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Brussels - Bike tour: Attractions, Hotels & Restaurants

Brussels is the capital of Belgium but also the institutional centre of the European Union where you will find the headquarters. Because of this unique situation, Brussels is a national and European hub with a strong cosmopolitan dimension which is shown by its very diverse population composed of numerous cultures, religions and languages. With its 80 museums and its diverse architectural influences, Brussels is a perfect destination for an enriching cultural journey as well as for culinary vacations.

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Attractions

CHOCO

Sablon area

Divided into Grand and Petit Sablon, this area is a must-see while visiting Brussels. Here you can taste some marvellous Belgian chocolate while visiting its monuments like the Eglise Notre-Dame du Sablon or the Ergmont Park and Palace. In the weekends the Grand Sablon is transformed into a market where you can find some extremely rare objects and books if you are lucky.

ARTNOUVEAU

Chatelain area

Chatelain area is a pretty, chic neighbourhood which can satisfy all your requests. Rich in Art Nouveau buildings, this area is perfect for tasting some flavourful local wines in stylish bars. While being here you cannot miss the Horta House, named after his former owner, the Belgian Art Nouveau Architect Victor Horta, regarded as a UNESCO world heritage site, and is one of the most outstanding buildings in Brussels.

Magritte Museum

The Magritte Museum, named after and dedicated to surrealist artist René Magritte, houses more than 200 of his works. He became famous for his provocative works trying to challenge and destroy the observer's preconditioned ideas of the world.

Hotels

Hotel Welcome

Hotel Welcome is an atypical hotel with 17 different rooms, going from the standard ones to the suite. The rooms of the hotel will set you on a unique journey as each of them are decorated according to famous exotic destinations. Located right in the city centre, a stay in at Hotel Welcome will leave you with a memorable experience.

Mas Residence

Mas Residence is situated in a nice area of the European quarter which perfectly suits either tourists or business travellers’ requirements. Their website provides several promotions all the year long and it is a really good choice to start your exploration of Brussels!

Made in Louise

Made in Louise is a family-owned hotel which makes it a great place to stay. You will also highly appreciate the location at the heart of Brussels' historic centre. The famous Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts and the Magritte Museum are all within a few minutes walk. Each of the rooms has unique features and are nicely decorated with pastel colours.

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Restaurants

Chez Franz

Chez Franz, a café by day and a bar by night, is a perfect place to meet some local people because it is a popular place among them. They serve some traditional products from your Croissant for the Breakfast to your afterwork’s beer and always in a casual environment! There is also a terrace, where you can enjoy Brussels' sun while tasting some local food or wine.

Belga Queen

Belga Queen, located at the heart of the capital, is a sophisticated underground local which serves Brasserie-style menus renewed every week with local seasonal products. This restaurant is located in a 18th century building renovated by local architect Antonio Pinto creating a contemporary refined restaurant.

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Le Rabassier

Le Rebassier restaurant is a tiny, but wonderful restaurant awarded with the Luxury restaurant award. Only 18 persons per night can have the privileged to taste their sophisticated cuisine where truffles have a prominent place. The menu offers traditional as well as contemporary dishes which will undoubtedly satisfy your finest expectations.

Auschwitz - Is it appropriate to recommend a visit?

This morning I was asked my opinion on whether or not I would recommend a day trip to Auschwitz.  These are my thoughts.
 
Auschwitz is a sombre and reflective place of pilgrimage. But is it a tourist attraction?  Several guided tours are organized from Krakow to visit the camp of Auschwitz - Birkenau. Because of its size, Auschwitz is considered as one of the symbols of the mass slaughters during Nazi times. It is a major cultural and historical monument which was designated as World Heritage Legacy by the UNESCO in 1979 and thus contributing to the duty of remembrance towards the victims. It is also the occasion to deepen your historical knowledge, defeat prejudices and misconceptions. A visit to this site is also a good reminder of the atrocities the human mind is capable of when it is misused.
 
This tragically famous monument often results in different strong emotions. While a visit might be upsetting and sombre, it is an important exercise for us all to recognise the horror of what has happened in our recent past. By seeing first hand the haunting site, hearing the horrific stories and reliving the experience, we walk away, privileged and more enlightened than we were before and determined to recognise the injustices of our contemporary world.  
 
