Croatia – Greece Wellness Eco-Tourism and Health Itinerary

Balkan Albania Greece Travel Itinerary Plan Holiday Travel Advice Blog for November 2019

Balkan nature holiday 2019 is a popular bucket list item, and rightly so.
In the previous post, we looked at the senior nature travel starting in Croatia continuing to Montenegro. From Balkan Croatian beaches and Split 19th-century
 SPAs to Croatia islands with legendary sights from Roman times in Brac islands, to the best European beach 2019 in Croatia Pasjaca beach. 

  1. Split, Croatia
  2. Brac Island, Croatia
  3. Pasjača Beach, Croatia
  4. Vranjina, Montenegro
  5. Locven and Skadar Lake National Parks, Montenegro

In this article, we are continuing the travel through Balkans – you can visit Albanian and Greek nature parks, cities with Hellenistic and Roman heritage sites, with Adriatic Sea waters taking care of your health and Corfu and Patras in Northern Peloponnese being just in few hours reach to Athens. However, this guide is all about avoiding tourist crowds and getting the most out of Albania and Greece SPAs and nature parks with less populated yet still tourist-friendly infrastructure. The Balkan nature holiday 2019 road trip is starting from:

  1. Durrës, Albania
  2. Sarandë, Albania
  3. Corfu, Greece
  4. Patras, Greece

Balkan Albania Greece Travel Itinerary Plan Holiday Travel Advice Blog for November 2019

Albania and Greece Wellness and Health Itinerary

Albania is usually well known for its green nature, woods and blue pristine sea. But the health and wellness travel can go much further, as the country has lots to offer when it comes to pampering you, giving massages and world-class SPA experiences for a fraction you would spend elsewhere in Europe. As for Greece, the best way to take care of your mind and body to come back from vacation healthy and productive is to simply get enough vitamin D laying on the Greek island beaches, and diving in the pristine blue Ionian Sea.

Best Massage, Day SPAs and Wellness Centres in Albania for Balkan Nature Holiday 2019

As for the best wellness and day SPA centres in Albania, there are many to choose from. While quite many are located in the capital city of Albania, Tirana, there are several great relaxation possibilities in other cities surrounded by Adriatic Sea. 

If you are about to have a massage or enjoy a beauty routine by professional cosmetologist, we suggest staying a little longer in Albanian Saranda, or Sarandë, and book a day or two at French Beauty & Massage or Kaonia Wellness & Massage

As for other retreat options, there are many if you look beyond the Albanian cities and go for nature reserves and parks instead. Senior-friendly and accessible tourist wellness and spiritual meditation retreats are growing, but still hard to find. However, have a look at what the Italian and English-speaking Beachfront yoga retreat in Durres has to offer. Organic meals and yoga meditation practice daily can seriously up your tranquillity and make you ready to return home. Are you on the budget side? You can also go and volunteer in Albania to enjoy the luxurious nature without spending anything on accommodation.

Best Yoga and Spiritual Retreats in Greece

As for Greece retreats and wellness travel, travelling to the centuries-old health and wellness tourism spot may turn out to cost a little over what you would pay in Albania, but as long as you search well, there are many more offerings to English speaking people. Before booking your tickets for Greece, we therefore suggest checking out Corfu retreats with international yogini ashrams hosted every summer with travellers and yogis coming to achieve spiritual awakening from all over the world.

Balkan and Greek Unique Health and Wellness Travel Experiences 

Although therapeutical bathing and wellness retreats date back to prehistoric times with Babylonians and Egyptians practicing bathing rituals already long ago, the earliest descriptions of Western bathing practice come from Greece. Public baths, showers were meant for relaxation and personal hygiene, but the natural springs and tidal pools had a sacred power of healing, as told in Greek mythology.

Therefore, one of the must-to-do things when visiting Albania and Greece is to enjoy the natural springs and tidal pools, and if possible, also dive into the millennia-old Greek balneum bathhouse practices.

Travel to Durres.

Balkan Albania Greece Travel Itinerary Plan Holiday Travel Advice Blog for November 2019

Durrës, Albania: Balkan Nature Holiday 2019 Hotspot

To continue the last Balkan nature wellness road trip ending in Virpazar, Montenegro, the next destination is Durres in Albania. However, there is a lot to see in between – you should visit Buna River – Velipoja protected landscape and then have some quiet time for meditation into Kunë-Vain-Tale.

Buna River-Velipoja Protected Landscape in Albania, Velipojë

The Buna River, or Bojana, of the South Western Balkans is an important river containing the most important wetlands in Eastern Medittarean. To get the best views, we recommend hiking on the coastal wetlands. Not only you will see the relaxing waters of the river, but also the estuary of Drin, and the lagoon of Viluni. The gulf of Viluni running across the city of Velipojë alongside the Adriatic Sea is one of the most beautiful ones you will see.

How to get from Skadar (Shkodër) to Buna River Protected Landscape – Balkan Nature Holiday Destination 2019

To get from Skadar to Velipojë in Albania, it will take 40 minutes by car. There is no public transport, as the area is far from the main cities, but renting car in Albania will allow you to experience one of the best views and peaceful road trips in vacation.

Kunë-Vain-Tale Nature Park: Balkan Nature Holiday 2019 Destination

Balkan Albania Greece Travel Itinerary Plan Holiday Travel Advice Blog for November 2019The nature reserve Rezervati Kunë-Vain-Tale is something you do not want to miss on your way to Greece either. From the beautiful Illyrian deciduous forests to Mediterranean woodlands, the nature reserve is  one of the most biologically diverse areas in Albania. With more than 277 species of plants, 23 species of mammals, 196 species of birds, and many more insects and fish, there is always something new to see and learn. Take your yoga mat, hiking boots, a warm sweater and a hammock, and go explore the beautiful nature with lakes, walking paths and hardly any people in sight. After all, upon returning to work, you ust relax your mind. As Spanish proverb claims, How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward. Except for… afterwards you go to the beautiful Durres city in Albania!

Durrës, Albania

Durres in Albania is surely one of the most beautiful and historically rich cities you should visit in Albania. Being the second largest city, and the summertime resort paradise, it also has the largest port in the Adriatic Sea, and connects well with Italy and Greece. No matter your destination, when coming to Durrës, you should visit the ancient remains. Although there are not many left from the Ancient Roman times, the Durrës Amphitheatre built in the 2nd century AD is definitely worth a visit, but you will find all types of architecture in Durres. Starting from Illyrian to Greek, Roman and even Italian architecture, Durres is definitely worth a stay for a day or two. Make sure to go to Royal Villa of Durrës, among other museums.
Durres SPA scene is offering many different possibilities, from Palace Hotel & Spa, Durazzo Resort and other luxurious options, to more laid-back, natural atmosphere of Durres beach and nearby city guest houses where you can relax and take a bath in the Adriatic Sea,

Balkan Albania Greece Travel Itinerary Plan Holiday Travel Advice Blog for November 2019

Vjosë-Nartë – Balkan Nature Holiday 2019 Destination

To go further from Durres and arrive at Vjose Narte, you will ride through the beautiful Divjaka-Karavasta National Park. The nature park has the largest lagoon in Albania, and one of the largest ones in the Mediterranean Sea. The Karavasta Lagoon, in Albanian: Laguna e Karavastasë is the must-see for birdwatchers in Autumn, and definitely a good place to camp and enjoy nature in October.
Once in Vjose Narte, though, you will find the Narta Lagoon, and the famous “Land of Eagles and Castles” at its brightest. Ecotourism is huge in Albania, and Balkans overall, but it is even more important for the Bjose Narte and other coastal regions. Still unspoiled by tourism wave, the region is the best place to go for eco-tourism enthusiasts and slow travel supporters.

