Summer is all about spending time outside and enjoying the sunny weather in all possible ways. Affair Travel’s team believes that one of the most enjoyable summer activities that guarantees tons of fun and excitement, as well as good food, is the barbecue party, especially if you are spending your holiday at one of our excellent properties. You can choose between many holiday villas that offer first-rate barbecue facilities (Dvori, Villa Draga, Patrimonio, Dol, Canicada, La Gavotte, etc.). To make your stay even better, we would like to share with you our favourite BBQ summer recipes.
1. Chicken burgers
Mix soy bean sauce, olive oil, smashed garlic cloves, white wine and fresh herbs to prepare a marinade and use it to flavour the chicken breasts for an hour or two. Keep the meat in the refrigerator while marinating. When it is ready, you can toss it over the barbecue and cook it according to your preferences for juiciness. Further, crisp some bacon on the barbecue and then mix it with the ready meat. For garnish you can use lettuce, sliced fresh tomatoes and onions. Decorate the sliced in half burger buns of your choice with the garnish and add the chicken breasts and bacon. If you want, you can sprinkle tomato or mayonnaise sauce.
2. Ribs with barbecue sauce
Pork ribs can be a real treat when cooked on a barbecue. Prepare a tasty mixture of onions, garlic, chili, salt, pepper, dark soy sauce, rum, honey, mustard and spices. Use a bowl that will be large enough to hold the ribs and mix them together with the sauce, making sure each one is well covered. The ready barbecued ribs are best enjoyed with fresh salad and a cold beer.
3. Tortillas with cheese, chili and tomatoes
Barbecues give you a great opportunity to prepare exceptionally delicious tortillas. You can use any kind of stuffing that could either be prepared on the barbecue or not, but we would like to share with you one of our favourite tortilla fillings. Mix different types of cheese of your choice (cheddar cheese, grated cheese, smoked and melted cheese, etc.) with fresh herbs and spices, olive oil and fresh chopped tomatoes. The mixture should be placed in the tortillas brushed with olive oil and cooked till slightly crispy.
4. Baked potatoes
If you have at hand several large sweet potatoes, you may try this easy, yet tasty recipe. Thoroughly rub each potato with olive oil and salt and carefully wrap them in cooking foil before placing them on the barbecue coals and barbecue till they are ready (unwrap one regularly and check the potato by sticking it with a fork). The potatoes can be later served with a dressing made of yoghurt, mayonnaise, mustard and finely chopped onions.
5. Vegetable skewers
Barbecued vegetables can be enjoyed both as a separate meal and as a garnish for any barbecue meat recipe. You can prepare skewers with vegetables of your taste and according to the season, for example – tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, marrows, etc. Between the vegetables you can place chunks of cheese and the ready skewer should be finely brushed with a mixture of olive oil, spices, thyme, marjoram and lemon juice before it is placed on the barbecue.
While your child is still a baby, you may find the thought of travelling abroad with them on a holiday quite frightening. It may seem hard to combine the strict daily and night regime of your baby with the possibility to unwind and relax, as this is the period of your child’s life when they depend most on the care of their parents. The key to avoid stressful situations for both you and your baby is to plan and organise your holiday in advance. Each parent has their individual ways to do this, but you can also have a look at some useful tips:
1. Choose a holiday destination that is family friendly and will provide you with all the facilities that you consider important when it comes to taking care of babies. These might be on site baby cots and chairs, so that you do not have to bring your own, a well equipped kitchen, spacy and shady outside area, close proximity to professional medical care centres, local stores and markets, etc.
2. Discuss your holiday in detail (destination, means of transportation, travel duration and length of stay, local medical facilities, etc.) with your baby’s GP to make sure your child is fit enough for the journey. Ask for advice concerning the medications you should consider taking in your first aid kit.
3. Besides the regular first aid kit that should include items such as a thermometer, a sun protection cream, an antibiotic ointment, bandages, plasters and medications approved by the baby’s doctor, it is good to prepare a handy travel kit that contains all supplies that will help you quickly handle some of the most common emergency situations. For example, you can include diapers, wipes and tissues, some of your baby’s favourite toys, a disposable changing pad, a baby blanket, a pacifier, a bib, baby food, an extra outfit or any items that you might want to access immediately when necessary, instead of searching for them in a packed suitcase.
