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2 mins Read | 2 Weeks Ago

European Newsletter – May-2024

Plan Your Trip

Vacations – Travel magazine by ICICI Bank – May 2024

Portugal

This month’s theme introduction

European Art of Living

In the heart of Europe lies a tapestry of cultures, each thread woven with traditions, flavours and a distinct way of life. Travellers seeking an experience beyond sightseeing are drawn to the enchanting lifestyle that permeates every cobblestone street, bustling market and quaint café.

The charm of European living is in its unhurried pace, where savouring a cup of espresso in a Parisian bistro or indulging in tapas at a Spanish tavern is not just a meal but a way to connect with the rhythm of life. Here, conversations linger, laughter fills the air and every sip, every bite, is savoured with gusto.

From the rolling vineyards of Tuscany to the historic streets of Prague, the European lifestyle celebrates the art of living well. It is about sipping wine as the sun sets over the Mediterranean, wandering through centuries-old villages steeped in history and embracing the simple pleasures that make each day memorable.

But the European lifestyle is not just about food and drinks; it is about connection – with the people, the places and the moments that make each journey unforgettable. Whether you are marvelling at the grandeur of ancient ruins in Rome or dancing to the soulful strains of fado music in Lisbon, Europe welcomes you with open arms and a promise of adventure.

In Europe, time seems to slow down, allowing travellers to immerse themselves fully in the moment. Whether it is exploring local markets for fresh produce, strolling along the Seine at dusk or joining in a lively fiesta in a Spanish plaza, the European lifestyle invites you to be present, to savour every experience and to embrace the joie de vivre that is quintessentially European.

So come, wander the cobblestone streets, linger in sidewalk cafés and let the charm of the European lifestyle captivate your senses. In Europe, every moment is an invitation to embrace the art of living.

Soul Trip

Making the best of your time

In this issue of Vacations, we explore the art of making the best use of time, both in the context of travelling and savouring life's finer things, against the backdrop of Europe's timeless charm. As travellers, we often find ourselves caught in the whirlwind of ticking off landmarks and rushing from one destination to another. But what if we paused, took a breath and savoured the moments that make travel truly meaningful?

Travelling is not just about checking off items on a bucket list; it is about immersing ourselves in the beauty of each moment. Whether it is sipping wine as the sun sets over the Tuscan countryside or marvelling at the intricate architecture of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, every experience is an opportunity to slow down and appreciate the world around us.

In Europe, where history and culture intertwine, time takes on a different meaning. It is about wandering through cobblestone streets, getting lost in the labyrinth of alleyways and stumbling upon hidden gems that are not found in guidebooks. It is about connecting with locals over a meal of freshly caught seafood in a seaside village or sharing stories with fellow travellers in a cosy Irish pub.

But savouring life's finer things is not limited to travel; it is a mindset that can be embraced wherever we are. Whether it is enjoying a leisurely breakfast with loved ones or taking a moment to watch the sunset paint the sky in hues of pink and gold, it is about finding joy in the simple pleasures that surround us.

So as you scroll through the pages of this travel magazine and plan your next European adventure, remember to slow down, take it all in and make the most of every moment. Because in the end, it is not just about where you go; it is about how you choose to experience the journey.

Portugal – the cradle of European heritage

Portugal is the oldest country in Europe!! 

In 1139, Portugal appointed King Afonso Henriques as its king. Lisbon is said to be four centuries older than Rome. Due to its excellent trading location, the Phoenicians settled in Lisbon around 1200 BC.

Portugal also has the world’s oldest bookstore and perhaps one of the world’s oldest universities too. Portugal is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These play an important role in tourism and are one of the reasons Portugal has become one of the top 20 most-visited countries in the world. 

With longer days, plenty of sunshine and temperatures climbing steadily higher, Portugal in May is a fantastic time to explore the coast, cities, vineyards and mountains of the country.

