travel tips

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Inspired in Nature: Forest Walk Playlist

What music do you listen to when you are out for a walk in nature? Mostly, we tend to listen to the trees around us or the rivers running or the birds whistling but a good forest walk playlist with the right beats can put a spring in your step.

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Here are some of our favourite songs to listen to when we are out in the forest:

It was hard to narrow this list down to the above but we finally managed. Do you have your own forest walk playlist? We would love to hear your favourite tunes for outdoor listening. Send them to us below and we will add them to the list.

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A European Mindful Escape to Slovenia

Discover the stunning landscapes of Slovenia on this one of a kind mindful adventure. Along the way you will discover the spectacular Julian Alps and meet the local food producers.

We have teamed up with local experts to provide design a once in a lifetime adventure that encompasses everything we love about travel: time to relax, time to explore, time to learn and time to taste the land.

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Did you know that Slovenia produces world class red wines on the slopes of the alps. Also, in Slovenia there is a long history of bee keepers and many households have their own, homemade honey. In a time when we are trying hard to get back to our roots and understand the nature and wildlife around us, Slovenia is a good place to learn how to bring nature into your everyday life.

10 REASONS TO VISIT SLOVENIA

  1. Relax and unwind at Lake Bled
  2. Over half of Slovenia is forest – Nature & Hiking lovers delight
  3. Visit the Fairytale castle in Ljubljana
  4. Taste traditional Foods like Kranjska Klobasa
  5. Enjoy the magical sunsets
  6. Explore the Caves
  7. Get friendly with the bees
  8. Nature is everywhere – Enjoy!
  9. A friendly, warm welcome awaits
  10. Sip the Local wines

On our 7 day adventure you will taste the honey, pick the flowers, visit the waterfalls, take a scenic train ride and tour an eco-village. Get in touch with us to learn more about this epic natural adventure in the heart of Slovenia. We promise you an unforgettable journey. SEE TOUR HERE

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6 Tasty Food & Foraging Experiences in Europe

At Orchardsnearme.com we only partner with the experts. From food filled adventures to local foraging experiences, each trip is designed to reflect the true landscape and production in a region. If you are a food and nature lover than there are some mouthwatering foraging experiences in Europe.

A Taste of Ireland: Coast to Coast

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We always start at home. As we are based in Ireland we can guarantee a fun time on this action packed food adventure. From coastal foraging along the Wild Atlantic Way to mountain walks to meeting the local historians, every activity on this excursion is unique.

WHEN TO GO: When you visit Ireland at any time of the year you can expect all four seasons in one. However, the tides do need to be considered when planning any coastal foraging adventure. We are planning expert guided tours for April and May 2020. If you want to organise a private group trip outside of these days please get in touch with us directly.

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Italian Foraging Experience

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Real foodies will be in heaven on this bespoke foraging experience. This day long tour is packed full of natures delights. You will enjoy learning about the wild produce of Italy, sample pasta making, taste the wines and meet the local experts.

WHEN TO GO: Italy can be extremely hot in the summer months so we are recommending the Spring and Autumn months for guided foraging adventures in Italy.

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Do Emporda Wine & Orchard Adventure

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The untouched beauty of Do Emporda region in Catalonia will leave you wanting more. From famous tapas to orchards bursting with fruits, this area is waiting to be discovered. Visit stunning apple orchards, taste the local wines and meet the fruit producers.

WHEN TO GO: Catalonia is blessed with the beautiful sea breeze from the Mediterranean. Even in the middle of summer if you are by the Costa Brava you should enjoy a nice summer temperature. Any month from March to September is good for this tasty adventure.

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A Taste of Slovenia: The Mountains are Calling

Untapped and ready to be explored, Slovenia is rich in nature, making the perfect partner for our team. From those who love to combine outdoor adventure and food filled trails, the Julian Alps is the perfect spot to sip the local wines and get a true taste of outdoor life.

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WHEN TO GO: There are snow capped peaks in the North west of Slovenia from December to March each year. From May to October you will enjoy warm weather and perfect conditions for getting outdoors, visiting the local food producers and experiencing the landscapes.

