March 29, 2017

Music Festival at Benicassim Spain

Calling all music festival lovers!  You might want to start planning to attend next years music festival in Benicassim Spain after reading this guest post brought to you by Richard Cabo!

 

Ask a person to name a music festival and, chances are, they’re likely to go with one of two – Glastonbury, the UK’s traditionally muddy three-day party in a field, or Coachella, a festival that slowly cooks both attendees and musicians in the heat of the American desert. However in the past few years, one European festival has really started to come into its own, garnering international recognition and not causing a bunch of raised eyebrows and a, “where’s that?” response: Benicassim, on Spain’s Costa del Azahar, not too far from the city of Valencia.

Benicassim beach Spain

Benicassim by luipermom, on Flickr

 

Increasingly popular with British festival goers, thanks to its sunny locale and the availability of cheap flights to Spain, Benicassim continues to become more and more popular and, in 2009, exceeded its capacity of fifty thousand revellers for the first time, and shows no sign of slowing down.

With a stellar line-up that includes some of the world’s best musicians, can you blame people from not being able to stay away?

Past festivals have seen performances from artists that cover the musical spectrum, from The Stone Roses, Scissor Sisters, Little Dragon and Portishead to Hot Chip, Oasis and Roisin Murphy. Benicassim really does have something for everyone, with rockers, ravers, pop lovers and those ever-present hipsters all having their musical preferences catered for.

Oasis at Benicassim Musical Festival Spain

Oasis @ FIB Heineken 2009 by Rafael Tovar, on Flickr

 

This year’s line-up was no less eclectic, with headliners including British rockers the Arctic Monkeys, veteran musicians Primal Scream, techno DJ supreme Benny Benassi and loud-mouthed rapper Azealia Banks taking to the stage to entertain the throngs of people descending on the small Spanish resort town. Check out 2013’s full line-up here.

Vampire Weekend at Benicassim Spain

One of my current favorite bands! Vampire Weekend - FIB (Benicassim) by feiticeira_org, on Flickr

 

Getting to the festival isn’t too much of a slog either! Rail Europe offers tickets to Benicassim with easy connections from Barcelona, Madrid and Alicante. Lots of budget airlines also serve the airports in both Barcelona and Valencia, the most convenient airports for those flying in to enjoy the festival from outside Spain. And if you wanted to combine Benicassim with a full-blown holiday, there are plenty of holiday providers offering cheap packages to Spain – First Choice has a few good deals at the moment.

Benicassim has been running for almost twenty years now, first starting in 1995, and has blossomed into one of the world’s most well-renowned music festivals. Festival goers tend to be young and eager to party, with bands often playing through until around eight o’clock in the morning, giving attendees time to rest until things kick off again in the early evening. The festivities kick off on the second Monday in July, usually going on for four days that are crammed with quality bands and the very best of the current music scene.

Beach at Benicassim Spain

Benicassim by savoir.faire, on Flickr

 

Festival goers also have the added benefit of being close to a beach, a far cry from the likes of Glastonbury. Attendees of Benicassim will likely be seen donning flip-flops and shorts rather than hoodies and wellington boots. The festival offers camping along with its four-day weekend pass, meaning that revellers wanting to really get close to the action need to be willing to sacrifice a little bit of comfort for their love of music. Of course, VIP passes are available for those who find sleeping in anything other than quilted luxury nothing short of abhorrent.

If you only make it to one music festival during the summer, make Benicassim the one as, in my opinion, it has the best line-up, the best location and, hopefully, the best weather out of the myriad of festivals taking place during the summer months. If you do end up heading to Benicassim to party, make sure you pack a big smile, some clean clothes, your drinking hat and your snazziest pair of dancing shoes!

 

What do you think, is Benicassim a music festival you’d enjoy attending?

Art Around Town: Budapest

To enjoy art you don’t have to visit a museum.  In fact, art can be seen while wandering the streets of any city you visit.  You see it in the statues, monuments, fountains and buildings lining the streets and squares.

A city that has a lot of art along its streets is Budapest Hungary where the streets are full of beautiful buildings and hundreds of sculptures.  But you better be prepared to look up to take in all the amazing art work.

Here are a few examples of the beautiful artwork you’ll see wandering the streets of Budapest!

