About Megan McDonough
Megan Eileen McDonough runs Bohemian Trails, an online travel magazine focusing on global art, culture and off-the-beaten path destinations. A wanderer by nature with a love of all things fashion, music and street art, Megan encourages readers to ditch their rigid guidebooks and discover a city by purposely getting lost. Her personal travels have taken her through Europe, South America, Mexico and Egypt.
Megan is also a freelance writer and social media specialist based in New York City. She contributes to various online and print publications in the travel and fashion industries and is an international correspondent for both Jetsetter and Northstar Travel Media.
Latest Posts by Megan McDonough
I found Kyoto very manageable, especially compared to a larger city like Tokyo. I spent three days exploring the different neighborhoods, sampling local food and people-watching whenever my legs needed a break. Kyoto has a good number of neighborhoods and just like other cities like New York and London, each feels different and appeals to a different crowd. I didn’t get to visit all of them, but here are a few of my favorites. One thing to note is that the first four are actually in the city center and the rest are located within the outskirts.
This was the very first neighborhood I visited and easily my favorite. The area is very quiet compared to Kyoto Station and Gion and that’s just one of the charming things about it. The Nishijin District is also coined the Weaving district because there are many clothing factories here. The architecture is also pretty impressive, with well preserved streets lined with wooden buildings dating back 100 years.
There are a few really cool places to visit in the Nishijin District. HOSOO is a super innovative textile company, showroom and factory featuring designers that are taking traditional materials and turning them into high-end, modern interior design items. They suggest making an appointment before showing up but it’s well-worth the trip. To catch a free kimono fashion show and do a bit of shopping, head to the Nishijin Textile Center. If you’re craving a snack, try one of the delicious treats at Aishin-do.
Shinkyogoku Shopping District
If you’ve saved all your shopping time for Kyoto, that’s a wise choice. This district is the most popular place to shop for just about anything. On Shinkyogoku Street you’ll find quirky souvenirs, some of which might have you scratching your head out of confusion, but memorable nonetheless. A stroll down Teramachi Street brings you to a more refined shopping area, one with art galleries, fashion stores and bookshops. If you visit the Imperial Palace, I recommend walking south along Teramachi Street and you’ll see the stores shift from boutiques to more consumer brands.
Then there is Nishiki Market which is bustling with locals picking up their evening groceries and tourists sampling traditional food. The market runs between Teramachi and Shinmachi and is one block north of Shijo. I actually started here and then made my way to the department stores and other boutiques nearby. From here, you can cross the river via the bridge and you are in Gion.
Gion is located on the eastern side of the river and is perhaps the most famous of Kyoto’s neighborhoods. This is one of the main Geisha districts and tourists are always showing up here in the evening hours to catch a glimpse of the elusive Geikos and Maikos. (Geisha and Geishas-in-training). I signed up for a Geisha-themed walking tour on my first night in town and really learned a lot about the area. Although we only spotted one Maika, it was thrilling to discover where the most notorious teahouses are located and other fun facts about the district’s fascinating history.
It’s surprising how quiet it is here compared to Shinkyogoku. You literally turn a corner and it feels like you are in a private backyard or something. Considering how popular Gion is with tourists, it’s nice to see that the neighborhood has remained much of its mysterious allure. Many of Gion’s streets are designed for pedestrians which definitely cuts out the traffic noises you’ll hear in Shinkyogoku.
On my last day in Kyoto I ventured to the northern part of Kyoto to visit a few of the temples there. Due to a bad rain storm I never made it all the way to the Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), but I did tour through Ninnaji Temple and Ryoanji Temple. Other religious sites include the Daitokuji and Enryakuji temples and the hot springs at Kurama. Walking through the grounds is completely free but there is a small fee to actually tour the inside of the temples. In my opinion, this view of was well worth the 500 yen (about $5 US).
Similar to other areas in Kyoto’s outskirts, you can easily spend an entire day here or just a few hours depending on your interest and time constraints. I walked from Ninnaji to Ryoanji and there are several local restaurants along the way in case you get hungry. I started my day in Arashiyama and then took the Keifuku Railways, which is a local tram-like train, to Omuro Ninnaji Station.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is the main shrine of Inari and one of Kyoto’s biggest touristic attractions. Inari is the god of rice and while the main shrine was built in 1499, the earliest structures date back to 711. While the name might allude to a singular shrine, there are about 32,000 sub-shrines housed here as well and if you want to reach the top of the mountain, bring a water bottle. The main sub-shrines are all located along the path and there are also trails that lead off in different directions in case you need a break from the crowds.
