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Seaside Village in CreteWhat are the first thoughts or images that come to mind when you think of Greece?  Is it its beautiful clear waters and beaches?  Strikingly blue skies?  Its whitewashed buildings?  Music and dance?  Its history?  Contributions to philosophy and our political process?  Its delicious and healthy food? 

Perhaps, is it all of these combined images that make Greece one of the most iconic “bucket list” travel destinations in the world.  

As Greenloons’ Founder, I’ve been fortunate to travel to many countries (and even live in a few) around the world and, in my humble opinion, there is no comparison within the six continents I’ve visited, to Greece.  

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  • Kerry (Goodtrippers)
    Kerry (Goodtrippers) says #
    Making me hungry!
    I love the sound of this. Greek food is delicious and tastes even better while eating outdoors in Greece, preferably with a seavie

Bulgaria Girl near Belasitsa Nature ParkMy first impression upon crossing the border from Macedonia to Bulgaria was of the sweetness of both the air (its smell of hyacinths) and people of Bulgaria. 

Over the days, almost like a slowly blooming flower, I then began to discover its stunning vistas, burgeoning wine industry (not to mention their fantastic walnut liquor), variety of delicious food, fascinating history, adventure options, and an inherent joie-de-vivre of people who will sing and dance without much persuasion.

To me, Bulgaria is the next “hot” destination for family travelers because it’s safe, family-friendly, offers a very good standard of service, and has many options for hikers and foodies to history buffs and beach bums.

Rock Climbing Outside SkopjeWhen I was four years old, my family moved from Athens, Greece to Lausanne, Switzerland so that my father could pursue a career opportunity.  

Thinking that it would be a fun adventure, my parents decided to drive to Switzerland through Yugoslavia.

All I remember from that mid 1970s road trip was seeing lots of mountains. However, last month, I had another opportunity to explore more closely Macedonia (also known as the Republic of Macedonia or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - FYROM) and what was most surprising to me was how many options there are for adventure travelers.

Monte Rufeno Olive PickingAs we walked along the short trail back from the olive grove, I began to smell fresh mint and other aromatic herbs underfoot, wildly growing on the side of the farmhouse, and instantly felt transported to a simpler time when families had to grow their own food and raise their own livestock to survive.

Although paling in comparison to those more likely difficult times, I still was satisfied with having taken part in the harvesting of an olive tree’s lovely green and purple colored olives ready for the first press. We collected nearly 90 lbs. of olives that morning and, once again, found ourselves at a large family-style Italian table ready for a feast.

For anyone who has traveled throughout the Mediterranean, the scene may be a familiar one. But, once you account for the details, you realize it is anything but common.

Greek CuisineI may be biased given my Greek heritage, but I think authentic Greek cuisine (I am not including the ubiquitous gyro) still represents the values of slow, farm to table cooking made with fresh, wholesome ingredients.  Whether you are a vegetarian, pescatarian or omnivore, it's easy to find a wide variety of healthy dishes when traveling to Greece.  For many though, the act of making Greek food seems arduous.  However, it does not need to be difficult.  

Meet Chef Maria Krina.  Maria is a co-owner of Droseriko restaurant in Patras, which is the capital city of Western Greece, in the northern Peloponnese.  She has made a splash in Greece for being outspoken about what is happening with food production around the world and for using purely organic, raw materials from local producers in Greece and Cyprus.  Her specialty is highlighting the forgotten Greek dishes of yesteryear.  

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  • Janice Hans Christian
    Janice Hans Christian says #
    EcoTourism
    This tour is related to ecotourism but not really apply the ecotourism activity,they just have the cooking class using the raw mat
  • Jeremy
    Jeremy says #
    comment of the ecotourism
    It was really an amazing experience on ecotourism.And also its a new type of tourism in our daily life.After i read this blog i wa
  • Ceren
    Ceren says #
    visit.org
    Hello Irene, nice article! I will surely add this to my to do list in Greece I work for a startup called visit.org and we are an o

Musical Performance in front of Cathedral, ZagrebLast summer's travels with my son was part social experiment, part field research on how sustainability is viewed through the eyes of a nine-year-old child. Each country we visited, namely Cyprus, Greece, Croatia and Scotland had their own flavor of what sustainability and green travel meant.

For Croatia, sustainability generally translated to a more personal construct of preserving all things local rather than living what we, in the United States, have come to know as a green lifestyle filled with hybrid car or bus use and renewable energy resources.

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  • Yooshau
    Yooshau says #
    Ecotourism blog
    Eco-tourism is growing rapidly across the global tourism industry. It has had positive impacts on the surrounding environment, as

Wild Atlantic Way SceneThere's so much that surprised me during my trip to Ireland last October from the people (extraordinarily friendly souls who have a penchant for going out of their way to help others) to the vistas (there's a reason people call it the Emerald Isle) to the music (celebrating humanity's full range of emotions from sadness and tragedy to joy and passion) to the food (sustainably sourced by necessity and simply delicious) that it's hard to pick out a moment that stood out above all!

