Escape of the Week: Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas has always held a special place in my heart.

I remember the first time I ever went to Vegas, fresh off of my ninth grade year in high school. My father drove us down past Fremont Street and the glittering lights and seeing Vegas Vic welcoming visitors to town with an arm raised. Instantly, I was mesmerized.

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

Then, when I moved to Vegas in 2005, and learn more about the history, particularly of the mob and the town’s earlier days, I became fascinated imagining what my experience in the southwestern town would have been 40 years earlier.

In the years I lived in Vegas, I watched the downtown area be reborn. I watched as the Arts District 18b laid its roots, as local hot spots were born, as the city cleaned up its act and began to embrace the area for what it could be — a burgeoning place for businesses, locals and tourists to all share space.

With Zappos moving in to the old City Hall this month, and my stop there, I noticed a huge change from my last visit: Downtown Las Vegas is alive and oh-so vibrant.

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

There is something so old-school about heading to Fremont Street and seeing the glittering lights beckoning people into the casinos … the ringing of the slots as the machines “dispense” coins.

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

The in-your-face marketing of one of Vegas’ biggest sells: getting wasted …

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

And the neighborhood charm of Fremont East and all of its groovy bars and restaurants (you can read about some of my recommendations here) which have popped up in the past decade.

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

In fact, some of my best memories of my life in Vegas center around Downtown and the amazing and beautiful memories created there.

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

Getting there:

From the infamous Las Vegas Strip, simply hop in a cab or bus and head north on Las Vegas Blvd. to downtown. It is a straight shot. If you want to avoid the congestion of The Strip, hop onto I-15 North and exit at either Charleston Blvd. (to check out the awesome arts scene), or take 95 towards downtown and exit at Casino Center. My favorite spots are Fremont East, which is home to Beauty Bar, The Griffin, La Comida, Park on Fremont and other hopping bars and restaurants. Don’t miss Gold Spike. A former casino, today it’s got a sweet bar and fabulous outdoor patio with corn hole and more. To experience Old Vegas, check out the Fremont Street Experience and the casinos there.

What’s your best Vegas experience?

 

Americas Destinations Nevada

Daily Wanderlust: Bullets and Bosnia

From memorials like the one in Berlin to museums in Rwanda to simply a pock-marked building telling the tales of those who were silenced … images like these haunt my mind.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the remnants of war can be found in many places. Even in the heart of Sarajevo, there are stories to be told from the war … a shuttered national library … roses marking where people were killed … and bullet-riddled buildings.

This photo was snapped just outside of the Sarajevo airport near the Tunnel Museum which, during the war, served as a place for those fighting for the city to go underground and move supplies.

Bullet riddled building in Sarajoev

Destinations

Daily Wanderlust: The White House Squirrel

Growing up in Maryland, my dad always made it a point to take my brother and me on “adventures.” These could be anything from sitting at the Metro station on a bench and watching the planes take off from National Airport to checking out all of the museums, to walking down the Potomac when the cherry blossoms were pink and snowing down on us.

As a child, he even took us on a tour of The White House and Senate, where we got to take the underground train to a special dining room where all of the Congress people eat.

It was really cool growing up in place that was in such close proximity to the nation’s capital.

When I returned to Maryland after my road trip through Zion, the Rocky Mountains, Omaha, Chicago and Louisville, taking Erica to see DC was a must.

On this day, we parked it outside the iron fence and looked onto the grounds of The White House. Here, this little guy enjoys a snack on one of the most famous lawns in the world. Hello, photobomb.

A squirrel photobombs the White House lawn

Destinations

The charm and quirk of Louisville, Kentucky

“Louisville is so cute!” I coo to Erica as we drive through the giant, tree-lined streets. “It reminds me of Atlanta!”

While totally out of the way on our road trip, I included Louisville on the route for two reasons: one, because one of my good friends live there; and two, because it was a place I had considered living when I returned from my long-term travel. Of course, Las Vegas won out, but it was the only other place I wanted to go. Even without seeing it first.

