Fresh air. Clear water. Green forests. Towering mountains. Wide pastures. Deep gorges. Flourishing nature. Lake Bohinj is uncomplicated and raw; she’s the girl next door that doesn’t have to dress up or put on make up in order to attract attention. Lake Bohinj is a postcard-picture scene, naturally designed in hues of unbelievable blues and shades of intense green. Cradled in the Julian Alps, the glacial lake is watched over by the mountain peaks that rise around it and is protected within the boundaries of Triglav National Park.
My desire to visit Vietnam was ignited the first time I glimpsed a photograph of Halong Bay. It countered the image of Vietnam I had conjured in my head; the one where chaotic streets are overcrowded with motorbikes and stifled with pollution. The picture of Halong Bay showed a different scene entirely – one of tree-covered karst mountains rising from an azure sea. I was intent on traveling to Vietnam just to see Halong Bay with my own eyes. I didn’t know it then, but my expectations would be surpassed when we actually experienced the UNESCO World Heritage site on a 2-night Halong Bay cruise.
Croatia’s calling. Croatia keeps calling. In nearly three years of full-time travel, we’ve followed a path that has led us back to Croatia five times. We’ve swam in the sea along the Dalmatian Coast, sampled culinary treasures in Istria, gazed at the waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes, felt the buzz of urban city life in Zagreb and ventured into the less-visited terrain of Osijek-Baranja in the Slavonia region.
We’ve seen more of Croatia than most tourists, yet we continue to be lured back to the country by the diverse and picturesque landscapes we have yet to discover and the warm and welcoming people we know we’ll meet there. In 2017, we’ve zeroed in on three cities in Croatia to visit: Stari Grad, Makarska and Ston.
Packed with iconic sights, an incredible history and a lively nightlife, Budapest, Hungary certainly knows how to entertain its guests! Whether you’re a nature lover or admirer of architecture, there to marvel at monuments or partying the night away, on a low budget or seeking a luxury escape, you can find what suits your style in Budapest. We think the city is worthy of more than just three days, but our Budapest 3-Day Itinerary is designed for the visitor who is short on time, but wants to maximize Budapest sightseeing and experiences.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.