May 19

Gauja Nationa Park- natural, cultural and historical treasure of Latvia

Gauja, Latvia www.traildino.comLatvia invites you to discover a unique location by its natural, cultural and historical diversity- The Gauja National Park. It is known that the park is dating from 1973 and it has more than 90.000 hectares of green beauty. For a full experience reserve yourself more than one day to go about and explore.

A major interest should be given to the caves in the area: Guatmanala, a very large cave, Kalejala, impressive by its length, Liela Ellite or Velnala. For hiking The Ligatne Nature Trails is highly recommended because it offers the opportunity to observe wildlife, animals in their natural habitat, and excellent spots for bird watching. For impressive views there are the cliffs and the sandstone outcrops. The beautiful colors of the outcrops can vary from red to yellow and gray. The red cliffs are maybe the most picturesque and can be seen on the banks of the Ligatne River, the Lustuzis Ridge and Anafabrika Cliffs. It has been discovered that most of them formed 350-370 million years ago.

The Gauja National Park is also a source of inspiration culturally and historically. A trip in the area is like going in a personal and cultural quest. There are three towns (Sigulda, Cesis, Straupe), six Medieval castles and nineteen ancient castles to be admired and discovered along the way.  If you want to get in the atmosphere of medieval times, you can enjoy a day in Cesis Old Town. A unique feeling you will experience as well if you decide to take a tour of the Turida Museum Reserve, Ungurmuiza Manor, Ligatne Paper Mill or Araisi Lake Castle.

Those in search of high adrenaline experiences will not be disappointed. Rides down the Sigulda Luge and Bobsleigh Track are organized all year round. If bungee jumping is your thing, then you should try the cable car in Sigulda. It is suspended above the Gauja River at a height of 43 meters. Here is also the highest climbing tower in Europe, at Vells.

Taking a boat down the Gauja River opens up new perspectives on the outcrops in the valley. Boating is safe here from May to October. There is also the option of camping over night on one of the shores for a good night rest. Springtime floods are changing the dynamic of the river and many adventurous people are happy to go boating on the Ligatne and Amata rivers at that time.

Cycling is really favored here. Tourists can go cycling from May to September. Many biking paths near Sigulda like Ramkalni, Apalkalna or Ezu are the delight of those who love this sport.

If you decide to visit in winter then you might be looking for a skiing experience. Tracks like Kordes, Pilsetas, Reina, Zagarkalns are great to try your skiing skills and these are just a few of them.

Having so many entertainment options in a National Park makes a tourist feel like a kid in a candy store: happy and willing to try them all.

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May 19

Innsbruck, an architectural gem in Austria

 Everyone visiting Austria is charmed by the beauty of Innsbruck, a town situated in the Inn Valley. If you travel by car from Germany to Italy or from Vienna to Switzerland you must visit Innsbruck. The Old Town opens up its narrow streets and let the curious eye of a tourist to enjoy the tall house built in Gothic style.

Your visit should start with the Golden Roof building. The construction dates from back in the 1496. The Golden Roof was meant to celebrate the marriage between Maximilian I to Bianca Maria Sforza. From this building the court was present and observed from above the festivities taking place at that time in the square below. The 2.657 gilded copper tiles are giving the whole construction an exotic and interesting look.

From here the next stop should be the beautiful narrow streets in the Old Town. Different architectural styles coexist here giving a very harmonious look to the area, from old Tyrolese architecture to impressive Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo constructions. If you decide to take a walking tour you will be charmed by the Baroque Helblinghaus with its intricate ornaments. Golden Adler (Golden Eagle) is another building worth seeing. This is an old inn that hosted even great Goethe once. The watchtower Stadtturm it was built in the 14th century and it still a favored place from where to admire the Old Town. During your walking tour don’t forget to visit the Castle Giant’s House (Burgriesenhaus), a construction dating from 1490 meant to serve as a house for a giant man from the court, the Ottoburg or the House of the Teutonic Order (Deutschordenshaus).

