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Surprise Journeys https://surprisejourneys.com Surprise Travel Agency Europe Sat, 01 Jun 2019 12:03:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.2 Top European Summer Destinations 2019 https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/05/28/top-european-summer-destinations/ https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/05/28/top-european-summer-destinations/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 08:06:56 +0000 https://surprisejourneys.com/?p=1007 Each summer we wonder where to spend our days relaxing. We search the Web, Instagram and Facebook for inspiration and tips. So, this year we decided to create our own list of top European summer destinations for 2019. Keep on reading to find out our favorites!

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Where to go in summer 2019

Each summer we wonder where to spend our days relaxing. We search the Web, Instagram and Facebook for inspiration and tips. So, this year we decided to create our own list of top European summer destinations for 2019. Keep on reading to find out our favorites!

1. Dubrovnik, Croatia

This jewel will leave you speechless, believe me. Dubrovnik is one of the best-preserved medieval cities with its ancient walls, baroque buildings and labyrinthine streets. The incredible thing we love about this city is that you can find something for everyone, whether it is lying on the beach, walking through botanical gardens or admiring the ancient walls. You will find scary cliffs (if you dare to jump from heights to the sea), enjoy sightseeing of Old Town during sunset, explore neighboring islands (Lokrum, Koločep and many more) or go snorkeling. Additional amazement factor: Game of Thrones was filmed in Dubrovnik, so if you are a fan you can go on a Game of Thrones tour. Furthermore, if you are in Dubrovnik and want to explore Croatia even more, make sure to check our blog about Croatia.

Must see in Dubrovnik

  • Orlando’s Column – according to the legend, in the 9th century Orlando and his fleet saved Dubrovnik from a 15 month long Saracen siege),
  • City Bell Tower – built in 1444, but after the earthquake in 1667, the Bell tower started leaning in the manner of the leaning tower of Pisa and in 1929 it was deemed to be unsafe and was demolished only to be replaced by a new Bell Tower built according to the same design,
  • Sponza Palace – one of the most beautiful palaces in Dubrovnik,
  • Pile Gate,
  • Fort Lovrijenac – a fort built on a 37 meters high rock,
  • City walls – main attraction of Old Town, City walls run uninterrupted for 1940 meters (6365 feet) encircling Dubrovnik,
  • Franciscan Monastery,
  • Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary – Romanesque styled Cathedral crumbled to dust in the Great Earthquake of 1667; during renovations another Cathedral was discovered under the foundations of the old Romanesque Cathedral.

2. Malaga, Spain

Spain’s cosmopolitan destination full of brilliant art galleries has amazing nightlife and is a heaven for foodies. Beaches of Malaga (Playa de Chullera, Estepona, Playa Puerto Banus and many more) are pure perfection for lying around and relaxing. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy nightlife you should head out to Mitjana Square. And if you are a foodie (like me) you should most definitely check El Palo’s old fishing district for some amazing seafood.

Must see in Malaga

  • Picasso Museum – full of Picasso’s original work
  • Gibralfaro Castle – sits on a high hill overlooking Malaga city and port, dates back to the 10th century
  • Alcazaba – fortress palace is one of the city’s historical monuments,
  • Roman Theatre – oldest monument in Malaga, built in the first century BC, under Emperor Augustus, and was used until the third century AD,
  • Playa de Chullera – 700 meters long stony beach with famously clear water (+ visit the beach restaurant for a simple meal or drinks)

3. Cinque Terre, Italy

One of the most popular Instagram locations in the world and UNESCO World Heritage site, this is a site of 5 colorful villages in Italy. No wonder we had to include it in our top European summer destinations for 2019. The villages are (north to south) Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The location of the villages is accessible only via train or boat, but the train connections are really good, so no need to worry. If you love hiking, this is a perfect place for you, but don’t forget to bring your comfortable shoes because you will be hiking through cliffs. Soak up the local atmosphere and sample local, fresh seafood, swim in the blue sea and enjoy the colorful streets and houses.

Must see in Cinque Terre

  • Monterosso al Mare,
  • Vernazza,
  • Corniglia,
  • Manarola,
  • Riomaggiore

4. Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik is Iceland’s vibrant capital with quirky culture and vibrant buildings and raw, icy wilderness in the background. One of our favourite things in Reykjavik is Laugardalslaug and Árbæjarlaug for swimming and hot tubs. Furthermore, on the southern part of the city you can enjoy coastal rowing or whale watching at Faxaflói. Nonetheless, if you prefer hiking, go to Öskjuhlíð.

Must see in Reykjavik

  • The Reykjavik Settlement Exhibition – based on the archaeological excavation of the ruin of one of the first houses in Iceland and findings from other excavations in the city center,
  • Grótta Lighthouse – small lighthouse at the north-westernmost point of Reykjavik, perfect place to enjoy the outdoors,
  • Tjörnin – lake in central part of the city,
  • Einar Jónsson Art Museum,
  • Reykjavík Botanical Gardens

5. Santorini, Greece

Last but not least of our top European summer destinations, Santorini, a perfect location for romantic travelers or couples. This Greek island is an enchanting combination of sun, sea, sea breezes and white-blue houses. The sunsets at Oia (one of the villages, the most popular one) are definitely some of the most beautiful in the world. The villages to definitely visit are Fira and Oia. You should also visit Red and Black beach to see different results volcanic eruption has left and you can do this if you go hiking and snorkeling. Volcano hiking and hot springs are also some of the things this beautiful island has to offer. Again, if you are a foodie, you will feel like you are in heaven in Greece.

Must see in Santorini

  • Cave houses
  • Caldera bay
  • Villages Fira and Oia
  • Volcano tour
  • Everything outdoor
  • Black beach
  • Red beach

Other posts by Surprise Journeys

Top European Summer Destinations 2019

Top European Summer Destinations 2019

Each summer we wonder where to spend our days relaxing. We search the Web, Instagram and Facebook for inspiration and tips. So, this year we decided to create our own list of top European summer destinations for 2019. Keep on reading to find out our favorites!

