Sanlúcar de Barrameda is Spain’s gastronomic capital of 2022

Sanlúcar, located in the province of Cádiz, near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, is a privileged city with a rich cultural and monumental heritage as it is located on the trade route to America. It witnessed the third voyage of Christopher Columbus and the port of departure and arrival of the Magellan and Elcano expedition.
In 2022 there will be the commemorative acts of the V Centenary of the First World Tour (1519-1522). Its environmental environment has as its emblem the Doñana National Park, which is accessed by crossing the Guadalquivir river, and the La Algaida e Pinar Natural Park, a sort of natural ring that constitutes one of the green lungs of Andalusia, declared by UNESCO. as a Biosphere Reserve in 1980.

To these attractions is added its rich gastronomy, with exceptional and exclusive products such as Prawns and Manzanilla, a perfect combination that extends beyond the Andalusian borders and is one of the reasons why thousands of tourists come to this place. At the end of last year it was announced that Sanlúcar would become the new World Capital of Gastronomy for 2022.
The appointment was made official on the occasion of Fitur, the International Tourism Fair held in Madrid from 19 to 23 January. The Spanish Capital of Gastronomy (CEG) distinction was created by the Spanish Federation of Tourism Journalists and Writers (FEPET) and the Spanish Hospitality Federation (FEHR).

The purpose of this initiative is to contribute to the dissemination of the gastronomic offer of the city that each year holds the title, to propose actions that help increase tourism figures (Sanlúcar receives more than 80,000 tourists a year) and to enhance the programs of gastronomic excellence. The gastronomy thus becomes a perfect complement to the complete offer for leisure and party, highlighting the Manzanilla Fair, the boarding of the brotherhoods of El Rocío or the famous horse races on the beaches of the municipality, declared of International Tourist Interest in 1997. The historical significance of Sanlúcar, a crossroads of cultures and an ancient port of American commerce, is perceived at every step that takes place in its urban fabric.
The palaces, noble residences, defensive buildings and historic gardens mix with ancient cellars, from which the soft aroma of Manzanilla is released. The Doñana National Park, in addition to promoting natural tourism practically all year round, is also one of the keys to the richness of Sanlúcar’s gastronomy. Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs contributed the ingredients to the indigenous cuisine. The Christian reconquest encouraged the production of wine, which after centuries of skilful work, was consumed in the admirable diversity of current wines, among which the singular Manzanilla stands out.
The gastronomic evolution does not stop there, as after becoming one of the main American commercial ports and hosting numerous expeditions abroad, Sanlúcar once again sees its kitchens enriched with all the variety of spices, fruits and vegetables that have arrived. on the Andalusian coasts, before many other places in the Old World. Peppers, tomatoes and potatoes have given their latest impetus to both local gastronomy and agricultural production.

Corsa di cavalli a Sanlucar
Sanlúcar on horseback

Horse races on the beaches of Sanlúcar de Barrameda at the mouth of the Guadalquivir river, the ancient Betis, are the oldest in the country and have been held since 1845. They are the only races in which thoroughbreds have the opportunity to compete in a unique setting: a natural hippodrome over 6 kilometers long with the Doñana National Park and the sunsets in the background.

The flavors of Sanlúcar

The vast gastronomic offer of Sanlúcar is based on three important pillars: the products of its garden, those of its cellars and the fish of the Andalusian sea. Sanlúcar’s fish and shellfish, including shrimp, have a reputation that has transcended city borders. In Sanlúcar, the products themselves are as famous as the dishes prepared with them that form their culinary basis, rich stews with an authentic maritime flavor such as sour orange skate, monkfish with fried bread, galley soup, etc. . These dishes are generally washed down with the local wine, Manzanilla, as well as other types of table wine, which have a lower alcohol content and lighter color but have a unique flavor.

Sanlúcar de Barrameda is historically integrated into the Designations of Origin Jerez, Vinagre, Brandy de Jerez and Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The cellars of Sanlúcar enjoy the constructive singularity of those found throughout the Marco de Jerez. These are high and well ventilated cellars, supported by slender pillars which give them their characteristic appearance. The city has recently equipped itself with a new enotourist resource: the Manzanilla Interpretation Center (CIMA) which includes about twenty wineries in the city and which, located next to the food market, offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the elaboration process. and aging of this unique wine.

Gamberi di Sanlucar
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IThe shrimp. The king of the sea and of Sanlúcar gastronomy

The Sanlúcar Shrimp is one of the kings of Cadiz cuisine, one of the products of the local gastronomy that has crossed borders to conquer not only the palates of the thousands of tourists who visit the municipality every year, but also the kitchens of nationally renowned chefs and international prestige, which have included it in their menu as a flagship product.
Its scientific name is Penaeus kerathurus and it is a medium-sized, edible, highly prized crustacean of high commercial value. What does the Sanlúcar shrimp have that makes it so valuable? The answer is easy: its flavor, a property conferred by its habitat: the Guadalquivir River estuary. It is a crustacean that is mainly eaten fresh. Its meat is very valuable. Cooked, fried, or as part of any traditional fish stew, it’s always a good option.
At Casa Bigote, reference point of Sanlúcar gastronomy, winner of the Bib Gourmand award from the Michelin Guide and a Sole from the Repsol Guide, they bet on cooked or fried preparation.

Manzanilla a unique and very special wine

Manzanilla is another of Sanlúcar de Barrameda’s “named” products. The vineyards, divided into “pagos”, grow centuries-old on albariza land (a land north of Jerez ideal for growing grapes). Sanlúcar currently has more than twenty wineries, which feed either on their own vineyards or on the must of palomino grapes (white grape from which Jerez and Manzanilla wines are produced).