Vlorë

Without Vlora or Vlorë , the Albania travel destination guide would not be complete. Lying on the foothills of the Ceraunian Mountains at the Strait of Otranto, the city was founded long ago as an Ancient Greek colony and was the birthplace of Albania in 1912. While you are welcome to visit and see museums, and lie in the beach to catch some sun, the Gijpe Canyon, Zvërnec Island and House if Ismail Bej Vlora will add to your experience of Vlora. The bay of Vlora is also considered the frontier between Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The island of Sazan so close, it may be a good idea to go there for a couple of hours. Vlora weather is one of the best in Albania, and you cannot really go wrong when there are 300 sunny days per year.

Travel to Sarande Albania for Balkan nature holiday 2019.

Sarandë Albania Travel 

To get to Sarande, we first recommend you pass the Mount Cika close to Vlora city. Hiking Llogara National Park to the peaks if Cika Mountain Maja e Çikës, at 2,044  will give you great views to the surrounding area and Albanian Riviera.

Arriving at Sarande, however, you should start with some historical sights. From the medieval 

Lëkurësi Castle to Monastery of 40 Saints, there are many things to do in Sarande apart from taking a stroll around the beach or booking a yacht to see the city from far away in the sea.

Balkan Albania Greece Travel Itinerary Plan Holiday Travel Advice Blog for November 2019

Travel to Corfu Greece.

From Sarandë to Corfu Greece

Getting from Sarandë to Corfu island in Greece is more than affordable when you go from Albania. The service is run every day and takes no more than 30 minutes costing you EUR 24. You can book your ticket via Ionian Seaways before going. 

Corfu in Greece will present much different way of relaxation, and you can expect to be one of the many tourists here, but enjoying slightly different health and wellness retreat in Corfu will make take your wellbeing trip to the next level. Massages, day spas and wellness centres in Corfu Greece are widespread, and you can get one of the best saunas, massages and SPA services in Europe for a good price on the idyllic coastal SPAs. From naturopathy to yoga and massage, the healthcare in Corfu is as diverse as its past.

Travel to Patras, Greece for your Balkan nature holiday 2019.

From Sarandë to Patras Greece

If you struggle with seasickness, but visiting Greece in October 2019 is on your bucket list, then there are both buses available. You can get to Patras from Sarande in 4-hour drive. The fuel cost 45€ – 65€ will surely cover and beat the cost of tickets to Corfu island, especially if you are going on vacation with your family. However, Patras city is quite large, and while you may relax visiting museums and remains, the beachside and nearby area are metropolitan. However, you can go to  Roman Odeon and visit Voundeni Mycenaean Cemetry. By the way, the three skeletons have lain there for at least 3,500 years!

 

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Lobos island ferry hotels and travel permit Travel tips

Sojourn to Lobos Island, Spain: Why is it the New Mallorca for Nature Holidays in Spain

Lobos island ferry hotels and travel permit Travel tipsLobos island ferry hotels and travel permit Travel tips Cuddlynest blog

Lobos Island, or Isla de Lobos, is a small island you probably have not heard much about, apart from the fact that it is a part of the Canary island archipelago just about 100 km west of Morocco. But more interesting about the warm climate, the famous Playa de la Concha beach with its clear waters and hornitos is the nature preserve with one of the most diverse flora and fauna found in Europe. The uninhabited island, therefore, makes just about the perfect sojourn destination for those seeking to swim the pristine blue waters together with dolphins and wander around the Martiño lighthouse for sunset. Read on to understand what makes the island the perfect destination for couple weekend getaway and Spain island holidays.

Lobos Island – What to Expect

While Spain islands are well known for their playas, blue waters and crowded tourist attractions, and especially so are the Canaries, Lobos island differs in the offering quite a lot for those seeking natural beauty. From pristine blue beaches with white sand to rocky cliffs for those who seek for more adventure, to loads of fish and yellow-legged gulls, you can observe around 130 plant species in less than 5 km2 area. If you fancy some fairy-tale beauty, be ready to spot the Shearwater Cinderella, and climb mountainous trails. The natural beauty, interesting geology, and huge biodiversity make the island a great tourist destination.

Lobos Island History

Lobos Island was named after a large number of sea wolves, or monk seals, that once lived there. The island has preserved its natural beauty throughout the centuries, only recently attracting inhabitants, mostly nature lovers, and geologists from all over the world.

Located just around 100 km from Morocco, it was once a temporary part of the Roman Empire. However, Romans were here only seasonally, establishing a seasonal settlement to obtain the purple dye. In the 15th century, the island served as a base for the French explorer Jean de Béthencourt in his conquest of the near Canary Island Fuerteventura. However, the only inhabitants of the island in modern times up until 1968 were the lighthouse keeper and his family, who were operating Faro de Lobos lighthouse at the Northern tip of the island. In 1982, the island was the first of the Canaries which has a special park designed as a nature area.

When Spanish discovered the island, these were the only inhabitants. A lot has changed since, but nature is still dominating. The best part of being a visitor to Lobos Island is the fact that nature is not commercialized yet, and you can hike the trails and watch sunsets right from the cliff without hordes of tourists behind you. So – catch it while you can! 

Lobos island ferry hotels and travel permit Travel tipsLobos island ferry hotels and travel permit Travel tips Cuddlynest blog

The Canaries, in Isla de Lobos style

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria municipality, under which the Isla de Lobos lies, is scientifically enjoying the “best climate in the world”, sporting the hot desert climate which is well balanced with the cool Canary current.  Lobos Island, however, with its mix between the white sand and volcanic origin is one of the most amazing destinations for sojourning couples for a weekend.

What makes it different from other surrounding islands, like Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Palma, or La Gomera, is the fact that the islet of Lobos is one of the flattest ones, with the highest peak on Caldera de Lobos raising only 126 meters above the sea level. Compared to Teide in Tenerife, or Roque de Los Muchachos in La Palma, it is much easier for visitors to climb.

As for hotels, hostels and tourist infrastructure, you can stop worrying about crowds. Not entirely abandoned, the island is also not overcrowded, lying in the middle of the perfect balance of tourist-friendly infrastructure and transport connections, tours and fun activities to do, and the wanderlust abandoned vibe.

What to Do on the Isla de Lobos, Fuerteventura

Keeping one entertained on Lobos Island is no harder than taking a walk to the mountaintop. However, there is much more to Lobos to do. From tours of dolphin watching to local music concerts, to even day trips to surrounding islands, Lobos deserves more than just a mere 1-day visit.

Best Hiking Trail: What to See in Lobos

The island is a good option for those seeking an easy-to-hike route with the relatively new (2 million) volcano being the highest point at 127 meters. We would still suggest you bringing some extra water bottles in your bag, as the sun and desert climate is especially tiring if you are not from the South. You can explore the island form an easy and largely flat path with stairs going around the island, and reaching the peak of Montana de Caldera, you will get to know the whole island. Remember that for the efforts of its biodiversity maintenance, it is forbidden to step off the walking path, so keep on the road!

