10 Things to visit in Alaska

Whether you love cold weather or not Alaska is something that you have to see in your lifetime. I’m not a big fan of cold weather but the scenery made me forget about that fact at all. There is something about the snow-capped mountains and the vast ocean that kept my jaws dropped the whole time.

Alaska is really in a far-away spot in the world so traveling can be complicated or expensive if you wish to follow environmentally friendly practices. It is hard to avoid any flight to get to Alaska but once you are there you have a little more options. You can explore Denali National Park by Alaska Railroad (https://www.alaskarailroad.com/) from Anchorage to Fairbanks stopping at Denali and get into nature. 

You can also opt for a small cruise ship and discover it from aboard and on land. Smaller ships may have less negative impact on the environment but they will definitely cause less overtourism. 

Alaska is only ‘open’ for a few months from May to September so you have to decide whether you like cold weather with a real winter environment or you like warmer weather with a spring looking scenery. May and September is the harshest with very cold temperatures while June and August is a little milder but you still get the snowy surroundings. July is the month where you can actually wear short sleeved tops as the climate gets very warm at around the 70 F.

Here are 10 things you must do in Alaska:

1. Ziplining in Icy Strait Point (Hoonah)

ZipRider is the world’s largest zipline with a length of 5,495 feet long, 1,320 feet vertical drop and a 65 mph top speed. We went up to the top of Hoonah Mountain in a van and it took 45 minutes. We saw deers and other cute animals on the way up. The way down was the best though and it took 90 seconds! Actually, 90 seconds on a ziprider is a long time. You feel like flying like a bird and the scenery in front of you (or below you) was just mesmerizing. It is definitely worth the $160.

Ziplining in Icy Strait Point in Hoonah, Alaska

https://icystraitpoint.com/tour/worlds-largest-ziprider-and-scenic-mountain-ascent/

2. Dog sledding in Alaska

You can do dog sledding in many places in Alaska (Skagway, Juneau, Anchorage, Seward) The tours usually contain a helicopter ride, introduction of the mush camp and dog sledding. I went to Denver Glacier from Skagway where we had a mush camp with 200 dogs! They were beautiful animals and very eager to run so they are trained for Iditarod, the famous dog sledding competition. We heard stories from the mushers and were introduced to the new addition of the family, a small husky puppy. 

Dogsledding in Alaska

http://temscoair.com/skagway-tours/

3. The Aurora Ice Museum in Fairbanks

It is located in the Chena Hot Springs Resort and it is made of 1000 tons of ice and snow. It was built in 2005 January and it has 25 Fahrenheit cold inside all the time. They have special chillers that keep it cold in the warmer months. It is open every day and the entrance fee is $15.

https://chenahotsprings.com/icemuseum/

4. Gold Panning in Skagway

I went on a tour in the Klondike Gold Fields, which is a living museum and had the opportunity to pan for gold. The museum restored a 1937 Gold Dredge and they reconstructed the sifting machine piece by piece to its original state. You can listen to the history and demonstrations of the Gold Rush era. 

Gold panning in Skagway, Alaska. This is the gold I found.

The best part of this tour is the ‘Gold Panning’. You learn how to do it correctly and don’t forget to shake it from left to right. Gold is heavy so it will sink to the bottom. My treasure was weighed in the Gold Shack. In the picture above is what I found! Pure gold was worth about $13 back in 2013. I guess it is worth much more right now..

https://skagwayshoretours.com/klondike-gold-fields/

5. Whale watching 

Whale watching is something you should not miss when you are in Alaska. Whales are beautiful animals and if you are lucky you can even see orcas too. Whale watching tours are kind of unpredictable though. Most of the tour companies can not guarantee that you would see a whale. However, Rum Runner Charters give you a 100% refund if you can’t see any whale! 

Whale watching in Alaska

 It is also important to choose tour companies that care for the environment and operate a responsible business. Watch out for tour companies with Whale SENSE accreditation. Here are two whale watching tours that are members of the Whale SENSE.

https://majormarine.com/

https://www.rumrunnercharters.net/

6. Wings Airways and the Taku Glacier Lodge 

I did the Taku Lodge Feast and 5 Glacier Discovery Tour. This tour starts in Juneau and you get to fly in a seaplane doing a Glacier Flightseeing for 25 minutes before arriving at Taku Glacier Lodge. The whole tour is a true Alaskan experience with glaciers, Alaskan salmon feast, bears and wilderness exploration. Taku Glacier Lodge, built in 1023,  is a historical landmark and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier at the Taku Lodge in Alaska

Once the plane lands on the water you get to explore the lodge’s surroundings. You can take a short interpretative wilderness tour while your Alaskan salmon feast is being made on the grill. The scenery is breathtaking with the Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier in front of you and bears walking around the property pretty close to you. The feast is a very delicious big meal with entree and many side dishes including a large piece of Alaskan sourdough bread.