But, I can and that moment was during an e-biking trip along the Wild Atlantic Way.

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  • Mu'izz Naa'im
    Mu'izz Naa'im says #
    Ecotourism is not only 'greene...
    Hello Irene Lane, This post really attractive because I have always wanted to visit Ireland. Ireland has ability to be top ecotou

Bus Travel from Split CroatiaWith classic rock music playing, reliable Wi-Fi access, and spectacular scenery (think of the Pacific Coast Highway in California times two for beauty), who knew bus travel in Croatia could be so fun!

Last summer, my nine-year-old son and I traveled for 17 days throughout Croatia. We started out in Dubrovnik and continued on to Split, then Opatija, Rovinj, and finally to Zagreb.  It was a fantastic trip filled with historical sites, great food, outdoor adventure, and friendly people.  

Taking a bus, however, was not my original plan for traversing the coastline.  Instead, I wanted to travel by train or boat as I thought it would be more fun for my son and more green. However, I quickly figured out that the only reliable form of public transport in Croatia is taking a bus.

View of Dubrovnik from FortressDubrovnik, Croatia is high on many people's travel bucket lists – and with good reason!

When our family traveled there this summer, I was awestruck by this beautiful coastal city from the moment we first walked through Pile Gate into the Old Town.  The sound of the birds, the lively chatter of families strolling along the Straden, and the lack of advertisements and restaurant hawking were apparent.

I also was immediately struck with the idea that Dubrovnik was completely different from any other southern European city we've visited because of its compact layout, focus on local products and provision of numerous family-friendly activities.

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  • Mike
    Mike says #
    Hydro Nano Gas could be the Answer for Neutralizing Carbon Fuel Emissions Hydro Infra Technologies (HIT), a Swedish clean tech co

GreeceSwimmingWith almost 10,000 miles of coastline and 6,000 islands to swim, snorkel and sunbathe the days away, you may find it hard to narrow down your vacation options when traveling to Greece.  In my opinion, Athens is a must for the first-time visitor to Greece.  

Seeing the Acropolis, having a fresh fish meal beside the sea, visiting the Panathenaic Stadium (site of the first modern Olympic Games), learning about local turtle rescue center's conservation efforts, listening (and dancing) to bouzouki music, bargaining with the Plaka shopowners - it's all part of the fun of Athenian life!  

But, when the crowded city gets a bit too stifling and you want to take a break that's not far and car free, the island of Hydra is a great green getaway choice for the entire family.

There are various times throughout the year when I make a conscious decision to unplug from the world and, instead, reconnect with myself and my natural surroundings. Ultimately, while I do feel balanced, once I endeavor to rejoin the greater world again, I also realize that I missed some interesting news stories along the way. One such story occurred last summer while I was in Greece. The story was about a traveler's touching moment with a polar bear who was trying to push away a cruise ship from its Arctic homeland.

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  • Rona
    Rona says #
    Great article .

Earlier this year, our young son proclaimed to my husband and me that he knew we were Santa Claus. Gone for good were the days of writing letters to Santa, phone calls to Santa if he was behaving badly, discretely hiding presents in various closets, and laying out cookies and milk on the 'Big Night'.

While a part of me was crushed that he had lost a bit of innocence, I felt compelled to introduce more simple Christmas traditions – ones that would negate the need for far too many presents and instead evoke relaxed family memories. The idea was visit the Christmas Markets of Munich, Salzburg and Vienna and even though it had been more than 35 years since I had been to these markets, for me, they were the same as I had remembered.

As our bus driver expertly weaved around the bends and curves of the Tuscan countryside in Italy, I found myself totally transfixed by the rolling hills that surrounded us. Looking out, I felt that the scenery was almost too beautiful, that if I blinked I would suddenly wake up back in my bed in New Jersey. But there I was, in the heart of Tuscany, backpack at the ready and best friend at my side. Our decade dream of backpacking through Europe during our college years was coming true, and we were finally at the Italian portion of our journey.

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  • Mariana
    Mariana says #
    Farm´s name
    Hi Julia, Could you tell me the name of your farm? Thank you very much! Best regards, Mariana
  • Ruth
    Ruth says #
    Ruth
    I am close to retirement and able bodied. Sounds like a great experience. Is their an age limit.
  • Irene
    Irene says #
    RE:Ruth
    You may want to look on the WWOOF website for more details and application procedures - www.wwoof.org
  • Sierra
    Sierra says #
    Interested
    Hi, I am looking to WWOOF in Italy as well. Which farm did you go to? Also, did you have any prior experience?

