Nin

14 kms from Zadar you can find a jewel-box-like town called Nin. The main reason for its popularity is that it has a sandy beach while the in Zadar is rocky. When you enter the town you will immediately meet the heroic statue of Dux Branimir (I know it kind of sounds like Boromir!). He lived in the 9th century and he tried to decolonize his region from other empires. Throughout history the town has been a center of the Church and served as the home for the Princes of Dalmatia. Its most popular attraction is the Church of the Holy Cross. It was built also in the 9th century in Pre-Romanesque style and it is known as the smallest cathedral on Earth. Other sights are the remains of a Roman Temple in the center of the old town. During our walk in Nin (the town can be crossed easily because its length in only 500 ms!) we found a very interesting statue that looked like a drunk Dumbledore (Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter in a place that kind of looks like it were a scene from Game of Thrones… Could this be a coincidence? I don’t think so!). Turned out the statue pictures a medieval Croatian bishop, Gregory of Nin. He did not agree with the Pope and decided to officiate his messes not only in Latin but in Croatian. That must be the reason for his gesture and the fact that he is holding the Holy Bible. The town is also famous for its medicinal paddle and its summer festivals. You can choose from a lot. There is one for fishing, one for the Roman Ages and also one for Salt.
I recommend this destination if you want to have a quiet holiday and spend your days at a sandy beach but still want to wander in a history filled town.

Šibenik

The Renaissance town was already founded in the 9th century to the place where Krka River meets the Adriatic Sea. It is famous for its Children’s Festival since 1960, the festival is held every year in June or July. While we were walking on the streets, all of them were decorated with lovely handmade portraits of children. St. James Cathedral is the most famous of its sights and it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. You can also enjoy the sun and the cool water, if that is what you are looking for at the public beach called Banj.

Practical tips for your visit:
First of all, the town can be easily reached from Zadar or from Trogir.
If you arrive by car, you have to leave it at a public car park next to the sea and the casinos and continue your journey by foot.
There are a lot of steps so make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
And have a lot of water with you. You will need it, believe me.
If you decide to book your accomodation in Sibenik, you can take daily trips to either Kornati Islands or to Krka National Park.

Although we only spent an afternoon here, I advise you to visit these things:
St. James Cathedral with the Statue of Jurac Dalmatinac
St. Lawrence Church and Monastry with the Mediterranean Garden
St. Michael’s Fortress
The Count’s Palace
St. Anne’s Fortress
Church of St. Barbara
St. Anne’s Fortress
Town Hall
Channel Harbour

Šibenik and Game of Thrones
Bet you didn’t know that this town is one of the places where GoT was shot! It appeared in season 5 as a city of Braavos. Arya Stark can be seen running in front of the St. James Cathedral, which served as the House of the Many Faced God. You can also see Mandroc as the port of Braavos.

Krka National Park

Trg Ivana Pavla II br.5, 22000 Šibenik
Opening hours: Open every day! January, February, November and December 9:00-16:00; March and October 9:00-17:00; April 9:00-18:00; May and September 9:00-19:00; June, July and August 9:00-20:00
Tickets: 30-110 kn
Click here for more information!

Krka National Park can be found at the Sibenik region of Croatia. It is famous for its waterfalls and also because the most beautiful part of River Krka can be found in the park. The Park lies on 109 km2 territory and can be entered from two towns. If you arrive to Lozovac, you will enter the waterfalls with a bus. If you go to Skradin, you will talk a half hour and 3 km long boat trip. The boats leave from the town once in every hour and in every half an hour back.
For additional fee, you can book a boat for yourself and take a trip that is not restrained by other people or time.

The visitors have a chance to enter some of the waterfalls, but the ground is very rocky, it is not easy to move and the water is very cold. Although this place is very tourist-friendly, make sure not to enter the places where it is not allowed. The hiking route is 4 kms but with a lot of uphill steps and roads.
You can find many relaxation stages in every 10 minutes where you can freshen up or have a picnic. There are many food stands in the park and although they are very expensive, it certainly has a feeling when you walk with a fruit salad in your hand surrounded by natural beauty.
I noticed earlier that fig is very popular in Croatia and I saw many bushes in the park. There are also stands selling the fresh or the dried version of the fruit.
During our walk in the park I saw dragonflies, different kinds of fish and ducks. It is stated that more than 200 hundred bird species and even bats live in the park, but I didn’t run into them during my visit.

