Sep 19

TOP 4 OF THE MOST FASCINATING LAKES IN EASTERN EUROPE

Europe has an extremely varied relief and some of the most popular natural sites have always been the lakes; partly because they usually provide an important source of food, but also because they are beautiful places that boost your mood and make you want to enjoy your time in the middle of nature.

Today we are going to visit four of some of the most fascinating, beautiful and popular lakes in Eastern Europe.

Lake Balaton in Hungary

Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Europe, covering an area of 600 square kilometers, with 78 kilometers long. Lake Balaton is a kind of substitute for the sea, since Hungary has no sea coast, and it is often called the “Hungarian Sea”.

And even if Hungarians have only a lake, topography and climate has helped so that the northern and southern half of the lake offers completely different attractions for tourists who want different things for their holiday.

Why visit?

In the southern half, between Siófok and Fonyód, you will meet a lot of resorts, sandy beaches, nightclubs, bars – no different from any other real summer resorts. This is fun for young people, but it is also preferred for families with children, and not only because of the resort’s sites, but also due to the characteristics of the lake, whose depth does not exceed three meters in this area. Furthermore, the beach season is fairly extensive, considering that the average temperature is 26 degrees Celsius from May to October.

The northern part of Lake Balaton is more “urban” with chic towns such as Keszthely, Badacsony and Balatonfüred with tourists who prefer walking by the lake, and enjoy the peace and relaxation of the vineyards, castles and hiking areas.

Tihany Peninsula is a very interesting spot, which almost splits the lake in two, an area where the lake’s depth reaches around 11.5 meters.

While in the area, do not miss a visit to the thermal lake of Hévíz, the largest of its kind in Europe; its water temperature does not exceed 24 to 26 degrees Celsius. Here, as well, you can also enjoy some time in Zalakaros, which is another spa resort sought by tourists.

Hungarians have always been able to explore to the maximum even the simplest location and transform it into a touristic attraction, and it is the same with Balaton, which is not just a destination, but a real beach or promenade spot that is among the most popular. During the season, more than 200 smaller or larger boats transit the lake and organize small cruises or other similar opportunities. Furthermore, both on the lake and in the adjacent area, tourists are offered a range of outdoor activities, from cycling (routes totaling 200 kilometers), windsurfing, sailing and water skiing.

For those active people who are addicted to adrenaline, places like Siofok and Balatonfüred feature several bungee jumping platforms and the most “quiet” tourists can opt for a tour of the vineyards and wineries in the area.

Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia

Baikal  is the largest and deepest lake in the world, and it reaches 1,642 meters deep and is a great attraction when it freezes. Photos taken during cold periods capture amazing ice carvings.

Why visit it?

This region has not been transformed by people and it attracts adventurers who are willing to endure even the most unfavorable conditions of the Russian frosty winters.

Morskie Oko The Eye of the Sea, Poland

One of the largest and deepest lakes in the Tatra Mountains, is surrounded by lush landscapes. Is the most popular tourist destination in this mountain range, attracting thousands of visitors each year.

Why visit?

There is a center for tourists and a cabin which offers visitors all touristic amenities at the highest levels.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

This natural reservation is one of the main attractions of the country. Mountainous landscapes and lakes with clear blue water have made the place one of the most famous and easily recognizable attractions in Europe. Throughout time water eroded the limestone structures which lead to karst formations. As a result, they formed numerous waterfalls, caves and lakes. Wildlife is also very varied: thanks to very low pollution and animal conservation, the unspoiled nature is home to many species.

Why visit?

There are several hiking trails: the main crosses the entire park and it takes 4-5 hours to go through. Boating clear water allows you to explore and see what is hiding in it.