Bear looks for some leftover food after the fresh grilled salmon lunch was done.

https://www.wingsairways.com/taku-lodge-feast-and-five-glacier-discovery

7. Denali National Park 

Denali – its previous name Mount McKinley – is the tallest mountain in North America with 20,310 feet as its highest peak. It has only one road with one entrance that runs from east to west. It is a very scenic drive through passes and forests but some parts of the road are only accessible by narrated and non-narrated buses. You can also hike on trails and off trails or stay in one of the six campgrounds. There are many tours offered with duration from 4 to 12 hours. 

Denali National Park in Alaska

8. White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad in Skagway

White Pass & Yukon Route trains in Skagway, Alaska

The railroad was built during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898. This train ride is one of a historical one that took settlers and miners up to the Canadian border to the White Pass. It was the first built train system of the Klondike Gold Rush era. After 1982  the metal prices plummeted and the mines closed. The railroad service turned into a tourism attraction in 1988. It is a three-hours train ride into the wilderness up to the White Pass where the train turns back. I took it in the middle of May therefore the weather was very cold and you could not see much. I suggest you do it in the warmer months like from the end of June to beginning of August. 

Lexi in front of the White Pass & Yukon Route sign before she took the three-hour train ride

https://wpyr.com/excursions/

9. Mendenhall Glacier and ice caves in Juneau

Mendenhall Glacier, a 12-mile long glacier, is located outside of Juneau. The ‘caves’ are actually formed within a body of the glacier and they are gorgeous crystal blue. You have to take trails from the Visitor Center to get to the ice caves and it is also accessible by kayak. Tours usually run from July to September. Unfortunately due to climate change it receded over time and also melts so it is advisable to book it with a tour company or with an experienced guide. They cannot guarantee that the ice caves will be there but they can inform you about it.

Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska

10. Visit the World’s largest Chocolate Waterfall in Anchorage

If you love chocolate and you happen to be in Anchorage in Alaska you should visit the world’s largest chocolate waterfall in Alaska Wild Berry Products’ main store. It’s 20-foot fall and uses 3000 pounds of chocolate, which was donated by the Peter’s Chocolate Division of Nestle Foods and Guittard Chocolate Company. The main store has the factory where you can tour the candy kitchen and in the summer they have entertainment including singing and dancing. 

http://alaskawildberryproducts.com/about-us/worlds-largest-chocolate-falls.html 

The Power Of Mini Vacations

Why You Need To Take Mini Vacations

 

All of us get stuck in the rat race of life time to time and instead of sweeping the feeling under the carpet you should think of a quick getaway from your usual environment.

 

It does not have to be expensive nor far remote. Places that are even just an hour or couple of hours away from your home would provide the much needed recharge.

 

Mini vacation is a 2-4 days time-off depending on your urgency, demand and obligation. If you have kids at home it could be more complicated but you could organize a family trip. If you have animals at home try to find something where you can take them with you. There are accommodations in the US that accept dogs.

 

On the financial side you might have to spend some money on babysitter or dog sitter (if you decide to leave them behind). However, you have to think about the huge benefit of mental recovery and the medical bill you can avoid by changing your local environment.

 

Your choice also depends on whether you are a passive or an active vacationer. If you are the former type you can easily find a spot and just relax with a little movement around you. National Parks offer a wide range of places to enjoy the stillness and tranquility. However, if you are an active person you should spend more time on research and pack your days full of adventures. Try a new sport you have never tried before but wanted to. How about paddle boarding or paragliding?

