Diana Nicolae

Diana Nicolae

Travel

CRUISE ON GREEK ISLANDS

IMG-20180907-WA0017Greece Cruise

WHY GOING ON A CRUISE

As far as a cruise is concerned, I’ve heard pros and cons. Some are saying that they would feel trapped and afraid not to get bored. Some have movement sick. Some say that the cabins are too small. And so on… But, for most of the people I spoke to was an amazing experience. Me? I would go on a cruise every month! The most amazing thing from my point of view is that you don’t have to pack and unpack every day. Second, you can see a new place every day without having to lose time on flights or on the road. And third, but not least, in the evening you can have an amazing time having a barbeque, sing at a karaoke night, play at the casino, dance in the club or just have a drink with your friends on the deck. And, actually, the most amazing thing that happened to me on the cruise was that I got to be with a lot of wonderful friends and also my mom and dad. Cause it doesn’t matter the age, only your smile and your joy!

HOW TO GET THERE

Depending on the cruise, you leave from one harbor and you come back to the same one, or you embark from one harbor and you end your cruise on a different one. On the cruise I made on Greek Islands I’ve embarked in Piraeus Harbor (Athens) and came back to the same one. Now, depending from which country you fly from, you can choose to fly or drive. As Romania – my country – is close to Greece, some of my friends came by car. I flew to Athens. One thing is for sure: choose a hotel close to the harbor as most of the departures are early in the morning.

ACCOMODATION

Now, depending on your budget, you can choose your cabin. The only suggestion that I can make is to have an outside cabin – cabins that have a window. It is true that most of the cabins are small, but as I said, I will not spend my entire live there. And if you are organized, you can create a very nice environment. Also, think that the low you are as level, the less you will feel the movement, but also the cabins on lower floors are more noisy, as you can hear the engines. So, if you think on spending a bit less money, or a bit more on your holiday, think again what would you like to get from your cruise.

FOOD ON THE CRUISE

What’s amazing about cruises is that you have an all-inclusive package! The bad thing is that you cannot stop!!! Again, depending on the cruise that you choose, the food can be more luxurious or not. The good thing is that whenever you are hungry or thirsty you can find plenty of food or drinks!

BEACHES” ON A CRUISE

This is definitely a big advantage when you are on a cruise. Most of the cruisers have swimming pools and the big ones actually have water parks aboard. Another good thing is that because of the movement you cannot feel the heat of the sun and also you get a wonderful tan on entire body. Careful because the sunbeds are limited and there is a possibility that you find none free.

MYKONOS – Definitely, one of my favorite island from Greece. The views are amazing and the perfect combination of blue color with white, small streets, nice shops and cute taverns make Mykonos a place to dream of! What to see? Mykonos Little Venice and the Windmills!

 

KUSADASI – We’ve had a stop also in Turkey, at Kusadasi, where we’ve had a very nice visit at Ephesus. Here you can explore the remnants of this fascinating archaeological site, walk along marble covered roads and pass by Roman baths and forgotten shops, reach Odeon, Temple of Hadrian and Fountain of Trajan then head to the Library of Celsus and The Great Theatre. The culminant moment is seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. At your way back, before going back to the ship, have stop in the harbor to have a look in the leather and fur stores and also the Grand Bazaar. Do bargain for the price that best suits you, and remember that some products you can get for less than half of initial price.

PATMOS – Worldwide known as a sacred island, Patmos is considered to be the place where Saint John wrote the Book of Revelation. The Island is an ideal destination for nature lovers thanks to its lace-like coastline, sheer cliffs and volcanic soil.

RHODES – For me, Rhodes Island is definitely a place to go back to. Historical Center is quite nice and the beaches are cute. They have a lot of handmade shoe stores and some of them are quite impressive, and the quality is very good for the price that you pay! A bit disappointed by the animals that hold place of the feet of the Rhodes Colossus.

