Tag Archives: Europe

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.

EU country Portugal has banned the use of DRM in ebooks in certain cases

2017-10-25

Portugal may not be a forerunner of digital media business within the European Union, but Portugal’s lawmakers have taken a significant step towards consumer friendly digital media and ebooks. Portugal has banned the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology in ebooks when the works are in public domain or they are published by the government.

woman reading an ebook on the beach. Photo by  Michael Mol.
The new restriction for DRM technology in Portugal is included in the law (Law No. 36/2017 of June 2, 2017) that has been effective since June 2017. Three key points that deal with DRM technology in the law are permission to break DRM in certain cases, prohibiting the use of DRM completely in certain cases, and the requirement to have the copyright holder’s permission for the application of DRM.

1. Permission to circumvent DRM protection in digital media products.
In specific fair use cases, anyone is allowed to break or circumvent DRM restrictions in digital products. The cases include reproduction of content for private use, for news reporting, for use by libraries and archives, for teaching and education, in quotation, for persons with disabilities, and for digitizing orphan works.

2. DRM is not allowed at all in specific types of digital products.
The new law prohibits applying DRM to any works that are in public domain and to works published or financed by the government. Citizens are allowed to break DRM in these works if the technology has been applied.

3. Copyright holder must give an explicit permission to the use of DRM.
This may not have a large effect on the business of ebooks since all distribution agreements already include a statement if DRM will be applied to the products and what kind of technology is used.

What is Digital Rights Management (DRM)?

Digital Rights Management is a software technology that is used to control the ways a digital media product, such as an ebook or a movie download can be used by customers. The most common application is to restrict the number of copies a customer can make from an ebook he or she has purchased.

Some big digital media stores, such as the Amazon Kindle Store and the Apple iBooks Store have their own DRM technologies that are built in to the purchase process. Customers don’t see that the products have DRM until a built-in restriction is triggered.

Other stores that use Adobe DRM for controlling the use of downloaded products tend to have issues with the technology. Customers must create an Adobe account and a store account in order to purchase a product, which makes it a somewhat troublesome system.

News about Portugal’s new law via EFF.

Tolino makes Epos, an 7.8-inch ereader available to ebook patrons in Europe

2017-10-12

Recently, we wrote about a new ereader product category – devices with 8-inch display size – that was turning into a mainstream thing. As it happens, Tolino, a major ereader brand in central European markets has introduced a product that comes with a 7.8 inch E ink display. The highlights of the Tolino Epos ereader are large and sharp screen, waterproof unit, front light (for reading in dark), possibility to categorize ebooks into collections and a built-in translator for a few languages.
Tolino Epos ereader in hand
Tolino Epos has all the features that one may expect from a high-end large screen ereader: high-resolution touch screen, wireless ebook shopping, front light for reading in poor light, and many features that allow readers to adjust the actual reading experience.

The product’s list price is 230 Euros which is competitive when compared to similar, other brand products, such as the 7-inch Amazon Kindle Oasis, or the 7.8 inch Kobo Aura One.

Tolino products are available in central European countries, but you can find out the availability of the product in your country at Tolino’s web page.

News about the product via Heise Online.

Tolino Epos key features and specifications

Tolino Epos ebook collections

7.8 inch E Ink Carta display. Capacitive touch screen.
Display resolution 1872 × 1404 pixels (300 ppi). 19.81 centimeters screen diagonal.
Integrated front light with automatic and manual adjustment of color temperature of the display light.
Processor: 1000 MHz Freescale i.MX6
RAM 512 MB
Storage (internal) 8 GB where 6 GB is available for ebooks. Additional storage space included at Tolino Cloud 5 GB.
Wi-Fi: WLAN (802.11 b/g/n).
Micro-USB port.
Ebook formats: EPUB, PDF, TXT, Adobe DRM and ebooks from public libraries (e. g. Onleihe Germany).
Waterproof (by HZO).
Dimensions 140 × 209 × 8.2 mm
Weight 260 g
Li-polymer battery, 1200 mAh.
Battery capacity up to 4 weeks.

