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.

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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!

Montana, the state of many terrains

Montana was on my bucket list and I got a chance to drive through its various landscapes. While experiencing all the different regions my favorites were the Going-to-the-Sun-Road in the Glacier National Park and the National Bison Range in the Flathead valley in Northwestern Montana. Only if there were not fires everywhere I could have seen more from this beautiful place.

 

I entered to Montana at the North Entrance of the Yellowstone National Park and stayed the night in a little town called Gardiner, while I was driving to unplanned directions too. So once again I entered Montana from Idaho State on the road 287 at the Black Mountain going to Helena. The scenery was very interesting and scary at the same time. Sometimes I was driving only by myself on this road for 20 minutes not even one car passed me from anywhere. I was wondering how someone could manage to get help when the only living beings around were the cows and there was no coverage on the phone. I guess we have to rely on each other heavily when a problem or an accident happens. The only person who can help you in Montana is the only car passes you so human intervention is inevitable. At some point I felt like driving on Mars surrounded by soft, shiny and yellowish grass fields stretching out to the hills afar off with nobody in sight. I could not stop thinking about these cows that were fed on natural dry grass and had an enormous space to wander around. I am pretty sure they taste delicious deriving from the fact that they also look happy. Coming from a large or medium sized city where supermarkets are just around the corner everyday life in Montana would be tricky for me in a sense of food shopping. You have to drive one hour to get to a big city or town to get your weekly supply. I guess they drive there once a week and pile up on certain food items. While approaching Helena I stopped at a tiny little town called Ennis, which has these old-fashioned western style buildings. I love those buildings they remind me of the old western movies.

 

Helena is the capital city of Montana State. It was founded as a gold camp during the Montana gold rush, and was established in 1864. It has a beautiful gothic cathedral, the Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena, and the Montana State Capitol with the flower spelling of Montana 2017.

 

My next destination was the Glacier National Park but I had a couple of stops before I got there. While searching for some attractions on my way up north I found a little dinosaur museum in Bynum. The entrance fee to the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center was only $5 so I thought why not to educate myself. It was actually a very interesting place and I read all the remarks on the wall about the prehistoric times. After an hour drive I entered the Blackfoot Nation’s land and also took picture of their stunning sign on the road. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong time to visit Montana as they had many fires throughout the state. The gorgeous Glacier National Park was not visible as much due to the smoke but I still tried my best to have the best shots and videos on the Going-to-the-sun-road.

 

Before I entered into the deep of the mountains I stopped in St Mary, which is a cute little town on the eastern side of the National Park. St Mary Lodge and Resort is a real rustic wooden building with a warm atmosphere. Their dining facility called the Snowgoose Grille, located in the main lobby, offers food items such as Montana buffalo, fresh fish and the obvious huckleberry specialties.

 

Going-to-the-sun-road was absolutely amazing driving around giant mountains with snowy caps, crystal clear rivers on narrow crooked roads. The water of the rivers is so clean that I wanted to drink it. The only observation was that if you drive from east to the west you cannot park on your right side. All the parking spaces are located on the left which means you have to drive across the road and after you finished with your pictures you have to go back to the other side again. The view is spectacular anyway but it is a little bit annoying. I passed Lake McDonald too, while stopped by it to watch its beautiful settings.

 

After finally getting some reception and Wifi in West Glacier I headed towards Bigfork where I chose the restaurant Raven in the Woods Bay to have some Montana bison with huckleberry sauce, while I was relaxing in the sun by the lake. On the way towards Charlo there were many establishments offering everything with huckleberry such as ice creams, sodas, chocolates, gummy bears, shakes, pies, jams, honey, coffee, etc. I tried the huckleberry shake in Huckleberry Land, which was delicious and pretty sweet.

