New Zealand

New Zealand marks my first international trip with my new 3 month old baby girl  – Kai Luna. We hired a camper van and went around south island for 12 days. What an adventure it was and I wouldn’t have done the trip any differently with or without baby (other then wishing I had more time to see this incredible country).

Getting there & accommodation:

We flew return Christchurch and picked up a camper van from Happy Campers – 3 berth, manual drive, and it exceeded all of our expectations. This blog post will be structured a little differently as our accommodation was our camper van and we were hopping different camping spots all over the island everyday. www.happycampers.co.nz  were super friendly and helpful and it was a more affordable option than other camper van hire places.

Day 1:

We flew into Christchurch at night and therefore stayed in the comfort of our air BNB near the airport on the first evening.

Day 2:

We picked up our van at 9 AM and headed straight to the shop to pick up groceries for a few days and grabbed some cheeky Mcdonalds breakfast for the road. Keen to get started to our first destination we headed straight away to Lake Tekapo which was approximately at 2.5 hour drive. We stayed at Lake Tekapo Motels & Holiday Park, which is situated right on the lake giving awesome views. There is also a beautiful church named the Church of Good Shepard and it is definitely worth the walk around the lake to check out. The stars here are spectacular and there are also hot springs (we didn’t opt to go into them) and the holiday park was great and had beautiful facilities.

Day 3:

On the road again we headed towards Queenstown which is approximately a 3.5 hour drive. We made plenty of stops along the way. Our first stop was in Twizel for a coffee/internet/breakfast break and we cooked up some bacon and eggs in the van then got back on the road again. All of NZ’s drives are super scenic so even if you’re on the road driving – the diversity of the landscapes are something to take in. Our second stop was at a sheep shearing shop where we got to look at the different types of wool (there are 3 million sheep grazing the grass of NZ) and had a small driving break. Our third stop was at Lake Pukaki where you can see beautiful views of the infamous Mount Cook. We had a little walk around and play with Kai here and wished we had the time to stay. Last stops were through the Otago wine region right before entering into beautiful Queenstown where we parked up at Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park. Queenstown is known for its activities such as skydiving, bungee and swing but we opted to head to the shops and eat Fergburger and ice-cream along the waters edge soaking in the last hours of sunlight.

Day 4:

We booked a coach-cruise-coach tour through Te Anau, Fjiordland, and Milford Sound. The tour started at 7 AM and ended at 730 PM so it was a big day for Miss Kai and she took it like a superstar. Milford Sound is the 8th wonder of the world and we were lucky to see it in all its glorious sunshine.

Day 5:

On the road again from Queenstown we headed to Lake Wanaka known by the infamous Wanaka tree. It was such a beautiful day, we cooked up breaky lake-side in the camper van picked up groceries in the cute town, walked around the trails of the lake, and laid down by the beach for hours. After getting in our fill (which wasn’t enough), we headed back into the van to park up in Josef Franz village – Glacier Campervan Holiday Park.

Day 6:

In Josef Franz we went up in a helicopter to see both Josef Franz & Josef Fox Glaciers (twin glaciers). We were lucky to have a glacier landing where we got to spend some time on top. It was such an incredible experience. And we ended the evening soaking in the Josef Franz Glacier Hot Pools.

Day 7:

Having an early start allowed us to park up near Hokitika seaside and eat breakfast at the beach. We walked around there for a bit then got back into the van to see Hokitika Gorge where the water is bright blue turquoise. Continuing on our journey north we stopped at a Dellworm Cave and proceeded onwards to Greymouth for some food. Trying to make our way up to the north part of the South Island we ended up parking in Murchison Riverside Holiday Park for the night.

Day 8:

Having a slow morning we had a birthday breakfast in Murchison at a cafe in town to celebrate Adam’s 31st. We then drove up to Moteuka & Kaiteriteri to pay for our tour to go to Abel Tasman National Park the next day. Kaiteriteri motor reserve is a campground right on the beach and the people there were lovely. We did a few walks around the beach and made plans to eat at Kai restaurant (how suiting) for Adams birthday the following night.

