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Italian treasure – Cinque Terre

Italian treasure – Cinque Terre

I have always wanted to visit this little-big-country. Or five countries? The name ‘Cinque Terre’ arose because of the five villages inclined into the bays between high cliffs: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare, and it means in Italian Five worlds, or countries.  All of them are closely interconnected, has something similar, but are also very unique! The most scenic part of Liguria coast is located between summer restorts Levanto and Portovenere. If you happen to have a chance to be close by Liguria region in northwest Italy, I will show you why you should definitely stop by. It really is as stunning as it looks like in all calendar pictures. It’s like a paradise…

The Cinque Terre is a national park since 1999, and even though it is the smallest national park in Italy, it is at the same time the most densely populated. It has a several elements, that makes it unique and attracts visitors from all over the world.

Why is it so special? Human action deeply altered the natural environment of the Cinque Terre. For thousand years the inhabitants of Cinque Terre have dissected the steep slopes of the hills that are thrown to the sea to obtain strips of arable land, the true identity of the Cinque Terre stretch that made them famous worldwide.

How to get to Cinque Terre?

The Cinque Terre national park is located in northwest Italy, in Liguria region. The best way to explore villages is to come to La Spezia either by car or train. From there, you can buy a day-train ticket which can be used for a multiple journey. You can easily get on and off in each village, and the train schedule is very busy every day. This is the most recommended way, because it is almost impossible to park in the villages or go from one to another as they are built in the mountains. Moreover, there are some services included in the train card such as access to the Park’s area, free wifi, toilettes, guided tours etc.

Riomaggiore

Our first stop from La Spezia was the village Riomaggiore. It is also considered the ’capital’ of the Cinque Terre, and it is the nearest station from La Spezia. It is a busy village situated above a romantic harbor. It is cascadedly arranged, which means that every single house is built in a different height. The village was established along the steep valley of the stream Rio-Major.

Tour around Riomaggiore

Walk through the tunnel, and then turn the right and go down the stairs leading towards the harbor. The Marina is breathless; from there the colorful tower-houses seem to rise from the sea to meet the green hills. You can walk there and take some pictures.

Then come back towards the tunnel, and turn left this time and walk through Via Colombo. When you get to the little chapel, turn left and from there you can get to the Church.

Continue straight and then at the fork turn right and go up the hill towards the Castle. It is really nice view from there. You can easily go down the stairs from the castle towards the Train station.

When you get there, you can either take a train or walk through Via dell’Amore towards Manarola. Via dell’Amore, from Italian the Street of Love is very popular, and leads towards the second village Manarola. It offers an amazing view while you walk along the coastline.

Manarola

If you are wondering in which village all instagramers and bloggers are posing, then you are in the right place. It is a Manarola. Actually, before we went there I thought it is only this one place, and not that they are actually five different places to visit. Such a nice surprise, haha. And yes, this view is definitely worth it. But Cinque Terre is not only about that ‘one obligatory picture’. The architecture, the history, and the atmosphere makes whole little town so lovely that it you could easily walk around one of them whole day without being bored. For Manarola, it is typical pastel-coloured houses that are sealing on the slopes of the cape. A watercolor made by a bright colour framed by terraces cultivated with vineyards and olive.

Tour around Manarola

Manarola is very little, so you can’t get lost there. When you get off the train, take the tunnel as in Riomaggiore and then turn right. Walk straight through Via Discovolo and then turn right and you will get to the Church – Chiesa di S. Lorenzo

On the way back, you can take a walking tour up the hill to see the colorful houses from ‘above’. You will see the path on the right with couple of stairs, and along the vineyards. It is a nice walk with an amazing view on the coast.

Then go back down close by tunnel to Piazza Za Dario Capellini. From there go down and turn right. Continue all the way until you finally reach that view all people are taking about and take as much pictures as you wish.

‘Amore a prima vista.’

Monterosso al Mare

Since we had only one day for this trip, we decided to skip two other villages and go to the last one Monterosso al Mare which is also a center of the area. It has a nice beach Fegina, and this is what we needed at that point, because it was so hot! This village was a favourite summer retreat of the poet Eugenio Montale, who received a Nobel prize in 1975. He described it as a ‘rocky and austere village, refuge for fishermen and farmers’. One day I will come back to Cinque Terre and enjoy the glass of wine looking at the sunset by these colorful houses. Today, I just bought the picture of it in the souvenir shop, so I have a reason to come back!

