Category Archives: adventure

More on My Fantasy Luxe Excursion Through the Algarve

In fact, this excursion starts and ends in Paris. It requires a car to zip down to Bordeaux and then into the Basque Country, then on to Portugal, through Porto and Lisbon to the Algarve. It goes on from there, but let’s stop today in the Algarve to see one more potential stop over – a special hotel called Farmhouse of the Palms.

An introduction

Recently, a lot of sophisticated boutique hotel concepts have popped up in the Southern regions of Portugal. Farmhouse of the Palms, however, is still unique because it perfectly satisfies the needs of urban entrepreneurs in a holiday retreat. And due to one of the most perfect climates in Europe, this place is also heaven on earth in mid-seasons spring and autumn. 

Check out this post with great pics on what makes this such a special place.  Here is a peek at the pool

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Not bad!


My Portuguese Fantasy Luxe Tour Just Got Better!

I posted the other day on an idea for a “grand tour” that would start in Paris, then head south to Bordeaux, then into the Basque Country, and then onward to Portugal.

That is not the end point — but it is one of the most interesting legs of the excursion. I know a bit about Porto and Lisbon. But what about the Portuguese coast?

I have one outstanding location in the Algarve. But is that it? Nope! Today, I bumped into a selection of Portuguese beach hotels. Perfect!

They go into the options list for this amazing excursion.

Wondering where to after Portugal? Onward to Span, to Barcelona and then up into Provence, then back up to Paris. Could this all be managed? We shall see, said the blind man!

Planning a biking Holiday? Here’s What you Need to know

You have options.

You can join a bicycle tour. There are loads of them and they go all over the place. I My sister swears by VBT.

You can find a place that is very, very bike friendly and just go there to buy or rent a bike. Here are your most bike friendly destinations in Europe. Naturally, Copenhagen  and Amsterdam top the list

You can pick a route and go for it with a friend or two or three. Here are the best tours.

Or you can just come to Tartu and I will show you around.

Go for it!

From Rococo to Friuli Wines! A Luxe Adventure Continues!

These days, Rococo, as an artistic style, is not widely in fashion. It is too decorative. Too fussy.  Too theatrical! Too much!

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Where did it come from? It was the final expression of the Baroque period in western Europe and made its appearance in the early part of the 18th century, first in France. Blame Louis XV!

While we might not be in tune with this style, in Venice back then, rococo was THE thing and  Tiepolo was one of the great masters. Tiepolo was known throughout Europe, and was prolific. Here is an image of a work that he did in Milan

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And you might be surprised by this tidbit

(The Italian city of) Udine prides itself on the being the second home of the great Venetian painter Tiepolo, who adorned the city with some of his most celebrated work. His instantly recognisable style – fresh, ebullient frescos with an almost trompe-l’œil quality – can be seen in situ at the Palazzo Patriarcale and in the city’s marvellous Romanesque duomo. It’s also worth checking out the nearby Oratorio della Purità to see Tiepolo’s last ever fresco in Italy. Titled Assunta, it’s a vibrant depiction of the Virgin Mary’s ascension into heaven, and is a fitting Italian swansong for this Venetian-born master.

Udine? Yes. Udine. The capital of Friuli, near the Slovene border. There are reasons to linger there. But we may want to take a day trip

Cividale del Friuli is arguably the most beautiful town in Friuli. Founded by Julius Caesar (whose statue now stands outside the town hall), it later saw invasions by the Lombards, rule by Venice, annexation by Austria and finally incorporation into Italy. These days it’s a centre of Friulian culture and has a strong Slovene influence, being just ten kilometres from the border. The Tempietto Lombardo, a unique religious building dating from 760 with some evocative frescos, is the most striking historical site.

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That is nice. And there is more!

. Just outside the town lies Joe Bastianich’s restaurant Orsone, as well as his family vineyards. Cividale del Friuli is just a 25-minute train ride from Udine.

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So, how can I resist? This has to be an option in my luxury excursion that focuses on Slovenia, and sloshes over into Italy.

What do you think?

You Need Local Experts to do Your Italian Food Tour Right

I am a big fan of food tours. By that, I mean traveling to a given place or region with the objective of diving into local cuisine. Not just the big name restaurants, but the street food, the local producers, and local food experts and leaders of local food movements. The whole deal.

Of course, this was not my original idea Tony Bourdain and others have championed this for years.

The point is to go DEEPER, not FASTER!!!! And to meet and get to know cool people who deserve support to keep doing what they do so well.

We are seeing very cool locally based companies that are dedicated to offering this type of advisory tour service.

Salt and Wind is one of those companies. And in this article, they offer some sound advice for doing an Italian food tour.

