Thursday, May 30, 2013

split, croatia | the zoo, views + markets

This beautiful place is covered in marble, has a stunning waterfront and loads of shops and delicious restaurants. During our time here the weather wasn't the warmest or dryest but luckily we had our MEC rain gear to help us trek around town!

We walked up the steps to Marjan which leads to the zoo and has magificent views of the city all the way up! The zoo was 10 kunas and we got to see a lion, an ostrich, monkeys, a bear, goats, reindeer, lots of birds, lambs, bunnies and much more. The bunnies were so cute and there were so many both babies and mamas and papas! It didn't look like they had any food so we fed them a leaf or two or ten.



Just a bit further up from the zoo is the highest point along the path to Marjan. 
 Here you will find a beautiful view of the city!



There is a massive market in the middle of the city! You can buy fresh cheese, meat, vegetables, fruit, flowers, olives and nuts! We got a few things to make our own charcuterie plate! It was all so fresh and delicious accompanied with a glass of red wine!



Happy birthday to my friend Cam in Toronto! Hope you had a good one!

{Images by Sara + Susie}



It was tempting to do sail Croatia while we were over here. Have you done it or plan on going this summer?



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xo sara

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

{national park} plitvice lakes, croatia

We woke up at 6:30 this morning to start off our journey to the incredible Plitvice Lakes. We booked a tour for the day so we met up with them and off we went on a 4 hour van ride up the coast of Croatia. Our tour guide Ernest was lively and eager to have us aboard and had something interesting to say the entire trip.

Plitvice Lakes became a National Park in 1949 and is the largest National Park in Croatia. We spent just under 5 hours and walked 10km there and didn't even see it all. The entire property is an ongoing rush of water with streams trickling and rushing down rocks covered in moss. The waters are crystal clear and vibrant turquoise! Coming from a place where you can never see the bottom of any lake or stream in Canada, this felt surreal. 

Fun facts about Plitvice:
- 1267 species of plants
- 55 species of orchids
- 321 species of butterflies 
- 161 species of birds
- 21 species of bats 


There is no swimming in the park which is a bummer at first but quickly realized that was the beauty of the place. Could you imagine coming here to look at a beautiful waterfall and a bunch of tourists frolicking in the water? Would kill the mood pretty quickly!









The entire park is well layed out with gravel paths and wood bridges keeping it simple and blending beautifully with nature.





Here is the whole gang! Such a great group of people from all over the world!


The closest thing we have to Plitvice Lakes is Niagara Falls which is amazing but nothing like this national park! If you are visiting Croatia I highly recommend going to Plitvice Lakes. Don't be discouraged by its distance from Split (where we were staying), it is well worth the ride!


{Images by Sara + Susie}


Are you traveling this summer? Where are you going?


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xo sara


Sunday, May 26, 2013

the old town of dubrovnik, croatia

I have been looking forward to visiting Croatia for awhile and it did not disappoint! We stayed in the Old Town of Dubrovnik which is surrounded by marble walls and floors. The beaches were lots of fun and a great place to meet people and relax. Before making the first plunge into the water, be careful! The waves are very strong and can push you right back to shore. We floated in the sea for ever and just let the waves guide us around. This was one of my most favourite parts of the trip so far! 


Cable Car
Take the big orange cable car up the mountain for the best view of the city. Of course I had to represent Toronto and wear my Blue Jays T-shirt. I could not believe how many people came up to me and introduced themselves because they too were from Toronto! There is a way to walk up and down the mountain but I do not recommend it. We walked down and it's half on the highway and not clearly marked.
* Note to self - if you want to easily meet other Canadians while traveling, wear Canadian gear!


Walking the Old Town Walls
This is a must if you are visiting Dubrovnik! You are taken through time as you walk along the winding streets and tall marble walls. There are loads of restaurants that spill out onto the streets with charming awnings and delicious food. We walked around and viewed prices on menus to see where the cheaper ones were. You will be heckled to go in restaurants! 




There is always time to be a tourist and have fun!





Make sure you have stable sandals or running shoes. It rained while we were walking the walls so it was very slippery - good thing I have my amazing Orthaheel walking shoes to keep me stable! These shoes have been a complete life saver while travelling because of the built-in orthotic. If you pronate like I do, I strongly recommend getting a pair for your next trip!




The Island of Lokrum
Do you watch Game of Thrones? This is where a few episodes was filmed! The entire island is covered in peacocks and beautiful flowers! Walk around and discover the plant and wildlife of this magical island. 