The journey takes about five minutes via train if departing from Kyoto Station but the grounds can easily consume an entire day. I arrived here around 9am on a Saturday and was able to beat most of the crowd. I would have preferred to get there even earlier for a more peaceful and reflective experience, not to mention better photos. I spent about three hours in total but at certain points I felt rushed.
Western Kyoto District
One of the main attractions in this area is Arashiyama, which is a quick and inexpensive train ride from Kyoto Station. The Togetsukyo Bridge is the most well known landmark and is especially popular during the fall season and when the cherry blossoms bloom each spring. If you have time, rent bikes and explore the area at your own pace. Alternatively, you could take a Hozu River Boat Tour or hitch a ride on the Sagano Scenic Railway. History buffs should dedicate time in Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street, which features architecture from the Meiji Period (1868-1912).
Some people spend the whole day here wandering through the vibrant bamboo groves, the many temples and other points of interest while others get their fill after a few hours. It’s a good idea to pick and choose what temples you want to see because they require a small entrance fee for admission and after awhile that really starts to add up. From the top of Jojakkoji Temple you have a great view of downtown Kyoto.
This trip was hosted by the Kyoto Convention Bureau. All opinions are my own.
The two hour drive from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes National Park was a gloomy one. The skies were cloudy from an early morning rain and it seemed like the closer we got to our destination, the gloomier it became. Almost as if the skies were playing a little trick on us, the clouds began to clear right as we approached the park. By the time we had made it to the entrance to meet our guide, the clouds were nothing but a memory.
Now that my trip to Plitvice Lakes is in fact a memory now, and a very good one indeed, I have compiled some essential info about when to go, why to go and what you can expect by working it into your itinerary.
Plitvice National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring 16 lakes, a picturesque forest, mountains and a ridiculous amount of natural beauty. Besides the natural landscape that makes Plitvice one of the most significant in Europe, there is so much history associated with the park. For thousands of years humans – Illyrians, Thracians, Celts, Japods, Romans, Avars, Slavs and Turks – to be exact, lived here.
Our group reached the park via car but there are also regular buses leaving from Zagreb, Zadar and Split. If you’re traveling solo and want a bit of guidance along the way, there are daily tours that you can book and in most cases, transportation to and from the park is included in the price.
Is this Croatia or Middle Earth?
This was honestly the question we all pondered during our nearly five hour trek through Plitvice. Everything here seemed like it was a better version of itself. The grass was greener, the leaves were every color of the rainbow and even the waterfalls looked otherworldly. I felt like a kid in a candy store except the candy was the fall foliage and taking photographs was my sugar rush. I took this photo just as our tour was beginning. From here, we descended down along a rock path until we reached the trail to the base of the waterfall. It was so interesting to see it at various angles.
Why travel in autumn?
Visiting during the fall season means there will be far fewer tourists than during the summer. For me, this can easily make or break a trip. It’s hard for me to really appreciate my surroundings when I’m waiting in line to snap the the same picture as everyone else and according to our guide, this is exactly what you should expect if visiting during high season. My preference for off-season travel goes way beyond Croatia. I just enjoy landscapes and cultural attractions when I arrive early to beat the crowds. It makes the experience feel more intimate and it suits my daydreaming tendencies.
Why scenery will you see?
Visiting Plitvice Lakes in the fall ensures that you will see the park as it appears in these photos. Perhaps I’m biased because autumn is my favorite season but I found the park to be extremely beautiful this time of year. Walking along wooden trails leading to vibrant plants and leaves of every color had me feeling like I was inside the pages of my favorite novel. There were some parts of the park where I couldn’t see any other tourists and in these moments I really did feel like the leading lady in my own book. Look down as much as you look up because there are fish and ducks as well.
Where are the best views?
Considering how many photos I took and how little I had to edit them, there really is no bad place to photograph in Plitvice Lakes National Park. That being said, it will become fairly obvious what spots are the most popular because there re wooden indentations that allow you to get a 360-degree view. At the base of the main waterfall (first photo in this post) there is a definite camera-opt moment. Tourists can climb onto a large rock and have the cascading waterfall in the background. I recommend taking a few panoramic shots and also a few close-ups of the changing leaves.
