07 October 2018

Birthday in Cappadocia...

As my closest ones know my birthday is number one day of the year for me. I was born in March and as soon as the New Year's celebrations end, my planning starts! :D
I'm one of those girls memes like this one were inspired by. Yup, that's me. :))

So yes, every year I try to do something special for my birthday. Most of the times that means - travel somewhere! Close or faraway it doesn't matter, as long as it's somewhere I've never been before.This year it was Cappadocia, Turkey. Being lazy as I am, this blog post was supposed to be written 7 months ago, but hey...there's one from last year I still haven't published yet haha.

The idea came to me last summer, while chilling at the beach I said to my friend 'Do you wanna visit Cappadocia for a few days for my birthday?' and she was like 'Tea, it's August, your bday is in March next year!!' I gave her that you-know-me look and she said yes, ok, let's go :))

My sister didn't need much of persuading and the rest was open for whoever wanted to join.

The greatest thing about this trip, besides the destination, was - US!

4 women who never traveled together before (except for my sister and me), some of them didn't even know each other from before and we still had an amazing time. Without having to put any extra effort to please anyone, without losing temper over anything. We didn't even fight over the use of a bathroom hahaha.

There's this saying about how you should be careful who you travel with blah blah...but I think that simply doesn't matter as long as everyone is open minded, easy to communicate with and adaptable to most of the situations. Unfortunately, some of the other girls couldn't join us, otherwise it would be even more memorable than it already is.

Maybe this post should be all about people you travel with rather than the destination? How do you or did you choose who to travel with? How did you know you'll click and have a great time together? Do you have any negative experiences traveling with your family or friends? My decision is always based on how much they also love to travel from 1 to the end of the world :)

Anyhow, tickets were bought with Turkish Airlines on a special offer for 240 EUR 

TIP 1: Cappadocia has two airports, make sure you tell your host/hotel if they are picking you up which airport should they come to. :)

Travel dates were mid of March for 5 days. We found our cave rooms over Booking.com and (speaking as a person with a really light sleep) that was the best sleep I had in ages!!!

Gรถreme is one small town (population of 2000) and Gรถreme Valley Cave house is located just 5 min walk from all the shops and restaurants in the city center. The price for this room for six people was just 225 EUR for 5 nights (divided on 4 of us...you do the math).

The hosts were really nice and helpful, they organized transfer from and to the airport for 5 EUR per person.

They also organized a tour for us, 25 EUR per person to Derinkuyu underground city, Paradise Valley with a must stop to a Salkim Tepesi Cafe with a beautiful panoramic view. We also visited 'fairy chimneys' which was the best part of that one day trip around Gรถreme. I think the place we went was called Zemi Valley. The locals say that a part of Zemi Valley is also called Love Valley. Why? See photos below and let me know if you get it. ;)

Food wise you don't have to worry. There are street food places and proper restaurants on every corner and you can't decide which one is better 'cause the food is goooood!!!

On the second day we had our long awaited balloon ride. One of my favorite birthday presents! The weather was good, the wind was perfect, the sunrise was stunning, the experience was what we hoped it would be.

Gรถreme museum was on the list as well, for that same afternoon. It is a nice walk from the city center so don't take a car, especially if the weather is good, and enjoy the surrounding nature of Cappadocia.

TIP 2: I hate to bargain but it is necessary if you don't want to be ripped off. Prices between 100-130 EUR are acceptable for the balloon ride in a big basket that holds up to 20 people. For private tours be ready to pay much, much more. You can either set the price online before you even get there or on the spot, it's up to you, but don't say yes to the first one they offer.

On my actual birthday we had a reservation in one of the hotels for the breakfast with a view but some kind of a mix-up happened and we ended up at the wrong address not having breakfast but at least we entered for free and took some amazing pics :)

As I said, our hosts were really nice so in the evening they brought me a cake, they singed and Mama of the house gave us all little presents.
It was a day full of wonderful moments, warm messages with the nicest wishes and I couldn't been happier...

Tip 3: Just check out some of the best hotels in the city and make a reservation ahead. The photos will be worth the money and waking up at 5 in the morning.

Day 4 was all about chillaxing, walking around, buying souvenirs and food, of course. The Turkish bath we tried didn't really blew our minds but we ticked that off of the list as well. Those few days just flew by and we were already on our way back home... Since we're in October now already try and guess if I have a plan for March? :p

Adventure should be a part of everyone's life. 
 It is the whole difference between being fully alive and just existing!


16 September 2018

Jordan road trip!

How and how long before do you plan a vacation? 
As much as I love to be spontaneous or at least try to, I plan my trips months ahead, which means, even before I return from 'this one' I already know when and where will I go next. Probably even when and where will I go after that 'next one' too. 
The reason why is simply because I can’t wait for it, I love to make plans, organize and have something like a new destination to look for! 

So, how did we end up planning a trip to Jordan? Fun fact, we were supposed to go to Central America in October/November (Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, Mexico...anywhere). In the meantime I changed my job and vacation time was only possible in August. The question was - now what?! Honestly I don't prefer traveling during July and August - prices go up, flights are fully booked, it's too hot or too cold, or too rainy, or too stormy #eyeroll so I started to roll the Globe...

