Tag Archives: Europe

Charming bed and breakfasts in the English countryside

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photo by CC user Trish Steel on geograph.org.uk

Heading to Britain, and looking to explore this country outside of the major cities? If so, you are in for a treat, as the charming towns and villages in this nation will earn a special place in your heart when you get to know them.

When staying in these rural areas, the following charming bed and breakfasts in the English countryside will be part of the reason why this trip here certainly won’t be your last.

1) Orchard Barn, Bridport

Put together everything you’ve ever considered when it comes to the dream bed and breakfast in the English countryside, and you’ll likely come up with something that looks like the Orchard Barn, which is located near the English countryside town of Bridport.

While this place inhabits a large country house, a separate wing for guests ensures privacy for those that crave it, while still permitting access to the Corbetts, the lovely couple that runs this place for much of the year. Spend your nights by a roaring fireplace with ample firewood standing at the ready, anticipating the gourmet English breakfast that will be waiting for you the following morning.

2) Brick House Farm, Buntingford

Want to stay on an actual working farm during your getaway to the English countryside? The appropriately named Brick House Farm will be an inspired choice for those seeking to check this desire of their bucket lists, as it mixes the elegance of a top line bed and breakfast with the authenticity of a farm that runs in the way it has for generations.

The agricultural bounty of this property inevitably finds it way into the first meal of the day, served in a lovely garden for one of the more romantic moments you will experience if you are traveling with your significant other.

Additionally, if the summer weather should get a touch sweltering, the on-site pool will grant the opportunity for refreshment, so don’t forget to pack a swimsuit!

3) Cherry Trees Bed and Breakfast, Chipping Campden

Situated smack in the midst of the Cotswolds, the Cherry Trees Bed and Breakfast makes for a great base to explore this region while having a place that feels like home to go back to at the end of the day. Located within easy walking distance of the postcard perfect country town of Chipping Campden, you won’t have to go far for many of your sightseeing adventures.

When the time comes to head back to this accommodation, you’ll love the daily tea and cookies, luxurious shower and bath in your ensuite, and the local knowledge and companionship of your hosts, Angie and Steve.

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Whistle stops on the Trans Siberian Railroad that you won’t forget

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photo by CC user InvictaHOG on wikimedia

While many romanticize the process of traveling on the Trans Siberian Railroad, many people don’t realize how tedious spending seven days and nights on a train can be. Break up your trip by visiting the following whistle stops along the way…

1) Suzdal

A short trip from Moscow (relatively speaking), Suzdal will make a great first stop along the Trans-Siberian Railway, as it is a small town that has the distinction of having the most churches per capita in the country.

Preserved by the government as is dating back from Soviet times, those looking for a peek into Russian country living will be in for a treat here, as elderly women washing clothes by hand down by the river, loose livestock wandering through the streets are common sights here. Try some medovukha (a cider made from honey) but watch out for fakes – ask a local where you can find the real stuff.

2) Perm

Getting deeper into the vast Russian interior, the Siberian city of Perm may not make a favorable first impression due to its industrial appearance, but its location in the foothills of the Ural Mountains make it a great hub to enjoy a variety of recreation options year round.

Skiing, hiking and whitewater rafting are just a few activities of which you can partake, while those that are less athletically inclined can indulge in the city’s rapidly growing arts scene, which includes frequent events and a number of excellent museums and galleries.

3) Tomsk

While Siberia is a wild and interesting place, it can be hard to find a person with which an intelligent exchange can be had. Tomsk is the exception that rule, as this university city of a half million people offers much in the way of cafes, culture and boisterous nightlife.

4) Lake Baikal

Being one of the most famous natural attractions on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Lake Baikal will nonetheless surprise you with its deep blue hue, which is a shade produced by being the deepest fresh water lake in the world.

This 1,637 metre deep, 636 kilometre long rift lake contains over a fifth of the world’s drinkable water (in most places, you can drink right out of it, as its purity approaches distilled water). Camping, diving, boat trips, fishing and other outdoor activities are possible here, so take your time in this natural paradise.

5) Ulan-Ude

When it comes to religion, most associate Russia with the Orthodox Church, as its onion-bulb cathedrals are practically one of its national icons. However, Buddhism has a strong presence in the city of Ulan-Ude, a city founded in Asiatic Russia due to its proximity to well-worn trade routes with Mongolia and China.

Get the lowdown on how this faith is practiced within Russia at Rimpoche Bagsha, a relatively new temple on a hill overlooking the city. Also, the world’s largest head statue of Lenin can be found here … so you could see that if Buddhism isn’t your thing.

Skiing in the Pyrenees: Three Outstanding Mountains in Three Countries

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photo by CC user libargutxi on Flickr

When the topic of snow holidays is brought up in relation to Europe, most conversation revolves around the Alps, which is the massive mountain ranges that winds its way across much of the continent. Equally breathtaking, but much less talked about are the resorts that dot the Pyrenees, which is the range that divides France and the rest of Europe from the Iberian Peninsula.

