Updated: Mar 13
The Covid-19 virus strucked, chocked and changed our world. Many lives have been lost to this terrible Corona virus and have effected us all in so many ways. We've followed our Public Health Authorities recommendations, respected social distance, washed our hands - or spent all these days in quarantine during lockdowns.
And unavoidable, of course we also postponed all travels abroad. Where to Travel during Covid-19?
However, now as the travel restrictions have lighten nationwise we have been able to make shorter trips with respect, responsibility and the safety of ourselves and fellow humans in our minds, often discovering the destinations and locations nearest to our homes.
This Pandemic actually may have changed our view of our own surroundings. The small things we discover in our own backyard, city or nearby locations maybe isn't that interesting for us at first glance but sure might be unique destinations for others.
And those small discoveries is what our Collab Post #staycation is all about.
Stay and Travel Safe
Team at Food and Travel Guides
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Where to Travel during Covid-19? #staycation: Responsible and Safe Travels during a Pandemic is a Collaboration Post between Top Travel Bloggers from all over the World, exploring and discovering their own surroundings during Covid-19 and the Corona outbreak in 2020. To be featured read Staycation Post in our Food Travel Forum. The Collab Guest Post will be ongoing as long as the Pandemic is and until travels finally open up our World once again. Table of Content: 1. Staycation in New York, USA (Kimberly Fisher) 2. Staycation in Chicago, Los Angeles and U.S National Parks, USA (Cait Kontalis) 3. Staycation in Los Angeles and SoCal, USA (Kailey Portsmouth) 4. Staycation in Madrid, Spain (South European Wanderings) 5. Staycation in Gothenburg, Sweden (Sticks & Spoons Food Travel) 6. Staycation on Lofoten Islands, Norway (A Piece of My Pie) 7. Staycation in Leuven, Belgium (Emma's Roadmap) 8. Staycation in Vienna, Austria (Another Fine Story) 9. Staycation in Mumbai, India (Travel Hand Made)
#staycation in New York, USA
Author: Kimberly Fisher, USA
The United States, and especially New York, was hit especially hard by COVID-19. As a travel writer and certified wanderer, being in one place for months at a time is unheard of in my world. In February, I took my last international trip at the end of the month to Morocco. I was exhausted when I returned from a whirlwind 2 weeks throughout the country, but I would never had imagined I wouldn’t be able to travel again anytime in the near future.
I have always thought that we all live in vacation destinations- no matter where you live. I’ve lived in Alaska, Nevada, California and now New York, so my cities have ranked very high on the tourism lists. If you look hard enough, I am sure you can find something worth exploring or discovering in your town. Being in New York City during the pandemic was challenging, but with a dog I walked the different neighborhoods every day. I discovered the plaques of historical landmarked buildings I didn’t know existed. I looked down and up on the walls and discovered beautiful street art by local artists. With the opening of outdoor dining, the streets of New York have been transformed- almost like walking down streets in Europe.
In July I ventured to Long Island, to a small town not-quite the Hamptons, but on the water and beautiful. We spent the lazy days in the pool or kayaking, the evenings sharing an Aperitivo while watching the sunset.
I booked another adventure to The Catskills, about 2 hours outside of New York City to stay in a tiny house village with nearby hiking to waterfalls and lakes. I have meal -planned all the essentials; hot dogs, smores and campfire cocktails.
One day, I grabbed a girlfriend (with a car) and we did a day trip to a lavender farm called Lavender by the Bay in Long Island that I’ve been trying to make it to for years. The few hours we spent in the lavender fields, we could have been anywhere in the world.
The family-owned farm was started by a family that expanded to what it is today, so it was also great to know we were supporting small businesses. The moral of the story is that it is all about perspective. Why do we travel in the first place? To experience something new- foods, places, people. All that is possible during a #staycation- you just have to be open to it.
Guest Blogger Kimberly Fisher is an NYC-based Lifestyle Expert, Freelance Writer & On-Camera Host covering beauty, celebrity interviews, fashion, lifestyle, luxury travel, mindfulness, spa, and trends. Visit her site Kimberleyfisher.com, view her Contently profile or follow her on Twitter!
#staycation in Chicago and Los Angeles, USA
Author: Cait Kontalis, USA
Sitting at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, one of the world busiest airports, just 40 minutes before boarding, and the rows of empty chairs are an unusual sight. They seem to serve as grave markers of souls once continent-hopping.
I love to sit in airports. Time standstills here. Everyone is a stranger, but today you share the same mission of air travel.'
