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Bloghouse in the fairytale village of Besalu

Having the opportunity to visit the stunning village of Besalu to attend the first ever Bloghouse was the chance of a lifetime. One I would jump at again.

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Besalu Town Costa Brava Spain

Besalu Town Costa Brava, Besalú

Besalu Village

In September this year I was invited to join a handful of the most influential bloggers in the travel blogging industry. For two intense days we knuckled down in the fairytale village of Besalu in Costa Brava.

From one of the most photographed bridges in Spain, to its narrow alleyways, Besalu is one of those cute towns that you could spend hours exploring.

It is a place where you can wander between the little cafes and everyone will greet you with a smile.

Besalu Village Alleyways

The reason I had been invited to Besalu and the Bloghouse, was to provide us with a chance to focus on identifying our blogs strengths, weaknesses and overall path for our adventure travel blog. It was an opportunity that new bloggers dream of.

And we had it all laid on for us. We were hosted by the wonderful team at Charming Villas who provided us with one of the nicest houses mansions I have ever stayed in. Scratch that, Casa Marcial was the nicest place I have ever stayed in!

A pool, about a gazillion rooms and foundations from the 17th Century. This photo was taken from the backyard…

Charming Villa Bloghouse backyard Besalu

We had as much booze as we could drink. Which to be fair was a ridiculous amount. A personal chef showing us how to cook Paella, and enough food the rest of the time to feed an army.

We spent our days learning the intricate details of fine tuning our content, creating better videos and the overall art of travel blogging.

While this may sound very mundane to most of you, it is all helping to transform Four Jandals.  If you take a look back at our journey from when we first started posting articles a year ago (please don’t look they are horrendously written), to where we are now, there is a HUGE difference.

It is these sorts of opportunities that experienced travel bloggers provide to us, that make me love the decision to throw away a very successful career and pursue our dreams and passions full time.

And ultimately provide better stories and adventures for you to read.

Besalú Bridge Costa Brava

But it wasn’t just the Bloghouse that was so amazing.

It was the wonderful village and people of Besalu who opened their doors for us that cemented it as a place I will return to.

From the scrumptious cakes across the stunning Besalu bridge at Ribera Bistro, to the extravagant dinner at Pont Vell restaurant, the locals welcomed us in with open arms.

It is these sorts of small towns and villages that make me fall in love with travelling over and over.

Besalú Town Costa Brava Spain

So if you ever have the chance to visit Spain, then make sure you schedule in a few days around Costa Brava. And ensure you head towards the French border to explore the incredible village of Besalu.

You won’t regret it.

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40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. remy @ cool travel blogs

    October 11, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Wow it looks truly stunning like something lifted straight off the pages of history. I would love to explore this place. More research needed I think!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 11, 2012 at 4:49 PM

      Thanks Remy. It is a beautiful part of the world.

  2. Laurence

    October 11, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Someone has discovered lightroom 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      October 12, 2012 at 9:28 AM

      I can’t decide if I like the effects or not though. Especially when you have two different types of photos such as the village shots, then the deep blues from the sky in the church shot.

  3. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    October 11, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Jealous of your time in Besalu and the inspiration (and paella) it provided!

  4. EurotripTips

    October 11, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    I loved Besalu. I was just there in February for a blog trip with Charming Villas, and this was one of my favorite things to do in Catalonia.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 12, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      Wonder if we stayed at the same place? They definitely know how to run a blog trip. Will need to be involved next time 😉

  5. Michael

    October 12, 2012 at 12:22 AM

    It was really awesome having you at the blog house. And I agree, Besalu was a beautiful town. The location was perfect.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 12, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      Cheers Michael! It was a great experience. Can’t wait to hear where the next one will be… haha

  6. Cailin

    October 12, 2012 at 1:22 AM

    Love the pictures Cole! I honestly wish we had more time in that house or we could of stayed for ever! So much meat and cheese! Mmmm! and the wine! 😉
    Glad you could be a part of it and felt like you learned from us!
    See you soon!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 12, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      Can’t wait to catch up with you guys all again soon! Thanks for inviting me along 🙂

  7. Ayngelina

    October 12, 2012 at 1:47 AM

    Besalu looks like such a wonderful place to do the blog house, I am definitely impressed.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 12, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      Would have been great to meet you there Ayngelina! Hopefully another time soon.

  8. Victoria

    October 12, 2012 at 1:54 AM

    Hey Cole, fairytale is the perfect word for Besalu. It was a delight to be there with you. Your photos are gorgeous. Hope to see you, and meet Adela soon.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 12, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      Thanks Victoria! Definitely looking forward to catching up again, wherever that may be 😉

  9. Dalene

    October 12, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    What a great experience with a stunning backdrop! Nice work on the pictures!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 13, 2012 at 9:17 AM

      Hopefully you guys will be able to make the next one. Just pity we won’t be allowed to come along 🙁

  10. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    October 13, 2012 at 4:19 AM

    This place looks lovely, Cole! I’d love to visit Costa Brava, and glad you guys are coming along so well with your site. Though you do tempt me to go back to some of your older posts … 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      October 13, 2012 at 9:20 AM

      Don’t do it Ellen! You may be so repulsed you will never come back haha.