 

Parliament Building

This icon of Budapest sits beautifully along the Danube River.  Best seen either from the river or from across the river, this Neo-gothic design was completed in 1902 and is one of the largest Parliament buildings in the world.  Look closely and you’ll see many statues of Hungarian rulers, arcades, gargoyles and spires along with other Gothic decorations.

Stunning Parliament Building Budapest Hungary

Stunning Parliament Building Budapest Hungary

St Stephen’s Basilica

Named in honor of Stephen the first King of Hungary, the Neo-classic basilica was completed in 1905 and, along with the Parliament Building, is one of the tallest buildings in the city.  Walk around the facade enjoying the many columns, 2 bell towers, the bust of King Stephen over the main portal, the beautiful tympanon over the main portal and statues of the 12 apostles.

Wonderful western facade St Stephens Basilica Budapest Hungary

Wonderful western facade St Stephens Basilica

Museum of Ethnography

Originally built to house the Supreme Court, the Museum of Ethnography is housed in a 19th century palace.  The architectural masterpiece is stunning from the outside but I’ve heard the inside is even more impressive.  Look at all the statues adorning the top of this building!

Art litters the top of the Museum of Ethnography Budapest Hungary

Art litters the top of the Museum of Ethnography

Opera House

Liszt and Erkel adorn the lower portion of the beautiful Opera House but take a look up and you’ll see statues of some of the world’s greatest composers lining the top.  Included are Mozart, Beethoven and Verdi.

Great composers line the top of the Opera House Budapest Hungary

Look up to see some of the worlds greatest composers!

Hungarian National Bank

Besides the beautiful entrance, people come to see the bas-reliefs adorning the outside of the Hungarian National Bank.  These reliefs depict trade across the ages from camel traders to tea traders.  Sitting along Freedom Square, the building is a wonderful example of the late classical style.

Notice the Bas-Reliefs along the Hungarian National Bank Budapest

Notice the Bas-Reliefs along the Hungarian National Bank

As you can see, Budapest is full of many examples of art around town and now you’re forewarned you might develop a sore neck taking it all in!

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures, make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle and Alpine Bavaria

When people visit Germany it almost always includes a stop in Bavaria and, with good reason, this trip will include a visit to Neuschwanstein, just one of King Ludwig’s castles. Perched high atop a hill deep in Bavaria, near the Austrian border, sits Neuschwanstein castle. The castle combined with the dramatic scenery created by the jagged peaks of the Alps equal a beauty that is unsurpassed.

This impressive castle, built in the medieval style, creates a dreamy fairy tale vision that also exemplifies the feeling of this southern portion of Bavaria. It’s no wonder the castle is so popular!

View of Neuschwanstein Castle Bavaria Germany

View of Neuschwanstein Castle from www.schloesser.bayern.de - Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung

I recently had the opportunity to read a new guide to visiting Neuschwanstein and her sister castle Hohenschwangau. Written by Edd Morris, Neuschwanstein Castle 2013: An ‘Exploring Castles’ Travel Guide would be a great read for anyone visiting the castle for the first time. The author not only gives tips to enhance your visit of Neuschwanstein but also includes nearby hotel recommendations, not to miss excursions, ways to save a few euros on your visit and some interesting history on King Ludwig and the rooms in the castle. Also included is a discussion on the various ways you can reach the castle.

Alpsee Bavaria Germany

Alpsee by Nicholas Even

The close proximity to Munich enables visitors to reach the castle on a coach as a day tour from Bavaria’s capital city. My first visit to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles was on a coach trip from Munich. There are many pros and cons to this type of trip and while I thoroughly enjoyed my bus tour and could recommend it if you only had one day to experience King Ludwig’s castle, it’s not my preferred way to visit Neuschwanstein and her environs.

My favorite way to visit Kind Ludwig’s castle is by personal car spending multiple days in the area to fully experience the Bavarian Alpine countryside.

Why? Let me tell you just some of the reasons you should explore the region!

