Tag Archives: Europe

Easter Week is party time in Valencia, Spain, but visitors enjoy unique sights of the city as well

2019-04-10

In Spain, every city and village has its own festivities that are unique to the community. A number of these fiestas have long traditions, whereas others, like the Tomatina near Valencia in Bunol is a recent innovation. In addition to gazillion of local fiestas, national holidays are celebrated in Spain as well. If you want to experience a genuine Spanish fiesta, and visit the best sights of Valencia, here are a few tips.
easter cavalcade through a city center in Spain

Three massive festivities in Valencia

Epiphany is celebrated on the 5th and 6th of January. As a festivity and carnival, this is much bigger than Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Every town and city organizes one or multiple cavalcades in the town center. The leading theme is the Three Wise Men who bring gifts to children. For adults, it is another perfect excuse to go out and get a table at a restaurant or bar.

Fallas is a unique festival for Valencia. The entire fiesta lasts about three weeks, but the key events in mid-March that end the celebrations draw the biggest crowds. Fallas has become a popular event that Spanish people outside Valencia want to experience, together with plenty of foreign tourists.

In some countries, people can have one extra day of holiday because of Easter, but in Spain the minimum Easter holiday is one week. The entire population of the country is on the move. Every town with any self-respect organizes big cavalcades, Masses, and other events. A reason why the Easter is Spain’s biggest national holiday is that it often coincides with warm spring weather. Beach resorts can be fully booked.

Travel guide to Valencia shows all the events, sights, places, and attractions of the city. It also covers cultural tips, key things about food and drink, and nearby towns and sights.
Valencia town hall with christmas lights

Three unique sights in Valencia, Spain

Even during a fiesta in Valencia, there is time to party, and time to do something else. The city is relatively easy to explore by foot, by bicycle, and by occasionally using the underground (metro) network. Here are three unique must-see sights in Valencia.

Old Town, the city center of Valencia, is a large and busy district with magnificent old buildings and monuments. It is not an outdoor museum, but Valencians live and work there. However, since locals like to spend plenty of time at their favorite restaurants and bars, there is an astronomical number of places to eat and drink in the city. Considering sights, La Lonja, Mercado Central, Catedral, and Plaza de la Virgen attract most visitors.

Turia Park is a green district that stretches a long way around the city center. The park is so large that there is space for everyone – well, weekends can be crowded. How is it possible that many kilometers/miles long park is located in the heart of an ancient European city? The park is built on the river banks of Turia River. The river used to flood the city so badly that finally, in the 1950s, it was diverted to flow around the city straight to the Mediterranean Sea.

The City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences is a district in Valencia where modern architecture shines under the Southern European sun. It is place where a science museum, sea world, high-tech movie theater, concert hall and other institutions are open to visitors. Also, elements of parkland and water are cleverly applied to complement the ultramodern buildings.
the city of arts and sciences, sample page from book Valencia, Spain
The Valencia travel guidebook is available at all major online bookstores, for instance: Amazon.com, Google Play Books, and Kobo.

Top 20 most visited countries in the world

2019-02-05

France is still the number one tourist destination in the world according to the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) statistics. The US has fallen third, and Spain has claimed the position of the second most visited country. At the continental level, the growth of visitors is the greatest in Europe, even though it already is the biggest tourist destination.
UNWTO travel destination statistics 2017
Top 10 most visited countries in the world in 2017 according to UNWTO:

1. France
2. Spain
3. USA
4. China
5. Italy
6. Mexico
7. United Kingdom
8. Turkey
9. Germany
10. Thailand

If you want to travel in 5 out of 10 most visited countries in the world relatively easily in a manner that doesn’t take too much time, here is our tip. France and Spain share a long border along the Pyrenees Mountains. Italy has a border with France. Germany is the northeast neighbor of France. The large island where England, Scotland and Wales are located is separated from France by a short train ride or ferry trip.

The best way to tour these countries is to do a road trip, or to get an Eurail pass or an Interrail pass for traveling Europe by train.

