Weekend in Warsaw

Last weekend I took little weekend break in Warsaw with my fabulous flatmates (you know who you are). It was so much fun! It felt really special to finally be in Poland as I’m actually a 1/4 polish! As well as eating, drinking and exploring I learned a few polish words, but I won’t embarrass myself by trying to spell them for you…

We booked our flights a few months in advance for only £40 from Edinburgh to Warsaw Modlin. The flight was only 2.5 hours, which is funny considering it takes longer to drive to Inverness from Edinburgh!

Before leaving we prebooked train tickets to take us into the centre of Warsaw where our Airbnb was. However, the train station was a taxi ride away and took an hour. Learning from this experience we rode in an Uber (£23) to the airport, which took 40 mins and was just a little more expensive than the train and MUCH EASIER!

On that note Uber is your best friend in Polish cities as it’s so much cheaper than in the UK!

 I had an amazing time in Warsaw and would recommend checking out these places…

What To See

1. The Old Town Market Place

This colourful square is the heart of Warsaw and one of the oldest places in Warsaw (it was rebuilt after WW2 ended).  Find The Mermaid of Warsaw and enjoy the Christmas market stalls in Winter.

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Legend has it that local fisherman wanted to capture the mermaid after she kept rescuing the fish from their nets. However, after the heard her singing they fell in love. Then a rich man imprisoned the mermaid,but the fisherman saved her. Ever since, she has been protecting Warsaw’s citizens with her sword and shield.

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2. Warsaw Rising Museum

This museum was well worth a visit. It was created in memory of the people of Warsaw who died fighting for the independence of Poland.

Entry is free of charge every Sunday

3. Palace of Culture and Science

This is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. Unfortunately we ran out of time to visit, but we heard a rumour that the top floor is the best place to take a picture of Warsaw!

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It was a little foggy….

4. Royal Castle

This is one of the most beautiful buildings in Warsaw! Spend time wondering around the lavishly designed rooms of the Polish monarchs.

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Entry is free of charge every Wednesday

Where To Eat

If you have been looking at any of my recent Instagram stories you probably saw brunch and Pierogi crop up a few times…. these were the stars of the show!!

1. Bulke przez Bibulke

Yes Polish is a very tricky language….so the link is above so you can find this gem too! This place was so cosy and is rated one of the best brunch spots in the city. Try the stack of pancakes!

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2. Restaurant Zapiecek

According to two of my native friends, this traditional Polish restaurant serves some of the BEST PIEROGI (dumplings)!

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If you want to stick to the local cuisine order a class of apple wine with your meal (it’s delicious).

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3. SAM Kameralny Komplex Gastronomiczny

Back to Brunch!!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day… and if you don’t wake up early enough this is the perfect solution…right?!

One word….BAGELS!

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4. Hala Koszyki

This is one of the best indoor food markets I have ever been to. It’s such a relaxed environment with so many cuisines to sample. If you are vegan check out the range of vegan stalls here!

But what did I chose to eat again…..

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PIEROGI!!!!

Where To Drink

1. Czupito

This quirky vodka bar is the perfect place to start your night out in Warsaw! Try the Pink Panther if you have a sweet tooth or Rainbow if you’re brave enough….

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2. Nap Nap Cafe

This is the perfect stop for a midday mulled wine and cake!

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3. Panorama Sky Bar

If you want to take your night out to the next level check out the Sky Bar! Great cocktails, music and views!

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Bare in mind the cocktails here are more like UK prices eg £10!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my time in this cool city and have the chance to experience it for yourself!

I’m currently planning my next trip back to Poland….people to see and things to explore!

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Guest Blogger – Explore York Like A Local

Before we get into Explore York Like A Local, I would just like to say a huge thank
you to Catriona who wrote a post for me on my blog and is the first in
the Connect, Inspire & Create series! Now I am featuring on her blog!

I grew up all around York, it was one of the first cities I went to as a
child! York is a gorgeous, unique city, and I am going to tell you what
I would get up to in a day, if I could do whatever I chose!

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Let’s get straight to it! First up I always need a coffee, I would have
to go to The Habit Coffee Bar on Goodramgate street, and get a latte,
and perhaps a cooked breakfast too! The Habit has a beautiful terrace
with views of the minster, so lovely in a morning!

