No need to fly: three European trips easier by train

No Need to Fly: Two European Trips Easier by Train

No need to fly: three European trips easier by trainDid you just land in Berlin and need to get to a hotel soon? While flying allows us to travel to both popular and not so popular destinations in Europe, Asia and everywhere else in the world, there is no excuse not to explore the countryside.

From Matching in the United Kingdom, to the French countryside and Balkan nature parks and SPA centers, there are many destinations in the countryside that planes do not connectto. We listed some of the most beautiful European countryside castles, inspired by The Guardian’s “European Trips Easier by Train” article.

Opening new routes, or taking an advantage of train prices in the last days before Brexit with newly launched Interrail four-day pass (€ 185), can be an advantageous feauture of train travel.  Going through the mountainous Europe – Alps, Pyrenees and Tatras – Europe offers one of the best opportunities for anyone traveling by train. . We looked at Burgundy, the Austrian Alps, and the Dutch Coast among other amazing destinations only reachable by European trail tracks. No flights here, keeping it green in 2020!

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A Taste of Burgundy

Taste and smell the famous Burgundy wine region. Along with amazing wine and views to the green yards,  the main winemaking villages can also be reached by stopping at Gevrey-Chambertin, Meursault and other Burgundian wine regions. For more wine travel in Europe, go to this article on Hungarian wine history and travel tips.

cuddlynest europe book hotels

The Austrian Alps

Austrian Alps can not only be the place to live through The Sound of Music scenes, but it can also be easily visited on your way from Brussels to Vienna on the newly opened railway. From the nearest Vienna airport, hop onto the Vienna – Brussels line and take bus 172. After a  27-mile journey over the Seeberg Saddle, you’ll arrive in Bruck-an-der-Mur where the Unesco-listed Semmering Railway can take you back to Vienna by night.

Away from Airports and Still in Reach

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Eltz Castle, Moselle Valley, Italy

Trains from Koblenz in Germany where Moselle flows into the Rhine, can connect you to Trier in Italy. Sit back and enjoy the view with some perfectly roasted espresso.

cuddlynest europe book hotels

Falkenstein Castle, Savoy, Jura route

Since the Handbook for Travellers in Switzerland and the Alps of Savoy was written by John Murray in 1846, the Savoy was one of the main European destinations on the Jura route to visit for nobleman taking their European journey. Drop by Waldenburg, or

Heinfels Castle in Rhine Valley, Italy

Taking a train from Koblenz towards Cologne along the Rhine valley will allow you to relax. Visit the Rheinfels Castle on your way!

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Black Forest, Germany

The Black Forest and Eifel in Germany? May sound like a mix of France and Germany, but the southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia has it all. Visit the Cochem Castle in the meantime!

 

Ready to go on a train? Make sure you have a place to stay first.

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Travel India, Asia or other SouthEast Asia Destinations: CuddlyNest travel 2020 Destinations

Travel Destinations 2020 According to Your Zodiac Sign

Travel India, Asia or other SouthEast Asia Destinations: CuddlyNest travel 2020 DestinationsAstrology is considered to be both an art and a science, just as travel is. While interpretation is necessary, the New Year makes people to wonder not only about new goals, new places to visit and draw up new bucket lists, there is always a science behind it.

Wanderlust stargazing and future telling can do wonders, but mathematics is necessary for a good interpretation. While Sixtus IV was the first Catholic pope to draw and interpret a horoscope, Leo X, born Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici later relied on astrologers to rule the Florentine Republic since 16th century.

While there is not a small kingdom in the middle of Mediterranean Sea for everyone to rule, and golden Florentines may be a wish rather than a reality for some of budget travelers, there is a perfect destination for everyone to list on the 2020 bucket list. From switching from the crowded destinations in Europe to visiting lesser-known Eastern European capitals.

If you are up for a bucket list added to your 2020 wish list, then astrology may give you a pointer to which direction to look at when booking your next trip. From zodiac signs traits, weaknesses and other characteristics, there is just the perfect destination for everyone, depending on the Sun and Moon, and the projection of planets at the moment of your birth.

Air Signs

Gemini, Libra and Aquarius, known as air signs, are all about philosophical conversations. They love conversations, giving advice, reading new books and socializing in social gatherings. Find them in old book stores or flea markets getting a new book wherever they go.

Fire Signs

Fire signs Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are all about social travelling. As rational and naturally talkative travelers, they are all about connecting to people wherever they go. Think about exploring and going on an adventure, and being passionate, dynamic and temperamental, they also can get quite dramatic when travelling in groups. From inspirational to passionate, they are all about leading the way t unexplored destinations.

Water Signs

Highly emotional and ultra-sensitive, water signs are intuitive and would go deeply into profound conversations. From Cancer to Scorpio and Pisces, those born in February, October and June are characterized by a willingness to explore the depths of the culture while travelling.

Earth Signs

Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are travelers which are known as highly skilled planners. Conservative and realistic, they are always there much before the museum closing time and would also be planning their tour well ahead.

CuddlyNest Best Travel Destination Inspiration for 2020 - where to go according to your zodiac sign? Aries, Saggitarius or Leo - best travel destinations for Áries, Touro, Gêmeos, Câncer, Leão, Virgem, Libra, Escorpião, Sagitário, Capricórnio, Aquário e Peixes, le Bélier, le Taureau, les Gémeaux, le Cancer, le Lion, la Vierge, la Balance, le Scorpion, le Sagittaire, le Capricorne, le Verseau et les Poissons.

Aries

The fire sign, ruled by Mars, is easily recognizable because of their energetic, assertive nature. Ruled by Mars, Aries people are passionate, confident and direct in their approach. Uncomplicated and often frustrated by unnecessary nuances, they will thrive when going on an independent and spontaneous hiking trip.

Best destinations? Go on a hiking journey to Argentina in Cerro Fitz Roy, or swim in Indonesia.

CuddlyNest Best Travel Destination Inspiration for 2020 - where to go according to your zodiac sign? Aries, Saggitarius or Leo - best travel destinations for Áries, Touro, Gêmeos, Câncer, Leão, Virgem, Libra, Escorpião, Sagitário, Capricórnio, Aquário e Peixes, le Bélier, le Taureau, les Gémeaux, le Cancer, le Lion, la Vierge, la Balance, le Scorpion, le Sagittaire, le Capricorne, le Verseau et les Poissons.

Taurus

Taurus, an earth sign, feel themselves the best both in hot and wet as well as cold and dry climates.

Best destinations? Go on to catch some spring air to the wet and hot Madagascar beaches in wintertime or seek the wintertime and Advent Christmas feel in the cold and dry Gulf of Boothia Sea.