Top 11-20 most visited countries in the world are:

11. Austria (29 million visitors)
12. Japan (28 million)
13. Greece (27 million)
14. Hong Kong (27 million)
15. Malaysia (25 million)
16. Russia (24 million)
17. Portugal (21 million)
18. Canada (20 million)
19. Poland (18 million)
20. Netherlands (18 million)

Don’t leave on a trip without a guidebook. Riviera (Cote d’Azur) in France is the must-see destination in addition to Paris. Most travelers want to see the Mediterranean coast of Spain where the city of contrasts, Valencia, has both its long history and ultramodern contemporary architecture on display. The hot trending travel destination Portugal has its own sunny coast in the south in Algarve.
tourism statistics by continent, by UNWTO
Via Quartz.

Travel guide to the city of contrasts: Valencia, Spain

2019-01-13

As long as Spanish people living in inland regions have had the means to travel somewhere warm, Valencia has been one of the most popular destinations. Over the years, Americans, tourists from other Europeans countries and recently also Asians have discovered Valencia’s charm. Some travelers arrive in Valencia for the historic city, others for the ultra-modern City of Arts and Sciences, others for the beaches, whereas some people want to join a genuine Spanish fiesta. Here is a travel guide to the city of Valencia that shows you where to visit, and what to do in this lively city.

cover image of book: Valencia, Spain

Valencia is often regarded as the home of paella (a rice dish) and also the place where the Holy Grail is on display (in the Cathedral). They are only two of the curiosities that can be easily found in the city.

Batman fans know that Gotham City refers to New York City. Yet, there are very few – if any – signs or symbols of bats in New York City. There is, however, a city in Europe where bat is the key symbol: Valencia, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. When exploring Valencia, look closely, and you’ll find bat symbols on the facades of buildings, towers, and even on the streets.
bat symbol in Valencia, Spain, Europe
Valencia, Spain – The Key Sights, Places, and Events covers the information a visitor needs on a city break, or during a vacation when there is enough time to explore also sights outside the city.

Spanish culture and customs are slightly different to the rest of Europe. The Iberian Peninsula was ruled by Arabs for five centuries, after all, and the long dictatorship of Franco ended only in 1975. The travel guide highlights the elements of the Spanish culture that travelers are likely encounter.
Plaza de la Virgen in Valencia, Spain, Europe
If you are already thinking what would be the best time to visit, here are a few tips. Summer months tend to be quite warm and very humid, which is why people escape to the beach or to the mountains in summer. If you want to join the biggest fiesta you have ever seen, the Fallas in March is your choice. Every weekend around the year is party time in the old city center, and every day is an exciting day in the City of Arts and Sciences. For outdoor activities, or exploring the city on foot or by bicycle, autumn, winter and spring are perfect seasons.

The Valencia, Spain travel guide book is available for download in all major online bookstores, for instance: Amazon.com, Google Play Books, and Kobo.

Valencia, Spain: city of arts and sciences
a main street in the city street leads to Plaza de la Reina in Valencia, Espana
All photos from the Klaava Travel Guide Valencia, Spain.

The Spanish way of celebrating Christmas: a night out in Valencia

2018-12-20

In the Western world, Christmas traditions are similar in many countries: presents, Santa Claus, colorful lights, reindeer, Christmas tree, and songs about a peaceful celebration of the darkest time of the year in the northern hemisphere. In Spain, Christmas is not necessarily the number one festivity of the year. Here is how people in the city of Valencia celebrate it.
ice-skating at town hall square in Valencia, Spain, Europe
Valencia is Spain’s third largest city with more than a million inhabitants in the metropolitan area. The origins of the city are in the era of the Roman Empire that settled military personnel on the banks of the Turia River. Even though Valencia is increasingly attracting tourists from across the world, it remains a genuine Spanish city. It has its unique culture, traditions, and big fiestas, like Fallas (in March) and Los Reyes Magos (in January).
Valencia town hall with christmas lights
You can find out more about the fiestas of Valencia in Klaava Travel Guide to Valencia, Spain. The top sights, attractions, and cultural tips are introduced in the guidebook as well.

