Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Exploring Ukraine: The Pearl of the Black Sea, Odessa

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Sunrise fishing 

Ukraine isn’t a particularly popular tourist destination, although it has a plenty of wonderful sights- like the Black Sea coast with sandy beaches and great local wineries, and the Carpathian Mountains with their striking natural scenery and beautiful small villages.

Odessa, a beautiful city in the south west part of Ukraine, is a longtime favorite spot for a getaway. It has very distinct culture and its inhabitants even have a region specific accent. It is very different from any other Ukrainian city, yet as welcoming as the others.

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Passing Vorontsov Lighthouse on a boat

Port

First and foremost, Odessa is a seaport. It started as a port and it still holds it’s privilege of a free port and free economic zone. During the 19th century, it was the fourth largest city in Imperial Russia, after Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Warsaw.

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Port of Odessa

It’s port (locally known as Morskoy Vokzal) is a great place to get oriented with the city. From impressive hotel buildings reaching towards the skies to fast and elegant motor boats in Yacht Club, it offers quite a few photo ops.

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Yacht Club

Once you are at the port, don’t miss a chance to go further – by a scheduled or private boat tour. The prices start as lows as $4 for a group option, and from $30 for a private hire. It is also the only way to see the 27 meter (88 foot) red-and-white Vorontsov Lighthouse, one of port’s famous landmarks.

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Selfie on Board

The Port is also a good point to start a nice city walk. Go climb (or use funicular!)  the recently renovated Potemkin Stairs considered a formal entrance into the city from the direction of the sea. This giant staircase 142 meters long is the best known symbol of Odessa. As a bonus you get the greatest view of the harbor.

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Viewing machine at the top of Potemkin Stairs

Architecture

Odessa’s historical architecture has a style more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles. Some buildings are built in a mixture of different styles, including Art Nouveau, Renaissance and Classicist.

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Inside the museum of Western and Eastern Art

If you’re dreaming to get away from the crowd, try going to museum instead of a beach, try Museum of Western and Eastern Art (entry fee $2). Not only it is located in a beautiful 19th century building, it also has a magnificent collection of paintings, sculptures, porcelain, furniture and more. The exhibitions include ancient, western European and eastern arts, and western European collection of exhibits.

 

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Keep walking towards second most famous symbol of Odessa it’s Opera Theater. Its neo-baroque building was constructed in 1887 by two Viennese architects, Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer. It was also the first building in Odessa to use electric illumination.

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Fountains Near Opera Theater

Beach

Although Odessa has a few public beaches, they become overcrowded in the summer. For a more pleasant experience I would advise to pick one of the numerous beach clubs. The entry is usually free, but you have to pay for a beach chair ($5-10/a day), towels or umbrellas, if you’re using any.

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Early morning at Bright On Beach

My choice was Bright On Beach club, for bright girlish design, reasonable prices and perfect peach sangria at the bar!

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Peach Sangria at Bright On Beach

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Oh, and don’t forget flamingos!

Food

Summer is the season of open terraces and cold coffee in Odessa, my all time favourite it a White Whale, where you can find the best cappuccino in city and  a variety of alternative brews. For a fancy cup with vegan options try order Coconut Latte at Moloko Bar. Their specialty is actually a trifle yogurt with a broad list of add-ons, so it’s a perfect place to indulge yourself with healthy and yummy breakfast before heading off to the beach.

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Trifle yogurt with blueberries and coconut latte at Moloko Bar

Eating local is a must at Odessa. And here it means you should try the seafood. I woulds advise you skip Forshmak (a combination of pickled herring and apples is not for everyone, or at least not for me), but local mussels are a dish of choice. While you can find mussels at almost every cafe in the city, I advise visiting the place that specializes in bivalve molluscs, like Kotelok Mussels Bar.

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Grilled mussels with cheese and tomato sauce at Kotelok

For a good dinner with live music head to Odessa City Food Market. The newly established local food hall is the one and only in Ukraine. With an open floor plan; fresh food prepared in front of your eyes; a post-industrial space, and good-looking people sharing communal tables or sitting on stools around countertops this place is a perfect pick for a night out.

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Oysters and Wine

Welcome the Sun

There is something special about sunset and sunrises at the seaside. Odessa is facing the East, so sunsets are quite boring here, yet seeing the sun rising from the water is very special experience.