Oberammergau Bavaria Germany

Oberammergau by Oberau-Online, on Flickr

  • Visit villages that are famous for their painted buildings, violin making (Mittenwald), wood carving (Oberammergau) and organ music (Ottobeuren)
  • Fresh air, green meadows and National parks
    The Alpspitze and Waxenstein as seen from Garmisch Germany

    The Alpspitze and Waxenstein near Garmisch by Octagon

  • Enjoy a picnic in one of the meadows listening to lovely Alpine music from the bells around local Cows necks
  • Make cheese from the milk produced by these Happy Cows!
  • See storybook villages complete with chalets and window boxes overflowing with color
  • Hike up the Tegelberg mountain or around Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze
  • Swim, sail, canoe or walk around the many lakes in the area including Alpsee, Forggensee or Obersee
  • Drive along the Alpine Road stopping to visit other castles like Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee
  • Visit beautiful Wieskirche or the Baroque Abbey in Ettal which dates back to 1330 and is famous for its beer and schnapps
  • Ettal Abbey Bavaria Germany

    Ettal Abbey from wikimedia

    What do you think? Would the Alpine Scenery make for a wonderful holiday?

     
    While I did receive a copy of Neuschwanstein Castle 2013: An ‘Exploring Castles’ Travel Guide for free, all opinions are mine.

9 Reasons to Visit Le Mans France

Over the weekend my husband was watching the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race. He’s the race fan, so while he was giving me a little education on the cars and watching the race, I set out to discover more about Le Mans itself.

 
Le Mans France is situated about 113 miles south west of Paris in the Pays de Loire region. Sitting along the banks of the Sarthe river, Le Mans dates back to Roman times which gives the city a vast and varied history including ties to the Plantagenet royal family. Geoffrey V. d ‘Anjou (Plantagenet) was born in Le Mans during 1113, married Mathilda, daughter of Henry I of England, in Le Mans and his tomb is here too. The marriage of Geoffrey and Mathilda gave us Henry II a future King of England.

Here are 9 reason to visit Le Mans!

1)  All car enthusiasts will be interested in visiting Le Mans. There are 2 race courses in the city but the most famous race is the 24 Hours of Le Mans which has been taking place since 1923. A visit to the Musee de l’Automobile is enjoyable for everyone.

 

Gallo Romaine Walls Le Mans France

Le Mans Gallo Romaine Walls by OldLion

2)  The fortified Old Town is surrounded by Gallo-Roman walls which were built during the 3rd century to defend the city and are some of the best in all of France. A stroll through the Old Town is delightful as you pass many cobbled streets and half timbered houses.

 

Cathedral St. Julien Le Mans France

Cathedral St. Julien Le Mans France 080804 467 by juergen.mangelsdorf, on Flickr

3)  The Cathedral St. Julien rivals the magnificent cathedral in Chartres. Visitors are quite taken by the cathedral’s Gothic flying buttresses, Romanesque portal and stained glass windows. The oldest part of the cathedral dates back to the 11th century. The cathedral is also where Geoffrey married Mathilda and the resting place to the wife of Richard the Lionheart.

4)  The Sarthe River cuts a beautiful image through the city. Overlooking the river is Le Menhir, a monument to Celtic beliefs that has been looming over the town for 5,000 years.

 

Palais des Comtes du Maine Le Mans France

Palais des Comtes du Maine and brithplace of henry II Le Mans by Benchaum

5)  Today the city hall is in the Palais des Comtes du Maine which is the birthplace of Henry II.

6)  The Tunnel was built in the 19th century to make access to Le Mans easier but it also has some interesting lighting and landscaping along with a monument dedicated to Wilbur Wright.

7)  Besides the Roman walls, there are other items attesting to Le Mans’ Roman heritage including the Crypte Archeologique des Thermes Romains. In other words, remains of the Roman baths have been discovered near the river and are open to visitors.

 

Abbatiale de l'Epau near Le Mans France

Abbatiale de l'Epau by Benchaum

8)  Just at the edge of town is the impressive Cistercian Abbey of l’Epau. Founded by the wife of Richard the Lionheart, the medieval Abbey is situated along the Huisne River and offers a sanctuary for those seeking peace and calm

9)  Le Mans is home to many museums. Museums full of natural history, Automobile history, aquariums, Egyptian artifact and art. But to learn more about Le Mans and its history from Roman times through the 15th century, don’t miss the Museum of Archaeology and History of Mans on Plantagenet Square where you’ll be able to explore the vast history of the city dating all the way back to 50 BC and its Roman settlement.

 

Old Town Le Mans France

Le Mans, France by Sue Elias, on Flickr

Looks like there’s much more to Le Mans than cars! No wonder it has also been the site of many movies including Cyrano de Bergerac, Man in the Iron Mask and The Three Musketeers.

Next time I’m in the area I’ll be stopping by,

Will You?