Although Christmas is not the flashiest and loudest fiesta in Valencia (or in Spain), it is a perfect excuse to go out and spend a night out in the city center.

Shops and department stores are open late, swarming with customers. Cafes and restaurants are so busy that queues may form outside the most popular ones. If the world’s biggest lottery El Gordo hasn’t been announced yet, people queue to the kiosks that sell lottery tickets.
A popular cafe serves traditional Horchata drink
Traditional herbal shop in Valencia at Carrer de la Pau.
In Valencia, two destinations attract the biggest crowds: Plaza de la Reina and Plaza de Ayuntamiento.

The famous Cathedral of Valencia stands at the north end of the Plaza de la Reina, and that’s where the traditional Nativity Scene is set up. These Nativity Scenes are constructed every Christmas in every city, town and village.

Plaza de Ayuntamiento is a large Town Hall Square that has plenty of action during Christmas. The Town Hall and many other buildings have been lit up, as well as the fountain. Something that you probably don’t expect to find on the sunny Mediterranean coast of Spain – an ice-skating rink – has been built on the square. Courageously, Valencians test themselves on the ice as others cheer skaters on from the sides.

Some places in the old city center of Valencia can be crowded during the evenings and nights of Christmas, but there is always a seat and a table in a restaurant or bar a short walk away from the busiest areas.

travel guide to Valencia, Spain, South Europe

Top 5 must-see historical places in the city of contrasts: Valencia, Spain

2018-10-27

Our travel guidebook author has explored the ins and outs of the city of Valencia in Spain, and this is his conclusion: Valencia is a city of contrasts, an exciting destination even for travelers who think they have seen it all. The ancient city center with majestic buildings and ancient shops and bars is simply remarkable. A fifteen minute walk away from the old town, the ultra-modern City of Arts and Sciences drops the jaw of any globetrotter. These are the five top sights in the historical city center of Valencia in Spain.

The top 5 sights have been extracted from the travel guidebook Valencia, Spain – The Key Sights, Places and Events (published in Klaava Travel Guide book series). The text has been edited for this blog post.

Plaza de la Virgen

Plaza de la Virgen in the old town of Valencia, Spain, Europe
Plaza de la Virgen is a home for a number of key buildings in the city. It is not a coincidence, because the plaza is the former center of the city. The town hall used to stand at the west side of the plaza. During the Roman era, the square was a Roman Forum, a central place in the city.

The key historical buildings around the square are:

Basilica Virgen de los Desamparados
Cathedral
Palau de la Generalitat
The fountain at the square is a new work of art, revealed in 1976.

Plaza de la Virgen is a meeting place for Valencians, a central place for many fiestas and one of the sights that attracts plenty of tourists who like to snap selfies in front of the fountain.

La Lonja

La Lonja, Valencia, Spain
The original purpose of La Lonja building (opened in 1533) was trading. It may not sound like an exciting, soul-stirring experience, but judge after you have seen it yourself. Nevertheless, La Lonja was built for merchants who arrived in Valencia to negotiate about silk produced in the region. The city wanted to impress merchants, and invested in the architecture of the building.

Pere Compte and Joan Ibarra were the architects who conducted the work for 50 years. Today, La Lonja is a Unesco World Heritage site.

Barrio del Carmen neighborhood

Barrio del Carme, Valencia in South Europe, Spain
Barrio del Carmen is the oldest district of Valencia where many buildings are so old that they can’t stand straight anymore. This part of the city used to stand on an island in Turia River. As the city expanded south, the south side of the island was connected to the mainland. The entire river was diverted away from the city center in 1956.

The Carmen neighborhood shows its age in many ways. Houses are small, many of them are worn down, and alleys are more narrow than in other parts of the city. Near Plaza del Tossal, a number of restaurants and bars keep the nearby streets busy all day and night.

