Top 5 Walks in Europe

Top 5 Walks in Europe
Top 5 Walks in Europe

Europe is a continent of many, vastly different landscapes and climates. From the warm Mediterranean to, dark forests in Germany and dramatic cliffs in Scotland. Therefore choosing the best location to walk in isn’t always that easy, you are spoilt for choice! Ask yourself what you want from the holiday, are you looking for a sunny warm climate, or a bracing, dramatic experience?

Either way, here is a selection of some of the best walks in Europe:

Hadrian’s Wall. In the North East of England, Hadrian’s wall is one of the UKs many World Heritage Sites. Walking the full length of the wall will take about 5 – 6 days but there are many places to stay along the way and many pubs to sample the local ale in!

The Loire Valley. The Loire Valley in France is an exceptionally beautiful area and this is a very comfortable walk with many places to stay along the way. It is no wonder that it is known as the garden of France with numerous World Heritage Sites along the way. Most of the tracks are paved and there are several notable attractions along the way including the lovely town of Azay-le-Rideau.

The Knoydart Peninsula. This is a walk for those who enjoy exploring rugged and remote places. It is a unique place as it is part of Scottish mainland yet can only be accessed by the sea. On the peninsula there is also Scotland’s most remote pub, making the walk all the more worthwhile!

Swiss Alpine Pass. This is Switzerland’s classic hike, crossing 16 mountain passes and taking 18-20 days it is one for the fit only, although you can cheat slightly using chairlifts and other modes of transport in places. The weather can be changeable and the terrain rough but the vistas are stunning, as you would expect. When you complete it you can also brag that you have walked across Switzerland.

Besalu to Olot. In Catalonia, Spain there are some of the best cliff edge walks in the world. This route will take you from the beautiful medieval town of Besaul all the way to Olot. Along the way are some spectacular cliff edge walks with drops of up to 500m all against the back drop of dramatic volcanoes. It’s not all cliffs though, as you will walk through some stunning meadows and pastures, with plenty of places to stop for the delicious local cuisine along the way.

Tom is a keen walking enthusiast and loves walking holidays in Europe. 

Discover Manrique´s Lanzarote

Lanzarote is often wrongly regarded as just a sunshine holiday destination with little in the way to offer culturally. But such an assumption falls way wide of the mark – as the island is home to numerous museums and a host of attractions created by a famous artist called César Manrique, who was born on Lanzarote in 1919.

Lanzarote is located off the North West coast of Africa and as result enjoys year round sunshine and very little rainfall, making it ideal for a beach holiday. But away from the golden sands the island boasts a vibrant cultural life, much of it developed by Manrique during the 1960´s and 70´s.

Manrique was exhibiting his latest collection of paintings when tourism first started to take off here – but quickly retuned in order to ensure against the complete destruction of Lanzarote´s unique landscapes by unscrupulous property developers. Fortunately Manrique was able to call on friends in high places as his family were close to the island’s governor of the time Pepin Ramirez. He shared Manrique´s enlightened view that Lanzarote would be better served by developing unique visitor attractions that worked in harmony with the volcanic landscapes, instead of following the lead of other Spanish resorts and building high rise hotels and golf courses.

As a result the island today isn’t scarred by any high rise buildings or unattractive billboards at all. Manrique and Ramirez saw to this – drafting a law that prohibits the construction of any edifice taller than a Canarian palm tree. Strict planning controls also prevented the sort of resort sprawl so evident on the Spanish Costas, confining tourist destinations here to the south east coast.

As a result the raw natural beauty of Lanzarote has been left with room to breathe freely – and this approach is now paying dividends as more and more tourists seek to connect with the authentic and unspoiled nature of the island.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the north of Lanzarote where there are no tourist resorts whatsoever, just remnants of the islands agricultural past. Here you can explore delightful little villages such as Haria and Yaiza which retain all of their identity and traditions intact. As well as unspoilt coastal villages such as Arrieta, where a great beach hasn’t been scarred by the addition of any tourist accommodation.

