An alternative Christmas story for naughty children
If you're travelling to Central Europe in December, beware! You might come across Krampus, a scary character that doesn't usually appear in traditional Christmas stories. Instead of bringing presents he comes to make sure children behave.more info
Kinderland The Children’s Island
Mainau Island is a captivating green island carpeted with flowers emerging from the blue waters of Lake Constance, just an hour and a half away from Stuttgart. Standout features include a 45-hectare Mediterranean-style garden commissioned by Count Lennart Bernadotte who was related to the Swedish royal family. This gardening artwork is now managed by his children.
Mainau Children’s Land
Mainau Island (also known as the Island of Flowers) has some admirable features and not only those in its lush botanical gardens, with plants from all over the world. Mainau-Kinderland (Mainau Children’s Land) and Germany’s largest Butterfly House draw families from across the globe. Over two million people a year are estimated to visit here. The best thing about this huge children’s park is that it is suitable for children from the age of two years on, and it opens from spring to autumn.
But, what most rivets the little ones’ attention – and grown ups, too, we have to admit – is the Dwarf Village. This attraction is aimed at children between the ages of two and four. It has cave-shaped huts, a wooden train and an area for water games, which operates permanently. The Village is located between the Farm and the Lake and also features a stable for pony riding. There are also dwarf donkeys and dogs – loads of dogs, as virtually all the breeds are represented here. The Farm, which also has a garden, is full of rabbits running about, while cows and goats graze to their heart’s content. And, needless to say, there has to be a chicken run, too, with both roosters and hens crowing away. What child doesn’t like a farm?
One of the major attractions is the Zoo, where children are allowed to pet lots of animals. Perhaps the best part, though, is the Butterfly House, which is open all year around. Stretching across an area of 1,000 m², it is landscaped to resemble a tropical paradise. Strolling among the gurgling waterfalls, pond-straddling bridges and a grotto, visitors can luxuriate in the sight of hundreds of colours and rare butterflies from about 80 species flying freely and feeding, carrying out their mating dances and laying eggs. If you keep still for a while, you might be lucky enough to have one settle on you. Another highlight is the new Insect Garden where you can glean interesting facts about wild bees, honey bees and apiculture in general.
Caution! A Water World
The area which has been most successful of late is the Wasserwelt (Water World). It is an ideal precinct for children to play to their heart’s content in a safe environment. It is actually a game-show-like circuit with a set of small, attached or interconnected houses and towers where children are challenged to overcome hurdles and move from one house to the next without touching the ground. To this end, they avail themselves of ropes and climbing walkways. This water world also has large areas with sand built in the form of mud pools. Here, children can play unfettered – they can build, bake, discover and investigate. Alongside this area is a pathway where you can walk barefoot, made of materials which are pleasant to the touch, purposely devised for adults who are loathe to get splashed while accompanying their kids.
Lake Constance, nicknamed the Schwäbische Meer (Swabian Sea), is the third largest lake in Europe and straddles three countries – Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Be sure to take advantage of your trip to Mainau Kinderland to tour this marvellous landscape. Formed by the Rhine glacier during the last Ice Age and currently fed by the river itself, this enormous lake is 63 km long by 14 km wide and has a maximum depth of 250 metres. The region is characterised by meadows and vineyards, market gardens and dams, beaches and Alpine foothills. A motley region which blossoms into its full beauty in summer, just when the tourists flock here. Some of the most popular activities here are swimming in the lake and camping on some of its shores. In spring it is carpeted with flowers and in autumn there is new wine, fewer people and magnificent visibility when the warm Föhn blows.