The Sanlúcar marinera, seafood products and stews

Sanlúcar cuisine is a cuisine linked to tradition. A cuisine of maritime origin that finds a prominent role in homes. The special way of preparing fish in the municipality deserves a separate chapter. Frying the fish, with the right tip, reaches an almost sublime point and allows you to appreciate the textures of the different species, from acedías, tapaculos, pijotas, puntillitas, cuttlefish or mullet
Now these stews arrive from Sanlúcar all over the world thanks to the Senra family, who have innovated and introduced traditional seafood recipes in canning jars that only need to be heated to be consumed, bringing a little of the flavor of il more marine Sanlúcar.



The food market, the epicenter of Sanluqueña gastronomy

It is located in the heart of the commercial area of the Historical Complex of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It is a municipal building occupying an area of almost 1,400 square meters, built in the 18th century and renovated three times, in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. The business returned to this square in June 2018 and has remained the hub of the city’s commercial and food and wine activity ever since. It has twenty-four fish stalls, twelve butchers, ten greengrocers, three frozen foods, one spices, one olives, sweets …
What stands out most is the seafood, not only for the quantity, but also for the raw material it offers. The excellent raw material that the Sanluqueños placeros display daily in their facilities has transformed the country’s Mercado de Abastos into a reference place for Sanluqueños and visitors who take advantage of the passage through the city to stock up on the best delicacies of the territory and the sea.

The sweet Sanlúcar

There is no self-respecting food that does not end with a dessert and Sanlúcar, among its many gastronomic charms, offers us in this field a variety characterized by the artisanal character and the quality of its raw materials. The walls of the convents of the many religious orders that were established under the patronage of the Ducal House of Medina Sidonia, preserve a large part of these sweet recipes.
The desserts made in an artisanal way by the nuns of the monasteries of Madre de Dios – offered to customers through their lathes – or of the convent of Regina Coeli have allowed to perpetuate over time unique flavors such as egg yolks, tocino de cielo, donuts with almonds, shortbread, pestiños, white donuts, cocadas-, which have been making for more than 40 years and which dazzle those who try them.
Alpisteras are one of the most typical sweets of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, traditional of Holy Week and which derive their sweetness from a touch of syrup. The dessert continues with an artisanal ice cream, enjoying the city of two legendary companies such as La Ibense Bornay – which exported its ice cream to Dubai – or Helados Toni, where the third generation indulges the wishes of the little ones behind the counter.

Tocino de cielo
Tocino de cielo
Plaza del Cabildo: a stroll through the tapas cathedral

Epicenter of the city, the Plaza del Cabildo is the gastronomic emblem par excellence of Sanlúcar together with the Bajo de Guía. The typical shrimp tortillas of Casa Balbino are memorable. And of the delicacy with a taste of the sea, in another of the corners of this cathedral, you can taste the authentic potatoes of Sanlúcar, aliñás, with a little onion and parsley, a good oil, sherry vinegar, loins of melva and game is done: the flagship product of Barbiana. Another of the classics of gastronomy is the Bar La Gitana. The well-known manzanilla gives its name to a winery that has gradually become another of the references of this square, offering excellent fried ortiguille.

Fraser Island: Australia’s dream island

Fraser island is the largest sand island in the world.
Spanning 184,000 hectares, 123 kilometers long and 22 kilometers wide at its widest point, Fraser Island is a typical dream island with rainforest, endless beaches and transparent sea where we would all like to be shipwrecked and live forever.

History and legends of the island

The traditional name of the Butchulla people for Fraser island was K’gari wich means paradise.

According to a legend, Fraser Island was named K’gari in honor of the beautiful spirit who helped Yindingie, messenger of the great god Beeral, to create the earth. As a reward to K’gari for his help, Beeral transformed her into an idyllic island with trees, flowers and lakes. He has put birds, animals and people on the island to keep her company.

It seems that the island had been occupied for at least 5,000 years or more, but only in 1770 did Captain Cook sight the Butchulla people on the east coast, while Matthew Flinders had contact with the people of the island between 1799 and 1802.
In 1991 the island was named a World Heritage Site and today is managed by the Department of the Environment and Heritage through the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

The shipwrecks of the island

Shipwrecks in Freser Island
Photo by Andreas Dress on Unsplash

It seem that about twenty ships wrecked on Freser island, wich today have become an attraction for tourists.
The most famous is undoubtedly the Maheno, which has been stranded on Fraser’s beaches since 1935.
Built in 1905, the SS Maheno operated a regular route between Sydney and Auckland until it was commissioned as a hospital ship in Europe during the First World War.
On 3 July 1935, at the end of the service, the Maheno left Sydney pulled by a ferry but, after 4 days it ran into a cyclone and, about fifty miles from the coast, disappeared into the sea with 8 men on board.
On July 10, a plane spotted the Maheno stranded on the shores of Fraser Island, with its crew waiting on the beach for the arrival of the Oonah ferry, which revealed itself a couple of days later.
Today the Maheno remains stranded in a state of corrosion on the beaches of the island and, emptied of everything,  it’s one of the great attractions of the island.

The dunes and the sand

Seventy Five Mile Beach, Frase Island
Seventy Five Mile beach, Image by Adobe Stock

Fraser island and its dunes are costantly canging. Each year the dunes move based on wind, humidity and the behavior of plants living on the Australian island.
Fraser Island’s colorful sands lie north of Eli Creek and comprise 72 different colors, mostly reds and yellows.

Seventy-Five Mile Beach (pictured above) is an amazing beach highway where all road rules apply, The speed limit is 80 kilometers per hour and it is necessary to give way to planes that land and take off!