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In fact, the advice applies generally.  It boils down to this

  • get the signature top stuff from high quality vendors first. That probably means fancy restaurants who know what they are doing. Find out from them what is best about the locality
  • Seek out the best street food. As Tony said, do the vendors who have lines in front of their stalls. Do the street scene.
  • Check out local producers.
  • Do some cooking yourself  — with a local willing to invite you into a class
  • Eat, drink and stay local – no global fusions shit on this trip

To do this right, you need to do some research. Get advice. Experiment. Be ready to fail now and hen. It is all part of the adventure!


Slovenian Cooking .. And More!

Did you know?

Slovenia is a hidden gem within Europe: all the history and culture of the old world, without the throngs of tourists. The best reason to go, though, is that as a consciously green destination, Slovenia has emerged as a leader in sustainable tourism by preserving its natural resources and raising up its residents to improve their overall quality of life. Slovenia was the first country to be declared a green destination based on the Green Destinations Criteria, with Ljubljana named as the European Green Capital of 2016.

Very cool! And there is a service that can get you into Slovenia and to its great destination (like Lake Bled). It is called Virtuosio.

Through Virtuoso, travelers can experience a tailor-made itinerary that covers everything from the country’s most photographed spot, Lake Bled, to hard-to-snag reservations at Hisa Franko, the rural restaurant owned by Chef’s Table star (and 2017’s World’s Best Female Chef) Ana Roš.

In case you are wondering, Lake Bled looks like this

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Pretty spectacular!  Here is a  view of that island

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Who wouldn’t want to go there! Here is a peek at stuff you can do there.

And is there great food in Slovenia?

Saveur offered this idea four years ago

During the last few years, Ljubljana has become a great restaurant city, and during good weather, the cafes lining the river are packed until late at night. To get the local gastronomic lay of the land, book a food walk with Ljubljananjam, which is run by knowledgeable food-loving Ljubljana native Iva Gruden, who speaks perfect English from having living in Vancouver for two years.

My pick

The city’s most charming restaurant is Špajza (Gorni Trg 28, Tel. 386-01-425-3094), which is run by a brother-and-sister team, and has lots of small dining rooms in an old house. They serve venison tartare with roasted pistachios and tarragon, horse steak with truffles and scampi buzara.

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National Geographic has done a series on Slovenian food and wine

So did T&L

So did Vogue

Worth a visit?  Now that I think of it, Trieste is not too far. Budapest? Far, but doable by plane. That opens the door to Brataslava and Vienna?  While we are a it, Venice as a destination? My  travelogue is starting to shape up! It goes like this

And if time allows? From Venice, one might shoot over to Milan by train and make a side trip to Lake Como! Then Milan to Vienna and home. Nice!

Hmmm … that is starting to sound like an adventure!

In Your 20’s? Then Listen Up. This Post is for you!

I was what you might call a “late bloomer”. By that I mean that I did not attempt to do anything serious in life until well after most other folks were well into that life phase. My problem was that for a considerable period, I found it impossible to be serious. I would not have called myself a “rebel” at the time, but in fact I was rebelling against the notion that people should take themselves so seriously. Because I equated doing serious things with taking oneself seriously, I had developed a mental block to dipping my toe into the pool of “work choices” that enticed so many of my peers .  Instead I reveled in doing things that offered fun and some adventure, but which had no serious consequences.

Eventually — around the age of 25 — I grew somewhat bored with this stasis and decided to attempt law school. And not too long afterwards, I found myself adjusting my tie in the mirror, sitting through endless meetings, writing clever memoranda, and engaging in heated telephone conversations, like normal people did at work.  I also ordered out for dinner, boasted about my apartment, brunched on Sunday, and planned exotic vacations.  I had joined the ranks of the serious!

That was many years ago. Now I am in a position to watch young folks in their early 20’s go through similar challenges and I would offer a few observations, based on my experience.

Most important, no matter what your situation may be, it does pay to grow out of the idea that one has to be someone before one does something. For example, one does not have to call oneself a writer before one writes on a regular basis. One does not have to adopt the persona of a lawyer before studying law. Creativity emerges from doing, not the other way around. And some folks in their 20’s — including me back then — blunder by thinking that their immediate challenge is to decide who to become, or indeed to rebel against becoming anyone at all (the Bartleby’s of the world know what I mean). In fact, the immediate challenge is to fall in love with something you like to do. and then to do it.  You will become various people as you go forward. Those identities are interesting, but not the core purpose of doing serious things. That core purpose is to create meaning.

This is not to say that identity is meaningless. I am not so much of a Buddhist to make that claim. Embracing who you are as evidenced by what you do offers rewards. But embracing a wannabe or don’t wannabe fiction before doing anything about it does not.

There is a lot more that could be said, but diving into those things here might dilute the importance of the above message. Think about it.

Got that? Great! Go for it!

BTW, you might wonder what inspired this rant. I am glad to share that. I read Fred Wilson’s post about the globalization of work and began reflecting on the types of work that would inspire people to leave home for.