Tuesday, 25 August 2015

ICELAND in a week for only 100€. Who said Iceland is expensive?

Seljalandsfoss. The most beautiful waterfall in Iceland in my opinion 

On the ring road in 6 days in Iceland
Exactly 6 nights is what I had in Iceland. I knew I was cutting it pretty short with my ambitious plan to go on the ring road…but it was already in my head and no chance getting it out.  

SECRETS OF THE ICELAND RING ROAD
A full loop around Iceland on the Ring road - Route 1 is 1340km (830 milkes)— is the only route that circles the island. It feels like someone put the most amazing natural phenomenon I’ve seen around the world in a blender: volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, icebergs, geysers, geothermal pools…all crammed onto this island. If you are not that impressed by one, you are just a few hours from the next. And you cannot do it by bus…the buses don’t go to the sights..thy only go from town to town…unless you are on an organized tour but that’s is not something that I would ever do anyways.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

MACEDONIA. Ohrid and Lake Ohrid.

Lake Ohrid
Ohrid and lake Ohrid
Going to Macedonia was never on my plan. Been there before (only to Skopje though) and thought I wouldn’t have time on this trip to do it (only 3 months around the Balkans). But….I was just on the other side of lake Ohrid in Pogradec in Albania and thought I can’t just not go to Macedonia as literally you cross the border walking. Well, I did it on a bike.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Albanian Riviera. Only for the brave or just keep it to yourself?


Gjipe beach
Drymandes beach
The route
Not so long ago, when the Balkans were considered an "only for the brave" travel destination, only the bravest of the brave trickled into Albania. It is not gonna be off the beaten track for much longer so make sure it gets on top of your bucket list!


"Ask anyone to give you their list of "paradise" destinations and Albania is probably one of the least likely places to crop up. But as I drop my bags, kick off my flip-flops and dive into a turquoise sea, the "P" word is the only way to describe what I'm seeing" by Matt Carroll.

I divided my Balkan tour into two parts – first one going south from Serbia to Greece all inland and non-coastal areas of the Balkan countries and the second one starting from Saranda, Albania and Corfu Greece and going north the coastal road. After exploring the interior of the country it was time to see the Albanian coast or as they call it the Albania Riviera. 
The Albanian Riviera stretches nearly 300 miles from Vlore down to Butrint, forming one of the last stretches of unspoilt shoreline in Europe. Around almost every corner there's a strip of empty sand that is still untouched by invasion of the package holiday hordes. Yet…I’m sure it is about to change pretty soon…The road is winding and you have to take it slowly but the views that reveals at every turn are just breathtaking.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

CORFU in 4 days. Green and hot.



August 2nd 2014

The island of Corfu in the north-western corner of Greece , or Kerkyra (ker-kih-rah) in Greek is one of the greenest. With more rainfall than any other island there is a variety and abundance of plant life that makes this Ionian island in combination with its charming architecture and hospitable people a great place to visit. Beaches with sometimes oppressively thick development punctuate the entire coastline. But if you have someone to guide you, you can still find some secluded beaches far away from the crowds. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

ALBANIA. THE INLAND.THE NORTH, LAKE OHRID AND BERAT

Komani lake, North Albania
Lake Ohrid
Albania may not be on top of your list at the moment but push it up there... The country is still a virgin in the sense that humans have not interfered in nature much. And it is not as popular to tourists as its neigbours Greece and Montenegro. People are still genuinely curious to talk to you and know why you chose their country and are happy to answer all your questions. They don’t want to sell you anything, not yet…And you are not looked at as a walking dollar. Reminded me of what Bulgaria was when I was growing up – no resorts or shiny hotels, lots of wild beaches and camp sites, of course, really bad roads and poor infrastructure but people were much nicer to each other. The poorer, the nicer. Much less to lose, much more to give. So please, hurry up to see one of the few unique places in Europe left…I give it maximum 2 years and all that will change. The big corporations would bring their cranes and excavators to “develop” the country and as a result people would realise that they could actually make money instead of being so nice.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