Tourism is not always uplifting.  A visit to Auschwitz in 2017 is as important as one made in 1950; the lessons to be learned can be applied to our current world in flux; genocide is a frequent feature in our world; remember, for example, what happened in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s. The purpose of visiting Auschwitz is not to scare its visitors or to blame the German people as a whole for what a minority is responsible for, but more to invite to an objective and positive reflection. 
 
My advice is to go, experience it, allow yourselves to be upset.  You should be upset by a place like this.  
 
Responsible travel is not all about eco hotels, bicycles, paraben-free amenities and sustainably produced coconut water.  
 
Responsible travel to me at least, means encouraging thought, learning, recognising (in this case at least) how mankind's impact can be horrific, and learning from this experience to ensure we do our part never to allow a repeat.  If we get upset along the way then all the better - it reminds us that we are human, we all have the same basic needs; and that nobody should ever be denied of those needs.  While a visit here might not be uplifting in the traditional sense it might very well prove to be one of the most inspirational visits of your life.  
 
- Padraic. 

Split - Bike tour: Attractions, Hotels & Restaurants

Split


Split is one the oldest cities and the second largest of Croatia. This is a dynamic city centred on the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Split is a great city with a lot of cultural diversity and is settled in an magnificent area between coastal mountains and the turquoise waters of the Adriatic.

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Hotels

- Palace Judita Heritage hotel:
Palace Judita Heritage is a 4-star hotel located in the heart of Split, right in front of the Diocletian’s Palace. You can choose between four different types of rooms whose names are inspired by a legendary local figure.  Be sure to bring ear plugs; the Palace can be a loud place at night.

- Hotel Vestibul Palace: 
Vestibul Palace Hotel, located inside the Diocletian’s Palace, is a 4-star hotel and a member of the ‘Small Luxury Hotels of the world’. The hotel has different orientations regarding the architectural style, there are indeed Romanic, Gothic and Renaissance influences which contribute to its unique character. The comfortable rooms are a combination of ancient and modern styles which are an integral and inseparable part of what make the charm of the Hotel Vestibul Palace. Be sure to bring ear plugs; the Palace can be a loud place at night.

- Hotel Atrium:
Hotel Atrium is one of the only 5-star hotels in Split, located just a few minutes away from the city centre. All rooms are modern and furnished with cutting-edge equipment. While staying there you can enjoy several different pleasant services such as an organized visiting day through the city, a relaxing massages at the Spa centre or a swim in the pool.

- Marmont Hotel

Marmont, located in the old city centre, is a four star hotel that, despite its old-fashioned and traditional exterior, is very contemporarily furnished.  The large rooms are very luxurious, very comfortable and furnished in a modern fashion.  The restaurant shares this interior and offers dishes from all over the world.  The hotel is only a few minutes away from Diocletian's Palace. 

 

- Cornaro  Hotel

Cornaro is a four star hotel in the middle of Split's old city centre, a short walk away from the Palace and the Riva.  This luxurious hotel has contemporarily styled, large rooms and modern interiors.  The exterior is in a lovely pink-red building that fits right in the traditional old centre. 


Restaurants

SPLIT

- Augubio Congo: 

Augubio Congo is a restaurant located in a 15th century villa. In this cosy and relaxing restaurant you will have the opportunity to discover some traditional Mediterranean food mixed with modern influences.

- Bokeria Kitchen & Wine:
Bokeria Kitchen & Wine was built in an old hardware market, and its style is inspired by the lively markets of Barcelona . Located right in the centre of the town, this restaurant offers you a broad range of dishes plus several seasonal meals which will perfectly match the flavourful Croatian wines. The detail that you will undoubtedly appreciate at Bokeria Kitchen & Wine is the live jazz music.  The accoustics in here however make for a very loud environment.

 

- Konoba Varoš:

Konoba Varoš restaurant is located in the ancient part of Split. It is an old-styled restaurant with wood decorations offering a pleasant Dalmatian background music creating a very authentic and pleasant atmosphere. They serve various typical Dalmatian meals with fresh local meat or fish, which will match everyone’s requirements.  If you intend to order a Peka Octopus (stew), be sure to give the restaurant some notice - ideally 24 hours minimum.

