Fitness and wellness travel: Budva, Montenegro

Af Marina Aagaard, MFT

Summertime is holiday time. Holiday travel dreams are plentiful, however, in order for them to come to life, the travels dream should be affordable; research is needed.
Earlier this year I attended a holiday and travel show and got a tip.
Montenegro is becoming a ‘new’ European destination for summer holidays and this year the travel agencies have bargain introduction offers.

Montenegro Budva klippe Foto Henrik Elstrup

So recently my husband and I found an interesting offer; one week in Montenegro including plane trip (at a cost corresponding to roughly the price of one night in an average Danish hotel), so off we went to a new destination.

According to the author of a Montenegro tour guide, author and speaker Tom Noergaard:

”I have travelled all over Europa, and there is no doubt in my mind, that Montenegro is one of the most beautiful countries. Here you have mountains, which are comparable to the Alps in France, Switzerland and Austria, and at the same time you are at a destination, where you can count on sun, warmth and good weather during all of the summer season. Apart form 300 km coastline, there are many interesting sights in the back country as well as some really beautiful cities like Kotor on UNESCOs World Heritage Site list”.

M Biogradska

Montenegro, Crna Gora, Црна Гора, “Black Mountain”
Montenegro is situated south of Croatia, west of Bosnia i Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo, and north of Albania. To the west is the Adriatic Sea.
The capital is Podgorica, which is situated in the middle of the country (below Milenijum bridge).

Montenegro Podgorica Milenijum bridge Henrik Elstrup

Montenegro has a population of approx. 620.000 and the language is Montenegrin. Luckily most people you meet speak English. Every once in a while though you need a phrasebook, a map and some sign language …

Holiday time
Montenegro looks a bit like Croatia, which is a favourite Danish holiday destination:
Big beaches and beautiful national parks with mountains, forests and lakes.

Montenegro Tara canyon view Marina Aagaard fitness blogMontenegro Tara canyon Marina Aagaard fitness blog

And it is great for those loving activity-packed holidays with sailing, rafting, diving, cycling, running, hiking etc. (photo: Tara river, 144 km long; running through Tara River Gorge, 82 km, the deepest river canyon in Europa, 1300 m, number two in the world after Colorado Canyon, USA.

For those interested in history, culture and architecture, there are many interesting old cities and monasteries, e.g. in Cetinje, the former capital. The sign on the square shows number of kilometers to the great museums around the world.

M Cetinje museumsskiltMontenegro Cetinje Monestary photo Henrik Elstrup     Montenegro Cetinje foto Marina Aagaard fitness blog

Pre season advantages: Weather not too hot, 20-25 degr. C; nice. Not too many other tourists. The travel is very cheap.

Pre season disadvantages: The beaches are a bit dirty at places (‘summer cleaning’ is ongoing). Some restaurants and bars are still closed. Weather is somewhat unstable.

Budva
Our trip in May went to Budva.
Budva is situated at the Montenegrin Riviera. It is a cozy small town with a marina and a beautiful old town, stari grad. At the same time Budva Riviera is a festival-centre with more than 10 festivals and concerts during summer.

M strand by
A nice town for either a family holiday or partying. Also a nice base for trips around Montenegro.

You should check the Budva calendar. We accidentally landed in Budva in the middle of The Great Carnival of Budva with participants from 12 lande countries.
That spelt three days with lots of colours, dancing and entertainment. One big free party.

Montenegro Budva Carnival og bymur Foto Henrik Elstrup

However, like all popular tourist destinations, the town adapts to ‘popular demand’, so the hotels and restaurants are fairly international and touristic.
You pay in euro in Montenegro and prices are fairly cheap, however, surprisingly, as Budva and neighbouring cities, including Tivat, are becoming increasingly popular with the rich and famous, there are many hotels, shops and restaurants with very high prices.

Visit Montenegro Top 5 Must Visit places

  • Durmitor; national park); nice, even in rainy weather.
  • Tivat; small town, big marina for multi-million dollar yachts.
  • Perast by Boka Bay, the entire bay area is a ‘must visit’.
  • Skadar Lake; large, beautiful popular lake (area).
  • Sveti Stefan (hotel-island); residence of many superstars. Earlier you could visit the island, now it is closed to the public and controlled by guards …; you have to watch from a distance, unless you book a room at five star plus prices.

Aagaards Top 5 Must Visit places

Kotor
An absolute must-see and you need a day for this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A small town with a very big and beautiful medieval town boasting some of the worlds narrowest alleys. Kotor comes with an interesting challenge:
On the mountain behind the town, there is a fortress and the ancient walls. From an alley in the back part of town you can take a walk to the top (cost 3-4 euro), or rather a stair walk of approx. 1350 steps (and they are oversized). Not for the weakly, but a to-do trip for everyone else, for the exercise and a fantastic view of Kotor and Boka Bay.