Photo source:

Picture 1: lifefoc.com; Picture 2: lifefoc.com; Picture 3: allaboardbalaton.wordpress.com; Picture 4: natureandwinetravel.com; Picture 5: thisbluemarble.me; Picture 6: pinterest.com; Picture 7: ravelmoodz.com
Sep 16

BANSKO – THE TOP OF THE TOPS WHEN IT COMES TO BULGARIAN SKI RESORTS (БАНСКО)

Bulgarian town of Bansko is located near the Glazane River at the foot of the Pirin Mountains on the eastern side where you can admire the most beautiful, and highest peaks, only 160 km from Sofia and 6 kilometers from Razlog and is considered the highest quality resort ski in Bulgaria. The town of Bansko is located at 925 meters above sea level; the slopes are situated at an altitude of 2000-2600 meters. The Pirin Mountains are very similar to the Alps and Vihren is the highest peak of 2914 m. The name Bansko derives from the word “ban” which means “master” in Bulgarian. Bansko has become a favorite resort in terms of skiing and snowboarding, mainly due to the exceptional conditions of the slopes, and the particular historical architecture perfectly combined with modernity.

Despite the fact that the resort itself is not older than a decade, it has a lot to offer its visitors. The 44 Technoalpine snow cannons covering most slopes make the ski season last longer. The variety of ski slopes offers opportunities for both beginners and advanced. Also, snowboard lovers can enjoy the first Balkan fun park, where they meet all sorts of crazed fans of extreme sports. For them, but also for the skiers, there are daily racing organized on the new slope at Shiligarnika.

Regarding facilities, the Bansko locals took special care of the comfort and safety of skiers and snowboard lovers. Thus, in Bansko there is a gondola with 8 seats, 3-seater chairlifts, 7 ski lifts and 10 facilities for children. The total length of installations around the resort is 26 km. At Bansko you can find slopes for slalom, giant slalom and ski trails of a length of 5 kilometers.

The perfect mixture between a modern resort and a city with a living history, makes Bansko an elegant and exciting place to spend a pleasant skiing season. Each house has its own history that can transform a simple vacation into a trip to the traditional world of Bulgaria. Bansko taverns, called “Mehana” provide a welcoming atmosphere where you can enjoy Bulgarian traditional food and exceptional wines. Most taverns have live music performed by orchestras during the quiet and romantic evenings and for those who are trully energetic, there are plenty of clubs and discos that close once with the sunrise.

Of course there are many things to see in Bansko, such as the 120 cultural and historic monuments, around which there are numerous souvenir shops. Besides the wonders of Pirin Mountains, the city possesses other tourist attractions such as the ancient ruins from Staroto Gradishte and Pirin National Park, which is protected by UNESCO. In the park there are waterfalls, lakes, caves and a specific flora and fauna. Bansko together with Dobrinishte is known for its mineral waters.

Bansko is one of the largest resorts in Bulgaria, offers countless opportunities for accommodation, from luxury hotels, apartments and hotels for all tastes near the slopes.

Photo source:

Picture 1: radiocraiova.ro; Picture 2: gamatravel.net; Picture 3: holidaybrokers.ro; Picture 4: adventureflair.com; Picture 5: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 6: whitechaletsbansko.com; Picture 7: olimpia-turism.ro
Sep 16

THE CAVE AT VADU CRIŞULUI, A PLACE LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE (VADU CRIŞULUI, ROMANIA)

Vadu Crişului Cave was discovered in 1903 by Gyula Czárán after dynamiting the slope and arranging the wooden stairs and bridges soon after. In 1969, the underground facilities are upgraded and the cave is electrified, becoming the second cave in Romania where the electric lighting was introduced.

Vadu Crişului Cave is located in the Criş Gorge, in Padurea Craiului Mountains (the Princes’ Forest), between the towns of Vadu Cris and Şuncuiuş.

The cave has a length of 1 kilometer, of which 680 meters are allowed to be visited by tourists who are not speologists. It has three main large galleries (besides others that are narrower and more difficult to access), and one of them is used only for paleontological research, which is also famous for having been extensively researched by the famous Romanian explorer, biologist and scientist,  Emil Racoviţă.

Vadu Crişului Cave has a more special status because it is crossed by a stream which originates in the karst plateau Zece Hotare (Ten Borders) – Old Man’s Cave, so basically the water forming  inside the cave is the same that creates the Vadu Crişului Waterfall.

We enter the cave through the left side of the underground creek, we pass by the three galleries going upward, which open on the left, we traverse the Suspended Bridge over the lake and arrive at a party spherical high (globe of Earth), above which a limestone canopy has been formed during the ages.

