​Losinj Island and Boutique Hotel Alhambra by Marco Secchi

Losinj Island

Located due south of Rijeka in the Kvarner Gulf of the northern Adriatic Sea, Losinj is a hidden gem among Croatia's renowned Mediterranean island retreats. Measuring a mere 20 miles long by 2 miles at its widest point, this compact, idyllic oasis offers travelers a true getaway in every sense of the word. It features sun-drenched seas bordered by spacious, uncrowded beaches dotted with picturesque fishing villages that are reminiscent of a time long past.

 

Traveling to Losinj takes some effort, which may account for the island's relative obscurity and refreshing isolation from the crowds that flood other destinations during the holiday season. Visitors need to take a car ferry and drive to the island, as there is no international airport.

Once on the island, guests can begin to relax and indulge in the sights and sounds of this seductive place. The warm seaside climate delivers about 2600 hours of sunshine each year, fostering the growth of lush flora and over a thousand varieties of wild herbs that are both beautiful and practical; the herbs serve as natural mosquito repellents, making hiking and cycling the many trails a true delight.

Also commonly known as the 'Island of Vitality', Losinj is known for its wealth of health resorts and retreats that focus on the restorative powers of the natural environment, and the locals have a reputation for looking, and acting, far younger than their actual age. Spas, therapy centers and sports facilities are abundant here, making this a wonderful destination for anyone who wants to indulge in world-class body treatments, herbal therapies and rejuvenation.

The island is filled with unique restaurants and cafes serving fresh, local fish, pasta and area wines, providing guests with the opportunity to discover the tantalizing tastes of the region. Cikat Bay is the main tourist region, where windsurfers enjoy the warm waters of what is said to be the most beautiful bay in all of the Adriatic.

Hotel Alhambra

Located on the shore of Cikat Bay in the town of Mali Losinj, Hotel Alhambra is a five-star hotel housed in a historic, centuries-old Austro-Hungarian villa that has been painstakingly restored and refurbished, creating a one-of-a-kind luxury retreat.

Guests of the Hotel Alhambra stay in one of 51 private rooms and suites, including a limited selection of two-bedroom suites. Most rooms offer a sea view, while all come equipped with a balcony or terrace, en-suite baths with robes and slippers, air conditioning, satellite TV and complimentary Wi-Fi.

The long list of hotel amenities include a private beach for guests, complete with parasols and sun loungers; a heated indoor sea-water pool; 24-hour room service; butler service and a full fitness center. There are both Turkish and Finnish saunas, and expert masseuses are available for in-room massages and body treatments.

In the main area of the hotel, an upscale lounge serves up premium cocktails and wines, while the on-site restaurant features an eclectic menu filled with regional and international offerings prepared by expert chefs.

Hotel Alhambra is just a short half-mile walk away from the shops and cafes of Mali Losinj, providing easy access to the best the island has to offer. A marina is also close by, providing guests with access to scuba diving outfitters, charter boat tours and watercraft rentals.

For those who are seeking a relaxing, sun-filled vacation on a true island paradise that blends old-world charm with modern amenities and service, the Hotel Alhambra on Losinj Island is an ideal choice.

Travelers to Losinj are advised to reserve accommodations in advance, especially if they hope to secure space at one of the island's most sought-after hotels, Hotel Alhambra.

What to see, what to do and where to eat

Mali Losinj

The town was first mentioned in 1398, under the name Malo selo ("small village"). In 1868, it experienced its golden year. There were as many as eleven shipyards, and it became the place with the largest and most developed merchant marine in the Adriatic Sea, even ahead of cities like Rijeka, Trieste and Venice.American author Kenneth Roberts observed that the little town, , seemed to have "produced a hundred seamen for each one produced elsewhere." Writing in 1938, Roberts said there were currently "four hundred sea captains living on Lussinpiccolo, The place is lovely with many restaurants.

Veli Losinj

Veli Lošinj is  a superb little place has 901 inhabitants and a mild climate and caters to tourists. It is located 5 km from the town of Mali Lošinj. It was an important port and fishing centre until the late 19th century. Today it is known as a tourist and aromatherapy centre. The first mentioning of the town dates back to 1398 by the name of "Velo selo". The oldest core of the city was built between the 13th and 14th centuries around the Romanesque church of Sv. Nikola (Saint Nicholas) from 14th century. The town grew along agricultural alignments, not along lais-out city streets. In the 15th century the still-standing defensive tower was built, erected to defend the harbour and the settlement, but also to protect the locals from pirate attacks.

Osor

Very old village with a wonderful feeling

Rovenska

A real hidden gem just off Veli Losinj it is for sure worth a visit!

Restaurants

Fortuna Restaurant and Pizza. Pizza  was really good and fish is fresh and lovely . here

Draga friendly place and good food in Mali Losinj.  here

This post has been partially sponsored I did get media rates during my stay at Alhambra Hotel. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

 

 

 

Photographing in Venice by Marco Secchi

Venice is a beautiful place filled with natural scenery and great architecture. It is the ideal place for couples to have fun on the romantic bridges. However, photographers will find Venice a city to behold with numerous photographic opportunities waiting to be explored. If you are looking for somewhere to take pictures in Venice, here is a list of the places you should consider.

 

 

St. Mark’s Campanile, Piazza San Marco

Getting an overall view of the place is one of the most incredible things you can experience. Take a lift up to the bell tower’s peak and view the terracotta roofs. While up there, you will have a full view when taking all the photos you can of Piazza San Marco. One of the amazing things here that you will discover is that the canals found while walking disappear once you are on top of the place.