Day 9:

Today was the day we toured Abel Tasman National Park and it was perfect!  We got a super hot and sunny day and the boat picked us up in the morning from the beach and took us to Anchorage Bay where we hiked the Pitt loop and hung out at Mu Te ka Bay soaking in the UV rays. After returning to Kaiteriteri for 6 PM we headed out for a nice dinner at Kai.

Day 10:

Sad to leave Abel Tasman, we headed off towards Havelock & Bleinheim to have some breakfast and hit up some wineries! We went to No1 estate and Cloudy Bay where I had the “Cloudy Bay experience” – which was tasting 4 different wines (PS Adam was driving). The winery was so much fun as they had a soccer ball in the back and tree swings to hang out in. Hoping to cover some ground we continued driving along the east coast as we weren’t sure where we were going to stay yet. Looking up some campgrounds on campermate- we ended up at Alpine Pacific Campground in Kaikoura as they had hot tubs and a heated pool! We met a wonderful family living on North Island and the father had trained in Shoreham by Sea to be a pilot – which is where Adam grew up – such a small world.

Day 11:

Waking up in Kaikoura we headed back towards Christchurch to drop off the camper van. We posted up in our air BNB and got Indian take out to wrap up our last night. My friend whom I worked with in London came by for a visit to meet Kai and it was so lovely to reconnect with her back on a different continent.

Day 12:

Sydney bound just in time for summer!

Overall Recommendations

Don’t book any campgrounds before but use campermate app to plan a general route if you’re limited on time (exceptions: high season gets really busy for the top holiday parks)

I could’ve done another week on the North Island! There is so much to see and do in New Zealand – you’ll just never see it all. I can’t wait to do another campervan trip!

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Brazil

I backpacked Brazil for 2.5 weeks on my way back to Sydney from England over Christmas and New Years. As a Canadian, it was required to obtain a tourist visa to enter.

Arraial do Cabo – 2 nights

Getting there:

I flew into Rio de Janeiro airport then took a shuttle to Arraial do Cabo, which is a little beach town north of Rio. Unfortunately on my journey over I lost my luggage (first time, which is a pretty good track record!)

Accommodation:

We stayed at Books Rehab hostel. Arraial do Cabo is a common relaxation spot after partying in Rio de Janeiro. See link: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Books-Rehab-Hostel/Arraial-do-Cabo/83261

Things to do:

– I joined the hostel on a gorgeous hike along the several cliff points

– Walk the town

– Go to the beach

What I wish I knew/did:

Brush up on your basic Portuguese; it’ll go a long ways. Buzios is another common beach town I would’ve liked to check out.

Rio de Janeiro – 5 nights

Getting there:

– Took the shuttle back into the city and then used Uber all around Rio. Rio is a large city and Uber pool is an affordable way to get around.

Accommodation:

– We stayed at Books Hostel in Lapa, which is where the party tourist area is of Rio. See link: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Books-Hostel/Rio-de-Janeiro/46639. This hostel is a party hostel so prepare for sleepless nights if you choose to stay here.

Things to do:

– visit Copacabana and Ipanema beaches

– see the views up Sugar Loaf Mountain

– visit Christ the Redeemer

– do a Favela tour – it was so cool and interesting !

– see the fireworks off Copacabana

– visit the Escadaria Selaron

– do the night life of Lapa

– have a Caprihini – the cocktail of Brazil

What I wish I knew/did:

We used Uber pool all around Rio and it was a great way to get around the city.

Paraty – 3 nights

Getting there:

– Took the shuttle from Rio to Paraty where the architecture reminds me of Europe.

