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Pula, Croatia. Roman remnants on the Istrian coast.

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Pula Arena Roman Remnants

If you have been to Croatia then you most likely know this already but, most of the Croatian coast is gorgeous and you’ll find lovely towns all along the Croatian coast. And Pula is one of them. That said, Pula stands out from all the other towns in one specific way, its wealth of Roman architecture.

When you arrive in Pula you’ll find a true treasure trove of Roman remnants unlike anywhere else in Croatia. Among other things you can find a well-preserved floor mosaic, the Arch of the Sergii, the temple of Augustus and the center piece of roman architecture in Pula, the Pula Arena.

The Pula Arena

Pula Arena LeftThe Arena is the most important and most famous Roman monument (it is the starting and ending point of pretty much every sightseeing tour) in Pula.

Once, this magnificent amphitheater was home to the infamous gladiator fights. And although the arena is still used these days, it is now used for more peaceful entertainment.

The arena is the place to go to watch concerts, opera, ballet and sports competitions in a truly unique setting that you won’t find anywhere else.

That said, if gladiator fights are your thing and you want to get an impression of what the gladiator fights were like, that’s possible as well. During the summer months, the Arena hosts gladiator fights every week as part of the historical and entertainment spectacle “Spectacvla Antiqva”. That will give you the chance to revisit the days of 2 millennia ago.

Pula Arena with ChurchThat’s right, the amphitheater is about 2000 years old. It was built in the 1st century AD, during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. And yes, for the history buffs among you, that means it was build during the same time as the magnificent Colosseum in Rome was build. 

So why should you visit this particular amphitheater rather than another one somewhere else in Europe? The one in Rome for instance…

The answer to that question is simple. There is just no other one amphitheater like this one.  

The Pula Arena stands out from other Roman arenas because it is incredibly well-preserved. It is the only remaining Roman amphitheater that still has four side towers and that has all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved (read all about it on Wikipedia).

So when you visit Pula make sure you set some time aside to visit the Arena. It’ll definitely be worth it.

Btw, if you couldn’t care less about gladiators but you are into wine, make sure to visit the Pula Arena as well. The underground passages that were once used by the gladiators serve a different function these days. They host an exhibition of viticulture and olive growing, in Istria, in ancient times.

The exhibits on show there include reconstructions of machines once used for the production of olive oil and wine (mills, presses, vessels) and amphorae used for storing and transporting olive oil and wine. It’ll give you an idea of how wine was made in the past and the history behind the wines we drink today.

Temple of Augustus

Another of the well preserved Roman structures is the Temple of Augustus.  Or rather, well restored.

Temple of Augustus - Pula You’ll find the Temple of Augustus on the Forum (Pula’s main square). Originally this temple was part of a triad consisting of three temples in total.

The Temple of Augustus stood to the left of the central temple while temple of the goddess Diana stood on the right side. The central temple didn’t survive and most of the temple of Diana has disappeared as well. However, you can still see the back side of that temple as its incorporated into the Communal Palace.

In the second world war the Temple of Augustus was struck during an air raid and was almost completely destroyed. But in 1947 it was rebuild and, although no longer a temple, these days the building is used to display items of Roman sculpture.

Roman Floor Mosaic

The mosaic of the punishment of Dirce, aka the Roman Floor mosaic.

Roman Floor Mosaic - Punishment of Dirce -  PulaThis mosaic dates back to the 2nd or 3rd century and is remarkably well-preserved. It was uncovered during the clearing of debris after WWII.

It is a bit hard to find but if you follow the signs you should manage. 

The mosaic is split into two parts with central frame of the bottom part dedicated to the punishment of Dirce.

This Roman floor mosaic depicts the very moment Amphion and Zethus bring the bull in front of Dirce. She was then tied to the wild bull by Zethus and Amphion who wanted to punish Dirce for her ill-treatment of their mother, Antiope. The bull dragged Dirce to her death.

Afterwards, according to the tellings the god Dionysus let a spring from the place she died and this spring was named for Dirce. 

The arch of the Sergii

Arch of the Sergii - PulaThe arch or the Sergii is a roman triumphal arch that commemorates three brothers of the Sergii family (Lucius Sergi, Lucius Sergi Lepid and Gnaeus Sergi) and is thought to have been build around 28BC.

This arch was build upon an existing city gate  (porta Aurea) and it was build as a symbol of the battle at Actium.

Aside from the Roman remntants I mentioned so far there are other Roman ruins (in various states) in Pula as well (f.i. the twin gates and the small roman theater). But I’ll leave those for you to discover when you visit Pula. 

