Monday, 16 September 2019

How the other half live

I think I'll make this the last holiday post otherwise you'll think I'm working for the Croatian tourist board!  

We woke up one morning and found this moored up between our hotel and the island of Lokrum

It's not the most beautiful yacht in the world is it?  I mean, at first sight it doesn't even look like it has windows.  If I had a spare $450 million, I'm not sure that this is what I'd would spend it on.  No accounting for taste eh?  Apparently it is owned by a Russian billionaire and is called the Super Yacht A.  It was only moored up for 24 hours but certainly caused a lot of interest from everyone staying at the hotel!

It was a day of mixed weather the day that they arrived and we headed off into the city to investigate some of the indoor places of interest such as the Old Pharmacy at the Franciscan Monastery.  We were obviously not looking our best that day as the guy on the door offered us concession tickets even though we were officially 4 years too young to qualify!

I even found another outdoor clock to add to my scavenger hunt collection

Outside for a quick cappuccino 

Then we bumped into someone who reminded us how quickly the year was passing

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this young lady ...

... even though she was a bit creepy!

And this odd looking gargoyle who has a bit of a story to tell.  Unlike most gargoyles, this one is only a couple of feet above the ground and if you look closely, his head is completely smooth like marble.  This is because he has a tradition attached to him.  Legend has it that if you hop onto his head, facing the wall, and can take off your shirt without falling off, you will be lucky in love.

And that is Dubrovnik - such an interesting and attractive place.  We had a lovely week there and were sad to see that sunset for the last time.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Anniversary days

We celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary on the Friday of our trip - and started the day with a glass of champagne while having breakfast on the hotel restaurant balcony

Then we decided to explore the area which is on the other side of Dubrovnik and caught the local number 6 bus to Babin Kuk.  It only takes about 10 minutes to get there on the bus but was just a bit too far to walk.  This resort is very different to where we were staying, with a larger beach with more water sports and giant inflatables for children to play on. 

It had a much more modern feel to it and whilst I am sure it is a good place to stay, we preferred 'our side' of the city which had much more original charm and character.  The restaurants were definitely more modern and some were quite 'quirky'. I wonder how many times this red guy has been photographed?

We walked along the coastal path a little way, admired the views across the bay

and were joined for a little while by one of the locals

We enjoyed a cappuccino sitting by the beach and then headed back via the harbour where all the cruise liners were docked.  I didn't get to photograph that bit as we suddenly saw our bus approaching the bus stop and had to pick up the pace to get on it!

After lunch in the city 

 How many steps up to the restaurant?

We then visited the church of St Ignatius of Loyola, which houses a version of the  grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

After an afternoon relaxing by the pool, it was time to head back to the city again and have a special anniversary meal


Friday, 13 September 2019

Ferry to Lokrum

The view from our window was straight across the sea to the island of Lokrum.  From our viewpoint it looked as if it were just covered in woodland and we didn't really think we bother to go over to visit.  Then we happened to strike up a conversation with another couple around the pool who had been over and said how beautiful it was and well worth a visit.

So on Thursday we walked into the city in the morning and caught the local ferry across to the island.  It was a short, 15 minute, trip and they ran every half an hour.  I am so pleased we made the trip - it was such a lovely place.  The first thing you noticed was the wildlife, rabbits and peacocks roaming around taking no notice of the tourists

Apparently in the 19th Century the island was turned into a summer residence of Duke Maximillian of Habsburg and so naturally we felt an affinity to it, purely because of the recent family arrival of baby Max!

There is a small salt lake called 'The Dead Sea' slightly inland

Naturally, this area too was used for filming in Game of Thrones as the city of Qarth and although I've never seen an episode of it, I could not resist doing the tourist thing of having my photo taken whilst sitting on the Iron Throne

There were some lovely buildings tucked away in the woodland, although the island was also affected by the war in the 1990s and took 50 direct hits, which included much of the botanical gardens and the historical library lost most of its records.

We ended up staying there all morning, it was such a lovely relaxing place to wander around.  And how lovely to see that school children could also have their lessons out there.  Who couldn't enjoy a nature lesson if this was your classroom?