 

My last destination was Charlo and the National Bison Range, however I saw enough bison in the Yellowstone National Park in the previous days. I stayed in the Ninepipe Lodge, an Indian owned and operated accommodation not far from the Bison Refugee. It was clean and had a rustic interior with friendly staff. I left very early in the morning to observe the wildlife that apparently is the most active in the early hours. The park opens at 6.30am so I was there not ling after 7am. I was the only car you could see and the visitor center was not open so I could not pay the entrance fee. It was a long two-hour drive through the park and I saw many animals such as bears, bison, elks, deer, antelope and birds. They were freely wandering and running around the hilly terrains. It was truly an amazing experience.

 

My trip was a nice overview into Montana, which made me to go back again, especially once the fires are cleared off.

 

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!

Mongolia, the nomadic escape

We all have the moment when we need some privacy, some tranquility away from the busy lifestyle and just go back to simplicity. Mongolia is the perfect destination for this purpose offering some privacy and peace in their gers or yurts in the countryside with traditional nomadic hospitality. They have a very interesting history too, which goes back to the 3rd and 1st century BCE when the Huns lived in Central Asia. The Huns, who later occupied the Transylvanian basin (today Hungary), may have been their ancestors. However, there are lot of controversies around this topic and the origin of Huns. Another important name in their history is Genghis Khan, who established a united Mongolian empire containing of nomadic tribes and ruled much of China, Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East in the 13th century CE. The empire later collapsed and split, while the northern part of Mongolia was conquered by China and later by Bogd Khan. He managed to declare autonomy of the Chinese occupied area, and in 1924 the Mongolian People’s Republic was born.

 

Mongolia, a landlocked country, is nestled between China and Russia surrounded by rugged terrains and has large amount of remote flatland of diverse scenery. It is the home of Gobi Desert, which is located in the southern region of Mongolia and many salt lakes. In prehistoric times Mongolia was actually a sea and the Gobi Desert was covered with seawater. Later, due to the forming of the Himalayan Mountains, this sea dried up while many small lakes left behind. For example, Uuvs Nuur, is saltier than the ocean. The rainwater minerals dissolve in the lake, while the water evaporates leaving the salt behind. Some of the lakes are so salty that physically it cannot dissolve more salt into the water.

 

Their traditional accommodation is the gers or yurts have a unique design and they are ecologically friendly and very practical, not to mention that they are portable. Their structure consists of a wooden frame and felt walls made of sheep’s wool, which attached by horse, yak or camel hair straps. They have various places to get air in and out of the ger, for instance for their stove or to cool down the temperature inside. The Mongolian nomads moved their camp four times a year and it took two hours to set up or take down one. They needed three large animals to carry one big family yurt, while a traditional yurt could accommodate five to fifteen people. Their door was always faced to south so they could absorb the solar heat and light.

 

These eco conscious tents look very simple from outside but once you step in them it is a different world. They are divided into sections: for women and kitchen to the east, for men and their tools to the west and for guests to the north. In the middle you can find the stove with chimney, while they used various symbols and the five elements as decorations and patterns. These days some of the yurts are equipped with luxury items.

 

There are many activities to do in Mongolia such as horseback riding, exploring dinosaur’s bones in the Gobi Desert or playing anklebones or shagai. If you chose to search for the precious dinosaurs’ bones you must know that according to the locals when you find a bone to identify as dinosaur’s you have to lick the bone. If it sticks it is indeed a dinosaur’s one. So, be prepared to use your tongue and taste some real Mongolian dirt and sand. Shagai made of sheep anklebones and it is used as a dice. Each of the four sides represents a different animal: horse, camel, goat or sheep. They also use it for other games with cards, dominoes, chess and khorol including the five elements, Buddhist and zodiac symbols.

 

If you want to see some actions and real Mongolian sports you should go to a naadam, the Mongolian ancient games, which is held every year. It has three components: wrestling, archery and horse racing, and the biggest naadam is the one held in Ulaanbaator in the capital.