Then two separate ways are splitting: one lower, along the underground stream and the other way that forms the upper floor. Upstairs hallway after completing a small climb in an upper room, where shall descend into the Balcony Hall with the fallen blocks. Underneath these blocks, we go to the Hell gallery and get reacquainted the creek in the Great Hall of the cave.

The road continues to the point of the Straits, where the corridor is obstructed by fallen boulders where the cave visiting ends.

You can reach the cave:

– By train to Cave Halt on Cluj-Oradea route;

– By train to Vadu Crisului or Şuncuiuş and then walking nearby the railway for about 2 kilometers to the same Cave Halt.

– By car from Vadu Crisului: you can leave your car near the football field in Vadu Crisului and then follow they railway or the new Red Circle tourist route;

– By car from Şuncuiuş: you can leave your car in front of Şuncuiuş station and then walk nearby the railway, again some two kilometers to Cave Halt.

Photo source:

Picture 1: infopensiuni.ro; Picture 2: ciraandreea.blogspot.ro; Picture 3: 99tour.ro; Picture 4: informatii-romania.ro; Picture 5: bihorinimagini.ro; Picture 6: bihorinimagini.ro; Picture 7: tai-tai.net
Sep 16

ISTANBUL: TOP 3 ACTIVITIES IN A ROMANTIC CITY BREAK

The best time to plan a city break in Istanbul is when you need an explosion of life and color – especially in the spring, if you want to open your appetite for Oriental experiences. Istanbul can be explored on a journey of three days and one of the first things you need to do to mingle along the city like a local, not a tourist, and that means using the public transport. Check if the hotel in Istanbul where will you accommodate is near the subway or ant bus lines that pass through the area. It’s good to know that taxis are quite expensive in Turkey.

 

Serve a delicious lunch among the Galleries on Istikal Street

If you like to walk around and observe people, but look for a special place where good things happen and at the same time enjoy the Turkish cuisine at its best, you must go on the pedestrianized Istiklal, where you will find everything you want, from cafes, to restaurants and traditional doner. So you can stay for more in the area for a delicious lunch. Anyway, the place is special in itself for its Art Nouveau architecture and 19th century European air – you will surely love it!

On Rue Francaise you can listen to live music, even in French, and if you want to flee two hours away from the crowds, you can invite your pair in a film, if you are both passionate about movies. You may walk on Istikal Street early morning after taking breakfast at the hotel.

From here you must not miss a ride on the nostalgic tram, where you can get down anywhere you want just to get lost together for a while. The Nostalgic Tram, as locals call it, begins its schedule on Istikal from early morning until late in the evening, at intervals of 15-20 minutes. In addition, the street is one of the liveliest places in Istanbul, so you will always encounter curious and friendly locals and tourists alike in this fascinating and lively area.

 

Buy a magic carpet from the Grand Bazaar

You will not see anywhere such an overwhelming explosion of color and diversity than during your vacation in Istanbul (maybe the Holi festival in India, when everyone is covered in vivid colors, but we will talk about it some other time). And one of the places where you could stop for a magical experience together with your partner is the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul itself. If you are lucky, you can find a magic carpet.

What could you buy? If you think about it, you could even purchase the engagement ring, wedding rings or gold jewelry at prices that are more than convenient, if you still choose a city break in Istanbul. And if you cannot find a magic carpet, handmade carpets though are absolutely gorgeous; you could opt for handmade souvenirs such as shoes, carpets and cashmere scarves. Whatever you buy, remember to negotiate for each product in order to preserve the local tradition. If you don’t have this innate talent and don’t know how to do that, you can buy anything at a price that will delight you.

 

Take a romantic walk on aristocratic roads of Princes’ Islands

If you thought that only means Istanbul oriental music and belly dancing, a day trip on the Princes’ Islands near Istanbul will change your opinion. The Princes’ or Princesses’ Islands (as they appear in other sources) will make you feel that you transported yourselves into a place in Europe of the last century, and almost nothing reminds you that you still are at the Gates of the Oriental world, where you arrived at first.

