Where to stay in Berlin?

Hello World!
If you have been following our Instagram stories, you already know we visited Berlin, Germany. If you have Instagram account, you can follow our adventures here-> @dianomaya. Look for the stories in “Highlights”!

Let’s begin our Berlin story with some basics, our accommodation! So where did we stay in Berlin? We were invited for a complimentary stay at The Amstel House Hostel Berlin, the friendliest hostel in Berlin. We learned they have been elected the best hostel staff in Europe two times, so we were keen to try that special hospitality.

CHECK IN / OUT
We were convinced how friendly they are right from the start. Upon our arrival we were welcomed by two lovely male receptionist and given instructions about the room, keys, breakfast and the bar. They were also so kind to give us complimentary backpack, with personalized note. I don’t know about you, but we love when accommodations take their time to make you special. Also, I can’t wait for spring to come, to take my new backpack out!

Amstel House Hostel has 24/7 reception, so if we ever needed to ask about Berlin, transport, bike rent, museums or similar, we definitely used that perk. You can find free maps at the reception, along with coupons for Berlin attractions. They also have electronic devices which you can borrow, towels you can rent and hygiene products you can buy. What else do you need?

ROOM
Oh, yes, you need a room! They offer a different room types and beds, such as private, single, double, twin, dormitories, family rooms, etc. Some rooms have private bathroom, some are with shared ones. We got a private twin room with shared bathroom. Shared shower and toilet was just door to ours, so it made life easier. We also had little sink in our room, which is a very nice add on. Our beds were so cozy, it was hard to leave them in the morning 🙂

BREAKFAST
We always include breakfast in our room booking, partial because I am obsessed with buffet breakfast (there is something very special about other people making breakfast for you) and secondly because it is easier to explore the “big city life” on a full stomach. What is special about Amstel House breakfast is their vegetarian and vegan selection, which I noticed right away, as I don’t eat meat.

BAR
The heart of the Amstel House is their 24/7Bar. We would come to Hostel after dinner and to avoid feeling like we missed the night in the city, by staying in our room, we went down to the bar to hang out. Hanging out at the bars is always the best. You get to met Hotel staff, ask about what to do in the city and meet new interesting travelers, which has always been our luck! Do you have a story from the Hotel bar’s?

It is safe to say we liked the bar area the best. We would hang out and relax with our cold beers, after the long walks in the city.
One thing we, unfortunately, didn’t get to use was their cool game room. It sure looks like a lot of fun, so maybe next time 🙂

LOCATION AND TRANSPORT
Amstel House is located in Moabit, in the district of Mitte, which is very well connected by public transportation. S-Bahn and bus stop is 5 min walk from the Hostel and with TLX fast bus, you are only a few minutes from the historical center. We bought a day ticket from local store (right at the bus stop) which gave us access to all public transport. Find tickets and routes here -> BERLIN PUBLIC TRANSPORT.

Also, Amstel House Hostel has very well explained on their website how to reach them whether you are coming with the plane, bus or train -> HERE.

That sums up our accommodation experience. If you decide to book a stay with them, hope you will have as much fun in Amstel House Hostel as we did.

You can find them here:
WEB: www.amstelhouse.de
Facebook: Amstel House
Instagram: Amstel House

And for Amstel House Hostel team, if you are reading this, thank you for your hospitality, you are really the best!

In our next blog -> “Top things to see in Berlin”. Talk to you then 🙂

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Zagreb is still the best Christmas Market in Europe

Hello World!

As some of you might know, we are based in Split and it’s the most beautiful town in the world, however, it doesn’t do winter festivities very (any) good. Lucky for us 5 hour bus drive takes us to Zagreb Christmas Market, which has won “The best Christmas Market in Europe” three times in a row (2017,2016,2015). We believe it would have won again this year, but the rules are you cannot win 4 times in a row. Once you’ve seen Zagreb, nothing can compare, not even Strasbourg Christmas Market which we saw last year and it is one of the top 10.
Zagreb simply wins in Christmas. 🎄🎄🎄

I wrote about our TOP 10 locations last year and they haven’t changed much. If I start writing, I would name most of the same locations, but the crazy thing is they have completely different set up, but are still incredible!

Let me show you 2018 vs 2017 pictures!

2018 Plato Gradec

Advent in Klovicevi dvori

2017 Plato Gradec

2018 Caffe de Matoš

Caffe de Matoš, Zagreb

2017 Caffe de Matoš

2018 Marićev passage

2017 Marićev passage

2018 Fuliranje

2017 Fuliranje

2018 Zrinjevac park

Zrinjevac, Zagreb

2017 Zrinjevac park

I’ve also vlogged last year, so you can watch the video, if anyone has time for that :).

I think you can see the upgrade, not only in Zagreb locations but also in our photography style. Who know what 2019 has prepared for us! I am thinking about writing 2019 wish-list blog, so stay tuned for one more blog before New Year. The easiest way to know when is uploaded and live, is if you subscribe to our blogs 🙂 Also, don’t forget to:

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12 places to visit in ISTRIA

 Hello World!
If you are our Instagram follower, you already know we visited Istria, Croatia. If you are not, you can follow our adventures here-> @dianomaya.

