There are many ways to get to Montenegro’s Adriatic Coast, my taxi driver assured me, raising his voice over a chorus of horns that angrily saluted his laissez-faire attitude toward lane use during morning rush-hour traffic in Belgrade. ‘But it makes no sense to take the train.’ He weaved through less aggressive vehicles like a skier clearing slalom gates. A cold, grey autumn rain began to fall harder, drops beading down my window, as the main railway station came into view.
‘Let me take you to the airport,’ he sounded genuinely concerned. ‘You will be in the sea and in the sun and with a beer in half an hour. This thing you are doing, it will take all day … and into the night.’ He finally relented as we pulled up to the curb: ‘At least buy water, sandwiches, and toilet paper.’
The cabbie left me in front of the crenellated railway station, a faded Habsburg-yellow throwback opened in 1884. He was already speeding off to advise another tourist before I could throw my bag over my shoulder. Inside, I found the ticket office. The woman behind the glass informed me that the trip from Belgrade, Serbia, to Bar, Montenegro – on the Adriatic edge of the Balkan Peninsula – takes 12 hours. It costs 21 euros (there would be an additional three-euro charge for a seat reservation). ‘Yes, there is a bakery nearby,’ she said and pointed. ‘It is behind you. The shop for water and tissues is next to it.’ She slid the window closed, stood, picked up her pack of cigarettes, and disappeared.
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That sense of old-world drama would serve me well, I would soon learn, along this route. On the outskirts of the Serbian capital – as I settled into my seat in a weathered, six-person cabin – we passed Topčider Station, where the hulking locomotives from Yugoslav leader Marshal Tito’s famous Blue Train are stored. The behemoths sat dishevelled, graffitied, but still regal and almost lifelike, wishing me a safe passage to the outer lands. Within an hour, the tangle of urban metal and concrete unravelled, and the countryside spread out in all directions with the urgency of a jailbreak. The sun came out as wet, emerald-green hummocks began to play leapfrog across the vista, rolling until they dove out of sight over the horizon.
Though the Belgrade–Bar line doesn’t have a sexy moniker (like the Royal Scotsman or Rocky Mountaineer), the Yugoslav Flyer would be appropriate. When construction began on the 476km railway in 1951, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was in its infancy: a tenuous post-WWII cadre of states on the Balkan Peninsula’s western half. By the time the route opened in 1976 – complete with 254 tunnels and 234 bridges winding down from the Pannonian Plain to the island-studded Adriatic Sea – the country had implanted itself as a geopolitical force and a synapse between the West and the Soviet Union.
Yugoslavia has since splintered into seven nations. The railway, thankfully, endures, connecting Serbia to Montenegro with a brief blip across Bosnia & Hercegovina’s eastern border. But the line’s existence represents more than just a continued, now international, transport option. These tracks are the Balkans – and a lifeline to a swath of land where cultures have intertwined since before history. Here, the train takes adventurers across vistas crisscrossed by Greeks and Illyrians, as well as the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Along the way, visitors have a literal window onto a living museum frozen in time.
Those natural exhibits were on full display as we rumbled through the foothills of the Dinaric Alps in the southwestern corner of Serbia. When we crossed the border into Montenegro, the museum’s lineup of canvases – pristine panoramas and landscapes – changed again. The Western Balkans’ rotating collection now included towering mountains and canyons that engulfed us whole.
‘I had no idea what to expect,’ said Colin Smith, a fellow passenger and UK native. Outside the window, an old couple leaned against pitchforks next to haystacks. Behind them, vegetable gardens and a small-but-dense orchard of plum trees surrounded a stone farmhouse. ‘But I am so surprised by the beauty: the mountains, steep ravines and endless drops.’
Before I went to sleep that night, I remembered my taxi driver: ‘But it makes no sense to take the train.’ Lying in bed, I could hear the sea washing onto the shore outside my rented apartment’s window. If I ever saw him again, I would make sure to tell the cabbie he was right: a flight would have been much faster and easier, and more sterile.
