Paris: My 2.5 Day Struggle

The last time I was in Paris I was 21. I had gone to the city of love for my birthday with my long distance “boyfriend” at the time. Unfortunately for him, I broke up with him there. We had even done the whole love locks bridge thing beforehand. Super cringeworthy.

Anyway, despite these uncomfortable memories, I still love Paris and was excited to go back.  Little did I know, Paris still had a bone to pick with me.

Paris day 1

The flight to Paris was great. Leon and I arrived 15 minutes before boarding, the plane was on time and I slept for the majority of it. After landing we hopped on the train. Unfortunately the ticket lady failed to mention that the railway station was on strike. We ended up having to get off at a very sketchy train station and either A) walk for 40 minutes in 30 degree weather to our destination or B) Uber. We chose to walk and poor Leon had to carry both our luggages; neither of which had wheels.

After a very sweaty walk we finally got to our Airbnb (Click here for our Airbnb). Luckily our shoebox of an Airbnb (which was expected) was in an amazing area between the 1st and 2nd district. It was all things Parisian. Trendy, clean and adorned with people watchers sipping their afternoon beverages with a cigarette in hand. I swear you could even smell freshly baked bread wafting through the air.

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We figured we would clean ourselves up and start exploring right away. I reached into my pocket for the 50 euro I had slid in there after purchasing our train tickets and low and behold, my pocket was empty.

After searching the Airbnb and every pocket in sight, we bid farewell to the money and headed out the door for some much needed food.

We walked to Miznon which is located between the 4th and 3rd district. The area itself is very cute with busy little shops lining the small cobble stone windy streets.  When we got to Minzon, there was a pretty big line but we decided to stick it out. It was well worth it. The pita wraps were warm and fresh and we got seated on a cute little couch in the back. Funny story, we also ordered a big artichoke (ugh this is so embarrassing) and were gnawing on the extremely tough and chewy leaves. It wasn’t until we were half way through (and a couple stares later) that we realized that the leaves weren’t actually edible, we were just supposed to eat the artichoke heart. I think I’m still waiting to digest those leaves.

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After walking around a bit, we decided to try and drink away our jet lag with a bottle of rose (I know, worst idea ever). We lasted all 1 hour before we zombie walked back to our Airbnb.

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After a 5 hour “nap” on our pull out couch (there was no actual bed), we dressed ourselves and headed out to hunt for some dinner. Our first destination was a small Mexican restaurant that was highly recommended via the web. However, once we arrived, we were disappointed to see a small run down restaurant with inappropriately bright florescent lighting. Still curious, we knew there was a hidden bar at the back so we walked through an unmarked door which essentially opened up to the dance floor. While it looked like a good time, we weren’t up for a liquid dinner.  A couple of Google searches later we decided to go to the extremely popular Chez Janou.  Fortunately for us, we were able to get get a table quite quickly. We had an amazing meal and a delishious bottle of French wine in the cozy old-school authentic Parisian restaurant.

Around 12am we took our full bellies and went back to the district we were staying at for a night-cap. We actually picked a restaurant almost directly adjacent from where we were staying and had two FANTASTIC Parisian beers. After this, we happily hopped across the street to our pull-out couch.

Paris day 2

Our couch/bed sunk in the centre so it was impossible for Leon and I to not be awkwardly mashed in the middle. This was actually fine because we needed to wake up early to grab seat at a breakfast spot called Holybelly that I desperately wanted to eat at. I wanted to get there at 9 when they opened so Leon and I started our morning extra early. When we got to Holybelly and walked up to the little white piece of paper tacked on the door I literally wanted to cry. It was closed for 3 weeks. Our second pick wasn’t open until 10:00 a.m. so we had some time to kill. We grabbed a coffee to go and slowly made our way to our second pick, Buvette. But not before stopping at three bakeries on the way. When in Paris ammirighhtt.

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From the fresh squeezed orange juice, to the classy rustic Parisian décor, Buvette was amazing! And because we got there so early we basically had the place to ourselves.

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The clouds started to look angry so we popped into La Compagnie du Café with our laptops in tow.  Leon had a little work to catch up on and I can always tinker around with my blog so we perched up for 2 hours at this spacious cafe while the weather did it’s thing.