M Kotor bymur   M Kotor streetM Kotor stairsM Kotor udsigt fra bjerg

Budva and the Riviera
A 3-4 hour walk of mixed views; past due, worn-out, ugly and new, beautiful, stylish.
We took a walk along the beaches from Budva to Sveti Stefan. A free ride and one of the highlights of our tour. Exercise the easy way combined with some very diverse nature and culture experiences. You cannot walk by the beach all the way, though, as some are private hotel beaches; you need to go up to the street a couple of times.

Montenegro klipper i vandM Zoffs fish bar

Lovcen National Park
A low-budget busride to Lovcen National Park, from the heat by the water to the mountains with snow in may. Cool in every sense of the word. On the top of Jezerski, 1749 a.s.l., there is a mausoleum for Petar II Petrovic Njegos. First walk the 461 steps, then walk via the path (with no railings) to the mausoleum.

It is worth the 5 Euro to enter. It is an impressive structure with lots of cool marble.

M Lovcen mausoleumMontenegro Lovcen Mausoleum foto Henrik Elstrup   Montenegro Lovcen Mausoleum foto Henrik Elstrup   Montenegro Lovcen Mausoleum

You can (and should) eat in the small restaurant right by the stairs. The restaurant is nice, the view is awesome and the food is very good … but bring your own toilet paper (scarce in many small Montenegrin restaurants).

Tivat
Tivat is a small town without major attractions … apart from the harbour, which is well worth a visit. Formerly a naval harbour, now a luxury marina for mega-yachts …
and you can buy your own yacht there, e.g. 30-40 mio. USD.

Montenegro Tivat yacht  Marina Aagaard fitness blogM Tivat mega yachts

If you don’t want a boat, but just want to part with your money, you can visit a casino, which there are quite a few of. Local guides claim that part of Casino Royale was filmed in Montenegro, while internet sources state, that it was in the Czech Republic.

Durmitor National Park
Montenegros first and biggest national park from 1952, 39.000 acres, with Durmitor mountain, 2522 m, a 898 m deep cave and many lakes; the biggest is the Black Lake, Crno Jezero, which really is tow lakes, Little Lake and Big Lake, connected by a small stream. The Black Lake is a popular vacation spot (here on a rainy day).

M Black lake Crno Jedarska

Much more Montenegro
A week is not enough, there are so many places to visit; like Herceg Novi up north, Bar down south (with thousand year old olive trees), Podgorica and rather a long way from there; the monestary built into a mountain, Manastir Ostrog, from 1650, which is visited every year by many believers from different faiths.

M Ostrog monestary

Holiday fitness
A holiday is a wellness experience in itself and on this little holiday it was topped by a few days with two days with spa and fitness. Our budget hotel Lucic was very nice, next to the city centre and a super room, but without any amenities apart from a small breakfast buffet with pancakes and omelet, but no vegetables or fruit at all (so buy your own).

But for wellness, within walking distance (5-10 minutes) you could visit the spa at the luxury hotel Avala, which has a super nice pool and an o.k. sauna and steam bath.
And a fully equipped fitness centre with free weights, machines and even Kinesis (advanced pulley system).

M Avala wellness ude og inde poolM Avala wellness infinity pool aftenM Avala fitness kinesisM Avala fitness jog

This is probably not the last time I will visit Montenegro. There is still a lot to see. And it is very easy and cheap to get around in their small mini-busses.
You can also rent a car, if you are fearless that is; the Montenegrins drive quite fast and without a care, so along all the roads, you will see the word ‘Autoslep’ (towing) and contact numbers on rocks, buildings and signs.

M Autoslep sten

More about Montenegro

Visit Montenegro
Montenegro Wikipedia
Branislav Strugar: Montenegro
All about Montenegro

More photos by husband; Montenegro, Henrik Elstrup 500 px

Fitness and Wellness: Walk Your Dog … Even if You Don’t Have One …

Af Marina Aagaard, MFE

Exercise, fitness, and wellness tip of the day; you’ve heard it all before:
Walk Your Dog … even if you don’t have one. And walk it twice a day …

If you think, that “walking your dog” with a real dog would be better, you may be right. But make sure then, that you get the right piece of ‘exercise equipment’.

What product do you need? What dimensions and specifications?
What price? Check if there are any unexpected extra costs etc. …

Before buying any exercise equipment get some independent advice … don’t buy the wrong equipment, which either does not meet or maybe exceed your requirements.

