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Everything you need to know about the Honest Tribe that quietly minds its own business in Scandinavia

2018-07-10

The Honest Tribe refers to people of Finland in Max Boyle’s travel book that explores the culture of this Nordic nation. The author visited a number of cities and villages in different parts of the scarcely populated country, crossed lakes, and tasted the local beer. What was it that made an Englishman travel to Finland multiple times and what happened when he interviewed local people? Here is what the author Max Boyle told us.

What made you pursue the deep mysteries of the Finnish culture?

book cover image: The Honest Tribe by Max Boyle
My mother was Estonian, one of the ten per cent of the population who fled the country when, near the end of the war, it became apparent it would fall into Soviet hands. Through her, and my travels in Estonia, I became interested in Estonian national character – supposedly very quiet and insular – and wrote a travel literature book, The Indrawn Heart: An Estonian Journey, which incorporated an enquiry into how Estonians think and behave.

This task done, I began looking for another writing project. It seemed logical to turn to the Estonians’ neighbours and cultural cousins, the Finns. A reading of Richard D. Lewis’s Finland, Cultural Lone Wolf cemented the idea in my head and, in the autumn of 2016, I took off for the first leg of my Finnish journey.

What techniques or tools did you use during your field research?

When I travelled in Finland I had with me a photocopied page from Lewis’s book which presented alleged Finnish characteristics – sisu (the Finns’ famed never-give-up attitude), modesty, honesty, and so forth – in diagram form. I used this as a prompt to get my interviewees to offer views on Finnish national character. As far as possible I simply invited comments, though, without using leading questions, I would guide respondents towards specific attributes on Lewis’s diagram if they were struggling for something to say. This is especially true of Lewis’s ‘ultra-honesty’ verdict on Finns, and his attendant sobriquet ‘the honest tribe’, which I chose as my book’s title.

Was there a place or an episode during your travels that left a permanent trace on your mind?

During my final couple of days in Finland I was relaxing at an outdoor table of a Helsinki bar. I was joined by a young Finnish couple, who kindly bought me a drink, a cognac-vodka mix. ‘During the war there was a shortage of cognac,’ the gentleman commented. It was merely an aside, but it astonished me that a Finn of no more than thirty could refer to World War II with a degree of familiarity that suggested the conflict was within living memory for him. A preoccupation with the war, and the sacrifices it entailed for Finns, had also come through during an interview I’d conducted with a young woman in the town of Joensuu a week or two earlier.
You’d never find this in my country. For young Britons, the Second World War is as remote as the Middle Ages.

What is your key advice to travelers who arrive in Finland, and may occasionally find it difficult to understand local customs?

If Finns you encounter occasionally seem distant or stand-offish, don’t misconstrue this as unfriendliness or hostility. Finland is a ‘mind-your-own-business’ culture, and leaving you to get on with your own affairs is seen as courteous and considerate. Should you ask for help, however, you’ll find Finns more than obliging. This is especially true of those employed in service industries, where Finnish pride in doing your job to the best of your ability means the assistance you need will be readily forthcoming, and often with a smile and not a little charm.

Can you name five travel books that you would recommend to other travelers?

Colin Thubron’s Among The Russians is a long-standing favourite of mine. This 1980s journey around the USSR (and among many of its peoples, not solely Russians) is now a historical document of sorts, and a sobering reminder of this repressive state. The book’s chief merit, however, is its eloquence. Thubron’s writing has a poetic touch. Some find his style too wordy, but there’s barely another travel writer who could emulate it.

Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning is also a joy to read. This account of his journey through Spain shortly before the country’s civil war is remarkable for being written from the perspective of the author as a callow youth who knew nothing of the land in which he was travelling. You’ll find no background or historical information on Spain in its pages, yet the book has long been a travel literature classic.

The Great American Bus Ride by Irma Kurtz is similarly unorthodox in that the book is devoted to the experience of riding Greyhound buses around the country, rather than any exploration of the USA per se. With many writers, such a book would become tedious and repetitive, but not with Kurtz, who holds the reader’s attention throughout the 314 pages.

