Alfaro is located in the region of La Rioja and is known for its gastronomic delights. Take a look here and find out what and where to eat (and drink!).
The biggest attraction of this picturesque town however is its colony of storks (one of the biggest in Europe). One of the most stunning places where you can observe them is in the Reserva Natural de los Sotos del Ebro, located at the Avenida del Ebro. There is a mirador (viewpoint) and a space to park your car. You will see 2 paths, one leading to the left and the other to the right. Take my advice and follow the latter, you can stay closer to the water and its wildlife (including the storks).
Other points of interest:
In the center of town, there is a mirador (for the storks as well), Plaza Esperanza,1
Colegiata de San Miguel Arcángel, the largest temple in Alfaro, Plaza de España
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Burgo
Monasterio Clasicista de la Conceptión
You can easily spend a day here (including a visit to the reserva). If you want to visit Bardenas Reales as well, take 1.5 days.
See you back on Friday in another corner of Spain!
The first thing that you notice is that different species share the same space. This is done so that the animals develop a natural behavior. The zoo has put a lot of thought into animal welfare.
Bioparc actually recreated different types of rainforest; they were inspired by equatorial Africa, the island of Madagascar, Southeast Asia, and the Indo-Pacific.
Our impressions of the Bioparc were very positive. Lots of space for the animals, very educational and very well-kept.
Bioparc Fuengirola is open all year; a ticket costs 21.10 euro and there are several discounts. You can easily spend a whole morning or afternoon there. There is ample parking space nearby. Check the official website before your visit; be aware of the special COVID-19 measures!
We are working on something special on this website, something that will enhance your reading experience. Any idea what it is?
When you hear the word “Denmark”, you probably think “Copenhagen”, “Little Mermaid”, but wild horses? You will have to do some extra driving, but believe me, it’s worth it!
Langeland is one of the smaller island of Denmark, located to the south of Fyn (the big central island). You will have to fly to Billund then instead of Copenhagen, but that gives you three advantages:
It’s closer to your destination.
You avoid the bridge between Zealand and Fyn, which is quite expensive. Instead, you drive on the bridge between Jutland and Fyn, which is free and shorter.
Flights to Billund are generally cheaper.
Once you reach Fyn, drive into the direction of Svendborg. From there, go further south and cross the island of Tåsinge. Here you can visit the pretty town of Troense and the impressive Valdemar Slot (castle). Continue southeast and you arrive at Langeland.
It’s an island of contrasts, Langeland. Go north and you see picturesque coastal towns. The south is very different though, with fewer towns and villages and large surfaces with long, thick grass. And that grass is the reason that the Wild Horses came here. They have to eat the grass, so that the sun can reach the bottom. Thus, there will be a bigger variety of plants and animals.
Two important observations:
“Wild” does not mean “feral”, it does mean that the horses live with little human intervention.
Technically, they are not horses, but Exmoor ponies. They are less tall and especially in winter, have a thicker coat.
The horses came in 2006 in a small group (about a dozen) to Langeland. During the years, their number has grown to a herd of 60 – 70 animals. And quite unexpectedly, they have become a tourist attraction as well. But finding them can be tricky.
Upon arrival, follow the 305 in the direction of Bagenkop. As soon as you approach this harbor town, you will see a windmill at your left. Follow that road and you will soon see one of the two viewpoints. And then you have to be patient!
As an aspie, I am very fond of animals, especially dogs, bears, and horses. Thus, Lars and I have observed and photographed the Wild Horses on many occasions. I will gradually publish these pictures, so expect more parts to come in the next months or years.
If you miss these 2 viewpoints, don’t worry: there is another one. Get back to the 305 and closer to Bagenkop, on your right, there is a sign to another viewpoint, located on a high steep hill!
Langeland – and especially the south – does not have that many tourist amenities. Better try Svendborg. We always use booking.com.
The best seasons to see the horses are spring and summer. There is usually a strong wind, so dress warmly if you decide to go in the other two seasons.
The horses live in an enclosure, but there are a couple of places where you have access to them. Follow the safety measures!
Have you ever seen these horses? Would you like to? What other parts of Denmark do you like? Let us know in the comments!
Upon our arrival, Lars and I had a sneak peek; there were some lovely ladies awaiting us! We put on some overalls and boots and were asked not to put anything in our pockets, since some of the cows had the tendency to be a pickpocket…
Before embracing our new friends, the farmers gave us a tour.
These cows were kept separately, because they had just given birth.
The time that a lusty and busty maiden milked all the cows is definitely behind us: meet the robot that not only milks the cows (twice a day) but also keeps track of their milk production. Not only does the robot take a lot of work out of the farmers’ hands, but the latter can also quickly intervene when a cow produces less milk than usual.
Then came the cutest part of the tour: the calves!
We also had a quick look in the stable where a handful of bulls are kept. Now if you think that these bulls have access to a lot of hankypanky with the dozens of cows, I have two words for you: artificial insemination.