 

- Zinfandel's Food & Wine Bar

According to the owners, they wanted the interior to be both industrial and rustic looking and it truly looks exquisite.  Importantly, they've also managed to capture the hearts of guests with their contemporary Croatian cuisine and tapas, charcuterie and cheese platters, excellent wines and impeccable service.  It is tucked away nicely in a quiet little alley, close to Diocletian's Palace. 

 

- Paradox Wine & Cheese Bar

This wine and cheese bar has 'Dalmatia' written all over it with over 100 wines.  Representing the diversity and quality of wines in this region, 50 wines are available to try by the glass.  As well, they offer about 20 artisan cheeses that are primarily produced locally.  You can pick and choose whatever suits your taste buds as you relax in their cozy interior space with stonewalls set against elm and oak furniture.  They have an extremely friendly staff, many of which hold wine qualifications

 

- Mazzgoon

Newer eateries like the eclectic Mazzgoon at the West Gate of the Palace, with a charming courtyard that wraps around the place, are creating imaginative interpretations like terrine of rabbit with grapefruit marmalade starters; a smashing risotto with raisins and apples and finishing a traditional brudet fish stew with local sweet wine to give it a marvelous new taste.  Their pastry chef adores chocolate and her homemade truffles are absolutely killer.  If you really consider yourself a seafood aficionado, now that you are finally here, the one dish you must have at least one serving of is Black Risotto.  Don't be put off by its strange licorice look, the taste is remarkably light and sweet.  Other fin food not to miss, despite its lowly status and bargain price is Gavuni and Sardines.  The former are tiny smelts that are quick-fried and so downright yummy they're like seafood pomme frites.  And the sardines here are so fresh and unsalty, you will be amazed.  Then there's Grdobina (devil's mother), a ferocious looking monster whose fat, sharp toothed head is chucked into the soup pot, but it's firm white yummy tail is deliciously grilled.  Padraic, owner and operating manager of Fresh Eire Adventures, claims the macaroni, shrimp, cream and black truffle dish here is the best he has tried in the city. 


Attractions

- Diocletian’s Palace:
The Palace of Diocletian is listed, with the Historical Complex of Split, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This massive palace charged with history was built in the 4th century as an retirement residence for Diocletian, the famous and powerful Roman emperor. Nowadays it represents almost half of the town's historical centre and is one of the most crowded tourists sites. While visiting the Diocletians’s Palace, don’t forget to visit Saint Domnius Cathedral which basically built as a mausoleum, a majestic funeral eulogy from another time.  Be sure to check out our blog post Diocletian: From Emperor To Enigma written by renowned historian Jonathan Brucefield. 

 

- Archaeological Museum

Even though it's situated north of the town centre, Split's archaeological museum is certainly worth the trip.  The museum was founded in 1820, making it the oldest museum in Croatia.  The museum's contents come mainly from central Dalmatia, especially from Salona, with thousands of stone epitaphs from that region.  Also featured are ceramics and glass of Greek and Roman origin, along with hundreds of other objects made from bone, metal and glass from various historical periods including prehistoric, pre-Christian, Greek and Medieval.

 

- Froggyland

This quirky museum exhibits over 500 stuffed frogs in every day human situations.  This is all possible thanks to Taxidermy, a preservation technique that fills up the frog from the inside through its mouth.  The museum features frogs who have been preserved by masters such as Francois Perrier, Walter Potter and Pierre-Yves Renkin.  Ferenc Mere, founder of the museum and also a master in the art of Taxidermy, created this unique collection which, to the present day, remains the biggest and best collection of its kind in the world. 

 

- Beaches:

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1. Riva 

Riva beach is the perfect place to enjoy a moment of relaxation with either a walk along the promenade or a glass of wine in front of the water. This is a dreamy setting with palm trees and pristine waters where several cafés and bars are situated. This location is popular and the setting is as beautiful by day as by night.

 

2. Bačvice Beach 

Bačvice Beach is the favourite beach of Split for swimmers, as they can practice all year around. Not only the warm temperature is appreciated but also the cleanliness of the water. Indeed Bačvice Beach as earned the ‘Blue Flag’ which awards the quality of the water. Finally this popular beach is also accessible to disabled people and you will find plenty of activities there to make the best of your stay.  Try catch a game of Picigin at sunset - this local, ancient, game is played here. 