If you choose a city break in Istanbul together with your pair, you could opt for one of the less touristy islands of the nine islands in the Sea of Marmara. The largest and most popular is Buyukada Island, which seems to be a European colony, where moving carriages and Art Nouveau houses rise all over the area, giving the place an air of downright bourgeois. Conversely, if you want to go on a one day trip to enjoy a little more privacy, you can stroll along one of the smaller islands, such as Heybeliada, where you’ll find many restaurants and shops, or on the Burgazada Island. Weekends in Istanbul are quite busy, so you better choose a smaller island if you want to avoid crowds in Buyukada.

Photo source:

Picture 1: lonelyplanet.com; Picture 2: tripadvisor.com; Picture 3: theguardian.com; Picture 4: atbholidays.com; Picture 5: oskartours.com; Picture 6: mayartravel.com; Picture 7: lonelyplanet.com
Sep 15

NATURE’S HOME – VADU AND CORBU (ROMANIA)

Many of us declare ourselves tired of crowded places, so tourists have started to seek other desert places where they can find peace and serenity, where they can lie all day on a quiet beach, in a hammock or in the shade,  without having to incur other disturbing elements.

Today’s destination is in Romania, on the Black Sea shore, where you will encounter two of the last pristine beaches: Corbu and Vadu.

Although it still is what we might call a wild beach, Corbu certainly will not stay in this category for long. That’s because local authorities have other plans for the future “newest resort at European level on the Romanian Black Sea coast”, as declared on the official website. The project includes both the beach at Corbu, and the one at Vadu.

So who wants to enjoy the wild beaches of Corbu and Vadu should hurry up before civilization takes over. In a few years, it’s very certain that things won’t be the same.

Construction plans have already been finalized and the project is available to anyone who wishes to admire and “marvel” concieved after the taste of the authorities and investors. What will Corbu be like in the future? Well, think of hotels and villas of four and five stars (goodbye, tents), marina for boats foodie (no more wooden boats), an international circuit of golf, casino, sports park etc.

But let us stay in present times and see what Corbu has to offer now. When you go there, you will take a bite of true Nature, which will be a true blessing for those who want to enjoy the simple life by the sea, with just sand and sun. Corbu beach is included in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, and from here you can make day trips in the Delta, departing either from Tulcea, or Jurilovca.

Besides the beach, tourists can enjoy other eco-friendly activities, including windsurfing, water sports such as sailing, diving and amateur sport fishing in Lake Corbu. Also in this area, if you have binoculars or a camera with telephoto lens you can admire some special species of birds, including the tern or the silver seagull. Nearby, on Lake Sinoe, in a simple boat ride, you will meet with spoonbills, ducks and pelicans.

From untainted nature we are moving on to history. Two major cities are near the village of Corbu: Histria and Enisala. The first is the oldest Greek settlement in the country, built in 657 BC and the second dates from the late thirteenth century, the early fourteenth century.

Corbu is located at a distance of eight kilometers north of Mamaia, near Navodari. You can get there by car, but it is recommended to choose your route from home, depending on the location from which you start. The beach is near the village of the same name, and to get there you have to follow the paved road which goes to the right, located close to the indicator that marks the entrance to the village. The access to services is not easy, and near the beach there are no shops, therefore, a complete and correct supply will save you a ton of headaches.

Photo source:

Picture 1: transilvaniareporter.ro; Picture 2: vacantacumasina.ro; Picture 3: blog.marianmocanu.ro; Picture 4: cronicipebune.ro; Picture 5: metropotam.ro; Picture 6: 4tuning.ro; picture 7: papacelll.deviantart.com
Sep 15

MOSCOW – THE CAPITAL OF THE POWERFUL OLIGARCHS (МОСКВА)

In the past 20 years, the symbol – city of the former Red Empire has reborn in a way that former communist leaders such as Lenin, Stalin or Brezhnev would not have ever anticipated and it became the world capital of Western-like “decadent” refinement, designed to meet the demands of numerous millionaires who are now spinning wheels of power.

Luxury boom

The Soviet Union is now long gone and Moscow – as we know from the past times of pompous military parades celebrating with glittery propaganda the Victory Day or the Great October Revolution, or when MiGs flown over haughty official stand, where leaders of the Bolshevik Party, with their backs bent down from so many decorations and medals, were governing the scenery – has transformed into exactly the opposite as the Communist leaders and philosophers had imagined it would be for eternity.

