Friday, October 30, 2009

Tour du France The Green Way in Limoges, Gueret and More

I am listing here the details on some of the tips I gave on New Hampshire Public Radio's Word of Mouth segment about traveling green along one of the Tour de France legs running right through the center of France from Limoges (in the Limousin region) to Issoudun (in the Centre region).

If you are looking for health food stores you will find a few in the cities of Limoges, Gueret and Chateauroux. The following list offers a selection of stores. Most of these close in the afternoons so if you are buying lunch it is safest to arrive before noon.
La Vie Claire, 9 rue Lansecot, 87000 Limoges; Tel: 05 55 307 671
Planete Nature, 15 rue Hoche, 87000 Limoges, Tel: 05 55 796 997 (off Place Marceau)
Rayons Verts, 11 rue Clouet, Limoges, Tel: 05 55 439 583
La Vie Claire, 4 rue de l’Eglise, 23000 Gueret, Tel: 05 55 528 547
Castel Bio, 15 rue Joseph Bellier, Chateauroux, Tel: 02 54 089 144
Espace Bio, Centre Commercial St Jacques, 36000 Chateauroux

Look for markets in Issoudun, Bourges, Gueret and other towns. In Gueret market days are Thursday and Saturday mornings.

You can lay your head down at the following green lodging possibilities.

Holiday Tipis in France has six tipis powered by solar electricity. Open from May 1st to August 31st, they serve local foods for breakfast included in the tipi charge, and optional dinners three evenings a week. Stays range from three to seven days and prices run from 170 to 350 euros per tipi depending upon length of stay. Located about fifteen minutes from Gueret. Holiday Tipis in France, 7 Folbeix, Ladapeyre, Creuse, France 23270; Tel: 05 55 809 026; Email:; Web site:

3 Place de Sarbres is a vegetarian bed & breakfast in a renovated 18th century house in the town of Felletin about an hour and forty-five minutes east of Limoges and one hour south of Le Creuse, considered the French Lake District. The apartment price ranges from 189-252 euros per week. Bed and Breakfast rooms are 50 euros a night and the vegetarian meals are extra. In Felletin the water comes from the mountains so it is like bottled water from the tap, and there is a micro brewery in the town. 3 Place de Sarbres, Felletin; Tel: 05 55 665 229; Email:; Web site:

Northeast of Gueret you will find Le Petit Pauliat, a rural gite rented by the week from Saturday to Saturday in a beautiful rural setting. Three kilometers from the town of Gueret is Le Labyrinthe Géant – a treat for labyrinthe enthusiasts. Le Petit Pauliat, 4 Pauliat, 03380 Treignat; Tel: 04 70 070 885; Email:; Web site:

There are numerous choices for excursions in the area. Listed here are a few recommendations.
Two hours west of Chateauroux you will find the stunning forty-five acre organic vineyard of M Louzeau Chateau de la Bonneliere just south of Saint-Lazare and Chinon.

A little farther – two hours and forty minutes from Chateauroux- or only one and a half hours from Tours is a beautiful fifty acre biodynamic vineyard, Chateau Tour Grise in Le Puy Notre Dame a town surrounded by almost 4000 acres of vineyards. Le Pinsonniere is a neighboring bed & breakfast in a renovated 17th century farmhouse serving local and organic foods.

For thermal baths you can go to Evaux-Les-Bains, a small spa and thermal bath town east of Gueret. More information is at the town web site:; and at the Web site for the baths:

Walking and biking routes include one of the Routes to Santiago de Compostela in Spain (Route of St James), which runs through the region of Limousin, starting in Vezelay and heading south of Bourges towards Limoges and St Leonard De Noblat. Grand Randonee (GR) long distance walking routes in the area include the  GR 3 - see the Randonee Website and click on 18, 36, or 37 on the map for more information.

