Blowing Away The Coronavirus Blues – Outdoor Activities
If the thought of a foreign holiday leaves you cold post-covid then, think again.
For those who are slightly nervous of confined spaces, we have compiled a range of suggestions to enjoy nature, art and heritage outdoors:
EXPLORE ANDORRA’S THREE SPECTACULAR NATURE PARKS
Nestled in between France and Spain, the principality of Andorra is home to three spectacular nature parks and the highest concentration of protected areas in the world with 90% of the total land mass covered in forest.
The Valles de Comapedrosa, comprising Andorra’s highest peak the Comapedrosa at 2,942m, offers rugged terrain and challenging hiking to reach breath-taking views of Andorra as well as neighbouring France and Spain. The Valle del Sorteny is the smallest of the three parks but is rich in biodiversity with over 700 species of flora and fauna – with some unique to the Pyrenees. The Madriu-Perafita-Claror nature park covers 10% of the total surface area of the country. It is a glacial valley and UNESCO declared World Heritage site due to ancient forges which are reminders of the high Pyrenean mountain resources used by the inhabitants of Andorra for more than 700 years.
Andorra’s tiny size means visitors can easily discover all three nature parks during their break in Andorra – with walking and cycling routes suitable for all abilities available to download online. Keen hikers can even stay in the nature parks in traditional Andorran mountain huts, or refuges, or stay in the hotels in nearby villages.
For further information, please visit: www.visitandorra.com/en/
DELVE INTO THE NATURAL PARADISE OF THE MENORCA BIOSPHERE RESERVE
Menorca is one of the best-preserved natural areas in the whole of the Mediterranean. The island was recognised by UNESCO as a natural biosphere reserve in 1993, thanks to its impressive biodiversity, richness of flora and fauna and the quality of the rural landscape and archaeological heritage. Despite its size, Menorca is home to nearly 220 species of birds and 1,000 species of plants, 60 of which are endemic.
Visitors to Menorca can delve into its natural offering by exploring it through the island’s multiple walking routes. One of these trails, Camí de Cavalls is a historic path running around the entire coastline of the island. Thanks to investment from the Sustainable Tourism Tax, the path has recently been improved with new footpaths and traditional stone hedges allowing visitors to circumnavigate the island and enjoy the Menorcan peaceful environment even more comfortably.
For further information, please visit www.illesbalears.travel/en/menorca
EXPLORE CONTEMPORARY ART IN MALLORCA
Es Baluard, the contemporary art museum in Palma, is a thoroughly modern piece of architecture made of concrete and glass juxtaposed against the ancient city walls and bastions dominating the seafront of the Mallorcan capital. Besides a simply designed building with characteristic diaphanous lines, which is home to over 700 works, the museum offers also an equally attractive outdoor space ideal for an evening stroll along the ancient ramparts featuring a cluster of striking outdoor contemporary art pieces. The Mirador (or the ‘Viewpoint’) also offers spectacular views of the Gothic cathedral, the Bay of Palma and the Puig de Sant Pere neighbourhood.
Palma’s cultural heritage is also reflected in the city’s array of unique accommodation, housed in historic palaces and town houses. For example, the characterful Ca Sa Galesa, located in the heart of Palma’s historical old town, offers a space of calm and tranquillity just a stone’s throw away from the majestic La Seu cathedral. With panoramic views of the city from the private rooftop, guests can relax with a book after a long day of sightseeing in Palma.
For more information on Palma as a tourist destination, please visit www.visitpalma.com/en
LEARN ABOUT WARTIME HISTORY ON THE CHANNEL ISLANDS
One of the most significant periods of history for the Channel Islands was the Occupation by German forces during World War Two.
During the Occupation, German troops went about fortifying Guernsey, building reinforced bunkers as well as adapting existing fortifications which still punctuate the coastline today. These remnants of the Occupation offer a fascinating glimpse into this turbulent part of the island’s history and are best discovered on foot while enjoying stunning coastal views, secret coves and wide sandy beaches.
The self-guided ‘Occupation reminders and folklore legend’ walk curves along the south-west coast of the island around Pleinmont headland. In addition to L'Angle, a direction-finding tower, and the imposing Batterie Dollmann, a command post, this cliff-top walk also passes ‘The Fairy Ring’ (a site linked to local folklore), the impressive Hanois lighthouse and finishes in the small fishing village of Portelet Harbour. The walk takes around 2 – 2.5 hours to complete.
In 2020, the Islands of Guernsey celebrated the 75th anniversary of their Liberation.
For more information about the destinations and its heritage, please visit www.visitguernsey.com/heritage75
Images can be downloaded here.
IMMERSE YOURSELF INTO THE QUIRKY MEXICAN STREET ART
The hippy-chic coastal town of Sayulita, on the west coast of Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, is a bohemian art colony with a thriving expat community. It was discovered by surfers in the 1960s and today boasts red- and orange-painted shops, brightly decorated cafés, numerous art galleries and colourful street art.
Street art in Sayulita has exploded in the last several years with colourful art in the heart of town reflecting the culture of the local Huichol Indians.
Muralism became famous in the 1920’s after the Mexican Revolution when the government commissioned murals for public buildings to reinforce its political message. Over time, artists began to paint their own ideas and values and these days murals cover a wide range of themes extending far beyond that of politics and religion. It’s this history of muralism that makes the urban art movement in Mexico different from other movements aroun the world.
Visitors can visit Sayulita for a day trip and immerse themselves in this quirky and colourful ‘open-air art gallery’. Senses will be stimulated by the art that is everywhere from colourful skulls that are a recurring theme on buildings, to seascapes, artfully drawn comic strips and religious symbols. Visitors can weave through the cobbled streets that overflow with these unique artworks, interpret the fascinating murals for free, either alone or in a group, and end the day exploring the shops with ceramics, pottery and locally, hand-crafted jewellery.
For more information, visit www.rivieranayarit.com