Did you open your chocolate Advent calendar today?

I woke up this morning with only one thought on my mind. It is 1 December which means that I can finally open my new Lindt chocolate Advent calendar. I bought it in mid-October when I was going back from a business trip to Italy. My new colleagues asked me if I bought it for a kid, but no, I blushingly explained, I bought it for myself. Yep! That’s me, carrying a big chocolate Advent calendar back home from a business trip. And I’ll be 33 in 17 days!:) But what can I say, I just love chocolate Advent calendars. The waiting part, the excitement part, the part when you get to open a new window each day which hides a new sweet treat and the tasty chocolate itself. It’s the best thing ever!:)

chocolate Advent calendar

I didn’t really have a chocolate Advent calendar when I was growing up. First of all, I grew up in 80’s and early 90’s in a country that no longer exists, deprived of shopping malls, McDonald’s and a mobile phone until the age of 16. I got my first PC when I was finishing high school. But you know, I had better childhood than most kids today. I spent my days playing outside with real friends. And reading lots of books, of course. Anyway, I’m digressing too much, the point is, there just weren’t Advent calendars and most other things until I was a teenager. So now, I’m making up for some things, like the absence of a chocolate Advent calendar by buying it for myself. And I enjoy it shamelessly. I probably enjoy it more now than I would have when I was a kid!

I used to buy ordinary, plain, chocolate Advent calendars but last year I splurged a bit and got myself a Ritter sport chocolate advent calendar. You can read the story about my last year’s Advent calendar here. I loved it! It was just great!

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I dream of…..travelling!

Ireland
Dunluce Castle in Ireland  source of photo

I dream of…travelling. I am a dreamer. There, I said it. My head is often in the clouds but I have noticed lately that my feet are actually firmly planted on the ground. I guess I have become an adult. I still travel and I still plan new trips but maybe it’s my 33rd birthday fast approaching or my husband’s rational voice in my ear saying ..wait, maybe I should save some money, not to go on a trip but to actually save it for the rainy days. However, there are still lots of places I dream of visiting. And I’m sure I will continue to travel but perhaps I won’t fulfill all my travelling dreams. Shocking?! Perhaps, but very true. After all, if you do accomplish all your dreams, what’s left to do?

So, some of my dream destinations are within easy reach. It’s not that expensive to visit them and they aren’t that far away. However, other places are actually the stuff dreams are made of…visiting those places would mean years and years of saving up and missing out on other fun things perhaps. Are they worth it? Maybe yes, maybe not; I’m not sure. Yet.

What are the places I want to visit? I have several lists. One is very doable and I’ll probably travel to those places sooner or later. Another list is a real dream list.

My realistic list

Germany: yes, not that far away but I still haven’t made it to big old Deutschland. I’m not particularly interested in Berlin. Bavaria is my favourite German region! I’d love to travel to Munchen and admire the Neuschwanstein castle!

Ireland: specifically Dublin, but I’d love to do a road trip across the whole country too!

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My favourite desserts around Europe (#Travellinkup)

Austrian apple strudel
in Vienna, Dec 2015

First of all, I’d like to say how happy I am to be this month’s co-host of travel link up with Emma, Angie and Jessi!

I love food but I’m no foodie or a gourmand. I prefer simple but delicious meals. Not being very adventurous when it comes to trying out local delicacies means that I probably have missed out on a few great experiences but as I grew old(er) I began to taste more different foods. Living & working in England eight years ago has actually helped me to be more open towards new & unusual foods. I became a big fan of afternoon tea tradition and English breakfast while I was in England. I also tried curry for the first time and many other traditional English dishes such as Yorkshire pudding (and my favourite revelation of them all: salt &vinegar crisps). However, I have a sweet tooth and I do try out all possible desserts wherever I go! After all, I am a big chocoholic!

So, what would be my most interesting/meaningful food experience?

 I have tried a few meals that are not to everyone’s taste (even if it was just a mouthful). For example, I ate a snail in Brussels and I had haggis in Scotland 🙂 But I’ve pretty much tried all the national desserts wherever I travelled. So my most interesting food experiences have to be dessert related.

So, let’s just name my favourite desserts around Europe (in no particular order):

Sacher cake (or any cake as a matter of fact ) in Austria

I do love French desserts but if you want a delicious cake that will satisfy your hunger go to Austria!  I love all sorts of Austrian cakes from apfel strudel to Esterházytorte to original Sacher cake. Last December I finally had the one and only Sacher cake at Hotel Sacher in Vienna. It was a wonderful experience worth the wait of around half an hour in the cold!

Sacher cake in Vienna
Sacher Cake and Sacher tea

Afternoon tea in England

I love everything about this old tradition: the food, the atmosphere of tea rooms, the exquisite porcelain mugs. Tasty finger sandwiches, delectable scones, a delicious cake and of course tea make up this wonderful afternoon affair! I had proper afternoon tea in London just once but it was such a gorgeous experience! I also had a very lovely but unpretentious afternoon tea in Jane Austen’s center in Bath and in Harriet’s in Bury St Edmunds.

afternoon tea in London
at Sofitel St James hotel, London 2013

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What has travel taught me?(#TravelLinkup)

Paris, France-one of my best trips ever!