No wonder they look a bit sad…
Time for some cow hugging! The procedure is very simple. Be relaxed: indeed, that’s some hundreds of kg, but nothing can go wrong. Besides, if you are nervous, the cow will pick it up. Now, sit next to a cow and start caressing her head; when her ears point backward, it means she’s relaxed. Sit next to her with your head on her side and continue with the caressing. If you are lucky, she will turn her head towards you, and give you a nudge. And/or a lick.
Time for some practice!
What I remember vividly, is how soft and warm the cow’s skin was and how soothing it was to feel her breathing.
Time for the Viking’s encounter:
And the fun was over yet! Remember the “pickpocket” cow? I stood face to face with her. Cow number 36. She looked at me and then started swinging her head against my thigh. That’s 600kg against a lot less. It was quite hard to keep my balance. Then she moved to my hair and started chewing and licking it. Finally, she put her head on my shoulder and I embraced her for a long time…
In the 11 years that Lars and I have been traveling together, this is one of the most interesting, unusual and heartwarming experiences we have ever had.
The tour is in Dutch, but the farmer regularly interrupts her explanation for some English.
By the way, this is what the website of the BBC has to say about the benefits of cow hugging:
The cow’s warmer body temperature, slower heartbeat and mammoth size can make hugging them an incredibly soothing experience, and giving the animal a backrub, reclining against them or even getting licked is all part of the therapeutic encounter.
What about you? Have you ever hugged a cow? Or plan to?
This is our second post about Germany and again, it features bears. This time we take you to Worbis (Thuringia), in the popular area of the Harz.
We paid a visit to the Alternativer Bärenpark Worbis, which is affiliated with the one in the Black Forest. In other words, this is also an animal protection program, allowing abused bears (and wolves) to live in their natural habitat. In total, a dozen bears and a pack of wolves roam around in an area of 40.000 square meters.
But first, you can explore the farm, which is the home of local domestic animals. Petting is allowed.
Children will love the interaction with the animals.
Just like in the other bear park, you follow a teaching trail. You will learn about the differences between different kinds of bears and also about their abuse world-wide. And why they can’t be released in nature anymore. In the meantime, you can see the bears and the wolves in their natural surroundings.
Magnificent creatures, aren’t they? Unfortunately, although the park does its best to take care of them, some of the bears don’t make it. On this website, you can keep track of the bears in both parks.
This is the exact address:
Duderstädter Straße 36a 37339 Worbis
You can access the park by car and train. There is a snackbar and café.
In the summer of 2017, Lars and I came up with the idea of spending a short holiday in Luxembourg (the country, not the Belgian province). At that time, we had driven through this tiny country and apart from visiting the wine region, we had never really explored the rest of it. Unfortunately, after one day, we had to change our plans completely, mainly because it was raining the whole time and the weather forecast looked even gloomier. After a short deliberation, we drove south and ended up in Freiburg (Germany).
Not only was the weather a lot better there, I quickly discovered, after some nosing around on the Internet and careful consultation of some maps, that this location would allow us to fulfil a dream we had been cherishing for quite some years: a visit to the Alternative Wolf and Bear Park Black Forest. It would mean having to drive about 90 kilometres to the north, but then we could make a nice day trip out of it. Which is exactly what we did.
The Alternative Wolf and Bear Park Black Forest is not a nature or animal park and certainly not a zoo. It is a sanctuary that takes care of bears that have had a miserable life in circuses, zoos, nature parks or with private owners. It also houses a group of wolves and a couple of lynxes.
Around the sanctuary is a hiking path which you have to follow, allowing you to have a good look at its inhabitants. The first animals that Lars and I saw were some very playful bear cubs.
You could ask yourself why these bears are simply not released in the wild. The answer is that this is impossible. The first reason is that most of these animals have become used to the presence of humans; moreover, because of their past, these bears haven’t developed the necessary skills to cope with the challenges of a natural environment. In other words, releasing them in the wild can have devastating consequences.
Keep on following the path and you will soon see the adult bears, which are really magnificent creatures! At the entry, you can pick up a brochure with detailed information about each of them and pictures, allowing you to recognize them. Take your time and you will also be able to make some beautiful close-ups.
Although the sanctuary takes really good care of its animals, some of them don’t survive a long time. One of the bears that Lars and I could observe sadly passed away a couple of months later.
I was extremely lucky when photographing some of the wolves, simply because they were very close to the fence when I passed there!
With the lynxes, on the other hand, I was far less lucky. We could hardly observe them, let alone photograph them. Lars and I waited for a long time and eventually gave up…
Anyway, after your visit, it is possible to have a drink and a snack at reasonable prices.
The Alternative Wolf and Bear Park Black Forest is not the only one of its kind in Germany. There is another one in the Harz region, which was, by the way, established earlier. Luckily for you, I have visited that sanctuary as well and will feature it later on this website.
Interested? Have a look here then. This is the exact address:
Alternativer Wolf- und Bärenpark Schwarzwald Rippoldsauer Strasse 36/1 77776 Bad Rippoldsau-Schapbach