Plaza de Ayuntamiento

Plaza de Ayuntamiento in Valencia on the Mediterranean coast
The buildings around the Town Hall Square are big, tall and decorated around the largest square in central Valencia.

It wasn’t always like that. Until late 19th century, Convento de San Francisco, a monastery, covered the space that is today the Town Hall Square. The city wanted to move the town hall to a more spacious place away from Plaza de la Virgen, and when the monastery couldn’t maintain its property anymore, it was demolished. The new central square of Valencia was established, and the Town Hall moved to a large school building overlooking the plaza.

Facades of many other beautiful buildings line the square, like

Correos (Post Office),
Ateneo Mercantil and
Teatro Rialto.

Plaza de Ayuntamiento is also a central place of many big fiesta events, such as Fallas.

Torres de Serranos: medieval towers and gate to the city

Torres de Serranos during Fallas fiesta party event
Valencia has had fortified walls around it three times during its long history. Only two gates have survived the third wall: Torres de Serranos and Torres de Quart. In addition to being watchtowers, they are also gates where entrance to the city was controlled.

For tourists, Torres de Serranos is the primary destination because it is located near Plaza de la Virgen and the Cathedral.
The massive towers were built in 1392-1398. It is possible to ascend to the tower to see the city from a bird’s view, but even taller towers that let you see over the roofs of the city are, for instance, in Santa Catalina Church and in the Ateneo building.

More about the travel guide Valencia, Spain here download ebook travel guide to Valencia, Spain

The new EU copyright law takes a stance for rights owners like authors and publishers

2018-09-16

The Parliament of European Union has accepted the new Copyright Directive proposed by the Commission. The EU Parliament, Commission and Council will negotiate the details, aiming at having the law proposal ready for EU member states by the end of 2018. Although some details may still change, the overall purpose and objectives have been accepted by the Parliament. What does the new EU copyright directive mean for authors and book publishers?

boy reading in library, books on a shelf
The article 11 and article 13 are the most discussed items in the copyright directive. The directive includes many other important items, like making digital content product available across borders (inside EU), making it easier to deal with data mining in research institutions, and other clarifications for use of copyrighted material in academic and educational environments.

Author/publisher relationship in the article 12

The article 12 deals with author-publisher relationship directly, aiming at giving publishers more rights for compensation when a work is licensed, for instance, to a library. In many countries, libraries pay small fees to authors for book loans. Publisher don’t usually benefit from this. The directive wanted to make it possible.

Some national author organizations were concerned about the article 12 that it would have restricted author’s copyright, but the wording of the article was changed to clarify it before the Parliament voted.

Change of business model for news aggregators indicated in article 11

Some European countries, like Germany and Spain have already tried to make big internet service platforms pay for the content they extract from newspapers and other news sources. Often this involves the title, a snippet and a link to the page where the news was published. So far, attempts to charge news aggregators like Google have failed.

It may appear an innocent activity, but when companies, such as Google and Facebook do it on a massive scale, it is actually a good business case for them. Valuable free content that an algorithm only has to sort and display to visitors.

The new directive gives news publishers a strong negotiating position to charge news aggregators and other internet services that use publishers’ news items in newsfeeds and other functions of their sites.

Authors and book publishers who have blogs where they comment on news and link to news sources need to follow closely what the exact requirements and practices for free linking and referring to news sources will be as EU negotiations proceed. Linking to an external web page, and extracting text or photos from an external web page are two completely different things.

I have not been able to find anything in the EU Directive that would restrict linking to web pages, be it a newspaper or anything else.
Tavira, Portugal: a non-digital nomad in a park

It is business as usual for authors and publishers despite article 13

In the EU, a creator of a work (author, composer, film maker) always owns the copyright to the work. He or she can transfer (sell) the rights or partial rights to someone else, like a publisher. Anyway, the owner of the rights decides where, how and who can read, listen or view the work.

