Category: Green

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.

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.

How To Get To The Top Of Tirana, Albania’s Mount Dajti By Cable Car

dajti ekspres

Albania’s capital city Tirana doesn’t have the reputation of being the most beautiful, but I ask you to try agreeing with that from the view atop Mount Dajti overlooking the city. Something more objective however is Tirana’s ad-hoc system for pretty much everything, including public transportation.

You can get to the top of Mount Dajti, just outside of Tirana, by taking the Dajti Ekspress, the longest cable car in the Balkans. There are a lot of options for getting there but only a few that make sense. Here are the best ways to get to Mount Dajti.

From Town To Base Station

Before you do anything, it’s important to make sure you have, or withdraw, enough cash for the journey as well as cable car. The credit card machine at the base station hasn’t worked in forever – show up with only a Mastercard and you’ll have to go all the way back into town.

et'hem bey mosque tirana

  • Cash To Bring – A round-trip cable car ticket is around 800 lek ($6.30 dollars) and the bus about 65 lek (.50 cents US). There’s a good cafe and restaurant up at the top that do accept credit cards but I wouldn’t rely on them, so bring extra cash to enjoy some food as well.

Head to the Et’hem Bey Mosque in the center of town. Looking at the Et’hem Mosque (with the clock town on the left) about 50 meters to the left is a bus station. You’ll see people waiting around, possibly a bus, or neither. Look for the Linze bus and confirm with the driver he or she is headed toward Dajti.

  • Dajti Cable Car Hours – From 10am to 7pm (winter); extended hours to 10pm during the summer months. The Dajti Ekspres cable car is open everyday except Tuesdays.

The trip from the bus station to nearby the cable car station is about 25 minutes. Go to the last stop – it also helps to sit near the front so the driver can let you know you’re at the right place.

Drop Off And Ready To Walk

From this point, you’ll have to walk about 10 minutes uphill following signs that aren’t very accurate. As you walk in the direction the bus was pointing when it arrived at the station, ask every few shops to make sure you’ve not gone off track. The shop owners are very helpful, often leaving their stores to give overly detailed instructions for the deceptively winding roads.

mount dajti tirana albania

Unless you’re arriving with a bicycle, get a round-trip ticket up to the top by taking the 3.6 kilometer (2.2 mile) Dajti Ekspres cable car. A lovely 20 minute ride, unless you have serious fear of heights, take in all of the views of Tirana on the way. After arriving don’t miss the countryside on the far side of Mount Dajti.

  • Meal With A View – Although the pizza is pretty good, be sure to get a seat by the window, even if there is a wait at Ballkoni I Dajtit, the sight is spectacular.

Above it, there’s a cafe that rotates 360 degrees, like this:

Other Options To The Top

Taxi is an option but you’ll have to negotiate your way there, expect to pay about $15 USD for a one-way ride. There’s also a shuttle which connects with one of the bus stops but since there’s no set timing information available, consider it the very leisurely (possibly uncertain) way up. Up, by the way, is the direction it’s easiest to go – finding a taxi nearby, especially close to closing hour means bus is likely the only way you’ll be getting back into town.

How To Visit The Millennium Cross On Top Of Vodno Mountain In Skopje, Macedonia

millennium cross Skopje

The Millennium Cross on Vodno Mountain’s highest point is one of the first sights you’ll notice from most everywhere in Macedonia’s capital city, Skopje. At 1,066 meters (3,497 feet) the views from the base of the Millennium Cross are impressive, although finding out how to get there isn’t exactly clear. Fortunately, that’s the most difficult part; once you have the directions visiting the Millennium Cross is pretty easy.

Get To The Bus Station Next To The Bus Station

You’re likely to be told about the “Millennium Cross” bus line and all the stops it makes throughout Skopje. But it doesn’t, so don’t wait around at bus stop 11 as I did only to find out the route is essentially unpredictable. Skopje is small enough that from most points in the city, like Macedonia Square, you can walk to the International Bus Station within 30 minutes. (It’s roughly 2 kilometers, 1.2 miles, away.) Next to the International Bus Station is a large parking lot you can call the national bus station.

millennium cross line skopje

Millennium Cross Line

Ask for the Millennium Cross line, which arrives every 30 minutes between 8:20 to 3:20 in the afternoon everyday.

millennium cross bus ticket

The red double-decker bus will have a lit sign saying Millennium Cross. You purchase your tickets directly from the driver; the cost is 35 Macedonian denar equivalent to .60 euro. The bus may make a stop or two along the 30 minute drive up to cable car station where you’ll wait in line for 10 minutes or so.

millennium cross cable car

  • Cable car cost is 120 denar, about 2 euro, for a round-trip. One way tickets are available as well, many bikers take the lift up, then cycle back down.

vodno mountain skopje view

Keep in mind that although they have a credit card machine it’s likely not to be working, so bring enough cash for the entire experience.