 

Here are some examples of some passive activities:

 

Hiking/Walking – Walking in nature changes your brain, makes you happy and reduces anxiety. https://www.outsideonline.com/2393036/50-best-hikes-us

Fishing – It boosts your immune system and teaches you patience. https://www.fieldandstream.com/50-best-new-fishing-spots-in-america/

Wildlife viewing – It can be very exciting to see animals in their natural habitat. Breathing fresh air while observing wildlife can deepen the sense of your well-being. 
http://www.thegreatestroadtrip.com/extras/2017/3/2/from-grizzlies-to-gators-americas-national-parks-are-holding

Stargazing – Never underestimate the power of stargazing. It will absorb you and connect your whole being with the cosmos. You will feel energized and empowers your imagination and inspiration. https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/best-places-to-stargaze

 

Lexi jumps in  Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park, California.

And here are some active holiday options:

 

Paddle boarding – First of all, you need a lake to do this. It means you are already in a relaxing environment so why not try paddle boarding? You will also learn about your strength and balance. https://paddlersway.com/9-best-places-paddle-board-usa/

 

White water rafting – If you are looking for a fun and scary thing to do on your vacation you should go white water rafting. It’s in groups so even the whole family can participate. The overall risk is very low and you will be wearing lifejackets. https://www.wheretraveler.com/north-americas-10-best-river-trips

 

Zip-lining and obstacle course – This one is a tough one. It needs both physical and mental strength. Zip-lining is more of overcoming your fears before you jump but the challenge course has its name for a reason. It will challenge your abilities on a high level. It’s hard at the beginning but once you finish it the benefit can last for your entire life. You will know you are capable much more in life than you thought before. https://familytraveller.com/usa/adventure-vacations/best-zip-lining-parks/

 

Snorkeling – If you live or can travel places with beaches and beautiful reefs you should definitely go snorkeling. Go explore the underwater world of the oceans. You don’t need to submerge deep in the water it takes place on the surface in the shallow water. It means even non-swimmers can snorkel. https://thedyrt.com/magazine/lifestyle/best-places-snorkel-usa/

 

Why don’t you check out these places and choose one that interest you the most. Make a plan and off you go to clear up your mind!

5 Reasons To Visit Antarctica

5 Reasons to visit Antarctica

It seems visiting Antarctica in your life time becomes an urgency due to disappearing landscapes and declining wildlife. I ask one thing from you though. When you decide to travel into the unknown you have to promise to yourself to protect the environment by only using small, expedition ships (under 200 passenger).

These vessels are more innovative and sustainable with better technology not to mention their flexibility. If you are deeply fascinated by this land you would want to spend more than a couple of days there while you want to reach places large cruise liners cannot.

So, why would you travel to Antarctica?

Here are some suggestions.

1. One-of-a-kind

As the climate gets hotter Antarctica’s icebergs starts to break off and eventually melt making it harder to reach ice sheets previously was possible. You do not have to worry about not seeing icebergs and snow in Antarctica though but the damage is obviously visible – especially for those are exposed to the snowy environment for a longer period.

Best time to travel to Antarctica is in the summer months of November to March when the sunlight is up 24 hours a day and the wildlife is the most active.

2. Adventure

If you are an adventure seeker you should really try Antarctica. And not just for the sake of observation but for engaging in various activities. I would definitely try sea kayaking there even though I have never tried ‘normal’ kayaking. It is just for the purpose of the thrill to experience something you have never experienced before. And why not in the Antarctic.

Also, Zodiac – an inflatable boat – looks fun to ride passing by enormous ice formations and watch wildlife activities onshore and from the boat.

3. Scenery

If you have ever been to a country with snow capped high peak mountains like Alaska or Switzerland you know the feeling of being surrounded by these beautiful nature. Antarctica differs from the above mentioned  places due to its vast icy landmasses without any trees or plants around. It’s just you, the ice and your tour companion. Even though it is very cold exploring the unknown will ease your pain and let you absorb the scenery you can only imagine.

4. Wildlife

I do not know about you but I am fascinated about animals and if we are talking about Antarctica I am especially attracted to the Emperor penguins. These are the largest penguin species in the world. While they look beautiful they are also funny how they walk. For me a trip just to see these animals would be worth the money.

They  breed in the middle of winter between April and December close to the coast on sea ice. Most of the colonies are found on frozen ice all around the coasts of Antarctica so you have a good chance to see them. Apparently, they extraordinary divers and can hold their breath for 22 minutes. What is more interesting is their breeding ritual. The mother lays the eggs in the beginning of winter passing the rest of the responsibility onto the male penguins after. While the males keep the eggs warm on the their feet in a special skin for 4 months in the middle of the coldest and darkest months of winter the mothers go back to the sea and only come back at around when the chicks were born.

