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 Cologne (Köln)?

Hello World!
We visited Cologne (Köln), Germany, in Fabruary and had the best time! It is the loveliest city but, like always, we are beginning our blogs with accommodation.

We were guests at “Koncept Hotel Zum Kostbaren Blut” for 2 nights. It is well designed, comfortable and cozy hotel in the center of Cologne. We literally saw the famous Cathedral from our room window. Beside being chic and well located, it is also a DIGITAL hotel! Let me explain.

BOOKING
This part is traditional. You find them online -> HERE and book a stay, at your preferences. They have hotels in Cologne (Germany) and Wien (Austria). Once your booking is confirmed you will get an email from their fast and efficient staff where they explain check in process, because they don’t have a reception, or working staff in the hotel. Yes, you read it right, there is NO reception, so you use technology. They are digital hotel remember?

CHECK IN / OUT
When you book the hotel you also need to download “Hotelbird” app with which you can check-in, check-out, pay and open the main door and your room.
It maybe sounds surreal, but it is that easy!
We arrived at the hotel entrance and with our app opened the main door. We just placed our phone up to the key reader and ta-da, the door is open. We did the same thing in front of our bedroom door and we were IN. That easy!
No waiting in the line at the reception desk, no faceless bored receptionists and you will never forget your room number or loose the key (well, unless you loose your phone, which we hope won’t happen).
If you have any problem or questions you can always reach the hotel staff via email, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or similar.
Just in case if you are “old school”, you can also ask them for the regular key card 🙂

ROOM
We got a double bedroom with private bathroom, small kitchen and the view of the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom). The room was so very well designed, we loved every detail in it, from the colorful wall paper over the bead and vinyl player.

If you have seen our Instagram stories, you know we played the vinyl every time we were in the room. For us, it is so much better than watching TV, which you also have in the room. And since everything is digital, you can connect on Netflix via Apple TV on your room app.

We also got our own sustainably produced laundry bag and found organic soap in the bathroom. We admire when businesses invest their time and money for better future. It is not easy to find products which are good for the environment and it is certainly not cheap. Respect!

LOCATION
As I already mentioned, couple of times, hotel is located in the center of Cologne old town, 1-5 min walk from Cathedral, bridge, Chocolate museum, main train station, shopping street and restaurant spots. So, basically 1-5 minute from everything you need 🙂

NAME
I usually don’t go into hotel names, but some of our Instagram followers, who speak German, noticed that the name of the hotel is “strange”. So, for you who don’t speak German let me elaborate: Zum Kostbaren Blut translates “of the Presious Blood”. Hotel was given that name because the building used to be home of the Sisters of “The order of the Precious Blood”. This Sister Order worked in Cologne after the WWII, when city was destroyed and know criminal hotspot. This is also the reason you can find little shrines on each floor of the hotel building, as a memory of their good deeds in city’s time of need.

If you like “Koncept Hotel Zum Kostbaren Blut” story and philosophy, you can find them here:
WEB: Koncept Hotel
Facebook: koncepthotels & zumkostbarenblut
Instagram: koncepthotels & zumkostbarenblut

In our next blog -> “Top things to see in Cologne”. Talk to you then 🙂
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TOP 10 attractions in BERLIN

Hello world! We visited Berlin twice and we believe that if you ever get the chance to visit it, do it!
Should you decide to book a trip to Berlin, these are our top 10 attractions random picks.

1.Berlin East side Gallery
It is the longest surviving section of the “Berlin wall” turned into an free open air gallery. Murals with powerful messages are painted on 1316 meter long over the east side (like the name implies). Original murals were painted in 1990. but most have been moved, damaged or painted over, over the years. Ones that you can see today are still sending messages of hope for the better future, trying to spread love and equality. Seeing the world around us, not sure if people are getting the message?

In walking distance to East side gallery you can also find Oberbaum Bridge and Molecule man statue in the middle of Spree river.

Oberbaum bridge
Molecule man

2. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
It is Holocaust memorial to all Jewish victims on 19.000 m2 area filled with 2711 concrete vertical pillars in all heights and sizes. They start small and going towards the center they grow bigger. As you set your foot inside the installation, uneven floor changes the perspective of height even more. You loose the feel of depth, some parts make you anxious and some relieved. On the other hand, we also saw kids playing hide and seek inside, running around carefree. This combination of “dark” and “light” got me fascinated.

3. Unter den Linden 
Brandenburg gate is the most famous Berlin landmark and it marks the beginning of “Unter den Linden”, pedestrian street going all the way to the City Palace. If you like “building watching”, this is the place for you.

Brandenburg gate

Reichstag Building is former parliament, but now the most visited landmark due to huge glass dome, which offers town center views. We didn’t have time to wait in the line this time. Fyi. picture below is from the first time we visited Berlin, nowadays there is big fence in front of it, which makes it impossible to take a good (of ground) photo of Reichstag .

Don’t miss Bebelplatz, site where Nazis burned books in WWII and magnificent Berliner Dom (Cathedral).

Berlin Cathedral

4. Museum Island
Museum Island is the area where 5 different museums are located:
Altes Museum (Old Museum), Neues Museum (New Museum), Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), Bode Museum and the most famous Pergamon Museum. Pergamon is the museum definitely worth of visit, just to see the main hall with the Pergamon Altar . Keep in mind, the
Pergamon is under renovation and it’s said it will be open sometime in 2019., so check if it is even open before coming to Berlin.

Altes Museum
Museum Island

5. Checkpoint Charlie
This was the crossing point between East and West Berlin in Cold War and today you can see a copy of the guard house and sign on the same street.
You can take a picture with the guards (actors) and have your passport stamped with “Checkpoint Charlie” crossing stamp. Nearby, you can also find Checkpoint Charlie Museum which shows photographs of the wall, checkpoint and separation of Berlin.

South from Checkpoint you can find Jewish Museum Berlin.

6. Tiergarten park
Tiergarten park is the largest urban garden in Germany, so you can imagine how huge it is! First time I was in Berlin we rented the bikes and drove all around the park, which I strongly recommend you to do! This time, we weren’t as lucky with the weather, so we took a bus number 100 around the park and stopped at several attractions point. First stop was Reichstag Building, then Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Schloss Bellevue and then the Victory Column. For us, the best part was getting lost in the woods and having a picnic on the meadow in the middle of the park.

Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Victory Column

7. Charlottenburg Palace
This is the largest Palace in Berlin and also has the prettiest gardens.

In that area of the city you can also find Funkturm Berlin, former broadcasting tower. The view from the top offers the best city vies!!

If you are a football fan, Olympic Stadion is in that area too, home of Hertha BSC football team.

8. Kurfürstendamm avenue
This is the area in Berlin most famous for shopping, because avenue is almost 3 km long. In that area you can find Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. We no longer go to Zoo’s, but here you can also find Berlin ZOO. I was there last time I visited Berlin and trust me, if you want to visit it, you need to take one entire day to see it all. Bring snacks with you, it is gonna be a loooong walk.

9. Alexanderplatz
This is the most famous public square in Berlin, mostly because big transport hub. But, you can also find several attractions there, including Berliner Fernsehturm, Neptun fountain, Red city hall and Marx-Engels Forum.

10. Potsdamer Platz
One more public square, with Sony Center (movie theater), many shops and Legoland discovery center. Can you guess which one was my favorite?

Sony Center
Legoland discovery center

I think I covered all now, hope you are not tired from all the reading and scrolling and you still have time 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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

In the meantime, don’t forget to:

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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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