Istria is another region in Croatia, full of beauty. We were there in November (Croatian winter) and had only 2 days to explore around, so keep in mind there is so much more out there. If you are in Istria with a car, these are 12 places you must visit.

    1. GROŽNJAN

We had to put this city no.1 because it is just incredible! First, before you enter the city, there is a old tunnel (part of Parenzana, old railway road between Trieste and Poreč). The green vegetation made a coat around it, so it looks like from the fairytale, just like the rest of the city.

Parenzana, Grožnjan

Grožnjan has 64 art galleries (almost 90% closed in winter), street names and numbers in light blue, picturesque streets and cute cats all around. It is easier if we show you with pictures :).

Town Loggia, Grožnjan
Grožnjan streets
Grožnjan, Church of St. Vitus
One of the galleries of Grožnjan
Grožnjan from the air
Beautiful cats of Grožnjan

   2. ZAVRŠJE and Parenzana road   

We tried to look for all Parenzana locations, but just didn’t have enough time to explore. Thankfully, we found some in Završje village. 

We followed the road from Grožnjan to Završje, passed the village Završje and on the left side of the road saw the sign for Parenzana.  You cannot miss it because, right at the beginning of the road is an old railway station.

On this path from Završje to Antonci you can find 2 tunnels and incredible viaduct in the middle of the forest. Road is about 5-6 km long, so pack some snacks to have picnic in the woods.

Tunnel no1.

Tunnel no2.
Viaduct, Završje

    3. ROVINJ

Rovinj is city on Adriatic sea and very much alive from May-September. Unfortunately for us, we were there in November, so most of the cute galleries and shops in the old town were closed. Including our friends Marija Gallery Brek. We walked around empty streets and enjoyed the quiet. However, during summer everything comes alive, shops open their colorful doors and streets get crowded with happy people. 

Rovinj old town, from air
“Photo spot”
The best view of the city

    4. LIM FJORD (CANAL/CANYON)

Not sure how to call it, because we saw all mentioned above. Is it a fjord, a gulf, a canal or a canyon, we don’t care! It is beautiful, whatever it is geologically. The location we took pictures is between Poreč and Rovinj, near city of Kloštar. You can find directions -> HERE.

    5. PULA

Pula was the busiest city we saw on this trip, that must be because it is the largest city in Istria region. However, most of its historical attractions were under renovation. We applaud to this! Cities need to keep their most valuable treasures nice and neat for next season, as most of Croatian cities make money from tourism noways. 

Pula is mostly know for Arena Pula, but there are also many other things to see around: Temple of August, Triumphal Arch, Pula Castle, Roman theater, Twin Gates and city walls, numerous churches and museums & galleries (Maritime, Oil, Contemporary Museum and many others).

We definitely plan to come back in this region once in summer, because they have so many natural beauties too. If you are planing Pula for your holiday, don’t miss Brijuni National Park, Premantura and Rt Kamenjak.

Arena Pula
Temple of August
Triumphal Arch

    6. ZAREČKI KROV in PAZIN

First, let me tell you that Pazin is amazing!!! It is, with Pula, on top of our list to come back in summer. Entire city is located on huge pit. Local agencies offer Zip Line adventure over that pit and also Speleoadventure under the city where they have underground lake! How insane is that!!!
We want to do it both!!!

Next to those amazing things they also have incredible cave and waterfall called Zarečki Krov. You can find directions -> HERE
I think this would be incredible place to have picnic in spring, refresh in summer and go under the cave/waterfall. Now, tell me you don’t want to go there?

Zarečki krov, Pazin

    7. DIVGRAD CASTLE 

This is an abandoned medieval town near Kanfanar city. There is a big map in the city which shows you location of the Castle. But if you are driving from Kanfanar to Poreč, it is right on the side of the road, you cannot miss it. We got there in golden hour, so we went crazy with photoshoot.

    8. OPRTALJ

Oprtalj is another picturesque city, situated on the top of the hill right across Motovun (another amazing city we didn’t have time to visit this time, due to roads constructions). It is so easy to get lost, creatively, in it’s colorful streets.

Oprtalj from the air

    9. HUM and GLAGOLJAŠKA CESTA (Glagolitic Alley)

Glagolitic Alley is a 7 km long memorial road from Roč to Hum. There are 11 stone monuments on the road which celebrate Glagolitic script, the oldest known Slavic alphabet.  
“Rise of the Istrian Code” was the most interesting to us, but maybe you can find something else interesting for you. Full list is HERE.

Rise of the Istrian Code, Glagolitc Alley

At the end of Glagolitc Alley is Hum city, the smallest city in the world! It has only 23 inhabitants and you can easily walk around it in 20 minutes. The legend says it was built by giants, if that is true, those must’ve been some softy giants, because this city is the cutest ever!

Hum streets
Assumption of Mary, church in Hum
Brandy distillery entrance

    10. NOVIGRAD

First impression is this city is soooo colorful! We think Novigrad has so much more to offer than we saw and it is totally worth of visiting in summer. Most of the historical attractions were closed or under construction. They also have umbrella covered street sky, which wasn’t there in November. However, we had the best time doing a little photoshoot near Novigrad Lighthouse, which (we heard) offers the best sunsets!

