After a few years in the making, Partizan Travel has finally been launched. It is a social enterprise that provides progressive-minded people across the world the chance to visit various countries in a different, authentic way.
Visitors will learn about those nations by meeting grassroots activists and hearing about the history and reality of their struggles. They will take part in political events, enjoy local culture and traditional food.
In a capitalist world, where the tourism industry has a very damaging impact on people, cultures and the environment, we want to develop a different, sustainable way of travelling. It is based on respect and solidarity, moving away from mass, commercial tourism that offers distorted versions of our countries.
We keep our groups small (up to eight people). But it creates a nice atmosphere among the group and means we can mix with locals in a more natural way.
Our tours are a chance to meet people from different countries who share the same values. We aim to give back to the communities we belong to and visit.
This year, we are organising tours of Ireland, Scotland, the Basque Country, Brittany, Corsica and Catalonia. We are working on more destinations for coming years.
The Basque Country is a hidden gem. In the 21st century, the oldest nation in Europe preserves its ancient language, traditions, culture and way of living.
At the same time, it developed a powerful liberation movement. This includes myriad grassroots campaigns ― from environmental struggles to feminism, prisoner rights, language, housing rights, community radio stations and trade unions.
The Basque Country is sandwiched between the impressive Pyrenees and has some of the best surfing beaches in Europe. It is home to one of the best cuisines in the world and has amazing traditional festivals combining Basque culture and politics.
Scotland is involved in an exciting independence process with the aim of building a fairer, greener society. We'll be talking to the different grassroots campaigns activists and also take part in the historic referendum on independence on September 18. Scotland also offers spectacular landscapes, awesome castles and the world's best whisky.
Ireland is seeking a difficult process of conflict resolution, while advancing toward reunification. We'll get to know about the history of armed and political struggle against British occupation, while walking the streets and mountains where it took place ― alongside those who fought it.
We'll hear about the devastating effects of the crisis in Ireland's south, but also enjoy the Irish craic in wonderful pubs while listening to traditional and rebel tunes.
The French-ruled island of Corsica is probably the least well-known of our destinations, but it is a delightful surprise. It's not by chance that it's called the Island of Beauty, with high mountains covered in snow, and idyllic beaches.
It features small, old villages hanging at the edge of stunning cliffs, Mediterranean food and culture, and a powerful armed and political struggle for the survival of the Corsican people, at a decisive time for their relations with the French metropolis.
Catalonia is also at the crossroads of history. After 300 years of Spanish rule, a dynamic grassroots movement is pushing for independence, despite Spain's threats.
We'll travel from northern Catalonia, under French administration, to Valencia in the south. We'll visit social centres, political and cultural festivals, beautiful Mediterranean villages, and cross the Pyrenees while enjoying their famous wines and paellas.
[Arturo Villanueva is Partizan Travel's communications officer. Visit www.partizantravel.com for more details.]