Croatia gems: Zadar

I love spring and autumn.. these are the best seasons to travel! The weather is good, travel is inexpensive..what more could you want 🙂

Now is just one of those ‘travel-friendly’ times of the year and I’m coming up with a series of posts on some great places you can visit in.. beautiful Croatia!

Why visit Croatia? My top 3 reasons are: the seaside and islands, beautiful nature, historical buildings. Croatia has 500+ km coastline and 1246 islands and islets. Lots of places to go, no? Even during high season, you can find yourself a perfectly peaceful beach spot on an easy-to-reach island. There are 8 national parks (with Plitvice lakes and Krka, which I’m going to cover, being the 2 biggest ones) and 10 nature parks.

Best things to see in Corfu

This is a guest post by Jason Briggs.
The Ionian island of Corfu is arguably one of the best islands in Greece. With its spectacular weather, rich history, picturesque beaches and untouched villages, all topped off with a Greek party spirit and culture, Corfu is one of the most desirable islands of Greece. There is no wonder why it is home to almost a million visitors each year. Here are the top places you can visit during your stay on the island:

Corfu Town

Corfu town is arguably one of the most fascinating and impressive towns in all of Greece, there is a unique beauty and atmosphere in this town, with its narrow streets, elegant architecture and stunning Monuments.

7 tips from a first surf lesson in Santa Cruz, CA

Ever since watching the surfers on North Shore in Hawaii (one of the best surf spots on Earth, with huge waves) I was obsessed with the thought of surfing. One day, somewhere… But, there were so many ‘but’s, the most upsetting of which – ‘I’m not a good swimmer. I will drown before being able to even stand up on the board!’

Well, a few years later I was more and more watching surfing videos, reading the forums, checking the best and nearest surf spots..and figured out my fears might not be right. So, during a recent business trip to San Francisco last July, being very close to a great surf spot – Santa Cruz – I decided: I’m doing a surfing lesson! And I did. And it was ..maybe in the top 3 of all most memorable experiences in my life!

I wanted to share a few tips for those who really like this sport but still hesitate trying. Guys and girls, it’s really less difficult and more exciting that you’d imagine!

Biking the Golden Gate bridge of San Francisco

If you plan a visit to San Francisco and the Silicon Valley – you surely have the Golden Gate bridge among the first sights to see. And you’re right – the bridge makes an absolutely exciting passage, offers breathtaking views and is an utter pleasure to cross.

Driving it makes no point, the traffic is heavy and you absolutely can’t stop and enjoy. Walking it is great, but takes a good 1-2 hours in both directions if you take your time, and the wind is impressive. So, evaluating the options during my stay in San Fran I made my mind – best option sounds like biking it!

I’ll give a few tips here on making the best out of a day (or even half a day if you are fast) of biking the bridge and the villages beyond it.

Where to rent your bike

I was quite surprised from the high bike rental prices in San Fran. Couldn’t find low-cost city bikes or something like in most big European cities where you hire a bike for $1-2 an hour. Instead the daily rate was around $30-$35. For a little over that there were fully functional decent bikes on sale on ebay, in San Fran outskirts. So if you plan biking for more than a day – well, just go and buy yourself a bike.

If you are biking a single day only – make sure to search for online rental discounts. Most bike shops offer a 10-20% discount if you say you found the shop on the net and want to take advantage of the online prices.

How a good deed can make your .. year!

These days I was thinking about all great experiences I enjoyed this year.. You know – those end-of-year reflections, in the blissful moments when you are with your family, feel the happiness and warmth from being together… and being alive..

I was browsing my memory for every month of the past year, recalling all great moments and awesome surprises, bursts of courage and pride, or efforts to overcome and learn from disappointments. And suddenly, I almost got into tears when I remembered one simple, yet almost magical good deed that made me sooo much happy! Actually, made me believe in miracles, the power of positive thinking, in God – you name it!

Just at the beginning of Sept, I went on an improvised trip around Croatia. A very special one, and long-awaited. Something like a belated summer vacation. I’ve only quickly been through Croatia before, so what I saw on this trip was truly impressive. Zagreb, Zadar, the Adriatic coastline, the venetian architecture in the old cities, the charming beauty of Plitvice lakes, the nature of Krka national park and so much more. And just around the end of this trip, while in Krka park – I lost my camera with all dear pics in it!

The Aeolian islands: Vulcano

Within a mere 5-6 days of travel the Aeolian islands had generated so many emotions in us. So many breathtaking island views, amazing sights and .. volcano experience of course!

And to wrap this awesome trip up, departing from Stromboli we paid a visit to the very island that made up the word ‘volcano’ – the island of Vulcano. Vulcan was the god of fire in Roman mythology and because of its active volcanoes, the island got its name as the island of god Vulcan. The word volcano derives from this island.

The island, along with Stromboli, boasts of the only active volcanoes in the Aeolian archipelago. Moreover, it has the second most dangerous volcano in Italy after Vesuvio – Fossa. In case of volcanic activity, 2 kms around Fossa crater will be affected, and the village of Porto, reaching 10,000 inhabitants in the summer, lies within this area.

The Aeolian islands: Stromboli

Stromboli was the key highlight in our visit to the Aeolian archipelago. We knew there was an active volcano there, and ever since the first day on the islands we started seeing the smoke coming from the island. At night, being anchored in any neighboring island, we could see the orange halo at the top of the island and the bursts of lava now and then. Even from a big distance this was an awesome view. Some evenings we were just staying on the boat, staring at Stromboli and exclaiming when big bursts were seen.

The Aeolian islands: Panarea

After the quick visits to Lipari and Salina, we had more time to dedicate to our third island – Panarea. It’s the second smallest island from the Aeolian archipelago (3 km wide and 2 km long), but the most picturesque for me. If I had more time – this is the island I would spend several days on. It doesn’t have cars on it, only motorbikes, 3-wheeled trucks and golf cars. So – it was pretty quiet and unpolluted.

The Aeolian islands: Salina

When you are sailing sometimes your sightseeing plans don’t happen the way you want. So, we couldn’t see much of Lipari, but made it up in Salina, which was just a couple hours sailing away.

Salina seems a serene island with not much to offer, but when you go inside it – it’s truly charming. It’s also the greenest island from the Aeolian ones.

The Aeolian islands (Sicily)

The lizard and the volcanoes – the symbols of the Aeolian

Have you heard about the Aeolian islands? A year ago, neither had I 🙂 I was having a 6 am breakfast in a lovely Cefalu (Sicily) bed and breakfast, with an amazing view north of Sicily..when I spotted those islands. “These are pretty close to Sicily and to one another, there are several of them… sounds like a good sailing destination, isn’t it?’ was an instant thought. Few months later – there we go with a sailing crew!

In a series of blog post I will cover what we saw when visiting 5 of these 7 islands. Why series? Because there was so much to see. And I’m sure we didn’t cover even half of the best views and sights. Hope you’ll enjoy the posts, but go see these yourself!

The Aeolian islands are named by the Greeks after Aeolus – God of the Winds, because of the constant high winds in the area. There’s even an Aeolian triangle here where bizarre things happen to sailors (similar to the Bermuda triangle). Alas, not to us, though I had dug all possible literature for this phenomenon and was ‘prepared’ 😉