The “benefits” of flying during COVID-19 is that hardly anyone is. Security takes minutes if not seconds. Lines for lunch couldn’t be shorter. The chance to have no one sitting next to you on the flight is high.
Yet something is missing. The excitement of our interconnected world has slowed. As restrictions have eased in Chicago, a fake sense of normalcy has popped up in our day to day lives. Patio seating, bars are open, people gathering at the park.
The airport doesn’t lie like that though. The adrenaline and nervous sweats of making your flight are but a memory, and fighting for a seat at your crowded gate is a thing of the past. Sitting at the airport now feels like sitting in a hospital. Beeps and buzzes you don’t recognize are no longer background noise but your source of entertainment. Conversations are muted, and everyone takes precautions to make sure six seats away is enough.
You can’t escape COVID-19 in an airport because our world is trapped in an airport.
Photo Credit: Nate Benz
5 Free Things to Do in Chicago
The Chess Pavilion is a hidden gem in Old Town. Located near North Avenue beach, this concrete pavilion overlooks Lake Michigan and a jaw-dropping view of the skyline. Come bring a chessboard, and sit with a leg on each side of these great cement blocks, with a black and whiteboard in-between. You’ll likely encounter some chess pros who will invite themselves to the bleachers of your game.
Oz Park brings the magic of The Wizard of Oz to Chicago. Complete with a Yellowbrick road, statues of the characters, and an “Emerald Garden”, this delightful park is a great place to pack a lunch, enjoy a Chicago summer, and reminisce on some childhood memories.
Located in Chicago’s Northside Edgewater neighborhood, this beach stands out for its cleanliness. Away from the tourists, you feel like you’ve left the city for a bit and you’re on the coast. Filled with great views and beach shacks for snacks, Hollywood Beach is a great weekend “get away” from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle. Also known as Osterman Beach
Walk The 606 Trail
This 2.7-mile elevated trail once was the Bloomingdale train lane and has since been converted to a haven for runners, walkers, bicyclists, and art admirers alike. Stroll this east-west trail on Chicago’s northwest side while enjoying art installations, local views of the city, and truly getting to “be with the locals”.
Take A Brewery Tour
Chicago is home to some of the best brews around. Many breweries offer free tours that come with a tasting at the end. My personal favorite is Lagunitas. Walkthrough their trippy Charlie and The Chocolate Factory-esque entrance, and see beers swinging past you on conveyor belts. It’s truly a grown-up candy factory.
L.A. Area Short Day Trip: Malibu
Those dreamy beach Malibu vibes we all hear about in songs couldn’t be more true.
We drove just north of Point Dume and found the empty beach pictured above. Can you believe this photo was taken in January? We had the most amazing day away from the crowds, swimming in the Pacific, enjoying hummus and some good beer.
While the smooth, golden beaches of Santa Monica and Huntington are wonderful — the drive to find a beach off the beaten path was 100% worth it. This day still stands as one of my favorite beach days ever.
Drive time from L.A. City Center to Malibu: approx. 1 hour
L.A. Area Short Day Trip: The Getty Center
We saw Diane Keaton here!
That sentence alone should be enough to check out this place. If it's good enough for Diane — then its good enough for you! And if you don’t know who Diane Keaton is…go educate yourself immediately with Annie Hall.
This incredible garden and art center floats above Los Angeles, with stunning sunset views. Even if you “aren’t an art person”, you can’t help but let your jaw drop for an open-mouthed “wow” while strolling around the grounds.
Since its larger, and slightly less touristy than the Observatory, I’d recommend making a half-day trip out of the Getty Center.
You may even have a celebrity sighting!
Drive time from L.A. City Center to The Getty Center: approx 25 min
Joshua Tree National Park
A brief day-trip from Los Angeles, Joshua Tree is a boulderer's paradise.
Gigantic boulders surround Joshua Tree filled paths and seem to be a grown-up's playground. Climb from rock to rock, or stroll on accessible boardwalks.
Whatever you choose, the raw Californian nature is a must-see when in L.A. or Palm Springs.
Joshua Tree National Park is a great day trip for all sorts of people. If you’re someone who likes to simply drive around, the views are awesome. If you like to get out and go on a leisurely stroll, there are plenty of boardwalk trails available. If you’re like me and my pals, you can easily “off-road” to some back-country trails and climb all over some boulders! Joshua Tree in many ways is like a giant playground for grown-ups. Lots to play with, lots to look at, and many places to avoid the crowds!