The rainforest

Fraser Island
Image by Matt McLeod from Pixabay

Among the unique characteristics of Fraser there is also that of having a rainforest that grows on a soil that is not very fertile such as sand.
Plants derive their nutrients solely from rain and sand. The sand is covered with mineral compounds such as iron and aluminum oxides.
Near the shore, the air contains the nutrients from the splashes of sea water that are deposited on the sand.
In a mutual relationship, the fungi in the sand make these nutrients available to the plants.
These in turn provide various organic compounds to the mushrooms which, having no chlorophyll, they could not synthesize on their own.

Wildlife

Fraser island is an environment rich in wild animals wich, in their own way, constitute fundamental but fragile elements in the context of the island.
Every slightest change or contamination can damage this wonderful environment and its inhabitants who contribute in an important way to preserve the natural balance of the Australian island.

In Fraser, more than 350 species of birds have been sighted, which come to nest here and find an optimal context in which to feed and find shelter. There are almost 80 species of reptiles, of which about twenty are represented by snakes. From July to November, you may also spot dolphins, dugongs, turtles and humpback whales. If you were not yet satisfied with all this life, know that in Queensland and Fraser lives the second most important population of Brumbies, a breed of wild horses typical of Australia.

Fraser’s vegetation

Fraser Island
Photo by GAWN AUSTRALIA on Unsplash

The list of plant species fount in Fraser is truly impressive.
Suffice it to say that on the island there are at least a thousand species divided into 150 different families. Acacia, banksia, barony, callitris, dianella and eucalyptus are just some of the many species present that will welcome you to this beautiful island.

How to get

Fraser Island ferry
Fraser Island Ferry, Adobe Stock Photo

By car, it takes at least 3 to 4 hours from Brisbane to get there. You have to reach Maryboroug and then Hervey bay. Fraser ferry schedules are on these links.
http://www.fraserislandferry.com.au/
and
https://www.kingfisherbay.com/getting-here/fraser-island-ferry.html

Regular bus services are available from Brisbane to Maryborough and Hervey Bay. From the north, services are guaranteed with Greyhound-Pioneer-McCafferty’s, Premier and Suncoast Pacific Coaches. If you prefer the train, you can consult the timetables on the website of the Queenslandrailtravel.

Qantas Link fly from Brisbane to Hervey Bay (Hervey Bay Airport)

What to do and where to stay

Fraser island
Photo by Nick Dunn on Unsplash

If all this beauty ever bores you (I have strong doubts about it), on the island there are many organized activities such as while watching or 4WD tours for example, plus other activities that the two resorts on the island will do their best to make even more your days in this paradise are wonderful. It goes without saying that this is a perfect place for a wedding or honeymoon.

Gran Canaria: the unique beauty of a special island

Gran Canaria is one of the 7 islands that make up the Autonomous Community of the Canaries. It is a thousand kilometers from Cádiz, the closest European port, and 210 kilometers from the coast of North Africa.

381,000 of its 855,000 inhabitants live in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the nerve center and capital of the island which, in the years before the pandemic, hosted almost half of the tourists who traveled to the island.
If we think that in normal conditions Gran Canaria could welcome something like 4 and a half million tourists a year, it is easy to understand what kind of importance the island has on a planetary level and how much it is loved by European travelers.
Generally it is German, English, Northern European and Spanish tourists who are most attracted to the beauties of Gran Canaria.

Beaches, sun, nature, gastronomy and the possibility of practicing outdoor sports all year round make this island a unique destination in the world. In recent times, the possibility of working in smart working has added new frontiers to tourism in Gran Canaria.

8000 remote workers now live on the island taking advantage of the high-speed internet connection and the possibility of integrating well into local communities.
For Gran Canaria it means hosting international talent while attracting a new form of tourism. The professionals who decide to come to work on the island are Germans, English, Americans, Italians and French who decide to stay in Gran Canaria for at least 2 months

Play sport

Route GC-200 in Gran Canaria
Route GC-200 in Gran Canaria-Photo by Polina Rytova on Unsplash

The climate of the Canary Islands generally favors outdoor sports activities. In particular in Gran Canaria, there are 7 golf courses among which it is necessary to mention the Real Club de Golf of Las Palma, the oldest in all of Spain, whose birth dates back to 1891. The spectacular landscapes of the island also give the opportunity to practice excursions and trekking among incredible scenarios: just imagine what a simple but healthy walk in the dunes of Maspalomas or a trekking on Roque Nublo can be.

Dunes de Maspalomas
Dunas de Maspalomas-Photo by Klaus Stebani from Pixabay

Then imagine the coast and the sea, where you can choose between different water sports: from sport fishing, passing through surfing, wind surfing or kite surfing, sailing, scuba diving and much more. Cycling finds in Gran Canaria an excellent response also from professional teams not only for the excellent climate which, even in winter, allows athletes to train in spring climates, but thanks to sinuous and well-kept roads in the interior and spectacular views along the coast..

Gastronomy

Tray,With,Assortment,Of,Fish,And,Seafood,
Tray with assortment of fish and seafood- Shutterstock image

So.
When it comes to Spain, the sea, mild climates and good food, I never know where to start.
The fish dishes and the restaurants on the coast just so as not to stray too far from the photo above.
But also and above all local products of the land and wines with a controlled designation of origin.
The flavors of Gran Canaria are original and natural, whether they come from the sea or from the land.
Patatas arrugadas, sanchocho and many varieties of stews are just some of the typical flavors of the island that you must absolutely try. The only coffee produced in Europe is grown in the Agaete Valley; Bodega Arehucas Rum is the largest and oldest of its kind in the entire European continent.
Gran Canaria is also part of the Saborea España project, created to highlight the products and ingredients of local dishes, as well as the skills of the chefs who cook in the island’s restaurants

A historical and natural heritage

Caves of Valeron
Caves of Valeron- Shutterstock image

Gran Canaria has unique climatic characteristics thanks to its peaks that reach maximum altitudes above 1900 m above sea level.
This means that it has been defined as a miniature continent and declared by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, thanks to the sustainable development of its environment and the conservation of the species living on the island.

