Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012



Over the weekend, the DUNER'S BLOG staff went to San Francisco.  At the center of town is Union Square...a drab slab of concrete punctuated with an equally boring monument to Admiral Dewey.  However..for two festive months...the dull urban space is transformed into a festive Ice Skating Rink, packed with happy people, young and old.  Although none of us at DUNER'S BLOG can actually skate on frozen water, we all enjoyed watching other people fall on their butts!

We wanted our readers from around the globe to know that they too can go downtown for a slice of holiday heaven,  so here's our list of the TOP TEN HOLIDAY ICE SKATING RINKS: 

#10. Tjörnin Lake, Reykjavik.   Of course, Ice-land is going to have great Ice-Skating.  Everything downtown borders on Tjørnin Lake (Direct translation: The Pond) which is solid ice until April.  In winter months, it's the scene of hockey games, figure skaters and crazy curlers.  Afterwards, you can warm up in Vesturbæjarlaug Thermal Hot Springs next door. 

#9.  Red Square, Moscow.  While Europe's largest ice skating rink in located in nearby Gorky Park, we prefer the smaller, more intimate setting at Red Square.  Wedged in between the Kremlin and the GUM Department store, the rink must be carefully constructed so it doesn't damage the thousand year old cobblestones below.  It's only been open for seven years, and symbolizes the current, fun-loving climate in Moscow.  This year, it opens December First.

#8.  Zocalo, Mexico City. Also on a main square once only used for by military parades, for the last seven years, the heart of Mexico City is transformed into a Winter Wonderland.  You're asking yourself...Doesn't ice melt in Mexico?  While located in the tropics, D.F. has a high altitude (7,500 feet or 2,250 meters), so it rarely gets very hot in December.

#7.  Fuji-Q Highlands, Japan. While there are numerous outdoor rinks in Tokyo this time of year, we are intrigued by this massive skate complex.  It is scenically located at the base of Mt. Fuji.  With over four acres of skating, it's the largest in the country.

#6.  Millennium Park, Chicago.  Now in it's eighth year, the massive rink occupies prime park land between Lake Michigan and city skyscrapers.  It so popular, it stays open to mid-March.  Last year, over 100,000 people twirled and whirled here...making it the most visited ice rink in the nation.

#5.  Rideau Canal, Ottawa. Back in 1832, a canal opened connecting the Canadian capital to Kingston on the St. Lawrence River.  The final five miles of the canal slice through the heart of Ottawa's old town.  As we all know, Canada is freezing cold, so the waterway becomes solid ice in winter.  The ships and freighters are replaced with Zambonis and skaters.  It's huge: In total area, it's equal to 90 Olympic-sized rinks.

#4.  Somerset House, London.  Located on the hoity-toity Strand near Waterloo Bridge, Somerset is actually a palace, not a house.   For the last 150 years, the cavernous interior courtyard is converted into a rink.  It's fun to skate at night, when the ice is lit by flaming torches(!).  If you do go, be sure to bring your VISA CARD...at £35 each, it's the most expensive site on our list.

#3.  Vienna Ice Dream, Austria.  Alpine nations have an distinct advantage on this list...they just scream Christmas.  And...with the exception of Nürenburg...no one decks the halls quite like Vienna.  At the heart of it all is the Ice Dream.  Here, you'll find a kilometer of skating trails, ice sculptures, six curling rings...all culminating at the foot of the Rathaus (City Hall).

#2.  Canal Skating, Amsterdam.  Unlike the Venice of the South, the canals of Amsterdam freeze in winter.  This makes for some of the most fantastic skating on earth.  You glide past Renaissance buildings, skim under historic bridges and spin around to the coolest dance beats.  

#1.  Rockefeller Center, New York City. Duh!  Let's face it: Every holiday ice skating rink secretly aspires to be Rockefeller Center.  The quintessential spot in front of the golden statue of Prometheus has seen many famous people over the years.  It's hosted royalty (Princess Grace of Monaco), movie stars (Goldie Hawn), socialites (Paris Hilton) and aliens (Donald Trump).


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