Ah, these modern days. How many times did you start to plan the trip and then realized you will not be able to use Google Maps or search for the nice restaurants as you go because of the expensive roaming charges? We are so used to having the internet all the time, we tend to forget about that little fact while traveling abroad. Worry no more, Roam Free Ninja has you covered!
Your visit to Croatia now can be absolutely careless and painless. You can rent a cute, pocket-sized mobile hotspot and have the high-speed internet wherever you go. Many restaurants and bars in Croatia do have a WIFI connection, but if you are anything like us you do not want to choose a place to eat by that criteria! 🙂
What actually is Roam Free Ninja?
Roam Free Ninja is a portable WIFI router which allows you to stay connected during your trip in Croatia. No matter if you need it for business or you just like to share your adventures with your friends and followers, Ninja will provide the service you need and – it will fit any pocket or personal bag! Don’t let the size fool you; it is smaller than a phone, but you get a proper internet and UNLIMITED service. Just what a modern-day traveler needs!
I met Ana from Ninja a few weeks ago over the coffee to find out more about the service and company, and we both agreed it would be awesome if we tried it personally. For three days, we had an opportunity to test it and play around with it.
How does Ninja work?
Ninja is extremely simple to use. After choosing your pick-up or delivery point, you will receive the device together with USB cable to charge it. When the battery gets empty, you can plug it in your phone charger or computer for the fast charge. So, when you get the device, all you need to do is turn in on. On the left side there are two small buttons, just press the upper one for few seconds.
After the welcome message, in approximately one minute the WIFI signal sign will appear and your device will be able to detect the network. The network appears in the format of www.RoamFree.Ninja_xxxx (while xxxx is the number of your Ninja) and you can log in. You will find the password on the back side of your Ninja (numbers under the barcode).
If you are traveling with a family or group of friends, the great news is you can connect up to 10 devices. Phones, tablets, laptops, … you do not need to limit yourself.
Should I get one Ninja for my trip?
Yes, you should! You can buy a SIM card, though, but your internet package will be limited and on one device only (well, if you do not use your phone as a hotspot, but that is not a long-term solution). If you want to check you Instagram on the beach, write a new blog post or work while on the road or just enjoy the fact you can connect anytime – this device is made for you!
What we absolutely loved about Ninja:
- You will be totally internet independent.
- Small and cute. Fits everywhere.
- Easy delivery and drop off, wherever you want.
- Easy to charge. We all use USB chargers every day.
- No traffic limits! You can use up 20 GB per day at full 21.5 Mbps speed.
- You can connect up to 10 devices at the same time.
- You cannot forget the password. It is glued on it! 🙂
- It works!
Do not forget nobody is perfect:
- Not the fastest option sometimes. We used it during the cloudy day in suburbs of Zagreb and the speed went only up to 4 Mbps. The speed will always depend on the quality of the network (it uses T-mobile) at your location. T-mobile has the best coverage in the country, what’s great.
- Battery life. We used it moderately over three days and we did not need to charge it. If you use it during the whole day, make sure to have an external battery with you. It does not last forever.
- Price. It depends on the length of rental and varies from 6.25 to 8.95 euro per day. If you are traveling alone, it can be a bit pricey option, but when you divide it among a group of people, it is actually very affordable. There is no delivery and return fee.
How to book Roam Free Ninja?
Visit Roam Free Ninja website, choose the desired dates and how would you like it delivered. You can put in the address of your accommodation, pick it up at the airport or Ninja’s office or even get it personally delivered in Zagreb. The payment can be done directly by the credit card or via Paypal if you prefer that option.
You will get an envelope with prepaid postage so all you need to do to send it back is to leave it at the reception of your hotel or drop in any mailbox. Can it be any easier?!
Our humble opinion is that Roam Free Ninja is the best mobile internet solution you can find in Croatia and we cannot recommend it enough!
I just hope they would expand their service to the bordering countries because it is like made for our road trips. Until then, head over to their website and make your vacation in Croatia hassle free!
Thank you Roam Free Ninja for giving us the opportunity to try out this fantastic service.
