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How to avoid any extra costs at Plitvice Lakes

First of all, I want to get things straight and just say that this is not a post to scare you off from visiting one of the most magical national parks IN THE WORLD, but merely a heads up on the fines and extra costs that may come from your visit (you can thank me later). 

The DON’TS of Plitvice Lakes

  1. Don’t go off the path – you will get fined and it’s actually very dangerous, believe it or not (take it from the girl who almost fell down a 10 metre gap in the ground to try and get a better shot of a waterfall. I didn’t think it was dangerous at all until my Dad was yelling his face off at me. Thankfully I listened to him).
  2. Don’t feed the fish – you will also get fined.
  3. Don’t go between 10am and 2pm – the crowds become unbearable and really detract from the beauty of the place.
  4. Don’t wear open toe shoes – it can get quite swampy along the paths, especially after rain.
  5. Do not bring a pram – not only will it be a big inconvenience for you with all of the steps, but it will be for the rest of the crowds too (I did almost fall off the boardwalk and into the water because somebody was having struggles with getting their pram up the steps. True story. Just don’t do it).
  6. Don’t expect everyone to be respectful. People come here in a rush and often have a time limit, especially if they are on a tour.
  7. Don’t try and do the whole park in one day. Obviously if this is your only option, then it’s totally doable, but you will get so much out of Plitvice by spending two days there when it’s not busy.
  8. Don’t try and catch the boat across the lake during the middle of a day in summer – you could easily be waiting in the sun for an hour and a half.

The DO’S of Plitvice Lakes

  1. Do come to entrance two – they have stands selling fresh berries as you enter the park. It’s the perfect snack and energy kick for all that walking you will be doing inside the park.
  2. Do split your visit over two days.
  3. Do bring water and snacks – the prices are severely inflated inside.
  4. Do arrive for either the morning or afternoon when there are no tours around.
  5. Do start at the third parking area, especially if you don’t fancy walking up hill.
  6. Do take hundreds upon hundreds of photographs. This place is seriously unreal and deserves to be shared with all of your family and friends back home.

All the love,

Soph xo

Plitvice Lakes

Photo Diaries: Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

It’s no wonder Plitvice Lakes attracts up to a million visitors every year with its impeccable natural beauty. The Croatian UNESCO site is almost too good to be true, with 16 large lakes that cascade off into hundreds of rivers and streams, creating a sight which I once thought I could only dream of. Gaining access isn’t hard, but it does come at a cost, the first being the park entrance fee and the second, and ultimately the least appealing being the influx of tourists wanting the exact same as you – a piece of serenity and some beautiful photographs to make everyone back at home green with envy.

What makes Plitvice Lakes above every other of its kind is the exceptional man-made boardwalk that serpentines around the soft flowing water allowing intimacy with nature in a way that’ll truly make all of your senses thrive. Instead of just getting a look from above, you can walk all the way down and alongside the lakes, fully immersing yourself in what truly is a magical place.

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Is walking the walls of Dubrovnik worth the price?

Dubrovnik DubrovnikI came to Dubrovnik knowing that it was probably going to be the most expensive part of my travels, and boy was I right. In fact, the amount of money spent here was basically doubled of what I spent in parts of Slovenia, so even though it was expected, it still hit very hard, and even more so when we came to looking at the costs to walk the walls of Dubrovnik. I always think that the best way to get a feel for a town is from above, whether it be from a viewpoint or in most European countries, the town walls. From the first look, Dubrovnik seems quite small and compact, with dozens of cobbled lane ways to wander along. For me, it was something that could be seen and ticked off the bucket list in just a matter of a few hours. Little was I wrong. With the temperatures peaking 40 degrees in the middle of the day, we decided it would be best to escape the midday scorcher and get up and moving along the walls by 9am. From the accessible forts with super impressive views to the well maintained pathways and steps, the walls of Dubrovnik are an absolute must do and you can ALMOST see why it costs what it does. Not only do you get a bird’s eye view over the rusted orange roofed old town, but you also get a stunning look out over the Adriatic Sea. Even though we did try and escape the heat, it was still very hot and sweaty from above, which is why there are multiple cafes along the way offering (once again, expensive) freshly squeezed orange juice, cocktails and ice-creams, all to quench that thirst.

