Europe

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Truffle Hunting: Taste the Passion for the Land

Foodie lovers from around the world will be familiar with the famous truffles that we find featured on luxury menus of high end restaurants. Both black and white truffles are highly sought after in the culinary world and considered a rare treat when brought from the land to the table.

Truffles are a type of fungus that grow on or alongside the roots of trees like beech and oak trees. If we didn’t need anymore reasons to start planting more trees, now we have another one. Expert Foragers in Europe hold onto the tradition of hunting for truffles with pigs and dogs who are trained as expert truffle hunters. In Italy, they have banned pigs from hunting for these delicies as they have a tendancy to eat them.

Truffle Hunting Experiences

We offer two amazing truffle hunting experiences, hunting for burgundy truffles in the french countryside and hunting for the famous white truffles in Northern Italy. These unique experiences will give you a chance to learn from the experts, explore the regions and taste this wild produce from the ground around us.

What does a truffle taste like?

Having tasted a few different versions I can report that truffles have a pungent smell and flavour. Enjoy the earthy aroma, perfectly paired with the burgundy full bodied reds and adding an extra punch to the fresh pasta of Italy. If you have tried and liked the taste of black olives than you may appreciate the humble truffle.

Easy Truffle Pasta Recipe

Fresh Linguine Pasta

Lemon

Parmasen Cheese

White wine

Salt

Pepper

Butter

To get a taste for Truffle Hunting in Europe please feel free to contact one of our travel specialists.

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The Grape Escape: 4 Amazing European Wine Tours

The hills come alive in the Summer and Autumn all across Europe where grapes come out to greet the sunshine and we get a taste of the land around us. From full bodied reds to crisp whites, each wine represents a place, a culture and a climate. At Orchardsnearme.com we aim to please the palette with our unique selection of European Wine Tours. Here are four of our favourites to choose from:

1. Diverse landscapes and rich cuisine. Unwind by the terraced vineyards of the Douro. This is the heart of Northern Portugal where time stands still. Learn the traditional methods of grape harvesting. Pick some juicy fruits. Famous for its food and wine heritage. Nestled between the rugged mountains and the coast of Porto, this guided vineyard experience is a special adventure for food and wine lovers from around the world.

Learn more about this Vineyard Adventure in the Douro


2. Walking amongst the Italian vines you will feel truly lost in nature. This luxury tour takes you to the heart of the Italian countryside. Discover cellar tours and long walks in an ancient setting. Enjoy a meal al fresco with pasta, pizza and plenty of seasonal wines to choose from.

Learn more about this Italian Wine Tour


3. Soak up the medieval atmosphere. Sip cocktails in the evening. From its sweeping views to its sunshine packed beaches, the Algarve has everything to offer. Admire the impressive architecture. Old fashioned, romantic Spanish streets. 

Learn more about the wines and fruits of the Algarve


4. If you are looking for a holiday with a difference than this one is truly unique. Enjoy staying in your very own wine barrel. This tour with a difference is a delight for the senses. Discover the beauty of the Portuguese landscapes while sipping on fresh Vinho Verde.

Learn more about the Portuguese countryside

For more information on the most amazing wine tours in Europe please contact one of our travel specialists.

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Tipping in Europe: The Smart Traveller Guide to Tipping Culture in Europe

TThe first thing to know about tipping in Europe is that although it is greatly appreciated, it isn’t a rule and isn’t enforced in any bar or restaurant. For most countries. it isn’t a part of the wages. The majority of people working in hotels, restaurants or any service industry in Europe have weekly or monthly salaries.

You don’t have to tip if the service is bad. When you pay for a meal you should get a positive standard of service. If the service is bad and the food isn’t cooked properly than you don’t have to tip as the staff are already being paid a minimum wage. Tips are considered a bonus in Europe.

10% is the average amount to tip if you are happy with a meal. If you are delighted with the quality you may like to give 15% but 10% is more than enough.