HERAKLION – is the largest city of Crete and one of Greece’s major urban centers. One of the most impressive sights of Heraklion are the fortification walls that delimit the old city. Also, the old Venetian port still shares the story of the place where ships used to be built. And, in the heart of the city you can find many monuments dating to the Middle Ages, a period in which Heraklion witnessed great prosperity.

SANTORINI – Oh, my lovely Santorini! Always happy to go back there! If you have never visited Santorini, Oia is the place to go. Amazing landscapes, all up and down narrow streets, great combinations of white and blue, nice restaurants facing the water and romantic walks. Definitely one of the best places to take great photos and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets.  Fira is also nice, if you don’t have too much time to spend in Santorini, but not as impressive as Oia.

 

MUST DO

DANCING LESSONS – As I am a sportive person, I needed something to do to move my bones a little bit. But, it also had to be fun as the gym was not attractive for me at all on holidays. So, I decided to make some moves on the dance floor! One day we learned how to dance cha-cha and every day we were having Zumba lessons (not my favorite, but fun for the holidays).

CABARET NIGHT – Really impressed about the Cabaret Night! Great music and voices, nice choreography and dance, beautiful costumes and amazing atmosphere!!! Big, big like!

LIKE

PACK & UNPACK: One of the big likes for me was the fact that I didn’t have to pack and unpack each time we were changing the destination!

SMART TIMIMG: The good thing with being on a cruise is that while you sleep they change the location and you can enjoy each day a different place without having to take a plane or drive a car

ALL INCLUSIVE: I loved the fact that you had everything in the same place. Restaurants, bars, swimming pools, shops, event rooms, etc.

DIDN’T LIKE

WAKING UP EARLY: I am not a morning person and waking up at 6am is not an option for me. Unfortunately, for some of the harbors we had to take a small boat to get on the shore, and the scheduled boats were at 7am.

SMALL CABINS: If space is a problem for you as it is for me, you will feel at some points uncomfortable, especially if you are a woman and you are caring a lot of unnecessary stuff with you, as I do!

 

 

 

Travel

SANTORINI – THE ISLAND OF LANDSCAPES

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INTRODUCTION

Santorini is a unique island situated in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km southeast of Greece’s mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago, which bears the same name and is essentially what remained after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. They say is one of the most beautiful of all the Greek islands (I haven’t seen them all), but from my point of view is the best of them all, and also one of the most expensive.

WHY VISIT SANTORINI

The island of Santorini is famous for it’s amazing landscapes, loved by the tourists and specially by the photographers who come here for amazing photo-shootings. It’s a place where all the glamourous stores, hotels and restaurants come to live, next to thousands of lights, combining a perfect romantic scenario. So, if you are looking for amazing landscapes, beautiful architecture, romantic places, a place to be loved by day and also by night, one of the bests sunsets, lovely food, impressive beaches and one of the nicest people, this is the place to be! But, if you are looking for a place to party, on a nice sandy beach, not the right destination for you!

HOW TO GET TO SANTORINI

The easiest way to get to Santorini is by plane. There is a direct flight from Athens, and it takes only 45 minutes. What you need to know is that Santorini streets are very narrow, always up and down, and for some hotels almost impossible to get there by car. Why I am saying this? Because if you have to many and heavy luggage, the only way to get with them in one piece is to carry them by donkeys. So, do ask the hotel about location and transportation from the airport.

SANTORINI HOTELS

Hotels in Santorini, not like any other destinations, should be chosen very carefully. There are two districts where you should look for accommodation. Fira is one of them and is suitable if you are looking for a less expensive hotel. Be very careful because not all of them are facing the sea and very few have amazing landscapes. The resort I choose – El Greco Resort – was at the beginning of Fira (so a bit far from the center), with poor view but amazing swimming pools and spacious nice furnished rooms. The food and the services were poor as well. So, not a place a would go back to. The other district is called Oia and if I would go again to Santorini this is where I would choose to stay. It’s more expensive then Fira in terms of accommodation but if you think of going there for an amazing experience, do choose to stay in Oia. From Oia you can also enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets ever! Also, think when choosing the hotel about one with a swimming pool as the beaches are a bit hard to reach and you cannot find not even one with silky sand.