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Sunrise colors of Odessa Port

My favorite sunrise spot is Langeron beach. It is the closest beach to the city center, and has unobstructed views of the sun. On weekend mornings, you’ll always find here late party goers, fishermen, tourists, local park workers, all of them gathered with a single purpose: to witness the first light of the day. So why not join?:)

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Chasing the sun

Odessa International Airport (ODS) has daily direct connections from and to Kiev, Vienna, Istanbul, Ankara, Warsaw, Budapest, Minsk, Prague,Tel-Aviv. Several days a week there are also scheduled flights to Athens, Dubai, Milan, Sharm-El-Sheikh and Saloniki.

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Exploring Maui, Hawaii: Ho’okipa Beach, Paia and Mama’s Fish House

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The beach outside of Mama’s Fish House

If you’re looking for something different from the mega resorts on Maui, I’d highly advise spending a day exploring Ho’okipa Beach Park and the charming town of Paia.  Ho’okipa is one of the best windsurfing spots on the island if not the planet. It’s also a favorite of surfers and people who just want to watch them while enjoying a day at the beach.

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Summer day at Ho’okipa Beach Park

I am particularly fond of the mix of locals and tourists at Ho’okipa Beach. There are even a few interesting food trucks if you need a quick bite to eat.

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Food trucks at Ho’okipa Beach 

Drink a coconut or grab a nibble, but don’t spoil your appetite. You’ll want it later.

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Another view of Ho’okipa Beach 

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Left: Getting ready to surf at Ho’okipa Right: Surfing rush hour

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Windsurfing at Ho’okipa Beach

Ho’okipa is located close to Paia, which a charming spot to browse, go shopping, or grab a shave ice.

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Sun’s out/buns out at Ho’okipa Beach

Bathing suits are cheeky this season. If you’re doing the sun’s out/buns out thing, don’t forget your sunscreen!

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Kampachi Ceviche at Mama’s Fish House

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After you’ve worked up an appetite at the beach, head to nearby Mama’s Fish House for a meal. Be sure to book ahead… there is a reason Mama’s is so popular!

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Left: Blue Hawaiian at Mama’s Fish House Right: the cute pineapple I found blended right in with the Hawaiian decor

While fresh fish is the specialty at Mama’s they also serve excellent short ribs as well as some island specialities like fresh poi and kalua wild boar.

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Grilled shrimp at Mama’s

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img_9419Left: Ahi poke Right: Fresh poi comes complimentary at Mama’s

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Mahi mahi and ahi Panang curry

This is great place to try a tropical cocktail. Mama’s version of the Mai Tai isn’t too sweet. The Blue Hawaiian is probably more photogenic than it is my taste.

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Tiki pineapple goodness at Mama’s Fish House

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Mama’s menu + pineapple = art

After a mai tai or two, I got creative and noticed my pineapple felt like part of the menu art at Mama’s Fish House.

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View from a table at Mama’s Fish House

Mama’s Fish House also has The Inn at Mama’s right next door, should you wish to stay in this charming part of the island. I plan on doing so on my next visit to the island.

Ho’okipa Beach Park

Located at Mile #9 on Hâna Highway (36).

Mama’s Fish House

799 Poho Place,
Paia, HI 96779
TEL (808) 579-8488
FAX (808) 579-8594

OPEN DAILY from 11am to 9pm

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Rafting the Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork River in Montana

 

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Rapids on the Clark Fork River (photo credit:  Mike Malament of Montana River Photography)

I recently went to Montana on a family vacation in honor of my nephew’s graduation. My family has a long history of summer rafting trips, and I thought it would be fun to continue the tradition with my brother and his family, including my three awesome nephews.

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Kevin, my raft trip guide

My nephews are Boy Scouts and outdoors types, so we picked a full day rafting whitewater rafting adventure through the Alberton Gorge on the Clark Fork River near Missoula.

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Kevin in action on the Clark Fork River

The trip was a good combination of gorgeous scenery, peaceful floating, and class III+ rapids.

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A day on the Clark Fork River

Raft technology has improved greatly since the summers of my youth when you had to manually bail out the rafts. Now they are smaller, more mobile and self-draining. This made the whole experience pleasant.

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Montana’s Big Skies

About halfway through our trip, we stopped at Split Rock Beach for a nice lunch spread set up by our guides, Kevin and Jake.

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Scenic smooth water on Montana’s Clark Fork River

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My brother and I shared a raft, just like old times

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Split Rock Beach: A lovely spot for lunch

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Human mountain goats

Record warm temps made the Clark Fork River perfect for swimming. We spent a bit of time jumping off this this rock into the river.