This basic principle of copyright law hasn’t changed at all, but EU wants to adopt Article 13 that enforces the rights owner’s rights specifically on the internet. The article more or less directly addresses dominant internet services, like YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia “service providers that store and provide to the public access to large amounts of works or other subject-matter uploaded by their users”.

EU’s point seems to be to make it absolutely clear that an internet service platform is responsible for all the content available on the service – user-uploaded or otherwise made available. It also makes it clear that all copyrighted works shared on a platform must have the rights owner’s explicit consent.

There are no grey zones anymore. The rights owner is entitled to a decent compensation if he or she has agreed that the work is made available on an internet service.

The curious thing in the article 13 is that it mentions “effective content recognition technologies” as a measure for preventing unlicensed content on a sharing service. Why on earth does it have to mention how a monitoring task can be executed? Leave it to the innovative businesses to create a solution. Hopefully this will be changed or removed during the negotiations.

For an author or book publisher, the article 13 is not earth-shattering news. If a copyrighted ebook has been uploaded to a sharing service, it has always been a copyright violation and the rights owner has been able to ask officials to intervene.

Online encyclopedias that have borrowed lengthy pieces of content from nonfiction books should look into their practices before problems arise. Also some fan fiction services may have content available extracted from fiction books. Right owners’ consent must be sought in each case.

The big fuss about the EU copyright law primarily concerns mixing and sharing culture

Most music makers, photographers, film makers, writers and publishers are happy to see a strong stance in favor of copyright protection, but some artists see risks in restrictions. The EU directive is trying to level the playing field between the rights owners (who can be a self-published author without any legal help) and internet giants that dominate search, advertising, social media and sharing services.

New works – music, films, books, photos – can be, and always have been, created using existing works more or less directly in the process. In the digital era, a new song can have the tune of “Every Breath You Take” but with new words and beat. Digitally merging old and new photographs or video clips is easy.

Sharing exciting video clips and funny photos or pieces of texts on social media is so common we don’t think about it anymore. Sometimes, someone has done a lot of work to produce that piece of work.

Loud advocates who want the current fuzzy situation to continue argue that preventing sharing or mixing is against freedom of speech and harmful for the entire internet.

It is true that EU’s new directive is straightforward with copyright owners’ rights, and eventually it will have an impact how sharing, mixing and news aggregation services operate on the internet. The services must change their processes so that all new content that becomes available on the site has cleared ownership checks, and if it is a copyrighted work, an agreement with its owner is in place.

Very little, if anything, will change because of EU’s new copyright law for an author who is writing his or her next book, or for a publisher that is investing in the production of a new book. The business model, after all, is still the same for them: produce an original work and market it to an audience that pays for the product.

Everything you need to know about the Honest Tribe that quietly minds its own business in Scandinavia

2018-07-10

The Honest Tribe refers to people of Finland in Max Boyle’s travel book that explores the culture of this Nordic nation. The author visited a number of cities and villages in different parts of the scarcely populated country, crossed lakes, and tasted the local beer. What was it that made an Englishman travel to Finland multiple times and what happened when he interviewed local people? Here is what the author Max Boyle told us.

What made you pursue the deep mysteries of the Finnish culture?

book cover image: The Honest Tribe by Max Boyle
My mother was Estonian, one of the ten per cent of the population who fled the country when, near the end of the war, it became apparent it would fall into Soviet hands. Through her, and my travels in Estonia, I became interested in Estonian national character – supposedly very quiet and insular – and wrote a travel literature book, The Indrawn Heart: An Estonian Journey, which incorporated an enquiry into how Estonians think and behave.

This task done, I began looking for another writing project. It seemed logical to turn to the Estonians’ neighbours and cultural cousins, the Finns. A reading of Richard D. Lewis’s Finland, Cultural Lone Wolf cemented the idea in my head and, in the autumn of 2016, I took off for the first leg of my Finnish journey.

What techniques or tools did you use during your field research?