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IMG_5058-1.jpgWhen the sun started to peak out, we headed to the nearest market to get a bottle of wine, some cheese and a baguette for a relaxing Eiffel tower picnic. I ended up buying some nasty artichoke brie by accident. Worst. Weirdly enough, it was SWELTERING hot outside by the time we exited the market. We had our picnic on the grassy area underneath the Eiffel tower then headed to Laduree for some macaroons for the road (if you didn’t eat macaroons in Paris, did you even go to Paris?).

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IMG_5008-1.jpgAfter an entire morning and afternoon of walking I had developed two massive blisters on the bottoms of my feet. We came up with the amazing idea of renting public bikes. After paying 10 euro for the bike sign-up fee and standing at a bike kiosk puzzling over the machines for a good half an hour, we realized none of the bikes actually worked.  We decided to try our luck at a second station which I limped to.  We plunked in our sign-up code into all 4 of the bikes stationed there and NOPE, NOTHING WORKED.

We asked a teenage boy who looked like he worked for the company why none of the bikes worked. He looked at us and shrugged his shoulders and said that the bikes haven’t been working for at least 5 months. So we left, 2 hours of our life wasted and me, practically bleeding at this point.

Feeling pretty defeated, we walked to park to drink our warming cherry beers and rest my feet. After relaxing at the park, we decided to head home as a nap was in order.

After another 5 hour nap (jetlag was kicking our butts) we woke up around 10pm and debated on sleeping until our early morning flight the next day.  After a small pep talk, we got ready and headed out for some late night dinner. We ended up at a place close by called Comptoir de la Gastronomie.  We sat outside, shared a bottle of wine, a French onion soup and the best ravioli I’ve ever tasted in my life. Our moods had completely done a 180 and we were feeling much more optimistic about the end of our Paris stint.

After dinner we weren’t quite ready to call it a night so after exploring a bit, we sat down at a speakeasy which we promptly left after being jammed between two couples making out. We then made our way back to sit outside of the same restaurant we drank at the night before.  The people watching was much more fun at this time of night and before we knew it, the bottle of wine we ordered was empty.

The next morning we almost didn’t make it on our bus to the airport because one of our ticket barcodes wouldn’t scan. The man wouldn’t let us on because HIS scanning machine wasn’t working. I swear I made him scan it 50 times before it finally worked.  I was so thankful to finally get on the plane to Portugal.

Weekend Guide to Victoria BC

Victoria is a spectacular small ocean-front city that has a little something to offer everyone. Whether it be hiking, eating, sight-seeing or just relaxing, you are bound to have a great time.

Victoria is a spectacular small ocean-front city that has a little something to offer everyone. Whether it be hiking, eating, sight-seeing or just relaxing, you are bound to have a great time.

Taking a car over from Vancouver B.C. will cost you $85.00 each way for two people (not including the reservation fee, if you choose to make one).  It isn’t necessary to have a car, but it can certainty be useful. This blog post is a compilation of two trips I took in 2017.

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What we ate

$ SuperbabaIf you are looking for a delicious yet quick bite to eat, head over to Superbaba. They serve healthy middle eastern-inspired food made with fresh seasonal ingredients. We tried a bit of everything (falafel, chicken bowl and the pita) and were extremely impressed.

$$ Jam We ate at Jam on the Friday afternoon after our ferry docked.  If you save Jam for Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you’ll be standing in a massive line. Jam originated in Victoria (there is a 2nd location in Vancouver) and is VERY popular . I had the eggs Benedict with fried chicken and Gorgonzola cheese and Leon had the pulled pork tacos. We savored every bite.  Don’t go here expecting a light brunch, this is comfort food at its finest.

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$$ Nourish Kitchen and Cafe This eclectic little café and restaurant puts a big emphasis on locally sourced and organic products. I had the delicious and delicate Chorizo Benny while Leon tried the Morning Scramble.  This place is absolutely adorable!! They turned an old 1889 heritage house into a bright and breezy café and restaurant. I give this one 5 stars for sure!

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$$$ IL Terrazzo –  Centrally located in the cozy Waddington Alley, this is candle lit Italian dining done right. I kid you not, I will visit this restaurant EVERY time I go to Victoria.  They offer wood-oven roasted pizza, home-made pasta and fresh seafood. You absolutely must make a reservation if you plan on dining here on a weekend.  We shared the Seafood Risotto and the Beef Cannelloni with Gorgonzola cheese and almost ordered another entrée because it was so good.

$$$$ High Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel – You don’t have to go to England for incredible High Tea, just head to Victoria, B.C.  At $75.00 per person ,this luxurious experience doesn’t come cheap. However, it’s worth every penny.  We selected the Chi and Mascarpone teas and frankly, have never tasted better tea to date.  Bring your appetite! The afternoon tea offerings where quite generous. Among other things, the pastry tier included fresh fluffy scones complimented with a sweat cream and a lovely jam, yummy smoked salmon and a plate full of delicate desserts. My mother and I sipped on hot tea and nibbled on delicious pastries for almost two hours! A live piano beautifully set the ambiance and the grand room was tastefully decorated for Christmas.  Very circa 1980 London, England.

