revenge. She led him on and said, "You'd better sleep in the bath." And in our world, that meant the guy having some sort of revenge, so it meant burning the place down....'

Of course, just cause it's on the 'net doesn't mean it's true.

--- Jeff M, Tacoma, WA

Weird piece on Copenhagen (Cosy in Copenhaggen). Do you think now that Keefer’s in the slammer in Glendale for DWI he’s experiencing any hygge? I bet some of those jailbirds would like to see how touch he is.

--- Adam S., Glendale CA

I loved your intro and the way you set up the article. It immediately set the tone of an action-paced adventure. I imagined Annette as a spy in a trenchcoat feeding you top secret information. I'm surprised you didn't get lost. Do they speak English over there? Are the street signs in English? Does a GPS work over there?

I never heard of "hygge" but, like you, I think I've felt that sensation everytime the cold wind blows here in South Pasadena, CA. When I sit beside a warm fire, sipping my hot chocolate, I will remember this article. Thanks!

--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA

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