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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

Tips for Making Any Overseas Trip a Romantic One

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Vacations are a great way to leave our everyday lives behind to spend some stress free time with the one we love. Travel in itself can be quite romantic but there are definitely ways you can spice up your holidays even more.

Follow these helpful tips to make sure your romantic holiday gets off on the right foot and continues to head down the tunnel of love and passion. You can easily turn any part of your travels into a special romantic affair.

Choosing the Right Destination

A romantic trip starts with selecting the right destination. There are definitely cities and regions which are much more prone to sparking romance than others. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but generally destinations such as popular European cities, beach getaways, Asian resorts, luxury ski resorts, or tropical islands make for a good choice.

Couples should pick a destination which they both will enjoy as this will of course make it far easier to express their love for each other.

Choosing the Right Time

It is a good idea to select a time that will be most appropriate for your holiday. Choose a time that is easy for you in regards to taking time off work or from household duties. This will make it far easier to feel relaxed while on your holiday, allowing you to focus more on fuelling the romance.

You may also want to research when the best time is to visit your chosen destination so as to avoid peak crowds or unideal weather conditions.

Choosing a romantic date to travel such as an anniversary, honeymoon, or birthday can also turn any holiday into one filled with more passion. Travelling during Valentine’s Day can make for an especially romantic holiday of which there are many perfect Valentine’s Day destinations.

Fly Business Class

Although your destination may be exhilarating, the flight or flights to get there can be stressful. Minimise the stress of flying by booking business class where you’ll enjoy the VIP treatment with far more comfortable seats which many times convert into a bed allowing for a decent rest while in the air.

As a bonus you can many times be granted access to luxurious airport lounges when flying business class which makes waiting for your flight much easier as you are treated to free food and drinks along with clean bathrooms and seating areas.

Private Transportation

Public transportation can not only take longer to get to your hotel or attractions in your chosen destination, but they can also kill the mood for you and your loved one. By booking private transfers via your hotel or on your own, you can avoid buses, trams, and trains which can be crowded and noisy.

Choose a Nice Hotel

It may be difficult to find romance if you are staying in a dodgy motel or hostel. Be sure to book quality accommodation which has private en suites and clean furnishings. Remember that your vacation is supposed to be an escape, so make that escape the best it can be with premium toiletries, fancy marble bathroom floors, plush pillows, quality linen, and a nice hotel room view. All of these luxuries will make for a far more romantic getaway.

Eating Out

Nothing can ignite romance more than delicious food although preparing it isn’t always that much fun. One of the best aspects of travelling is that it gives us an excuse to not have to cook.

Seek out popular restaurants that offer a romantic setting, quality service, and mouth watering flavours that will leave you passionate for more than just satisfying your hungry stomach.

Get Dressed Up

Although you and your loved one may look good in any light and attire, it is never a bad idea to put on your Sunday’s best. It can sometimes be difficult in our everyday lives to find occasions to get all dressed and made up, so why not make your holiday abroad an excuse to do so.

Although clothes may not necessarily make the person, a nice dress or suit and tie can go a long way to giving us a little extra special glow to spark a bit of romance.

Log Off and Put the Phone Away

Nothing can kill a romantic dinner or event than the sound of message notifications, phone calls, or emails. Any holiday should be an excuse to remove the stress of the online world or work and with romantic holidays this becomes even more paramount.

You want to be focusing your attention on the love you and your partner share or if travelling solo you want this time to focus on the beauty of the destination you have selected which may in turn bring you a bit of romance. Disconnecting is all about reconnecting; so log off and put the phone away!

Reduce the Risk of Stressful Situations

Stress can kill romance very quickly. When we are stressed we can easily find ourselves getting into silly arguments or bouts of criticism. Your holiday is supposed to be an enjoyable experience so don’t let it turn sour by making the possibility of stress to creep on in.

Don’t try to overload your itinerary with too much and avoid setting too rigid of a timeline. Prior planning is important to avoid any unwanted surprises or disappointments when it comes to securing reservations for flights, hotels, or activities.

Should anything go wrong during your travels, you want to have the peace of mind you are protected by travel insurance from InsureandGo. Travel Insurance can help when the unforseen happens while you are overseas.

