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Exploring the mysterious Montenegrin Adriatic Coast

August 17, 2018 in Blog

Montenegrin coast is nestled between Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and Albania and has an unexplained charm and uniqueness. It’s a country of gorgeous sunsets and full of contrast between the mountains and the coastline.  Besides it’s one of the smallest counties in Europe,  this jewel of the Adriatic Sea has many vibrant cities and towns that wait to be visited.

Budva- The town of Budva is surrounded by stunning beaches while the center is ancient looking with stone buildings covered with climbing ivy. It has 2500 years old spirit and during the summer season becomes overcrowded and main Montenegrin party city.

Kotor- The town of Kotor presents the showpiece of Venetian Montenegro and with its narrow streets and squares is the treasure of Montenegrin Coast. Kotor’s ancient city walls stretch for 4,5 km and may be best seen from across the bay.

Herceg Novi- This town stands guard over the Kotor’s Bay and it’s one of the most popular Montenegrin tourist destinations. Its old Bellavista square is the main gathering spot and the perfect place for enjoying late night cocktails.

Tivat- Everyone’s visit to Montenegro wouldn’t be complete without walking through Tivat’s Porto Montenegro. It’s a luxurious platinum-rated marina with countless expensive restaurants and nightclubs.

Petrovac- it’s probably the smallest Montenegrin situated at the end of the Budva Riviera. To be honest, this was the ’quietest’ place among all the places I visited in Montenegro. It has a specific charm and represents a perfect beach holiday destination.

Recent years, the country of Montenegro become a favorite tourist destination for many World famous stars and some of them were David and Victoria Beckham, Naomi Campbell, and many others. It’s a country of 117 beaches, old history, lovely people and definitely deserves to be on your travel list.

Hungary Ozora Festival

August 17, 2018 in Blog

WELCOME TO PARADISE, WANDERERS, AND HOMECOMERS! 

We meet at Dádpuszta, a small town in Hungary in the labyrinth of life at the Ozora Festival, We went there to observe, to grow, to learn, to love and dance and then we return home. For many of us the challenge of the past year was to accept that our individual journeys during the festival if once we embrace a welcome, we also must embrace a farewell. but in between, we are happy that we can share a slice of reality together.

Our journey was long, departing Toulouse, France about 2,400km to paradise. Passing by the north of Italy during a long drive in the night, and then arrived at a beautiful sunrise in the Triglav National Park (TNP) which lies in the Northwest of Slovenia in the Julian Alps. The park combines in its area extraordinary diversity of ecosystems. It covers the sharp high-mountains with its distinctive vegetation and life. We meet friendly environment, on the southern side on some places appears the impact of the sea. Named after the country’s highest peak, Triglav is marked by its nature trails, educational workshops, and wild camping in the heart of a preserved natural environment. 

After a swim in the river and hammock nap; we were ready to depart to the city life in Ljubljana a small town with a population of 278 853 small capital. Ljubljana’s flat terrain, designated bike trails, and car-free center make it a pleasant place to discover by bicycle. You’ll understand why this city was named one of the world’s top green capitals. 

Four hours away from our final destination, we relaxed, and wonder about our arrival. And then I thought when a vision is born, and it comes across a will, probability occurs and only time can stand in the way of a dream becoming real.

Here we are Ozora a small town in the west of Hungary close to the Balaton Lake; known as the Hungarians sea, and finally, we can say that yet another beautiful idea has become reality. 

Ozora festival a valley that it is not a plain party scene, it is a cherished landscape and ever-evolving space; a beloved home for many who have been moved and inspired by its singular hospitality. This year the cooking grove has really come into its own, emerging as a kind of a musical stage too. For a long time the sweet sound of the hang while you are cooking together, the cooking grove and the seven-headed garden has become a full arena for all the senses; smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste. After a shared meal, I headed to a crystal healing workshop in order to shelter from the heat of the afternoon.

We didn’t underestimate the power of the sun during the day, these are the hottest days of the summer the festival takes place the last week of August. The daytime temperature is 35° while the night brings a cool of 21°.  So Keeping our water bottles full,  we wear a hat or whatever you want to put in your head, an umbrella and we stayed in the shade for most of the afternoons.

Later the land becomes sacred, heightened by the things that give life, there are flashes of what’s to come moments of joy; laughter and those millions of conversations. There is a wind blowing all day, it blows you clean, like a wild shower. Sleep is good and deep, I need to start writing, there is no need to push no, I feel, it will come,  so I wonder myself here and there.

On the second evening, a quieter affair was going on, a few of us in the Pumpui stage the music still quieter. Getting lost in the absolute decorations and colors all around, the happy smiles and beautiful faces all sharing the same power of love, admiration, and wisdom. 