Discovering the Cultural Heritage of Benidorm

Beaches seem to be king in Benidorm Spain but the lovely seaside city has a cultural side too! This guest post by Jeni of Co-op travel introduces some of the cultural spots to explore in Benidrom!

There’s a lot more to Benidorm than what the average tourist might think. A small village as little as fifty years ago, the Spanish town has grown to become one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, and with good reason.

Some might wrongly believe that it only caters to sunbathers and night life seekers, but there’s another side of Benidorm that visitors can take full advantage of, including a rich cultural heritage, excellent scenic spots and a vast range of events. Below are some of the best parts of the town that are often overlooked.

Benidorm Spain

Benidorm 060 by leumas_1974, on Flickr

The museums of Benidorm are frequently neglected by visiting holidaymakers, but there are several that provide a fascinating insight into its history. The first to consider is the House Museum, or Casa Museo de Benidorm – the principal art gallery of the coastal town. Admission is free, and in it you will find numerous collections of sculptures and paintings. Different exhibitions are also frequently held, so be sure to find out what visiting exhibitions are available when you visit.

Other museums to look into include the Agricultural Museum, or Museo de Agricola. Open every day, it has on display a wide range of farming equipment that would have been used in Benidorm before it became the holiday resort that it is today. Lastly, the Maritime Cultural Centre, or Centro Cultural Maritimo, can be found in a charming small house that boasts a great exhibition of nautical pieces. Boats, fishing equipment and photos make up just some of what it has on display and give visitors an idea of what would have once been the main source of income for locals. To find the best located places to stay to see Benidorm’s museums, going to Co-op travel’s website can prove extremely useful. In doing so, you’ll also be sure to find a good discounted price.

Beautiful Coastline of Benidorm Spain

Benidorm Spain from Wikimedia

As well as its museums, there are also numerous cultural spots you can visit to get a feel of Benidorm’s history. One of the best is located in the Sierra Helada Mountains, a mountain range that can be found right next to Benidorm and separates it from the neighboring town of Albir. It’s there that you can find the watchtowers of Seguro. The towers were used during the 16th Century to scan the seas for raiding pirates, and visitors can now climb them to gain a unique view over the ocean and the land surrounding Benidorm.

 

Would you visit Benidorm for its beaches or cultural attractions?

To Market, To Market

Farmers markets that is!


There are a lot of reasons I love summer but one of the best things (in my humble opinion) is the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables. And the best place to buy these goodies is at a Farmers Market.

With Summer officially beginning next week, its time to get out and spend some time wandering a local Farmers Market. . .  no matter where you are.

 

There is not a better place to enjoy a Farmers Market than in Europe!


The longer days and warmer weather of summer combine to produce a feast for your belly and eyes!  It seems each town in Europe has their own Farmers Market offering up a beautiful array of colorful fruits,

Farmers Market Bamberg Germany Fruits

Fruits in Bamberg Germany Farmers Market

Delicious vegetables,

Farmers Market Freiburg Germany Vegetables

Vegetables at Freiburg Germany Farmers Market

even some I’m not familiar with!

Farmers Market Freiburg Germany Carrots

Who knows what the long red vegetables are??

Plus a rainbow of colors from vibrant flowers!

Farmers Market Freiburg Germany Flowers

Colorful Flowers at Freiburg Germany Farmers Market

Farmers markets are a wonderful place to grab some snacks or items for a picnic lunch plus strolling the market is a great way to get out with the locals!

 

Do you visit Farmers Markets in Europe?

 

 

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Remembering World War I

Last week we remembered D-Day and the troops who risked their lives to liberate France from German occupation .  The D-Day beaches in Normandy France are a huge tourist draw but it seems as if time has forgotten those soldiers who lost their lives during World War I.

There are not many sights left in Europe that remind us of the First World War but in Eastern France travelers can learn about the war and remember those who gave their lives during heated battles taking place from 1914 to 1918.

Known as the “Western Front” this region is full of beautiful rivers, Gothic cathedrals and picturesque villages but it is also dotted with grim reminders of the devastation that took place here during World War I.

Battelfield Verdun France

1916 Battelfield of Verdun still retains traces of shellimpacts from wikimedia

Besides the craters and trenches that are still visible, the area is home to many cemeteries, museums and memorials that will help you appreciate the extent of battles that took place in the area.

