Showing posts with label #ShareIstriaUSA1. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #ShareIstriaUSA1. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dosh to Summer Fun and Vacation Deals

Last month, I talked about a new app I’m helping to promote called, Dosh. I was impressed with all the cash back offered when shopping with just a few easy clicks.

I’m back to tell you more about how you can use Dosh to have more fun this summer, whether it’s a staycation or a vacation.

Looking to travel to NY? Great rates at dozens of hotels PLUS up get $50, $100, $150 or more back in cash in your dosh account. You can also get tickets for the Circle Line, the Empire State Building, and a Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour.

These deals are available in most major cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami. If you want to explore on your own, car rental deals with cash back are also on the Dosh App.

Whether you are traveling out of town or enjoying your hometown, Dosh also has cash back offerings at chain restaurants such as Jack in the Box and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, as well as local restaurants throughout the country.

For the summer, Chuck E. Cheese is giving 5% back to Dosh subscribers on all purchases over $30. Whether you are escaping the heat or the rain, or just looking for something fun to do with the family, stay comfortable while the kids enjoy games and pizza.

The thing I like the most about Dosh is that I don’t even have to remember to use it at all these places. I enter my credit cards securely* in the app (and receive $1 cash for each one I put in). The system takes MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. You can enter as many cards as you’d like.

Every time I use one of those cards at a Dosh participating store, restaurant, hotel, or activity, the cashback is automatically put into my Dosh account. No rebate forms, coupons, or having to remember to click somewhere.  

I can take money out of my Dosh account anytime I reach $15. I can transfer it into PayPal or write into my bank account. I also have the option to use the money to make a donation to over two million charities.

Dosh is available for smartphones and tablet devices at the App Store and at Google Play. Just sign up here. New cash back opportunities are being added daily.

Dosh security information is here.

This is a #sponsored post

Friday, July 10, 2015

Toasting to the Final Share Istria Adventure - Day Six

I woke up in my suite at Hotel Lone knowing it would be my last morning in Istria. Although my friend Lynn and I would be staying in Croatia a few more days, this was the last day we would be spending with the Share Istria group, a terrific set of guys we had gotten to know well.

It was the first place Lynn and I had our own hotel rooms so we met down at the restaurant for breakfast. 

The Hotel Lone in Rovinj has one of the biggest buffet breakfasts I have ever seen, and it was included with our room.
The rows of fruit, cheese, Danishes, croissants, meats, eggs, yogurt, and covered half of the large dining room.

I took my selection of a yogurt smoothies, chocolate croissant, brie and spinach quiche out to the deck.

It looked to be another comfortably warm day in this area of Croatia

We sipped our cappuccinos for a bit before going to our rooms to get ready for a full day.

Goran Franinovic of the Istria Tourism Board had been our guide throughout the week, and a perfect one at that. His colleague, Marko Markovic, whom we met on the first day, would be taking over from here.

Most of our days had been exploring the seaside villages of Istria, but today we were heading up to the mountains to Grožnjan, often called the “City of Artists.”

It may have not been on the Adriatic Sea, but it had the same warmth I felt all over this region of Istria.

We had lattes in a café that was lined with art as we were briefed on the tour we would take through the cobblestone alleyways and into art galleries of Grožnjan.
Lynn, an artist herself who specializes in silver jewelry design, was especially interested in the art, which varied from ceramic to wood carvings to coral pieces.  

After a few hours we headed to CUJ Winery and Olive Oil. While it’s not a combination those of us in the U.S. are used to, it is very common for Istrian wineries to also produce olive oil.

We walked through the vineyards and toured the production area at CUJ. It was set up for strictly small batches. We tasted both wine and oil and really enjoyed both.

Our next stop was in Umag at Konoba Buscina for lunch. It was a picturesque setting and Marko, our guide, told us to expect a delicious lunch.

We were not disappointed as we feasted on goat cheese, prosciutto, grilled meat, pasta with freshly grated truffles, and more olive oil and wine.

Marko dropped us off at the hotel and we said our goodbyes to him. He and Goran had gone above and beyond in making us feel comfortable and welcomed in Istria.