4. If you are travelling by plane, carefully check the airline’s policy for children below the age of two and if there are any benefits that you can use, such as priority check in, special assistance, in-flight cots, baby food/milk, etc.
5. If you plan to rent a car during your holiday, remember to follow the safety instructions – place your baby in a suitable rear-facing car seat securely placed on the back seat of the car.
6. Once you arrive at your destination, it is very important to make a thorough security check and baby proof any dangerous places or areas. Check for any small objects that the baby might find and swallow while crawling around and remove them.
7. The baby, depending on his/her age, should also be protected from any sharp edges or slippery areas, especially if he/she is learning to walk. You may bring safety equipment with you that will help you protect your child – safety gates, childproof latches for doors, electrical outlet covers, etc. Note any dangerous areas, such as balconies, stairs or the swimming pool and find a safe way to restrict the baby’s access to them.
8. Make your baby feel at home and relaxed by creating a corner with its favourite toys, blankets, etc.
One of the best things that you can do during your holiday is to spend plenty of time outdoors, enjoying the good weather and exploring the interesting sights and natural wealth of the region. Cycling is a fun and exciting activity that will enable you to discover distant areas, which could be very enjoyable for all family members if practiced in a safe and reasonable way. Many of Affair Travel’s holiday villas are situated near great cycling trails and at some properties (Manor house, Walnut House, Oleron, Chenes Blancs, etc.), you will find bicycles provided by the owners. Before you head for your cycling adventure, you should consider the following important tips:
1. Check if the bike you will be using is safe to ride. The tyres should be properly inflated and in a good condition. The presence of many cracks, for example, is a sign that they are worn off. Squeeze the brakes in order to make sure they work and check if the wheel and pedals are easily manoeuvred. Make a small tour in a safe area to check if the chain is safely attached and moving and while pedalling, experiment with all the gears to make sure no problems occur during shifting.
2. Think of your health and wear safety equipment that will minimize the chances to badly hurt yourself during an accident, i.e. a helmet that is the correct size for you, a reflective vest, protective gloves, etc. The bike should be also equipped with a front and rear light, a mirror, a bell, etc.
3. Take your time to get used to the bike even if you regularly cycle at home. It may be necessary to further adjust the handle bar and seat at a height that will make you feel comfortable and relaxed while cycling.
4. Choose a cycling trail that matches you experience and physical stamina. If you are not a regular cycler, it might be a good idea to first test you skills on a short, easy road that will not require conquering any steep climbs right away. When you feel confident enough, you may go for a longer cycling trail.
5. One of the most important things you should consider while you cycle is to keep a steady pace. Remember to breathe properly in order to provide your body with enough oxygen. If you are going for a steep climb, concentrate on a steady breathing rhythm and use your gears properly in order to make the climb as easy as possible.
6. It is necessary to take regular breaks in order to help your muscles and body relax. You can sustain your energy by eating small amounts of energy foods (nuts, chocolate bars, dried fruit, whole grain bread sandwiches, etc.). It is also a good idea to have a small, well balanced carbohydrate meal an hour before you leave. Remember to drink enough water at regular intervals to keep your body hydrated.
7. Carefully choose the cycling area in advance and avoid cycling in places with a lot of traffic. Stick to the marked trails and pay extra attention when crossing places busy with pedestrians.
Going on a holiday with your children may be one of the greatest and fun experiences in your life. This is often considered a complicated and nerve wrecking task, but in fact children can help you get much more acquainted with your holiday destination, all the interesting sights and activities it has to offer and have an unforgettable time. Take a look at our useful tips on how to travel with your children in a safe and fun way:
1. Before going on a trip abroad, it is good to visit your children’s GP to check their overall health condition and discuss a list of useful medications to include in your first aid kit and necessary medical documentation to take abroad (vaccination records, a record of the children’s current condition in case of any chronic illnesses or special needs, a detailed allergic card in case of allergies, preferably in your destination’s official language, etc.). The children’s blood type should be clearly marked on at least one of the documents.
