Europe, Norway, Bulgaria

Europe, Norway, Bulgaria

Norway

Ersfjordboten, Tromso, Norway

Have you seen the exquisite show of the Northern lights in Northern Norway?

This incredible phenomenon has fascinated people throughout history and never seized to amaze those who were lucky enough to observe it. Feel the magic of the Aurora lights from the luxury of the beach front modern Villa Aurora , which we guarantee will exceed your every  expectation. Like fishing, skiing, hiking or simply wish to enjoy this incredible beauty from a vantage point? – you are in the right place. We offer a premium view accommodation in the heart of the most striking scenery and in the epicenter of all the magical action. Get in touch with us on the Contact page or sign up for regular offers and updates.

What is truly amazing about the Norwegian Fjords and more specifically Ersfjordboten in Tromsø  is the fact that the mountains seem alive with the ever changing sun light, shaping and coloring them in rich earthy tones, casting their  magical spell on the enchanted observer.

villa Aurora TromsoI had the privilege to be on a holiday in the above mentioned luxury beach house (Villa Aurora) , right on the ocean, overlooking the most gorgeous scenery, appreciated by professional photographers and nature lovers for decades,  seen frequently on postcards and in magazines. The unfolding majestic fiords, magnetic attraction to tourists and fans of extreme sports- are both intimidating and welcoming. Daily, numerous mountain hikers can be seen challenging themselves on famous trails, or simply admiring the view, whilst picking fresh berries. The winter months offer variety of sports- skiing (traditional terrain to corn snow and powder), snow boarding, snowshoeing, ice skating and tobogganing. If you are into fishing, you may never want to return home – fishing here is not only a sport, it is more like a religion… While you are at it, you will enjoy whale watching and see some incredible marine life around you. Cycling or hiking, indulging in water or winter sports, or simply taking in the beauty around you, I promise you, there is something for everyone. What you may not find enough of may be time, to see and experience everything the area has to offer.

In the villa, my favorite downtime was to enjoy the scenery from the balcony or the living-room: tempted to tak pictures of the amazing nature in front of me every 5 minutes – the view kept changing for the better and I could not have enough of it. The sun in the summer never sets and keeps coloring the sky and the fiords in vividly striking tones and shades. Not to mention, in the winter, the Northern lights create unimaginable colors in the sky that you can only stay in owe with and admire, wondering if this is the same world as we know it.

More on the activities in the area…

 

Activities
Northern Lights Extravaganza

The Northern Lights have attracted people’s attention and provoked admiration for centuries. To this day the spectacular play of the Aurora Lights in the Northern Sky leaves the stunned witnesses in owe. While groups of tourists get transported to the Erdfjordboten by busses from the town of Tromso, the guests of Villa Aurora can observe this magnificent spectacle from the comfort of their cozy home, having front seats in the midst of the action.

What are the Nothern Lights? Also known as “Aurora Borealis” in the North and ” Aurora australis” in the South, this unique natural phenomenon represents collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres.

Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported and recorded on camera in some instances. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.

Prepare your good cameras and arm yourselves with lots of patience, as even though the Northern Lights may seem to appear illusive and sporadic, once you see them, you will realize that your time waiting was all worth it.

 

 

Fishing

Those who love fishing, will tell you, without a doubt, that the best thing you can do in your free time is ….  not surprisingly – fishing. And to fish at Ersfjordboten may be one of the most rewarding experiences. The locals can tell you this… if you are lucky you can get a nice catch by finding a spot along the coast right outside villa Aurora or renting a boat and going deeper in the ocean, where you can catch bigger fish to brag about.

The species that usually come around are salmon, halibut, cod, the Norwegian sei, herring and it is not unusual to see dolphins and even whales in the area, however these are not permitted to be captured. If you wish, you can bring your own gear or sign up for a fishing trip with the local tour operators, who will provide fishing equipment upon availability. I personally always bring my own fishing gear, as I think this is part of the experience and eliminates the husstle looking for one.

Fishing is a national sport here and main source of food and income  for the native inhabitants for thousands of years and you can hear many interesting and not always very true fishing stories from the locals, who will proudly point to you the best spots for fishing and show you their biggest catch.
So, if you are up for it, here are some suggestions for fishing trips:

http://www.visittromso.no

Skiing and snowboarding

Ersfjordboten is the Mecca for those who love skiing . The mountains are everywhere and one more beautiful than the other. The winter season is long (November-May) and while avalanches are always a reality, the fans of extreme sports are always searching the slopes for the best freestyle rides.

Imagine skiing on a pristine and fresh snow-covered mountain without waiting in long lines or constantly weaving through inexperienced skiers. Skiers can experience fresh powder, steep descents, natural contours and smooth corn snow. Experienced skiers usually find that traditional ski resorts only offer predictable terrain in non-ideal conditions, so if you want to learn to ski powder or improve your powder technique, venture off-piste for the first time or to experience the adrenaline pumping steeps then you may be in the right place.