Palazzo Ducale, San Marco

The architectural features and the gothic venetian columns make an interesting addition to the Venice collection of any photographer. You can wander inside the palace and get photos of the courtyard as well as get a different view of Basilica di San Marco.

Museo Storico Navale di Venezia

One cannot leave Venice without taking a walk along Riva Degli Schiavone from Palazzo Ducale at sunset. At first, you might find the walk to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore to be a bit dull but after a while, you will get to see more photographic opportunities. It would be best to try using low light techniques when passing through the moving water.

Burano

This is probably the most beautiful village anyone has ever seen in Europe. Every home in Burano has a color code that makes the entire town look like a rainbow. It is required that if homeowners want to change the color of their houses, they have to consult with the local government. Afterward, they are given a list of colors to choose from ensuring the colors match with their neighbors. Looking at this beautiful town will remind you of visiting a candy shop where everything has a different color, but they all blend to form an artistic town.

Rialto Market

There is no shopping experience compared to visiting the Rialto Market. It happens to be the Venice central market and is extended from the foot of the Rialto Bridge to the San Polo neighborhood. You will find everything in the market ranging from produce, flowers, souvenirs and anything you might need. Rialto Market is an interesting place where you can take pictures of the activities going on in the market.

Venice is a place filled with photographic opportunities just waiting to be explored. When visiting Venice, you should make it a priority to visit all these places and experience the culture and serenity of the place. Talking photos will only ensure the memories stay with you for a long time and the people are friendly. These are the main places to visit, but since Venice is a big place, you should visit other places and find out if there are better photographic places left.

 

 

Logarska Dolina - Slovenia dream valley by Marco Secchi

The first thing you'll notice when you step into view of Slovenia's Logar Valley (Logarska Dolina) is the way the clouds settle lazily between the alpine peaks in a way that seems to suggest the halt of time. I'd heard this glacial valley pass was one of Europe's hidden marvels, and I wasn't disappointed, for a multitude of reasons.

Spectacular Sights

My trip through the Logarska Dolina was basically an unending string of breathtaking views. The geography of the area is marked by stretching pastoral meadows surrounding by mountain ranges, all of which is constantly green and fertile.

 

The properties of the valley can be traced back to its roots, as a Ice Age glacier split what is known today as the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. What results is a lush basin, dotted with green farmsteads and stretching up into the brilliant peaks of the valley's adjacent mountain ranges.

What immediately stood out to me about the Logar Valley was how despite being a location growing in popularity with tourists, it remained undeveloped and in many ways, seemingly untouched by human hands. The inhabitants of the valley are just a relative handful of farmers and commerce leaders, most of whom have lived in the area for generations, culminating in a respect for their place among the valley and a role to preserve its rich nature.

Cozy Accommodations

The duality between everyday lifestyle and tourism in the Logarska Dolina seems to balance in a way that doesn't cripple either side. Hotel choices are abundant, and available for almost any price range, but staying in the valley felt like being part of the small farming community, rather than simply a tourist. Similarly, the quality and variety of the food in the Logar Valley showcases the finest offerings in this region of Europe, but restaurants were reminiscent of what you would expect within a small farm-based community: quaint and effortlessly comfortable.

What I found to be an understated upside about the Logarska Dolina, and the entire region, was the fact that the views, attractions and great accommodations were available at very fair prices. In a time when many tourist attractions come with a high rate of inflation, the Logar Valley was a great value.

 

Wander through the farmsteads and meadows, or plan excursions up into the breathtaking peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. In the Logarska Dolina, the views are plentiful, the nature is rich and the possibilities are endless.

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Fujifilm X70 by Marco Secchi

The new Fujifilm X70 camera has a spectacular design and a magnificent look as well with the retro aesthetics just like the some of the other Fujifilm X series cameras which make it unique and special.

The camera is easily portable and fits in a jacket/coat pocket and weighs only 340g with in-fitted memory card and NP-95 battery which makes it a perfect for an adventurous trip and street photographers since it's highly inconspicuous. The lens is 28mm f2.8 and a 16MP APS-C sensor that provides an exquisite and high-quality image. The diaphragm has nine rounded blades and a close-focusing limit of only 10cm.

I was not in need of a new camera and just wanted to try one for a review. I really fell in love with it and I have decided to keep it!

 

It is super small but I really mean small but at the same time it is very nice to hold it with a rubberized front and rear grips which are well-sculpted, and the camera feels comfortable in one hand.   At the beginning was not easy for me to use the LCD and was always looking for the viewfinder but I got used quite quickly and was fun the possibility to shot or focus touching directly on the LCD screen.

It has the same functionality of my XT-1 and XE-2 (with the new firmware ver. 4 ) and I tend to use my Fuji in AF-S and focusing is very fast and precise. It seemed to me very good for street photography and I did not miss any frame even with people and boats moving.

Fujifilm X70 has an admirable feature which is the 1.04 million tilting dot LCD touch panel that is 3.0 inch and which is also capable of rotating at 180-degree angle.

The touch panel has the following functionality which includes in preview mode:

  • Image enlargement capability: this is achieved by double-tapping on the touch screen which also centers on the active focus. 
  • Image moving capability: just like the phone, one can move the image by dragging it with the finger on the touch screen.
  • Image zooming capability: one can enlarge the image by widening it by the use of the two fingers just like in a touchscreen phone. 
  • Image scrolling: one can scroll the image upwards or downwards by swiping either way by the use of a finger. 

In shooting mode you will have access to:

  • Focus Area Selection: Move the focus area before taking the image: one can achieve this by tapping on the touch screen.
  • Touch Shot: Touch to focus and shoot on a specific point.

There is a small icon in the mid right side of the screen where you can switch between the two modes as well as turn the touch function off.

