24 hours to see Venice? I say just enjoy getting lost!

Nick and I landed in Venice from Croatia, ready to kick start our Italian road trip with a 1 night pit-stop in Venice. This 24 hour period was truly led by our stomachs and each story I have recounted about this city has centred around food. So if you too are guided by food on a holiday and are happy to let your nose guide you (literally) then read on!

Arriving into Venice, catch the ferry (or if you are in a bigger group/want to drop the $$$)  hire a water taxi to take you to your hotel. We took the ferry and it was so lovely approaching the city from the water early in the morning. The city is just stirring and you will get fabulous photo opportunities from the water. Having caught the ferry in, we decided not to pay for the tourist trap that is a Gondola ride and save our money for well… food.

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We decided to splurge on our night in Venice and situated ourselves right in the thick of it at Rosa Salva Hotel in San Marco. This boutique hotel is in a great location, only a few lanes back from Palazzo San Marco and about 10 minute walk from the Rialto Bridge. The bed was by the far the most comfortable we had slept in the whole holiday and it was nice to enjoy the luxuries of a hotel for one night.

Venice is full of great restaurants and we were immediately shocked with the drop in prices in comparison to Croatia, a short hop over the Adriatic. Italy is considerably more affordable than Croatia and hanging out in Venice after Split, made quite the stark comparison. Did anyone else notice this about Croatia?

After checking into our hotel, we started out with the intent to get lost. We just wandered for hours, exploring further and further into San Polo before the crowds thinned out and it felt like us and the locals. Just walking, we took in all the colours and canals. We headed towards the church of San Barnaba. Infamous for its feature in Indiana Jones! We then stumbled across Gelateria Il Doge – the start of my hunt for the best gelato in Italy.

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We also stumbled across a too cute for words wine bar with a floating market outside of it, took in the awe inspiring, gold ornate St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace – all in just a day!

My new favourite word is cicchetti! Cicchetti fill those afternoon cravings, imagine that in between lunch and dinner where you open the fridge not knowing what you want but secretly your body just wants to have a glass of wine and a sneaky snack. Well cicchetti is one delicious word that describes just that!

So where do you find these scrumptious Apertivos and cicchetti? Our favourite little spot in San Polo: Osteria dai Zemei – think little baguette bites with homemade ingredients and Aperols. I would definitely recommend trying a glass of their Noisola (white wine), it was so good we got a bottle!

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Osteria Dai Zemei – I mean how good do these look! 

The best gelato in Venice award goes to Suso Gelatoteca! Amazeballs. Seriously! Quite simply one of the best gelato places I tried in my whole 30 day Europe adventure. I had a scoop of the Manet (pistachio & hazelnut) and a scoop of Toffee Caramel. Sorry people, you will have to take my word for it as I was too busy indulging to stop and take a photo. My mouth waters just thinking about it…

The next morning, we woke early to see the gorgeous Rialto Bridge and find a good macchiato. Again, San Polo is where the best food is at! Head to Caffe Del Doge for your morning espresso hit. So what should you see if you only have 24 hours? I say soak it all in, wander the streets, get lost and trust that the nose knows!

Next stop >> Marco Polo airport to pick up our gorgeous fiat and head for fair Verona.

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Why is everyone headed to Croatia?

Just about every second person planning a European getaway (in Australia anyway) has either already been to Croatia or has a friend raving about it (me, #sorrynotsorry) and it’s on their radar! So why should you jump on the band wagon and head to Croatia too? Let me introduce you to my “Top 3 Cs” for Croatia!

  1. Culture
  2. Coastline
  3. Cuisine

The “3 Cs” that in my opinion can make almost any holiday a raging success! But what about these 3 is so unique to Croatia? Check out our itinerary below to find out why!

First up: Dubrovnik 

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We had 24 hours in this gorgeous city and stayed just outside the Old City walls in an Airbnb. The city is gorgeous and it captured my heart right away. We were under the pump to take in as much of the town as we could so we purchased tickets to walk up and around the city walls to take in the Dubrovnik skyline and coastline. If you take one thing away from our time in Dubrovnik – scale the city walls! We headed up around 6pm and enjoyed the gorgeous sunset and an Aperol Spritz or two at one of the many bars scattered along the wall.

To check out our Airbnb and to hear more about how to make the most out of 24 hours in Dubrovnik, read my blog post here.

Next stop: Hvar 

From Dubrovnik, we caught the early morning ferry to Hvar. This ferry took roughly 4 hours, lovely views but take a good book because whilst the ferry timetable says 3 hours – it is most definitely 4 hours.