And then, the next day, the day that I leave, finally thinking of writing this while Hunn Huur Tu a Mongolian band played their traditional instruments a member of the band playing drums on his knees as I am writing this, people chanting, sleeping as we all realized that the end was close.  walking the vibes, finding new paths, feeling the flow, then we asked questions about our life, the social structure we’re leaving in, our connection to reality and the potential for change in ourselves.

A week has passed by since the gates opened to paradise and the vibes of the Valle settle to a harmony of beats, smiles, hugs.
for me, Ozora means the journey to arrival. Recognize the feeling when your spirit finally arrives. You can spend five days, two days until you stop looking and realize that the magic has grown around you and it expands the minds.

What is it that brings all these spirits together from around the world? What makes this multicultural gathering so attractive? Is the musical sound waves experience? Is it the performance and visual arts? or perhaps is the endless opportunities for self-expression?

When the days of jumping into -party-high have passed, and peace settles on the hearts, you will find that the most impressive phenomenon comes alive, the release of the ego… Everything and everyone vibrates around.
When sharing becomes more important than collecting, when smiles are the language we all speak to each other, it is the moment when a connection forms and we can all feel real and free.

A lapse. A breath, some time passed before I return here again, a few days away from home, back home to the silent countryside in the south-east of France.  

Farewell Ozora, on the road again, last minute change we decided to continue our journey to the South of Austria, perhaps to find some comfort in their peaceful valleys. One cherished night with an Austrian friend, next day direction Vienna we were invited to visit the Calle Libre and Austrian street art festival from the 4th to the 11th of August https://www.callelibre.at/about/, check it out!

Lastly, we crossed the Austrian Alps, Switzerland and a small part of Italy, Long day driving, spending our nights in while camping. We planned to visit some friends in the south-east of France, The Drome-Provencale region that is so called because of the characteristics it shares with the neighboring region of Provence. You will find small traditional villages, quiet roads, and fields of lavender, olive trees, and gentle landscapes.

Back to work and back to see our friends and family, I will post more of my traveling experiences, but since this was the most recent one I felt the need to share it right away!. To share the love and to encourage every single of you to take a small back, choose a destination and go discover the world, do not let fear get on the way, know that we have two polarisations or “duality”. The negative pole is spinning back and forth, and it always wants to intimidate you. The positive pole spinning forth and back, and it always motivates you.

I understood that it begins with us, let all do a little bit more, a little bit harder, let’s use what we are good at and try to make your traveling communities and all communities a little nicer, and then we watch it spread.

Mentawai Islands – Indonesia

August 17, 2018 in Blog

A paradise on earth and the ride of a lifetime: that is how surfers describe the Mentawai Islands, an Indonesian archipelago.

The Islands were separated from Sumatra 500,000 years ago resulting in unique and breathtaking flora and fauna, and although just 130 km away from the main island Sumatra, its people were kept isolated until the 19th century.

Changes came quickly into the island – mainly from tourism, logging, and government attempt to mainstream the local culture, which has separated the people from the jungle.
However, the Mentawai Islands still have one of the globe’s most incredible and best-preserved indigenous culture. Nowadays both indigenous and immigrants speak variants of the original indigenous language, with the majority speaking the Indonesian national language and the minority the Minangkabau language.

The Mentawai people, estimated to be 64,000, still live a somewhat nomadic life at the coastlands and rainforests. The people carry a deep spirituality and have a rich culture: they tend to sharpen their teeth, cover their bodies in elaborate tattoos and live in wooden houses called Uma.

Men are more likely to become hunters of bigger animals- primates, wild pigs and deer, while women and children gather wild foods and may hunt smaller animals. The Mentawai people also keep pigs, monkeys, dogs and sometimes even chickens as pets.

You can get to Mentawai Islands via air or boat from Padang – Sumatra in Indonesia. I would recommend via boat, since there are three ferries that offer you 10 to 12 hours of overnight journey. There is also a speed boat ‘Mentawai Fast’ where the ferry would cost you 250,000 IDR around US$17.00. It leaves Padang to Mentawai from Mondays to Saturdays at 7.00 am local time. If you love surfing or getting to know the indigenous cultures, then head to Mentawai Islands.

by Feri

Glacier National Park – A Slice of Heaven!

August 16, 2018 in Blog

Glacier National Park is situated in the Rocky Mountains of Montana in the US, close to the border of Canada. My husband, my daughter and I drove from Seattle through the scenic highways to Montana, then down to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Many people do not know that you only need one ticket per car which costs $80 to see all the National Parks in the US, valid for one year! Maps are provided and there are visitor centers that have friendly and informed staff.