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Discover the Douro Valley

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Our friends in the Douro region of Northern Portugal are looking forward to welcoming you to one of the most famous wine regions in Europe. On this unique trip you will have the opportunity to visit an olive farm and several vineyards to get a true flavour of the land.

WHEN TO GO: The Douro Valley experiences warm summers and cold winters. From May to October you will enjoy sunshine, warm winds and the ideal months for witnessing the harvest activities of the region.

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A Taste of Croatia: Gourmet Adventure Break

Now renowned as the home of Game of Thrones, Croatia is a magical country to visit. From the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic coast to lush waterfalls of the interior, we will connect you with every aspect of nature. Truffles feature heavily in all aspects of this farm-to-table adventure.

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WHEN TO GO: From November to April many of the tourist accommodation and facilities close for the winter season. Between May and October you can expect dry, warm weather weather and lots of activity around all of the major towns.

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To book your next food filled adventure or learn more about the wonderful foraging experiences in Europe talk to a member of our team anytime.

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3 Unforgettable Wine Tasting Holidays in Europe

Fancy learning a little bit more about the wines of Europe? If you are a wine drinker, a fruit lover or culture hound then these are some of our most loved wine tasting holidays that will delight your senses.

Be enchanted by the Douro Valley

As one of our favourite regions for cool, crisp white wines, a guided experience in the Douro Valley is perfect for fruit lovers everywhere. What can’t we say about this grape rich region. If you are searching for a Tuscany alternative then this provides a superb back-drop for a romantic escape. Everywhere you look you will be surrounded by nature. As one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world, the UNESCO listed site is a bucket-list trip trip for wine lovers.

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Get a Taste of the Costa Brava

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This is our not so hidden gem. A tour that will delight the senses and awaken the spirit in the beautiful Catalonia countryside. Soak up the sunshine and breathtaking views of the Do Emporda wine region. The area begins next to the stunning peaks of the Pyrenees and runs down through the landscapes of Catalonia.

Wine from this region is usually 30 years old. Red wines are generally make from Garnacha Tino and Samso. The traditional grape of Tempranillo and more popular Syrah and Mermot can also be found. Each bodega you visit in DO Empordà is a treat. We highly recommend spending a night or two in beautiful city of Girona when you are in the region.

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Discover a Taste of Sintra

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If you want to sample the luxurious landscapes of Portugal then Sintra is the place to be. This UNESCO world heritage site is covered with pine trees, grapes and ancient ruins. A stop at the Palacio Nacional da Pena is just one of the highlights on this wine experience. The soils are unique to this part of the world and the wines of this region are often described as herbal, perfect for all of us herb enthusiasts.

TOUR DETAILS 

To book one of the above delicious wine tasting holidays feel free to reach out to one of our travel team anytime.

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4 Wild Food Breaks for Autumn

Autumn is the time when the leaves start to dance. Colours of orange, red and brown mix with the deepest green to signal that a new season is here and everything is about to change. Taking a wild food break in Autumn can be a mouth-watering and eye opening experience.

The ground has spend the year soaking up with moisture and sun and now it is ready to shed its very best produce. From berries to nuts, the woodlands are alive with activity. Here are four delicious wild food breaks to enjoy in the Autumn:

A Taste of Ireland: Go Foraging with Friends

The Island of Ireland comes alive in the Autumn months.We offer a wide range of wild food day tours on our weekly foraging adventures but we also have a unique week long trip that brings you from coast to coast in Ireland. If you want to get a real taste of the Irish landscape we are here to help you make that dream possible. From foraging for cockles and mussels to creamy pints of Guinness join us in the Emerald Isle and get back to nature.

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Join the Truffle Hunters in Italy

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There is no better time to experience the fruits of Italy then in the Autumn months when the vines are heavy with grapes and the woodlands are stuffed full of mushrooms. Our foraging friends in Northern Italy know all of the secret locations to bring you Truffle hunting and give you a true taste of the Italian lifestyle. Pizza, pasta and shavings of fresh truffles, what more could you ask for on a foodie holiday.