24 hours in Istanbul

24 hours in Istanbul

In case you get only 24 hours in this enchanting city and want to make most of it, we created this suggested itinerary. Keep on reading and you will see what to do, where to eat and other interesting bits about Istanbul (well, at least the short version).

Our Newsletter

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24 hours in Istanbul https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/05/03/24-hours-in-istanbul/ https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/05/03/24-hours-in-istanbul/#respond Fri, 03 May 2019 07:41:11 +0000 https://surprisejourneys.com/?p=910 In case you get only 24 hours in this enchanting city and want to make most of it, we created this suggested itinerary. Keep on reading and you will see what to do, where to eat and other interesting bits about Istanbul (well, at least the short version).

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What to do in Istanbul if you're there for only one day

Duration: 24 hours
Location: Istanbul
Population: 15 million

Ahh, the majestic Istanbul, a city so great it occupies 2 continents. You finally decided to go to Turkey but, because of your short vacation/budget/family obligations/cheap husband/lazy girlfriend, you only get 24 hours in Istanbul.

One day?!?! That’s like, 24 hours! It is not enough time to see everything I want to see. This is why we created this suggested itinerary, in case you get only 24 hours in this enchanting city and want to make most of it. Keep on reading and you will see what to do, where to eat and other interesting bits about Istanbul (well, at least the short version). We will list more than you can actually visit in one day, this way you can choose which places to visit and which to skip.

Istanbul is a melting pot. Asian and European culture, Christian and Muslim, old and new, you will see a bit of everything.

Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern

First stops or 3 must-see buildings are Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern. The good thing for your short stay in Istanbul is that these 3 buildings are pretty close to one another, they are all on the same block so they are perfect to see in your 24 hours in Istanbul. Turkish architects were working in your favor. The neighborhood where the buildings are is called Sultanhamet and if you want to have photos with little or no people there, make sure to be really early at the location. And I mean early, like sunrise early. But, even if you decide to sleep in (don’t, you only have 24 hours in Istanbul), the buildings are stunning and you will definitely enjoy visiting them.

Additionally, make sure to have appropriate clothing, you need to cover your shoulders and legs as well as your head. However, there are coverings there to borrow free of charge. Entrance to the Blue Mosque is free, tickets to the Basilica Cistern can be purchased at the entrance for ~ 6 € and tickets to Hagia Sophia can be purchased at the entrance for ~ 12,50 €.

Turkish Baths ( a.k.a hammams)

The baths are also one of Turkish specialties, they date back to the Victorian era and were built next to mosques. It was also a place where Turkish women would go for a gossip session. What makes Turkish baths unique is that they do not have pools or baths in them. 

One of the top hammams in Istanbul is Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami, it is very luxurious and locals also go here, so you can expect the real experience of hammam. To visit this hammam you will need to book in advance and the price is 44 €. The cheaper option would be Aga Hamami with the price of 22 € per person for the traditional package. Also, this is a hammam to visit if you are traveling as a couple. Many bathhouses are completely separated by gender, but this hammam has a central room where you can hang out in together as a couple.

Cruise the Bosporus

We highly recommend taking this boat ride. How often can you be on a boat and look on the one side and see Asia, then look to the other side and see Europe?? There are many companies offering boat rides on Bosporus with prices ranging from 20 to 55 € or more. A cheaper version would be taking the government ferry for around 3,50 € and taking a tour for 2 hours – this fits perfectly to your schedule if you  only have 24 hours in Istanbul. The ferry leaves at 14:30 and you can buy tickets in an office by the bridge.

The Bazaar

One of Istanbul’s specialties – bazaars. And this specialty is so huge that if you spent more than 24 hours in Istanbul exploring just Bazaar, you would still miss something. Nevertheless, take a walk around Spice Bazaar and breathe in all the scents. For souvenirs, visit Grand and Little Bazaar. The main area of the Grand Bazaar boasts a total of 64 streets and 22 entrances so prepare to get lost and embrace this as a part of the authentic experience. Chatting and bargaining with the sellers is what makes the Grand Bazaar experience special. If you happen to be here somewhere around lunch time, we recommend eating at the Bazaar as well, or at least having a cup of coffee.

Just steps from the Bazaar there is a restaurant called Aslan which specializes in Turkish home cooking (address: Vezirhan Caddesi No. 70, Çemberlitaş). A classic among Grand Bazaar restaurants is Havuzlu and it offers homemade meals, extensive vegetarian options, grilled meats and kebabs (address: Gani Çelebi Sokak No. 3, Grand Bazaar). And if you are not hungry, at least have some Turkish coffee at Şark Kahvesi (address: Yağlıkçılar Caddesi No.134, Grand Bazaar).

If you are looking for a cheaper option, visit the farmer’s market in the Tarlabasi Pazari neighborhood. It is less touristy and has unbeatable prices.

Catch the sunset

Istanbul has magical sunsets so this should be a must while you are there. Seagulls flying in the sky are what makes these sunsets so picturesque. An amazing spot to catch the sunset with the views of the 3 mosques is the Galata Bridge. If you decide to be wowed at the bridge, look up online when the sunset will be and head to the bridge a bit earlier to find yourself a spot and relax.

Food and drinks

Food in Turkey is incredible, spicy and tasty. While you are there, try street food, eat something you usually don’t, try new spices and don’t forget to try Turkish tea and coffee. On top of already mentioned 3 places near and at Bazzar, here are some other options for food and drinks in Istanbul. And this is the hard part to fit in only 24 hours in Istanbul since there is so much food to try.

Sampling is encouraged, so while you are walking through Bazaars try different things. Don’t miss baklava – a swet traditional Turkish dessert that you simply must try.  Another traditional food for Istanbul would be fish sandwiches by the Galata Bridge, but be careful. Traditional fish sandwiches should be made over coals but because of the mass tourism restaurants are no longer making them this way. So, when lookin for fish sandwich, make sure to see if they are making it the right way, over coal. Apparently, there is one man with a little stand in Kadiköy neighborhood who makes the sandwiches in the traditional way. Another tip is to avoid restaurants right next to tourist attractions, this way you save money and get quality food.