Book tickets (and separate necessary reservations) at the station a day in advance. There are 1st- and 2nd-class options. Night-train passengers can choose between couchettes or sleepers (with two or three beds). A one-way ticket (from Belgrade) costs 21 euros; a reservation is necessary and costs an additional three euros. Second-class couchettes on night trains cost an additional six euros. A bed in a three-bed sleeper is 15 euros; a bed in a two-bed sleeper is 20 euros.
Unveiling the Wonders of Plants: A Comprehensive Guide
SEO Title: Exploring the Fascinating World of Plants – Benefits, Types, and Care Tips
SEO Meta Description: Delve into the captivating realm of plants! Learn about their various types, incredible benefits, and essential care tips in this informative guide.
Plants, those wondrous creations of nature, hold a special place in our lives. From the verdant forests to our cozy home gardens, they offer a myriad of benefits, adding beauty and vitality to our surroundings. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of plants, exploring their different types, discussing their incredible benefits, and providing essential care tips to ensure their health and growth.
Types of Plants: A Diverse Kingdom
Plants come in a mesmerizing array of types, each with its own unique characteristics and contributions to our ecosystem. Here are some of the most common types of plants:
Flowering plants, also known as angiosperms, are a diverse group known for their vibrant blooms. From the delicate roses to the striking sunflowers, these plants not only adorn our surroundings but also play a crucial role in pollination, supporting the reproduction of various species.
Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs form the backbone of many ecosystems. These towering giants provide shade, shelter, and oxygen, contributing to the well-being of both humans and wildlife. They also help prevent soil erosion and purify the air.
Succulents and Cacti
Succulents and cacti have gained popularity for their unique appearance and low-maintenance nature. These water-storing plants thrive in arid conditions and add a touch of greenery to spaces where traditional plants might struggle.
Ferns and Mosses
Ferns and mosses are known for their lush green foliage and preference for shaded environments. They contribute to the diversity of plant life in damp and shaded areas, often creating enchanting microhabitats.
The Benefits of Plants: More Than Meets the Eye
Plants offer a wealth of benefits that extend far beyond their aesthetic appeal. Here are some of the remarkable advantages that plants bring to our lives:
Improved Air Quality
Plants act as natural air purifiers, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen during photosynthesis. They also filter out harmful pollutants, enhancing indoor and outdoor air quality.
The presence of plants has been linked to reduced stress levels and improved mental well-being. Their soothing greenery and connection to nature have a calming effect on our minds.
Plants provide essential habitats and food sources for various animal species. They contribute to the delicate balance of ecosystems and support the survival of countless organisms.
Certain plants possess medicinal properties that have been utilized for centuries. Aloe vera, for instance, is renowned for its healing properties, while herbs like lavender have calming effects.
Nurturing Your Plants: Essential Care Tips
Caring for plants requires attention and understanding. Here are some vital tips to ensure the health and growth of your green companions:
Different plants have varying light requirements. Some thrive in direct sunlight, while others prefer shade. Research your plant’s specific needs to provide the appropriate amount of light.
Proper watering is crucial for plant health. Overwatering or underwatering can harm your plants. Learn about the watering needs of your plants and adjust accordingly.
Soil and Fertilization
Using the right type of soil and providing adequate nutrients through fertilization are essential for plant growth. Different plants have different soil preferences, so be sure to choose the right mix.
Pruning and Maintenance
Regular pruning helps maintain the shape and health of your plants. Remove dead or diseased branches to encourage new growth and prevent the spread of diseases.
Keep an eye out for pests that can damage your plants. Use natural or chemical remedies to prevent infestations and protect your greenery.
FAQs About Plants
Q: How often should I water my indoor plants? A: The frequency of watering depends on the type of plant and its specific needs. Check the soil’s moisture level and water when it starts to feel dry.
Q: Can I place a flowering plant in a windowless room? A: While flowering plants generally require adequate sunlight, some varieties can tolerate lower light conditions. Choose shade-loving plants for windowless spaces.
