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Danube to the Iron Gates Special!

Danube to the Iron Gates Special Offer

Don't miss this great value offer on an epic bike and barge tour along the Danube River.
 
For all new bookings on the Danube to the Iron Gates bike and barge trip, the second person will only pay half the base price. If you're a single traveller you'll enjoy paying no single supplement fee (i.e. you'll get your own cabin)*. Use code DANUBEIG22 to redeem this offer.
 
Note this offer is valid only on the Danube to the Iron Gates bike and barge trip departing on August 13 from Passau in Germany. You then explore Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia before the tour returns to Passau on August 27. See below for terms and conditions.
 
 
>> Note there is another bike and barge trip with a special offer. The Danube Explorer to Budapest features a similar deal on the 8 October 2022 departure. Learn more.
 
Cycling the Danube River in Bratislava, Slovakia |  <i>Pat Rochon</i> Cycling in beautiful Bratislava Enjoy the beauty of the Iron Gates National Park on a Bike & barge trip |  <i>B.Jovanovic</i>
 

About the Danube to the Iron Gates Bike & Barge trip

This is our most extensive Danube cruise, taking in four capital cities; the Austrian capital of Vienna, the picturesque old town of Bratislava, the majestic city of Budapest, and the revived city of Belgrade. 
 
This journey by comfortable river cruiser and bike offers the opportunity to experience life along the Danube and the surrounding countryside at your own pace. Using our comfortable boat as a base, enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the Pannonian Plain, the Hungarian and Serbian countryside, the Slovakian capital at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains and the highlight, the mighty canyon of the Iron Gates National Park on the Romanian border. 
 
Golubac Fortress is one of the most spectacular sights of the Danube |  <i>D. Bosnic</i>
 
You will visit charming wine villages, marvel at imposing fortifications that sit high above the river, and cycle through the Danube-Drava National Park. Alongside the scenic and cultural highlights that the Danube offers, the friendly crew will guarantee that you have an unforgettable experience.
 
The new barge used on this trip is the MV Swiss Crown. We recently wrote about all of the fancy amenities to be enjoyed on board (such as a spa, sundeck and massage parlour!).
 
Swiss Crown
 

*Offer Terms and Conditions

 
o The Danube to the Iron Gates Offer 2022 gives the second traveller 50% (fifty per cent) off the base price of the Danube to the Iron Gates 15-day bike and barge holiday (BBV)
o The offer is valid on the August 13 2022 departure onboard the MV Swiss Crown only
o Discount applicable to base tour price only and will not be applied to seasonal surcharges, upgrades, extensions or supplements, which will be isolated from the base price when applying the discount
o The offer is valid only for new bookings that are made between 28 June - 13 July 2022 for the Danube to the Iron Gates trip departing on the 13 August 2022
o The offer is valid only for the Danube to the Iron Gates (BBV) trip operated by UTracks
o Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers in the market current or previous by UTracks or the World Expeditions Travel Group of companies
o Payment terms as per the UTracks bookings terms and conditions will be applicable
o The offer will apply within the parameters indicated above, except where minimum numbers have not been reached at the time of balance payment (70 days prior to trip start date).
o Offers cannot be redeemed in cash
o Bookings are subject to availability
o Bookings are non-transferrable
o Quote promo code DANUBEIG22 at time of booking

 
Be quick to take advantage of this special offer. Contact your local UTracks office for further information.
 
>> Note there is another bike and barge trip with a special offer. The Danube Explorer to Budapest features a similar deal on the 8 October 2022 departure. Learn more.
 
 
  
Europe's Best Walking & Cycling Trips of 2022

Europe's Best Walking & Cycling Trips of 2022

 
In this half yearly review, we're reflecting on what have been the best walking and cycling trips to take in Europe...so far. With international travel finally back on the menu in 2022, see what active holidays are trending, which tours are getting rave reviews, and discover some of Europe's hidden gems. 
 

Trending Trips

 

Alsace by Bike

Cycling past vineyards in the Alsace region |  <i>Katie Roberts</i>
 
"We loved the Alsace bike trip! We had e bikes and loved them. They seemed brand new. Each town was cuter than the next. The pathways were all along the farm lands and vineyards. A few of the guys downloaded the routes to their phones, so we never got lost. The hotels were fair in the middle. The first and the last hotels were great." L. Finkelstein-Domsky.
 
