Thursday 22 December 2011

A day in the city

This is another post about the Slovenian capital - the city of Ljubljana. A fellow photographer (Pavel Gregorič) has recently completed a really cool Time-lapse photo project titled: Time lapse - A day in the city.

Let me explain this technique in case some of you are not familiar with it...
Time-lapse photography is a cinematography technique where the frequency at which individual film frames are captured (the frame rate) is much lower than that which will be used to play the sequence back. When played at normal speed, time appears to be moving faster - we could say it appears to be lapsing.
It is just the opposite of high speed photography with which in photo sequence time appears to be moving slower when it is played at normal speed.

There were almost half a million photos taken during the whole length of the project (7850 of them were used in this film). Some photos have obviously been post processed and effects as tilt shifting have been used for the best effect.
Some photo sequences were even taken from a hot-air balloon, which definitely adds to the overall effect.

If you are out of ideas for your next photo project, you better take a look at this video. Also if you are searching for your next vacation destination or a weekend getaway - this presentation alone might just be enough to make Ljubljana (and Slovenia) the destination of your choice.

I hope you enjoy the video. Since this is just a short promo I suggest you stay tuned for the real thing when it is published.


Wednesday 30 November 2011

Lyrical Minutes in the City of Ljubljana

As I have already mentioned in my previous post, according to Lonely Planet Slovenia was voted amongst top 10 world travel destinations for the upcoming year.

If you are still wondering how this small European country could be on such a list, you might get a hint from this video. Locals are really trying hard to promote this country and lots of travellers appreciate the effort.
If you have a personal experience from a trip to Slovenia, please share your thoughts. I always find it interesting to read about how visitors from abroad see my home country.

Recently I have stumbled upon a video of a summer surprise event in the Slovenian capital - city of Ljubljana. It is one of those videos that make you wish you were there to see it in person.

I must say every year there are more events and festivals worth attending in Slovenia. Most of those still happen in Ljubljana during the summer months but there are quite a few also elsewhere and during other seasons.


Friday 25 November 2011

Slovenia voted top 8 travel destination

At the end of every year Lonely Planet's top destinations for the coming year are published. A few weeks ago they announced their top picks for 2012. This year Reykjavik was voted the most popular city and Iceland the most popular country in the world. Since those two places got by far the most votes, it might be the right time to tweak my travel list a bit.

I was surprised (and pleased at the same time) to also find Slovenia in the Readers’ Choice: Top 10 countries category. With 6% of all votes my home country took 8th place. Both USA and Mexico were behind.

I think this is a great result and hope it will help promoting this great country. In my opinion it has been off the average traveller's radar for too long.

If you want to read the whole article, it is available on the Lonely Planet website.


Wednesday 16 November 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Bell Tower of Agios Markos


Monday 14 November 2011

How to find a typical old village on Corfu?

No matter where I go, I always enjoy visiting typical local villages. That is easily achieved in some countries and can be quite a challenge in others. Since Greece is a country where you can literary stumble upon history on every step you take, I was expecting to find numerous nicely preserved, traditional old villages also on the island of Corfu.

I was surprised to find every coastal town and village turned into a place suitable only for mass tourism. Unfortunately this means those places were robbed of any charm long time ago. This new architecture has little or no regard for the old beauty and historical value of the area. It seems like the only two aims were to build fast and to build cheap.

The only exception among coastal town I saw, was the protected centre of Corfu city (Kerkyra).

Even though I didn't like this fact one bit, I didn't give up. Soon I figured out all I needed to do was stop concentrating on coastal towns and look inland instead.
I didn't need to look far, since the nearest such town was just a short ride from the town of Ipsos into the hills. This old town is called Agios Markos. Actually it is a small mountain village of some 30 buildings - one of them being a small church with a separate bell tower.

However charming the village might look, quite a few of the buildings have been deserted a while ago and are already falling apart.

So if you are looking for an old picturesque village on the island of Corfu - take a random mountain road and your chances for finding one are quite good.
I guess roads ending in the middle of nowhere, near a small mountain village are the best choice.


Monday 7 November 2011

Stunning Beaches of Corfu

Greece is known to have some of the prettiest beaches in Europe. With countless islands (actually there are more then 6.000 islands and islets in Greece) it should not be a surprise at all...

Corfu is known as the greenest Greek island and not as the one with the prettiest beaches - the nearby Zakynthos, Cephalonia and Lefkada are usually mentioned in this context. I was visiting Corfu for the first time and I was expecting to see at least some nice beaches. Let me just say I was not disappointed with what I saw.

Since we were stationed in the town of Ipsos (North-Eastern part of the island) and renting scooters, we mainly concentrated on the northern part of the island.