Another engaging American journey is Jim Keeble’s Independence Day. The author’s travels are prompted by his being rejected in a love affair, but the book has a light and entertaining feel. I enjoy the way it reveals how travelling, and the change of environment and new stimuli it provides, can act as an antidote to one’s troubles and cares.

Tony Hawks’s Round Ireland With A Fridge is as unpretentious as the title suggests, and relates the tale of the author accomplishing the said feat in order to win a bet. It’s a daft yarn, and purports to be nothing more, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A fun read.

More information and sample chapters from the book can be viewed here. book cover image: The Honest Tribe by Max Boyle

Get our most downloaded travel guide for free

2018-07-08

It looks like the ebook Traveling in Scandinavia has quickly risen to the most downloaded travel guide we have published. We would like to think it is only because the book includes sample chapters from our best guidebooks that cover the Nordic countries. Perhaps true, but we can’t forget the fact it is a free download as well. Anyhow, here is how to get your copy.
cafe at Esplanade park in Helsinki
Scandinavian countries are known for their high-quality education systems, honest people, large wilderness areas, lakes, fjords, and a few successful brands, like Abba or Nokia. A Scandinavian country, Finland, and its capital Helsinki will be in the spotlight of the world on July 16th 2018 when the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the President of the United States Donald Trump meet in the city.

President Putin has visited Finland and Helsinki so many times that he doesn’t need a guidebook anymore, but perhaps someone from President Trump’s entourage could find The Best of Helsinki guidebook useful, or a guide where Helsinki tells honestly about her secrets.

Putin and Trump probably won’t have time to explore other parts of Scandinavia after the meeting, but if you have, we can recommend Lapland in the Arctic region, or Gothenburg on the prestigious West Coast of Sweden.

Traveling in Scandinavia is available as a free download right here Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia.

The most recommended places to visit in each country around the world

2018-06-26

If you want to visit the places that many other people are visiting, these are the most recommended destinations in each country. Tripadvisor collected the data from user comments and compiled a list of the best things to do in countries around the world. There are surprises, for instance, in Paris, the art museum Musee D’Orsay is the number one destination (instead of Eiffel Tower).

Denmark, Copenhagen, NyhavnNyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Here’s what tourists have recommended for a few countries in Europe that tend to attract travelers.

Denmark: Nyhavn (Copenhagen).
France: Musee d’Orsay (Paris).
Germany: Miniature Wonderland.
Greece: Acropolis Museum (Athens).
Italy: Colosseum (Rome).
Netherlands: Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam).
Portugal: Quinta de Regaleira (Sintra, near Lisbon).
Spain: Basilica Sagrada Familia (Barcelona).
Sweden: Wasa Museum (Stockholm).
Switzerland: Matternhorn (mountain peak).
UK: Harry Potter Studio Tour.

Vouchercloud map of Europe: best sightsMap by VoucherCloud.
If you are planning to travel in southern France instead of Paris, we can recommend the Castle Hill in Nice or the Royal Castle in Monaco as the key sights. This guidebook covers the Riviera region.

For explorers of the Nordic countries, a guide to the Arctic region of Lapland is essential.

In Portugal, Algarve is a popular year-round destination. Sagres is our recommended sight in South Portugal. This travel guide has more details for Algarve.

All the top recommendations around the world by Tripadvisor users presented as a map (by VoucherCloud).
VoucherCloud: map of world. Best places.

Top 5 places to visit in Gothenburg and Sweden’s West Coast

2018-05-14

Gothenburg is a lively city on Sweden’s West Coast that has a long and colorful history from the Middle Ages. Today, it is one of the major cities of Scandinavia where business and multiple cultures meet. The location of the city on the west coast (the second most popular vacation destination of Swedes) makes Gothenburg a wonderful holiday destination for all travelers.

The travel guide Gothenburg and Sweden’s West Coast covers all the essential destinations, sights, attractions, activities and places in the region. Here is an edited extraction from the guidebook: the top 5 places to visit.