Zadar

‘Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Key West, in Florida, applauded at every evening.’ /Alfred Hitchcock in 1964/

Zadar, the capital of Dalmatia lies on the coast of the Adriatic Sea in the middle of Croatia. Throughout history it has been occupied by the Romans, the Greeks and has been a part of the Republic of Venice and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The town’s income comes mainly from fishing and tourism. What if I told you you can study archaeology, Francophone Studies or Psychology at the seaside, you can do it at the University of Zadar. Isn’t that cool?

What are the sights you definitely have to check out in Zadar?

Church of St. Donat
Trg. Sv. Stoshije 4
Opening hours: Open every day! Monday-Sunday 9:00-17:00
Tickets: 12-20 kn
Click here for more information!

The symbol of the town definitely has to be the Church of St. Donat, it’s even embossed in tickets for local transportation. The church was built in the 9th century and was named after Zadar’s bishop who lived in the 4th century. As we were inside people were charmed by the four little kittens who seem to have found shelter in the church. Outside on the square you can find ancient Roman ruins.

Sea Organ
Obala kralja Petra Krešimira IV

It’s a musical instrument that was first established in the world in Zadar and is played on by the waves of the sea.  Next to it you can find the Greeting to the Sun that you have to see at night.

Andy Warhol exhibition
Rector’ Palace –  Poljana Šime Budinića 3
Opening hours: Open every day! Monday-Sunday 9:00-23:30
Tickets: 200 kn
Click here for more information!

There is a current exhibition dedicated to the American pop-art artist, but be prepared because it is only open until September!

The beach
No words needed, just enjoy the rocky beach of Zadar!

Besides from these Zadar offers several kind of boat trips. The organized ones go the Kornati Island and Krka National Park, but you can plan one for yourself. The prices of these are pretty high, a 3 hours trip to a neighbour island costs 1000 kunas.

I advice you to go to the local market that to see the fish and beautiful and fresh vegetables of the local people. Also make sure to take a walk at night.

Bon voyage!

 

15 things I learnt about Croatia

I just came home from the beautiful Croatia on Sundays and I’m ready to share my thoughts on the vacation with you.

  1. Croatia can be found in Europe and is surrounded by 5 countries: Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro. Most of its territory is fenced by the Adriatic Sea so it serves as the ultimate beach holiday destination.
  2. Its capital is Zagreb and the most popular places for vacation are Dubrovnik, Zadar, Split and Trogir.
  3. Croatia and Spain has most of the merits in Europe that are protected by the UNESCO World Heritage.
  4. The territory of Croatia has been ruled by the Greeks, the Romans and the Habsburg dynasty throughout history.
  5. Croatian population is about 4 million. 10% of the population consists of ethnics like Serbs, Italians, Germans and Hungarians. People are nice and helpful and most of them speaks at least a few words in English, and it is always enough to make yourself understood.
  6. 90% of the Croatian population is Christian.
  7. Croatia has more than a thousand islands and many spectacular natural sights. The most famous one is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, but Krka National Park and Kornati Islands are worth a visit as well.
  8. Famous Croats include the 2Cellos duo, movie maker Goran Visnjic and Krist Novoselic from Nirvana. Although Nikola Tesla was Serbian by nationality, he was born in a now-Croatian town called Gospic.
  9. Croatian inventions are ties, high speed photography, torpedos, speedometers and benzodiazepines.
  10. The transportation in Croatia can be tricky sometimes. There are not always pedestrian crossings, drivers don’t always care about traffic signs or speed limit and buses never come on time.
  11. 20% of the country’s GDP comes from tourism so everything is very expensive. For example, when we went from Zadar to the Krka National Park, we had to pay twice for the highway, for the parking, for entering the park, for using the toilet and for eating a fruit salad.
  12. Typical Croatian dishes are seafood based such as black risotto, brodetto and buzara. They also have strukli (strudel). The most famous Croatian beers are Karlovacko and Ozujsko.
  13. While walking in different towns, I noticed that hydrangeas, lavender, fig, olive trees and evergreen species can be found everywhere.
  14. Maverick cats often invade the street or sometimes the buildings. In the Church of St. Donatus in Zadar there were 4 newborn cats with their mummy upstairs (!!).
  15. You can find many of the Game of Thrones scene locations in Croatia, such as Dubrovnik (King’s Landing), the Fortress of Klis (Meereen) and Split (Daenerys’ Throne Room).

Stay tuned for more blog posts about Zadar, Sibenik, Nin and the Krka National Park!