We tried to visit a different beach every day. There are quite a few to choose from...

I particularly enjoyed Logas Beach near the village of Peroulades. There is even a cute café/restaurant (7th Heaven Café) at the top of the cliff overlooking the beach.
However I have to point out that when we were there a strong wind started blowing in the afternoon and high tide literary flooded those few meters of this cute sandy beach under high cliffs. I am not sure if this is something that happens there every day, but could be quite inconvenient getting there just to find a flooded beach. If you find yourself in a situation like that, I suggest to take it easy and order a cocktail or two at the panoramic bar on the top of the cliff. I am sure you'll feel much better afterwards.

A bit harder to get to is Myrtiotissa beach, located nearby the much more popular and usually overrun with tourists - Glyfada beach. The road leading to this beach is quite narrow and steep. There is a beautiful Monastery of Virgin Mary Myrtiotissa located just above the beach.
It is quite isolated, unorganized, pretty much unspoiled and unofficially nudist. You can easily find your almost private spot behind one of many large boulders scattered on the whole length of this beach.

Another beach worth mentioning is Sidari Beach with the famous coves of Canal d'Amour located to the west of the town of Sidari. The main part of the beach can get quite busy and loud. If you walk to the cliffs on the western part of the beach, chances are you will find a place to enjoy by yourself. However getting there will probably include following a path through some bushes and jumping off a cliff to get to the sea. For me this was just perfect.

There are also many other popular beaches we didn't visit on purpose. We tried to avoid the most popular and crowded ones. If those are the ones you are after, you should definitely visit the above mentioned Glyfada (large surface of fine sand, surrounded by tree-covered cliffs), Paleokastritsa (surrounded by green cliffs and many sea caves that can be visited by boat) and Agios Gordios beach (a sandy beach, surrounded by impressive rock formations, greenery and tourist facilities).

Since these are just some of the beaches on the northern part of Corfu island it is obvious the island is well worth visiting it even if beautiful beaches are all you are after.


Friday 28 October 2011

Diving trip to Egypt postponed

I have had a wish to learn diving and to acquire a PADI licence for many years now. If I took a PADI OWD course here in Slovenia it would mostly take place in a swimming pool. The only exception is usually the final dive, which takes place in the Adriatic Sea - somewhere on Slovenian or Croatian coast.

I am a big fan of Adriatic sea, but its underwater life can hardly be compared to some place with coral reefs and countless colourful fish. It is also not all that warm during this time of year...

I guess the closest such place to Europe is the Red Sea in Egypt. Since I visited Egypt back in 2007 I can't get this thing out of my head. My diving experience from that trip is from Dahab (days 13 and 14 of our Egyptian adventure).

Another thing is that such courses usually take quite some time, often stretching over two or even more months. In tourist places like Dahab or Sharm el Sheikh such courses are adapted to match usual holiday durations. This means one can acquire a diving licence in under a week.
However I would suggest not to hurry things more then necessary. You should always keep in mind that the purpose of such courses is to learn to dive independently. If at the end of such course you do not feel confident to face possibly dangerous underwater situations alone, you should definitely reconsider diving alone. A mistake in underwater environment can cost you your life!

I suggest you look into many options available in Dahab and Sharm el Sheikh. Some companies offer ship-wreck site diving, other have superb coral reef formations. You can definitely choose what you prefer.

As the title of this post suggests, things have lately simply not been good for taking a trip like this. I will just have to wait a bit longer to do it, but this thing will definitely stay high on my travel list.


Wednesday 26 October 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Boat put to rest


Monday 24 October 2011

From Summer to Winter in a Flash

This year summer just did not want to end here in Slovenia. I liked this fact very much and tried to take it in as much as possible.
I was still swimming in the Adriatic Sea at the beginning of October and had a great warm weekend on Slovenian coast. The initial plan was to visit Skocjan Caves - an UNESCO heritage site, but since weather was simply too perfect to spend the day underground, M. and I unanimously decided to head for the charming Slovenian coast town of Piran. We figured any of the gloomy winter days will be just fine for exploring the caves.
In the end we had a great day enjoying the warm sun and fresh local sea food.

Both of the places mentioned Piran and Skocjan Caves are well worth visiting and deserve a separate post each.

We were glad we decided the way we did. Even more so after a few days, when temperatures dropped for 15 degrees in one afternoon. Another few days later snow covered most mountains higher than 1.000 meters above sea level.

Now every morning temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius and winter is definitely knocking on the doors, or as my favourite author keeps saying - Winter is coming. Well actually at the end of last week, it looked as if it has arrived already - there was snow everywhere.