Old Town, Gothenburg

Gothenburg, Sweden. A canal in the old town, city center.
The old city center of Gothenburg is known as Inom Vallgraven among local people (literally, Inside the Moat). The region is also known as Innerstaden (Inner City). The old town is surrounded by man-made canals. Gothenburg is not far from the North Sea, but the principal source of water for the canals is the Göta river, which flows from the north through the city to the sea.

In 1621, Gothenburg was granted city rights. The city center was fortified in order to protect the community from outside attacks. The canals were built, as well as protective walls (that don’t exist anymore).

Inom Vallgraven is best explored by foot. It is not a huge area. The maximum dimensions are about 1 kilometer / 0.6 miles and 500 meters / 0.3 miles. Walking along the narrow streets of this lively and busy place (especially during the weekends) is something that both locals and visitors love to do.

Haga, Gothenburg

Haga, Gothenburg, Sweden. A major city in Scandinavia.
Haga is a pretty neighborhood in Gothenburg that looks like a place for artists and hipsters, but in fact, ordinary families live in the area. It is located south of the city center.

From a tourist perspective, the main street of Haga is Nygatan. A stroll along Nygatan is like walking on the main street of a small town a few hundred years ago. Wooden buildings, streets made of stone, workspaces of craftsmen, bakeries, cafes and small shops create an idyllic atmosphere.

In the 17th century, Gothenburg expanded outside the city walls. One of the first suburbs was Haga. It was a neighborhood where the working class (such as people working in the harbor) used to live.

Slottsskogen, Gothenburg

A semi-wild deer in Slottskogen, Gothenburg, Sweden. One of Europe's best parks.
Slottsskogen (Castle Forest) is a large green recreation area about 2.5 kilometers / 1.5 miles away from the city center. It is a park, but there is also plenty of forest, a small zoo, a playground for children, a popular picnic destination and a place to see wildlife.

Slottsskogen was established in the middle ages, when the land belonged to the Älvsborg castle. The land was used for deer hunting and grazing. In 1874, the county governor opened Slottsskogen to the public. From the beginning, lawns, ponds, and paths through the woods and the zoo were the key elements of the park.

The trees and the plants in the park are mostly of local origins, but some additional species have also been planted. For example, Azaleadalen (Azalea Valley) is a beautiful display of different types of azaleas. There is a forest of linden, beech, oak and maple trees where it is possible to spot a wild deer or two.

It may sound funny, but the park is so large that it is quite easy to get lost in Slottsskogen. There are signs at crossroads, but first time visitors may want to take a map along or use a GPS navigator on the phone just in case.

Marstrand and Carlstens Fästning

Marstrand and Carlsten Fortress on the West Coast archipelago in Sweden.
Marstrand is a tidy and lovely village about a 40-minute drive northwest of Gothenburg. Carlstens Fästning (Carlsten’s Fortress) is an ancient fortress that has provided protection for the Swedish fleet and for villagers.

The construction of Carlstens fortress began in the mid-17th century. The fortress protected the Swedish fleet that was stationed in Marstrand, and also the village’s busy commercial activities. The fortress has had its current structure since 1860, which means it was under construction for 200 years. In addition to soldiers, prisoners have lived in the fortress.

It is possible to drive to Marstrand village, but the island where the fortress stands is only accessible by ferry. Part of the village, hotels and restaurants are located on the island.

The fortress web page provides information on the hours when it is open.

Bohus Fästning, Kungälv

Bohus Fortress, Gothenburg, Kungälv, Sweden.
Bohus Fästning is a fortress where many battles have been won and lost during its 700-year existence. It is located on a hill in the Göta river valley at a point where the river splits into two separate streams. Bohus is 20 kilometers / 12 miles north from Gothenburg.

Visitors have to walk up to the top of the hill to explore the fortress, but the exercise is worth every step. The views to the valley where the river flows are magnificent.

During the Medieval times, Swedes, Norwegians and Danes used to fight over the region, and the fortress changed hands (from Norway to Sweden to Denmark and back again) many times during a period of 500 years.

The fortress web page has information on hours when it is open.