How should you plan your day?
The park is open all day but I recommend making it the first activity in your day. We arrived at 10am and by the time we left five hours later, several huge tour buses had just arrived. There are also three main walking trails to choose from depending on how much time you have at the park, how adventurous you want to be and your specific interests. Our route included a lot of walking, a scenic boat ride and a bus ride and we had a guide with us the whole time. Visitors can also create their own combination of routes and can tour the park independently. Take your time and go at your own pace.
This trip was hosted by the Croatian Tourism Board. All opinions are my own.
Japan was absolutely beautiful in October, not that I expected anything less. Before reaching Tokyo and then moving on to Kyoto, our group spent several days exploring a few of Tokyo’s neighboring towns and attractions that are often overlooked by tourists. The only thing I would change if I could do this over would be to have more time in each place rather than rushing through them all. That being said, the three cities and sites included in this post are the ones I’d recommend adding to your Japan bucket list.
Narita: for temples, shops and fresh fish
The first thing to note about Narita is that when you fly internationally into Tokyo, you are most likely in Narita. For whatever reason, the main international airport is located here so if you’re looking for a few cultural excursions to do during a long layover, you are in luck.
Narita is a city within Chiba Prefecture and most famous for its Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, which is easily accessible from Tokyo and the Narita airport via train. A short walk from the temple is the famous Omotesando Road, with its shops selling handmade crafts and fresh produce. The street is rather narrow so keep an eye out for cars. Don’t leave without ordering some fresh eel. We ate at Kikuya and my mouth was in heaven.
This was my first time visiting Japan (and Asia in general) and my day in Narita was a good introduction to the country’s unique culture. We arrived to the temple around 8am and watched the ‘goma’, a Buddhist ceremony where prayers are recited. There were hardly any tourists around and I found the whole experience rather spiritual even though I didn’t know know the literal translations. I also really enjoyed walking along Omotesando Road and eating eel for the first time.
Nihon-ji Temple at Nokogiriyama: for great views and trails
Our morning started with a cable car ride up the mountain followed by a very scenic walk through Nokogiri’s many trails. Not too far from the Nihon-ji temple is a collection of more than 1500 statues depicting mortals who have reached enlightenment. Their faces are so expressive and I cold have easily spent my entire day, or at least the afternoon, taking photographs of these personable characters.
Clearly, I didn’t do too much research the day we visited Nihon-ji Temple at Nokogiriyama because I was not expecting to see this large Buddha when I turned the corner. Once again, we were the only tourists around and that made all the difference in my opinion. Sure, this sight is amazing no matter when you visit but I enjoyed hearing nothing around me but the quiet sound of birds chirping.
Marveling at one of Japan’s largest Buddha statues was truly awe-inspiring but even if it wasn’t there, I’d still recommend visiting the park, especially if you are looking for hiking trails and a break from city life. Since it’s not as easy to get here via public transportation as Narita, it’s best to make this a day trip so you don’t feel rushed.
Kawagoe: for architecture, sweets and local life
Kawagoe is located in Saitama Prefecture and takes about 30 minutes to reach from Ikebukuro, Tokyo if you go by train. The city is perhaps best known for its sweet potatoes and if you head down “Candy Street”, you can buy sweet potato chips, sweet potato ice-cream, sweet potato coffee and even sweet potato beer. From an architectural standpoint, several of the streets feature preserved buildings from the Edo period (17th to 19th centuries). Tourists usually visit the bell tower, the Kita-in Temple and the 500 Statues of Rakan.
I am not kidding you when I say that we visited Kawagoe during a pretty bad rainstorm. Instead of passing the time inside a warm coffee shop, were were led all through the town in an effort to stay on schedule so I tried making the best of it. There are very few places that remain beautiful in cold, rainy weather and luckily for me, Kawagoe is one of them. My favorite part about the town was seeing so many locals doing everyday things like shopping, walking home from school and sporting the most colorful array of umbrellas I’ve ever seen.
This trip was hosted by Chiba and Saitama prefectures. All opinions are my own.
Before visiting for myself and discovering otherwise, I assumed that summer was the best time to experience Croatian culture. Images of larger-than-life yachts and drunk twenty-somethings danced in my head but that was as far as my imagination wandered.