The interesting thing is, even nature looks like it didn't realise this yet. Leaves are still green on most of trees. Last week's snow was breaking trees all over the place because leaves didn't even turn to autumn colours, let alone started to fall off.
If we weren't picking apples just the other day, I would think autumn is an imaginary time of year that happens only in fairytales.


Thursday 20 October 2011

Arriving to Corfu

Corfu - the northernmost of the six main Ionian islands is also supposed to be the greenest of them all. It has been a crossroad where many different nations and cultures have been mixing for centuries. It is still a bit like that today.

We had arranged a reservation of an apartment in the town of Pirgi which is inseparably connected to a bit more famous party town of Ipsos. This town is actually a Greek version of Ibiza. If you are wondering what is the cheapest way to get to Corfu, you should check out one of my previous posts, but if you still prefer Spain, there are always many cheap flights to Ibiza available from many destinations around Europe.

This time our chosen mean of transport was a ferry from Venice to the town of Corfu (Kerkyra). Pirgi (or Pyrgi) is located 15 kilometres north of this largest town on the island of Corfu.

From the first look of the island I did not know what exactly to think of it - it was dark when we arrived. I guess this might be the main reason we were quite impressed with our apartments when we saw them. There was a nicely lit pool in front of the house with a well stocked bar standing right next to it.

Even in the morning apartments with a rather fancy pool looked quite nice - from afar that is.
When I took a closer look it was evident everything was put together with little attention to detail. Tiles around the pool were not put in place very accurately and quite a few of them were already broken (laying on a pile in a corner). There was also a new LED lighting installed on the rail around the pool which might have even looked nice in dark, but in daylight all the wiring was visible and everything was attached with large silicone blobs. It also did not look very rain resistant - luckily it does not rain all that often in Greece...

This trend could be noticed with most of the places lined up by the main road across from the beach in the towns of Pyrgi and Ypsos. However I am pretty sure many of the visitors do not even notice this. Most of those places were empty throughout the day and filled up well after dusk when such "details" are less obvious.

Since we were usually exploring the island during the day, we did not mind those things all that much. However if we wanted to do the exploring, we had to rent some kind of transport - we opted for a couple of scooters.
We visited some really nice places and idyllic beaches, but more on that in another post...


Monday 17 October 2011

Ferry deck passenger tips

Travelling as a deck passenger on a ferry is one of the cheapest ways of travel. Many people try to avoid it because they are afraid it would be too uncomfortable and rent a cabin instead. I think everyone who tried camping before, should be just fine as a deck passenger.

Those on a tight budget have another option: "Airtype Economy Seats". Those seats look like airplane seats put in a large room (hence the name) - usually with air conditioning turned to maximum.
Those seats might seem quite comfortable at first, but trying to get a good night sleep in one of them is a whole different thing - usually they can not be put into a horizontal position. That is why I prefer to use my sleeping bag on the floor and travel as a deck passenger - it can be quite comfortable and is definitely the cheapest way of travelling long distances with a ferry.

However if you do not have a problem with the things mentioned and don't like the wind in your hair while sleeping on the open deck, those seats might be a very affordable option.

There are a few things you should keep in mind while traveling as a deck passenger on a ferry:

  • Try to board the ferry amongst the first to be able to reserve a good spot for spending the night. Keep in mind the sun, wind and engine noise.

  • Pack a sleeping bag to keep you warm during the night and a sleeping bag pad (those self inflatable ones are the best choice) for making the hard deck a bit softer.

  • A hammock can be a useful alternative to a sleeping bag pad. Keep in mind there are usually not many suitable places for tying it up on a ferry.

  • The crew will let you sleep on the floor of inside corridors in case of bad weather. Otherwise there are only a few places available inside - depends on crew tolerance.

  • It can get windy and cold even during summer months in the middle of the Mediterranean. Pack a windjacket or some other warm alternative.

  • Food and drinks on a ferry can be quite expensive for what you get. Buy at least some of your own supplies before boarding.

  • Pack something to keep you occupied during the trip (e.g. a good book, card or board games). Do not count on internet or mobile phone network connections.

  • If you are traveling as a large group, it might be smart to consider renting a small cabin together. You can all store your luggage there and use the shower and toilet if you feel the need.

Need another tip on how to get the lowest possible price for a cabin? Check out the link to one of my previous posts.


Tuesday 11 October 2011

The cheapest way to get to Greece

As I have already mentioned in one of my previous posts, I was lucky enough to take part in a prize trip to Corfu.
Since transport to the location was not a part of the deal and this was a more or less a last minute trip, I had to do some research to find the most affordable mean of transport from Slovenia to the Greek island of Corfu.