  11. Mike@logcabinsinwales

    October 13, 2012 at 7:41 AM

    Besalu really is a fairytale village. You were fortunate to be in this beautiful place ans had a chance to attend to that event. How did you become part of this?

    • Cole Burmester

      October 13, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      We heard about it on a blogging forum and through word of mouth. If you want any tips for your own site then feel free to ask and we can help out 🙂

  12. Raymond @ Man On The Lam

    October 13, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    I am SO bummed I missed out on this — the location in itself is amazing, but couple it with all you learned and I am doubly jealous.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 14, 2012 at 11:22 AM

      Make sure you apply for the next one. Should be one before TBEX Toronto, and hopefully before then too.

  13. Flora

    October 13, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Great post Cole – I love your edits to the photos too! Maybe if we bug them hard enough, team Bloghouse will let us come to the next installment..!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 14, 2012 at 11:24 AM

      Either way, let’s have a reunion somewhere! We can do our own awesome thing 😉

  14. Sherry Ott

    October 15, 2012 at 4:39 AM

    I have a thing for small towns/villages! And Besalu is magical! Glad you had a great time!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 15, 2012 at 8:51 AM

      Thanks Sherry for helping organise it all 😉 Hopefully we get to see you in person next time!

  15. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    October 15, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Congrats on your amazing experience in the Bloghouse! Besalu looks lovely. Sorry we missed it.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 15, 2012 at 8:46 PM

      Besalu is a fantastic little village. So many places we need to explore in Spain still.

  16. Sam

    October 17, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    Sounds like it would be a great experience. Is this something they do every year?

    • Cole Burmester

      October 18, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      They are planning a couple. There will be one before the Toronto TBEX event I believe!

  17. Liz

    October 18, 2012 at 12:50 AM

    Cole! It was great meeting you at TBU and TBEX, the blog house in Besalu and all our chats were amazing! i hope we run into each other again soon!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 18, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      We definitely will cross paths again! Was super fun hanging out, and can’t wait for a reunion haha.

  18. Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog

    October 20, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    What a place to have a travel blogging event. It looks so beautiful. Spain sure is one of those places that has amazing places like this.

  19. Stephen Schreck

    October 27, 2012 at 4:14 AM

    That might be the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.

  20. Katie@holidayblog

    October 27, 2012 at 6:07 AM

    Cole, Been dreaming to visit Besalu. Your picture looks like as if it could only be found in disney movie. You are lucky to have visited Besalu.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      To be honest I had never heard of Besalu before we visited. So glad we had the chance to go though as it is definitely like a Disney movie with its Castle walls etc.

  21. Steve @ Explor Eearth

    October 30, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    I wish I could have been part of those lucky bloggers who got to visit Besalu. Next time, I’ll try to be part of such event and put a great review like the one you did.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:46 AM

      There will be lots more of these types of events Steve so keep an eye out for the #Bloghouse hashtag 😉

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Europe

Making the Most of a Trip to Monaco

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Monaco is one of the hottest destinations in travel right now, and there has never been a better time to explore the principality that attracts over 320,000 visitors a year from all around the world. While Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco helped plant Monaco firmly on the movie-goers map, and the winding roads and glorious hill-scapes send our minds back to James Bond-esque car rides, there is another side to Monaco that gives itself as the perfect stopover for the adventure holiday-maker.

Monaco in Brief

Nestled on the French coast on the Mediterranean Riviera, Monaco is the richest nation in the world – not just for the celebrity yachts and sports cars that glint in the Monegasque sun – as according to The World Bank, the people of Monaco earn more per capita than any other nation, which is evidenced in how luxurious a place it is. But, it doesn’t just have to be a destination for those with laden pockets. With a population of around 30,000, Monaco was founded as a colony of Genoa in 1215. The House of Grimaldi presided over Monaco ever since (with a brief period of French rule from 1789 to 1814) – with the Prince of Monaco acting as supreme ruler. That is until 1911, when Monaco became a constitutional government, with the monarchy acting as a figurehead, much like Great Britain’s. But what can be done in Monaco?