Nestled amidst the rich tapestry of European culture lies an enchanting way of life that beckons travellers to immerse themselves in its rhythms and traditions. From the sun-kissed shores of the Algarve to the vibrant streets of Lisbon and beyond, Portugal adds its own unique flavour to the captivating allure of European living.

The essence of European lifestyle is found in its leisurely pace, where moments are not rushed but savoured like a fine wine. Whether it is sipping a bica (espresso) at a Lisbon café or indulging in petiscos (tapas) in Porto's charming taverns, every experience is an invitation to embrace the art of living.

Portugal, with its rich maritime history and vibrant cultural heritage, offers a glimpse into a world where time seems to stand still. Wander through the winding alleys of Porto's Ribeira district, where the echoes of fado music fill the air or lose yourself in the maze of colourful streets in Lisbon's Alfama neighbourhood, where the scent of freshly baked pastéis de nata (custard tarts) wafts from local bakeries.

In Portugal, as in Europe, life is meant to be lived with gusto. It is about savouring the flavours of freshly caught seafood in a seaside village, joining in the festivities of a local festival or simply basking in the warm glow of a sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. The following festivals are celebrated in Portugal in May:

Queima das Fitas: Held from the 1st-7th May in the medieval town of Coimbra, home to the country’s oldest university (dating to 1290), Queima das Fitas is a huge party to celebrate the end of the academic year.

Festa das Cruzes: Celebrated in Barcelos, located in Minho about 100 kilometres north of Porto, witness the celebrations of the ‘Festival of the Crosses’, marked with concerts, folk dances, exhibitions, food and craft markets.

Festa do Mar: An ode to the sea and celebrated over the first weekend of May, the Festa Do Mar festival brings colourfully decorated boats and floats to the West Coast town of Nazaré, as well as ‘rocking’ parties.

Serralves em Festa: On the last weekend in May, Porto hosts its biggest contemporary arts festival, with exhibitions, concerts and theatre across the city.

So come, explore the timeless charms of European and Portuguese lifestyles. From the bustling markets of Porto to the tranquil vineyards of the Douro Valley, there is a world of experiences waiting to be savoured. In Europe and Portugal, every moment is an opportunity to embrace the beauty of living well.

Travel Smart

Staying fit while travelling

Travelling is exciting but it can also disrupt your fitness routine. However, with a little planning and some simple tips, you can stay active and healthy while exploring new destinations. Here is how:

1. Plan ahead:

  • Research fitness options at your destination.
  • Pack lightweight workout gear like resistance bands or a jump rope.
  • Choose accommodations with fitness facilities or nearby parks for outdoor workouts.

2. Stay hydrated:

  • Carry a reusable water bottle and drink plenty of water, especially in hot climates.
  • Limit sugary drinks and alcohol to avoid dehydration.

3. Incorporate some activities into your itinerary:

  • Walk instead of taking taxis or public transportation when possible.
  • Explore your surroundings on foot to soak in the sights.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.

4. Embrace adventures:

  • Try hiking, kayaking or snorkelling to experience nature while staying active.
  • Join walking tours or rent bikes to explore cities at a leisurely pace.
  • Participate in local fitness classes or outdoor activities to meet new people and stay motivated.

5. Make healthy food choices:

  • Seek out local markets for fresh fruits, vegetables and other nutritious snacks.
  • Opt for balanced meals with lean proteins, whole grains and plenty of vegetables.
  • Limit indulgences while still allowing yourself to enjoy local cuisine in moderation.

6. Get creative with workouts:

  • Try quick and effective exercises like squats, lunges and push-ups.
  • Use fitness apps or online videos for guided workouts in your hotel room or outdoor spaces.
  • Practice stretching and yoga to improve flexibility and relax after a day of exploring.
  • By prioritising movement and making mindful choices, you can maintain your fitness routine and feel energised throughout your travels. So lace up your sneakers and get ready to explore the world while staying fit and healthy!

