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Here are five European destinations that should give your romantic mini-break a head start:

Zurich, Switzerland

While it may have a slightly undeserved reputation for being a bit dull, Zurich is actually perfect for a romantic mini-break. It is a beautiful city, you can walk everywhere, there’s great cafes, bars, and restaurants, and if the weather is warm you can go swimming in the river or head out to explore the lake.

Granada, Spain

Explore the ancient and beautiful Alhambra (you can stay at a hotel inside the complex and explore once all the tourists have left — stunning), head into town for a flamenco experience, and share some great Spanish food.

Photo: Nikolaiy

Helsinki, Finland

Ideal in summer where you can catch ferries across to the different islands in the fjord, sit in the sun and feast on the freshest seafood and some crisp white wine.

Lisbon, Portugal

Beaches on the doorstep, drinking in the streets, and you can soak up the colonial heritage of this small, unassuming country. Explore the twisted streets of the old city, kick your night off with beers in Bairro Alto, or explore the ruins of the old Castelo de Sao Jorge.

Lisbon

Lisbon | Photo: Cristina Macia

Bruges, Belgium

If they were ever looking for a city to be on a postcard of old-world Europe then Bruges would have to be in the running — old stone houses, meandering canals, a timeless sense of belonging to a different era. They are famous for chocolate here and there are plenty of cafes where you can take a break and feast on the best hot chocolate and sugar coated waffles.

Photo: Pixabay

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An airstream adventure across California

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Image published via Pixabay
Image published via Pixabay

Some people may think of a caravan vacation as being a bit of a safe option, an ideal family-friendly expedition if you’re not going too far from home and are just looking for somewhere with a bit of space that the kids can run around in. But, like any sort of travel experience, a caravan vacation can be whatever you choose to make it.

One of my dream vacations is to tow an Airstream caravan across the United States — visiting some of the iconic destinations, the ultimate road-trip.

Why an Airstream caravan?
The company behind the Airstream began building caravans in the late 1920s, but it was in 1936 that the classic Airstream model was first introduced to the world. Made from silver aluminium and constructed in a streamlined shape to cut down wind-resistance.

The Airstream has found a place within the world’s popular culture consciousness — primarily because company founder Wally Byam began leading groups of Airstream owners on group vacations around the United States. The convoying caravans were known as Airstreamers — there is nothing quite as striking as witnesses a convoy of Airstream caravans on the move.

How to do it
Airstreams are still being manufactured at the company’s factory in Ohio, but for the casual Airstreamer there are also options to hire a caravan for your expedition. California was the original home of the Airstream, and there does seem to be some sort of spiritual connection between an Airstream adventure and the wide open spaces and rugged landscapes of California and the South West of the United States.

The best time to visit this part of the world is between June and September, when you can enjoy the beaches and the great outdoor living that California offers. But the desert climate of the south-west region means that there is year-round sunshine, so you really can enjoy your Airstream caravan travels without too many restrictions.

Where to go
My dream Airstream caravan vacation is to begin from Los Angeles, driving up the coast road to Carmel and Monterey, and then cut across to Yosemite National Park.

Carmel is a small coastal artists’ colony perched on a beautiful white-sand beach. Once you’ve parked the Airstream, everything is within walking distance as you wander around this village with its laid-back beach-side vibe.

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary features tide pools and kelp forests, which create a home for a huge range of aquatic life — you’ll find sea lions, sea otters, dolphins, and humpback whales. You can go sea-kayaking to get a closer look.

Yosemite National Park covers a huge area of spectacular wilderness. The best place to start is with some hiking in Mariposa Grove, and then aim for the top of Sentinel Dome. There are climbing schools and guides available if you fancy some serious climbing.

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