El Greco Resort

FOOD IN SANTORINI

The food in Santorini, like anywhere in Greece, it’s amazing! Do go for the fish and seafood, but also for the traditional moussaka or cheese dishes. One of my favorite food in Greece is mussels or shrimp saganaki and also cheese saganaki. The prices are quite the same in all of the restaurants and I was always choosing one with a nice view. So, for a lunch or a dinner, for 2 persons, you should pay around 80-100 euros. Do expect high prices for drinks. A beer for example is around 8 euros.

OIA

BEACHES IN SANTORINI

Santorini is not a place where you go in a hotel, get out of the hotel on a sandy beach and enjoy all day on a sunbed.  No, Santorini it’s all about narrow streets, lots and lots of stairs up and down and impressive beaches with small stones. So, the beaches in Santorini are much different than other beaches in Greece due to their special geographical features. Red and black volcanic pebbles lay the shores of Santorini beaches and steep cliffs provide a picturesque ambience. Also, do be aware that in order to be able to walk on the beach or enter into the water, you need special shoes. And here are 3 of the best beaches in Santorini:

White Beach & Red Beach
White Beach & Red Beach

Black Beach: it’s a private beach reachable by car or by ATV or scooter with amazing small stones in black color, surrounded by a wild, black landscape. Black Beach is also one of the most isolate and quiet beaches on Santorini.

Black Beach Santorini
Black Beach

Red Beach: can be reached also by car or by ATV or scooter up to some point. After that, you have like a 10-15 minutes-walk, up and down, until you reach the beach. Red Beach is one of the most beautiful and famous beaches of Santorini. It has black and red volcanic pebbles and hot water.

White Beach: the cove right next to the Red Beach is known as the White Beach and can be reached only by boat. It is very similar to the Red Beach, with black pebbles on the shore, but it’s unique because of the surrounding cliffs that are white.

White Beach

MUST DO

THE SANTORINI CATAMARAN CRUISE: Sail into the sunset of Santorini on a 5-hour cruise on board of a catamaran and enjoy a complimentary barbecue supper with wine and soft drinks. Stop at a Hot Springs and sail near a volcano, pass beautiful Red Beach and White Beach, enjoy the views of the Santorini Harbor, and jump off to swim and snorkel.

SUNSET IN OIA: The village of Oia is probably the most popular spot for watching the sunset in Santorini. Some say that it’s also the most beautiful, but for me the best sunsets I have ever had were the ones in California. So, if you do decide to watch the sunset here, you should be aware of two things. Firstly, know that the sunset can only be seen from the very top of the Island, and secondly, you should be ready to secure a good spot well ahead of the sunset (an hour at least).

Fashion

THE MIRAGE OF WINDOWS – MILAN

GUCCI MilanGucci

Being a woman sometimes comes with advantages. They say that women shop from pleasure, while men shop for necessity. I don’t know if you have ever experienced that feeling inside of warm pleasure when you walk an important fashion street and you pass across the stores windows and it’s like they are calling you, inviting you to have a look, telling you a story. That guilty pleasure when you buy something you don’t need but you think you cannot live without it? Even if the pay check for electricity is waiting silently on the table at home you feel like your entire world will crash if you don’t have it! And you are happy! Can’t wait to wear it!

What about the concept behind all this? Have you ever wondered why we are so attracted by the windows of the stores? Have you noticed that they really tell a story? That they are very well organized and that people who thought about the concept do express something from their work. From my point of view, it’s a real art to be able to rise such feeling in people’s hearts. To be honest, every time I was getting to a big city, I was curious and excited to see what they came up to this time. And Milan was my favorite! And it didn’t matter if I had the money to buy anything or not, it was the story behind that was fascinating me. I remember once I saw a big, fancy table at Dolce&Gabbana store window, full of amazing food and accessories, and around that table mannequins in beautiful dresses. It was not about the opulence of the stuff they were presenting there but about the richness of the family idea, the atmosphere, the colors.