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Bars, Pubs and Cocktail Lounges

Swan’s BrewPub –  During the early evenings you can enjoy a live band, but after the live music is done the party really starts.  I was bopping to some Biggie Smalls as I was enjoying my beer on the heated patio.  Swans has a large variety of their hand crafted (very delicious) beer – I particularly enjoyed the Wit and the Raspberry Ale.

$$ Bard and Banker– Located on the corner of Fort and Government Street, this stunning Scottish-style pub has a great band and a hoppin’ dancefloor. Try to get there for happy hour to enjoy a cocktail or 4.

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$$ Brickyard Pizza – The only really, really late night pizza you can enjoy with a beer (I forewent the beer because a night-cap beer screams hangover) but the option is there.

$$$ Little Jumbo – This cute little underground lounge feels like a 1950’s speakeasy due to the cozy, dark atmosphere and the intricate cocktails they offer.  Victoria is generally a little more casual, so if you’re looking for a classy, romantic night out, I suggest you dine at Il Terrazzo then have a night-cap at Little Elephant, like we did. This place is my favorite cocktail lounge in Vic.

Day Drinking

Sea Cider Farm and Cider House  – Cute little Farmhouse with a fabulous views over a landscape littered with big apple trees. Their ciders are all made from their local pressed and fermented apples. Try a tasting flight to sample them all!
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Victoria Spirits – A “Ginnery” housed in an old farm-house on Old West Saanich Road. They make flavourful, herb infused gin

Wineries

We ended up going to a couple wineries around the Victoria region.  These are the ones we visited.

Unsworth Vineyards This was our favorite! Stunning grounds and spectacular wine – try the port!
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Church & State Wines – This winery was the only one I recognized from Liquor stores, however, I wasn’t all that impressed. 

Cherry Point Estate Wines – This small winery only uses locally sourced grapes for their wine. We bought the delicious rosé! 

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De Vine Vineyard – Casual atmosphere with knowledgeable staff. The Fosh was my favorite.  De Vine is also a Distillery so you can give some local Spirits a try.

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Starling Lane Vineyard – This one was closed on the Sunday we tried to visit, but it looked extremely beautiful.

Things to see

Fisherman’s Wharf Grab a drink on one of the many restaurants on the water and enjoy the view.

Take a walking tour of the Parliament Buildings 

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The Parliament Buildings are always extra festive at Christmas time

Take a stroll around the Causeway – a pedestrian walkway which circles the Inner Harbour and offers stunning views of the Parliament Buildings, docks and skyline.

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Lower Johnston StreetLined with small independent shops with a few bigger names here and there, this street is for the shopaholics looking for something a little bit different.

Goldstream Railway Trestle Hike British Columbia is known for its stunning nature and the best way to soak it all in is to go on a hike.  This hike is a 20 minutes drive west of Victoria and will take out about 1.5 – 2 hours to complete round trip.  The Victoria hike website labels this hike as “Difficult”, but really, it is more of a moderate hike.  It gets a little steep in some parts so make sure you are wearing the correct footwear.  While on route you can take a short detour and have a look at Niagra “Waterfall” before continuing to the trestle.  Beware, If you’re afraid of heights, I wouldn’t recommend this hike.  The trestle is veryyyy high up.
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2 Stops to Make Between Florence and Rome

Leon and I stopped in two places on our way to Rome from Florence and thought they deserved an honorable mention.

Leon and I stopped in two places on our way to Rome from Florence and thought they deserved an honorable mention.