My travelling year of 2017

2017 has been amazing! I’ve been to 6 countries (counting my own, Hungary as well). Pictures speak more easily than words, so without further ado, here are my journeis of the last year:

In my town, Szeged, I went to the Lavender Days, the Zoo and the Salvador Dalí exhibition:

I went to see Nandafalva hindu temple in Balástya:

I’ve been to Siófok (Lake Balaton) twice, for a one-day trip and for a long spa weekend. On the way I also saw Simontornya and Ozora Castles.

I went to Balatonfüred for a conference and took a boat trip to the other side of Lake Balaton to visit Tihany:

I saw Hungary’s second biggest town, Debrecen for the first time:

I took a one-day trip to the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. Can’t wait to go back to the most beautiful natural sight I have ever seen.

6 days is not enough for Slovenia, but it is a great start. Maribor, Ptuj, Postojna, Predjama, Piran and Portoroz, it was nice to see all of you!

I faced my fear and took the very first plane ride of my life to Barcelona and saw my favourite architectural wonder, Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia:

And of course no year can pass by without me visiting as many Christmas fairs as I can. Here is Szeged…

… Budapest…

… Kecskemét…

… Bratislava…

… and Castle Hof in Austria:

I don’t know what 2018 holds for me, but I’m ready for all the new adventures to come!

Christmas all over the world

After getting the Christmas vibe I became curious about how other people celebrate it in other countries. So I asked my friends from abroad who were kind to answer my questions about their holiday habits. So here are 4 continents and 10 countries of Christmas:

Antonia /Serbia, Bosnia/
‘Two days before Christmas (on Great Friday) we go into the woods and try to find some branches of Badnajk. We put them next to the Christmas tree and usually some candies beneath it. This is typical of Orthodox Christmas in Serbia and Bosnia, which is celebrated on 7th January. Before Christmas there is a special not eating some food preparation that starts one month earlier. No meat, milk products and eggs. If someone can’t do it for a whole month it takes 7 days. On Christmas Day we usually eat some pork or beef and prepare a special bread, ’Pogaca’. In that bread the cook hides a coin. Whoever finds it will be in charge of money for the next year. We also eat Prebranac, specially prepared beans and a lot of different types cakes and cookies. The day before Christmas and Christmas Day is pretty much the same: celebrated among family.’

Helen /Taiwan/
‘There are Christmas trees eveywhere but not in our homes. Christian families celebrate it, but as for me, a Buddhist, I don’t really take Christmas seriously. My grandmother is a Christian, she celebrates it with people of her church. So it’s more like church-related in Taiwan, but actually the commercials are doing the thing, buying gifts, going to a decent restaurant… So people celebrate it not because they’re Christian but because “everybody does that”. It’s not like a day of family reunion, because we don’t do reunions on Christmas.’

Ilke /Turkey/
‘There aren’t many Christians in Turkey, but they mainly live in Istanbul and the Southeastern cities of the country. They are mostly Armenian Orthodox, that’s why they celebrate Christmas on 6th January. The preperation for Christmas takes 7 weeks and it  is called Hisnag (meaning 50 days). On the first, fourth and seventh week of Hisnag they only eat vegetarian food. New Year’s also takes place during Hisnag, so on 31st December they attend the church and then have a family dinner that consists mostly of sea food, vegetarian food, anuşabur (meaning sweet soup). It’s a tradition to call poor people to that dinner as well. They smash pomegranate at their doors symbolizing richness. On Christmas Eve (5th January) afternoon they go to the church again and lit 7 purple candles. After praying they have dinner just like on 31st December, only with vegetarian food. On 6th January in the morning they go to the church and after that families visit their relatives to celebrate.On 7th January people visit the graves of their passed love ones and pray for them. Christians in Turkey does not celebrate Christmas like we see it in American TV shows, so not in a capitalist way. There are no gifts for everyone (only for some very young children at New Year’s). There are only simple dinners, religious rituals and quality time with family and friends. It is the way to conserve their beliefs and culture as a minority in the country.’