Accommodation:

– We stayed at Che Largarto Hostel Paraty which is a popular chain of hostels in Brazil. See link: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Che-Lagarto-Hostel-Paraty/Paraty/36408?source=BingPropertyNamesMobHWEN&network=o&sub_keyword=%2Bche%20%2Blagarto%20%2Bhostel&sub_ad=b&sub_publisher=ADW&msclkid=0eec4f1a5d86123b810b14bacf14d3d2&gclid=CImbzqTuw90CFUPSvAod_mQHjw&gclsrc=ds&dclid=CInC_qTuw90CFQa_vQod29AOUA

Things to do:

– this town is so cute and we just walked around it

– took a local bus to Trinidad beaches and they were incredible (did a little hike around to the natural pools)

– wander in and out of the cute shops (try the hot sauces!)

– there were two popular day excursions – waterfalls and a boat trip but we passed on both due to weather and just chilled

What I wish I knew/did:

We visited Paraty twice for cumulative 3 nights and should’ve done Ilha Grande first

Ilha Grande – 4 nights

Getting there:

– travelled by local bus and ferry ride to Ilha grande / you can also take a tourist shuttle in between rather than the local bus.

Accommodation:

– We booked a hostel quite late into the game for Ilha grande so I wouldn’t recommend where we stayed as it was over priced.

Things to do:

– island hopped and visited beaches

– hiked up to the tallest point of the island (unfortunately didn’t get a view as it was clouded over)

– went to the beach

– we got tattoos here

What I wish I knew/did:

We didn’t have the best weather here as it was rainy season so it stormed a lot; I would recommend going to Ilha grande in the months of February / March to get the best weather.

Foz d’Iguazu – 4 nights (2 overnight buses)

Getting there:

– Took an overnight sleeper bus to foz from São Paulo

Accommodation:

– We stayed at the Che Largato Hostel in Foz, which was amazing! See link: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Che-Lagarto-Hostel-Foz-do-Iguacu/Foz-do-Iguacu/87099

Things to do:

– visit Iguazu falls (UNESCO World Heritage Site) from the Brazil side

– visit Iguazu falls from the Argentina side (obtain the visa via the tour)

What I wish I knew/did:

You can also see the falls from Uruguay

France

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I visited France on two separate occasions; each trip was a weekend getaway with ma famille!

Paris

Getting there:

At the time  I was living in Budapest in 2011, so we flew return into Paris.

Accommodation:

We stayed at a little air b n b near the Eiffel Tower

Things to do:

– Do the Eiffel Tower tour

– Wander the Louvre

– Visit Sacre-couer

– Do a day trip to Chateau Versailles

– Do a dinner boat trip down the Seine River

– Drink lots of wine, eat lots of cheese & pastries & bread

What I wish I knew/did:

Public transit is really busy! Just like the London Tube. We did the hop-on hop-off tour and I highly recommend it.

Southern France (Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Monaco)

Getting there:

– My second trip to South of France, I was living in England and flew return to Nice.

Accommodation:

– We stayed at a hotel in Nice and trained from Nice to other cities along the south coast.

Things to do:

– we trained from Nice to Monte Carlo (Monaco) for the day which is actually a different country! This train ride from Nice was approximately an hour

– explored Cannes & Antibes by train- beach hopped, cafes, patios

– visited the cemetery/ top view points of Nice

–  had a beach day in Nice

What I wish I knew/did:

Would’ve loved more time 🙂

 

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Italy

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Italy is a country I will never grow tired of (I came here 3 separate times). Whether it be visiting the northern coastal towns, the canals of Venice, or wine tasting my way through Tuscany, this country is absolutely breathtaking.

Cinque Terre 

Getting there:

We flew into Pisa airport then got the train up to the northern region of Italy known as Cinque Terre (5 coastal towns).

Accommodation:

We stayed here for 4 nights in an Air B n B in La Spezia which is right outside of the 5 coastal towns (Monterrosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore); region is known as Cinque Terre National Park. I can recommend this hostel based on location; see link: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/5-Terre-Backpackers/Cinque-Terre/84472

Things to do:

– Trek through the 5 coastal towns

– Swim on the beach of Monterrosso

– Drink lots of wine, eat lots of pasta, and treat yourself with Gelato everyday

– Take it all in!

Tuscany (Florence, Pisa, Chianti Wine Region, Siena, San Gimignano) 

Getting there:

Flew into Pisa airport and took a train to Florence.