Tolino Epos ebook shopping
Reading features:

Adjustable font size
Create own fonts
Create and manage highlights
Add annotations and create notes
Categorize ebooks in collections
Built-in dictionary
Language translation function
Reading in portrait or landscape format
Table of contents
Bookmarks
Full-text search inside ebooks
PDF to text function

China is the largest book market in the world: together with USA, more than half of all titles published

2017-08-20

China has rapidly become the largest market for books in the world. Of all the 1.6 million new book titles published in 2015, 28% of them were published in China. The second largest market, the U.S., published 20% of new titles launched to the global markets in 2015.

The vast population of China, more than one billion, explains part of the success of books in the country, but it is not the whole story. India’s population is roughly at the same level as China’s population, but India is nowhere near China when the number of published books are considered.

China has very quickly developed from a primarily farming society into an industrial society that is rapidly turning into a new technology powerhouse. That requires masses of well educated engineers, managers, and marketers. Books are a great way to learn, and of course, be entertained.

Book statistics have been published by the International Publishers Association (IPA). The numbers come from publishers, and don’t include self-published titles.

Below a graph by Quartz that shows the number of new book titles published in each in 2015:

book titles published by country. Source IPA, graph Quartz
The relative importance of books, or how the society values books, in each society can be studied by dividing the number of citizens by the number of new titles. Now, the story is completely different. European countries rise on top. Top 10 of published titles per million inhabitants is all European countries, followed by the U.S.

UK, France, and Spain export plenty of books to other countries where English, French or Spanish is spoken, but why are Scandinavian countries so high in the top 10? Every Scandinavian country has its own language, making each market small. Book industry is a subsidized business in these countries. Authors may get allowances, translators may receive grants, and value added taxes for books are lower than for other products.

books published per million inhabitants by country, source IPA.

Ebook news digest: recommended books for vacation, nomads’ favourite continent, Tour de France

2017-07-05

News on ebooks, writing and reading

bookcrossing street library in Spain
Bill Gates Discusses His Lifelong Love for Books and Reading
Time

Bill Gates is the man who started the personal computing and software revolution in the late 1970s – early 1980s when his company Microsoft managed to make a deal with IBM. He became the world’s richest man, even though someone else may have passed him by now. When he was still the leader of Microsoft, he used to list the books he is going to read on his short summer break. The books, of course, became instant bestsellers. Time magazine has recently interviewed Bill Gates, and yes – he has more book recommendations.

Best e-readers
PCWorld

PCWorld is a computer magazine that has reviewed Kindle and Kobo ereaders. Good advice and terminology for the uninitiated included as well.

Publishers and Publishing: Why We Still Need Them
Writing and Pubishing My Book

While self-publishing, triggered by the rise of ebooks, is living its golden age, publishers still have the same old job as they have had for hundred of years. Here is a reminder on what they actually do.

Save Space in Your Suitcase and Leave These Things at Home For Your Next Trip
Popsugar

The first item on the list to leave home is a laptop. If you are flying, a good tablet perhaps with a small foldable keyboard (if you have to work a little) goes a long way. Instead of packing a paperbook, we recommend downloading thousand ebooks on the tablet for choice.

Ask a Digital Nomad: What Are Your Favorite Places?
The Ramble

Location independent writer Gigi asked a few fellow digital nomads what are their favorite places to stay, have fun, eat, to name a few questions. Interestingly, Europe got the most mentions for traveling professionals’ favorite continent with Asia as a solid second.

Tour de France is live and so is Riviera on the Mediterranean coast
Klaava Travel Guide

Tour de France is the biggest sports event in the world if measured by the number of spectators watching the live event where it happens. Here is a guidebook to southern France where the professional road cyclists pedal as well.

LG’s latest tablet is lighter than a can of soda
Android Authority

If you read ebooks on a tablet or on an ereader for long periods, and you are holding the device in your hand, you may notice the weight. Just like a paperbook, electronhic reading devices weigh a little, but less is always good. LG has announced an 8-inch high-end tablet (LG G Pad IV 8.0 FHD) that is really light.

6 books Wall Street is reading this summer
CNBC

If you are a professional, here are books that many cubicle heroes will be talking about in the autumn. The books are not only business stories, but also astrophysics. Yes, astrophysics. You know, black holes and stuff.

Tour de France in Europe is the world’s biggest cycling race, but which cities are the most bicycle-friendly in the world?