Our trip was specifically tailored toward budget, off-season travel so I was somewhat surprised when some of the regional reps said things like “why are you visiting now?” and “oh, you should come back in summer.” Looking back on it now, it makes total sense. As a local, you want tourists to remember your city in its best light because you are genuinely proud of your hometown. The above photo was taken in Kastav.
Tangent aside, Croatia in October proved to be both budget friendly and cultural. There were rarely any crowds and I was able to actually envision what it must feel like to live in one of these small, charming little towns. Here’s a coastal guide to Croatia based on the specific towns so just be aware that this is only a sampling of what you will find along the Croatian coast.
Opatija: for traditional and modern influences
This stunning coastal town was my first introduction to Croatia beyond Zagreb. I spent two night in Opatija and and I wouldn’t have minded staying longer. Sure, most of the major sights are doable in a few hours but what I appreciated most about this town was the creative mediums for art. For example, in the park just outside of Villa ”Angiolina,” there the wall of the Open Air Theatre is covered in murals depicting some of Opatija’s most famous visitors including Albert Einstein, Robert De Niro and Louis Lumiere. If you’re interested in checking out the local food scene, shop for locally-sourced ingredients at Opatija’s Market Hall or satisfy your sweet tooth with treats from Cafe Wagner and take in the ocean-front view.
Kastav: for medieval buildings and avant-garde art
Mid-way through a guided tour of Kastav, something caught my eye. I had unknowingly stumbled upon Željan Pavić’s humble gallery fascinated by his shadow paintings and use of untraditional materials like leftover scraps of coffee bags. I found it strange that here, in one of Croatia’s most medieval towns, there was a man selling avant-garde art. Besides his obvious talent, I felt Željan’s positive energy and his insistence that we touch his paintings, made his work more tangible. After this, I walked through the old town slipping into museums and other galleries along the way before enjoying lunch in an outdoor garden. Kastav is three miles from Opatija and six from Rijeka but each feels a world apart.
Rijeka: for contrasting architecture and urban fashion
This was the third stop on our coastal tour and I immediately felt a sense of familiarity. I had never been here before but it was the closest thing to a “real” city that I had seen since leaving Zagreb. I soon learned that a lot of architecture students study here because Rijeka is known for showcasing contrasting styles of architecture. The Roman Gate is hard to miss and it’s Rijeka’s oldest architectural monument. City Tower is another must-see building, as it survived the earthquake of 1750. The city has a very downtown feel, with hipsters fashionably dressed in leggings, leather jackets, boots and shielded from the sun with trendy sunglasses. I expected Zagreb to be the main fashion hub but Rijeka takes the crown on this one.
Pag: for cheese and old-world charm
My first few hours in Pag were spent indoors, as there was literally a monsoon outside. Our guide said this was probably the worst storm the city had seen in a decade. However, when the storm finally calmed, I eagerly explored my new surroundings. Pag is a city on the island of the same name and is perhaps best known for the delicious cheese produced here. Like a few of the other towns on this list, Pag is a little tricky to reach unless you drive so just keep that in mind when planning your trip. In the summer this place is buzzing with tourists but on this particular autumn afternoon, there was hardly a person in sight. After walking across the bridge for a view of the docked boats, I spotted these adorable little locals.
Zadar: for innovation and nature
Zadar is a curious city and I mean that in the best possible way. I arrived on a rainy evening and left two days later to sunny skies and a whole lot of creative energy brimming within me. Home to the innovative Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun solar panel light show, Zadar embraces the future of technology without losing any of its historic appeal. I recommend a simple walking tour, which you can easily do yourself because the city is very manageable. Don’t leave without strolling through Gundulićeva and Frankopanska Streets or Flower Market and make sure to watch the famous sunset followed by the Greeting to the Sun.
Split: for history and lifestyle
Next to Zagreb, Split is the second largest city in Croatia and one of the most ancient. Despite a less than impressive tour guide, I managed to see the beauty of Split before I “split” myself (couldn’t resist that pun). There are two main parts of central Split: inside and outside the palace walls. Venturing within the palace takes you back in time to the days when Diocletian, the go-getter who climbed his way up the social ladder from slave to ruler, was Roman Emperor. In 305 AD, he became the only emperor to voluntarily abdicate his role, which was pretty revolutionary at the time. There’s an entrance fee to go into Diocletian Palace but it’s free to walk through the maze of narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants.
What is your favorite coastal destination?
This trip was hosted by the Croatian Tourism Board. All opinions are my own.