 

Also, once in Mongolia don’t forget to indulge in the gastronomy and its joys. Tsuivan is a Mongolian dish made of mutton, onions, potatos, carrots and noodles. You have to like meat when you are in Mongolia since every dish served of mutton, sheep, goat or yak. They also have some rather interesting drinks such as the koumiss or airag, a Mongolian fermented mare’s milk, and a milky tea called suutei tsai. Horhog is a baked dish with sheep meat and vegetables, while Boodog is the Mongolian version of BBQ. It is made by putting hot stone inside the meat, which means they cook it from the inside to the outside of the animal. Don’t be surprised if they give you one of the stones once the meat is done to rub your hands with. You can also find dumplings on the Mongolian menu, Buuz is stuffed with meat and vegetables.

 

My suggestion for accommodation is the Three Camel Lodge, which is part of the Unique Lodges of the World. They follow sustainable practices along with environmental and wildlife conservation programs. They offer the true nomadic lifestyle in their traditional gers combines with the Mongolian culture. It is truly an experience where there are no phones and no Internet.

 

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!

Agritourism, the joy of visiting farms

Do you like wild flower fields or orange tree gardens where you smell the scents and see the bees being busy pollinating plants? Or perhaps you like waking up for a freshly baked organic breakfast made from local ingredients from the farm’s own garden? Then agritourism or agrotourism is for you. What is agritourism? It refers to activities or stay in a private farm like fishing, u-pick, farm stays, farm tours, cooking classes, wine tasting, horseback riding and wildlife study, while any volunteering opportunity falls under rural tourism.

 

There are plenty of farms all over the world and you can find sustainable organic developments and agriculture businesses anywhere. California is the top agricultural producer of the US, therefore it is abundant in local, organic farms. I went on a trip to Ojai Valley with my friends last time and we stumbled upon a little olive oil company hidden from the main road and are off path. We found out that the Ojai Olive Oil Company produces 100% organic olive oil, which are locally grown, hand picked, pressed and bottled at the premises. They bought their press machines from Italy since these cold presses are not sold in the country. They have a wide range of products on offer they make from their olive oils including organic olive oils with infused with various flavors, soaps, lip balms, flavored balsamic vinegars and face creams. Definitely a stop by when you are in Ojai Valley.

 

I also found an agricultural farm stay place while searching for organic farms in the Amalfi Coast area. Le Tore Farm and B&B is located in Massa Lubrense, Campania near to Sorrento and between the Gulf of Naples and the Amalfi Coast at the elevation of 500 meters (0.30 mi). The building is actually a 19th century masseria surrounded with apple orchards, vines, olive and lemon trees, beef heart tomato, eggplants and animals. They offer accommodation with organic breakfast from their garden. They also produce limoncello – the Italian specialty drink –, olive oils and other products. They are truly committed to sustainable agriculture, so they recycle waste, minimize watering, reuse human waste, reduce packaging and they are working on new green solution for electric and thermal energy.

 

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!

Zanzibar, where natural beauty meets history

Many people have the desire to travel to Africa at least once in a lifetime and I’m not different. I have never touched the ground of this elegant continent but it is definitely on my bucket list – with too many other items. Africa has a wide choice of regions and countries that attract visitors such as Madagascar, Tanzania including Serengeti and the Kilimanjaro, Rwanda. Mozambique, South Africa, Morocco, Mauritius, and so on just to name a few.

I’m very much fascinated by Zanzibar, a small island located off Tanzania, where natural beauty meets history. Apparently, Stone Town is the only functioning ancient town in East Africa and it is surrounded by magical sandy beaches and coral reefs – looks like just paradise. No wonder it is the home of top class watersports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, deep sea fishing, waterskiing and dhow sailing. Dhow is a traditional Arab sailing vessel with one or two masts and lateen rigging used in the Indian Ocean. They originated in the Ancient Near East in the time of the Babylonian and Middle Assyrian Empire. Just looking at them makes you feel you are back in old times, so as their Swahili trading town.