If the tourists who visit Gran Canaria choose it for the climate, the sea and the beaches, it is indisputable that the historical and natural heritage of the island is unmatched in the world.
The natural pools in Guía, the Special Reserve of Los Tilos de Moya, the only remaining laurel forest in Gran Canaria, the Painted Cave Museum and the Archaeological Park, the beaches and steep cliffs around Agaete, the historic center of Arucas, the woods around Osorio in Teror and the Azuaje gorge in Firgas.
How not to mention the Nublo Rural Park and the Special Nature Reserve of the Dunes of Maspalomas which are probably the most representative of the island.

Roque Nublo
Roque Nublo_ Photo by Mandy Schneider from Pixabay

Gran Canaria also offers various archaeological sites not to be missed for any reason in the world, such as the Caves of Valerón (Santa María de Guía), the Roque Bentayga Visitor Center (Tejeda), the Archaeological Park of Maipés (Agaete), the Necropolis of Arteara (San Bartolomé de Tirajana), Cañada de Los Gatos (Mogán), the Visitor Center of the Guayadeque Ravine (Agüimes) and La Fortaleza Visitor Center (Santa Lucia de Tirajana).

Gran Canaria has also been declared a “Tourist Destination Starlight” by the United Nations for education, science and culture (UNESCO).
Astro tourism is one of the flagship projects of Gran Canaria, and has launched at conquer its spectacular night skies by fighting against light contamination in an attempt to restore the right to observe the stars.
The island wishes to recover the quality of the skies that the Aborigines used to see, with unique astronomical indicators, diversifying the range of tourist offerings and opening new windows of knowledge.
To this end, this defense of the skies over Gran Canaria has become the backbone of the intervention of the island’s authorities, while many are working to ensure that the original settlement archaeological site of Risco Caído, in Artenara, is declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, together with the Areas Sacred of the Montaña de Gran Canaria.

5 curiosities about Gran Canaria

curious frogs

  • British writer Agatha Christie traveled to Gran Canaria and stayed at the Metropole Hotel. She sat outside for hours and looked out at the sand and seascape. Some of her adventures by Hercules Poirot were written from the terrace of her hotel
  • Moby Dick, starring Gregory Peck, was shot on Las Canteras Beach in 1954
  • Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria are trying to confirm their hypothesis that the 1755 Lisbon earthquake caused a tidal wave that reached Gran Canaria and generated the Maspalomas dunes. (other theories say that the sand came from the Sahara).
  • Gran Canaria has the “nickname” of miniature continent due to the great variety of landscapes and climates found on the island. On some winter days visitors can be on the beach with a mild 22ºC, then within an hour climb to the top and find snow, 0ºC.
  • Gran Canaria boasts 33 different protected areas that extend over 66,707 hectares, which is less than half of the total area of the island (42.75%)

Scilly: the magical English islands

The Isles of Scilly lie approximately 45 kilometers off the Cornish coast and enjoy the mildest climate in the UK. There are 140 mainly uninhabited islands and islets and 2,200 inhabitants spread over five islands: 1,800 live on the largest island, St. Mary’s; about 110 on Tresco and St. Martin’s, and fewer than 100 inhabitants permanently reside in Bryher and Sant’Agnese. Despite this, these five islands are all connected to each other, they can be reached with trips of a few minutes and, above all, every year on the archipelago, around 100,000 tourists arrive from Cornwall or with cruise ships that pass by here to admire the sea. crystal clear, beaches and the unspoiled natural beauty of the Isles of Scilly.

The nature

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Regardless of which island you choose for your stay, here the possibility to move and appreciate nature is really wide. The islands are many and very close to each other, which gives the opportunity to move easily while admiring all the beauties of nature. Depending on the time of year, you may encounter dolphins, puffins, cormorants, sea magpies and many other seabirds and maybe some Atlantic gray seals if you’re lucky enough.

Local products

On the Isles of Scilly every local product is truly “local” and made on the spot. In this small community, the products of the island are in abundance. On almost all the islands you can meet local farmers, fishermen or perhaps bakers, brewers, winemakers and more.

  • Island fish
    The Pender family has been fishing off Bryher for hundreds of years, supplying quality fresh lobster, crab, fish and shellfish to the Isles of Scilly.
  • Salakee duck
    A small St. Mary’s company raises small batches to ensure the highest welfare possible for the ducks.
  • Veronica Farm
    Family-run farm that uses local ingredients including St Agnes milk, butter and clotted cream, to produce the ultimate delicious, buttery vanilla fondant, all done by hand in the farmhouse kitchen
  • Hillside Farm
    Five acres of organic farm, growing fruit and vegetables alongside Devon cattle for beef, grass-fed year-round for tasty, eco-friendly beef.
    Sold at the farm gates
  • Troytown Farm
    Considered to be the smallest dairy in the UK A farm with 9 dairy cows, Troytown produces and sells milk, cream, yogurt and ice cream.
  • Westward Farm
    A small family farm in St. Agnes, They grow botanicals for their distillery by making premium gins (plus apple juice and cider) and a range of soaps that use essential oils.