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Sample the Grapes of the Douro Valley

Did you know that the Douro Valley is one of the most under rated wine regions in Europe. It is renowned for its vinho verde but it also has some crisp whites and reds for you to try out. The scenery in this area with leave you breathless. Grab a picnic and let our expert wine lovers guide you on the ultimate wine filled adventure.

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Soak up the sunshine in the Algarve

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Another region of Portugal where the sun always shines is the beautiful Algarve. In southern Portugal we can bask in the sunshine all year round. We will bring you on a wine making excursion that will give you life-long memories. This is suitable for groups of up to 10 people. Learn about the local food traditions and how to make your very own vino in the heart of Europe’s most stunning landscapes.

TOUR DETAILS

For more information on any of our wild food experiences for Autumn please contact one of our travel experts.

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9 Must Try European drinks

We could spend all year talking about the many delicious wines to try when you are visiting Europe but what other iconic European drinks should you try out? We have a few firm favourites that you should try out when you are visiting different part of Europe. 

Irish Coffee, Ireland

You will find this heartwarming drink throughout your travels in Ireland. Often featured on dessert menus it offers a taste of strong Irish whiskey with a creamy touch. Visit the Emerald Isle any time of the year to sample this classic cocktail. Contact one of our team for some insider tips and Irish food adventures

Prosecco, Italy

Famous now though out the world as the affordable version of champagne, this refreshing sparkling wine was first made in the region of Veneto, Italy.

Aperol Spritz

The south of France is bursting with young celebrities from around the world and this iconic bright orange drink is a classic beach cocktail. It is light, refreshing and the bright orange colour cries for some fun in the sun. Live the life of luxury sitting in a beach bar of the French Riviera with a glass of Aperol. 

Port, Portugal

Exclusively made from grapes in the Douro Valley, port is the drink of Porto. It is often served after dinner and tastes like a sweet wine. Vintage Ports are collectors items and if you are visiting the UNESCO listed region of the Douro you will have the perfect opportunity to taste this treat. Join our local experts to discover the Douro.

Champagne, France

Strictly made from grapes in the region of Champagne France, this high brow drink is the perfect excuse to get a taste of the high life. As it was associated with royalty in the 17th century it never lost its stature. Spraying champagne is a symbol of celebration today.

Limoncello

A popular lemon liqueur this fruity drink is a popular ingredient in some tasty cocktails and if you plan a visit to Southern Italy you are sure to find limoncello on the menus. You will also find this zesty drink if you plan an adventure in Puglia.

Mulled Wine

First discovered in Rome this tasty winter drink has become a staple across many colder countries and is a treat at Christmas time where you will find market stalls filled with mulled wine. Recipes vary from country to country but the core ingredients include red wine, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar and orange zest.  Explore the magical Christmas markets in Europe to taste the best mulled wines.

Pear Cider, France

The landscapes of Normandy are filled with fruity goodness to be explored and anyone who visits the region should try the famous pear and apple ciders, also known as the eau-du-vie or water of life. Calavados and the surrounding areas support more than 43,000 farms today. Join us in the Orchards of France to discover the delicious pear cider.

Sangria, Spain

Last but not least head to Valencia in the south east of Spain for some of the best Sangria the world has to offer.

This list is by no means complete but it will give you a taste of what is on offer. If you know of more drinks we should be trying out please feel free to give the team some insider information. 

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Switching off from work, Switching on to Nature!

Nowadays we know that everyone is living extra busy lives. Everyday we are bombarded with choices. It can start in the morning in your local coffee shop; what coffee will you choose? Latte, flat white, americano? In every decision we have to take there are so many options presented to us that it can seem overwhelming. If this sounds like you then there is a solution. Take time out in the natural landscapes around you.

Leave your phone in your bag or even at home, put on your walking shoes and make your way to the nearby mountains. Not only does it force you to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, it also gives you freedom and time to let your creative juices flow. Not all good ideas come whilst you are sitting at the desk! A change of environment could be just what you need to stir up your imagination.

Let’s spend some time in nature, learning about the ancient outdoor food traditions that still exist today. Before the arrival of commercial farming we relied heavily on these foraging and food picking techniques to provide us with our weekly dose of nutrients.