2017-07-01

The Tour de France is regarded as the world’s biggest sports event when measured by the number of spectators who are watching the race live where it happens. Professional road cyclists race for three weeks in July along a route that mostly zigzags in France, but also in neighboring countries. In 2017, the race starts in Germany. Spectators have free access to follow the race at any point of the route. The best spots have thousands of enthusiastic fans cheering the riders, and since the race is 3540 km / 2200 miles long (in 2017), it adds up to millions of spectators.

The Tour de France is more than 100 years old event, but also the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) are traditional three week stage races with long history where the world’s best professional road cyclists compete in teams against one another. Can there be any relation to the popularity of cycling in daily life of ordinary citizens because cycling as a sport is so popular in Europe?
Copenhagen, Denmark: cyclists in front of bicycle rental shop in the city center
Let’s look at a list of the world’s 20 most bicycle-friendly cities in 2017. The ranking has been prepared by the Copenhagenize Design Co. that selected 136 global cities, assessed each one against a set of 14 parameters, and arranged 20 top cities in order. The common denominators that defined the best cities are quite straightforward: cycling is understood as a serious transport method, cities have invested in infrastructure, and they have a desire to make cities better.

Here is the 2017 ranking for the best cities for cyclists as compiled by Wired.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark
2. Utrecht, Netherlands
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
4. Strasbourg, France
5. Malmö, Sweden
6. Bordeaux, France
7. Antwerp, Belgium
8. Ljubljana, Slovenia
9. Tokyo, Japan
10. Berlin, Germany
11. Barcelona, Spain
12. Vienna, Austria
13. Paris, France
14. Seville, Spain
15. Munich, Germany
16. Nantes, France
17. Hamburg, Germany
18, Helsinki, Finland
19. Oslo, Norway
20. Montreal, Canada

What do you know, France gets the biggest number of cities into the top 20. Germany, Netherlands, and Spain – all very successful nations in bicycle racing – follow France. Only two cities outside Europe made it to the top 20: Tokyo and Montreal.

If you want to follow Tour de France, the official web site of the race is Le Tour, and here you can see which television channels are broadcasting the race live.

For travel information on France, here is a travel guidebook for download.

Vuelta a Valencia 2017

Where is the best place to see the Midnight Sun in Lapland, North Europe?

2017-06-29

The longest day of the year (most daylight hours, or summer solstice) in the northern hemisphere is on June 21st, give or take one day. If you want to see the midnight sun in Lapland, you don’t have to be in the region on that particular day, because the Midnight Sun entertains visitors and locals longer than one night. Here are a few tips for ensuring the perfect Midnight Sun experience.

Inarijärvi, FInland.

Lake Inari, Finnish Lapland: fishing at night.

The Midnight Sun means that the sun is visible above the horizon in the midnight. You get sunset colors, but the sun doesn’t quite drop below the horizon. Photographers are happy to take advantage of the period because they have enough time to try out different camera settings, camera angles, and framing alternatives for that perfect shot. Everyone who enjoys beautiful sceneries will appreciate the light and colors in the middle of the night.

When is the best time to see the Midnight Sun?

June 21st is the summer solstice date when the northern hemisphere gets the longest time of sunlight during a day. The longest day can be one day earlier or later due to leap year and time variation. The further north you are, the longer the time is when the sun doesn’t set.

On the Arctic Circle (roughly along the line Storjord – Jokkmokk – Rovaniemi), for instance, the sun doesn’t set between 12th June and 1st July.

On the Continental Europe’s northernmost point Nordkapp (North Cape), the sun is visible 24 hours a day from 14th May until 29th July.

Even if you can’t make it to the north during those dates, in the north the nights are not dark weeks before and weeks after the Midnight Sun dates. For instance, that last time I visited Nordkapp in late August, the large carpark was full of motorhomes waiting for the white night. The white night means that the sun sets, but sheds so much light that normal outdoors activities are possible, like hiking, golf, fishing, or picking berries.

How to ensure that the Midnight Sun can be seen?

The only criteria are that you far enough in the north, and the weather is clear for the sun to be visible.

Weather forecasts for towns and villages of Lapland can be viewed, for instance, at the YR web page.

Nordkapp maybe a popular destination for experiencing the midnight sun, but its weather is very unpredictable and often foggy. In general, weather tends to change in Lapland quite rapidly, so if today is cloudy and rainy, tomorrow can be sunny.