AUSTRALIA. EAST COAST


Not my first but almost (contacts with a surfboard).
On 26th of Feb, after all the hassle getting my visa, I finally made it to Australia. Landed in Brisbane, quite late at night. It took less than 30 seconds to pass the immigration (I was expecting to go through all the questioning again) and my luggage didn’t get checked (probably because I said NO to everything…although I had spices in my bag and my hiking shoes were quite muddy). Andrew (our host from CouchSurfing) and my friend Pesho came to pick me up at the airport and we went straight to the house and bed. Although we stayed awake for a while, as we had to catch up for the 3 weeks Pesho spent in Oz and I was in NZ. I missed my flight to Cairns because of my Australian visa so Pesho was 3 weeks ahead of me, he did the stretch between Cairns and Brisbane which I missed. That means I didn’t get to scuba dive at the Great Barrier Reef :(.

Monday, 12 January 2015

KOSOVO. A newborn country


  
A self explanatory part from the "NEWBORN" sign in Pristina.            And Peja of course
In Prizren
Kosovo is not on anyone’s bucket list! There is very little known about the country and I was not an exception to the rule. 
It is the youngest country in Europe, born in 2008 after proclaiming independence from Serbia. Serbia rejected this declaration. Countries including the US, Japan, Australia, NZ and most of the European Union sided with Kosovo, acknowledging its independence; many countries, including China and Russia, did not.
With about 93%-96% of Kosovo Albanians in the country  (depends on the source of information), it has almost nothing to do with Serbia in my opinion. I recommend to anyone going to Kosovo, to spend some time with locals (both Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs). You might hear different versions of the same story but that is normal for such a conflict zone. I am not saying that what you are going to hear is nice or a fairy tail like. Actually quite the opposite, it is mind boggling. But it is the reality and it happened in Europe, not long ago taking much more victims that any other terrorist attack today.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

MONTENEGRO. BLACKMOUNTAIN. CRNAGORA. ЧЕРНА ГОРА


One of the few not crowded beaches in Montenegro...I am not saying it easy to find them but they do exist!!
Inside the Kotor´s city walls

Saturday, 13 December 2014

KOTOR. Laundry, shutters & wires


Kotor, Montenegro is one of the most beautiful towns in the Balkans. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the old city was built between the 12th and 14th centuries and is filled with medieval architecture and historic monuments. Known for its beautiful bay, the maze of cobbled streets, lovely antique shops and plenty of cozy restaurants, within the city walls you discover beauty at every step. 

But I was very impressed by something else you come across at every pace: the colourful display of laundry hanging from the windows, nicely blended with electric lines also meandering between the buildings. Those views are not that uncommon I know, I´ve seen it often in medieval towns across Europe. Nevertheless, in Kotor all the streets are so narrow and space is so limited that it is the only possibility to dry your laundry. And the strange thing is that is not eye disturbing at all, it is beautifully harmonized with the facades and wooden shutters.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA. TOGETHER BUT DIVIDED

Mostar, Ready to jump
The division was the result rather than the cause of the war. 

I have to admit I was very ignorant of what happened in the territory of our Western neighbor back in the 90s. Maybe I still am, 3 months are clearly not enough to understand something so complicated…
Country of 3 ethnics, 3 religions and rivers of blood during the war. 
Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs who were school friends could no longer be friends. Mixed ethnicity families were confused and displaced; where were they to go? Should they separate for their own safety? Where ethnicity and religion meant nothing in the former Yugoslavia, it now means everything. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Leaving America To Find Freedom

A guest post by Ken, an American living on the south coast of Turkey and blogging at www.southcoastofturkey.com

"I have had a vision. In this vision the white man is on a super highway to where he knows not. I have seen the end of that highway and it makes me shudder."  John Fire Lame Deer, Lakota Sioux - Seeker of Visions.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

SARAJEVO. LIFE AFTER WAR.