Q: What are some low-maintenance plants for beginners? A: Succulents, snake plants, and pothos are excellent choices for beginners, as they require minimal care and can thrive in various environments.
Q: How do I prevent over-fertilization? A: Over-fertilization can harm your plants. Follow the recommended dosage on the fertilizer package and avoid fertilizing during the plant’s dormant period.
Q: Why are the leaves of my plant turning yellow? A: Yellowing leaves can be a sign of overwatering, nutrient deficiencies, or pest infestations. Assess the plant’s water and nutrient levels, and check for any signs of pests.
Q: Can I use natural remedies to get rid of plant pests? A: Yes, many natural remedies, such as neem oil, soap spray, and diatomaceous earth, can effectively control pests without harming your plants or the environment.
In Conclusion: Embrace the Green World
Plants enrich our lives in countless ways, from their visual beauty to their profound ecological contributions. By understanding the diverse types of plants, appreciating their myriad benefits, and providing them with proper care, we can create vibrant and thriving ecosystems within our own spaces. So, whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting your plant journey, remember that each plant has a story to tell and a unique role to play in the symphony of life.
Embracing Greenery: A Source of Joy
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just embarking on your plant journey, the presence of plants in your life can bring a sense of joy and connection to nature. The sight of colorful blooms, the gentle rustling of leaves, and the fresh aroma of herbs all contribute to a more vibrant and fulfilling environment.
Creating Indoor Sanctuaries
Even if you don’t have access to a garden, you can create your own indoor plant sanctuary. Indoor plants not only enhance the aesthetics of your living spaces but also improve indoor air quality. Choose plants that suit your light conditions and space, and arrange them in decorative pots or hanging planters for a touch of elegance.
The Therapeutic Power of Gardening
Gardening is more than just a hobby; it’s a therapeutic activity that promotes relaxation and mindfulness. Digging in the soil, nurturing plants, and watching them flourish can be incredibly rewarding. Gardening has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety while fostering a sense of accomplishment.
FAQs About Plants: Answers to Common Queries
Q: Can I keep plants in my bedroom at night? A: Yes, many plants release oxygen at night, making them suitable for bedrooms. However, ensure proper ventilation to avoid excess humidity.
Q: Are artificial plants a good alternative? A: While artificial plants require less care, they don’t offer the same air-purifying benefits as live plants. Consider a mix of both for a low-maintenance setup.
Q: How do I know if my plant needs repotting? A: If your plant’s roots are visibly growing out of the drainage holes or the growth has slowed, it might be time to repot into a larger container.
Q: Can I grow plants from kitchen scraps? A: Yes, some kitchen scraps like avocado pits, potato eyes, and green onion roots can be grown into plants. It’s a fun way to recycle and experiment.
Q: What is the best time to prune my plants? A: The best time to prune depends on the type of plant. In general, early spring or late winter, before new growth begins, is ideal.
Q: How do I revive a dying plant? A: Assess the cause of decline—whether it’s overwatering, underwatering, pests, or disease. Adjust care accordingly, trim dead parts, and repot if necessary.
Conclusion: Cultivate a Green Connection
As you embark on your journey into the world of plants, remember that each leaf, flower, and stem has a unique story to tell. Whether you’re a green-thumbed enthusiast or just starting to explore the wonders of plant life, embracing these living organisms can have a positive impact on your well-being and the environment around you.
From the delicate petals of a flower to the majesty of a towering tree, plants offer us an opportunity to connect with the natural world on a deeper level. Through their care, we learn patience and responsibility, and through their growth, we witness the magic of life itself.
So, go ahead and nurture your own garden of happiness, and let the beauty and resilience of plants inspire you to live a greener, more fulfilling life
What Is a Cleansing Milk?
Got (Cleansing) Milk?
What makes a cleansing milk different from other cleansers? Physically, cleansing your face with a cleansing milk feels like dipping your skin into a cloud – they’re softer, creamier, and thinner than your average gel cleanser.