CuddlyNest Best Travel Destination Inspiration for 2020 - where to go according to your zodiac sign? Aries, Saggitarius or Leo - best travel destinations for Áries, Touro, Gêmeos, Câncer, Leão, Virgem, Libra, Escorpião, Sagitário, Capricórnio, Aquário e Peixes, le Bélier, le Taureau, les Gémeaux, le Cancer, le Lion, la Vierge, la Balance, le Scorpion, le Sagittaire, le Capricorne, le Verseau et les Poissons.

Gemini

Gemini, as smart, sharp and speedy, will enjoy a trip to a somewhere where they can think, more than a feeling or doing.

Best destinations? Go to the breezy Koh Samui in Thailand and enjoy a  thoughtful, yet refreshing trip in your 2020.

Cancer

Cancerian travelers are one of the most emotional and intense. To let their senses run free, destinations in the Southern hemisphere where people are naturally more laid back (and some would argue they are not) will be the best bet to discover new horizons in 2020.

Best destinations? Go to Siem Reap in Cambodia or Nha Trang in Vietnam to dip in the Southeast Asia spirits and enjoy the taste of Vietnamese egg coffee and more.

CuddlyNest Best Travel Destination Inspiration for 2020 - where to go according to your zodiac sign? Aries, Saggitarius or Leo - best travel destinations for Áries, Touro, Gêmeos, Câncer, Leão, Virgem, Libra, Escorpião, Sagitário, Capricórnio, Aquário e Peixes, le Bélier, le Taureau, les Gémeaux, le Cancer, le Lion, la Vierge, la Balance, le Scorpion, le Sagittaire, le Capricorne, le Verseau et les Poissons.Leo

Leo signs are one of the most loveable – and as such, they will be a great and loyal travel companion for any other sign.

Best destinations? Be adaptable by choosing form European South: Florence, Santorini and Milan are good options to consider with your loved ones in 2020.

CuddlyNest Best Travel Destination Inspiration for 2020 - where to go according to your zodiac sign? Aries, Saggitarius or Leo - best travel destinations for Áries, Touro, Gêmeos, Câncer, Leão, Virgem, Libra, Escorpião, Sagitário, Capricórnio, Aquário e Peixes, le Bélier, le Taureau, les Gémeaux, le Cancer, le Lion, la Vierge, la Balance, le Scorpion, le Sagittaire, le Capricorne, le Verseau et les Poissons.

Virgo

Those born under the earth sign will enjoy the hot and dry summer destinations calling with their summer fire constellations and feel their best underwater sign in winter. Conservative yet realistic, the most suited destination for Virgo will be well known for every other traveler.

Best destinations? Learn from the best – see the true diligence and learn from the constant practice of monks in Pattaya and Chiang Mai, or Vietnam.

CuddlyNest Travel Alps France Destination Inspiration for 2020 - where to go according to your zodiac sign? Aries, Saggitarius or Leo - best travel destinations for Áries, Touro, Gêmeos, Câncer, Leão, Virgem, Libra, Escorpião, Sagitário, Capricórnio, Aquário e Peixes, le Bélier, le Taureau, les Gémeaux, le Cancer, le Lion, la Vierge, la Balance, le Scorpion, le Sagittaire, le Capricorne, le Verseau et les Poissons.

Libra

Librans love to be loved, and they love to love as well. To travel further this year, Libras will choose destinations that are in tune with their realm and harmony. No chaos, please!

Best destinations? Keep away from chaos by going to Stockholm or discover the Alps and French countryside in 2020.

CuddlyNest Best Travel Destination Inspiration for 2020 - where to go according to your zodiac sign? Aries, Saggitarius or Leo - best travel destinations for Áries, Touro, Gêmeos, Câncer, Leão, Virgem, Libra, Escorpião, Sagitário, Capricórnio, Aquário e Peixes, le Bélier, le Taureau, les Gémeaux, le Cancer, le Lion, la Vierge, la Balance, le Scorpion, le Sagittaire, le Capricorne, le Verseau et les Poissons.

Scorpio

Scorpios, being one of the most vengeful, morbid yet strategic signs, will find their best travel bucket list items with an option to meditate or learn some martial arts.

Best destinations? Go to Guangzhou or Chengdu to learn basic Wushu.

CuddlyNest Travel Stokholm Destination Inspiration for 2020 - where to go according to your zodiac sign? Aries, Saggitarius or Leo - best travel destinations for Áries, Touro, Gêmeos, Câncer, Leão, Virgem, Libra, Escorpião, Sagitário, Capricórnio, Aquário e Peixes, le Bélier, le Taureau, les Gémeaux, le Cancer, le Lion, la Vierge, la Balance, le Scorpion, le Sagittaire, le Capricorne, le Verseau et les Poissons.

Sagittarius

Honest, optimistic and adventurous, Sagittarians will feel their best among happy people.

Best destinations? Go to the countries known for happiness and find yourself in Stockholm, Aarhus, or Reykjavík this year!

CuddlyNest Travel China and Japan Destination Inspiration for 2020 - where to go according to your zodiac sign? Aries, Saggitarius or Leo - best travel destinations for Áries, Touro, Gêmeos, Câncer, Leão, Virgem, Libra, Escorpião, Sagitário, Capricórnio, Aquário e Peixes, le Bélier, le Taureau, les Gémeaux, le Cancer, le Lion, la Vierge, la Balance, le Scorpion, le Sagittaire, le Capricorne, le Verseau et les Poissons.

Capricorn

Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are travelers which are known as highly skilled planners. Conservative and realistic, they are always there much before the museum closing time and would also be planning their tour well ahead.

Best destinations?

Go to Shenzhen in China or plan well before visiting Incheon in South Korea.

CuddlyNest Travel Indonesia Destination Inspiration for 2020 - where to go according to your zodiac sign? Aries, Saggitarius or Leo - best travel destinations for Áries, Touro, Gêmeos, Câncer, Leão, Virgem, Libra, Escorpião, Sagitário, Capricórnio, Aquário e Peixes, le Bélier, le Taureau, les Gémeaux, le Cancer, le Lion, la Vierge, la Balance, le Scorpion, le Sagittaire, le Capricorne, le Verseau et les Poissons.

Aquarius

Aquarius, notable for their originality and independence, will feel their bets in places they can enjoy themselves and feel assertive and travel solo as they usually do.

Best destinations? Go and be independent in Wuhan, China, or visit Krabi in Thailand in your own way.