If you are in a bar and just buying drinks you don’t have to tip at all, unless you really like the bar man. Then feel free to leave them a few euro when you are leaving. For the most part, the drinks in European cities can be quite pricey so you are paying enough.

For taxi/cab drivers they won’t expect a tip but it is also sometimes considered rude to wait for small change. For example if you take a cab and it costs €14.20 we would recommend giving the driver €15.00. Again, if your driver is extra nice you may want to leave him/her a few extra euro.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TIPPING IN EUROPE

Read the bill carefully. In some resorts and towns the tips are added on as a service charge. If it is included in the bill then you will not need to give 10 – 15% extra on top of this.

If you try to tip in cash, this will usually ensure that the tip goes to the employee.

In restaurants and bars always try to tip your own server and don’t leave it on the table for others to collect.

Tipping etiquette across Europe is different per country so let’s take a closer look at some tipping points per region:

IRELAND

10 to 12% in a restaurant is normal for good quality service. If a restaurant has already added on a 12.5% service charge then no tip is expected on top of this. No tip is expected in taxis or bars.

SCANDINAVIA

It isn’t necessary or part of the culture to tip in Scandinavian countries. In Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

ITALY

Servizio incluso means your service charge is included, usually around 15% of the total.

PORTUGAL

If there is a tip jar than it nice to leave some small change. It is not customary for locals to tip at a restaurant but a tip of 10% for up market places is acceptable.

SPAIN

5 to 10% for elaborate meals and small change for bars and taxis is accepted but not expected.

FRANCE

Tip €1 to €2 to anyone who helps you: luggage carriers at the airport and hotels. Tip taxi drivers 10%. There is always a service added to the bill in France but it is customary to leave €1 for every €20 meal.

GERMANY

In many restaurants the tip is included in the price of the food. If you want to tip, a common way to do it is to pay the bill but ask for less change back.

GREECE

If you are buying an expensive meal you won’t be expected to leave a large tip but if the charge is small you should leave some change.

AUSTRIA

5% in restaurants for good service. Tipping is expected for taxi drivers and usually it amounts to 10% of the total.

CZECH REPUBLIC

20 Czech Crown (CZK) is 1 US dollar or .80 Euro. Tipping 10 to 15% is average. Don’t leave money on the table, hand it to the waitor instead.

For more European travel tips or to find the latest adventures please contact one of our team.

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Useful Italian Phrases for my trip to Europe

Ciao — Hi and bye
Buongiorno — Hello and good morning
Salve — Hello
Buonasera — Hello and good evening
Arrivederci — Goodbye
Una buona giornata — Have a good day
Buona serata — Have a good/nice evening
A presto — See you soon
A dopo — See you later
Ciao — Hi and bye
Airport: Aeroporto
Train station: Stazione ferroviaria
Train: Treno
Bus: Autobus
Stop (bus, train): Fermata
Car: Macchina; Auto
Luggage: Bagagli
Ticket: Biglietto
Check: Conto
Beach: Spiaggia
Restaurant: Ristorante
Bathroom: Bagno
Store: Negozio
Hotel: Albergo
Food: Cibo
Drink: Bibita
Breakfast: Colazione
Lunch: Pranzo
Dinner: Cena
Snack: Spuntino
Appetizer: Antipasto
Wine: Vino
Beer: Birra
Street: Strada; Via
Hospital: Ospedale
Help: Aiuto
Police: Polizia
Phone: Telefono
Bank: Banca
ATM: Bancomat
Do you speak English?: Parla Inglese?
I don’t speak Italian: Non parlo Italiano
How much does it cost?: Quanto costa?
I’m lost: Mi sono perso
Let’s go: Andiamo
I would like…: Vorrei…
I like…: Mi piace…
I don’t like…: Non mi piace…
It’s hot: Fa caldo
It’s cold: Fa freddo

I am from/I come from…: Sono di/Vengo da…

Mi scusi, non capisco – I don’t understand!
Non parlo italiano molto bene – I don’t speak Italian very well
Parla inglese? – Do you speak English?