5 things to do in Makarska Riveria

5 things to do in Makarska Riveria

#1 Go on the Boat trip to Hvar and Brac

Boat trip to Hvar & Brac

#2 Rent Scouters and drive around coast

On our last day we have decided to rent scouters and drive around the island. The very first plan was to also see the other beaches, but actually that day it wasn’t that hot, so we didn’t really have to go to the water. Moreover, when you drive on scouter you don’t feel that hot anymore so it was perfect. It is possible to rent scouters in lot of places in Makarska, but of course we used one close by our accommodation, and it is nearby Lavander restaurant as well. We paid 150Kun for 3 hours. Don’t forget to bring extra cash as a deposit and your driving license.

Driving scouter, I felt again like in Sicily on my exchange year. It is really amazing experience especially if you do it with a group of friends. We were going one by one and formed quite long queue, haha. We stopped at few places just to take a coffee (haha for the first time not alcohol I guess) and picture (of course). Great feeling to drive around just in shorts and almost bikini and not feeling cold (not like in Denmark).

I enjoyed it a lot. Moreover, Croatia has very mountainous landscape so you will enjoy lot of uphill and downhill curves and serpentine. Absolutely awesome way to start Friday!

#3 Try rafting on Cetina

On Wednesday we booked rafting trip. I have done rafting before, but we wanted to try Croatian wild river Cetina. Its ‘wildness’ depends on the amount of rain, and actually I think it didn’t rain a lot this summer and therefore the river seemed sometimes quite dangerous – or just very exciting? Anyway, we had to take a bus towards the rafting station. It took around an hour to get there. We got helmet, vest and shoes over there and we paid for this trip around 300Kun.

Our guide was quite funny, and my team was great (even though we were hangover after we were facing these waves we got fresh very fast, haha). Other rafts were splashing water on us and overall it was very fun. The nature looks very nice. We were rafting for around three hours with some small stops. On the one passage of the journey, you can choose to go out of the raft and walk, or swim in the river cave! Absolutely exciting experience, but not recommended for anyone who has problems with hearth or legs. Also, there is one passage where the water is very deep and you have there one big hill from which people jump into this icy water. Here are some pictures of us after the trip. Happily, alive!

#4 Go crazy on jet-ski

Whoever never try this before, it is really better than anything else! For sure better than jetski in xBox, haha! And if you have a chance to do it in Croatia, don’t hesitate a minute. The water in the sea is absolutely clean, without any jellyfish or aglae no matter where. And it is cheap! Normally you pay around 200Kun I think. Once again, on the pier where we were having our morning lessons of Zumba, there was a jetski rental. And me and my friend were offered to try jetski for free, so why not?

I was quite scared one ‘my driver’ started to speed up, I would say I was really worried about my life. But we had life vest after all. As he said, haha. In the middle of the sea, he said, ok now it’s your turn. So I took the steering wheel and steeped up. Wow! So much adrenaline!!! It is amazing and I would go over and over, if we had time!

#5 Walk around the harbor 

It is one of the things to experience while you’re on Makarska! Go around a harbor and see all the boats, local shops, restaurants and much more. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I absolutely love harbors, no matter where. And Makarska’s harbor has its own magic. Music in the air, smell of trdenlik and other local specialties, lights of the whole  coast in the background. You can buy souverniers over there, have a nice diner, party on the boat, or just walk around and/or maybe take a night swim in the sea, haha? It is just such a romantic walk, absolutely idyllic for summer love <3

Sending lot of love from sunny Croatia,

Stella Christie

Boat trip to Hvar & Brac

Boat trip to Hvar & Brac

Makarska is a great place for summer holiday, but if you like sailing, and you would like to see more of this amazing land, then I would definitely recommend to do a boat trip to see surrounding islands. We booked a day trip on the boat called Viganj. 

Viganj boat is normally ‘parked’ in the Makarska harbor. We heard about the offer from local ‘brand ambassador’. The boat came to pick us up close by the restaurant Lavander. You can prepare to get a welcome shot of Rakija (typical Croatian alcohol) early after departure!

Our first stop was on the island Hvar. We have seen some of the harbor and then just walked around, because we had only one hour. So we decided to try their Gemist and enjoyed ‘being lost’ in this little Croatian harbor village. It was actually nice, and not that big and streets reminded me very much Venice or also some other Italian cities with very narrow streets.