 

Full Spanish Camino

Local sign post along the Camino Trail |  <i>Scott Kirchner</i>
 
"UTracks organised the full Camino Frances walk for us. The holiday was excellent and an unforgettable experience. The booking process was smooth and efficient. Thanks." R. Brown.
 
> View the epic Full Spanish Camino walk
 

Portuguese Way Cycle - Coast and Camino

Cyclists entering a village on the Portuguese Camino
 
"With my friend and cycling partner we cycled the Camino de Santiago from Porto along the coast. It was a fantastic experience for body and soul!!!" R. Almagor.
 
 

Offa's Dyke walk in Wales

Field walking |  <i>Claire Cox</i>
 
"This was one of my best walking holidays. The walk is so varied - a lovely mix of farmland, woodland, wildflowers, remote moorland and ridges, river valleys, historic castles and isolated villages and small towns, with the iconic Offa's Dyke to be followed on some days. Wonderful and different walking on every day! The accommodation was mostly excellent; comfortable, with a friendly welcome throughout and great breakfasts. Lots of good places to eat each evening. The organisation and support was superb. Their maps, detailed route notes and local information helped to make the whole trip both more interesting and stress-free. Thank you so much for an amazing holiday!" P. Carne.
 
 

Best Reviewed Trips

 

Walking in Puglia

Trulli in the UNESCO town of Alberobello |  <i>Lesley Treloar</i>
 
"This trip was well organised in a beautiful part of the world. Due to extreme heat, we altered the timing of our walks and transfers every day,  and it was never a problem with the partner company in Italy. The accommodation was fantastic and the 2 dinners provided were excellent. A wonderful experience." P. McMahon.
 
 

Danube Cycle

Admiring Esztergom's beautiful Basilica |  <i>Lilly Donkers</i>
 
"Absolutely amazing self guided trip! Met and rode with some wonderful cyclists from around the world. Everything was very well organised, hotels lovely, food great and my bike was perfect! Would definitely do it again." D. Ray.
 
 

Walking in the Picos de Europa

Long winding road through the Cares Gorge, Picos de Europa |  <i>Sylvia van der Peet</i>
 
"A great trip with absolutely wonderful scenery and walking. Accommodation in both Arenas & Sotres was excellent with very friendly staff. The included food was of high quality and there were other excellent options on other nights. The night spent in the mountain hut was a great experience and the operators on the ground were quite flexible in rearranging transfers where necessary.  All in all highly recommended." C. Sorensen.
 
 

Highlights of the Dordogne by Bike

Cycling through the picturesque Dordogne
 
"This trip was extraordinary! The Dordogne was absolutely beautiful, and anyone who is interested in history will love it. Prehistoric sites are abundant here. We'd readily do this trip again!" H. Parker.
 
 

Best 'Under the Radar' Trips

 

Via Francigena: Lucca to Siena

A group of friends walking on the Via Francigena in Tuscany |  <i>Allie Peden</i>
 
"I recommend this very well organized trip.  The instructions were on point and the luggage transfers from one hotel to another for 5 consecutive days was seamless.  Spending time in nature was fun and relaxing mentally, although challenging during peak heat times. Arriving in a new town each evening was enough time to relax and enjoy it.  Hotel managers were helpful and attended to our needs." M. Bayeh.
 
 

Sweden Island Hopping Walk

Stockholm, built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges |  <i>Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se</i>
 
:It was a wonderful trip from start to finish. The accommodations exceeded expectations. The routes to hike and the corresponding maps and directions were clear and well laid out. Great support from the team. I highly recommend the Sweden Island hopping walk." N. Kimmel.
 
 
 

The Dales Way - England

Bolton Abbey and it's fantastic location in the Yorkshire Dales |  <i>James Genchi</i>
 
"We loved the Dales Way. Wonderful riverside walks, views and villages to enjoy. Accommodation was a great mix of hotels, B&B and inns.The spacing of 14-16 miles worked perfectly as did the transportation of luggage. Would thoroughly recommend the Dales Way for a week of walking." M. Eeckelaers.
 