Ex-communist metropolis is continually borrowing the made in USA commercial symbolism: from KFC to the Hard Rock Café. Becoming a center of big business, Moscow – although it remains in a proportion of 70% a gulag of the needy, hosts successive waves of expats, but also the local oligarchy out of which rows of Forbes nominees are being regularly recruited for the magazine’s charts. Logically, their lifestyle expectations have changed and there are already plenty of individuals and clans that do not exclude cosmopolitan luxuries or even daily extravaganza from their way of living.

The Russian economic growth rate, higher than in Western Europe, partly justifies this trade boom of luxury goods, considered until recently one of niche. Besides legal affairs, in Moscow also bloomed an impressive black economy with sophisticated transactions, including weapons of last generation. And the beneficiaries of this boom – “les nouveaux riches” -, when they don’t buy luxury residences on the French Riviera (where more than half of the restaurants are already displaying their menu in Cyrillic alphabet), they invest heavily in their personal comfort, ready to shell out any price for whatever latest fashion caprice that, only a decade ago, it would have seemed unthinkable.

Why should you get to Moscow?

Because it truly is a very beautiful city, whose center can be compared without any exaggeration, to any other major European capitals – Paris, London, Rome or Madrid. In addition, although today the capital of the East turned into the citadel of the oligarchs and demanding millionaires, it is not “so” expensive: a night in a decent 4 star hotel in close proximity to the center should not be more than 65 euros for 2 people , while prices in restaurants and bars are surprisingly low; and as for shopping, the ladies will have plenty of surprises: in malls and shopping spots in central Moscow there are crowded the most prestigious brands in the world and the prices here are usually consistently lower than those of Paris or Vienna. If money is not a problem, in Moscow you will find the latest collections of famous designers before they get to London or New York. Besides all these issues more or less questionable of “decadent capitalist consumerism”, Moscow has a special charm build upon the symbols that provide its identity:

The Red Square. It is the heart of the city and should be the first destination to visit to sample more of the consistent flavor of the metropolis. St. Bazil’s Cathedral is flanked by the State History Museum, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the most exclusive mall Moscow, GUM, and one of Kremlin’s walls. Basically, here you have comprised the quintessential of the city: ancient historical buildings, relics of communism and symbols of New Russia, all concentrated in a few square kilometers. For a leisurely visit to all locations embodied in the Red Square you will need at least two days. To make it easier, take the subway from one of the metro stations in the vicinity of Red Square: Ohotnii Ryad, Ploschad Revolutsii.

Old Arbat Street. At first glance it looks like a combination between a hardly digestible Turkish bazaar and an alley in the historic center of Naples, but Arbat but has its particular charm: it is crowded with cafes, bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. The prices of the latter can be negotiated.

Bolshoi Theater. The price of a show is pretty steep, starting at 1,000 rubles, you can relax on the majestic fountain in front and admire the famous building.

Tretyakov Gallery. It is one of the largest and finest museums in the world – if you want to visit one museum in Moscow, you should definitely pick it up. Here you will find exclusively Russian art: paintings and sculpture the most famous Russian artists and the richest collection of ancient Russian icons.

Gorky Park. The biggest and most famous Moscow Park boasts impressive green spaces, promenades, statues and cafes. It is the most popular meeting and leisure place for city residents. During winter, most paths are decorated with statues of ice.

Photo source:

Picture 1: radissonblu.com; Picture 2: rubelli.com; Picture 3: almaty-kazakhstan.net; Picture 4: flikr.com; Picture 5: newmoscowtravel.com; Picture 6: youtube.com
Sep 15

VELIKO TARNOVO, THE CITADEL OF WALACHIAN KINGS (ВЕЛИКО ТЪРНОВО)

Long ago, long before the first known Wallachian prince to appear on the history scene, on the land south of the Danube, the Vlachs, along with Bulgarians, were setting the basis of Tarnovgrad, that was going to remain in history as the third Rome and the second Constantinople. A citadel of kings and scholars, a city where history was literally written page by page, a mythical place whose walls have broken thee egos of proud Byzantine emperors.