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Europe

How to Plan a Trip to Iceland

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If you have ever heard the amazing stories about Iceland, they are all true!  If you’ve come this far into doing research about how to plan a trip to Iceland, I’m here to help you cross the bridge and fill in gaps so you can make your dream a reality.

As someone who has done this trip, I’m able to assist in every step of the journey.  I’ve boiled this down into cliff notes so you can do your own research after reading them and dig deeper into tours that will fit your personal preferences and budget.

First off, you are going to need to trust the Internet.  It’s a big place with a lot of information that can help you get there in one piece and not be stressed out.  Long gone are the days of visiting a travel agency and having someone plan everything for you – for a fee!  It’s your adventure, and you can know that every item is covered online, you just need to know how to look for it.

The best tip I can give you is to leverage the various Facebook Groups about Iceland.

Resource:  When In Iceland Facebook Group.

Next, you’ll want to decide when to visit Iceland.

The winter months will allow you to have more freedom as the tourism numbers are down.  However, this comes with the caveat that it will be below freezing and there will be very little sunlight!  The sun is only out for approximately six hours during the month of December!

On the positive side, this allows you a great opportunity to view the Northern Lights, which is a marquee attraction in Iceland.

Conversely, the Fall and Spring will bring you better temperatures and less snow, but there will be a much slimmer chance of viewing the Northern Lights.

Lastly, there are the Summer months.  While you will see a greener country and experience a lot of beauty on that end of the spectrum, it does come with a much higher price tag.  Be prepared to spend more money if you choose to visit Iceland in the Summer.

Also, you’ll want to have an agenda.  If you are one to take things in on your own and adventure into the wild, Iceland will be a perfect escape for you.  There are also guided tours that you can hire and they will accommodate to your every need or desire.  Simply ask anyone in the aforementioned Facebook group and they can steer you in the right direction.

You can of course, do public transportation in Iceland.  It’s entirely safe and used by many people.

Iceland is a fantastic, unique place to visit.  If you need any help planning your trip, please visit my Iceland Tour guide resource and leave a comment.  Happy Travels.

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Europe

Overlooked and Underrated Euro Vacations

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Here’s a quick list of places to possibly include in your next European itinerary. 2018 is the year of the underrated vacation spot in our humble opinions, and we want to honor it.

Basque Country:

This place is in this author’s humble opinion easily and hands-down the most underrated little corner of Europe.

And honestly, between the two, the Spanish side of Basque country is going to cost you probably around 50% what the French side will, and most people in the know will agree that the Spanish side is at least 100% more fun!

 

Canary Islands:

There are two ways to do the Canaries: simply fly in and enjoy them, or treat yourself and a loved one to a romantic Canary Island cruise.

Best time to visit is definitely either spring or fall, as it does get quite cold in the winter and quite hot in the summer. If you are a beach bum, on the other hand, summer is best (but there will be a lot more tourists in the summer).

 

Siena, Italy:

This city is often overshadowed by Rome, Florence, and Venice, but it actually is arguably the best-preserved city in Italy and has the best historic city center. The cuisine here is absolutely to die for, and you won’t have to pay inflated tourist prices like you will in the aforementioned places either!

If you can, try to make it for the famous Palio, a horse race that has been going on literally for centuries.

 

Brussels:

Just as Siena is overshadowed by other bigger Italian cities, Brussels tends to stand forgotten next to London and Paris. But Brussels has key elements of the two metropolises, as well as its own unique and delicious cuisine, its own beer (considered by more than a few experts to be the worlds best), and easily the worlds best chocolate, both in solid and drinkable form. Belgian chocolate will seriously change your life forever.

 

Istria, Croatia:

This is one of the world’s best summer beach destinations. It’s incredibly beautiful, and by Western European standards, almost outrageously cheap.

Hipster tourists are starting to come in and drive prices up, but it still remains a great bargain by any standards, and most importantly, it’s a bargain without really having to give up any of our beloved amenities.

 

Budapest:

Budapest could be called the poor man’s Prague, but in reality that name isn’t very fair. For one thing, Hungarian culture and Czech culture are actually extremely different (for one thing, the Hungarian language isn’t in the same family as the rest of Europe, it’s its own thing completely, like the Basque language).

Prague is gorgeous, but it’s getting almost as expensive as the rest of Europe too, and honestly Budapest’s history and culture is much more interesting, especially for the seasoned traveller.

 

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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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