The travel guide to Gothenburg and the west coast region of Sweden is available, for instance, at these bookstores:
Apple iBooks – layout designed for the iPad.
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.de
Barnes&Noble
Google Play Books
Kobo

Download free ebook with travel tips to Scandinavia

2018-04-09

Nordic countries are far-away, exotic destinations to many travelers. The northernmost region of Europe has plenty of space, vast wilderness areas, relatively few people, and neatly organized societies. Because of distances, it is a good idea to plan ahead a trip to Scandinavia, and learn a little about the culture as well.

Traveling in Scandinavia ebook is filled with tips to Finland, Norway and Sweden. The book is free to download right away simply by choosing an EPUB or Kindle version of the ebook.

Saltstraumen, Norway. Lapland.
The book has plenty of tips for destinations in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Customs and etiquette in Nordic countries are different from the rest of Europe, and behaving in sauna is easy after adopting a few key lessons from the book.

Klaava Travel Guides that have been published earlier and cultural guides provide the essential information for the book, and select chapters from a cookbook, and a history book. In any case, the book provides an overview on Scandinavia from many perspectives.

Many travelers prefer summer and sun, whereas others like snow and fun. Summer and winter are the best times to visit Finland, Norway and Sweden. A typical summer day is warm but not too warm for outdoor activities, like hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, or whatever your favorite outdoor exercise happens to be. During winter, skiing is the number one outdoor activity, but snowmobile rides are increasingly popular as well.

Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia

Ebook news digest: why ebook is better, lonely writer’s syndrome, travel photography tips

2018-03-01

News on ebooks, writing and photography

Apple iPad on bookshelf with books
Ebooks are not ‘stupid’ – they’re a revolution
The Guardian

When Armand Nourry, the head of Hachette publishing company, blurted that ebook is a stupid product because it only replicates the print product, he didn’t know the scale of the storm he had created. Here is a level-headed response to Mr Nourry.

What Makes Good Travel Writing?
Amateur Traveler Chris Christensen

The article features so many valuable, timeless pieces of advice that every aspiring travel writer should read it.

6 reasons why an ebook reader is better than a book
Everything about ebooks

This article was written before the famous “ebooks are stupid” remark, but it points out how many ways the digital product improves the reading experience.

10 Ways to Overcome Lonely Writer Syndrome
Writer’s Digest

Writing is a lonely job, but someone has to do it. In addition to tips mentioned in the article, I warmly recommend field trips every once in a while to research a topic for a planned book.

The Gems of Nice and the French Riviera
Amazon

It is time to start planning that vacation, and the Riviera coast in France is a legendary destination.

20 More Photography Tips Every Travel Photographer Must Know
Digital Photography School

Visiting local markets and rising early to photograph how a city (or wherever you happen to be) are my two favorite tips out of 20 listed in the article.

The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2018
The Write Life

100 web sites that were recommended by the readers of the Write Life blog.

Science’s pirate queen
The Verge

A fascinating (long) story of a Russian idealist who believes scientific information should be free, but Elsevier disagrees. She is the person behind Sci-hub. Although the sites have been shut down, she says she has backups for returning everything online.

The travel destinations and activities that are trending in 2018 according to social media

2018-01-29

In 2017, the travel destination that continuously showed up as a trendy place to go was Portugal. It won so many travel awards that everyone is convinced it really is an exciting destination (if Portugal is a new destination for you, download a travel guide to Algarve, Portugal’s south coast here). The hot travel destinations of 2018 that are trending in social media are located in Europe, America, and in other locations around the world.

river cruise boat in Budapest, photo by Viking River Cruise
Pinterest is a popular social media service for sharing images in albums that may include memories, ideas, plans, wish lists, or product catalogues. Pinterest members save and share tagged photographs on their accounts.

If we search photos on Pinterest that have been saved with a specific tag, for instance, Iceland or Portugal, we get an indication of the destination’s attractiveness. The more photos tagged with Iceland, the more people are paying attention to Iceland. By pinning a photo, Pinterest users are thinking of that particular destination for one reason or another.