If you are able, try camping here, There are some nice campsites — and the stars and moon views are out of this world.
You’ll be reminded of just how small you are when you stand in Joshua Tree.
Drive time from L.A. City Center to Joshua Tree National Park: approx 2.5 hours
Jenny Lake at Grand Teton National Park
And while we already talk about the Western U.S. National Parks, here's an additional 4 you defenitely should visit, and perfect destinations for your #staycation!
Grand Teton, WY
Often overlooked by its Yellowstone cousin to the north, Grand Tetons should not be missed. Although smaller than Yellowstone, its lands are packed with wildlife and rugged western mountains. Grab your backpack (and plenty of water) and head up to Cascade Canyon, past Inspiration Point, and you will likely see moose, bear, deer, and other wildlife.
Natures Utah Utopia, Arches, is like walking in day-dreams of the Wild West. Incredible colors and rock formations stretch miles in every direction. Utah’s SouthWestern sun is strong, so be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen before venturing too far from your vehicle.
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited National Parks in the U.S., and for good reason. Its gigantic mountains make anyone feel as if you’ve left earth. Lush forests and deep blue lakes are home to bears, wolves, elk, moose, and more. Step inside this Bob Ross-Esque park; Rocky Mountain is truly a nature lover's dream.
Grand Canyon, AZ
Truly unlike anywhere else in the world, humans have been inhabiting the area since the Ice Age. Condors fly overhead, reminding you how dangerous Mother Nature is when you challenge her. The Grand Canyon allows you to choose your own adventure. Enjoy the views from up top, and take a stroll around the rim. Maybe even walk out on the glass walkway. Or, if you’re an experienced hiker, diligently prepare for an overnight journey down into the canyon, to see the Colorado River up close and personal.
Guest Blogger Cait Kontalis from the self-named Travel Blog is an Greek-American Travel Blogger based in Chicago, Illonois. The most important thing in her life is to travel. Her motto is: "I firmly believe that the more people travel, the better global citizens we will become"! We agree 110% with that! Visit Cait Kontalis and follow her on Instagram!
#staycation in Los Angeles and SoCal, USA
Author: Kailey Portsmouth, USA
I’ve never been more grateful to live in Southern California than I have this year. I work a steady 9-5 job with little vacation time each year, so I’ve always taken advantage of drivable weekend destinations near me. However, prior to this year, I spent much of my time focusing on flying out of town for the weekend or saving up vacation days for an out-of-country vacation. I was always daydreaming of getting away.
But this year, with Stay at Home orders in effect, I’ve gained a greater understanding and appreciation for the area in which I live. I mean, I’m within a 40-minute drive to several beautiful beaches! Who would want to leave that?! I’m also about three hours from some of the most iconic desert parks in the States, Death Valley and Joshua Tree. Santa Barbara is just an hour and a half north, and downtown LA is a stone throw away. You’re never lacking for choice in SoCal.
My husband and I bought our first townhouse and moved literally 2 weeks before Stay at Home orders were issued in California. Our move took us 20 miles north, outside the San Fernando Valley, into the Santa Clarita Valley. Before COVID-19 hit, we had weekend getaways or big activities planned for 9 of the first 13 weeks at our new place. There is absolutely no way my husband and I would have explored our new area like we’ve been able to under normal circumstances.
We’ve taken drives through the canyons surrounding our valley. We’ve biked in town and on local bike paths. We’ve picnicked at several local parks. We’ve hiked on open trails. We’ve even gotten to check out and support our local restaurants by ordering take-out. Some of my favorite memories from this year are early morning drives to see the sunrise around the Santa Clarita Valley and at our closest beach in Ventura.
Initially, I was quite disappointed to cancel our travel plans for the year. Now, however, I honestly feel grateful for the reprieve, although certainly not for the reason it came about. My husband and I have been able to settle into our new home, spend time getting to know our new area, and also take a step back and reflect on past travels and the reasons we love to travel.
One of the major reasons I love to travel is to see and experience new things, often with new people. But during the pandemic, I’ve come to realize how much I have yet to explore my own area. Greater Los Angeles is massive. Although I’ve been very lucky to get a chance to do a lot of things here, there is still so much more to see, do, and learn. I know many people plan their big vacations to come to Southern California, and here I am, planning my trips elsewhere.
Most importantly, my husband, my cats, and I are healthy and safe. That’s the greatest blessing of all, and something this year has taught us not to take for granted. As things open back up, I want to ensure that I continue to seek out experiences and new locations right in my own neighborhood. Not only does it foster a greater love and respect for where you live, but it also brings you closer to neighbors, friends, and your community.