Adjustments in exposure compensation can easily been achieved by the dial.

Additionally, the lens control ring can also be used to adjust continuous shooting, film simulation, ISO speed, and white balance.

On the left hand side of the camera there is another function button. It sits quite well hidden. Very useful. I have decided to assign it to external ring control.

There is also a dedicated switch with an automatic mode, that I think may come handy to less photography savvy users. The camera also has a built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and an in-camera time-lapse.

The new 18.5mm f/2.8 lens in the X70 is a super performer. The quality of this pancake design lens is outstanding.
It’s an entirely new design by Fujifilm. It consists of 7 elements in 5 groups with 2 aspherical elements. It’s constructed in a  compact way,  and because there is no collapsing necessary when turning on/off the camera, this results in a much faster startup time when you switch your camera on.

The lens autofocus quickly thanks to the X70 hybrid autofocus system with both contrast detection and phase detect AF  which offers a 49-point Single Point AF mode and a Wide/Tracking mode that offers a 77-point autofocus area. Autofocus is fast, with reported autofocus acquisition said to be of as little as 0.06 seconds.

The X70 can start up in 0.5 seconds in High Performance mode, it is amazing and has a shutter lag time of just 0.05 seconds, can continuously shoot at up to 8 frames-per-second for around 12 frames and can use a completely silent electronic shutter with exposures at 1/32,000s.

Another feature that is is packed in the X70 is the digital crop feature or “digital tele converter” as Fujifilm calls it. When shooting jpeg mode you can chose to use either a 28mm, 35mm or 50mm crop mode.  The camera does some magic so you actually get a full 16mp file, obviously you can see some compression.

The  camera has additional accessories that include the LH-X70 Lens Hood, WCL-X70 wide conversion lens, VF-X21 optional viewfinder and BLC-X70 half leather case. The camera is available in two colors, silver or black. 

The X70 is in my view meant for people who needs a high quality compact camera, and for street photographers who needs something  inconspicuous for getting candid moments of streetlife.

Fujifilm X70 is a superb camera that is worth the money because of its exquisite and unique features.

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Fujifilm XE-2 Firmware update ver. 4.0 by Marco Secchi

Fuji had always promised they were going to issue a firmware update for the nearly 3 years X-E2, mid-range mirrorless camera, to bring it in line with the XT-1 but after the release of the new camera X-E2s many were dubious.

On February 4th Fujifilm has released the new firmware update which adds a host of feature and operational improvements, including the AF upgrades, also a revised user interface and multiple Auto ISO settings. The update brings the camera into line with most of the latest X-series models and continues Fujifilm's habit of supporting existing users.

This is one of the reasons why I moved from DSLR professional Nikon to Fujifilm. Just thinking at myXE-2 that I had since the very beginning in October 2013 I believe that thanks to the Fujifilm supportI have had a new camera probably 2/3 times with major updates in those 28 months and for sure it is is not something I was used to.
I am always surprised that not many camera brands release updates as phones, computers, tablets etc.   In my view extending the functionality with updates or fixes is always a good thing and would make for more the reason to purchase oftheir brand, especially as these cameras become more computer like and sophisticated.

 


Improvements and function enhancements with this firmware 4.0 update

New AF System
(1) New AF system with Zone and Wide/Tracking modes for effortless capture of moving subjects
(2) Improvement of AF accuracy
(3) Eye Detection AF
(4) Auto Macro mode
(5) AF improvement in the Movie mode
Function enhancements
(6) High-speed electronic shutter with a maximum speed of 1/32000sec.*
(7) White Balance Bracketing
(8) Enhanced ISO Auto Setting to AUTO1/AUTO2/AUTO3
(9) Exposure Compensation control in Manual.
(10) Natural Live View function is just like the naked eye.
(11) Finer lines on the framing grid enhances visibility
(12) New Video Frame rates (50P / 25P / 24P)
(13) Manual Shooting in Video mode
(14) Phase detection AF support for Instant AF
(15) Expansion of shutter speed in Program Shift mode
Operability improvements
(16) The new user interface
(17) Improved Shutter Speed Dial operation
(18) Name of Silent mode changed to avoid confusion
(19) Direct selection of AF area
(20) Unlocked AE-L / AF-L Buttons
(21) Variable Focus Area during MF
(22) Q. Menu customization
(23) Interlocking of Metering and Focus areas
(24) Movie Recording
Other changes with the update
(25) Supports focus limiter function for XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
(26) “BACKGROUND COLOR” menu
(27) The maximum number of images taken in the continuous shooting mode

After this update, I really feel my XE2 ismuch faster and it added many useful things that will help my workflow

What I was really hoping with this update was to get

-Autofocus brought inline with X-T1 speeds, especially continuous focus
-Electronic shutter option
-Auto Macro Mode

I got them all

PRO
Autofocus - Single, Fixed subject isfor sure an impressive upgrade. Works in a fantastic way and really seems a new camera.
Autofocus - Single, Moving subject a great improvement
Autofocus - Continuous + Tracking again asubstantial improvement on continuous focus and very happy with it
Auto Macro mode will save time and makes life easier
Electronic shutter for still subjects it's a dream, 1/32000th in the daylight wide open and completely silent is superb.

This new firmware is very very good, make sure you update your camera right now, these added functions bring the X-E2 in line with X-E2s and XT-1

New Firmware 4.0 can be found here


CONS
Grrrr....Why did the firmware not include 36 megapixel upgrade, tilt-able screen, IBIS, and the possibility to make an Espresso?? That was mean.
Just Joking of course.


Thanks Fujifilm! You've shown that the most important factor are (we) the end users.