According to data listed by Coveteur, the following destinations have seen the biggest increase in photo saves on Pinterest, indicating growing interest for the places and activities.

1. River cruises.
When most tourists think about cruises, they tend to think about the Mediterranean or the Caribbean Sea, but a river cruise along the Nile in Egypt, Rhein in Germany, or perhaps a canal cruise in the Netherlands is certainly a new experience for most travelers.

2. Deserts.
A large number of people are showing interest in visiting a desert, because photo saves have considerably increased for destinations like Morocco, Dubai, Atacama Desert, and Joshua Tree in the US.
Sahara desert. Photo by James Byrum.

3. Mediterranean islands.
The famous islands in the Mediterranean Sea, like Mallorca, Crete, Malta, Sicily and Rhodos are one of the pioneers of mass tourism. Tourists have been flocking to these islands for decades, and still do. The reason is simple, they are still very nice places to spend a vacation. The trending islands in the Mediterranean are, however, the Croatian islands and Mykonos in Greece.
Mykonos island in Greece. Photo by byus.

4. Mexico City.
It is the only city destination that has seen strong growth of interest among Pinterest members.

Mexico City. Photo by Paul Sableman

Via Travel User Guide.

Mobile device provides instant internet access in more than 100 countries without roaming charges

2017-12-20

Writers, photographers, digital nomads, and all professionals who frequently travel always have the same problem when they arrive in a new country: how to instantly get access to the internet at a reasonable cost. Here is our guide for using pre-paid SIM cards overseas. Now, easier solutions are being developed, like the Nommi, a personal Wi-Fi/4G router that provides mobile internet access in more than 100 countries at an affordable cost.

an office for a digital nomad in Bordeaux, France
A Wi-Fi/4G router, such as Nommi, is a smart little device for mobile internet access. The router has a SIM card with a data plan for connecting to a local 3G or 4G mobile network. The router shares the local mobile internet connection to your other devices via Wi-Fi. Your laptop, tablet and smartphone can connect to the router (that has become your personal hotspot) via Wi-Fi and access the internet exactly the same way as you would be using your Wi-Fi at home.

Nommi 4G/wi-fi router and smartphone
Nommi is not yet (in 2017) a commercial product but the technology and the concept works. The developers are welcoming investors at Indiegogo. The product is scheduled to ship in June 2018.

The product consists of a small and slim piece of hardware that takes care of routing the data traffic between Wi-Fi and mobile networks, and a mobile application that is used to manage data plans and purchases of additional data packages.

The pre-order price for the product is $60, and the expected retail price is $120 once the product ships. In addition to the hardware, you need to purchase a data package. Nommi has two options: a monthly package that works in all 100 countries for $35 a month. It includes 5GB of data. Additional data can be purchased directly from the Nommi application. The other option is to buy daily packages for $4 when needed. The daily package comes with 500MB of data.

The third option for a data plan is to insert your own SIM card into the Nommi device and use it for internet access – maybe you have discovered a really cheap prepaid data plan and want to use that. Travelers in the European Union countries, take note: EU member countries are not allowed to charge for roaming from one another. If you have a SIM card purchased in an EU country and travel to another EU country, there are no roaming charges. You only pay the costs of the original data plan.

The countries covered by the Nommi’s built-in SIM card are listed in this document.

Nommi mobile internet access  for travelers
Three features make Nommi an attractive Wi-Fi/4G router: instant internet access in any of the covered countries, an easy way to purchase data plans, and reasonable pricing. The built-in SIM card manages the connection to a local network, lets you access the internet, and if you need more data, the purchase of additional data packages is integrated to the Nommi application. A video clip below shows how to buy an additional data package.

The first thing I do when I arrive in a new country is that I search for a store that sells SIM cards. Once I have discovered one or two, I buy a local pre-paid SIM card for internet access. In some countries the process can be troublesome, but usually it is quite straightforward. Nonetheless, I have to find a shop that sells pre-paid data plans, personnel who can understand what I need (potential language problems), and pay for it. Sometimes, there is a configuration process as well, but it is rare nowadays. A small box that removes all that from my travel itinerary is a welcomed product.