Pisces

Generous, positively natured people, Pisceans are also very easygoing and will be acting a great travel companion wherever they go.

Best destinations? Go to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and enjoy yourself in a group of friends sipping on iced kopi-o’s.

If you want to know more about Hindu astrology, or Chinese astrology, or other Oriental mythology types, please follow CuddlyNest on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

CuddlyNest Best Travel Destination Inspiration for 2020 - where to go according to your zodiac sign? Aries, Saggitarius or Leo - best travel destinations for Áries, Touro, Gêmeos, Câncer, Leão, Virgem, Libra, Escorpião, Sagitário, Capricórnio, Aquário e Peixes, le Bélier, le Taureau, les Gémeaux, le Cancer, le Lion, la Vierge, la Balance, le Scorpion, le Sagittaire, le Capricorne, le Verseau et les Poissons.

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CuddlyNest winter destinations

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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CuddlyNest blog Balkan budget ski resorts

Best Dirt-Cheap Balkan Ski Resorts for Family Christmas Holidays You Can Ski below $20 a Day

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Balkan ski resorts In Southern Eastern Europe packs the best value per buck, if you ask us. While there are many opportunities for Christmas holidays spent together with family or friends, Balkans can offer you one of the most fun and unforgettable ways on skis. You can choose from resorts totalling in 883 kilometres of slopes, served by 521 ski lifts. That said, skiing opportunities in Southern East Europe Balkan countries are virtually endless.

While skiing is for everyone, skiing in Alps in France or Switzerland can get expensive. To have more fun while spending less, we suggest skiing in Europe in Slovakian Tatry, or go to Balkans instead.
Not only it is much more enjoyable stay away from tourist-crowded ski destinations; you will also save quite a bit of money by going to the budget Balkan ski resorts. Offering world-class skiing opportunities for just a fraction you would spend in the US, Western Europe or even Scandinavian glaciers, CuddlyNest made a list featuring the best Balkan ski resorts that are also family-friendly.

After all, Christmas is all about being together with your loved ones, isn’t it?

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Vitosha, Sofia – Bulgaria

Budget-friendly Resort for All, € 18

We already wrote about 15 good reasons to visit Balkans this holiday. But here comes another one. Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, hosts one of the least expensive, but well-rated ski resorts in Balkans. With more than 20 km of ski slopes available and 15 lifts in disposal of skiers, there is plenty of space to practice, learn and simply enjoy skiing for all technique levels.

 

The winter sports area is situated between 1340 and 2290 m, and while most of slopes are for those aiming at blue trails (easy level), approximately 30% of ski slopes is for intermediate skiers. If you are sure about your ski and want to go for extreme adrenaline trails, there is not that much to see in Vitosha. Only 2 km of total ski slope area is surviving advanced skiers.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Sofia, Balkan Ski Resort Prices

As for pricing, you will save quite a bit when skiing in Sofia. Day ticket for adults cost approximately €18 (BGN 35), while youth and children day passes come at approximately €14 and €11, respectively.

Night Skiing in Sofia, Bulgaria

The resort is opened from 9 am to 4 pm, but you can also ski at night. Night skiing is operating from 6.30 pm until 10pm, daily, so you can enjoy starry sky while going back to top on the escalator chair.

The resort is one of the best established in the whole region. Although there are no recently opened slopes, the very first slope with the 2-person fixed-grip Dragalezvi-Saslona chairlift was opened back in 1956. After that, the resort undergone 2 large upgrades, with each adding 5 slopes. The current slopes is the result of 1984 upgrade. However, there have not been any Olympic games hosted in Vitosha, so while you get a great value for the buck, do not expect the world-class training slopes, especially if looking for moguls.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Skiing Babin Do – Bjelašnica – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Want to ski on Olympic Games slopes? The winter Bjelašnica Olympic Mountain Ski Centre facilities are located on the eastern slope of Bjelašnica. Close to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is plenty to do both in winter and summertime. While it is one of the most marvellous places to go for a hike in summer (or winter, if you are into ski shoeing), do not get carried away with hiking trails.

Olympic Ski Resort in Balkans

Indeed, Bjelašnica is one of the top ski resorts, having more than 12.5 of slopes available. Good for both skiing and snowboarding, the resort lies around 27 km away from the capital city of Bosnia, making it an attractive destination for those who want to spend some time in the city where the World War I started. The capital boasts beautiful architecture, and affordable restaurant scene – you may want to check it now, and book Sarajevo hotel in advance.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Balkan Skiing Red Trails

Contrasting with other Balkan ski resorts, there is more to do for intermediates than those who are beginners. Located between elevations 1,270 and 2,067m over the sea level, skiing near the capital is also one of the most affordable, considered great Bjelašnica summit slopes. With day pass costing adults €18 (BGN 35), and €13 (BGN 25) for children, you can enjoy the slopes where Winter Olympics of 1984 were hosted. It is an experience of a lifetime to ski the same slope where Bill Johnson (US) won the alpine skiing downhill, and twins Phil and Steve Mahre (US) slalom.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Stara Planina – Babin Zub for Beginners – Serbia

Located in Southern and Eastern Serbia, Stara Planina offers one of the least costly options for beginners. The perks of choosing Stara Planina as your Balkan winter ski destination also include the fresh countryside air. The slopes practically end at the village Jabučko Ravnište, and you can go straight to your home after a long day on skis.

Serbia Ski Resorts

As for the offering, the Babin Zub is perfect for those families looking for a place to practice skiing safely. Out of 13 km of the resort’s slopes, more than half is for those trying to learn. When surpassed the blue slope skill level, you can either go for red or black slopes, both of which are equally abundant, compromising 3 km each.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Stara Planina Ticket Prices

Day tickets for adults and children are little bit more expensive but considering 5 lifts for just 13 km of ski slopes, you can be sure you will not freeze at the line waiting to go to top. Gondolas will take you to the top, and you can be sure the chairlifts are up to the latest standards, being constructed just back in 2006. Daily ticket for adults cost €19 (RSD 2250) and €15 (RSD 1760) for children.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Sljeme (Medvednica) – Zagreb – Croatia

While Croatia beaches and historical sites are appealing to those families seeking sun and summer in the midst of winter, there is a lot to do in Croatia for those willing to take up skiing, too.

Best Croatia Small-Scale Ski Resort

Sljeme ski resort near Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is small enough to feel cosy and always be sure about where your family members are. One of the best ski resorts for those with young children, Sljeme ski area is totalling in 4 km. Mostly serving those who go after blue and red tracks, the ski area is equipped with a 3-person chairlift to bring you 1030 m high into the mountainous area, and 2 J-bar lifts to bring you to the top of the slope again.