The path will guide you through the whole island. From the Greek-looking El Puerterito houses with white-washed walls and romantic, narrow streets. The trail takes you further to 8-meter high agave plants. If you wish to lay down and just enjoy the views, catch some sun, stop at the Faro de Martino beach with white sand and hornitos, small pointy hills that were once crater pipes. It is located at the Northern tip on the island, but when returning to the main path, you can reach the sand dunes at the Playa de la Concha beach, with its sandy dunes and blue waters. Before returning to

Some practical information:

  •         Free toilets are available at the Centro de Visitantes (tourist information center)
  •         It is forbidden to step off the walking pathway
  •         You can learn more about history at the visitor center
  •         If you are on wheelchair or with a stroller, the Montana de Caldera is not accessible

Best Mountain Biking Activities to Do in Lobos Island

To get around the small island faster, you can also rent a bike (or take one with you on your ferry when you come to the island) and cycle around and explore the island with less effort.

Easy Riders offer 5 types of bikes, from heavy-duty, mountain X-trail to road bikes, so you can choose one yourself for €10 per day. You can cycle the same China Cove Trail on  Lobos Island to save time getting around and choose the place you want to spend the day at. Cycling around te island is the perfect option if you are just visiting the island for a day.

Best Culture Events and Festivals

As the isle of Lobos is hardly inhibited and specializes in nature preservation, the only concerts and music festivals nearby are held on the 2 kilometer-close Fuerteventura island. If you happen to visit in June or July, make sure not to miss the Canarian fiestas and festivals, such as Fiesta de San Juan (read: Hogueras de San Juan in Spain) on the last week of June to celebrate the Midsummer solstice or the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, held on seaside towns on the week of July 16th. If you are coming to Fuerteventura on other seasons, make sure not to miss out by visiting the visitor website of the island.

Best Paid Tours to Lobos Island

Best tours in Lobos island include a day tour from Lanzarote to on Tuesdays and Thursdays, picking up travelers in Costa Teguise, Arrecife, Playa Honda, Puerto del Carmen, Puerto Calero, and Playa Blanca. 5 hours of wonders of the Canary Islands will cost you around €55.00 for adults and €38.00 for children up to 11 years.

Likewise, you can take a catamaran trip from Fuerteventura, or watch dolphins on a Lobos half-day dolphin watching trip. The dolphin route includes the shuttle to the port, a boat tour on the super-fast Biosfera Jet, picnic-lunch and drinks while looking for dolphins. The tour starts at Lanzarote where the shuttle bus picks you up in the center of the city, traveling to the Marina Puerto del Carmen. The 1.5-hour boat ride will take you to Lobos, to explore the small village and its natural pool, serving you drinks and picnic, and taking you back to the Marina Rubica in Playa Blanca where a shuttle takes you back to the hotel.

Lobos island ferry hotels and travel permit Travel tipsLobos island ferry hotels and travel permit Travel tips Cuddlynest blog

Lobos Island Hotels and Places to Stay

Staying in Lobos island is impossible, but the closest stays in Lanzarote will make it easy to go and visit Lobos island taking a shuttle bus and hopping on a tour ride. There are several sustainable nature and eco-conscious sustainable hotels near Lobos island to choose from, among more generic ones.

Where to stay – Nature Sustainable Hotels

Finding a sustainable stay on the nearby Lanzarote or Fuerteventura islands is not much of a hard task. You can book camping and spend a warm night under the blue sky, or booking an apartment in Canary Islands just for yourselves.  To travel more sustainably while at the hotel, we suggest going by the simple tips for sustainable travel.

What to Eat in Isla de Lobos

On the Isla de Lobos, there are no restaurants, but we suggest going all natural and picking your own fruits in the morning before you go on a day trip to Lobos island. Some Canary-specific fruits are bananas, or papaya. We also suggest that you eat gofio for breakfast to keep the hunger at bay until your daytime snacks.

We also suggest you try out all almond-based desserts – make sure not to miss Principe Alberto!

What to Drink in the Canary Islands?

What to order when you are visiting the Canary Islands? Go for the local wine, or get a Barraquito,  condense milk with liquor. Sometimes, it is served as a coffee with liquor, but to try the real thing, go for the sweet Canarian tooth.

Also, when you finish your meal, do not skip the Ron con Miel. Most places will serve you this rum with honey after a meal. Made from liquor or cane molasses, it is a typical drink from the Canary Islands. What makes Ron con Miel to be served as a dessert after meals is its sweetness – the drink has at least 2% of the honey in it! 

Best Romantic Restaurants for Lunch in Fuerteventura

Are you starving but want to make the right choice for lunching out? Fuerteventura offers some good restaurants for those looking for a light, inexpensive but nevertheless great meal. To make the most of the natural Canary vibe, we suggest you visit Casa de la Naturaleza for lunch.  Operating from 10 am to 5 pm, this restaurant is housed at a fantastic old farmhouse, serving everything from beer to Canary island wine, to almond cakes and Canarian – not Spanish tapas. Overlooking the valley, you will surely have a good rest and meal here during a day.

Lobos island ferry hotels and travel permit Travel tips

How to Get to Lobos Island, Spain

As for practical matters, the most sustainable (and surely most romantic way) to get from the mainland to Lobos island is by taking a ferry. If you are used to kayaking in the sea, you can get from Fuerteventura to Lobos with no problem.

To get to Fuerteventura, you have several options. We suggest taking a  train or driving a car to Huelva, and then taking a ferry to Arrecerife (ferries go once a week) and then to Fuerteventura Puerto del Rosario. However, if you are very tight on budget, direct flights may turn out to be a better choice, saving you over €100 one way.

Visiting Lanzarote is slightly cheaper if you go by train and ferry via Cordoba, but flights from Sevilla and Malaga cost around the same as to Fuerteventura. In the low season, you can get to Lanzarote for as little as €75, but the best time to travel for the cheapest tickets in October.

How to Get a Permit to Visit Lobos Island

To visit Lobos island, you will have to get a permit through an online system to save the island from crowds. The capacity of the island is limited to 200 simultaneous visitors. Therefore, before planning to go to Lobos, go to Cabildo and Fuerteventura online page and obtain a permit to visit Los Lobos.

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Vatican Smallest City States Ministates Microstates in Europe

European City-States: The Tiniest Europe Countries to Visit

Ever wondered if Andora, Monaco and San Marino are states or cities? You have all rights to be confused. Europe is a home for 51 independent states. While some of them historically lead the world economy like Germany and the UK, some are well known for law, like France and Sweden, and some like Norway is blessed with natural resources.

But what is it about the smaller states? 

The Micro Monarchies in Europe

There are 6 ministates or microstates in Europe. Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City are all small countries, but not necessarily states as we know it. In fact, Malta is a traditional example of a sovereign entity under international law other than a state. 

But before you try locating these countries on the map, read further and see what the tiniest countries in Europe have to offer! Andorra and Liechtenstein sit in the mountains in the heart of Europe, while Monaco and Malta enjoy the Medditarean beaches. 

Europe Smallest Countries Destinations Monaco Liechtenstein Malta Andorra Where to Go What to Visit for free and when Vatican City

Vatican City State is the smallest of all states in Europe. Sitting in the middle of Europe, it has an area of just 0.17 sq mi. Ruled directly by the Pope of Catholic Church, it is the of the papal states that once constituted Italy. After unification in the 19th century, it is formally a part of Kingdom of Italy, while politically ruled by the Pope. Enclosed entirely by Rome, there are 600 to 700 people living in the Vatican. 

When to go to Vatican City? It is one of the top destinations all year round, but to beat the crowds, try going to the Vatican from Tuesday to Friday from 12:00 to 18:00. Make sure to allocate around 4 hours for your visit.

What to do in Vatican City for free? Visit St. Peter’s Basilica and walk around St. Peter’s Square for free. Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Dome are paid-entrance only.