Guest Blogger Kailey Portsmouth from USA is a a CA based photographer with a passion for adventure and travel. She's also a frequent Travel Blogger at her self-named site under "Valley Girl Travel Guide Blog". Visit her site Kailey Portsmouth and follow her on Instagram!
#staycation in Madrid, Spain
Author: Milena Marangon, Spain
Like many people, I had great plans for Summer 2020. In June I would be attending a baptism in my favourite Greek Island Andros and then I would be spending a couple of weeks in August in my hometown in Italy. As the COVID-19 pandemic situation worsened during the spring it became obvious that I probably would have to adjust my plans. Eventually, the event in Greece was cancelled and the direct connection between Madrid where I live and my city Turin was suspended.
I didn’t really fancy to fly anyway, so I decided I would spend most of my holidays at home, exploring my surroundings. Despite the summer heat, at time unbearable, these weeks have been a great opportunity to experience Madrid at a slower pace than usual and dig more on its history. I took morning walks and indulged stopping in bars for a coffee or a typical Spanish breakfast with toasted bread and tomato and olive oil. I also visited some the parks with my daughter, like the famous Retiro or the less-known but much quieter Quinta de Los Molinos.
It is strange how after moving permanently in the city I had stopped doing some of the things tourists usually do, like visiting the main museums and attractions. So, I finally decided to return to the Prado Museum for the first time in years. These days the exhibition has been adapted, with a reduced entry fee and only one floor opened to the public where the most famous paintings had been selected for display. It was still nice to be able to go through this essential collection and observe masterpiece like Velazquez’s Las Meninas without rush and the usual crowd.
Another “touristy” thing I decided to do was taking a walking tour around the city. In particular, I was curious to find out more about an aspect of Madrid’s history that is quite less-known: its Islamic original. Madrid is, in fact, the only European capital founded by the Arabs. Today, very little remains are left from the period, the most visible is the original city’s wall which can be seen not far from the Royal Palace, in the Emir Mohamed I Gardens. I was thrilled to discover these pretty Andalusian-style garden, which is dedicated to the founder of the city and are a good place to go if looking for a quiet corner in the very centre of the Madrid.
My quest for expanding my knowledge of Madrid also brought me outside its borders. In fact, I finally took a day-trip I had been postponing for a while: the visit to the Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial. This XV Century monastery is located just around 40 km from the capital, on the mountain area of the Sierra of the Guadarrama and it can be easily reached with local service trains. It was built by King Felipe II to host his court and the construction lasted only 20 years, which is incredible considering the times and how massive the place is. Nowadays, monks still inhabit the monastery. The site can normally get quite busy, but given the current situation, the crowds were nowhere to be seen. I liked the imposing beauty of the monastery, which is located on a hill and elegantly stands out on the surrounding landscape. I also enjoyed spending some time walking around the charming village of San Lorenzo and having a drink and a tapa in its historic streets.
Guest Blogger Milena Marangon is an Italian Food Travel Blogger based in Madrid. She have opened the blog South European Wanderings to inspire readers to visit less-known destinations in Southern Europe. Recently, she have been focusing on Spain, findings plenty to write about in her surroundings, from nature to cultural events to gastronomy. Visit South European Wanderings and follow Milena on her Instagram.
#staycation in Gothenburg, Sweden
Author: Fredrik Goldhahn, Sweden
Like so many other travelers, we had high expectations that 2020 would be one of our very best years as Food Travel Bloggers. In September 2019, our daughter Ellinor was born and we started planning the summer of 2020 right away.
Our plan was to be on parental leave (something that is very advantageous in Sweden) for 8 weeks together and introduce our daughter to one of our biggest interests; Food Travel. We even had our finger on the buy button. A round trip with shorter flights to get Ellinor used to the Food Travel Life we so dearly love; starting in Stockholm, with a first stop in Prague, then a flight to Barcelona and a last stop in Lisbon before we returned to Stockholm again.
We all know what happened next. And luckily, my gut feeling saved us a ton of problems and about 10K of the swedish krona. The flight tickets was really cheap and hopefully they still will be when this virus is eradicated from the face of the earth, because that's a great itinerary.
So early on we stayed a lot at home, just enjoying Food on our balcony and playing outside in the playground for instance but we really would love to take somekind of a trip with Ellinor.
Where to Travel during Covid?