After wandering around the shops for a while, and maybe a quick stop at
York Cocoa Works I would probably head to lunch at The Shambles. I love it there as it’s a nice outdoor area with different food vendors serving all sorts of cuisines! There
are a few food trucks that are permanent but there are others that
change every few weeks, meaning there is always plenty of choice. There
is usually live music too on the weekends, which is a nice touch!

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I also love going for a walk on the walls in York, they are a lovely way
to get around the city!

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Then a stop at the Museum Gardens , and if it was a nice day, I’d maybe grab an ice cream from the boat at the bottom of the gardens on the River Ouse.

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There are so many lovely places to eat in an evening in York, a personal
favourite is Oscars.  Although you have to remember to book in advance! Last time I went there I had a gorgeous Chilli Con Carne. They also have a lovely bar you can sit
at for a couple of drinks whilst waiting for your table.

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Check out Elle’s travel blog here for more inspiration!

Newbies Guide To New York #2 Wine & Dine

If you haven’t read my first blog post about my favourite sites in New York click here to check it out!

This post, as you can imagine, is all about the top spots we found while running around NYC! The city really has something for everyone whether it’s burgers and chips, Asian noodles or pizza slices as big as your head….

1. Juliana’s Pizza

As mentioned in my previous post this amazing pizzeria is run by the pizza legends themselves….the Grimaldi’s of New York! This dining option is perfect for those of you wanting to check out the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s nestled in the cool district just over the bridge called Dumbo which is also well worth exploring.

This restaurant is so popular that you cannot book in advance, so prepare for a little wait (worth it)  or visit outwith the main dining times.

Just  note that they are closed between 3:15pm and 4pm to “stoke” the coal-fired pizza oven.

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2. Kimoto Rooftop Garden Lounge

If you spend more time in Brooklyn and looking for a rooftop bar experience head to this place! Kimoto is a good priced Asian fusion restaurant that also serves AMAZING cocktails. I think we were just incredibly lucky because we had almost the whole garden lounge to ourselves when we visited!

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  3. Joe Allen

If you are looking for a pre-Broadway meal check out this gem! Joe Allen’s is an intimate restaurant popular with locals. Everything on the menu looked excellent when we went and it changes frequently so there’s always new flavours to try!

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4. Tick Tock Diner NY

This retro little diner was situated in our hotel, The New Yorker, but is for non-guests too! If you know me you would know why this was one of my FAVOURITE meals I had in NYC. I have a MASSIVE SWEET TOOTH and heard that the pancakes in here were incredible so of course had to try them out….

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Not just orange juice…..

5. Chelsea Market

This quirky market is open from 7am to 2am Monday-Saturday and us filled with food outlets from all over the city! I would suggest heading there for lunch then walking the High Line as the access point is very closeby.

I wanted to eat EVERYTHING….

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6. Carlos Bakery

How could you walk past THE HOME OF CAKE BOSS everyday but not go in for a slice??! I know it’s impossible as it sounds…

There are so many different cakes and cannolis to chose from and they come in cute individual slice containers!

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Red Velvet cake anyone? 

7. State Grill & Bar

If you want a night to remember book a table at the State Grill & Bar in the Empire State Building! 

This really was a special night for us in New York that had been planned well in advance. We dined in the grill and had some cocktails before taking the lift up to the Observatory Deck at the top of the Empire State Building. 

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I know what you’re thinking….how could I fit on the plane after my week of indulging in New York! All I can say is we walked…..A LOT!

I hope you enjoyed my posts about my time exploring one of most amazing cities in the WORLD!

Newbies Guide To New York #1 Attractions

As the title suggests, yes it was my FIRST TIME IN NEW YORK! 

We arrived home early on Saturday morning after spending 1 week in The Big Apple and it was such an incredible place.

We got good flight deals to Stewart Airport direct from Edinburgh which was ideal (8 hours). The airline was Norwegian Air who are known for doing long-haul budget deals. It made much more sense to fly cheaper into Stewart Airport and drive 90 minutes on the bus into Manhattan than pay for more expensive flights to JFK.