There is a Regional Natural Park in Brenne just west of Chateauroux between Limoges and Bourges.
Ninety kilometers south of Limoges the town of Brive-la-Gaillarde is home to a famous market where you can find local specialties including walnuts, mushrooms, truffles, apples and violet mustard. The market is held on Place du 14 Juillet and Place de Lattre de Tassigny on Tuesday and Saturday mornings from 8am to 12:30pm.

The Limousin region was home to a strong contingent of the French Resistance including the Maquis guerilla resistance fighters who worked to combat the Nazi controlled government in Vichy. In Brive-la-Gaillard you can find the Musée de la Resistance et de la Deportation Edmund Michelet (The Resistance & Deportation Museum), with memorabilia, artifacts and photographs from World War II and the French Resistance. Musée de la Resistance et de la Deportation Edmund Michelet (The Resistance & Deportation Museum), rue Champanatier, 19100 Brive la Gaillard; Tel: 05 55 740 608. Open every day except Sunday and holidays from 10am to 12pm/2pm to 6pm with free entrance.

Happy touring!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Eco Saturday in Paris

Book in at the Hotel de la Porte Dorée, a family run hotel with some green amenities, on avenue Daumesnil in the 12th arrondissement, on the east side of the city, steps away from the Port Dorée metro and bus stops, making the city sites easily accessible. Make sure you are equipped with a map of Paris and the metro and/or bus lines.

The Organic Market Brancusi (Marche Biologique Brancusi) is held Saturday mornings from 9:00 am to 3:00pm. To get there take the purple #8 Metro line from Port Dorée towards Richelieu for two stops to Daumesnil. Switch to the green #6 line towards Charles de Gaulle Etoile. Take that twelve stops to the Edgar Quinet stop and walk down rue de Gaite or through the Montparnasse Cemetery to du Maine Avenue. Rue R.J. Zay off of du Maine will bring you to Place Constantin where you will find the Marche Biologique Brancusi. The teal #13 metro stop, Gaite is closer, but not worth the switching coming from Port Dorée.

For bikers, there is a Paris Vélib bike station at 1 Place Edouard Renard a couple of blocks from the Hotel. Bike to the Market and there is a Vélib station at 90 Ave. du Maine, one to two blocks from the market, near the Gaité Metro stop. For more Vélib information, visit their website for locating stations all over Paris.

Once you have explored the market and eaten some delicious food, you can walk to Park George Brassens, or rent a Vélib bike (there are two Vélib stations along the park – one is Station # 15046, 42 rue des Morillons), where book lovers will particularly enjoy the secondhand and antique book market held in an old horse market pavilion in the Parc on rue des Morillons in the 15th arrondissement of Paris (Métro: Convention). The Parc has vineyards, beehives, 510 rose bushes, walking paths, and more. The book market, held on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 6pm, has over 200 participating booksellers, 68 of which rotate through each weekend.

After the Parc and book market you can bike or Metro to the St. Germain neighborhood, a lively area full of fun stores and eats, making your way towards any number of sites – Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay – to name a few. If you are planning on one of the museums, you are better off planning in advance for those and purchasing your tickets Online to avoid the crowded entry lines.
You can eat lunch at the first all-organic bar and restaurant in Paris, Phyto Bar, serving terrific organic food. They offer an array of fresh squeezed juices—the grapefruit-kiwi is an especially refreshing combination. The seaweed “caviar,” made with a variety of greens from the sea, is highly recommended. Next door, you will find La Nature a Paris Boutique, their sister store, a tiny, jam-packed health food shop. (Phyto Bar Restaurant and Bar, 47 Boulevard Saint-Germain; Tel: 01 44 07 3699.) The Phtyo Bar Restaurant is about five blocks along rue Monge from the Seine River and the bridge across to the Notre Dame Cathedral. In nice weather there will be book, souvenir and art vendors along the Seine.

If you need a rest after your walking, biking and sightseeing, you can bus, bike or metro back to the Hotel.

Once you are refreshed, the evening offers a number possibilities. One of my favorite Paris excursions is to listen to the nuns sing vespers at the Sacre Couer Basilica – the magic and beauty of their voices can be enjoyed by all. They begin at 6pm and sing for about thirty minutes.