Aside from visiting Churchill Downs, seeing the city through the eyes of a local is something both Erica and I want to do. Thankfully, my friend Karen and her fiancé volunteer to take us on a little exploration of the city.

We head to West Main Street to explore the quaint and charming city.

A street in Downtown Louisville, Kentucky

A piece of street are in Louisville, Kentucky

Another photo of Downtown Louisville, Kentucky

Located on Main Street is the Louisville Slugger Museum. With record attendance two-years in a row, today there is a crowd of people outside. Inside, they will learn about the history of the museum, as well as tour the factory and more.

The entrance to the Louisville Slugger Museum

A stack of bats on display inside the Louisville Slugger Museum

The machines to make bats inside the Louisville Slugger Museum

Just outside the museum is the World’s Largest Baseball Bat — a must for photos.

The World's Largest Bat, Louisville Slugger, in Louisville, Kentucky

And then, there is the quirk. Erected in May 2012 in front of the popular 21 C Museum Hotel, this Statue of David is a replica of the infamous Italian one. Standing at 30-feet tall, the enormous gold figure is not easy to miss.

The Statue of David in Louisville, Kentucky

Another perspective of the Louisville, Kentucky's Statue of David

A look from the back at Louisville, Kentucky's Statue of David

My favorite part of Louisville, though, it what lays outside of the main streets — the homes. Gorgeous, palatial homes dripping in Southern charm can be found here, complete with front porches to take in the summer nights.

A home in Louisville, Kentucy

Have you visited Louisville? What were your favorite spots?

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of the #winosontheroad series. Over Yonderlust and d travels ’round went road tripping and exploring America from Colorado to Maryland in June 2012. Be sure to check out all of the posts of life on the open road.

Americas Blog Kentucky

Daily Wanderlust: the DC Metro

Travel was instilled in me at a very young age. Growing up 20 minutes from Washington, DC, meant there was always something to do, always something to see.

I was very fortunate to have a family that wanted me to see the world around me.

On weekends, my dad would bundle up my brother and I and we’d head out on Adventures. These could be anything from taking the Metro down to the National Mall (a landmark I learned very quickly was not a shopping mall, but a vast expanse of land in the heart of the nation’s capitol) to sitting on the Metro platform watching planes take off from National (now Regan) Airport.

All of these adventures have one thing in common: we always took the Metro. Whether or not we were going to a national museum, to gaze at the cherry blossoms in April along the tidal basin of the Potomac, or simply to go to Union Station to see a movie, this mass transit option always makes me smile.

 

Destinations

Up-close with elephants: a photo essay of life with a herd

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

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Thick, leathery gray legs covered with a layer of thick, wet, chocolate-colored dirt, surround me.

At first, I am apprehensive.

On all sides of me are six-ton elephants. Capable of plowing me over.

I look over to Lek, the founder of Elephant Nature Park, with my eyebrows raised.

We’ve learned we’re not supposed to be in the path of these giants, and here I am. Not only keeping step with them, but flanked by them.

“It’s OK, it’s OK,” Lek assures Pam and I as we keep our eyes fixed on the animals around us. “We are a part of the herd right now. They won’t hurt us.”

In normal, volunteer park life, we are not part of the herd. But, this afternoon is special. Lek has invited Pam and I to walk with her through the elephant’s habitat, an experience most don’t have while here.

We’re shadowing Lek as she makes her afternoon rounds with the main elephant families. Two babies, loads of aunties, nanas and moms.

The afternoon happened on a whim.

“Do you want to come with me on my walk?” Lek asks Pam and me following a presentation she has given to our group about the atrocities of training elephants to pain. The two of us have hung back, discussing our frustrations with the tourists down the road riding elephants as we speak and trying to figure out how we can help educate visitors to Thailand set on enjoying these magnificent creatures.

I look at Pam and our eyes light up.

How in the world could we ever say no to such an opportunity to walk the park with Lek?

My mind drifts back to the first time I saw Lek, earlier in the week.

Under a thin mist of rain, she had walked out into the field and kept step with the Faa Mai, the pudgy baby elephant she’s bonded with.

