travel tips

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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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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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48 Hours in Alba, Italy

Planning a visit to Italy? Spend some time in the beautiful Piedmont region, renowned throughout the world for it’s truffles and wines. This is a real slice of the high life.

The centro storico or historic centre of the town is compact and easy to nacvigate on foot or bike. You will find yourself strolling through the streets aimlessly. If it’s one thing the Italians can teach us to do more of, it’s sitting back and enjoying the moment. If you have two days to spare, Alba is a great place to get a taste of the Italian lifestyle. 

DAY 1 

Morning
Start the day with breakfast at Vicolo dell’Arco. enjoy the cosy atmosphere right in the historic centre. Enjoy sipping on a creamy cappuccino outside on a sunny day. 

The sights, smells and sounds of the market are calling from Piazza Risorgimento. Now is the perfect chance to get a flavour of the region. Alba is often quoted as Italy’s gastronomic gem so be sure to taste all of the produce on offer.

Afternoon 
Spend some time exploring the old town. Stroll through the cobbled streets.

Focacceria di Budego is the perfect choice is you want to grab a bite while walking around. Try the delicious focaccia. 

Cattedrale di San Lorenzo and Chiesa di San Domenico are waiting to be explored. Learn about the history of the region. Unwind over a coffee in one of the town squares.

Evening 

Sample the local wines and cheeses at Voglia di Vino wine bar.

DAY 2

Morning
The sights, smells and sounds of the market are calling from Piazza Risorgimento.

Get up early and head to Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè in the Centro Storico for your morning coffee. No takeaway cups in Italy. Coffee time is relaxing time. Savour and enjoy. Take a seat outside this humble cafe and relax under the sunshine. This is your chance to soak up the local atmosphere.

Afternoon

After breakfast stroll to enjoy discovering the stunning baroque style architecture of Chiesa di San Giuseppe, a colourful church in the city centre. Admire the frescoes and murals that have been beautifully restored. For spectacular views of the city climb the church tower.

In the afternoon pay a visit to Bono Nella E Pagliarino where you can sample some of the best Italian cheeses. Castelmagno is simply delicious. For some required resting time enjoy sipping sipping a glass or two of the local wine at one of the many casual cafes in the town centre.

Evening

For dinner check out Caffe Umberto. This fine dining restaurant will leave you with a true taste of Italy. After dinner enjoy a nice walk to Gelateria La Romania for the best gelato in town.

In the evening get dressed up and ready from some cocktails at Hemingway in the city centre.

This is the perfect way to spend 48 hours in Alba before or after your Truffles and Wine of Italy tour that will delight your senses.

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7 Unmissable things to do in Porto

  1. The Church of St Francis
    If you are a fan of gothic architecture then you will find plenty of treasures in Porto. The Church of Sao Francisco do Porto was completed in 1410. The gold plated interior is dazzling. Discover the eerie catacombs.
  2. Palácio da Bolsa
    You won’t need to walk far if you are visiting the church as the Palace is right beside it. You can opt to do a short guided tour to learn about the art, history and construction of the Palace. Be sure to explore the central courtyard, the golden room and the Octagon.
  3. Dom Luis Bridge
    This iconic bridge is part of the Porto landscape, linking the Port wine houses with the lively Ribeira district.
  4. Café Majestic
    Café Majestic is situated on Rua de Santa Catarina. It is one of the most beautiful examples of Art Nouveau in the city. With leather seats and chandeliers this cafe and book shop will leave you with life long memories. The perfect place to have coffee with a pastel de Nata. J.K. Rowling is thought to have spent time here when writing Harry Potter.
  5. Livraria Lello & Irmão
    We feel that all bookshops are inspiring in a way and this wonderful attraction is no exception. Rich in history this ornate book shop has been around since 1906. Stained glass, a magical staircase and books as far as the eye can see are just some of the features of this famous bookshop.
  6. Sip Port by the Harbour at Wine Quay Bar
    It would be rude not to sample a sip or two of Port when you are visiting the city of Porto.
  7. Cycle to the beach
    Porto is well known for it’s stunning city centre but did you know that you will be surrounded by some stunning beaches. So if you feel like a dip in the Atlantic ocean you are never far from the sea. Grab a bike at the hungry biker cafe and head to the beach for a day in the sun.
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We fall in love with this city over and over again. The hilly streets, the antique shop windows, the harbour, the galleries, the gardens and the restaurants will keep you entertained for days. A city that’s full of life while also maintaining a relaxed vibe gives us the perfect balance to start and finish our journey.

HOW TO GET TO PORTO

Getting to Porto is relatively easy. There is good access from some major hubs in Portugal and Spain. Here are the three easiest ways to get to Porto if you are flying from mainland Europe:
Fly into Porto Airport
Travel up from Lisbon 2 1/2 hours
Travel down from Santiago de Compostela 2 1/2 hours

If you are travelling from the US than you may want to fly directly from New York to Lisbon. If you plan to fly into Madrid than be mindful that you will need to get an overnight train from Madrid to Coimbra (12 hours approx), followed by a bus or train to Porto which will take approximately 1 hour.

WHERE TO EAT

Homemade chocolat at Chocolataria Equador with a wide selection of bonbons, truffles and chocolate bars. If you have a sweet tooth than this is a firm favourite for locals and visitors. You will find stores on Rua das Flores and Rua Sousa Viterbo.

Try the famous Bacalou dishes and the fish cakes at Adego Sao Nicolau, a restaurant that has become an institution nearby the river. The low curved roofing makes it feel intimate and homely. Pair your dishes with some of the regions finest ports.

If its a lunchtime snack you are looking for than Bar Gazela is where you want to be. Situated on Santa Catarina you will enjoy the traditional atmosphere here. We highly recommend a spicy hot dog with a cold beer.

These are just a few of our top tips when travelling to the charming town of Porto. If you would like to add a fruit picking or wine tasting experience to your Portuguese adventures please contact one of our travel team.

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REASONS TO GET BACK TO NATURE

I don’t know about you but everytime we get outdoors we feel a renewed sense of self. I feel the wind in my face, smell the freshly mowed fields and have a chance to make some head space for new thoughts. So why should be get back to nature and spend a little more time outdoors. Here are eight great reasons we think nature has it’s benefits:

  • Stress Buster
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Calming effect – Better mood
  • Increases attention and sharpens your focus
  • Relax and reflect
  • Renewed creativity
  • Strengthen Immunity
  • Lose weight

The above list is by no means definitive. Every positive reason to get back to nature can be associated with looking after your mental health and well-being. Nature provides an escape from your daily routine, an excuse to get off the screens that invade our everyday and a way to reconnect with the world around us.

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