From the hotel you can get to Sacre Couer a few ways. By bus take the #46 from Porte Dorée to the final stop of Gare du Nord (a large train station). From there you could walk all the way, or walk to the Funicular that goes up the hill to the basilica. If you want to go by Metro, you want to be on the #2 blue line. Take the #8 purple line from Porte Dorée two stops to Daumesnil, change to the #6 green line to Nation. At Nation get onto the #2 blue line and take that to Anvers. Here you will be quite close to the funicular, which you can either take, or simply walk up the steep steps.

If you want to stay closer to “home” in the evening, try a delightful experience at the Grand Mosque, serving tea and more. For a truly delicious experience you can wind down with a Hammam steam bath and massage at the Mosque. The Tea room is open seven days a week from 9:00am until 11:30pm, so you can enjoy this almost anytime of day. Check the website for specifics about the Hammam since they have different days for men and women. The Hammam is open until 9:00pm. To reach the mosque by metro from the hotel either get onto the purple #8 line at Porte Dorée for two stops to the Green #6 at Daumesnil (or walk to the Daumesnil stop). Take the Green #6 six stops to Place d’Italie and switch to the orange #5 for two stops to Saint Marcel. Walk two blocks up rue Geoffrey St-Hilaire toward the Jardin des Plantes (worth a stroll and visit on its own), and the Grand Mosque. The Tea room and Hammam entrances are on rue Geoffrey.

Lastly, if you are in Paris during July and August, there are outdoor film screenings in La Villette Park showing at 9:00pm most nights. But, if you decide to enjoy a Hammam Steam bath on Saturday evening, you can go to the movies Sunday night instead.

Traveling Naturally Saturday in Paris:
• Organic Brancusi Market
• Used and antique book fair in Parc George Bressans
• St Germain neighborhood\Notre Dame Cathedral (with possible visits to the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay)
• Lunch at PhytoBar Organic Restaurant
• Return to Hotel for Rest
Evening Options:
• Sacre Couer Basilica Vespers 6pm
• Tea and/or Hammam Bath and Massage at the Grand Mosque
• La Villette Park outdoor movie screenings in July and August only, at 9:00pm most nights (

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Announcing the New Sister Blog of Green Earth Guides ~ Traveling Naturally

Check out my new sister blog, Traveling Naturally Ecological Wine Guide: Exploring Organic, Biodynamic and other Ecological Wines and Vineyards from Europe and the USA. Visit the blog at: As is indicated by the title, the new blog is dedicated entirely to ecological wines and vineyards. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bargain Hunting In Valencia Spain

For those travelers who can’t pass up a good bargain or market, then plan your trip to Valencia around the Tuesday morning market on Calle Jerusalem, a bustling, shuffle-walking street market crammed with non-food vendors. While everything is quite inexpensive at this market, shoppers looking for second hand clothes and textiles should head to the south end of the market where there are multiple stalls selling items for between 1-3 euros each. Most of these vendors are shouting “Uno euro, uno euro” repeatedly and loudly to draw in shoppers. Go prepared with change and small bills as making change is not done happily especially for one or two items.

My favorite table at this market is piled with beautiful old pillowcases and table linens where I can find divine linen, cotton and damask pillowcases for one euro each – about 1/20th or 1/50th of what they would cost new- - and they feel a million times softer than new.

You will find Calle Jerusalem two blocks west of the Valencia Nord train station. Vendors close up between 1:00 and 2:00pm.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Paris: Loo-la-la! Toilets are hard to come by

Now here is some VERY helpful information for the traveler wandering the streets of Paris!!!
Paris: Loo-la-la! Toilets are hard to come by

Friday, October 23, 2009

Airline Rant

I realize that I am particularly sensitive to quality customer service having owned a small mail-order company back in the zenith of high quality customer care when L.L. Bean set the standard for stellar service. This was just prior to the explosion of the Internet, web sites and online marketing, when you actually could get through to and speak with human beings who, if as a business owner you remotely cared about your business, were trained to be courteous and work by the axiom, “The customer is always right.”