Indeed anyone seeking to book Lanzarote villas or hotels will need to focus on the two main resorts of Playa Blanca and Puerto del Carmen, which is where the bulk of tourist beds are located. Puerto del Carmen is the older of the two resorts and revolves around its Old Town harbour area. Whilst Playa Blanca is located further so the south and enjoys better weather as a result.

Wherever tourists choose to stay they will find that Lanzarote remains a great holiday destination and one that is best explored by car. Car hire in Lanzarote costs from just €20 per day so it is also a cost effective means of getting around too.

Top 5 Food Festivals in New Zealand

As great as they are, there’s a lot more to New Zealand food than meat pies and fish and chips…  The country is home to an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats that thrive in the diverse but mild climate.  And with the addition of some creative and internationally-trained chefs, the national food scene is exploding.

In addition to innovative restaurants and cafes around the country, New Zealand hosts a number of festivals featuring food and drink.  Try one of these festivals for a true taste of New Zealand.

Marlborough Wine Festival

If you know anything about New Zealand’s wine industry then you’ve heard of the Marlborough region and their famous sauvignon blanc wines.  Due to Marlborough’s Mediterranean climate, the region is ideal for growing all kinds of grapes and the Marlborough Wine Festival offers you a great opportunity to sample these.

The festival also doubles as a fashion show.  So pull out your best dress and your finest pair of shoes.  Entry into the competition is free and there are some great prizes available to the best dressed men and women in attendance.  The festival is held in early February in the town of Blenheim.

Brightwater Food and Wine Festival

The Brightwater Food and Wine Festival, held in late February every year, is a staple of summer in Nelson.  Like neighboring Marlborough, the Nelson region benefits from a Mediterranean climate, making it an ideal area for agriculture and viticulture.

Not only are the basic ingredients fresh and delicious, but Nelson is home to a large number of artists and is known for the creative energy that pulses through the city.  The creativity extends to the kitchen, and many beloved Nelson restaurants hold stalls at the festival.

Kaikoura Seafest

A small coastal town, known worldwide as a whale watching destination, Kaikoura’s local cuisine revolves around seafood.  It’s appropriate then that every October the town hosts a large seafood and wine festival.

Make a marine-themed weekend of it and hop on a whale watching tour while you’re in town.  And don’t forget to visit the seal colony!

Blue, Brews and BBQs

Wine is the focal point of many New Zealand food festivals, but the country also produces some high quality beer.  In January and early February, Blues, Brews and BBQs celebrates local beer in three locations: Mt. Manganui, Hastings and Blenheim.

The ‘summer barbeque’ theme of the event is complemented by live performances of talented blue musicians.

Wildfoods Festival

Wildfoods is one New Zealand’s most famed food festivals.  Held annually in Hokitika, the Wildfoods Festival celebrates foods that may be a little too wild to make it regularly onto your dinner table.  Try huhu grubs, scorpions and sea kelp.  Every year the festival rolls out new strange and unexpected food.

The festival also doubles as a massive costume party, with a different theme every year.  Be sure to dress up!  The festival is held in March, so you have plenty of time to think of something to wear.

 

Author Bio: Whitney Cox is a New Zealand-based travel blogger who often writes about things to do in Nelson and other attractions around New Zealand.

Carnival in Barbados: Crop-over!

There are many reasons to visit the Caribbean. The chief ones most cited by holidaymakers and the travel industry include fantastic beaches, amazing weather, a laid-back pace of life, and some of the best resorts in the world.

One of the most successful cruise operators has the cheek to use the word ‘Carnival’ as their brand name. But, for those in the know, the sterile tourist environment of a cruise ship is about as far from a carnival as you can get. For the more curious traveller, who doesn’t want to stay locked away in a gated resort, or trapped on a floating shopping mall; the Caribbean islands have a lot more to offer.

So what about a real carnival? The laid-back, cheerful and basically sunny culture of Barbados has much in common with Trinidad & Tobago, and the island’s beautiful, booty-shaking, bombastic blast of a carnival is no exception.