You can also see seals (leopard and elephant), whales (orca and blue), other type of penguins, snow petrels and birds like albatross.

5. Photography

If you are into photography going on a tour to Antarctica would be one of your best bet. First of all, not many people can visit those places you are just doing and snapping photos of wildlife would be a rare and unique moment. So, you have to be ready to grab your camera and take a shoot of those seconds. I personally would love to have a picture with an emperor penguin but since you can not take a photo of yourself nor touch any animals someone else has to do it for you. Being friendly and make friends on an expedition cruise has its advantages.

These are the tour companies we feel we can suggest without hesitation due to their contribution to the environment, following strict guidelines, safety standards and their high quality education onboard.

1. Oceanwide Expeditions – www.https://oceanwide-expeditions.com/

2. Hurtigruten – https://www.hurtigruten.com/

3. Lindblad Expeditions – https://www.expeditions.com/

If you have any questions please send us an email to info@travelforevereco.com

About Lexi Randazzo

Lexi is the founder of Travel Forever, a sustainable travel company and she blogs about responsible travel, fun facts about travel and travel tips to travel more sustainably.

5 BEST ECO LODGES AND HOTELS IN ECUADOR

1. Patio Andaluz

We thought this cute place in Quito, the capital of Ecuador could be your first accommodation when you arrive to Ecuador. This 4-star elegant boutique hotel in the heart of the Old Town. It is located in the historical part of Quito in walking distance from the main attractions, churches and museums. With its colonial atmosphere you feel you are back in the days while sitting in the courtyard of the Rincón De Cantuña restaurant surrounded by the Ecuadorian architecture, table cloths, decoration and arches.  

The hotel also follow green best practices and it is Rainforest Alliance certified. They emphasize the importance of environmental, socio-cultural and economic impact of their operation. All their employees are local and most of their products are organic. 

Information: https://www.hotelpatioandaluz.com/

2. Sani Lodge

If you are looking for some unique, one-of-a-kind experience this is your place! Sani Lodge is located deep in the Amazon rainforest, in the middle of Yasuní National Park and the Cuyabeno Reserveon the bank of the Napo River. You need to take a short flight and then a 3-hour canoe ride to reach the property, which is run by indigenous people, the Sani Isla Tribal Community. If you have more time, less money and you are adventurous enough you can also take a 7-hour bus or van ride through the jungle.

It offers activities and immersions worth traveling for. You can sign up on various programs but we liked the cultural immersion for the reason that you can take part in artisan chocolate making, try the tribe’s hunting tool called blowgun, create some handicrafts and taste their traditional food from the Amazon Rainforest. They also have an Ayahuasca Ceremony where the Chaman lead a tribal ritual for spiritual rebirth.

The lodge is fully committed to preserve and protect their environment, while focusing on sustainable operations.

Information: https://www.sanilodge.com/

3. Mashpi Lodge

This 5-star Unique Lodges of the World hotel (also a research statin) is tucked away in the wilderness of Chocó forest inside the Mashpi Natural Reserve and was built with the purpose of protecting the surrounding biodiversity and natural habitat. For this reason its buildings was created in a sustainable way blending in with their natural environment perfectly. It has large wall-to-ceiling glass windows all around to get the nature closer as possible. Its architecture is modern with a luxury features and it has an open-air panoramic terrace for you to immerse in the deep lush jungle breathing the fresh air and listening to the birds chirping.

We really liked the aspect of the activities offered for children or youth. They have a special area designed for kids to learn about the wildlife and their projects. The Expedition Room is for those love reading or just interested in conservation and this habitat’s discoveries. Guests can help with volunteering with research at the lodge. 

The lodge employees are also shareholders of the this company and collaboration with local community is essential part of the operations. They source almost everything locally. They combine ecotourism, research, education and community support to create an impact in the world. 

Information: https://www.mashpilodge.com/

4. Cotococha Lodge

This amazing place is also located in the Amazon Rainforest by the Napo River. It has 22 bungalows equipped with hammocks, private veranda and oil lamps. Yes, oil lamps. They do not use electricity to lower the impact on the environment creating a romantic atmosphere. 

Do not forget to try the Guayusa which is the energy drink of Ecuador. It is a brewed leaf drink made in a similar way as tea and it is also available in cocktails. The restaurant offers traditional Ecuadorian dishes with international fusion made from local ingredients. 