Novigrad Lighthouse
Novigrad city walls

    11. SVETVINČENAT

Svetvinčenat is a village in central Istria with Morosini-Grimani Castle in the center of it. The Castle was under construction, but lovely workers allowed us to enter and have a little fun with medieval installations. 

     12. VIŠNJAN 

Last, but not least is city of Višnjan. Another beautiful central Istria city, also known for its Observatory and Istrian Stonehenge on Tičan hill.

Višnjan Observatory
Istrian Stonehenge 
Maya posting stories on Instagram
Lavender fields on Tičan hill

That’s all folks. I mean, that is not all that Istria offers, but all we managed to see in 2 days, cruising around Istrian peninsula with our car. Hope it inspires you to do the same. If it does, TAG us on your stories and posts!
#dianomayaWAY

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10 FREE locations in Dalmatia, Croatia

Hello World!

When we started blogging life we thought we need to travel outside Croatia all the time, for people to be interested in our stories. Luckily, we realized you don’t need to escape your country or hometown to be interesting, what you need to do is EXPLORE it MORE. 

Split,  Croatia

We know it is not easy to travel 365 days in a year, but you can easily walk around your city every single day. When you get enough of your town (if that is even possible when you live in a place like Split, Croatia) you can explore it’s surroundings. That’s exactly what we have been doing recently.

Split city is located in DALMATIA region, so let’s break down some FREE highlights of this area.

  1. SALONA

Near city of Solin there are remains of ancient Roman town Salona. At it’s entrance you can find beautiful martyrs (Manastirine) and Tusculum, while at the south part there are remaining of the Roman forum. There is small fee only for the Archaeological museum, which we skipped and enjoyed only outdoors. If you have time, it is perfect picnic spot.

Roman forum
Tusculum

Near Solin you can also find remains of the Hollow Church (Šuplja crkva) on the Jadro river bank. 

Jadro river
Hollow church, Solin

     2. KLIS

On the mountains above Split you can find small village of Klis. It is mostly known for it’s Klis Fortress, were TV series “Game of Thrones” was recently shoot. The entrance fee is 50 HRK per person. Since this was FEE FREE trip, we didn’t go inside, however we admired the views from it.

View from Klis Fortress 

Nearby, we also found the most magnificent bridge that gave us serious Harry Potter vibes. 

    3. NUTJAK FORT

Fort is located near city of Trilj, on Cetina river bank. There aren’t many signs on the road (although it should be, because this place is pretty incredible), so follow the instructions here: MAP. From the main road turn onto dirt road, which leads very close to the fort.

Nutjak fort is also famous for it’s wild life: birds, lizards, but also snakes, so if you have any phobia, skip this one. If you are a nature lover, prepare your photo gear and take your time, they crawl all around.

Nutjak fort, Trilj
Cetina river view from Nutjak

    4.  GREEN LAKE

We visited Blue and Red lake near Imotski before (find that story HERE), but this time we decided to visit it’s less known sister Green Lake. This gorgeous “Cinderella” is located near town Ričice and it is man made accumulation lake, not natural one. Still, we found it mesmerizing and totally worth of visit! You can come with your car, over the dirt road, all the way to the middle of the lake. It looks like you are walking on Mars.

Green lake, Ričice
Green lake, dam 

    5. PROLOŠKO BLATO

Again, near Imotski there is another nature phenomena that is out of this world and it is called Prološko blato (mud). It is a huge wast flooded area with the lake in the middle. You can ride your car around the field, but be careful because water created crests, so you will find many “dead ends”. Also, there is big reason it is called mud field. Water variates during the year, so there are periods when the field is almost entirely flooded and there are dry periods. We were there in semi dry period and walked around. I had marvelous idea to skip over water stream to get to Franciscan monastery, on the other side of the crest. I fell so deep in the mud that I almost lost my shoe in it :). Btw. monastery was not worth it.

Maya in the mud up to her knees
Prološko lake, Proložac
Prološko blato from above, I took this pic with my phone

    6. RUDA river SPRING/SOURCE

Like the name says, this is Ruda river spring. To find it, there are no markings on the road (approximate location – HERE). I’ve put request to Google Maps to update on location, so you can easily found it next time, but in the meantime just ask the locals. It always works :).

When you come to old mill ruins, don’t just stop there, go behind it. Follow concrete path, because it leads you to were spring is hidden. You can walk all the way to the spring too, follow woods path on your left. Just be careful because the water is crazy fast and below the spring is a rocky waterfall.

Ruda, mill
Ruda waterfall
Ruda river
Ruda spring and mill (phone picture)
Ruda source (phone picture)

    7. GRAB river SPRING/SOURCE

Grab is the sweetest little village famous for it’s mills and river spring. Everything is very well marked, so you cannot get lost here. Our advice is to park your car right at the city entrance, near the church, and walk from there. Grab charmed us completely. Nature is beautiful and heritage is so valuable. There are couple of mills that are still in function, we stopped by “Čosića mlinica” and “Samardžića mlinica”, where they ground grain to water run. If you want to buy homemade flower, you can do it there.