Change of plans. Sweden has not had the same restrictions, quarantine or lockdowns as the rest of the world; which you may have heard or read about. We have not really seen if it was the right strategy to slow down the spread of the virus, but it at least gave us freedom in how we with common sense, social distance and respect for our fellow human beings could move within the Swedish borders.
We traveled to Varberg which is located along the Swedish west coast, just about 100 km south of Gothenburg. Stick's parents and little sister live there and the idea was to spend a whole week on the beach. Short Cut: It rained the whole week in Varberg =)
So we decided to do a lot of smaller Food Travel Road Trips to some great locations just within miles from Varberg. We visited Strömma Farmlodge, Holy Smoke BBQ, Johnssons Gård, Ästad Vineyard (yes, we can grow grapes even in Sweden!), Öströö Sheep Farm, the Farmer Market in Ugglarp, Wapnö Dairy Farm and many more and actually had a lot of luck with the weather and some great food on the way too!
And that was just the second week of our parental leave! The rest is about to be published on our Food Travel Blog. Hope to see you there.
What this Pandemic and summer really have taught us though is to appreciate all our little excursions, the small things in everyday life we can experience within just hours of reach and to see our hometown and what is nearby here all the time with new exploratory eyes.
There is so much around us that we think is kind of boring or take for granted and sometimes we become home blind to things that are actually absolutely amazing.
We hope you will open your eyes too.
Author and Food Travel Writers Jane and Fredrik Goldhahn are blogging on Sticks & Spoons Food Travel; two devoted Foodies and a Travel Couple from Sweden, who travel for food. Recently joined by their daughter in their mission to Travel every new Destination to Explore Food. Visit Sticks & Spoons Food Travel and follow them on Instagram!
#staycation on Lofoten, Norway
Author: Nathalie Segelborg, Sweden
Rollercoaster. The ride of your life, that is one way to describe the bumpy ride that has been 2020. I was in Hemsedal, working in a café at a skiing resort when the pandemic that came to shake the world surfaced. ALL my plans, my job, gone. In just a matter of days... For someone that does not technically have a place to call ''home'' in the old fashionably sense, I felt incredibly lost at the beginning of this year. Since I let go of my apartment 4 years ago I haven’t lived anywhere for more than 3-6 months at a time, pretty much living out of my suitcase. I have been using my mother's house as my base, as a place where I could store my things and return to and rest up between jobs or travel destinations and I feel incredibly lucky to have a place like that, to have a place I can always come back to!
In the summer of 2020, I was supposed to be on one of the Channel Islands, it was yet another chance to explore a new area and work at the same time, my favorite kind of traveling. The slow kind, where you can mix with the locals and find all these spots you would never have found otherwise. Instead, I was stuck at my mother’s house, not knowing when I would be able to travel again. Then, like a bright light at the end of the tunnel, I was offered my old job back from the summer before.
Norway started to open back up slightly and because international travel was impossible, many Norwegians ventured up to the only tropical location within their borders. Lofoten, the arctic paradise with turquoise water and sugar-white beaches, high snow-capped mountains, and views that make your jaw drop.
That meant an increase larger than they had imagined at Klatrekafeen in Henningvaer and I was soon in the car with a friend of mine, coming to their rescue! If you want to know how I was able to cross the Swedish-Norwegian border during a global pandemic you can read about my journey through Sweden and into Norway on my blog, apieceofmypie.com
It has been hard work this summer, with all the new regulations and corona restrictions it has been a lot of pressure on us staff but in my free time, it has been easy to avoid people up here. Thanks to the wide range of mountain tops to choose from, it is super easy to keep your distance while exploring another part of another island and I feel so blessed to have been able to ‘’travel’’ as much as I’ve been able to during this pandemic.
I have taken every precaution possible when I am among other people, and I have only been on day-trips somewhat close to where my current base is in Lofoten. I am still very torn on this whole travel-during-a-pandemic subject and it doesn’t help that every fiber in my body is screaming for more adventurous travel abroad, but I am trying to tame this inner voice by doing what I love in a more responsible, safe, and respectful manner. But I am curious, what is your view on traveling during a pandemic? I have friends that have gone on holiday to Spain etc. now for vacation and others that have stopped traveling completely. I feel like I currently land somewhere in between that since I crossed an international border for work, but are currently only doing short trips in my surrounding area ‘’for fun’’.
What kind of precautions?