Some of the fiercest fighting occurred near Verdun and the Somme Region of France and today there are many museums and memorials honoring those that served.

Verdun France

The Battle of Verdun lasted 300 days and left 300,000 dead. The Memorial de Verdun was opened in 1967 to remember French and German soldiers as well as civilian citizens lost during the siege. The museum displays military armaments, vehicles, uniforms and equipment and is built on the site of Fleury, a village that was wiped out during fighting.

Memorial de Verdun France

Memorial de Verdun by Wolfgang Staudt

Also in the area are Fort Douaumont, which was a strategic command post and gives a real sense of the conditions the soldiers endured, and Fort Vaux which includes a memorial to the carrier pigeons used during the war.

Fort Douaumont Ossuary France WWI Battle site

Douaumont Ossuary by Gordon T Lawson, on Flickr

The French National Cemetery commemorates the 130,000 unknown French and German soldiers killed at Verdun while the Douaumont Ossuary holds the bones of these unknown soldiers. This moving location will definitely leave you thinking about the war that left so many dead or wounded. Climbing the bell tower overlooking the cemetery with its rows of white crosses or visiting the Trench of Bayonets, where an entire company was buried alive, brings home the horrors of war.

Somme France

The Somme region was the site of one of the bloodiest battles on the Western Front. Over 620,000 French and British soldiers died here along with over 600,000 German soldiers. The remains of the dead were not transported back to their countries which is why the area has 280 plus graveyards and memorials.

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing France

Thiepval Memorial to the missing by Chris Hartford from London, UK

The Thiepval Memorial honors the missing and is a beautiful red brick arched structure. This is “the largest British battle memorial in the world” and the names of 72,000 missing soldiers are engraved on the walls. Occasionally, the remains of a soldier are found in one of the former battlefields.  If the remains are somehow identified, the name is then removed from the list of the missing and the soldier is given a full military burial.

Entrance to Museum of the Great War Peronne France

Entrance to Museum of the Great War at Peronne by mifl68, on Flickr

Peronne is a lovely French town very near many of the battle sites in the Somme. It is also home to the Museum of the Great War. Located in a castle, this museum strives to show the common suffering of not only the soldiers but the impact war has on the citizens.

This portion of France is a must see to any history and/or war enthusiast. Next year marks the 100th anniversary of World War I and the region will host many ceremonies and events commemorating those that served.

 

Do you visit battle sites while traveling?

Less Crowded Options for European Summer Travels

School is almost out which means summer vacations are right around the corner. If you’re able to vacation any time of year, you might not choose summer to visit Europe but many vacationers only have summertime for a European family vacation.

So how do you beat the summer crowds in Europe?

In my local Sunday paper I found a list of travel options that are less crowded than the more popular destinations. Here are their suggestions for quieter summer destinations in Europe!

Budapest Hungary instead of Paris France

Danube and Parliament Building Budapest Hungary

Budapest by ** Maurice **, on Flickr

Paris is probably one of the most well known travel destinations in the world so it’s not surprising Paris is crowded during the summer! While Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Seine River, the Louvre and the Champs Elysee bring people to Paris, Budapest also has its well known sites. People come to Budapest to see the Fisherman’s Bastion, Parliament Building, the grand boulevard Andrassy Ut and its Spas. Some even say Budapest is the most beautiful city in Central Europe and with the beautiful views over the Danube River I can see why Budapest has earned this label. Budapest and Paris both have long and tumultuous histories, grand architecture covering a vast array of time periods, beautiful cathedrals and gobs of cultural opportunities!

Korcula Croatia instead of Corfu Greece

Panorama of Korčula Croatia

Panorama of Korčula by Zupec on wikimedia

Korcula and Corfu are both stunning islands that offer warm weather, crystal clear waters and beautiful beaches but the comparisons stop there. Sitting off the coast of Greece, Corfu has been the playground for the rich and famous for eons. The island also has a rich heritage dating back to 1300 BC and is full of historic monuments and museums displaying archeological finds from the temples and ancients cities on the island. If you’re looking for a quieter vacation centered on water and beaches, then Korcula may be the perfect place for you! Relax on one of the beautiful beaches, kayak around some of the other islands or snorkel in the clear cool waters of the Adriatic. Korcula also offers great views back to the Dalmation Coast of Croatia!