Things to try

  • Menemen (breakfast food made of eggs, tomato, green peppers, and spices)
  • Doner kebab
  • Iskender kebab (as doner kebab, but unwrapped and served with rice)
  • Pida (pizza hybrid)
  • Kofte (a version of meatballs)
  • Manti (ravioli covered in yogurt)
  • Borek (baked filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough)
  • Midye Dolmas (street food, mussels stuffed with herbed rice, pine nuts, and currants)
  • Künefe (crisp cheese-filled dessert made with shredded kadayıf dough soaked in sweet syrup and topped with clotted cream)
  • Baklava (sweet dessert with walnuts)
  • Halka Tatlısı ( street dessert, fried dessert dipped in sweet syrup)
  • Dondurma (Turkish ice-cream, chewier in texture and more resistant to melting)
  • Turkish coffee and tea

Transportation around city

We definitely recommend using the metro for transportation. It is cheap and fast and taxi drivers are known for ripping off tourists (as in many big cities). You will need to buy Istanbulkart card which cost 1,60 € and you can use the same Istanbulkart for more than one person. Another way to avoid taxies but still go with car is taking an Uber. It is way cheaper than taxis off the street. Water taxis are expensive though so be careful to avoid them! Use ferries to go from European side to Asian side and vice versa.

Whatever you visit during your short stay in Istanbul, you will definitely have an amazing time. Soak in the culture and stunning architecture. Safe travels and keyfini çıkarın! (enjoy)

Other posts by Surprise Journeys

Top European Summer Destinations 2019

Top European Summer Destinations 2019

Each summer we wonder where to spend our days relaxing. We search the Web, Instagram and Facebook for inspiration and tips. So, this year we decided to create our own list of top European summer destinations for 2019. Keep on reading to find out our favorites!

24 hours in Istanbul

24 hours in Istanbul

In case you get only 24 hours in this enchanting city and want to make most of it, we created this suggested itinerary. Keep on reading and you will see what to do, where to eat and other interesting bits about Istanbul (well, at least the short version).

Our Newsletter

The post 24 hours in Istanbul appeared first on Surprise Journeys.

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Traveling to Croatia in spring https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/04/18/traveling-to-croatia-in-spring/ https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/04/18/traveling-to-croatia-in-spring/#respond Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:24:44 +0000 https://surprisejourneys.com/?p=816 Planning to travel to Croatia? Or you already decided to go for it? Here is our suggested travel itinerary for anyone who wants to travel to Croatia this spring.

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DON’T TRAVEL TO CROATIA DURING SUMMER!

VISIT IT IN SPRING.

Population: 4,15 million
Capital: Zagreb
Primary economic industry: Tourism

Croatia is a small, interesting country somewhere between Central and Southeast Europe. It has a very long coast at the Adriatic Sea which it shares with neighboring countries – Italy and Slovenia. Its coast is one of the reasons why many tourists decide to travel to Croatia. It is one of the Balkan countries, so other neighboring countries include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Hungary.

This country is extremely diverse geographically and climate-vise. Flat plains can be found in the region locally called Slavonija and high mountains will come in your way if you decide to visit coastline. This region with highlands is locally called Gorski Kotar. The coastline offers something for any type of traveler since it is very rugged with more than 1,200 islands. Regarding the climate, you can also expect everything if you plan to have a road trip through the whole country. Highland Gorski Kotar has a mountainous climate; Adriatic coast has a Mediterranean climate and the northern part of the country (with its capital Zagreb) has a continental climate. Another interesting fact about this small country is its recent history. It is fascinating to visit the memorials that remind you of tough fight for independence this country fought only 28 years ago.

Plitvice Lakes

Even though most tourists decide to visit Croatia during summer due to its beautiful weather and variety of spectacular beaches (and Dubrovnik of course), the country is stunning during the spring. Firstly, you will avoid some of the crowds that usually happens in during summer. This means you can fully enjoy all the locations you want to visit (and make some awesome photos). The temperature is amazing for spending most of your time outdoors, kayaking, rafting or biking. In Croatia you will get good deals for your money, especially in pre-season. Even though the country is part of EU since 2013, it still has its currency – Croatian kuna (1 € is approximately 7,44 Croatian kunas).

Are you planning to travel to Croatia? Or you already decided to go for it? Here is our suggested travel itinerary for anyone who wants to travel to Croatia this spring. 

Itinerary idea

We know that Dubrovnik is on most travelers’ bucket list, but we will make some other suggestions for you trip to Croatia.

1. Zagreb

Firstly, the capital city is beautiful during spring. It is not too hot, like it can get during summer, so you can enjoy its park and old-town without sweating. There are some beautiful spots like Bundek Lake or Jarun Lake if you want to spend a day enjoying nature. City center is full of cathedrals, churches and other landmarks and you will be amazed with old streets that lead to Upper Town. And once you get there, the view is breathtaking. If you don’t really like to spend time in museums, but still feel like trying something similar, make sure to visit The Museum of Broken Relationships. This quirky museum contains insignificant objects and their captions that explain their relevance to a broken relationship. 

St. Marks Church

Croatian National Theatre

 Another thing to have in mind while visiting Croatia (not just Zagreb) is that it is heaven for coffee lovers. Anywhere you go you will most certainly see a coffee bar, coffee place or café. Croatian people have coffee drinking in their tradition. And this tradition is not just about drinking coffee, it is about spending time with friends and family. They meet at coffee places, order their favorite cup of this warm beverage and sit there and talk for at least one hour. We find this tradition so motivating to spend some quality time talking with loved ones, so we definitely recommend you try it as well. Do it like the locals!