While it is not as glamorous a place as the Alps, those seeking a more authentic and affordable snow holiday will love skiing in the Pyrenees (or snowboarding, as the case may be). If you are seeking a trip along these lines, these three resorts in three separate nations will make this winter the most memorable yet!

France: Cauterets

Located far away from the Alps not just in distance but in attitude as well, the laid back slopes of Cauterets in the French Pyrenees will charm you where the often impersonal mega resorts fall short of the mark.

Recent winters have seen an abundance of snow fall in these hills, so do not be fooled by this resort’s southerly location in France. While pistes here are tamer than in the steeper Alps, Cauterets more than makes up for this with the absence of crowds available to pillage the powder caches that build up through the course of an average winter here.

Being known primarily throughout France as a spa town, the perfect apres ski activity awaits physically exhausted skiers and boarders, as the hot springs that dot the area will sooth your aching muscles after a day of inspired exertion.

Andorra: Pas de la Casa

Never touched a ski or snowboard in your life, but want to change that this winter? A little short of money after blowing your wad updating your wardrobe for the upcoming cold season? If so, a ski holiday at Pas de la Casa will be of great interest to you.

Being the biggest ski area in this micro mountain nation, this resort has the facilities to serve you well, but the tame slope gradients make it a friendly place for neophytes, novices and intermediate snowsports enthusiasts to build and upgrade their skills without fear of getting seriously hurt.

Spain: Formigal

Being one of the more southerly nations in Europe, Spain’s name does not get mentioned as much in skiing and snowboarding circles, but with the mighty heights of the Pyrenees on its northern border, it does have its share of ski resorts for those looking to make the most of the snow in winter here.

One of the most fun of these resorts in Formigal, and while its relative obscurity compared to the rest of Europe ensures that the dominant language here is Spanish, it allows you to pair your ski holiday with an opportunity for a cultural exchange with native Spaniards that come here enjoy the snowy tops of some of their haughtiest peaks.

Mouthwatering Street Food in Istanbul You Must Try

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With the Bosphorous comprising the geographic border between Europe and the Middle East, the cultural traditions of the West have met those of the East over the eons, creating a cuisine in the Turkish megalopolis of Istanbul that has become world famous among foodies.  The variety of dishes has something for everyone including wonder meats, vegetarian dishes  and plentiful seafood from the stretching coastal regions of of Turkey.

Club Med Kemer

Turkish Coastal Views in Kemer – Image Credit

We’ve an image below from the client. It is a bit out of place if the whole article is FOOD FOOD FOOD focused. If you could expand your first paragraph just a little and talk more about coastal influences (the image below is the coast so would perfectly fit this) and other geographical influences to Turkish cuisine. Maybe they were invaded by X people at Y time and this influenced the cuisine? Bit of history would be good.

With simplicity being a trademark of meal preparation in Turkey, many worthwhile dishes can be sampled on the streets at a fraction of the price one would pay in a sit-down restaurant. All one has to do to have a heavenly street food experience in Istanbul is to follow the locals to the most popular stands throughout the city.

Which specific dishes are worth your time?  While we encourage you to experiment with anything that strikes your fancy, the following dishes represent the heart of street food in Istanbul, so if you’re looking for a gastronomic education in what a typical citizen of this international city eats, you can’t go wrong with the following foods…

1) Kebap

Let’s start with a dish that you might know already – while it almost seems to be like a cliché to have this, Kebap is such a national favorite that this list would be incomplete without mentioning it. The locals know how to spice this grilled beef, mutton or chicken patty so that you’ll crawling back to stands that sell them throughout your time in Istanbul.

2)  Simit

Do you have a love affair with bread and pastries? Keep an eye out for a stand hawking Simit. Known colloquially as a Turkish bagel, this irresistibly tasty bread is dipped in molasses and coated with sesame seeds, and is typically stacked high on many pushcarts that make the rounds throughout Istanbul’s neighborhoods during the morning hours.

3) Nohut Dürüm

If your tastes around breakfast time verge towards the savory rather than the sweet, finding a street food cart in Istanbul that serves Nohut Dürüm will satisfy your taste buds. Consisting of pide bread filled with chickpeas that have been stewed overnight, the flavors from this cooking technique will not disappoint.

4) Lahmacun

Described by travelers as a “Turkish pizza” of sorts, Lahmacun will make for a handsome lunch for those intrepid enough to seek it out.  A thin piece of pide bread is coated on its surface with ground meat, onions, tomatoes and various other spices, guaranteeing a lively and filling meal from the first bite to the reluctant last.

5)  Balık-ekmek

Those that would prefer a sandwich and/or want to sample the bounty of the sea done Turkish style will do well by ordering Bahk-ekmek. Fresh fish brought in from the Black Sea and/or the Sea of Marmara will be grilled before your eyes, and then stuffed inside a generous hunk of bread, making for a meal you won’t soon forget!

