Tour from London with Rabbie’s

Hello World!

We are in London, the capital of England, and since it is not our first time here we know how to get a break from the busy city -> explore beautiful rural England!
First time when we were in London we visited Stonehenge and Bath (find tours HERE) and this time we were guests at Rabbie’s “Oxford & Traditional Cotswold Villages Tour”.
Of course, we covered entire tour on our Instagram stories, so go find highlights called “Rabbies England” -> @dianomaya.

DEPARTURE
Tour departs from London’s Greenline Coach Terminal, which is not hard to find. You can easily come to Victoria Station with 3 different tubes (Circle, Victoria and District). Directly behind Victoria Train Station and diagonally across from Victoria Coach Station you will find Greenline Coach Terminal. Rabbie’s departure stand is number 3.
Find directions -> HERE.

We got picked up from stand 3 by a lovely driver & guide in a Mercedes mini-coach. It was just a couple of us on a tour, so we each got our own seat. For us, the best thing in the Mercedes were USB ports next to each seat, where we charged our phones during the drive between villages. Every blogger dream 🙂

Our driver/guide told us many stories on our way out of the London and during our trip, things you can’t find in guidebooks. I could tell you a few, but where is the fun in that? The best is if you hear it and see it yourself. Experiencing first hand is everything!

There are many Cotswold Villages you can visit and our first stop was Burford, small medieval town with famous High Street. In that street we found the cutest ancient houses turned into shops, restaurants and galleries. Even though houses and the streets are a tourist attraction, keep in mind that people still live and work there. We found the cutest house and I wanted to take a picture on it’s porch. Imagine my surprise (and shame) when a lady walked out the door! Luckily, she wasn’t mad, she just smiled. It is possible this happened to her more than once. 🙂
Pro TIP: be respectful!

We stopped for a tea & cake at Huffkins bakery and continued down the street to the Burford Church, Anglican church with eqsuisit courtyard by the Windrush river.

Our second Cotswold Village was Bibury, or should I say Shire, the inspiration for Tolkein’s books. Arlington Row is a long line of beautiful stone cottages and the most photographed Cotswold scenery. Doesn’t Arlington Row look like the hobbits could live there?

Last, but not least on this tour we stopped at the Oxford city. Diano was surprised with it’s size, because it is a really big city, which he didn’t expect. Another city where you can “get lost in the movie”, but this time Harry Potter movie. We had couple of hours there, so we decided to explore as much as we could. Our driver advised us to visit The Christ Church first, because it is the most popular location in the city.
Tickets are not included in your tour price. We paid entrance fee approx. 10 EUR per person (£9). You can plan the visit from your home -> HERE.

It’s Great Hall directly inspired J. K. Rowling’s Great Hall of Hogwarts. It really looks like you’ve stepped into the Harry Potter film.

We also advise you to visit University Church of St Mary the Virgin, the entrance to the Church is free, however there is a 5 EUR (£4) fee for entry to the church tower, which offers excellent panoramic views of the city.
You got to the top with a medieval spiral staircase. The tower terrace is sooo narrow, the narrowest we’ve ever seen, so that two people cannot go by.

From above you get to see Radcliffe Camera, historic library and the most iconic Oxford site.

Oxford is a place of many awesome museums, if you are museum kind of person don’t miss Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Pitt Rivers Museum.
While walking around the city we found The Bridge of Sighs, many different colleges and the picturesque Oxford High Street, where we stopped for a quick lunch. A pub lunch and a beer is how we do it. Being very hungry we just sat down in the first one we found. If you have enough time explore many Oxford’s historic pubs: Eagle and Child (J.R.R Tolkien’s favorite), Lamb & Flag, The Turf Tavern or King’s Arms. Pub tour is always a good idea when in England.

That, unfortunately, brings us to the end of this tour. Should you wish to escape London for a day or two and experience England’s fresh air, beautiful landscapes, and quaint villages, like we did, you have to try it
Rabbie’s Tour way. You can find them here:
WEB: www.rabbies.com
Facebook: Rabbie’s Facebook
Instagram: Rabbie’s Instagram
YouTube: Rabbie’s Tours

Diano also made a short video of our Rabbie’s experience, which you can watch here:

Hope this blog will help you organize your trip to London or/and England. In our next blog I will try to cover -> “London TOP 10 or 20…or who knows”.
In the meantime:

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Where to stay in London?