The Nommi has more features, such as a VPN (Virtual Private Network, which is a security and privacy feature), it can be used as a power bank for a smartphone or tablet, and it can also boost a Wi-Fi signal of another hotspot.

Two models are being developed:

Nommi Slim
– 3G and 4G mobile network connectivity.
– Wi-Fi
– Built-in SIM.
– Standard SIM card slot.
– Micro USB port.
– 114 x 82 x 17 mm
– Battery life 16 hours.

Nommi Power
– 3G and 4G mobile network connectivity.
– Wi-Fi
– Built-in SIM.
– Standard SIM card slot.
– Micro USB port.
– USB out port.
– 124 x 82 x 21 mm.
– Battery life 48 hours, or 24 hours if an iPhone recharged twice.

Via Travel User Guide.

This is what the Apple iPhone X camera means for travel photography

2017-09-15

Many travelers, writers and even professional photographers trust in their smartphone cameras for capturing important images that document their journeys and remarkable moments in life. The Apple iPhone X has so many features for photographers that it allows travelers to reconsider the contents of their photography kits.

Apple iPhone X camera feature: face recognition
The iPhone X comes with three cameras: two at the back and one at the front panel. Here is what the cameras are for:

– Wide-angle camera at the back: ƒ/1.8 six-element lens, optical image stabilization. 12 megapixel image sensor. Allows you to get really close to subjects, or shoot small spaces that don’t fit into the frame of a normal lens. This and the telephoto camera are, however, used in sync by the system.
– Telephoto camera at the back: ƒ/2.4 telephoto lens. Together the two cameras at the back enable optical zoom. Two lenses also create depth to images. The benefit of this optical zoom is, however, minimal compared to camera lenses where the elements have room to move.
– TrueDepth camera at the front: ƒ/2.2 aperture lens. 7 megapixel image sensor. This is used by the Face ID recognition feature, and naturally, for selfies.

Apple iPhone X two cameras at the back: wide-angle and  telephoto
Apple has also developed new software applications that utilize the possibilities of the cameras. Especially, the Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting software allows iPhone X photographers to capture and adjust portrait images into studio-like pictures.

It is obvious that Apple has put a lot of effort for ensuring that selfies taken on the iPhone look fabulous.

The iPhone X cameras are at their best when shooting subjects that are relatively near the lenses. Anyone who has tried to snap a photo of beautiful scenery in the distance on a smartphone knows how disappointing the result can be.

Of course, the iPhone X is an expensive compact camera. The prices start from $999. Nonetheless, you get a smartphone as well, and you may consider leaving lenses or a camera home that you have used for close-up and portrait photos.

Street photography is also a potential field where the iPhone X can shine. Smartphones are less intrusive in street photography. People simply don’t mind that much when someone takes a photo on a smartphone even though they clearly see that they are in the frame. If you take the same photo on an SLR, they do mind.

No matter how good the iPhone X cameras and photography applications are, it is a camera with fixed lenses. It can’t do everything that SLR cameras with removable lenses can do.

Landscapes, city views, architecture, action, sports, sceneries, natural phenomena are the most likely photographs that require other type of camera equipment for the best results.

I have often used smartphone cameras for video recording lately, and generally have been happy with the results. It is primarily for documenting something or capturing a brief moment of city life or anything potentially interesting happening nearby. Video capture is another field where the iPhone X can be an excellent product. It can:

– Capture 4K video up to 60 fps (frames per second).
– Record slow motion video in 1080p HD format up to 240 fps.
– Produce time‑lapse videos.

The video features are remarkable – many SLR cameras can’t do 4K, slow motion or time lapse. Have you ever tried to shoot and produce a time lapse video? If you have, you know how much work and how troublesome it is. If the iPhone X can make time lapse videos easy, it is a big time saver.

In bright sunlight, most displays in SLR cameras become unreadable. The iPhone X display is based on OLED technology which means much brighter, clearer, and higher contrast image than an ordinary LCD display can produce.