The chroniclers of the long passed eras called it “the most inaccessible and most beautiful city in the whole Hemus” and if we made you curious or if you want to see if we are wrong somehow, let your steps take you there. Certainly, you will have all the ingredient for an unforgettable  vacation.

It is true that in recent years Bulgaria has progressed in terms of the number of tourists and the tourism industry revenues, but simply walking on Bulgarian lands to convince you that this phenomenon is not just a fluke.

About Veliko Tarnovo you cannot speak otherwise but mostly in the best of the terms and descriptions, and that’s because Bulgarians were able to sell their past in the most efficient way possible – in a positive way, obviously. It is enough to visit the former medieval Bulgarian capital and we guarantee you that you will want to get back there soon.

Grandeur and humility are contradictory terms that paradoxically define this fascinating city on the banks of the Yantra River. It seems indeed an antagonism, but perhaps this is precisely the charm of this medieval city, whose heart spreads the perfume of the old times. The grandeur of a glorious past is felt in every stone of the great Tarnovgrad, that somewhat has the aura of an old giant that your read about in legends, or, if you prefer, Tsarevets – the City of Kings – all this is harmoniously blending with the modesty and simplicity of the houses that seem to rise from the steep cliffs of one of the biggest – if not the biggest – canyons of Europe .

Since the moment you enter Veliko Tarnovo, you have the feeling you stepped back in time. Narrow, winding streets, unchanged for centuries, cafes with a specific Bulgarian, Macedonian, Greek and Albanian flavor – some of them carved directly into the rock massive – houses that have been abandoned or suspended on the slope of the canyon and the fascinating artisans working in their homes with windows wide open so you can see their entire activity, all rather remind you of a forgotten past that you might think that it is possible to be brought back in full XXI century. But it exists and it keeps moving on undisturbed, and in Veliko Tarnovo almost everything there leaves you this impression.

Photo source:

Picture 1: getintravel.com; Picture 2: mytravelstock.com; Picture 3: mytravelstock.com; Picture 4: nikolatotuhov.com; Picture 5: andrey-andreev.com; Picture 6: temporatravel.com; Picture 7: commons.wikimedia.org
Sep 14

ONE-DAY TRIP TO ATHENS – HOW DO MANAGE AROUND (ΑΘΉΝΑ)

It is well-known the fact that Greeks are one of the most hospitable and full of life nations in the world; however, the tumult, the rhythm and the spirit of locals in Athens and across the region can become overwhelming at a time. Athens is a popular tourist destination because of its fascinating and rich ancient history and, in addition, for its boundless dynamism, becoming one of the most spectacular cities to visit in the Mediterranean region. Do you usually go to Greece to enjoy the dolce far niente on the islands? No one will blame you, but do not avoid the Greek capital. And if you feel you need a break from the hype and bustle of the city, you have a few suggestions for day trips in Athens, that will spare you the chaos and agitation. So this is what you can do during your stay there:

Aegina Island – is a favorite escape for locals and probably will become the same for you. The streets of the island are full of small restaurants and shops, while one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean is only a stone’s throw from this area. Nearby there is a water park, so the trip is great for little ones as well.

Epidavros – although it is one of the most modern cities of Greece, here you will find the most beautiful archaeological sites throughout the region, including Ancient Theater of Epidaurus. This place is a small port city, famous for its orange groves.

Hydra – easily reached from Athens, this beautiful island is worth visiting, as well as worth exploring everything it has to offer. The trip by ferry from Piraeus to Hydra lasts for about two hours, so it would be better to dedicate a full day to this trip. Since its arrival here, you will immediately notice the many taxis pulled by donkeys waiting for tourists who have just descend from the ferry.

Marathon – although locals do not see this destination as one of the most popular, it is still a good choice, being close to Athens, and it is very quiet and peaceful. Marathon is where Greece won the war against the Persian Empire, so it has a historical significance, besides the mythical link to the famous race of Pheidippides, who was sent to Athens to announce victory. For a relaxing afternoon, visit the dam and the lake that represents the main water supply of the city of Athens. In addition, there are small restaurants just down the road in the village of Oropos.