- The Ivan Meštrović Gallery:
The Ivan Meštrović Gallery is an art museum honouring the work of the 20th century scultpor. The building in itself is a work art as it as constructed on plans designed by Ivan Meštrović. Inside the building as well as in the beautiful gardens, you can find several masterpieces in marble, stone, bronze or wood.

 

Barcelona recommendations: More attractions, hotels and restaurants!

As it would not be fair to limit the description of this beautiful city to a single blog post, here is our second article filled with other complementary recommendations.

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Hotels

- Hotel Omm:
Hotel Omm is a modern 5 star establishment of Barcelona. The hotel adopts an approach where every details are taken care of. A minimalist style preserving a strong personality is what make the identity of this sublime hotel. At Hotel Omm you can enjoy the Michelin one star restaurant, the outstanding Spa as well as an outdoor rooftop pool and terrace with a unique view on Gaudi’s Casa Milla.

- Mercer Hotel:
This 5 star hotel is at the heart of Barcelona’s historical Gothic barrio (quarter) allowing you to reach some well-known locations with a pleasant walk. Mercer Hotel offers a subliminal contrast between its state-of-the-art interiors and its impressive historical architecture.

- Hotel Claris:
The luxurious 5 star Hotel Claris is settled in a a former nineteenth century palace at the centre of a quarter with several cultural and tourist attractions. The hotel has a very close link with the arts as multiple fascinating art works are exhibited throughout the hotel and rooms. A Spa and an inviting restaurant, as popular with locals, are at your disposal to make your stay more enjoyable and authentic.

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Restaurants

- Disfrutar:
Disfrutar, meaning enjoy in English, is a Michelin one star restaurant run by three chefs who have already been collaborating together for a long time. This experienced and innovative top-team is considered to be the heir of the molecular gastronomy movement. Eating at Disfrutar is discovering a surreal culinary universe based on sophisticated products and strong Mediterranean origins.

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- Perellò 1898:     
Perellò 1898 is, as its name indicates, a place where the tapas tradition has been fostered since the nineteenth century. This is a tapas bar without any extravagant detail - it is a place you go to for a taste sensation. Only the best quality ingredients are served and even if their speciality is tapas made of cod (bacallà in Catalan), you will also have a good range of tapas with meat.

PERELLO2PERELLO

- Tragaluz:
Tragaluz is a modern looking restaurant although it has been providing Barcelona tasty meals for more than 25 years. The contemporary design mainly due to the glass ceiling letting the sun light spread into the dining room and the open kitchen allows the customer to watch the professionals in action and gives a dynamic look to the place. Besides the cool and trendy atmosphere, you will spoiled for choice as the menu card is very complete.

 

Attractions

- Torre Bellesguard:
Torre Bellesguard is a less known though not less significant masterpiece of the Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí. It is a former manor house which belonged to Martin, King of Aragon. Torre Bellesguard is a little bit different from the usual Gaudí style, but it is wonderful. It can be visited with organized guided tours.


- Fundació Joan Miró:
Located on the hill called Montjuic, Fundació Joan Miró is a museum of modern arts named after and dedicated to Barcelona’s born painter Joan Miró. Many of the works were donated by the artist himself. Here you will have the chance to discover Miró's creative mind through several of its sculptures and paintings. In the museum there is also an area called 'Espai 13' where you will find the works of some young experimental artists.

 

barcelona 1181780 480- Plaça de Catalunya:
Plaça de Catalunya is the beating heart of Barcelona where all of its most famous avenues converge. It is the oldest part of the city and well-known for its outstanding fountains and sculptures. While visiting Barcelona, it is almost impossible not to have a walk around this square, a very good way to experience the Catalan culture.

Porto - Bike tour: Attractions, Hotels & Restaurants

We are currently working with the Portugese Tourism Commission and will be offering a new tour in Portugal in 2018/19.  Stand by for more information.