Flights from nearby airports (e.g. Ljubljana, Venice) were either full or too expensive, so I had to search for alternatives. I found out literary the only alternative was a ferry. There were a few options, but Venice seemed the most reasonable - it is the closest to Slovenia. You can expect a lower price if you book way ahead of time and if you can afford adapting your schedule for a day or two. We had to settle for the prices on the date of our scheduled departure.
Generally there are two ferry companies you should check out when traveling from Italy to Greece: Minoan Lines and Anek Lines.

For a moment we were even thinking of taking a car with us on the ferry. We saw many German and Italian cars on Corfu so I guess this is also a thing to consider. We decided to rent a vehicle when we get there.
We opted to travel as deck passengers, which is the cheapest option. If you are thinking of renting a cabin you can get a really good offer (substantially lower, compared to web prices) when the ferry is already on the way. Use your haggling skills to your advantage. However there is a risk involved when traveling in high season - there might be no room left by the time ship sets sail.
Usually there are also "Airtype Economy Seats" available, but in my opinion those are much more uncomfortable compared to simply sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor.
In the end we were happy with our choice - we really enjoyed sleeping under the stars with a light sea breeze in our hair.

There is also a free bonus when taking a ferry from Venice. Even if you don't get to stroll through the streets of this charming Italian city, you get a great view from the deck of your ferry. To my surprise the ferry passed right by the famous Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square). We got another chance to take beautiful photos on our way back.

Even though this may be the cheapest way to get to Greece from northern Italy, one should be aware this type of transport takes quite some time. It took us 26 hours to get from Venice to Corfu. Since Corfu is the northernmost Greek island, you can expect the travel to other Greek islands to last even longer (e.g. it takes more then a day and a half to get from Venice to Crete and it also includes switching ferries).

We did not mind the long journey. We simply tried to have fun from the first minute on the road and I think we did a great job. When you are travelling with the right group of people, you can always count on having a great time.


Wednesday 5 October 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Venice from the Sea


Thursday 8 September 2011

Back from Corfu

We have just returned from a too short trip to the island of Corfu. We spent only a week on this green Greek island and another couple of days on a ferry ride there and back.

We visited beautiful beaches, enjoyed great food and of course partied as much as we could. I will try to put my observations and some useful tips in a following series of posts.

As always, I also took some nice photos you can look forward to. The one above is just a taste of things to come. It features a charming beach near the village of Peroulades. The beach is called Logas Beach.


Tuesday 23 August 2011

Move, Eat, Learn

Have you lately felt like the effects of a travel bug bite might be wearing off? I haven't, but if you have, you should relax for a moment, take a deep breath, make yourself comfortable and watch this short film (part one of a series of three).

I am pretty sure, when you are done, you will feel the urge to pack your bags and go somewhere... and I don't mean the toilet!

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

A few words about this project from the authors:

3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage... all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ....into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films.....

= a trip of a lifetime.

move, eat, learn

These films were commissioned by STA Travel Australia and all music is composed and performed by Kelsey James. The Soundtrack is available on iTunes.
I am pretty sure the author can expect a bunch of downloads!


Wednesday 17 August 2011

Wordless Wednesday: London Tower Bridge at Dusk


Monday 15 August 2011

Prize trip to Corfu

Even though it was one of the top picks for our summer holiday destination last year, I definitely did not plan to visit Greece this summer. As lady luck would have it, I am going there anyway...

One of my friends won a free apartment on the Greek island of Corfu and since this did not comply with her plans, me and M. were more then glad to jump in. An additional surprise was, that it was actually a 6 person prize apartment. After some consultation we are going as a group of friends, simply hoping to have a great time there.

Unfortunately there is no such thing as a free lunch... As we found out we will have to cover transport expenses by ourselves. The whole thing still seems quite cheap, so this is not a problem.

We have been looking at Greece as our potential vacation destination for some time now. Other islands seemed more suited for us (for instance Kefalonia or Zakynthos), but we just could not afford to skip this chance.

The island of Corfu is one of the most popular European student destinations and partying and clubbing are main events on this island during the summer months.

Greek party destinations of choice are islands of Crete, Mykonos, Corfu and Ios. There are also many travel agencies offering really affordable deals for Greece. The one we are going with is definitely one of them, but is targeting only Slovenian customers.

The last time I was on such a trip it was a trip to Crete. It was a while ago, but we had a great time. I am really curious how it will work out this time. If nothing else now we are a decade older.

Despite everything I am sure we will enjoy the trip to the fullest. You can hope for a bunch of photos and an interesting story or two. Let's get the party started!


Friday 12 August 2011

Will UK riots affect tourism?