You can find lodging in the Park itself but you need to book well in advance as it fills up quickly. Since we are big procrastinators, we could not find a suitable Airbnb in the US. This worked to our advantage since we stayed just across the border in Alberta, Canada and were able to also see the Waterton National Park and breathtaking views of the sunset in the countryside. If you decide to go to Waterton, make sure you have a meal at the Prince of Wales hotel which has a spectacular view and friendly staff.

Unlike Yellowstone National Park, you need to hike to get to scenic spots and hidden lakes. The hikes are relatively easy but it’s worth to invest in a good pair of hiking shoes. The east part of the Park is much prettier than the west side – so if you only have a day, it would be best spent on the east side.

There are also water falls in Glacier Park and you can jump into the water from a height so don’t forget your swimming suit if you are interested. There are bear signs everywhere, so if you are going with young children or don’t fancy running into them, be sure to carry a bell that comes with or without a pepper spray!

We were told that 25% of the glaciers have already disappeared due to global warming – they estimate that by 2038 there will be none left if it continues at this rate. So be sure to visit while the glaciers are still there and the water level is relatively high.

The intriguing city of Belgrade-Serbia

August 15, 2018 in Blog

If you were wondering what might be your next travel destination, I want to introduce you to the capital of Serbia-Belgrade. It’s the center of Balkan Culture (Europe), and the place where medieval times merge with ancient history and new age at the same time. The world Belgrade means the White City and since it was destroyed and rebuilt many times, you can see different types of architecture on every corner. Maybe you won’t believe me, but this city has been razed to the ground 44 times and fought over 115 times because of its good strategic location. By walking through Belgrade streets you’ll taste a real cultural mix. Since Serbia was under Turkish arm for more than 500 years, you’ll notice their influence on food, architecture and even language. The fact is that Belgrade has tons of history and you will best see it in Kalemegdan Fortress which was first built in the 2nd century by the Romans. Later, it was built over and over for 19 centuries, and still proudly stands above the city. The naked statue called Pobednik or ’’the Victor’’ overlooks to the confluence of Sava and Danube rivers from the Kalemegdan Fortress and represents a symbol of freedom from many past wars and occupations. Other sights that definitely need to be visited are the old Skadarlija street, Ada Lake, the Mountain Avala in the suburbs of Belgrade, Knez Mihajlova Street, and to have a walk next to Sava river in Sava Mala part of the city. The vibrant city of Belgrade also offers a buzzing nightlife which is often compared with Ibiza. Sounds great, isn’t it? With more than 100 kafanas, water floating clubs, bar and restaurants, you will taste a real carpe diem!

Magical Mekong – Part 2

August 15, 2018 in Blog

There are 24 of us on Toum Tiou II. A family party of Hawaiians, two American couples and a fellow Brit.
The vessel is built to resemble an old Cambodian royal barge. It has two decks of cabins along with an indoor dining area and a shaded top deck where rattan armchairs and recliners surround a small cocktail bar.
Being a small boat, the atmosphere on board is intimate and relaxed: no need to dress up for dinner, no captain’s cocktail party either, save a farewell drink and sing-along on our final evening.
My compact cabin is comfortable, with teakwood twin beds, palm matted walls and a bathroom featuring a powerful colour-mood effect shower.
We spend mornings chilling over coffee on the upper deck, mesmerised by the dreamy views of fishermen in wooden longboats, fierce eyes painted on the boats’prows that aim toward off sea monsters.
Water hyacinths bob gently on the ripples and tiny children wave as they splash in the shallows. Occasionally a brightly painted pagoda is glimpsed through the fretwork of gum trees.
A buffet lunch of local stir fry and soup along with a selection of international salads follows, with afternoons ushering in exciting excursions that are included in the cruise price.

The Island of Skiathos will definitely leave everyone speechless

August 11, 2018 in Blog

Although the Greek Island of Skiathos is the size of 46 sq km, many people decide to return for their holidays year after year for one simple reason- It has the most beautiful landscapes and beaches in the world.
This cosmopolitan island lives from tourism as well as from agriculture because locals produce tasty wine, honey, and olive oil. You’ll feel the smell of Olives and Aleppo pine trees from the first step to this Heaven on Earth, and that’s not all- the island of Skiathos has a crystal-clear sea that almost looks unreal. The word Skia in the name Skiathos means ”shadow” and it perfectly describes its nature that is covered by thousands of trees.
Skiathos is a popular summer resort for Scandinavian, Russian, English and many other holidaymakers. The town of Skiathos succeeded to keep the old traditional spirit although it was under the Athenian, Spartan, Roman, Byzantine as well as Turkish rule. If you were wondering what places you can visit on this gorgeous island, I especially want to mention the Kastro Fortress, The Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria (founded in 1794), and numerous small churches.
Since Skiathos is famous for its marvelous beaches, you definitely need to visit the Koukuraries, Lalaria, Troulos, Achiladies, Maratha, Banana, Xanemos and Vromolimnos beach. Each of these beaches has the unique spirit and magical smell of Aleppo pine woods that surround the whole island. And when the sun goes down, you can enjoy traditional Greek cuisine in one of the tavernas next to the sea, that will wake up all your senses.