So here we go, for one entry, the cost is…*drum roll* 120 Kuna ($25-Australian). It’s really not that bad when you put it into perspective, but for a student traveller it definitely exceeds the daily budget. Just be careful though, the ticket is NOT for one day. It is one entry. Many people find a spot along the way that they like and venture down to see it from eye-level. Be wary that if you do this, your ticket will no longer be valid for another entry so it’s best to take a photo, remember some landmarks and return once you have finished the walk. I will let my photos do the rest of the convincing…

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Why Zagreb SHOULD be on every Croatian adventure

I definitely wouldn’t call myself a city girl, it’s just not me. Yes, glistening lights do make me as excited as a kid in a lolly shop (which is definitely an understatement), but I am at my happiness when I am surrounded by trees and immersed in nature which is why it came to a shock at how well and truly I fell in love with Zagreb. Most people tend to either a) avoid Zagreb at all costs as they think it’s not worth the journey from the coast b) use it is a travel hub to get to the next destination or c) just don’t know that such a place even existed. Trust me, I was sitting around the c mark before I began researching my time in Croatia. I certainly wasn’t looking forward to my three days in Zagreb, but by the end of day 1 I wish I had room to extend my stay. By the end of this post, I hope to have you convinced about travelling to Zagreb and spending a lot more than the day or even the night there.

ZagrebWho doesn’t love a colourful town square?

 Zagreb flowers For just a few dollars you can grab a bouquet of handpicked flowers from the markets. Brighten somebodies day! 

 

Zagreb Sassy, but very friendly locals that love getting their photo taken

 

Living Walls See one of the most beautiful living walls that I have ever witnessed. 

 

ZagrebUse the gorgeous pastel coloured buildings for Instagram worthy photo back drops.

 

_MG_7824 Go to the markets and buy some fresh fruit for your breakfast – these cherries were so juicy! 

 

_MG_8019For the pleasant surprises tucked within the city. You can grab a drink inside Strossmartre where you will be surrounded by some whacky art, live music and a view over the city to tie it all together.

  FoodieTo have mouth watering food like this Mushroom dish that will leave you wanting more (I came back three times)

 

Museum of broken relationshipsTo finally be able to relate to a museum (well, maybe) with a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships

 

Cathedral For awe dropping architectural beauty like this gorgeous Cathedral 

Croatia For cute handmade souvenirs so you can be constantly reminded of how incredible your travels in Zagreb were

 

_MG_7915 Experience street busking being taken to a new extreme

 

_MG_7908 See the Solar System (in cement/miniature form) 

 

Art To snag yourself, or a friend a fine piece of art for their wall

 

Zagreb & wash it all down with a glass of Croatian wine on one of the many pedestrian streets 

Top foodie delights in Split

One thing I have discovered about Croatia is that I am not a big fan of the food. I would like to think of myself as some sort of budget gourmet, health foodie and Croatia really doesn’t hit my palette nor cater for my budget. It wasn’t until I came to Split that I basically had love at first bite. For that reason, this blog post is dedicated to those gourmet bites, delicious green smoothies and possibly the best ice-cream that I have had (maybe with Italian gelato being the ONLY exception).

Toto’s Burger Bar: This independent burger bar is absolutely killing it! After only opening their doors to the public in April, 2016, Toto’s is ticking all of the boxes. With plenty of juicy burgers, Instagram-able salads and noodle box’s all starting from just 50 Kuna (approximately $10 – Australian) you can be sure to find something that will leave not only your stomach extremely satisfied, but your bank account too. For just an extra 12 Kuna’s you can upgrade to a combo meal which includes a side of chips and a small drink of your choice. Now, not only do they have delicious lunch and dinner meals (which are very vegie friendly), but they also have wholesome cakes and slices as well as detox water and green smoothies. I really do think that there is something for everyone. Just when you think it couldn’t get better, Toto’s also has a tourist company that is just two doors down from the burger bar and if you manage to keep safe hands on your receipt then you are entitled to 10% off their tours. From the funky interior, to the friendly and down to earth staff, Toto’s has been an absolute highlight of my food experience, not only in Split, but in Croatia and I couldn’t recommend this place highly enough.

Totos burger barThe very tasty chicken burger that comes with mushrooms, salad and a hot mango sauce. Mmmm.

Luka Ice-cream and Cakes: This was my go to after meal delight to satisfy my slightly sweet tooth. Located in the heart of the old town, you can almost always expect there to be people queueing up for this heavenly treat. From probably the best watermelon gelato I have ever tasted to creamy concoctions like dried fruit and nut with whipped butter cream and lavender and honey, it is almost certain that there will be something to suit all taste buds, and for just 9 Kuna a scoop, it’s an absolute bargain. I never got round to trying their cakes (so disappointed in myself) but from what I had saw, they looked scrumptious.