I have watched latest UK events in shock. My primary information sources have been: the riots incident map, live blog from The Guardian and a number of independent bloggers and tweeters (like The West Londoner and a Bristol tweeting cyclist).
Events like these seemed unthinkable during my visit to London a couple of months ago. But it has happened anyway and now we will have to deal with it.

Fortunately things seem to be calming down but a strange feeling of something lurking in the dark may still stick around for a while. The question is will this affect tourism and the upcoming London Olympics?
There will definitely be some effect - a number of cancellations have already been noted, but experts do not see a large-scale drop of tourist visits as a likely consequence. The UK's tourism body VisitBritain stressed that London's violence was taking place away from key visitor attractions, and that transport links were running as normal.
Also "British people won’t be put off from visiting the Olympics in Stratford because a year earlier shop windows were broken in Hackney," said Tom Jenkins, executive director of the ETOA (The European Tour Operators Association). I guess this also applies to foreign visitors - people tend to forget quickly (sometimes even too quickly).

Some UK government responses during these days seemed necessary and other are dangerously close to usual Chinese and Middle Eastern leaders' decisions. I believe David Cameron's latest statement also falls into that category:
"We are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality," said the UK prime minister.

What is your opinion on this? Do you think the government should have the right to decide about who can use Facebook and Tweeter? Can current circumstances be an excuse to pass something similar to the well known USA Patriot act also in the UK?

I've been thinking lately about the journalist terminology used during latest events in different parts of the World... Can anyone please explain the difference between a Libyan rebel, Syrian protester and a British rioter?

I hope this didn't turn out like another political post. I meant to simply address the link between tourism and latest UK events, but got astray somewhere on the way.
Please forgive me for this... I promise this won't happen... too often.


Thursday 11 August 2011

Visiting London Hyde Park

One of the most popular parks in London is Hyde park. It is one of eight Royal Parks of London.

There are also other things one can do besides walking around and relaxing in the green environment of Hyde park. Many frequent joggers use it as their training grounds. Spread on 142 hectares (350 acres) it offers plenty of space even for the fittest.
There are many organized running events organized within the park with participants coming from all over the world. For instance there was a triathlon (with no entrance fee) held there on 6th and 7th August.

If you are not a sports type of person, you can also use the park to simply enjoy the sun. Whether you do it on a deck chair or on a chosen patch of well kept green grass, is up to you.

For those who enjoy great views there is a chance to do it from a 60 metre Giant Observation Wheel at the Bandstand in Serpentine Road. It offers great views of Hyde park and nearby city areas.

If you feel like debating with strangers about topics that interest you or just want to scream at the whole wide world, you should probably stop at the Speakers Corner (located in the north-east corner of the park - on the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate, opposite Marble Arch tube).

If you walk north of the park there is a popular area of Notting Hill worth checking out. It was made even more popular by the 1999 film starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.
An upcoming event definitely worth visiting in this area is also an annual event called the Notting Hill Carnival, this year taking place on August 28th and 29th.

For those looking for different kinds of challenges, there is also a chance to take part in some casino games nearby. The Grosvenor Victoria Casino (also known as Vic Casino) is located on Edgware Road just north of Hyde Park.
This casino is literary a historical landmark for poker players. Almost every top poker professional in the UK has found their way there.

To us the park served as a meeting point with some old friends living nearby. We entered the park on the exact opposite side of our meeting point on purpose. This allowed us to enjoy a walk through the entire park, relax, take some photos and watch people walk by. It was fun and would strongly recommend it as a convenient getaway from the city's hustle and bustle.
We will definitely visit it again - if possible we will try to adjust our visit to one of the frequent sports events held there. Can hardly wait to do it.

I just hope these recent horrible events in London do not last much longer. It is frightening to watch the devastation on the news every day.


Monday 8 August 2011

London Parks

According to Wikipedia The Greater London Urban Area is the second largest in the EU with a population of over 8 million, while London's metropolitan area is the largest in the EU with an estimated total population of between 12 and 14 million.
For a city of this size, London has a surprisingly large amount of green areas. Most of them belong to many parks.

The largest group of London parks is The Royal Parks, this year celebrating 160 years of existence.
There are 8 parks included in this largest group, together covering almost 2,000 hectares of ground. The Royal Parks of London are lands originally owned by the UK monarchy. They used them for recreation (mostly hunting) of the royal family. There are public rights of way across the land but public access still depends on the grace and favour of the Crown. A typical British concept, if you ask me.

Royal Parks of London include the following 8 parks:

  • Bushy Park,

  • Green Park,

  • Greenwich Park,

  • Hyde Park,

  • Kensington Gardens,

  • Regent's Park,

  • Richmond Park,

  • St. James's Park.