We didn’t want to take the long way to Rome so Leon threw me his phone and told me to find a place to stop for a glass of wine along the A1 Autostrada.  After a 5 minute Google search, I settled on Altarocca Wine resort, located by Umbria, Italy.  Unfortunately, my directional skills are less than par and I missed the turn-off to go up the paved hill to our destination.  The map showed another way around, so I went with that.  Within minutes into this second route we found ourselves creeping up a bumpy dirt path that scaled a rural mountain.  We were both freaking out because the road, err- trail, was awfully narrow and extremely rocky with no places to turn around.  We trudged on with Leon saying “oh shit” the entire way; certainly a rock was going to pop one of our little feeble Fiat tires.  20 minutes into bush whacking, the brush parted ways and we passed the cutest little house perched on the mountain.  After this, the road was much better and we finally got to our destination (our blue car was now light brown). We were pleasantly surprised.  For blindly choosing a spot to stop at, we hit the jackpot.  This winery was a “wine resort” with a beautiful pool deck and bar looking over the Tuscan landscape.  We asked the employees working on the pool deck where we could go for a drink (because surely the pool was just for people who are staying at the resort), but no, they told us to sit at a table and they served us right there as we absorbed the view.  We tried 4 different wines, whites and reds and loved each one of them.  This place is a gem! At around €140 a night, we will surely be staying the next time we visit.

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Not far from Altarocca wine resort we spotted the majestic city of Orvieto, perched atop of a rocky mountain.  This was our second destination.  The drive had us spiraling around the cobblestone city walls of Orvieto.  This was nothing like I had ever seen.  Inside the walls of the town things were very quiet, however little crowds of people gathered to admire the stunning medieval Cathedral which was adorned with beautiful mosaics.  We walked around a bit but had to retreat back to the car as it was SCORCHING hot, but not before snapping a couple pictures.

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Besides all of the casualties stuck to our windshield, the terrain between Florence and Rome was beautiful as it whizzed by my window at 140 kph.

Florence: The City of Careless Exploration

Ahhh Florence, the city of careless exploration. Wandering around Florence, or shall I say Firenze, is the best way to experience the rich culture this beautiful city has to offer.

Wandering around Florence (or shall I say Firenze) aimlessly is the best way to experience the rich culture this beautiful city has to offer.  You’ll discover something impressive around every corner; whether it be mouthwatering menus, romantic alleyways, intricate sculptures or carousels smack dab in the center of a plaza.

Where we stayed:

Only stopping once in Verona to stretch our legs, we drove 6 hours from Zadar, Croatia to Florence, Italy.  We arrived at our Airbnb around 8 p.m. and were happily surprised that it was located in the very central Piazza Santa Croce, walking distance from basically everything.  We could see Basilica di Santa Croce from our room! We felt that choosing an Airbnb over a hotel gave us an authentic local experience.

Check out our Airbnb here.

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What we did:

Speaking of plazas, Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio are both must sees.  Even if you’re not planning on going to these plazas, you’ll eventually end wandering through anyway.  Piazza della Signoria was my favorite because of the stunning open-air sculpture exhibit.

I love a good panoramic view: when I find myself in a new city I’m always in search for the best location to marvel at a city skyline from above.  So if heights don’t make you nauseous and you are in moderately good shape, make your way to the top if Giotto’s Campanile. It will certainty make a memorable experience. But be prepared to sweat a bit though. The 463 steps to the top definitely gets the heart pumping.   There are floors which you can take breaks on along the way, but beware, the walkways are ridiculously small.  Once you get to the top of the tower you get the most beautiful, panoramic view of Florence.

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We decided to go to the Boboli Gardens an hour before closing.  The lady at the front desk was applaud we waited so late in the day to go; she almost convinced us to skip it!  Luckily a local overheard our conversation and assured us that we had enough time. She told us to start from the top of the gardens and make our way down as the gardens at the top are the most beautiful.  So we bought tickets, started from the top and took our time. We even had enough time for glass of wine and a chat with another traveling couple at the restaurant overlooking the gardens.  It was perfect because we were able to admire the views with almost no people around.   The Boboli Gardens are absolutely magical, but you don’t need longer than an two hours to admire the scenery (they kicked us out an hour after closing).  I STRONGLY recommend going here.

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Where we ate:

As you can imagine, driving for 6 hours from Zadar worked us up an appetite.  We stumbled upon a romantic outdoor patio restaurant in the semi-hidden Plazza Della Passera called 4 Leoni.  They serve artisan food, fresh pasta and delicious wine.  We had to wait for a table because the restaurant was jam packed but it was well worth it.  We shared a mouth- watering Ravioli and a bottle of their house wine, which was surprisingly really tasty.  We weren’t expecting much as we didn’t plan this meal but WOW WAS IT GOOD.