The traditional English Harvest Festival with its roots in pre-Christian tradition provided the initial setting for carnival in Barbados, which was known for centuries as Harvest Home, then finally as Crop over. What used to be a one-day celebration that began the moment the last donkey-cart of sugar cane was brought in from the fields, has now become a five-week festival season which reaches its bacchanalian crescendo on Kadooment Day.

Despite these rustic British roots, Bajan carnival has grown more similar to that of Trinidad and Tobago. Today, Crop-over has the same central elements of pageantry and competition, with Calypso, Soca, costumes and dance, all amid some of the most spectacular street festivities outside of Rio de Janeiro.

Despite their similarities, the carnivals of the Caribbean islands all have a unique character of their own, and Barbados Crop-over is full of surprises. That ‘last cart of sugar cane’ has become the many elaborately decorated floats of the modern carnival parade, ranging from huge buses to festooned bicycles, each featuring fantastic designs depicting each Mas band’s theme. Among the island’s unique musical developments is Tuk, which evolved from a combination of British marching and African rhythms. Featuring whistles, kettle drums, bass drums and African beats in a true Bajan melting pot. Barbados is the only place in the world to witness this unique style of music.

Crop-over in and around Bridgetown is a varied and tumultuous festival, featuring such diverse events as spoken word, cookery festivals, the raucous parties of the main Soca competitions, and even the ‘Jump’ set in beautiful countryside outside the capital. Culminating in a massive party and road-march on Kadooment day on the first Monday in August, Crop-over easily rivals Trinidad, Rio or anywhere else. Again, there’s no clash of dates – so a carnival enthusiast can fit Barbados into their hectic schedule without missing any of their carnival favourites.

For its range of activities and variety of locations and experiences, there is nothing quite like celebrating Crop-over in the sunshine state of Barbados.

Gertrude Blunt is an independent travel writer and music freak based in the UK. Gertrude is currently planning her holidays in Barbados and looking forward to another amazing carnival.

Escape To Lanzarote This Summer

There are still plenty of god value deals available for anyone planning a late break this summer. With many travel companies and tour operators now seeking to offload over capacity. Creating real bargains for those who are able to jet off in the next couple of weeks.

Lanzarote is an ideal destination as the weather on this small Canary Island remains excellent well into the autumn months and beyond. Thanks to its location close to the Tropic of Cancer off the coast of West Africa. Flights to Lanzarote are also available cheaply from most UK airports, aiding independent travellers who like to build their own breaks online. Expect to pay around €200 return during September.

Accommodation in Lanzarote is also pretty affordable. A standard studio apartment in one of the main holiday resorts will cost from €180 per week. Which is the price per room and not per person. Whilst there are also thousands of Lanzarote holiday villas available for rent for anyone looking for something a little larger. Hotels on the island are also very reasonably priced, especially by comparison with some other Spanish island such as Ibiza and Mallorca. Head for Playa Blanca in the south to secure the best possible deal.

The island is very popular with tourists from the UK and Germany. Who collectively account for around 60% of all visitors. But still retains a strong Spanish feel, despite the fact that it is many hundreds of miles south of the Iberian Peninsula. As like the rest of the Canaries Lanzarote was conquered by the Spanish crown during the early 1400´s. Becoming an integral cog in the growing empire.

Today tourism dominates the islands economy and is concentrated in the three main tourist resorts of Playa Blanca, Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise. Whilst the north of the island is left pretty much untouched by development. Visitors will also find an island wide ban on high rise buildings in place, making it a pleasing destination visually.

Exploring is easy as Lanzarote is small, making it possible to drive from on end of the island to the other in under an hour. The volcanic region is the most popular attraction – where visitors can view hundreds of volcanoes up close. All of which are now dormant. Whilst the island is also home to some really pretty towns and villages, some of which such as Teguise are very historic. Boasting buildings that date back to the 1450´s.