Category: Health and Fitness

How To Take A Day Trip To Andorra From Barcelona

andorra

Most visitors to Barcelona, Spain, aren’t aware that they can easily visit the sixth smallest country in Europe by taking a day trip to nearby Andorra. A trip to Andorra is inexpensive, easily arranged, and can be a nice addition to your stay in Barcelona. Here’s how to get to Andorra, why you might want to go, and what to see while you’re there.

Morning To Night, No Flight

There’s no airport in Andorra at all, even in its capital Andorra la Vella, the primary destination for most day trippers. You could rent a car, which isn’t recommended during the cold months as the roads up to the highest capital city in Europe through the Pyrenees mountains are best handled by a driver who knows them well.

andorra bus

A better option is to take a bus, there are many servicing Andorra from Barcelona, and I can recommend ALSA. You can book in advance through their website and check schedules – basically buses leave the Barcelona Nord station in the morning around 7am, and return either in the afternoon around 3pm or 7pm, depending on your preference. A round-trip costs about 60 euro and when departing Barcelona, sit on the left side for a beautiful view of the Punta de Rialb lake, 80 minutes into the trip. (Depending on the route you take, it varies given the driving conditions.)

To Ski Or Not To Ski

Andorra is primarily a ski destination. Snowboarders and skiers who take one look at the mountains overlooking Andorra la Vella will immediately have visualizations surfing down them. For everyone else, a day trip still has a few good options. From the small bus station (here’s how to pin it on an offline Google map) you can grab a coffee with breakfast at the nearby Granja Tuite 42 cafe.

La Noblesse du Temps andorra la vella

From there, if you point yourself toward the La Noblesse du Temps Dali sculpture, you’ll pass through the shopping district if that’s of interest to you. Otherwise, head to the La Noblesse du Temps, and directly to its left you’ll see one of two tourism centers in Andorra. Ask for a map to Rec de l’Obac, a walking path that overlooks the entire city. The Rec de l’Obac is definitely a sightseeing calorie burner so the uphill walk is not for everyone. The scenery though is amazing as well as fresh air – both much more memorable than slightly sore calf muscles.

Small Enough To See

Andorra la Vella is only 12 square kilometers (5 sq. miles) in its entirety so you can see most of what a tourist looks for in one day with time to spare. I’ll have a longer post coming up with more recommendations of what to do in Andorra but even wandering around on your own its hard to miss much. In case you do finish up quickly or get a bit chilly, most tickets can be changed without charge at the ticket office at the bus station for a 3pm departure. Otherwise, be sure to make the 7pm back, or be prepared to spend a night in town.

How Difficult Is It To Travel If You’re Vegan?

vegan lufthansa

Recently, after posting photos of the vegan meals being served in business class flights on various flights, a reader asked how difficult it would be to travel after switching to a vegan diet. It’s a big question with a lot depending on where you go, how you travel, and your personal preferences.

How Strict Are You?

There are a group of very strict vegans and those who don’t mind eating an egg or honey on occasion. (Up to a third of vegetarians eat meat when drunk, for example.) People “go vegan” for a variety of reasons – health, animal rights, lactose intolerance – so you may decide on shorter trips to just do your best. If you do, it’s better to accept the decision completely; stressing about finding suitable food options can easily ruin a vacation. On the other hand, if you’re committed to sticking to a strict vegan diet, you’ll need to prepare.

Planning Ahead Is Crucial

You hardly ever need to show up to an airport 3 hours before a flight but if you’re going to fly as a vegan, at the very least you need to arrange your meals well in advance. Ideally, you’ll need to specify at booking that you want a vegan meal. Practically, you’ll need to call the airline as well because in most cases if you don’t, expect a vegetarian meal with cheese.

shephards salad with cheese

Also, you better get to a grocery store first as well, since vegan meals on flights are rarely completely vegan, not to mention mostly salads or vegetables. (Lacking the beans, nuts, and soy many vegans use to supplement their diet with appetite-satisfying protein.) Apps like HappyCow can help you find vegan restaurants but remember that grocery store shopping is going to be a regular part of any trip you take.

More Developed Doesn’t Always Mean More Choices

Many people often assume that more developed countries have more vegan options. Scandinavians use a lot of dairy in their dishes for instance and the Japanese tend to have a diet rich in fish. Conversely, nations with meat-heavy traditional cuisines like Serbia and Kosovo are excellent for vegans. Much of Turkish cuisine too, is unintentionally vegan. India, famous for its vegetarian cuisine, can be hard for vegans due to the common use of clarified butter (ghee).

food chandni chowk

Vegan options actually vary much more between cities than nations. Germany, for example, isn’t the most vegan-friendly country but Berlin is one of the best cities for vegans. Larger cities tend to have more vegan options simply due to size, though it doesn’t always mean the restaurants will be close to your accommodation. Again, plan accordingly and get used to grocery store visits.