The iPhone X camera specifications and features

Apple iPhone X: Portrait Lighting app

Cameras at the back
12 megapixel wide-angle and telephoto cameras
Wide-angle lens: ƒ/1.8 aperture
Telephoto lens: ƒ/2.4 aperture
Optical zoom; digital zoom up to 10x
Portrait mode
Portrait Lighting (beta)
Dual optical image stabilization
Six‑element lens
Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync
Panorama (up to 63MP)
Hybrid IR filter
Autofocus with Focus Pixels
Body and face detection
Exposure control
Noise reduction
Auto HDR for photos
Auto image stabilization
Burst mode
Timer mode
Photo geotagging: GPS location marked in photos
Image formats captured: HEIF and JPEG

Video Recording
4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
720p HD video recording at 30 fps
Optical image stabilization for video
Optical zoom; 6x digital zoom
Quad-LED True Tone flash
Slo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps
Time‑lapse video with stabilization
Cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p)
Continuous autofocus video
Body and face detection
Noise reduction
8 megapixel still photos while recording 4K video
Playback zoom
Video geotagging
Video formats recorded: HEVC and H.264

TrueDepth Camera (at the front)
7 megapixel camera
Portrait mode
Portrait Lighting (beta)
Animoji
1080p HD video recording
Retina Flash
ƒ/2.2 aperture
Auto HDR
Body and face detection
Auto image stabilization
Burst mode
Exposure control
Timer mode

9 Must-See Places in Ireland

2017-08-27

Today’s article is brought to you by Ian Leaf.

Ireland, it’s the land of emerald dreams and mystic tales of Leprechauns, Celtic musicians, and medieval warriors. If you have an Irish heritage, a pilgrimage to the Isles is a lifetime dream. If you are a lover of travel, Ireland is full of interesting historic spots, events, and unique places to satisfy your need to discover the most brilliant scenes on earth. It’s not important how you get to Ireland. What’s important are the places you visit. Here are just a few of the most intriguing, enlightening, and endearing locations within Ireland no traveler should forget to visit.
coastal cliffs in Ireland

The Ring of Kerry

This is one of Ireland’s most scenic peninsular routes. Hikers, bikers, and sightseers can take a circular route beginning and ending in either Killarney, or Kenmare. Along the scenic trail, blue-green Atlantic waters jut next to amazingly high cliffs. Along this route, everything from traditional golf tournaments to deep-sea fishing is available. There are even ancient Celtic monasteries to visit between taking pictures of some of the most unusual landscapes in the Isles.

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

The growth and influence of the Shannon region in Ireland dates to the 15th century. It was the home of upper class Irish families who had a knack for throwing parties and providing entertainment. Later, this region was a fortress for war-torn patriots who still enjoyed the lavishness of upper-class Irish living. Bunratty Castle is an example of a fully restored residence that was host to some of Ireland’s most important nobles.
a house in the countryside in Ireland

Shop Street, Galway

Galway is a modern artist’s hub. It is home to several ancient residences that influenced the creation of one of the country’s most vibrant markets. Shop Street is the place for purchasing artisan Irish trinkets, gifts, and rounds of locally produced ales. The heart of Ireland resides in places like Galway, and Shop Street is where that heart beats the loudest. Several days are needed to fully enjoy this Irish cultural hub.

The Rock of Cashel

This isn’t only a natural wonder. It’s an oceanic rock outcropping the site of Ireland’s most precious heritage site. The medieval castle that sits on the rock still houses a monastic choral group. This location is, in every way, authentically Irish, but exhibits attributes that are reminiscent of Roman influence. Though ancient, it has survived every conflict in Irish history, and remains a testament to the country’s resolve.

The Cliffs of Moher

Though Dover is white, Moher is rugged and raw. This County Clair attraction is rife with unending beauty and mystique. These cliffs are a natural anomaly, with sea cliffs and outcroppings standing solitary at more than 600 feet tall. Many of the cliffs are accessible by hiking trail, but they are all visible in morning light that is extraordinarily brilliant.
a castle in Ireland

Dalkey and Killiney in Dublin

This monument area is only reachable by light rail. It is a short ride from Dublin, and is an historic heritage center for all Irish folk. This peninsular location was important in various political and military campaigns in Irish history. The main naval marker still stands, and is set against amazing oceanic backgrounds and rolling natural features. This is a traveling photographer’s Irish dream location.