2. A well-stocked first aid kit should be an important part of your luggage. Ideally it will include items such as different sorts of bandages, water proof plasters, alcohol-free wipes, disposable glover, a pair of scissors, duct tape, an antiseptic solution, a sterile eyewash solution and medications and painkillers approved by your GP.
3. In order to feel confident that you will be able to act quickly and reasonably in case of an emergency, prepare in advance a list with the contact details of important institutions – local police stations, embassies, nearest hospitals and doctor’s offices, etc.
4. Pack clothes that are appropriate for your destination’s climate. Always remember that your children’s skin is very sensitive and the prolonged exposure to sun light might lead to heavy sunburns and a general health disorder. Do not leave your children in the heat for too long, keep them well hydrated, make sure they wear a hat and apply sun protective skin products regularly.
5. When planning your holiday schedule, always keep in mind your children’s physical abilities, personality and established daily regime. Your holiday programme should provide them with plenty of activities they will find amusing, but should also allow them to properly relax and restore their energy.
6. Use the children’s naturally strong curiosity and drive to discover new things as an excuse to plan your trip better. Research the destination you are going to in advance and make a list of all interesting villages, historical sights and natural wonders you can visit. Children can easily get bored, but if you initially prepare an interesting holiday programme for them, you can make them feel much more enthusiastic about the trip. Let the children actively participate in your research, as it will help them learn interesting facts about the country they are visiting and also enrich their general knowledge of the world.
7. Remember to take your children’s favourite toys and prepare some board games that you can play together, which do not require a power source.
8. Together with you children, choose a token, from each of the places you visit, that has a special meaning to you. This might be a shell, a rock, a flower or any kind of souvenir that can serve as a symbol of your happy time together.
When most people go on their much anticipated holiday, their main intent and natural desire is to spoil themselves as much as possible. After months of following a strict and often boring daily routine, it is not difficult to let go of the rules and healthy habits. When it comes to tasty food, for example, you can count on most holiday destinations to provide an impressive amount of culinary temptations at every possible moment. It is yet important to stay in a good shape, because the effects a two-week holiday feast will have on your body and self-confidence might be hard to overcome once you get back home.
One of the most important healthy holiday rules that you should keep in mind is to stay active. This can be done in a pleasant, non-demanding way that you find enjoyable:
Hiking is not only a great way to keep your body toned and active, but is also a great opportunity to discover the interesting places in the vicinity. Most tourist information points provide leaflets and maps with hiking trails with different levels of difficulty that might be useful.
Cycling is another favourable holiday activity that will help you stay energetic. It is not necessary to exhaust yourself with long trails. A short morning trip to the bakery store at the nearby village, for example, could be a great start of the day.
Swimming is without a doubt one of the best things you can do for your body. Its benefits are quite numerous – a better muscle tone, an increased flexibility, a release of endorphin that make you feel happy, etc. Swimming will also help you watch your weight and feel more relaxed. Most Affair Travel holiday villas have a swimming pool, which makes this activity even easier to practise, as you will be able to swim anytime you would like.
While you are on holiday, you should also be careful about the food you eat and especially watch out its quantity. If you have chosen any of Affair Travel’s destinations, it goes without saying that the culinary temptations will be too numerous to mention. Portugal, Croatia, France and Corsica are known for their delicious cuisine, so it is good to consider the following tips:
Eat regularly small amounts of food throughout the whole day. This will help you avoid the negative effects of the large dinner meal you will inevitably have if you starve yourself for many hours.
As you have probably heard, breakfast is one of the most important meals, so do not skip it. If you stay at any of Affair Travel’s holiday properties, you will have the chance to prepare a healthy breakfast in the kitchen, using fresh local products.
When you go to a restaurant, choose some of the healthier options that are included in the menu, e.g. dishes prepared with a lot of vegetables, olive oil, fresh fish, non-fat meat, etc.
Watch out your alcohol intake, as it adds a sufficient amount of “empty” calories to your body.