IN THE RESTAURANT
Un tavolo per uno / due, per favore – A table for one / two please
Siete già aperti? – Are you open yet?
Possiamo aspettare (per un tavolo)? – Can we wait (for a table)?
Possiamo sederci laggiù? – Can we sit over there?
Mi scusi! – Excuse me!
Cosa mi consiglia? – What do you recommend?

Qual è la specialità della casa? – What’s your most popular dish?
Cos’è questo? – What’s this?
Mi farebbe un assortimento dei piatti migliori? – Please bring me a selection of nice things
Faccia Lei! / Lascio decidere a Lei. – It’s up to you/You can decide
Il conto, per favore – The cheque, please
Quanto costa? – How much is it?

DIRECTIONS
Mi scusi, posso farle una domanda? – Excuse me, could I ask you something?
Vorrei andare a _ – I want to go to _
Vorrei andare qui – I want to go here
Mi sono perso / Mi sono persa – I’m lost
Come posso arrivarci? – How can I get there?
È di qua? – Is it this way?
Potrebbe indicarmelo sulla carta? – Can you show me on the map?
Left: Sinistra
Right: Destra
Straight: Diritto
Where is the bathroom?: Dov’è il bagno?

Now that you have a few useful Italian phrases you are ready to book your next trip to romantic Italy. See some of our food and foraging experiences in Italy here. If you would like to join us and get back to nature please contact one of our travel team.

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6 Places for a Digital Detox in Europe

What is a digital detox holiday?

Are you surrounded by screens everyday? Maybe you check your mobile phone the minute you get out of bed, scroll through instagram several times a day, sign into Facebook for a scroll, read up on the top new stories for instant hits from your favourite news sites and get lost on pinterest for at least half an hour.

Can you relate to this? If so, like me, you deserve a digital detox. Simply put, this is time out to give yourself a break and get some control over how your time is being spent.

Reasons why you should take a digital detox holiday

  • Leave work behind. Don’t feel guilty about the e-mails building up in your inbox. Put your off of office message on and sign off from all emails. What you think is urgent in work terms, rarely is in life terms. They will be there for you when you get back and if it is truly urgent your employer will find a way to get in touch.
  • Be mindful. Living in the moment is something we all strive to do and tell ourselves to do but it is becoming more and more difficult. We get lost on screens and have to schedule our time around them. By turning off and tuning into the land we can reconnect with our senses and learn to appreciate again.
  • Do it together. A digital detox can be shared. Everyone has a friend or family member who is a slave to the screens so why not ask them to go along with you. As well as encouraging eachother to stay offline, you will be sharing the experiences together.
  • No news is good news. Did you ever hear of this saying? Well, it could be applied to anytime we get off our many new sites today. We might think we need to stay updated by the hour but we really don’t. We can survive without the news for a couple of days.
  • Facebook and Instagram won’t miss you. Say to day but true, nobody but you wants to see endless photos of your fantastic life on instagram and Facebook. Yes, it is nice to keep up with friends and the original concept was inspiring but selfies are boring and if you wait to post an album when you get back people will be looking forward to seeing your updates. When it comes to social start thinking less is more.
  • Health benefits – Less stress

Top Tours for a Digital detox in Europe

Now is the perfect time to turn off and get some time for you. Whether you want a break from a hectic office life, a bit of the headspace to come up with some new ideas or would love to learn to appreciate the land around you and live more mindfully, there is a detox to suit your needs.

LIFE ON A FARM IN PORTUGAL

Give yourself other things to do with your body and brain. A fruit picking experience is a great way to spend time out from the screens. Join us to experience life on a vineyard in Portugal’s Douro Valley region.

TRUFFLE HUNTING IN ITALY

Wine tasting and hunting for truffles are two activities often associated with luxury. These are two ways to take your mind off the future and into the present.

GO WILD FOOD FORAGING IN IRELAND

Step back in time and learn to forage like our ancestors did. This wild food experience is just what you need to get back to nature and enjoy the fruits of the land around us.