Stone town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a 200 years old ancient city and cultural center of Zanzibar with many narrow alleys, bazaars, mosques and houses built by Arabic architectures with elements from other cultures of Africa, India and Europe. We also need to mention their carved, wooden doors, which was made by very precise handiwork and there are more than 500 different styles. Anyway, who would not want to wander around in these tiny crooked streets getting lost in the    of shops selling various paintings, dresses, jewelry, handicrafts including carpets, wooden souvenirs, and food such as spices, and African local fruits.

Building that must be seen are the Old Fort, Old Dispensery, St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Malindi Bamnara Mosque, Royal Cemetery and Hamamni and other Persian baths. For nature lovers Nakupenda Beach, with its turquoise clean water and the Prison Island with its giant tortoises should not be missed, while you also have to visit the Tangawizi Spice Farm, which offers demonstration of many local fruits and tastes of all these delicacies. Forodhani night food market is for food lovers here you can find all the mouthwatering local specialties. For an eco-friendly accommodation stay in Chumbe Island Coral Park, Manta Resort on Pemba Island or the Mangrove Lodge.

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!

How We Travel Matters

It is time to realize that it matters how we travel. Choose sustainable travel options, eco-friendly hotels, resorts and other accommodations, fuel-efficient airlines, environmentally friendly transportation, organic farm tours, organic wine tours, farm-to-table organic restaurants whenever you can.  BE AWARE. BE THE CHANGE. TRAVEL ECO

It does not mean that you have to cancel your trip you booked had year ago, but next time you should make a conscious decision which hotel, restaurant, tour or transportation you use. There are many eco-friendly options all over the world and 2017 is officially the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. This is the best time to act and start thinking differently while broaden the horizon about what you can do to help raise awareness, preserve cultural values and heritage, save the environment and protect natural resources.

Environmentally friendly hotels use green initiatives such as water and energy saving solutions, waste management and recycling, reducing emissions, having green transportation, use local, sustainable farm-to-table and organic produce, has eco-friendly purchase policies and support the local communities by employing local workers. Organic restaurants also support local farmers while following green best practices in their establishments. Some airlines bought new fleet of aircrafts that are fuel efficient and has less carbon emissions while many transportation company has started using full electric vehicles. Organic agriculture has become a tourist  attraction lately not only offering their own natural produces and products but educating visitors about the chemical free farming and how to avoid GMOs, growth hormones, herbicides, pesticides and antibiotics keeping the soil fertile and sustainable.

So, put your ego aside and enjoy your guilt free trip while contributing to helping the Earth live longer.

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!

Booming ecotourism in Morocco – Le Ferme Berbere

Morocco has started a new image by marketing themselves as ecotourism destination, and the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism has already setup strategies, rules and standards towards becoming an environmentally- friendly country making sustainability a priority. I found an amazing venue to stay on the outskirt of Marrakech in the heart of Atlas Mountain, which is now on my bucket list, the Le Ferme Berbere eco-friendly hotel. It looks very authentic and for sure it is the place to relax. Continue reading “Booming ecotourism in Morocco – Le Ferme Berbere”

Organic wine tour in the Hungarian countryside

Any wine lover knows the main international wine countries such as France, Italy, California, Spain, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa. And I’m talking about only the most known wine growing countries not the ones containing the small, unique and boutique vineyards like Hungary. This beautiful country has 22 wine regions including Tokaj, the wine region, which is considered the first appellation in the world producing all types of wines. Continue reading “Organic wine tour in the Hungarian countryside”

Chocolate and vacation

Who doesn’t like these two things especially when they are together  I’m a big fan of organic farms so I was happy to discover that Grenada has many organic cocoa plantations using sustainable gardening methods. Twelve farmers work together in a cooperative providing the cocoa beans for the Grenada Chocolate Company, a producer of the award winning organic dark chocolate bar. I was specifically interested in Belmont Estate, which is in a strategic alliance with the Grenada Chocolate Company, and a grower of an array of exotic spices. I liked their Continue reading “Chocolate and vacation”