Well clearly those days are long gone in many respects, and one of the first places to take the hit were airline companies. I lump these into a broad generalized group because my experience, barring a few exceptions, has been that airlines do nothing for the customer in need of care.
 (And please do not talk to me about vouchers and “free” meals or tickets as I have found these to be fraught with conditions and microscopic print that in many cases leave them unusable and unused.)

This was reinforced the other day when my daughter was shut-out at the Iberian Airline gate in Milan, Italy. Now one might think that the oft-heard tale of someone oversleeping and missing their flight had occurred as my daughter is a college student and not immune to oversleeping. However, this was not the case. She was on a shuttle bus from the train station, caught in traffic and arrived at the airport with limited time to get to the gate forty minutes in advance. She was flying a subsidiary of Iberia so was sent from the Iberia desk to a number of other counters at lengthy distances from each other before arriving at the correct one only to find out that by this time, although the plane was still there, she was not able to board (even though she had NO luggage) as it was less than forty minutes to take off.

Needless to say, my daughter burst in to tears. Well this did not soften any hearts and she spent the next three hours trying to find another flight. The customer service people at Iberia were less than satisfactory and I had one man be down right rude on the phone and said this wasn’t his fault, but my daughter’s… hmmmm….well at that point I took a deep breath, said goodbye and hung up. They wanted to sell me another ticket for over 600 euros (about $900 with today’s exchange rate) which I declined.

Finally a kind and efficient woman at the counter in Milan found my daughter a flight to Barcelona for 160 euros, a bargain by comparison. The flight ended up leaving almost 50 minutes LATE, and so she took a later-than-hoped for train from Barcelona finally arriving to me not at her original arrival time of 1:00 pm, but rather almost twelve hours later after midnight.

Now as if all of that weren’t excruciating enough, some one – who I would like to know – came up with the absurd airline rule that if for whatever reason, you do not use the first leg of your round trip ticket, you forfeit your return ticket.


Don’t tell me it is a 9-11 security measure. The ONLY things that rule thwarts are the travel plans (and pocket books) of honest people. If you don’t use the first part of your train ticket you can still get on the return train!

And why are these conventional airlines so struggling for money when they must be pocketing HUGE sums of money from unused tickets due to this ridiculous rule? There are thousands (possibly millions) of stories on the web about individual travelers who had to forfeit their return tickets. Why is this being allowed?

As travelers and consumers our hands are somewhat tied, but I propose some sort of media blast about this issue so that possibly this policy can be changed in this travel-filled world, where flexibility is a valuable commodity. Write about it on blogs, in comments on posts and in newspapers, -- share your stories of forfeited return tickets and voice your outrage. It is the only outlet for the customer since customer service has become a thing of the past.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Indulgence or Health Care?

I highly recommend trying bodywork or spa therapies while traveling as it really gives you a whole other view into a culture. For those of you who follow my blog, you might remember my somewhat comical post about a spa-massage experience I had in Provence, France almost two years ago. In Avignon I tried a Hammam-Spa-Massage package which consisted of a steam room, warm Jacuzzi and massage. Since that was so restorative, I decided to try the Hammam + Masaje (Hammam with Massage) here in Valencia, Spain. Thanks to the French spa, I was a bit prepared for the initial part of my spa session. Waiting for me in a neat pile on a bench by my locker was a towel - much larger than its French counterpart, and a disposable thong and slippers. So once again in all my middle-aged glory (or not so glorious as the case may be) I donned my basically non-existent groin-cloth and padded my way into an atmospheric room lit with candles and with soothing music playing in the background. Sweet Laresa brought me a warm infusion (herbal tea) and told me to relax. I sat naked (does a disposable thong really count as clothing? I think not) in a sling chair sipping my unusual and comforting brew.

