The Up and Coming Travel Destination: CROATIA | Rutele

Ready for a cheap and outdoorsy vacation? Croatia might be the destination for you!

Croatia is one of the top up and coming traveling destinations! I visited this beautiful country a couple of years ago and it has left a huge imprint in my heart. The food is delicious and the nature is indescribable. The best part? It is not overflowing with tourists! It is alluring and peaceful…what else could you ask for? Oh and the transportation system in the cities is flawless. It is so easy to get from point A to point B which tends to be the most difficult part about traveling. They have a very impressive railway system in the cities, plenty of buses and 68 airports to fly into.

While in Croatia I visited Plitvicka Lakes (ahhhhh I can’t even find the words for this amazing park), Zagreb and Split. Check out the pictures in the gallery if you haven’t already!

I will keep it short on Zagreb and Split. They are both unique cities. Take advantage of the nature and go on as many hikes as possible. You will run into some astonishing views of the cities and the landscape, which you wouldn’t normally stumble upon. Split is right on the water so do visit the beaches. I never visited the islands nearby but I would recommend it since I have heard that they are superb! Zagreb is the capital so of course it is full of awesome restaurants and churches. Make sure to eat some octopus and fish (mom and pop restaurants are the best) while you’re here and visit the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s quite a marvel.

And now to the destination that stole my heart…Plitvicka Lakes. Wow, just wow. I really don’t think I have been anywhere quite as breathtaking as this. The park is surrounded by a small town consisting of  a couple of hotels and mostly personal property. I would suggest renting from the locals instead of the hotels. My host was beyond anything I could have imaged. He made  breakfast and dinner every day, he drove us to the park and picked us up! The atmosphere that the locals created was very friendly and inviting.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Now the park…it is a wonderland for all nature lovers. In the park you will be surrounded by the woods, the lakes,the streams and the waterfalls.It is quite a lot to take in. The foliage is deep green and the water is crystal clear. I was so tempted to jump in and take a swim with the fish. The trip I took was in the summer so it was very much alive and flowing, whereas in the winter some of the water freezes and some of the trees shed their leaves. I do suggest that you break away from the beaten path and go hike the different trails. These take you up to higher levels from where you can see the whole park and really take in the magic of it all (plus you will by yourself). It’s really hard to describe how this place can make you feel. It is so pure and so untouched by the human hand that it almost cleanses your soul.

You may just have to save up and take a trip to experience this for yourself.

Here is a link in case you want to explore the park virtually.
http://www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/

Over all, Croatia is a beautiful destination with gracious people, hearty food, and magical views. Did I forget to mention that it’s cheap??

Have you visited Croatia or know of a place that’s similar? Let me know!

 

XOXO, Ruta.

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What You MUST DO in FLORENCE, ITALY | Rutele

 

I have been to Tuscany twice, within two years. No shame, that is how much I love it. The people, the views, the art, the food and the WINE are all to die for. At this point it feels pretty much like home, a place where I can relax and really enjoy every minute.
If you are planning a vacation in Europe, this is the spot. It can be a bit overwhelming due to the fact that Tuscany is quite large and some parts are hard to get to, but having been there twice, I have done enough research and testing to know the best way. Below is a list of must see’s and must do’s.

El Duomo:

This is the main church in the heart of Florence. Buy tickets to the tower so you can climb all the way up and see the whole city. Really breathtaking views. Don’t forget to check out the inside of the church as well.

 

Medici Chapel:

Now we all have heard rumors of the Medici family being cruel but that is not a reason to skip out on this church. I basically drooled over the painted ceiling. There are a couple of chairs inside that I do suggest you take full advantage of. Sit down and embrace the feel of this magnificent church.

Medici Chapel in Florence, Italy

CHURCHES:

Really to sum it all up, just GO to as many as you can. They are all filled with the most intricate art and designs your eyes will ever see. Thank you Renaissance!!

Church in Florence, Italy

Wine Tours:

Same as the churches, GO to as many as you can. I would suggest visiting the Chianti region since that is the most famous wine spot. It is quite difficult to get to these places transportation wise and hard to gain access to them so I do suggest just booking a tour. This way you will learn a lot of information, meet cool people and not have to worry about renting a car and doing the driving. Make sure to try as many of the wines as possible and just have a good time. You’re here to relax!

Museums:

The two that I would suggest are The Magnificent Uffizi Gallery and The Accademia Gallery. The Uffize museum houses the works of Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and many more. Tons of beautiful artwork and really intricate sculptures. The Accademia museum houses the real statue of David. My oh my is that a sight to see! Totally worth waiting in lines to see the complex work of art.
 David by Michelangelo in Florence, Italy

Gardens:

The Bardini Garden has the most beautiful view of the entire city of Florence. (It is quite a hike up the hill). The suggested time to visit this park is in the spring when everything is blooming. They have an archway that blooms with purple chandelier like flowers and that, forsure, is a must see. Also, a fabulous wedding destination. I also recommend the Boboli Garden and Giardino Delle Rose.

Florence, Italy

Food and Drink:

Eat out as much as possible! You can never go wrong with the Italian pizzas and pastas. Try to be daring and try something out of your comfort zone like a seafood pasta dish! Delish! If you aren’t ballin on a budget, I would recommend spending some moola on the Bistecca alla fiorentina. It is a local, thick, two to eight pound porterhouse cut of beef. A dream for a meatatarian!! As for drinks…WINE WINE WINE. I do not have any particular restaurants in mind but I will suggest taking some off beat paths and discovering hole in the walls. Those are the most authentic.

 

Really my biggest tip is to just relax and take in the feel of this marvelous place. Walk as much as you can, see as much as you can and try to embrace the culture and everything that it has to offer.

 

Have you ever been to Italy? How was your experience? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!