Don’t pass up the chance to treat your children to this cultural extravaganza. The area also features countless Baroque churches, Benedictine abbeys, Stone Age dwellings, Roman forts, medieval castles and even zeppelins. You just can’t get bored. Come on – prepare your children for the grand surprise. Check out our flights here.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
Images by Germany Travelmore info
Six Activities with Children in Brindisi
Brindisi, with a population of nearly 90,000 inhabitants, is a surprisingly calm and highly relaxing destination. The city has a glorious past, as evinced in the large number of vestiges still to be seen. Indeed, since ancient times Brindisi was known as the “Gateway to the East”, on account of its geographical location. This led it to become the perfect harbour for Roman vessels to dock at before sailing for the Near East. It was subsequently pilgrims, crusaders and merchants that set out from these shores, and the city also marked the end of the Roman road known as the Via Appia or Appian Way. Here at Vueling City we have prepared six family activities for your stay in this resort, which is also ideal for indulging in “slow tourism”.
Strolling Through the City
The city of Brindisi, on the Adriatic Sea, is situated between two deep bays and connected to the open sea via a deep, narrow channel overlooked by the Castello Rosso (Red Castle), so called for the colour of the stone used in its construction. This provides an exceptional starting point for a tour of the city. Another ideal start is the Castello Svevo or Swabian Castle, which overlooks the harbour’s western channel. The fortress is trapezoidal in shape, although it was remodelled many times over after the arrival of the Aragonese. Your itinerary might then take you to San Giovanni al Sepolcro (the Church of Saint John Sepulchre), which features a splendid, finely decorated marble portal. From there you can head for the Piazza del Duomo and visit the Cathedral. Next, go down the Via Colonne and stop at the foot of the Colonna Romana (Roman Column), originally flanked by another, identical column which is currently located in Lecce. The best way to round off the tour is to approach the Corso Garibaldi, a palm-tree-lined avenue which connects the harbour to the esplanade and train station.
Italy’s Largest Safari Park with Wild Animals
An outing likely to be hugely popular with the kids is a visit to the safari park with the largest number of wild animals in Italy, situated a few kilometres from Fasano. At Fasanolandia, lions, tigers, bears, elephants, antelope, giraffe, bison, deer, zebras and camels roam free among the park’s lush Mediterranean vegetation. The circuit is negotiated by car and there are several routes to choose from. The park also boasts an ornithological exhibit, a tropical room, a zoo and an oceanarium, each with its own variety of wild species – macaws, zebra finches, alligators, snakes, bears, hippos, dolphins and penguins, among others. There is also a Zoo Safari and a large Theme Park.
Another great place to chill out, as well as to enjoy healing therapies and personal care treatment are the Torre Canne Thermal Baths, set amid a lovely fir-tree park which includes a small lake fed by underground streams renowned for their therapeutic properties. This is a spot for the whole family to enjoy water in a different way.
The Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve, a veritable oasis run by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund for Nature), is undoubtedly the most spectacular nature park in the area. If offers a wealth of possibilities, criss-crossed by footpaths and trails that are ideal for long, relaxed hikes or bicycle outings with the children. If you haven’t brought the children along, you could do some yoga, a popular activity here in the heart of this splendid nature reserve.
A Tranquil Sea
If there is a place all children root for, it has to be the seaside. The Brindisi coastline is flat and sandy throughout. It is blessed with a longer-than-usual holiday season thanks to its mild climate, which spills over into the autumn. The crystal-clear emerald-green and deep, sea-blue sea is ideal for diving, revealing stunningly rich Mediterranean flora and a seabed where the plant-carpeted depths are interspersed with rocky and sandy sea floors. This is the perfect habitat for the common snipe, ducks, nightingales and various kinds of amphibians. It is also the domain of a wealth of marine plant species, including undersea meadows of seagrass (Posidonia oceanica), sea fans or gorgonians and coral.
Back to the Past
In mid-August,Ostuni,a half-hour’s drive north of Brindisi, hosts the traditional Sagra Vecchi Tempi festivity, packed with musical and folk events, a cult festival that pays homage to the past. Take a stroll through the town’s alleyways and steep yourself in quaint scenes of country life set in accurately reconstructed craft workshops, where you can also taste delicious snacks of traditional local cuisine. At the forefront are the cheeses, both fresh and cured, made on local livestock farms and featuring ricotta, cacioricotta and pecorino, a sheep’s-milk cheese. And, true to local tradition, you can also find a variety of breads – focacce, frise and taralli. A special treat is to be had in the form of typical confectionery, notably the mandorla riccia or “curled almond” and cegliese,a biscuit containing roast almonds, cherry preserve and lemon.