Europe Smallest Countries Destinations Monaco Liechtenstein Malta Andorra Where to Go What to Visit for free and whenMonaco

Principality of Monaco with a territory of 0.78 sq mi comes the second smallest in the whole of Europe. Nevertheless, it boasts one of the world’s chicest beaches – a slice of the Côte d’Azur between Nice and the Italian border. Monaco-Ville is its capital, and you can learn more about it watching the famous 2014 Hollywood production. Grace of Monaco is directed by Olivier Dahan and starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly.

When to go to Monaco? April and October are the best months; the room rates are reduced and the weather is just spot-on.

What to do in Monaco for free? Visit the legendary Monte Carlo casino and walk in the Saint-Martin gardens.

Europe Smallest Countries Destinations Monaco Liechtenstein Malta Andorra Where to Go What to Visit for free and whenSan Marino

The Republic of San Marino comes the third by the area. What’ s more, it is is the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world. It was founded in 301 A.D. and is the last survivor of self-governing Italian communes from the Middle Ages. Located in the Valley of the Apennines, it has a  population of 30,000 people. 

When to go to San Marino? Go to San Marino in September to get to the Feast of San Marino (September 3 2019) and walk the mountain terrains, spotting wild rabbits and hedgehogs and other animals.

What to do in San Marino for free? Hiking is for free – and we definitely recommend it!

Europe Smallest Countries Destinations Monaco Liechtenstein Malta Andorra Where to Go What to Visit for free and whenLiechtenstein

Principality of Liechtenstein houses over 35,000 people. Located between Switzerland and Austria, it is a popular travel destination for winter sports and summer walks in the Alpine resort of Malbun.

When to go to Liechtenstein? It is that simple: you should go in the winter for skiing, and in summer for hiking in the Alps.

What to do in Liechtenstein for free? Walk around the quiet capital Vaduz and visit Liechtenstein Museums for free.

Europe Smallest Countries Destinations Monaco Liechtenstein Malta Andorra Where to Go What to Visit for free and whenAndorra

The Principality of Andorra boasts an area of just 181 sq mi. It has some of the finest skiing and hiking in the Pyrenees, plus a wealth of duty-free shopping. 

When to go to Andorra? Unless you want to go skiing (the ski season in December and ends in April), the best time to visit Andorra is from May to September.

What to do in Andorra for free? You can go hiking! It is a unique experience with breathtaking views to the Pyrenees.

Europe Smallest Countries Destinations Monaco Liechtenstein Malta Andorra Where to Go What to Visit for free and whenMalta

Sovereign Military Order of Malta is an archipelago of 7 islands. No wonder it has much larger population than other ministates (446,000) – it sits in the very middle of the Mediterranean Sea where the sun shines most of the year and people are happy.Europe Smallest Countries Destinations Monaco Liechtenstein Malta Andorra Where to Go What to Visit for free and when

When to go to Malta? Go to Malta in October to avoid the crowds.

What to do in Malta for free? Lay on the beach in Fomm ir-Riħ and walk the Valetta coastline from a group of boathouses to the city walls and bastions of Fort St. Elmo. Europe Smallest Countries Destinations Monaco Liechtenstein Malta Andorra Where to Go What to Visit for free and when

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Europe Smallest Countries Destinations Monaco Liechtenstein Malta Andorra Where to Go What to Visit for free and when

Travel Guide: Travel Tour de France Route July 2019

Tour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Travel Tour de France official 2019 route – read this article to learn about the best cultural sights along the famous competition route. 

Since the first race in 1903, the competition grew and gradually race extended around the world. Undoubtedly becoming the world’s biggest annual sporting event, today it unites road cycling fans, UCI professional sportsmen travelers to France alike. Cycling and competing in sports lies so deep in French culture and being that the race was only stopped for the war years. Here is where organizers are bringing fans, sports teams and enthusiasts in 2019. Added bonus? Read and discover French cultural heritage – the architecture, local sights and traditions.

Nimes France Travel Guide What to See Tour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Visit Nîmes Occitanie in Stage 16 Tour de France

Nîmes, often referred to as the French Rome, is a capital of the Occitanie region. The region is well known for its Southern beauty. Nimes city is enclosed with Medditarean from one side and the Cévennes mountains on the other, so you can have a swim in between race stages. 
What to do in Nimes?

From wandering around Jardin de la Fountaine 17th century parks with botanical gardens, romantic ponds, historic sculptures and Roman ruins, to visiting Arena of Nîmes, an amphitheatre built in 100 A.D., shortly after Colosseum in Rome, there is plenty to do in Nîmes. Even more if you fan about ancient architecture as much as speed, road and pedals.

Pont du Gard France Travel Guide What to See TTour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Visit Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard is the highest Roman aqueduct bridge, and one of the best-preserved. Why is it so important?  Apart from its ancient origin (built in the first century AD, it carried water over 50 kilometres. You can access it from Nimes, as it crosses Gardon River near the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard. Even before the global travel, it was a must-visit for European nobles going on Grand Tour around Europe. In fact, it is so popular even to this very day – you can find Pont du Gard on 5 euro banknote.

Tour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Visit Tour de France Stage 17 Gap, France

Visit Gap, France in July 2019! Gap is a French town on the intersection between Provence and Alps. Eclosed by mountains, its wildly beautiful with forests, wildflowers and wild animals will amaze you.

What to see in Gap, France in summer?

Visit chateau Domaine de Charance, which also serves as an information centre for Ecrins National Park.  It is located 1000 metres high and a 220 hectares large English style garden surrounds the main building. Here you can find a unique collection of old roses.
Enter the main building of  Domaine de Charance which houses Alpine Botanical Conservatory! Here you can learn about plants and rare flowers in the mountains. If lucky, you will even be able to take part in a guided tour to discover the national park flora!

Tour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Visit Embrun

Embrun, or formerly known as Ebrodunum, is a city that inspired the name of Canadian town in Ontario in 1856. What’s more, the town has one of the largest artificial lakes in Europe. The Lac de Serre-Ponçon is a must-see. Located 780 m high, the lake stretches 20 km in length and has a surface area of 28 km². You can also fish here. Fishermen come here for Tench, Arctic char, Common roach, Brook trout, and Grayling.

Tour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Visit Valloire on Tour de France Route 

Valloire in France is famous for its ski resorts. As we already wrote before French Alps are one of the best winter destinations, but even in summer months, you can hike the high mountains. If you crave adventure, though, the ski resorts Valloire-Galibier is next to the ski resort of Valmeinier, France. When calculating fr both ski resorts together,  70% of the Valloire/Valmeinier area is above 2,000 m. 

What to do in Valloire in summer? 

In July, you can take a cablecar to the top, and access the ski ring. You can also wander around the hike peeks and meet travellers. There are many, considering that La route des Grandes Alpes, the most famous European mountain route, is passing through Valloire.

Tour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Visit Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne

The city lies in the valley Maurienne, the valley of the River Arc. The city used to oversee Savoy back in the day, a fact that left many beautiful architectural sights around the city. Well-know for the ski resorts and winter attractions and activities for families and solo adventure travelers, the tow is much more quiet in the summertime. 

What to see in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne?

Go and climb Lacets de Montvernier, and see some art in between. You can also rent a bike here and get to the top faster. The region is rich in natural wonders, one of which Col du Chaussy. It is a sharp mountain edge with vistas – if you are around, do not miss it! It is a true challenge to cycle, but if you are brave, you can rent a bike and cycle the road dating back to 1934.