The two look like an odd-coupling, but behave like old friends out for an afternoon stroll.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

Lek and Faa Mai, the first baby to be born from the Elephant Nature Park herd.

Lek walks with her hands on her hips, dwarfed by the baby, who reaches around to touch her with her trunk.

Today, I get to witness the beauty of Lek’s friendship with these elephants first-hand.

As we begin our journey into the elephant’s habitat, we’re trailed by about 10 dogs who are Lek’s shadows. It’s clear — these adopted dogs love Lek as much as the elephants love her. I follow after Lek the same way they do — hanging at her heels. My heart is full of admiration for a woman who is nearly single-handedly taking on the elephant tourism industry in a country where it is one of the biggest selling points.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

The families hang out under a tree, waiting for fruit.

The three of us head out into the elephant’s habitat — a grassy field with thick brown puddles from the rainy season that is causing flooding in other parts of the country. We quietly stroll up to the family, which is snacking on fruit a mahout shakes from a tree. None of them are related, except mommies and children, but an entire make-shift family has blossomed.

The beauty of elephants embracing the inherent structure of family and adapting to create their own.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

Chang Yim and mom, Dok Ngern

Pam and I stand back at first, unsure of what to do or how to behave. Jack’s warnings of standing in front of them echo in my mind, so I try to sidestep their bodies. But, with so many of them, it’s nearly impossible not to stand in front of one of them.

Lek produces a bag of bread, and suddenly, we’re surrounded. Trunks come from every angle as they grapple for a piece of the fluffy snack. Talking to them softly and scratching their searching speckled trunks one-at-a-time, she delivers the pieces  to them.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

Baby elephant Faa Mai and her family surround Lek.

This is unreal.

When the bread is gone, the three of us sit among the long blades of grass for awhile as Lek talks about the park. Then, we hear commotion from a mahout.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

The baby elephant, Faa Mai, waddles away from her mahout, wrapped in the garden hose.

One of the baby elephants is tangled in a green hose, as if she has taken it and spun in a circle, lacing it around her legs. She waddles with it for a moment, playing, and then her trunk wraps around the part still attached to the house and pulls it from the spout, causing a slow trickle of water to hit the ground.

I can only imagine, this is how a delighted and happy elephant looks as she speeds away from her owner.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

She waddles around for a moment, hose wrapped around her pudgy legs, before the mahout can sneak in and remove it from her body.

Then, it’s bath time. The entire family heads to the banks of the rushing brown river.

This is the moment we become a part of the family.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

The family begins its walk to the river bank.

Looking around, in between legs, trunks swaying within centimeters of my hands, the gushes of wind from the flapping of the ears … it evokes this happiness I have never felt before.

I can’t help but realize how incredibly lucky I am to be keeping step with these creatures.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

One dirty (and cool) elephant.

In the moment, walking with the herd, I am incredibly fulfilled and it stretches from my toes to the tips of the hair on my head.

This is, quite possibly, one of the most amazing moments of my life.

Lek, Pam and I stand back a few feet as the family heads into the water to rinse off. Some of the elephants wade out a bit and just stand in the water, letting it rush over them. Others seem to enjoy it more, plunging their heads and then entire bodies under the water and letting the current carry them down stream a little bit.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

An elephant enjoys the refreshing bath.

And, of course, the babies play, splashing their trunks in the water.

 Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

It’s not just bath time, it’s play time!

Mommy and baby come out of the water, headed straight for us. Instinctively, Pam and I dart out of their path as they rumble past.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

A baby elephant plays as another leaves the water.

“Where are they going?” I ask.

As we turn to follow, their end point is obvious. The huge dirt hill a few feet away where a group of volunteers are digging and making sand bags for a sick elephant.

The baby walks up to the truck where the rust-colored dirt is first, flinging a boot into the back of it. Then, she grabs dirt and sprays it on her.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

Lek and volunteers look on as elephants enjoy dirtying up again.

Within minutes, the elephants are once again covered in dirt. They are laying in the pile. Rolling in it like dogs.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

Rolling in the mud keeps these elephants cool in the tropical heat and humidity.