Cycle Bolzano to Verona

Cyclists in the streets of Bolzano |  <i>Rob Mills</i>
 
"The trip was so lovely and we did not have one problem. The riding was easy and views were spectacular. Enough of an adventure without being too extreme." S. Price.
 
 
 

 
 

Need more active travel inspiration?

 
  
Danube Explorer to Budapest Special Offer

Danube Explorer to Budapest Special Offer

Bike and barge enthusiasts looking for a hot deal - rejoice! 
 
For all new bookings on the Danube Explorer to Budapest trip, the second person will only pay half the base price. If you're a single traveller you'll enjoy paying no single supplement fee (i.e. you'll get your own cabin)*. Use code DANUBEX22 to redeem this offer.
 
Note this offer is valid only on the Danube Explorer to Budapest bike and barge trip departing on October 8 from Passau in Germany. The tour finishes in Passau on October 15. See below for terms and conditions.
 
 
>> Note there is another bike and barge trip with a special offer. The Danube to the Iron Gates features a similar deal on the 13 August 2022 departure. Learn more.
 
The picturesque city of Passau, on the border of Germany & Austria |  <i>Pat Rochon</i> Gorgeous scenes along the Danube cycling path Explore the Danube then make a grand arrival into Budapest by barge |  <i>Lilly Donkers</i>
 

About the Danube Explorer to Budapest Bike & Barge trip

From the cobblestone streets of charming Passau to the Austrian capital of Vienna and the majestic city of Budapest, this journey by comfortable river boat and bike offers the opportunity to experience life on the Danube and the surrounding countryside at your own pace. Using the MS Swiss Crown as a base, enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the legendary Wachau, Bratislava, the Slovakian capital at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains and the icon studded cities of Vienna and Budapest. 
 
★★★★★ The Danube Explorer to Budapest was our second Bike and Barge and it met all expectations. Seeing the sights of Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary was amazing. J. Schoenberger 
 
The new barge used on this trip is the MV Swiss Crown. We recently wrote about all of the fancy amenities to be enjoyed onboard (such as a spa, sundeck and massage parlour!).
 
Swiss Crown
 

*Offer Terms and Conditions

 
o The Danube Explorer to Budapest Offer 2022 gives the second traveller 50% (fifty per cent) off the base price of the Danube Explorer to Budapest 7-day bike and barge holiday (DEX)
o The offer is valid on the October 8 2022 departure onboard the MV Swiss Crown only
o Discount applicable to base tour price only and will not be applied to seasonal surcharges, upgrades, extensions or supplements, which will be isolated from the base price when applying the discount
o The offer is valid only for new bookings that are made between 23 June - 1 August 2022 for the Danube Explorer to Budapest trip departing on the 8 October 2022
o The offer is valid only for the Danube Explorer to Budapest (DEX) trip operated by UTracks
o Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers in the market current or previous by Walkers' Britain, UTracks or the World Expeditions Travel Group of companies
o Payment terms as per the UTracks bookings terms and conditions will be applicable
o The offer will apply within the parameters indicated above, except where minimum numbers have not been reached at the time of balance payment (70 days prior to trip start date).
o Offers cannot be redeemed in cash
o Bookings are subject to availability
o Bookings are non-transferrable
o Quote promo code DANUBEX22 at time of booking

 
Be quick to take advantage of this special offer. Contact your local UTracks office for further information.
 
>> Note there is another bike and barge trip with a special offer. The Danube to the Iron Gates features a similar deal on the 13 August 2022 departure. Learn more.
 
 
 
  
Simple Guide to Hotel Star Ratings in Europe

Simple Guide to Hotel Star Ratings in Europe

 
Europe's hotel star rating system deals with many complexities - don't read too deep into the stars.
 
In this article, we break down fact from fiction when it comes to selecting the best accommodation in Europe.
 
Garden of a 3 star hotel in Bayeux Normandy |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Bolzano - Hotel Scala double room ensuite 4 star hotel |  <i>Efti Poulos</i> Stay in handpicked hotels full of character
 

How hotel star rating systems work in Europe

Hotel star rating systems in Europe generally work by inspectors visiting accommodation sites and checking what facilities are on offer.  For instance, a hotel that features private baths, a 24 hour reception, and a minibar may automatically receive a 3-star rating simply because of these amenities. It does not take into account anything outside of these parameters.
 