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

World Press Photo 2016 by Marco Secchi

This morning when I received the email from World Press Photo  I did not know what to expect and I was a bit worried to check their website, but for once when I saw the the winning image I was overwhelmed and I really like it!

Hope for a New Life                                               Spot News, first prize singles August 28, 2015    A man passes a baby through the fence at the Hungarian-Serbian border in Röszke, Hungary, 28 August 2015.

Hope for a New Life                                               Spot News, first prize singles
August 28, 2015    A man passes a baby through the fence at the Hungarian-Serbian border in Röszke, Hungary, 28 August 2015.

 

It’s a very strong and powerful photograph, which highlights  the  extremely important issue of migrants and borders in Europe, it has been photographed with superb skill and empathy. 

Warren Richardson is an Australian freelance photographer, currently based in Eastern Europe, and he explained how the picture was made:

“I camped with the refugees for five days on the border. A group of about 200 people arrived, and they moved under the trees along the fence line. They sent women and children, then fathers and elderly men first. I must have been with this crew for about five hours and we played cat and mouse with the police the whole night. I was exhausted by the time I took the picture. It was around three o’clock in the morning and you can’t use a flash while the police are trying to find these people, because I would just give them away. So I had to use the moonlight alone”.

Technical aspects of the winning image: the shot was made on a Canon 5D MkII using a Canon 24mm f1.4L lens at 6400 ISO, f1.4 with a shutter speed of 1/5 of a second.

Here you can see the  entire collection of winning images from the 59th World Press Photo Contest. They were selected from 82,951 photos made by 5,775 photographers from 128 different countries.

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

FUJIFILM XF100-400MM WR Lens Quick Review by Marco Secchi

If you are the proud owner of a Fujifilm X-series camera and you’re looking for a super zoom lens, now you are in luck with the new XF 100-400mm. Thanks to some good friend I managed to briefly try one on my XT1  and on the new XPRO2

What is the  FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens? For those unfamiliar with the Fuji X terminology, this lens is a 400mm which on a cropped sensor equates to 600mm,  comes with optical image stabilization OIS that definitely  is handy to keep photos from being blurry due to camera shake. Finally “WR”  means that it is weather resistant, as several other Fuji lenses and the XT1 for example.

 

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR key features:

Uses 21 elements in 14 groups, and 5 extra-low dispersion elements and 1 super extra low dispersion elements
Rounded 9 blade aperture
1/3 EV (15 steps)
Water-repellent fluorine coating
Weather-sealed with 13 water and dust resistant seals at 12 points
Included lens hoods features a sliding window for accessing a polarizing filter and locking mechanism
Compatible the XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter (140-560mm F6.3-8 or 213-853mm in 35mm equivalent)
Compatible with optional lens plate (MLP-75XF) and optional ARCA SWISS tripods

I compare it with my 50-140 and  difference is 100-400 1,375 grams,  the 50-140, 1,093 grams.  The diameter is in keeping with the filter size, 50-140 – 72mm, 100-400 – 77mm.

The  side controls are: the focus limiting switch that allow you to choose full range or 5 meters to infinity.  The Program or Aperture Priority switch and finally the Optical Image Stabilization on and off switch.  Between the zoom ring and the aperture ring is the Lock switch for keeping the lens locked in the 100mm position.

I was surprised then when the lens extends out to 400mm it only grows slightly less than 2.5 inches!  

Comes with an amazing 5.0-stop image stabilization system and twin linear motors for speedy autofocus that makes it perfect for shooting fast-moving subjects. I was able to get a good percentage of sharp images with shutter speeds as long as 1/30th second at an effective focal lengths of 600mm handheld that is quite remarkable.

This lens is tack sharp.  I did not have the time to try it adding the Fuji’s XF 1.4X Teleconverter but was told that even with the teleconverter image sharpness is superb and there’s no appreciable drop in sharpness.

Let me state the obvious. This is a large lens and it seems clear that at Fuji at this stage they have no intention to make a full 35mm sensor camera. Having said that I think can fit anyway in the spot of my 50-140 inside my bag. It also felt quite light which helps maintain a decent balance with the X-T1 mounted as long as you properly support the lens by hand or with a monopod. Of course I would have loved to see it as a smaller lens but I am sure there are optical rules and I'm confident this was the smallest and lightest, Fujifilm could make this high quality telephoto! 

Pros:

  • Excellent sharpness 
  • Strong Image Stabilization
  • Excellent close focus distance
  • Long focus throw for precise manual focus adjustments
     

Once again, it is very hard to find negatives for this lens...probably the only issue is the fact that the lens-foot is not Arca-Swiss compatible from the start. But do I often use a tripod...???  No for the type of work I do. I see it more as an issue for other photographers

For sure there will be  the usual comments  " Hey this lens is not sharp!".... As I was saying you need a very good  handholding technique or a monopod that are anyway essential to get good results at 600mm effective focal length! :-)

The Bokeh, quality of the out of focus areas, is nice and soft. Being not a very fast lens when it comes to maximum aperture, one could think it would be hard to throw the background out of focus. However because of the long focal length  the effect is very much present, even at f 5.6.

Lastly, will I be buying the new XF100-400? More than likely yes, is the short answer! I know that is a relative big and  heavy lens and goes against one of my primary reasons for switching from Nikon to Fujifilm, but I am sure I will need it and I have the feeling that after all it is still lighter than the Nikkor 70-200 I use to carry around every single day!

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zenit Camera to come back by Marco Secchi

A new Zenit Camera?

Back in 2014, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev talked about the possibility of re-starting the production of Zenit cameras.

The official announcement was made on Monday at a press breakfast in Moscow by the Russian state corporation Rostec, which develops, makes, and exports high-tech products.