My first trip to Tokyo lasted less than 72 hours so I really didn’t have too much time to explore every neighborhood or visit every historical monument. I did, however, spend a few hours at the famous Tsukiji fish market and wow – what an day! We arrived there around 8am, which sounds early but by the market’s standards, we were right on time.
Considered the world’s largest wholesale fish and seafood market, this is a huge tourist destination. It also provides a glimpse into local life here, as many Tokyo residents pick up their food here. The busiest hours are between 5:30-8am, which leaves the rest of the day to explore other neighborhoods in Tokyo. Here are a few tips to make your fish market experience as memorable as mine.
Define your purpose
Fish market vendors sells everything from fresh vegetables to chopsticks so it’s a good idea to have a plan before heading into the madness. Stick to the outer market it you’re mainly looking for fresh produce, food samples or housewares and head inside for fish. If you don’t have a specific reason for being at the market that’s perfectly fine too. Just note that it gets very crowded and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of locals and tourists that keep this place buzzing all day long. The early bird definitely gets the worm, or the fish in this case, so plan your outing for first thing in the morning for the best selection of seafood.
What to Expect
This is a fish market, so naturally, there are lots of fish here and they come in all shapes and sizes. The market is almost always crowded with both shoppers and sellers so keep an eye out so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on traffic. In the inner market, it gets even more crowded because workers are transporting themselves via Turret trucks. They aisles between the rows of vendors is also very tight so expect to get up close and personal with the fish. Even as a seasoned New Yorker, there were moments when I found it difficult to get out of the way.
What to See
There are a few distinct areas of the market and each offers something different. As I mentioned earlier, the outdoor market mainly sells fruit, vegetables and decorative items for the home while the inner market is where the newly caught fish are being sliced and packaged for sale. The third main area is where you can actually eat. There are several small restaurants all stacked next to each other and the lines for these joints is often long. I started in the outside market for about an hour and then ventured into the inner Seafood Wholesale area. I finished my tour by peering into some of the restaurants. If you’re unsure of what to see, stop by the information center for a map.
What Not to Do
There are a rules that you should follow, although I’m not sure how strictly they are enforced. Customers are technically not allowed to enter the Seafood Wholesale (inner market) area until 9am but a few members of our group went there around 8am and they didn’t have any problems. You are also not allowed to touch anything so as tempting as it is, refrain from laying your fingers on anything. This probably goes without saying but I do not recommend wearing anything expensive, as there puddles and dripping water will almost certainly drop on your clothes. This goes without saying but do not enter the off limit areas and leave your pets at home.
Unless your hotel is nearby, the best way to reach the market is via the subway. If traveling from Tokyo Station, take the Marunouchi Subway Line from Tokyo and get off at Ginza. Then transfer to the Hibiya Subway Line unfit you reach Tsukiji Station. You can also reach the market from Shinjuku Station by taking the Oedo Subway Line to Tsukiji Shijo Station. The tuna market is open to the public but only 120 visitors are allowed per day. This takes place daily from 5:25-6:15am. The outer market typically opens as early as 5am and closes around 2pm. Entrance to all parts of the market is free of charge. The market is closed on Sundays on holidays.
What was the coolest market you’ve ever shopped at? Tell me in the comments below!
This trip was hosted by the Tokyo government. All opinions are my own.
I absolutely loved Zadar. I also have a feeling that if I hadn’t done any research before heading to Croatia, I might have skipped this city altogether.
Before visiting the country, there were always two images that came to mind when thinking of Croatia: yachts and beaches. Granted, I’m probably not alone in those perceptions, as Croatia is a huge coastal destination. Yet, as I soon discovered, there is way more to this country than meets the eye. Zadar is home to the inventive Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun.
When I first learned about the Sea Organ, I was thinking of a large organ like the ones I have seen in churches. When I didn’t see anything at all, I assumed there was some musician playing nearby, like the ones you hear at tourist attractions like the Sacré-Cœur in Paris. I was beyond impressed when I finally understood what actually creating those random but harmonious sounds.
The organ is just under the surface of the water and as the waves hits the different chimes, music plays out of the circular holes you see on the large marble steps above. Architect Nikola Bašić is the genius behind this operation and the project became open to the public on April 15, 2005. During the summer months the ocean is much calmer so you can’t always hear the chimes but during our October visit we heard music playing in nearly every part of the city. I’m sure that’s no fun for the residents living close by, but for me this was literally music to my ears.