Tour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Visit Tour de France Route Tignes

Opposite to the previously mentioned towns, Tignes is a group of villages. Located near the Italian border, Tignes is a part of the Espace Killy ski area. In winter, villages are lively, with many skiers going out to pubs and shopping in charming little souvenir shops. In summer, you can walk trails, play golf and a access bike park. If you still want to ski, you can! Just go to Grande Motte glacier, France.

Tour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Visit Albertville 1992

Albertville gained world exposure when it hosted the Winter Olympics 1992. Since then, Arly river is famous for trail running infrastructure. If you wish to visit cultural sights and savour traditional high-quality French cheese, go for Tamié Abbey. It is a  Cistercian monastery operating since 1132. Today, it is a Trappist community of 30 monks and is world-famous for its cheese, Abbaye de Tamié.

Tour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Visit Val Thorens on Tour de France Route

In summer, Val Thorens offers trail running, swimming, nature hiking and minigolf. You can also cycle or enjoy family attractions on Speedmountain.

In winter, the town attracts mostly skiers. Three Valleys, Val Thorens have one of the largest skiing area in the world! What’s more, it is the highest ski resort in Europe, at an altitude of 2300 m.

Tour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Visit Rambouillet

If you go to Rambouillet, you definitely have to visit Château de Rambouillet. The 14th-century castle architecture took us aback, and it will you, too! After the palace, go and visit Haute Vallée de Chevreuse Regional Natural Park, a nature park with deers, and many other historical figures. In 1985, the park was specially designed for Parisians to spend some time in nature – its historical value has not changed since. Still craving nature? Swim at Étangs de Hollande and see the 18th-century Château de Saint-Hubert built by Louis XV in Perray-in-Yvelines. It was as a hunting residence back in 1758 and ever since.

Tour de France Cuddlynest Travel Tips Guides French Alps July 2019Finish Tour de France in Paris Champs-Élysées

As Tour de France finishes, the last stage ends at The Avenue des Champs-Élysées. 1.9 kilometres long and 70 metres wide, the avenue connects the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle. What to do in Paris? Well, that is a question hard to answer – let us share our Paris travel guide with you another time!

While you are still deciding what stage to join Tour de France, here are 3 fun facts.

3 Fun Facts About Tour de France:

  1. It was first held to increase the sales of a magazine.
  2. The youngest winner won right after the first race, in 1904
  3. More than 42000 water bottles will be used by 22 teams in this year’s race.

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Travel France Tour de France 2019 Travel Guide Cuddlynest Online Vacation Rentals

 

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10 Short Daytrips from Naples in Florida

Naples Florida Vaction Homes CuddlyNest Beach Houses Holidays Rentals CondosBest Day trips from Naples Florida

Naples Florida travel guide cannot be included in a single blog post. But you can go on a short day trip from Naples in just any direction. No matter your interests, the surrounding area is rich in history. Diverse leisure activities cater to both adventure junkies, foodies as well as art enthusiasts.

Day trips for Shopping near Naples Florida

If you want to bring back of visiting a real store having a chit chat with sales assistant while looking for the perfect scarf instead of chatting with a bot on Amazon or eBay, shopping can be a cure for the soul. There are several small shops located in  Naples you can visit for a heart-warming second-hand shopping experience, like Audrey’s, or True Fashionistas, but if you are looking for all-in-one shopping mall, your best bet is to go to Bonita Springs, or straight to the outlet in outskirts of the Naples city to Estero.

Bonita Springs

Gulf Coast beaches and parks, Little Hickory Island Beach Park and Bonita Beach Park, with its sand dunes, and the Northern Lovers Key State Park mare popular visitor hotspots in Bonita Springs, and rightly so. But this is not all; Bonita Springs, located 15 minutes ride away from Naples, also features one of the best shopping malls in the area.

Where to go? Springs Plaza has it all;  Promenade Store is for a unique shopping experience.

Estero

If you seek sales and want to get a new shirt in some of the best Naples outlets, Estero is a place to visit. From Coconut Shopping Mall Naples to Miromar Outlets with more than 140 designer and brand name outlet stores under roof, to smaller shopping malls, like Corkscrew Village Naples FL, Estero has it all.

Florida Naples Best Beaches for Family with Kinds Shelling Snorkelling Travel FL Naples Everglade Marco ISland Budget Luxury Vacation Homes CondosBeach Family Day Trips from Naples Florida

Naples Florida is famous for its The Naples Pier, stretching 1,000 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. While you shall not miss watching sunset there, also try to spot a dolphin in the morning! Visit the infamous Naples beaches with calm waters and fine white sand. In Clam Pass Park and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, there are several Naples getaways for family day trips near Naples FL.

Fort Myers

30 minute ride away, Fort Mayers is a fairly large town. It offers beautiful beaches and family leisure activities. Make sure to go to Fort Myers Beach which has both educational centres, The Ostego Bay Marine Science Center, showcasing local marine life, as well as leisure activities for both adults and kids, like parasailing in Estero Island and hiking in wildlife in Bowditch Point Park.

Sanibel Island and Captiva Island

Located a bit further, 45-minute drive away, the islands is a great place to go if your kids are of school age, as the sand is shell-strawn, and it takes a bridge to cross.

To get to Sanibel Island, you must go by Sanibel Causeway, which is a 3-mile long wooden bridge (toll: $6 for motor vehicles ($3 per additional axle), free for bicycles). When on the island, go and explore the wildlife and see the Sanibel Lighthouse.

As for Captiva Island, shelling is one of the most popular leisure activities for families. To relax, apart from collecting shells while watching the picturesque sunsets you can also go on a cruise to watch dolphins on the South Seas Resort, or learn to sail on Offshore Sailing School.

Florida Naples Best Beaches for Family with Kinds Travel FL Naples Everglade Marco ISland Budget Luxury Vacation Homes CondosWhat Historical UNESCO Places to Visit near Naples Florida

Immokalee

Meaning “my home” in the Seminole language, spoken by the ancient Calusa tribe who were the early occupants of the area, Immokalee Florida is a small town, filled with migrant workers from all over Latin America, and as such, a great place to visit to learn and explore the history of Florida. Fun and with great flair, the city offers authentic Mexican food, traditional farmer’s market and you can visit the Immokalee Pioneer Museum to learn about the history of Florida.
Want to go wild? Visit Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary to walk marshlands, birdwatch and see alligators in the swamp.

Florida Naples: Culture and Art Scene

Matlacha and Pine Island

An hour ride from Naples lies Matlacha and Pine Island. Just imagine a hippie dream of painted camper life, art all around and sun and beach to swim less than a few feet away. Sounds like a plan? Then go and visit Leoma Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens,  and Wild Child Art Gallery. Matlacha has its own nature reserve, and nature and art still rule the lifestyle here, Visit while you can!

Everglades City and the Florida Everglades

No wonder the city is enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage site; the

Located 45 minutes to an hour south outside of Naples, The Florida Everglades is one of the great natural treasures of not only the United States but of the world, with its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Founded in 1920s as the Collier County seat, Everglades City offers you kayaking, canoeing, experimenting with paddle boarding, or go fishing, but that is not all.

Florida Naples Fine Dining REstauurants Where to Eats Daytrips FL Naples Everglade Marco ISland Budget Luxury Vacation Homes CondosGourmet Travel Guide and Fine Dining in Naples Area Florida

Naples is one of the wealthiest cities in the US. It sports the second place just after New York in millionaires per capita. And naturally, where money flows, good food follows. Fine dining near Naples is not a problem, but there are some must-visits. Especially, if you are going on a gourmet journey!