The Lodge has several tours including canoeing on the Napo River, visiting a Butterfly Farm, river tubing, cave hiking, jungle trekking, kayaking, white water rafting and engagement with the local community. The last two options are very exciting. Firstly, it is interesting if you have never done it. So yes, I would definitely try white water rafting in the Amazon rainforest. Secondly, any interaction with indigenous tribes lead to a unique experience. You actually will share their everyday activities with them, lear how to pan for gold, make household utensils and how to make ‘Chicha de Yuca’, their typical daily drink.

The hotel is certified by Smart Voyager therefore they practice full responsibility towards their local environment while they educate guests how to protect the area. Most of their employees are local, they support native communities and they source their handicrafts from local suppliers. 

Information: http://www.cotococha.com/ 

5. La Selva Amazon Ecolodge and Spa

This beautiful sustainable lodge is also located in the Amazon jungle within the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve on the south bank of Napo River – a 5-hour trip from Quito by flight, motorized and normal canoe and on foot. For all your time at the lodge you will be accompanied by an expert naturalist and a native guide. You will get rainforest gear – ponchos and boots – on request. La Selva has amazing spa treatments full-body massage, Rejuvenating baths and natural Amazon masks all performed outside by the lake in a serene atmosphere. Make sure to taste their rainforest cuisine – they use local, fresh ingredients and a fusion of Ecuadorian and international dishes.

They also offer yoga and meditation classes. Children and adults both has the opportunities to experience cultural exchange, photography, nature walks, birdwatching, swimming in the lake, relaxation and even star gazing.

They continuously work on lowering their carbon footprint following social and environmental responsibilities.
Some of their employees are even born on the premises and raised there. They support the local Kichwa community by offering them training and work. They follow responsible management practices, they use resistant wood, bamboo and steel for construction due to humidity. In 2020 they plan to create an organic botanical garden they can utilize for their kitchen. They will change their equipments to energy efficient ones and will have solar panels to provide energy instead of fossil fuel. They limit air-conditioning use with fans and natural air. They have a mutual relationship with the Pilchi tribe in which the community does not hunt or fish in the lodge’s property and the La Selva lodge give them a monthly contribution and purchase their agricultural products for their cuisine.

Information: https://www.laselvajunglelodge.com/

Hungarian Grand Wine Tour

An exclusive and interactive wine tour in the Hungarian countryside

This tour is not for the faint-hearted for it involves a lot of wine and actions! It is active, culturally engaging, educational and inspires your creativity. You see places you have never seen before. You create things you have never made before. And you taste wines you have never tasted before. And you get to take home some of your memories in a shape of your creation!

Here is a brief itinerary about what you are going to EXPERIENCE:

Day 1 – Visit Etyek wine region and a chocolate factory where you can create your own chocolate bar or a box of chocolates. You will taste some Etyek wines and learn how to make the real Hungarian Goulash. Later on the day you visit the old city of Szekesfehervar, which was the capitol of Hungary in the Middle Ages. You will stay in 4* hotels in Balatonfured. Lunch with cooking class and wine /chocolate tastings are included.

Day 2 – Visit the world famous Herend Porcelain Factory and make your own porcelain rose or elephant. In the afternoon you visit the Somlo wine region of Hungary and indulge in a local wine tasting. You will learn about the sparkling wine making process, while you will stay at the estate overnight. Dinner, wine tasting and entrance fee to the Herend Porcelain are included.

Day 3 – You will take a boat ride in the caves on a lake and you will visit Badacsony wine region. In one of the wineries you will have the opportunity to become a winemaker for a couple of hours and you can create your own white blend! You can visit a Benedictine Abbey overlooking the Lake Balaton and stay overnight in the outskirts of Szekszard. Dinner, boat ride and wine making are included.

Day 4 – You will visit a couple of wineries in the Szekszard and the Villany wine regions. They are all very different in style, but they all have one thing in common: They offer exceptional wines! For dinner you have a ‘degustation’ menu, with local food specialties paired with local wines. Stay overnight in a wine hotel. Dinner and wine tastings are included.

Day 5 – Visit the paprika museum and stock up on some real Hungarian paprika! Before lunch you will watch a horse show with Hungarian ‘cowboys’, take a horse cart ride and have a hearty lunch along with ‘gypsy’ music. Stay overnight in Tokaj region. Lunch and entrance fees are included.