When I travelled in Finland I had with me a photocopied page from Lewis’s book which presented alleged Finnish characteristics – sisu (the Finns’ famed never-give-up attitude), modesty, honesty, and so forth – in diagram form. I used this as a prompt to get my interviewees to offer views on Finnish national character. As far as possible I simply invited comments, though, without using leading questions, I would guide respondents towards specific attributes on Lewis’s diagram if they were struggling for something to say. This is especially true of Lewis’s ‘ultra-honesty’ verdict on Finns, and his attendant sobriquet ‘the honest tribe’, which I chose as my book’s title.

Was there a place or an episode during your travels that left a permanent trace on your mind?

During my final couple of days in Finland I was relaxing at an outdoor table of a Helsinki bar. I was joined by a young Finnish couple, who kindly bought me a drink, a cognac-vodka mix. ‘During the war there was a shortage of cognac,’ the gentleman commented. It was merely an aside, but it astonished me that a Finn of no more than thirty could refer to World War II with a degree of familiarity that suggested the conflict was within living memory for him. A preoccupation with the war, and the sacrifices it entailed for Finns, had also come through during an interview I’d conducted with a young woman in the town of Joensuu a week or two earlier.
You’d never find this in my country. For young Britons, the Second World War is as remote as the Middle Ages.

What is your key advice to travelers who arrive in Finland, and may occasionally find it difficult to understand local customs?

If Finns you encounter occasionally seem distant or stand-offish, don’t misconstrue this as unfriendliness or hostility. Finland is a ‘mind-your-own-business’ culture, and leaving you to get on with your own affairs is seen as courteous and considerate. Should you ask for help, however, you’ll find Finns more than obliging. This is especially true of those employed in service industries, where Finnish pride in doing your job to the best of your ability means the assistance you need will be readily forthcoming, and often with a smile and not a little charm.

Can you name five travel books that you would recommend to other travelers?

Colin Thubron’s Among The Russians is a long-standing favourite of mine. This 1980s journey around the USSR (and among many of its peoples, not solely Russians) is now a historical document of sorts, and a sobering reminder of this repressive state. The book’s chief merit, however, is its eloquence. Thubron’s writing has a poetic touch. Some find his style too wordy, but there’s barely another travel writer who could emulate it.

Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning is also a joy to read. This account of his journey through Spain shortly before the country’s civil war is remarkable for being written from the perspective of the author as a callow youth who knew nothing of the land in which he was travelling. You’ll find no background or historical information on Spain in its pages, yet the book has long been a travel literature classic.

The Great American Bus Ride by Irma Kurtz is similarly unorthodox in that the book is devoted to the experience of riding Greyhound buses around the country, rather than any exploration of the USA per se. With many writers, such a book would become tedious and repetitive, but not with Kurtz, who holds the reader’s attention throughout the 314 pages.

Another engaging American journey is Jim Keeble’s Independence Day. The author’s travels are prompted by his being rejected in a love affair, but the book has a light and entertaining feel. I enjoy the way it reveals how travelling, and the change of environment and new stimuli it provides, can act as an antidote to one’s troubles and cares.

Tony Hawks’s Round Ireland With A Fridge is as unpretentious as the title suggests, and relates the tale of the author accomplishing the said feat in order to win a bet. It’s a daft yarn, and purports to be nothing more, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A fun read.

More information and sample chapters from the book can be viewed here. book cover image: The Honest Tribe by Max Boyle

The most recommended places to visit in each country around the world

2018-06-26

If you want to visit the places that many other people are visiting, these are the most recommended destinations in each country. Tripadvisor collected the data from user comments and compiled a list of the best things to do in countries around the world. There are surprises, for instance, in Paris, the art museum Musee D’Orsay is the number one destination (instead of Eiffel Tower).

Denmark, Copenhagen, NyhavnNyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Here’s what tourists have recommended for a few countries in Europe that tend to attract travelers.