Marco Island

Located 30-minute ride away, Marco Island can be a life-changing experience. Watching the sun collide with the waves and the blood orange sky. Nevertheless, after spending a day in Tiger Tail Beach or walking the Lagoon, you will enjoy the taste of good wine. Coupled with wine, freshly cooked vegetable dishes are the speciality in Sale e Pepe or Marek’s Restaurant.   

Cape Coral

Located about 31 miles north of Naples, Cape Coral offers it all. From Northern Italian restaurant Ariani Ristorante serving pasta (and steaks for its American audience) to Roadhouse Cafe offering private dining rooms and great service, to fondue place The Melting Pot,  you can allow yourself to go on a journey of taste.

Naples Florida: How to Get Around

To get around Naples, a car is a necessity. This is the only way to get to natural attractions, like  Everglades National Park’s Gulf Coast entrance in Everglades City. Drive the Interstate I-75 north-south known as Alligator Alley going between Naples Florida and Fort Lauderdale. U.S. 41, known as the Tamiami Trail, links Naples and Miami. REcommended for ones seeking a beautiful scenery is the Tamiami Trail, especially when driving through Everglades.

If you do not Have a Car, we recommend renting a car. You can also get around Naples taking the tourist two-hour tour trolley to get a feel of the city. Running daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., it will not, however, be a budget option, with tickets priced at $27 for adults and $13 for kids.

Where to Stay in Naples

Stay in vacation condo just like Bret Baier’s from FOX News Channel in Naples! Look up the best deals HERE.

 

And now, count again, Was it 10, or 9 places to visit?
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Best European Nature Festivals 2019

Looking for Europe Music Festivals August 2019? We too! Here is our guide.

Is the sun is shining out of the window leading you to restlessness waiting for the lunch break to escape the doomedness of sitting in front of your blue-lighted screen all day long? Even if the break is yet to come, you can freshen your mind already now, by taking a look at the amazing and diverse festivals in Europe this summer!

Image result for kolorado festival

Kolorado

Where? Hungary

When? June 19 -22

What? Music and arts

Kolorádó is a good mix of arts and music for the ones tired of the popular music offered in the most popular Hungarian summer festival Sziget. Kolorádó allows to escape the crowds of the city and rest for a couple of days in the nearby Sztrilich Scout Park. the festival is quite new, being hosted for the fourth time in 2019. You can stay in Budapest, but we encourage you to dive deep into the festival aura and stay in a hammock in the forest, or a special mini house built exclusively for the festival. Drawing, painting and other visual arts are on the plan, so be ready for self-expression!

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Ultra Europe

Where? Croatia

When? July 12 – 14

What? Music

Ultra is a  multi-venue outdoor electronic music festival that is a part, happening in one of the most beautiful beach locations in Europe, in Split. Ultra Music Festival’s worldwide expansion is a guarantee for good music and unforgettable electronic music dance experience in Croatia this summer. Be sure you do attend at least one Ultra in your life in one of its twenty host countries.

Image result for la linea festival

La Linea

Where? England

When? April 25 – May 5

What? Music

If you are into Southern rhythms, this one is for you. Best Latin music performances in the heart of London is precisely what La Linea Festival London offers to its attendees. Every year showcasing new artists, the festival invites singer-songwriters with futuristic sounds to the mecca of European culture every spring. If you are looking for fusion styles in music, this one is just for you. Check out where to stay in London – we have both shared rooms, apartments, or hotel rooms for the best rest after a long day of pleasing musical experiences.

Showcasing new artists and singer-songwriters with futuristic sounds and fusion styles, you can expect lots of class and fun.

Positivus

Where? Latvia

When? July 26 – 27

What? Music

Positivus is another gem for the ones looking for an immersive nature and music experience. Hosted in the idyllic location just by the sea, the festival has seen major growth since 2007. It will be a great choice for those looking for an alternative European destination, as it is the heart of Eastern Northern Europe, allowing you to visit Nordic countries and the Baltics on your way.

Image result for feel festival

Feel Festival

Where? Germany

When? July 11 – 15

What? Music and Dance

Feel festival is, just as described, for the ones who enjoy immersive experiences, feeling all aspects of a festival. Here you can camp almost directly on the beach, and visit Berlin before or after the festival, which is located by the Bergheider See 127km south of Berlin.

Image result for boom festival

Boom 

Where? Portugal

When? July 28 – August 4

What? Visual arts and music

Boom Festival is for the environmentally conscious ones enjoying the green forests and the wilderness of Portuguese nature. It is hosted every second year and won the Outstanding Greener Festival Award – the highest accolade of the four categories to be awarded, as a recognition for its environment and social program once again. Hosted according to periods of the Moon, and is one of the closest nature-immersive experiences you can possibly get while enjoying music and arts.

So now, when your coffee break is over, go and hit the productivity list. And, make sure to plan something amazing for your European summer adventure with CuddlyNest.

 

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Cuddlynest Blog Sark Channel Islands

Weekend in the Last Feudal State of Europe

Think feudal states are term straight out of history books? Then think once again. The last feudal state of Europe was brought to end only a little more than a decade ago. Read further to see what Sark Island in Guernsey, Channel Islands can offer and book your next stay in London, Sark and St Malo right away! 

The Sark Island, located between France and the United Kingdom, however, still makes the top destination for those willing to enjoy air free from vehicle fumes,  jump off the cliff and enjoy the best stargazing spot in the whole world. We got you? Read further and follow our 3-day itinerary, or plan your own!

 

How to Get to Sark

From London via train and ferry: go from London to Poole or Portsmouth via train and them take a Condor Ferry operated to Guernsey, afterward taking a Sark Shipping Company ferry from to Guernsey to Sark

 

From London via plane: Aurigny Air Services from London City Airport, London Gatwick, Stanstead, Blue Islands from London City and London Waterloo

 

From other cities in the United Kingdom via plane: Aurigny Air Services, Flybe and Blue Islands airplane companies operate from Bristol, East Midlands, Leeds, Edinburgh, Southampton.

 

From Continental Europe via ferry: there are ferries from France, St Malo in Normandy and Cherbourg

 

From Continental  Europe via plane: from France, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain and Italy there are flights operated by FlybeAurigny Air Services, and Blue Islands.

 

From America, Russia or other countries outside Europe it is best advised to take a flight to London Gatwick and then go further either via train and ferry or a  plane.

 

3 Day London, Sark, and St Malo Itentiary

We were starting our trip by visiting London. Although famous for Birmingham palace and Royal gardens, we enjoyed the Tate Modern museum and a bag of fish and chips while catching the sun in Hyde Park on Friday afternoon. Taking the early morning train on Saturday to Portsmouth, we arrived at the coast around 9 am.

 

As we got out of the train, the sun was already high. It took approximately 20 minutes to get to the Condor ferry. As we had not booked ur tickets earlier, the price here was higher, so make sure you book your tickets beforehand.

 

Ferries from Portsmouth to Guernsey go every day, but to catch the boat to Sark the same day, you may want to take the morning one as we did.

 

It took around 40 minutes to get to Guernsey. Here we had some hours to walk around the touristic area, get some ice cream and eat lunch. I strongly advise you to get some groceries here if you travel on a budget, as the only grocery store in Sark is much more expensive and has a limited assortment.

To get to Sark, we got onto a small boat and enjoyed the trip. Arriving in the late afternoon, we checked in the hotel and had a stroll around.  

