My baby boy V. is 9 months old. Whaaaat? Yes, I can’t believe it too. The pregnancy seemed to drag on forever but these past 9 months have gone by so fast. A blink of an eye and he has changed from a sleepy newborn to active and strong baby. This made me think of my babymoon last August. I didn’t travel internationally during my pregnancy apart from a day trip to Italy with my best friend. Instead my husband and I made lots of day trips locally and we also took several weekend trips.
I really wanted to go away somewhere by the end of my pregnancy so after some serious thinking and some luck I found a great deal for a lovely apartment in Gorski kotar region of Croatia. Now, Gorski kotar is fondly nicknamed little Switzerland because it’s an area full of forests and mountains and it’s rich in wildlife. Gorski kotar is totally off the beaten path destination in Croatia unlike its coast.
Sismondo Castle in Rimini
After we left San Marino we drove to Rimini. That was a short drive because Rimini is only 24km away from San Marino. I knew that Rimini is a popular Italian seaside town full of beach bars. However, we didn’t go to Rimini to spend some time at its long sandy beach but to see its castle and other interesting landmarks.
We found free parking in Rimini because I discovered a useful parking website which I bookmarked for future use but somehow I lost all my bookmarks the other day so I can’t share that website with you. From the free car park we walked for less than 15 minutes to the Malatesta Castle (Castel Sismondo). On our way to the castle we went through the Roman arch, Porta Montanara. That was our first glimpse of Roman Rimini. We were also close to the ruins of the Roman Amphitheater during our walk around Rimini but we decided to skip it because we’d seen roman amphitheaters in better conditions elsewhere.
The Sismondo Castle was built in 15th century by Sigismondo Pandolfo, the most famous lord of Rimini. Unfortunately, like the castle in Imola this one was also closed (because it was Monday) so we only took some photos and headed towards the city center. There’s a big building site next to the castle and from what we read it’s the site of the new museum dedicated to Federico Fellini, probably the most famous Italian film director of all times.
Imola’s castle Rocca Sforzesca
I’ve decided to visit Imola on our road trip to San Marino. It’s right on the way to San Marino so it’s a convenient stop but it wasn’t exactly half way on our route so stops at the service stations along the motorway were needed too. Unfortunately we also had a few problems on our way to Imola. Firstly, our baby’s music broke down and then we had a flat tyre just past Padua. My husband quickly changed it but he said that we’d need to fix it because apparently you can’t drive fast or too far with a spare tyre which meant that a visit to a garage in Imola was a must. Therefore, it took us much longer to reach San Marino in the end. However, our car problems didn’t deter us from our sightseeing plan of Imola and we firstly walked around and saw what I’d planned and then we sorted out the car.
Imola is a town in Emilia-Romagna region of Italy not far from Bologna which is considered to be the gastronomical center of Italy. Imola was famous for hosting the Formula One San Marino Grand Prix at its racecourse Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. The F1 race of San Marino isn’t held anymore and nowadays Imola’s racecourse is used for car and motorbike races. It’s here that the famous F1 driver Ayrton Senna met his tragic end in 1994. Of course, we just had to visit the racecourse but our first stop was Imola’s Castle.
Imola’s castle Rocca Sforzesca
What better way to spend a Valentine’s Day then by visiting a castle? That’s exactly what I did two years ago. How did I choose Ozalj castle? Well, I saw it featured in a magazine in an article about Croatian castles and convinced my husband to visit it with our friends. And it was the perfect day trip!
About Ozalj Castle
Ozalj is a small town roughly 66 km away from Croatian’s capital Zagreb and very near the Slovenian border. Its most famous period in the history was during the rule of the illustrious Croatian noble family Zrinski in the 17th century. Another notable resident of Ozalj was the Croatian deaf-mute painter Slava Raškaj who was born in Ozalj in 1877.
The medieval Old Town of Ozalj perched on the stone cliff above Kupa river was transformed into a beautiful castle in the 18th century. Ozalj castle changed many hands during the turbulent Croatian history. It was owned by the King in the 13th century and then by the noble families of Babonić, Frankopan, Zrinski, Perlas, Batthyany and Thurn and Taxis. Its current owners are the “Brethren of the Croatian Dragon” society who have opened it to the public.
Inside the Ozalj castle you can find a small museum and the library. The entry fee was 20 kuna which is just under 3€ at the time of my visit (Feb 2015).
entrance to Ozalj castle
the view of River Kupa from the castle
Every princess needs a castle, right? Sometimes my mum calls me principessa which is Italian for princess :). So, if there’s a castle around I just have to check it out. My husband and I reached São Jorge Castle by tram number 12. To our joy it was an old, rickety, wooden tram and the ride resembled a ride in an amusement park. Perfect! I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. At some point if you put your hand out of the window you could touch the walls of the houses on the street. The tram had to navigate narrow streets and steep hills before it let us out near Largo das portas do Sol-a beautiful viewpoint. So, we took in the view of Lisbon and proceeded on foot to the castle. It’s a pity that we didn’t have enough time to explore more Alfama neighbourhood but I had a lot planned for that day and we had to move on. We got discount for the castle ticket because of our Lisbon card which also gave us free crazy tram rides 🙂 . In my opinion the best views of the city are from the castle’s observation terrace and the castle walls. Just look at the photos. Amazing, right?