All posts by Travel Writer

A History of Matryoshka Doll

Matryoshka nesting dolls are prominent as traditional Russian souvenirs and are popular all over the world. If you visit Russia, this is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about presents you want to bring back home.

Matryoshkas are famous Russian dolls that first appeared in 1890. The traditional design was inspired by the image of a young woman in national Russian dress wearing a headscarf. The very first Matryoshka appeared in a workshop located in Abramtsevo estate near Moscow.

Matryoshka

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According to the official legend, the label “Matryoshka” came from a Russian female name that was very popular at that time, Matryona. Originally, it was a Latin word that meant “mother” and eventually became associated with the maternal figure in a big Russian family.

In ancient Rome it described a beautiful married young woman with a good reputation. Later, the word transformed into the noted Russian name, Matryona.

Matryoshka

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The idea of putting one doll into another came to Russian manufacturer Sava Mamontov after a random visitor brought a beautiful Japanese doll to his workshop.

No one knows who exactly carried this figure to Sava, but the notion persists that the very first Matryoshka-type doll was made on Honshu Island in Japan and was later taken to Russia, where local artisans transformed it into a national folk doll.

Matryoshka

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The first dolls portrayed a whole family with mothers, daughters and sisters. Subsequent variants were more creative, showing pictures of men and people of different nationalities and ages.

However, the female Matyoshka doll, representing a beautiful young fair-haired woman, remains the favorite.

Matryoshka

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One of the most popular producers of dolls in Russia is the factory “Semionovskaya Rospis,” and they continue old traditions of creating Matryoshkas.

They are especially known for making dolls of Father Frost and his granddaughter, Snegurochka.

Matryoshka

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Another famous factory producing Matryoshka dolls is Polkhovsky Maidan located to the south-west of Nizhny Novgorod. Their dolls are distinguished by bright paintings, crimson colors, and expressive ornaments.

monte restaurant croatia

Croatia’s First Michelin Star (You’ll Never Guess Where It Is)

Croatia’s first restaurant to receive a Michelin star is far from Dubrovnik’s historic Old Town, Zagreb’s cultural attractions, and Split’s coastal ruins. Monte, awarded a Michelin star this year, is located in Rovinj, a fishing port in the region of Istria, known for seafood, truffles, and wine. With this distinction, the country’s culinary scene continues to heat up – and in Istria alone, twelve other restaurants also received notable recommendations in the Michelin food guide.

(Photo by Dean Dubokovic.)

Since its opening in 2014, Monte, which is run by chef Daniel Dado Dekic and his wife, has won praise for outstanding food and service, landing a spot on several “best restaurant” lists. Adriatic scallops, sea bass, tuna, shrimp, and other seafood shine on the a la carte menu and tasting menus. Look for creative ingredients and dishes such as a sashimi-like marinated beet or tortelloni with nettle and lamb, opt for the local wine pairings, and save room for the aged Croatian cheese course for dessert.

Chef Daniel Dado Dekic and his wife (Photo by Petr Blaha.)

Aside from the fantastic food, Monte’s vibe is romantic, sophisticated, and relaxed. The staff is attentive but discreet, and totally in tune with guest needs. It’s a warm, welcoming dining experience that lives up to expectations – and worthy of Croatia’s first Michelin star.

Open daily for dinner and lunch on Saturday and Sunday.
Ul. Montalbano 75, Rovinj, Croatia.

Adapted from: www.blog.virtuoso.com

Published: 03.11.2017

prague

Prague: The Heart Of Europe

I’m not really a city person; probably something you quickly realised from the countless island guides and turtle photographs scattered across my social media and website. Nevertheless, this is one I loved, and one I wish I’d known way more about before I visited. To help you avoid making the same misinformed mistake, here are some of Prague’s best locations, attractions and photographic opportunities to hit while you’re in town.


Prague Destination Guide

CHARLES BRIDGE

The highlight of the city and definitely the first place you should visit to get an idea of the vibe of Prague. Thousands of tourists, entertainers, painters, musicians and tour groups walk the Charles Bridge every day making it one of the liveliest bridges I have ever crossed. What’s more, it’s completely blocked off from traffic so you can get your Prague selfie with no worry of passing cars; just thousands of staring strangers.


Prague Destination Guide

PRAGUE CASTLE

Offering breathtaking views as well as a look into the rich history of the city, Prague Castle is probably the other must-visit sight in Prague in addition to Charles Bridge. The walk up the hill and the steps is quite an effort but it’s worth it for the stunning reward waiting at the top. I suggest stopping half way up for a beer to keep you going… it’s cheaper than chips here, really.