2. Risnjak National Park

To start your journey to the seaside (which we definitely recommend), you should have a stop at one of Croatia’s National Parks. Here, we would recommend again not the most popular one (Plitvice lakes) and the one that is on the way to the next part of our itinerary idea. This would be Risnjak National Park  where you can enjoy a hike to Risnjak peak and relax in the Kupa valley. Risnjak is a natural bond between the Alpes and the Balkan mountains and is a home for many animals including bears, wolves and lynxes. Enjoy some brethtaking views, untouched nature and animals. 

Risnjak National Park

3. Istria

After big city and nature time, we would recommend visiting the region called Istria. Also a very popular destination, but much closer to Zagreb than Dubrovnik. If you like how Tuscany looks, you will love Istria. If going to Istria, you should definitely visit Pula, the largest city in the region. Pula is famous for its Roman amphitheater called The Arena. Next you could visit Motovun, a monumental city on top of a hill. It offers stunning views, has a Venetian square and 1052 stairs. 

Amphitheater in Pula

Motovun

 Another interesting city to visit in Istria is definitely Hum. Hum is the smallest city in the world! As the legend goes, this city was built from the stones that were left there when giants were building towns by the river Mirna. If you are lucky and have more days to spend in Croatia, just keep exploring Istria, it has so much to offer. And make sure to try wines, olive oil and dishes with truffles. For true nature lovers, there are organized Truffle Hunts so make sure to check them out.

Rovinj

I’m ending this blog post with a song by one of Croatia’s famous poets – Dobriša Cesarić. Hope you liked our suggested travel itinarery and that you will visit some of the spots we mentioned when you travel to Croatia. 

Small fruit tree after rain

Look at that small fruit tree after the rain:
It is full of raindrops and it swings they, 
And magic luxury of it branches
Sparkle in the sunlight.

But if the sun is hidden, just for a while
All that magic diasppeares
It is again, as it was before, 
Ordinary, poor small tree.

-Dobriša Cesarić, Croatian poet

Other posts by Surprise Journeys

Top European Summer Destinations 2019

Top European Summer Destinations 2019

Each summer we wonder where to spend our days relaxing. We search the Web, Instagram and Facebook for inspiration and tips. So, this year we decided to create our own list of top European summer destinations for 2019. Keep on reading to find out our favorites!

24 hours in Istanbul

24 hours in Istanbul

In case you get only 24 hours in this enchanting city and want to make most of it, we created this suggested itinerary. Keep on reading and you will see what to do, where to eat and other interesting bits about Istanbul (well, at least the short version).

Our Newsletter

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Best Hotels in Europe – 2019. https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/03/29/best-hotels-in-europe-2019/ https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/03/29/best-hotels-in-europe-2019/#respond Fri, 29 Mar 2019 09:01:43 +0000 https://surprisejourneys.com/?p=705 Recently TripAdvisor published their list of best hotels in the world in 2019 as chosen by travelers. Based on their list for Europe we created a short guide for Top 10 hotels in Europe with a bit more details (like prices).

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Not so long ago and like every year, TripAdvisor published their list of best hotels in the world and by region in 2019 as chosen by travelers. Based on their list for Europe we created a short guide for Top 10 hotels in Europe with a bit more details (like prices). SO, if you are interested in best hotels in Europe, keep on scrolling (and if you are like us, drooling all over the photos). These are the best hotels in Europe in 2019:

1. Hotel Belvedere

Location: Riccione, Italy

Prices for this hotel were impossible to find, so this place is either booked more than a year in advance or they have a private booking system, meaning the prices are only available upon request. Now that is what we call exclusivity!

Nevertheless, it is a stunning and glamourous Italian hotel that offers a spa, swimming pool, terrace solarium and much more. When you look at the photos, you understand why it is voted the best hotel in Europe.

Photo source: http://www.belvederericcione.com/en/beach-hotel-italy/1-0.html

2. Hotel Alpin Spa Tuxerhof

Location: Tux, Austria

Deluxe Double Room with Balcony (2 adults/5 nights) ~ 2230,00 € (breakfast & dinner included)

Suite (2 people/5 nights) ~ 2400,00 € (breakfast & dinner included)

A hotel 1300 meters above sea level and next to ski area, it will be perfect for winter and snow lovers.

Photo source: https://www.tuxerhof.at/

Photo source: https://www.kayakapi.com/home

3. Kayakapi Premium Caves – Cappadocia

Location: Urgup, Turkey

Prime Room (2 adults/1 night) ~ 135,00 € (breakfast included)

Grandiose Cappadocian Pool Mansion (6 people/1 night) ~ 3.150,00 € (breakfast included)

This hotel has an incredible vibe and will be perfect if you are looking for something different and boutique style. It is located 1 kilometer away from Urgup’s town center and is actually, as the name says, in the caves.

4. Quinta Jardins do Lago

Location: Funchal, Portugal

Standard Double or Twin Room (2 adults/1 night) ~ 220,00 € (breakfast included)

Premier Suite (2 people/1 night) ~ 410,00 € (breakfast included)

A hotel with majestic botanical garden, each room has a balcony overlooking the gardens and the hotel is located 2 kilometers from the city center.

Photo source: http://www.jardinsdolago.com/en/

Photo source: https://www.hotelamira.com/

5. Hotel Amira Istanbul

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Standard Double Room (2 adults/1 night) ~ 180,00 € (breakfast included)

Deluxe Double Room (2 people/1 night) ~ 210,00 € (breakfast included)

This fancy hotel with excellent location offers stunning views at Sea of Marmara. It is perfect if you want to spend just 1 night in Istanbul as it is located in the heart of Istanbul.

Photo source: https://www.41hotel.com/

6. Hotel 41

Location: London, United Kingdom

Executive King (2 adults/1 night) ~ 460,00 €

Hospitality Suite (2 people/1 night) ~ 1140,00 €

Located in Westminster, you will hardly get a hotel with better location in London. The hotel offers many services, like executive floor, spa or babysitting.