Milan is one of the places I visit at least once a year. This year I was a bit disappointed to see that fashion industry is not doing as well as it used to. I remembered when I was going to school in Milan and the first thing my teacher taught me was that fashion comes from the street. It’s hard times for us! The uniqueness is not such as great value nowadays and with the “Chinese Empire” now that are copying everything is hard to stand. I saw stores that are much smaller than they used to be and the mirage of windows not so much anymore.  A sad feeling of disappointment was born inside of me and I am wondering, where next?

Fendi
Travel

NEW YORK, THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS

20160618_131006New York Statue of Liberty

INTRODUCTION

New York, from my point of view, it’s in top 5 destinations around the world. I so dream about me, singing the Frank Sinatra song, one day: “start spreading the news, I am leaving today, I want to be a part of it, New York, New York…”. New York is fascinating from many points of you. So, if you think of shopping, night life, walks, beach, ocean, food, shows, museums, libraries, sky towers, amazing views, and so on, New York has it all! It’s breath taking!

Times Square

Times Square

Central Park Zoo

WHY VISIT NEW YORK

It was my dream to get to New York. For me it was like seeing the pictures on the internet and I was already there with my soul. It was all that I could have imagined and even more. I was so happy every morning to “wake up in a city that never sleeps”. Walk up and down on those amazing streets. Couldn’t stop shopping and gazing at the sky tower buildings. Enjoying the city lights in the night that were giving me the feeling like it was daylight. All the time feeling the vibe, the movement, the beauty, the greatness.

HOTELS IN NEW YORK

Hotels in New York, like in the USA in general are pretty bad. You pay a lot, comparing to Europe, for not so good accommodation and services. So, I would suggest that when you look for a hotel, don’t choose for any circumstance, if possible, under 4 stars.  Even at this segment you will have the feeling of a 2 or 3 stars hotel, for some of them. As far as I’m concerned, as at my first trip to New York I was depending a lot on a fixed budget, I preferred to stay more close to the center, and choose a 3 stars hotel, then to pay a little less on a 4 stars hotel, far from the center.  So I chose Pennsylvania Hotel, close to Penn Station and to Times Square. Very poor hotel, with no internet and old fashioned rooms. Anyway, the price was very low (around 120$/night) and close to the center. The second time I went for a 4 stars hotel, Le Parker Meridien, close to Central Park, with a rooftop pool and amazing big and light rooms. I had a package there and have pay only 120$/3 nights, so really amazing price and hotel!

FOOD IN NEW YORK

My, oh my, I thought I will not fit the door on my way back to my country but was surprised I was actually 4 kilos less on my return. I love food in America. I know people are calling me crazy, but really, those amazing big portions of sweet potatoes, huge ice creams, incredibly tasty burgers and that fluffy pizza??? Ok! One of the most tasteful burger was at the hotel we’ve stayed at Le Parker Meridien. But, don’t worry, there are plenty of restaurants where you can eat amazing burgers, you just have to avoid the ones that are very close to major attractions.

If you are in love with Italian food, pay a visit to Little Italy. You will have the feeling like being in Italy, but the food is nothing like real Italian food. Anyway, not bad either.

So, whatever you do, don’t miss in the morning a nice portion of oatmeal and a coffee at Starbucks, and for lunch the burgers, the sweet potatoes and Ben & Jerry’s and Baskin Robbins ice cream!

Little Italy

BEACH IN NEW YORK

I just love the places where you can go and enjoy the city but also have some rest at the beach, enjoying the sun and gaze at the Ocean. New York has it all! A very nice place to go and enjoy the sun is Coney Island. And if you are into some fun, enjoy the Coney Island Amusement Park! What you need to know, if you come from Europe like I am, is that there are no sun beds or any kind of arranged beach. So, you will literally stay in the sand. As far as I’m concerned, I bought a yoga mat and a nice soft tower and I was ready to rock! Also, be careful that if it feels windy, close to the Ocean it’s really windy and the sand will get everywhere. It took me one hour to remove all the sand from my hair in the shower. So, really choose the day carefully!