Each one of the listed parks has something special to offer. Let me mention just a few highlights:
  • Hyde Park seems to be the most popular due to its location and many events taking place there,

  • Green Park can also get pretty crowded due to the vicinity of Buckingham Palace,

  • the north side of Regent's Park is where the London Zoo is located,

  • Richmond Park is so huge there are deer roaming around free.

Apart from those mentioned above there are also many other parks and green spaces located in the London area. Many are well worth visiting, so I suggest you do your research while planning your trip to London.

During a recent visit to London I had time to visit a few of the mentioned parks. Additional information regarding the most prominent and famous of London parks - London Hyde Park and its surroundings will be introduced in one of my upcoming posts.


Thursday 4 August 2011

Google+ invites available

I have recently tried out a new communication channel provided by Google. It also provides support for mobile devices, allowing you to stay in touch with your social circles at all times. It is quite a useful tool for travellers like me, being on the road a lot.
You have probably heard at least something about it - everybody is talking about this new social network. Google+ is Google's latest attempt to face-off Facebook. Company's other recent tries in this field have been only partially successful.
gTalk was widely accepted as a part of Gmail, but has never grown into a serious competition for Skype.
Google Buzz (and Google Wave before it) was also announced as a revolutionary communication platform, but has never really picked up.

With Google+ Google is trying to finally make a breakthrough in the field of social networks. It is still too early to predict their success but the introduction phase of the product was done brilliantly. In just under 3 weeks Google+ adopted over 10 million users - at the moment there are already more then 20 million. That definitely is something worth bragging about, but it is still not all that much compared to Facebook's 750 million current users.

However stunning this might be, it is still just the first battle won in a long war against Facebook.
Will this prove to be the Facebook killer Google is looking for? I think it is still early in the game to say something like that... in my opinion Facebook is not leaving anytime soon.

If you haven't tried it out yet, all this hype should be a reason for at least some curiosity. If you are looking for an invite for Google+ it is your lucky day!

Invites are reserved for my readers only. If you haven't done it already, you should join other followers of Travel Photo Blogging through Google Friend Connect (slide to the bottom of page) or follow us using your favourite social network (top right).
After you have done that, you simply leave a comment to this post and I will send you an invite as soon as possible.

A free bonus after receiving an invite from me is that you can also add me to one of your social circles and we can test this thing together.


Monday 1 August 2011

British Museum eyeOpener Tours

British museum is one of many London museums with free admission. It would be worth visiting it even if it wasn't free of charge.

It houses artefacts from all periods and from all over the world. Even if you think of its collection as a heap of stolen goods by the British empire, it is still worth taking a peek.

The museum holds a total of around 6,000,000 artefacts. This is a number hard to imagine, but when you spend a day or two in this institution and fruitlessly try to see everything on display you begin to understand the scale of things... there are less then one percent of artefacts on display at any given moment!

If this is not enough to convince you into visiting, there is more free stuff to make you change your mind.
There are short eyeOpener tours introducing different areas of the Museum's collection, led by volunteer guides. No booking is required. You can read more about it here.
I took advantage of this and really enjoyed seeing a couple of sections with a super nice and knowledgeable guide. I highly recommend you take advantage of this.

In addition to all that you can also take part in Hands on sessions, where you can take a close look and even touch some of the ancient artefacts. This was a first time for me to actually hold a real stone arrowhead in my hand.
Things presented were not just some copies but real stuff! How cool is that? I guess you have to be a bit of a history buff to really appreciate this, but along with great explanation from the staff this was a really great experience.

So do yourself a favour and reserve at least an afternoon within your London trip for a visit to this gem of a museum.


Wednesday 27 July 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Canoeing at Lake Bled


Friday 22 July 2011

Erasmus Knights' Tournament 2011

Are you a fan of medieval times? Have you always wanted to participate in a Knights' Tournament? Well... now is your chance!

The traditional Erasmus Knights' Tournament will take place this weekend on 16th and 17th of July in front of Predjama Castle near Postojna, Slovenia.
It is a perfect setting for such an event.

Even George R.R. Martin - author of the bestselling fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire liked the place. During a recent visit to Predjama Castle he stated that he might include the castle in the series.
If by any chance, you are not familiar with this epic series, the first season (A Game of Thrones) has just been aired on HBO.

If you decide to go, amongst other things you will have a chance to witness a castle siege, a performance by flag throwers, burning of a witch, knights' blessing, demonstration of the skills of archers, swordsmen and horsemen, group combats, combat for a banner and much more.
You will also have a chance to participate in a medieval market and a genuine medieval feast.