Very beautiful concerts you can listen to the Cathedral of St. James. Built in 1724 in Baroque style, the cathedral is beautifully painted, especially the ceiling, with its Glorification of St. James. The altars are made of High Baroque marble and here is depicted an important image of Virgin Mary, Maria Hilf.

Exploring the esplanades of the River Inn is another way to get to know Innsbruck. In Mariahilf District you will enjoy a baroque building as Mariahilfkirche, the green and rich Botanic Garden and the observatory. Next one is Hotting District with its gorgeous Old Parish Church (Alte Pfarrkirche). On Hotting Ridgeway you get the chance to admire the city and mountains surrounding the city. Your tour will end in St. Nikolaus District where there is a Neo-Gothic Church worth seeing.

If you are willing to go on a trip for a day from Innsbruck, then the old town of Kufstein is the best destination for you to visit. The lake has a story of its own and the Kaisergebirge is invinting you for a climbing experience. The small town is inviting you to explore the little squares with fountains and monuments and to admire the historical buildings. The place which attracts most of the visitors is Feste Kufstein. The castle dates from 1205 and it has a tower 90 meter-high (Kaiserturm) and an Organ (Heldenorgel) from 1931. The Organ plays a specific melody every day at noon as a reminder of those who died in the two world wars. Inside the castle there is also a museum (Heimatmuseum), an important location where concerts and local festivals are taking place from time to time.

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May 16

Zamosc, “the ideal city” in Poland

Zamosc1 is known to be the “ideal city”. Built in the Renaissance manner, “Padua of the North” is only one of the expressions that described the exotic architecture of Zamosc. What they understood by the “ideal city” was a city appealing for its residents, safe and most of all beautiful.

It was the polish Chancellor Jan Zamoyski who hired the Italian architect Bernardo Morando at the end of 19th century to design Zamosc, based on the anthropomorphic concept. The city was built to resemble to a human silhouette where the palace is the head, the main street plays the role of the spine and the Academy and the Cathedral are its lungs. The belly was represented by the crosswise road and the three markets, while the defensive bastions were the arms and the legs.

In 14 December 1992, Zamosc was inscribed in the UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List. This means the city has to be protected from destruction and preserved as best as possible in an unchanged condition.

Because of its beauty and unique landscape, Zamosc is a favorite Eastern European destination among tourists. The historical buildings are situated inside the town’s defensive walls and that makes them an easy target for tourists in loved with Renaissance architectural designs. There are other attractions in Zamosc beside the Old Town. Family with kids can enjoy a visit at the zoological garden, for couples there is always the choice of a walk in the park or a movie at the modern cinema, the music lovers have the chance to listen the oldest symphonic orchestra in Poland, galleries, restaurants and cafes in Old Town’s basements are other places where tourists can feed their souls with beauty.

And if all you are looking for as a tourist in this place is to fall in love then you should fall in love with the colorful Armenian houses in the Market Square. It is great to know that back in the days these houses witnessed such a prolific multicultural exchange. Jewish people from Turkey and Italy came and settled here, as well as Armenians and Greeks. They were all having the same rights as the other residents. This made Zamosc a city of ethnic and religious freedom.

If you decide to go to Zamosc don’t hesitate to explore Roztocze district as well- a green area with a beautiful landscape, situated only 130km away from L’viv. Given the fact that Roztocze is a National Park, you can enjoy walking to its forests, and having the proper guide you might even see the wild boar, the red deer, the red fox and beautiful Polish ponies.

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May 16

Slovenia, a Fantasy movie like country

lake-bledBeing a visitor in Slovenia can add considerable value to your life. More than half of its territory it is covered with forest, about 10.000 square km of green paradise for you to discover and explore. Besides the natural beauty, Slovenia invites you to feel the breeze when visiting the small but impressive coastline, which many compared it to Venice. The architecture of the cities in Slovenia it is another reason you might want to go there, they are elegant, colorful and sophisticated. Slovenians invest a lot of love in their towns; a proof is the name of their capital Ljubljana, which means “The Loved One”.