Photo source: https://ikosresorts.com/resorts/ikos-oceania/

7. Ikos Oceania

Location: Nea Moudania, Greece

Economy Room (2 adults/1 night) ~ 1215,00 € (all inclusive)

Deluxe Junior Suite (2 people/1 night) ~ 1630,00 € (all inclusive)

This luxury hotel in Nea Moudania with its private bay and infinity pool offers both sea and mountain views. It is an amazing choice for anyone looking for a Greek vacation.

8. Hotel Spadai

Location: Florence, Italy

Standard Double Room (2 adults/1 night) ~ 226,00 € (breakfast included)

Suite (2 people/1 night) ~ 510,00 € (breakfast included)

This is definitely the best hotel in Florence with an amazing location with only a few meters to Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, and San Lorenzo Church. All the rooms are spacious and soundproof.

Photo source: https://www.hotelspadai.it/

9. Ikos Olivia

Location: Gerakini, Greece

One-Bedroom Bungalow Suite with Private Garden (2 adults/2 night-minimum) ~ 890,00 € (all inclusive)

Another hotel from Greece with breathtaking views and world-class service. The resort offers a private beach area, 4 pools, tennis court, 5 restaurants and shops.

Photo source: https://ikosresorts.com/resorts/ikos-olivia/

Photo source: https://www.maxxroyal.com/en/

10. Maxx Royal Kemer Resort

Location: Kemer, Turkey

Suite Land View (2 adults/4 nights-minimum) ~ 2430,00 € (all inclusive)

Maxx Laguna Suite 1 Bedroom (2 people/4 nights-minimum) ~ 4016,00 € (all inclusive)

With magnificent natural surroundings, this resort is perfect for anyone looking for elegant holiday experience.

Prices and available rooms were so hard to find for these hotels since Trip Advisor published their list of best European hotels. So, if you are planning on staying in one of them make sure to book in long in advance or prepare to be flexible with your travel dates. If you ask us, these hotels really are stunning and definitely deserve to be on the list of best hotels in Europe for 2019. 

Safe travels & enjoy your stay.

p.s. If you thing some hotel is even better than these ones here, but didn’t get the credit, let us know. We would love to hear what is for you the best hotel in Europe in 2019.

Other posts by Surprise Journeys

Top European Summer Destinations 2019

Top European Summer Destinations 2019

Each summer we wonder where to spend our days relaxing. We search the Web, Instagram and Facebook for inspiration and tips. So, this year we decided to create our own list of top European summer destinations for 2019. Keep on reading to find out our favorites!

24 hours in Istanbul

24 hours in Istanbul

In case you get only 24 hours in this enchanting city and want to make most of it, we created this suggested itinerary. Keep on reading and you will see what to do, where to eat and other interesting bits about Istanbul (well, at least the short version).

Our Newsletter

The post Best Hotels in Europe – 2019. appeared first on Surprise Journeys.

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Travel Journal: A short trip to Bali https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/03/19/short-trip-to-bali/ https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/03/19/short-trip-to-bali/#respond Tue, 19 Mar 2019 14:32:40 +0000 https://surprisejourneys.com/?p=611 Last August we took a spontaneous trip to Bali. Spontaneous in a way that we decided to do it in July, so we had only one month to plan everything and buy plane tickets.

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Long enough to fall in love with it

Duration: 8 days, 7 nights
Location: Bali, Indonesia

Last August we took a spontaneous trip to Bali. Spontaneous in a way that we decided to do it in July, so we had only one month to plan everything and buy plane tickets. On top of that, we could only go for 8 days (not enough for location like Bali). Despite all issues, we decided to take on that adventure. Our biggest motivation (besides all the stunning photos of Bali on Instagram) was the fact that Qatar Airways had huge discount on tickets. So we ignored all the cons and decided to buy the tickets and do the best we can in the small amount of time we had. Firstly, we booked our plane. 

We were flying through Doha and Jakarta and then finally got to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar. First thing we noticed when we got there was the humidity. Since we live in Europe, we are not used to this kind of humid weather. It was a lot at first (you feel sweaty all the time) but we got used to it after a day or two. Second thing was the fact that it was raining. We weren’t expecting this because rainy season in Bali is from January to April and October to November. However, our kind driver (sent by our hotel) who was picking us up at the airport assured us that it will pass. He said that if there is some rain in August, it rains for max 30 minutes and then it clears up again like nothing happened. And I have to tell you, he was right.

Checking in our hotel was smooth and when we got to our Villa we were stunned. We booked our stay in Seminyak at Maya Sayang where we got a 300 square meters big One-bedroom Villa with a private pool (and we got it for a really great price). These Villas are like your own tropical paradise in the heart of Seminyak. The food is very good, each morning they bring you breakfast to your Villa and you have a few options to choose from.

The staff is super nice and helpful (you will see later why we got to love them) but sometimes you will have to explain a bit more what you want because of the language barrier. Our bathroom had an incredible outdoor shower that fitted perfectly into the tropical theme. The resort also offers you a Spa, so we booked a reflexology massage the first day to fight our long flight side effects. Two ladies came to our Villa and were super nice and friendly and did their job perfectly. After a good night’s sleep we headed to explore Seminyak casually.

The location of our accommodation was perfect, right on the street where many restaurants and shops are, and a walk to the beach was less than 10 minutes. We had lunch at a beautiful Greek restaurant called Mykonos. The food was so good that we actually came back to this place. The prices were pretty good, form 5 to 8 € per meal. But we did spend a bit more each time because it was two food lovers traveling together. But there are even cheaper options is Bali, if you choose not so fancy places you can get a full plate of amazing food for as low as 2 €. Rest of the day we spend wandering around Seminyak, visiting the local market full of colorful goods and souvenirs and lying on the beach watching surfers.

Tip

Always negotiate prices while on market in Bali. But not just negotiate, get dramatic. We got this tips from our tourist guide who sad we should always offer half of the asked price. We thought this was pretty extreme but decided to try it eventually. And it worked!