VINHO VERDE DIGITAL DETOX

Northern Portugal is packed full of delicious grapes to taste. The Vinho Verde is the most famous wine in the region. This tour will give you a taste of the Portuguese lifestyle.

DISCOVER THE LANDSCAPES OF BURGUNDY

As one of the most famous wine regions of France you will be perfectly situated to experience all there is to love in the area.

OLIVE PICKING IN GREECE

This is the ultimate way to get back to nature and reconnect with the land. Enjoy fruit picking for 1 week in the most stunning landscapes of Greece.

Tips for your Digital Detox

  • Practice at home – start by leaving your phone at home while you go for a short walk. Increase your time away from the screen daily.
  • Manage your updates – do you need to update your facebook feed or instagram account everyday? No, you can minimize your updates.
  • Buy a handheld map – Instead of using google maps to guide you everywhere you go.
  • Invest in a guidebook – a well written guidebook can be more of a tool than any website.
  • No screens before bed – try to stop checking your phone before bedtime.
  • Social doesn’t mean social media – Give yourself time out to reflect, what happens on social media will stay on social media. Leave it there and give yourself time to think.

Enjoy every minute of your digital detox. Savour the time away from the screens and discover the beauty of the land around you.

For more information on any of our fruit and foraging tours contact one of our travel experts.

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Which airports in Europe should I fly into?

So you have started planning your next adventure in Europe. Once you have decided on your itinerary it is time to find out which airport to fly into. There are many airport options in Europe so we will break down a few of the main European airports that will provide you with good access to any of the European adventures.

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IRELAND

Dublin

Dublin’s airport is the main hub for many travelers flying into Ireland and as a gateway to Europe. It has great accessibility from the US and Canada. All major airlines fly into Dublin. Note that if you are planning to visit other European destinations you can fly directly from Dublin to the major airports in the UK, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Germany. United Airway and Ireland’s own Aer Lingus operate direct flights to Boston, Washington­-Dulles, Orlando, San Francisco, and New York.

UNITED KINGDOM

Manchester

Although both Manchester Airport terminals scored three stars for customer service received, Terminal 3 (43%) scored staggering 10% less than Terminal 2 (53%) due to one-star ratings for prices charged in shops and food outlets, and for the long queues at security. Passengers at Terminal 1 also didn’t appreciate queues at security and passport control as well as prices in shops and food outlets.

London (main hub)

Fly here: LCY — London City

London City Airport (LCY) is the only airport that is actually within a borough of London. Located just 11km east of the heart of the city, LCY is the best option when flying into London.

Unfortunately, it’s a small operation and doesn’t have the sprawling destination list that other area airports boast. From the airport, downtown is reachable in 20 minutes by taking the Docklands Light Rail, allowing to connection points to the Underground and Overground network.

LHR — Heathrow

London’s largest airport is located 23km west of the capital. As the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, this is the airport you’ll most likely find yourself at.

Connected to the London Underground via the Piccadilly line, this is your cheapest and best option for getting into downtown.

If you are in more of a hurry, the Heathrow Express’s non-stop service to Paddington station only takes 21 minutes but can be on the pricey side if you don’t purchase in advance.

London’s Gatwick Airport is currently the second-­largest and second-­busiest in the United Kingdom, right behind Heathrow. Its two terminals saw over 38 million passengers last year, and that number is only going to grow with proposed plans to add a second runway to the airport. Gatwick’s dominant airlines are British Airways and EasyJet, but more than 40 other carriers operate there, and that means tons of affordable flights to and from many destinations all over the world. The average flight price is a commendable $934, which means Gatwick is generally a good option when planning a trip to England.

PORTUGAL

Porto

The north of Portugal is served by Porto airport (OPO). The airport is becoming a hub for low cost airlines such as Ryanair. Generally, there is not massive seasonal variation as experienced by Faro airport. The airport is connected to the city centre via metro and bus routes.

To fly to the Douro Valley, Porto Airport is your best option and it isn’t far from the main destinations in Northern Spain either. The Algarve is served by Faro airport and you can also transfer from Lisbon.