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Our one week in Slovenia passed fast! The trip was amazing and we really loved the combination of hiking in nature, road tripping and discovering charming small towns of Slovenia. Also, we are amazed how pet-friendly is Slovenia and we cannot recommend it enough if you travel with a pet!
Honestly, we were planning to visit Croatian coast and spend some days soaking in Adriatic and exploring islands Dugi otok and Pag. But it was mid-September already and, even though the weather was excellent by then, the forecast was not so promising for the following week. Not willing to risk water would not be warm enough for swimming, we opted for Slovenia. I also became a little bit nostalgic and wanted Jaime to get to know the homeland of my dear grandmother.
At the beginning, it was hard to choose places to visit because, as always, we wanted to visit ALL! After a little bit of research, we decided to go for Logar Valley, Bled and Bohinj Lakes, Ljubljana and several small cities like Ptuj, Kranj, Kamnik or Radovljica.
Read more: Hiking in Slovenia for beginners
One week in Slovenia – where to and for how much?
DAY 1. Zagreb – Ptuj – Robanov kot – Solčava
Our starting point was Zagreb, Croatia and we traveled by car. All places we visited must be pet-friendly because our lovely Lota joined us on the trip. So, we loaded up gas, bought a one week vignette for Slovenia (carefully! every car entering the highway in Slovenia must have valid vignette sticker) and we were ready to go. Our first stop was Ptuj, a cute town close to Maribor, after which we took a local road to Robanov kot and enjoyed our first hike. Already tired, in the afternoon we arrived in Solčava, a beautiful village located on the food of the mountain Raduha.
The first day we did not have many expenses, besides travel cost and accommodation. For lunch, we found a wonderful place during our hike and had a picnic in the meadow, enjoying homemade food and scenery at the same time. In the evening we stopped by the local restaurant (and the only restaurant) in Solčava and shared a pizza and pancakes, together with some beers for Jaime and puddingish hot chocolate for me. It was cheap and surprisingly delicious! Total spend for the day was 136,96€.
- Full tank of gas 53,30€
- One week vignette 15€
- Sodas for the trip 2,26€
- Toll for Croatian highway 6,4€
- Apartment in Solčava 43€
- Dinner in Solčava 17,70€
DAY 2. LOGAR VALLEY
The second day of the trip, we headed to the beautiful Logar valley. Even though we discussed parking in front and skipping paying the entrance fee, Jaime ended up entering with a car. In the end, that was cool because we picked up the car and drove ourselves to lunch in the middle of the valley, in Ojstrica restaurant. After 15 km hike, we were not in the mood for walking with full bellies. We were not really hungry in the evening, but I loved the pancakes in the local restaurant so much, we decided to visit them again. Total spend for the day was 85,30€.
- Entrance fee to Logar Valley 7€
- Lunch in Ojstrica restaurant in Logar Valley 27,80€
- Dinner in local restaurant in Solčava 7,5€
DAY 3. SOLČAVA PANORAMIC ROAD – JEZERSKO – KRANJ – VISOKO
Day three came fast and we were packing our bags for Visoko near Kranj. I discovered some interesting roads like Solčava panoramic road and the road through Austria and Jezersko region, so we decided to drive a bit more. The ride was great, as well as the views we enjoyed around the town of Jezersko. Around noon we reached Kranj, grabbed a lunch and strolled around the city, before heading to our apartment in Visoko, only 10 minutes ride away. We made dinner at home, our traditional soup and pasta dinners while traveling. This day we spent the least money. Total spend for the day was 74,30€.
Read more: 8 great places to stay in Slovenia for less than 30€ per person
Solčava Panoramic Road
Jezersko, lake Plašnar
Kranj city center
DAY 4. VINTGAR GORGE – BLED
Our day trip to Bled turned out to be quite expensive! It was only half an hour drive from Visoko, but we had some problems with our vignette so we needed to buy a new one, or risk getting a fee. Also, Lota’s eyes got infected so our first stop was a veterinarian in Lesce. I found a wonderful vet with big, professional ambulance and we were amazed by service and care they took of Lota!