Croatia Ski Resort Near Zagreb

The day ticket is one of the least expensive, costing €13 (HRK 100) for adults and €7 (HRK 50) for children. Operating from 9 am to 4 pm, Medvednica is a good option for those looking for a wintertime activity close to Zagreb, Croatia. After visiting Zagreb SPAs, you can relax in tranquillity on skis!

Have you skied in Balkans? Let us know and share this with your Facebook friends, Instagram fellows and Pinterest audience!

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

CuddlyNest blog Rome

When Ancient Romans Got it Wrong: What to See in Rome (Temple of Ridicule and More)

Rome CuddlyNest Travel Guide

What you see in City of Rome tourist guides is nowhere near what it should have been. Read about the anecdotal (and ridiculous) temple-large errors made by Ancient Romans.

From cats laying on every corner of the ancient lapis Tiburtinus, ruins to no-frill Pizza Ebraica in the Jewish Quarter in one of the 200-year-old bakeries, the ancient Romans (and their further generations) have left a lot to explore for those visiting Italy. Read this if visiting the Ancient City of Rome on Christmas or celebrating the New Year 2020.

Rome CuddlyNest Pinterest Pin - Best Roem Holiday Roman Holiday Archeological Sites to Visit

Torre Argentina – Cat City in Rome

While Torre Argentina is just one of the many historical squares in the very centre of Rome dating back to the Republica times, the cat sanctuary is surely worth a visit. Just near the portico of Pompey where the famous betrayal of Julius Caesar happened in 44 BCE, volunteers take care of around 130 cats. The Torre Argentina square itself is built on remains of Pompei Theatre and is the ancient Campus Martinus. Named after Strasbourg, the square homes 4 temples. The assembly of temples was once encircled by a circus, Roman Baths of Agrippa, Circus Flaminius, and  Porticus Minucia Frumentaria, enclosing the ancient square.

You may come across cats in Rome almost anywhere you go, due to Italy’s no-kill cat law. The famous cat sanctuary, however, was upstarted by gattare, or cat ladies, who upon the excavation of the site, started to take care of the sick and wounded ones. Today, when visiting the Torre Argentina Temple D, you can watch cats sunbathing on ancient steps either from street level, or head down the steps to the underground office, where you can adopt or give a donation to the sanctuary.

Rome CuddlyNest Pinterest Pin - Best Roem Holiday Roman Holiday Archeological Sites to Visit

Pasticceria il Boccione  – Get Pizza Ebraica

While watching cats taking sunbaths on the steps is probably one of the most relaxing activities you can enjoy whilst in Rome apart from laying in your Rome hotel bed, nothing can make it better than having an Italian pizza slice (almost as good as the Portuguese pastel de nata) in hand. 

Italian politics and past malefatte set aside, one can make be sure that the Jewish Quarter homes one of the city’ tastiest must-visit spots. Getting to the two-century-old family-owned Pasticceria il Boccione poses itself as a challenge, though. Although the unsigned corner shop is hard to spot, it is surely a good idea to get a no-frill burnished cake, tart or the famous Pizza Ebraica. Recipes brought down from generation to generation boast in the fresh ricotta cheese flavours, and cakes are full of fruit and sultanas.

While the origins of the Jewish Pizza is still a myth, arguments were put forward that Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century brought the dish to Rome from Sicily. While back then pizza had no other meaning than pie, today, one is sure to get a savoury and fresh tomato-flavoured dish,

Going back to Ancient City times, CuddlyNest further brings you to the very first days of the Empire.

Rome CuddlyNest Pinterest Pin - Best Roem Holiday Roman Holiday Archeological Sites to Visit

Ostia Antica – Wander through Millenia

Ostia Antica is probably one of the best examples of how Ancient Rome looked at the very beginning. Then undeveloped Ostia was probably the first Colonia of Rome. As the legend of by Ancus Marcius goes, the inscription of the old castrum with the oldest archaeological remains date back to 4th century BC. While you should definitely not miss taking a break and visiting Capitolium (temple for Roman Juno – the Greek equivalent of Hera -, as well as Jupiter and Minerva) staying idle is not the best strategy whilst visiting Ostia.

What one should be attentive towards, is the realization that archaeological sites as Ostia are bringing out many layers of history. From the very first archaeological remains to the largest and most considerable part of the buildings dating back to 3rd century AD, there is a lot to see in Ostica. Even now hardly spottable, the wall of opus quadratum is a good example of the considerate ancient building technique.

Rome CuddlyNest Travel Guide

Castel Sant’Angelo 

The round keep of Castel Sant’Angelo protected the castle for centuries – and it still does protect the Roman heritage.

Instantly recognizable, one can hardly mistake the building for any other – first built for emperor Hadrian, it was then converted into a fortress in the 6th century. Today, when visiting the castle, you would be amazed by both its dramatic history and the collection of paintings, military protectionist memorabilia and sculpture from collections of Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo.

As Rome was in times of perceived or real danger,  popes could escape to Vatican by Passetto di Borgo, a secret passageway built in the 13th century. If you ever took the European History class, then better know that it was here where Pope Clemente VI, famously holed up in the castle in 1527. 

Visiting Sala Paolina, and watching the frescoes depicting the life of Alexander the Great is a must, too. While not exactly ancient, hearing Vissi d’Arte from Puccini’s Tosca is a good place to start to relive the story of Floria Tosca and Mario Cavaradossi on the terrace two storeys up, while sipping a caffè.

Temple of Ridicule – a Mystique or Evidence

Lastly, even Ancient Romans used to make mistakes. Ridiculous or confusing, Ancient Rome never had an Aedicula Ridiculi, although many thought it to be the case, drawing from the little evidence we have today. 

Almost three centuries ago, in 1698 book a Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities,  French scholar wrote about the Little Temple of Ridicule, locating it along the Appian Way, at the second milestone outside the Porta Capena. While now known for the ridiculous mistake, the guide would not reveal the necessary information.

The temple’ s location also carries a significant meaning – it was thought to be on the spot where bad weather forced Carthaginian general Hannibal to give up on besieging the capital in 216 BC. Also, the second-century Hannibal grammarian adds to the story, confirming that Hannibal turned back at that spot, being alarmed at certain portentous visions. Romans, then, as told by Danet, “therefore built a little oratory under the name of the God of Joy and Laughter.” 

The temple, however, never existed. While the oratory with its significant Roman architecture still stands strong on the site, it is now commonly argued that it was a tomb of a woman who died nearly 400 years after Hannibal’s invasion. 