 Sustainable Travel Tip of the Month

“To get a sample itinerary for Portugal, "Click here

Staying fit while travelling

Travelling is exciting but it can also disrupt your fitness routine. However, with a little planning and some simple tips, you can stay active and healthy while exploring new destinations. Here is how:

1. Plan ahead:

  • Research fitness options at your destination.
  • Pack lightweight workout gear like resistance bands or a jump rope.
  • Choose accommodations with fitness facilities or nearby parks for outdoor workouts.

2. Stay hydrated:

  • Carry a reusable water bottle and drink plenty of water, especially in hot climates.
  • Limit sugary drinks and alcohol to avoid dehydration.

3. Incorporate some activities into your itinerary:

  • Walk instead of taking taxis or public transportation when possible.
  • Explore your surroundings on foot to soak in the sights.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.

4. Embrace adventures:

  • Try hiking, kayaking or snorkelling to experience nature while staying active.
  • Join walking tours or rent bikes to explore cities at a leisurely pace.
  • Participate in local fitness classes or outdoor activities to meet new people and stay motivated.

5. Make healthy food choices:

  • Seek out local markets for fresh fruits, vegetables and other nutritious snacks.
  • Opt for balanced meals with lean proteins, whole grains and plenty of vegetables.
  • Limit indulgences while still allowing yourself to enjoy local cuisine in moderation.

6. Get creative with workouts:

  • Try quick and effective exercises like squats, lunges and push-ups.
  • Use fitness apps or online videos for guided workouts in your hotel room or outdoor spaces.
  • Practice stretching and yoga to improve flexibility and relax after a day of exploring.
  • By prioritising movement and making mindful choices, you can maintain your fitness routine and feel energised throughout your travels. So lace up your sneakers and get ready to explore the world while staying fit and healthy!

Sustainable Travel Tip of the Month

Understanding the backlash against tourists

These days, many tourists notice the signs and graffiti in some European towns targeting the tourists with explicit slogans like ‘Tourists Go Back’.  Travelling to Europe is a dream for many, however in some places, the influx of tourists has stirred up mixed feelings among locals. While tourism brings economic benefits, it also brings challenges that need careful consideration.

In recent years, popular European destinations like Venice, Barcelona and Dubrovnik have experienced what some call ‘overtourism.’ Streets crowded with visitors, rising housing costs and environmental strain are just some of the issues locals face. As responsible travellers, we must understand this situation and take positive steps so that the locals don’t feel burdened.

Understanding the concerns:

  • Locals feel crowded out of their own neighbourhoods.
  • Traditional businesses struggle to compete with tourist-centric shops.
  • Historic sites and natural wonders suffer from wear and tear due to high foot traffic.
  • Why responsible tourism matters:
  • Travellers have the power to positively impact the places that they visit.
  • Being mindful of local customs and traditions shows respect for the host community.
  • Preserving the environment ensures that the future generations can enjoy these destinations too.
  • How travellers can help:
  • Choose lesser-known destinations or off-peak times to reduce overcrowding.
  • Support local businesses and artisans rather than international chains.
  • Respect local customs, such as dress codes or quiet hours, to minimise disruption.
  • Promoting sustainable travel:
  • Travellers can opt for eco-friendly accommodations and transportation options.
  • Participating in community-based tourism initiatives can benefit both visitors and locals.
  • Leaving places as you found them or even better helps preserve their beauty for others to enjoy.

In the end, the tourism backlash is a reminder that responsible travel is essential for the well-being of both destinations and their residents. By being mindful and respectful travellers, we can ensure that people continue to enjoy the wonders of travelling for years to come.

Vacations travel question of the month

How many UNESCO World Heritage sites are in Portugal?

Vacations is powered by OneShoe Trust for Responsible & Mindful Travels – a social enterprise that promotes travelling as a means to raise awareness about climate change and environmental issues. Incubated at IIM Bangalore, OneShoe is the source of most authentic travel experiences around the world. Link: oneshoetravels.com

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