Norway

One of the greatest perks of traveling is the opportunity to try new foods. Even dishes that you may be familiar with are better when tasted in their land of origin (have you ever had pasta in Italy? Bellissimo!). But there’s something particularly exciting — and truly adventurous — about trying a bite of something you’ve never even heard of before. We’ve traveled the globe and have discovered some delicious delicacies… and we’ve also sampled some foods that are…well, “interesting” may be the best way to put it. Here are half a dozen of the weirdest delicacies the world over. Bon apetit!

Singapore: Fish Head Curry

fish head curry

A lot of the strangest delicacies in the world seem to involve fish and/or weird parts of animals that you didn’t even know were edible (and their edibleness is questionable to say the least). Well, fish head curry involves both fish and weird parts of it. In Singapore, fish head curry is considered a tasty, stew-like dish of veggies, rice, and — you guessed it — a fish head (generally red snapper).

Where to Stay: Hotel Fort Canning is a modern boutique in a beautifully restored historic military building. This excellent property includes luxe amenities such as three pools, an Asian bistro, a pizza bar, a cocktail lounge, and a fitness center.

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Norwegian FjordsEven if you don’t know much about Norway, you’ve probably heard somewhere along the line that it’s crazy beautiful. Well, we’ve been there, and we can confirm: It is. It’s the kind of beautiful that leaves even the most jaded travelers with their mouths hanging open in wonder. There’s a lot to love about this Scandinavian winter wonderland — and these 11 things, in particular, are famously Norwegian.

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To learn more about Kelsey Blodget, visit her on Google+

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Sometimes spa treatments tip over the edge of relaxing and enter the realm of downright strange. From fish pedicures to snow rooms, hotels around the globe are offering unique (and kinda weird) options for guests to indulge in. Some might swear by these alternative services, others may be skeptical — but we at Oyster will try (almost) anything once! Here, we’ve rounded up the craziest spa services we’ve come across during our travels. Take a look and prepare to get pampered in a whole new way!

The Treatment: Sparience Oxygen Bubble

The Spa Hotel: Gran Hotel La Florida, Barcelona 

The Sparience Oyxgen Bubble experience is stress-reducing.

At the Zen Zone Spa in Barcelona, guests can try out the Sparience Oyxgen Bubble. Meant to relieve stress and minimize injury recovery time, these bubbles are filled with 99.5 percent pure oxygen, which should induce intense mental and physical relaxation. The sculpted AlphaSphere bed combines color, shape, and light with sound, vibrations, and warmth to increase the effects of the treatment. It all sounds well and good, but doesn’t it remind you a bit of this John Travolta classic? Read More »

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Bryggen is home to quaint -- and colorful -- 17th-century buildings.

Summer is a terrific time to take in the sights in Norway. Whether you’re most excited to taste test the local food or check out the best hotels, it’s worth exploring every nook and cranny of this gorgeous country. Which of course includes the major attractions: Though Norway may be known for its beautiful fjords, it has a lot more the offer than just that. Check out our slideshow of the top 10 attractions in Norway — and convenient places to stay nearby!

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Forget the beach—nature lovers know that the best way to experience the great outdoors in the summer is to spend some quality time in the mountains. If your idea of summer bliss involves hiking, biking, and swimming, these gorgeous resorts should be just the ticket. And if exotic scenery is a must, you’ll be happy to know that great mountain escapes can be found in tropical locales, too.

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

Nestled deep amongst the pine trees, cliffs, and canyons of Yosemite is the 123-room Ahwahnee Hotel. The impressive stone and wood structure, built in 1927, is considered a National Historic Landmark. Rooms with views of the Half Dome and El Captain summits are filled with wood and rich tapestries of Native American design. Highlights here include the Great Lounge with 24-foot-high ceilings and a large stone fireplace along with the light-flooded dining room. This hotel is on the expensive side — and parking is limited — but the prime location and views are worth the price tag. Read More »

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Visiting Europe is often composed of a whirlwind tour, during which visitors hurry from one tourist destination to another. Therefore — in between trips to museums and monuments — finding the time to breathe can be surprisingly difficult. To help speed along to the moment where you actually find relaxation — you’re on vacation, after all — some of our favorite hotels across the pond are outfitted with top-notch spas designed to get you to that “Ahhh” feeling faster than you can say “Euro Trip.” Whether all you want is some downtime in the sauna or a deep tissue massage, these properties have you covered. So sit back and relax—the Louvre will still be there tomorrow.