Accommodation:

We based out of Florence and did a day trip covering the Tuscany region. This hostel is right in city center; see link: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Hostel-Gallo-d-Oro/Florence/7602

Things to do:

– Walk around old part of all the towns

– See leaning tower of Pisa

– Go wine tasting in Chianti wine region and stroll the vineyards

– Take in the view of Florence from the Duomo Cathedral

– View Ponte Vecchio bridge

– Eat gelato 3x a day

What I wish I knew/did:

Florence is a brilliant city for art & its museums. If you have time definitely go see the statue of David. I do highly recommend the tour as we got to tour around all of Tuscany – how good is that!?

Venice

Getting there:

From Florence we took the train to Venice which was around 50 euros.

Accommodation:

We stayed in a hotel here but after reviewing the hostels I would recommend: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Venice-Star/Venice/78280

Things to do:

– Hire a boat and ride through the Canals

– Walk around and get lost in the streets

– See St. Marks Basilica & Rialto Bridge

– Go for happy hour and a good meal in the squares

Terracina

Getting there:

Flew into Rome airport and got a bus down to Terracina- an italian beach stopover.

Accommodation:

We stayed in a hotel/guesthouse but unfortunately my memory has gotten away from me  on this beach town so I’m unable to provide an educated recommendation!

Things to do:

– Visit the beaches

– Walk around old town

What I wish I knew/did:

Terracina was a random and spontaneous pit stop we made before Rome for a couple nights. There wasn’t much there but we went to the beaches and couldn’t ask for anything more relaxing!

Rome

Getting there:

Flew into Rome airport from Spain.

Accommodation:

Haha I went here with the girls and we stayed at a hotel called the Prince Inn – a good laugh, but not somewhere I’d recommend. See link for a good hostel:

Things to do:

– Make a wish at Trevi Fountain

– Spend a day at the Colosseum

– Visit the Pantheon

– Visit St. Peters Basilica

– Grab a bottle and sit on the Spanish steps

– Just eat, drink, and walk your way through Rome !

What I wish I knew/did:

Rome is great as it has so much history! We only spent two days there and that was fine for us.

Overall Recommendations:

Italy is amazing with amazing food! Each time I went to Italy I was only there for around 4 days. I would love to go back and do Almafi coast, Positano, Naples and Island of Capri.

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England

brightonEngland livin’ came about to be a pleasant surprise in my life. I had the opportunity to live in a super cute southern seaside town called Brighton for majority of 2017 (April – December). My job also brought me up to live/work in big ol’ London town – a city with never-ending things to do.

London 

Getting around:

Citymapper app is the answer to your prayers to the London tube/buses/overground.

Accommodation:

I lived in New Cross and worked in Soho while living in London.

Things to do:

– Visit the Old Spitalfield Markets & Brick Lane Markets & Maltby Markets

– Go to the Camden Markets and eat, shop & drink

– Walk from Tower Bridge along river thames to London Eye

– Visit Nottinghill suburb and visit the markets

– Go to Hampstead heath pools

– Visit the Museums (British Museum)

– Walk around Soho & Covent Garden / Seven dials area

– Go to Buckingham Palace

– Ride the London Eye

– Walk across Westminster bridge and visit Big Ben

– Take a day trip to Cambridge and go punting

– Walk through the canals into Regent Park & picnic at Primrose Hill

– Go up the Shard to have a bird’s eye view of London

– Have a drink at rooftop of the Madison

– Rent bikes and go through Greenwich

– See a show at theatres (Matilda, Harry Potter, Wicked etc.)

– Visit Harry Potter studios in Watford

– See platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Pancras station

What I wish I knew/did:

London is very very busy but so much fun and there is heaps to do (gigs, music festivals, theatre, nightlife, outdoor movies, resturants, rooftops) – need I say more?

Brighton 

The rest of my time was spent living and working in Brighton/Shoreham-by-sea/Hove, which is located on the south coast of England.