August is amazing to visit Bali if you want to surf. Of course, we had to try surfing! We were sure we won’t be able to stand up on our first try, but we did. This was my first time surfing and I loved it. Naturally, we took the smaller waves and had help, but it was incredible. The feeling of freedom and the power of nature you get at that moment you finally sand up on that board is amazing. We loved it so much that we went surfing 3 times in those 8 days we had in Bali. It beats lying on the beach, at least for me.

Tip

There are many surf schools that offer lessons in Seminyak but they can get a bit expensive and you have to follow a fixed timetable. We decided to go with the locals. You can spot them all over the beach with little stands and many surf boards. We got 2 fun guys that had a stand in front of KU DE TA beach club. Local surf instructors are way cheaper; they really know the waves and currents in Bali. Of course, we haggled here as well and lowered the price even more. Since we came back 2 more times, the guys remembered us and gave us even lower price each time we came back. We were joking that if we stayed 2 more weeks, eventually we would go surfing for free.

KU DE TA Beach Club in Seminyak is an amazing spot if you like cocktails and a little fancier way to enjoy beach. Their Peach Mojito is so tasty that even I (the one who doesn’t like classic mojito) liked it. It is little pricier but the food is delicious. If you would like to have dinner there or want to have a pool chair during day make sure to book it before since it can get pretty busy.

Since the traffic in Bali is crazy and they drive on the left side of the road (like in the U.K.) we weren’t really comfortable renting a scooter. So even before departing for Bali we booked private tours with Bali Driver Seminyak. Anything I write about our guide Wayan is an understatement. He was so kind, patient and a real expert. He thought us so much about Balinese culture and Hinduism. Always friendly and helpful. To sum it up, if you take any tip from this blog, this should be the one – book Bali Driver Seminyak.

Our first guided tour was to the city of Ubud and its art market. On our way there we visited a traditional Balinese house. This was such an incredible experience, unlike anything we have ever seen so far. You can see first-hand how modestly Balinese people live, how different the architecture and style is. The whole family lives together, they do not have piping, but a well; there is not one big house – the arrangement is completely different – many small house-like objects over the property. In the middle there is a special object with a spot for bed in the open (there is just a roof). This is where newlyweds sleep on their first night as a married couple or where they put the body of the deceased the day he or she dies. 

The rest of the property has standard object, but they are all divided, like little one-room houses: one is kitchen, other is parents’ bedroom etc. There is always one that is an inch or two taller than everything else – this one is the bedroom of the first-born son. Also, each house has its own shrine.

After this we continued to the Batuan temple. This is a complex of shrines with beautiful Balinese temple architecture. You enter through separate large communal hall, but have in mind that you need to have sash and cloth around your waist to be able to enter the main temple grounds across the street. As we were looking around the temple locals were preparing it for the ceremony by placing fruit towers and flower offerings. It was very interesting to see the local women preparing the temple, you could really see how much they care about traditions.

Next stop was Luwak coffee plantations and Tegalalang rice terrace. This was an amazing spot, perfect for coffee lovers and everyone wanting to get that Bali rice fields photo for Instagram. For us, the animals (Luwak) and the process of making the coffee was far more interesting. The animals are wild, but it was so interesting to watch them since we have never seen Luwak before. The specialty of this coffee is the fact that these cat-like animals eat the coffee cherries (where they naturally choose only certain cherries, probably the best ones) and their digestive tract alters the composition of the coffee cherries. After this, the whole process of making the coffee is done by hand and it was displayed there so we were able to try it ourselves. 

 After the educational part of the visit, we sat at a beautiful bar overlooking the rice fields. We wanted to try all the different styles of coffee they offered and it was great that they had it premade. For around 4 € you get 6 small cups of different styles of coffee and a normal-sized classic Luwak coffee. It was really fun tasting them all with the scenery of terracing rice fields. At the end of the tour there is a gift shop that sells Luwak coffee which is actually way cheaper than in any other shop we visited during our stay in Bali. And it is actually really cool that you tasted all the styles previously, so you know which one you will like.

Finally we got to Ubud. The city was crowded and the traffic was jammed. Our dear guide just dropped us off and arranged a pick up location and time so we were able to wander carefree. The market was so interesting and had so many cheap souvenir options. Definitely the best location to get something special for your loved ones.

The Monkey forest was our last stop of the day. It was incredible to see all of these animals running around free in the city center. You can spot them jumping from trees to the roofs of the buildings of the city. There were so many of them, all sizes, from babies to grownups. You can buy bananas at the entrance, but I don’t recommend putting them in your bag. If you have some – they will find them. We bought some bananas as we entered and gave one to the baby monkey we saw immediately. We continued walking casually and looking around while still holding the bananas in our hands.

All of a sudden we hear noise of many feet running behind us – monkeys who saw us carrying bananas! Don’t be afraid, but they start climbing all over you and taking bananas, looking in your bag in case you are hiding some more.

If you love animals like we do, this will be fun for you. But in case you don’t want to have 3 monkeys on you at the same time, don’t buy the bananas or just give it to them right away. The forest itself is also beautiful, but as I said, I love animals so I was mostly concentrated on them and the beauty of seeing them free.

Next evening we decided to go to Kuta for some party time, since it was Saturday. If you go to Kuta for party, you just need to get to the famous nightlife strip and you just enter the club you like based on your music genre preferences. We decided to check Sky Garden Rooftop Lounge because it contains several different venues under the same roof. And of course, to check out its rooftop bar.

Tip

We went to Kuta with taxi. The reception of our hotel booked us one. We remembered the price we payed going there. This is important so you know what you can expect when going back. At nightlife strip there will be many taxies during night, but they like to take much money if you don’t pay attention. So before getting into the taxi, make sure and ask how much will it be. When we were going back we checked around 3 taxis until we found one with a reasonable price.

The other day we took a private tour guide (Wayan again of course) we went to visit Uluwatu temple, Turtle Conservation and Education Centre and Nusa Dua.

Our first stop was Turtle Conservation and Education Centre. This place was so amazing, informative and it was so wonderful to see all the rescued turtles. The entrance for this place is free, but they do have a spot where you can give your donation to help their cause.