To get to Lokrum Island, take a ferry over from the Old Town. 




We swam in the Dead Sea! It was such a refreshing and relaxing experience! 




We found a random outdoor gym and worked out (played) on it for a bit. It really is such a good idea to have this available to the public! I wonder why Toronto doesn't have a few?
The War Photo Museum is two floors of incredible war images from around the world that have been captured on film. Each photograph tells a moving story. 



Admission 30KN

Cold Drinks + A Beautiful View
We were never sure of the name of this place but the signs leading up and outside of this restaurant said "Cold drinks and a beautiful view". Naturally, we wanted both those things and we were not disappointed! Through a hole in the wall on the Old Town is a restaurant built on the side of the water. Trust me when I say, this place is a must see! 







This hostel is located right in the middle of the old town. Although there might not be any incredible views of the sea, you are made to feel right at home by the hospitable staff. The rooms are clean and the common area is bright blue with lots of seating and computers for the guests. 


Hospitality     ****
Cleanliness    ****
Location        ****
* There is wifi throughout the hostel and complimentary bread, cereal, coffee, tea and juice in the morning.

Thanks for a great stay Maria!



{Images by Sara + Susie}


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xo sara

Thursday, May 23, 2013

{amalfi hotel} villa felice relais

We had the absolute pleasure of staying at Villa Felice Relais while we were in Amalfi. While walking up the steps to the front door, each one of your senses are overwhelmed by the stunning views, delicious scents of the flowers and the light breeze coming off the ocean. We knew we were right at home and had found our paradise.

Not only is the staff charming but they are all gorgeous! They were more than accommodating to us in every which way.




When we arrived our first night, the kitchen was closed but they generously made us a feast of fresh food!





For our main we had home made pasta with pesto and for dessert a home made lemon cake with whipped cream on top and inside. Delicious!



Our second night we had home made putaneska pasta with a fresh tomato sauce and basil.


The views are spectacular from the restaurant at the hotel. You must have at least one dinner here, you will not be disappointed! 



Enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast of eggs, sliced deli meats and cheeses, yogurt, fresh orange juice, bread, croissants, tea, coffee and fresh fruits. 


Villa Felice upgraded us to the penthouse with our own balcony, private 4 piece bathroom, closet, mini bar and massive television with lots of channels and movies. The view from our private balcony was breathtaking, it was hard to leave! 

Villa Felice very kindly did two full loads of laundry for us free of charge. All of our clothing came back in prestine shape folded and presses perfectly. Staying here was a real treat, we didn't feel like backpackers anymore!









We were given these house slippers with the hotel's crest. On our last evening we had a few glasses of delicious Italian red wine, sat back and watched a lightning storm across the water. It illuminated the entire sea and was nothing like we had ever seen before. We were lucky that it wasn't raining! 



Thank you Meddalena, Christiana, Allewsandro and Jacopo for an unforgettable stay!

Hospitality     ****
Views            ****
Location        ****
Food             ****
Hotel website click here - www.villafeliceamalfi.it

* There is a complimentary shuttle to and from the town center and they offer lots of fun day and evening activities.

* I highly recommend staying here if you visit Amalfi. If you do stay here, tell Villa Felice that Susie and I say hello!


{Images by Sara + Susie}



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xo sara

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

the ruins of pompeii

Over 2,000 years ago this city was covered in lava from Mt Vesuvius killing about 2,000 people right in their tracks. Plaster casts were made around bodies who were found in scared poses such as crouching under tables and pushing against doors to stop the inevitable. 

* I highly recommend getting an audio guide otherwise you will have no idea what anything is. It's € 6,50 for one headset or € 5,00 for more than one. The cost to enter the grounds is €11.00 for an adult.







The Teatro Grande ampitheatre was built in the 2nd century BC and holds up to 5,000 spectators. 




This floor mosaic was created to show the battle against Alexander the Great using around 1 million tiny squares.


Below is an image of the Taberna Hedones brothel. Embarrassing part of the trip - I thought it was a church because of the religious looking motifs on the walls. Boy was I way off! I was laughed at and corrected by a few people. 


From Amalfi we took a bus to Sorrento and a train to Pompeii. It is about a 20 minute walk from here to the site or you can take a bus for a few euros or a taxi for €10. Visit the ruins website here - www.pompeiturismo.it


{Images by Sara}


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xo sara