Detailed information about the event is available here (click the "more" link below the text).


Thursday 21 July 2011

Another successful running event held in Bled

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts I also visited this year's Night's 10 running event in Bled, Slovenia. This year participation was limited to 2011 runners.
More info is available directly on the Night's 10 official website which unfortunately is only partially translated into English.

We had a great time and since I didn't take part in the event, I had time to shoot some photos. Some runners took the run dead seriously and tried to break the record. Others just focused on having a great time.

Every contestant received a headlamp and it resulted in a moving light-show around the lake.

For the above photo I used a delayed flash effect. That is why that headlamp left such an interesting trace and also some of the runners look a bit like ghosts.

This year many runners came from abroad. I also spotted quite a large group of Brits posing for a group photo at the start line. Everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Organization was excellent once again. This is thanks to Knights of Good Running (this is a translation from Slovenian language - "Vitezi Dobrega Teka", which also means "Knights of Good Appetite").
They are a great group, which everyone can join. Check out their website. Unfortunately it is only in Slovene, but Google Translate can help you out for sure.


Wednesday 13 July 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Caught in the Act


Thursday 7 July 2011

Night's 10 in Bled

Bled is a charming small town at the edge of Lake Bled in the northern part of Slovenia. Bled is usually referred to as the number one tourist attraction of this European country. It is a place where President Tito had his summer residence back in the days of Yugoslavia.

Even nowadays visitors are fascinated by the beauty of the whole area. There is a picturesque island in the middle of the lake with a church on it. An old castle overlooking the lake from a steep cliff directly above the lake and Alps in the background also add to the special atmosphere.

Every year on a Saturday around the 10th of July there is an interesting event held at the Lake Bled. It is called the Night's 10 (or Nočna 10ka in Slovene). It is a 10 kilometer night run around the lake. This year it is taking place on Saturday the 9th of July, at 10 PM.

Unfortunately for you, it is already too late for applying. Applications have been closed a while ago. However that is no reason not to participate. You visit the event to cheer for runners and to enjoy the atmosphere - there will definitely be live music and partying long into the night.

I will also be there - this year just as a part of a support team. If anyone plans to be there... well, let me know and we might get a chance to enjoy a beer and a local delicacy - Bled cream cake, together.


Monday 20 June 2011

Jump to Portoroz!

Slovenia - a small country in the centre of Europe is still waiting to be discovered. It is squeezed among Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia and a visitor can easily feel the influence of every one of them at least in food and architecture. If you haven't considered Slovenia as your next vacation destination before, now is the perfect time to do it.
Every year more and more people discover it and trust me on this one - you want to visit before the crowds start flowing in.

This interesting video caught my attention the other day... it is promoting tourism in Slovenia's coastal region. The video is focusing on the town of Portoroz and its surroundings. It is a great collage of interesting activities this town has to offer. The country as a whole has much more in store for you.

In my opinion great diversity is definitely one of Slovenia's strongest points.

The title of this video is "Jump to Portoroz!" It is fun to watch and a song provided by a local musician called Magnifico gives a great vibe to it.

If you want to learn more about Slovenia, I suggest you visit The Official Travel Guide by Slovenian Tourist Board. There you can find all the relevant info about things to do and places worth visiting in this little gem of a country.

Have you ever wished for a personal vacation advisor? Now is your chance!
You can use this opportunity to ask me a thing or two about Slovenia in the comments section. I'll be glad to help.

You should also not forget to share this with your friends, still looking for this year's vacation destination (you can do it easily with a click on one of the buttons bellow this post).


Thursday 16 June 2011

Idrija Lace Festival 2011

Summer is the time for festivals and when it comes to this Slovenia is no different. If you happen to be in the neighbourhood this weekend, you should visit the 30th Idrija Lace Festival. It is an ethnological, cultural, educational and entertaining event. This year it is taking place from Friday June 17th till Sunday June 19th.

Idrija is a small town in the western part of Slovenia. It has over 500 years of history heavily related with mining of cinnabar ore, from which 13 percent of world's mercury was produced. It was the second oldest and biggest mercury mine in the world that had closed in 1995 due to commercial, geological and ecological reasons.
Technical heritage from that time is well preserved and a visitor can take a close look at many interesting technical achievements from the half of millennium of history. Besides the mine museum and the largest preserved water wheel in Europe, one of the highlights is definitely Anthony’s Shaft - the oldest part of the Idrija Mine which belongs to the oldest preserved entrances into any mine throughout the world.

This weekend is the perfect time to visit Idrija. Besides many permanent exhibitions the town literally breathes the lacemaking tradition during the annual festival.