SHOPPING IN NEW YORK

Oh, my! The best shopping I have ever had! If you are in love with shopping like I am, choose to go either in June or January when you will find lots of sales and promotions. But, if you go to America for shopping, buy American brands. Don’t expect to find European brands at better price than Europe. 5th Avenue is where you will find all the brands, and of course, the famous Tiffany&Co.

MUST DO

Statue of Liberty Cruise – Excellent choice! We had a very nice lunch on the boat, took pictures at Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge and enjoy the sights of New York from another perspective.

Times Square – The first thing we did was to go to Times Square. All those commercials, the lights, the live, the rumor, day or night, you will find it amazing!

Times Square

Broadway show – Choose whatever you like but do go and see a Broadway Show. Me and my friend went to Stomp (a different kind of show) and we enjoyed it a lot!

The Empire State Building – The views from the top are breath-taking! Must do! Must see!

Brooklyn Bridge – Quite interesting and famous, Brooklyn Bridge is a definitely must do in New York!

Central Park and Zoo – As I am in love with parks, of course Central Park was one of my favorite attractions. I don’t remember of being in a bigger park than this, and for sure not at one with a zoo inside of it! So, from my point of view, definitely a must do!

Take a walk on Wall Street and Broadway – I don’t know about you but I am a huge fan of talking long walks. So, a long walk on Broadway, all the way up, not only helped me burn some calories, but it also helped me see some very nice stores and places. And, of course, wouldn’t miss for nothing a walk on famous Wall Street.

Rockefeller Center – A national historic landmark in the heart of Midtown Manhattan where you can shop, dine and explore at one of New York’s most inspiring locations. And, during the Winter, you can admire the most beautiful Christmas Tree and Skate Park.

Rockefeller Center
Travel

DUBAI, THE “DOOR” TO ORIENT

Burj Al Arab

INTRODUCTION

Dubai fascinated me right from the first time! If I may say, it was love at first sight! It’s hard to describe what I liked the most, because Dubai world is amazing!

Desert Safari
Desert Safari

WHY VISIT DUBAI

It’s a fabulous mixture of luxury, with high-tower buildings (which reminds me of beautiful New York), innovation, technology, the biggest mall and the highest building in the world, with the fastest elevator like no place else. Everything is at superlative, and it’s impossible not to feel important there!

Atlantis

WHAT TO DO IN DUBAI

BURJ KHALIFA

If you are going to Dubai for the first time, Burj Khalifa it’s a must! From the tallest building in the world you will be amazed with wonderful landscapes of Dubai and you will be using the fastest elevator in the world that will get you to the top in only 60 seconds.

DUBAI FOUNTAINS

I have seen the fountains in Barcelona which are amazing, but Dubai Fountains are specials. The water is moving in the rhythms of music and is quite impressive to see it from different positions, even from the top of Burj Khalifa. So, by day you can go shopping in Dubai Mall and by night, join the crowds on the bridge and marvel at the illuminated water and buildings adorning the city. The afternoon shows are at 1:00PM and 1:30PM, except on Fridays, when it’s 1:30PM and 2:00PM. In the evenings, the shows occur every 30 minutes, between the hours of 6:00PM and 11:00PM.

Fountains from top Burj Khalifa
Fountains from top Burj Khalifa

DUBAI AQUARIUM AND UNDERWATER ZOO

If you are in love with the underwater life, within the Dubai Mall you will find the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo that includes the world’s largest collection of sand sharks and one of the world’s largest acrylic panel viewing platforms and numerous marine habitats, including an underwater tunnel, house 33,000 marine animals, from crocodiles to tropical fish.