There is no “cheap” way of doing New York properly but there are plenty of wallet-friendlier alternatives…

After researching the cost of the attractions that we wanted to visit (there were so many) we thought it was cheaper to purchase a 5 Day New York Pass. This pass granted us access to all of the city’s main attractions. This was great because it meant that we could visit everything we wanted to in the time we had! For the 1 day pass it was $127 but for 5 days it was only $325. The pass was definitely worth it because there was 4 of us doing on average 3 attractions per day. For example the price to visit the observatory deck at the Empire State building is $57 per person

Click here to purchase the New York Pass

It would take far too long to write a day by day itinerary of my week in New York… so I’ll give you a quick run through of my favourite things to see and do!

1. Brooklyn Bridge at Sunset

For the best view of the complete Manhattan skyline spend the day in Brooklyn! There are so many cool places to visit in Brooklyn, we loved Dumbo! This is the area of Brooklyn that is just over the bridge and is home to Jane’s Carousel and the BEST pizza you may ever try in NYC!

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Promise I wasn’t the only adult……
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Guacamole on a pizza is life changing!

The pizza parlour was called Julianas Pizza and was run by the pizza legends themselves….the Grimaldi’s in New York!

After exploring Dumbo follow the pedestrian signs onto the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset and watch Manhattan light up! The walk took around 30 minutes but we stopped for lots of pictures.

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If you love the look of my t-shirt use my personal code CatrionaKe15 for 15% off all orders at the checkout! A percentage of all Sandcloud’s profits go into saving marine life by supporting conservation charities. #savethefishes

2. Empire State Building

Included in our New York Pass was entry to the observatory decks at the Empire State building. I don’t know if we just got EXTREMELY LUCKY but we went up to the top at around 10pm and there was NO QUEUE!!

Even if there was a line we would have waited for this magical view!

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3. Top of the Rocks

On our last full day we realised that we still had to check out the view from Top of the Rock! Again we flashed our New York Passes and got entry up to the top. The fact that we didn’t have to pay more for the entry was good as we might not have seen the view because the weather was similar to Scotland…hence my signing in the rain picture!

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4. Broadway Show

Even if you are not a huge theatre fan (like my brother) most people still love the experience of seeing a show on Broadway at least once! We saw Chicago in the Ambassador Theatre and it was definitely worth seeing.  If you are not too fussy and looking for discounted tickets try websites like BroadwayBox. 

5. The High Line

I know when people think about parks in New York, Central Park springs to mind. However, The High Line is a cool green space hidden above the busy city streets. This space used to be home for an old railway line now it’s an urban oasis.

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6. New York Water Taxi

I know this isn’t an attraction but it was a great way to see the city! You can hop on a New York Water Taxi either in Midtown Manhattan, Battery Park, Seaport or Brooklyn. My favourite part of the ride was sailing around the Statue of Liberty with the Alicia Keys “Empire State of Mind” playing!

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As I come to the end of this post, I’m a little sad that I didn’t mention all the other amazing attractions. However, I would be writing a book not a blog post in that case and that’s not what I do!

Watch this space for Newbies Guide To New York #2 Wine & Dine!

Short Stay in Salzburg

The visit started out as a stopover on our 13 hour drive from Croatia to Germany, but turned out to be one of the best cities we had ever been in!

Click here to read the previous blog post!

Before deciding to spend a night in Salzburg, Lukas told me that everyone he knows who has visited the city has nothing but good things to say! Now I understand how the city makes you fall in love with it.

The city centre has an ambience of elegance and prestige…. but what really blew me away was the fairytale setting (complete with the white horse and carriage)!

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We stayed in Connie’s modern airbnb just outside the city centre for the night which was ideal.

If you would like money off your first Airbnb use my personal link when booking!

It was early evening when we arrived in Salzburg and we wasted no time before wandering around the beautiful streets and squares.

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For dinner we ate in a traditional Austrian restaurant called Alter Fuchs.

The outside seating area is great for people watching and soaking up the vibe but we chose to dine in the outside courtyard for a more exclusive feel. I would highly recommend the Rindersaftgulasch mit Semmelknödel und Essiggurkerl. If you are not fluent in German I would suggest order this dish by saying the beef goulash with dumplings!