Getting around:

Down south in Brighton – Trainline as well as google maps & stagecoach (buses/transport are privately owned outside of London) were necessary for getting around.

Accommodation:

I lived in Hove which is walking distance to the heart of Brighton.

Things to do:

– Walk down the Brighton pier

– Go for a jog on the seafront

– Have dinner at the Brighton Marina

– Have fish and chips on the pebbled beach

– Explore the North & South lanes (I love love love the lanes!)

– Take a day trip to Arundel Castle

– Hike the Seven Sisters Cliffs hike

– Visit the South downs

– Visit the Indian-Chinese inspired Pavillion

– See the iconic Brighton & Hove beach houses

– See a premier league football game

What I wish I knew/did:

The lifestyle in Brighton is much more relaxed than London. It is also much smaller but I just love living by the sea!

Bristol/Bath

Getting there:

I took the train from Brighton which is about 4 hours. Trains go all over the UK and are usually cheaper if booked in advance. www.trainline.com. Bath is about half an hour drive from Bristol.

Accommodation:

I stayed with a friend here as well as at the Rock N Bowl hostel in the centre of Bristol. See link: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Rock-N-Bowl-Hostel/Bristol/36731

Things to do:

Bristol

– Have ciders – Bristol is known for its cider!

– Walk to the Clifton Suspension Bridge

– See the Bristol graffiti

– Go up Cabot tower for a view of Bristol

– Go to Motion

Bath

– Go to the Roman Bath Spas

– Walk around the town

– See the Royal crescent

Overall Recommendations:

I wish I got the chance to see Cornwall/Devon, Manchester, Liverpool and so much more. Although setting up life here wasn’t the easiest in comparison to Australia – I did grow to love the British culture (bangers & mash, sunday roasts, sweets after every meal, british pubs, and the accent)!

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Morocco

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Marrakech was a quick weekend getaway from England for us. We went in December which is their wintertime. It is very cold in the early mornings and late evenings but during the day the sun did shine and we were able to feel the warmth of the Moroccan sun !

Getting there:

We flew into the Marrakech airport which is 35 minute bus ride to the main square; you can buy a return bus ticket for £1 and it is bus number 19. The bus stop is just outside the airport and drops you off near the Mosque.

Accommodation:

We stayed in Majorelle hostel located right behind the main square – Jamaa El Fna Square for 6 quid/night.  It is definitely what you pay for but was located exactly where  we wanted to be ! And with full days we mainly just crashed there to catch some zzz’s. See link: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Majorelle-Hostel/Marrakech/

Things to do:

– Wander the souks and drive some hard bargains 😉 – love the rugs!

– Do a day tour to the high atlas mountains, berber villages, & try argan oil

– Do a day trip to Ait ben Hoddou (gateway to the Sahara dessert)

– Visit Ben Youssef Madrasa

– Eat at the market in the main square (tangines, couscous, fresh juices)

– Visit La Majorelle Jardins (a blue cobalt French inspired home and garden by Jacques Majorelle and later Yves Saint Laurent)

–  Eat & drink mint tea at the Nomad, Café des Espices, & Le Jardin (all have rooftops with a view and make sure to make a reso!)

–  Ride camels ❤

–  Sign yourself up for a traditional Hammam (you’ll be in for a real treat ;))

What I wish I knew/did:

As I only had a weekend we did it jam-packed however with more time I would’ve loved to do the following:

– Do a day trip to Ourika Valley

– Do a day trip to Inmil Valley

– Visit the Northern part of Morocco and stay at Essaouira beach to escape the madness of Marrakech

– There are a few different options of overnight tours in the Sahara dessert (Merzourga & the Zagoda part) from Marrakech. I recommend emailing contact@marrocostours.com – our tour guide Siad was absolutely amazing and our tour couldn’t have been smoother

– Visit other cities near Marrakech such as Fez & Casablanca

Overall Recommendations:

If you are a female be prepared for the madness that is Marrakech. Dress conservative. Unfortunately we did encounter several forms of harassment throughout just walking the streets. My advice is to just walk away but it is very exhausting and you will notice it right away. Nonetheless I absolutely would go back to Marrakech in a heartbeat. aitben

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Budapest

castleThis city has a special place in my heart because I used to live here in 2011 and was my first time being out of home! I studied abroad here for one semester and truly had the time of my life. It wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies – setting up life here with the language barrier, alone, at 22, with no where to live, wasn’t the easiest task. I also didn’t have a mobile (insane right?) or know one word of Hungarian, but in hindsight this place inspired my passion for travel.