Lisbon

Lisbon airport is the main international airport of Portugal and this is the airport to fly into for the entire central region. The airport handles the highest number of international flights and most flights from outside of Europe fly into Lisbon. There are two main terminal buildings

Faro

Faro airport serves the southern side of Portugal and the popular region of the Algarve with its stunning beaches to choose from. Most passengers use this airport in the summer months.

FRANCE

Paris Charles de Gaulle

Located in Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport is the busiest airport in France. In addition to serving as France’s busiest airport, it is the second busiest in Europe, after London’s Heathrow Airport. Charles de Gaulle Airport also ranks as the tenth busiest airport in the world, and is thus economically significant for France.

Paris Orly Airport

Orly Airport is located in Paris, between Villeneuve-le-Roi and Orly. The international airport serves as a secondary hub for both overseas and domestic territories flights of Air France. Orly Airport is the second busiest airport in France, after Charles de Gaulle, serving 28,862,586 passengers in 2014. Flights to and from Orly Airport operate to destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, North America, Europe, and the Caribbean. The airport is managed by Aéroports de Paris, which also operates Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Nice Airport

Nice Côte d’Azur Airport an international airport located approximately 5.9 kilometers southwest of Nice. The airport served 11,660,208 passengers in 2014, making it the third busiest airport in France. In addition, Nice Côte d’Azur Airport is an operating base for easyJet, the low-carrier cost airline based out of Britain’s London Luton Airport.

SPAIN

Barcelona

Barcelona Airport also is known as ‘El Prat Airport’ and is the second biggest in Spain and one of the busiest airports in the world. Over 35 million passengers pass through this airport every year which is expected to increase in future and more than 290,000 flights arrive and departe at the airport. One of the main benefits of this airport is that it is only 14 km far from the Barcelona city center. Passengers can use a taxi, bus, train or even rent a car.

Madrid

Madrid Barajas is the largest and busiest airport in Spain. It is located at the District of Barajas in Madrid. The airport name ‘Barajas’ is derived from the district next to it, which comprises of metro station operating on the same rail line which is also serving the airport. It has 4 terminals and more than 20 counters for information that are situated throughout the terminals making it easier for people who are looking for assistance. Not only counters, there are more than 100 staff members available to help passengers. It operates flights to Asia, Europe, America, Canada and many other countries.

ITALY

Milan

Milano Linate Airport is the ideal airport for travelers visiting Northern Italy or any of the surrounding European destinations. Just 10 minutes from the sophisticated city of Milan you can grab a taxi or take the bus to the city centre any time of the day. The distance to the centre is approximately 10km.

Rome

Rome, the eternal city and destination for over a quarter of Italy’s tourist business is a city surrounding a country and visitors can marvel at the sights from ancient Rome, one of the world’s greatest empires and still spend time in the Vatican, the home of the Pope and destination of choice to millions of the world’s Catholics each year. Religion apart, the Vatican has amazing architecture including the world famous Sistine Chapel in the Pope’s residence and the Basilica and Piazza of St Peter.

Venice

The Marco Polo Airport is located just 8km away from the city centre. Travel to the floating city by water taxi or train that will take approximately 20 minutes to get there.

Use Skyscanner and  to compare flight prices. Ryanair is one of the biggest low cost carriers in Europe so if you are planning on flying around Europe from place to place it would be a good idea to check out their site.

These airports were chosen to get you in close proximity to any of the fruit and foraging tours that we currently offer. If you are planning a different itinerary you can talk to our travel specialists to get advice on other airport options in Europe.

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4 UNIQUE EUROPEAN TOURS FOR WINE LOVERS

You have seen the decorative labels in your local wine store, you have tasted the goodness of wines straight from the shelves but would you like to know more about where these delicious grapes come from? Our tasting tours are designed for wine lovers who love to get to know the grapes and meet the famous wine producers of Europe. Here are a selection of our top picks for wine enthusiasts:

Douro Valley Adventure

The grapes of Northern Portugal avail of a special climate where the valleys of the Douro bask in the sunlight and the winds from the Atlantic ocean sweep through the vineyards. The soil is rich in nutrients providing flavoursome wines for you to try out year round. From the sweetest ports to dry whites that pair well with the fresh fish from the nearby coast, this is an epic wine tasting experience for all to enjoy.