What they do is they rescue turtles, but they also take the eggs from the beaches to prevent them from being hunted and when they are big enough they bring them back to the sea. You can see the eggs with unhatched baby turtles and the volunteer told us a lot about different turtles (was very knowledgeable) that live there and showed them all to us. They all live in their separate tanks, divided by species and by age. We even got to hold baby turtles in our hands and feed some bigger turtles. Overall experience was pretty incredible, especially since the work this Centre does is so inspiring.

After this heart-warming experience we headed towards Nusa Dua beach. This beach feels like you stepped into your favorite Instagramer’s feed – beautiful, clean and packed with luxury hotels. This is a perfect location if you want to relax, unwind and enjoy a slower pace. As soon as you enter Nusa Dua region you will see it is completely different from any other part of Bali, the streets are not crowded and it feels so luxurious. While visiting Nusa Dua beach was very relaxing we were most excited about Nusa Dua Water Blow – a rock formation and one of the most popular spots in Nusa Dua. This water blow is quite big and the moment when the seawater blows up is truly breathtaking.

Another beach we visited on our way to lunch was Padang Padang beach – one of Uluwatu’s most beautiful beaches. You know it is true if I tell you that this is the beach from “Eat, pray, love” movie with Julia Roberts. You have to pay the entrance fee of 10.000 IDR (0,63€) to visit this beach. When walking to the beach (very interesting trail) you will be greeted by monkeys so keep your sunglasses safe. But don’t worry, monkeys in Bali are generally really gentle, unless you provoke them. 

To get to the Padang Padang beach you need to go down a narrow staircase in between a large limestone cave. It is really narrow, only one person at the time can go through, but don’t be alarmed because it is quite an experience. We did not stay long since the beach was pretty crowded (it is quite small), but the location is really beautiful and the scenery is incredible. The water is clear and looks so nice being surrounded with rock formations and sand.

We had lunch at a stunning, casual Single Fin Bar and Restaurant at the top of the cliff, overlooking some badass surfers catching huge waves. This bar is very popular as it has the biggest cliff balcony in the archipelago.

Our last stop was Uluwatu Temple and the sunset dance show held there. The Uluwatu temple is simply the best place in Bali to watch the sunset and it is a must see location for anyone visiting Bali. To enter the temple you will again get a cloth to wrap around yourself. The temple is on top of a 70 meter high cliff and every day at 6 PM there is a dance show called 

Kecak dance. Entrance fee to the temple is 30.000 IDR (around 2€). Kecak Fire Dance was held after we walked around the temple, at sunset. This is an iconic dance performance in Bali and watching it in an amphitheater at the top of the cliff withsunset as a backdrop is magical. More than 60 people are included in the show and they use their body and voice to create music while telling the story.

Tip

You will see a lot of monkeys near this temple, but be careful as they sometimes try to take your fashionable sunnies or phone (basically, shiny things are most interesting to them). Make sure to take care of your belongings.

Next day was pretty casual, we stayed in Seminyak, enjoyed some beach time and surfing. Right before sunset we arrived at Tanah Lot Temple. This temple is known for epic sunsets and views and is a perfect way to finish off our Bali experience since this was our last day. After some wandering around rock formations and the beach all around the temple, we settled at one spot to watch the sunset. It was amazing to see how many people are here to watch the sunset. And a quite interesting thing here was the fact that so many people wanted to take picture with us (most of them were also tourists, but not European). This didn’t happen anywhere else in Bali so it was fun and we met a lot of interesting people. 

After sunset we saw that many people were going to the cave right under the temple, so we went to check it out. There was a spring of water there in the cave and a Hindu priest that did blessing of everyone. It was quite pretty, you can wash your face and take a sip of spring water, the priest puts some rice on your forehead, says the blessing and puts one Pulmeria flower behind your ear. Perfect last picture of Bali. Well, read on…

Ultimate Tip

DO NOT DRINK WATER! And I mean this in the most serious way possible. We were aware of this, we didn’t drink any water. You get bottled water in your hotel/resort even for brushing your teeth. BUT! We did have a brain fart at Tanah Lot Temple. Hopefully, it was because we were mesmerized by its beauty. There is a spot at Tanah Lot where Hindu priest blesses you and offers you to drink a sip of spring water to cleanse your body. Well, we found out the hard way that it literally cleanses your body. This is the exact moment we had a brain-fart and completely ignored what we knew about Balinese water. We took a sip of the spring water.

The photo above showes the exact moment when I was getting Bali Belly.

What you get when you are a tourist and drink the tiniest bit of Balinese water has a lovely name – Bali Belly. And it is everything but lovely. Luckily, this was one of the moments we also experienced the kindness of our guide Wayan. It all began at the end of our tour that day and my co-traveler was the first one to start feeling sick (followed by intense vomiting). After her first symptoms, Wayan was sure it was Bali belly so he rushed us to the pharmacy and we got everything needed to fight it. 

20Long story short, we spent most of the night taking shifts in the bathroom. You can’t even wet your mouth with water because in 15 minutes you will need to vomit that drop of water that got to your stomach. Since my symptoms started few hours later than my friend’s it was pretty terrifying because I knew exactly what was coming my way, watching her was like looking into my own future – and it was not pretty. When we woke up the next day, in time for our check-out, we were like beaten cats. We had 8 hours between check-out and our plane, which we earlier thought was perfect because we had time to walk around some more, have a lunch etc. 

These 8 hours sound like nightmare if you have Bali belly. And on top of that you add 20+ hour trip home. We were hopeless while we were gathering our luggage and dragging ourselves to the reception desk. Going to the airport was still a bit hard, still feeling sick, but better than in the morning. We finally dragged our butts to the airport and started our journey back home. I was happy, because my friend was already starting to feel better, the Bali belly was coming to an end. This meant that in 3-4 short hours I will start to feel better as well. 