I won’t be coy here. I ate a lot on my trip to Croatia and some of my favorite dishes were consumed in Zadar. The plate below is fish (cod I believe) wrapped in bacon and it came with a side of fresh vegetables. I also sampled some of the gnocchi and my drink of choice was their local cherry juice.
This may be obvious to many, but I was surprised that a lot of Croatian cuisine is similar to what one finds in Italy. On many of the menus, there were large selections of pizza and pasta and that made me very happy. Of course, as soon as I remembered how geographically close Croatia is to Italy not to mention the fact that Venice once controlled Opatika and Rijeka, it all made sense. I also noticed a few influences from Hungary and Austria but Croatian chefs are masters at putting a unique spin on even the most classic dishes, at least from my experience.
Initially, I planned on doing a street style fashion post from Zagreb but after two days of almost non-stop rain, I didn’t have much material to work with. What I didn’t expect was to spot so many fashionable trendsetters in Zadar but indeed I did. Zadar isn’t a huge city by any means and yet, there were so many different styles represented. From laid-back to classic-chic, every local that I photographed sported a different look, ones I can only guess showcased each of their personalities. Naturally, I found most of these women in the main shopping areas: Gundulićeva and Frankopanska Streets, Flower Market and apparently the L’OCCITANE store.
If I learned one thing about Zadar it’s that it is a city of contrasts. Ancient churches and cobblestone streets contrast the innovation of the Sea Organ and avant-garde fashion. The picture shown below is of St. Mary’s Church, one of Zadar’s most iconic landmarks, located near the Roman Forum and opposite St. Donatus’ Church in the old city. Depending on which way you’re facing the church, to one side you have the ocean with the clever Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun and to the other you have an intricate grid of connecting streets featuring countless stores ranging from designer accessories and handcrafted souvenirs to traditional restaurants and cozy ice-cream shops and cafes.
Speaking of churches, one of the coolest ones we saw was the St. Donatus’ Church I mentioned above. The circular shape of this church instantly makes it different by default. It dates back to the 9th century and in the 15th century its name changed from Church of the Holy Trinity to what it’s called today. Currently the largest example of Pre-romanesque buildings in all of Croatia, the shape is common to the ones you’d see during the Byzantine age in Dalmatia. As historic as this church is and as detailed as the interior carvings, we learned that couples can and often do perform their marriage ceremonies here, thus bridging the gap between old and new.
Zadar is famous for its sunset partly due to Alfred Hitchcock. In 1964 he wrote, “Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Key West, Florida, applauded at every evening.” I’d have to agree with Hitchcock on this one because even though our group didn’t actually make it back to the seafront to watch the sunset, this was our view from about twenty minutes away. I’ve never considered myself picky when it comes to sunrises or sunsets but I have a feeling I will be going forward, thanks to this lovely view. Even though the five of us were all staring into the sky together, I felt a calming loneliness come over me, almost as if I had this moment all to myself.
Greeting to the Sun
Coming full circle, the Sea Organ is located mere steps away from what is known as the “Greeting to the Sun.” This is another icon of Zadar but one only a few years old. Similar to the Sea Organ, Nikola Bašić designed this architectural feat that is 77 feet in diameter and contains three hundred multilayer glass plates within the stone circle. During the day the solar panels absorb energy from the sun and by night, the energy consumed powers both the light display and part of Zadar’s waterfront. The lights change color and positioning so it sort of looks like the colors are performing a dance.
I found the lights to be very bright but apparently the intensity was average. The day we visited Zadar wasn’t terribly sunny and that affected how luminous the lights appear. I honestly can’t imagine this light show being any more thrilling but I guess it is if you come on a really sunny day. If you’re in town, I recommend heading to the port of Zadar to watch the sunset and then, stick around for the amazing light show that ensues.
This trip was hosted by the Croatian Tourism Board. All opinions are my own. Top photo credit: croatia. hr.
I only spent a few days in Zagreb and managed to see an absurd amount of innovative street art before leaving. Our group was a bit unlucky with weather during our time in Zagreb but when the sun did shine, it was simply glorious. On my last night in town and during the last remaining hour of sunlight, I wandered toward the train tracks to spot graffiti.