I was happy to have some free time to explore the grounds of Hotel Lone. I even took a walk down to the beach area and did a few laps in the pool before returning to my room, where the infinity Jacuzzi on my balcony was warm and comforting.

I decided to dress up a bit for the final night as long as we had time. I was actually the first to arrive in the lobby, but Lynn, Rocky, Nicolas, Andras, and Georgy quickly followed. I wondered if the other Share Istria groups had gotten along as well as we had.

On our first visit to Rovinj a few days previous, we had remarked that the Valentino Champagne Bar was an amazing place for cocktails and Goran had arranged for us to go there before dinner.

Valentino was on a hill and they set it up so you could actually sit along the rocks that climbed down to the Adriatic Sea. Two things made it even more breathtaking – a specialty Moet & Chandon Champagne drinks in specially designed glasses, and the opportunity to watch the sunset under these once in a lifetime circumstances.

We continued to watch the sun fade away over the Adriatic Sea as we walked a few doors down to have dinner at Puntulina.

Our last meal was as memorable as our first, with the freshest Italian and Croatian food flowing, along with the Istrian wine I had come to love.

Platters of prosciutto, cheese, meat, and pasta kept coming. Lynn and I, who are both allergic to seafood, were a bit jealous when we saw the plates for the men, but our food and rich desserts were also pretty amazing.

We walked back through the Rovinj Piazza. The weekend was nearing and more people were coming down. There were even musicians playing in the background.

It was definitely a bittersweet night as we all said goodbye in the Hotel Lone lobby. Although we had talked about going to a club our last night, we were too tired, saying “Zbogom” to our Istrian adventure.

While this marks the end of the Share Istria adventure, look for more stories on that week in my other outlets (search #ShareIstriaUSA1, the designation given to Lynn and I). The rest of the Croatian trip through Rijeka and Split will be coming soon.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Truffles, Mines, and Mistletoe - Day Five in Istria

My friend Lynn and I slept well in our last night at BiVillage in Fazana, Croatia. We were comfortable in our little cottage just a short walk from the Adriatic Sea.

We could have easily just stayed there and enjoyed the beach, but we had plenty more to see in Istria.

After a breakfast of fruit, cheese, yogurt, and croissants, we headed back to the house to get packed up and wait for Goran of the Visit Istria Tourism office to pick us.

It was the fifth day we would be traveling in the familiar van with the other writers and guests, Rocky, Nicolas, Andras, and Gyorgy. It was a great group and we were all having lots of fun together on the Share Istria Adventure.

Our first stop of the day was in Labin. I could never get tired of these small Istrian towns as they each had their own personality.

Labin was once a mining town and we got to actually go through a replica of a mine. I don’t know how those men did it, my back was hurting from being hunched over for just a few minutes.

After exploring the Mining Museum and the tools used for mining, we explored more of the artifacts at Museie Gallerie Dell Istria.

We also got to check out some of the art galleries in the town, which is very popular with artists looking for a scenic place to work.

Lynn, an artist herself, and I loved walking around the downtown and looking at the handmade items, but we didn’t have too long to browse before we got into the car and drove to our lunch at Konoba Vrh.

The meal there was my favorite to date. We had two different soups, Nettles and Minestrone, and three types of pasta, spinach, asparagus, and truffles. It was served with beef.

From the restaurant we didn’t have far to go for an activity I had been looking forward to since first getting my itinerary for the trip – truffle hunting.

When we arrived at Karlić Tartufi in Buzet, they had some of their brandy waiting for us. I loved the cherry brandy, but can’t say I’m a huge fan of the mistletoe. I think I’ll just use mine to hang up at Christmas.

After we finished our drinks we went outside to the vans. The dogs that they used for hunting were as excited as us, jumping right into the back of the van when they were told where we were going.

It was a fun experience I will remember and hope to repeat. We were running through the woods following the dogs. They definitely knew what they were doing and they twice found black truffles.

Before we left we stopped at the Karlić Tartufi store. I bought some truffles to take home with me. They were quite reasonably priced.

We then drove back to Rovinj to check into the Lone Hotel. We had been told this was a five star hotel, but, quite frankly, five star hotels in Europe aren’t always what you expect. This one was.