Russia wants to launch Zenit as a luxury camera that rivals the German Leica brand.

"It's a very popular product, we want to make it a luxury device as an analogue to Leica [German camera manufacturer]," said Vasiliy Brovko, the head of Department of Communication and Information at Rostec, according to the source.

Russia wants to launch Zenit as a luxury camera that rivals the German Leica brand.

Rostec owns the Krasnogorsky Zavod optical factory in the city of Krasnogorsk, near Moscow. During the Soviet era, this plant was known as Krasnogorsk Mechanical Works, and it produced millions of still photography and movie cameras. The brands included Zenit, Zorki, and Krasnogorsk.

The Zenit was an SLR camera that was inspired by the Zorki rangefinder design. After being launched in 1953, the Zenit went on to sell millions of cameras over the following decades. The famous Zenit-E itself had over 12 million units made.

Production came to an end after the Zenit-KM Plus of 2004, and there were no SLR cameras manufactured in the Krasnogorsk factory by the next year. Now it seems that production will start back up a decade later, except the Zenit will likely produced in much lower quantities, with much higher quality, and with ridiculously hefty price tags.

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

 

Venezia Corso di Fotografia by Marco Secchi

CORSO DI FOTOGRAFIA A VENEZIA

Partira' tra breve un corso di fotografia digitale a Venezia. 
6 lezioni settimanali di 2h con almeno un paio di uscite pratiche
Data Inizio: Fine Febbraio - Primi di Marzo
Orario - Giorni: da definire ma intra settimanali e tardo pomeriggio prima serata. 
Costo: Rimborso spese E50 per il ciclo di lezioni
Info e Iscrizioni: awakeningve@gmail.com

 

Alain Delon, 1962 - photo by Jack Garofalo

Alain Delon, 1962 - photo by Jack Garofalo

Fuji Xpro2 my take! by Marco Secchi

Fujifilm X-Pro2

The most awaited upgraded premium camera finally arrives!

During the last couple of months I was lucky enough to try the Fuji X Pro 2 thanks to Fujifilm Slovenia! I used to own the original Xpro1 and I shoot on a daily bases with 2 Leica and I use 2 XT1 and  1 XE2 with an array of fuji lenses so was really looking forward to try this new gem.

The Fujifilm has released the long-awaited modern, advanced model, the Fuji Xpro2 compact system camera. It is one of the coolest, hippest and most desirable APS-C cameras available in the market today.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The details and Capability

The Fuji Xpro2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a Hybrid Viewfinder system that incorporates both electrical and optical viewfinders. It has an ultra advance image sensor, X-Trans III technology, for a remarkable image quality and sharpness similar to full-frame DSLRs: brand new 24.3 megapixels. It features a Hybrid AF system with 273 points, of which 77 are phase-detection and cover about 40% of the frame, while the rest is covered by contrast-detection areas for accurate focusing from edge-to-edge.

When paired with the X-Processor Pro, the sensor is delivering clean image quality with minimized noise value, along with a sensitivity range of ISO 12800 that can be expanded to ISO 51200. Besides benefitting the low-light performance, the sensor contributes to faster overall performance, including shutter lag time of 0.05 seconds, AF speed of up to 0.06 seconds, start-up time of 0.4 seconds and shooting interval of 0.25 seconds. The mechanical shutter speed is up to 1/32,000 seconds, with an enhanced flash sync speed of about 1/250 seconds, and a new X-Processor Pro that brings extraordinary improved response time for superior performance. It simply delivers the best ever result from Fuji X-Series camera.

Body and Interface Design

Fuji Xpro2 has a robust, weather-resistant body to meet the unique needs of any professional photographer in a touch shooting area. Its chassis is made of four pieces of magnesium alloy, which are sealed with more than 60 points, making it a splash-proof, dust-proof and even capable of operating at low temperatures. Besides, it features two SD card slots for reliable video and image storage.

The exposure compensation dial, shutter speed dial and finder switching lever are milled from high quality aluminum for a comfortable feel and premium look. It also features water and dust resistance command dial on both the rear and front of the camera, plus a push function that are easy to use. Its design also includes various customizable function buttons together with a 3.0" 1.62m-dot rear LCD for live view shooting, image playback and menu navigation. The built-in Wi-Fi allows you to share images wirelessly to mobile devices, or remotely control the camera from your Smartphone.

What I think

The X-Pro2 is something special, the performance and capabilities of the X-Pro2 make it my instant go-to camera during my travels. The X-Pro2 excels everywhere, the camera is starting to focus before I even decide to take the shot and with the speed, accuracy and amazing colour rendition I found all I had to do was focus my attention on composition. I do not need to shoot anymore in Raw I can simply use jpg.  Put simply the Fujifilm X-Pro2 is a joy to use, it is a phenomenal upgrade to an already superb camera.

The camera will officially be sold in the market in February 2016 for £1,349.00, so get ready for a new world of photography.

 


This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.



Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb by Marco Secchi

Luxury was the first word that came to mind as I walked into Esplanade Hotel Zagreb. From the breath-taking columns that held up the hotel to the old-school elegant exterior to the art décor lobby, I knew that my visit was going to be a great one. This luxurious hotel definitely lived up to all the hype.

First Impressions
I was excited to check-in and get to my room.  First, we got a really warm welcome from the bellboys that took care of my car and luggage. Then the front desk clerk made the whole process quick and easy, all with a smile on her face. Overall, the check-in process was top-notch with superior customer service.