If you like spending time outdoor, Slovenia is the right destination for you. It offers you a long list with fun activities. You can go hiking, skiing (they have the largest ski jump platform) or cycling in the mountains or you can go to a rafting adventure on Soca River. Caves like Postojna are ready to be discovered. If you like horses this is the country for you. Riding on horseback can be a very beautiful experience when doubled by the fact that you can admire and be around the Lipizzaner horse stud, established in Slovenia in 1580. Seeing the country from above it is another great choice when you visit Slovenia and the hot air balloon is the way most tourists enjoy the view.

Slovenia is about culture and architecture as well. At Lake Bled a baroque chapel is sheltered by tall trees and the effect is that of beauty and calm. The mixed architectural styles are another reason to go on discovering different parts of the country, from towns reminding of Venice, or farmhouses built in Hungarian style in Prekmurje to the Gorenjska church of Gothic inspiration and the generous museums in Ljubljana.

For romantics there is always Bled Island with the little church where many couples start their married life when the groom carries his bride up the 99 steps. And there is no great wedding without a great wine. Slovenes have a passion for vineyards, they have a vineyard or winery on every 70 people and it seems like the oldest vine in the world (400 years old) it is located in the town of Maribor.

Of course there is gourmet food as well. Having neighbors countries like Italy, Austria and Hungary, Slovenia developed a unique style of cooking by reinventing dishes for the tourists delight. They express their joy during great food festivals dedicated to cabbage, bean or chestnut.

If all these facts didn’t convince you yet how picturesque and versatile Slovenia is, then trust the film makers. A very well known fantasy movie was filmed in Slovenia, on Soca Valley. Even the symbol of the country (the dragon) reminds you of a fairytale.

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May 16

Romania’s eco treasure- the cob house from Timisoara

casaverdeAfter 12 years working in Canada, Ileana Mavrodin, architect and natural builder decided to head back to her native country in Romania. She settled for her first cob house in Sasca, a village close to Timisoara city, in the west part of the country. Her project is called Casa Verde, which means The Green House.

The concept of this project is all about healthy, environmental, cheap and sustainable way of building in natural areas untouched by civilization. People from around Europe are visiting Ileana every year for a piece of advice on how they can build the house of their dreams using nothing but ecological materials. This initiative brought her many fans in Romania and outside of the country and someone actually had the idea of building a whole village with cob houses in Berca, close to Buzau town (which is located around 110km away from Bucharest, the capital).

A natural material to build with, that you can use straight from your backyard, is earth. Originated from an English word, cob means lump or rounded mass. During her workshops at Sasca, Ileana Mavrodin teaches you how to make a house from the scratch using cob. Cob is the result of mixing earth, sand and straw. The experience of using cob goes beyond your building skills and gets you into a magical and exotic feeling because you can freely use both hands and feet to model your house. If you ever wanted to know how Demi Moore felt in Ghost when she was sculpting with clay, now you can find out visiting this part of Romania and learning this ancient building technique. Everything is organic when you build with cob, from the material to its round, natural shape.

The interior of a cob house is very cozy, appealing to your desire to feel at home; to a home like in only fairy tales you would see. If you want to go ecological all the way, you can use recycled materials for the house; you can integrate colorful glass bottles in the walls of the construction to philter the natural light in different shades. Most of people choose to have their walls painted with inspiring mandalas or creative flower patterns. A cob house can have a hippie look, or a chic one, or definitely a contemporary and elegant one. A very interesting part of the building it is the green rooftop and there you can leave your inspiration run wild and bring into your private suspended garden the flowers you always wanted to keep in the house but it seemed you never had room for them.

If you decide to come to Sasca at one of Ileana’s workshops you can also experience for a whole week how it is to live and eat organic, because the guests are hosted in the beautiful village in traditional houses and the food is provided by local people from their own sustainable farms.

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May 16

Riga- art, sport and Rupjmaize in Latvia

71588722_riga_panorama_www.latvia.travelMore than 800 years old, the city of Riga is the gemstone of Latvia and its capital. Located on the south coast of the Gulf of Riga, the city is close to the River Daugava. Riga is considered one of the largest cities in the Baltic States and has a population of 700.000 people.