Prague Destination Guide

LENNON WALL

Once you find it, the Lennon Wall may instantly become your fave little place to chill out and snap the perfect profile pic. But believe me, finding it is not exactly easy so make sure you are confident where you are going and how to get there before you set off, or else this little secret of Prague may remain just that.


Prague Destination Guide

LETENSKÉ SADY

A park just North of the main part of Prague provides a great location for a serene walk with views down the Vltava and over the rooftops of the city. We walked through the park on our way to Prague Castle but it turned out to be so much more than just a way to get from here to there. Letenské sady is one of the few places I would make sure I would return to should I go back to Prague. Given my love for the city, it shouldn’t be long.


Prague Destination Guide

OLD TOWN

The coolest part of the city, the old town of Prague is definitely the place to be. Historic buildings, cobbled streets with little cafes dotted around every corner and of course, the main square that attracts millions of tourists to its Town Hall and clock tower puppet show. Personally, I recommend you turn around to watch the crowd instead of the puppets, much more entertaining. Oh, and definitely buy a Trdelnik (a steaming cinnamon donut twirl sent by the Gods) if you get the chance!


Prague Destination Guide

VLTAVA RIVER

A walk along the banks of the Vltava is more than enough to satisfy a whole morning of your stay, and maybe even one of the best mornings for that matter. The beautiful scenery and charming tree-lined walk will take you past many of Prague’s major attractions, including the Charles and surrounding bridges. For an afternoon drink, sunset photo spot or twilight dinner, it doesn’t come much better than being on the banks of the Vltava.

Published: 01.11.2017
Adapted from: jamesvodicka.com

travel with kids

Travel with Kids: Top essentials

If you are going to travel with your children, you should be ready to face difficulties. There are quite a few, but when you are prepared, it is easier to overcome them.

First of all, when you travel with kids you need to pack many more things than you do for a solo trip. To save you from digging through your entire luggage searching for some trinket, you should sort things into three categories and associated bags.

Let’s start from the most important one. Take everything you will need while in transit and put it all in one small lightweight backpack that you’ll keep close throughout the trip.

travel with kids
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The most necessary things are all documents (and their printed copies), one or two of your kid’s favorite toys, and all valuable or irreplaceable items. This means wallet, cell phone and charger, and all medications including painkillers and plasters.

Note: Along with usual suitcases it is very comfortable to use packing cubes. They are the most convenient thing you can imagine for traveling. These cubes are also easy to label. Just put stickers on them labeled “t-shirts,” “socks,” etcetera, so you can easily find everything you need.

travel with kids
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Besides the first backpack we mentioned already, there should be a second one with all the stuff you might need on the road. These are water, some food and snacks, two or three pairs of clothes, toothbrush and paste. Also take a music player. Taking an international sockets adapter will be helpful.

All other things can be placed in a suitcase. This includes a first-aid kit, the rest of the clothes, weather protection (raincoat and rubber boots). A good idea is to take an empty bag. It will be helpful for souvenirs and other purchases that you make on your journey.

travel with kids
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The second problem you will face traveling with kids is that they get bored really fast. A long flight or train ride can quickly max out any child’s patience, so provide kid’s entertainment; be sure to take some toys, coloring books, and pens. All this should be new and exciting for your kids. A couple of new apps on your phone or device can also be helpful.

The third important thing while on a trip is your child’s transport. If you are going to travel with an infant or a toddler, you should take a sling, a hip-seat, or some other light and comfortable baby carrier. If you don’t want to take a stroller, you can always rent one at your destination.

If you are planning to take a car seat with you, it is probably worth buying a particular chassis that easily converts from a car seat into a convenient stroller.

As you can see, traveling with kids is not easy and may cause difficulties. But good preparation will help you to avoid problems and ensure you have a great vacation!

 

Travel Trends 2017

What is actually happening in the travel market now? And what are the general trends?

1. According to Google, a lot of us now prefer using mobile devices instead of computers for hotel searches, ordering taxis, and so on. The industry is responding to this trend by increasing the number of mobile applications. Even hotels have started creating their own apps that allow guests to book rooms, choose the level of service, reserve the spa, and even schedule wake-up calls.

2. An increasing tendency is the combining of business trips with tourism – so calledbleisure.” The popularity of bleisure travel – when a mini-vacation is added to a business trip – is growing all over the world, especially in the USA and Australia. For many, the line between work life and leisure time continues to get thinner.