Collecting Peri-winkles by the Seashore

Middens containing large deposits of winkles, cockles and whelks dating back to the bronze age can be found on the coast of the Wild Atlantic Way. Our ancestors certainly knew a thing or two about foraging. Today, the tradition of collecting shellfish is passed down from one generation to the next, making it a major part of our childhood memories. Join us for a Taste of Ireland on our Coast to Coast foraging adventure.

Truffle Hunting in the Italian Hills

Poet Cicero called truffles earths offspring and it is no wonder why. These treasured foods are hidden beneath the earth. In the 1700s hunting for the beloved truffle became popular in Italy. The Truffle is celebrated with festivals throughout Italy and chefs today consider them some of the most prized foods for their dishes. Hunt for luxurious truffles in Northern Italy.

Pear Cider Making in France

Early Normans in France opted to drink cider as the grapes didn’t grow well in the cooler Normandy climate. Many french people drank cider instead of water when a plague struck the region in the 1400’s. The Pays d’Auge region in Normandy today has a famous Cider route where you can drive from farm to farm tasting delicious varieties. Discovering the poirés ciders is an amazing way to learn about traditional farming and how the French public produce these tasty drinks. Book this pear cider experience today.

Grape picking in the Douro Valley

Grape pips from 4000 B.C. have been found in archaelogical sites from the Douro Valley. This area is devoted to producing some of Europe’s most delicious wines in the most spectacular landscapes. The terraced vineyards of the Douro region are a UNESCO listed heritage site and will leave you with a lifelong appreciation for wine production in Portugal. Join a Guided Douro Valley experience today. 

Mushroom Hunting in Hardwood Forests of Europe

The tradition of mushroom hunting (mushroom foraging) has been passed down through from one generation to the next. As well as a fascinating number of species, mushrooms are a treat for the table. Fungi of all sorts (button mushrooms, gentle puffballs, famous chanterelles and delicious Cep mushrooms are just four of over 38,000 varieties of fungi that have been recorded around the world. As well as a fascinating history like the Siberian shamans consuming the deadly fly agaric hallucengenic mushrooms during religious ceremonies, mushroom picking is often stirs up a nostalgic feeling. Join us to explore the world of mushrooms on a foraging experience in Ireland

There is so much on offer from the landscapes around us if we take time to listen, look and learn. Ready for your next food adventure. Let’s go!

For more information on any of the above experiences that encourage us to switch off please contact one of our travel team.

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Sustainable foraging tips

We all crave some sunshine and nature therapy these days. Who wouldn’t want to spend more time walking the forest paths? Foraging is all about taking time out to appreciate the land around us. This doesn’t mean trampling on natural habitats or stealing from the orchards. Picking fruit and wild plants is more than that. It brings us closer to the wildlife around us and connects us with a forgotten way of life.

Believe it or not there are some rules when it comes to foraging and wild plants aren’t something you want to be messing with if you don’t know what you are doing. Here are some simple do’s and don’ts when it comes to foraging:

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DO leave at least a third of the blossom, flowers, berries, seed heads, nuts, leaves, seashore vegetables and seaweeds on the plant and cut, don’t pull.

DON’T attempt to cook any plant you don’t know.

DO venture off the beaten track to find wild plants.

DON’T be afraid to get your hands dirty.

DON’T break branches to make gathering easier.

DON’T pick or bring home fungi that is over mature.

DON’T venture into private land without permission.

DON’T pick plants in conservation areas where there is a Department of Environment notice that states you should not do so.

DO avoid using chemical herbicides and toxic pesticides if you are re-planting.

DON’T forget to pick up litter if you see some along the way.

DO take care where you park your car. Don’t block farm gates.

DO close all farm gates after you. DO bring all your litter home.

DON’T dig up wild plants.

DO have fun in the wild and explore your surroundings.

For more information about our foraging and fruit picking adventure please contact one of our fruit loving team. If you want some foraging tips you can get your 6 Foraging tips for beginners here.

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5 Amazing European Food Adventures for Summer

From culinary treats to wine enthusiasts to local foods, we have put together our list of top food adventures for food and nature lovers.

