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active 15 hours ago

Ash Merscher

I help readers and travelers make the most out of their trips to European countries, especially Central and Eastern Europe. As a traveler myself, I love the adventurous feeling that a foreign destination gives you; but I also love knowing a little about what to expect. I appreciate the idea of experienced vagabonds sharing insider details on traveling within cities, popular destinations, and lesser-known gems. The adventurous unknown—the travel butterflies in the pit of your stomach—are still there, but you can picture a place before you arrive.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"I've called a handful of European countries my home, including Ireland, Spain, Hungary, Croatia, and Romania. I've taught English and freelanced as a writer. During my time abroad (I'm currently living in Budapest, Hungary), I've been lucky enough to enjoy extensive travels across Central and Eastern Europe. My countries of expertise include Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia, Poland, and the Balkans. I'm a big fan of architecture, wine, and food, which are my two main reasons to keep traveling. I love a budget trip, so road trips are my go-to vacation, especially in gorgeous countries like Romania, Hungary, and Croatia."

How did you get involved in travel?

"While growing up in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, trips across the border to Canada were a childhood norm. The allure of international travel was always there, tempting me across the water and prompting my first big trip abroad when I was in my early 20s. I studied abroad in Ireland and felt far more comfortable in a foreign country than at my own university. I spent the next decade trying to be in Europe as much as possible, working multiple jobs and stockpiling my wages. For me, travel gave me a sense of adventure while teaching me some of my life's biggest lessons. "

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"After a whirlwind trip around Western Europe with my best friend, I decided to stay longer and volunteer at a farm in County Cork, Ireland. Each afternoon, after I finished my duties for the day, I'd grab the family dog—who was very pregnant at the time—and we'd walk up the hill to the cliffside. There, I'd sit on the edge (but not too close), Bella the golden retriever lounging just at my side. We'd listen to the Irish wind, which I feel has its own unique personality. It'd whip through tall tufts of grass, dancing across fields and plummeting down the cliffs, seabirds catching its drift and gliding across the horizon. I will never forget those afternoons with the sun melting into the Atlantic Ocean. They occurred a few years after I had experienced a tragedy in my family, and they helped to heal a broken heart and a lost soul. Travel tends to perform that sort of magic."

Hiking in the Lofoten archipelago
Best Hiking Experiences in Norway

Norway is an outdoor paradise, and one of the most popular activities is hiking through the lush forests, jagged mountain peaks, and rocky fjords. From Troll's Tongue to Pulpit Rock, Norway is home to famous hikes that offer outstanding views of the country's iconic landscapes. You don't have to be an experienced trekker to enjoy the scenery, either. You'll find various trails, ranging from beginner to advanced, for all interests.

Charming fjord hamlets in Norway
Top Experiences in the Fjord Region

Many visitors plan an entire trip to Norway for its famed Fjord Region. With such unique scenery and so much diversity in what you can experience, it's easy to understand why! The Fjord Region offers cruises, kayaking excursions, hikes, biking trails, scenic lookouts, historic train routes, wildlife viewing, waterfalls, glaciers, national parks, and much, much more. You can't get bored in Norway's fjords!

Traditional Lofoten fishing village
Top Experiences in the Lofoten Islands

The Lofoten Islands is one of the most popular destinations in Norway. The moment you arrive, you'll understand why, as this stunning archipelago features jagged mountain peaks, colorful hamlets that cling to rocks, and a coastline dotted with islands. If you're looking for outdoor adventures, this is the place for you! Enjoy scenic drives, kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, sailing, and more.

Stavanger's colorful harbor in summer
Best Things to Do in Stavanger

Set in Southern Norway, Stavanger offers the best of all worlds: stunning natural scenery, picturesque coastlines, charming historic streets, connections to cities like Oslo and Bergen, and easy access to the fjord region. The city is an excellent hub for some of the most popular activities in Norway, including hikes to Kjerag and Pulpit Rock, cruises in Lysefjord, and day trips to charming towns like Flørli.

Wintry polar dusk in Tromsø
Best Things to Do in Tromsø

Tromsø is Norway's "Gateway to the Arctic," as the city sits above the Arctic Circle and offers easy access to the renowned Lofoten Islands and the country's northernmost reaches. But despite being so remote, the city is a vibrant, lively metropolis, lovingly referred to as the "Paris of the North." Enjoy the annual Bukta open-air music festival or visit one of the famed breweries. Discover the area's wildlife with whale safaris or watch the Northern Lights dance across the sky on a dinner cruise.

Bergen's colorful waterfront
Best Things to Do in Bergen

As an idyllic and colorful harbor city, Bergen is one of the most popular hubs in Norway. It sits on the North Sea coast with access to the county's famous fjord region. But Bergen is much more than just a hub, as it's filled with famous sites, including the historic Bryggen area, Gamle Bergen, several museums, art galleries, and churches, and abundant Viking heritage.