However, some references to the temple on the ancient texts were misleading. Pliny the Elder has mentioned the temple in his Natural History, while writing on birds. The story of a shoemaker who once buried his beloved pet raven, apparently, was far from the truth.
The Aedicula Ridiculi was still brought up in magazines centuries later, is a fun fact, as in Dolman’s Magazine “the ancient Romans went so far as to erect a ridiculi aedicula, or chapel of laughter.” 

 

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7 Wonders of Barcelona: The Legendary Barcelona Spots

Barcelona legendary places to visitt CuddlyNest blog travel advice

A journey through centuries on Barcelona’s legendary city streets.

While Catalonia travel destination is as hot in Europe as the Spanish sun, one cannot but agree that Catalonia, with Barcelona shining bright, holds a special vibe. 

We already wrote about the legendary places in Barcelona you must visit – the Bar Marsella, Biblioteca de Catalunya and The Carretera de Les Aigües are all must-visits. But what is the story behind the history of Sagrada Familia and Bunker del Carmel?

Barcelona legendary places to visitt CuddlyNest blog travel advice

Sagrada Familia

While Sagrada Familia is not necessarily the oldest, it is surely one of the most famous and legendary spots where the world-famous architect Antonio Gaudi intervenes with the centuries-old Spanish art, still in progress after more than 135 years. 

The beginnings of the Temple of the Sagrada Familia date back to 1866, when Josep Maria Bocabella i Verdaguer, a founder of religious association, started to campaign for a temple to the Holy Family. In 1881, the association purchased land, and just a year later, the first cornerstone was laid, kicking off the construction with neo-Gothic design. The first project, however, was designed by  Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, and only after a while, the project was given to Antonio Gaudi.

So, what is so special about the temple? First, Gaudi dedicated his all final years for. Not only he worked exclusively for the Expiatory Temple day and night from 1914, he also lived very next to his workshop in his final months. 9 years later, he came up with the final design for the naves and roofs, and in 1925, the first bell tower was constructed – the only one Gaudo would see in his lifetime. You can still see it on Nativity facade. Dedicated to Siant Barnabas. After getting hit by a tram, he was buried right in the Sagrada Familia, in the chapel of Our Lady of Carmel.

But why the Temple is still a work under progress? Legendary architect’ s death is not the only reason. In fact, Sagrada Familia falls somewhere in between other major European churches – after all, Notre Dame in Paris took 182 years, the old Saint Paul’s in London took 200 years, Reims went through different stages spanning 264 years and Cologne took 600 years… that said, it is fairly decent progress with Sagrada Familia, taken into account the donations.
That leads to the factor of the grinding poverty in the country after WWII and well into the 60s, which seriously impacted donations, no matter how pious Franco’s regime claimed to be.

As for the original maquette destruction in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939, when anarchists went on an anti-church rampage, it may surely add to the reasons why their work is still under construction. 

Bunker del Carmel

As for Bunker del Carmel, El Turó de la Rovira, or simply The Bunker, there is a history to the legendary place here as well.

When climbing the spot, the terracotta rooftops stretching out from right to left, BCN city is seemingly infinite, just to end with the coastline. From here, you can see the Sagrada Familia, the Palace of Montjuic and numerous surrounding mountains. 

Then what makes the legend?

The place has been occupied throughout centuries, but only recently by tourists. During the 30s Civil War, the Bunker was used to defend the city from aerial attacks, and thereafter was adapted for slam housing, which was only disbanded in the 1990s with the arrival of the Olympics. 

Today, you can see much less of the old-age stone walls than the recent concrete military build, but still, the place has one of the most magnificent views to the city.

Before you take off to the Bunker del Caramel by the Yellow Line 4 till Alfons X, make sure to pack a couple of bottles of cava or a few Estrellas and a bunch of snacks, but mind that there are no absolutely any facilities. No visitor centre, no shop, no toilet. And as a bonus – ad consequence – no crowds wit families as in Sagrada Familia.

Maze of Parc del Laberint d’Horta

The park is one of the most different from any other attraction you may face in Barcelona. 

Although a little tricky to get to, the park is one of the best non-touristic things to do in Barcelona. You can wander the greenery of the formerly private park. Since 1971 when the park was opened to the public, the park has been carefully restored and protected. With both neoclassical and romantic part of the garden, you can follow the history of garden architecture in Europe whilst visiting the park.

What clearly distinguishes the park from all others is the numerous sculptures with motives of Greek mythology and folklore, as well as fountains, springs, and pools. The pavilions of the intermediate terrace were chosen by poet Joan Maragall to represent classic plays, and in 1898 the tragedy Iphigenia in Tauris by Goethe, translated by Maragall and directed by Adrià Gual, was first played here.

The name of the park comes from the lower terrace with the hedge maze that gives the park its name, made up of 750 metres of trimmed cypress trees. At the entrance of the labyrinth, there is a marble bas-relief depicting Ariadne and Theseus. 

Having a capacity of 750 people at a time, you will not feel like in a crowded tourist place while here. 

The Cat of Raval

The legendary Cat of Raval will bring you luck, as you brush the chubby cat. And who doesn’t want good luck?

El Gato de Ravel isn’t the only artwork sculpture in Barcelona, and you can see Terminal 2 of Barcelona El Prat airport to see Botero’s oddly shaped horse.

Old Street Art of La Carbonería

The street has a special aura not only because of the artistic drawings on what previously was a coal factory.

During 2008 – 2014, the building was a significant part of the Barcelona Okupa Movement. Over the years, anti-capitalists have occupied many empty buildings to protest to their rights, but the squatters were eventually made to leave La Cabonería by the police in 2014.

While the building was once thought to be brought down to make space for new buildings, the city council protected it as a site of historic and artistic interest instead.

Barcelona legendary places to visitt CuddlyNest blog travel advice

Hospital Torax de Terrassa

If there is any place you would like to explore only by day, it is Hospital Thorax. Set in the suburban Barcelona, it was once a hospital opened next to a pine forest in the 1950s and housed patients with respiratory diseases, at least officially.

The rumours are not as bright, though. During its operation, it had the highest suicide rate of any institution in Spain. The story goes, patients were driven mad by struggling to breathe and the isolation they felt near the forest. The garden is now nicknamed ‘The Jungle’, as it was a common combination to jump off the balcony into the garden. Want it to get greeny – darkish? Listen well and you may hear the sounds of screaming and loud thuds to that of primal jungle noises.