On the surface, it might not seem like a big jump to go from vegetarian to vegan because the world is getting close to being caught up on what a vegetarian is. Keep in mind that the concept of vegetarianism is still be confusing to many around the world, even though vegetarians make up about 20% the world population. There are far, far less vegans; therefore much less understanding of what vegan is.

To travel as a vegan you’ll not only need to get used to planning, shopping, and arranging your travels around the food you eat, but become very used to explaining as well. The summarized version of no-meat-no-dairy usually isn’t sufficient so study menus well, list ingredients, and accept that not every restaurant or waiter will be sensitive to your dietary restrictions.

Are you a traveling vegan? What would you add and what have your experiences been? Feel free to share in the comments below!

The Best Vegan Restaurant In Belgrade, Serbia

radost vegan belgrade

It’s hard to call something the “best” but Radost Fina Kuhinjica in Belgrade, Serbia serves excellent vegan and vegetarian dishes in an ambiance that would make it a great health-food restaurant anywhere. Radost is part of the very popular trend in the Balkans toward healthy, vegan, sugar-dairy-free foods in countries whose national dishes are often meats soaked in butter topped with cheeses.

Plan For An Afternoon

Radost is hidden across from the Belgrade Fortress and not the easiest place to find whether or not you’re using Google Maps. The restaurant is tucked away in an apartment, putting the first expression on people’s face a rather blank, “uuhhh, is this the place” look. Once inside though, you’ll see a cozy, renovated, vegetarian restaurant that looks nice without feeling arrogant about itself.

The aroma of the coffee though will set you immediately at ease. Radost’s caffeinated menu is varied with teas of all sorts plus coffees to give you a good afternoon kick. Although they officially open at 2pm, Radost serves drinks about an hour before. Like many vegan-vegetarian restaurants around the world, they’re not always the most punctual. Good coffee makes waiting for the daily menu – quite varied throughout the week – a bit easier.

belgrade vegetarian

There are Tex-Mex options, both in vegetarian and vegan varieties, Balkan salads, veggie burgers, plus cakes of all sorts – with or without processed sugar, depending on your preference. Lentil soups, eggplant dips, as well as many other traditional Serbian foods that are vegetarian by default are tweaked to become vegan if requested.

Breaking Bread, Or Some Equivalent

Radost, located at Pariska 3, is open from around 2pm-midnight on most days. They also hold occasional events in the evenings, though I didn’t make it to any, a good opportunity for travelers to meet similarly meat-minded locals. Prices are a bit above the average for Belgrade (not uncommon for most specialty restaurants) but Radost is hardly expensive.

radost belgrade

From the best restaurant in Pristina to A La Sante in Tirana, these vegetarian restaurants aren’t fortified vegan outposts on the other side of lines drawn in the sand as in many places. Rather, vegan cuisine is becoming an ever growing part of people’s occasional diets in the Balkans. In Belgrade, Radost is introducing an elegant, health-food dining experience to locals who are going out for a vegan meal on regular occasion – whether or not they love steak too.

Small, Ergonomic, Revolutionary? A Review Of The Penclic R3 Wireless Mouse

The Penclic R3 Wireless Mouse is a rethinking of how you should use the gadget you probably touch most during a given day. Traditional mice put your arm in an unnatural position, causing wrist, elbow, shoulder, or even back pain from using one. Frequent traveling can make the situation even worse, especially if you’re working on hotel, cafe or tray tables in cramped spaces where you have to get into contorted shapes to type.

penclic r3 wireless mouse  Penclic 3-Scroll Ambidextrous Wireless Mouse – Black

amazon buy

I know the mouse isn’t the most interesting piece of technology to write about – they haven’t changed much over the past few decades. But as you can see in the video above, the Penclic R3 is really a creative design, put into a travel kit that’s small, light, and very ergonomic.

penclic r3 wireless mouse

The Penclic connects to your laptop with through a wireless USB dongle connection, has a battery life of about a month, and gives you precision hard to find in a traditional mouse. Getting used to the Penclic though will take some time but of all the ergonomic designs I’ve tried, this comes closest to real comfort in a size that’s actually practical for frequent travelers.

How To Track Steps Using Your iPhone (Hint: It’s A Built-In Feature)

lisbon 25 de abril

Many of you want to track the number of steps you’ve taken during the day or know the distance you’ve covered sightseeing. Activity trackers like Fitbit are good options, but if you’re an iPhone user mainly interested in tracking distance and steps, this functionality is already built-in your phone.

fitbit charge 2 Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband

amazon buy now

All you need to do is activate the feature from Apple’s Health app and remember to keep your phone on you at all times. Here’s how to do the first part, the second part I’m guessing you started a long time ago.

Dust Off Health

It’s easy to ignore the Health app, which has been a part of iOS since version 8.0. Trust me, it’s there, because Apple doesn’t let you delete it – but unlike a number of fairly useless apps Cupertino forces on you, Health, although clumsy, is a convenient way to track your daily movements.