The most famous and arguably the most beautiful and wild part of Sark is the Coupee which connects the main island to the Small Sark. As we stayed in the chocolaterie “Caragh’s Cholocates”, we had a sunset walk around, the place,  passing the Pilcher Monument above Havre Gosselin and then heading to Small Sark for a dinner at La Sablonnerie. A little bit of splurge, it was an amazing time here. The place is out of the history book, with French cutlery and paintings hanging on walls.

Sunday our list was topped with breakfast at our hotel, followed by morning walk at the and lunch at Hathaway’s.  Kids wanted to jump off the cliff at Venus Pool, and as the water was high, it was enjoyable and (more important than enjoyable) also safe.  Another experience topping our to-do list was tea and scones at Sue’s Tea garden. Overwhelmed by walking (you can walk the whole island from North to South in just 40 minutes!) we got to the Stocks Hotel to enjoy our last dinner in Sark before leaving. There are both fine dining and bistro options, both offering great service and huge portions. No matter which you choose, make sure you split your meals – you will save money and still be full!

The next day before we took the ferry to Guernsey, we shopped around a bit and turned into Sark’s Pottery and crafts shop. Although overpriced, the shop offers handmade pots, silver jewelry, and other design items. But make sure you do not waste all your Guernsey pounds here (Guernsey has its own pound!) and save some for a shopping spree in Guernsey.

From Guernsey taking a boat to Dinard, France, we got to the mainland in the late Sunday night. Having only a weekend for our short family adventure, we could not visit and stay in St Malo and Grenoble, but will definitely return for our France weekend getaway soon.

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Winter Wonderland: European Destinations

Christmas is all about snow, Santa Claus, red ribbons, bells, gingerbread, and decorated Christmas trees. And we mean spruces here. Although you may or may not agree, one of the best spots to celebrate the winter solstice is where there is the least light, the lowest temperature, and the most snow. If you are in the US, you may go up to Canada or Maine, Minnesota or Wyoming, but if you happen to travel around Europe in winter, there are some must-visits for tapping into the winter wonderland. So hold tight, because we are going on a sleigh ride all around Europe!

The French Alps

French are famous for their fashion mecca Paris, their patisserie and champagne. But did you know that the French Alps is one of the best spots to dive into winter activities?  Val d’Isère near Tignes may be just your next place to go if you have a soft spot for large ski resorts and prefer many ski tracks of different experience levels. From black to red, to large network of blue tracks, the remote valley captures what’ s beautiful about French Alps, namely the diversity and extensive choice for everyone, both snowboarders and skiers. If you are just starting out, yet want some glitz and sparkle, then Courchevel is the place to be. Multi-million properties and high-class are the specials for this luxurious ski resort, and why not? Winter is always fun, and more so if you have a dollar to spare.

Finland

If you seek to catch the glimpse of nature and truly white winter, then Finland is a shortcut to the absolute whiteness. They even have Santa Claus living just behind the polar circle! And if you go high enough to the very Northern areas of Finland, you will surely see all the colors of Northern Lights.

Being home to various winter sports and crazy activities, Finland will not leave you wondering what is the essence of winter vibes. And if you are crazy enough to go full in, you will see how people master wintertime. From saunas to winter swimming to ski jumping and nordic combined discipline, there is a wide range of activities you can do. And – did we mention raindeers? If you want to catch a vibe before going, a recommended movie is “Sami Blood” showing the harsh lives of reindeer-breeding Sámi peoples. The movie is set in neighboring Sweden in 1930s, and it may also be wise to visit Sweden if you are traveling from afar. Fun fact? Finland used to be ruled by Swedes for centuries and still has two national languages. If you go more to the west, you will definitely encounter Swedish more, and if you are a  Dane or Estonian, you may very well get by using your mother tongue – Danish and Swedish are very similar, just as Estonian and Finnish.

Norway

If going outside of the European Union is not a dealbreaker, then Norway should also be on your travel list. It is wild (and expensive), yet going to mountains and seeing the views of mountain lakes and fjords will definitely be worth it. You may also ski downhill or do cross-country skiing. If you are more up for a laid-back atmosphere, you may want to go for dogsledding. Just get ready for a cold breeze and adrenaline! Ice fishing and ice skating are also popular wintertime activities, and you may do them anywhere you wish. For ice fishing, you do not need to obtain a license either, but better go prepared and in a company, especially if you are a first-timer. How often do you get a chance to slide over ice clearly seeing every single water green right under you?

Iceland

Of course, Iceland. No wonder, huh? Not that much of an ice cube anymore, yet full of breathtaking landscapes and views. You can cross-country ski, get into the sauna or even do mountain climbing here. Or, alternatively, you can ‘cuddly’ up with a cup of hot chocolate in an igloo or far-away farmhouses to relax from the busy city streets and finally enjoy freedom from all the responsibilities. If you are a photographer, there is no limit of your wandering photo walks, as the landscape colors change with every hour of the day. From rosy to green to burning yellow, nature presents itself at its best here. Be prepared for extreme weather though, just like in any other Northern country.

If you want to go from fairy tale to reality without losing the adventure and beauty, then you must visit Northern Europe whilst it is winter. From truly laid-back wintertime activities, like shopping in Christmas markets and dog sledding, to sports such as skiing and snowboarding for more active travelers, winter shall not be a threat but an opportunity to see the countries in their real light. Nature is breathtaking, but so are people, welcoming at houses with glogg and egg liqueur, or hot tea after a cold, crisp winter day outdoors.

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Pet-Friendly Holidays in Florida

There is a question arising every year when planning a trip with a family, what about your paw friends? If there is anything besides the cost of bringing your four-legged friend with you on a trip, it’s bureaucracy and restrictions. Most of us do not even want to imagine the 2-week-long quarantine when entering South East Asian countries like Indonesia or Thailand, so many choose to go on a domestic trip by car. And where else is it better to enjoy summer than in Florida? Read on to get to know about the best ways to go around with your pet around Florida.


Entering Florida with Pets

There are several requirements to enter Florida with pets. First, you need to take with you an official certificate of veterinary inspection, so-called health certificate. The certificate at the date of the arrival must be issued less than 30 days back. It means that for your Christmas and New year holidays, it is wise not to wait for too long and start preparing now, while everyone is not going on vacation yet and the lines are not too long. You can obtain the health certificate in any vet office within a few hours. Another document you need to enter Florida is the documentation of current rabies vaccine. According to state laws, the vaccine must be renewed every 3 months, although the rules vary state by state. If you need your dog to be vaccinated, do not waste any time and get it done as soon as possible. Regarding rabies tag, it is not necessary for your pet to wear it, although there are some counties in Florida that do require pets to wear a rabies tag.

Flying with Pets

If you are coming a long way to Florida or just prefer to not waste your time in the car, then there are some additional things you should check before going on a holiday. If you are flying in Florida, then please contact the airlines to make appropriate reservations for your pet. Some companies require a certificate of acclimation or health certificate, but it depends on the airline and type of flight. In both cases, these can be provided by the veterinarian. Some airlines only accept health certificates within 10 days of examination, make sure to check it before. 

Transport Your Pet with Shipping Company

If there is a sudden need to ship your pet to another country, there is no much choice other than using shipping service. To meet the requirements of import, you should get the application for import approved by the country of destination’ s  consulate, an international health certificate from Florida and accredited veterinarian, as well as international possible testing and vaccinations. Another requirement is an endorsement of papers by a USDA APHIS Veterinary Services veterinarian. But note that some countries, like UK, require very early applications, having them submitted 6 months ago, and on top of that, also require microchipping, rabies testing and special import application.