The Aran Islands

The three Aran Islands have been the focus of film producers and historians. At one time, the Aran Islands were home to a thriving Celtic culture. The fort of Dun Aonghasa now remains a tribute to these ancient tribes. The modern residents near this area maintain an old-world attitude, and love their islands with an undying passion. These islands are where travelers can experience what true old Irish living was like.
remnants of a castle in Ireland

Mullaghmore Beach

This recreational area emerged from a long Irish fishing, manufacturing, and shipping culture. It is part of the village of Sligo, and is open to all inquisitive travelers. This is the ultimate place in Ireland for deep sea swims, authentic seafood cuisine, fishing charters, and long walks along quiet shores. The entire town is tied in some way with the sea, and is an interesting contrast with interior Irish communities.

Ashford Castle

This medieval relic has been fully restored, and is now an internationally renowned hotel. Though there are many similar locations in Ireland, Ashford has a unique charm and extravagance. This famous 5-star hotel in Mayo County is a testament to Irish high-class couture. It is also the starting point for visitors who prefer to view manicured country settings and historic venues in style.

Final Thoughts

The length and breadth of Ireland is small. There is no reason that travelers cannot partake in the most beautiful sites offered by this country. Everything green needs to be seen. There are however, places that are more beautiful that the rest. Everything about Ireland is extraordinary, and it only takes an adventurous spirit to see them all.
a row of houses by a pond in Ireland

Free book shares tips to travelers planning a trip to Scandinavia

2017-08-15

If you haven’t visited any of the five Scandinavian countries before, but you believe now is the time go, a bit of research will help you decide where and when to travel. It is a large area, and the further north you go in North Europe, less people there are. If you go as far as Lapland, there are more reindeer than people.
Reindeer at Aakenus fell in Yllas-Pallas national park Finland, Lapland, north Europe.
Traveling in Scandinavia is an ebook that we have made available for free. You can download the book right away simply by choosing an EPUB or Kindle version of the ebook.

The book includes information on destinations in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Cultural insight on people, customs and etiquette are featured as well, because, well, you are supposed to behave in the sauna as the Scandinavians behave.

We have chosen chapters from our travel guides and cultural guide for Traveling in Scandinavia, and even selected chapters from a cookbook, and a history book. All and all, the book gives an overview on Scandinavia from many angles.

It is easier understand the silence of Finns, drinking songs of Swedes and electric car enthusiasm of oil-rich Norwegians after reading chapters from the book.

Some travelers like summer and sun, others snow and fun. Summer and winter are the best times to visit Finland, Norway or Sweden. Unless, you are a Scandinavia expert and know that the peak season for hiking in Lapland is autumn. It is because the color of green in the fells and mountains fades, allowing other colors momentarily shine.

Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia

Tips for traveling in Scandinavia in a free guidebook

2017-07-22

The land of the Midnight Sun, long and cold winters, welfare states, high living standard, languages that no one outside Scandinavia can understand, plenty of space and few people. Sure, it is a definition of Scandinavia, but for travelers, the Northernmost region of Europe is much more.

If you want to find out how much more, read Traveling in Scandinavia. It is an ebook that you can download for free.
Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia
The guidebook is a selection of travel information, tips and cultural insights into the Nordic countries. A little bit of information on food and history is included in the book as well.

From the book description:

Here is a taste of Scandinavia for you to explore at the comfort of your reading nook – perhaps before heading out to the North yourself. As the selection of writings show, there are plenty of destinations to see and things to do: city life, mountain biking, fishing in pristine rivers, camping, island hopping, road touring, Arctic adventures, or hiking in the wilderness. If something is missing, Finns will invent it (e.g. wife carrying competition), Swedes will sell it to the world (e.g. entire country available on Airbnb), and Norwegians will win the cross-country skiing world championship (again).

Free download.