Room
Entering the room I was in awe. I had stayed in many hotels, and this was by far one of the most stunning room that I'd been in. The décor was beautiful and quite unique. Not to mention, the room was huge. Even the bathroom was quite spacious and luxurious with its marble, high-end toiletries, and super soft robe. The view of the city was pretty amazing, too. I was impressed by the complimentary Internet, welcome gifts, chocolate and teas and the post cards.

 

Breakfast
Zinfandel's Restaurant - Breakfast was really impressive. The selection is magnificent, everything is fresh and prepared using only the best produce. The breakfast room has a lively and buzzing atmosphere. The service was impeccable as my waiter was very attentive.

Spa
I enjoyed my visit to the spa where I had a very relaxing massage and they have a great Gym with state of the art fitness equipment

Amenities
The hotel had quite a few amenities that I did not get a chance to use on this visit, but would love to try them in the future. There was Oleander Terrace and Esplanade 1925 Lounge and Cocktail Bar. 

Overall, I enjoyed my stay at Esplanade Zagreb and would recommend the hotel to anyone planning to visit Croatia. The historic building, the gracious accommodations, the award-winning food, the personalized service, the centralized location, and so much more all make it the most prestigious hotel in Zagreb.

This post has been partially sponsored I did get media rates during my stay at Esplanade Hotel. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Christmas in Zagreb - Croatia by Marco Secchi

Advent in Zagreb 

Zagreb, the Croatian capital, is beautiful year-round, but during the Advent it looks its best. Christmas trees, lights, decorations, delicious foods and beverages, along with joyful holiday goodness made Zagreb one of the best Christmas destinations in 2015 and due to the festive and welcoming atmosphere, it was also named Best Christmas Market 2015. Along with the festive, holiday mood, there are many activities that bring the Christmas spirit to Zagreb.

Advent on the Main Square

Surprise and suspense fill the air as the Advent calendar comes to life in Zagreb's main square. Visitors enjoy the holiday spirit and take part in festive events including readings, concerts, lectures, workshops, performances, exhibitions, and light installations.

Advent on Zrinjevac

The city's old music pavilion welcomes visitors to dance, sing, eat, shop, and enjoy their time amongst the cheerful decorations and jovial atmosphere. Talented artists make their beautiful, unique ornaments and souvenirs available. Hungry visitor can choose from many delicious Zagreb specialties, including fried apples, cabbage clothes, baked štrukle, as well as mulled wine and hot chocolate. Music fills the air, too. Waltzes, Christmas classics, and other musical treats are enjoyed by all.

 

Ban Josip Jelačić Square

Situated at the city's main square, the open air stage hosts many unique festivities, including concerts, children's performances, and cultural and art events.

Christmas Fair

Surrounding Jelačić Square, Zagreb's artists and craftsmen offer traditional Croatian products. Shoppers are able to choose from colorful decorations, gingerbread hearts, cookies, jewelry, souvenirs, and a plethora of seasonal gifts.

Ice Park

Just like a Christmas fairy tale, the ice skating rink is home to skating, delicious foods and beverages, and joyful music events.

The Advent in Zagreb is a special event that is not to be missed. Join in as visitors stroll the city streets and sing, dance, eat, shop, and enjoy the festive entertainment in Croatia's capital city.

Not to be Missed

  • A glass of Medica will put you in a good mood straight away.  Its Rakija made out of honey and spiced with propolis. Medica is a devil in disguise. It's sweet, flows smoothly, and once you get going you don’t really stop until it’s too late. It has a certain jet lag effect as it can kick you long after you had your last one. 
  • Fritule  are aromatic bite-sized dough balls, flavoured with lemon and orange zest, grape brandy  and/or dark rum, and sprinkled with icing sugar or covered with chocolate. Like almost any home will have its bowl, there is probably no housewife, especially among older women, that doesn't have her own recipe, the best in the world!

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

A visit to the city of Zagreb by Marco Secchi

A trip to Zagreb can be life-changing. It provides one of the very best opportunities to experience the Croatian lifestyle. This city offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor things to do. You could spend your afternoon walking along the beautiful cobblestones of St. Marks or spend some time at an apothecary shop that dates to 1355. Yet much of the city is quite modernized, offering all of the finer things that people enjoy.

What You'll Enjoy in Zagreb

The architecture and the rich history of Zagreb are what dominate the landscape. It is these features that many people come to see especially the 1,000-year old Gornji grad where the Presidential Palace is and the post-World War II Novi Zagreb area which is a much more modern space. Aside from the architecture, you'll find this city has more museums per square foot that virtually any other city. For those that love history, it is a treasure trove of opportunities.

Key sights to see in Zagreb include:

  • The Zagreb Cathedral with its twin neo-Gothic spires dominate the square. You'll find the tomb of Cardinal Stepinac here.
  • The Dolac Market is the largest and most colorful of all in the area. Enjoy some of the local food here.
  • Kamenita vrata or the Stone Gate in upper town is a beautiful 13th century gate with a significant amount of history dating to 1731.
  • The Funicular railway is below the Lotscak Tower. It takes to 1888 and is the oldest form of public transport in the city, which at the time was a horse-drawn tram. You can take a ride along the railway and see much of the city up close.
  • Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters and the Museum of Naive Art is an ideal choice for those who want a dazzling display of artifacts.

When visiting Zagreb, you'll find the area is full of culture. Step back two centuries to the many towers and buildings here or enjoy both the traditional and more contemporary meals prepared here at local cafes.

Take the path less traveled by tourists by visiting Maksimir Park and Lake Jarun. You can also visit the nearby towns of Varazdin and Samobor. With numerous restaurants, local coffee shops, various entertainment venues, and dozens of stalls and shops, this is an ideal place to visit if you want a bit of history on the city as well as the region. It virtually comes to life with every cobblestone step you take.