Inside Chateau de Camperos Barsac, France |  <i>Deb Wilkinson</i>
 

There is no universal hotel star rating system across Europe

Not all stars are equal in Europe. 
 
Countries have their own independent ranking systems of varying standards. This can even differ from region to region within a country. Also, there are some countries, such as Germany and France, where obtaining a classification is voluntary, whereas other nations, like Spain and Italy, make it mandatory. Therefore it is not reliable to compare a 2-star hotel in Portugal with a 2-star hotel in Austria.
 
Picturesque accommodation options on the GR5 |  <i>Vincent Lamy</i>
 

Star ratings can be deceiving

In most cases, additional stars are given due to the number of boxes a hotel is able to have checked off. 
 
While a 3-star hotel may sound good on paper, it is not necessarily better than a 2-star hotel. This is because the 3-star hotel may be in an obscure location, offer basic customer service and have a bland interior design. The hotel rating system is not a review of a hotel, but more an indiscriminate ranking. 
 
Another downside of this is that it's quite easy for a hotelier to add relatively affordable amenities, like complimentary soaps and shampoos, that will earn them an extra star (and the heftier price tag that comes with it!).
 
Hotel near San Gimignano on the Via Francigena |  <i>Tim Charody</i>
 

Certain hotels may not be able to increase their star rating  

Want to stay in the centre of Budapest but are fussy about staying in a 2-star hotel? You have likely stumbled upon a rating rut. 
 
Historic areas of cities and towns can have regulations that forbid hoteliers from renovating to maintain the aesthetic. That's why a cosy luxury apartment may never get awarded with 4-star status because they are restricted from putting in a full length bath tub. Wouldn't you rather be in the heart of the town?
 
A perfect example of this is the A Tafona hotel in Santiago de Compostela. This is a 2-star hotel that includes a Michelin-starred restaurant!
 
Accommodation on the Porto to Santiago cycle |  <i>Pat Rochon</i>
 

How does UTracks select accommodation on tour?

If all of this is getting you down, don't despair! Since 2006, the UTracks team are a reliable source for choosing accommodation in Europe.
 
We treat where you sleep during a trip as an opportunity to become further immersed in your destination. It's a place where you'll be warmly greeted as a guest; shown behind closed doors to see how the locals live; and have time to rest up and recharge after a rewarding day on the trail. This is why we carefully handpick accommodation that enriches your trip.
 
There are several factors that determine the accommodation on a UTracks trip. 
  • Charming character. We adore accommodation that blends in with the local scenery.
  • Good location. On an active holiday, sometimes you don't want to move any further than you need to at day's end! This is why we prioritise accommodation in the heart of the destination.
  • Family-owned and operated. Embrace the generous hospitality and invaluable knowledge of a local.
This often results in a variety of starred accommodation being used on UTracks trips, with a range of charming 2, 3 or 4-star hotels. While the rating may differ, you can be assured that it is the best option available.
 
Guesthouse in Moeciu de Sus Transylvania |  <i>Kate Baker</i>
 

Accommodation upgrades

It is generally possible to upgrade the accommodation on your UTracks trip. There are two key reasons for choosing to do this while on an active holiday in Europe. 
 
If you're a creature of comfort and want to go all out on your holiday, upgrading to a premium stay may be just what you need. Think plush ensuites, larger rooms and more.
 
The other reason you may want to upgrade is for the unique type of accommodation on offer. Europe has a wealth of accommodation options, from grand chateaux to renovated castles to splendid manors. 
 
One of the best examples of this is on the Camino de Santiago, where you can stay in paradors. These historic buildings are steeped in Spanish culture and were previously used as medieval castles, monasteries or convents. Truly a Spanish experience like no other! Take a look at the self-guided Pilgrims and Paradors trip.
 
>> To upgrade the accommodation on your trip, speak to one of the UTracks team.
 