While “The Jungle” sounds more like a rumour than truth, what may very well be true are the inhumane experiments. Claimed true after a patient obtaining a foetus in a jar from the 5th floor of the Hospital de Torax, the place was eventually abandoned by 1997 and has received a lot of attention from ghost hunters ever since.

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7 Wonders of Barcelona: Legendary Places to Visit in Catalan Style

A journey through centuries on Barcelona legendary city streets.

While Catalonia associated with uniqueness is a hot topic in Europe, just as the Spanish sun is, it indeed holds a special vibe.

Barcelona or BCN is probably the most famous for the centuries-old “work in progress” church Sagrada da Familia and football. However, the capital of Catalonia has so much more of the legendary vibe that you could expect. From cafes frequented by Picasso and Dali to bunkers and best-view spots of the city from far-away (and slightly secret) places, you can dive into Barcelona magic when visiting these 7 wonders of Barcelona.

CuddlyNest Vicky Christie Bar Places to Visit Barcelona travel advice

Vicky Christie Barcelona (2008) – film still

The Bar Marsella

Want to have a glass of absinthe in a historical atmosphere, with tiles worn out by centuries of Catalonians stepping in and out, sitting and drinking absynthe while enjoying bohemia of Barcelona nightlife? Opened in 1820 in El Raval, and famous for its drinks, the Marsella Bar is now a cult spot for tourists. However, the legendary spirit of Picasso and more recent visits by Hemingway are the bets tell-teller signs that there is something about the place, not just a tourist-booklet blown-out cult place.

If you are not visiting Barcelona just yet, you can get the vibe from Woody Allen’s movie “Vicky, Christie, Barcelona” where the two (and some handsome Spanish men) are dining just before going to listen to Spanish guitar troubadour in the park. The Bar Marsella is one of the best places to go after midnight, and while you cannot spot any prostitutes and thieves right outside as in 19th century, the sleaziness of Barcelona’s nightlife has not changed much since then. As for that, you should take out cash – there is no-credit-card policy there. 

Also, keep in mind that no singing or dancing is tolerated. If that’s a bar, it’s for drinking, talking and enjoying food. There is a cult status, and you shall be in line with it.

CuddlyNest Barcelona travel advice

Biblioteca de Catalunya in Barcelona

Barcelona is the centre for culture and arts, but also for knowledge. The  Library of Catalonia is housed in a historical building of Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu de Barcelona. 

BCN Library of Catalunya Building Architecture

While the hospital has been around for long, built between the 15th and 17th centuries, the library itself found its place here only in 1939. Once being the largest hospital of Catalonia, it is also one of the most important gothic ensembles you can find in the city. The first stone was laid in 1401, but it took 13 years for the hospital to resemble the one you can see nowadays. Later, after a century of functioning, the hospital was optimized, and the building was upgraded.

The Legend of the Don Quixote, Roomed

What to see in the library? There is a lot of legendary pieces to be found – from Don Quixote to the oldest texts in Catalonian, the place is full of legends.

The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, or El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha is probably the most interesting for those who used to read Don Quixote and his loyal servant’s Sancho adventures in their childhood days. 

With one of the widest public collections worldwide specialized on Miguel de Cervantes’ work, one can easily find the manuscripts of the century-old writings of over 8.000 volumes, including originals of all first editions, except for La Galatea, and the 6 first editions of the Quixote from 1605, bibliophile copies and also publications of the Cervantine work in more than 20 languages.

What’s probably even more interesting, is the serial of manuscripts songbooks. Leather-bound on wood and with metallic corners, these are huge books, bounded in 16th to 19th centuries, and sized from 80 to 50 cm in width. Successfully resued during the Spanish civil war, these are must-sees, carrying history and culture throughout the centuries.

The Oldest Writing in Catalonian

The Homilies d’ Organya, the oldest Catalan language text is the oldest literary evidence dating 800 years back. The legend holds that the Homilies were written for being preached by canons of the collegiate of Santa Maria d’Organya during Lent by an anonymous clergyman, who was worried at communicating the word of God in a comprehensible manner. The manuscript, written on parchment and bound on a booklet of eight leaves still sits in the Biblioteca de Catalunya today.

Work in Barcelona Library for Freelancers

Today, the building houses 3 million documents, and you can also visit the library to catch up with your work during travels. The library is open from Monday to Saturday, and you can check the opening hours of Biblioteca de Catalunya before going.

Want to get into the mood? You should know that during the first years of the Franco regime, as told by the librarians, all library cards issued from July 1936 to February 1939 were retired, as indicated at the book of records as unusable, hence needed to be destroyed  “Los números señalados al margen con una línea de lápiz encarnado que son desde 26.423-26.667 han sido inutilizados por ser de época roja y las tarjetas retiradas y destruidas”. You will easily find these and other historical curiosities of the Spanish Civil War all around Barcelona.

The Carretera de Les Aigües

While there is a lot to do in the city, Barcelona also has one of the best parks and nature spots to enjoy the views of the city. From afar, you can enjoy the city views at the Collserola ridge.

The name of the place originates in the water pipes that once ran along this path, retaining the horizontal layout. The 10 kilometres long trail stands 450 metres above the sea level at its highest point and is with a reason one of the most popular spots for cyclists and runners to enjoy the fresh air.

From Sant Pere Màrtir to the Carretera de la Rabassada, you can see Barcelona views as nowhere else. Go by the route of locals and get to see the sweeping, matchless views of the city, paved by water pipes. In the backdrop, if you want to get more of nature, is the Collserola Natural Park – a definite must-visit in case you are looking for a day in the woods.

The article will be continued – to read about other legendary places in Barcelona, click on the 7 Wonders of Barcelona: Why is Sagrada Familia still a Work in Progress?

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Spain Cities Travel CuddlyNest Travel Blog Accommodation

Top Cities in Spain to Travel to this Holiday – Here is How to Choose

We have been there, too. Christmas is coming, winter holidays are approaching, and airline companies are offering you everything, from the best deals to travel to European top travel destinations, to calm and relaxing holidays in European countries you have never heard of. After all, travelling across Spain cities is one of the best ways to discover the Iberian culture.

Spain Cities Travel CuddlyNest Travel Blog AccommodationBarcelona

Vicky, Christy, Barcelona? If you want a quick weekend trip to Spain cities, full of flavour and smell of paella, this is your best bet. Barcelona is well connected, and the tourist-friendly districts of the centre of the city will take care of anything you may want to do. To balance out the modernist, contemporary vibes of Barcelona art scene with the gothic architecture and narrow, cobbled streets around the city centre, get out of the famous tourist path. While wandering around the Gothic Quarter, do not forget to step out and experience the real city. Discover the great live music scene, and contemporary street art (or, alternatively, go to MACBA), and remember to learn a little bit of Spanish before your trip. Keep in mind that calling Catalan a dialect of Spanish, you may have unfriendly glimpses – so better not to!

