Insights & Inspirations: June

What We're Buzzing About This Month

EXPLORING EUROPE'S NATIONAL PARKS

Triglav National Park / Photo by gevision via iStock

When planning a trip to Europe, it's easy to overlook natural spaces in favor of world-class city destinations. You already know of our love of parks like Yosemite and the Smokies in the U.S., but after a little research, we are ready and eager to explore Europe's national parks. 

In a few weeks, we'll visit one of the region's oldest national parks and the only one in Slovenia, Triglav National Park. It promises plenty of outdoor adventures in its glacier-carved valleys, alpine-fed lakes and rivers, and medieval villages dotted among the forests. According to legend, the three peaks of the mountain dominating the park represent heaven, Earth, and the underworld, ruled by the triple-headed Slavic God Triglav. Subscribe to the blog and follow us on Facebook and Instagram as we share our experiences later this summer!


3 Things To Love

#1: Summer Music Festivals

Sziget Festival in Budapest, Hungary / Photo by Rockstar Photographers

With festivals in all corners of the globe, summertime is all about the music! Traveling for a festival is an entirely different way of experiencing a destination. Discover up-and-coming indie acts while bonding with locals and fellow travelers alike. And many festivals now offer a delicious array of food and craft beer for sampling in between sets.

After years of attending our forever-favorite Lollapalooza in Chicago, and with festival-darling Glastonbury taking a year off, we're excited for something new. Check out TimeOut's 50 Best Music Festivals in the World for 2018, including Sziget in Budapest, where we're headed following our week in Slovenia. Bilbao BBK Live in Spain, NOS Alive in Portugal, and Flow Festival in Finland are all on our wish list for next year.


#2: Bike Sharing Made Easier

We love exploring a new city on two wheels, and bike share programs make it a breeze. Apple Maps recently added bike sharing stations in more than 175 cities across 36 countries. Just search "bike sharing" in destinations like New York, London, Paris, Seville, and Montreal. 

Now there's no need to search for each city's bike share service separately, and Apple Watch fans can take advantage of the 'tapping' directions while biking between stations. 

 Bike Share Stations in Seville on Apple Maps

Bike Share Stations in Seville on Apple Maps

Similar to Google, not all bike share programs are included, and the station info doesn't list available bikes, so while it's a step in the right direction, there is room for improvement. We still prefer CityMapper for comprehensive bike share info, but for the many cities not covered by CityMapper, Apple Maps are an ideal alternative.


 Web Browsing on the Cake App

Web Browsing on the Cake App

#3: A Different Way To Browse the Mobile Web

I've been testing out a new mobile web browser called Cake (free for iOS and Android, cakebrowser.com) for the last few months, and I'm surprisingly smitten. Enter your search term and up pop colorful buttons to quickly isolate video, image, news, and shopping search options when you want to go beyond the typical search.

Then, instead of seeing the standard list of results, Cake immediately previews the first website. Swipe to preview other results as Cake loads them in the background, making it much faster to find what you're seeking. Cake also includes more video and image resources than the typical Google search, like Giphy, Vimeo, and Bing. I've found it particularly powerful for online shopping. 


Keeping us Entertained

  • For fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, don't miss out on the special exhibition Tolkien: Maker of Middle Earth (June 1-October 28, 2018, free ticketed entry) at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford, England. We loved viewing the original manuscripts and artwork, and catching a glimpse into Tolkien's family life, like the Christmas stories he created for his children. A walking tour showcases the places loved by the author in Oxford, where he spent most of his adult life. If you can't make it to England, a smaller version of the exhibition will travel to New York and then on to Paris in 2019. READ MORE
  • On my bookshelf: Dear Mrs. Bird, a charming story of a young woman embarking on an unexpected career in the chaos of WWII London, and Sovereign, a thrilling work of historical fiction set in the 16th century that I'm reading to prep for a trip to York, England.
  • On the big screen: The action-packed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is everything you want from a summer blockbuster, and we cannot wait for our favorite superhero family to return in Incredibles 2.

"The Hill: Hobbiton-across-the-Water" by J.R.R. Tolkien, August 1937


Travel Chatter

Visitors experience the new boardwalk at Mariposa Grove / PHoto by Al Golub Photography via Yosemite Conservancy

  • Yosemite National Park's Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias has reopened following a multi-year restoration project. Expect improved trails that respect the sensitive habitat as well as an expanded welcome center.
  • More lodging options are now available in and around select U.S. National Parks including Yellowstone, Glacier, Zion, and later this year, Great Smoky Mountains, through glamping provider Under Canvas
  • Rather than scroll through long lists of vacation rentals, we turn to the curated selections from Plum Guide, which is expanding from London and Paris to include New York, Rome, Milan, and Los Angeles as of July 2018.

UP NEXT

  • Exploring the food, music, and culture of Knoxville in the next installment of our Local Expert series.
  • An interview with the founder of Pack for a Purpose, an incredible nonprofit that helps travelers give to community groups in need.

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