It’s one of the most adorable displays of animals enjoying themselves I have ever seen.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

While one lays in the dirt, another elephant finds more to play with in the trailer.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

Rain doesn’t stop these elephants from enjoying the dirt pile.

I almost feel guilty when Pam and I head off with Lek again, leaving the other volunteers to continue shoveling.

But, as we walk with the herd, those feelings vanish and are replaced with one of the most exhilarating feelings of elation and bliss.

This trip to Thailand is life-changing, there is no doubt.

As we continue, and the elephants stop to scratch their now dirty bodies against posts and logs to get at itches.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

They find an old log to get those hard-to-scratch places.

They slide their enormous bodies against the wood, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, until they move on to the next post, where they once again rub and scratch.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

Elephants display satisfaction at quieting their itches.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

 As we make our way back to the family shelter where all of the volunteers will meet to sit with Faa Mai as Lek sings her lullabies to for her afternoon siesta, we encounter Medo, in her 20s, and her best friend.

She has been sadly disfigured from both logging and forced breeding injuries. At a young age, Medo was forced into illegal logging, and was the victim of a serious logging accident, breaking her right ankle badly. The bone was unable to set and today her ankle is enlarged and irregularly shaped.

After this injury, she was unable to work in the industry and sold to a new owner as a breeding elephant. She was chained to a tree and a bull in musth was chained next to her. According to Elephant Nature Park, under normal conditions he might not have taken an interest in her, but in this case, he attacked her and mounted her. Medo collapsed under his aggression and laid there for two days, until the bull was able to be removed.

But, the damage was already done.

The teenage elephant had a dislocated spine and broken pelvis.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

Medo has lasting effects from life before Elephant Nature Park. Photo: Pam Brace

Today, it is impossible to miss her gait and how she can hardly place weight on one of her legs.

Up-close with a herd of elephants at Elephant Nature Park: photo and story from dtravelsround.com

But, she is beautiful.

As we walk by Medo, I can’t take my eyes off of her. Her history and abuse run through my mind, and I smile, comforted by her being so close to me, knowing she is no longer going to face any harm.

When we finish our walk, I return to my room, speechless, breathless.

Enamored.

 

Asia Blog Responsible Tourism Responsible Tourism Featured Thailand

Escape of the Week: Outdoor Art in Prague

Prague, considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, is a smorgasbord of style ranging from renaissance to gothic to baroque, contemporary and more.

It’s easy to spend days just wandering the city, taking in the hundreds of churches with spires that pierce the skyline, the colorful buildings on quaint tree-lined streets, the parks set against historic and modern backdrops at the same time. There are plenty of things to do in Prague, that’s for sure.

The colorful old buildings of Prague.

Prague is certainly breathtaking.

As it has emerged as a hot spot on the tourist path, the city, which has always been seeped in culture, has taken on an identity as an art attraction. Museums throughout pay homage to a wide-range of works of art, including the Museum of Decorative Arts, The National Gallery, Old Town Hall and Prague Art Gallery, The Fine Arts Museum and more.

But, for those on a budget, simply walking out the door of a hotel or hostel can result in an artistic experience in the pulsing capital of the Czech Republic. Street art and installments are stumbled upon while engrossed in an entirely different exploration in the whimsical Bohemian city.

It’s these little gems that add a certain charm to a city that has already captured the world’s heart.

Love Lock Bridge

Couples in love make the pilgrimage to this bridge with padlock and sharpie in tow.

Believed to signify the eternal love of a couple, starry-eyed romantics affix their own padlock with their names inscribed on the metal up and down this pedestrian bridge that crosses over the Vlatva River.

Supposedly, clicking the lock on to this bridge (and other similar Love Lock Bridges in Europe) means good luck in a relationship.

With a view of the charming old neighborhoods, the bridge isn’t just an ode to romance, it’s romantic!

John Lennon Wall

A quick walk from Love Lock Bridge is the John Lennon Wall, a colorful outcropping of graffiti on one long wall in Velkopřevorské náměstí (Grand Priory Square), Malá Strana.