Dating from ancient times, the city it is a mix of architectural history, old and modern. You can see coexisting in beautiful harmony churches built back in the days along with medieval buildings in the Old Town and great Art Nouveau architecture.

Riga is impressive by its cultural agenda. One of the places that worth visiting is Latvian National Opera. Here you can see performing artists from different corners of the world. Attending to classical and popular concerts it is another way of enjoying this cultural place.

The gastronomy in Riga is an enchanting adventure that takes you through a variety of tastes. The Latvian cuisine it is a fusion of flavors. Here people love consuming raw and smoke fish, wheat, barley, cabbage, onions, potatoes and pork. The dishes are of rustic inspiration with a modern kick to them. When you visit Riga make sure to taste Rupjmaize, the national symbol; the dark bread made of rye is one of the Latvian specialties.

In Riga, tourists can join running the marathons, take part in orienting expeditions in the forest or enjoy different competitions during summer. Jogging or skiing is always an alternative in Riga. Kayaking is an aquatic sport that is very popular in Latvia.

If you are on the look for a relaxing day in Riga, you should go ahead and try the wellness centers that offer spa treatments, from massaging to cosmetic procedures. Don’t miss the special ritual of taking a Latvian bath.

Getting lost on the narrow streets in Riga is part of the charm of the city. While you are there exploring by foot you can buy at reasonable prices beautiful handmade souvenirs or you can visit the art galleries.

For those looking for the perfect Eastern European location for their business conference, international meetings or multicultural exhibitions, Riga is definitely the city that offers the perfect infrastructure for this.

If you decide you cannot live without being connected on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms, you don’t have to worry about bad service on Internet here. In 2014, Riga has been declared the capital of free WiFi. No matter where you are, in your hotel, getting from one place to another in a cab or just having brunch in a nice café, you can communicate and navigate on Internet for free.

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May 16

Orheiul Vechi, a rustic and picturesque area in Moldova

orheiul_vechi_trebujeni_moldova_5-1024x680 travel,mdSixty kilometers away from Chisinau stretches the modern city of Orhei. Only 20 km away from the modern city you can easily plan your trip to an important archaeological and spiritual complex, Orheiul Vechi (which means Old Orhei).

This complex is dating from back in the days, from Dacians tribes, going through different invasions (by Mongols and Tatars) until the time of Stefan cel Mare in the 15th century. Located on the shore of the Raut River, this complex is a treasure for those seeking to feel the atmosphere from ancient times. There is a whole range of ruins, fortifications, caves and monasteries ready to be discovered and rediscovered.

The bridge to Butuceni it is the sign you are approaching the village of Trebujeni. This is the place where you should begin your visit, from the Orheiul Vechi Exhibition Centre. The English-language map you will find here to buy it will help a lot. The small exhibition displays ancient objects. The Centre has six rooms and a welcoming restaurant. To feel the local taste you can go to Agro Pensiunea Butuceni. Their rooms are decorated in the Moldavian traditional style. Old and modern are related here at the pension, because the owners added a pool as well. In the restaurant you can enjoy very good home cooked meals, wines from local vineyards and interesting lessons on how to prepare by yourself cornmeal polenta, known as mamaliga by the locals.

Make sure to have at least half a day to cover everything that is to be seen. The Orthodox Cave Monastery is probably the most important place that you want to visit. It has been carved inside of a cliff, close to the river. The two signs that show you are in the right place are the bell tower and a cross rose on top of the rocks. In the 13th century monks decided to build this monastery, but no one inhabited until late in the 18th century. From 1996 a few monks decided to go back to this spiritual place and they dedicated their time to its restoration. A brick archway is marking the entrance in the cave.

In 1905, an Orthodox church has been built and can be visited while you are there. It is interesting that the access in the church has been forbidden by the Soviets in 1944. Until 1996 the church remained abandoned.

Other important things to see there are a defense wall dating from the 15th century, the ethnographic museum and the caves from the valley.

The easiest way to reach the Cave Monastery is through the village of Butuceni.