Santiago cathedral and parador |  <i>Dana Garofani</i>
 

Examples of accommodation in Europe

Here are some of the different accommodations used on a UTracks tour.
 
2 star hotel in Beuvron en Auge in the heart of Normandy's Calvados region as seen on our self guided cycle trip |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Room at Hotel Villa de Laguardia, 4 star in Rioja, Spain Chenonceaux 3 star Hotel la Roseraie exterior |  <i>Efti Poulos</i>
 
 
Canopy-covered bed in a charming handpicked agriturismo in Tuscany |  <i>Allie Peden</i> Castle Hotel Sorano bedroom with view |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Sunset view from the castle hotel in Sorano |  <i>Kate Baker</i>
 

In summary

Don't be deceived by Europe's hotel star ratings. Sometimes they don't reveal the full picture of what you're getting for your holiday.
 
 
Talk to a member from the UTracks team about what you can expect on your walking or cycling holiday.
 
 

 
Have you had your expectations blown away or misled by Europe's hotel star ratings? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
  
Cheese Lover's Walking & Cycling Tours in Europe

Cheese Lover's Walking & Cycling Tours in Europe

People travel for all sorts of reasons: for new experiences, to discover cultures, to soak in views, to tick off European icons, to take great photos for Instagram... However one often overlooked, but very important, reason to travel is CHEESE!
 
As you well know, Europe is home to many delicious types of cheese. From the well-known mozzarella of Southern Italy to the distinctive Paski Sir hard cheese of Croatia. While it's possible to taste these European delicacies around the world thanks to globalisation, it's certainly a special sensation to eat a gourmet cheese in the setting it's meant for.
 
What better reason to pick your next walking or cycling holiday in Europe than based on what local cheeses are on offer?
 
In this article, you'll find a list of cheeses to make any turophile (cheese lover) happy, and the complementary walking and cycling trips to discover them.
 
 

Gruyère

Arguably the most famous cheese from Switzerland. It’s a hard, Alpine-style cheese named after the town of Gruyères in the Swiss canton of Fribourg. These are best for melting.
 
The delicious Beaufort d'alpage cheese
 
A sub-category of Gruyère is Beaufort cheese, both of which can be tasted on a Tour du Mont Blanc hike.
 
Cheese display in the Beaufort Valley France |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Walking through the Valley of the Glaciers its worth stopping for a visit to the local cheesemaker |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Beaufort, a local delicacy from the Haute Savoie region of France
 
 

Havarti

Havarti hails from Denmark and is made from whole cow's milk. It has a fresh, creamy, milky flavour and can be paired with pretty much anything.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @iloveimportedcheese

 
 
 

Raclette

‘Racler’ means to scrape in French, and scrape is just what you do with this alpine cheese. It's best eaten after being scraped onto potatoes or bread. It’s crafted from raw cow’s milk cheese, meaning it hasn’t been pasteurised. Try this warm and hearty cheese while hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc. 
 
The traditional way of melting Raclette cheese |  <i>Claudio Schwarz</i>
 
 

Manchego

It’s a semi-hard, waxed cheese from Spain, specifically the La Mancha region which is between Madrid and Valencia. Manchego is easy to spot as it has a distinct basket pattern on it. It’s made from pure sheep's milk. It has been labelled with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, meaning manchego cheese can only come from this part of Europe.

Manchego cheese from Spain

> View walking & cycling trips in Spain
 
 

Gouda

No European cheese list would be complete without an offering from the Dutch. Gouda is made from sweet, creamy, yellow cow’s milk and is of a semi-hard to hard texture. It comes from the town of Gouda in Holland, which is pronounced How-da. Going to a cheese market in Gouda, in the Netherlands, is a must-do experience for all cheese lovers!
 
 
 

Brie

Brie, the ubiquitous disc of soft cheese, can be found around the world but it originally was produced in the region of Brie in France, which is north of Paris between the Seine and Marne valleys. We're not sure about this Scottish meal that features haggis and brie...
 
Haggis and brie |  <i>John Millen</i>
 
 

Camembert

Similar to brie, Camembert is a soft cheese known for its gooey buttery texture with a pungent aroma. It hails from the Normandy region in France.
 