There are certain destinations in the Middle East I haven't been to while living 'in the neighborhood' and after searching for good deals in different parts of the world I ended up looking at Iran, Lebanon, Jordan... Jordan it was!

Jordan - officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west.
Jordan is relatively small country, a population numbering 10 million.
Dominant religion is Sunni Islam.
Official language is Arabic, but most of Jordanians speak English quite well.
Currency - Jordan dinar (JOD or JD) is one of the strongest currencies in the world, just after Kuwait dinar, Bahrain dinar and Oman rial.
1 JOD = 1,21 EUR = 1,41 USD = 9 HRK ๐Ÿ’ฐ

TIP 1: before arriving in Jordan check out the Jordan pass - it includes a visa fee and lots of entrance tickets! We bought the Jordan Explorer and hadn't had to worry about paying the entrance anywhere we went. 

Day one: I took the night flight with Turkish airlines from Zagreb to Istanbul and further Amman. Landed around 5 in the morning. Since buses don't operate that early the only way to reach the hotel was taking a taxi. Taxi rates, as Google said, were around 50 EUR, but Jordan has its own version of Uber called Careem. 

TIP 2: Download the app, request a car when you pick up your bags from the carousel and head to the departures area where he will come and pick you up. Don't be afraid to answer the phone when some crazy looking number calls (it will say United Arab Emirates is calling you) - they just want to confirm the pick up place for you and the UAE number is calling you because their central office is located there.

Anyhow, the ride from the airport to the Arab Tower hotel, where we stayed for two nights, was 20 EUR! The car was new and clean, the driver was very polite and traveling alone at that moment made me feel very safe. I'm not one of those people who are afraid and who see danger in every thing they do so maybe someone would call me stupid and reckless but that's just me. 

6 am arriving in our hotel in the center of Amman, dead tired, went straight to bed. The receptionist at the hotel was more than helpful with tips on how to reach the Citadel and Rainbow street and of course letting me know how everyone around there knows about Croatia cause they all cheered for us during the World cup ๐Ÿ˜‚

Amman is a city on 7 hills, just like Rome, so make sure to bring comfy shoes and be ready to walk a lot of stairs. The center of the city is very dirty, trash everywhere, however the touristy sights and most of the neighborhoods are clean. They have big fines for littering but somehow people still throw away trash out on the streets!

First one on my itinerary was the Citadel. 

After that I went to Rainbow street - on Fridays there's a flee market Souk Jara, where you can find all kinds of handmade/homemade things made by local small business owners. Souvenirs, food, books... Lovely little street full of stands and interesting things where I bought myself a hand painted shirt and bag - perfect souvenir ๐Ÿ˜

Later in the afternoon my sister and her boyfriend finally joined me.  

Day two: we rented a car with Europcar for the week (6 days, full insurance, two drivers, wi-fi - 320 EUR) that we picked up at the airport and first on our list was Jerash. Just an hour away from Amman, this historical city is a blend of the Greco-Roman world and the ancient traditions of the Arab Orient. 

Driving around Jordan was...interesting? Daring? Challenging? A bit crazy? Especially within the cities, but as they say - when in Rome do as the Romans do! 
Not for one second we felt unsafe (anywhere in the country!), on the contrary - it's very safe! Lots of check points along the roads, nice and polite police officers welcoming us in their country. 
It was a bit strange knowing that just a few kilometers away were the borders of Syria and Iraq, sad feeling of the unfairness in the world... 

TIP 3: If you plan your vacation in Jordan don't stay in one hotel in one city, don't make it your base and then pay for these one day trips in the hotel. It's a ripoff! The prices are way too high, it's tiring and you will be on the clock. Unless you like it like that, it's up to you at the end of the day. :) 

Day three and four: it took us cca 3 hours from Amman to Petra where we stayed in Tetra tree hotel for two nights.

TIP 4: Ask for upgrades in the hotels! Especially if you travel out of season. They will upgrade you without you even mentioning it, but if they don't it doesn't hurt to ask.

If you're looking for a place to eat, we warmly recommend Beit Al-Barakah restaurant where Mohammed will host you like at his own home. 
Visiting Petra, the Rose city, no words can fairly describe so I'm not gonna even try to do that. Pictures will do their own magic. ๐Ÿ’œ

TIP 5: take a guide for 2-2,5 hours. It costs 50 EUR but it's worth it! When you pass the gates they'll offer you a horse ride which is included in the price but be sure to have 5 JOD change per person for tips. Whatever you want to do, be ready to pay extra. If you want to climb up the mountain to take pictures of Petra from above - 10 JOD per person. Donkey ride - another 10 JOD per person, and so on... 

We walked approximately 20 kilometers that day! And still didn't reach the most faraway point of Petra - The Monastery. Remember those comfy shoes I mentioned earlier? Good, bring them! 

Petra by night is not included in Jordan pass so we payed 20 EUR per person for that experience. Be careful if you want to visit Petra by night because it doesn't happen every night The show runs only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Day five: on the way to Wadi Rum desert. A place where the movies Lawrence of Arabia and The Martian were filmed, we booked a tent in a Wadi Rum Dream Camp.