Where to Stay

I stayed at Esplanade Hotel the most luxurious hotel of Zagreb and super Central, see my next post.

There are a lot of rental apartments that simply look fabulous and are really great value for money

Where to Eat

If you are passionate about Strukly...then there is only one place ...La Struk. Superb strukly are freshly served all day. If you are going in winter the place is quite small.....but they are really worth the wait!

  • La Štruk
  • Skalinska 5, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
  • Tel 38514837701

 

This post has been partially sponsored I did get media rates during my stay at Esplanade Hotel . For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Metelkova City in Ljubljana by Marco Secchi

Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is a quirky city. This is just one of the many reasons why I like it so much and I love spending time here. Ljubljana combines the European riverside café culture with a strange, edgy, grungy vibe. It is calm and pretty, luxurious, friendly and clean but for sure it is not a sleepy city as for example.....cannot say more.......:-)

Metelkova City the full name in Slovene I think is  Avtonomni kulturni center Metelkova Mesto, is an autonomous social centre in the centre of Ljubljana, Slovenia. It is located on the site of former military barracks, the Slovenian headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army, and was squatted September 1993.

The site consists of seven buildings and is 12,500 m² in area. The squat is named after nearby Metelko Street (Slovene: Metelkova ulica), which is named after the 19th-century Slovenian Roman Catholic priest, philologist, and unsuccessful language reformer Fran Metelko. Originally they used to siphon the water illegally but today Metelkova is legally connected to the city's water system and power grid. Today Metelkova city is made up of bars. clubs, art galleries, design studios and related activities. It hosts a range of alternative music gigs including punk, metal, techno, etc.

One thing you’ll notice about Ljubljana is that almost anywhere you walk outside the old town area, you’ll see lots of graffiti. Nice ones, about everything and anything! But head to Metelkova City and it will seem like you’ve arrived at Graffiti Central. If you like graffiti, weird art, and quirky sculptures then this is the place to head to. It’s only a few minute’s walk from the train station

Metelkova Mesto

 

All opinions are my own. This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Human Fish Brewery by Marco Secchi

Craft beer has been a rapidly growing trend around the world over the last several years, leading to the development of dozens of microbreweries, gastropubs and festivals devoted to nothing but a sheer love of a cold brew. While favorite pale lager options like Laško and Union are still available in every pub and brewhouse in Slovenia, the craft beer industry has made its mark, most notably with the adorably named Human Fish Brewery.

 

With a mission to bring the Western microbrewing tradition to Central Europe, Human Fish Brewery was founded in 2008 by an Australian graduate of the American Brewers Guild looking for a new market for great beer. The original brewery was located in Slovenj Gradec, a small town in the Lower Styria region, but has since moved to a centuries old dairy farm in Vrhnika, roughly 16 kilometers from Ljubljana. In addition to a larger and more historic space, the brewery's new location boasts greater access for residents and tourists to the nation's capital on the hunt for a refreshing beer crafted by a master brewer.

Getting to the brewery is easy, and groups of ten or more are able to make tap room reservations for €8.50 a person to take advantage of brewery tours and beer samples that make for a perfect weekend or weekday outing. In April, individuals will be able to drop by for a few pints on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, alone or with friends. Human Fish Brewery features a number of specialty craft brews, including stouts, lagers, and Slovenian IPAs, with rotating seasonal taps that change every few weeks. Whether you're a local with easy access or a visitor to the area, there's always something to try if you're up to the journey.

Favorite Human Fish brews aren't limited to the idyllic countryside of Vrhnika, however; many pubs in Ljubljana offer up craft brewed favorites on tap, including Katakombe Konoba, Zlata Ladjica, and Tozd. Whether you're new to the beer game or are a lifelong aficionado of microbrews, Human Fish Brewery is one of Slovenia's best destinations for a cold, frosty beer.

 

Human Fish Brewery  Tržaška 27, Vrhnika    

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

UnBanking Ffrees ! :-) by Marco Secchi

More than a year ago I opened a Debit Card account with Ffrees;  at the time seemed a good idea for transactions on the internet and abroad. I have had Credit and Debit cards probably for 35 years and I never had any issues with stolen identities or unauthorised charges.

Everything went well with FFrees until last week when on my statement I discovered several unauthorised charges. I called the company straight away reporting the issue.

From that very second I felt the guilty one, whatever the woman on the phone was saying was to make me feel insecure, distressed and guilty. In her view after checking their records the card was used giving the CC numbers, Security code and my address.  How was that possible?? Did I leave the card somewhere unattended? Did I pass to someone my details??

I am not an easy guy and started straight away a campaign from my Twitter account mentioning not only the  way Ffrees treated me but as well the companies involved.  The Financial director of one of the Companies calle me more or less 20min after my Twitter.... was Saturday lunchtime, he was very apologetic managed to log into the account, gave me some informations and refunded me straight away.

The other two companies were more difficult. Badoo at today has not responded yet and CGBilling in use sent several emails, so I managed to discover my card was used

Cardholder Name: AJ Garcia
Email:server2ever@gmail.com
IP Address:105.158.138.96

They were helpful until........I asked a refund at this moment ....they disappeared!

Today I contacted and checked for development with my Debit Card Company  and they sent another unhelpful, unfriendly letter. Once again they made me feel I was  the one causing the problems. Why was I bothering them?? Was I really sure? Was I aware that :  "An investigation normally takes between 3 – 7 weeks but we cannot guarantee this. Please be aware that, should the investigation find that you authorised a disputed transaction, an administration charge will apply for each disputed transaction and the transaction will not be refunded"

Once again Twitter came to my help and I complained about their attitude towards me.