Saying this, I do not advocate for any risky  extreme sport, especially not free style skiing, as I am one of those who go to the “boring” slopes, so below is a link to a great place to enjoy your vacation skiing in more traditional conditions.

http://www.wheretoskiandsnowboard.com/

 

Mountain Hiking and Mountain Climbing

There are as many hiking trails as there are mountains in the area. From light terrain to medium and the most difficult- the choice is yours. The most popular trails closest to Villa Aurora are Nattmålsfjellet and Buren.

While there are many options, the below Norwegian link can provide you with detailed information about the difficulty level of the different trails. Whether in the summer or in the winter, the trip will be unforgettable and the views stunning.

http://www.ryggsekk.net/turer/fjellturer.htm

http://www.tromsoklatring.no/klatremuligheter#kort

 

Snowshoeing, ice skating and tobogganing

There are varieties of fun trips organized by tour companies in Tromso, some of which include- Snowshoeing, ice skating and tobogganing. You can also warm up next to a bonfire and listen to the stories from your guide. This is the perfect family activity(children min age 3/4) and anyone keen to try new activities.

http://www.tromsooutdoor.no/ski-snowshoe-activities-winter-20142015.5070588-139089.html

Whale Watching

Have you seen dolphins or whales from a close distance? These unique mammals are around in these waters all year round. Tours organized in Tromoso daily:

http://www.visittromso.no/en/Activities/Whale-Watching/

Cycling

 

Did you bring your bike? You can certainly explore the area on your own bicycle or you can join organized tours taking you to some of the best bike trails in the world.

http://www.tromsooutdoor.no/cycling.139088.en.html

 

VELINGRAD, BULGARIA

Hot Springs Hotel Royal Spa Velingrad, BulgariaLove the beautiful phenomenon of Hot Springs?

Do you enjoy relaxing in pleasantly warm waters, while reaping the benefits of its curative properties?

How about submerging in a hot mineral spring jacuzzi while the snow gently falls around you?

There is something deeply satisfying on physical and psychological level, when you connect with nature like this- the mineral water coming from the depth of the Earth, bringing its precious elements, to cure, ground and center you, while your every fiber surrenders to its healing power. You feel rejuvenated, reinvented and most of all peaceful and thankful.

Throughout the centuries and around the world people have appreciated the incredible gift Mother Nature brings to us via its mineral springs- the benefits are endless and some of the best spas are built around Hot Springs, making them a major and preferred tourist destination. Those resorts that boost mineral springs in the area, attract not only people who crave the healing benefits of its waters, but honeymooners and couples seeking a romantic and relaxing get-away, athletes, recovering from strenuous activities and overworked individuals, looking for some piece and quiet.

Bulgaria, not surprisingly – considering its favorable geographical location and beautiful nature- has been blessed with having numerous Mineral Hot Springs, with wide range of healing properties, gravitating people from all over Europe for centuries, making it the ultimate Spa paradise. Very few countries in the world can compete with Bulgaria in this respect and no wonder- here you can find over 200 mineral springs (148 in the Southern and 77 in its Northern part), with average temperature between 37 and 50 degrees Celsius, generally described with low content of mineralization. Nowadays, you can find fancy spa resorts built around these miraculous springs all over Bulgaria, most popular amongst them are the ones in Velingrad, Sandanski, Devin, Varshets, Kjustendil, Sofia and Varna (more details on these Hot spots you can find here), making Bulgaria the leading spa destination in Europe.

Hot Springs Hotel Royal Spa Velingrad, BulgariaThe Hot Springs Mecca amongst them all, in my oppinion (mind you I have been to most and like them all) is without a doubt the town of Velingrad, where my parents used to take my sister and myself  frequently when we were kids and naturally, it has a special sentimental value in my heart. While back then, we used to stay at  small Bed and Breakfast places, where my parents made life-long friends amongst the small community that lived there, nowadays, you can hardly recognize the place- new fancy spa resorts emerge by the day, the choice is big and the amenities that the hotels offer are world-class. While there are more than 90 mineral water springs with curative and preventive properties in and around the town of Velingrad. varying considerably in temperature, mineralization, radon, silicic acid and fluorine content, all are suitable for treatment of a wide range of ailments and of course some of the best drinking mineral water comes from this area as well.

Velingrad is situated 750-850 m above sea level, in the Southern part of Bulgaria, located in the western end of Chepino valley, part of Rhodope mountain. It has cold winters and warm summers (average temperature in July is 19 and in the winter 10 degrees Celsius) and the humidity is 65-75%. Surrounded by age-old pine tree woods, the town favors abundant sunshine. This exclusively rare and valuable combination has a beneficial influence on the process of ionization (negative ions are prevailing) and is of definite therapeutic importance.