There is a legend that whoever claims the island for their own will be damned and no one is allowed to stay overnight on the island or they will be cursed.  So by lunchtime we decided it was time to get the next crossing back to the mainland!  It's always interesting to see somewhere when you approach it by sea, and Dubrovnik certainly looked inviting on our return trip

And rumour has it that the footballer Ronaldo had been staying in this villa with the blue dome the week before we arrived (this was quite literally next to the hotel we stayed in!)

An afternoon by the pool beckoned and we then returned to the city in the evening 

There is a ceremony which takes place every evening which involves guards marching from one gate to another preceded by a drummer

And our own personal ceremony which involves Paul trying a different flavour ice cream or gelato every evening.  Tonight's favourite was vanilla cheesecake with fruits of the forest sorbet running through it!

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Walking the City Walls

I'm not going to bore you with many posts about our recent trip but honestly, the city of Dubrovnik is so very interesting, I'd like to share some of our experience.

We had already decided to do the city wall walk on the Wednesday because the weather forecast was good and also there were no cruise liners due to dock in the harbour that day.  That can really make a difference to the amount of people on the streets!

The wall of the walkway that leads to the drawbridge of the fort at Pile Gate has beautifully shaped brickwork, crying out to have its photograph taken!  Once you pay your entrance fee you start to climb, and the view on the way round is so pretty - see all those terracotta roofs - beautiful.  Yet not original.  Dubrovnik was bombed extensively during the Yugoslavian hostilities in the early 1990s.  Even though it had been given UNESCO World Heritage status, nearly 70% of the city was damaged.  So these are nearly all repaired buildings.

 Typical view from the wall

 See how steep those streets are?

 There's always some tourist who gets in the way of a good photo 😉

Beautiful views as you pause for breath and wish you'd done a bit more exercise in preparation before you had gone on holiday!

You can see why the area was chosen to be transformed into a spectacular film set.

Rumour has it that these steps were used in an important scene in Game of Thrones!

And how may times do you see a replica guillotine in someone's back garden?  How I wish that had been something on the scavenger hunt list!

So after an hour and a half of walking and climbing and doing nearly 18,000 steps we had a well deserved cappuccino in the main square, did a bit of people watching and then made our way back to the hotel for lunch on the terrace.  I had certainly earned that glass of rose wine and a delicious Caprese salad - not to mention spending the rest of the afternoon on a sun lounger. I definitely did may have had a little snooze in the sunshine.

The sun sets behind the city around 7.30 pm so we made sure we were on our way back for an evening meal to coincide with the sun disappearing behind the buildings.

Absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

The wanderers return

Somebody seems to have turned down the temperatures in the UK since we left a week ago - I am sitting here in jeans and sweatshirt and seriously considering putting the heating back on!  Or maybe it's just that we had become used to good temperatures while we were away.  Either way, I've spent a lot of today saying 'isn't it chilly?'  So the washing is done, the ironing can wait {won't be wearing those shorts and sundresses again any time soon I fear!}

Dubrovnik was beautiful.  Everyone that I know who had been there said it was but I have to say if you get the chance to go, it is definitely worth putting on your 'to go' list.  Apparently it was used extensively in Game of Thrones but as I've never watched it, I'm afraid I can't really comment on how it compares in real life!  We stayed in Hotel Grand Villa Argentina which was perfectly positioned for an easy stroll into the city.  

Our first view of Dubrovnik

This was our view of the city as we walked from our hotel.  It is surrounded by huge city walls that hold so much history and a walk around them was definitely on our list of things to do while we were there.  However, we had had a taxi collect us from home at 3.30 am and we were very weary travellers by the time we had settled into the hotel and unpacked so that was a plan for the following day.

The city which looks so pretty in the day really comes to life in the evening

There are so many steps!  The city is built on so many different levels, fortunately I had taken flat sandals.  There are so many restaurants to choose from and this was the view from where we ate the first night.  Fortunately we had chosen a restaurant at the top of the city so with a full stomach and a glass or two of wine, the way home was down hill!

The harbour was so pretty in the evenings, this photo doesn't really do it justice.  

An early night was on the cards, so we took a few photos, then headed for the hotel, ready for an early night in preparation for a long walk the next day.  What a lovely surprise to find our beds turned down, soft music playing on the tv and these locally made chocolates waiting on our bedside tables ...