Few people associate business trips with lost productivity and inconvenience in performing their duties anymore. Employees now think that corporate travel provides opportunities to expand horizons, to find inspiration, and to promote their career growth. Not surprisingly, some people are willing to work in positions with lower salaries as long as the job involves frequent travel.

3. In an era when the rhythm of life is constantly accelerating, some people try to achieve harmony through travel. Many believe that traveling is a chance for introspection and even a time to make positive changes in their lives. In the future, tourists are expected to favor trips that improve health and help them to find physical and emotional balance.

This desire is especially evident in travelers from India, China, and Thailand. A number of resort hotels and villas are also beginning to offer guests free spa visits and master classes dedicated to healthy lifestyles, as well as the use of amenities and spaces for meditation and spiritual pursuits.

4. The concept of “eco-tourism” can be interpreted in various ways. However, tourists and hotel owners seem to agree on one point – eco-tourism contributes to the protection of the environment.

 

In the coming year, many travellers plan to choose more eco-friendly options as a life style. This reflects an increasing desire to be in beautiful places without disturbing their ecological balance. Respect for local culture is another trend in travel. Perhaps economic incentives such as tax benefits will soon be introduced for eco-tourism.

5. People are already paying less attention to material things and spending more money on new experiences than they do on shopping. Travelers are now less interested in fashionable establishments. Butlers, concierge services, and luxury toiletries are also no longer in vogue.

6. Travel for many people is not a luxury but a lifestyle. Some travelers have started to think about going beyond our planet and even outside our solar system. A number of us dream about a time when vacations can be spent in far corners of the galaxy or in the depths of the oceans. A few of those dreams are not far from coming true! Perhaps flying into space is too remote to expect anytime soon, but diving into the dark oceanic depths is quite realistic.

In general, the desire to learn – to meet new people and experience other cultures – is the main thing pushing us to travel, and this factor will probably never change. A thirst for adventure will continue to motivate many people; however, we all must reflect on the impacts our trips have on local culture and the environment.

Young girl reading on tropical white beach

Best Books for Long Term Travel

If you travel a lot, you already know a good book is a perfect thing on a trip.

Reasons for reading a book can be different: a long flight or train ride, an overnight stay at the airport, or nasty weather. A good book can not only help you to pass the time, but can also immerse you into another world!

  1. Peter Mail, “A year in Provence.”

Peter Mail and his wife did what most of us only dream of: they bought an old farmhouse in Provence and started a new life there.

The first year of their life in the new place was full of unexpected discoveries and hilarious adventures. They try to learn the local language, go to goats’ tracks, and to complete their makeover in a year.

Magical travel book, trams and towns. Dimensional page open
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Here is a quote from this book:

“Gradually, I was turning into a very happy vegetable, and the connection with real life was carried out through random telephone conversations with people who were killing their lives in distant offices.

All they had to do was to warn me that the sun is killing my brain and causes skin cancer. I did not argue – maybe they were right. One thing I knew for sure: in spite of foul brains, new wrinkles and the danger of getting cancer, I never felt better in my life. “

  1. Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

Time goes on, and still, readers are delighted with the amazing story of the three English gentlemen who decided to travel the River Thames with a fox terrier named Montmorency.

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The book describes a lot of comical situations and funny misunderstandings that the heroes have to work out without losing their sense of personal dignity. This story will surprise you even today as an original tale with wonderful English humor.

  1. Stephen King, Under the Dome

The final version of the novel was written in 2009. Big trouble comes to a small town. Suddenly, it is covered by an invisible mysterious dome, and now no one can get out or in. It completely changes the life of local people, and the police try to fix the situation.

Adventure and travel nautical theme.
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But nothing can be done: airplanes and cars crash when they try to get in;  even rockets and corrosive acids have no effect on the dome. Moreover, it is dangerous just to approach it. The sheriff tried to get closer, and his cardiac pacemaker died.  All the attempts to help people under the dome lead to an opposite result – almost all of them died. What happened to those who managed to survive under it?

  1. Joanne K. Rowling, “The Casual Vacancy”

After this very book, Joan Rowling got rid of the “child writer” label. “The Casual Vacancy” has nothing to do with the world of magic wands, potions classes, and Quidditch. It tells us about a small British town. After the death of a respected citizen, a place on the municipal council is vacated, and many residents would like to occupy it.

Young woman reading a book at the beach
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And here the action starts. On the Internet, someone starts uncovering some things that the city’s families prefer to hide. The struggles and perspectives of every social strata of this small town are here: well-off bourgeois and indigents. Among the characters are businessmen, doctors, and lawyers, as well as marginal elements like drug dealers and prostitutes. Wherever you start reading this book, it will be tough to tear yourself away from it.