I’ll also write more about Pula in upcoming posts so don’t forget to subscribe and learn more about this wonderful town on the Adriatic coast.

Also, Pula is quite touristy and accommodation can fill up quickly so don’t forget to book your hotel in advance.

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Druskininkai, a lovely spa town in Lithuania

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Druskininkai

Druskininkai

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A town you may have never heard of and the name of which you can struggle to pronounce at first. I know that was true for me when I first arrived here. 

And I have to say, it’s a shame we don’t know about this wonderful, quaint, town. So let’s find out a bit more about it.

Druskininkai

Druskininkai on the map

Druskininkai is a town in the South-West of Lithuania, near the Polish and Belarusian borders.

Although the first written mention of Druskininkai “only” dates back to 1636 it was already inhabited by local tribes in the early middle ages.

Druskininkai spas

Druskininkai ParkModern day Druskininkai is not very big (home to less than 25,000 people) but it is a very popular tourist destination. It’s especially famous for it’s spas. And the Druskininkai spas have been famous for centuries already.

Ever since the late 18th century people believe that the minerals in the waters of the Druskininkai region have health benefits. And, they use them to treat asthma and other problems.

As the Druskininkai spas are still around a couple of hundred years later there might actually be something to that. It definitely won’t hurt to try the Druskininkai spas and find out for yourself.

Druskininkai tourism

Druskinkai riverAs early as 1837, czar Nicholas I of Russia bestowed the status of “spa” on Druskininkai. Construction of pensions and hostels started and the town first became a tourist destination. And over the years it’s proven that it is a popular destination. 

That said, popular is relative. And like I already said, there is a good chance you didn’t hear of Druskininkai yet.

Although famous as a resort town among people in the region (including Russia, Belarus and Poland), it’s fame hasn’t necessarily spread to the rest of the world yet. Sure, some people know of the Druskininkai spas but the large majority doesn’t. And I don’t know whether that’s a good or a bad thing.

It’s good because the town isn’t overrun by tourists from the west and has an authentic quality. But it’s bad as we miss out on a wonderful destination.

Druskininkai RiverDruskininkai offers more than just the Druskininkai spas. Even without those it is a lovely town, surrounded by beautiful nature. It is definitely a beautiful place to go and relax for a while.

Granted, it might not be ideal for those who are looking to party. But it’s perfect for busy professionals who need to de-stress from their hectic daily lives. And just as perfect for everybody else who looks to relax for a while.

Visitors can go there and discover a different spa every day. Just that makes for a lovely vacation already. But there’s more. 

Druskininkai snow arena

Aside from the spas, Druskininkai also has one of Europe’s largest snow arenas and the Druskininkai snow arena is open year round.

So if you want to take a break from relaxing (it happens) you can just go ski or snowboard in the Druskininkai snow arena for a while.  

Druskininkai Snow Arena
By Italas – Lithuanian Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Druskininkai snow arena has 2 indoor alpine skiing tracks and one outdoor tracks, a snow park, several bars, a restaurant and a bakery. And for those of you with children, there is a play park for them as well.

The Druskininkai snow is a modern arena and the slopes are covered with high-quality snow. This snow is made without chemicals and bacterial additives which aligns well with the town’s health image.

And don’t worry if you didn’t bring your own equipment. Visitors can rent anything they need at the rental point in the Druskininkai snow arena.

Druskininkai water park (agua park)

Aside from that, Druskininkai is also home to the 30 000-square-meter Druskininkai Water Park. This complex is described as an oasis of entertainment and recreation.

With a tropical temperature of 32 degrees Celcius (about 90 Fahrenheit), 9 meter tall palm trees, clear blue swimming pools, 22 saunas, bathhouses the Druskininkai Water Park is another great place to unwind from the daily stress of life. 

Druskininkai Aqua Park Water Park
licensed under CC-Author Arz

The “aquatic entertainment” area of the Druskininkai Water Park covers 9000 square meters (about 2.2 acres). This is where you’ll find the pool area with:

  • a swimming pool with sea waves
  • a swift spring
  • a grand aqua park
  • swimming pool with rocks
  • whirlpool baths of several floors
  • water cascades
  • hydro-massage currents

The Druskininkai Water Park also has a slide tower with 6 different slides, both closed and open. The longest of these slides is 212 meter! Great fun for kids and adults alike.

But if you want something else, no problem. You can also go bowling in the Druskininkai Water Park. Or just relax while enjoying a massage in the water park’s spa centers (yes, they’re everywhere including here). To top it off, there are some bathhouses in the Druskininkai Water Park that are said to be good for your health so try those while you are there. 

With all that, it’s easy to enjoy yourself while you spend your day here. 

