In the new year I wish you a lot of new stamps in your passport!!

 

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When I visited Cathedral Cove for the first time I knew that we will be back again! I have to say that now it looks a bit different because during our visit in the winter we were almost alone here and this time it was covered with the travelers from all over the world and it made it even more beautiful…

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It seems like a perfect place from where I can wish you all the best in the new year. Somehow I feel that for me this will be the special year and can’t wait to see where it will lead me… And to you, my fellow travelers, I wish you an exciting and adventurous year and a lot of new stamps in your passport!!

Happy travels!!

 

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Follow me around Waiheke!

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It took me just 40 minutes from Auckland downtown to get to this wonderful green island in Hauraki Gulf. Perfect idea for a short getaway! Here I have found everything I needed – fresh air, clear blue sea and the nature which is hard to describe in a few words.

This island you can explore by walking over the several trails. That was my way because I didn’t want to miss anything while I’m here. I was ready to walk for hours and it is easy to wander around the places like Waiheke, great scenery is just pushing you to go further! Lot of people come here to walk so called Te Ara Hura Trail – 100 km of walking path which lead them all over the coastline, through the native bushes and across sandy beaches.

My first stop was Oneroa, island’s main village just 20 minutes from the port. I just sat for a while on the Little Oneroa Beach and the sound of the ukulele played by this guy in front of me just perfectly completed the picture…

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Then I got here. Wandering around the Promenade led me to this small, peaceful beach called Surfdale. I can easily imagine it as my little secret place!

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Wiheke is famous for its vineyards. I saw those places on the photos and I was really excited about finally getting there! You can take a vine tour and taste the product of this wonderful green fields…

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Beaches here really look like those from the brochures which are inviting you to go and visit the dream destinations. After a walk through the bush I arrived to the sandy Palm Beach. It is one of those places!

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After almost eight hours walking I had to go back to the port to catch the ferry. All I need to do now is plan my next trip to this island because Waiheke is definitely worth visiting more than once…

 

 

Under the stars and near the sea: Camping in the Far North

Are you for a bit of wandering around the Far North? Let me take you on a trip! Last weekend was the perfect opportunity to open the camping season. We had a few days off, tent was ready, weather forecast wasn’t so good but, of course, it didn’t stop us.

Our first stop was Whangarei, nice town hundred and something kilometers from Auckland. Here we spent our first night under the stars, it just reminded me how much I love camping! There’s a few free camping spots but even if you need to pay for it, it is really cheap, under 10$. To make your traveling a bit easier you can find all the information about the camping spots via the free travel app called CamperMate.

It was pretty obvious that while visiting New Zealand spending time outdoors, surrounded with the magnificent nature, will be our favorite thing to do, so it was during this short trip too. While walking through the woods, over the bridge all the way to the Whangarei Falls the only thing we could hear was the song from the birds, sound of the water and rustle of the leaves under the feet. It was the best music ever…

Our second day on the road was the day when the rain didn’t stop for a minute. We are almost five months in NZ and it never rained that much 🙂 After a few hours of driving we arrived to our next stop for the night. Camping area just under the Cape Reinga is one of the most beautiful camping spots I’ve ever seen. Sun rays and the rhythm of the ocean woke us up in the morning. We couldn’t ask for more…

Tapotupotu Campsite, Tapotupotu Bay

Cape Reinga is the place from where the big number of adventurers start their Te Araroa venture, 3000 km long walking trail that goes from here all the way to the Bluff in the South. At this point the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean and you can really see the swirl of currents. It was a great feeling to stay there, at the end, where the only thing you see is the huge blue vastness. This cape is not quite the northernmost point of New Zealand, Northern Cape has that title but it is not open for the public so we couldn’t go there.

Sand-boarding on the Te Paki Sand Dunes was something that we really wanted to try and this was the perfect chance to do it because those giant piles of sand are close to the Cape Reinga! You can’t even imagine how huge those dunes are, it was like in the middle of Sahara. You can bring you own board or you can rent it for 10$/hour. Ohhh we enjoyed it so much! It is a bit hard to climb up to the top of the dunes but when you slide down you just have to climb up and do it again!

Last stop before heading back home was the Ninety Mile Beach. Beaches in New Zealand are really something special and I’m telling you, this one looks like it doesn’t have the end! It is actually “just” 55 miles long and it is officially a highway but it is suitable only for 4W vehicles. One day I’ll definitely take a ride but this time happy jump on it is more than enough…

Wandering through Dublin

Christ Church

Christ Church

Even though I’m currently on the other side of the globe I have to introduce you to my favorite European destinations. With this post I’ll introduce you with the rytham of Dublin.

When we thought about Ireland, their music, whiskey and Guinness we knew that it will be a very interesting trip. Dublin is a beautiful city. Is it because of the all the castles, huge churches, fanciful pubs and the grass that can’t be greener then it is, we don’t know, but we know that we loved it!

What I liked the most are people. Dubliners are very cheerful and that’s the thing that gives me a good impression about the place I’m visiting. In the evening it’s very hard to find a spot that is not crowded, especially the pubs where you can enjoy the live irish rythm and perfect atmosphere. Everybody is having fun there and that is also what you want while traveling, isn’t it?

Dublin castle

Dublin castle

In Dublin you can walk for days and you’ll always have something to see. O’Connell Street is the main street in town and you will probably walk through it for hundred times. In this street you will see the tallest sculpture in the world, so-called “Dublin needle”, one “very impressive” 121 meter high installation, which is located in the center of the spot where once stood a monument to General Nelson.