There is always anti-bac in the car so that we can clean our hands when we are out and about. In every store, you use anti-bac when you enter and when you leave and on the hike trails, it is easy to avoid people, even if it sometimes means that you have to stray from the path a little bit. But like I always say, if you never stray from the path you'll only see what other people have already seen. Dare to stray a little 😉 I feel like with good hygiene and some common sense you can go about your daily life fairly normal and it is actually easier to avoid people out in nature than in the pub for example, so If your government allows it I would recommend you spend as much time in nature as you possibly can!
The sunshine and fresh air also help with your mental health, which is more important than ever! I wrote a piece on Mental health during Covid-19 which might provide you with a few tips if you are currently struggling yourself! And if you are, dare to admit it, there is nothing wrong with it! I personally think everyone is struggling more with mental health now because of everything going on, some more than others. The important thing is to talk about it so we realize that we are not alone. I think that was everything for me right now, If you liked my take on this staycation post, and are curious to what else I’ve been up to during this year, feel free to check out @apieceofmypie on Instagram under the highlight ‘’Lofoten 2.0’’!
Author and Food Travel Writer Nathalie Segelborg from Sweden blog about Food and Travel on this site, but she also has her own blog where she not only talks about travel, but also combine the subject with another one dear to her heart, Mental health! Check out apieceofmypie.com and follow on Instagram.
#staycation in Leuven, Belgium
Author: Emma, Belgium
The 6 months before corona hit the world, I was travelling a lot. I’ve spent 4 months in Canada, visited Strasbourg in France, a friend in the South of Sweden and went skiing in both Austria and France. You could say that I looked forward to staying home in Belgium for a bit but I never imagined that it would turn out to be so long!
Like many of you, I had already made up my mind about my summer travel plans. I was going to Shanghai, China for some weeks and I also had my mind set on a train ride through Europe.
Unfortunately, both were cancelled and I’ve spent my vacation at home, in Belgium.
Although the internal EU borders all opened at the end of June, I didn’t feel comfortable with travelling abroad. The virus changes so quickly in different places that every 24 hours travel restrictions suddenly change in different countries.
So that is why I decided to stay in Belgium and go on a few #staycations instead!
I started by visiting my own city. I suddenly realized that I had been living in Leuven for 3 years but actually didn’t know a single thing about the city’s history or tourist attractions. So I knew I had to do something about that!
I’ve spent a weekend exploring every attraction you could find in Leuven and was surprised by the unforeseen beauty of this medieval city! How come that we always overlook our own hometown as a travel destination?
From there, I decided to expand to the rest of Belgium. As you might know, Belgium consists of 2 main parts which both speak another language. Thus, I decided to visit the other side of the country hoping that when I would hear the other language it would feel like going abroad!
This kind of worked and I’ve visited the Belgian Ardennes and its cute medieval cities such as Durbuy, with plans to return within 2 weeks to explore the region even more! To keep it all as safe as possible I stayed in a small Bed & Breakfast and explored everything by car.
But I won’t lie. As much as I love exploring my home country, I miss travelling abroad incredibly. Because there is simply an element of cultural differences that you can’t find if you’re not travelling abroad. And as a person that’s very intrigued by other cultures and languages, I miss this terribly.
However, I am happy that I had the opportunity to open my eyes to the beauty that is nearby instead of focusing on faraway adventures. Because only if we understand our own culture, we can see the difference with other cultures.
Guest Blogger Emma is a Belgian business student bitten by the travel bug! On her Travel Blog she write about city trips and travel tips while focusing on saving you valuable time while you plan your next trip! Visit Emma's Roadmap and follow her on Instagram!
#staycation in Vienna, Austria
Author: Carmen Hackmann, Austria
We moved to Vienna in mid-March of 2020, right before the lockdown started. I was due to start a new job on the 1st April and we had just found an apartment, so we moved. Our first impression of beautiful Vienna during a lock-down showed us a very quiet city of course. Since everything was closed and we did not know anybody we needed to find some things to do. Lock down in Austria meant that all shops except for the essential ones were closed, all museums and tourist attractions remained closed, but people were able to be outdoors.
With little choices for activities in our new city, we discovered the outdoors around the city. And Vienna is perfect for that. It was recently again voted the most livable city in the world and the many outdoor activity possibilities are surely one of the reasons why. There are so many options and it therefore never really feels crowed anywhere which is great in times like these.
Vienna is a great cycling city and we started discovering by bike. Through the city, along the Danube river, on the Danube island, up and down the hills surrounding the city with it´s wine growing areas. We discovered the historic sights from the outside in the beginning, the amazing river with so many options for swimming, picnicking, watersports, walking, hiking, running, cycling all in a safe social distance. We found places with amazing views of the city and were able to get to know our new town from a different perspective.
