Category: The best experiences

The Pin Of the Week: PALAIS IDÉAL By Digitourist in Hauterives (France)

Palais Idéal is not a real palace, but a remarkably eccentric structure. It was single-handedly created in a period of 33 years,  between 1836 and 1924, by a French postman named Ferdinand Cheval.

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After the postman tripped over a stone, he got the idea to gather the stones, which he found during his work, and use them to build his own dream palace. In this palace, various styles have been applied: a medieval castle, an Arab mosque and a Hindu temple.

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There are also several figures displayed such as plants, trees, animals, people of different cultures, Julius Caesar and the goddess Isis. The palace never had a real function. Today it is a popular tourist attraction Ferdinand Cheval wanted to be buried in his palace, together with his wife, but the local government did not allow that.

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As a result, he designed his own tomb, which is just as incredible as Palais Idéal, and can be found at the cemetery of Hauterives.

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Make sure you don’t miss out on the famous Parc Guell while visiting Barcelona

nUNESCO declared Barcelona’s Park Güell a World Heritage Site. It is one of the most impressive Gaudí projects in the city, and well worth the extra effort it takes to get up to the park from the city center

History

The park has an interesting history and was commissioned by Eusebi Güell in 1900. He and Gaudí envisioned a gated community for Barcelona’s rich movers and shakers. In 1900 the park was in the countryside, away from the hustle and noise of busy Barcelona. These days the park is within the city limits, though it isn’t centrally located. There were to be 60 houses in Eusebi Güell’s gated community, in addition to a large square, market area and other services needed to sustain the population. However, Barcelona’s elite were not interested in Eusebi Güell’s plan, and only two of the 60 houses were built. WWI and the lack of interest saw the project abandoned in 1914, and eventually in 1922 the city turned the land into a public park. Until recently it was a functioning public park, with no entrance fees. However, now tourists have to pay €7 to get in, a price that does not include entrance into Gaudí House Museum, where the architect lived from 1906 until 1925.

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1. Go early

Hitting the park in the morning has a few advantages. One is that there are fewer people obstructing your photographs with Gaudí’s famous dragon fountain, and another is that it starts getting hot around 1 PM in Barcelona, especially from May to October. Wandering around in the afternoon sun in Park Güell in July or August could be a miserable trip due to the temperatures and lines. During low-season the park will be less crowded, and heatstroke won’t be much of an issue. For more information, see the opening times throughout the year.

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2. Bring food and water

There are few restaurant and cafe options in the park, but what is on offer is expensive. Plan ahead and bring a bottle of water, a couple sandwiches from your local bakery and some fruit from La Boqueria Market. Have a picnic on the beautiful Undulating Bench overlooking the city.

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3. Get comfortable shoes

The park is enormous and set on a hillside that can be difficult to navigate without the proper footwear. You’ll be walking a lot and huffing and puffing uphill. Wear sneakers or shoes that aren’t going to kill your feet. Some of the pathways are made of dirt, so also use footwear you don’t mind getting dusty.

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4. Pack sunscreen and a hat

See tip one. It gets hot, especially in the summer. The last time I visited I got a sunburn, and it was May. There are shaded areas, but to explore the park fully, you’ll be trekking under the bright Mediterranean sunshine. Be prepared.

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5. Watch your camera and wallet

Some of the trails to the back of the park, away from the main attractions such as the courtyard, houses, entrance, dragon and marketplace, can be desolate and thieves have been spotted lurking in the bushes. Keep an eye out. It’s not dangerous to wander the park’s trails, but make sure you have your purse and camera across your chest and are aware of who and what is going on around you.

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Don’t miss out on the beautiful Nacionalni Park Plitvicka Jezera in Croatia

Nacionalni Park Plitvicka Jezera is the largest national park in Croatia with a estimated 1.1 million visitors each year.

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Nacionalni Park Plitvicka Jezera

The national park is world famous for its lage arranged in cascades.
Currently 16 lakes can be seen from the surface, these lakes are a result of the confluence of several small river and subterranean karst rivers. the lakes are all internconnected and follow the water flow.

Watch a small video of the Nacionalni Park Plitvicka Jezera

The waters flowing over the limestone and chalk created over thousands  years dams wich turned into a series of beautful lakes, caves and waterfalls. The forests in the park are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species.

Visit this area with walking routes (with GPX) or the location

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Is Taking A Personal Glacier Guide On Your Bucket List?

My husband is an outdoor/adventure seeking guy; I’m an out of shape, like to see the great outdoors — but still have running water, hot showers, and room service kinda gal. So, on this vacation, I really wanted my husband to experience a personal glacier adventure , and for me not to get hurt in providing him with such an experience.
Folgefonni Breforarlag  has a full day out on a glacier that’s a short hike for learning to ice climb–i.e. techniques and safetly. Let me just say however, the day wasn’t limited to just learning to ice climb. Our day out on the ice was filled with great tid bits of info from our guide Paul, who by the way was the 2003 winner of the Mountain Wilderness Challenge (it’s pretty extreme). We learned about vegetation, wildlife, and most of all, all the facinating formations the glacier creates.

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When we finally strapped on our crampons, learned some techniques and safetly info, we were on our way. We started out on what Paul considered a gentle wall. My husband of course went first, and had a determined but excited look on his face. He made it up pretty quick, with the guidence of Paul–encouraging and giving helpful hints. I looked on pretty much knowing there was no way I could do this, but still having a great time just being on this glacier. Next it was my turn. I was all harnessed, had gloves and a helmet on, and armed with two ice axes, I was on my way. I was amazed that these axes, along with the points of my crampons were enabling me to scale the wall in front of me. It was amazing. I may have not been the most graceful at scaling the wall, but by gone, I did it.
And let me just say, coming down was just as fun and challenging. My husband was hooked, and now so was I. After a few more practices on our “baby” wall, Paul guided us across the glacier to another spot.

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Keep in mind, our new location wasn’t a few feet away, it was a good 1/2 hour hike over the ice(probably shorter for those who are in better shape). The hike to our new adventure provided us with our first encounter of what glaciers are capable of. We saw crevasses, moulins, and the most beautiful blue pools I’d ever seen. When we arrived at our destination, it wasn’t a wall before us, rather more like a canyon carved by the running water on the glacier. My husband and I looked at each other, and decided no way! Paul was totally fine with our decision, because after all, climbing down into the stomach of a glacier isn’t something you do everyday. So instead we had lunch in probably the most beautiful place ever.

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