Do you need a 1,1, a 2,0, a 4,2 or a 6,0 litre engine?
Do you need a top speed of 120 KPH (75 MPH) or 320 KPH (199 MPH)?
Can you afford/do you have time for a little or a large piece of equipment?

TRex
At the store, don’t get carried away by good looks. Concentrate.

REXDoes the equipment meet your requirements?
… and do you meet the requirements of the equipment?!
Rex (2) It may look easy at the shop, but can you, too, get the equipment to work properly? Rex og træDoes your equipment function as it is expected to or is it living a life of its own?
(Rex Aagaard: Pardon me, tree, I thought you were a bone).

Happy workout, happy weekend!

Your exercise and health: MED – exactly what it takes!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Long ago one of my mentors, Yvonne Lin, World Champion of Wushu karate and a tai chi and sports aerobic expert, opened my semi-shot fitness eyes; in dedicated sports training it is all about getting optimal results with minimal time investment in order to have more time for fun; more sports, more party, more travelling …

Since then I have worked to promote time-efficient workouts. And recently I read a text with a thought, which PR-wise nails it … anyway in my head, which is produced by to pharmacists:

Program and train according to the MED principle.

“MED of exercise is the crucial skill set that you need to develop (…)”.
Dr. Phil Cobb, in ’7 Costly mistakes trainers make and how to avoid them’).

Marina dips oppe USMED, Minimal Effective Dose, is an expression from pharmacology and it is used by doctors and pharmacists about the amount necessary for the medicine to work:

Too little: Does not work.

Right: Works well and you will get better.

Too much: Harmful; you may get ill (injured), sick or die.

Think about exercise as medicine, a medication. Your exercise should – like medicine – be administered in the right dosage, otherwise you will not receive all the expected benefits. On the contrary …

Think about establishing MED, the minimal dose, needed for your workout to be exactly right and work in the intended way.

At present most exercisers are ‘over-medicated’ and work out too much and too hard with too little to show for it. There is room for improvement: Train smarter, not harder …
(harder here meaning the wrong, long, enduring, grinding way).

Fitness training is of course so wonderful, that many of us want to train a lot! However, you could say, that if you train faster (for a shorter time period) and more efficiently, you will have time for extra and maybe more exciting, diverse exercise.

Happy workout!

Read more:

Phil Cobb: 7 Costly Mistakes Trainers Make and How to Avoid Them.

Lisbon Travel and Transportation: Cars That Make Me Smile

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Cars That Make Me Smile … for one reason or another …
petite, funny, surprising, colourful, ancient, oldschool cool or just cool (or even subzero cool as in Top Gear’s rating of cars and supercars).

What does cars and smiles have to do with fitness? Well, smiling is healthy and good health (wellness) is the foundation of fitness and performance.

So this was part of my wellness experience in Lisboa (Lisbon) last week:

Lisboa Car Banana van Lisboa Car Gocar tourist mobile Lisboa Car Green Mini Citroen Lisboa Car Grey Citroen Lisboa Car Lancia Fulvia 3 red Lisboa Car VW MobileShop

Lisboa Car Mercedes

Apart from the sad fact; they polute …
aren’t they “cute”?

Spring break: Lisboa, Portugal

Marina Aagaard, MFE

Well, well, well. A very busy start-of-year teaching schedule leaves no time for long trips or vacations. Uhhh uhhh, uhhh, what to do?
If I want to see something new? With time and money too few …

Seek out a destination not too far away. Find cheap travel offer. Find friend(s) to visit.
Take a city trip to Lisboa (Lisbon), Portugal? There is much to see in a relatively short time frame and though it was not on the Top 10 of my to-see list, it fits the requirements nicely and so I get a sort of travel surprise …

Lisboa Vasco da Gama Bridge totalPonte Vasco da Gama (1998), designed by Armando Rito. Lisboa, Portugal.
The longest bridge in Europe, 17.2 km (10.7 mi).

What is Portugal famous for? Apart from Port wine among other things tiled houses … and being pretty certain, that Christoffer Columbus (~1451-1506) was really Portuguese – born Salvador Fernandes, later renamed (by the order of the king) Cristofom Colon – and not Italian (Genova) …

Lisboa building with tiles blue           Lisboa building with tiles

Portugal is also famous for a charming and interesting capital, a city with a special blend of ancient history, old houses, novel street art and state-of-the-art architecture.
Why had I not thought of visiting Lisboa before?

Lissabon Airport Interior
Lisboa Portela Airport Interior

Lisboa Gare do Oriente train station interiorGare do Oriente Station interior. Amazingly beautiful.
Architect: Santiago Calatrava

Lisboa Gare do Oriente Station Santiago CalatravaGare do Oriente Station exterior. One of the largest train stations in the world.
And one of the most photographed due to the unique architecture.
Architect: Santiago Calatrava

Lissabon Metro EntranceLissabon Metro LysLisboa Metro views, huge and elegant spaces.