If you are planning to travel to Vienna in the near or distant future, do plan a few more days to discover the surrounding areas as well as the inner city. Here are a few suggestions from our tours:
Nussberg for hiking, the local wine and the view
To the north of city lies the "Nussberg", a fantastic wine-growing area with great views of the city, a variety of wine taverns and numerous hiking trails. Here they produce a Viennese wine specialty, the “Gemischter Satz”, which means the planting of different grape varieties together in one vineyard - a unique style profile has been developed and requires that at least three white quality wine varieties must be planted together in one vineyard.
This is the one to try! On our first visit, the little vineyard taverns were still closed as it was early in the season and the pandemic had just hit. They are not open all year around, so do check before you go. But we came back and tried a few different places and just loved it. I can´t really decide which one was the best because they all have their own charm and are lovely, tasty and unique. Go with the flow, bring cash as card payments are not always possible, bring your camera and enjoy.
Neusiedlersee for swimming, watersports and relaxing
On one of the first warm days of this summer, we decided to check out "Neusiedlersee". Located about 70 km to the south east of Vienna on the border to Hungary it is the largest endothermic lake in Central Europe with about 315 km² in size. The lake has a unique natural landscape with the wide plains, idyllic vineyards and a unique habitat has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. We chose to drive to the “Strandbad Breitenbrunn” where the Viennese restaurant "Hollerkoch" has a Pop-up location with delicious food. And it didn´t disappoint. It was a relaxed day by the water with great swimming and Stand-up paddling followed by fabulous Fish & Chips. There are more towns and restaurants around the lake, and we will be back to try more!
Rax Alm for hiking and the view
Friends recommended the Rax mountains, south of Vienna and of we went for some hiking. The drive from where we live in the city took us approximately one hour and there was parking directly at the cable car station. Ideally book your time with the cable car in advance and pick up your ticket from the machine directly at the cable car station which was very easy and straight forward. Once in the cable car, it is very steep, and it takes you up the mountain to over 1500 m. It is the starting point of various trails and you just pick the one that suits you best. Many different degrees of difficulties are available, and we chose blue (easy :) ....)
It was foggy at the beginning of our hike, but the clouds lifted after a while and we got the view we came for. Stunning mountain scenery all around and we loved it! We walked for hours, took photos and videos and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Altogether we hiked approximately 15 km, reached two mountain peaks and had a little break at the "Seehütte" hut for food and drinks. A great day out and a perfect opportunity to be active, really switch off and enjoy nature at its best. Totally recommend it if you live in Vienna and haven´t been or if you are in town and have some time on your hands.
Hohe Wand for hiking, animals and the view
Our next hiking trip took us to the "Hohe Wand" nature park south of Vienna. The 1,135-meter-high and 8 km long "Hohe Wand" rises from the plain like an island and is a beautiful sight driving towards it. It took us less than an hour to travel there by car and you have to pay a little entrance fee upon approaching the park (2,50€ per adult, 1€ per child and dogs are allowed in on a leash), then you either walk up or drive up and park your car to start from there.
There are numerous hiking and climbing options, a great number of huts for food and drinks, an animal park for young and old as well as an impressive sky-walk observation deck with amazing views over the area. We hiked one of the longer trails for over 10 km. Most of the way takes you through the woods which was great as it was very hot on the day. Great trail, fantastic views and an instant holiday feeling!!
Vienna is a great city, no matter when you come and visit. We have rediscovered our outdoorsy side and we will continue to discover the city AND it´s surrounding area for sure. There is so much more we don´t know, so stay tuned!
Guest Blogger Carmen Hackmann from Vienna in Austria run the Travel Blog Another Fine Story where she shares her stories and travel photos from her travels in Europe, USA and Asia. Visit Another Fine Story and follow Carmen on Instagram!
#staycation in Mumbai, India
Guest Blogger: Satarupa Datta, India
Be a tourist in your city
The Maximum city, financial hub, or a city of dreams, whatever you may call, there's a Mumbai, overshadowed by its highrises, that shine of legacies gifted. There are many like me, who came to Mumbai for good. But 2020 India lockdown sparked off a desire to be a tourist once again in this very city. That’s because, a massive change of scenery in Mumbai post lockdown opened a new window to all travelers - be an architecture lover, beach bump, or an adventure-hungry. Mumbai adopted NewYork state of mind and came to be known as a city that never sleeps, which looked so sleepy once falling under the clutches of the evil pandemic.