Before the noon we already discovered Vintgar George and Bled Castle. Soon we discovered all the parking around the lake is chargeable, but we managed to find one parking where we can stay the whole day. Good choice, because we had so much around the lake that stayed more than 6 hours! After a nice lunch, we bought few postcards and souvenirs, walked around the lake and we even rented a boat to visit an island. The cream cakes in hotel Park were a great way to end our day in Bled before we headed back to our comfortable apartment in Visoko. Total spend for the day was 182,30€.
- New one week vignette 15€
- Lota’s visit to the vet 21€
- Entry ticket to Vintgar Gorge for two 8€
- Entry ticket to Bled Castle for two 20€
- Whole day parking in Bled 5€
- Postcards and souvenirs 4,80€
- Lunch in Mlini restaurant in Bled 35€
- Renting a boat for one hour 10€
- Cream cakes in Park hotel 10,50€
- Apartment in Visoko 53€
DAY 5. RADOVLJICA – BOHINJ – JEREKA
Our stay in Visoko came to its end! On the way to Bohinj lake, we stopped in an outdoor museum-town Radovljica where we bought organic cookies for our dogs and tried local cakes. It was a beautiful, sunny day and (after many foggy mornings) we decided to seize the day and go up to Vogel this afternoon. We stayed the night close to the lake, in a small village of Jereka and grabbed a pizza for dinner. Total spend for the day was 136,64€.
- Papi organic dog snacks 4,60€
- Coffee and cakes in Radovljica 11€
- Vogel cable car for two with lunch 32€
- Vogel cable car for Lota 4€
- French fries at Vogel’s restaurant 3,5€
- Apartment in Jereka 69,54€
- Pizza for dinner 12€
Bohinj lake from Vogel cable car
DAY 6. BOHINJ – LJUBLJANA
The day at Bohinj was full of adventures and activities. We walked, rode in the boat, road the boat and enjoyed a nice lunch. We were also highly disappointed with parking solutions and paid way too much for 6-hour parking. Before heading to Ljubljana, the car needed some more gas and Maja needed an ice cream. The hotel in Ljubljana was free of charge through SPG reward points so we treated ourselves to a nicer dinner. Total spend for the day was 138,30€.
- parking fee in Bohinj 10€
- tourist boat one-way ticket for two 18€
- postcard 1,40€
- set menu for lunch 28,80€
- renting a kayak for one hour 9€
- gas 19,95€
- ice cream 1,65€
- dinner in Ljubljana 49,50€
Ribčev Laz, Bohinj
DAY 7. LJUBLJANA – ZAGREB
Even our hotel was paid by points, we still needed to settle the city tax and surcharge for Lota (superhigh 20€!). Right after we headed to the city center and grabbed the breakfast from the bakery. We got some more souvenirs (honey and beer), strolled around the city and found a great pizzeria for lunch. It was already 3 pm and our free Ljubljana tour just started! Tour was great, but long and it already started to get dark. The trip has finished and it was time to go home. Total spend for the day was 84,14€.
- hotel in Ljubljana 22,54€
- buns for breakfast 3,50€
- souvenirs 15,70€
- lunch in Ljubljana 25€
- ice cream in Vigo 6,60€
- Ljubljana free tour tips 10€
- the toll for Croatian highway 0,80€
Tivoli park, Ljubljana
Ljubljana city center
Ljubljana city center
In a week, we visited seven different locations and in total spent 837,94€, including all accommodation and transportation fees. It makes it average of 119,70€ per day of travel for two persons and a dog, or 59,85€ per person each day.
Every day, except the last day, we had breakfast at home as well as I cooked few dinners. Other meals we ate in the restaurants of all categories – from fancy Julija restaurant in Ljubljana to set menu restaurant in Bohinj.
The fact we traveled with a dog cost us 52€ because two accommodations charged additionally for cleaning after a pet, we needed to pay 4€ extra for the Vogel cable car and she got sick so veterinarian in Lesce saved us. If we chose accommodation with no extra charges for a pet, we would easily save 27€ (and we will next time).
To sum up, one week in Slovenia was a great way to spend holidays and we will happily come back again very soon.
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Rovinj, a small city situated on west coast of Istrian peninsula, is one of Croatian star cities. Crowded with tourists during the summer and very calm out of the season. Of course, there are lots of fun things to do in Rovinj, but most of them are focused on summer only. What can you do in Rovinj if you visit in October or March, for example?