Bosanski caj. Bosnian tea (Black tea, cinnamon, clove)
When we are still new to travelling, we would find ourselves admiring an old church, strange architecture or a beautiful landscape…I still do it…but it doesn´t bring the same emotions that it did at the beginning . So many waterfalls and sunsets, so many jungle trips, tons of hikes and more than 80 countries visited…
We start to take all the beauty for granted and it´s not as exciting anymore. Then we try to go off the beaten track and search for the roads less travelled. But after a while even that starts to lose its charm and feels superficial. We want to experience something that would touch our hearts and make us feel something! That´s how I felt in Sarajevo. I felt drawn to hear more, to ask many questions, to speak to everyone who would want to speak to me! It hit me massively. I was swept away by all the emotions I was capturing, not only in Sarajevo but in whole Bosnia & Herzegovina.
 It´s not just the beauty of the Old town, the bullet holes all over the city or the whole” Sarajevo under siege” thing that has struck me that much.  It´s the people that make the city so special and their way of greeting everyone who comes to visit, their pain and hardiness. Sadness and pride, wrapped in warmth and mystery are distinctive features of its inhabitants. It´s difficult to describe it but all the visitors feel it. And that yearning they have to move on and leave the war in the past is so massive but the war is inescapable and constantly tied to the reputation of the city.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

SERBIA. MY LONG UNKNOWN NEIGHBOUR



BELGRADE
If you are really really looking for hidden gems in Europe, do not miss the capital of ex-Yugoslavia. It is not as popular as Florence or Munich but it is backpacker´s paradise. The city is almost 2 million people and it growing bigger and bigger on budget travellers. I got there when EXIT festival was happening next door in Novi Sad so the city wasn´t that crowded but still...I was very impressed by the amount of hostels that I saw around the train station, literally at every corner. Bars, clubs, city tours...cheap food and drinks are some of the attractions in the city. 

Saturday, 25 October 2014

SHARING THE LOVE FOR BULGARIA

                          
GUEST POST FROM MARIA
Maria is a travel blogger from Bulgaria. She blogs at Travelling Buzz where she is trying to prove it is possible to keep a full time job and to get short travel breaks to dream destinations. She also focuses on budget trips and experiences. Follow her journey!



You won’t believe how beautiful Bulgaria is... 
                                                                                                 …unless you see it with your eyes.    

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

THE BALKANS. EUROPE´S FORGOTTEN CORNER BUT IS IT REALLY?


One more classic in the Balkans....not the foot of course
The Balkan Peninsula has always been a crossroads of cultures. It is still so hard for some people to grasp, the unusual mix of ethnicity, nationality and religion in this part of the world.  Lots of people only relate the region to the Yugoslavian war in 90s or to Kosturica’s films and gypsy life. There is so much more than that! 

My route around the Balkans in less than 3 months
Born and raised in Bulgaria, I was too busy exploring much more remote and “exotic” countries to pay attention to what was happening in my homeland.  And somehow I´ve never been anywhere in the Balkans. 

Monday, 6 October 2014

SAILING IN FRENCH POLYNESIA. SOCIETY GROUP. PART 2

Hiking to Mt Aorai
Bourayne bay in Huahine island (Society group)

SOCIETY ISLANDS

TAHITI  is the largest and highest island of the Society island group and the whole French Polynesia. 
The mountainous interior is adorned with deep valleys, clear streams, and high waterfalls. The coastal lands, edged with a rugged coastline, are home to fields of tropical flowers and most of the island's population. I thought it was a combination of Marquesas and Tuamotus but no one else agreed L.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Greece on my birthday. Thessaloniki, Meteora, Halkidiki


Meteora
Mermaid carved on the rocks. Kavourotripes, Halkidiki
Kavourotripes, Halkidiki, second leg

I have always hated my birthdays!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

JERUSALEM AND RAMALLAH. Arabs and Jews. Opposing but similar. Together but divided

It may be called the City of Peace, but no other city has been more bitterly fought over than Jerusalem.
The Wailing Wall: Like everything else in Israel it is divided in two: men on the left, women on the right
Jerusalem is a divided city in a divided land. And at its heart, is the Old City, itself divided into Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Armenian quarters.
It is home to Judaism's holiest site, Islam's third holiest (after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia) and the spot where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified. Control of the area is one of the toughest issues facing anyone trying to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
I have seen young men, one Jewish, other Muslim talking in the friendliest possible way and saying a goodbye with a hug but .. relations are not often so cordial.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Chasing my ride through Israel to retrieve my camera