In less than 10 minutes someone from their call centre and this time very apologetic calls and after trying to tell me the same story as before and hearing my arguments decide to call the next level up.....and in 2 min gets back to me advising that I will be refunded in full by the end of the day and if I wanted a new card,

Sorry Ffress but I am Unbanking you!  :-)

 







Casatella Caseificio Zanchetta by Marco Secchi

Casatella Trevigiana is an artisan, DOP, soft cows' milk cheese from small farms in province of Treviso in the Veneto region of Italy. The origin of the name comes from the dialect Casatella Treviso, meaning "house or home" and refers to any product, cheese, bread, sausage, polenta, made in the family, and as such regarded as authentic and healthy.

Nowadays, Casatella Trevigiana is produced throughout the year thanks to mechanisation. It is a mild-flavoured cheese and is creamy, simple and delicate. It incorporates the features of tradition and innovation that make it one of the most popular dairy products with its fresh and nutritious qualities.

The Casatella from Caseificio Zanchetta includes a variety with Olives and one with Sun Dried Tomatoes..... both are fantastic!

The Caseificio Zanchetta is in Casale sul Sile not only sells Casatella but also wonderful cheeses and Salumi, Ham and Milk!!

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

My Fav Hotels in Venice by Marco Secchi

A #bench at hotel #cipriani in...

A #bench at hotel #cipriani in… (Photo credit: MarcoSecchi)

You can certainly spend a great deal of money on a hotel in Venice. A night at the Gritti Palace in high summer will set you back at least £750. But for the same amount you could enjoy an entire week in most of the hotels listed here. You won’t get the same status, or quite the same service, or the same superb location, but you will still find a decently sized room, lots of character and a warm welcome.

Cà del Nobile San Marco 987, ria terà delle Colonne (528 3473; cadelnobile.com)

This hotel is just off one of the thronging routes between St Mark’s and the Rialto. Interestingly, it’s in one of the lowest points of the city: if you visit during acqua alta, you’ll be able to watch water bubbling up through the cobblestones below. Lots of stairs and no lift mean that it’s not for the unfit. Price from £79

Domus Orsoni Cannaregio 1045, Sottoportego dei Vedei (275 9538; domusorsoni.it)

In 1291, Venice’s glassworkers were banished to the island of Murano. Today, only one glass foundry remains in the city: Orsoni. Located in the Jewish Ghetto, and set in a delightful palazzo overlooking a private garden and the foundry, the Domus Orsoni channels the Orsoni family’s heritage in five rooms, resplendent with glass-mosaic-tiled walls and mosaic art works. Price from £71

Locanda Orseolo (Corte Zorzi; 041 523 5586; www.locandaorseolo.com; £160).

Step inside the hotel and you might be in a compartment on the Orient Express: elegant, enveloping, and richly coloured and furnished. But it’s the warmth of the young team at this equally young 15-room hotel that makes it really special – Matteo, Barbara and their brothers, sisters and friends. In the morning, Matteo dons an apron and cooks pancakes and omelettes to order, Barbara serves and everyone chats. The comfortable bedrooms are being transformed to echo the ground floor, complete with hand-painted murals and canopied beds. Secure one and you’ll have a real bargain.

La Villeggiatura San Polo, 1569, Calle dei Botteri (524 4673; lavilleggiatura.it)

A short hop from the Rialto markets, in an area buzzing with restaurants and residential activity, La Villeggiatura is an elegantly tasteful home-from-home. Tea and coffee-making equipment in the spacious bedrooms, and gently attentive service, add to the pleasure of a stay here. Price from £71

Hotel Centauro S Marco Calle della Vida Cpo Manin (www.hotelcentauro.com/)

Located in the historic centre of Venice just a stone’s throw from St Mark’s Square (five minutes walking distance), the Centauro Hotel offers elegant, welcoming accommodation from which you can enjoy the city’s art and culture. Housed within an ancient palace from the 1500’s, the Centauro Hotel has Venetian style furnishings from the 18th century and 30 comfortable guestrooms. Rooms have air conditioning and satellite television, some have canal views and those on the top floor have a private terrace from which you can enjoy panoramic views over the rooftops of Venice.

Al Ponte Mocenigo This is another charming 16th-century palazzo, so tucked away that you could walk right past and never know it was there. You will find one entrance down a very narrow alley just up from the San Stae vaporetto stop; the other is on the opposite side, over a small bridge. Officially it is a two-star hotel, but frankly it rivals many establishments with double that number of stars. The very smart, high-ceilinged rooms are in Venetian styles and colours. The best are numbers five and six, on the first floor overlooking a tiny canal to one side (they are classed as “superior” doubles and cost £128 in mid-season).

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Gasthof Prissianerhof in Tisens by Marco Secchi

 

During a short break in the area I went a couple of times to Prissianerhof, I was with my wife once and with relatives a second time
Not only the ambience was very appealing also the price performance ratio was excellent!
The Restaurant, it is also a Pension so has room, has a small nice car park anyway parking is not a problem in Pressiano.
The menu and wine list is well chosen and clearly for everyone.
With my wife we had a fantastic Kaiserschmarrn and a Ravioli with Finferli we also had a nice Strudel.
On the second day in my circle of relatives there were no complains. All were satisfied to the utmost with the food.

 


Especially noteworthy was the service: friendly, attentive, courteous and unobtrusive, and very professional.
In a next stay in Merano I will definitely visit again restaurant Prissianerhof!
This restaurant is especially recommended.
Many thanks for the pleasant hours :-)

Gasthof Prissianerhof
Via principale, 76 | 39010 Tisens
Tel. +39 0473 920828 | Fax +39 0473 927319
www.prissianerhof.com | info@prissianerhof.com 

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.