Here is the thing. Croatian coast offers lots of fun, sun, and sea during the summer months, but the high season itself is quite short (June – August only). June and September are considered to be touristic months as well, but nothing in comparison with those two months. In the other words, most of the day trips, activities etc. are still offered mainly only during the summer, or with much lower intensity the whole year round. There are still lots of things to do in Rovinj during the whole year, you will just need to try a bit more to find them.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN ROVINJ ALL YEAR ROUND
Get lost in the Old Town
Old Town was where the life started in Rovinj. Back then it was an island and it was connected with the land in the 18th century when the city started to grow significantly. Rovinj’s Old Town is a magical place. Since locals were very limited by space, they were forced to build narrow streets and houses as well as small, tiny plazas. Today, these narrow streets hide lots of secret, fantastic restaurants, and unique souvenir shops.
We gave ourselves a couple of hours to explore it, peering into every hidden street. We discovered nicely decorated courtyards (check out the one creatively decorated with shells), handmade soaps shop and a wonderful restaurant. The old town is very small and doesn’t be afraid to get lost in it, it is the only right way of exploring it.
See more photos here.
Rovinj’s Old Town © Mexatia
Learn about Rovinj’s fishing tradition
Somewhere I read how Rovinj is one of the last true Mediterranean fishing ports. For centuries, Rovinj has been a fishing town and fishing is in their blood. Almost every citizen had his small boat called batana (batana is a traditional, flat-bottomed fishing boat from Rovinj) and everyone was connected with the fish, in one way or another. Lately, they are trying to revive and preserve traditional values. According to it, they opened a museum dedicated to batana. House of Batana is a charming little museum which is honoring city’s fishing traditions and culture.
If you take a walk around the harbor in the morning, you can enjoy the views on fishermen haul their catch, followed by numerous sea gulls. They empty and mend their nets while chatting with fellow fishermen and locals. Seize the opportunity and buy amazingly fresh fish.
Visit the magnificent church of Saint Euphemia
Did you ever ask yourself why a small city like Rovinj has such a big church? Church of Saint Euphemia is the largest baroque building in Istria. It was built to honor the patron, Euphemia who’s faith was tested by Emperor Diocletian before she was thrown to the lions. The legend says her body disappeared and together with heavy sarcophagus appeared on Rovinj’s coast. They were unable to move it until the young boy appeared with two calves. The sarcophagus was moved to the top of the hill. Today, it can be found in the church which was built to celebrate this miracle. Church is situated in the middle of Old Town and entrance is free.
Chuch of Saint Euphemia in Rovinj © Mexatia
Enjoy local food
Istria is known for its outstanding traditional food. Istrian cattle (boškarin), prosciutto, fresh seafood, traditional pasta like fuži or pljukanci combined with world class truffles and olive oil are only some of the examples. Rich in history and food variety, Istria is the most famous and diverse gourmet region in Croatia. Also, it offers remarkable local wine to pair with those tasty dishes.
In Rovinj, we walked in Tipico – Old Town Restaurant. It was supposed to be one of best restaurants in the city and after one local lady told us the same, we decided to give it a chance. Jaime was still stuffed so he ordered a salad only (and it was a great looking salad, I must say!), and a friend of ours went for baked mozzarella with bacon and vegetables. I decided to try a traditional dish, pljukanci served with prosciutto. The food was delicious and set the bar high for our subsequent meals in Istria. With our bellies full, we happily walked back to our apartment.
See more photos here.
Amazing food in Istria © Mexatia
Go island hopping
If you check out the picture below, you can see how close are the islands to Rovinj itself! In the archipelago of Rovinj can be found even more than 20 beautiful, green islands and islets which make a perfect afternoon getaway. You can rent out the boat and visit some of them. Most popular for short visits are Sveta Katarina (engl. Saint Catherine) and Crveni otok (engl. Red Island).