Once At The Top

First, plan to get to the Millennium Cross in the early afternoon at the latest, since the cable lift shuts down a little after 4pm, and the last bus leaves promptly after. (There will be a few taxis hanging around but you won’t be in a good position to bargain your way to anything near the normal 300 denar (5 euro) price.)

vodno mountain macedonia

You can’t go to the top of the 66-meter (217 ft) Millennium Cross but the views from Vodno from the small cafe or wooden porch on the opposite side of the mountain make for a nice afternoon. Afterward, you can make your way to Macedonia Square for an evening show of the universe I recommend you don’t miss.

The Romanian Streak Ends: Lisbon, Portugal Wins The 2016 Best City To Visit Travel Tournament

lisbon at night

For the first time in 3 years, the winner of The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament is not a Romanian city. Despite Targu Mures moving all the way to the final, Portugal was able to win the competition for the second time ever. Back in 2011, Porto won The Best City contest, and your votes will send me to Lisbon some time this year. Lisbon got a lot of help from Visit Portugal, the country’s official tourism board to counter a great Romanian effort.

best city 2016 bracket

Romania Not Gone

Starting with Sibiu back in 2013, followed by Craiova in 2014, then Targu Jiu last year, Romanians enthusiastically voted their cities the best, sending me to the beautiful country multiple times. I’ll be writing about Targu Jiu in the coming weeks, as well as highlighting why Romania’s wins aren’t so surprising, especially if you’ve been there before. For now though, the Romanian three-in-a-row streak ends and several trends still hold.

  1. No city has ever won back to back tournaments.
  2. No person has ever won back to back tournaments.
  3. No city has ever won twice.
  4. Prior to them winning the tournament, I’ve never been to the winning city.



A Prize For Lisbon

Congratulations to Mira, who originally nominated Lisbon several weeks ago. Back then I announced the person who nominated the winning city would win $500; in addition I would donate $500 to a local charity. Mira’s asked me to use her portion of the prize to contribute to a non-profit she’s selected. I’ll be writing about the organization when I visit Lisbon this year, hopefully to make the $1,000 contribution in person.

Thank You Everyone

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament has grown every year thanks to your nominations, votes, and participation. Your involvement over the past few weeks and every year is greatly appreciated and I look forward to an even bigger contest next year!

Let me know if you have any suggestions or would like to see any changes to the tournament in the comments below. And if you’ve been to Lisbon or are from there, send me your travel tips too!

[Top photo by: Lacobrigo]

Vote Now In The Best City To Visit 2016 Championship: Is It Targu Mures Or Lisbon?

best city 2016 championship

Welcome to The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament 2016 Championship. Both of these cities have been through 4 rounds of your votes, but neither London nor New York City could stop Lisbon or Targu Mures. Romanian cities have won the past 3 tournaments but remember that a big social media push by Porto won them the title Best City in 2011. Although there won’t be a new country named with a Best City this year, for both Targu Mures and Lisbon it would be a first. (And somehow for me too as I’ve never been to either city.)

How To Vote

To vote, click your favorite city in the poll below. You’ll be asked for an email address, once you’ve voted, that vote won’t be counted until you click a confirmation link in an email sent to you by Poll Daddy. Neither them or I collect your email address, they’re only used for vote confirmation. You have until Friday, 6pm US EST to vote.

Those of you reading through email and RSS will have to click-through to this page to vote.


Results Announced Next Week

You won’t see the final results of The Best City To Visit Championship 2016 until I announce the winner on Tuesday, April 12th. Be sure to check back then to see whether your votes name Lisbon or Targu Mures The Best City To Visit in 2016.

best city 2016 championship bracket

I’ll be visiting the winning city sometime this year, awarding $500 to the person who originally nominated the city as well as donating $500 to a local charity. Good luck to both Targu Mures and Lisbon!

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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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