Tiverias and Sea of Galilee
When I was in Cartagena, Colombia, a year ago, I went with a group of backpackers to Playa Blanca, where we stayed for a couple of days! One of people was Uria, an Israeli guy, a bit different from the regular Israeli crowds, interesting and easy to talk to. The second night on the beach while having dinner, just by chance, Uria was sitting next to two brother from Palestine! And all three of them were drinking beers together and there was no sign of hostility. It was pretty interesting to follow their conversation and see how despite the conflict and nationalities, we are all human after all.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

ISRAEL. TEL AVIV, DEAD SEA AND EIN GEDI. SO DIFFERENT FROM THE MEDIA IMAGE

Floating in Dead Sea
December 2013

Israelis are if not the most, one of top 3 most hated nationalites for travellers. I remember in South America even seeing signs in front of hostels "NO ISRAELIS"! They are usually pretty young, travelling in big groups and knowing nothing about life, sharing and respect to others. It is understandable considering that the majority do their gap year after the army, so they never shared flats, studied and travelled before. And 3 years in the Israeli army (2 for girls) could be quite exhausting (in any possible sense). That´s why I didn´t have big expectations from the country or at least the people. And that was my biggest surprise! Everyone is so nice, despite the religion and colour, also very generous and helpful!

Monday, 30 June 2014

NARA. In the shadow of Kyoto.



Nara, Japan’s ancient capital, has long been in the shadow of Kyoto. Yet, it deserves the attention of tourists who are visiting Kyoto or Osaka. It predated all other cities in Japan. It’s a more intimate peep into the old Japan. From Kyoto or Osaka, Nara is a quick 40-minute train ride. It can be explored on a day and better seen on foot.

Monday, 23 June 2014

STOP SIGNS AROUND THE WORLD



I have always found stop signs fascinating! Even when I was a little girl in my hometown in Bulgaria! I still remember first time I saw it...I was in the car in front of my grandparent’s house and the sign was only a few meters away. I asked my parents what GTOR means. That’s how STOP would sound (well, kind of) when you only know how to read Cyrillic alphabet and you are 6 . We use Cyrillic alphabet in Bulgaria (comes from Bulgaria by the way!) but we have the regular STOP signs so no wonder a little girl who just learnt how to read found it difficult to understand. I remember my parents laughed a lot!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

KYOTO IN COLOUR


Autumn in Kyoto
Kinkaku-Ji or Golden Pavilion
Kyoto is the Japan you may have imagined - magical temples and Zen gardens, colourful Shinto shrines and elegantly dressed geisha flitting between wooden tea houses. I read it somewhere: Kyoto is the Japan of the past and Japan of the imagination. And it is so true, I found here everything I had imagined I would see in Japan. It wasn´t Tokyo or Osaka that impressed me in Japan, it is Kyoto!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

PERUVIAN JUNGLE. Going to Iquitos

On a cargo ship to Iquitos
Goal: Iquitos - the largest city on earth that can only be reached by boat or plane. Coming from Trujillo, I was planning to spend 2 days in Tarapoto, another jungle town which has lots of waterfalls, rivers, lagoons, rafting, hikes...so lots to do here.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

LIEBSTER AWARD


I have just been nominated for the Liebster award.
This is a virtual award given by other bloggers, but it also comes with 10 questions from those that nominate you or award you with the Liebster.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

FOUR COUNTRIES IN 4 DAYS. One thing in common: RAIN

 BELGIUM, GERMANY AND FRANCE

Brussels
What would be the common thing if you got to Belgium, Germany and France in May? I’m telling you it’s the rain and the grey sky.
I left sunny Barcelona on Friday morning, hoping to spend a nice weekend with my friend Velina who lives in Brussels but alas! Wasn’t meant to be! It rained almost all the time. For someone who hates umbrellas I spent a pretty good amount of time holding one! The sun was popping up every now and again but never for too long.

The cheapest flights in Europe