Islands in Rovinj’s archipelago © Mexatia
Go for a walk or a run in Punta Corrente
If you continue walking south out of the city center, after about 1,5 km you will reach Punta Corrente Forest Park. There you can walk, ride a bike, swim, run or just admire the view onto islands. It is the place for nature lovers and those who want to enjoy active vacations. Rent a bike in the city and do not miss to enjoy this pearl! Jog a bit, climb some rocks and then relax. Bring a picnic, bottle of wine and a blanket to seize the day. During the summer you can find nice small beaches and enjoy some privacy in crowded Rovinj.
Did you already visit Rovinj? Which activities were your favorite?
Read more about Istria in our other posts:
36 hours in Istria: Our Small Guide to Croatia’s Most Visited Region
10 great ideas how to spend 3 days in Motovun, Croatia
Lovely little design Apartment Piazza in Rovinj, Croatia
Arena of Pula: When in Rome… Wait, I’m in Croatia!
What to eat in Istria: 8 amazing products you MUST try
If you like Istria, you want to check out our Facebook album Discover Croatia – Region of Istria.
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After 16 hours long flight, I just wanted to sleep. Although the midnight had passed, my inner clock was set differently. I just came back from Mexico and my body was accustomed to completely different time zone. It was midnight, I was exhausted, but my body was saying it is not the time to sleep. For me, it was 5 pm. I was rotating in the bed until 5 am, cursing a jet lag.
What is jet lag?
Jet lag is a temporary disorder caused by a rapid change of time zones during the air travel. It is also known as time zone change syndrome or desynchronosis and it may cause insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, confusion, dizziness, headache and other physical and psychological symptoms. The intensity of the symptoms may vary according to person, a number of time zones changed and the way of travel.
For example, I have no problems changing even seven time zones when I travel from east to west, but backward I don’t sleep for days. They say body can adjust to the new time zone at the rate of one or two zones per day. I would agree with it in the case of eastward travel, but when you travel westward you can adjust much faster (in day or two tops).
However, if in the following days you have some important obligations, time zone change can be a real pain in the ass. It is definitely not easy to wake up at 7 am if you couldn’t fall asleep until 5 am. I read lots of advice how to survive the jet lag, but some of them are just not so easy to apply.
For example, they say you should start adjusting your body to the new time zone few days before the travel. Well, most of the people work or study and they cannot stay awake until 2 am just because they are traveling soon. Because I can’t take a vacation before the actual vacation, here are some tips what I do in order to minimize jet lag symptoms when I’m changing more than three time zones.
Tips how to minimize jet lag symptoms
1) Right after I am seated on the plane, I adjust my watch to the destination time. It helps me track how much hours of flight are left and adapt to new time since the beginning of a journey.
2) I drink a lot. I always carry a bottle with me and I fill it up with water after passing the security control at the airport, if the water is drinkable. I also buy some juice, soda or more water at the airport. I know it is ridiculously expensive, but nothing is worse than dehydration after the long flight. I don’t like to depend on the drinks in the plane and I always make sure I have something to drink with me. Do not drink too much coffee or alcohol, though. It will make things worse.
3) Since I started to sleep very light on the plane, I asked my doctor to give me some sleeping pills I can use during the longer travels. Some people may not need it, but I found myself feeling even more terrible after not having almost nothing sleep during the flight.
On my way to Mexico, I took two pills short after the takeoff, completely forgetting the dinner is going to be served. The stewardess was three rows away from my seat with all the foods and drinks and somehow I managed to fall asleep before she reached me. 🙂 So be careful with the pills, you may miss your meal. I also found this pills which are supposed to make jet lag symptoms less present.
4) When I arrive at the destination, I always try to adjust to new time zone as soon as possible. That means staying awake longer while traveling west, or trying to sleep earlier while traveling east. Also, I adjust my meals and I try to eat light food full of proteins in the adequate time.
5) Take power naps. If you are super tired, there is no point in staying awake. Take a nap. I sleep maybe an hour or hour and a half what is enough to get some additional energy and go to bed at a normal time in the evening.
What do you do to avoid jet lag symptoms? Share your best tips and tricks.
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When I came back from Berlin, all I could think about was how I can make it to Mexico within some reasonable time. I started to check the price of the tickets, but all were too expensive. Zagreb, Milano, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich… everything that was somehow close to Lucerne was too pricey. When I saw a price of approximately 600€ from Zurich to Mexico City, I started hyperventilating and few days after the ticket was bought. And what now?