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

A sentence a day in August

August - a popular month for birthdays in our family - let's see what else has been happening in this monthly round up

Day 1 After a two week break due to the class teacher having a holiday it was back to Zumba

Day 2 Morning shopping in Chelmsford followed by internet shopping in afternoon when I bought a pair of neon orange leggings and an orange and blue headband - could this have anything to do with a Caribbean themed Zumba class in a couple of weeks time?

Day 3 Would have been my Dad's birthday today - met up with my sister and brother in law for a meal at a local Indian restaurant

Day 4 'Normal' Sunday lunch with 4 generations around the dinner table, then an unexpected visit from Paul's cousin and her partner in the afternoon so we definitely had a houseful of family today.

Day 5 Rachel's 'newish' car had to go into garage to investigate the occasional odd juddering in the steering column - turns out it was the lane steering control that they had not been told about -  so it was a safety feature not a fault, how embarrassing!

Day 6 Manicure day - love the look of freshly manicured nails - was able to show them off in the evening when I met three ladies I used to work with for dinner.

Day 7 My new trainers arrived - they are far too white and new looking so I made sure I wore them every time I went out today

Day 8 Zumba!  Nice to have a bit of a dance in the morning and even nicer to pop over to see baby Max in the afternoon.

Day 9 Optician appointment - new lenses needed so I've also gone for a new pair of frames too - watch this space

Day 10 Torrential rain and high winds today, invited to friends for drinks in the evening - thank goodness there was a break in the rain that coincided with the time we needed to walk round there.

Day 11 Went on a very windy dog walk, noticing how early the farmers have harvested the corn this year, then a lazy Sunday lunch.

Day 12 Enjoyed getting a few more rows of the baby blanket done today.

Day 13 Went into town to browse book stores for holiday reading, although I'll download a couple to my kindle I always like to take a paperback with me as well.

Day 14 Both Leo and Rosie needed blood tests today so I went with Rachel to the hospital to be an extra pair of hands - both children were given a teddy by the nurse for being so brave.

Day 15 Caribbean party theme at Zumba today!  The orange leggings had their first (and possibly their last) outing

Day 16 Coco had an appointment at the beauty salon/dog groomers, if the weather forecast is to be believed, she isn't going to stay this clean for long!

Day 17 Didn't have much planned for today so went out for an impromptu Thai tapas lunch at the Giggling Squid - SO delicious!

Clockwise round plate - tempura salt and pepper squid, Thai chicken wings, chicken massaman curry and jasmine rice.

Day 18 Invited to Sunday lunch at my sisters, along with my cousin and her partner, what a treat to not being the one cooking the meal!

Day 19 Went to the Botanic Gardens at Cambridge, whist it was a nice place to walk around, it wasn't quite as good as we were expecting, although the orange and coconut sponge cake in the cafe was delicious!

Day 20 Went into town to pick up a birthday present for Leo

Day 21 Baby blanket is growing ...

Day 22 Pre holiday hair cut and colour, feeling much neater and tidier now!

Day 23 Leo finished 'helping' me make and decorate a birthday cake for his Mummy's birthday and then Paul and I were invited round to a friend's house for an Indian takeaway in the evening.

Day 24 Rachel's birthday - her husband wanted to take her to London for a special lunch so we had Leo and Rosie here for quite a few hours.  

Day 25 Invited to Paul's cousin's house for a get together of the Keyworth side of the family.

Day 26 Jon, Sophie and Max came for lunch and then we all went to Rachel's to have an early 3rd birthday tea with Leo.

Day 27 Picked up my new glasses in the morning then went for a meal in the evening with my old school friends Jill and Julia.

Day 28 Found the most horrendously enormous spider behind my husband's pillow when I was making the bed this morning 😱 He was carefully escorted out into the garden but I'm now worrying about where the rest of his family may be.

Day 29 Leo's 3rd birthday - what an excited little boy!  So many new toys, Paw Patrol is definitely a firm favourite.

Day 30 Nails done ready for my holiday - always makes me feel smarter.

Day 31 Making lists and getting suitcases down from the loft - the holiday is nearly here, and to get us in holiday mood, invited to a barbecue in the afternoon.

And once again, one second a day captured on film ...

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