Monthly Archives: August 2017

Follow our Blog and be inspired - you will hear about first-hand experiences in our stunning destinations.

Experiencing the Divine Amalfi Coastline by Boat

Posted by Teodora Antunovich on August 06, 2017

To understand the true beauty of the Amalfi Coastline, you really must experience it for yourself. The breathtaking images cannot do this region justice! 

55km of “divine coast” is comprised of 13 towns: Amalfi, Atrani, Cetara, Conca dei Marini, Furore, Maiori, Minori, Positano, Praiaiano, Ravello, Scala, Tramonti and Vietri sul Mare. Each town has unique traditions but they are connected by a signature character. Charming little villas nestle in the countryside in hues of pastel and white. Situated against a backdrop of the most breathtaking cliffs, crisp blue sky and sparkling waves frame the coastline like a painting.

The absolute best way to travel through this wondrous destination is by boat. There is something so romantic and luxurious about viewing the Amalfi Coast by sea. During our stay in Positano, we joined two small-group boat tours, each with a different focus.

Departing from Positano, we cruised on a small speedboat to Capri island for the first tour. The small boat allowed us to pause along the way and explore little grottos. The water was refreshingly cool and clear for a swim, with plenty of time to dry off before arriving to Capri. Although the trip was supposed to include a visit to the famous Blue Cave (or Blue Grotto) we chose to forego the visit because of the long wait to get in. (This is often the case during a visit in high season.) To reach the blue cave, your tour boat must cue in a line, and once you reach the "top" you may enter the cave in a small rowboat. We had more fun exploring the small grottos on the tour!

The gondola ride up to Anacapri is a must-do! It is a trip for the brave - a single seat chairlift to the top of a mountain. Despite being afraid of heights, the solo ride up was worth it to see the spectacular view. The ride back down was a lot less scary than going up!

Our second boat tour focused on immersion in the true beauty and history of the Amalfi Coast. We had a chance to hear fascinating facts and stories from the guide, swim in more beautiful grottos and discover hidden beaches along the way. Spotting villas of celebrities, such as Sophia Loren, was a treat for anyone who loves spectacular design and luxury.

A day can’t be completed without a relaxed meal of local flavours, so we stopped at a beach club near Praiano. Lunch included a glass of Campania Region wine and spaghetti served with freshly caught lobster. Delicious!

Experiencing the Amalfi Coastline by boat allows you to see the towns in their most raw forms, and is my top recommended tour. You can truly appreciate the small fishing villages with their incredible villas, and learning history from a local as you cruise the coast is simply magic.


A Taste of Zagreb

Posted by Teodora Antunovich on August 06, 2017

Croatia is one of the most talked-about destinations of 2017. The hype of Game of Thrones and Dubrovnik’s Old Town shows no signs of slowing down, and for good reason! With its iconic fortified walls, it is a spectacular historic sight and not to be missed.

The Dalmatian islands are some of my favourites as well. Small Ship Cruising along the gorgeous Adriatic coastline, feeling sparkling sun on my skin, and jumping into impossibly blue water leaves me daydreaming all year!

Beyond those well-known destinations, another area of this speci­al country is gaining momentum - shining a spotlight on Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb.

This year, Zagreb was recognised as the number one must-visit destination in Europe by Lonely Planet. It was also voted as hosting the best Christmas Markets in Europe for the last 2 years running. No longer is Zagreb a fly-by-night location, it is officially the ultimate city-break. Offering culture, arts, food and endless incredible coffee which are the perfect combination for a trip.

Picturesque architecture surrounds you at every moment. A mix of tidy 18th and 19th century Austro-Hungarian buildings and interesting old socialist buildings are complemented by lush parks, lively squares and city markets.

As a landlocked city, you might think the locals leave for the coast all summer, but summertime in Zagreb is one of the liveliest times to visit. As you walk through the city (easily and best experienced by foot) you may find yourself mingling with the locals while enjoying many of the summer festivals on offer.

Approach the city’s main square, Ban Jelačić, and be amazed by a performance of traditional Croatian Folklore dancing and singing. Continue to Upper Town and Strossmayer Promenade for live music and theatre performances. Visit Art Park and sample a craft beer or cocktail as you walk through a sculpture exhibition, or even join in on a graffiti art workshop!

Zagreb is not only a city to be visited in the summer. The city is taking initiative to have it recognised as a year-round destination. Springtime is gorgeous - you can meander through historical parks and visit the stunning Botanical Gardens. Winter is pure magic at the famous Christmas Markets, as the city is blanketed in falling snow.

On my most recent visit to Zagreb, I wanted to experience the increasingly acclaimed food and drink scene. To make our visit special, we stayed at the historic and luxurious Esplanade Zagreb Hotel. This was the centre of Zagreb social life during the 1920’s. Special guests included travellers on the famous passenger train, the Orient Express, and icons like Elizabeth Taylor, Alfred Hitchcock and Queen Elizabeth II.

Today the Esplanade is considered a monument of the city and is still a social gathering point for travellers and locals to enjoy the 1925 Lounge & Cocktail Bar, Le Bistro Esplanade and the famous fine dining restaurant Zinfandel’s.

Dining at Zinfandel’s was a treat. Named after the grape, exported from Dalmatia to America in the early 19th century, the name represents the connecting of cultures at the restaurant. Zinfandel is now one of the most notable grape varieties of wines produced in Napa Valley, California, and the restaurant is proud to bear the name.

Our experience dining at Zinfandel’s was memorable from start to finish. Each dish showcased different flavours of the Croatian regions. Steamed potato dumplings, a Zagreb classic, were paired with a main of poached cuttlefish which is often served in a black risotto. This dish is traditionally served along the Adriatic coast, from Istria to Dalmatia. Our waiter and renowned sommelier recommended a divine Malvazija wine from Istria, to complete the flavours perfectly.

The next morning, we visited a local bakery to sample fresh pastries such as Burek, a delicious savoury meat or cheese pastry that you must try when visiting Croatia or the Balkan countries. This was followed by a leisurely fresh coffee in Tkalčićeva Street, which is lined with cafes and bars and frequented by the locals.

Later that evening we continued enjoying the theme of modern cuisine that Zagreb has to offer and headed to 50 A Burger & Champagne Bar. Similar to New Zealand, Croatia has embraced the popularity of good quality, memorable burgers. The menu payed homage to different regions of Croatia, offering burgers such as ‘Hvar,’ The Mediterranean’ and ‘Le Truffe.’ I was drawn to the Le Truffe, loaded with fresh truffles, truffle cheese and a truffle aioli. Truffles grown in the Istria region are a delicacy and a favourite of mine. They truly did not disappoint in this delicious burger form, and it’s an ideal way to top off the culinary experience.

There is no excuse not to include Zagreb on your itinerary when visiting Croatia! Emirates and Qatar now fly direct from their main hubs, which means only two flights to travel there from New Zealand. Plenty of European carriers also stop there regularly, so you can seek out affordable fares. Enjoy the full flavours of Croatia and make sure to experience this unique and delicious little city.