Ironbridge Gorge Walking Festival: May 3-11, 2014

Ironbridge Gorge bridge with walkers

ABOVE: Walkers gather for a group photo by the Iron Bridge at Ironbridge Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage site where the Industrial Revolution began in the early 1700s.

England's Ironbridge Gorge Walking Festival, now in its ninth year, will offer more than 50 free walks from Saturday, May 3 through Sunday, May 11.

All walks are in and around the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site in Telford, Shropshire, about 50 km northwest of Birmingham.

Walks range from short informative walks and family trails (one designed especially for pushchair and wheelchair users) to a 15-mile circular hike over the Wrekin, with plenty of steep climbs and rough terrain.

Along with nearly 20 other new walks, this year's festival will introduce the "100 Mile Ironbridge Challenge." Participants in the Challenge must finish seven specified walks on seven different days for a total of 100+ miles. Winners will receive certificates and woven badges for their rucksacks.

For those who want to learn more about the area's heritage, the festival will have a walk that takes in the history of the river bridges and another 15-mile circular walk that skirts the edge of the 1,360-acre (550-hectare) World Heritage Site.

The organizers tell us that all walks are free, but pre-booking is essential. Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome on most walks, but please check before signing up.

To reserve a place, or to view details about the program (including a downloadable Walking Festival Map and a list of walks in PDF format), visit:

Photo: VisitIronbridge
Source: Pat Edgar, PR Matters

A new concept: "no car required" villas

Antibes and Fort Carre

ABOVE: Antibes, on the French Riviera, is home to the Villa Les Mimosas, a "no car required" villa within walking distance of the beach.

Not long ago, we received an e-mail from Peter Horrocks of Villas du Monde (a.k.a. Villas of the World) that appealed to our anti-traffic instincts. Mr. Horrocks wrote:

"We're seeing an interesting trend in the number of holidaymakers who want a villa holiday where no car is required."

Mr. Horrocks went on to describe an example, the Villa Les Mimosas in the resort of Antibes on France's Cote d'Azur. The villa sleeps up to eight people, has a private swimming pool, and is within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and the beach. At a bus stop nearby, you can catch a bus into the Antibes town center, where trains from the railroad station make it easy to visit cities and resorts all along the French Riviera.

In addition, the villa's English's-speaking owner (who lives nearby) will take you to the local hypermarket for bulk shopping, and he'll help you organize trips, boat hire, etc.

OK, so you don't need a car at the Villa Les Mimosas. But maybe you're wondering why you wouldn't even want to include a car in your Riviera rental plans. Mr. Horrock cites three good reasons:

"The French Riviera coast is a fabulous place, but--particularly in July and August--it's quite an intimidating place to drive around. For getting out and about and visiting the sights, it's much better to let someone else deal with the hassle of driving and finding the way. Local buses, trams, and trains do just that.

"Also, for many, it's nice simply not to drive on holiday--and of course there is the economy of saving on hire-car cost for a vehicle which isn't needed most of the time."

Mr. Horrocks tells us that his firm now has a collection of more than 30 "no car required" villas in destinations such as the French Riviera, Corsica, the Algarve, the Costa Blanca, and Croatia. He expects more villa owners to hop on the "no car required" bandwagon as demand for car-free holidays continues to grow.

For more information, visit:

For listings of the company's "no car required" villas, see:

If you're curious about the Villa Les Mimosas, click here for detailed property information.

Below are two photos of the villa (including its garden and pool), courtesy of Peter Horrocks:

Villa Les Mimosas, Antibes

Villa Les Mimosas with pool

Photos: Villas du Monde / Villas of the World

Schengen Visa Information

Schengen Visa Info screen shot

Aspiring expats and students--and, in some cases, prospective visitors---normally require visas to enter Europe's Schengen Area. (The Schengen Area consists of 22 EU member states and four EFTA countries that allow free movement across international borders within the zone.)

What are the Schengen countries, what are their individual visa requirements. and how can you apply for a Schengen visa from a country within the Schengen Area?

For answers, go to The site covers the basics (especially in regard to student and transit visas), and--just as important--it includes links to embassy sites with visa requirements for 15 of the 26 countries.

To visit the site, click here.