Archives for March 2013

Winter at the Mediterranean Sea: an encouragement

This can be winter at the Mediterranean: Cappuccino at a lonely beach …

 

For many people a winter holiday at the Mediterranean Sea is not interesting at all. Either they want to go for winter sports on the more or less snow covered mountains, or directly further away in direction of Asia, Middle America or on the other side of the world, to travel after the summer.

On the other side there are many cheap offers, all-inclusive or just the flights and then you might to consider such a trip. But what do you have to expect and: is a winter trip to the Mediterranean worth it? Here I try to find an answer.

The good news are, that the weather is way warmer than in middle Europe. With a bit luck – sunshine and temperatures around 20 degree. During nights temperatures drop only in exceptional cases to the freezing point. Swimming is then only for the hard-boiled, but to spend the day outside, reading, going for walks or visiting attractions is perfect. Not to mention the incredible calm in comparison to other seasons.

… blooming meadows …

 

With a bit bad luck it can happen, that it rains cats and dogs for several days, maybe even with strong wind. As most of the houses are not built for cold and wet, this can get uncomfortable.

Regarding the weather everything is possible. From days of sunshine with temperatures above 20 degrees to several days of rain showers with strong wind.

The best thing about the mild winter is the blooming nature. The landscapes are green – full with flowers, a blaze of colours, the air is clearer and the clear views can be breathtaking. It is a perfect time to visit attractions, and to be on your own while visiting archaeological sites or other attractions. It is also good for hiking, although not in the mountains – as there will be snow in higher altitudes.

Tips

  • Head far enough in the south, as it might get too cold otherwise. As rule of thumb I would say not more to the north than Rome.
  • The coldest time is usually from mid-December to  end of January. This is also the time with the most rain. North Africa is especially good at this time.

… and a nice fire to warm up.

 

  • Don’t forget warm clothes, fleece, a good raincoat and sturdy shoes
  • Search for an accommodation with heatable rooms. This is going to be the air condition very often, but the main point is to get it a bit warmer.
  • Is there a nice common area in the accommodation, to sit, chat, read or drink a beer in the evening? This is especially nice around a homely open fire in the evenings.

Tu sum it up: For those who want mainly to spend their holiday (sun)bathing at the beach, warmer places would be the better choice. But for all the others it is worth considering.

 

 

Slow travel (2): How to – some ideas and tips

Street cafes – a really nice invention

 

To travel slow has many advantages, as described in this post. It is fun and more relaxing. Today I continue with advices and tips.

The good thing is: each activity can stand on its own. Even if we are – for what reason ever – on the rush, it is nice, to find in between at least small steps to take it slower. Just try it!

And: if you are not traveling at the moment, you can try one or the other thing at home. There is a lot to see around the corner.

 

Stay longer at one place

Stay a few days longer and try one of the tips below. Maybe you want to experience a second accommodation, enlarges the perspective.

 

Walk

Just start to walk, along the beach or explore the quarter around the hostel. There is always something to discover. I also like to walk in direction of an attraction – a broad look at the itinerary and then I am off.

 

Rent a bike

Especially in rural areas the ideal mean of transport to an easy going exploring, but with a higher radius than by foot.

 

Make a break – in hot countries especially over noon

Sit down for half an hour or so, and let the attractions impress you – and often you even find benches. Street cafes – my passion. Sitting and watching life going by. Or just taking some rest in the hotel room or on the balcony. We need time, also to “digest” all the things we have seen.

 

Strolling around markets – always an experience

 

Visit a market and cook something

Have a look at the local products, by some fresh vegetables and fruits and cook something. Of course this is not possible everywhere, but in many hostels, there are kitchens nowadays.

 

Search details

On the street, at the beach, in temples or in cafes. Let your eyes wander and look closer. This is not only an exercise in mindfulness, it also leads to new insights.

 

Make photos with intention

And this leads me to the next. When you make photos don’t just click quickly and then move away to the next sight. Search for and find new perspectives, lighting conditions and details (see above). The results are not only better photos, but also a new view on well attended and photographed attractions or on every day life.

 

Attend courses, activities

I am a fan of cooking and yoga classes, but everything is possible of course. Cinema, theater, language classes or street parties – a look at local newspaper opens up a whole new spectrum of possibilities – and enables new experiences not listed in your guidebook – not to mention the nice people you are going to meet.

 

Go to the “fringes” of a destination

Especially in India I found this interesting. At beach villages or in smaller tourist spots there might be a whole new world opening up.

 

Travel by bus and train – also during the day

It is quite popular to travel with night-bus or -train to the next destination. Of course the advantages are not to dispute (saving one hotel night and arrival in the morning, when there are enough free beds available), I still prefer to travel during the day. Zooming through the landscape, the bustling activity  during the stopovers are always part of my travel highlights. Especially good for trips up to six hours.

And what are your tips?