Druskininkai nature

Druskininkai lake natureAnd if you prefer to unwind outdoors, Druskininkai is located in a forest, has beautiful flower gardens, parks, several lakes and two rivers within its limits. It’s the perfect place to enjoy leisurely (or brisk, active) walks and just enjoy nature. 

I loved my walk around the lake. It’s nice and quiet and the views are amazing. A nice way to spend some time. But if you prefer, you can also rent a water-bike and go on the lake instead. Or you rent a Segway or a bicycle and go explore on that instead.  

Whichever way you choose, you’ll have a great time!

Conclusion

Drusininkai market stall nature products

Druskininkai is a great place to go and unwind for a while.

Visitors can fully de-stress and recharge their batteries while they are here. Something that is very nice, and often even necessary, given the hectic pace of life these days.

So definitely go there if you have the chance. I know I will be back for sure.



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Riga, Latvia. Vibrant, quaint and pedestrian friendly

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Old Town of Riga, Latvia

Riga, Latvia. The biggest city in the Baltic countries.

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For those of you that don’t know yet, Riga is the capital of Latvia. And Latvia is one of the Baltic countries in the North-East of Europe (see map below).

My Touristy Amsterdam

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Amsterdam canal
Amsterdam - Netherlands

Amsterdam

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Amsterdam canal
Amsterdam canal

Seriously, what’s there to write about Amsterdam that hasn’t been written before?

I mean, everybody knows about the Red Light District and the coffee shops. Oh wait, there is the Van Gogh museum as well. There, we’ve covered “what to do in” Amsterdam.

And to be honest, if you do just that you can probably have a perfectly good time in Amsterdam. I say probably because I don’t smoke and I am not into Van Gogh so I try to avoid 2 out of the 3 places. As for the 3rd… Well, the RLD has some nice bars there (yes, there is more than just windows) and it’s fun to watch the faces of tourists when you show them around but it’s really not my thing either.

On Salsa Festival Reviews and Thank You posts

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Reviews and Thank You posts

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It took me a long time to decide whether or not to write this.

Partially  because I work at events but also because there is a chance this will  rub some people I care about the wrong way.

But, in the end, I think it’s only fair to provide this point of view as apparently not everybody is aware of all the nuances of some of the reviews we see so often..

About ADHD – Part 2

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DSM-V
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Right.

As you probably noticed, in my previous post (that was supposed to cover what I’m writing today as well), I went off on a tangent  a bit.

But, or maybe because I did that, I missed some things.

So, in the first part of this post, I’ll briefly look at diagnosis once again. Not to long, just to establish the criteria for diagnosis so we can see what they are and how they relate to everything else.

About ADHD – Part 1 – Diagnosis

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About ADHD
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You know that feeling you sometimes get? You come home and put your keys down and 2 seconds later you have no idea where you left them?

Or you walk into a room but you can’t remember why you even went there in the first place?

Or maybe you planned a double appointment because you forgot all about the first one?

Well, that’s pretty much what ADHD is like. Except it’s not “sometimes”. It’s 24/7.

Bose in-ear noise canceling headphones

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Bose in-ear headphones complete set
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As you may know, I wrote about my Bose noise canceling headphones a while ago. I love them but sometimes they’re a bit inconvenient as they do take up quite a bit of space.

As I travel a fair bit space can be an issue (and I don’t always want to walk with them around my neck all the time either) so I decided to also buy the Bose in Ear headphones as it takes up very little space.

Bose noise canceling headphones

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Bose Noise Canceling Headphones

Bose noise canceling headphones

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Bose Noise Canceling Headphones sideI’ve been wanting to write about my Bose noise canceling headphones for a while now and today a friend’s post reminded me of that. I love them! (Both my friends and my headphones 😉 .)

Flying can be exhausting enough all by itself. Sure, when you are going on holiday you’re excited and it doesn’t really matter that much. That is if you got to have a good night’s sleep before you left. But when you travel for work or you have night/ early morning flight you’ll usually want to get some rest on the plane. Nobody likea arrivng exhausted at their destination after all.

A new look

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No, no. Not for me. For the blog.

I got fed up with the old look so I decided it was time for a change.

To be honest, for a long time it didn’t really bothered me what it looked like. I rarely posted anyway so who cares, right?

Travel

Pula, Croatia. Roman remnants on the Istrian coast.

If you have been to Croatia then you most likely know this already but, most of the Croatian coast is gorgeous and you'll find...

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Bose in-ear noise canceling headphones

As you may know, I wrote about my Bose noise canceling headphones a while ago. I love them but sometimes they're a bit inconvenient...