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Somewhere high above Stari Grad

 

We loved Hvar! On reflection, it was definitely a highlight of our month-long adventure for me. Our Airbnb was just off the main square of Hvar Town. Our host recommended we hire a scooter to truly get a sense of the island. Luckily, it is tricky to get lost on Hvar with two main roads linking the towns together – New road and Old road (easy to remember!). First stop on our mini roadtrip was Zaraće. The water was a gorgeous turquoise, it was secluded and we shared the beach with one boat and a handful of locals – perfection! I mean, look at that water colour in the photo below, it is a blue you just want to fall into.

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Zaraće Beach
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Vrboska – ‘Little Venice’

We also stopped off at Stari Grad for lunch and then to Vrboska. This little seaside town has earned the nickname ‘Little Venice’ as it is also built on a canal system.

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Vrboska – ‘Little Venice’

Each town had a unique personality and they were all charming. We didn’t have any particular sights to tick off in each place, but just enjoyed being lost, wandering down the laneways.

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Vrboska – ‘Little Venice’

The way home proved just as rewarding as we climbed to one of the highest points on the island. Not for the faint hearted, the roads were very windy but the reward is worth it – breathtaking views of the island.

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Half-Day Scooter Trip around Hvar

Along this route in the Summer,  you will see an endless sea of another kind – lavender fields. These dusty purple beauties will follow you until you begin your descent back to Hvar Town. If you wanted to do a similar route, we hired our scooter from Antonio Rent near the main bus stop. They highlighted the roads to take and provided tips on where to swim and what to see.

Our second day, a group of us hired a boat to explore the Pakleni Islands. Grab some snacks, lunch and drinks from the market and make a day of it! These islands are famous for their crystal clear waters. We checked out Carpe Diem on our way home – the infamous island nightclub that only opens at 12am! Those know me, know the Nanna in me just can’t cope. But it was a great atmosphere in the day too. Think inflatable unicorns, chilled Rosé and sun lounges looking out over the ocean.

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A few other quick recommendations;

  • Hula Hula Beach Club is a great sunset spot!
  • Maestro Restaurant won best meal on the island for us. The local Croatian cuisine was awesome. Nick tried Pasticada and I had homemade gnocchi (pictured right).
  • Terrace Bar in the Main Square is a great spot for a drink with a view, away from the hustle and bustle of the other louder bars.

 

Final Destination: Split 

Before arriving in Croatia, we booked 3 nights here. Upon reflection, you do not need this much time here if you are staying on Hvar or another island. If that’s not your plan, this would be a great base for several day trips.

Little Palmina Guest House was fantastic! We booked the one bedroom apartment with sea view and it was so cute and had everything you need. We ended up cooking one night at home with fresh ingredients we picked up at the green market. Plus, the owners were very helpful providing suggestions on where to swim, restaurant recommendations and public transport tips.

On one of our days, we caught a bus to Krka National Park. The earlier you arrive the better because this tourist hot spot is swarming by 11am. You don’t need a tour group, it is cheaper to catch a local bus to Skradin (little town that is at the border of the national park). This town has a little beach, some shops and you can buy your entry tickets to the park here too.

 

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Skradinski Buk Waterfalls

We hired bicycles and cycled to the famous Skradinski Buk waterfalls. The cycling route takes about 30 minutes, and it is along unsealed roads but that was half the fun of it! There are a few vendors renting bikes near where you buy tickets. It was a great way to take in other areas of the national park as well. The waterfalls have a walking track that takes about 45 minutes to complete, from this track you get some great vantage points with views of the waterfalls and the river.

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Krka National Park

In Split, our top three things to do would have to be:

  1. Soaking up sun at Kasjuni Beach, in the beautiful Marjan Forest Park
  2. Taking in a gorgeous sunset at Sustipan Memorial Park with a picnic
  3. Exploring Old Town and Diocletian’s Palace. This palace was built for Emperor Diocletian at the turn of the 4th century AD in preparation for his retirement (not a bad spot to retire!)

NB: Croatia has quite the craft beer scene and there is the ‘Little Beer Shop’ located on Trumbićeva Obala that has a pretty impressive selection of local craft beers – worth popping into! Especially if you plan on having the picnic described above.

Culture, cuisine and that beautiful coastline are the reasons I think people keep putting Croatia on their bucket list! Your itinerary will revolve around these 3 things even if you don’t plan at all, they are simply unavoidable in this wonderful country.