I was also lucky to return to this city this year in 2017 for a quick weekend getaway. It was amazing because I went with a girlfriend I used to live with 6 years ago and we got to see how much the city has changed and also go back to all our favourite places!

This blog post will be structured a little different since I didn’t travel around Hungary, but rather learned the in/outs of all the holes in the walls of this (in my eyes) perfect city.

Getting there:

Just as a heads up the airport is a bit far out of the city. The total journey time by public transport from the airport to the city centre is 45 to 50 minutes. You can use public transport and purchase a single ticket for the bus and metro for 350 HUF each.

Accommodation:

In 2011, I stayed at Colors Hostel Budapest for two weeks until I was able to find housemates and look for an apartment; see link: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Colors-Apartments-Budapest/Budapest/14773?dateFrom=2017-11-22&dateTo=2017-11-25&number_of_guests=2

It is situated on Vaci Utca – which is a popular tourist street and in this hostel I met my two housemates from Belgium.

In 2017, I stayed at The Hive Party Hostel (P.S. it is on top of a bar in the main area of partying so be prepared!); see link: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/The-Hive-Party-Hostel-Budapest/Budapest/96091

And finally! When we found our apartment I lived at 24 Wesslenyi U. which is in the city centre, prime location, and I couldn’t miss enough.

Things to do:

– Walk all around both sides of Buda and Pest (divided by the Danube river)

– Visit Parliament buildings

– See St. Stephens Church

– Go to Margaret Island (on the island there is a 5KM running track along the outskirts that gives you a view of both Buda & Pest)

– Visit Szechenyi thermal baths (this place also turns into a rave)

– Tour Buda Castle

– Trek up Gellert Hill with a bottle of wine at sunset or sunrise for a view of the city

– Go to pub street next to Corvinus University for 1 Litre beers

– Go to Godor and sit outside at the open air bars or visit the non-stops and sit at Deak Ferenc Ter

– Walk along the Danube river and see all the lights in the evening

– Take a river boat cruise (can be dinner or a booze cruise)

– Take a day trip to Lake Balaton in the summertime

Nightlife (insane):

– Go to Corvinteto for Dubstep

– Go to Szimpla bar (this is one of the coolest and most quirky bars I’ve ever been too) – MUST see.

– Go to Morrison 1 on a Monday

– Go to Instance for late night dancing

– Go to Otkert for late night dancing

– Basically anywhere by Wesselyni U. are a ton of bars you can hop and it is so much fun !!

 

Overall Recommendations:

Be prepared for the all the Eastern European Feels!

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Portugal

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Ah this place is a dream! I got to spend my 28th birthday weekend there this year and we had the most amazing weather.

Lagos 

Getting there:

We flew into Faro airport, which is on the southern coast of Portugal and it took about 35-45 minutes drive to Lagos. We hired a rental car from www.rentalcars.com for 4 days and it only costed us about £100.

Accommodation:

We stayed in a lovely air b n b above a bakery (does it get much better than that?) right in the center of Algarve Lagos.  I can recommend a good hostel based on location; see link: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Lagos-Central-Hostel/Lagos/94725

Things to do:

– Walk around old town (love, love, love a small beach town) and do a bar crawl

– Eat seafood, drink green wine, have rose sangria

– Do a boat tour through the rock formations and caves

– Trek along the southern coast to the different beaches (Praia Dona Ana, Praia Do Camilo, just to name a few ;))

– Visit Sagres which is Europe’s most easterly point

– Hire a surfboard

– Sunbathe (this I never get sick of); we also visited Praia da Marinha & Praia de Benagil which were amazing!