Spain Cities Travel CuddlyNest Travel Blog Accommodation

Granada

If you are all about architecture, flowers and romantic, serene patios and flower-powered blue blood vibes, this is a place to go. Sweet-smelling bushes blooming in Generalife gardens, and Nasrid dynasty pools reflecting the clear blue sky is a scene that must be accompanied with the Granada region wine, D.O. Granada, produced in the local Andalusian region at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. So, if you are looking for some Moorish-style weekend getaway further from the tourist crowds, Granada may be just the perfect place to go.

Spain Cities Travel CuddlyNest Travel Blog AccommodationCordoba

While Cordoba, of the most beautiful Spain cities, or Cordova, may not sound like the most popular tourist destination, the mix of Roman and Islamic architecture spanning from the early 1st century BC, together with the La Mezquita mosque and the perfect shot for Instagram in Calleja das Flores may just be on pint for those seeking a warm and sunny getaway. From Roman bridge to Palacio de Viana, the architecture of the city is definitely worth a visit, and if you enjoy wandering romantic cobblestone streets, then Cordoba should be added to your bucket list.
Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Visit the Cordoba GOT Spain filming location – see the full road trip plan here.

Spain Cities Travel CuddlyNest Travel Blog AccommodationMadrid

Whilst Barcelona is usually referred to as the best tourist destination in Spain, Madrid is not far from topping the list, either. In fact, if you have more time in Spain than just a couple of days, we recommend you to go to Madrid, instead. While the charm of Roman Stairs and Gaudi architecture may be left for Barcelona, Madrid will give you a more contemporary vibe and will be easier on the budget for a longer trip. From much better food for the same price to affordable hotels and rentals in Madrid, Madrid is definitely topping off family trip destination. While walking the beautiful boulevards, make sure to visit Madrid’s   Puerta del Sol, where Spanish celebrate New Year and gather on December 31. After all, that’s the place for new beginnings – it is in Puerta del Sol, where Spain’s six major roads start.

Spain Cities Travel CuddlyNest Travel Blog AccommodationSeville

Seville is famous for its artistic heritage, bit not only! Hot and dry during the summer, it is one of the best places to travel to during your winter holiday. If you are fond of flamenco, hot Spanish rhythms and floral scents, then Seville might be the place to go to. Orange blossom perfumes are sold on every corner, and being a fan of GOT Game of Thrones, you may re-discover the KIng’s Palace when visiting Dorne, the Reales Alcazares. Do not forget to walk around the Maestranza bullfighting ring – after all, it used to be the traditional Spanish sport for more couple of centuries. If you are already planning your Easter holiday, make sure to check out Seville – the Easter processions are one of the most beautiful in the whole of Spain.

Valencia

Craving some oranges? Well, Valencia, located in southern Spain, is famous not only for its football team (just in case you have to talk your partner into visiting Spain!), its horchata almond drink (read more about European drinks you must try), and paella. Whilst you may want to visit in June when Fallas festival in March 15th is celebrating the commemoration of San Joseph, there is plenty to do any other day as well. Visit the City of Arts and Sciences, stroll through the Turia Gardens, and do not forget to enjoy a day at the beach.

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San Sebastian: One of the Best Spain Cities to Travel in 2020

Enjoy laying on the beach all day? San Sebastian might be just your best bet. Located on the Bay of Biscay, the town is famous for its resort hotels and vacation offers. Northern Spain coastal line is green all year long, and while rain season in winter here is much more pronounced, you will definitely enjoy a visit to San Sebastian if upscale shopping, gourmet restaurants and more conventional and less alternative destinations is in your taste. Strolling the picturesque bayfront promenade, and booking one of the world-renowned San Sebastian restaurants for a surprise dinner with your travel partner, you will get the best modern and resort-style Spanish holiday to San Sebastian, less the crowds (compared to Barcelona).

Spain Cities Travel CuddlyNest Travel Blog AccommodationToledo

While Toledo is usually lacking from toplists when picking up the Spain travel guide booklets in airport, the city is just the right place to go if you want to enjoy a relaxing and peaceful Spain holiday with family. Set in the central Spain on a hill above the plains of Castilla-la Mancha, it is well known for the old city architecture and mannerism. Take up a glass of Spain wine and wander the streets to recognize the sets fr El Greco mannerist art. From Moorish Bisagra Gate to Mudejar Sol Gate, the city has enough to offer to keep you out of boredom, at the same time not dragging in crowds of tourists from all over the world. While it means you will get food of the same quality/price ratio as locals, you may be better off booking a vacation rental in Toledo, instead of trying to understand the hotel offerings.

Bilbao

If San Sebastian is the resort town of Spain, Bilbao, although located as well on the Northern Coast of Spain, is one of the best places to visit if you are into modern vibes. While de facto capital of Basque county, Bilbao is being much less of a historical spot to visit. Instead of historical medieval architecture, the Bilbao city centre is filled with skyscrapers and reflection of industrial history and city vibes makes it more of a modernistic travel destination. Nevertheless, you can get a glimpse of Spain while taking a morning coffee in one of the minimalistic cafes and heading to Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to adore modern art.

Spain Cities Travel CuddlyNest Travel Blog AccommodationSalamanca: Capital of Spain Cities for Students

Last but not least – Salamanca should be definitely included in the top list of Spain as the living city of students. Worth a visit by anyone, but a must for those living an active life, Salamanca may bring you closer to your student days with buckets of beer bottles selling at 5 euros, and students strolling around the city during the night. No wonder, it is also, therefore, one of the safest cities in Spain. More into historical than party vibes? Visiting Casa Lis, Salamanca’s Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum (read: the Art Noveau Capital of Europe), or house of Shells, will make a leap forward not only your intellectual, but also an artistic experience. After all, Salamanca was the centre of great minds in Spain (some centuries ago, though).

Still not decided? 

Check out our Game of Thrones Spain travel guide, and the best travel destinations to celebrate New Year 2020!

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Spain Culture Travel Tips for Seniors

Spain senior travel best tips and tricks for museums cuddlynest
What to know before visiting Spain for the winter holidays? Spain culture travel is one of the most well-known reasons for culture travel, and also one of the most beloved destinations in Europe, and while Spanish people are good at welcoming tourists all year round, and there is always something to see across the country, it is better to be equipped with some handful advice on where to go, what to pack for Spain and how to act and behave in Spain while on holiday as an American tourist.

