It's hard to believe how much Dubrovnik has changed over the years. As recently as in 1991, it suffered an enormous damage during the horrific war in the Balkans - at that time it would have been the last place on Earth you would have thought of visiting. Today, not even 30 years after those dramatic events, the city has regained its grandeur - Dubrovnik is one of the most popular walled cities in the world, especially within the past few years when it has been featured in the extremely popular "Game of Thrones". But what can you expect from visiting it? Is it really as spectacular as in the famous show?
Many of the visitors coming to southern Poland and Krakow region end up in Zakopane - the little town located at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. Some hike (or take a horse cart ride) up the easy and quite boring trail to the most famous landmark in Polish mountains - Morskie Oko lake which is undoubtedly picturesque and beautiful, but so overcrowded that it can get really irritating.
In this post, I'll try to encourage you to leave Morskie Oko behind and venture into the real, wild beauty of the area. As usual, the most attractive and stunning views are awaiting those who are brave enough to take a risk and explore something beyond the beaten path. I've already described the trek to Dolina Pieciu Stawow which is way nicer than the one to Morskie Oko and now it's time to write about my favorite trail in the Tatras - to Swinica peak via the less known Dolina Gasienicowa (Gasienicowa Valley) and Zawrat saddle. This trail features not one but several crystal clear lakes of different shapes and colors, spectacular views - incomparable with those on the way to Morskie Oko and it's perfect for those who love adventure and adrenaline rush!
A few months ago we had a chance to visit the famous all over the world French Riviera. I usually prefer way more off the beaten path places (like my favorite Balkans or Caucasus) but the winter sale of airplane tickets to Nice (I'll also share my thoughts on Nice soon) was so tempting that only a fool wouldn't have taken advantage of it. Also, the winter was coming to an end and the only way to escape the cold, grey and gloomy landscapes of Northern Europe was to head south. During the few days along the French Riviera, we decided to skip the most popular cities - Cannes and St. Tropez and look for something more quiet, local and charming. We came across the little, beautiful towns of Antibes and Eze. In this part I'll show you Antibes and in the second, the magnificent Eze - a hill town which was my favorite in the entire French Riviera.
Traveling along the wild Albanian coast, after visiting tropical looking, white sand beaches at Ksamil, old town Himare and the surrounding seaside, I thought it just couldn't get better. Then, we went to see the two beaches a few miles north from Himare - Jala and Gjipe, hidden in picturesque coves and surrounded by the spectacular canyon. The color of water was so unusually clear and the scenery so exotic that this spot could easily pass off as tropical heaven. Why is such a place still virtually unknown despite being right in the middle of Europe, is a mystery to me. But it's a good thing! You can feel as if it's your own, private paradise. And, if you want to still see it this way, hurry up, as unfortunately there has been some new development around - soon it may become as crowded as Albania's famous neighbors - Croatia, Italy and Greece.
Although Zakynthos villages don't have the spectacular architecture of Santorini or Mykonos (I'll describe them soon), it is quite nice if you want to explore the off the beaten path, local sites. In this article, I'll describe all the places to see on the island of Zakynthos, besides the coast and beaches. To get a bit deeper inland, you'll need to either drive around or take a tour. A tour is a good and cheap option as you'll also find out about the history of the island and its people.
We took a tour called "Back to the roots", however, to be honest, our primary goal was not the interior of the island but to be able to see the view of the most beautiful beach in the world (at least among the beaches I've seen) - the Shipwreck beach from the top of the cliff. Only this tour offered a stop at the viewing platform, all the others went straight to the beach by boat where there's no way to admire that exceptional bird's eye panorama.
Some cities are so famous and we expect so much from them that when we finally arrive, after the initial moment of joy, the other, less pleasant phase of disappointment comes over us. Yes, the monuments are stunning, the food is good, the weather is perfect, but there is something missing. And it's hard to explain what. On the other hand, there are places pretty ugly, chaotic or completely unknown - we don't even know what to think - and we fall in love with them. That was the case for me with Tbilisi in Georgia, Prishtina in Kosovo or Kiev in Ukraine - although virtually non existent on the tourist world map, they enchanted me beyond imagination. Istanbul, in turn, was the place I had always dreamed of visiting and in the end, although I enjoyed it, I felt that thing that there's something missing. You will surely find the photos in this post absolutely stunning and you might think that what I say is silly. But I'll try my best to explain my point of view below.
Chernobyl in Eastern Ukraine is one of the most infamous places on Earth. It used to be a normal, ordinary town, no different from thousands of others in the Soviet Union. It was quiet, peaceful, had its own theater, cinema and amusement park. People lived their life according to a daily routine until the 26th of April, 1986. In the middle of the night, a disastrous explosion shook Chernobyl. Reactor number 4 failed and ejected radioactive particles high up into the atmosphere. With the clouds and wind, the fallout was subsequently spread all over Europe, reaching as far as Scandinavia. Chernobyl and the surrounding area were evacuated virtually overnight. Only recently more and more people have started to return to their old homes. Three decades after the disaster, I visited Chernobyl and in this post I'll show you the way it is now.
If one excludes the Vatican City, Monaco is the smallest country in the world. It's a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to the French Riviera and tax free status. It's also the place where the rich and famous come - full of luxurious hotels, resorts and casinos. It could be compared to Las Vegas or Dubai, however, on a much smaller scale - the whole area of Monaco is only 2 square km (less than 1 mile)!
Monaco was never a destination I dreamed to visit. Nevertheless, we got a great deal - extremely cheap flights to Nice in winter, so why not also see the surrounding towns (and a completely different country)? On the way from Nice, we stopped in a spectacularly beautiful, although lesser known town of Eze perched on a steep, rocky cliff overlooking the incredible coast, then we continued on to Monaco itself.
The title of this post is a bit tricky - it doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy my time in Ljubljana or that it's an ugly city. I chose this title to be somewhat controversial because this is what attracts people nowadays. In reality, it's the opposite - Ljubljana isn't too big, it's pretty, with little winding streets and for me, has the same charm as Bratislava or Riga. However, Ljubljana was our last stop in Slovenia and after visiting such wonders as Piran and Koper with red roofs and Mediterranean coast, Soca river (which was so clear that it seemed just unreal) flowing through white gorges, spectacular Slovenian Alps, magnificent lake Bled with the famous island in the middle, nearby Vintgar Gorge, lake Bohinj - shores of which resembled tropical seas, the medieval Predjama castle built into the cave and Postojna cave - one of Europe's largest, Ljubljana appeared so bleak and ordinary.
Pompeii is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It's been featured in numerous Hollywood productions and is a symbol of the sophisticated life in ancient Rome. The tragic fate following the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD made this beautiful seaside town cease to exist overnight. The ashes of the volcano sealed and protected the streets with houses of Pompeii from invaders and atmospheric conditions for centuries to come. Excaveted as late as in the 18th century, the perfectly well preserved statues, frescoes, shops and streets have revealed how advanced the ancient Romans were. Pompeii became a literal time capsule.