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After consuming our weight in beer and goulash we headed back to the airbnb for the night.

In the morning we explored the birthplace of Wolfgang Mozart and discovered the famous Mozartkugeln! These are chocolate balls filled with marzipan, pistachio and nougat….had to buy some for the journey home!

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As well as admiring the baroque architecture from the town squares we decided to get an even more impressive view from the Hohensalzburg Fortress.

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Unfortunately, it was time to start our last part of the journey back Germany in the afternoon. Even though we had a fleeting visit to Salzburg, the memories will definitely form some of my favourite parts of our 2 week trip! I believe anyone could feel at home in this beautiful city and we look forward to returning soon.

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Lake Bled

On our long journey back to Germany from Croatia we decided to stopover at Lake Bled and Salzburg. If you have not already read my Croatia Series check out the latest one here!

We enjoyed the beauty of the lake during our short visit and would love to explore the area again in the future. Bled is the perfect place for people who enjoy outdoor activities as there are so many things to do! You can see the lake from various perspectives by trying something new. For example if you like hiking you can visit incredible viewpoints, or if you prefer gliding through the water, hire a stand-up paddle board or boat.

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By the time we arrived in Bled at our Airbnb in was 8pm in the evening and we went straight to the lake for dinner. When I mean straight to the lake it really wasn’t! Google Maps did not seem to like the roads of Bled and we noticed that drivers did not pay much attention to the road signs….

If you would like £25 off your first Airbnb stay use my personal link when booking.

The lake by night was beautiful so we chose to eat in the Grajska Plaza open air restaurant. The restaurant served a variety of food and stocked many Slovenian wines and beers.

The next morning we quit our diets that we never started and enjoyed one of Bled’s most famous specialities. Kremna Rezina can be ordered at pretty much every restaurant on the lake and I can understand why! It is essentially heaven in a cake with it’s custard cream layers.

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Sitting on the balcony at The Park Cafe eating our Kremna Rezina was the perfect way to start our day in Bled.

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Unfortunately we had to leave Bled in the afternoon to continue our adventures! If we had more time we would have loved to take a boat to the island. On the island you can visit the Church of Assumption where it is the local tradition for a husband to carry his new wife up the 99 steps! Also, I didn’t know this information at the time but if you climb the steps you can ring the “Wishing Bell” which will make the couples dreams come true!!

Guess we are going back to Bled…

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Dugi Otok – Croatia Series #4

This is my 4th instalment in the Croatia Series, here is number 3 if you haven’t checked it out!

Translated Dugi Otok means the “Long Island” in Croatian and it’s the 7th biggest island in the Adriatic. We loved our time on this island and could have easily spent a couple more days exploring the many hidden spots!

We stayed in Jura’s Guesthouse for 2 nights in Luka which is South of the island. He really was the perfect host and we could not have discovered so many secret parts of the island without his knowledge.

Day 1

We travelled from Zadar to Dugi Otok on the car ferry which was very straightforward despite the stormy weather. The journey lasted roughly an hour and a half and we sailed into the port at Brbinj.

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Thankfully once we got onto the island the weather brightened up!

Our first stop on the island was to visit the lighthouse at Veli Rat which is North of the island. I think we enjoyed the swing more than the kids did…..

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Veli Rat Lighthouse

By the time we got to the Jura’s B & B we were ready for dinner. He recommend we try the restaurant that was a 5 minute walk from the accommodation and it was amazing!

If you would like £25 off your first Airbnb stay use my personal link when booking.

I can honestly say it was one of the best meals I had on the whole holiday. Konoba Supina had the most perfect outside dining area right next to the marina and served the freshest fish!

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Day 2

Unfortunately we had only 1 full day on the island which was extremely busy because Jura gave us ideas for so many places to see!

A little piece of advice…there is only 1 petrol station on Dugi Otok and it’s located in Zaglav!!!

After we filled up the car we headed first to the Golubinka Sea Cave which can actually be found on google maps! Jura said that this was the perfect place to snorkel and swim into the cave. Make sure you go before 12pm as that is when the sun is hitting the hole in the cave to make everything illuminated! It was such an incredible experience (wish I had a GoPro to capture the moment)!!!