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You have to have at least one white tablecloth, candle lit dinner in Florence.   Ristorante Sant’ Ambrogio  is located in a quiet neighbourhood 7 minutes away from the Il Duomo area and was perfect for this kind of romantic meal.  This restaurant was elegant yet unpretentious and had a great ambiance.  We shared a beef tartare, risotto, tagliatelle pasta, and of course, a bottle of red wine.  It was a true Italian dining experience.

As you walk around Florence, you will eventually run into a street with line-ups down two adjacent sidewalks.  Yup, both line-ups are for sandwiches.  I thought this was hilarious until Leon insisted we try one. So, we lined up for the infamous All’antico Vinaio for half an hour.  It was actually a nice break from walking.  The people watching was pretty good too.  We decided on getting two sandwiches, the L’Inferno and the La Schiacciata Del Boss.  The L’Inferno was hands down the best.

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Located inside Piazza della Repubblica (this is the plaza with the carousel) you will find a very posh coffee shop/ bakery called Caffé Gilli.   We stood at the bar to watch the Italians work their magic behind the espresso machine. There is a 5€ price difference if you sit on the patio versus stand at the bar.  In general we found that throughout Croatia and Italy, many places charge you a “cover charge” for sitting and eating at their establishment. Usually it’s 1 – 2€.

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If you’re looking for a trendy coffee shop, head over to Ditta Artigianale.  It’s very modern despite the surrounding rustic and historic landscape.  This coffee shop was bustling the entire time we spent trying to figuring out our route from Florence to Rome.

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OH MY GOSH THE GELATO IN FLORENCE WAS AMAZING.  Yes I had two a day (for only 1 or 2 Euros each, so why the heck not?!).

A very noteworthy gelato spot was La Carraia, which is located by the river.  There was a little lineup but it went quickly. We had a scoop of the dark chocolate and the strawberry gelato.  They were unbelievably flavorful.  They have tons of flavors to choose from so you might have to go back a couple times.

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Careful – they melt quick 😉

Zadar, Zrče Beach and Plitvice Lakes

A couple days of a lot of ocean and the most beautiful Lakes I have ever seen.

This trek of the journey was eventful, to say the least.

Where we stayed

We stayed in MY FAVORITE Airbnb of the trip right in the center of the city.  However, It was pretty loud in the room at night (until about 1am) because of an open-air bar right outside the windows.  Luckily we didn’t get home much sooner than 1 a.m each night!

Parking can be tricky, but luckily our Airbnb host showed us where there was free parking right outside the city (about a 7 minute walk away from our Airbnb).  The free parking was at the back of a paid parking lot on a gravel area, so it was a little tricky to find.

this was our Airbnb.

Zadar

Zadar has some “must see’s”.  The infamous Sea Organ is one of them.  You can sit on long broad steps that descend into the ocean, watch the sunset, and listen to the Sea Organ.   The Sea Organ is powered by the waves. The stronger the waves, the louder the Sea Organ is.  I suggest you go half an hour before the sunset to grab a spot.

Another must see in this area is “The Greeting to the Sun”.  It’s an outdoor light-up dance floor which is located steps away from the Sea Organ  (you can kill two birds with one stone).  Please don’t do as the tourists do and lay on the dance floor, that’s gross :).

We had drinks and breakfast smoothies (on different days) at The Garden; an outdoor garden club on top of the city walls.  At night it has a really cool relaxed slightly bourgeois vibe; they have beds in the center of the lounge and white couches surrounding the bar area.  During the day you can sit in a airy white cabana to eat your healthy meal.  They have fresh squeezed juice, fruit smoothies and healthy breakfasts.  It’s really stunning.  I don’t have any photos because I forgot to put the battery in my camera that day (this was the day after Zrče beach, you’ll put the pieces together shortly).

Zadar The Garden Lounge Menu

We went for dinner on the patio of Restaurant Bruschetta for a nibble to eat. We ended up getting a bottle of wine and a couple appetizers and only really liked the truffle bruschetta.  The pizza looked really good though (yes we messed up).  We sat beside a table of around 10 local women and watched them chain-smoke for 2 hours. HOW DO YOU EVEN TASTE YOUR FOOD.  I was almost impressed.

We rented a boat and it may have been the best decision we made our whole trip Well, other than bringing a ton of booze and one small container of warm yogurt.  Yes I did lose an entire toenail that day… luckily this mishap happened after the alcohol consumption..

Boating cost around 170 Euro for the whole day, including the gas.  Leon got his boat license the week before just in case he would need to rent one of the boats. According to the boat rental website they do require a boat license if you’re renting a bigger boat, but, no one asked to see it the day of.