Beaches with Dogs

If you are traveling and sunbathing with your whole family, you don’t want to leave your dog locked at the rental. Florida is quite welcoming in that sense. Having both off-leash beaches and beaches your dog need to be leashed up, there is a lot to choose from. In Fort De Soto Park, for example, dog owners are allowed to swim together with their pets, and the beaches are adapted to enjoy picnics, play with your dogs, let your dog socialize with others and have fun. For an added bonus, it was named America’s #1 beach in 2008 and 2009, pushing all records. If you are in Venice, FL, then Brohard Paw Park may be a good choice. Situated in Sarasota, it is the only pet-friendly beach in the county. Other beaches you should definitely consider are Bonita Beach Dog Park and Panama City Park, both very dog-friendly.

Get Around in the Public Transport

Thanks to a bill requiring Amtrak to accept dogs and cats as passengers in the trains, now you can travel around Florida without any problem. Your pet will be welcomed and given a ticket to, and you can carry your best friend as carry-on baggage. However, any dog that is too large to be carried in a bag will not be allowed to ride. To get around by taxi in cities, you can use Uber. There is a special pet taxi service in Florida, in all major cities from Miami to Fort Lauderdale to Orlando, but check properly before booking Uber.

Eat Out with Your Dog or Cat

Although getting around and going swimming with your dogs is not hard anymore, you could also start doing other activities, such as tackling hunger not only in parks or outdoor establishments, but also a high-end restaurant, such as especially price-friendly Voodoo Dog in Tallahassee, or Mad Dogs and Englishmen in Tampa. The best bet, however, if the hunger strikes when you are out with your pet and have not checked the restaurant selection in advance, is to go for beer gardens that are usually outdoor pubs where you can catch some sun, have a sandwich or burger, and have your dog well-rested right beside you. You should mind, though, that restaurants are still more welcoming to small and medium-sized dogs, and so it may be a good idea to always take the leash with you, in case you go for a run with your large four-legged friend.

All in all, Florida is truly pet-friendly and you can find shops, vacation rentals, and restaurants catering not only for your family but also for your pets. Getting into Florida state should not be a problem if you manage your travels well ahead and try to obtain your pets’ health statements and travel cards on time. You should also check out the best places to eat out before going on a vacation with a pet, just you do not miss any of the awesomeness whilst on holiday.

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Susutainable Travel

The Smart Guide to Make This Holiday Vacation Sustainable and Choose Eco-Tourism to Save Our Planet

You are all excited to plan your next holiday, and you just cannot wait to get all ready for the next vacation. From finding the right accommodation to getting the airplane tickets or planning a winter holiday for yourself or family can be a fun task. To make traveling beneficial not only for you, but also for the world around you – the local communities, nature, and economy – we at Cuddlynest believe in an eco-friendly travel and will share some tips in the following series. From stopping to wrap your suitcase in every flight to booking a short-term accommodation that does not harm the environment and local communities, get ready to educate yourself to make your travels better – and ultimately, to make the tourism a bit more of a sustainable practice.

Choose a destination that is not over touristic

You may call it going for an off-the-beaten-track path, or simply an adventurous, alternative and more authentic travel experience. Whichever label you choose, traveling to a destination which does not suffer from overcrowding in high season will result in not only a better life for locals but also a better travel experience. Machu Pichu, Amsterdam, Rome, and Paris have already put up measures from limiting vacation rentals to tourist buses allowed into central city areas in specific hours of the high season, and there are more cities to address the problem. Before choosing your travel destination, research the web, or just simply roll out the map of Google and spin around the globe a bit to select the destination you have not heard of yet. In the end, no one wants to spend hours getting through crowds of people to get a short sight of a famous landmark.

Book an Eco-Hostel or Green-Minded Vacation Rental

These days, finding a sustainable hotel is not a problem anymore. From off-grid penthouses to luxurious, yet eco-friendly pop-up tents in the middle of a dessert, you can find an accommodation that fits your needs and wants, but respects the environment with its rivers, oceans, and biodiversity. Before booking a place, make sure the eco-hostel or community-led accommodation provider utilizes green practices, such as does not use or limit the use of harmful cleaning chemicals, bleaches or other anti-environmental substances. Make sure your vacation home is free from chemicals – and you will have a happier, healthier and more responsible holiday ahead of you!

Compare Your Travel Time to Transportation Mode

We bet you already knew it, but once again, air transport is one of the most polluting of all. Embrace slow travel and see the world around you – do not just hop into plane and land on the other side of the world. Enjoy the ground travel – from buses to trains, it may be as exciting if not even more so, especially when traveling in Europe or Central Asia. Developed countries possess one of the best transportation networks, so you may as well use them! An additional perk, if you happen to be a business traveler or a freelancer – you can work while on the road. Opposite to airplanes which prohibit mobile connections while on air, you can work or study whilst on the train or bus. And in case you are tight on budget, night trains or buses can be a great way to save for a better accommodation in the destination.

Want to go an extra mile for a super green transport? Try carpooling! In Europe, BlaBla Car works wonders, but be sure to check out what carpooling service is the most popular in your destination country before going.

Skip motors, get the bike rolling!

We mean cycling, obviously. While motorbikes or scooters may seem nice for places like Indonesia, Cambodia or Laos, you may want to reconsider the use of polluting transportation mode whenever possible. Stop thinking how cheap the gasoline is for a second and better imagine how good is cycling – for both your health and environment. Not even mentioning Copenhagen, most European cities have a well-developed bike line network and rent-and-drop bike stations around the city. You may unlock a bike via a mobile app, take a stroll and drop it off on the nearest bike station. Just mind the differences in transportation culture – what is accepted in one country may be off-limits in another. Take your time to get from place to place  – either on a bike or using your inner motor and walking!

Reduce the Waste – skip the Pre-made packaged meals!

It may be hard to resist to get in the corner shop and pick the first thing your eye settles on – a triangle sandwich in a shiny, well-designed plastic box. Even more so, it is hard to resist the urge to buy pre-made food, when your stomach is grumbling and dining out is being saved for dinners, not lunches. Still, we encourage you to step a bit further into the store and see what whole foods they have in offer. Most likely, you will find fruits and even vegetable selling. If you find an express grocery store, the chances are, they also have a bakery corner and salad bar there, so you can take your own lunchbox and refill it with salad whilst on the day tour. Both salads and other snacks bought at stores or taken in lunchboxes make great substitutions for lunches in city centers, where finding suitable and budget-friendly eateries is a well-known struggle for many. What is the best> Shopping in a local market will bring a whole new vibe to your lunch and – who knows – maybe you will get hands-on fruits that you have never tasted before!

Instead of Souvenirs, Send Postcards

Last, but not least – be mindful about your consumption for your loved ones. Although you may feel as expected to bring something from your travels home, rethink once again. Is a new fridge magnet really necessary? Are those leather sandals or a printed t-shirt needed, or is it just a way to express how deeply we care about our relatives? Better than gifting them, remember them whilst on the trip. Send them a handwritten letter or a postcard – especially if you are traveling for more than 2 weeks. It will arrive as soon as you do, and the un-materialistic value will add to the joy of recipients. Believe us, we have tried!

These are just some small changes that you can implement to make tourism a little bit more sustainable. Traveling should bring joy not only to you but the planet as a whole – and it is your responsibility to make it possible!

Do you have any other suggestions? Don’t hesitate to comment, we would love to share all the knowledge to make a better world!