It used to be a normal wall, but then in the late 1980s, when the country was under the communist regime of Gustáv Husák, younger residents began to show their disapproval in the form of writing on this wall. This led to fighting between students and police on the famed Charles Bridge.

The students were described as following “Lennonism,” hence a large amount of graffiti dedicated to the namesake of the movement, John Lennon.

You won’t see the same wall twice. Visitors and locals regularly add their own piece of history to the wall, from Lennon quotes designed to inspire peace and love to their own portraits of Lennon to works of art and everything in between.

For those artistically inclined (and even those who aren’t), grab some paint and leave your own mark on this historic wall. (I only had a pen, but you get the point!)

Revoluce Key Sculpture

Unveiled in March 2010, the key sculpture was created by renowned Czech artist Jill David.

Standing at a towering 6 meters high in Franz Kafka Square, it spells out “Revoluce” (“Revolution” in English) with more than 85,000 keys.

David’s work signifies the non-violent Velvet Revolution which used keys as its symbol. The revolution, which took place from November 17 to December 29, 1989, was a largely student-led protest against Communism.

Have you been to any of these places? Are there other free art attractions you recommend for Prague? Leave your comments below!

 

Destinations

Escape of the Week: Radovljica, Slovenia

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Dayna at Wanderlusting. Do you have an Escape of the Week you’d like to contribute? Let me know! Dtravelsround [at] gmail [dot] com. Your Escape could be the next Escape!

I expected to enjoy Slovenia.  A year ago, I looked up photos and videos of Lake Bled, the Julian Alps, and Ljubljana, excited for the ‘someday’ when I would get there.  What I did NOT expect, however, was to fall completely head over heels in love with Slovenia.  In terms of rugged beauty, medieval old towns, and that nagging sense that visitors feel — that they are walking inside of a postcard — it rivals any and all of Europe’s better known destinations.

My guidebook told me to go see nearby (and virtually unheard of) Radovljica for the bee museum, which didn’t really sound that appealing to me, but my cousin insisted I pay the town a visit.  I am so glad I did. It may not have the tourist draw that Bled and Bohinj do, but it is absolutely perfect for an afternoon of unguided strolling, people watching and getting off the beaten path a bit.

The journey to Radovljica from Bled is as valuable as visiting the town itself, especially in the autumn.  Traditional Slovenian houses, fields and forests of every color and the surrounding Alps make it a visual treat.


After peeking around a few corners, I was greeted by a restored and wonderful Old Town dating back to medieval times, locally dubbed Linhartov Trg.  Being a coffee lover, I was impressed by the sheer amount of cafes in their small town square.  On Sundays, as in most of Slovenia, this is the place where locals take a stroll to see their neighbors and
friends.


The streets are immaculately kept, as are the buildings themselves.  Every corner, it seems, is more inviting than the last.  Hanging flower baskets and small orchards are common once you venture a few blocks away from Linhartov Trg.


As with most small Slovene towns, the focal point and highlight is its beautiful, Gothic church.  The Parish Church of Saint Peter sits patiently on a hilltop overlooking the dense forest, and dates back to the 14th century.


While visitors aren’t allowed inside, they are welcome to explore the grounds, the neighboring parish and take a peek through the church doors at the incredible architecture and ceiling murals.


The best gifts Radovljica has to offer are the many incredible vistas of Mount Triglav and the surrounding Alps, the Sava River and the glimpse at everyday life that is best enjoyed away from the crowds.


Getting There: Slovenia’s biggest tourist attraction in its own right is Lake Bled which is only 5 kilometers away from Radovljica.  Buses leave from Bled’s main bus station every half hour, and return just as frequently.

Have you visited Slovenia? What city stood out the most for you?

About the Author: Dayna was raised in Washington State and studied International Studies and Global Development at the University of Idaho, where her interests led her to further explore Islam and the West and African Development.  At the tender age of five, she held up an inflatable globe from National Geographic and declared that she would conquer the world and collect whales.  She is also a seasoned singer/songwriter, hula hoop dancer, poi spinner, coffee enthusiast and avid lover of travel and useless trivia. Follow her on Twitter; Like Wanderlusting on Facebook.