Water vs. oil content
In the world of cleansers, cleansing milk doesn’t get as much attention as their scrubby counterparts. A typical skin cleanser requires water as an activator; the water creates the cleanser’s final texture, be it a lather or scrub. Many prefer to apply cleansing milk directly to skin without water, since the lathering action comes from the fats in the formula itself.
What makes a cleansing milk unique is the combination of oil and water. As we mentioned, there’s really no need to add water to use, meaning there’s no surfactant cleansing agent at work. Water is really only needed to rinse the cleanser away after you’ve massaged it over your skin.
The same cleansing milk components feeding the skin supportive nutrients are also working to cleanse away dirt and debris. Multi-tasking ingredients like coconut oil in our Coconut Oil Cleansing Milk provides vitamin E support, moisturizing and softening properties, as well as antibacterial cleansing and a deep, gentle clean.
Creamy, dreamy texture
Texture is the name of the game with cleansing milks. The smooth creaminess sweeps into our pores, gently lifting away surface debris while preserving the natural moisture and softness of our skin. Some harsher cleansers can be stripping, leaving skin dry and tight. Cleansing milks are pillow-soft with emollient qualities, which is what makes these types of cleansers excellent for dry and sensitive skin types.
Two-for-one cleansing action
We stan a simple evening routine, and finding a cleanser that tackles dirt as well as makeup is like hitting the lottery. Cleansing milk makes our makeup removing and cleansing process a two-for-one experience, and allows us to keep our skin care routine as uncomplicated as possible.
Gentle enough for your morning cleanse
Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty; it’s time for your morning facial! Your skin might be a bit puffy from staying up all night with Prince Charming – uneven skin tone, dark circles, and dryness are real instances in which we #WokeUpLikeThis.
We don’t want to attack our skin with astringents or super textured cleansers while it’s already trying to repair, especially if your skin type is combination or dry. Instead, smoothing on a calming cleansing milk first thing in the morning sweeps away any residue from your hair, pillow, or sweat. It jump-starts the moisturization and hydration process, and allows skin a moment of recovery in an otherwise hectic morning.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Cleansing Milk?
Cleansing milks are great, but there are certain times or specific skin types that might benefit from more targeted care. For example, someone suffering from moderate to severe acne would see the most calming results from cleansers that target breakouts. Preferable ingredients might include tea tree oil, charcoal, or lavender, while oil-forward and emollient components in a cleansing milk aren’t likely to have power over active breakouts.
This also means that somewhat to very oily skin types are better suited with cleansers specifically designed to balance sebum, rather than a cleansing milk.
100% PURE™ Cleansing Milks
Calendula Flower Cleansing Milk
We’ll never get over just how creamy and luxurious cleansing milks feel on the skin. Here’s what makes our all new Calendula Flower Cleansing Milk a total crowd-pleaser!
This floral fantasy cleansing milk does wonders for the skin. A single pump delivers milky hydration that smooths over the skin like early morning mist, addressing any imbalances on the surface first. Calming natural ingredients and botanicals are what make this gentle gem a favorite skin treatment for dry or sensitive skin types.
The type of water included in this cleansing milk is what makes it transformative for the skin:
- Aloe Vera Leaf Juice: One of our favorite skin care formula bases, aloe feels like slipping into satin pajamas for our skin. This skin savior soothes active inflammation like acne and rosacea, while helping to clear the complexion and hydrate skin.
- Glycerin: A humectant power player when it comes to hydration, glycerin helps boost and maintain skin’s moisture levels by drawing in the hydration it needs from the environment.
- Calendula Flower Water: The star of the show, this lovely floral is lesser known but effective for diminishing inflammation. Natural brightening properties deliver on a more youthful glow.
- Rose Water: A favorite floral of ours, red and rosy skin take a backseat with this hydrating, super soothing ingredient.
