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Favourite Travel Experiences of the Month #38 – August 2014

Greetings! We are hope you are having an awesome summer thus far, we certainly are. The Not Just a Holiday team have been on trips to Munich, Chicago and Vancouver alone in the past few weeks and are busy planning future travels for August and beyond!

This month we continue to feature a range of summer based articles, including exploring the Alps highlight’s, and America’s top 10 ice cream parlors. In addition we look at how to manage phone costs when abroad, five reasons to go to Zimbabwe, and Ryanair’s improving customer service.

In the second half of this months post we adopt an ‘escape / wilderness’ theme featuring trekking in the Bhutanese mountains, hotels that cant be reached by road, and the beautiful Scottish highlands. We then conclude with our holiday of the month; Bled, Slovenia. A stunning destination that is much more accessible than you may have considered, read why it should be your getaway this summer.

Firstly, enjoy our top ten travel experiences of the month:

Victoria FallsPhoto courtesy of Christiann Triebert.

1. Zimbabwe has long been on our list of must-visit destinations, Rough Guide’s five reasons to go to Zimbabwe reminded us why! It’s not just about the Victoria Falls; the wildlife and ancient architecture are sublime.

2. If you don’t have any summer trips planned just yet, consider the Alps for a vacation. The Guardian put together a neat guide on the area’s highlights for the summer months, showing you can have just as much fun as in winter in the Alps!

3.  When we travel, one of our favoured indulgences is fine ice-cream, it is one of the few things we like to regularly splash out on. Trip Advisor kindly compiled America’s top 10 Ice Cream parlors in time for our American road trip. We will attempt to make it to at least 5 over the duration of the summer!

4. If you are a budget traveler in Europe, chances are you have flown Ryanair at some stage, an experience that took ‘no frills’ to an extreme. The Independent reports Ryanair has ‘turned on the charm offensive’ with a new campaign to promote its improved customer service, it might be time to add Ryanair back to your travel resource list!

5. Since featuring Den Haag as our holiday of the month back in February 2013, we have been keen to return. CNN Travel’s 7 reason’s to visit The Hague reminded us why, hopefully it will inspire you to visit the royal Dutch city.

BhutanPhoto courtesy of Kartlasarn.

6. The hidden kingdom of Bhutan is one of the least discovered nations in terms of tourism, kept so by their strict entry regulations. Once you are in, you will appreciate why they want to protect this fascinating land and you will have plenty of space to explore, away from typical Himalayan tourist meccas such as Kathmandu. Taking a trek into the foothills of the Himalayas in search of the tiger trail is an excellent way to see this magical country.

7. The perfect getaway hotels are usually those most remote, Lonely Planet has found an extreme end to this market; hotels that can’t be reached by road! Access varies from train rides in Hungary, by foot in Nepal or speedboat in India; these are hotels that really allow you to escape!

8. Similarly, the Scottish Highlands can provide a wonderful escape into the wilderness and late summer can provide some of the finest weather to visit with. Hundreds of miles of trails and national parks provide a prefect location to lose yourself in!

9. The Ukraine’s tenure in world news has been overwhelmingly negative in the past 12 months, understandably so. However potential travelers should not be dissuaded from an excursion to the Ukraine as plenty of the country is adequately safe, as The Washington Post reports.

10. Managing your phone abroad can often be a costly affair. National Geographic compiled a helpful guide on how to pay less to phone home on your travels, could save you a few dollars!

Holiday of the Month – Bled, Slovenia

Situated in Slovenia’s northwest Bled is less than an hour from Ljubljana, the Slovene capital. Tucked just under the Karavank mountain range bordering Austria and less than an hour from the Italian border, Bled is easily accessible from all directions, something reflected by its popularity. Although it is a prominent destination year-round, the summer is the best time to enjoy it’s most famous attraction; Lake Bled. Locals and visitors alike take to the water to enjoy the lakes beauty or to trip to the Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church which occupies the small island in the centre of the lake. From any shore of the lake the views are spectacular, with hills providing natural vantage points. However a trip up to Bled Castle is worth the entrance fee for the views alone. Historically it’s the oldest building in Bled and allegedly the oldest castle in Slovenia, dating back to the 11th century.

The town itself has a bustling centre, especially in the high tourist months, but the surrounding outskirts can provide a tranquil setting for a calmer Bled experience. Following the road north of the town towards the Vintgar Gorge there is an array of smaller accommodation allowing for a more localised feel. The Vintgar Gorge itself is an absolute must-see, the Radovna river winds its way through this intricate canyon accompanied by a series of walkways and platforms above the miniature waterfalls and rapids. At under an hours walk to the start of the gorge from central Bled, it makes for an excellent day trip.

Bled, SloveniaPhoto courtesy of jsouthorn.

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