Where is the best place to view the Midnight Sun?

Anywhere with open views to the west and north. Popular places are fells, shores of lakes, or the seashore.

Photographers may prefer one place over another, for instance, how they expect the light to reflect from water, but for travelers who only want to enjoy the wonders of nature in Europe’s last large wilderness, I wouldn’t be so picky.

What about the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)?

In summer, there is too much light for seeing the Northern Lights. The phenomenon is active and the lights are there, but only in winter the nights are dark enough for us to see them.

The travel guidebook to Lapland (northern Sweden, Norway and Finland) covers the sights of Lapland, road travel, outdoor activities and wildlife above the Arctic Circle.

The following photos are from the Lapland travel guidebook.
Sunset at Ounasvaara fell, Rovaniemi from Lapland travel guidebook

nordkapp, north cape in Norway

Weather can quickly change in Nordkapp, Norway.

Midnight Sun beer at Inari Lake, Lapland, FInland

Lofoten, Norway

Get your free copy of Scandinavia travel guidebook

2017-06-22

What is the one thing you know about Scandinavia? Long winters, midnight sun in summer, design, education system, welfare, Abba, HIM, or A-ha? Well, the best way to find out more is to travel in Nordic countries and see how the region is yourself. A good starting point is the book we have put together from travel guidebooks and cultural guides that talk about Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Traveling in Scandinavia is an ebook that you download for free here.
Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia
The book is a selection of travel tips and cultural insights into the Nordic countries. A little bit of information on food and history is included as well.

Here is a taste of Scandinavia for you to explore at the comfort of your reading nook – perhaps before heading out to the North yourself. As the selection of writings show, there are plenty of destinations to see and things to do: city life, mountain biking, fishing in pristine rivers, camping, island hopping, road touring, Arctic adventures, or hiking in the wilderness. If something is missing, Finns will invent it (e.g. wife carrying competition), Swedes will sell it to the world (e.g. entire country available on Airbnb), and Norwegians will win the cross-country skiing world championship (again).

Ebook news digest: travel writer or blogger, iPhone photography, European libraries, writing that second book

2017-06-20

News on ebooks, writing and photography

acer tablet with Bluetooth keyboard
3 Big Differences Between Travel Writing and Travel Blogging
Travel Blog Success

There are differences between travel writing and blogging, and in the long term, they are fundamental for a writer to understand. Yet, it is perfectly all right and possible to do both.

7 iPhone photography features you probably don’t know about
Picturecorrect

Useful features once you take the time and learn to use these iPhone camera functions. For instance, burst mode is a vital function for photographing fast moving subjects, and HDR mode can give good results in strong, bright light.

‘The future of their businesses is at stake’: European publishers are exploring alternatives to the duopoly
Digiday

European publishers whose revenue is increasingly depending on online advertising are not happy with Facebook and Google. Not only these companies borrow publishers’ content and make money with it, but they also take a large share of the online advertising revenue. Not anymore. Many big European publishers have switched to alternative ad networks.

5 Things All Writers Should Know When Writing a Second Novel
Writer’s Digest

The article talks about fiction books, but it is valid for nonfiction writers as well. Many non-fiction authors have told me that the hardest part is to commit to a new project and start it, because after the first book everyone knows how much hard work it was.

Scandinavia guidebook – free download: travel tips and cultural insights into the Nordic countries
Klaava Travel Guide

Sweden’s West Coast is one of the hidden gems in Europe as far as travel destinations are considered. The large wilderness region of Lapland that covers the northern parts of Norway, Finland and Sweden is an outdoors lovers paradise. And city life in the north? It is covered as well.

Stunning Photographs of European Libraries
Fubiz

In European cities, libraries are often operating in magnificent old buildings. Some have originally been designed as public spaces, some have been converted into libraries, but in any case, these pictures are amazing.

The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work [Infographic]
Toggl, Mart Virkus

The pioneer of remote work IBM famously called its remote workers back to their cubicles, but the trend of remote work continues to strengthen.

Keine Einigung über E-Book-Steuer
Boersenblatt

EU has already agreed to adjust the VAT of ebooks so that member countries could tax digital books in a fair manner, but the news is that the first meeting that was supposed to start implementing the new regulation halted the whole process. Now, we wait.