Travel Briefs

Paying the guide only what they feel the tour is worth, visitors to Stockholm can join “free” guided, English-speaking tours with Free Walking Tour Stockholm (Mälartorget 8, 111 27 Stockholm, Sweden; phone +46 073 731 78 80, Other expenses, such as food costs, are paid by each tour member.

Meeting outside the Gamla Stan subway station, the “City Tour” and “Old Town” tour each last 1½-2 hours and occur daily,...


On the 4-day guided experience “Mother & Newborn Cubs,” guests (6 maximum) will have the chance to photograph bear families in Slovenia’s Loka Valley while safe in a bear blind. Slovenia is home to about 560 Eurasian brown bears, which can reach more than 1,000 pounds and over 8 feet in length.

The mother-and-cubs tour departs May 29, June 25 and Aug. 20 & 27. From €660 (near $740) per person, double, includes inn lodging and most meals. Contact...


Starting in Prague, guided hikes in Czechia can be booked with Czech Trek (phone +420 720 31 39 30,

The full-day “Great Escape” and “Wilder Side” hikes (€59, near $66, per person) involve some hill climbing. The half-day “Country Stroll” (€39) is on flat ground. Maximum group size is six. Custom hikes can be arranged.

It is recommended that hikers take the 45-minute train ride (fare not included) from Hlavní...


On Lake Lucerne, Switzerland, visitors can take a round-trip journey from Lucerne (Luzern) to Flüelen aboard one of four steam-powered paddleboats, each with a restaurant.

Available only at the docks, a round-trip ticket of the full route costs CHF77 (near $80), second class, or CHF115, first class, and allows for hop-on, hop-off privileges (on both paddleboats and modern ferries) at any of the route’s 12 stops.

On the timetables posted at press time, valid until May 20,...


The Odontotos rack railway, connecting the seaside town of Diakopto to the mountain village of Kalavryta in Greece’s northern Peloponnese, is a rare example of a rack-and-pinion railway, whose engines complete steep climbs by using a gear and a track with teeth. It also operates with one of the smallest gauges in the world, only 75cm (about 2½ feet).

On the 22-kilometer route, with a maximum gradient of 17.5%, the train climbs 750 meters in a little more than an hour,...


The three monumental doors of the Florence Baptistery were reunited in December 2019 after being apart for almost 30 years for restoration. The three gilded-bronze doors were crafted by different artisans between 1330 and 1452. Each is more than 16 feet tall and almost 10 feet wide and weighs over eight tons. The oldest, the South Door, damaged by flooding in 1966, was the last to be restored.

They can be viewed at the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, or Opera Museum (Via della...


Beginning in early 2020, visitors to the ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat, Cambodia, will no longer be able to ride elephants on the grounds of the site. Two of the park’s 14 elephants have been released in a nearby forest, with the rest to follow shortly. Elephant riding in Angkor Wat was introduced in 2001. In 2016, one of the park’s elephants died due to a combination of heatstroke and exhaustion, leading to a petition to ban the practice entirely.

A new budget Icelandic airline, PLAY (, is being launched in 2020 by executives of the former airline WOW Air, which ceased operation in March 2019. At press time, the company had leased two passenger planes that would serve an initial six European destinations (which had yet to be announced). The company expected to expand to four US airports by spring 2020. Meanwhile, a US company unconnected to the original airline restarted WOW Air in November, basing it in Washington, DC....