She’s here. My baby girl L.
She was born on 10th of September. After 9 months and past her due date she decided to make a surprise appearance (will she always be fashionably late? Quite unlike her mum). I was supposed to be induced in a couple of days because I was practically 41 weeks pregnant and they don’t like it when the pregnancy lasts longer even if everything is all right. But suddenly I felt strong pain in my back and thought to myself this might be it, the start of something after all. Even though I had given birth once before I wasn’t sure that I had contractions until they were quite forceful and just minutes apart. We went to the hospital and after just 2 hours of intense, natural labour my baby girl opened her eyes for the first time in our world.
When I saw my baby girl I thought how tiny she is… She was 49cm long and weighed 3150g at birth. Much smaller than her big brother (not even a 2 year old yet). Was that already the beginning of a lifetime of comparisons? I hope not.
Istria is probably the most developed tourist region in Croatia with towns such as Rovinj and Poreč that attract a serious number of tourists. Besides the beautiful coastline the peninsula of Istria boasts excellent cuisine and medieval hilltop towns much like the region of Tuscany in Italy. However, there are still many off the beaten track places in Istria and in Croatia in general that you can visit.
There is a significant number of fortresses in different stages of disrepair and ruin around Croatia that can be visited for free. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit one of such forgotten and abandoned fortresses. But there are many well-preserved castles and fortresses too that attract tourists.
Since my husband and I both love medieval festivals we recently visited a small medieval festival at Dvigrad Ruins in Istria (only 25mins from Rovinj inland). I found out about it by coincidence, an ad popped on my Facebook news feed. So, we took our 20 months old boy to see some medieval knights. It was a hot Saturday afternoon which might explain the lack of visitors (admission was free, the ruins can be visited any time for free too). I think there were more performers than visitors at this festival. Firstly, we walked all over the Dvigrad Ruins. Dvigrad was a prosperous town with a fortress and a church until the plague and the malaria depopulated it in the 16th century. The last surviving families moved out at the beginning of the 18th century and since then this town has been abandoned.
Dubovac Castle, Karlovac, Croatia
It’s been a while since my last Discover Croatia post and it’s also been a long time since our last day trip as a family. But it’s completely different to travel with an active toddler than a baby. Needless to say, I found it easier to travel with a baby and now regret not travelling more with my son when he was younger. However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t travel with him anymore. At the moment with him running in all directions and me being pregnant again the most simplest of walks can be difficult. Nevertheless, this day trip was great and our boy was on his best behaviour and really enjoyed exploring Dubovac Castle.
So, let’s write about Dubovac Castle. This castle is situated on a hill overlooking the town of Karlovac which is halfway between the capital of Croatia Zagreb and its biggest seaport Rijeka. Dubovac Castle is a Renaissance castle with Gothic elements whose oldest parts date back to the 13th century. The name of the castle originates from the word for an oak tree in Croatian language since it was surrounded by a large oak trees forest. There’s still a lot of greenery around the castle but not a proper forest.
On the second day of our short weekend in Berlin the weather gods smiled upon us again and gave us a sunny, warm day perfect for city sightseeing. Our first stop was the Potsdamer platz, another modern square. The reason for our visit was the Berlin Wall. I’d seen photos of this square with remains of the Berlin Wall. There’s an information panel about the wall at the square but what surprised me were the chewing gums at the remains of the wall. On the other side of the square you can see a small Korean temple and another block of the Wall as a sort of reminder that Korea is still divided in half just like Germany used to be.
the remains of the Berlin Wall
Cafe Central, Vienna
„Central is not a coffeehouse like any other – it’s a philosophy.“
If you want to rub shoulders with the likes of Sigmund Freud and Trotsky, you should visit Café Central in Vienna. Though, you’ll only see Mr Freud & his friends if you can see ghosts! Today this historical beautiful coffeehouse is overrun with the tourists but they don’t diminish its old-style charm.
The café culture is still strong in Vienna so during the week and off-season (if there’s such a time of the year when there are less tourists in Vienna) this café is still frequented by the locals. But if you’re visiting during Christmas season be prepared to wait in the cold to get in this very popular café/patisserie.
Housed in a grand old palace (Palais Ferstel) Cafe Central has been opened since 1876. It offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and Vienna coffee of course. Made famous by its notorious patrons and as a rendezvous place for many artists, revolutionaries and philosophers it’s a hot spot for today’s visitors to once imperial Vienna. Everybody wants to eat cake in Cafe Central (or take selfies) as it seems when you’re freezing in the long queue outside this old institution.
When you get in eventually you soon forget all about your half-frozen fingers and look up in awe. The ceilings are very high and exquisitely painted and there are elegant arches, like in a proper palace or church. But the religion preached here is coffee! The central place inside is occupied by two large cake displays and a large gingerbread house. There’s also live piano music after 5 pm. I came earlier so I didn’t get to enjoy this part of Vienna coffee culture.
Christmas market in Villach
Three years ago I took my mum to Austria for a day trip. Our destinations were Villach and Velden and their charming Christmas markets. We both love Christmas markets very much so I decided to ask her and not my boyfriend (now my husband) to join me. Besides my boyfriend and I went to a chocolate factory near Graz (Austria) just a few weeks before this Christmas markets day trip.
About Villach & Velden
Villach is located on the Drau river and it’s the seventh largest town in Austria with a population of around 62 000. It’s got a big Croatian community too so it’s not a surprise that Villach is very popular for shopping and Christmas trips from Croatia. Velden am Wörthersee is a market-town and a popular holiday resort situated at the Wörthersee lake and close to Villach.
Whenever I visit London I like to see some of my old favourites and I like to experience new things. Luckily, there’s no shortage of new places and new experiences in London. When I saw everyone (by everyone I mean travel bloggers) raving about the new free views of London I knew I had to see it for myself on my next trip to London. Three years passed between my last two trips to London in the meantime. When I booked my flights for London four months ago I also investigated how to experience the best free views of London by visiting the Sky Garden.
About Sky Garden
The Sky Garden is located in one of the newest skyscrapers in City of London built in 2004. The address is 20 Fenchurch Street and the skyscraper has been lovingly nicknamed Walkie-Talkie. It’s 155 meters tall and the Sky Garden spans three storeys and offers 360° views of London. You can admire the views of London from several observation decks and from an open-air terrace where the use of a selfie-stick is prohibited. Sky Garden rightfully holds the claim of the highest public garden. If you get thirsty or hungry go to Sky Pod Bar or to City Garden Bar. There are also two restaurants: Fenchurch restaurant and Darwin Brasserie. If you want to have a meal at those restaurants then you should book in advance and you use a separate lift from the tourists who are just visiting the Sky Garden.
How to reach Sky Garden
The nearest tube station is the Monument. From there walk for a couple of minutes.
How to visit Sky Garden
Even though the visit is free you need to book it in advance. You can usually do it up to two-three weeks in advance of your planned visit and you need to print out your booking confirmation and bring it with you for your visit. Also, you need to have your ID or your passport with you for your visit. Arrive around 10 minutes before your scheduled visit and wait in queue. Then you’ll walk through airport-like security and be prepared to have your bag searched. After that you’ll enter the express lift with the rest of the people and be at the Sky Garden in a matter of seconds. When you leave the lift, you have all the time you need to admire the views of London and maybe have a drink or eat something. There are also toilets. There are several guards who control whether visitors obey the rules eg. no food or drinks at the open air terrace and no selfie-sticks.
at the Sky Garden, May 2016