SOURCE: Pixabay

Formula One

Monaco, of course, is well known for the Monaco Grand Prix, a Formula 1 race held annually on the Circuit de Monaco. Begun in 1929, and forming 1/3 of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, the race is considered one of the most prestigious in the world. The streets of Monaco are transformed into the circuit, which makes it naturally one of the most dangerous and difficult to manoeuvre through in the world. The track changes, corners, and elevations combine with the luxurious atmosphere to make the winner of the tournament extremely lauded over. While participants clearly can’t rock up to join the race, finding your wheels on the same streets is a sure adrenaline burst, especially for sports fans.

SOURCE: Pixabay

Nightlife

Thanks in part to Casino Royale, Monaco is on the map for the extensive connection it has to casinos, and more specifically the iconic Casino Monte Carlo, that the nightlife of the city-state revolves around. In the beginning of roulette, the wheel had been modified in order to ensure the player’s odds were high enough to have a chance of winning with the single zero machine, Monaco accepted the game developed by Louis Blanc of Germany. Until 1933, roulette was played exclusively in Monaco, and the game helped place Monaco on the map for being a high stakes, exuberant place. As such, the roulette wheel was at the centre of the night out, that spilled into nearby bars and clubs. Monaco continues this tradition of bustling bars and celebrity-spotting clubs, replete with live music, cabaret events, and special guests, with the Living Room and La Racasse providing as glamorous an evening as James Bond would indulge in.

SOURCE: Pixabay

Water-sports

Located on the Avenue de Princess Grace, Lavrotto Beach is home to not only beautifully clear water and scorching sand, but a variety of water-sports for the nautical adventurer. From canoeing and kayaking under The Rock, to snorkelling and scuba diving to discover the shoals that live beneath the deluxe city-state and rival those of the Great Barrier Reef. For those who are into faster experiences, jet skis are available to cruise the blue lagoon, and flyboarding can be done in the bay. Motorised water-sports are extremely popular and an easy way to get that heart rate going.

Seeing Monaco from the Sky

France is extremely popular for its hot air balloon rides, and Monaco has adopted this pastime as well. The perfect way to take all 202 hectares in is to soar above it propelling by a canister of liquid propane gas. The hot air balloon ride can be as exciting or as leisurely as you make it, and can form the basis of a picnic high in the sky. Alternatively, you can don your swimsuit and hop onto a parachute behind a speedboat, to see Monaco from above while parasailing. Both methods allow you to feel the wind in your hair and witness the beauty of Monaco.

Monaco is a magnificent place; and a definite spot for anyone wanting an exciting break – just a short trip down from France, and a perfect stop for any time from a day to a week. While the excitement may differ from bouldering and white water rafting, the thrill in the air of being amongst the yachts, the beautiful scenery, and the scent of celebrity is enough to get hearts racing.

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Europe

5 Unmissable Northern Ireland Attractions

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Northern Ireland is a beautiful part of the world, yet one which often lies off the usual tourist track. However, there are many great places to visit and things to see and do in this region – offering the perfect getaway from packed tourist destinations and a chance to see a largely unspoiled natural landscape.

Despite this, there are still many different attractions within the area that are well worth a visit. From city scenes to geological wonders, the sheer versatility means that there is guaranteed to be something for everyone in the region.

If you are thinking of paying Northern Ireland a visit, here are five of the best attractions that the area has to offer – just waiting for you to arrive!

Giant’s Causeway

Instantly recognisable and famed across the world, the Giant’s Causeway is a definite must-see. Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO world heritage site, the Causeway is a unique example of natural beauty and wonder. Take time out of your schedule to explore, clambering over the rocks and discovering the science, myths and legends behind this ancient monument. A Giant’s Causeway tour also makes the ideal way to learn about the Causeway and get to know the area, as you are shown around by a knowledgeable tour guide.

Belfast

Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast is a city steeped in years of history. Boasting plenty of varied attractions, there is guaranteed to be something to suit every taste in Belfast. Spend some time wandering the streets and exploring the city’s shops and eateries, or instead, head out and visit one of the dedicated tourist attractions. As the birthplace of the ill-fated Titanic, history buffs are sure to enjoy a visit to Titanic Belfast, the museum which commemorates the ship and the tragedy that followed her maiden launch. Alternatively, a visit to Crumlin Road Gaol is another favourite on Belfast’s tourist trail. Explore the gaol and learn all about its rich history, right through to its eventual closure as a working prison in 1996.

Murlough National Nature Reserve

For those who prefer a taste of the great outdoors, head out to the stunning landscape of Murlough National Nature Reserve and spend some time getting back to grips with nature. Ideal for a fun-filled family day out or a relaxing day spent exploring, the reserve offers the perfect example of an unspoiled wilderness situated in the picturesque Irish countryside. There are plenty of walking routes and trails dotted across the reserve, so pick your favourite and head off to explore more of the beautiful scenery!