The Dordogne department, located in south-western France, is an excellent choice for a beautiful holiday retreat, especially if you decide to stay in any of Affair Travel’s 11 first class holiday villas. The destination offers a good number of excellent holiday attractions that are worth exploring.
A holiday in the Dordogne is an excellent opportunity to visit one of the most recognizable emblems of the French countryside - the chateau. It is believed that in this particular department, visitors can come upon nearly 1000 chateaux. Whether or not this is true, there are definitely several examples of this French type of residence that that should definitely make it to your “to visit” list:
1. The Le Chateau de Castelnaud is one of the most impressive ones and is situated in the village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle. It has been restored and now serves as a museum of the different types of warfare that were typical for the Middle Ages. In its museum, you can see an interesting exhibition of armour, swords, daggers, pikes, crossbows, etc. The outside walls of the chateau house even a more attractive exhibition that features reconstructed war machines in their actual size – a tower-positioned giant crossbow, pedrero (a type of catapult), bombard (a type of medieval cannon), trebuchet (a medieval siege engine), etc. The chateau is open to visitors daily and the exact opening/closing time varies depending on the season.
2. The Chateau de Beynac first strikes its visitors with its stunning location over a limestone cliff, which guarantees sweeping views over the surrounding area. The inside premises are very well preserved and it is interesting to explore the dungeons and the different living areas, such as kitchens, bedrooms and saloons, where you can see astonishing 15th century frescoes and a 17th century staircase.
3. The Les Chateau Milandes is one of the most beautiful ones that you can visit throughout the department and attracts visitors with its rather unusual, for a French chateau, exhibition. In 1930, it was bought by the famous performer Josephine Baker, who owned it until 1960. The current owners decided to dedicate the decoration, furnishing and exhibitions of the inner premises to the different stages of her spectacular life. One of the most relaxing and captivating places in the chateau is its spacious gardens, which are elegantly landscaped with colourful flowers and different types of trees, such as Lebanon cedar, hackberry, umbrella pines, etc.
In the region, there are also several attractive caves, including the worldwide famous Lascaux Caves, which are known for the excellently preserved examples of Palaeolithic cave paintings that are more than 17 000 years old. Unfortunately, the cave is closed to visitors to prevent further damage to the paintings, but it is possible to visit Lascaux II - a replica, which exactly matches, in full details, two of the original cave’s halls and is so professionally done that completely insures a one of a kind amazing experience.
The Gouffre de Padirac Lot cave provides a very fun and exciting adventure. Visitors have to reach a depth of 103 metres (by foot or escalator) and will then enjoy a boat ride that will take them to the heart of the cave. The highlights of the tour include the Grande Pendeloque (a 60 metres high stalactite), the Lake of Gours and the Great Dome Cavern.
Hiking is probably the most favourable holiday activity, as it can be equally enjoyed by people from various age groups and in a different physical condition. Even if you have initially decided to spend a totally relaxing and carefree holiday around the pool of one of our holiday villas, all of Affair Travel properties are situated in regions with such an outstanding beauty that you will be definitely tempted to go on several long walks. Hiking is also one of the best ways to explore a particular area, as you will have the chance to stop whenever you want to relax and admire the nature or views, and is usually not physically demanding. In order to ensure that you will have a pleasant and safe experience, it is good to keep in mind the following basic tips:
1. If you are planning to walk an established hiking trail, it is necessary to check in advance its length and level of difficulty, and if there are any steep sections that will require serious descending/ascending.
Check the weather forecast before you leave and if the conditions are not favourable, do not take any unnecessary risks, but rather do the hike on a different day.
2. In case you want to try a more difficult hike, especially if it is considered dangerous, seek the help and assistance of an experienced guide.
3. If you are travelling with a group of people, the chosen hiking path should be corresponding to the physical condition of the least fit companion.
4. Avoid travelling alone, especially if you are going for a longer hiking trail or at least provide several people with a detailed plan of your hike and your estimated time of return.
5. Remember to pack lightly and take only essential items that will be vital for a trouble free walk. The things you should not start a hike without include – a sufficient amount of water, food, a handy emergency first aid kit, a mobile phone, a light coat during the summer, a whistle, a map of the area, a small compass, an ID card and a pair of spare clean socks.