Hello World!
If you have been following our Instagram, you know we visited London, UK. If you have Instagram account, you can follow our adventures here -> @dianomaya. Look for the London stories in “Highlights“!
This blog is loooong overdue, so let’s not procrastinate any more and go strait to it.

In London, we were hosted by the “St Christopher’s At The Village Hostel in London Bridge“, a very chic, in the center of the city, party hostel. I think that description says it all. Let’s start with what we think is their best quality -> location!

LOCATION
London is huge, so it is very hard to define center, but if you are here for London’s top tourist locations, St Christopher’s Hostel is situated literally in the center of the city! It is an easy walk to the Shard, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Tower Castle, Shakespeare’s Globe and Tate Museum. If you plan to go anywhere else in the city, hostel is just 2 minutes walk from TWO tube stations (JUBILEE, NORTHERN).
Right in front of the hotel you also have a bus stop with couple of lines going around the city. There is a “London TUBE Map app” you can install to easily navigate around the city, or just use Google Maps, like we did. Find the location you want to go to and Google Maps will show you all transportation options to get there, with approximate time of arrival too.

CHECK IN / OUT
Hotstel has 24/7 reception desk, which is always a plus. Staff spoken several languages, was polite and very helpful, however they’ve put us in the room on the third floor, next to the “chill out room”, which we didn’t appreciate. Let me elaborate. We knew we were coming to a party hostel, no problem there, let’s party! People are using chill out room” as a “hangout” at night, no problem there either, let’s meet new people. But the doors of that room were broken. So every time, night or day, someone would enter or leave “chill out room” the doors would do BANG! BANG! BANG! on our brain 🙂
To conclude, if they say 3rd floor room, make sure it is not close to the “chill out room”, try to switch rooms right there on the reception desk. If I remember right, we got the room no. 311. which we advise to avoid.

ROOM 1
Now, let’s get back to the good stuff. The room itself was tiny, but pretty great. We got a private double bunk room, with our own bathroom. We had all amenities we needed in the bathroom: shower gel, towels and hair dryer; and in bedroom: coffee and tea bags, with cups. Right next to our beds we had several electricity plug ins, which is always needed, if you are travel blogger and Instagramer, like us. Keep in mind to bring UK outlet adapter.
On the third floor, we also found an terrace with the most wonderful Shard view.

CAPSULE ROOM
Last night of our stay we moved to Japanese-style capsule beds. YES! Firstly, a capsule bed!! We saw those on several YouTube videos and always wondered what would be like to sleep in one. Secondly, even though we shared the room with other 20-ish people, it was so quiet, in compare to our first “next to chill out room” room.
So, when you check in into “capsule bed” you get the room key, because it is a room. In that room there are maybe 20-30 capsule beds, lockers and toilets with showers. You get your bed number aka. your capsule equipped with UK outlets, USB ports, mood lights and curtains for privacy. You will also be assigned to a locker (same number as your bed), where you can put your luggage and valuable items. Padlocks are available for the lockers.
Inside the capsule, combination of the lights and comfortable beds rocked us to sleep immediately.
This was totally unique accommodation experience, perfect for 1 or 2 nights in the city. Only if you are claustrophobic you should skip it 🙂

BREAKFAST
It is always good to have something to eat at your accommodation to start your day on a full stomach. St Christopher’s Hostel has a breakfast included in their prices and it is located in the building basement. There you will find simple breakfast buffet with toast, ham & cheese, cereals, fruit, coffee, tea and juices to get you started. If that is not enough for you, there is a supermarket minute walk from the Hostel.

BAR
Since St Christopher’s Hostel is a “party hostel” they have a bar on the premises, called Belushi’s bar. Being a hostel guest will get you 25% discount on your food & drinks. Just show your key card before they issue the bill.
We were out in the city most of our days during our stay, so we didn’t get to try their food and apparently very tasty burgers, but we did enjoyed a beer during a hilarious karaoke night and coffee in the morning (which is much better than breakfast coffee). Bar has a “sport vibe” with “cage tables” where each table has it’s own TV. How cool is that?

All in all, if you are young (or feel that way) and want to have fun, St Christopher’s Hostel is a hostel for you. There is a party every night at the bar, you can save money on a transport (being that close to several city attractions) and meet so much cool people all around the world.
Besides London, St Christopher’s also has hostels around the Europe, like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Prague, Edinburgh and Bruges.

You can find them here:
WEB: St Christopher’s Hostels
Facebook: St Christopher’s London at the Village London Bridge
Instagram: St Christopher’s London

And for Shereen, from sales team, if you are reading this, thank you for everything, you are really the best!