Day 6 – Visit two wineries in Tokaj, which is the home of the world famous sweet wine of Hungary: Tokaji Aszu! You will visit the 250-year old stone dusty cellars, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the afternoon you will visit another winery in Eger wine region, which is located in a stone quarry! Dinner and wine tastings are included. Stay overnight in 4* hotels in Eger.

Day 7 – Visit Holloko, the authentic Hungarian cultural village and engage in all types of activities, including: a folklore dance class, pottery or basket making, cheese making or visiting various museums. You will be dropped off at your hotel in the late afternoon. Entrance fee to 10 programs in the village is included – you can buy more at the premises.

  • Price based on double occupancy and does not include airfare to and from Budapest
  • Price includes hotels and transportation for the 7 days

We’d love to hear your questions, inquiries or interest. Please send an email and we get back to you as soon as possible or alternatively we can be reached on 808.214.8467 or by email.

Organic cheese tour in Wisconsin

Many people simply love cheese. All types of cheese, but one thing is important: Quality! Wisconsin is the land of cheese in the United States, so this is the place that crosses our mind first. The state has over 9.500 dairy farms with over 1,270,000 dairy cows produce 3,167,495,000 lbs. cheese in 2016! That’s a lot of cheese.

 

The Wisconsin Dairy Heritage dates back to the 1830s when farm wives started to make ‘kitchen’ cheese from their cows’ milk. And it is the home for the annual World Championship Cheese Contest where Wisconsin is the leader in the industry.

 

If you care for pesticide and herbicide free food then you should definitely visit the organic farms in Wisconsin. They obviously follow green best practices and feed their cows with non-GMO crops. Then they make the delicious chemical free cheese from their milk, which can be cheddar, monetary jack, muenster, farmers, mozzarella,

 

Cedar Grove – is located in the heart of the cheese making region – makes cheese in a traditional, old-fashion way and they also educate visitors about the art and history of cheese making, and how small production effects the environment and the other businesses around them. They also have windows in their store where you can see how they make the cheese in the factory. They have all kind of cheese including daily specials and specialty cheeses you cannot find anywhere else. They also have a squeaky cheese curd. If not organic, their cheeses are hormone and GMO free.

 

Castle Rock Farms is also proud of their sustainable farming and organic cheese making operations. They believe in respecting the land they use and the quality they create. They offer various sized cheese gift boxes and many types of organic cheeses including blue cheese, cheese curd, cheese spreads and raw cheddar plus ice cream. They have very interesting flavored cheeses: Cajun, Garam Masala, Black Bean Salsa and Lemon-Thyme-Ginger.

 

Otter Creek Organic Farm really does an effort to keep their environment under sustainable operations they even make their own fertilizers. They specialized in seasonal, raw cheddar cheese made from a single farm. Their award winning cheese is the Pesto Cheddar, which is unpasteurized and aged at least six months giving it a rich, full and creamy taste.

 

P.S. – Want to go on a custom designed eco-friendly and sustainable tour anywhere in the world? I’m happy to book your full or partial trip! I’ll be offering you to my favorite hotels or resorts, restaurants, attractions, bars, and natural wonders you won’t find in any guidebook. If you’re interested, subscribe to my newsletter for updates or contact me now.

Want to share your tips and advice? Got questions? Please leave your comments below. Ask questions, get answers, meet people, and share your tips!

Local Food Festivals: Nagykörű, the Hungarian Land of Cherries

We all have our favorite food or drinks so whenever there is a festival featuring those items we should be ready to attend. I was looking for some great food events in Hungary when I came across this small cute village representing the real authentic Hungarian culture and an amazing cherry festival – actually four events a year. Apparently Nagykörű is the sweet cherry garden of Hungary.

 

It is located in the Northern Great Plain region of central Hungary by the second most important river, Tisza. It is approximately 2 hours drive from Budapest. The Great Plain has the perfect ‘terroir’ for growing vegetables and fruits, and Nagykörű became famous of its delicious cherries. The village is very colorful especially when the cherry trees blossom. There is a beautiful Baroque church and many old traditional houses, while you can take a walk along the river Tisza. The dam also gives you a pleasant experience of the countryside with its green scenery and wandering Hungarian Grey cattle and Racka sheep. River Tisza allows visitors to engage in some water sport activities such as canoeing, rowing and swimming.

 

The first settlers arrived around 1067, while they had a monastery that was founded by the Johannites or the knights of Malta in the 13th century. It was destroyed when the Turkish attacked Hungary. Their church existed as early as 1330.