Destinations Guest Posts

Escape of the Week: Sintra, Portugal

A quick train ride from Lisbon lies the hilltop town of Sintra. It’s a quaint little town that conjures up memories of times when fairytales were quite possibly real, with its maze-like cobblestone streets, castles and palaces.

Once the summer home of Portugal’s kings, today Sintra offers a place for history buffs to roam the streets and explore all of the town’s nooks and crannies. There are the homes and streets that show evidence of a long life …

 

For the traveler seeking a place to rest their feet, there are cafes to enjoy the fresh air and scenery.

In the center of town, there are plenty of options for culture. The most popular option (and largest) is the sprawling Palacio Nacional de Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a medieval royal palace that is a focal point of Sintra.

There are also views of the Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day, it is very possible to imagine seeing all the way across to the other side of the world. (My favorite view is actually at a Chinese restaurant near by the train station.)

At the top of the town, there are the eighth century ruins of Castelo dos Mouros and Palacio de Rena. You can reach them either on foot (it’s a good 3 km hike up to the Castelo and another bit to the Palacio) or via bus (buy a day pass) to the top of the forested peak.

In Sintra it isn’t uncommon to find someone with their head jutting from an open window, taking in the sights and sounds of the world outside.

This friendly man stopped me on the street below and asked me to take his photo …

And then, there is my favorite thing to do — wander around the maze of narrow cobbelstone streets, taking in the homes awash in bright colors … and the display of clothing drying on lines strewn between windows and buildings.

Getting there: From Lisbon, hop on the train (there’s one every 15 minutes) to Sintra at Rossio station. The ride is about 40 minutes and shouldn’t cost more than a couple of euros.

Sadly, I was sick when I visited Sintra, so there was no hiking up to the ruins. Have you had a chance to visit Sintra? What was your experience?

Traveling ’round? If you want to check out another city where fairytales echo in your mind, check out Edinburgh. Stay at a hotel in Edinburgh’s city centre and head out to explore the magic of this gorgeous Scottish city.

Destinations

Escape of the Week: Brela, Croatia

It’s no secret I love Croatia. It is what sparked my blog, it is what sparked my desire to quit my job and head out to explore more of the world. When I booked my long-term travel, I knew I wanted Croatia to be where I would end my trip. There is something magical about the country — the way the water is that perfect cerulean blue and the way the trees are neon green.

Yes, I love Croatia with all of my heart.

When my friend, Katie, suggested we visit Brela en route to Split, I agreed for one reason: there is no place in Croatia I don’t love. Surely, Brela would be no exception to this.

And, it wasn’t.

With amazing storms rolling in from Biokovo Mountain and hovering over the Adriatic Sea, how can you not love this little beach town? It’s enough to make someone book airline tickets immediately and head to this gorgeous destination.

Brela’s beaches are some of the best in Europe, earning one of its beaches, Dugi rat the distinction of being one of the most beautiful on the continent. Maybe you’ve seen this photo, of trees growing out of the white rock in the middle of the water?

With more than 7km. of pebble beaches, there are plenty of options to kick back and take in the colors, the fresh air and the relaxed atmosphere of this town.

There is only one hostel in Brela, Casa Vecchia. It’s awesome. Owned by an Aussie, it’s got a great beach feel with a huge outdoor patio, covered bar and stunning views of the seaside below. We got there the last night it was open, so for our second night, the owner moved us down to one of the apartments he rents out. On. The. Beach. Yeah, it was amazing.

Getting there: If you’re planning a trip to Croatia, there are a few stops most travelers are sure to hit — Dubrovnik and Split are two of them, in South Dalmatia. Brela is located about an hour south of Split, about three hours north of Dubrovnik, and about two hours from Mostar in Bosnia and Herecgovina.

If you’re taking the bus, be sure to let the driver know to stop at Brela. There isn’t a formal bus station, but a stop at the top of the town where you can hop on and off, paying when you board.

Have you been to Croatia? What’s your favorite beach?

Destinations