Lake Vouliagmeni- within an hour’s drive from Athens, there is the community around Lake Vouliagmeni, which offers some of the best beaches in the region and an excellent spa. Here are some restaurants where you can best serve huge delicious platters of seafood in the area. Nearby, there are the ruins of the Temple of Apollo. In addition, there are many buses circulating throughout the day all around Athens.

So, even if you have just one day, if you take our piece of advice and organize yourself wisely, you will cover most of the important sites of Athens.

Photo source:

Picture 1: lonelyplanet.com; Picture 2: athensguide.com; Picture 3: mcsmith.blogs.com; Picture 4: evermorecruises.com; Picture 5: greece.greekreporter.com; Picture 6: intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com; Picture 7: holidaygreece.eu
Sep 14

THE HIDDEN TREASURES OF MACEDONIA (РЕПУБЛИКА МАКЕДОНИЈА)

Despite the progress era that came after the war against Tito’s Yugoslavia, Macedonia is still relatively unknown in comparison with its Balkan neighbors, although it has much to offer to the tourists. Bordering Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece, the country has a multi-ethnic population and is surrounded by majestic mountains that will thrill you with their breathtaking scenery. Therefore, it will ring a bell to those of you who have a passion for climbing, skiing and many other amateur outdoor activities.

The history enthusiasts will not be disappointed, either. With a cultural heritage that has ties to Greece and Rome, and with 500 years of Ottoman ruling, the undiscovered treasures of Macedonia are in the process of being disclosed – an increasing number of archaeological sites reveal the significant discoveries of this fascinating country.

We have already focused on Skopje, the capital of Macedonia that is equally interesting and now we are heading towards three other tourist attractions that will certainly leave a strong impression.

Mavrovo National Park

Only an hour away by car from the city of Skopje, you will find Mavrovo National Park. The enchanting landscape and wilderness of the natural reserve make Zare Lazarevski resort within the region a very alluring area for walking, water sports and skiing.

Galicnik Svabda, the famous wedding festival that takes place in the town of Galicnik, is held every year in July. It is a competition between couples, in which one pair is selected and they will have the honor to marry in the traditional style of Galichka. Teskoto dance is a key part of the festivities: men in traditional clothing join their hands, then move them up and down in a certain coreography in the imposing sound of drums and horns. The festivity has a solemn aura, symbolizing the sufferings of the population throughout history and offers the chance to partake in processions of men and women, dressed in traditional Macedonian costumes.

Ohrid

Three hours south of Skopje, you will encounter Ohrid, which is the most beloved of Macedonian cities and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage. The city lies on the shore of Lake Ohrid, which dates back four million years ago and is one of the oldest lakes in the world. It is said that its waters are among the most clear and pure on the planet. A boat trip here feels like a water taxi ride, and is displaying the dreamlike landscapes of Ohrid city and Albania right in front of your eyes.

Ohrid has the characteristics of a maritime city, with fairs, restaurants and places where you can practice water sports. But it is also a place that is full of history and it hosts the National Museum. The museum houses antique and archaeological treasures, which cross all periods, from prehistory to contemporary times. The Roman amphitheater, which sometimes serves as the scene of concerts fills up with a vivid and artistic atmosphere, is worth seeing en route to Fort Samul, where the spectacular view of the city is portraying in front of your eyes.

Ohrid is surrounded by 365 churches – one for each day of the year. If you decide to climb the steep mountain, the ascention will lead you to monasteries and churches such as Sveti Jovan, dating from the 15th century.

If you’re not passionate about history and religion, there is always a part of town where joy and fun is in full swing: Kaneo Beach has an air of French Riviera, as sexy girls in bikinis being a regular here.

Both in town and around the lake, there are many possibilities of accommodation, from camping to modern hotels. Many tourists choose to stay in one of the many apartments offered for rent, which are easy to find if you have your backpack or suitcase that will make you look like a tourist, as you will receive accomodation offers from locals even on the street. During summer, you will have the chance to look at the stars on clear night’s sky of you go camping by the lakeside.