Cherry production started in the Middle Ages, while George Petrovay was a landlord, who made cherry trees grow abundantly and created new species. The area now takes up more than 200 hectars.

 

The village’s various terrain, folklore buildings and fairs and food events attract many tourists every year. There is a Folklore museum is a cultural center, which also a landmark and historical place. You can learn old traditional craftmanships there like broom making, wicker basket making, and they have an outdoor old-style oven where they bake their cake, the cirkos cake. Another building belongs to the center offers accommodations for tourists.

 

They have different events all year around and one of them is the Cherry Festival in June, which should be a must-go attraction for those love cherries and eco-tourism. This event you can find many stalls in the market place where they offer home made products to taste or purchase such as cherry goat cheese, cherry syrup, cherry jams, cherry liquors, cherry ice cream, etc. They have folklore music and dancers, traditional rituals and religious activities, concerts, games, outside cooking and learning artisan crafts making.

P.S. – Want to go on a custom designed eco-friendly and sustainable tour anywhere in the world? I’m happy to book your full or partial trip! I’ll be offering you to my favorite hotels or resorts, restaurants, attractions, bars, and natural wonders you won’t find in any guidebook. If you’re interested, subscribe to my newsletter for updates or contact me now.

 

Want to share your tips and advice? Got questions? Please leave your comments below. Ask questions, get answers, meet people, and share your tips!

 

Solar Hotel, an eco-friendly budget hotel in the heart of Paris

Sometimes we only need a couple of days to relax or we can only get away from work or family for a very short time. A few days in Paris can be a very rewarding vacation. I had a chance to spend three days there and I know I will definitely be back in the future.

 

Traveling to Europe can be a little expensive on the flight costs, however now there are some low cost long haul airlines available to get to the other side of the ocean. If you do not want to spend a fortune on hotels you can choose budget hotels. Paris can be pricey when it comes to accommodations, therefore I was searching for some less expensive options. I came across a little eco-friendly budget hotel in the heart of Paris in Montparnasse called the Solar Hotel. All I know was that they practice sustainable operations and the price was pretty good. Little I knew that a location of the hotel was actually priceless. They have two buildings and we stayed in the one that is on the Rue Daguerre, a little walking street full of quality high-end food stalls and shops. I was mesmerized by the fish market shop, which has a restaurant next door they use daytime and at night. I had to have a huge fresh seafood dinner there, which was the best seafood I have ever eaten in my life! There are also cheese shops full of thousands of types of cheese, butcher shops with beautiful meat products, foie gras shops, wine shops, boulangeries, etc. They were all boutique shops with exceptional quality of products.

 

Also, the metro station (Denfert-Rochereau) next to the Les Catacombes de Paris was only at the end of the walking street. Paris has a very good transportation system so it is very easy to get to anywhere by metro or train. They have different types of transportation vehicles underground. They have the metro with 14 lines and the RER – which is a train – with 5 lines. Normally you cannot change metro to a RER with a plain ticket, but there are some stations you can. You can either buy one-way ticket or a bunch of 10 tickets from the ticket machine. It costs about 15 EURO. You can use one ticket on multiple metro lines if you don’t go outside of the stations. We could get to the Eiffel Tower in 20 minutes by one metro line.

 

The other easy and practical transportation is Uber since taxis or cabs rip you off. Anything with meter in it will not charge you the correct amount. Not only in Paris but in the whole Europe. I used Uber in Athens, Porto and Paris. Paris and Porto also have Green Uber with the same price as the Uber X but with full electric cars. So, choose wisely as there is no reason not to choose the sustainable option.

 

The hotel’s room was very simple but clean, but that’s what you pay for. They offer free organic breakfasts every morning, which includes fresh breads and croissants with butter, jam, honey, or cereal, yoghurt and tea or coffee. They do the shopping in paper bags and in their own cart. I saw bags full of organic produce. In their garden they have giant water collectors, bicycles to use for guests and they grow their own herbs too.

 

Solar Hotel was definitely the best choice to enjoy a little Paris for our short visit.

 

P.S. – Want to go on a custom designed eco-friendly and sustainable tour anywhere in the world? I’m happy to book your full or partial trip! I’ll be offering you to my favorite hotels or resorts, restaurants, attractions, bars, and natural wonders you won’t find in any guidebook. If you’re interested, subscribe to my newsletter for updates or contact me now.