As Mumbai starting unlocking, I decided to scout out. Here are 5 ways to be a tourist first-time in your city.
1. Take in the architecture
A drive around Mumbai’s oldest business districts, Fort area throws light on the city’s connection with the British raj, filled with gothic styles and art deco line of buildings. Today Indian architects trying to find pieces of heritage in the city, added value to those heritage properties by restoring them. One such story is the five-storied flagship store of Zara, housed in the heritage-listed 110-year old Ismail Building in South Mumbai, spanning a total area of 51,300 sq ft.
Coming from a newly emerging neighborhood of Mumbai, today exploring the old locales where the city sprawled along the northern reaches, was like walking into an architectural timeline. One side strewn in Victorian New-Gothic facades, from the late 19th century, on the other side, a stunning panorama of Art Deco buildings from the early 1900s.
I finally came across Flora Fountain, a defining landmark of the city, something that reminds me of Rome’s sculpture-studded piazzas or squares. And I could take in these architectural marvels, without jostling for space and mostly at my own pace.
2. Hit the beach and soak up the sun
The coastal metropolis has many beaches only if you make time to let your toes on the sand and sea breeze to frazzle your hair. But in times such, when travel is uncertain, there is nothing like being on a beach, soaking up the sun. I drove down two hours to the remote Utan beach, which almost feels like a beach to oneself. The clean air, no crowd, and the rocky outcrop fringes along the beach make for an ideal beach lounging minus the crowds.
3. Trekking up the mountains
As the world is still under home confines, turning beds, balconies, and living areas as makeshift office spaces, the inch for outdoors is on an-all-time-high. Many trekking trails within the city have been closed, so I went ahead to the nearest destination, trekking the fortified hills of Maharashtra. Rising to an elevation of 1,033 m, Lohagad fort overlooks the beautiful Pavna reservoir and even connects with another fort, the neighbouring Visaur Fort. The hills opens to fortified settlements, heart stopping views and vestiges of ancient past. It was so silent up in the mountains, you could trek for hours without seeing anyone. At a time when we are all worried about getting close to strangers, we only came across two fellow hikers.
Even though the trek is a beginner's level, the mountain air and the surrounding greens, can cure the COVID scare out of you.
4. The Queen’s necklace, prefect for a leisure stroll
Many would agree, Marine Drive, or the Queen’s necklace is Mumbai’s best jogger’s spot and the most happening. And it is always a joy to be here with nothing to do but sit on the benches or jog, taking in an uninterrupted view of the Arabian Sea. While we couldn’t sit for a coffee date opposite at one of the city’s high-end hotels that dot the esplanade, we were rewarded with empty walking trails, hardly two to three of them brisk walking.
5. Find your own staycation
In India, flights and trains are yet to bounce back to being operational, so we ended up bowling over to a less-frequented getaway. I found a farmstay last week, in the wine country of Nasik, three hours off Mumbai. The surrounding land to the farmstay leads nowhere, except to a lake. The terrace looks out over the vineyards. We had the farm to ourselves, mile after mile of grasslands marked only by occasional squirrels and birds, and peeking out at those dune-like hills by the light of the moon, made it all the more memorable. There were no human footprints except ours and the farmworkers. Food was simple, home-cooked, and prepared strictly under the COVID-19 hygiene guidelines. And the best bit was almost everything you eat here is grown in the compost-sprinkled biodynamic farm at the backyard.
Early mornings and evenings are for scouting the surrounding wetlands, for birding. This farmland including many of its surroundings are under Nature Conservation Society of Nashik. Sighting some of the rare species makes you feel blissfully insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and carefree at once.
Like a seagull divebombing a bucket of fries, the pandemic too has shattered our travel plans for this year. We can either choose to feel locked-away or can see this time to rediscover one's city, like never before. The choice is yours !
Guest Blogger Satarupa Datta is a world traveler who seeks unique cultures and traditions, that’s unheard and not much written about on her Travel Blog Travel Hand Made. She's a television writer with previous stints in reputed travel channels based out of Mumbai, India. She also have been developing scripts for Taiwan, Portugal, Mauritius, Uzbekistan, Cyprus and Egypt which aired in Travel XP 4k channel and love to do travel guides, features, roundup articles, food stories for publications and tourism boards. Visit Travel Hand Made and read her work on The Chubby Nomad.
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