How to get to Scilly

Getting to the Scilly is pretty straightforward and there are three options available: Airplane, ship, but also helicopter, should you want to try something different for your trip.
You can consult this link where you can choose one of the three travel options and search for all the information or go to the site dedicated to helicopter travel where you can receive information about it and book, if desired, a comfortable day trip.

9 good reasons to visit and fall in love with the Greek islands

I know it. The Greek islands do not need many introductions around the world, because their good reputation is so recognized that it should be enough to attract tourists for the next 1000 years. However, I find it fascinating to tell the beauty of this part of the world, trying to “summarize” in a few points what really attracts so many people to these parts. At least from what a simple traveler like me can see …

1. The friendliness, the welcome and the Greek people

Skiathos… Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

The Greeks make hospitality and kindness a way of life. You ask for information in English and they answer in your language. Ask 500 questions and they (almost) never lose patience, keeping calm and smiling. Tourists and travelers in Greece are considered a treasure and are treated as such. Contrary to what one might think, on the Greek islands there are essential services that work excellently: from car rentals to emergency services, everything works perfectly to ensure that those who visit the island have an optimal stay. I saw firefighters putting out fires and gardeners working early in the morning in the green spaces of hotels and tourist resorts. The Greeks you know around are always available and a smile corresponds to a smile.

2. The excellent Greek cuisine

Image by Claire05 from Pixabay

Greece boasts a culinary tradition that is nothing short of excellent. As in the whole Mediterranean area you will find fresh dishes, tasty products, excellent olive oil and even good wine.
A simple Greek salad is a delicious rich and tasty dish ideal to satisfy anyone on a hot summer day on some Greek islet. Trying any freshly caught fish from the sea is still the best way (in my opinion) to approach the delights of the island you are visiting.
There are restaurateurs who let guests in near the kitchen to choose the fish that is still fresh. Here you will have the possibility to choose the type of cooking and the side dishes.
… and while you wait outside with a few slices of pita (soft and tasty Greek bread), the chefs prepare sublime dishes for you.
There is nothing better than relaxing in a Greek restaurant overlooking the sea while sipping good wine or a cold beer…
Don’t forget Ouzo, the typical liqueur also served with ice cubes. Personally, I also love Greek coffee, but beware of the slightly “dusty” bottom. It’s not like espresso that you can throw down in an instant and run away…
Greek coffee is to be drunk calmly…sitting down…

3. The transparent sea

Paxos… Image by conolan from Pixabay

Whether you prefer the pebble beach or the fine sand one, on the Greek islands you will always find a blue and transparent sea to welcome you.
I remember The intense blue of Platis Gialos in Lipsi welcome me after a long walk under the June sun. But also the transparency of the waters on more “touristy” islands and crowded beaches such as Tsampika beach in Rhodes, in the scorching July 2021.
However, I think it is also a question of “tourist presence”. The most beautiful and cleanest beaches are always those a little off the beaten path. It depends on what you are looking for…
Greece has many beaches without any service or tourist that are real terrestrial paradises. Seek and you will find.

4. Greek history and monuments

Lindos Acropolis…Image by 11333328 from Pixabay

The history of Greece has very ancient origins, so much so that Greek art and culture are defined as the “cradle of Western civilization”.
Visiting the Greek islands does not only mean spending whole days by the sea sunbathing or swimming in the sea (no one forbids you to do it of course!) But also having the opportunity to explore many buildings that belonged to the past and archaeological sites that nowhere else of the world you will find so preserved.
Touching and admiring amphitheaters, immense columns of temples with sensational views of the sea will give you an idea of what Greece and its islands were in history and how civilization has evolved over the centuries.

5. Nature and animals

Kastelorizo…sea turtle

Despite the many tourists, the Greek islands still preserve areas where uncontaminated nature holds up very well and some animals live in absolute freedom. You will immediately notice the imposing presence of cats all over the islands that go in search of food among the tables of the restaurants. They are not annoying. Just a little hungry.
Donkeys are among the most common animals in Greece and are used both for carrying things and for attracting tourists. If you love to walk and look for unusual places off the beaten track, you will find small outdoor stalls by the sea where they stay and return after a few short morning outings.
Goats are everywhere! you will find them day and night climbing on the most inaccessible mountains and on the paths to reach the beaches. Be careful if you rent a car! They are often on small roads that lead to the sea. But they just observe the strange individuals moving around in as many strange tin boxes: the tourists in their rental cars.

Lindos: goats grazing at dawn

A good time to see Greek goats running and jumping in total freedom is dawn. Early in the morning the Greek shepherds take the goats to pasture and leave them free to roam around the small villages. Tourists are still sleeping and it is a sight to see these animals running freely. If you want to wake up so early (in the summer the sun rises between 5.30 and 6.15 in the morning), you can admire beautiful breathtaking views.

The lucky ones also have the pleasure of admiring and photographing some sea turtles swimming in the seas of the Greek islands. They are very strong and very resistant animals that approach the harbors of the islands in search of some fish and in search of food. They give a sense of life and constant presence of nature as well as joy. In kastelorizo there are five or six who have been returning and living around the island for years. An inhabitant of the island told me how their presence was constant over time despite the tourists and boats present in the small port.

Not least is the vegetation present on the Greek islands. Don’t be surprised if in the gardens of the houses or around the island you are visiting you come across some strange flower or tree from time to time. The spontaneous variety of the Mediterranean in this area is truly incredible
f you want to learn more and know more, consult this article on our partner site dedicated to the flowers of the Greek islands.