Denmark: Nyhavn (Copenhagen).
France: Musee d’Orsay (Paris).
Germany: Miniature Wonderland.
Greece: Acropolis Museum (Athens).
Italy: Colosseum (Rome).
Netherlands: Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam).
Portugal: Quinta de Regaleira (Sintra, near Lisbon).
Spain: Basilica Sagrada Familia (Barcelona).
Sweden: Wasa Museum (Stockholm).
Switzerland: Matternhorn (mountain peak).
UK: Harry Potter Studio Tour.

Vouchercloud map of Europe: best sightsMap by VoucherCloud.
If you are planning to travel in southern France instead of Paris, we can recommend the Castle Hill in Nice or the Royal Castle in Monaco as the key sights. This guidebook covers the Riviera region.

For explorers of the Nordic countries, a guide to the Arctic region of Lapland is essential.

In Portugal, Algarve is a popular year-round destination. Sagres is our recommended sight in South Portugal. This travel guide has more details for Algarve.

All the top recommendations around the world by Tripadvisor users presented as a map (by VoucherCloud).
VoucherCloud: map of world. Best places.

A hotel in central Portugal has a library of 40 000 books for its guests

2018-01-18

Portugal is a hot travel destination for many reasons, for instance, because of its south coast beaches that were chosen the best in Europe and its quirky cities, but also a hotel in central Portugal is an absolute delight for book lovers. The hotel library has a collection of 40 000 Portuguese and English titles. Most of the books are available for hotel guests to read.

Literary Man, hotel in Obidos, central Portugal
The Literary Man hotel has been built into an old house located in the ancient village of Obidos. Guest rooms in the hotel are individual and (reasonably) priced according to size and facilities. Books can be found in hotel’s public spaces in the lobby, bar and restaurant.

The hotel has also made available a few book-related activities. Book Romantics is a special dinner, Book a Story follows a story to the wine cellar for tasting, and Book Nature takes guests to a bicycle ride along landscapes of Obidos.

The Literary Man hotelli, Obidos keski-Portugali

For an accidental literary traveler, a hotel located in a small town of Obidos is sort of no man’s land. In central Portugal, somewhere between Lisbon and Porto, a traveler really must have the will and the energy to look for the hotel. The famous surfing beach in the town of Nazare is relatively close to Obidos, but that’s about it.

The public service broadcaster in Portugal, RTP, made a visit to the Literary Man hotel. The recorded video is in Portuguese, but you can see how the hotel looks like.

As you view the interior of the hotel, you may get the feeling that books have only been used to decorate public spaces. So what? Many types of artwork have been used to decorate hotels for centuries, and I haven’t seen any artist complain about it.

Via Klaava.fi.

Algarve, Portugal ranked as the most affordable European destination: this travel guide shows you around the region

2017-12-04

Portugal is such a hot travel destination these days that after winning the best tourist destination awards, statistics indicate that Algarve, the province on the south coast, is the cheapest European region to visit. There is only one way to find out what all the buzz is about and visit Algarve yourself. Here is a travel guide to Algarve that shows you around the south coast beaches, villages, mountains, castles and national parks.

Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide
The World Travel Awards is an annual event for travel industry professionals who vote for the best destinations and service providers. The big winner in 2017 was Portugal.

The Best European Destination: Portugal
The Best Beach Destination in Europe: Algarve, Portugal

Even price comparisons favor Algarve province on Portugal’s south coast. British 2017 Post Office Holiday Money Report ranks Algarve the cheapest travel destination in Europe, Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach the second and Costa del Sol in Andalusia, Spain the third. The ranking included 44 destinations, so it is certainly possible to find even cheaper places to go in Europe, but as major tourist regions are considered, that’s the top three.

What does the Algarve travel guidebook say about the reasons why people like to visit Portugal’s south coast? According to the author of the book, it is a well balanced combination of sunny climate around the year, relatively new infrastructure for tourism without overbuilding the region, unique coastline, fascinating history as a territory between North Africa and Europe, and remarkable possibilities for outdoor activities around the year.

More about the Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide and its availability here Download: Algarve, Southern Portugal - Klaava Travel Guide.