Čosića mill
Grab river 

    8. CETINA CANYON BRIDGE

We found this beautiful bridge, in Cetina river canyon, completely by accident. On our way to Imotski, we found marking on the road for “Kreševski most (bridge)”, in Kreševo village, and decided to pursuit it. You can find directions -> HERE. Again, it is not direct link, but there are markings on the road, so you should easily find it, once there.

The bridge connects mountaineer road from Kreševo to Blato na Cetini, so if you are up for a nice walk a long Cetina river, this is the perfect place.

    9. CISTA VELIKA WELLS

These ones you cannot miss, they are right on the side of the road! That said, we missed it, hahaha. So keep your eyes open when passing Cista.

Besides wells, the area of the Cista Velika has other historical findings like tombstones and fortresses, so if you have time, stop and explore it more. We only stopped to see wells from Turkish times. They were obviously water source once, but now they are incredible photo shoot location.

Wells in Cista Velika
People also use it as a garbage bin, so sad about it

    10. TRNBUSI and BLATO NA CETINI

Two little villages in Dalmatia hinterland, located on beautiful Cetina river, which have several magical river banks and locally owned picnic spots. I would say it is more summer location, because in summer time you can swim in river and definitely refresh your body and soul in it.

Cetina river (phone picture)
(phone picture)

Hope this was helpful! If you end up going to one of this locations, TAG #dianomayaway so we can see it!

Should you wish that WE ORGANIZE PHOTO TRIP to these locations, let us know in Instagram DM and we will make it happen!

Also, for Lightroom Presets users, besides “Fake sunset” preset, I used “Dark Sista” preset to edit this photos. I am working on “preset package”, slowly, but I want them to be perfect. I am sending “Dark Sista” preset to anyone who is interested to try it out. Just DM me on Instagram @dianomaya.


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Is this Earth?

Hello World!

It has been a while. We didn’t stop making content, we were just making material for clients and not ourselves. Diano has been shooting and selling his videos and I have been uploading behind the scenes photos on our Instagram account. Are you our follower -> DianoMaya?

It has been amazing experience and privilege to drive around Croatia and film. The place which got me to write again was Zrmanja Canyon. I mean, how crazy is this place?

DianoMaya_Croatia-1266592

We drove from Split on A1 highway and got down in Benkovac. Drove trough Obrovac, which is super cute city, btw, and found local road which follows Zrmanja river flow.

You can find map here -> DIRECTIONS

First we found beautiful overview of the river. Emerald green Zrmanja cutting in raw rocky landscape got us feeling like we were on some other planet.

DianoMaya_Croatia-1266390

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Second stop, called “Parizevacka glavica”, was bit more challenge to find. Follow the road to Jasenice and look for telephone pole numbers 86 and 87. I mean it, really look the numbers on the poles on the road. After you turn, between 86 & 87, you will see the sign “Parizevacka glavica”. The dirt road will take you to unbelievable overview point where “Winnetou” was filmed.

DianoMaya_Croatia-1266638DianoMaya_Croatia-1266513DianoMaya_Croatia-1266592

 

This time, I also wanted to show you my “before and after” pictures. I have been making Lightroom Presets for a while now and this one I am a specially proud of.

I called it “Fake sunset”.Fake Sunset

Would you like to try it on your pictures? Keep in mind that, to use it you need to have Lightroom CC Classic desktop version. Click below to try it.

 

 

“Fake sunset” preset

DianoMaya Lightroom Preset "Fake sunset" was created on LumixGH5 pictures. Hope it works for you as well.

$4.00

I hope you’re loving the “Fake sunset” preset as much as I do. It is seriously one of my favorites, so far. This is the first time I am showing it to the world and it is making me even more excited to reveal the complete preset pack to you. Would you be interested to see all my presets?

Send us your questions and impressions in the comments below, we will be happy to answer them all!

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Where to stay in Amsterdam?

Hello World, we are in Amsterdam!

DianoMaya_Amsterdam-1199344

Yes, we visited Amsterdam in Netherlands during the Easter holiday, completely by mistake. We booked EasyJet flight from Split, Croatia for 60 EUR (return ticket for 2 people). The ticket was so cheap that I didn’t even thought about checking the dates.
Why is she writing about this, you ask?
During any holiday, extended weekends and similar “fun dates”, popular cities all around the world are packed with visitors! There are huge lines at the museums, you can hardly find a restaurant with available table and, in Amsterdam case, ques for canal rides were just too long.
Traveler’s tip – never book a “holiday date” for your vacation, if you can. Nevertheless, we had wonderful time just strolling around Amsterdam canals and streets. Let’s begin our Amsterdam story with some basics, our accommodation!

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_Xo-1199408

Where to stay in Amsterdam?
We looked for accommodation on Google.com, again, and found XO Hotels Amsterdam.  They have 8 Hotels on different locations all around the city, so we decided to check out their website -> HERE.
XO Hotels Amsterdam literally have a Hotel for any type of traveler: from luxury to backpacker and from family to business friendly hotel. If you are looking for city hotel, they have one. If you would rather stay next to Vondel park, they have one that location too. We have chosen XO Hotels Couture, honestly, mostly because of it’s colors. I mean, look at our room!