Europe is full to the brim of exciting foods to try. From the vineyards of Italy to the shellfish on the Wild Atlantic Way, every food tour is unique and bursting with flavours.

Treat yourself to a taste of Europe with these amazing food adventures for summer time.

A Taste of Ireland: Coast to Coast Food Experience
Find yourself rambling along the Wild Atlantic Way to get a taste of the stunning landscapes of Ireland on this 5 day foodie experience. The sheep will greet you as you discover the green landscapes and walk the coastal tracks in some of the most peaceful locations on the Island. Get a taste of the Craic agus Cheoil, stopping into the local pub along the way. This tour is ideal for small groups and we guarantee that you will learn a thing or two from the local foraging experts before you finish.

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Hunting for Truffles in Northern Italy
A perfect combination of romance and luxury, this Italian tour will enlighten your taste palette. Starting in Alba, renowned for it’s world famous white truffles, you will join the local food experts as we hunt for truffles in the lush countryside of Italy. Finish each day with a traditional meal and enjoy a slice of luxury with this unique tour. If you are a pizza, pasta or wine enthusiast than this is the perfect foodie experience for you.

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Wine tasting and Wine Making in the Algarve, Portugal

From breathtaking beaches to walking by the cliff edges, the Algarve is one of our favourite sun soaked locations in Europe. The natural landscape remains relatively untouched and there is a distinct feel of local pride for everything that the region has to offer. Sample the local wines, learn the skills of wine making and taste the famous bacalau.

Discover the delights of the Douro Valley

Northern Portugal is packed full of wonderful foodie treats. On this unique food adventure you will get to taste the grapes, sample the wines and try delicious local cuisine in the famous Douro Valley region.

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A Food Filled adventure in Burgundy, France

On this foodie experience you will team up with local wine and foraging experts. They will teach you how to hunt for truffles and you will have the chance to sample the rich, local wines. Visit the magical city of Dijon int the heart of Burgundy where you can taste the best local dishes in Michelin starred Pre aux Clercs Restaurant. You can also visit the Fontenay Abbey and the spectacular Chateau Ancy-le-Franc. You are in a country rich in history so be sure to soak in the past.

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For more information about any of our food filled adventures please contact one of our travel specialists.

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6 reasons why fruit picking is food for the soul

How easy it is to take the natural environments around us for granted. It is even easier to take the fruit that we eat each day for granted. Bunches of bananas, bags of all kinds of apples, bunches of grapes and endless plums greet us as we shop in our local stores.

Where have these fruits come from, you don’t ask. How about we get to know the fruit we eat a little more and better yet hear from the fruit pickers who spend endless days picking these ripe treats.

Learn about the land

There is no better way to learn about the landscape of a region then getting out and feeling it (literally). Any of our fruit and foraging experiences offer the chance to get to grips with the harvest around you. Lifelong learning is no longer undervalued, it is an essential part of our growth. As long as we stay inquisitive, our mind will stay active. Let’s go and see what the land has to teach us.

Get back to nature

Nature therapy is becoming very trendy these days with forest baths, eco hide-aways and orchard experiences playing a part in re-kindling our relationship with the outdoors.

Turn off to Turn on

Another reason why fruit picking is food for the soul is it forces us to turn off from our screens and tune in to the life that surrounds us. When we stop looking down and start looking around we can observe the wildlife, the harvests and participate in the farming activities that are crucial for our survival.

Live in the moment

Fruit picking and foraging for wild foods forces us to live in the moment. Allow all of the troubles of yesterday or the worries of tomorrow subside and enjoy spending time with the fruitful landscapes around you.

Give back to the community

When you visit a place do you think about how the land around you is used by the local community? Oftentimes the agricultural activities of an area are outside of the main resort towns that we visit. By linking up with the fruit suppliers and wild food foragers of the land we can introduct you to these hidden activities.

Discover the Taste

Do you ever wonder why homegrown fruit tastes so much better? There are a number of factors at play here but mainly it is fact that the fruits are freshly picked from the trees and go straight into your mouth. In our minds there is nothing better than the bursts of flavour from freshly picked fruits.

If you are a fruit and food lover looking for inspiration for your next adventure then we are here to help.

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