The land of siestas, tapas, wine and tranquillity, Spanish daily life is – quite opposite its music – quite slow and runs late. But living is for enjoyment, and tourists love every day being lived, and not survived. What’ s more, Spain is inexpensive, and you can enjoy good wine and tasty dishes for almost nothing, compared to other European destinations, like Stockholm, München, or Copenhagen.

Things to See and Do in Spain Culture Travel: Tips and Tricks

What to see in Spain?

Architecture

First things first, the tourist magnet of Spain sits just in Barcelona. Barcelona is famous for its Gaudi Modernism architecture which was an offshoot of European Art Nouveau. Opposite to its Northern Art Noveau architecture capitals, like Riga and Helsinki, Barcelona exhibits a more modernistic style of what today is known as Catalan Modernism or Catalan Art Noveau.

Music

Spanish music and dance are traditionally associated with flamenco and classical guitar. Flamenco is practiced as a social dance on streets, and while you will see many senior couples going for a walk after dinner, many also use the opportunity to take part in weekly social dance evenings.

As for classical guitar, even if you do not book a  Vicente Amigo concert tickets, you can enjoy amazing classical guitar music concerts all over Spain. From small bands playing live in restaurants during the night to buskers on streets, the Spanish classical guitar is something you must see and experience whilst in Spain.

Modern Art

Paintings, sculptures and modern ceramics, as well as amazing cinema,  is something that truly captures the Spanish modernist spirit. Spanish artists are well known, and the people of Spain take good care of it. From galleries with many works of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, like Madrid’s museum of contemporary art Reina Sofia, to specially dedicated Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres and Picasso Museum in Barcelona,  modern artist works are well conserved and featuring their major works, like Science and Charity(1897), The First Communion (1896), and others.

Apart from metropolises, Madrid and Barcelona, Bilbao is well known for its contemporary art Guggenheim Museum which is housed in a one-of-a-kind modern architecture building. Designed by Frank Gehry, the building became an icon in 1997 when it first opened to visitors. The glass and titanium boat-shaped structure represents the industrial and seafaring heritage of Bilbao, and home sculptures, like Puppy by Jeff Koons and Richard Serra’s installation The Matter of Time.

Spain senior travel best tips and tricks for museums cuddlynestWhen to Visit Spain

Like all tourist destinations, Spain is largely overcrowded in times when the bets vacation time strikes. Not only it is impossible to enjoy the Spanish culture, architecture, foods, and museums seldom, not hearing all other Americans (or any other nation) going crazy for their churros with chocolate just as you are, but it is essentially impossible to get the most out of attending the museum.

And as you want to capture the most out of your Spain European trip, we hereby suggest the best time to visit Spain, according to your destination.

Northern Spain

Regarding Northern Spain, it is best to visit Santiago de Compostela, Oviedo or Santander, along San Sebastian and even Bardenas de Reales (read: Spain Game of Thrones Road trip). It is best to visit Northern Spain in July and August when rainfalls are the least likely to happen. While the best weather may be attractive to many, we can assure you that in the case of going to Northern Spain, hence Costa Verde, Costa Rica or Costa Nova, you can make it without disappointment, as these areas are generally less touristic and much less overcrowded.

Southern Spain

Southern Spain, while much less concerned with the best weather, as it rarely rains, and is usually hot and sunny all year round, is much less concerned with the best time to visit regarding weather conditions. What you may look for, though, is the period when hotels are the cheapest, and when the tourists are not coming in crowds, hence either the peak season shoulder months. Going to Southern Spain in spring months of April, May, June, and in fall, hence September, October and November, is the best decision you can make in case you wish to enjoy culture, see architecture and visit museums.

Spain Islands: the Canary Islands and more

When to Visit Canary Islands

As for Canary islands, we already looked at the best time to visit Canary Islands, but returning to climate talk once again, it has the “best climate in the world”, sporting the hot desert climate which is well balanced with the cool Canary current.  Hence, the best time to visit the Canaries is not in the hottest summer months. Instead, it may be a great winter destination, or in fall and spring months.

When to go to Balearics

Balearics in the Mediterranean – Menorca, Mallorca, Ibiza, and Formentera – are the best to visit in spring, as summer, although providing great weather conditions, can get too busy. As for autumn months, it is probably the best to go in October, but not too late, as the later you go, the colder and more rainfall is there. Moreover, swimming, walking and cycling is more enjoyable we the weather is mild and not yet too cold.

Festivals and Holidays in Spain

Depending on what time you want to plan your holiday, it is great to know when the holidays fall into, so you do not miss another important part of Spanish culture.

Falles, or Las Fallas

If you are planning to visit Spain in March, then try planning going to Spain from March 15 to March 19. The celebration is held annually on the same dates, and Valencia is definitely worth a visit!

Easter

Easter in Spain is celebrated mainly on Easter Sunday. From all the days on the Holy Week, or Semana Santa in Spanish, Easter Sunday, or Valladolid, is one of the best experiences you get in Spain in April. Spanish have a strong tradition of Christian holidays, and so observing the religious processions, and seeing the floats, and smelling the wax from candles will set you in the right mood to try out the garlic soup – sopa de ajo – which is baked with an egg in the middle. Top it with torrijas (no Eastern eggs here!), or crème brûlée, and you can have the most Spanish meal you can imagine.

If you are planning to visit Spain in Autumn, check out Sevilla Fair in Andalucía region, Hero wine festival, a summer festival, in the La Rioja region in Northern Spain, and San Fermin in the start of July on Navarra, Spain.

Spain senior travel best tips and tricks for museums cuddlynest

Typical Museum and Culture Costs in Spain

While some museums may prove to be costly, with tickets ranging from $27.00 in Gaudi’s Casa Batllo or $37.00 in Barcelona Museum, the private tours in Bilbao are much less expensive, with only $34.00. However, if you planning to stay in Barcelona or Madrid for longer, we suggest you trying out city passes, with the Barcelona City Pass costing you $110.00, including 20 attractions. Useless to say, there is a lot to see in Barcelona, and you can surely take advantage of staying in the city for longer.

Best Places to Book Accommodation, Free Art Tours and Transportation Tickets

To book a free art tour when on your Spain culture travel, we suggest you to always visit the city tourism portals. Some of the most touristic Spanish cities, like Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Bilbao, Valencia and others have dedicated pages for free art tours, or city tours. Usually delivered in Spanish and English, you can also go on a tour in French, Chinese or Italian, depending on the supplier.

What are your best tips for enjoying culture in Spain?

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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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