Split is a real blend of ancient and modern

August 11, 2018 in Blog

Gorgeous Dalmatian city of Split is a real blend of ancient and modern times. It is located on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea and it’s Croatia’s second largest city. This buzzing city has a rich culture and marvelous architecture. The tourism of Split is very developed and its visitors can enjoy walking the old streets and having a drink at the famous Riva.

Your splendid accommodation can be located in Split’s old or new part of the city. There are plenty of perfect equipped apartments, villas and hotels that are waiting to be chosen. Split weather is very warm in summer and it is one of the sunniest places in Croatia beside Hvar Island.

There are many things you can do in Split. You can visit Marjan’s Hill, art galleries, museums, famous city square, and swim and rest at many beaches of Split.

If you want to get back to 4th century than you should visit Diocletian’s Palace that is the city’s living heart and it is one of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia (since 1979). The palace has built Roman emperor Diocletian and it’s made from white stone of the island of Brač. Within the palace, there are 220 buildings which are homes for about 4000 people. Each of four walls of this palace has a gate named after a kind of metal (The Golden Gate, the Silver Gate, the Iron Gate and the Brass Gate). Peristil (Peristyle) is the central square of the palace, located next to the Silver Gate and has a unique beauty which is later used for theater scenery, works of ancient literature and opera classics. Every year you can see tourists enjoying drinking coffee on the steps circling Peristyle. That is not only the Roman experience but also the Egyptian because Diocletian was a lover of Egypt and put many granite sphinxes from Luxor.

Another great place to visit in Split is The Marjan’s hill and the forest. It is a place for escaping from the Split’s hustle and bustle. It is situated on the hill of the peninsula, at an only 10min walking distance from the city center. Its rich pine forest and unreal landscapes will everyone leave breathless.

The city of Split definitely has a lot to offer and can meet everyone’s needs.

Taste the oriental town of Kusadasi-Turkey

August 10, 2018 in Blog

Let’s continue our trip to Aydin Province of Turkey- the town of Kusadasi. The meaning of the word Kusadasi literally means the Island of Birds since that part of the peninsula resembles the head of a bird. The sunbathed town of Kusadasi has numerous powdery sandy beaches that will provide you with an unforgettable holiday. If you’re the lover of active life, then you’ll definitely enjoy every day spent in this buzzing town. The beach I liked the most is called Ladies Beach, and it was named after the time it was segregated for female bather only. I must admit that this beach is one of the most crowded beaches in Kusadasi, so if you’re not a crowd-lover you should better try to escape it.

Other famous Kusadasi beaches are Diamond beach, Kustur beach, Public beach, Silver sand beach, and Long Beach. It’s easy to reach to any of these beaches by dolmus- Turkish minibus.  Another great thing about Kusadasi is that it offers many restaurants, beach bars, shops, and nightspots. This town definitely doesn’t sleep! If you’re a shopaholic then you’ll love their suq (the Turkish name for a market). There are also three waterparks close by and magnificent historical facilities such as ruins of Ephesus, the Roman capital of Asia, and three Ionian settlements of Miletus (55km), Priene (35 km), and Didim (75km).

If you decide to visit Kusadasi, you need to know that it’s a great base for visiting many other places and even the Greek island of Samos that is just a few minutes across the water. Amazing calcified waterfalls of Pamukkale (220 km
) will leave you speechless which mud is used for skin problems. You’ll see thousands of tourists come here and enjoy bathing in hot Pamukkale’s water and mud.

Bayon Temple, Angkor Wat

August 9, 2018 in Blog

If you asked about the largest religious monument in the world, the answer must be Angkor Wat, and the temple is adorable due to its extensive Bas-reliefs and also for the numerous devatas-guardian spirits-adorning its walls.
Speaking about the cause of this temple name, you will see that Agkor comes from Nagara that mean city or capital, while Wat means temple, so the meaning of Agkor Wat is “city temple”, and it built early in the 12th century for the king Suryavarman II, to be his state temple.
A Portuguese monk called Antonio da Magdalena was one of the first western visitors to the temple at 1586, and he described the greatness of the temple saying, “is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, it has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive have”. However, in the mid-19th century, the temple was popularized in the west, only on the publication of Henri Mouhot’s travel notes.
At the center of this capital city ”Agkor Wat”, a richly decorated and well-known Khmer temple was constructed, and it is called Bayon temple.
The multitude smiling stone faces on the many towers, which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak, are the most distinctive features of that unique temple.