Hotel Lone is a contemporary designed accommodation with lots of open space. The same held true for my room, which had an infinite plunge pool on the balcony

Goran got to go home for a rare night off (he’s one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met) and we walked to downtown Rovinj for dinner.

The guys raved about the large selection of delicious seafood. Lynn and I, who are allergic to shellfish had some antipasto, including locally cured meats, and a tasty snap pea dish with pomegranate seeds.

We also enjoyed a few glasses of different locally produced Istrian wines, including a malvasia and a dessert wine served with a scrumptious cream cake and some cheeses.

It was a beautiful night for our walk back to Lone Hotel. By the time we returned we were exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep – and our final full day in Istria.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Adriatic Sea and the Ancient Past of Pula-Day Four in Istria

It was a beautiful day in the high 70s, with the sun shining over the aqua water of the Adriatic Sea. The only thing my friend Lynn and I had to decide was what we wanted to do at the beach the next few hours.

I felt like I was in a dream when I woke up in our little cottage in Bi Village. It was day four of our Share Istria adventure and we were in Fazana, Croatia, just a short walk from the Adriatic Sea.

What made it even more of a dream was that we had a free morning, something I rarely got on a press trip. We could have a leisurely breakfast at the Bi Village restaurant – a nice selection of fruit, cheese, rolls, pastries, and eggs – and then enjoy the beach.

I was trying to decide whether to go windsurfing or paddle boarding as we enjoyed the view on the long walkway that went along the sand on this Fazana beach.

It was a little disappointing when we arrived at the watersports area and Antonio told us the conditions weren’t right for either, but he offered to take us sailing. I wasn’t going to argue with floating on this beautiful scene in front of me.

Lynn and I took turns sailing and relaxing on the beach. It was a beautiful setting and that thought would continue when we headed to Pineta Mare Restaurant, which was also on the water.

Two of the men from our trip, Nicolas and Rocky, joined us for lunch on the patio overlooking the sea.  Rocky ordered a big bowl of muscles and the rest of us shared huge bowls of pasta, a fettuccine with truffles and a gnocchi in a cheese sauce. Both were delicious.

Lynn went back to our house to shower first and I decided to take the long way. I stopped at one of the Bi Village pools for some laps and then headed to shower and change.

Goran, our guide from Visit Istria Tourism, picked us up in the familiar van and we made a short drive to Pula.

Our first stop was at the Pula Arena Amphitheatre. This ancient Roman masterpiece is something I remembered well from my first trip. In fact, there’s a photo of it hanging in my living room.  

The Amphitheatre had actually gone through some changes since my visit nine years prior. It was now actually being used for shows and a weekly re-enactment of a gladiator fight.

A museum was also added to the bottom floor of the Pula Arena. It contained the plans of the Amphitheatre and quite a few Roman artifacts. Within this very ancient setting was modern technology – the ability to take a self-guided tour with headphones.

The Pula Arena is far from the only remnants of Ancient Rome in this Croatian city. Artifacts are everywhere. We actually saw the newest discovery, found when someone was attempting to clear the ground and put up a new building. 

Unfortunately for the owner, any time anything is found that is from the ancient period the land becomes part of the city.

Another thing that I recognized was the Arch of the Sergii, which happens to be even older than the Arc de Triumph. It led into the colorful piazza I also had previously taken photos of.

We then walked across to Parco Tito, named for Josip Broz “Tito,” a Croatian who was a controversial political leader, but a supporter of his home country.

We also walked by the beautiful Cathedral Assumption Virgin Mary and the office building that still bears five flags for the five empires that owned this land – Austrian, Italian, Yugoslavian, and Croatian.

The next part of our tour was in the more modern section of Pula. We went past cafes and clubs lining the streets, and the Mozart Theatre, before heading back to the Amphitheatre for sunset photos.

We were a little early so we didn’t quite get the sunset look, but I decided a selfie was appropriate, and then did another with Lynn. After all, how often am I going to be in an Ancient Roman arena?!

Dinner was at Kantina Restaurant in Pula. Lynn and I, who are both allergic to seafood, had a tasty beef dish. It was served with some flavorful yams, something we hadn’t had yet in Istria.

After dinner, we went to dock to see light show over the shipyard, but it started raining. The show is done every evening, weather permitting, with thousands of color combinations.