I would not recommend this activity if you are not a strong swimmer of claustrophobic. 

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After the snorkelling we drove to one of the submarine pens in Dragove that were used by the Yugoslav People’s Army. This spot is now freely accessible to the public by foot or boat.

By the time it got to the afternoon we were just wanting to relax and Veli Žal was the right place to do it. Even though the supposedly most “beautiful” beach on the island (some say even in Europe) is Saharun. I loved this beach even more as it was less crowded and I would say cleaner.

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Veli Žal

Obviously we had to check out the hype at Saharun beach as well! It has been named “Croatia’s secret beach” and can be found at the North of the island between Bozava and Veli Rat. It was a lovely change because this was the only sandy beach we visited in Croatia. The turquoise bay was very calm and perfect for easy swimming!

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After our day exploring we wanted to have dinner at what was known to Jura as the best restaurant on the island, Koniba Regula. However….of course we did NOT book in advance and it was fully booked so we headed to a tasty pizzeria opposite.

Unfortunately we had to leave the island in the morning to journey back to Germany via Lake Bled and Salzburg.

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Until next time Dugi Otok!

 

 

 

Krka National Park – Croatia Series #3

Hey Guys! I hope you have enjoyed reading series part 1 and series part 2

This blog entry will be mainly picture based to give you a flavour of one of the most incredible places I have ever been to!

Krka National Park is located in Šibenik-Knin county of Croatia. We drove here from Zadar and it only took us 1 hour!

I would highly recommend a visit to this park but there are a few things to bare in mind:

  1. Student entry with valid ID is MUCH CHEAPER!!! You can buy a student ticket at the park for 20 Kn / 2,69 € whereas the adult ticket is 80,00 Kn / 10,78 €.
  2. Bring your own water and snacks as the food stalls on site are expensive and you will need LOTS OF WATER. 
  3. This bit of advice is GOLD – For the best possible experience arrive at the park before 12pm, because that is when the tourist busses begin to come. Also Sunday’s are considerably quieter than other days!!
  4. There are many different entrances to the park but they require a walk to the start of the waterfalls (40 mins), so bring COMFY SHOES!!!

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Included in your ticket is a one way boat trip to or from the park!

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Skradinski buk is the waterfall that you can swim underneath so don’t forget your swimming gear!

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Stay tuned for my Dugi Otok Island adventure!

x

Zadar – Croatia Series #2

This is my 2nd blog post in the Croatia Series, if you haven’t checked out the 1st click here!

After the first week staying in Labin we journeyed further South of Croatia to Zadar. The drive from Labin was roughly 4 hours so we decided to stop in a pretty town called Opatija .

Opatija

This town was a luxury travel destination in the 19th century and is scattered with incredible old villas that are now mostly hotels! We didn’t spend long in Opatija but did manage to grab an ice cream and walk along the Lungomare promenade.

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I would love to book a night in one of the historic hotels in town!

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Zadar

Zadar is a must see place when travelling Croatia! The city is 3000 years old and has something amazing to see around every corner.

We stayed in our 6th Airbnb and it was definitely one of the best so far! Maya’s Studio Room was perfect for our 2 night stay in Zadar. It had private parking and an amazing air conditioner that we couldn’t have survived without!

If you would like £25 off your first Airbnb stay use my personal link when booking.

Explore By Day

During daylight hours Zadar is full of impressive sights and monuments to discover!

Sea Organ

This is one of the most unique attractions in this interesting city. The Sea Organ looks like steps leading into the ocean! Within the steps are chambers that control how the water and air get in to create a unique sound from the waves.

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Saint Donatus Church

This unusual church was built in the 9th century and is the symbol of Zadar city.

Saint Anastasia’s Cathedral

If you have time visit the largest cathedral in Dalmatia!

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Beaches

We enjoyed  swimming and relaxing at the small beaches near our Airbnb the most.

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There are many beaches around the city but the main ones like Borik get very crowded! If we had another day in Zadar we would have travelled to Nin to spend the day on the beautiful sandy beaches there.

Just before the day comes to an end, grab a blanket….maybe even a bottle of wine and enjoy what is said to be the “most beautiful sunset in the world”. 