What makes Velingrad unique is another natural phenomenon as well — the Kleptuza, the biggest Karstspring in Bulgaria, with an average discharge of 1200 littres of ice-cold water per second.  To me Kleptuza will always remain this beautiful romantic lake, where we used to ride pedal boats and have delicious trout in its quaint restaurants, enjoying the view, the music and festive lights in the fresh mountain air.Kleptuza

While difficult to choose, my top favorite Spa hotels in the area are Royal Spa Velingrad and Maxi Hotel, both equipped with inside and outside hot mineral springs pools, saunas, treatment rooms, fitness and recreation areas, great restaurants and both are within a walking distance to town.

Royal Spa hosts a branch of the well known amongst Bulgarians and its tourist Victoria Spa, where you can not only indulge in the two mineral water pools and the various saunas (infrared, Himalayan salt, Roman, etc) and steam rooms, but also surrender in the professional hands of massage therapist from all over the world. The choice of treatments is endless, from Hot Stone to Ayurveda massages, you can have a different experience every day. My super friendly masseur was from Bali and I enjoyed a detox treatment, enhanced with exotic oils and relaxing aromas. There is a team of beauty experts- a dietician, nail and hair specialists, cosmeticians and of course fitness instructors. The gym in the hotel is small, but has all essential pieces of equipment for a good workout, a brunch of the largest gym complex in Sofia, called “Pulse”.

The weather in Velingrad, whether in the winter, spring, autumn or summer, lures its visitors to enjoy the surrounding nature via hiking trips – there are eco paths that can lead you further up in the mountain and you do not need to be an expert climber- the walks are pleasant and healthy.

We visited the hotel with my niece and while enjoying all amenities to the fullest, we were equally impressed by the hospitality and friendly service of the employees, especially satisfying are the breakfast and dinner buffets with a wide range of local and international delicacies. For the members of the above mentioned gym “Palace”, special Boot camps are regularly organized, with hiking trips, fitness exercises and dietary programs.

The other excellent and may be more family oriented establishment would be hotel Maxi. Situated at the outskirts of the mountain with direct hiking trails starting from the hotel itself, it also boasts beautiful pools with relaxing jacuzzis, the hotel is tranquil and suitable for kids at the same time. The restaurant offers great choices of local cuisine and some pretty spectacular wines. The hotel is often used for business gatherings and is a great romantic get-away as well.

Devin is another hot springs destination not too far away, where you can find similar spa hotels with a cozy, traditional ambiance and lots of incredibly inexpensive pubs and restaurants.

While the main attraction are the hot springs and the mountain trails, equally sensational are the caves near by: Devil’s Throat (Djavolsko garlo) and Yagodinska caves. Both are specacular with its formations (the so called speleothems, including stalactites, stlagmites and stalagnates, draperies and cave pearls) several floor levels and underground rivers. A knowledgeable guide will lead you inside and you will have a spooky, yet exhilarating experience. If you are claustrophobic, this is not for you and be aware that the temperature inside is around 6 degrees Celsius, so dress accordingly.

 

 

SOZOPOL, BULGARIA

Sozopol

The secret treasure of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast-Sozopol. Enjoy the sandy beaches and turquoise water by day and the mediterranean cuisine and temperamental wine by night. Breath the history of the region and feel the modern vibe of this ancient Bulgarian town. Drop a note in the Contact page , if you are interested in fun Dive trips and seaside view apartments for rent in the quaint town of Sozopol.

Sozopol is one of the oldest towns on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The first settlement on the site dates back to the Bronze Age. Undersea explorations in the region of the port reveal relics of dwellings, ceramic pottery, stone and bone tools from that era. Many artifacts (anchors) from the second and first millennium BC have been discovered in the town’s bay, a proof of active shipping since ancient times.

The current town was founded in the 7th century BC by Greek colonists, who named it Antheia. The name was soon changed to Apollonia, on account of a temple dedicated to Apollo in the town. By the first century AD, the name Sozopolis began to appear in written records and it was not changed much since then.

Throughout the centuries Sozopol had a turbulent history, ruled in turn by the Byzantine, Bulgarian and Ottoman Empires. Sozopol was assigned to the newly independent Bulgaria in the 19th century.

Nowadays it is one of the hot spots on the Black Sea coast, a focal point not only for those who love sandy beaches, but the art lovers, who come every year to the annual music festival Apollonia.

The busiest times of the year are the summer months, ranging from May to September, when tourists from around the world come to enjoy the weather, sandy beaches, history and culture, fusion cuisine- a nice mixture of Balkan and Mediterranean specialties, and the bohemian atmosphere of this colourful resort.

Port