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May 16

Nida, the colorful town in Lithuania


Lithuania is a country that has so much to offer to its tourists, from impressive museums to beautiful beaches where to relax and reconnect with nature. Nida is a destination only 48 km away from Klaipeda. Nida it is a town where calm and peace are the main ingredients for the general atmosphere.

Here you should not miss seeing Parnidis, a dune of 52m height. It is a destination for romantic tourists; from here they can observe and immortalize the sun rising and the sunset from and into the sea. Close to this area, there is a lighthouse of 29,3 m height located on the Urbas hill. The existence of this lighthouse makes the navigation and orientation on the sea much easier for many sailors.

In Nida is worth visiting the Lutheran Church with its ethnographical cemetery. Most of the tombs are made of wood and they display interesting shapes of horse heads, plants or birds.

Everybody read and heard about Thomas Mann. Nida gives you the opportunity to visit the historical museum dedicated to this writer. The museum it is actually the cottage where the author lived during his life.

Nida it is a versatile town where entertainment can be experienced in so many ways. Taking a stroll on the paths in natural reserves and dunes or spending a day out on the sea yachting are common things that a tourist might want to try while he is in Nida. Another way to enjoy the surroundings is to rent a bicycle and take advantage of the great infrastructure built especially for this sport. Water tourism is much wanted in Nida. The sea is there to be explored if you decide to rent a boat. If fishing is in your blood, then Nida is the place to be. Here they have special regions where you can fish or you can participate in amateur fishing contests. Bird lovers are coming from all over Europe for bird watching during their migration season. Even in winter there is something that can attract a curious tourist to try the sport of sailing the ice with Ice-Blokart, as it is called the special sledge used for this activity.

The annual jazz festival might be another reason for you to visit Nida. The museums are another important attraction in Nida. As it is the fisherman’s ethnographic museum or the gallery-museum of amber.

The activities here are so diverse that one thing is sure when you come to Nida, you have no time to waste because there is so much to be seen, discovered, explored and experienced.

May 16

Mljet, the green island in Croatia

www.croatiaapartments.netSituated in the Adriatic Sea, Mljet Island is considered to be the green island because the surface it is covered with forest. For the same reason the island has been transformed into a National Park. It is close to the city of Dubrovnik and tourists from all over the world choose it as a favorite destination for hiking, biking and swimming. Because of its particular landscape the island has been considered one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world. It was Jacques Cousteau who talked about Mljet as one of the most beautiful diving places. If you are a passionate scuba diver you might enjoy exploring the exotic marine life in Pomena or you can rent a boat in Prozura Port. There are caves to visit and besides sponges, algae and colorful fish, you can also admire the live red corals.

A legend talks about how Ulysses, during his journey back home to Ithaca, came in Mljet and stayed for seven years. As a sign of his visit there is a cave with his name. The cave it is large and pretty impressive. Here, it is said that Ulysses met the nymph Calypso. She was the one who took care of him and helped him to recover his health.

In Mljet there are picturesque villages where you can always find someone willing to share with you the local folklore, beautiful bays and welcoming sandy beaches. In the south-east of the island are located the two beaches, Saplunara and Blace, where your taste for wilderness can be satisfied along with your desire to sunbathe in special private areas. The salt water lakes, Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero with its curative warm waters they definitely deserve to be visited and tried on. St. Mary islet is an excellent place where you can recollect and find peace. Other important things to see are the ruins of Roman palace in Polace. The small communities in Mljet are eco-oriented and committed to preserve this area as it is, unspoiled by technology.

The trails on the island are allowing any tourist to feel the heartbeat of the forest firsthand. Going hiking from Babino Polje to Maranovici opens up a great view as it is the hiking trail on Veliki Grad and Montokuc. In Mljet there is a path going around the lakes that makes biking, walking, running a very pleasant experience. For only 100 Kuna a day you have the choice to rent a bike and explore Polace or Pomena for the day.

Being in Mljet for a week can turn an adventure into a very romantic experience. The place to stay is the Hotel Odisej or you can go ahead and choose from a whole range of private accommodations.

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