Lisboa Tram
Above ground: Take a tram.

Lisboa is the oldest city in Western Europe, one of the oldest cities in the world and the westernmost capital in Europe, situated on the Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the river Tagus. There are approximately 3 mio. people living in the Metropolitan Area representing more than a quarter of the population in Portugal.

The Belém Tower Lisboa PortugalLisboa has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Belém Tower (photo above of model and tower behind) and Jerónimos Monastery in late gothic Manueline style, finished in the 1520′s by architect João de Castilho. (three photos below).

Lisboa Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and fountain front Lisboa Mosteiro dos Jeronimos door      Lisboa Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

In 1994 Lisboa was the European Capital of Culture and in 1998 it hosted the Expo ’98 (1998 Lisbon World Exposition). Expo area with a.o. Oceanário de Lisboa, the largest indoor aquarium in Europe, below:

Lisboa modern architecture Lisboard boardwalk

Lisboa Oceanario de Lisboa

According to an expatriate friend in Lisboa, Portugal is a country with many business opportunities, because the country is developing in many areas, the prices are reasonable (cheaper than in many other European countries) and the Portuguese people are apparently much friendlier and forthcoming than many other Europeans …

And the highlights of Lisboa are absolute free as in gratis: Wonderful views of beautiful and interesting oldschool and newschool architecture and street art side by side.

Lissabon Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown Charles Correa AssociatesChampalimaud Centre for the Unknown.
Not another museum of modern art, but a research and diagnostic center with top scientists and medical science helping people with cancer, brain damage and blindness. Architects: Charles Correa Associates:
“Architecture as Sculpture. Architecture as Beauty. Beauty as therapy.”

Lisboa Praça do Comércio and arch leading to Augusta street
Lisboa Praça do Comércio and arch leading to Augusta street.
The 1755 Lisboa earthquake, tsunami and fires destroyed many buildings.
The city centre was rebuild in the Pombaline style, a secular, utilitarian architecture with rational, regular structures mixed with rococo details.

And everywhere, murals and graffiti … plus ugly tagging.

Lissabon Graffiti

Lisboa mural graffiti I Lisboa mural graffiti II Lisboa mural graffiti III Lisboa mural graffiti IV Lisboa mural graffiti V Lisboa murals graffiti and tags

Lisboa wall art

This Lisboa trip had my eyes working overtime …
A must-see city for art and architecture lovers.

Weekend Wellness Walk: Get Up, Get Out, Get Well

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Easter time is holiday time for some. If time and money is tight, a day trip or two to a place near you, preferable one you have not visited before, is an o.k. holiday travel substitute. As always it is good to grab the chance of getting some free exercise; going for a run or brisk (as in heavy breathing) walk. I did.

Weekend weather was wonderful … and springtime was in the air and colours everywhere. The small national park of Mols Bjerge (Bjerge means Mountains, but they are really just small hills), Jutland, Denmark, and surroundings, was waking up after ‘hibernation’ and is, I think, well worth a visit and a walk.
Outdoor fitness at its best behaviour.

Mols Bjerge tree photo Marina Aagaard

Kaloe kroget treeKaloe grene himmel distantKaloe skovbund blomsterdaekkeKaloe traerThorsager skovbundMols kidMarina Aagaard og Kaloe slotsruin photo Henrik ElstrupTrees and water black and white Henrik Elstrup and Marina Aagaard

Kaloe gren artLast three photos by husband Henrik Elstrup going overboard with filters,
lenses and photoshopping. This is quite popular on 500 px, though …

Happy outdoor fitness workout, where ever you are.

Happy Easter to You

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Happy Easter. It is here, Easter time (holiday?), a time for getting together and eating lots of eggs or chocolate eggs … just because you want to party or because you celebrate the Christian main event: Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday): The Last Supper and preceding foot washing.
Good Friday: Crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.
First day of Easter: The resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Hjerte-æg æg formet som hjerter Ukendt kilde

Easter is a moveable fest as it is not fixed to the civil calender; the date of Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon following the March equinox … This means the date of Easter varies from year to year from 22 March to 25 April (wikipedia).

The popular Easter colours of yellow of green come from traditions before the Easter became a Christian feast:

Yellow comes from the the sun (and Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess) and
Green comes from the celebration of Nature and growth (ABC Nyheter, Norge).

You, too, can feast with yellow and green during Easter:

Easter dining; eat healthy organic eggs with lots of greens.
Easter exercise; get out, get some fresh air and do some outdoor fitness exercise.

Happy Easter!

Referencer

Easter www .wikipedia.org

Eostre www.wikipedia.org