We slept like logs through all of our 3 flights, didn’t eat a thing in flight because we were still so tired. Poor flight attendant on our second flight had to wake us up when we landed because that was how hard we were sleeping. By the time we arrived to our country we were rested and like nothing happened. Just like our dear Wayan said, after 30 hours you feel like nothing happened.

Going to the airport was still a bit hard, still feeling sick, but better than in the morning. We finally dragged our butts to the airport and started our journey back home. I was happy, because my friend was already starting to feel better, the Bali belly was coming to an end. This meant that in 3-4 short hours I will start to feel better as well. We slept like logs through all of our 3 flights, didn’t eat a thing in flight because we were still so tired. Poor flight attendant on our second flight had to wake us up when we landed because that was how hard we were sleeping. By the time we arrived to our country we were rested and like nothing happened. Just like our dear Wayan said, after 30 hours you feel like nothing happened.

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Travel risk around Europe https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/03/11/travel-risk-around-europe/ https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/03/11/travel-risk-around-europe/#respond Mon, 11 Mar 2019 12:08:56 +0000 https://surprisejourneys.com/?p=553 Most of us love to travel, some of us are so into it that they would literally go anywhere. But you should always, and I mean ALWAYS, think about your safety first.

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Risk levels you should consider while traveling around Europe

Most of us love to travel, some of us are so into it that they would literally go anywhere. But you should always, and I mean ALWAYS, think about your safety first.

We know that you can get really busy booking your next vacation (and excited, lets be honest), so we are sharing a ” European security map”, ak.a. Travel risk around Europe, displayed on a map. The data is sourced from Travel risk map and the factors they take into account are political situation, risk of terrorism, crime rate, infrastructure and health risks.

Here you can see our beautiful Europe and its levels of safety represented by country. Luckily, Europe is a pretty safe place for traveling. Almost all of the countries are labeled with Low risk (e.g. Estonia, Sweden, Croatia and Spain) or Insignificant risk (e.g. Switzerland, Slovenia and Norway). Unfortunately, some countries are labeled as Medium risk (e.g. Kosovo, Ukraine and Russia). Nevertheless, the results for Europe are pretty great, but make sure to check your travel destination’s risk ratings and tips on how to avoid getting in any kind of trouble. You can always check the most recent results on Travel risk map.

Hope you enjoy your next journey & we wish you safe travels.

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Creating a solo traveler https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/01/16/creating-solo-traveler/ https://surprisejourneys.com/2019/01/16/creating-solo-traveler/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2019 14:35:56 +0000 http://surprisejourneys.com/?p=1 Most of us remember our first trip, first flight and the destination of it…but as we get older and do some traveling through our lives, there are not much „firsts“ to try.

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Tips for first time solo travelers

Have you ever thought about traveling solo? Ever considered yourself a solo traveler? Here are some tips and tricks if you decide to try it.

Most of us remember our first trip, first flight and the destination of it…but as we get older and do some traveling through our lives, there are not much „firsts“ to try (except destinations, of course). This is something solo traveling can be for you, if you dare. Solo traveling might sound intimidating and weird at first (Who will take my photos?!?) and this is why we created a list of tips and tricks. Hopefully, you decide to try it. We highly recommend it because it opens your heart and mind. And we noticed that it helped us meet a completely new version of ourselves. A bold, daring, strong and independent one. Let’s get to it then, before you departure date approaches!

“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” – Robin S. Sharma, author and inspirational speaker

1. It will be weird (but mostly for other people).

You are traveling alone? Why? Aren’t you scared? Won’t it be lonely? If you decided to do this and are completely sure and excited about your decision, you will gladly answer these questions at first. But after conversations with all your aunts, uncles and grandmothers, you might get a bit frustrated. Just keep in mind that most people are not comfortable enough with this type of traveling. Our best advice is to stay respectful and prepared and maybe you even inspire someone do try it as well.

2. It will not be as hard as you imagine.

If you lave traveling and are completely excited to try a new style of traveling, it will not be hard. As long as you do something you want and love it is never hard. You might even have better opportunities than when traveling in pair or group. If you are alone, the chances are better for someone to offer you a home-cooked meal, find a ticket for a sold-out show or give you a discount for an excursion.

3. Take a photo of your passport/visa.

And then send it to your own e-mail, in case you lose your documents.

4. Bring less stuff.

The trick we love to use is to lay on the bed everything we want to bring and then cutting 30%. This usually does the trick. You don’t want to be dragging huge luggage on your own. Plus, it will be more carefree and relaxing to travel lightweight. Remember, bring different layers and concentrate on comfort (especially when it comes to shoes).

5. Have some spare money.

Put it in a secret location. this is a must for a solo traveler. This should also be just a safety net, in case something bad happens (someone steals your wallet or you lose it). You can put it in a weird place in your luggage or a travel money belt, if you have it.

6. Learn a few words and phrases in the local language.

This is useful if you are traveling to a place where a foreign language is spoken. The phrases or words about direction, booking or meals should be enough. However, your hands will do the trick in the worst case scenario as well.

7. Don’t be afraid to meet people.

If you want to meet a lot of people, definitely choose a hostel as your accommodation. If it sounds scary, just keep in mind that solo traveling is about breaking boundaries. And who will take your photos if you don’t talk to people.

8. You can do whatever you want with your time.

If you have an itinerary planned, it’s great. But only if you really feel like doing stuff on it. That’s one of the best parts of solo traveling, you can change your plans all the time with no guilt.

9. Get a selfie stick or a tripod.

Of course, you can always ask someone to take a photo of you. But maybe you want more options, so you can choose the best to put on you Instagram.

10. Trust your gut and be open-minded.

Relax and enjoy. Be flexible. You never know when the next adventure is coming, what the weather will be and who you will meet.

11. Get to know yourself.

You will maybe get lost, need to talk to strangers, you will need to make all the decisions or maybe feel lonely or afraid at some point. But all of this will create emotions in you that would otherwise stay hidden. Embrace them and get to know yourself even better. When you do this, you will be comfortable on your own and the feeling of that is incredible and liberating. Bon solo voyage!

Solo travel rocks

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