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Rock climbing in the Alberton Gorge GIF.

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Left: Kevin led the way up the rocks Right: My nephew jumping into the Clark Fork River

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My nephew Reese has mad rock building skills

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Rockitecture on the Clark Fork River

Paddling a raft while photographing can be challenging. Fortunately, Mike Malament of Montana River Photo has a set up to photograph some of the best rapids of the day.

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Awesome rapid splashiness (photo credit: Mike Malament/Montana River Photo)

Our whitewater rafting trip ending mid-afternoon, just as temperatures were getting uncomfortably hot. We were craving a beer. Our trusty river guides Kevin and Jake suggested we stop at Big Sky Brewing Company‘s Tasting Room, which had free samples.

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Missoula’s Big Dipper Ice Cream made for the perfect ending to the day

Jake suggested we stop at Big Dipper Ice Cream in Missoula before heading back to Paws Up. After a cold adult beverage, ice cream was a good call for the kids.

My Clark Fork Raft Trip was arranged by the concierge staff at Paws Up.

The Resort at Paws Up

40060 Paws Up Road
Greenough, MT 59823
Toll Free: 877-588-7151
Int’l/Local: 406-244-5200
Fax: 800-473-0687
theresort@pawsup.com

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Montana Big Sky Cloud Lapse at The Resort at Paws Up

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A late summer sunset at Paws Up

Earlier this month I visited Montana with my family. In honor of my nephew’s graduation, we spent a few days at The Resort at Paws Up.

This summer has been very dry. The state banned fireworks on the 4th of July and wildfires were burning in Glacier National Park, which made Montana’s sunsets a bit less vivid than usual. The clouds, however, were fantastic!

Cloud Lapse at The Resort at Paws Up (shot on iPhone 6)

Summer sunsets in Montana are late. It was around 9:30 pm the evening I shot this one. I set up this time lapse on my iPhone 6 using the time time-lapse feature on the native camera. I clamped my iPhone to a fence behind the Pomp Restaurant using my In-Your-Face Viewbase and let the camera run while we were eating dinner.

I hope you enjoy the resulting cloud lapse. It’s a brief digital visit to my favorite resort in Big Sky Country.

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Where to Eat in Lake Como, Italy: Crotto dei Platani

The Aperol Spritz: perfect for an Italian summer evening

Located in an old grotto situated on on the lake, Crotto dei Platani is a charming and romantic restaurant with great outdoor spaces as well as a natural grotto. It was a 20 minute drive from Cernobbio, where I was staying, but well worth the drive. It was one of the most memorable meals of the trip.

The exterior of Crotto dei Platani

In the summer, it’s all about dining on the restaurant’s panoramic veranda and garden. When I visited, it was raining, so we ate in the covered patio overlooking the lake.

The gorgeous view of the lake from Crotto dei Platani

The food was delicious. The menu focuses on fish caught in the lake, offering dishes like Mixed Lake Fish Hors d’oeuvres (€ 14) and White Fish Tartare with Black truffle (€ 18). We had the Assorted Salami with Vinegar Vegetables (€ 14) which was delicious and paired nicely with Italy’s summer cocktail of choice, the Aperol Spritz.

Pea soup with crispy black rice and citrus cream was € 13

Next I had the fresh Pea Soup, which was fresh, light and delicious and had a lovely texture with the black rice and citrus cream. It hit the spot on a rainy evening.

The Assorted Salami with Vinegar Vegatables was a winner

We moved on to a bottle of Tignanello Super Tuscan before our mains arrived. I went for the house made Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Buffalo Mozzarella and Eggplant (€ 13). It was served al dente and had the correct sauce-to-pasta ratio.

Left: The house made pasta Right: Beef with foie gras and red wine sauce

My husband loved the Beef with Foie Gras and Red Wine Sauce (€ 23). We usually skip dessert, we couldn’t pass up the Peach Semifreddo with raspberries and honey (€ 8). It was worth the splurge.

Our waiter turned our wine cork into a key ring souvenir

With excellent service, great atmosphere, and fantastic food, Crotto dei Platani is a great choice for a special occasion or romantic dinner. You can even arrange to arrive by water taxi.

The docks outside Crotto dei Platani lit up at night

Crotto dei Platani

Via Regina, 73
22010 Brienno (CO),
SS 340, km 16

T: (+39) 031 814038
E: info@crottodeiplatani.it

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