On the way towards Brac, we were served a lunch on the board! It was local white fish with a white wine. Very delicious. When we finally get to harbor in Brac, we decided to take ‘sea taxi’ towards famous beach Bol. We have seen this beach already in the number of pictures and it looked amazing so we simply had to go there. It is also possible to walk there, and it takes around an hour. Prepare to see ‘fifty shades of blue’ water over there. Sea looks absolutely stunning and I fall in love with Croatia over there!

There is a number of water attractions and boats as well. We also enjoyed some waves. We could stay there for around 4 hours, so we used this for swimming, sunbathing, some drinking haha and of course having fun. On the way back we played some games and we even saw the dolphins. It was the very first time in my life to see the dolphins and probably for most of us, which made it very special! It was a great day trip and we had so much fun.

On the way back to Makarska we took some more pictures just because everything looked so fabulous, we we were just so happy!

“A journey is measured in friends rather than miles.”

And I am so grateful and happy that I have these amazing friends who made the trip incredible, and that I was also very lucky to meet these great people and make new friendships and memories.

Photo credit: Peter Bojo

Sending lot of love from Slovakian sailors in Adriatic sea <3

Top 10 things to see in Thessaloniki

Top 10 things to see in Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki, or ‘mother of Macedonia’ is the second biggest city in Greece. Besides early Christian, Byzantine and Jewish monuments, it is possible to find there a lot of beautiful local architecture, great food and hectic nightlife.  If you are in Paralia region, definitely stop by! If you are not interested in the history, or archaeological sites, shopping in luxury boutiques will surely make up for it!

Did you know that this city is named after the wife of Macedonian king Kassandros who founded the city in 315 BC? Thessaloniki was her name and she was a sister of Alexander the Great. Under the Roman empire there was a prosperous harbor and important Jewish colony, which later became one of the early center of Christianity. The city has interesting multicultural history because of the cohabitation of Greek Ortodox, Muslim and Jewish communities. The city was all the time the business and cultural center and today is the largest student city in Greece.

Top five attractions in Thessaloniki

  • White Tower

  • Rotunda

  • Church of Agios Dimitrios

  • Arch of Galerios

  • Church of Agia Sofia

Tour de Thessaloniki

If you are for a half day trip in Thessaloniki, and want to see the top outdoor sightseeing I would definitely recommend following. We choose not to go to the museums, even though Thessaloniki offers a great deal of them, because of very hot weather and limited time.

If you come to Thessaloniki by car, you can leave it at parking lot Pl. Eleftherias. Very close by is located Ladadika district famous for its special atmosphere and its full of restaurants, bars and pubs. However, we wanted to visit White Tower which was visible also from the parking lot, and therefore we just walked there along the harbor.

1. Aristotelous Square

On the way from the Pl. Eleftherias towards the White Tower you can see on the left side the Aristotelous Square where is located the statue of Greek philosopher Aristotle. Funny fact his toe is from the gold!

2. White Tower and Museum

It is a monument- symbol of the city. This round fortification from the 15th century is also called Lefkos Pyrgos. It became the symbol of oppression from the Osman empire, when it served as a scaffold and prison for those serving life sentences. After the liberation of the city from the Osman empire, locals whitened the tower during the purification ceremony. Since then it is a symbol of liberty for all Thessaloniki’s inhabitants. In front of the White Tower, few party pirate’s boats are ‘parking’, where you can get on the board for free, only you have to buy a drink. The boat will take you around the harbor. There is a small park around the tower. If you are a student, don’t forget your student ID and you will have entrance for free! Going up to to Tower is fairly easy, because of the wide stairs. It hosts the new permanent exhibition on the history of Thessaloniki from its founding down to the present. The top of the Tower offers a nice view.

3. Statue of Alexander the Great

After the White Tower on the left side is located Royal Theatre. It doesn’t look that impressive and therefore, I didn’t include in ‘must see’ list. However, walk around it from the right side alongside the harbor maybe 5 minutes and you will get to the statue of the Alexander the Great. It is really great! Or huge. With the horse of course!

4. City Hall

We visited City Hall kind of by accident. It is located on the way to Rotunda, so you won’t lose anything to have a look at it. Moreover, nearby is a park where you can chill in the shadow of the trees.