6. Colors

white signage beside purple bougainvillea beside body of water
Photo by Gotta Be Worth It on Pexels.com

Imagine the blue of the sea and that of the domes of the Greek churches. Then think of the doors and windows that are also blue.
The blue sky.
The burning sun.
The colors of the flowers: from the purple of the bungavillea to the red of the hibiscus.
Nothing is missing on the Greek islands.
Not even the whiteness of the houses or the perfectly kept paths of hotels and tourist resorts. And if you like shades you can throw yourself on the sunsets: Santorini has the reputation of having the most beautiful ones but I challenge anyone who has been on a Greek island to go home without a photo of a crazy sunset by the sea or on top of some Mountain.

7. The scent of the greek islands

Hydra: girl sniffs flowers… Photo Shutterstock

Explaining a perfume is really difficult but I’ll try.
The scents of the Greek islands are the most unique and devastating (in a positive sense) there is.
From the flowers to the sea, from the sky to the earth, everything smells of something.
Imagine waking up in the morning and already smelling some perfume that comes from the sea, then passing from the coffee, to the scent of the sand, arriving at lunch with the table filled with colors and scents.
The Greek islands are a bit like this: wherever you set foot you will feel something good, different sensations and something pleasant to welcome you.
…and if that’s not enough…

8. The sun

Sun in Santorini… Image by Russell_Yan from Pixabay

Since I started traveling between the Greek islands, I don’t remember cloudy days, much less rain or cold days.
The hot sun constantly floods this part of the world for much of the summer, giving warm weather and beautiful tans to those who come here. Personally I also find the morning shade and the air conditioning out of place. But I think I am a bit strange to love the heat and the scorching Greek sun so much.
After all, no one is perfect.

9. The beaches and the empty streets

My Mini (for rent) on the way to Prasonissi beach

Over time I realized one thing: the earlier you wake up in the morning, the more tranquility and peace you will find on the beach.
Since I started to love photography, I have discovered that better photos are taken at sunrise (and at sunset). Except that at sunset it is full of people while at dawn there is hardly anyone.
In Greece there are beaches that are overcrowded during the day that remain almost empty until 10 in the morning, others out of the way, which are almost always deserted, because there are no umbrellas, bars or restaurants on the beach.
The same goes for the streets.
If you travel between May and mid-July or after August until the end of the season, the problem hardly arises, but there are roads not far from super tourist areas where you will come across more goats than cars.
People have a habit of following the “beaten” and safe roads, ignoring the smaller road signs.
Personally I am attracted by the small signs that read “beach”, “anywhere” or by the small white villages with the streets so narrow that a woman in the ninth month of pregnancy would have difficulty crossing.

But it’s the best way to get lost…and I love getting lost in the Greek islands…

Skagen and the magic of light

Skagen is a magical city. The northernmost of Denmark. Skagen is the city with the most daylight hours in the whole country. A light that has inspired international artists and Danish impressionists who have lived and worked here since the 19th century.
Skagen’s light illuminates the evocative landscape drawn by its picturesque old town, yellow houses, red roofs, wild nature and the sea.
And if all this light and these colors have not satiated you properly, try going to the Skagen Odde Naturcenter, known as the desert fort. Here you will discover many things about light. And not only.

And if you are one of those for whom light is never enough, here there is also that of the sea.
The two seas.
Up here the Skagarrak (Baltic Sea) and the Kattegat (North Sea) meet, coming from opposite directions and meeting producing an evocative, absolutely natural chromatic effect. The two seas have different density, salinity and temperature and cannot mix with each other.

© Dennis Lundby from Visitdenmark
Grenen (“the branch”) it is the northernmost point of Denmark. In Grenen, you can admire the meeting of the two seas

Beyond the dunes, the sand and the seas, Skagen is much more. Here art and culture are everywhere. It will not be difficult for you to discover that the Skagens Museum houses 1,800 works by Danish and international artists from the period between 1870 and 1930s. They are all paintings “born” from the Skagen School, with works by PS Krøyer and Anna Ancher.
Anna is the only artist from the Skagen school to be born and raised in Skagen, daughter of the founder of the famous Hotel Brøndums, where famous artists who passed through here have stayed. It is no coincidence that in the dining room of the hotel there are many paintings that passing artists donated in exchange for accommodation.

To the south of the city, however, it is possible to see the Buried Church, a sacred building built in the second half of the 14th century and over time buried by the sand, of which only the tower is currently visible

Den Tilsandede Kirke
© Christian Faber from VisitDenmark

The picturesque little harbor of Skagen is full of fish restaurants where you can taste the many local gastronomic specialties. In addition to seafood, you can enjoy traditional Skagen ham, organic Angus steaks or a wide range of other local specialties.


Summer for Skagen becomes the season of festivals and outdoor events:

The Skagen Birdfestival is a festival for bird watchers. Every year in May this event is celebrated which establishes a unique opportunity to observe about 350 species of migratory birds.

Sankt Hans is a typically Danish suggestive tradition. On St John’s Eve, June 23, the Danes gather with friends and family around bonfires on the beach. For the occasion, the song of Midsummer Night, written in 1885 by the national poet Holger Drachmann, is sung, while the flames reflect on the calm sea and the mild evening air begins to cool. In Skagen, Sankt Hans is celebrated on Sønderstrand beach at Vippefyret – Skagen’s first lighthouse, built in 1626, from which there is a great view of Skagen and the coast.

Skagen Gray Lighthouse © Mette Johnsen

The Skagen festival, born in 1971 is dedicated to popular and folk music, and the oldest of its kind in Denmark. The atmosphere is festive, with concerts in different locations in the city and at the port, both outdoors and indoors, and with a truly unique mix of musical styles.

The World ballet in Skagen is presented near the buried church. Some of the most prominent dancers in the world perform in a repertoire ranging from classical to modern. The program also features opera and classical music with Danish artists and musicians.