Sample pages from the travel guide below:
Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide
Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide
Algarve, Southern Portugal travel guide

The best place to retire in Europe is Algarve in Southern Portugal

2017-11-27

In North America, Florida is regarded as a wonderful place to retire because of its climate, good infrastructure, and choices for housing. In Europe, southern regions of the continent in Greece, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal attract retirees. Live and Invest Overseas has ranked Algarve Province in Southern Portugal as the best place to retire in 2017.
tavira, algarve, portugal
Most Europeans already knew that Algarve’s coast that faces the Atlantic Ocean is a perfect destination for a vacation in the sun, on a beach, or enjoying the great outdoors by surfing, cycling, following the migration of birds, or hiking on hills. Accommodation and living costs are reasonable, and all services a visitor could ever need are available in the region.

Well, it seems the same applies to retirees, especially from the UK, central Europe and northern Europe who have discovered Algarve years ago.

The best place to retire ranking by Live and Invest Overseas is based on 13 categories: cost of living, crime and safety, English spoken, entertainment, environmental conditions, expat community, health care, infrastructure, recreation, residency options, taxes and real estate affordability and restrictions.

The top 9 destinations for retirement in Europe are the following:

1. “Portugal’s Algarve remains the best place in Europe to retire to today. It has everything the would-be retiree could want – great weather and lots of sunshine year-round; an established and welcoming expat community; top-notch medical facilities and health care; an affordable cost of living, especially when you consider the quality of life; undervalued and bargain-priced property buys, including right on the ocean; endless opportunities for fun, adventure and enjoying rich, full, varied days out-of-doors; a great deal of English spoken thanks to the longstanding British presence; First World infrastructure; a new retiree residency program that rolls out the welcome mat for foreign pensioners; and easy access both from the United States and to and from all Europe.”
Before making any decisions, it is a good idea to visit the region, tour popular towns, and experience how daily life feels in Portugal. Here is a travel guide to Algarve that shows you around the region.

Other places that ranked high on the Live and Invest best places to retire list are:

2. Valletta, Malta
3. Saint-Chinian, France
4. Lisbon, Portugal
5. Budapest, Hungary
6. Citta Sant’ Angelo, Italy
7. Chania, Island of Crete, Greece
8. Bled, Slovenia
9. Paris, France

Book lover’s dream holiday: running a bookshop in Scotland

2017-11-08

This is one of the most brilliant ideas I have ever heard of: a bookshop in Scotland lets a book lover run the store for a two week period. Then, the next shop manager moves in and does his or her best in the small bookstore. Two-week time slots for managing the Open Book shop have been almost fully reserved until 2020.

Wigtown, SCotland, Open Book, bookshop
The Open Book shop is located in the village of Wigtown in Scotland. The Scotsman reports how the system works. Shop managers, or guests, book their stay via Airbnb, and pay for the privilege of becoming bookstore managers. The guests can stay in the apartment above the store.

The concept was created by an American Jessica Fox who had dreamt about working at a bookshop in Scotland. She moved to Wigtown to work in another bookstore before acquiring the shop that was to become Open Book.

“Wigtown is an amazing, unique place. It has a population of only 900 but it has 16 bookshops and they welcome people from around the world with open arms. I thought, ‘I’m sure I’m not the only crazy American out there who’d love to run a bookshop’ and that’s how The Open Book was born. People book through Airbnb and we’ve been overwhelmed by its success.”

Wigtown, Scotland.
Shop managers do real work in the bookstore: they sell books, set prices for acquired books, organize book readings and other events, and redesign shop windows. Shop managers write a blog that is fascinating to read. For instance, someone has been waiting for two years for her turn in the shop, and now, in the shop, she is busy with customers and books.

A computer with Internet connection lets managers keep up-to-date in the shop, unless they want to go for a bicycle ride to the Scotland countryside.

The concept has been noticed in China and South Korea where companies planning book town concepts have been in contact with Jessica Fox.