I had almost five months to prepare myself for the trip and to the fact, I am going to see Jaime again. For real! 🙂 I started with reading forums, posts, making notes and list of everything I would like to see. There were so many things to remember, plan, ask Jaime about some local things… and in no time I was sitting in Zurich Airport and waiting for my flight.
Coming to Madrid
Iberia doesn’t serve free meals within Europe, only on long distance flights. However, you can buy it.
Spanish people are terrible with English, even if they work at the airport!
Barajas Madrid Airport is very confusing.
I was flying with Iberia, what meant the layover was in Madrid, one of my dream cities. But it also meant there is not going to be any free food on the short haul flight and I was already so hungry! I did my check in online, found Iberia’s drop off counter to leave my checked baggage and I was ready to go. Flight to Madrid was approximately 2 hours long and we landed around 9 pm Madrid time. I knew two things: first, I needed to find something to eat and second, I had no idea where to go to my next gate.
It was almost 9:30 when I finally found myself walking around the airport; the stores and restaurants were already ready to close and the signs around the airport were extremely confusing. I visited lots of airports, but I can say that Barajas Airport in Madrid is one of the most confusing. I needed to go to 4S terminal and I couldn’t find that sign anywhere. Are the S gates same like 4S terminal? Where do I need to go? Can I come back if there are no open restaurants? There was no map, I didn’t even know on which terminal we landed. I noticed Iberia’s info desk and decided to ask them in English. My previous experience was that Spanish people do not speak English at all and I really wanted to test it on the airport. The lady answered me in English, but in really bad English and to just part of the question so I wasn’t sure if she understood everything. After walking around for more than 30 minutes, I decided just to grab something to eat in McDonald’s and follow the signs to S gates. To get there from terminal 4 you need to take a train and pass a passport control. The whole process takes around 20 minutes, but the passport control can get crowded. For those with short layover time, there is a special fast track counter. There was no much stuff going on at 4S terminal. Everything was already closed, so I found a seat near the charger and watched some movies.
Mexico City from the air
On my way to Mexico
Flight from Madrid to Mexico City is 12 hours long.
You need to fill out the forms for the immigration and customs purposes.
Hurry up for the immigration, otherwise, you will find yourself in a long line.
The boarding was supposed to start an hour before the flight, but it was late for 15 – 20 minutes both times I’ve travelled. Passengers are divided into boarding group in order to avoid overcrowding and that works relatively good. Soon I was on board, ready for 12 hours long flight from Madrid to Mexico City. After the standard procedure, we were in the air. Dinner was served around one hour after take-off and the food weren’t actually that bad. I overslept the whole night, waking up just for a midnight sandwich (lol) and breakfast in the morning. We were close to Mexico. It was 5:30 am Mexico time and in the dark, we saw endless lights. Endless! God, this city is enormous. I was so excited when the wheels hit the ground. My first time in Mexico! And Jaime was waiting for me in the airport after seven months we said goodbye in Madrid!
Arriving in Mexico City
Soon after the take-off, everyone who is not Mexican citizen got forms to fill for the immigration and customs. They ask for your personal data, passport number, flight number, how long are you staying in Mexico and if you are bringing some forbidden goods. When we disembarked, next stop was immigration. Our flight arrived around 6 am so there was no line for the immigration, but if you don’t hurry up, you will find yourself waiting among other 400 – 500 people from your flight. The immigration process took around half an hour with waiting and only a minute in front of the officer. He took my passport and forms, filled it out and let me go without any question. The important thing here is that you need to keep a piece of that form in your passport all the time (like a proof you entered Mexico legally and submit it upon leaving the country).
I picked up my luggage and went right through the customs. There you need to give them the second form and press a red button before you are ready to go. When I visited for the second time, they checked my luggage too. The lady was very nice and we chatted a bit about what I planned to visit in Mexico. I passed through the last door and suddenly, I was surrounded by a chaos of Mexico City. The adventure has begun!
Maja’s first time in Mexico
Written August 2014
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