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Explore By Night

Zadar has so much to offer in terms of nightlife – cool clubs, chilled cocktail bars and even an open-air dance floor in the middle of the city.

Lands Gate

Again, I am referring back to the entrance of the city, but it really is beautiful to see it illuminated at night!

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Lounge & Bar Ledana

This place is AWESOME it’s like walking into an enchanted forest! It’s surrounded by trees and colourfully  lit water features.

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Svarog Bar

This was one of our FAVOURITE places we found during the whole holiday. It has such a cool vibe and plays the kind of remixes that make you want to dance the all night!

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Good DJ + Extensive Cocktail Menu = My Kind of Night!

Greetings To The Sun

Visit this Zadar attraction at night to watch the ground light up beneath your feet! This monument is dedicated to the Sun and consists of solar plates that absorb the Sun’s energy, to create a unique light display at night.

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Istria – Croatia Series #1

I have just returned from my 2 week Croatian adventure and I am very excited to start writing my Croatian blog series. For my first time visiting Croatia and I saw many beautiful places that would definitely make me want to discover the rest of the country.

Don’t worry, I won’t make you read a novel of a blog post so I will split the series into 5 blog entries!

This first blog post will cover my time in the Istria region of Croatia that we explored the first week.

Labin

We spent the first week in Croatia on a couples/group holiday with friends, in a villa in Labin. Villa Rosa was absolutely stunning and perfect for a chilled group holiday (10 poeple max).

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The owners were lovely and offered us a couple of bottles of wine from the region that they keep in their wine cellar.  I found Instrian red and white wine to be light and VERY drinkable…

On the first couple of days we wondered into Labin to have a look around and some dinner. It’s not a big place but does have charming features such as the umbrellas and old winding streets.

I would highly recommend Velo Kafe for something to eat. It’s in the centre of Labin and has a cute terrace area to dine on. I ordered fish in a white wine sauce which seemed to be a favourite amongst the group….don’t worry it comes without the fish head (biggest fear…)!

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Rabac

Rabac is a lovely holiday resort town to visit which is only 10 minutes away from Labin. It’s full of gorgeous coves and beach bars to spend the day at. However, if you do decide to spend time at the beach here go to the smaller coves as the main beaches are very crowded! We got recommended Beach Girandella (blue flag beach) by the villa’s owner which was a great place to spend the afternoon.

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However, I preferred the smaller beaches around the promenade area of the town as they were quieter.

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If you love the look of my towel use my personal code CatrionaKe15 for 15% off all orders at the checkout! A percentage of all Sandcloud’s profits go into saving marine life by supporting conservation charities. #savethefishes

Pula

After we had enough of waking up at 2pm and taking it easy by the pool all day we ventured to some other beautiful places in Istria. Pula is definitely worth a visit and is only a 1 hour drive away from Labin.

Pula is an incredible city that is known for it’s stunning beaches and ancient roman ruins. During our day here we checked out the Amphitheatre where the gladiators fought which was 25 kuna  (£3) for student entry! 

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If you have the car and are looking for adventure I would definitely recommend driving South of Pula to Premantura. You must drive to the furthest tip of this part of the island, past the Safari Bar (shown on google maps) to discover the perfect cliff jumping spot!

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 * BUY WATER SHOES! YOU WILL THANK ME LATER*

Rovinj

This place stole my heart….I absolutely loved my evening wandering around this pretty waterfront town. In many ways it reminded me of parts of Italy and if that wasn’t enough for me I could have hopped on a boat sailing to Venice!

Lukas kept having to wait for me because I couldn’t stop snapping pictures of the winding streets and steps leading down to the sea!

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We found this amazing little cocktail bar down one of the alleyways called Mediterraneo Bar. 

Untitled design (57).png39739161_287774335334333_7739606199254908928_n.jpgTake a seat on one of the colourful cushions or dip your feet into the sea while enjoying a frozen daiquiri = perfection! 

As well as this gem we also found an incredible restaurant Puntulina that really was the best place to watch the sun set over the sea. We didn’t book a table so it was just by luck that they had room for 2 on the balcony area! It was not the cheapest place to dine but we had been eating in the villa the past few nights and I can easily say that it was one of my favourite moments of the holiday.

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