Dubai Aquarium
Dubai Aquarium

DUBAI MARINA

Unlike anywhere in the Middle East, the Dubai Marina is a district where you can purchase all of life’s pleasures. Upon the development’s completion, it will be the greatest man-made marina in the world with a two mile long waterfront. Dubai Marina is also a great place for shopping as there are various boutiques and high end storefronts scattered along the marina, where you can find all the brands you can think of concentrated. Real estate is the business that created the Dubai Marina, so expect some of the finest and tallest hotels in the world. Also, if you would like to go for a cruise, there are a variety of boat tours and relaxing cruises available along the Persian Gulf shore.

DESERT SAFARI

From my point of view, Dubai desert safari it’s a must! Prepare to spend around 5 hours in an amazing environment and places. If you choose to go in the Winter, take with you a jacket as it gets chilly after the sunsets in the desert. So, get ready for a ride with the jeep on the dunes of sand and take pictures at the sunset! It’s wonderful! Then enjoy a walk on a camel and on top of everything dance, have a traditional barbeque, smoke a shisha, paint your hands with henna and dream under the open sky!

PALM JUMEIRAH & BURJ AL ARAB

If you want to experience Dubai from a different perspective, you can choose to go on a 90 minutes cruise around Palm Jumeirah & Burj Al Arab by unique rib boat. Depart from Dubai Marina and sail around the artificial archipelago of Palm Jumeirah, the smallest of the original 3 planned Palm Islands of Dubai. Admire iconic attractions and luxury hotels, such as the Atlantis the Palm, and get a look at the Burj Al Arab with it’s emblematic design of billowing sails. See the Sheik’s private Island and much more.

DUBAI HOTELS

Depending on what you plan to do on your holiday in Dubai, you should choose your hotel. Do go only for 4 or 5 stars hotel and if possible with a swimming pool if you plan maybe to say a bit in the sun or just enjoy a splash in the pool. So, if you want to visit and have some activities, it’s better to choose a hotel in the center. The best place would be somewhere close to Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa. I have stayed in Millenium Plaza Hotel, very close to Dubai Mall, with a nice pool located on the 10th floor and great pricing (around 110$/night in December, so in season) and it was perfect. We had an amazing view from the 64th floor and a huge bathroom with shower facing the windows. But, if you plan to go for the beach, of course choose a hotel that is close to the beach. One amazing option would be Atlantis, The Palm or Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

FOOD IN DUBAI

Prepare yourself for a harmony of colors and tastes! In Dubai you can find anything your hearts desires. From American restaurants, to Italian food and, of course, traditional, tasty food. A very nice and good restaurant is right in the back of Jumeirah Beach Hotel, located on the beach, where you can have an amazing view of the Burj Al Arab and enjoy a lovely dinner. You can also choose one of the restaurants with terrace at the Dubai Mall and enjoy the lovely fountains. Or you can go to Madinat Jumeirah, which is an amazing place with water canals, gondolas and lots of lights, and restaurants near the water.

BEACHES IN DUBAI

NIKKI BEACH        

If you like the type of beaches where everything is at superlative, go for Nikki Beach! Great sand, turquoise water, amazing pool, nice staff, lovely music and a great place to spend a nice after-noon. Food is also good and you can choose from a variety of cocktails as well, anything you need to make your day lovely. All day long music it’s hosted by a DJ and if you are the kind of person that likes to party, the dancefloor it’s yours! If you prefer to lay in the sun (as I did), just relax on your sunbed and enjoy the music!

Nikki Beach
Nikki Beach

NASIMI BEACH

Nasimi Beach is great if you want to enjoy a day in the sun, listen to good music, enjoy great cocktails and dance! I went there on lady’s day (all the Sundays) when with 105 dirhams (around 30$) you can enjoy unlimited open bar and one meal course. Careful cause it’s very crowded and it’s possible not to get a place. If you can, make a reservation before or be there early.

Nasimi Beach
Nasimi Beach

POINTS OF INTEREST

Legoland & Legoland Waterpark

WildWadi Waterpark

Slope Session at Ski Dubai

IMG Worlds of Adventure

Motiongate Dubai

Bollywood Park