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Discover Dubrovnik, all the reasons you should

The Mediterranean is magical for not only its beauty, but also for the variety of cultures that call its shores home. It is without a doubt one of my favourite regions to visit on this planet for the beauty of the summoning blue waters and the history that each nation set along the coast has attached. Italy left me enchanted, Greece had me at Yassas ,  but it was Croatia that made my heart race and is strongly beckoning me back.

The moment our ship pulled into the cove, a short distance from the shores of the gorgeous port town of Dubrovnik, Andreas Bocelli came over the loud speaker and all passengers simply gazed in awe at the truly breathtaking scenery that in all my years traveling has never been matched. Surrounded by rolling hills that directly meet the Adriatic, and lined with windblown palms and old stone walls that beckon onlookers in for further discovery, my stomach leaped with excitement to step foot off the vessel and to see more.

The port town has become a tourist-filled destination over the years for good reason, as the beauty, matched with the cultural influences, architecture, hospitality and history, make it a must-see destination on your itinerary.

History & Sights

The old town within the walls of Dubrovnik includes an array of monuments and structures that remain symbols of the power struggle that the town had been plagued with right up until the early 90’s. Few of the buildings built during the Renaissance period survived the earthquake of 1667, but those which did, are worth a visit. These include the Sponza Palace, dating from the 16th century, that now houses the National Archives, The Rector’s Palace, which is a Gothic Renaissance structure, and is now a museum, and the St. Saviour Church, which is also a remnant of the Renaissance period. Stop by the ancient monastery and the forts which sit atop the hill of the old town, and you’ll have achieved gaining enough historical knowledge for your first visit.

Dining

Dining is made not only delectable but also delightful while in Dubrovnik. Many wonderful options for a scrumptious meal are offered directly in old town, of which include the 5- star locale, Restaurant Dubrovnik, that serves only the best quality Mediterranean meals that are complemented by service from warm and attentive staff. The notable fine-dining restaurant does come at a cost, yet is worth every dime.

For an experience that includes a seaside view and the most delicious seafood found in the region, visit Nautika Restaurant. Your meal will be accompanied by panoramic views from the gorgeously decorated terrace, including a sight of the two fortresses, Lovrijenac and Bokar.

Restaurant 360 offers up an experience that the name makes self-explanatory- a 360 degree view of the ancient town and all that surrounds it, from atop a wonderful patio. Service is warm and prices are reasonable. This is a wine-lovers paradise thanks to the tastings the restaurant provides A remarkable view, delicious cuisine and fine wine- what more could a lover of all things chic ask for?

Accommodations

Accommodations within this historical spot are difficult to come by, yet merely a walk away from the old town walls, travelers can find luxurious villas and retreats to enjoy more seaside views while unwinding after a day of discovery and luxury dining. Villa Dubrovnik, Villa Orsula and Villa Allure of Dubrovnik are the top picks for your most comfortable, chic and quality stay. Each is a short kilometer from the old town walls and offer luxurious accommodation either directly on, or overlooking the sea.

As an avid traveler, it is always difficult for me to part with a destination I have enjoyed great experiences in. However,  while leaving the port of Dubrovnik, the captain played Andreas Bocelli once more, only this time it was his masterful piece, “Time to Say Goodbye,” and tears actually welled in my eyes at the sheer beauty and bittersweet moment during which we sailed away. I vowed to return and suggest an initial or return visit to each and all of you to this incredible destination.

 

 

 

 

Why your next vacation should include a cycling tour

Can you imagine yourself biking along a field of wildflowers, herds of cows, or even up brisk mountains or along the coast of the ocean? The wind is rushing through your hair and the smell of the salty breeze hitting your cheek. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

When most people decide to travel as part of a tour, the first thing they search for is the form of transportation — will I be riding on a bus with 40 other people, will I use a cruise ship to get from one destination to another, or will the group be transported by train to each city? What most travellers overlook is the sustainable option of cycling.

I know exactly what you are thinking: that seems like a lot of work for a vacation. I considered a cycling tour a few years ago when I was looking to travel through Europe. I had just started to bike over the summer and thought it would be a great way to see the countryside of Italy — however, the more I read about it, the more the thought of riding 70 to  80 kilometres a day terrified me. I didn’t want to be that person who had to call a cab in the middle of nowhere and spend a mini-fortune getting back to the hotel.

But, there are a variety of cycling tours available for people of different fitness capabilities. After doing more research, I found quite a few tours that range between 30 and 60 kilometres per day, and that as long as you understand the hill gradients involved in the routes, it’s not as physically exhausting as it may seem.

The advantage of going on a cycling tour is the ability to move at your own pace. Most are self-guided, so while you travel with a group of people, what you do and see is entirely up to you. Feel free to stop at a small village for a glass of wine, wonder a few shops, hike through some ruins, or sit by a stream and relax those muscles. It’s a much more natural way of seeing a country. Instead of spending your time lining up for tourist attractions that are more than often overrated, you will actually get the opportunity to experience the culture of a place. A cycling tour is the perfect option for an explorer, someone who has an intense passion to learn and see more than what is often printed in a list of “top must-see places”.

And then there is the fitness aspect. Eat cake, drink wine, and enjoy delicacies from around the world, because you will most likely burn off all those calories when you hop back on that bike! Your bags are typically sent along to each hotel in a support vehicle, which means you don’t have to worry about travelling with all your luggage.

The final benefit is that cycling tours are often well-priced, as the costs only include accommodations (which are usually quite luxurious), and a few meals. The transportation is all up to you!

Here are a four tours to explore:

Cycle through Tuscany: This guided tour is incredibly intimate, which means you are bound to meet some great friends while enjoying the sights of Italy. The daily bike ride is relatively short, with the longest route being 55 kilometres; however, Tuscany is naturally hilly. This tour offers a few meals and complimentary wine after your bike ride. Travellers will be staying at a mix of hotels and apartments.

Cycle through Spain: For those looking to bike a daily 30 to 60 kilometres a day, this tour through Spain is for you. Travellers will spend two days in each city exploring the various cycling routes and getting to know each village. Discover seaside resorts, dormant volcanoes, and fishing villages. All breakfasts and one dinner are included.

Cycle through Peru: This tour is recommended for active travellers who enjoy hiking, cycling, and kayaking. Instead of biking to each destination, this tour is comprised of shorter local bike tours, which means beginners may be more drawn to it. A number of cultural destinations are included, along with guides to explain the history. The accommodations are a mix of hotels and campgrounds, so this tour is for those who truly love the outdoors and aren’t afraid to rough it.

Cycle through Croatia: Vineyards, forests, and the Adriatic Sea — what else would you need for a cycling tour? Explore the coast while cycling through local villages and tasting homemade wines and fresh fruits. Similarly to the tour through Tuscany, the longest ride is about 50 kilometres, but there are a few steep climbs. Most of the villages have deep historical significance, so history buffs rejoice!

When choosing a cycling tour, make sure to note which ones include rented bikes and helmets. Some tours may require you to bring your own bicycles while others will provide them for you.

Happy trailin’!