The city is full of the attractions but the parks make it special and at all times you can choose a bench where you can relax a little bit. One of these parks is Phoenix Park where Dubliners love to go when they want to move away from the crowded city. This park is one of the largest urban parks in the world. It is located west of downtown so just take a walk or rent a bike and you will be there in a minute!

Dublin needle

Dublin needle

Phoenix park

Phoenix park

St Patrick Cathedral

One more interesting thing is that in Dublin you will pay for almost every entry to the church. Entry to the St. Patrick cathedral will cost you 5 euros.

What I would definitely recommend you is a visit to the Kilmainham jail which was built in the late 18th century. Guides will tell you all about the history of the punishment in this, one of the largest, European empty prisons. When you see the interior it may seem familiar to you just because there were filmed some movies (The Italian Job, In the name of father) and numerous documentaries, series and TV shows. During the visit you will watch a short movie about the love story of Grace Gifford and Joseph Plunkett, one of the leaders of the Easter Uprising, who were married in the prison chapel shortly before his assassination. I will not tell you the whole story, you will hear it right on the spot.

After five days in Dublin – sleepy and exhausted from the night before – we went to the airport check-in and headed towards the exit … but, we didn’t make it. The question “Where is your stamp?” is still ringing in my head! Back then Croatia wasn’t in the European Union so we had to pass some special check we forgot about… All in all, our stay in Dublin was extended for a three days, until the next flight.

We decided to visit Howth and after that we were glad that we didn’t get on that plane. 🙂

Baily lighthouse

Baily lighthouse

Howth is a suburb of Dublin, located on the peninsula 15 kilometers from the city center and can be reached most easily by train in less than 5 euros. This whole peninsula can be discovered by foot, it took us several hours because we took the longest trail. We just didn’t want us to miss anything on our way. You will know that you are on the right track when you get to the Bailey lighthouse.

After, unplanned, more than a week in Ireland, we returned home. The stamp we will never forget again because we don’t need it anymore. I really recommend a visit to Dublin and the surrounding area: drink beer, grasp the rhythm, walk around the cliffs. You’ll come back home full of good energy and, of course, ready for your next adventure!

From south to north of Portugal (II)

Here it is, the second part of my story about trip to Portugal. As I already wrote, and you can read it here, I went there with two of my friends, we spent two weeks there traveling from south to north of the country. After Lisbon, Peniche, Nazare and Coimbra we continued to Aveiro, Porto, Braga and Barcelos. Portugal is country where awesome people live, where climate is perfect and the food is even better so if you ever get the chance to go there don’t miss it.

Aveiro

 

Aveiro is very nice small town in the Centro region of Portugal that will offer you beautiful historical sights and long sandy beaches for those who are ready for lazy vacation. This is also one of the towns that has beautiful canals that are passing through so take a ride with gondola and discover Aveiro from the other perspective. After that and nice walk through the narrow streets find a place on the terrace in one of the restaurants near the water, try some Portuguese food from the menu and experience everything that Aveiro has to offer. One more tip, if you want to enjoy in the great view over the ocean go to Costa Nova do Prado where you can get most easily by short bus ride.

Porto

Porto is second largest city in Portugal. It is situated in the Norte region on the river Douro. We were very excited before getting to Porto because it was one of the cities that we always wanted to visit. We were staying in a hostel a bit far away from the center but it was very easy to get to the main sights. There is a metro line but we walked almost all the time regardless to all the steep streets. As you already know this town is famous for its wine and when you get there you must go to wine cellars to see how they produce Porto, it is very interesting and you will also have the chance to taste it. If you like sweet wines you will love it for sure.

 

As we really love to eat a lot while we are on the road, among lots of great dishes you have to try franceschina, their famous dish. It doesn’t look very nice but if you are very hungry this is the best choice for you. It is made of bread, ham, sausages, steak or roast meat and it is covered with melted cheese and the topping is made of beer. It is served with the French fries. What do you think? If it doesn’t sound good for you they also eat lots of fish so in one of the restaurants near the river you can taste some specialties. FranceschinaSo, in Porto you will find all that you need as a traveler: beautiful sights, tasteful food and very friendly people, just relax and enjoy.

Braga and Barcelos

Braga is on the north of the country and it was the last stop of our adventure in Portugal. Football lovers will probably associate this city with S.C. Braga, the most famous sport club in town. It is very nice city but there is nothing much to do there, especially at night. So come here during the day trip because if you want to party it is not the best choice. Just a bit outside of Braga is a sight that you can’t miss, Portuguese sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte. To get to the basilica you can take a ride with old funicular that was built in 1882 and it is the oldest in the Iberian Peninsula. Interesting thing is that it is moving by water counterbalancing. The church is surrounded with beautiful garden and the view of Braga from the top is awesome. To get down take the stairs, around 600 stairs. On your way you will pass by many fountains but five are special and each is dedicated to one of the five senses. All together look very nice and it is definitely worth of visit.

 

From Braga we went on a day trip to Barcelos to see all the handmade roosters that they have on the streets. According to the legend cockerel saved a life of pilgrim that was sentenced for a crime made in Barcelos. The pilgrim said that if he is innocent cockerel will crow three times, and he did it. After that cockerel became a symbol of good luck and it is also an unofficial national icon.

 

Of course, we got one as a souvenir 🙂

Your story: What is your impression of Portugal? If you still haven’t been there is it on your travel list, which cities would you like to visit?