1. K West Hotel & Spa, London 

The intimate spa encourages relaxation at every corner.

K West is a smart and sophisticated option in London, with its main attraction being the beautiful K Spa. Featuring sleek style and impressive facilities — the hydrotherapy pool and “Snow Paradise” room are particularly noteworthy — the spa is well-regarded throughout the United Kingdom. The “Snow Paradise” room is meant to follow a hot steam treatment, and is based on Finnish spa techniques of using hot-cold therapy to stimulate circulation and the immune system.

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Ballnahinch Castle, one of Ireland's most beautiful historic stays, has played host to Pirate Queens, members of Parliament, and an Indian Maharaja.

Europe’s rich history is alive and well at these amazing hotels. Seeming to appear straight out of the history books, these castles, palaces, and monasteries have been the host to some of our world’s most interesting — and sometimes notorious — affairs. Pirate Queens, famous authors, scheming politicians, and celebrities of days past and present have walked through these corridors — and now you can, too, just by clicking through our slideshow.

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We’ve all fantasized about a month-long trip to Europe — but the time to fulfill this dream is not always easy to come by. Fortunately, a ton of time isn’t necessarily required if you want to explore the other side of the pond. With just a few days, you can visit numerous areas of the continent and hit up top destinations, and there are a few attractions you just can’t miss. We’ve picked one in each of Europe’s most popular cities, and paired it with a nearby hotel so you can get the most out of your flash trip. These nine sights are all must-sees — don’t miss out!

Must-See #1: Tower Bridge, London

The Tower Bridge was designed by Sir Horace Jones in 1884.

The Tower Bridge was designed by Sir Horace Jones in 1884.

Some of you might say, “What about Big Ben (excuse us, the “Elizabeth Tower”)? And the British Museum?” Well, yes, those are top spots of course, but if there is one place that makes London recognizable, it is the Tower Bridge. Built in the late 19th century and painted blue in 1977 for Queen Elizabeth II’s silver jubilee, the bridge is crossed on foot, bike, car and double-decker bus by thousands of Londoners and visitors daily, making it one of the most visited places in all of London. On a rainy day, you can get great views of the bridge from the glass-enclosed City Hall, and on a sunny day, head to the Tower of London for the best vistas.

Stay: Apex City of London Hotel

Spacious rooms have warm lighting and free Wi-Fi.

Spacious rooms have warm lighting and free Wi-Fi.

The Apex City of London Hotel is a contemporary, mid-size chain property located just a 3-minute walk to the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, and the tube. All 179 rooms have warm lighting, big flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and bathrooms with separate soaking tubs and walk-in showers. The sleek interior design continues in the lobby and in Addendum Restaurant, which serves seasonal fare and has outdoor seating. Small touches (such as a rubber ducky for the tub) make this property feel like more than a typical chain hotel.

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Ackee and saltfish, Jamaica

Ackee and saltfish in Jamaica

If you’re a foodie, cuisine plays an important role in your vacation. We can relate. Luckily, we’ve gotten to sample a lot of great food while off investigating hotels across the globe, and we’ve particularly enjoyed discovering various destination’s specialties, from smoked salmon in Norway to macarons in France. There’s a lot of food out there, to be sure, but these seven local dishes ranked among our favorites.

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We’re all about a funky hotel or two, but some of the coziest spots are those with shabby-chic decor — just homey enough to be comforting, while still packing in a lot of style. Shabby-chic hotel design is a study in the art of textural contrasts: vintage leather, velvet furniture, deliberately faded rugs, woods, and rich prints all add to the look. And when shabby-chic is done well, the end result is impressively style-conscious, yet more livable than some, shall we say more modern, spots we’ve visited.  So today we’re giving a photo tour of our favorite hotels that have the shabby-chic vibe down pat. Get inspired — and get the look!

Petit Ermitage, Los Angeles

Butterfly Bar at the Petit Ermitage

We love the cozy, laid-back look of the Petit Ermitage, a quaint boutique in West Hollywood. The hotel’s bohemianism — think stained glassdistressed fixtures, and plenty of interesting artwork – gives the common areas and rooms a whimsical vibe and clearly attracts a fair share of hipsters, who can be found by the rooftop pool or in the lobby. It may not look like much from the outside, but the Petit Ermitage not only boasts an attention-to-detail in the design, but also in the amenities it provides (rooftop garden, tasty restaurant, pool), especially for a hotel of its size.

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