Laresa reappeared in a short unitard, and instructed me to lie down, face up, on the massage table that was covered with a plastic sheet she had just thrown warm water on....hmmm this was going to be interesting. Indeed, and heavenly - I was basically rinsed, washed, massaged, scrubbed from head and hair to toe with giant piles of bubbles layered on my torso as a sort of cover. Once this luxurious cleansing was complete, Laresa had me move into a large bathtub filled with bubbly warm water. I lay soaking for a few minutes and then she escorted me to the nearby shower where I was told to alternate between hot and cold rinses. This was all divine, and I felt wonderful. I assumed my appointment was complete, having lost all sense of time. When I turned off the water and came out of the shower, Laresa appeared as if by magic and told me to dry off, wrap my hair in a towel, put on a new, dry thong and slippers and her colleague would come retrieve me for my massage. I could hardly believe my ears.

Sure enough, a lovely young woman appeared and led me down a dimly lit hallway into a cozy massage room. Here she massaged my whole body for what seemed a deliciously long amount of time, and spent an extensive amount of time on my head and face which were in dire need as I have taken to some kind of jaw clenching as part of my hormonal changes.

While different in many of the particulars of my French spa experience, the overall effect was quite similar - that is I felt quite nourished, nurtured, restored and rejuvenated. And while part of my brain was thinking of this as an indulgence, the rest of my brain and whole body were feeling the clear and absolute health benefits. This is truly health care - not sick care. This is treating the body well, taking care of it, investing in it, and allowing it to receive.

Imagine if this is what we were hoping to give everyone a right to....... how different the world would be.

This particular experience took place at the Navarro Spa Catala, Arzobispo Mayoral 11, 46001 Valencia Spain; Tel: 963 524 334;

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Empathy for Foreigners Part Two- Residence Card

This is Part  II of the visa and residence card process posts. See the last post for visa details.

Once you arrive in the country of your destination it is likely you will have more steps- you certainly do in Spain.

Once in Spain you should receive at the mailing address you put on your application, a letter and some forms with fee amounts. You are instructed (all in Spanish) to bring the forms, your empadronamiento (see below), your passport with visa and 2 “passport” photos with you to the police department that specializes in residence cards. In the city I am living in the particular police department is way out of the main city area, in an industrial zone, seemingly miles from anywhere. This adds to the effect I think. They are trying to weed out the faint of heart.

Okay - here are the things NO one tells you and all must be done PRIOR to going to the police department:

1) The empadronamiento is a certificate stating where you live in Spain. It is a way for the local government to keep track of people living in their jurisdiction, and enables you to easily open a bank account and conduct other business, the most important of which is getting your residence card. Get the empadronamiento BEFORE you even think about your residence card.

You apply for the empadronamiento at your town or city hall – usually in a special office or department - NOT at the police department.You should expect to wait 1-2 hours for your face-face meeting with a Spanish administrator who will review your passports and lease, and have you fill out a brief application.

If you have an apartment lease you will need to bring the original - that is with ink signatures- with you. If you are living in someone else’s home you will need them to write an official letter stating that you are residing with them. Then, assuming you provide everything to your administrator’s liking, they will print out your certificate – make sure they know you need it for a residence card/ visa. (For further useful information see the Spain Expat site:

2) – There are two fee forms that presumably will have been sent to you at the address you listed on your visa application. These cover the charges for the residence card. You need to take these forms to a bank and pay cash (the fees for each person are currently 10.20 euros + 15 euros = 25.20 euros per person). The teller will run the forms through a machine and give you processed forms back. These are what you give to the residence card people at the police station. They will not even let you in the door at the police station unless you have these fee forms properly processed.

3) Pictures – A Spain passport picture is NOT the same as a US passport picture. Go to one of the photo machines often found in metro stops and at shopping areas and choose the “DNI” Photos” option (see pictures above). The photos will set you back about 3 euros. Before I knew this trick I was sent away twice – once for having the wrong size photo (because they do not tell you anywhere the size, they only say “passport” size) and then again for not having the pictures on the correct photographic paper. The result was far inferior photos, but what the authorities wanted.