The pace of life here is calm, and locals are always happy to mingle with tourists, on topics related to politics and history of Macedonia. So you can engage in controversial discussions on the subject of the country’s name. Greece, Albania and Bulgaria, they all claim the name ‘Macedonia’, as Macedonia of today represents the famous place that has such a great historical significance. However, nowadays it is referred to as the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (FYROM).

Bitola

Bitola is a historic town with a distinct atmosphere, at the foot of Mount Baba. A long time ago, this place used to represent the administrative and economic center of Macedonia. Its importance is reflected in the name it had had, especially in politics, during Ottoman times, when it was known as the “City of Consuls”, reflecting the large number of consulates that were once here. Architectural beauties include the famous Clock Tower, and numerous mosques and churches.

Another significant piece of info is that Pelister ski resort, located nearby, is another attraction in winter, so you have plenty of reasons to visit Macedonia.

Photo source:

Picture 1: destinatii.eu; Picture 2: macedonia-timeless.com; Picture 3: gbtimes.com; Picture 4: tourismplaceinfo.com; Picture 5: macedoniaholidaysandtours.com; Picture 6: lonelyplanet.com; Picture 7: pinterest.com
Sep 14

A HOLIDAY FOR TWO – TERME ZRECE AND POSTOJNA CAVES, SLOVENIA (POSTOJNSKA JAMA)

If you are looking at an all green type of vacation and relaxation for a week of holiday in late summer, then take the advice of experienced travelers who offer you guidance and suggestions, and go to Terme Zrece in the eponymous town in northern Slovenia a few kilometers further from the motorway connecting Ljubljana with Maribor.

Slovenia is a small country with a wonderful scenery and despite the poor nightlife, at least in this area, take a week of the hectic life and dedicate it to yourselves, to your peace of mind and your physical and mental relaxation, all supported by a wonderful climate, beautiful sunny days, mitigated by the 400 meters of altitude that makes the temperature inviting.

The hotel absolutely comfortable, with well-furnished and spacious rooms, a kitchen that seemed fair. Hotel Terme Zrece offers various packages to the tourists who want to relax in their structure, with different types of massages available. It also offers the possibility to exploit without limits the two swimming pools with thermal water, one indoor and a second covered but in open air. Indoors are also present four different pools for the smaller tub and a spa, even for small children.

In the center, there is also a spa specially equipped for disabled people who come for these services and therapeutic treatments. In the basic package there are also includes two passes to Sauna village and gym that you can attend any time you want, and afterwards you can spend a couple of hours in the sauna and enjoy the steam rooms, or any other relaxation rooms.

If too much relaxing in this wonderful spa might get boring, take a one day trip to Rogla Mountain, where you can climb at an altitude of 1550 meters, which is no more than 15 minutes away from the hotel; here you can enjoy a 360 ° endless expanses of pine forests, that are green and fragrant, with a rich undergrowth of cyclamen. A natural wonder for lovers of peace and tranquility, in this period, the resort is being stormed by all lovers of skiing that suddenly pour into the valley during winter.

A tasty surprise is the craft beer brewed on the spot, which is truly exquisite, light and pure. The only downside is that it lasts a couple of weeks before it gets spoiled so you won’t be able to take home a significant amount, or else there’s the risk to not drink it in time and you will have to throw it away.

The small pond near the hotel is worth mentioning; you can reach it after taking on a bumpy little road, hidden among the pine forests, where locals often go fishing.

On the way back, you must not miss a stop to the famous Postojna caves. Near the large hotel you will find lots of shops, souvenirs, and, despite the obvious mercantile atmosphere, there are less visitors. If you want to have a relaxing holiday, this is the best option.

As for the cave themselves, they are a marvel. A train will lead you inside these caves that have over over two kilometers in length, and during this entire part, you are blessed with a guided tour in several languages, that will explain you everything that you need to know, for a distance of approximately 1.8 kilometers of wavy route, during which the spectacle of nature that surrounds you all around will distract you from your thoughts.

Photo source:

Picture 1: adriatransfer.com; Picture 2: packmeto.com; Picture 3: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 4: terme-zrece.eu; Picture 5: mountvacation.co.uk; Picture 6: terme-zrece.eu; Picture 7: tripadvisor.com