Wednesday 15 June 2011

Wordless Wednesday: London in sepia


Thursday 9 June 2011

Central London details

We rarely take time to admire details surrounding us. This is true for both - nature and urban areas.

When walking in old city centers it usually isn't too hard to spot some true gems. Central London is no exception.
Both of these photos were taken during a short stroll down the Oxford street.

Usually stopping for a moment is all it takes to notice an interesting detail or two. If the lighting is right and you happen to have your camera within the reach, you are very close to making some nice photos.

I think we should all stop, take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment a bit more often. This is not always very easy to do, but trust me - it is usually well worth the effort.


Monday 6 June 2011

London Markets

One of London's best experiences is definitely visiting a few of the cities famous markets. I suggest you visit at least a few from the list bellow.

This is a London market shortlist with opening hours (a much larger market list is available at Wikipedia):

  • Borough market - Fruit wholesale (04:00-08:00 Mon - Fri), Farmers' Market (12:00-17:00 Friday, 10:00-16:00 Saturday).

  • Camden market - Weekends from about 09:30 to 17:00.

  • Columbia Road flower market - Sunday: 09:00-12:00.

  • Covent Garden market - Great atmosphere, but not for shopping. Open every day 10:00-18:00, atmosphere: all the time.

  • Greenwich market - A series of small weekend markets selling antiques, arts & crafts, clothing and books. Open on weekends.

  • Portobello market - Loads of antiques and various unusual items. Saturdays from about 06:00 to about 16:30.

  • Spitalfields - Fruit and vegetables (Sunday: 10:00-16:30).

To sum it up - the best time for a visit is during a weekend when they really burst into life. You should however expect most of them to be pretty crowded.

Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to visit all of the mentioned markets. Besides many bargains waiting for you, there are also food stalls to be found in some of the mentioned markets or nearby (e.g. Camden Town). Food is usually fresh, tasty and quite affordable.

If you do not have time to visit them all and can't decide for one of the mentioned markets, I suggest you go to Camden Town, where there is a little bit of everything on offer. Camden Market is just one part of it.


Wednesday 1 June 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Big Ben in the distance


Monday 30 May 2011

How to pack a travel bag?

Everyone who has done his part of travelling knows a thing or two about packing. If nothing else - almost everyone hates it.
After some time, packing becomes a routine and is at least not as stressful anymore as the first couple of times.
I usually use travel checklists (there are a few useful examples on the link) for different types of trips. This saves me lots of time and lots of nerves.

Even with a checklist my travel bag or suitcase always seems to be just a bit too small.
This has become even more critical since all the low cost airlines started charging for every piece of luggage besides one piece of hand-luggage.

Sounds familiar? Are you also annoyed with this? Bear with me, there might be a way to make your life just a bit easier...

I found this guy on YouTube the other day and he really knows how to do his packing. Just lean back and enjoy the show!
I think we can all learn a thing or two from him.

There are a few universal pointers about packing, everyone should follow when boarding a plane:

  • pack your luggage more efficiently (see the above video for practical demonstration),

  • wear some clothes through the boarding gate ("onion philosophy"),

  • use the WC after the security check to fill an empty bottle with drinkable water (where this is possible).

If you have some additional tips or thoughts on the subject, feel free to comment. We can all learn from each other.


Monday 23 May 2011

English Breakfast - The Organic Way

When visiting a country I always make an effort to try some local food. Although one can find excellent representatives of almost any cuisine in London, I do not have a very good opinion on typical British cuisine.

When someone mentions English cuisine I think of fish and chips, jacket potato and English breakfast. I am sure there are other dishes I have not tried yet, but I have to leave something for my next visit.

During my last visit I followed a tip from a friend living in London and was pleasantly surprised. We visited Surrey Docks City Farm and tasted some delicious stuff.

First I have to point out this is an organic farm and yes, it is in situated near the city center, by the river Thames. For me it was a surprise to find a real farm with pigs, cows, ducks, goats, sheep and who knows what else so close to central London.

It was quite a contrast looking at all those animals, smelling the air full of various odours you would expect to find on a farm and seeing London city skyscrapers on the other bank of the river rising high in the air.

Everything we tried was delicious and was obviously made from organic ingredients. I have had English breakfasts before, but was not impressed. At Surrey Docks City Farm it was delicious, the portions were quite generous and prices were really affordable.
I had fresh mint tea, others had some coffee and everything was delicious. I saw some maps of Italy hanging on the walls, so I suspect there might be some kind of connection between the good food, proper coffee and Italy.


Wednesday 18 May 2011

Wordless Wednesday: A pint at Queens head pub

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