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_Xo-1199098

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_Xo-1199040

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_Xo-1199052

CHECK IN / OUT
They have self service check in and out! This was our first time experiencing check in without hotel staff and I must say, we loved it! There are 3 computers at the Hotel entrance and you start with“check in” box on the screen.
You need to write down the Name on the reservation, or reservation number and voila! Your reservation pops in front of you and you are ready to make your keys.
They placed empty room cards close to computer. You have to take one and put it on the scanning machine. If you need two, just repeat the process.
After you are done, computer prints out little note which has your room number, check out time, breakfast buffet working times and price (if not included), restaurant working hours and WiFi details. I mean, you have to love this!
I was a receptionist, lifetime ago, and I really respect this system. Repeating these information, million times a day, gets tiring after a while.
If you are old school, Hotels Couture’s staff is close by to help you with your check in.

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_Xo-1199386

ROOM
We got wonderful double bed room, on 10th floor. As soon as we entered, we fell in love with the view! I made myself a cup of complimentary tea, grabbed my book and sat down to the most beautiful rainy sunset window view.

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_XOCotoure-1886

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_Xo-1199093

BED
We booked Standard Double/Twin room and were given one queen bed, as we noted in our reservation that we are a couple. Bed was clean and comfortable, do I need to say anything more?  That is all we needed after long walks in the city. We were so happy to come home to this cozy thing!

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BATHROOM
The bathroom was very spacious, clean and really modern with rainfall shower. We had full size mirror above the sink, which is every girls dream….or maybe just my dream (as I was raised in the house with only one tiny mirror).

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_Xo-1199055

LAPTOP CLUB
You know that we bring our work with us, everywhere we travel. That is the reason why we always need place to set up our “laptop club”. It is basically our office on a road, but we don’t really like calling it office, it sounds too “normal”. We call it laptop club instead :).

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_Xo-1199050

COMPLIMENTARY
You will be given the WiFi password, obviously, a TV with international channels and also couple of other treats. We got bottles of water, teacoffee bags in the saloon and also slippers & toiletries in the bathroom. Amsterdam guides, which they left for us on the table, were of so much help! Without it, we wouldn’t have know that flower festival has started the day we landed :).

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_Xo-1199038

BREAKFAST
Definitely include breakfast in your room booking, because they have very rich buffet breakfast. We stayed enough days to try everything on the menu and we give it 5 stars :).
Thing that we loved the most was “orange juicer”, you must try it. It squeezes fresh oranges right in front of you.
Thing that we appreciated the most were Easter eggs, served on the Easter day. It was so much fun for the children that were staying in the Hotel, but also for us adults 🙂

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_Xo-1199379

BAR
Last, but not least, we also went down to the Hotel’s bar. We have a habit of going to the hotel’s bars and I will tell you why. Usually, we come late into Hotel, to tired to go anywhere. To avoid feeling like we are missing the day in the city, by staying in our room, we go down to hang out. These kind of adventures are always the best. You get to met Hotel staff, ask about what to do in the city and meet new interesting travelers, which has always been our luck! Do you have a story from the Hotel bar’s? We have so many, wanna hear about it?

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LOCATION AND TRANSPORT
Hotel is located slightly outside of the city center, but there is a tram stops literally right in front of the hotel. Tram NO.2 takes you directly to the city “hot spots” within 20 minutes.
You can also buy 24, 48 and 72 hours Tram ticket, which we highly recommend. There is vending machine in the hotel lobby, where you can get your “GVB” Amsterdam transport ticket.

I feel like I wrote down everything about our stay… is there anything else you would like to know about XO Hotels Couture? Send us your questions in the comments, we will be happy to answer them all!

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Eilat, Israel’s resort city

Hello World!

We are in Israel! Some of you probably already know that from our last blog with Tourist Israel (BLOG).

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We have chosen to have our “base” in Eilat, the most southern Israeli city, mostly because our Ryanair flight landed there. We didn’t know much about this city and what we’ve found out is that it is basically resort city on the Red Sea devoted to sun, fun, diving, nightlife and activities in it’s surrounding area. Being very close to Egypt and Jordan, there are several tours you can book from Eilat to Pyramids of Giza and Petra.

Find more tours here -> EGYPT
-> JORDAN

It is also a great base for exploring northern Israel. We booked Dead Sea, Jerusalem & Bethlehem tour. Find tour -> HERE

Find more tours here -> MASADA
-> NEGEV DESERT

AIRPORT
It is the smallest airport we have ever landed in! Even though it is not allowed to take pictures, I managed to snap quick one with my phone :).

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  • check if you need visa to enter Israel as a tourist
  • passport control will give you ENTRY CARD. They do not put stamps in your passports due to “stamp juggle” (several countries denying entry with Israel stamp). Entry card is an evidence of your legal entry into Israel and may be required, particularly at any crossing points into the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
    Keep it with your passport until you leave Isreal.
  • passport control will give you EXIT CARD. Keep it with you until you pass passport control in country you are traveling to.