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Views from our boat in Zadar Croatia

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Plitvice Lakes National Park

We actually stopped at the Plitvice Lakes on our way to Zadar from Zagrab and JUST barley got in before they stopped letting people through.  I recommend planning on spending at least 4 hours there (before 7pm) and wear your walking shoes because that’s what you’ll be doing the entire time.  This national park was magical and there is a lot to see.

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Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park

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Zrče Beach for the day..

Getting to the island of Pag is really quite beautiful.  As you drive upwards the land gets very brown and desert-like until you eventually start descending back down to lush landscape and civilization.  Zrče is a party beach on the island of Pag with a bunch of massive day clubs where people quite literally get obliterated and make out with each other.  BUT, we were a teeny bit early in the season for all of the inappropriate festivities (the clubs weren’t packed to the brim).  We started off at Euphoria Club which was my favorite; we sat in nice loungers, jumped off of the club deck into the ocean when we got too hot and sipped on (really strong) drinks.  Somewhere between this club and our 3rd? I got tipsy and lost both of our drivers licenses and Leon’s Visa (Okay fine, I was wasted out of my little tree).  To be fair, this one club, Aquarius, was promoting a buy one JUG of mojito, get one JUG free. Anyway, Zrče is really cool and the beaches are beautiful and sandy.  Expect to see some boobs.

Here’s a sober video of myself dancing in a “pool” about 2 feet deep…

If you do go in July or August, please please please be safe. It’s surprisingly easy for things to get out of hand due to the scorching sun and the aggressively strong drinks. Things can get unsafe very quickly If you don’t have a 200 pound boyfriend following you around everywhere.  Also note that the ratio from guys to girls was 5:1 – ladies watch  yo-selves.

5 Hours in Venice

If you’re spending a hot minute in Venice, it’s all about time management and efficiency. So basically learn from our mistakes.

If you’re spending a hot minute in Venice, it’s all about time management and efficiency.  So basically learn from our mistakes.

Getting there

Leon and I rented a Car from the airport ended up parking at Park San Giuliano because we were under the impression that we could catch a boat into Venice from the pier. We thought wrong. After walking around for an hour we ended up taking the bus into Venice – not a huge deal, but time was of the essence as we weren’t planning on spending the night.
Side note – I have no clue how the bus works – we jumped on and tried to pay but the bus driver didn’t take our money (you probably had to buy a pass from a grocery store). Anyway, we accidentally fair evaded both ways.

What you should do – From the airport, walk 5-10 minutes to the docks. Here, you can catch a €15 boat/ferry into Venice. The views as you approach Venice are supposed to be spectacular. Tickets can be bought on the boat or in advance at the main tourist office. You can also get a private boat or water taxi into the city (If you’re a baller $$$).

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Getting around

We chose to attempt to walk off our jet-lag and explore Venice by foot. I knew If I sat down it would be game over for me. I was EXHASTED.  A less strenuous way to get around is by the Vaporetto (the Venetian water bus).  I suggest if you don’t have a GPS to rely heavily on, take the Vaporetto.  Each ride of the Vaporetto costs €7, but you can buy a TravelCard, which offer unlimited travel from anywhere between 12 hours to 7 days.

What to do

The best thing to do in Venezia is to wander along the canals and admire the majestic views, or perhaps hop on a romantic canal ride (if that’s your cup of tea).  We opted to skip out on the canal ride because it looked a little boring.

Visit the famous Piazza San Marco! It’s crowded and you might have to dodge a couple hungry pigeons, however, despite this, it is still a magnificent place.

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Climb up the Campanile Bell tower for arguably the best views of the clustered roofs of Venice.

To escape the crowds, take a walk down a staircase of encyclopedias to Libreria Acqua Alta. Located in the Cannaregio area, this bookstore is a hidden gem littered with friendly cats and bathtubs filled with books.  The Cannaregio neighborhood is in a quiet, mostly residential area, however, it is also home to many local hot-spots.

The 16 hour flight really worked us up an appetite so we indulged in pastries at Pasticceria Tonolo . Trust me, they were to DIE FOR.

While you’re in Cannaregio, eat at L’Anice Stellato or somewhere in this area instead of the overpriced restaurants near the Rialto Bridge or St. Mark’sWe had our heart set on eating here but to our surprise L’Anice Stellato didn’t open up until 7pm (someone PLEASE go and tell me how it is)!  We now know Its very common for places in Italy to shut down after lunch and re-open around 7:00 p.m.