Celia /Spain/
‘We decorate the living room with the Christmas tree and the Betlehem portal (the place where Jesus was born, with virgin Mary and St. Joseph). The Christmas tree is just like the normal ones, we usually have a plastic one that can be used every year. We put out some more decoration but these are small and discrete, like a figure of a snowman (but this is different in each family). Some families celebrate Santa Claus as well, but if they do, he only brings a small present because he is not very popular here. These families will have the socks as decoration too. School holidays are from 22nd December until 7th January. We celebrate Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve like the most importants dates of the holidays. We meet with our family members and we usually have lamb as the main plate. We also have “gulas” and prawns. On 25th December and 1st January we have a special lunch with our families but it is not as important as the dinners of the previous day, because we are usually tired. On 31st December, with the entrance of the New Year we eat 12 grapes with the last bells. We finally celebrate the Three Wise Men (we actually call them the three wizard kings) the 6th January. On 5th January there is a parade where the Three Wise Men come to the cities and say hello to the children and give them candies. That night we leave some milk and a bun or cake called “roscón de reyes” for them and a shoe for them to know where to leave the presents. They leave a lot of presents and on 6th the children open them and go to their grandparents and uncle’s houses to pick up more. The sweets we eat during all the Christmas are roscón, mazapán, turrón and polvorones.’

Anna /Denmark/
‘Here Christians don’t usually go to church during Chirstmas. We hold Christmas dinners that start from the beginning of December, because we have separate ones with colleagues, friends and family members. The Christmas dinner starts at 13-14 o’clock and lasts till night. There is an appetizer, that is usually shrimp-cocktail, then the main course, which is caramellized baked potato, pig flitch with a brown sauce and then dessert. Special Danish dessert is risalamande that we decorate with mandel slices. We put a whole mandel into it as well and whoever finds it will recieve a small gift. A lot of schnaps dwindles during the holidays.  There is also a game we play on and before Christmas. Everyone buys a small gifts and we decide who will get it with a dice. With family members it’s a sweet tradition but with friends it can contain inappropriate presents as well. We decorate the Christmas tree a week before Christmas and then the whole family comes together. We open the presents slowly and talk a lot during it so it can go on till late night. Then we dance around tree and the house because it brings luck and blessings.’

Dorotea /Croatia/
In my family it’s usually cookie and cake baking a week before Christmas and also the preparation of “French” salad which my boyfriend makes best! On Christmas Eve you can’t eat meat so we usually bake fish. We have dinner and then buy and decorate the Christmas tree. We usually pick one of last ones haha… We decorate the house and then go to the midnight mass. On Christmas Day in the morning we usually get up earlier and have a quick breakfast so we can rush to open the presents. Then we go to the Christmas mass.’

Karina /Indonesia/
‘We usually go to church on 24th December, the night before Christmas Day. The church always has a decoration of baby Jesus and his family. On 25th December we usually just eat together, either at home or have a dinner at a restaurant.’

Julia /Austria/
The 4 Sundays before Christmas we light a candle on an adventkranz. The Sundays are called the first, second, third and fourth of Advent. On Christmas Eve in the morning we decorate the Christmas tree and in the evening we celebrate with a nice meal and Christmas songs. The presents lie under the Christmas tree and usually the children read the name tags and hand them over to everybody. Before that Michael’s mom rings a bell to signal us that we are allowed to see the tree and come into the room. We often eat raclette. Michael’s grandma always prepares fried fish with potato salad and we eat a lot of cookies like linzer augen, vanillekipferl and kokosbusserl.’

Clara /Brazil/
‘We love the lights… shining and bright. People put lights on the buildings, houses, streets… Here we call Santa Claus papai noel, and he is the same (the good old guy with red and white clothes, fat and with a sack with gifts to all of those have been good ones). People are dressed like that in every mall, and even on the streets. The Christmas tree is always really beautiful, well adorned and with the gifts we exchange under it. We exchange gifts in a play we call amigo secreto (secret friend). We raffle the names and then speak about our friend without telling his/her name, so people have to figure out who it is. Christmas dinner is served at midnight on 25th December; when the day comes we prepare a Christmas lunch too. The table is well decorated, with fruits and a beautiful tablecloth. Some religious families build a Christmas crib to symbolize the birth of Jesus Christ. It can also be found in Catholic churches. The traditional food is turkey here and the so called tender, that is roasted ham. There is also a food we call salpicão (chicken salad) that is made with chicken, corn, pea, ham, mayonnaise and potato sticks (it’s really good). Because of the Portuguese tradition, we have codfish on Christmas too with roasted potatoes. All of this above we eat with rice and other garnishes. To dessert we have panetone (seems like a cake). I just figured out that is an Italian food and we adapted it with crystallized fruits (or chocolate – that is better for sure); and rabanada, that is a specifical bread that we put inside of milk and then eggs, fry and pass in sugar with cinnamon.

Thank you all very much for your help! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! ❤