The true story of the birth of overwater bungalows

Have you ever wondered how and when the idea of water bungalows was born, a very popular accommodation symbol of transparent, crystalline seas and exotic destinations? Staying for a few days directly on the sea admiring the marine life is certainly the dream of many travelers. Being able to wake up directly on the sea starting the day with the scent of the beach or with a dip in the water is the best accommodation can offer in terms of freedom.

It is clear that “floating” bungalows have existed for centuries in certain cultures. However, the idea of using them as tourist accommodation dates back to the 1960s when, in 1967, three Californian boys decided to build the first hotel with overwater bungalows on the islands of Tahiti. Hugh Kelley, Muk McCallum and Jay Carlisle, later renamed the “Bali Hai Boys“, built their first hotel on the island of Moorea and a second hotel on the island of Raiatea in a completely different style.

Overwater bungalow of the Sofitel Hotel, Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia
Photo by Gowtham from Adobe stock Photo

The bungalows are built on coconut log pillars and have thatched roofs of dried pandanus leaves. They represent the style, the Polynesian tradition to the maximum and integrate beautifully in the enchanted landscape of these places.

In order to respond to every need over time, the bungalows, especially inside them, have been adapted and designed in such a way as to be able to accommodate every type of traveler who wishes to try this type.

Source: Tahiti tourisme

Menorca: the protected island where nature reigns


The image of Menorca is that of a green island with many pristine coves and beaches. In short: tranquility, nature and living at a slow pace. But if we go and see what beautiful “hides” this island, in reality, there is much, much more: the countryside activities, outdoor sports, local culinary delights, crafts and products.

In truth, Menorca is an island that shows its treasures to those who truly seek them.
The highest point on the island is Mount Toro which measures 358 meters above sea level. The north coast is rugged and wild with sparse vegetation and dark reddish sand. The southern coast, on the other hand, is made up of wooded ravines that descend towards coves and beaches with white sand and turquoise sea.

The blue sea of Menorca
Photo by Cyril PAPOT from Adobe Stock

The climate is particularly mild and temperate, although a feature of the island is strength of the north wind. It’s such a strong wind has shaped the landscape. The island is divided in eight administrative councils: Maó, Ciutadella, Alaior, Es Castell, Sant Lluís, Es Mercadal, Ferreries and Es Mig jorn Gran.

The biosphere reserve

Menorca has been declared a biosphere reserve since October 1993 by virtue of the close link between man and territory. Here the economic growth tries to be compatible with the conservation of the island and, with it, agriculture is also done in a sustainable way.
In the landscape it is clearly perceptible how agriculture still makes use of ancient customs, such as the use of dry stones used to delimit agricultural land for example.

The Albufera des Grau Natural Park, with its 5000 hectares of surface, represents the fulcrum of the biosphere and has a salt pan, a stretch of coast, several islets and wetlands where birds of prey and seabirds can find a home.
The ravines offer shelter to wealth of fauna and flora, including a number of endemic species and endangered aspecies like red kites and Lilford’s wall lizards. The dunes, streams, ravines, holm oak groves, wild olive trees and pines, all contribute to the uniqueness of Menorca as a Biosphere Reserve.

Image by jvilellaCFATB from Pixabay

Archeology in Menorca

The archaeological heritage of Menorca is almost as rich as the natural and marine one if you consider that on the island there are on average two monuments every square kilometer!
One of the most emblematic of Menorca is undoubtedly the Naveta des Tudons, buildings used as collective ossuaries built in stone between 700 and 1000 BC.
Trepucó, Talatí de Dalt, Torre d’en Galmés, Torralba d’en Salort, Cornia Nou are other sites that can give an excellent idea of the prehistoric past of the island.
They are monuments built using large stones without mortar that bring with them a sense of mystery and give an idea of the rituals performed by the first inhabitants who inhabited the island in the past.

The nature

The Menorcan countryside is unspoiled while 70% of the territory is protected. A long stretch of the northern coast is considered a Marine Reserve and many islets belonging to Menorca are unspoiled and have great ecological value.
These small islands are inhabited from endemic animals, including eight subspecies of the Lilford wall lizard, each subspecies unique and different. There are a number of good ecosystems to explore: woods, cliffs, wetlands, streams, spring pools, as well as ravines dug by the erosion of the limestone rock.

Salinas de Addaia.Mongofre Nou.Menorca.Islas Baleares. España.
Beaches

Along the 216 km of coast of Menorca there are about eighty sandy bays, as well as numerous coves and hidden coves in the shore.
Son Bou, with over 2.5km of sand, is the longest beach. The smallest beaches are barely 100 meters long, although size is beside the point when you are talking about genuine natural paradise placed in what is one of the best preserved holiday destinations in the Mediterranean.

Along the northern coast the landscape is wild and untamed, with predominantly earthy, ocher and golden tones. There are amazing beaches and coves, as well as fantastic snorkelling and scuba diving locations. Cala Pregonda might well be the best known natural beach, but Cavalleria and Cala Pilar are equally stunning.
The beautiful landscape of La Vall is where Es Bot and Es Tancat are located, the twin beaches of Algaiarens. Cala Presili and Cala Tortuga are neighbouring beaches located in the nature reserve Parque Natural la Albufera des Grau.
Those who prefer beaches with some facilities but still want a stunning setting will love the beaches at Cala Morell, Arenal de Son Saura (Son Parc), the wide sandy beach at Es Grau, or Cala Mesquida.