IcecreamMy first scoop of the day – Watermelon Sorbet. So refreshing that I came back for more a few hours later.

Kokolo Juice and Smoothie Bar: I have a very serious, but healthy addiction to green and all natural smoothies. For the past three weeks of travel, I have been struggling to find a singular place that will do a green smoothie without costing me an arm and leg, and here it is. Not only do they do superb smoothies but they also have a rocking atmosphere to enjoy it all in. Situated off the promenade and just inside the town walls, the open seating in the square allows you to enjoy the slow paced life of Split, and get some serious people watching done. To accompany this, they always have some fresh tunes playing in the background and even though a lot of the seating is from recycled pallets, it’s comfortable enough to spend at least an hour there. The added bonus to Kokolo, is that they serve alcoholic beverages as well, and to think it couldn’t get any better…they have 1 Litre cocktails starting from just 120 Kuna. Don’t mind if I do.

Kokolo

Have you been to Split? Whats your favourite places to grab a bite to eat? I’d love to check them out next time I find myself around. 

 

From a very satisfied traveller,

Soph

Why you shouldn’t go to Sarajevo via Slavonski Brod

For what I thought was going to be a very cruisy and relaxing day of travelling, turned out to be quite an intimidating and uncomfortable experience. The first 5 hours was just fine (apart from that I underestimated how long it was going to take me, meaning that I missed out on breakfast. No breakfast = hangry Sophie). Never the less, I got to Slavonski Brod, safely, with ease and in high spirits that I would have a café to sit in, munch away at some food and connect to some Wi-Fi for the next 5 hours before my bus to Sarajevo was to arrive. Little did I know, that this café was something I could only dream about. After stepping foot onto the train station, I knew this was practically going to be impossible but I had never expected to feel so uncomfortable and targeted. From the smashed windows, rubbish scattered on the floor and various glares from the homeless men, I thought key word, thought that the bus station could only be better. Wrong. Located about 100 metres away, the bus station had a lot more people around due to the bar that most elderly men seemed to flock to for a midday beer. Although before I start a rant, I think it would be a lot easier to list the reasons in bullet points on why you SHOULDN’T GO VIA SLAVONSKI BROD when travelling to Sarajevo rather than write an essay on how horrible it was.

  • First of all, the female to male ratio was about 1:15, so the vibe that was sent off was that a young female is a rarity in that area, meaning that looking at her up and down is totally acceptable.
  • I tried to sit down at the bar to order a coffee so I could connect to Wi-Fi. In the 5 minutes that I was sitting down, I had two men ask where I was going, how I was getting there and what time…a bit too curious maybe? Then another that said he could drive me 30km out of town because then it would be closer for me. Yeah, I am right thanks. Safe to say, I used the silence as a big opportunity to escape.
  • There aren’t a lot of connecting busses to Sarajevo. I had to wait just over 5 hours for mine, meaning a lot of wasted time. From what I had been told, there are three busses daily, one around midday, another at 7:10pm and the final one at 10pm.
  • If like me, you didn’t purchase tickets online prior to travels then you will need to get currency out. There is a cash machine around the corner but with just my luck, it didn’t work. So I had a make a little bit of a detour to a nearby shopping centre and due to the lack of knowledge with conversions I had to do this twice as I didn’t get enough money to allow some food, drinks and a ticket.
  • For 5 hours of waiting, they don’t give you much option for food. There is a café/bar located at the bus station but they don’t serve any food just coffee’s and alcoholic beverages. Instead, there is a fast food store around the corner selling hamburgers but due to my very picky taste buds and dietary requirements this didn’t even come up as an option. I walked about 300 metres down from the station to get to ‘Villa’ a supermarket that also had a café inside it. I stocked up on some very unlike breakfast/lunch options (Harribou lollies, a banana and some Paprika chips) and made my way inside the café for a coffee and some Wi-Fi!
  • If you have luggage that needs to be stored under the bus, it will cost you an extra 8 Kuna’s. Although this isn’t much once you convert it to Euro’s it does seem to be a bit of a scam.

Slavonski Brod

So if I have any advice for you, just don’t do it, unless your connecting bus is within the hour. It’s not worth the savings. If you decide to book in advance, there are relatively cheap flights available or even a direct Eurolines bus, which somehow didn’t make it up as an option until I was looking at other ways to try so I could try and get out of Slavonski Brod faster.