Have you ever visited a foreign country that immediately felt like 'home' to you? Of course, the scenery, cultural customs, accents and food are all different than what you know. But, instead you experience a strange stirring of familiarity and comfort. I felt that way when traveling through Scotland last month – with the added benefit of sensing that time had slowed down for just a few days.

Posted by on in Europe Sustainable Travel

After days of overcast and rain, the morning sun over Luzern was a very welcome sight! I was not reveling alone as (it seemed) many of Luzern’s residents, visitors and children came out in droves either for a stroll along the city’s main tourist attractions or a moment of contemplation in one of its many quiet, hidden corners.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council recently spotlighted Norway's efforts toward ecotourism:

The Norwegian fjords have a tourism history dating back to 1850. The area is known for its pristine natural beauty and its stunning fjords and has won many accolades. In 2006, two of its fjords were named among the world’s best-cared-for UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and in 2009 the region was rated the world’s most iconic travel destination by National Geographic’s Traveler Magazine.

This short video (shot entirely on June 8, 2012) encapsulates the festive nature of Warsaw during the opening day of the Euro 2012 football (soccer) championships. Co-hosting with Ukraine, Poland's capital city was well prepared for guests ensuring plenty of public transportation for fans to get to the big game, and open areas with large screens so revelers could watch Poland play Greece.

As an Athenian born Greek, I had the pleasure in my younger years of discovering archeological treasures such as the Acropolis and Delphi as well as traveling to many beautiful Greek Islands including Zakynthos, Sifnos, Tinos, Mykonos and Santorini. I’ve also traveled to Athens during one of many taxi, garbage, journalist, metro, pharmacist and even public worker electricity strikes. The electricity strike was particularly fun since we would be sitting in the dark wondering when the lights would come on again. But, it would only last a few hours every few days, so no one got particularly upset.

It still astounds me how the Greek people accept these strikes as a way of life. And, to be frank, I have said to myself more than once, that this will be the last time I come back to Greece for a very long time. Yet, every couple of years, I feel an attraction or pull that makes me long to visit this crazy, but stunning country again.

The United Kingdom, which is made up of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales is consistently a top international destination for travelers. Earlier this year, even our family visited London to both introduce the city to our young son and discover what it had to offer eco-conscious travelers.

While our son immensely enjoyed visiting Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and some of the city’s parks, we also appreciated the great variety of sustainable restaurants in London. However, venturing out of the city offers the responsible traveler many more choices to appreciate the pristine areas of the nation, including the wide selection of 28 natural and cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Blessed with striking mountains and rolling hills, as well as wild rivers and wetlands, Poland is a haven for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds as well as avid hiking enthusiasts. About the size of New Mexico and a destination for all seasons, Poland also has a thriving ecotourism and nature tourism industry that offers plenty of eco-activities for families.

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  • Sheerel Reddy
    Sheerel Reddy says #
    Poland is amazing place for vacation travel. The nature friendly and beautiful places attract the tourist to visit Poland. There a

Just as London was preparing itself for the Summer Olympic Games, we decided to take a quick weekend trip over the pond to visit my family and get a feel for the city’s preparedness for the greenest Olympics ever. The marketing team that won the Games for London 2012 did so based on the premise that London would hold the first sustainable Olympic Games – ultimately going further than Vancouver did in 2010 with its LEED certified buildings and stadiums. So, of course I was very excited at the prospect of visiting Green London.

As one of the top tourism destinations in the world, Greece is best known for its relaxed lifestyle, white-washed buildings, beautiful beaches and seas, gorgeous blue skies, ancient culture and mythology, and delicious food. Perhaps, I am a little biased since I was born there, but Greece is an extraordinary family-friendly destination as well. Now, with a burgeoning ecotourism industry that is emphasizing the contrasts of its spectacular landscape and ecosystems, Greece is actively appealing to nature conservationists worldwide with its wide range of eco-activities including hiking, mountain climbing, paragliding, skiing, rafting, bird-watching, snorkeling and sailing,

Probably best known for the rolling hills featured in the film The Sound of Music, Austria is a country with an immense geographic diversity of mountains, forests, and lakes that account for a wide variety of flora and fauna. Most of what constitutes ecotourism in Austria includes nature-based hiking or mountaineering at one of its national parks or nature reserves and staying at an eco-labeled hotel or agritourism site. The country is safe to travel, clean and offers many activities for all age groups.