Sleeping in a tent, well, actually it was more like glamping since we were once again upgraded to a better 'room', was a unique experience. And not in a good way haha, we didn't sleep at all, it was too hot, even with the open door the cold night desert air didn't come in and I guess that was the day when all three of us got a bit stomach sick for the rest of our trip. 
Beautiful side of spending a night in the desert is the silence! Unimaginable silence, peace and starry sky... 
Dinner in the camp was not in the price and it was 10 JOD per person. Sunrise camel ride was 15 JOD per person, and the jeep safari was 50 JOD for the three of us.

Day six: In the morning we drove down south to Aqaba, the only coastal city in Jordan. Aqaba is a low tax, duty free city, and although is one of the major tourist attractions in Jordan I wouldn't recommend going there. We spent the lazy day at the beach of the Red Sea and by the pool. Maybe because we were sick and exhausted and didn't eat or sleep properly that place didn't leave any significant impression on me. We stayed at Dweik hotel 2

Day seven: The Dead sea. Didn't know what to expect, how the 'beach' will look like so we ended up a bit disappointed. Only big fancy resorts and two smaller ones with special prices for the locals are located along the coast. Fancy hotels are more than expensive if you just wanna spend a few hours at the pool and use their beach and showers. We found a smaller no-name one, payed 20 JOD per person to get in, float in the Dead sea, shower and leave. It is something you HAVE TO DO, however, in my opinion, it's not worth the time, energy or the money, unless you stay in one of those super expensive fancy and clean places haha. 

We got back to Amman and went to one of the shopping malls, just to walk around and have some proper dinner after two days of eating almost nothing. My flight was scheduled that same night, while D and H stayed another day before their flight back. And the hotel they stayed in was really nice - Gallery Guest Hoouse
Another night flight back home and the vacation time was over before I even realized it. ✈️   

Put Jordan on your Bucket list, Places to visit before I'm too old to walk or drive list or whatever list of travel wishes you have - you won't regret it! 
If nothing else, being hummus and tabouleh lover like me, you'll definitely enjoy every bite of this trip. :)

...already planning my 'next one'...this was country number 55 for me, going for 56 and 57 ๐Ÿ’ช

06 August 2017

To my readers... ๐Ÿ’“

When I first started this blog I never thought about who would read it, I never thought anyone would read it ๐Ÿ˜… let alone it would lead to writing a personal column for Croatian online news portal...but it did.

Some situations in the last few months, actually, ever since I moved back home made me realize there were more than a handful of readers who followed me around the world through  my stories, more than I imagined. People who I knew nothing about started to get a name and a face. Well, some of them. ๐Ÿ˜‹

Back then, writing in my own language made it so much more easier for Croatians (mostly girls) to contact me and ask questions, to ask for advice or to simply read about certain experiences and travel around through someone else's words and photos. 
When you come from a small country like Croatia where 'everyone knows everyone' it's most likely you'll have mutual friends with the person who contacted you or you'll end up having mutual friends eventually. Small country = big expat community, where everyone knows everyone, literally. 

That's how I got to know a lot of men and women, girls and boys who live(d) abroad who sent me those kind of messages. Nice and friendly, whether to just to say hi,  to share their experience or to just say I know how you feel, I've been there... At the time it meant a lot, more than you can imagine.

Some of the girls who contacted me with questions about the cabin crew job, application process or life in Dubai and everything else that followed, I got a chance to meet in all sorts of crazy coincidental situations! ๐Ÿ˜Š

I was happy whenever I could've helped with any kind of advice, suggestion, piece of information cause I knew how it felt not knowing anyone and not having anyone to ask for that kind of help. And trust me, you have a gazillion questions and need just one person to make you feel more comfortable, to calm you down, to tell you it's not that hard, before you pack your bags, leave home and start that crazy expat (cabin crew) life. 
Even today, almost two years after I quit the job I'm getting the same messages with the same questions, and I still feel more than happy to reply.

Some of my readers I met on board... Croatian passenger on a flight to Kabul, Afghanistan I operated on recognized me and came to say hi after which my colleagues thought I was someone famous back in my country hahahaha! ๐Ÿ˜‚ 
I still owe her a drink ๐Ÿ˜„. 

As the time goes by, especially now when I don't write as often and since I stopped writing for Index.hr it's even more heart warming to hear that some person, there in the world, someone who I never knew existed, still reads and follows what I write or post about. It's so incredible to hear my friends meeting someone who 'knows' me just because that someone read something I once wrote. ๐Ÿ˜Œ
It's kinda weird for my father to call me from his business trip to tell me someone asked if he's related to me 'cause everyone in that company loved my stories.
For a nice pizza delivery girl who brought me pizza yesterday to tell me she recognized me from the pictures and ask if that's really me, to give me goosebumps and make me feel so happy (not only because she brought pizza ☝๐Ÿ˜‚) by wishing me as many more travel miles as the wordy ones... 
It makes my heart grow! ๐Ÿ’—

Sending you love!