Dunluce Castle

Brooding and full of a unique atmosphere, Dunluce Castle is a perfect example of cultural history and architecture. Located on the coast, this impressive ruin offers stunning views across the water and is also an understandable favourite among budding photographers. A must-see landmark along the Antrim coast, the castle offers a real mix of Irish history and different time periods.

Derry

Perfectly combining tradition and history with a quirky, contemporary twist, Derry is Northern Ireland’s second-largest city – a city with something to suit everyone. From its vast array of quaint cafes and eateries to the traditional architecture, history buffs are sure to want to pay Derry a visit. If you do decide to head down to Derry, make sure not to miss the historic city walls. Striking and memorable yet also enlightening, a walk around the walls is sure to help you step back in time and discover Derry’s past and rich history.

Are you feeling inspired? These are just a few of the many exciting places to visit on offer within the region. Northern Ireland truly is a hidden gem – why not discover the beauty of this area for yourself on your next trip?

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Europe

Worlds’ Best Surfing Breaks: Lanzarote’s El Quemao

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Lanzarote plays host to some serious, world-class level surfing. The volcanic island rises straight up through the water, and because it lacks a continental shelf the waves it gets from the Atlantic are completely unobstructed. With low precipitation, balmy winds and endless sunshine, this laid-back island is every surfer dude’s dream.

In the northwest, El Quemao is a commanding left and right-hand reef break. You can experience colossal swells of up to five metres high, rivalling those in Hawaii. This area is meant for the expert. The waves continuously form quick tubes with vertical descents, perfect to enter, descend and ride the tube.

Restaurants in Fethiye

Seven of the Best Restaurants on Lanzarote

Table Arrcife Known for their burgers, tapas and their large selection of beer.

Casa de la Playa, Arrieta Go for authentic Canarian seafood cuisine overlooking the beach.

El Mirador, Playa Blanca Enjoy seafood by the ocean!

Cofradia de Pescadores, Playa Blanca Specialising in seafood; ask for the fresh fish of the day.

Restaurante del Diablo, Timanfaya This lunch-only restaurant utilises volcanic heat to cook their various meat dishes.

El Tenique, Tiagua They offer delicious meat fare. Their popular Cabra is served on Sundays.

El Chupadero, La Geria Situated in wine country, enjoy a glass of vino, tapas and live music.

Hippy Holidays – Low Impact Lanzarote

Pack a lunch and explore former Hippy Heaven, Papagayo, by bike. There is a family-friendly beach with calmer waters to paddle in and swim. There are also out-of-the-way places for older children to explore.

Visit Timanfaya National Park. It is 50 km² of expansive plains, volcanic ash, fossilised lava, geysers and boulders. Amp up the exotic by joining a Camel Train to explore this region.

Consider getting around by bicycle to get exploring areas off the beaten path, as well as beaches, finding smaller towns and farmers’ markets.

Fancy a Holiday in Malta? Now You Can Fly from Southend

As of October 29, 2017, EasyJet is scheduled to fly twice weekly from London Southend Airport to Malta year-round. London Southend has its own train station that runs up to six trains per hour to and from central London. This will carry passengers from Essex to the South End.

Malta, south of Sicily, has grown in popularity. The weather is great year-round (19 to 30 degrees). It is also the home of three World Heritage Sites.

Inland from Alicante: Seven Out-of-the-Way Places

Alcoy Here you will find Barchell Castle, the convent of St. Augusti and church of Santa Maria. The Moors and Christians festival is a must see.

Le Romana See cave houses; there are some cave properties currently in use.

Aspe Grapes grown in this region are tied to a custom of eating 12 grapes at New Years.

Cocentaina While at the village of La Villa, visit the Comtat Palace.

Ontinyent Archaeological finds around the area date back to the Bronze Age and Iberian period.

Bocairent Cobbled streets and architecture allow you to see what life was like many centuries ago.

Guadalest Go see the castle of San Jose. Access to this fortress is via a natural tunnel through the rocks.

Benidorm by Drone

Viewing Benidorm by a drone shows the magnificence of this area. The ocean is a stunning blue-green; the eye never tires of it. Numerous apartments and hotels hug the beaches of Playa Poniente and Playa Levante. In between these seafronts lies the Canfali vantage point with the majestic Mal Pas cove at its foot. You can also see the energetic lights of theme parks. Benidorm has five of them. The Las Vegas-style Benidorm Palace can also be seen. The beautiful Villaitana golf course looks smaller than its actual two 18-hole golf courses. These landmarks invite you to come and play.

Responsible Travel – Surfing in Lanzarote- https://www.responsiblevacation.com/vacations/lanzarote/travel-guide/surfing-in-lanzarote
Surfing in El Quemao http://www.hellocanaryislands.com/surfing/lanzarote/surfing-el-quemao/
Surfinglife.com (by Rich) http://www.surfinglife.com/surfing-in-lanzarote-canary-islands-3/

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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