Baltic Coast of Germany instead of Bavaria Germany

National Park Jasmund on Rugen Island Germany

National Park Jasmund on Rugen Island by Thomas Wolf on wikimedia

If Germany is your destination, you really can’t go wrong visiting either Bavaria or the Baltic Coast.  But if you’re looking for a quieter seaside trip, then the Baltic is an excellent option. When I wrote Warnemunde – A Baltic Beach Resort the number one comment I received was people were surprised Germany has beaches. Yes Germany has glorious beaches and Warnemunde is just one of them! The Baltic coast had been a popular resort area with the aristocrats for years and since reunification, this coastline is gaining in popularity but is still a peaceful respite from the summer crowds found in the more popular tourist destinations. Germany’s Baltic coast is full of long sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, sand dunes, popular resort islands, nature reserves and quaint seaside towns with centers that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Baltic coast still maintains a very definite maritime feel and is a great place to relax while watching sailboats or enjoy a walk or bike ride along the miles of sandy beaches!

What other less-crowded European destinations can you suggest?

Wheeling Through Catalonia

This type of cycling holiday is something I’m very interested in, so I am very excited to bring this guest post to you today!  Elizabeth Banks is a freelance travel journalist and food lover.  She has a passion for discovering off the beaten track holiday destinations.

As a cycling novice, I was eager to see what my first cycling holiday would be like.  For my first trip I chose Inntravel a company specializing in walking and cycling holidays.  One of the reasons I opted for Inntravel was their rating system of the cycling trips.  Level 1 is mainly flat routes where a level 2 or 3 involves frequent ascents and descents. It was not a difficult choice for me to decide on an easy grade 1 cycling holiday in Catalonia.   Another huge benefit of Inntravel cycling holidays is they transport luggage between hotels!

Now I’m off on my cycling holiday!

On arrival in the rural hamlet of Joanetes, the starting point for our holiday, we were introduced to our bikes.  We were given a city trekking bike and helmet which has to be worn by law on all highways in Spain.  We also received a handy waterproof map case (which could be attached to the handlebars), saddlebags, a pump and puncture repair kit.  But don’t worry, with Inntravel also included is emergency assistance from the bike supplier should you run into any major problems with your bike during the trip. With this added reassurance we were ready to set off!

Day 1 started at El Ferres in a tranquil valley which was a gentle introductory route so we could get used to our bikes and get a first glimpse of this beautiful corner of Catalonia.  We cycled through pretty villages on flat quiet roads and made a picnic stop where we grabbed a delicious home-made lunch of crusty bread, olives, a selection of local cured meats and cheeses. After lunch we continued onwards to the larger provincial capital of Olot before taking a leisurely route along the former railway back to our hotel.  Our family-run hotel, Mas El Ferres was a charming farmhouse in a beautiful rustic style. We curled up in the lounge by the large inglenook fireplace to admire the amazing views.  After a delicious home-cooked evening meal, it was time for bed.

Cycling Along Narrow Gauge Railway Route Olot Girona Spain

Cycling Along Narrow Gauge Railway Route Olot Girona Spain

Day 2 we headed towards the charming hamlet of Els Hostalets d´en Bas.  Our route was flat and took us along pretty, winding lanes.  The route notes were easy to follow and at times I almost forgot I was cycling since I was so busy taking in the spectacular scenery and array of beautiful flowers lining the road.  The hamlet sits in the colourful Vall d´en Bass known as ‘Little Switzerland’.  The charming traditional houses with wooden balconies added to the fairy-tale appearance of the area.  We had fantastic views of the Pyrenees and decided it was the perfect spot for a picnic.  After a leisurely lunch and a wander around it was back on the bikes for the final stretch of the days cycling – which was slightly downhill and made for a very pleasant afternoon’s ride.

Cycling Europes Traffic Free Routes

Cycling Europes Traffic Free Routes

We arrived in the pretty town of Les Planes our destination for the night.  We stayed at Can Garay a truly stunning Art Deco family home, lovingly restored by our hosts Lluis Garay and his wife Sophie.  Lluis is the great-grandson of the original owner and has preserved many of the original features including stained glass windows.  With just six bedrooms, this hotel was a real find and the cozy lounge was the ideal place to curl up with a glass of wine after dinner.  The large gardens were another plus as they were shaded by centuries-old trees and scattered with fountains. Luckily, we arrived in time for an evening stroll around the gardens before our meal.