4) – Make 1 copy of the following: passport photo page, visa, and page where it shows your date of entry into Spain/the EU.

Now remember the adage: “There will always be something - and it will never be the thing you anticipate.”

Once everything seems to be gathered correctly, you can venture to the designated police department. Bring snacks and a book to read and be prepared to wait for hours. You will be given a number and will wait in line with many others. And in Spain, don’t forget about siesta time – so in many cases the police station is open from 9:00 am to 1:30pm/5:00pm to 7:00pm. Double check the hours of your designated office if you can.

I am convinced that this is some sort of sadistic system where they bet about how many times it takes someone to get a card. Also your luck depends almost entirely on the civil servant you end up with – much of it is based on their discretion on how they interpret the rules – oh joy. If by some miracle you make it through the process in one visit consider yourself an exception and go out and celebrate. But lest you get too heady, you might be surprised to learn that even if you make it through all hurdles with no glitches, you do not walk out of the police department with card in hand. "Huh?" you say….

Once all your documents are deemed correct and in order, they fingerprint you twice and give you a stub of a receipt. This you must hold onto for dear life as this, and only this, is what gets you your residence card in 30-45 DAYS! - when you must RETURN to the police station on the outskirts of the city (by this time public transportation has been thrown out the window and you are taking taxis! ☺)

Okay – really after this, all I can say is be patient and good luck.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Empathy for Foreigners trying to live in Any Country – Part 1 – Visa Application

I consider myself to be very good at filling out forms, figuring things out, paying attention to details of important instructions...but wow, dealing with a visa application and then the ensuing residence card has been both excruciatingly frustrating and extraordinarily illuminating. I have a pet peeve about being given wrong or bad information - maybe it’s because I write guides - but I really don’t like. And the norm here is to be given information but with critical details left out. And of course all the information is only in Spanish.

I hope that by writing these posts I can spare you some of the headaches I endured.

So for starters, anyone remotely thinking of applying for a visa to Spain, the first thing I will tell you is be patient and allow for lots of time at every stage. Get used to chanting the visa application adage: "There will always be something - and it will never be the thing you anticipate."

The first stage of the process is applying for a visa which you must do from within the United States or your country of origin wherever that might be. You need to determine which Spanish consulate you need to be working with. For example, I live in New England so I had to deal with the Spanish consulate in Boston. You must ask for an appointment by email, and it can take weeks to hear back just on this very preliminary step.

Prior to going to your visa “appointment” you will need the following documents. I put "appointment" in quotes as it is really a day you are assigned and even though you are also given a time, this is not as firm as you might believe. Once at the consulate you wait in line to check in and then it is basically a first come first serve system with whoever the other fifty or so people scheduled for that morning are (hours are only Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 12:00pm). Do not think because you have a 10:30 am appointment that means you will be dealt with at 10:30- leave your whole day open. Also, there is no private, sitting at-a-desk- meeting. You talk through a glass  divider in a room full of people.

You will need your original and 1-2 copies of everything below all prepared prior to your appointment:
• A 2-sided copy of your visa application
• US passport size photos
• Passport
• Statement from your State Police saying you have no criminal record - this then needs an APOSTILLE - a special paper with a seal recognized by the Hague as an international document. This needs to be done in a special department of your state government. You must find out where that is and who deals with it. There is usually a charge per document. The Apostille is attached to the original document. See sample pictured above.
• Statement from your doctor on clinic/office/hospital stationary saying you are in good health, free of communicable diseases
• Proof of housing in Spain– whether a rental or with friends or family
• If you are married and going with your spouse - your marriage certificate with APOSTILLE - see above
• If you are a student you will need your birth certificate - with APOSTILLE - see above
• Proof of health insurance for overseas coverage (find companies online)
• If you are going to work you will need special papers showing you have a job from your place of employment. If you do not have a job you will be required to show you have enough money to support yourself for your length of stay.
• If you are a student, you will need a letter from your school on School letterhead, stating that you are enrolled, you are fully paid, duration of program, areas of study, and hours of study per week, and with the school's Spanish registration number.
• Letter regarding financial means of support – they offer 4 options depending on age and circumstance of student.
• Also for students, if under 18 , a notarized letter from parents stating it is okay for them to travel

Once this is all together you can feel that you are ready for your appointment - you will need to bring cash or a money order with you to pay for the visa.