There is a long public wall along Branimirova Street, which dates back to 1987, where local artists showcase their latest street art masterpiece. To go a bit deeper into its history, the art I saw is actually the result of a competition in six of Croatia’s most respected artists chose 83 pieces to be replicated on the wall. This was the first project that the Street Art Museum (MUU) organized and one of its most successful. The cool thing about MUU is that there is no physical address. All of the “galleries” are located throughout the city much like the one I found.
My only problem with this gallery’s location is that there is a really thin sidewalk so there is not much separating you from the cars whipping by during rush hour. Then again, maybe I could have chosen a better time to visit. It was pretty cool to walk so close to the wall because there is so much detail in some of the work that you probably wouldn’t have noticed from across the street. It was really hard to narrow down my favorites but here are ten that sparked my interest the most.
Flames of Color -The bright pink, yellow and blue colors used in this piece really lifted my mood and I almost forgot that it was still drizzling outside.
The Big 23 – I really liked this one mainly because 23 was a very tough yet rewarding year for me, as I’m sure it is for most 20-somethings.
Young and in Love - This was one of the more simple pieces in some ways but it struck a chord with me. Love is something we all understand.
Channeling Lisa Frank – This is my childhood in one photograph. Seriously though, this reminds me of Lisa Frank and the Skittles commercials.
Flower power – Having just visited Maui a few weeks ago, I felt like I was back on the island doing the hula, or at least my best imitation.
Windows to the Soul – The eyes are one of the most expressive parts of the body yet I wasn’t sure whether the person staring back was happy or sad.
MTV Throwback – Remember when MTV blurred out the “naughty” parts of music videos? This is what immediately came to mind for me.
A Taste of Home – Clearly this is not NYC but it made me laugh because if it was, I wouldn’t be surprised. Weird things happen daily that I’ve simply stopped noticing.
SpongeBob but not – This yellow guy and his friends reminded me of the SpongeBob SquarePants series and I wonder if the artist had this in mind too.
Circles and Triangles – Nothing too crazy going on here but I like the colors and the geometric shapes. I think this would be a cool wall design for an urban apartment.
This trip was hosted by Croatian Tourism Board. All opinions are my own.
This week I’m taking on Melbourne and it was hard to narrow my list to just five but here it goes.
1) Wander down Hosier Lane
A huge reason why Melbourne has intrigued me for years is because of the vibrant street art scene. Living in New York does give me plenty of opportunities to marvel at graffiti but I imagine Hosier Lane to be much more colorful. I’d probably shoot to arrive early in the morning because I’m not a huge fan of crowds. Similar to how I behave in a museum, I appreciate art much more when I’m alone or surrounded by just a few people rather than a large crowd.
2) Explore the city by bike
Melbourne is a big city but I’m finding that I’m enjoying bike tours more and more. I might sign up for an actual tour if I found one that covered street art or underground coffee shops but otherwise I’d just rent one for the day. At Melbourne Bike you can actually buy a helmet from a vending machine for $5. After exploring a few different neighborhoods like Fitzroy and Carlton, I’d also browse through some of the city’s outdoor art galleries and graffiti.
3) Catch a show at The Espy
Having worked in the music industry my first two years out of college, I’m still a sucker for a talented indie band. Part of my job at the record label was updating each band’s website with their concert schedule and The Espy was one of the venues I remember. The Espy actually stands for The Esplanade Hotel and it’s Australia’s premier venue for hearing live music. Big timers like Paul Kelley and Dallas Crane have performed here as well as a slew of other up-and-comers.
4) Sample Organic and Locally-Sourced Food
So I’ve very recently switched to an all-organic diet and while it’s only been three days and counting, I’m already feeling the difference in my energy levels and moods. Of course, this could all be a placebo effect but I’m going to go with the former. Anyway, Melbourne has a thriving culinary scene there are plenty of opportunities to shop for your own food. I’d probably shop at The Queen Victoria Market or just head straight to Dench Bakers or Babka in Fitzroy for artisanal sweets.
5) Hit the Beach
Melbourne seems like it would be the perfect winter escape because the seasons there are completely flipped. I’d love to stroll along St Kilda, a picturesque suburb of Melbourne, and spend the day listening to some live music or bumming about Luna Park. Sunday would be ideal because that’s when the Esplanade Arts and Craft Market takes place. After taking a surfing class in Maui, I’m ready to hit the waves once more in Melbourne.
Photo credit: businesstoday.net. my