Did you love Croatia? Are you heading there soon, if so whereabouts? 

If you are planning a trip to Croatia, I hope you love it just as much as we did! As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below. xx

Next stop >> Venice >>



I really only blog once a week, so please follow me on Instagram @chloewilltravel so we can stay connected – I am there daily! 😉

 

 

 

 

Less than 24 hours in Dubrovnik? The 1 thing you must do!

If you are like us and have allotted 1 night to fall in love with the city of Dubrovnik before ferrying across to the islands of the Dalmatian coast make sure you scale the city walls of the Old City.

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Looking out over Dubrovnik from the Old City Walls

If the above photo didn’t convince you already of the beauty and amazing historical architecture you will see from the vantage points along the city walls, let me try to persuade you some more by explaining what we got up to in under 24 hours!

We stayed right outside the city walls in an Airbnb. I would highly recommend Branka’s apartment. It had great views of the Old town and the water from both the lounge room and bedroom and was in such a convenient location.

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Sunrise from our Airbnb’s window

Not people who like to be rushed in a new city, we knew we were under the pump to take in all that King’s Landing (whoops, I mean Dubrovnik) had to offer. We headed straight for the Gondola to take us up, up, up and away. But the line was so long (think 1.5 hour wait) and the sun was beating down. Instead of waiting in queues (something my friends know I have little patience for) we decided to head into town. The city is gorgeous and it captured my heart right away. We had lunch at Restaurant Kapon (Croatian for Rooster) and enjoyed a Kapon stew before simply strolling around the city at ground level.

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Streets of Dubrovnik

The city itself looks as if George R.R Martin’s words leapt off the pages of his fantasy novels. Trust me, the city has capitalised on its GOT fame and there is plenty of mugs and banners displaying the Stark or Lannister coat of arms.

If you had more time, you could buy one of the city tourist passes that grants you access to a few museums and the city walls but with limited time Nick and I just bought 2 tickets for the city walls around 6pm. You cannot get up onto the walls past 7.30pm but those lucky enough to scamper up before then can enjoy the walls and the numerous bars along them at sunset.

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Old City Walls

It was the highlight of our day and the sunset did not disappoint. Plus, the crowds had died down by 6pm which meant we had no trouble securing a table at one of the bars for a quick pitstop. The entire walk took us just under 2 hours.

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Rooftops of the Old City

So if you do just one thing before hitting up the azure islands dotted along Croatia’s coast, be sure to circle the entire city, taking in the bird’s-eye view from the battlements.

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This was taken at the top of the stairs that led down to the gates to the Old City from our Airbnb

For those that have already been, did anyone else find everything within the city walls expensive? The food was definitely on the pricey side but because of how time constrained we were, we didn’t have time to find cheaper parts of Dubrovnik (if they even exist!). That night we ate at Bona Fide, a Mexican restaurant that was packed and had a great vibe! It was tucked away in one of the many gorgeous stone laneways of the Old City.

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Evening in the Old City

If we ever get the chance to go back, we would definitely stay for 2 nights but we were very content with what we saw and happily jumped on the ferry the next morning bound for Hvar!

Is Dubvronik on your bucket list? If you have already been, what was your favourite thing to do in Dubrovnik? Please share your stories in the comments below. Love xx



I really only blog once a week, so please follow me on Instagram @chloewilltravel as I would love to stay connected – I am there daily! 😉

Lundun Calling

72 hours in the city of Red buses and Royals

You just cannot beat that ‘start of a holiday’ feeling! The rush of excitement when you sit down with that first glass of bubbles after jumping through the necessary airport “hoops” that are check-in, security and immigration. Funny how those things don’t bother you, the delays and the lines don’t make your blood boil in frustration but at the end of a holiday those things do just that and that pre-holiday blissful, “nothing can get me down” attitude has disappeared… but I digress. We were headed for London Town. The ever-famous red buses, royal family and good ol’ fashioned pub food was waiting.

This was not on our original itinerary, I have lived in the UK twice and Nick has also been before but with so many friends (typical Aussie’s) making that migration leap, we had friends to see and family birthdays to celebrate! And London in Summer is enough to make you want to make the leap over the pond yourself…

We checked in at Point A Hotel, Shoreditch. I love the area Shoreditch, it’s far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist attractions while remaining very convenient and close to all the upcoming restaurants and awesome bars. The Point A Hotel is a fairly new hotel, the rooms are tiny but built with ingenuity that I get excited about (nerd alert). Does anyone else judge a hotel by its bathroom?