  • In case you can’t find it, ask Siri to “open Health” or swipe down from any screen to search for Health.

Once you’re in the Health app, if it’s your first time using it, you’ll be asked to either enter (or skip) your medical data and emergency contacts. After you’ve completed or ignored those steps, you’ll see the Heatlh Data screen shown below.

ios health data

Tracking Activity

Tap Health Data, then Fitness > Walking + Running Distance. Next, toggle on Show On Dashboard, and go back to the Health Data screen. From there, in about 24 hours after your phone has had a chance to collect some data, you should see a graph of how many steps you’ve taken, flights of stairs you’ve climbed, and the overall distance covered.

ios walking steps

There’s no need for any additional equipment except the phone of course, it can’t track how much you’re walking if it’s not in your pocket. iOS also has a list of recommended apps, which can expand your fitness tracking ability, but for simple sightseeing step counting, Health is a handy tool.

With some data on how much you’re walking, you can better calculate how many calories you burned sightseeing, and potentially encourage yourself to 10,000 daily steps, even at the airport.

My Favorite Places To Smoke Shisha (Nargile) Around The World

cario egypt shisha nargile

The art of smoking shisha (or nargile as it’s also commonly called) isn’t so much about exhaling plumes of flavored smoke from your lungs as it is for cultivating conversation, reflection, and relaxation in many parts of the world. Originating in India or Persia around the 1600s, shisha cafes are now a regular sight around the world, many with their own characters.

Having stumbled into more than a few shisha bars as I travel, many often leave an impression on me as I jot down my thoughts about a town, chat with locals, or take in a few cloudy breaths at the end of an interesting day. These are some of my favorite shisha cafes from around the world, welcoming and perfect for a unique experience of your own.

Arabesque Cafe In Cairo, Egypt

Aptly named, Arabesque‘s yellow walls are an oasis of calm a few minutes walk away from Tahrir Square, the heart of Cairo’s Arab Spring. Several months after Egypt’s revolution, I looked up from my laptop (Arabesque has free wifi) to see a large crowd chanting slogans and marching toward the American embassy. Nobody in Arabesque took more than a glance as we all continued to smoke as hundreds of angry protestors marched past a few meters away.

arabesque cafe cairo egypt

Mesale In Istanbul, Turkey

Open 24 hours hours a day, with live music in the evenings along with excellent food, Mesale is nearly always full of interesting locals and tourists alike. Mesale isn’t hard to spot if you’re visiting the historic Sultanahmet neighborhood of Istanbul, just follow the sweet scent of light, fruity, tobacco smoke to the left of the Blue Mosque. (You’ll also want to keep an eye out for a colorful waiter who likes to pretend he’s going to spill a tray of hot coffee on unsuspecting tourists for a laugh.)

mesale cafe istanbul turkey

Shisha Cafe In Sulaymaniyah, Iraq

The city of Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq has a bizarrely strong Chinese influence, plentiful liquor stores, and this massive two story shisha cafe is the center of it all. The service is great and after a while the groups sitting at neighboring tables tend to mingle and mix. As the evenings go on at the shisha lounge the entire cafe becomes a large conversation you can join as you desire.

sulaymaniyah iraq shisha nargile

Annette In Sofia, Bulgaria

Primarily a Moroccan restaurant, Annette has probably the best shisha in Sofia. The hookahs last for hours, going well with the tasty appetizers offered here. Bulgaria has some of the fastest Internet speeds in the world so if you’re looking for a good spot to get online while enjoying apple, mint, or other flavors of tobacco, make sure Annette is in your Sofia plans.

sofia bulgaria vitosha parking

Babylon Shisha Lounge in Lubeck, Germany

Ironically, Babylon Shisha Lounge is a breath of fresh air in a town that’s a bit stiff. Babylon is cramped, which means you’ll have to arrive early in the evenings to be assured a place to sit – or closer to midnight when the thoroughly pre-gamed crowds head out to dance the alcohol off. There is free wireless at Babylon (not always a given in Western European cafes) where you should plan to watch at least one German national soccer game if you can.

Mhirsi Cafe Alta In Tunis, Tunisia

I’m fairly certain Mhirsi Cafe Alta isn’t the right name of this den cut into a stone wall, slyly positioned in a busy intersection of Tunis’ medina ideal for people watching. Around this area, you’ll find many of Tunis’ most popular travel attractions making Mhirisi Cafe Alta a good location to rest and chat with locals.

Mhirsi Cafe Alta Tunis Tunisia

There are quite a few places I didn’t add to this list but could have – like Address Restaurant And Cafe Bar in Fethiye, Turkey – plus a number of others not big or official enough to have a proper name. All though, with intangible qualities making them worth a visit, even if you’re only in it for the tea.

For those of you who enjoy a good nargile, what are some of your favorites places? Let me know your recommendations in the comments below!

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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