TRAVELER’S TIP

  • take a bus to the city! Bus route No.282 will take you from Ovda airport to Eilat Main Bus Station, without intermediate stops! Price is approx. 10 EURO per person, for return ticket. You can buy a ticket from the driver (cash only, in Israeli nis.) or at Ovda airport, next to a baggage carousel at special point. City Transportation website is actually in English and you can even book it online -> HERE
  • don’t change money on the airport, unless you really need it. If you need it for a bus transfer to the city, then change only exact amount you need for bus ticket. There is “Exchange office” on Main Bus Station (final stop  of No.282 bus) with much better rate.

ACCOMMODATION
We’ve booked an apartment in the city, close to Main Bus Station and Eilat City Airport, since we wanted to get that “local feels”. However, like I said at the beginning, Eilat is resort city, so you can find numerous hotels on the Read Sea beaches.

Find accommodation -> HERE

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ATTRACTIONS

  1. Dolphin Beach
  • take a bus No.15 from Main Bus Station. It is 15 minute ride that costs approx. 3 EUR.
  • bring snorkeling gear, there is live Coral Reef underwater on Dolphin beach
  • bring a book, buy a drink at the bar and chill in the lounge located in wooden complex on the beach (you can also find food at the bar for a reasonable price)
  • swim with Dolphins at Dolphin Reef

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2. Explore the Underwater Marine Observatory

3. Visit Timna Park

4. Try a new water-sport: windsurfing, kite surfing, water skiing, stand-up paddle boarding, and parasailing. Wohooo!

5. Relax on the Eilat Beaches

 

 

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6. Go shopping, Eilat is a tax-free zone! Eilat’s main shopping area is around the Ocean Mall shopping center and along Eilat’s Promenade.

7. Explore the Main promenade! There you will find stylish restaurants, clothing stores, cosmetics & gifts shops and so much more.

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8. Try the food!

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9. Try 24/7 Eilat bakery!

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10. Tag us in your pictures! If this blog helped you with your Eilat trip, tag @dianomaya in your pictures on Facebook or Instagram.

See you next time from Amsterdam! Yes, we are flying back to Europe! Any recommendation for us?

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Israeli adventure with Tourist Israel

Hello World, we are in Israel!

We flew from Budapest to Eilat, on Ryanair flight, to get some summer. Remember our Budapest blog? Europe was cold for too long, we had to fly away!

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Eilat is Israel’s the most southern city, where you can find beaches, coral reefs, dolphins, nightlife and desert landscapes. However, this wouldn’t be a full Israel trip if we didn’t went to see Jerusalem & Dead Sea.
So, we contacted few agencies and Tourist Israel had the best response! They were easy to talk to, client oriented and their prices were fair. We booked Dead Sea, Jerusalem & Bethlehem tour. Find tour -> HERE

Tour starts very early, so don’t forget to set your alarms! Tourist Israel bus picked us up in front of the hotel, around 5:45 am. We drove north through the Arava Valley and our bus driver was the best! He was, very informative, describing all the places we were passing by. You cannot hear those kind of stories in the news or find it in any book.

Btw. can you see Lot’s Wife in picture below? Let your imagination run wild!

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First stop on our tour was the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth.  Although its name implies otherwise, the Dead Sea is actually a lake with very high salinity. On the shores of the Dead Sea are white crystals of salt, covering everything! It’s unusual high salt concentration, also, means that people can easily float in the Dead Sea. So, we floated!

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INFO

  • you will be on the private beach
  • there is a gift shop nearby
  • there are changing rooms and showers on the beach (and in a gift shop)

TRAVELER’S TIP

  • bring swimsuit, towel and shampoo
  • bring swimming shoes or slippers (remember, beach is made of salt)
  • remove all your jewlary
  • bring (or you can buy in a gift shop) Dead Sea Mud
  • apply Dead Sea Mud before swimming  and don’t apply it on your face!

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Have you heard that the Dead Sea is shrinking? Scientists say that lake can only get smaller, but it won’t disappear entirely. Our driver told us that government has plans to reverse or stop this process, but (like in any country), environment comes before other decisions.

Why is Dead Sea so important, you ask?

Dead Sea black mud is known for improving skin natural progress, easing rheumatic pains and reducing stress, and the Dead Sea salt helps to treat a variety of skin diseases like psoriasis, cellulite, acne, etc. Because of all this, Dead Sea minerals are extensively used for making cosmetics. So, the Dead Sea has a huge healing and economic value. People from all around the world come to visit resorts in Israel (and Jordan) to heal. Both countries also export cosmetic products manufactured in the area. You can buy those cosmetics in a gift shop on the beach.

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Second stop, Jerusalem, the Holy City. Our driver left us in the Old City with Robert, our tour guide. Honestly, Robert is the most comprehensive tour guide we ever had! We learned so much, in such a short time. Jerusalem is city with remarkable archaeological and historical sites, population from all around the globe and three thousand years of history. I am not going to act like I know everything about the sites we’ve visited, I am leaving that to Robert. Ask for him when you come to Jerusalem yourself. I am good at photography (at least I think I am), so let’s line up Jerusalem TOP attractions we saw on this tour.

  • The Church of the Holy Sepulcher
    Site where, Christians believe, Jesus Christ rose from the dead and was buried.