Cyclists and pedestrians en route to Mont St Michel in Normandy |  <i>Kate Baker</i>
 

Gorgonzola

Have you ever smelt a word? We can with gorgonzola, the stinky blue cheese from Italy that is made from cow's milk. It is produced in the Lombardy region just northeast of Milan, so it's likely to be smelt while exploring Lake Como.
 
Gorgonzola from Italy
 

Roquefort

Possibly more pungent than gorgonzola is Roquefort, a blue-veined cheese from southern France. Unlike gorgonzola, Roquefort is made from sheep's milk. Authentic Roquefort cheese is also made on the French island of Corsica.
 
Roquefort cheese from France
 
 
 

Mozzarella

Mozzarella is the key ingredient in pizza, so it's no surprise it comes from Naples on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Mozarella is made from a water buffalo, traditionally the Mediterranean water buffalo. If it’s made from cow's milk it’s called fior di latte.
 
Delicious pizza topped with mozzarella |  <i>Jaclyn Lofts</i>
 

Ricotta

The word ricotta derives from the Italian word 'ricotta', which means 'recooked'. It's actually not technically a cheese, more just the whey from sheep, buffalo, goats or cows milk. It was originally produced in the Italian island of Sicily. Delicious.
 
[EDIT: We heard from former dairy worker Ron, who explained the ricotta-making process in a more technically correct way. Thanks Ron!: You acid coagulate the protein in milk to make cheese from the curds. But 10-20% of the protein stays behind in the whey. This protein can be heat coagulated and when it separates off it is called Ricotta. Great article. Heading off to France very soon to cycle ....... and eat cheese!]
 
Divine ricotta dish with tomato salad toppings
 
 

Mascarpone

Double or triple creamed cheese from the Lombardy region in Italy. It's no surprise it's an invention from the Renaissance era given its luscious, creamy, silky and decadent taste. Mascarpone is a staple ingredient in Italian desserts such as tiramisu.
 
Dining on fresh tiramisu in Italy
 
 

Feta

Feta is an icon of the Mediterranean, specifically Greece. It was originally made exclusively from goat or sheep's milk, but nowadays can be made with cow's milk. It's packed and aged in salt brine, allowing it to keep for a long time in warmer climates. Best served with olives, even better when cycling and sailing around the Greek Islands!
 
A local specialty: baked feta cheese with watermelon jam |  <i>Tom Panagos</i>
 
 

Halloumi

Halloumi, also known as the 'squeaky cheese' is a semi-firm fresh cheese made from goat and sheep cheese. Its country of origin is Cyprus. Delicious!
 
Fried halloumi from Cyprus
 

Paski Sir

Croatia is home to the salty Paski Sir cheese, which is a regional cheese made on Pag island. Paski Sir gets its distinct flavour because on Pag, sheep graze on fields of wild sage which infuses the milk with a fragrant and fresh aroma. Buy it locally from roadside vendors.
 
 
  

  
WOW - who's hungry? Do you have any other types of cheese to add to the list? If so, let us know in the comment section below.
  
  
Don't forget to share this article with a fellow cheese lover!
  
A Passion for 'The Way' & the Camino de Santiago

A Passion for 'The Way' & the Camino de Santiago

We recently received a heartfelt comment on our article about 'The Way', the 2010 film about walking the Camino de Santiago starring Martin Sheen. It's from Bobbi, a high school teacher in the United States. Since this movie is renowned for having a strong impact on people and inspiring them to walk the Camino, we decided to share Bobbi's story with you.

> If you would like to walk the Camino de Santiago you can find all of our trips here


Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I never knew The Camino even existed. 

It wasn't until my junior or senior year in college (located in St. Augustine, Florida, the nation's oldest city first settled by the Spaniards), that I learned about it in one of my classes. 

Pilgrims walking the busy streets on the Spanish Camino |  <i>Cathy MacAulay-Spencer</i>

I started out as an accounting major, but ended up taking a Spanish language class and fell in love with the language and all things Spanish. I took on Spanish as a second major, and graduated with dual majors in Business Administration and Spanish. I worked for a financial firm for a number of years servicing our Hispanic clients. 