What I wish I knew/did:

I always just wish I had more time!

Lisbon

Getting there:

We drove to Sagres for an early (hungover) start to the day and went up along the coast to Lisbon. I definitely wish we had more time and stayed the night in Lisbon as there was so much to see!

Things to do:

– Walk around along the water and in town

– Hike up the old castle

– See Sintra

What I wish I knew/did:

The drive takes around 5+ hours to Lisbon so maybe hire an open top convertible ;).

 

Overall Recommendations:

Ahhh all I can say is I wish I had more time!! I wish I could’ve visited Sintra as well as seen Porto (town north of Lisbon). 100% no regrets about Lagos as I loved the rock formations and sunny south coast weather!

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Croatia

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Dubrovnik – 1 nights

Getting there:

We travelled up by bus from Kotor, Montenegro, which was about 4 hours. There are tons of buses/trains/ferries that go in-between all the cities/towns in Croatia.

Accommodation:

We only stayed here for 1 night as I’ve stayed in Dubrovnik previously back in 2011 for a few nights. The town is very beautiful and scenic. This time around, we stayed at Perak Pero – a guesthouse which is about a 10 minute bus from old town. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Perak-Pero/Dubrovnik/5156?dateFrom=2017-08-26&dateTo=2017-08-29&number_of_guests=2

Things to do:

– Walk around old town

– Eat seafood

– Go on a booze cruise

– Walk from old town and go beach hopping along the coast

What I wish I knew/did:

Dubrovnik is very touristy in high season – June – August as expected. Book in advance if you can.

Hvar – 3  nights

Getting there:

We took the ferry from Dubrovnik to Hvar Island which took around 6 hours. The ferry company we used was  Jadrolinija. It is easy to book walk-on ferry tickets the day before at the terminals.

Accommodation:

We stayed at Youth Hostel on Hvar. It was great and had a pub crawl every night into town. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Youth-Hostel-Villa-Marija/Hvar/40455?dateFrom=2017-08-26&dateTo=2017-08-29&number_of_guests=1

Things to do:

– Visit the different beaches

– Hike up the fortress for a stunning view of Hvar

– Go to Kiva bar, then Carpe diem (by boat at 2 AM)

– Hire a boat for the day and go dock up on the islands/beaches in the archipelago around Hvar

– Visit the shops in old town

– Eat gelato 3x a day

What I wish I knew/did:

Carpe diem 🙂

Vis– 1 night

Getting there:

From Hvar we took a ferry to Vis – couple of hours. We went to Vis to have a nights rest before Split/Ultra music festival.

Accommodation:

We stayed in a private room at Apartments Dilk for 23 euros each. It was the perfect resting place after the parties on Hvar and before Ultra music festival.

Things to do:

– walked around the island and went up to the fortress by foot

– walk the seafront and visit the beaches

– go visit the blue cave

What I wish I knew/did:

The ferries from Hvar to Vis only go certain days so we had to hop onto a tour and paid a little bit more in order to go to this island. Check the ferry schedules to the smaller islands in advance.

I also probably wouldn’t do the blue cave tour as it was very touristy and busy and in my opinion not worth the cash.

Split & Ultra Music Festival – 4  nights

Getting there:

We took the ferry from Vis to Split which was around 3/4 hours.

Accommodation:

The night before the festival we stayed in Split. The hostel was in the center and the lady running it was absolutely hilarious. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Hostel-Split-Mediterranean-House/Split/13436?dateFrom=2017-09-03&dateTo=2017-09-06&number_of_guests=2

We camped at beachville, which is the campgrounds of Ultra Europe, during the music festival. https://ultraeurope.com/

Things to do:

– Dance the night away – the headliners come on at 3:30 AM and the festival ends at 5:00 AM.