6. When you pack your food supplies, make sure you have chosen products that will help your body restore the lost energy - a mixture of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, bananas, sandwiches with fresh vegetables and beef jerky, chocolate and energy bars. Avoid junk food such as chips, donuts, cookies, etc., as it will only make you feel heavy, tired and thirsty. Eat small portions of your supplies on regular intervals.
7. Avoid wearing clothes made of cotton, because after you sweat they will dry off slowly.
8. The use of hiking sticks can be very helpful and beneficial for your legs, especially during ascending/descending, as they take away some of the pressure on them and will help you stay safe and steady. The shoes you wear should be reliable, comfortable and suited to the area.
9. Do not forget that it is vital to protect yourself from the sun, even if the weather seems cloudy at the moment of your departure. Sunlight and high temperatures will quickly dehydrate your body, therefore it is important to protect your skin with quality sun care products, wear a hat and drink water frequently.
10. Treat nature with gratitude and respect. Try to make as little damage and impact on the environment as possible.
It is quite normal to get back from a holiday with a ton of photos, which after a careful review are simply deleted with a sense of disappointment. Everyone wants to capture the beautiful nature sights, historical monuments and funny, exciting moments in the best possible way, but this usually takes a bit of practice. It is not necessary to buy an expensive DSLR camera in order to make quality photos. If you follow a few simple tips, you will be able to capture your most unforgettable moments with any kind of photographic equipment.
First, it is necessary to carefully read the instruction manual of your camera. If the device is not very complicated, it is usually possible to understand how it works simply through regular practice, but the user guide may include some handy tips, details and advice that will help you take better shots of moving objects or running water (for example waterfalls), which are usually harder to make.
In order to make the image more dynamic, do not place the object you want to focus on at the centre of the frame. Instead, imagine that there is a 3×3 grid over your shot and make sure your object is situated slightly to its left or to its right side. Your camera may actually have this function, which will make the process even easier and help you place your object in the best possible position towards the grid’s horizontal and vertical lines and their intersection points. If you are taking a photo of a person, you may find it useful to ensure that one of the vertical lines is placed over the body. The same rule applies if you shoot a still subject.
Watch out for any distracting sources of strong light, e.g. a window brilliantly lit up by the sun rays, street lanterns, etc. If you do not want to specifically take shots of them, they will simply distract the attention from your main focus point in the image. The same is valid for any colourful spots or objects, because they will naturally attract the viewer’s sight.
The appropriate light is crucial for the photo’s quality. You should always remember that your main light source should be behind your back at the time you take your picture, otherwise the photo may turn out too dark.
Take several shots of your objects from various perspectives, distance and angles. It is almost impossible to achieve the perfect shot in one go and each of the photos will present a unique view to the subject and a different amount of details.
If you want to make the perfect landscape shot, it is good to keep in mind that there two specific times of the day that will be most favourable to your efforts – dawn and dusk. If your camera allows using a polarized filter, do not hesitate to invest some money in it, as it will make the sky and landscape colours even more alive and vivid.
Avoid taking photos when the sun is at its highest point, as the photo’s contrast/highlights will be too harsh and details will not be clearly visible.
The Béarn & Landes region will appeal to all looking for one of a kind, relaxing and fulfilling experience. It hides many gorgeous places and thrilling holiday attractions that are part of France’s natural, cultural and historical heritage.
If you have heard about the outstanding beauty of the Pyrenees, which serve as a natural border between France and Spain, a holiday in the Bearn & Landes region will give you a great chance to relish their magnificence. The Pyrenees National Park (around 60 kilometres from the town of Pau) offers excellent opportunities for daily trips and scenic rides. There are plenty of noteworthy sights to see and activities to do throughout the park, but the holiday attraction that will surely grant you an unforgettable and extraordinary experience is the Artouste's Petit Train. The ride that lasts 50 minutes will take you high up in the mountain (more than 2000 metres) and is one of the best possible ways to appreciate the Pyrenean peaks, lush deep valleys and the Artouste Lake. In 2013, the train will operate between 1st June and 6th October and it is advisable to check its schedule in advance. In case you prefer to admire the Pyrenees from a distance, you can visit Pau and walk the famous Boulevard des Pyrenees. Its south side is not occupied by any buildings and offers a lovely panorama towards the mountain, especially if the weather is clear.