The southern coastline is irresistibly appealing, with turquoise blue sea, fine white sand and leafy woods providing shade almost down to the water’s
edge. The best known natural beaches are: the twin beaches of Son Saura, the famous beaches of Cala en Turqueta, Cala Macarella y Macarelleta, as well as Cala Mitjana and Mitjaneta. Trebalúger and Cala Escorxada beaches are two jewels which are somewhat quieter as it is quite a long walk to reach them. Binigaus is another delightful option: it is the widest unspoilt beach of the south coast and is easily accessible for a day at the beach, as is tiny Atalis beach, at the end of Son Bou beach. The most beautiful beaches next to resorts are: Son Xoriguer; majestic Cala Galdana, which is almost always calm, sheltered as it is by the cliffs; the long stretch of sand at Sant Tomàs and Cala en Porter. The beaches at Binibèquer, Punta Prima and Binissafúller stand out among the beaches in the Sant Lluís area.


Camí de Cavalls

The Camí de Cavalls is a great way to discover The magnificent landscape of Menorca. It is a 185 km route around the coast of the island which includes a variety of different scenarios Its exact origin is unknown; what is known is that the Camí de Cavalls has been used for many centuries as a link between the defense towers that had been built to watch over and safeguard the island from any possible attack or invasion. The path has had various uses over the centuries and has been possibly restored and open to the public in 2010. Today it is part of the long European remote trail network, numbered GR-223.

Cami de Cavalls, GR223. Binicalaf Nou. (2011) Minorca. Balearic Islands. Spain.

Gastronomy and local products

Simplicity is the essence of Menorcan cuisine; its foundation lies in people who are down-to-earth, but who know how to enjoy life and how to make the most of what they have. Within every apparently humble dish there lies a touch of refinement, a delightful hint of foreign cultures. Traditional cookery books all contain recipes for oliaigua and other vegetable dishes, seafaring delicacies such as caldereta de langosta, meat and game recipes, stuffed aubergines and other oven baked dishes like perol. There are lots of recipes for pastries as Menorcans have a very sweet tooth. Carquinyols, flaons, pastissets and
amargos
are some of the sweet and savoury pastries that are made here.
The one Menorcan product known worldwide is surely mayonnaise. Experts agree that it was originally a local sauce made here on the island and that it spread to the rest of the world after the French invaded Menorca in the 18th century. The theory is that the Duke of Richelieu tasted the sauce while he was on the island, and then took the recipe back to the French court where
it became known as mahonnaise, in reference to the town Maó

The local food industry has created a hallmark of guarantee Made in Menorca. A prime example is the cheese which has obtained the protected designation of origin (PDO) Mahón-Menorca and has recently been classified among the
best in the world. Menorcan cheese is square in shape, with a darkish reddish brown rind and a slightly salty flavour. The Gin from Maó has been attributed a
protected geographical indication (PGI) and is very well known both in Menorca and abroad. The Menorcan gin is the oldest gin in Spain. It is distilled from wine alcohol with juniper berries and a selection of herbs in old copper stills heated
by wood fires and is one of the most aromatic gins on the market.
There are some traditional liquors and spirits as well as the Menorcan gin that are produced on the island, such as herb liquors, the native camomile liquor and citric fruit liquors which are drunk after a meal as a digestif. In recent years
some artisan breweries have started up. The beer they brew is made from natural unpasteurised ingredients. The result is a range of signature
brews of different flavours and characteristics.

‘Vi de la Terra Illa de Menorca’ is a geographical indication of quality of wine. There are several wineries that have brought back traditional wine
making methods to the island, producing wines of a distinctive island character. A couple of wineries offer tours and wine tastings. Olive oil is another quality food product. There are a few extra virgin olive oils produced in Menorca, thanks to enterprising local producers, although only very small amounts are made at the moment. The hallmark ‘Made in Menorca’ recognises some of the local meat products, particularly cured pork. Carn-i-xulla is the most characteristic product, dating back to ancient roman curing methods.
Other types of cured pork products are ‘sobrasadas’ (both mild and mature), ‘botifarrons’ and ‘cuixots’. There is a small amount of honey made on the island. Prized for many centuries, the Roman author Pliny claimed the island’s honey was the best in the world next to Greek honey.


Menorca: perfect place to admire the stars

Preserve an island with respect for the environment and nature not only mean having a wonderful sea, lots of greenery and many animals but also being able to enjoy the sky without too much artificial light disturbing the vision of the night show.
Since 2019 Menorca also has the “Starlight” tourist destination certification, which means that this island has been selected among the ideal destinations to enjoy the wonders of the constellations and galaxies and meteor showers for example.
In Menorca there are some points suggested by Starlight where you can find the ideal conditions to observe the night sky. Cala Macarella is a quiet and isolated beach where you can see the stars without being disturbed by too many artificial lights. The lighthouses are instead spectacular places from which to observe the sea, the stars and, why not, from which to take fantastic photos to share or to take home and keep as a souvenir. The Faro de Cavalleria or the Favaritx (cover photo) will leave you breathless.

Image by Xose Vidal from Pixabay

Also worth considering Pont den Gil (pictured above) both for evening observations and for taking great pictures

Respect Menorca

Coming on holiday to Menorca does not only mean thinking about enjoying nature and a sea that is unique in the world but also about entering a protected area for a few days which, as such, must be preserved and respected.
The rule of the good tourist and the good traveler implies that in Menorca you have to respect some rules, such as the simpler ones of not dirtying the environment by leaving waste around or perhaps ruining the beaches and the sea. The butts are put in the ashtrays and everything must stay in its place.
The animals and plants that live here must continue to live in total tranquility, as well as the people who have always worked and lived here.
The earth and nature belong to everyone.
When we visit this and other paradises we try to take care of them!

Source: Menorca.es
Photos: Adobe stock, Pixabay and Unspash.