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  • Muslim Quarter Market

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  • The Western Wall

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  • Exploring Jerusalem streets

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Third, and last, stop of our trip was Bethlehem, the city where Jesus was born. Bethlehem is about 30 minutes drive from Jerusalem, but it is a Palestinian city located in the central West Bank, so we had to cross Palestinian border.

TRAVELER’S TIP

  • Bring your passport (we weren’t checked at the border, but it is an official border)
  • Don’t take photos of the border (like you shouldn’t on any border in the World)
  • Check out the Palestinian Wall graffiti art
  • you can pay in Israeli Shekel, but vendors are also accepting U.S. dollars and EURO

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In Bethlehem we visited the Church of the Nativity, which is controlled by three Christian denominations (Armenian, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic). The Grotto, site where Jesus was born, is under the church. The exact spot is marked with 14-point silver star. There are really long lines to see the star, so if you are not religious or just don’t care much about seeing the actual spot, skip going to the Grotto.

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TRAVELER’S TIP for Jerusalem & Bethlehem

  • you can pay in Israeli Shekel, but vendors are also accepting U.S. dollars and EURO

With Bethlehem our Tourist Israel tour is, unfortunately, over. We went back to our bus and drove back to Eilat. It is a long drive back, but you will be tired from all day activities that you will easily fall a sleep. Bring a neck pillow with you!

Thank you Tourist Israel for experience that definitely enriched our lives. Israeli adventure is something we recommend everybody to put on your bucket lists.

Find Tourist Israel -> HERE

Follow Tourist Israel on Facebook -> HERE

We staying for two more days in Eilat and than we are flying back to Europe! Any recommendation for us?

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Budapest TOP attractions

Hello World!

As you already know, we are in Budapest! Previous blog was about Where to stay in Budapest (LINK), but this one will give you more insight to Budapest TOP attractions. Without further a do, let’s start with our Budapest 2018 picks!

Heroes’ Square
Take the M1 metro line and it will get you right in front of this glorious Budapest square. This is definitely my favorite square in Budapest, maybe even Europe. Hungarians have commemorated their important National leaders, by building the statues of them, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Somehow, we always end up visiting it by night and we love it with all the lights turned on.

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Near Heroes’ Square are you can also find Vajdahunyad Castle, outdoor “City Park Ice Rink” and Szechenyi Baths and Pool.
Entrance fee to visit the Courtyard of the Vajdahunyad Castle is free. However, should you wish to visit Museum of Agriculture residing in Vajdahunyad Castle, entrance fee is approx. 5 EUR.
City Park Ice Rink season 2017/2018 is, unfortunately, closed.

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You know that this trip was all about finding best ways to “explore while relaxing”. That is the main reason why we have chosen to chill a little in Szechenyi Baths and PoolThese baths have 18 pools, from which 2 outdoor pools, 10 saunas and massages. Of course, we tried the outdoor ones even though it was -5 Celsius outside. Thermal outdoor pool was heated on 28 Celsius, so we ran out to the pool with nothing but a swimsuit on.

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TIPS:

  • bring a towel, swimsuit and slippers (otherwise, you can rent there)
  • you can buy your bath ticket in advance and get discount – HERE
  • if you are buying the tickets at the Baths, after 7 pm, tickets are more affordable
  • book a locker or a cabin to put your belongings (you will be given a silicon waterproof wristband, which looks like a watch)

Chain Bridge
Go across the Danube river to the Buda side, over the Chain Bridge. The most popular bridge in town and also the most crowded. Lion’s guarding the bridge entrance are impressive every time we see them. Don’t you agree?

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So, once you are on Buda side you can walk up to Buda Castle or take historical cable car up. Buda Castle Funicular runs every 10 minutes and it is a fairly cheap way (approx. 5 EUR) to save your legs 🙂

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Buda Castle
This historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest, currently hosts Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest History Museum, Hungarian Presidential Palace, Matthias Church, Holy Trinity Statue and Fisherman’s Bastion. 

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Parliament of Budapest
For me, this is the most impressive building in entire Budapest. It lies on Danube river, on Kossuth Lajos Square and it is apparently the largest building in Hungary. You can reach the Parliament with Tram line 2 (which is also the scenic route tram).

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Wanna see it by night? Check out our Budepest 2016 blog -> HERE.
Also, try to get picture of the Parliament from the Buda side of Danube river, that way you can really capture it’s all glory!

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Close to the Parliament, when you walking back to Chain bridge, you can find “Shoes on the Danube Promenade Memorial”. On the other side of the Parliament, you can walk towards Margaret Island & Bridge, the only “3 exit bridge” we know!

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Find out more about Margaret Island in our Budapest 2016 blog -> HERE

Citadella
To get the best Budapest city views go to Citadella! This fort is located on the top of Gellért Hill, with Liberty Statue monument on it’s front.

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Liberty Bridge
When you walk down from Gellért Hill you will pass by several monuments, Cave church and Hotel Gellért  (which also has Baths, apparently second best in Budapest) and you will end up in front of Liberty Bridge. Central Market Hall is right across the bridge, on the other side of Danube, and Hungarian National Museum is 10 minute walk from there.