I almost forgot! After a long time Diano found inspiration and made a short London video. Wohoooo! You can find it here:

In our next blog -> “Rabbie’s tour outside London“. Talk to you then 🙂

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TOP 5 attractions in Cologne (Köln)

Hello world!
We are in Cologne (Köln), Germany! We didn’t have time to explore it all, so this time we are breaking down only TOP 5 attractions in this 2,000 year old city.

1.Cologne Cathedral
Grand Gothic cathedral with twin spires is  the “face” of Cologne city and also the most visited landmark in Germany, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage in 1996.
We cannot decide if it is more glorious from outside or inside?

2. Groß St. Martin
Second part of Cologne skyline is the tower of “The great St.Martin’s church”. We loved how the church merged with colorful Cologne old town houses. It is the most perfect Instagram location. We only wish we had more sun there. So, if you are looking for a perfect photo location, plan better than us :).

3. Hohenzollern Bridge
It is a pedestrian and rail bridge that connects Cologne Cathedral with Rheinboulevard. On the walking path to the other side you will find “love padlocks” on the bridge fences. If you are in love and into things like this, buy the padlock, write your names and throw away the key into the river Rhein so your love can last forever.
From the other side of the bridge, on Rheinboulevard, you will get the most perfect view of the city, a specially in sunset. Get a beer (wine, juice, water, whatever you prefer) and chill on the boulevard steps while enjoying the most glorious sunset.

4. KölnTriangle skyscraper
This is a second sunset spot, but also observation deck. Top floor offers the panoramic view of the city, including the Cathedral.
Entrance fee is 3€ per person and you can find working hours -> HERE.

5. Museums 
Cologne has over 30 museums and we, unfortunately, didn’t have time to see any. The top of our wish list is Chocolate Museum, but if you plan to visit Cologne you can also explore: Museum Ludwig, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Fondation Corboud, Romano-Germanic Museum, Museum of Applied Art design, Museum Schnütgen and Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum.

The main reason why we didn’t have any museum time is shopping and food, which is also the big part of this lovely city.

We got the feeling like shopping and shoppers are everywhere in this city! This could easily be the most popular activity for tourists. I’ve found that the most popular shopping streets are Schildergasse and Hohe Straße, but you can also have a peak in Ehrenstraße and Mittelstraße.

Food is the second tourist activity and you should definitely indulge in gourmet food that city offers, sweet and sour.

To conclude, we are most definitely coming back to this city. With open mind (to visit some museums) with empty bags (to do more shopping) and empty stomach (to try more local food). Who is with us?

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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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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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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!

DianoMaya_Amsterdam_Xo-1199101

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).

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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 :).

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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 :).

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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 🙂

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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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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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On the road with Avax again!

Hello world!

We are on the road again! We left our comfortable “Boutique Apartments Possonium”  and jumped into our Suzuki. We have referral link for Booking.com with which you get 10% back -> https://www.booking.com/s/49_8/maivce99

Ok, now that we got discounts out of the way, I can tell you where we are going 🙂
We are going on 15 minute drive from Bratislava to Devin Castle, wohooo!

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Devin Castle is a castle in Devin, so obviously. It is up on hill that overviews Danube and Morava river. If you have been reading my blogs, you know I am fascinated by water, big water like rivers, seas and oceans. I have deep respect and admiration for big waters and in this place we have two big rivers crossing paths, amazing!
Well, it also has huge Neolithic Castle on top, oldest one in Slovakia.

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Entrance fee for Devin Castle is 5 EUR and it takes you into the walls to the top. The castle stands just inside Slovak territory on the frontier between Slovakia and Austria. How crazy is that? We could actually see fields of Austria from the top.

The second thing, very much worth of seeing in Devin, is a public path along the river bank. There are several hikes and bikes trails around the castle. We were there in a beginning of March, so river Morava was throwing in huge chunks of ice into Danube. River shore, in some places, looks like it could be beach during the summer, though.

 

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There are few restaurants in Devin, so if you have time try fine Slovak cuisine. We didn’t have time. We spent all day walking around Devin castle, it was cold, so there was just a two of us wandering around. We completely lost the track of time, that eventually, it was our time to leave, not to eat.

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We are driving to Budapest and can’t wait to see it again. Remember, we were there in 2016, it was our first blog ever!! Check it out -> HERE.

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