Don’t think twice – if you’re seeking a calm yet entertaining holiday with the children, check out our flights here!
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicaciónmore info
5 things to do with your children in Nantes
By Valentina Besana – Be Road
I’ve been to Nantes for 48 hours with my partner in life and our son who is just over two years old. This lovely town in the Loire offers a variety of fun things to do that respond to the requirements of both adults and children.
1. Isle de la Machine
A unique museum that will charm parents and children of all ages. This cultural project is based on the merging of the fantastic worlds imagined by Jules Verne (author of “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “Around the World in 80 Days”, born in Nantes), Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical universe and Nantes’ industrial history.
One of the most striking features of the exhibit is the huge mechanical elephant that moves around in the museum and on which it is possible to take half-hour tours, though I think it is just as interesting to watch it stroll around from the ground. Oh, be careful about getting too close to the elephant because it sprays water from its trunk and you might end up taking an unexpected shower! Inside the museum there are other mechanical animals built with much attention to detail: caterpillars, birds, and a variety of insects…
Also fascinating is the great “marine world merry-go-round” located outside (soaring a good 25 meters from the ground) on which you can ride together with your children. Facing the museum is a play-ground with swings and slides. Located on the shores of the Loire river in the former dockyard area, the museum is just a quick street car (number 1) ride away from the town center and can also be easily reached with a lovely walk.
If you get hungry, rather than having a snack at the museum’s café that doesn’t have much to offer, my suggestion is to walk a little further to the area called “Hangar à Bananes” where there are several café’s offering delicious crepes and cakes.
2. Historic town center with chocolates and wooden toys
Strolling through Nantes’ beautiful historic town center is very pleasant and can be done entirely by foot. I recommend a walk in the car free street Rue de Verdan, where you will find a distinctive Boulangerie (“Boulangerie Simon”, at number 19) where you can purchase a healthy snack for your children, and just a few steps away at number 23, a typical French chocolaterie that will put you in a good mood (Lambert Chocolaterie). Those who fancy shopping for design baby attire should not miss “Drom”, a gorgeous store at number 31 of Rue de Verdan, selling beautiful romper suits, dresses and all sorts of accessories.
And if your children are bored, facing the clothing store is the “Le Bonhomme de Bois”, a wonderful toy store full of original ideas and wooden toys.
3. Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne
Beautiful medieval – renaissance style castle built between the XIII and XVI centuries. As daylight begins to fade, the facade glows with lovely light shows. During the day it is possible to take a tour inside the castle, but it is also nice just to walk around in the courtyard, look down into the great well and feed the many ducks that have made a home in the area. The castle is in the center, not far from the Bouffay neighborhood, the ideal place to get something to eat (point 5)
4. Le Nid, aperitif with a view
This is not a place specifically for children, but our son liked it. It’s on the last floor (thirty second) of the Brittany Tower, with a breathtaking 360° view of the city. The name of the place is not a simple coincidence – inside there is a large sculpture of a stork and egg-shaped chairs that are much admired by the younger guests. Here I suggest you enjoy the view and have something to drink, but not to eat: we tasted the bagels that they serve… icy cold!
5. Sweet and salty crepes in Bouffay
Going abroad with children and deciding what to get for them to eat might be quite difficult. But what can be better than a delicious crepe? It’s a balanced and nourishing dish stuffed to your choosing. In Nantes the mix used for salty crepes is made with buckwheat flour (they are called Gallettes), which are therefore darker than we are used to seeing them but just as delicious. Sweet crepes are made with the traditional mix, are very thin and can also be stuffed in any way you want.There are very many Creperie’s in the Bouffay neighborhood within Nantes’ city center, and it isn’t easy to chose one. We happened to stop at the Creperie Jaune by chance and were very happy with the choice.
By Valentina Besana – Be Road
Somewhere well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.more info