Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

PANDEMIC TRAVEL  We spent a wonderful week in southern Norway in late June with the help of Leigh Landis.

Our trip, which we booked through the WOW List 2+ years ago, was originally scheduled for the summer 2020, but—like many other travelers—we had to put it on hold for two years, thanks to COVID. When Norway reopened earlier this year, we reached out to Leigh again and she immediately modified the itinerary to suit our new schedule.

Our trip started in Bergen, followed by a fjord cruise with an overnight in Balestrand, then on to Flam for the Flamsbana and the train to Oslo, where we spent several days. The hotels Leigh booked were all outstanding, her restaurant recommendations included lots of variety and different price points. Our tour guides in Bergen and Oslo were both excellent.

A couple of standout moments for us:
• Leigh encouraged us to break up our “Norway in a Nutshell” experience with an overnight at the historic Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand. We are so glad she did! Having free time to appreciate the tiny fjord town was a wonderful addition to the trip.
• The week before we were leaving, I read an article about the just-opened National Museum in Oslo. Even though it was last-minute and I knew it was hard to get tickets, I asked Leigh if we could add it to our itinerary, which she did.

A note regarding COVID: Since we are both vaccinated and boosted and wear our masks most of the time, we were not too concerned about COVID. I would note that very few locals wore masks since all restrictions in the country had been lifted.

I think Norway is the perfect destination for someone concerned about COVID right now. Many of the best activities are outdoors in nature and most restaurants have outdoor seating. Besides, it is a beautiful country with spectacular scenery. We will definitely go back since we only scratched the surface.

Bucket list, check, check!

Thanks to Leigh Landis, my daughter and I were fortunate enough to to the check off two activities on our bucket list for both a polar plunge and hunting for the Northern Lights during our recent trip to Norway. Leigh customized our trip to the Arctic to include both the quaint seaside city of Tromsø and the winter wonderland of Kirkenes. She was prompt to respond when I had questions/requests and she sent a very detailed itinerary complete with activity and restaurant suggestions, local contact information, and a very important packing list for our outdoor activities.

Our first three days in Tromsø were spent eating local reindeer, moose, and cod (the best I’ve ever had), visiting the Artic Cathedral & tram to the top for stunning views of the city, and a trip outside of the city to ride/feed reindeer and learn about the indigenous Sami culture. The highlight of our time in Tromsø included a one of a kind spa experience aboard the refurbished Vulkana whaling boat complete with steam room, sauna with picture window, hot tub on deck followed by an optional “polar plunge”, and delicious lunch. Leigh’s recommendations for great restaurants/bars (Bardus was our favorite) and our hotel (Scandic Ishavshotel) were spot on and our drivers to/from airport were curious and on-time.

The next three nights we spent at the remote Snowhotel in Kirkenes where Mother Nature put on a spectacular display of the Northern Lights during our husky safari. We also feasted on GIANT king crab pulled directly from the Barent Sea after snowmobiling over the frozen fjord (I ate 5 legs alone). The Gamme cabins were warm & cozy with a fantastic view and the staff were friendly and very accommodating. We opted not to stay in the Snowhotel for the evening (made completely out of ice/snow) but we did walk through and admire the amazing artwork made from ice in each room. Don’t miss out on an after dinner drink at the Snow Bar where you can smash your glass made out of ice after your shot.

This is the 9th time that I have used a specialist from Wendy’s list to customize a vacation with very unique experiences. I look forward to many, many more!

Betsy McLaughlin | December 8, 2019

Our journey to Stockholm and Copenhagen over the Thanksgiving holiday was terrific. There were four of us traveling, 2 of us chefs, so we wanted to learn, eat, see, eat some more and experience Scandinavian for the first time. Leigh was wonderful from the first interaction. She planned the perfect itinerary in each location, with excellent local guides, activities to showcase both cities, and with enough down time to explore on our own and enjoy the beginning of the Christmas season. One of our favorite excursions in Stockholm was on a boat exploring the archipelago. We loved seeing the homes decorated for Christmas along with hearing Swedish stories from our hosts, Captain Kjell and Ava. We were dropped on the dock of the Artipelag Museum and had a glorious afternoon walking through the forest and seeing the special museum exhibits. In Copenhagen, our guide Avril, kept us entertained with both current and historical stories about the royals. She also gave us an amazing overview of Danish art and life. Two things set this trip apart – first, the quality of the guides. We could have never found them on our own; we are so grateful to have met Asa, Ava and Avril (the true A team!). The second component was the perfect logistics. Multiple guides, drivers, pick ups, drop offs – all on time, professional and hospitable. Clearly Leigh’s planning did not miss a beat. Thank you for a really fantastic adventure.

There were so many options for amazing sites when it came to planning our trip to Scandinavia that we called on Leigh to help us out. We move a bit slower these days and like to mix downtime to explore on our own with scheduled visits and guided tours. Leigh was able to appropriately scale back on the guides where we asked, but left just the right amount in to give us that personal edge. We started in Oslo which became our favorite city immediately. Our guide felt like an old friend and is someone we will reconnect with in the future. I was enthralled by the Circle of Life, a must-see for anyone in Oslo. Leigh’s suggestion of the train and ferry to Balestrand was a great way to see the country. And our private driver to Storfjord was engaging and stopped along the way to show us scenery that we would have otherwise missed. The hotels were absolutely perfect and our trip exceeded all expectations. Leigh has a knack for picking guides and was great at helping us cover lots of ground in our two weeks!

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