– Go to the adventure water park next door to beachville 

What I wish I knew/did:

Beachville camping is far from the stadium of Ultra- 45 minute transportation bus which was killer at 530 AM coming home after the festival. I don’t regret it as we met an amazing group of friends who also stayed in beachville and created a home we called Club 72 :).

Sibenik – 2 nights

Getting there:

We travelled up by bus from Split, which was about 3 hours. We used this cute coastal town as a base to see the Krka National Park, as its a bit closer and less touristy than Split was.

Accommodation:

We stayed at Hostel Splendido which had amazing beds and allowed us to catch up on some sleep after the festival. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Hostel-Splendido-Sibenik/Sibenik/77671?dateFrom=2017-09-03&dateTo=2017-09-06&number_of_guests=2

Things to do:

– Walk around old town

– Go to the beach

– Hike up to the viewpoint of the town

– Walk along seafront

– Can hire a boat here as well and see the archipelago of islands

What I wish I knew/did:

This was a great and less touristy spot than Split to visit Krka waterfalls. The waterfalls are very touristy in general so go early and be prepared!

Plitvice Lakes – 2 nights

Getting there:

We travelled up by bus from Sibenik, which was about 3 hours to Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Accommodation:

We stayed at Plitvice Backpackers. The guy running the place was great. He picks you up from the two bus stations Jezerce or Mukinje and drops off/ picks up everyone into the national park every morning. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Plitvice-Backpackers/Plitvice-Lakes/87098?propNum=87098&dateFrom=2017-09-15&dateTo=2017-09-16&number_of_guests=2#availability

Things to do:

– Spend the whole day at the lakes – there is lots of trails and treks around the lakes/waterfalls

– Outside of the national park there is not much to do – it is very much like cabin/lake life

What I wish I knew/did:

Message me privately about this spot as I have a great recommendation about the lakes I can’t make public known 🙂

Overall Recommendations:

Croatia is absolutely beautiful! I know I definitely didn’t get to see all the towns I wanted to see such as Zadar, Zagreb, and so so much more.

I would recommend hiring a car but the bus systems are also very convenient. It was also helpful to be on foot when booking our ferries between the islands. Since it was high season it would’ve been harder to make ferry reservations with a car.

If I was to do Ultra music festival again – I would’ve hired an apartment in Split to reduce the travel time in/out of beachville camping. Since the headliners didn’t come on until the middle of the morning, it was too hot to sleep during the day. No regrets though, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat!

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Slovenia

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Ljubljana – 4 nights

Getting there:

We flew into the Ljubljana airport which is only 25 minute shuttle ride from the center; there are several shuttle services waiting outside of the airport that can take you to Ljubljana (9 euro) or Lake Bled (another popular spot in Slovenia). Being that Slovenia is a small country you are able to hire a car and drive across/all over it in a few days :).

All trains come through Ljubljana as well from bordering countries such as Croatia/Hungary/Italy/Austria etc.

Accommodation:

We stayed in Hostel 24 located right in Ljubljana. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Hostel-24/Ljubljana/62848?dateFrom=2017-05-02&dateTo=2017-05-05&number_of_guests=2&sc_pos=1

Things to do:

– Hire a car (45 euro/day) and drive to the coastal town of Piran – highly recommend it is incredibly beautiful and warm!

– Hire a car and visit the Alps (Vogel ski resort)

– Visit Lake Bled and walk around it and visit the castle

– Ride the city bikes to Tivoli park & picnic

-Walk across the bridges in Ljubljana and watch sunset from the castle

What I wish I knew/did:

There are buses that go to Piran/Lake Bled/Julian Alps from Ljubljana main center but I recommend hiring a car as it is easy to do and gives you the freedom to stop wherever. From Piran – it is only another half an hour drive through the Slovenian/Italian border to the town of Trieste.

We did not go to the caves as it was very touristy and busy but apparently are the oldest in Europe!

Overall Recommendations:

Hire a car and get off the beaten track! There are tons of coastal towns along the Dalmatian coast I would’ve loved to check out. Slovenia’s landscape is so diverse with the mountains (cold climate) and coastal towns (sunny & hot).

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