As we now know, cleansing milk is a harmony of water and oil-based ingredients. This marriage makes for a unique blend of hydrating, moisturizing, and purifying abilities for the skin. Our Calendula Cleansing Milk features the following fruity and floral oils to deliver calm, cleansed skin:
- Calendula Oil: To add to the list of what we love about calendula, this flower also helps preserve our skin’s collagen and maintain tight, plump skin for a youthful appearance.
- Sea Buckthorn Fruit Oil: This shrub extract is perfect for addressing inflammatory skin conditions but also helps with new skin cell generation for fewer lines and smoother skin.
- Chamomile & Geranium Oils: A sweet blend that makes for a calming skin remedy to reduce irritation and breakouts
Just as important as what it includes, is what this natural cleansing milk leaves out. Free of surfactants and synthetic fragrances, this vegan cleansing milk makes dry skin woes, deep dirt, and surface skin debris just melt away.
Coconut Oil Cleansing Milk
Boasting just six ingredients, sensitive skin types and dry skin alike will appreciate the simplicity of our Coconut Oil Cleansing Milk. Sink into creamy, dreamy softness as coconut milk brightens and smooths skin by working to restore elasticity.
Coconut oil delivers fatty acids right where we want them, is at work helping to pull out anything undesirable on or in our skin. Fragrant, anti-inflammatory vanilla supports skin soothing while working with coconut milk to boost suppleness. With natural humectant properties from vanilla, glycerin, and coconut, this cleanser will stay on standby to keep skin hydrated well after you rinse it off.
This formula might make you thirsty for a fresh-cut coconut on the beach – meanwhile, let your skin experience the soothing bliss of a gentle, luxurious cleansing milk made from real coconut!
What Is Skin Polishing?
Skin polishing is a technique used to brighten or exfoliate dull skin by removing the dead skin on the surface. This improves your skin’s texture, making it smoother, and also reverses skin damages like tan or uneven skin tone.
It is also referred to as microdermabrasion . The procedure can be done on various parts of the body like the neck, hands, back, etc. Microdermabrasion treatments are effectively used to treat melasma photoaging, striae or stretch marks , hyperpigmentation, age spots crow’s feet and improves the tone and texture of the skin.
How Is The Treatment Done?
Skin polishing is a treatment where the skin is polished and nourished with nutrients, while the dead skin is removed. It is a gentle procedure and similar to a facial.
The technique typically includes a device that the skincare professional will use to gently remove the top layer of the skin in the area being treated. This is followed by the application of a serum or moisturiser based on your skin type to close the open pores and maximise the benefits of the procedure on the skin.
Skin polishing can be done at home or by a skincare professional or dermatologist. However, we advise you not to try it without the professional advice of an expert. For best results, microdermabrasion should ideally be done for upto 8 sessions with a gap of 3-4 weeks between each session.
Types Of Skin Polishing
Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are the two most popular forms of skin polishing treatments. The most common ones are the Crystal and the Diamond Microdermabrasion techniques used by most dermatologists and skincare professionals.
A new method being used is hydradermabrasion, where crystal-free exfoliation products are used simultaneously with creams that get absorbed into the skin. This method aims at increasing collagen  production and blood flow while removing dead skin.
Depending on the problem being addressed, the number of treatments can vary from person to person. They usually range between 4-12 sessions; however, there should be a gap of 2-3 weeks between each session.
1. Clinical Methods
A. Crystal Microdermabrasion
It is a non-invasive procedure that uses the principle of friction to sand away the top layer of the skin. The hand held device uses aluminium oxide srystals that are sprayed onto the skin at high speed. Simultaneously, an attached vacuum sucks away the dirt and dead skin.
- Very little downtime required (24 hours).
- Results visible almost immediately after the procedure.
- Permanently removes scars and marks in a few sittings.
- Good for acne reduction as the crystals have antibacterial qualities.
- The crystals can access wrinkles, and the lines near your nose and mouth because of their irregular shape.
- Aluminum Oxide that is used in the crystals is inert, hence non-toxic, non-carcinogenic and will not cause any allergies or adverse reactions.