Another great opportunity to experience the splendour of the region’s nature is to visit the Landes de Gascogne Regional Natural Park, especially if you want to feel reinvigorated and refreshed. The most recommended relaxing activity is walking along the many hiking trails, as well as birds watching at the available posts. If you are ready for a more dynamic experience, you can consider trying horse riding, canoeing on the Leyre River or cycling along the many possible trails, for example the excellent Mios-Bazas forest trail.
An interesting attraction that will help you get closer to a simpler and more natural way of life and connect to the gifts of the earth, is the Eco museum of Marquèse at the town of Sabres, which is open daily from April till the end of October. The hamlet is only accessible by train, which leaves from the town’s train station (it is advisable to check its schedule in advance). The exhibitions and original buildings are dedicated to showing what the daily life in the area was like during the 19th century. To make the atmosphere as authentic as possible, there are domestic animals walking freely around the area and people perform activities such as farming, herding, flour milling, etc.
Within the region, there are several petit villages that are great to visit if you want to experience the rural and picturesque French atmosphere. One of the recommended trips is to Salies-de-Bearn (50 kilometres north-west from Pau), which is famous for its whitewashed buildings with charming balconies, two bridges over the Saleys River, the 16th century Chateau Saint-Pe and the excellent thermal baths with salty water.
Image by wikimedia under cc license.
The area of Split is a favourite destination for many of Affair Travel clients. That is why we have carefully handpicked a good number of impressive holiday villas there. While you are making your choice between Villa S, Dol, Villa Olive, Rosemary, Little Harbour or any other of the 35 exclusive properties we offer, you can have a look at a useful list with some of the most interesting holiday attractions around the region.
One of the areas around Split that is not so popular, but yet definitely deserves attention is the Kaštel Rivera, situated northwest of the town. Within the 7 settlements of the region (Kaštel Gomilica, Kaštel Kambelovac, Kaštel Lukšić, Kaštel Novi, Kaštel Stari, Kaštel Sućurac, Kaštel Štafilić), visitors can find seven old fortresses, each with their own charm and history. In Kaštel Kambelovac for example, you can see the only cylindrical fortress amongst the seven. Moreover, it is interesting to note that the fortress in Kaštel Opatica was built by Benedictine nuns. The seven settlements are considered as one town (Kaštela), which spreads over 17 kilometres. It gets very busy during the summer, due to the annual ”Kaštela Cultural Summer” festival, which offers many exhibitions, concerts, festivities and theatrical performances and takes place between 1st July and 31st August.
The Krka National Park is one of the most popular and fascinating attractions in the Split area and one of Croatia’s most important natural treasures. The park’s flora and fauna are very rich and diverse and provide excellent opportunities for daily trips. You will particularly enjoy visiting the famous Skradinski buk – a stunning waterfall with many cascades that form an amazing natural pool, which is a great place to take a swim in during a hot summer day. There is also an attractive and easy walking trail that highlights the most fascinating viewing spots and provides excellent opportunities for wonderful photo sessions. Experience a fun boat ride that will take you to some of the most fascinating places of interest around the park – Visovac Island, Roski Slap, Krka Monastery and the fortresses of Trosenj and Necven.
It goes without saying that while you are in the area, it is highly recommended to visit the wonderful town of Split. The list of attractions to see would be too long to write, but the way you choose to explore Split could be an attraction itself. An exciting way to tour around the town that is getting more and more popular is by using original transportation means - the Segway.
Another interesting way to relish Split is to have a look at it from above. An excellent opportunity to do this is provided by the Klis fortress, which offers a sweeping view over Split, its bay and the surrounding panorama. While you are in the area, you can also visit the Vranjaca cave, situated near the village of Kotlenica. It consists of two main chambers, the second being most attractive for the visitors due to its beautiful and rich decorations, such as stalactites and stalagmites.
Image by wikimedia under cc license.