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Sometimes, it is just worth of getting lost in the city. You can easily walk all around most popular attractions, if you prepare well. So, take that Budapest map, circle all top attractions you’ve liked so far and make a plan how to cover it all!
Public transport is also very easy to use. Take Tram 2 for scenic route, which passes by most Budapest attractions on Pest side. We also recommend using Metro lines. After a day, you will feel like you know all the stops, lines and how to use them. Don’t we all just want to feel like local? Wandering around the city, without chasing any attraction, just soaking up the city vibe and admiring it, is the best feeling in the world!

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St. Stephen’s Basilica
This time we only passed by St. Stephen’s Basilica, on our way to look for some food. You can enter the church, but there is a fee. You can climb up to the tower and find a nice view, but there is a fee. You get my point? Other attractions, with views, in Budapest are free, plus the view is not as stunning as from Buda Castle or Citadella.

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Now, let’s jump to some juicy stuff! We are always hungry, but we never find time to eat. So, when we eat, we eat goooood. We loved MenzaSzimpla Kert last time when we were in Budapest, so decision was easy – eat, drink & repeat!

Menza Restaurant DianoMaya_Budapest-1735

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Szimpla Kert Ruin BarDianoMaya_Budapest-1559

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Hope I was of help, if you are traveling to Budapest, send me your pictures!

If you are looking for a place to stay, we recommend Frasesr Residance, luxury apartments, in Corvin Quarter. Book your stay -> HERE

See you next time from Israel! Yes, we are flying for some DianoMaya Israeli adventure!

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Where to stay in Budapest?

Hello World!

We are in Budapest again!!! We have had visited it before (Budapest 2016 blog) and it became one of our favorite European cities. This time we were more focused on where to stay than what to visit. But, don’t worry I will also write about Budapest TOP attractions in next blog. So, don’t forget to follow, like, etc., etc…

If you have been following us on social media, you know we are on Winter Road Trip for a week already and we needed a good place where we can really rest.
I remember, last time we were booking accommodation in Budapest, I spent days on the Internet, Booking.com & Airbnb, trying to figure out where to stay. We didn’t know, at the time, that Buda side is on hill, with very quiet & romantic vibe, and that Pest side is actually much closer to historic sites, restaurants, shopping areas and the nightlife. It was all very confusing, but now we know and you know!

This time we went on Google.Maps and looked for hotel in city area we wanted to stay. Didn’t know you could do that? Well, now you know that too. Try it -> here.

We needed “home away from home” so we reached out to Fraser Residence, one of the most famous aparthotels, in Budapest. Their hotel manager, Mr. Alain Goetschel, has kindly given us Two Bedroom Apartment, on 7th floor of the building. Before we start going into the details, let me tell you that this is the biggest apartment we ever stayed in!

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So, apartment is, like I said, very spacious and equipped with dining and kitchen areas. In the kitchen we found everything we needed: fridge, cooker, microwave, kettle, dishes and even a washing machine with washing liquid.
We received welcome fruit platter, still & sparkling water and some juices from Alain, so we decided to sit down and refresh in the dining area first. Btw. that table can easily fit a group of six adults. 

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Living area has a home entertainment system, but we used it mostly for our “laptop club”. It is a perfect place to get some work done, if you are working remotely, as we do. Getting comfortable on the couch, editing videos while watching “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on TV, those were our goals!

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In our rooms we had comfy beds and plenty of storage space. I found bathrobes and slippers in our closet. I also found a safe box there, not like you need it, but some people feel safer to put their belongings in a safe place.

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We had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in our apartment. Apartment was definitely big enough for 6 adults. Each bathroom had it’s own bathtub and L’Occitane bathroom amenities (shower gel, body milk & shampoo and conditioner) replaced daily. We used only one bedroom, obviously, as we are a couple. However, decided to each have our own bathroom. My own private bathroom? I felt like super star!

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In apartment you can also find a washer and dryer machine, walk in closet, hairdryer, iron & ironing board and it has daily housekeeping service. Everything was so nice and clean! Every day, we would walk out on our balcony and enjoy the view from our 7th floor. Oh, I didn’t mention our apartment has a balcony? Yes, it does!

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Fraser Residence has 24/7 reception, hotel parking spaces and, let’s not forget, everyday breakfast. It is located very close to the Corvin Plaza and Mall, where you can find exchange office, to change your money into Hungarian Forint (you will need those) and find wide range of restaurants, from Hungarian Bistro and Burger & Hummus bar, to Sushi place.

So, if you are looking for a luxury apartments, your “home away from home”, Fraser is the best choice! Let me just remind you that we are not paid to say this. We really had the best stay and enjoyed great hospitality in this aparthotel.

Find Fraser Residence website -> HERE
If you are a “Booking.com” kind of person, you can book it -> HERE

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Corvin Quarter, where Fraser is located, is a trendy area. However, to get to the old town you need to jump on a tram & train. To get to Chain Bridge, take Train M3, then switch to Tram 2 route, which offers a nice scenic ride around city’s top locations. Well…we will talk about that more in our next blog.

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In a meantime don’t forget to:

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