- Crystal dermabrasion can be more effective for older skins with sun damage that need treatment.
- It may be too strong a treatment for younger or sensitive skins.
- The skin can be sensitive to the sun for a few weeks.
- Slight redness of the skin can occur, however, that fades away in a few hours.
- The spray can be hard to control in the hands of someone less experienced.
- Skin may feel sensitive to the touch.
- Use a strong sunscreen with high SPF, if you have to step out.
- Use hypoallergenic products that nourish and moisturise your skin.
- Avoid colour cosmetics on the skin if the treatment has been done on the face.
- Avoid using anti-acne creams and lotions on the face.
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
- Avoid touching your skin and body heating exercises like a sauna or a hot shower.
B. Diamond Microdermabrasion
Here, a handpiece with a diamond-tip is used to exfoliate the skin very gently. It simultaneously uses a suction method to suck in the dead skin and dirt it exfoliates. This method is used for sensitive areas with thin skin — the under-eye region and the surrounding areas.
- Preferred by skincare professionals as it gives them more control for better results.
- No chance of any particle getting inhaled or irritating the eyes.
- Diamonds being the hardest substance found, they can be most effective for dermabrasion.
- Gives the professional more control for better treatment over delicate areas near the eyes and mouth.
- Effective on sensitive skin and does deeper exfoliation.
- Ideal for younger, firmer skins, especially if you need glowing skin for your wedding or a big occasion.
- Fixed and rigid shape makes it difficult to reach every part of the face.
- Build-up of dead skin particles on the wand’s tip may increase risk of bacterial infections.
- Can be less effective on skin with wrinkles and lines as the wand doesn’t have crystals that can fit into the crevices and irregularities on the skin’s surface.
- Avoid applying any topical creams — medicated or cosmetic.
- Use sunscreen with a high SPF.
- Avoid applying make-up for a few days.
- Stay away from hot showers or saunas; steam rooms or exercise — anything that increases your body temperature — for at least 24-48 hours.
- Drink a lot of water and don’t touch your skin.
2. Home Methods
Microdermabrasion can be done at home as there are several branded kits available. These treatments can be done once a week upto a period of eight weeks. However, it is best to talk to your dermatologist before trying it yourself at home.
An effective home solution that can work as a substitute for a salon microdermabrasion treatment is mixing baking soda and your cleansing face wash to form a paste. Scrub your face gently with this mixture — it will remove dead skin and help the skin to absorb any moisturiser that you use after a shower. You can do this once or twice a month.
Benefits Of Skin Polishing
Skin polishing can make the skin brighter, softer and minimise the appearance of acne, fine lines and spots. It also improves blood circulation and is effective in treating enlarged pores and blackheads. For skin problems such as stretch marks and scars, hyperkeratosis , etc., skin polishing can be a permanent solution.
How Is Skin Polishing & Brightening Different From Facials?
A skin polishing treatment can make the skin’s tone even and take care of a wide range of skin problems in a non-invasive way. Its results are more effective than facials, in terms of giving the skin a glow and removing dead skin. Facials only work on the top most surface of the skin to improve its appearance, while polishing exfoliates dead skin to resurface healthier skin.
What Are The Side Effects Of This Treatment?
Usually, there are no side effects if you follow all the precautions prescribed by your dermatologist. Immediately after a session, there might be slight redness on the skin, which goes off in a few hours.
How Long Does The Procedure Take?
Depending on the area it is being worked on, each skin polishing session lasts for 45 minutes to an hour.
Who Is Eligible For This Treatment?
All skin types can avail of this treatment as it is safe. However, people with severe skin conditions are not eligible for this treatment.
So, if you wish to have younger and brighter looking skin, or want to minimise the appearance of fine lines, crow’s feet or wrinkles, skin polishing is a treatment you can opt for. It is safe, non-invasive and the results are visible in a few sessions. However, getting it done by a professional dermatologist is recommended.
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