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Seven Less Traveled Cities to Visit in Europe

Seven Less Traveled Cities to Visit in Europe

Rome, Paris, London — these are among the typical stops for every traveler coming to visit Europe. If you are looking for the big museums and major attractions, these go-to places are indeed your first choice. But if your goal is different, if you strive to get a sniff of true Old World charm away from the masses of tourists and in the company of the locals, then you might try a different approach.

As parts of Europe were destroyed during the wars and the population boomed in the subsequent decades, you can run into ugly towns and neighborhoods that simply consist of nothing more than concrete midrises and grocery stores. However, by getting off the train or bus in just the right town, you might find a quiet, less traveled pearl that is waiting for your attention.

1. Epernay, France

Get away form Paris and go to the Champagne region to indulge in as much bubbly liquid as you can hold. Epernay or Reims would typically be your first choice when it comes to visiting the champagne houses, but when you’re in the neighborhood, do stop by Vitry-Le-Francois. In summer, their food fairs can be in full swing, and you might be able to score bottles of champagne for just two food tickets and blend in with the locals.

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2. Aarhus, Denmark

University city Aarhus, the second largest town of Denmark, might not have all the sights and wonders of Copenhagen, but it gives you a good glimpse of the Jutland peninsula (the rest of Denmark consists of islands).

Grab a bike, tour around this lovely city, spend the afternoon in one of the many coffee places while enjoying Danish rolls, and then enjoy a typical dinner while having a Tuborg or Carlsberg. The Danish surely make life look effortless.

3. Girona, Spain

Just an hour outside of Barcelona lies one of the major cities of Catalonia. With its cathedral, fortifications, and the beautiful houses painted in hues of red and ochre along the Onyar river (Cases de l’Onyar), Girona combines Catalan industriousness with Mediterranean charm. Girona makes a perfect day trip from Barcelona or the Costa Brava, but can also be a great location from which you can explore Catalonia and the Costa Brava in their entirety.

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4. Lier, Belgium

Only 15 minutes by train from Antwerp and 30 minutes from Brussels, this tiny historical city combines a Unesco world heritage beguinage (which still has inhabitants, unlike the museumized beguinage in Bruges), the wonderful works of watchmaker Zimmer (including the Zimmer tower and the wonder clock), cobblestone streets, delicious cuisine, and independent fashion boutiques.

Explore the sights, walk the green belt around the city (de vesten), enjoy a free concert on a summer evening, discover the banks of the Nete river, and then settle down on the Zimmerplein to drink a Belgian beer and enjoy a steak with fries (at Brasserie Louis, for example) — discover the Burgundian attitude that still lingers in Belgium.

5. Koblenz, Germany

Where the Rhine and the Moselle confluence, this lovely Rhineland city is a gem close to the more frequently visited Aachen and Cologne.

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Offering great boat tours on the rivers, a cable car going into lush green hills, historic churches, and a beautiful castle, Koblenz can offer you all the pleasures of traveling the Rhineland, where you can enjoy cooled draft beers or fresh local white wines.

6. Utrecht, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague are the largest touristic cities in the Netherlands, but when you go slightly more to the East of the country, you can discover lovely, laid-back Utrecht. This city is again a great place for visiting historical places, sampling great local food and drink, shopping in the many stores, and hanging out along the canals.

7. Diekirch, Luxemburg

With only over 6000 inhabitants, Diekirch really is the smallest city on this list. Luxemburg in itself is too often forgotten by tourists or dismissed as simply a place for getting cheaper gas or doing some fishy banking by their neighboring countries. However, set in luscious hills like the south of Belgium, Luxemburg combines great cuisine with a very friendly atmosphere. Diekirch is mostly known for it’s brewery, so take your hiking boots to explore the hills and then relax with a great beer. How else would you go and explore Europe?

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What are your favorite lesser-known cities in Europe?

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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