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Burgundy Food and Wine Experience

A world class wine destination Burgundy wines can be found in most reputatable wine stores throughout the world. However, visiting the region is an extra educational journey through the heart of France.

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Alba Wine and Truffle Tour

Luxurious, sensual and memorable are three words to describe a tour through this stunning region of Italy. Our wine and truffle experience in Alba is simply unforgettable. Along the way you will have the chance to meet the wine producers, taste the land and sip of bold vintage wines.  

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Travel through the Vineyards of Tuscany on Two Wheels

Cycling through the Italian countryside is an unforgettable experience. Join the locals to learn about the best wine on offer in the region of Tuscany. On this wine filled adventure you will discover the beautiful landscapes of Italy, taste famous Italian produce and sip the most delicious Italian wines.

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For more information about any of these handpicked tours for wine lovers please contact one of our travel specialists.

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Go Green for 2019! 10 Ways I can be more Eco-friendly

It is our mission to go green for 2019. We want the world to be more eco-friendly so we can start with a few ideas to help you be more sustainable this year:

Cut down on meat

Did you know that we can reduce the emission of harmful greenhouse gases by cutting back on our meat consumption. If everyone actively tried to eat less meat we would be giving back to the environment.

Plant a tree

Our friends at Mossy Earth are changing the world one tree at a time. Now you can support their cause. They are some of the most proactive, eco-friendly people we know. They know the trees, get to know the land and invest their time and energy in every forest that they create. In 2018 they planted over 4,000 trees across different regions of Europe. In 2019 we can help them to achieve higher goals and reforest areas devastated by wildfires and badly in need to native tree reforestation.

Reduce Fruit Waste

We talk about this all of time and in 2019 it will be our mission to bring tips for reducing fruit waste to the masses. Follow the simple tips here to reduce your fruit waste at home.

Invest in a Keep Cup

An easy way that you can have a small positive impact on the environment is by investing in a keep cup. By using the same coffee mug each day you are reducing your carbon footprint and reducing our reliance on single use plastics.

Reduce your carbon footprint

Walk instead of taking the car. This little tip applies whether you are at home or abroad. Many of us will opt to take taxis but check out google maps to see how far you are from your destination. If you are planning an outing to a local restaurant maybe it is in walking distance?

Be a responsible traveler

Take action into your own hands and become a responsible tourist. What can you do? Lots really! Responsible travel is all about being aware of the landscape and people around you. Respect local culture, make an effort to speak the local language, don’t damage the landscape, reuse your bathroom towels and be conscious of pollution (both litter and noise) as you go.

Buy fairtrade goods

Always check the label. In Europe we have a fairtrade label that is placed on goods when a farm or production process has been inspected for good standards of environmentally friendly goods and fair employment. Make sure you buy at least some fairtrade items when you are doing your weekly shop.
This will give you a better idea of where your food is coming from and how the people preparing your food are treated.

Check out your local organic fruit store

Organic food stores can be a great source of inspiration. The shelves are packed full of colourful goods and fresh produce for you to enjoy. We also like to promote using the leftovers. We build up so much fruit waste each year that can be put to better use by simply giving it away to others, getting creative with your shopping habits and staying informed about the harvest season.

Ask more questions

Don’t take our word for it. Be inquisitive and ask about the products and services that you plan to use. Getting a bit of background information can give you more insights into the quality of the products and the environment in which they are produced.

Spread the word

Last but not least spread the word about these positive contributions that you can be making to the environment around you. It is easy to adopt one eco-friendly habit but if you tell five friends about this habit than you are making a longer positive impact on the overall environment.

If you have some eco-friendly tips or advice we would love to hear from you. For more information about any of our fruit & foraging tours please get in touch with one of our travel team anytime.

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