5. Triumphal Arch of Galerius

On the way to Rotunda, you’ll encounter Triumphal Arch of Galerius also known under the name ‘Kamara’. The Kamara formed part of a monumental entrance that led to the courtyard of the great palace sanctuary, which was dominated by the Pantheon of Thessaloniki, nowadays known as the Rotunda. This triumphal Arch was built by Galerius to immortalize the victorious campaigns of the Tetrarchy. Originally, there were two more pillars, all four creating a square room with vaulted roof.

6. Eastern Ortodox Church

On the right side of the Arch, you can see the Eastern Ortodox Church. It is very nice and interesting even though it is not mentioned on the TripAdvisor, I think it is worth to have a glance inside, since it is on the way and I really like churches, because they show a lot about the history.

7. Rotunda –  The Pantheon of Thessaloniki

This monument was built in 306 AM and served as the temple of Zeus, or according to others, as the Mausoleum of the Emperor Galerius. It is named  Rotunda because of its circular shape. Inside it’s a huge space with a cross inside. In the middle is a small circle, and if you step on it, it will make really huge noise and echo. Also, all students with a student ID has entrance for free. It reminds me the Pantheon from Rome. Very nice monument! Address is Plateia Ag. Georgiou.

8. Church of Agios Dimitrios

If you walk from Rotunda north around 10 minutes, you will find Church of Agios Dimitrios. Even though the church was burned in the 1917 fire, it still belongs to one of the most important and visited sights of Thessaloniki. However, the only preserved remains are from the church’s brilliant sculptural and pictorial decorations, such as mosaics and frescos which represents the different stages in the history.

9. Archaeological site of Roman agora of Thessaloniki

Later we were heading towards our last planned monument – church of Agia Sofia, and on the way there we found this gemstone – Archeological site of roman agora of Thessaloniki. It can be specially interesting for archaeologists or people interested in history. Construction on the agora, which was the administrative center of Roman Thessaloniki, began in the late 2nd c. AD at the site of pre-existing agora dating to the Early Imperial period.

10. Church of Agia Sofia

Our last church and sightseeing was famous Agia Sofia church. You need to have covered shoulders and not to have too short skirt in order to get in. But it is possible to borrow some scarf. You cannot film inside, but it is very interesting church with huge lamp. It has also nice garden around. On the way from the church towards our parking there is plenty of great shops and boutiques where all woman, but also man (my dad found lot of great clothes J ) can lost themselves!

The map of the tour

The best beach in Denmark, Rørvig

The best beach in Denmark, Rørvig

Have you ever heard the name of this little danish village, or maybe more accurately residence of summerhouses besides the long and amazing beach? If not, listen up! I had a chance to visit this place because of wonderful family of my ex-boyfriend, and even though the weather was not that summery, we had an amazing time and also some sun – and viking bath in the sea! There is a lot to see in Denmark besides Copenhagen, and one of these places is Rørvig. If you want to know more about our weekend over there, read my following travel diary.

Day 1

When dad of my ex-boyfriend said that we can visit them in their summerhouse there was no doubt about going there! And when Nicklas told me that it is located close to the beach and we need to take a ferry to get there I was so excited. The only thing that hampered me was my job and also this unpredictable Danish weather. Yep, you cannot make any plans whatsoever; because this weather can change from one minute to another and especially now in the summer you can’t really rely on the weather forecast. However, we decided to go there when I finally got 2 days off from work even if it was during the weak. First we took S train to Hillerød and from there we took another yellow train towards almost the end of the island Sjælland. It was nice journey and we could take also our bikes with us which made it really fast. Then we took a ferry towards Rørvig, where bikes were allowed as well. The journey on the ferry took only about 25 minutes, but the wind there made it quite memorable. We made somehow some snaps of us with a windy hair and it was quite fun. I almost did not feel my ears. When I finally saw the land I got excited. It was possible to see beautiful lines of the harbor.

It was almost the end of the evening when we finally reached our destination. The harbor offered us memorable view over the sea and boats. There was a small beach and kids trying to catch some fish or crabs. We took immediately pictures and then we headed towards famous summerhouse.