We headed back to Bi Village to get some sleep and get ready for a full day of sightseeing ahead in Istria,Croatia

Thursday, June 25, 2015

From Rocky Sea to Scents of Lavendar – Day Three in Istria

It was the third day of my trip with Visit Istria as part of the Share Istria contest. My friend Lynn and I (team #ShareIstriaUSA1) had spent the night at a cottage in Bi Village.

We were supposed to be staying another night at the Porer Cliff Lighthouse, but a storm had kept us from returning there the night before. I confess that I wasn’t terribly disappointed. I enjoyed the small air conditioned house along the Adriatic Sea much more than I had the accommodations on the sea.

Our group, Andras and Gyorgy from Hungary, Rocky, an American living in Italy, and Nicolas from Paris, was supposed to meet for breakfast, but we were told that we were leaving earlier than expected because there was a window of opportunity to get back to the lighthouse before another storm.

Lynn and I made a quick trip to the Bi Village restaurant for some croissants, cheese, and cappuccino before meeting Goran, our guide from Istria Tourism, and the rest of the guys at the van.

It was interesting how we had already picked our places in the van and comfortably took our unassigned seats each time.  We fit well together as a group and I was soon to learn just how much.

The weather looked calm as we drove down the boat dock, but once we got onboard, we quickly saw and felt the waves.

The trip seemed much longer than the previous day as our well-trained captain led us to the island. We held on tight to the boat.

Once we arrived at the lighthouse, there was the difficulty of getting off. Lynn and I stayed in the boat and let the gentlemen – and they certainly were – get our things while the boat moved out to sea to wait for them to finish.

I know it was only about 15-20 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity as we waited on that rocking boat for the phone call that they had everything together. We then headed back to the lighthouse to pick up the men and our things.

They bravely managed to get themselves and all the luggage on the boat, and we held on as the boat came back to land in the 3-5 meter waves.

When we finally got everyone and everything off the boat, we hugged in relief and posed for a celebratory picture before getting in the van to continue the Istria program schedule.

Looking at the Adriatic Sea along the drive was definitely more relaxing than from a boat, but we were even happier when we arrived at the beautiful grounds of Stacija Meneghetti.

Meneghetti in Bale is an amazing property that I would love to spend a few days at in the future. It’s a Relais & Chateaux hotel, a winery, an olive oil producer, and a restaurant all in one.

We toured before tasting during an amazing Meneghetti olive oil and wine paired lunch. Their Unoaked Chardonnay was one of the best I’ve had and Lynn said the same about their Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, she bought a bottle of each for us. 

After a delicious dessert of vanilla ice cream topped with Belgium chocolate and olive oil – a combination I will try to repeat in the future – we were off to a most unusual place.

Park Histria Aromatica, also in Bale, is a huge place filled with lavender fields, herb gardens, and aromatic bushes, but it’s not a botanical garden.

Everything within Histria Aromatica is used to make natural lotions, oils, bath salts, and other products.

As you can imagine, it smells amazing here and the views are incredible. We enjoyed the tour and picked up a few products to take with us before heading to our next stop.

Rovinj would quickly become one of my favorite spots in Europe. From the sea to the cobblestone streets filled with cafes, and historical church on a hill, it was everything you dream a quaint Croatia town to be.

After parking at the cruise ship port, we walked through a market filled with fresh fruit, truffles, and olive oils, all typical for this area.

We toured through the old city and you could see the Venetian influence here. It was not surprising since Venice was just on the other side of the Adriatic. I love the glimpses of the sea between the buildings.

The St. Euphemia Basilica in Rovinj was stunning and as we walked past the shops and restaurants I was glad we would be coming back again.

On the way back to spend another night in Bi Village we stopped at Alla Beccacia for dinner. We had soup, meat, and fish at this authentic Italian restaurant. With more wonderful Istrian wine. We were all too full and tired for dessert, though.

Back at our little house in the village, Lynn and I went right to sleep. I think I could still smell the relaxing lavender on my clothes as it was my best night sleep in a while.

We needed plenty of rest for a beach filled day four in Istria, and, weather permitting, my first shot at windsurfing and paddle boarding. 

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