Short Euro­pean stays to blow the win­ter blues away

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - Feature -

Stargaze from a con­verted snow groomer, lis­ten to sto­ries around a bon­fire, or hike through Ibizan or­ange groves, says Sarah Marshall.(P.A.)

Long win­ter months are some­times dif­fi­cult to en­dure, but the prom­ise of mini get­aways can al­ways re­lieve the pain. And if ski hol­i­days or Christ­mas mar­kets don't ap­peal, there are still plenty of ways to plan short Euro­pean stays.

Whether you fancy hik­ing in the Balearic is­lands, or hunt­ing north­ern lights from a re­mote Nor­we­gian cabin, the op­tions are end­less. Th­ese are some of the sea­son's best picks. 1. A sunny sur­prise Where: Ibiza Pop­u­lar sum­mer sea­son des­ti­na­tions in the Mediter­ranean are now open­ing their doors for win­ter, when mild tem­per­a­tures in­crease the op­por­tu­ni­ties for hik­ing and ac­tive pur­suits.

In Ibiza, ther­mome­ters hover around 15C at this time of year, crowds have dis­ap­peared, and the is­land ticks along at a very dif­fer­ent pace.

Set within 10 acres of or­ange groves on a for­mer fam­ily finca, Atzaro Agro­tur­ismo show­cases the qui­eter side of this Balearic party gi­ant. Launched for the cooler months, a new col­lec­tion of cy­cling and walk­ing pack­ages en­cour­age guests to ex­plore the coun­try­side.

For­age for medic­i­nal wild herbs, dis­cover in­dige­nous plants and hear about the is­land's his­tory from lo­cal guides. The prop­erty has also re­cently in­tro­duced a Scandi-in­spired gar­den sauna pod - so even if it does get chilly, there's still some guar­an­teed heat.

Visit www.atzaro.com 2. Po­lar sto­ry­telling ses­sions Where: Alta, Nor­way Tra­di­tion­ally, Nor­we­gians liv­ing above the Arc­tic Cir­cle would while away long, dark win­ter evenings by shar­ing entertaining tales and roast­ing meats on bar­be­cues.

Get a snapshot of the Lap­pish cabin life­style by join­ing a sto­ry­telling ex­cur­sion from Alta. Travel to a re­mote lo­ca­tion, far away from light pol­lu­tion, and sit around a blaz­ing fire lis­ten­ing to myths and lo­cal leg­ends. With any luck, the aurora bo­re­alis may turn up, giv­ing a magical twist to any nar­ra­tive.

Visit www.mag­net­ic­north travel.com 3. De­tox­ing in a beer bath Where: Is­tria, Croa­tia Only a hop over the Adri­atic sea, Croa­tia com­mands a sim­i­lar culi­nary prow­ess to Italy - yet its food scene is still un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated by out­siders. Is­tria's olive oil has re­ceived world­wide ac­claim and it's the only place in the world where both top qual­ity white and black truf­fle va­ri­eties can be found to­gether.

A healthy craft beer scene is also emerg­ing, and one brew­ery has even gone so far as to launch the coun­try's first beer spa. Lo­cated in Buje, the San Ser­volo Re­sort & Beer Spa in­vites Imag­ine fall­ing asleep on top of a snowy moun­tain, so high it feels al­most pos­si­ble to reach up and touch the moon.

In­trepid guests at French alpine re­sort La Plagne have the op­por­tu­nity to give it a go by stay­ing in a con­verted Snow Groomer, driven up to the 2,400 me­tre-high Ar­pette sum­mit and parked for the night.

The func­tional ve­hi­cle has been trans­formed into a lux­ury pad de­signed for two, with a queen-sized bed, spa bath, large flat-screen TV, stereo, and cof­fee ma­chine. Cham­pagne and fresh mac­arons are also in­cluded - along with a com­pli­men­tary 'Love­box' fea­tur­ing an erotic board game, feather and mas­sage oil.

Panoramic win­dows per­fectly frame the night sky, al­though with so many dis­trac­tions in­side, there may not be enough time to ad­mire the views.

Visit www.skipass-laplagne.com or la-plagne.com.

A tra­di­tional cabin in Alta, Nor­way

Ice Cabin in Fin­land

Aurora Wagon in Fin­land

Agro­tur­ismo in Ibiza

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