 

Porto


Portugal was born in the North and the rich cultural heritage of the region doesn't ignore so noble and ancient origins. Tradition, culture, history, architecture, gastronomy and wine, landscape, hospitality and the joy of their people are the attributes to a unique region. It has a peculiar charm. Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the oldest European centres, its historical centre is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. It is a unique experience to stroll through its streets and feel the pulse of the city. Take the tram to the mouth of the river Douro and get to know the excellent beaches, where you can sunbathe, and the outdoor cafés or slow down and enjoy some local wines such as the Vinho Verde and the famous Port Wine. Porto, thanks to its outstanding beauty and its richness in history, was elected the best European destination of 2017.  Anticipate warm weather throughout the year, but do not forget your umbrella, Porto is also one of the wettest cities of Europe. Thanks to its history, Porto has a huge variety of architectural styles which will make you feel like travelling through different eras of time. 

Board on a medieval journey and pound the historical centre, passing by the Cathedral or the Clérigos tower.  Take a cruise on the river Douro with a Rabelo boat or visit the six bridges.  Visit the Casa do Infante Museum, the São Fransisco Church, the Stock Exchange Palace, the pleasant riverfront and the well preserved Ribeira and Miragaia streets.  Or pick a destination to see and enjoy in our recommendations below.

The Historical Centre, the Lello bookshop, the Café Majestic, the Monastery of Nossa Senhora do Pilar, the Guindais Funicular, Miguel Bombarda Sreet, Galeria de Paris Street, Cândid dos Reis street and the São Bento Train station are all unmissable attractions.

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Hotels

- River House 1872:
Located in the centre of Porto's Old Quarter, River House 1872 is the perfect place to enjoy the beautiful city of Porto. Its spacious and comfortable rooms all have balconies offering amazing views over the Douro river or over the city's historical centre. Each room is decorated differently so you will never get tired of staying at this hotel.


- Flores Village Hotel & Spa:
Surrounded by monuments and museums, the 4 star Flores Village is a perfect place to stay to fully enjoy marvellous Porto. You can choose 5 different kinds of rooms, all of them are spacious and tastefully decorated. While staying at this hotel you cannot miss the gardens and the indoor places which are unusual areas, perfect for a reading day, although. The Spa and the Gym are both equipped with cutting-edge technologies offering the best services which will satisfy even the most demanding guests.

GRANDHOTEL- Grande Hotel do Porto:
Grande Hotel do Porto is a 3 star hotel located at the heart of the historical city centre, a few steps away from all of Porto's most famous attractions. This nineteenth century hotel has a stunning and timeless design. Rooms are cosy, elegant and well-equipped. To ensure the well-being of its customers, the hotel has several appreciable services such as massages in its wellness room or a gym.


Restaurants


- Ode Porto Wine House:
Located at the heart of Porto, a few steps away from the Douro River, Ode Porto Wine House is a magical place which will make you discover flavourful, tasty meals cooked with fresh and seasonal ingredients. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, and the waiters will give you the best assistance to choose the right wine.


- Restaurante 'O Paparico':
Located on the upper section of the city, Restaurante 'O Paparico', serves traditional Portuguese dishes in a rustic-style environment. Here you will taste some of the most tasty traditional dishes all prepared with fresh products. The staff are friendly and happy to guide you through the Portuguese culinary tradition.


- Essência - Restaurante Vegetariano:
As the name indicates, this restaurant is a vegetarian restaurant with succulent dishes that will please every tastes and preferences. Its variety of choices allows you to taste Mediterranean, European or Portuguese savoury and healthy meals. Located a few steps away from the city centre, this place is perfect to enjoy some vegetarian dishes in a cosy and welcoming environment.

 

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Attractions

 

PALACIO

- Palácio de Bolsa:


Located in the UNESCO world heritage site centre, the Palácio de Bolsa was built in the 19th century in a Neoclassical style. The most beautiful parts of this building are, without a shadow of doubt, its interiors where you will find magnificently decorated walls and furniture.

 

 

CASADEMUSICA

- Casa da Música:

Casa da Música (meaning the house of music) is a concert hall located right in the centre of Porto. It hosts the most important concerts in the town and is one of the most iconic elements of the city. The Casa da Música is the only concert hall in the world with two walls made entirely of glass. You can visit this impressive institution with their English guided tour which will give an outstanding insight into its background.

 

 

Museo Serralves

- Serralves Museum:


Serralves Museum is a contemporary art museum that attracts millions of visitors per year. It hosts both Portuguese and international masterpieces making it one of the most visited contemporary art museums of Europe. After visiting the museum you can relax and enjoy the marvellous gardens which surround the building.