It took us approximately 15 minutes by bike, but I sincerely enjoyed the ride because there was lot of typical Danish houses that you don’t see in Copenhagen or in other big cities in Denmark. In some of them was even roof made of dry grass like in old days! The names of the streets were nicely visible so to orientate there was quite easy. We found our summerhouse literally in the middle of the forest. Nicklas father and wife were waiting for us with a bottle of Rosé. It was very nice to chat outside on the terrace in the middle of the forest and finally to get fresh air and peace from the city center. Later we ate dinner together and it was Nicklas’s favorite dish – steak with a béarnaise sauce. For the dessert we had raspberries with a cream. Yummy!!! Then we took a nice night walk towards the beach. We had to go through the forest, but I love forest so for me it was a pleasure. The beach looked amazing! The only one thing missing to make it perfect was to have nice summer dress! (I wish it would be warmer in Denmark, haha).

However, it was already around 10 PM and very cold so only the dump would wear a dress in this circumstances. So we just came back to our lovely cottage which looked like from a fairytale and get some more Valpolicella wine.

Day 2

We woke up around 9 in the morning for a breakfast. Marie prepared them on the terrace, but when we started to eat, it started to rain! So we just came back to the kitchen and ate there. At this moment I didn’t believe that the weather could just suddenly change. Anyway, in around an hour the rain stopped so we just went to the beach. It was quite cold, but the air was fresh after the rain. When we got to the beach, the clouds went away and the sky was getting more and more blue. Aww, my hearth got excited! I turned around and these two were already in the water! Crazy, I was thinking… Then, they yelled at us: Come on, come to the sea! The water is great! Then some kind of instinct said to me: “Don’t do it!” But it was too late, I already persuaded Nicklas to come with me. It was sooo cold, but it was really exciting so we just went to the waves and started to slash on each other. After a short swim, I became a true Viking – swimming in the North Sea! 😀

We found one small place where wind didn’t reach us – adequate for a sunbathing. Then we stayed there maybe for two more hours, just lying on the beach and breathing a salt from the water. Awesome. Later, we came back home and after the shower I realized that I look like fresh baked shrimp. I got sooo pink and I would not even say that it was hot outside and this is all because of the North wind! Whatever.

Then we were just sitting on the terrace and drinking coffee and later we went a bit explore the local area. The small town is really small and when we were looking for a restaurant to sit, we didn’t find anything where we really wanted to go. So then we decided to go to the harbor in Rørvig. There was plenty of restaurants on the way there, even if some of them were quite expensive. We found one cozy restaurant with a nice terrace and affordable prices so we sit there and ate dinner all together. Later we just did a walk around the harbor and take a really great ice-cream there. On the parking spot was a meeting place for veteran cars, which was a pretty good timing. We took lot of pictures (just me, haha) with old fashion cars and nice boats, even found one Viking boat. Later we got back to summerhouse and enjoy a bit of wine with a nice company.

Day 3

Finally, nice and sunny morning for having a breakfast on the terrace.  Later in the morning, we went to this amazing beach and stay there whole 4 hours. Then we just got back home, had a coffee and packed our things, because mini golf was waiting for us. Mini golf in Rørvig was really mini, but offered 20 different stations so we played at least one hour. It was fun. Then we went to the harbor and take some chicken with French fries and the time of our departure was coming. We said goodbye and thank you to Nicklas dad and Marie and I was already a bit sad to leave this small Danish paradise and coming back to reality.

Restaurant Zografos, Greece

Restaurant Zografos, Greece

In the small tourist village of Greek Paralia, almost next to the main square is located inconspicuous small restaurant called Zografos. It captured attention of my family mainly due to their menu available also in Slovak/Czech at the entrance. From outside it didn’t look that fancy, but waiter told us about the terrace with a seaside view, and with a nice and warm welcome guided us towards our table for six.

We found lovely round table, but unfortunately it was reserved for someone else. At that point, we didn’t know that these tables were reserved for singers. That night, as all Mondays were live music there. Such a wonderful atmosphere. Waiter brought us a menu, and it was interesting that only men were waiters there. The selection of food was composed from different options ranging from seafood, Greek special dishes, steaks, pasta, or even middle European cuisine. If you want to get something from waitress, you need to raise your hand. It was quite busy over there, but personnel were very friendly, even though not all of them could speak English.

I ordered scallops, my mum had a fish, my sisters had a chicken and my dad got a steak. Overall everyone was happy with the food, except my dad. After the main course, waiter brought us a complimentary watermelon on the table which was very lovely gesture. The dinner had a special atmosphere thanks to two local singers. It was nice to hear some greek music and find out a bit more of their culture. It was great first night and I am glad that we spent it with my family over there. We also had a chance to see eclipse of the moon!

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