 

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Teaching children while on vacation

We all have different motives when traveling. Some people love doing nothing just laying on the sun and go swimming, some people go far away from the everyday routine to relax, some people actively seeking cultural engagement or looking to learn something and some people actually want to help others and achieve fulfillment through giving back to the community.

 

For those include in the latter there are hotels around the world that reach out to communities and offer guests the chance to involve in helping local people. One of these opportunities is to teach English to local children. This type of vacation is not like the volunteering travel or voluntourism where your main reason to travel is to volunteer and the minimum stay is three months. This travel only includes a few hours charity work in your free time.

 

Grace Bay Club in Turks and Caicos guests can teach math and reading for the local youth. The Grace Bay Resorts Community Foundation entered in a project for charitable and community initiatives to support local schools and encourage youth to be leaders, especially in the tourism sector.

 

Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta in Mexico supports the Delia Moran Vidanta Foundation, which helps children in low-income families in the area to learn English and math and guests can play soccer and baseball with them too.

 

Six Senses Yao Noi in Thailand also offers opportunity to guests to teach basic skills for a few hours in local schools according to their abilities. Not only it is one fo the leading hotel in sustainability due to its natural materials use, energy efficiency, water and waste management, environmental protection and social commitments it has a Nature Trail for guests to experience the mangrove forest.

 

The Cliff Hotel in Negril, Jamaica also support children at the local school and teach them to read and computer skills.

 

So, if you really want to help communities and children you can even if you are on vacation. You will go home not only with great memories but you will actually feel much better. You will know that you did something good for this planet and this will make your trip much more powerful and memorable.

 

P.S. – Want to go on a custom designed eco-friendly and sustainable tour anywhere in the world? I’m happy to book your full or partial trip! I’ll be offering you to my favorite hotels or resorts, restaurants, attractions, bars, and natural wonders you won’t find in any guidebook. If you’re interested, subscribe to my newsletter for updates or contact me now.

Want to share your tips and advice? Got questions? Please leave your comments below. Ask questions, get answers, meet people, and share your tips!

Culinary travel with authentic local food

Food and drink became the pulling power of destinations highlighting culinary tours in every corner of the world. It does not mean you travel only to eat but you will still be engaged in different cultures on your journey.

 

Tours can be short or long depending on what you aim to achieve. You might want to just have a little skill to create a new authentic dish of a foreign country or you might want to explore an entire county’s various food options and learn all the regions, and its cultures while also traveling around.

 

Short tours could be local tours in cities to show you the most hidden little gems off the path serving local authentic dishes and secret bars you would never find yourself. These tours take only a couple of hours or max half day.

 

Also, cooking classes belong to the less time-consuming activities as they last about 2-6 hours. Some places you have a choice between standard and exclusive classes so you can let others be on the class with you and your companion or you can own the whole kitchen by yourselves. Anyway, who wouldn’t want to know how to cook a local paella in Barcelona, a real Thai curry made with galangal and coconut milk in Bangkok or make fresh authentic French souffle shopping for ingredients in the Marche Maubert market in the heart of Paris.

 

But do not be panic there are longer classes that takes a full day or days to complete. If you are one of those who already has some cooking skills and want to widen it with some extra experience you can sign up on classes such as the 16 days Italian Adventure Food Tour, the 6 days of Jordan Taste Tour or the 3 days Bite Size Break in Delhi. The Italian Adventure Tour takes you through Italy from Venice to Sorrento where you can taste fresh burrata cheese, the famous Italian pizza and pasta with seafood and fresh, local ingredients. The 6 days Jordan tour offers you an insight into the Bedouin’s cuisine, which has unique cooking and preparation. And if you love spicy, hot food do not miss to go on a food tour in India. You will be surprised how many different curry exist and how many other vegetarian spicy food you can make in India.

 

At the end of your vacation you are not only richer with some new cooking skills, new experience and maybe some new friends but you go home with a bag of memories.

 

P.S. – Want to go on a custom designed eco-friendly and sustainable tour anywhere in the world? I’m happy to book your full or partial trip! I’ll be offering you to my favorite hotels or resorts, restaurants, attractions, bars, and natural wonders you won’t find in any guidebook. If you’re interested, subscribe to my newsletter for updates or contact me now.

Want to share your tips and advice? Got questions? Please leave your comments below. Ask questions, get answers, meet people, and share your tips!