Outdoor Adventures: 2007
A good European trip includes more than a series of castles and museums. Europeans are into outdoor adventure, and many American travelers are finding fun ways to get wet, windblown and out of breath too. Any tips on outdoor thrills for mild-mannered back door tourists not packing ice axes? Share your favorite outdoor activity.
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Dordogne River Canoe Trip
My wife and I recently returned from a two week stay in France and the highlight of our many memorable experiences was our canoe trip in the Dogdogne Valley. We followed the Rick Steves guidebook recommendations and went with Copeyre Rentals.
We started our adventure at the Vitrac Port and ended at Beynac. It is important to know that you have to cross the bridge in Vitrac Port to find the canoe outfitters there. This wasn't obvious to us on our initial entry into the the small town of Vitrac.
The trip itself was incredible with picture postcard scenery all along the route. It's also not very strenuous as the river current pushes you along the majority of the distance without the requirement to paddle constantly.
We initially stopped in the beautiful little village of La Rogue-Gagnac and enjoyed a casual walk through the narrow winding streets there. Then, it was onward to Castlenand, where we stopped and enjoyed a picnic at a convenient little grassy area there. Our lunch provided the added enjoyment and rewarding cultural experience of dining with a group (approx 40) of Dutch who were also making the river trek. We shared many interesting stories with our newfound friends before departing onward.
Launching our canoe once more, we continued down the river to Beynac where sadly, our river excursion ended. The exit point in Beynac is well marked and easy to find.
All in all, we took us approximately 3 1/2 hours to complete the 15 km trip at a very leisurely pace. I would wholeheartedly recommend this trip to anyone comtemplating visiting France and especially if you're going to be in the Dogdogne Valley region.
San Diego, CA USA Sun 09/23/2007
Samaria Gorge, Crete, Greece
Last year I hiked the Samaria Gorge, on the western side of Crete, Greece. A fabulous 15 km all day hike, all down hill which is about a 1000 m elevation drop. The further along the hike the walls of the gorge get closer and closer, until the end when the walls are only about 3 m apart.
Vancouver, B.C., Canada Mon 09/10/2007
biking the canal
Carcassone has a great castle. But it also has the Canal du Midi. Take a day to rent a bike and ride the tow path (flat). There are places to eat along the way. Beautiful, interesting, and relaxing.
Vallejo, CA USA Thu 07/12/2007
Quinta Panascal in Douro Valley, Portugal
A few weeks ago I was in the Douro Valley, driving from Porto, both on the autoestrada, and windy local roads. The Panascal Quinta, where they grow and bottle the Fonseca wine, has a good tour of its terraces. Granted the English audiotape sounds a bit like it was read aloud by Michael Lonsdale (from "007:Moonraker" and "Ronin"), it was a bit educational and I could follow along easily enough. The walk from the wine tasting building to the terraces was reasonable, and despite the clouds it did not rain too badly. There were no grapes on the vines, but this was the planting season.
I tried a little bit of the tawny but just enough to have a taste. There was only another car that arrived just after myself, so there was not a great deal of activity that day which was good.
Going back to Porto, the road on the south bank of the Douro did have a few trucks up to Régua. Part of the fun of Panascal Quinta is the drive to and from Porto.
Frisco, TX USA Sat 03/10/2007
Biking in Tuscany
I was traveling alone on my first trip to Italy and towards the end of my trip I was getting lonely and a little burnt out on museums ( even though I'm an artist), I saw at my hotel in Florence a brochure for a bike tour though Tuscany. Scenic castle, wine tasting etc. It sounded like EXACTELY what I needed , a chance to get out of town and be with ( hopefully) friendly people. It was everything that I could ask for. I had an AWESOME time. The castle was great as was the beautiful Tuscan countryside. The guide Kevin was perfect. He was friendly, warm and funny. Just what I needed . If your a solo traveler in Florence ( or with a group of course) I would highly recommend Tuccany Bike Tours (www/tuscany-biketours.com
Hoboken, nj USA Mon 02/12/2007