Remember the visa app adage: "There will always be something - and it will never be the thing you anticipate."

Assuming you make it through the visa application process- you then wait weeks to hear about whether your visa has been approved.

And assuming you do get approved, you then must go back to the consulate and pick up your passport with affixed visa (and bring other identification to prove you are indeed you so that they release it to you.)

If this has all gone smoothly, consider yourself lucky, get on the plane and look forward to the next steps in the process.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Segway Touring in Spain

Segways, the brain child of New Hampshire’s Dean Kamen, are two-wheeled, electric vehicles that you steer and maneuver with your body’s weight and balance. With three-speeds, the Segway can go a maximum of 10-12 miles an hour, making it quite ideal for city touring.  Segways have been adopted in many European cities as a clean, energy efficient and fun touring option. Some companies merely rent the Segways, others offer tour groups with all participants riding Segways. Most rental and touring companies require users to partake in a 15-30 minute Segway training prior to use.

Please check each Web site for specifics as they vary per company. Most have a weight range of 100-220 pounds per person and some ask riders to be at least 15-18 years of age. Duration of tour or rental and price vary as well from one to three hours and from 35 to 60 Euros. Some companies will offer special theme tours outside of the cities like in natural parks and vineyard touring.

Segway Renting and Tour Companies in Spain include the following:

Madrid, Leon, Oviedo and Santander:
and Bicycle and Segway rentals:
Valencia & Castellon:
and Bicycle and Segway rentals & tours in Valencia:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Never Enough Books and Art Supplies!

Well I can’t help myself – I seem to gravitate to art supplies and books. I have found some more stores in my wanderings in Valencia, as well as two magnificent bookstores specializing in travel in Barcelona and Madrid.

Tot en Art Bellas Artes, tucked in the northern part of the historic El Carmen district in Valencia, is a full service art store. They offer lists of art workshops all over Spain on their web site under “Talleres”, as well as an alphabetical directory of artists. Tot en Art, c/ Corona 35-B, 46003 Valencia; 963 917 265;

Yet another art supply store in Valencia is close to the train station and the more upscale shopping area of Colon. Civera is on a side street and is a large, well-stocked store. Civera Bellas Artes, c/Pascual y Genis 24, Valencia, open Monday to Friday only from 9:00am to 1:30pm/4:00 to 8:00pm.

Similar to Auralia (mentioned in an earlier post), Astral is a lovely specialty bookstore offering movies and books about most things alternative – health, energy, gardening, food, spirit, as well as selling a small selection of gems, flower essences, and essential oils. Most of their selections are in Spanish, but you can find English titles hidden in amongst the volumes, and welcoming, helpful storekeepers. So helpful in fact that when I told them I wrote about traveling ecologically and used an example of where to find organic food, I was given a box full of organic “kakis” (persimmons) which were delicious! Located down the street from the Quart Towers (Torres de Quart). Astral, c/ Quart 52, 46001 Valencia; 963 922 057; open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm/ 5:00 to 8:00 pm, Monday from 10:00 to 1:30pm.

