Christmas in Zagreb, Croatia: Celebrating Advent

As the crisp air brightens my cheeks and little puffs of breath escape from my mouth, I inhale the scent of sizzling meat being cooked to perfection. The tantalizing aroma drifts on a light breeze from cheerfully decorated wooden huts and I wonder how many minutes will pass by until we succumb to buying a sausage. Festive lights hang in a canopy over the street, casting a warm glow onto the revelers swaying to the music as they peruse the wares for sale. Although I feel foolish, I can’t wipe the giddy grin from my face. Advent has begun – and there is nothing quite like a European Christmas market to usher in the holiday spirit. With a steaming cup of spiced, mulled wine in one hand and my other tucked into the crook of Kris’s arm, we navigate our way through the merriment as we celebrate the beginning of Christmas in Zagreb, Croatia.

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A Guide to Visiting Prizren, Kosovo

If Prishtina is the modern face of Kosovo, Prizren is a glimpse into the past. The preserved city center is made up of cobblestone streets, ancient mosques, centuries old churches and numerous bridges that for ages have straddled the Prizren Bistrica River. Overhead, a medieval fortress looms on the hilltop, keeping an eye on the city below.

While Prizren’s old historic center is easily navigated, there is limited (and sometimes confusing and/or conflicting) information provided for tourists. To assist fellow travelers visiting Prizren, we’ve detailed a self-guided walking tour (with map and turn-by-turn directions!) and have also included recommendations for food and drink and accommodations. 

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A Guide to Visiting Prishtina, Kosovo

Prishtina, Kosovo (also Prishtinë and Priština) is not a city included on most travelers’ itineraries. It doesn’t rank as a top destination in Europe, Eastern Europe or even the Balkans, for that matter. It held the honor of being the ‘World’s Newest Capital City’ from 2008 to 2011, but even that title was scoffed at by the nations that don’t recognize Kosovo as a country. As Prishtina – population 205,000 – evolves into its new role, there are obvious growing pains. However, propelled by our fascination of former Yugoslavia, we were intent on visiting Prishtina, Kosovo to see the city for ourselves.

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5 Craft Beer Bars in Belgrade, Serbia

Before we arrived in Belgrade, Serbia, we had a few expectations. We expected a busy city. We expected Communist-era architecture. We expected signs in Cyrillic. What we didn’t expect was to find craft beer bars in Belgrade – but we did. We’re not talking about a hard-to-find pub listing just one or two craft beers on their menu. What we mean are bars that are dedicated to the craft beer movement – and we found five of them. In a land of watered down, mass-produced beer, it was like finding the mother lode.

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8 Things to Do in Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade is gritty and raw; a real city. After bouncing through fairytale Slovenia and down the stunning coastline of Croatia, the city of Belgrade was jarring. A stroll down the length of the main thoroughfare is a feast for the senses: honking horns, thought-provoking architecture and the scent of grilled meat mingled with cigarette smoke wafting through the air. We were in awe of the deeply-rooted traditions and how they meshed with quirky new trends. The history of the city both fascinated and perplexed us.

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Visit Plitvice Lakes in Autumn: A Photo Essay

Besides the dramatic coastline, Plitvice Lakes is Croatia’s most well-known natural wonder. The chain of 16 lakes filled with vivid blue water are linked by a series of waterfalls. Streaming, thundering, tumbling and babbling, the flowing water has carved a deep canyon into the limestone rocks. But, what makes Plitvice Lakes extraordinary are the tufa barriers over which the water spills from one lake into the next. The naturally occurring phenomena, in which calcium carbonate is the culprit in a complicated formula {Ca (HCO3)2+water dispersion → CO2+H2O+CaCO3↓ (tufa)}, has been at work for 7,000 years, resulting in mounds of mineral deposits covered in algae and other plant life. In scientific terms, it’s complex, if not a bit drab; to the casual observer, it is quite simply breathtaking to visit Plitvice Lakes.

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23 Holiday Gift Ideas for Travelers

It’s that time of year. The time when the holiday season is around the corner and the pressure is on to pick the perfect presents for family, friends and co-workers. For those searching for the ideal gift for travelers, we are here to help. As full-time globetrotters, we know exactly what travelers need…and want. Whether you are buying for a novice or seasoned wanderer, our list of 23 holiday gift ideas for travelers includes everything from travel gear to stocking stuffers to unique travel gifts!

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Walk from Piran to Strunjan on Slovenia’s Coast

From the tip of the Piran Peninsula, the rocky Slovenian coastline trails east two and a half miles toward a protruding landmass of bulking cliffs covered in trees. The protected natural reserve, Strunjan Nature Park, is rich with diverse geological phenomena; the layers of rock that plummet into the sea formed by the crashing waves, wind and rain. Natural vegetation, as well as olive groves and vineyards, grow on Strunjan, which can be explored by foot on intertwining trails. A shoreline path connects the two peninsulas, providing a pleasant way to walk from Piran to Strunjan on Slovenia’s coast.

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Picture Piran: A Slovenia Photo Essay

Charming. Lovely. Appealing. Enchanting. These are just a few adjectives that could be used to describe the peninsula town of Piran, Slovenia. Picture Piran: the stunning turquoise sea surrounds three sides of the town that is situated between Italy and Croatia on Slovenia’s 29 miles of coastline. Café tables are abundant on the cobblestone streets that weave through the preserved medieval center. Music often floats on the breeze; a nod to Piran-born violinist and composer, Giuseppe Tartini, whose statue stands in the center of the main square that bears his name. Above the red-tiled rooftops, a lone bell tower pierces the sky, while defensive walls rise even higher on the hillside; both built as protective measures. Take a look at the town through our camera lens and picture Piran, Slovenia.

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Slovenian Wine Highway: Cross-Country Wine Tasting

Slovenia is not a big country; it roughly measures the size of the state of New Jersey. Shaped like a chicken facing east, the nation is wedged into the space between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Although it doesn’t have a large landmass, it certainly has diverse landscapes: towering mountains, crystal-clear lakes, vibrant and historic cities, a dramatic coastline, massive caves, wide open farmland and hundreds of vineyards.

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The country’s small size coupled with ample wineries inspired a journey; a cross-country wine tasting adventure. We were invited to join Find Eat Local and Savor the Experience Tours on an epic one-day, three-winery expedition beginning on Slovenia’s eastern border with Hungary traveling 185 miles across the country to the western border with Italy. (Yeah, guess how long it took us to accept that invite!) On a trail that we dubbed the Slovenian Wine Highway, or SLO Wine Highway for short, we set out on an overcast day for an unforgettable ride across the length of Slovenia.

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