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  • Rebecca Rubin
    Rebecca Rubin says #
    I had no idea that Austria was the first European company to enable renewable energies, so interesting!
  • Jamie Fernandez
    Jamie Fernandez says #
    I have a friend that lived in Spain and took a romantic weekend getaway with her boyfriend to Vienna. She had travelled all over E

Although the least densely populated country in Europe, Iceland is fast becoming a popular family ecotour destination. Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and about the size of Kentucky, the “land of fire and ice” is a country with a rich geological landscape of volcanoes, mountains and hot springs. Iceland is safe to travel, clean and offers many enriching activities for all age groups.

In the last installment of the family ecotourism series that takes you through the highlights of Northern Europe, I invite you to appreciate lovely Gothenburg. Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden, after Stockholm. It is located on the southwest coast of Sweden and is equidistant between Copenhagen, Denmark and Olso, Norway. According to the Gothenburg city council, each resident enjoys 300 square feet of green space, which explains how one can readily reach the forests, meadows, lakes, parks and gardens that are peppered throughout the city.

In the seventh installment of a family ecotourism series entitled Ecotourism in Northern Europe, I invite you to appreciate the beauty of Copenhagen. Personally, I have never visited a city so environmentally conscious. From carbon neutral taxis to taxi bikes to eco-labeled hotels to specially designated bike and pedestrian paths that surround the city, Copenhagen is a wonderful mix of history, maritime industry, business, culture, and tourism. It is impossible to walk down a street day or night and not see hundreds of residents (some with toddlers wearing helmets) safely meandering through the streets on their bicycles. The city also is resplendent with parks and canals that allow for many opportunities to quickly step away from city-life and get back to nature.

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  • VisitDenmark
    VisitDenmark says #
    Great entry. Thanks for telling the world about Denmark. If you or your readership should find it interesting, we do have a lot o

In the sixth installment of a family ecotourism series that provides suggestions for families traveling through Northern Europe, I invite you to appreciate Oslo. A remote Scandinavian land of a thousand fjords and islands, Norway always ranks high in environmental surveys for its water quality and hydro power plants. Its capital, Oslo, is located at the start of the 100-kilometre Oslofjord. The fjord’s 40 islands each have unique character and abundant recreational activities. Over half of Oslo is covered by forests and parks, making it a truly green city. What I found most appealing about its architecture was the abundant use of turf roofs, which allows for natural insulation.

In the fifth installment of the family ecotourism series entitled Ecotourism in Northern Europe, I invite you to appreciate the promise of Stockholm. Built on 14 small islands joined by bridges, Stockholm is a wonderful mixture of busy city life and plentiful, beautiful parks. As the capital of Sweden, it enjoys a reputation for taking the best of socialist and capitalist economic systems as people are extraordinarily egalitarian yet technologically dominant and environmentally strong-minded. Sweden, together with Norway, shares the top spot for the world’s greenest country and Stockholm is a city filled with young people and young families eager to put its city on the world stage.

In the fourth installment of a family ecotourism series entitled Ecotourism in Northern Europe, I invite you to appreciate the potential of Visby.  Visby is the capital of the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.  It is located 53 miles off of coast of Stockholm and for the typical Swedish family, Gotland is the main island to visit for a summer vacation.  With picturesque beaches and cliffs, Gotland is also home to the Swedish sheep farming industry. 

In the third installment of a family ecotourism series covering Ecotourism in Northern Europe, I invite you to appreciate the wonder of Gdansk. A coastal city on the Baltic Sea, Gdansk combined with the rest of its “tri-city” Polish neighbors, Gdynia and Sopot, features a great amount of lakes and forests; lots of recreational activities including kayaking, canoeing and hiking; and spa and health rejuvenation vacations all with a conscious eye toward environmental preservation. Although 12 miles separates the “tri-city” neighbors, car and bus transportation is a bit difficult due to a lack of road infrastructure – a legacy from the days of Soviet rule. A better alternative is the electric train that runs frequently through the “tri-city” neighbors and only takes 35 minutes.

In the second of a family ecotourism series entitled Ecotourism in Northern Europe, I invite you to appreciate the splendor of Riga. On the banks of the Daugava River, the capital of Latvia is not only a UNESCO heritage site but is widely considered to be the cleanest city in Europe. In addition to it being one of the few countries that actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions year over year, Riga has the lowest carbon dioxide emission per capita among the EU countries and has the second best (after Sweden) policy related to renewable natural energy sources.

Recently, I had the pleasure of touring Northern Europe. Besides relaxing and spending time with my family, my objective was to test the outer limits of the trip by discovering at least one family ecotourism activity in each of the cities that we would be visiting. In the first of a series entitled Ecotourism in Northern Europe, I invite you to appreciate the potential of Helsinki. As the capital of Finland, Helsinki combines elements of both Swedish and Russian cultures, cuisines and attitudes. During the summer, Helsinki nights are brief and only last a few hours, which allows for ample opportunity to meander along the neighborhoods, markets, and parks.

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