Not sure why, but the rooms had a very funky light setting and you could have the room bathed in any colour of the rainbow, a wash of neon green, sunny yellow or raucous red or go all disco-tech and have it change colour every couple of seconds. It was amusing to say the least and deserved a mention. The hotel had great relationships with pubs and amenities nearby and you were given discounts for being an A-List member (free to sign-up). Think discounted meals at the Crown and Shuttle and access to a nearby Fitness First.

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Millennium Bridge

In and around meeting with friends, Nick and I managed to get in some sight-seeing. We did a great little walk all the way from Shoreditch down to The Great Fire of London Monument, cutting across to St Paul’s Cathedral. From here, we wandered across the Millennium Bridge and along the river bank via Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, landing finally at Borough Markets near London Bridge. London is just so walkable at this time of year, I think we clocked an average of 20,000 steps every day! If you would like to follow the route we took, click here.

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St Paul’s Cathedral 

Borough Markets is a must-do in our books. The markets are thriving! For those coffee snobs (no judgement, I am one!), decent coffee can be found at Monmouth (this place was recommended by a friend). We enjoyed delicious paella in the markets for lunch and who doesn’t love to wander around gawking at food with a glass of Pimms or a beer in hand! The atmosphere, live music and vibe was hard to pass up.

The first night, we kicked back with family at The Albion in Islington – this place was packed, its beer garden being super popular until the sun set around 9.30pm. I enjoyed the mushroom risotto and Nick had the burger – food is on the pricey side for a pub but is yummy. Islington is a great area to check out if you are keen to get out of central London. Great shopping and restaurants!

We picked a cracker of a weekend with the Wimbledon Final and World Cup Final back to back. For the World Cup Final, we planted ourselves at the Crown and Shuttle (thanks to Point A Hotel for the discount) before kicking off the night at Enchanted Garden: Last Days of Shoreditch. How to explain this place… think Secret Garden Festival crossed with an English pub? The 30-degree weather coupled with 2 huge sporting events meant London put on a great show.

I know I have spoken about food a lot, but our last night deserves a mention! We headed to Exmouth Markets, a very trendy street that has not yet been invaded by tourists. You could easily take your time and pick at random which restaurant you would like to stop at. We had dinner at Morito (Spanish Tapas). A booking is a necessity here. Our dish of the night was the raw courgette salad and we also loved the spiced lamb. Unfortunately, we found the pork belly disappointing and Nick said the beer selection was limited. But all in all, the restaurant was buzzing and bonus points for being away from the maddening crowd.

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The inside of the British Museum

In our short time in London, we also managed to tick off Buckingham Palace and St James’ Park (one of my favourite parks in London!), Covent Garden, stumble across the London 10km Virgin Fun Run and checked out the British Museum! I highly recommend getting to the British Museum just before 10am to beat the tour buses.

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View of Buckingham Palace from St James’ Park 

London is in no short supply of things to do, so soak up those glorious few weeks of sun in July and make the most of it!

I would love to hear what your favourite restaurants and bars are in London and if you have any questions about any of the above, please reach out via Instagram (@chloewilltravel) or in the comments below.

>> Next stop: Croatia >>

 

The Journey Begins

cropped-P1000708Let me introduce myself! My name is Chloe. Based in Sydney, Australia, I work in Finance,  love ice cream (rain or shine), find comfort in re-runs of The West Wing and enjoys a good glass of Rosé.  When I am not planning my next holiday, I am too often seen cuddling the nearest dog or avidly writing my next to-do list. Moving house and country a few times, my love for travel was instilled early on and has only continued to grow. Once upon a time, I had a  blog when I was abroad in the UK for 1 year after school, but this was more of an e-journal to track all the places I visited and to keep the people closest to me amused with tales of my friends and I gallivanting about Europe.  Since then, I have sat on the idea of creating another blog for too long… basically living the idea out in my head on my adventures so far.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover. 

– Mark Twain

So why blog now? The quote above got to me and bravery kicked in. I am currently on a month-long trip around Europe with my boyfriend, Nick. When he and I were planning, I would scour the internet looking for blogs on insider tips and tricks about areas and places to stay, what to do and where to eat! A lover of good food and all things un-crowded, away from tourist traps and cliché things, I found myself spending hours researching and often felt uninspired and too often overwhelmed at the vast amounts of information. I hear you, why should I throw more opinions into the vast “travelgram” space… read on. Continue reading “The Journey Begins”