After the birth of my first baby, I left the firm and became a stay at home mom. I'm sure this is probably more information than you care to know, but I want to demonstrate how all of these experiences converged to mould me into the person I've become and how it's led me to something I feel very passionate about.

Once my daughter started school, I "fell into" a teaching position at a middle school teaching both math and Spanish. It was during this period I stumbled upon the movie "The Way." 

  
I ended up watching it so many times because each time I watched it, I'd take away something different I hadn't realized the previous time I watched it. I guess you could say the movie had a transforming effect on my life. 

I felt incredibly inspired by the movie and became so passionate about "El Camino de Santiago" that I dove deeper into its history and created a unit for my middle school Spanish classes. At the end of the unit, I've shown "The Way" as a culminating activity (with edits). My kids have all loved it. Now I'm teaching high school and showing it again in my classroom. 

Hiking the Camino in Spain |  <i>Edwina Parsons</i>

Throughout the years, my teaching unit has transformed and each time I teach it, it feels like I'm doing it for the first time. The movie has given me so much valuable insight, knowledge and motivation to break out of society's "chains" and live---really and truly live my life. The movie does an excellent job capturing the essence of the Basque people and showcasing the rich culture of Northern Spain. 

Every time I watch this movie, I feel more and more motivated to walk The Camino. 

I never make it through without my eyes welling up with tears because it evokes such an emotional response. Some of my favorite scenes are at El Alto del Perdon [The Height of Forgiveness], and one of the most beautiful quotes I've ever heard is "Donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas" [Where the path of the wind meets the path of the stars].

Exploring Alto Del Perdón while walking the Camino Trail |  <i>Scott Kirchner</i>

I love the scene of the gentleman who offers his home as a place of refuge to peregrinos [pilgrims] hiking The Camino and the fellowship enjoyed by peoples of different ethnicities around the large outdoor table (this is very typical in Spain). 

The scene at La Cruz de Ferro gets me every time as the characters in the movie leave their stones at the foot of the cross to unload their burdens. The scene at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela never ceases to amaze me as I'm astonished by its grandeur. 

The iconic Santiago de Compostela as seen from the Camino de Invierno (Winter Way). |  <i>Adolfo Enríquez</i>

The comradery shared by peregrinos on the way is a testament to how people should treat one another. I truly can say this movie is the best I've ever seen, and it motivates me to hike El Camino Frances. 

The Camino is calling, and I must go!

 


 
Walk the Full Spanish Camino (the route they take in the film)
View all Camino de Santiago trips.
 
 

 

Were you inspired by The Way to walk the Camino de Santiago? Or did you have a different influence? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

  
 

Watch: Portuguese Camino to Santiago de Compostela

Watch: travel inspiration for the Portuguese Camino to Santiago de Compostela

The traditional Portuguese Camino route is beautiful and packed with history. If you like to get a taster of it before you set off yourself, watch the below video. 

The more spiritually connected of all of the Camino routes to Santiago, the Portuguese Way brings walkers and cyclists a quieter and flatter experience. Portugal is where the apostle St James, whose tomb is at Santiago Cathedral, first preached and many believe that his final journey to Santiago took him through Portugal. Today, the circumstances have somewhat upgraded and you can have your accommodation, meals, luggage transfers, maps & route directions all organised for you with complete backup and support while on your trip. 

Starting in Lisbon, the Portuguese Way leads through delightful cities such as Porto, Coimbra, and Ponte de Lima. Or there is the even quieter coastal way to follow on foot or by bike. 

Whathever way you prefer to travel, get inspired with the stunning Portuguese Way video below.

 

Portuguese Way Travel Video

 
Whether you prefer to focus on the food or history, are keen to cycle or want to complete the entire length of the Camino Portuguese, choose the right trip along the Camino for you.
 
 

 
Have you walked or cycled the Camino Portuguese? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
Watch: Cycling through Umbria from Florence to Rome

Watch: Cycling through Umbria from Florence to Rome

There is a serene pleasure to be experienced while cycling through the pretty backroads that link Florence to Rome. 
 
It's a cycle journey through the 'green heart' of Italy, from the enchanting city of Florence to the nation's capital Rome. The contrasts are very noticeable as you leave behind Tuscany and arrive in the peaceful and mystical Umbria. 
 