Experiencing the Best Attractions in Budapest

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This year, you were much too busy between getting settled into your new job, or moving into your brand new home to take a trip this summer.  However, now that the dust has settled, you are finally ready to use some of your banked time to head out and see more of the world. Read the rest of this entry

Living Like A Local In Barcelona

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Barcelona is an amazing city to see as a tourist, but there is much more appeal if you dig in and commit to living in this place like a local. The standard sights can be exhausted in a matter of days, but the hidden gems found within Barcelona’s numerous barrios will keep you walking, eating, and discovering for weeks on end.

In order to take advantage of this, it is vital that you spend time living like a local in Barcelona. The following guide will help you uncover the hidden spots that would otherwise not be found by those in town for a fleeting visit, so if you want to pack your bags and head to one of the most stylish cities in Spain afterward … good! You’ll be much better off for it.

Let’s get started!

Find an awesome neighborhood

There are many uber cool places where one can base themselves during their extended stay in Barcelona, of which the most desired is Gracia. The feel of this portion of these seething metropolis is more like a town than a city, which isn’t hard to understand once you realize that it was a town when it was swallowed by the rapidly expanding city on its doorstep.

Trendy youth love the style of this area, as well as El Born, which boasts no shortage of stylish boutiques, restaurants and high fashion shops. The beach is within walking distance from this well-located sector of the city, making it all the more desirable.

Dine where Barcelonans dine

Don’t light your money on fire at the overpriced restos in the tourist districts, as there are plenty of amazing dining options in other portions of Barcelona where value for money is much better. Can Eusebio is an excellent place on Vila i Vila where the tapas are much more generous and delicious than in the tourism areas, as the crowds on Fridays attest.

Don’t want to venture far from the beach, but still want to nosh like a local? Just five minutes away on Carrer Doctor Trueta is Savigovi, a canteen-style eatery that serves amazing lunch meals for under ten Euros!

Do what the locals do

As mentioned earlier, the main sights in Barcelona will last you for maybe a week at the most. After that, the local wonders of this eclectic city are yours to discover. Start by having a picnic in Parc de la Ciutadella, with your lunch items being procured from an earlier visit to Mercat de la Barceloneta, where an abundance can be found.

After a slow and satisfying meal, take cover from the intense afternoon sun to see the Museo del Modernismo Catalan, a new museum dedicated to the bleeding edge of the visual arts in Catalonia.

Discovering Dutch Culture: 3 Unmissable Historical Attractions in the Netherlands

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Occupying a particularly historical corner of Western Europe, the Netherlands holds its fair share of historic treasures within its compact borders. From the times of the Roman Empire, through the Middle Ages and countless wars to the present, this country has many sites waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveler.

With farmland that has been tended to for close to 2,000 years, historic districts that have either survived bombardment in the wars of the 20th century or have been lovingly restored, and a people that values their existence, there are places here that you shouldn’t miss in the Netherlands on your next Euro trip.

Even if you only have a few days in this tiny Low Country, these three historical attractions in the Netherlands will have you coming away from this place feeling like you did it justice on your first visit. Let’s explore them together!

Tour the classic windmills of Kinderdijk

If there’s one icon that people inevitably associate with the Netherlands, it’s the windmill, and we’re not talking about the modern variety that generates renewable energy. Our minds instead take us back to the days where their wooden precursors provided the necessary energy to pump water out of the surrounding land, as the nearby river and high water table had caused problems with soaking wet fields in prior centuries.

One of the windmills in the Kinderdijk area, recognized by UNESCO for its cultural significance to the history of the Netherlands, can be viewed from the inside (Museummolen), and rest can be viewed from their exteriors via a leisurely bike ride through the pancake-flat countryside that dominates much of the area.

Visit the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam

The worst wars in the history of humanity raged through much of the first half of the 20th century, and in Europe, the Netherlands was in the middle of it all. The nation fell to Nazi Germany in 1940, and suffered on a much larger scale than neighboring nations when it came to the horror of the Holocaust, as it lost 75% of its Jewish population. Anne Frank and her family were among those targeted, but they managed to hide from the Gestapo for most of the war thanks to their sympathetic neighbors. They hid them in a series of hidden rooms at the rear of a canal house in the middle of Amsterdam, which concealed them for two years until an anonymous tipster blew their cover.

Thanks to the popularity of Anne Frank’s diary that has found amidst the strewn remains of their former hiding spot, this space eventually became the Anne Frank Museum, which expands more on her and families’ lives, and has exhibits that tell the story of other persecuted peoples around the world.

Walk the medieval streets of Utrecht

Founded as a fort by the Roman Empire in 47 AD, Utrecht has a lengthy history that tells its story visually via the copious quantities of medieval era buildings found within its city limits. The Dom Tower, built in the 13th century, is the tallest church steeple in the nation, with the view from its 112 metre high perch being nothing short of breathtaking. On the other end of the scale, one of the world’s first houses built in the modernist style (Rietveld Schroder House, built in 1924) can be seen here, a fact which speaks to the diversity of structures in this vibrant Dutch city.