Cycling Spains Disused Railway Line

Cycling Spains Disused Railway Line

Day 3 we sadly left Les Planes for our final day’s cycle to Girona.  Our route was nearly all along a disused railway line.  The mostly flat terrain gave us some welcome easy pedaling.  We stopped off at the delightful village of Amer, an unspoiled (yet bustling) town with arcaded buildings set around the main square.  We continued parallel to the Ter River, past lush fields and woodland right into the heart of Girona.  There is plenty to explore in this medieval walled city, the striking gothic cathedral, hidden courtyards and a labyrinth of narrow streets.  The pastel-coloured houses that line the river give the city an enchanting element that was like no other city I have visited.  We stayed at the Hotel Peninsular, a family-run hotel on the site of an old convent, just a few minutes from the cathedral.

Girona Spain

Girona Spain

 

Would you consider a cycling holiday?

 
All pictures are the property of and used with permission of Inntravel.

Six Reasons to Visit Badenweiler Germany

I love reading and enjoy books that whisk me off to wonderful places in Europe. If you’re like me, you’ve spent hours traveling through European cities in books like The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, London and Russka by Edward Rutherford or even Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know how much I love visiting Germany. So it was with great glee I purchased the book Badenweiler Waltz by SW Kroeker which is a book about a young woman diagnosed with a fatal disease who decides to spend her last days in Badenweiler Germany and also maybe find a cure in the spa village. While the book wasn’t a barn burner, I did enjoy visiting this small village in the Black Forest through the eyes of Elizabeth Kurz, the main character.

 

Panorama over Badenweiler Germany Black Forest

Panorama over Badenweiler by Wladyslaw wikipedia

I was enchanted by the people and sights she found in Badenweiler and decided to discover more about the village.

 

Here are six reasons I’d visit Badenweiler Germany!


  1. Badenweiler is a spa resort known for its curative treatments for tuberculosis, arthritis, osteoporosis and other cardiovascular diseases. Along with the main character in the book, the spa has been attracting the ill for a long time including Anton Chekhov who spent his last days here. The city’s spa, Cassiopeia Therme, is set in a wonderful garden which helps make the spa a great place to rejuvenate your body!

    Spa at Badenweiler Germany

    Spa at Badenweiler Germany by Jayjay P, on Flickr

  2. Wandering the streets of Badenweiler Germany visitors will find ruins of a Roman Bath and Castle plus a church which stands on the grounds of an ancient Roman temple. Today St. Paul’s Church is an example of neo-Romanesque architecture but its grounds have been sacred for many decades dating back to Roman times. The well preserved Roman Baths were discovered in 1784 and can be explored while the ruins of Baden castle, first mentioned in 1122, loom over the village and offer breathtaking views.

    Vestiges Roman Baths Badenweiler Germany Black Forest

    Vestiges Roman Baths Badenweiler Germany by Wernain S. wikimedia

  3. The Black Forest is a great place to hike and Badenweiler is no exception! There are short day hikes surrounding Badenweiler which bring you to wonderful forests in a very short time. If you’d like longer hikes, these can be found too.

    St Pauls Church Badenweiler Germany Black Forest

    St. Pauls Church from wikimedia

  4. The rolling hills surrounding Badenweiler are full of vineyards where visitors can explore wines of the region. You could opt to enjoy a hike through some of the vineyards or even a lovely bike ride. The orchards and vineyards in the area can also be explored by driving the Baden Wine Route
    Aerial view of Badenweiler Germany in the Black Forest
    Aerial view of Badenweiler Germany courtesy of Badenweiler spas and Touirstik GmbH / Erich Meyer
  5. Badenweiler is in a great location to not only explore more of the Black Forest but also neighboring countries. A quick 17 mile drive will bring you to Basel Switzerland and an even shorter 7 mile drive finds you arriving at the French border ready to explore the amazing vineyards and villages in the Alsace region Badenweiler is also only 19 miles from Freiburg Germany another quaint and wonderful city in the Black Forest.

    View over Badenweiler Germany Black Forest

    View over Badenweiler by Wenain S. wikimedia

  6. This enchanting village is known as a sanctuary for relaxation. Adding to the dream like feel of Badenweiler is the warm weather the area is known for. In fact, you may find that you come under the spell of Badenweiler and succumb to the most wonderful German tradition – Kaffee und Kuchen each afternoon!

 

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