Whether I join the monthly travel linkup or not I always like to read what other bloggers wrote about each month’s theme. My  last contribution was in June when I wrote about my unexpected places but I didn’t feel inspired to write about my home last month. I don’t know about you but I can only write when the writing muse smiles upon me. I cannot force my writing. Luckily, I don’t need to rely on my writing to eat! Also, it’s too hot to think properly and I’ll be offline next week anyway so I didn’t think that I would be writing about what travel has taught me but somehow I started to think about this theme last night and here I am pounding it out.

My first trip abroad happened when I was only a couple of months old but I don’t really remember that and besides it wasn’t really abroad then since Croatia was a part of Yugoslavia. My next real travel abroad adventure was a trip to Venice when I was about 4 but again I have no recollection of that trip either. So I guess my first abroad trip (that I remember) was a shopping trip to Trieste, Italy! Go figure!:) My proper travelling career started when I was at university. Then I started to travel with my friends around Europe. So what has travel taught me? A lot. Too much to put in this post but I’ll try to identify the most valuable lessons.

Dreams do come true

For years I have dreamt about travelling. I’d also been in love with London even before I’ve visited it for the first time in 2006. Ten years later and 11 trips to London I’m still crazy about that vibrant melting pot called London. And I have travelled a lot. So my dreams did come true! Maybe I haven’t travelled extensively as some bloggers did but my circumstances are also not the same as theirs. It’s not the same whether you travel somewhere if your currency is strong and your buying power quite substantial or if your exchange rate is 1£=8.9 HRK. So, yes Croatia is cheap for the British tourists but Britain is majorly expensive for Croatian tourists. Furthermore, if I wanted to travel to London before Ryan Air came to Croatia that flight would have cost me around 500€ with the national airline and my first trip to London with Ryan Air cost me only 50€ return ticket! So I’m happy with the amount of travelling I have done so far but there are still some destinations that are out of my reach at the moment. But I’ll keep on dreaming (and saving!)

in London this May

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Unexpected places (June Travel Link Up)

in Stockholm

It’s been a month of travel for me: a short weekend break to Stockholm, Sweden with my husband followed by a trip to London on my own and then another business trip to the South of France last week. It sounds great but honestly I just feel exhausted now. Not because of all the travelling I did but because of all the work that I’ve been doing lately. And I still haven’t written much about my travels (especially about Stockholm). So, when I saw the new topic for June’s Travel Link Up I didn’t really know whether I’ll have the time or the energy to write anything but since I really like the topic I decided to give it a try.

What makes a place unexpected? Our expectations, scenery, people or something else; it’s hard to say really. I rarely go somewhere without the exhaustive preparations which include hours spent online (and offline:guidebooks) reading about the sights/landmarks/interesting things to do and to see in a city/country. But sometimes I don’t have enough time to do my usual travel preparations or I just book something almost on a whim and decide not to explore the place too much before the actual trip which usually results in being pleasantly surprised by such a place.

Stockholm
Stockholm

So what places have surprised me lately?The most recent city that I’ve found to be extraordinarily beautiful is Stockholm. My husband and I arrived on a Friday evening (in April) and left on a Monday morning so in reality we only had 48 h to see Stockholm. That’s why I didn’t want to over-plan our stay and I’ve decided to focus mostly on the Old Town (Gamla Stan) and to visit a few museums. Anyway, I was very pleasantly surprised by Stockholm since I really didn’t expect to like it so much.

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Visiting 2 perfume factories in France

Eze, France
Eze

Everybody knows that France is famous for its perfume production. Whatever brand of perfume you buy it’s very likely that perfume was made in France. I’ve been several times to the south of France, specifically to the French Riviera and on those trips I have visited two perfume factories.

I’ve visited Fragonard factory in Eze village and I’ve visited Galimard factory in Grasse. These factories/shops are open to visitors and offer free guided tours in a variety of languages. I definitely recommend to visit at least one of them while you are at French Riviera.

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What are my greatest adventures?

I won’t be modest and I’ll say that I have had a few great adventures so far. Which one was the greatest? Well, that’s a tough question. I recently wrote about flight problems and how the simple plan to fly to Madrid via London turned out to be an adventure in itself but I’ve had even more interesting and convoluted travel plans in my reckless and broke youth ( not that I’m rich now, far from it).

Istanbul, 2005
Istanbul, 2005

Back in 2005 I travelled with a group of friends to Turkey by train. It only took us 30 h to get to Istanbul but it was the cheapest option available. We didn’t take the sleeping car but nestled in our sleeping bags in an ordinary one and somehow passed the time without the smart phones. Somewhere in Romania the power went out so we were also freezing (it was October) but we eventually came to the Turkish border and soon after to Istanbul. Anyway, after spending 30 h on the train we spend the next three days sightseeing around Istanbul before we went on to Izmir by bus (and by ferry). That was only around 330 km further during which we felt two earthquakes and not to mention that all this happened during the bird flu outbreak and paranoia.

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