If you are on the hunt for English books in Barcelona you can go to Come In ~ Libreria Anglesa (English Bookstore) a couple a blocks form the Diagonal metro stop where most things are English. Come In ~ Libreria Anglesa, c/ Balmes 129, 08008 Barcelona; Tel: 934 531 204; Web:

You will find the excellent Altair travel bookstores online, as well as one live store in Madrid and one in Barcelona. While the website is only available in Castilian or Catalan, they sell books in English and other languages as well, with a truly outstanding assortment of guidebooks, travel literature, maps, arts and culture, adventure travel, anthropology and, not surprisingly, the most extensive selection of books about every area of Spain. The store in Madrid is in the more residential area not far from the Casa del Campo park and can be reached by the Arguelles metro stop. Altair, Gaztambide 31, 28015 Madrid; Tel: 915 435 300; open Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 2:00pm/ 4:30 to 8:30 pm, Saturdays 10:30 to 2:30. In Barcelona, Altair is on the Gran Via, just over a block from the Plaza de Catalunya so you can reach it by the Catalunya or Passeig de Gracia metro stops. Altair, Gran Via 616, 08007 Barcelona; Tel: 933 427 171; open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm; Email:; Web:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Global Flea Finder - Budget Travel

My idea of a good time!! And I am happy to report that while these are Budget Travel's top choices in twenty cities, there are thousands more to choose from, many of which are listed here at the Traveling Naturally blog or in the Green Earth Guides. Happy marketing!

Global Flea Finder - Budget Travel

Shared via AddThis

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Recycling and Reusing in Spain – Second hand and more

Recycling containers are dotted throughout Spanish cities and towns, sometimes next to the garbage dumpsters and sometimes separate. In some fancier communities you will find extensive options for recycling including the pictured receptacle for small items like batteries, cds, light bulbs and ink cartridges.

If you are looking for used items and are not quite up to dumpster diving – or the dumpsters are not providing what you want- there are stores and markets selling used items. Happy hunting!

In the Barcelona suburb of Sant Cugat you can find a variety of antique, used and flea vendors and a full on market the first Sunday of every month. The roughly eighty permanent stalls of the Mercantic are open Tuesday to Saturday 9:30 am to 8:00pm and Sunday from 9:30 am to 3:00pm. You can find just about anything here from furniture, antique typewriters, tools, weapons, art work and plenty more. Book lovers will enjoy the Llibreria El Siglo Mercantic in the heart of things selling books of all varieties and themes with a bar and often live music. Mercantic, Rius i Taulet, 120, 08173 Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona); 936 744 950; E-mail:;

The non-profit Rastrell Reciclatge is near the Jardines del Real and the Jardins de Turia just across the bridge Pont de Trinitat from the historic old city center of Valencia. Rastrell sells a variety of used goods with the definite purpose of recycling and reusing. Rastrell Reciclatge, c/Vuelta del Ruiseñor 21, 46010 Valencia; 963 623 509; open Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm/5:00 to 8:00 pm, Saturday from10:00 am to 2:00pm.

Also in Valencia you will find Second Market-Just Price sells a variety of used items from electronics to bikes, some clothes, and camping gear, as well as cds, dvds, and books with many English titles, so it is a great place to find a cheap read. Second Market, C/ Russafa 20, 46004 Valencia; 963 940 652; open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00pm/4:30-8:30 pm.

The B. Market is a good sized second hand store with everything from bikes to musical instruments with entrances on Avenida del Puerto and Islas Canarias in Valencia. You can take the #4 bus which runs along Ave. del Puerto from the old city, or get off the metro at Ayora. The B. Market, Avda del Port 202, 46023, Valencia. Open Monday to Saturday 10:00 am to 2:00pm/5:00 to 9:00pm

There is a small secondhand clothing store in the old city center of Valencia around the corner from the HI Youth hostel. Marropa (ropa de 2a mano), C/ Serranos 29, Valencia; open Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m./5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Find fun vintage, new and gently used clothes, shoes and accessories at Vintage Police on a side street just a block or so from the old Silk Exchange (Lonja). Vintage Police, c/ Cajeros 2, 46001 Valencia;; open Monday to Saturday from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm/5:00 to 8:30 pm.

There is a chain of three second-hand stores called Cash Converters. Locations are dotted around Valencia city. Easiest is to Google and see where the stores are.

There is rummage to be had at the Monday morning market on the streets around Valencia's Mercado Central. Often every item will go for 3 euros or so and you can paw through a bizarre mix of used and new clothing. Sometimes there is bedding as well.