As you cycle approximately 290km you will see cities like Assisi, Perugia, Spoleto and Terni, displaying an incredible wealth of art treasures, which take their visitors back to the Middle Ages. The cities have barely changed over the centuries and the rolling landscape dotted with vineyards and hilltop towns will give you an appreciation of why the area is so popular with painters. 
 
On mostly backroads the route winds through the valleys of the Apennines and gentle hills near to Trasimeno Lake. At the end, the Eternal City of Rome awaits you, a fitting end to this exhilarating Italian journey by bike.
 
Watch the video below, then enjoy it for yourself on the self-guided Florence to Rome by Bike tour.
 
 
 

Rating: 

Terrific trip, astounding history, great riding, hilly, but satisfying riding and visiting. Highly recommend (but would do the trip when it wasn’t so hot!)

C. Church | Cambridge, New Zealand

 
 
 

 
Do you want to go for a bike holiday in Umbria? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
  
UK Trip Closures May 2022
This year we are seeing exceptional interest in our UK trails from walkers & cyclists from around the world. We’ve used the word before, it’s unprecedented and we have now closed our UK trips for May. We’ve come to a point that there simply are no more beds to be found. 
The rest of the year is highly popular as well, so do get in touch now if you have your boots laced up and are ready to hit the trails. 
 
 

Want to Explore In May?

Fear not, there are a few options in case you would like to explore the UK in May and June.
 
If you’re an English Lake District enthusiast, consider our Keswick: Lake District Centre Based Walking trip. Our team have pre-walked a series of routes for you that you can follow at your own leisure, or combine them with relaxing by lake Derwent Water or taking part in some of the other outdoor activities that this ‘adventure capital of the UK’ is home to. 
 
For coastal walking in the UK, you can travel along the Channel Island Way for your May or June break. Walk in the footsteps of Victor Hugo, Renoir and Queen Victoria. 
 
Get in touch with our team in London to discuss about your travel plans and current availability.
 
Fancy New Barge on the Danube River

Fancy New Barge on the Danube River

Fans of bike and barge holidays in Europe rejoice - there's a premium new barge in town that needs to be introduced. View stylish photos and read about the features of the classy MS Swiss Crown below.

The MS Swiss Crown will be used on:
Swiss Crown Swiss Crown Double Cabin with window Restaurant Entrance Swiss Crown
 
Stylish, elegant and timelessly beautiful - this is how the 4-star Superior ship MS Swiss Crown presents itself as it glides gently along the Danube river. 
 
Designed in warm wood tones, the ship radiates a comfort that makes you feel at home. The simple elegance of the timelessly beautiful staterooms, which are decorated with great attention to detail, will inspire you. 
 
Bar and lounge on the Swiss Crown Boat Lobby on board the Swiss Crown Boat Danube Swiss Crown Double Cabin with Balcony
 
Sit back, enjoy the serene, relaxed atmosphere, the panoramic views of breathtakingly beautiful natural landscapes, sometimes from the bicycle seat, sometimes from the inviting, partially covered sun deck. Let yourself be pampered by the friendly, accommodating crew and create on board relationships alongside memories to last a lifetime.
 
Swiss Crown Restaurant Sundeck on the Swiss Crown Danube boat Bar and lounge on the Swiss Crown Boat

The restaurant is situated on the middle deck (Ruby Deck) and serves buffet breakfast, buffet lunch and dinner. The panoramic bar gives guests the perfect place to socialise, while the sauna, steam bath and whirlpool on the upper desk are the best place to be after a day of cycling.
 
Welness Centre on board the Swiss Crown Whirlpool on the Swiss Crown Danube Boat Minisuite Cabin on board the Swiss Crown

There are 29 cabins with a balcony, 26 with sliding windows and 14 cabins on the lower deck - all cabins are beautifully appointed. Cabins are 14 m2 (single cabin is 12m2)."
 
Swiss Crown Double Cabin with window Bathroom in cabin on board the Swiss Crown Double berth cabin on board the Swiss Crown
 
The MS Swiss Crown will be used on:
 

Have you been on a bike and barge tour in Europe before? What was it like? Let us know in the comment section below.
 
  
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