Expectations, expectations, expectations.. can make or break a holiday. I usually have great expectations of life in general so naturally when it comes to travel sometimes I get disappointed because of my unrealistic or unsubstantiated expectations. However, sometimes a place exceeds all of my expectations and I have an amazing time on my trip. In the past few years a couple of places have turned out to be pleasant surprises and only one fell short of my expectations.
I had high hopes of a chocoholic heaven (Brussels) but in the end I had mixed feelings about the capital of the EU. It’s not you Brussels, it’s me. I’m sure some people will like you more than I did.
First of all, I’d like to say how happy I am to be this month’s co-host of travel linkup with Emma, Angie and Polly!
Have you ever swum with the sharks? Or visited Machu Pichu? What about running with the bulls in Spain or seeing the Northern Lights? You haven’t done those? Neither have I. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have valuable once in a lifetime experiences. Perhaps some of them might seem ordinary to someone else, like they are not really once in a lifetime experiences but to me they were just that. Unique experiences that represented me, who I was at the time I had them.
Sure, I could do some of them again but it wouldn’t be quite the same (e.g. spend a week in Paris again ) because I am not the same anymore. Time and life (and travel too) has changed me.
in Paris in 2007
So what travels stand out among all the others? And what has made them so special?
There are two trips that come to my mind immediately not just because of the amount of fun I had on them but also because of the very travelling bit that made them extra special. In 2005 I went to Turkey with a group of friends by train. Yes, you read that right! It was the cheapest available option so we took the train from Croatia to Turkey via Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. 36 h on the train (not in a sleeper train) and we made it to Istanbul for three days of sightseeing. Then it was to Izmir for the next three days of fun before we finally came to Çeşme where we attended a student conference.
Another odyssey happened in 2006 when I went to Greece by a ferry from Venice. Well, firstly we had to get to Venice, then spend 30 h on the ferry to Patras and take a train to Athens, our final destination. After 2 weeks of frolicking around Greece it was time for a return ferry trip, sleeping on the deck in our sleeping bags again. That’s an experience I wouldn’t repeat again!
December is my favourite month of the year for many reasons. First of all, I’m a December baby 🙂 Secondly, I really love Christmas time and New Year’s parties. Thirdly, I’m a genuine chocoholic so there’s no better time for me and my bad habit than the month of festivities and gift giving. Actually, I didn’t put gifts at all on this list because frankly they aren’t that important to me.
Chocolate Advent Calendar
The excitement of opening one door at the time to find a small delicious chocolate each day. What could be better? In the past few years I decided to treat myself with a chocolate Advent calendar even though I’m an adult 🙂
When I was a child I got small presents for St. Nicholas’ Day (6th December). If you are good you get chocolate. If you are naughty, you get coal and a rod!
Christmas decorations & Christmas lights
At home, in the town…they just pretty up everything, don’t they?
I really want to visit the Christmas markets in Germany. So far I’ve been to a couple of Christmas markets in Austria, Budapest, London and at the French Riviera.
Korčula town on Korčula island
It was rather difficult to choose just 10 photos of different areas of Croatia to inspire you to visit my country. I’m fed up with too many blog posts with titles such as 5 cities you must visit in Croatia or 10 places to see in Croatia and such which only feature seaside towns and mainly those on the southern Croatian coast called Dalmatia, e.g. Dubrovnik and Split. There are many other gorgeous seaside towns and islands apart from the already mentioned Dubrovnik and Split. Besides, Croatia has many amazing places far away from the sea too. There are castles, mountains, plains, forests, wheat fields, forgotten villages and sleepy continental towns. I know, I haven’t exactly written much about those either but I’ll get around to it eventually 🙂 However, you can find posts about several Croatian islands on my blog that aren’t as heavily featured as Hvar island for instance.
Hopefully, this post will make you want to visit Croatia if you haven’t already been. I know, who hasn’t heard of Dubrovnik after watching the Game of Thrones? FYI, Dubrovnik was a powerful merchant republic in its past much like Venice and anyone visiting it should be aware of that. Also, I strongly suggest to visit Istria and Kvarner regions for a beach holiday+culture, not just the southern Croatian coast. 🙂 Furthermore, the next time you’re imagining a hot mug of mulled wine in your hand and Christmas lights why don’t you consider visiting Zagreb and its magical Christmas markets? Or see the biggest carnival parade in Croatia in Rijeka in February? Or go castle-hunting in Zagorje? What about tasting some delicious Croatian food in Slavonija region?
Anyway, let the photos do the talking and convince you to visit Croatia!
Zagreb (the capital of Croatia)
Osijek (the biggest town in Slavonija region)
Vukovar (Eltz castle)
Plitvice Lakes National Park
my cat Munchkin
Home is where the cat is
Very true, right? At least all the cat owners know this very well. I got a cat named Timmy when I was 15. Then my home was my parents’ home in my hometown. Briefly I considered England my home too but when I got back my cat was furious and ignored me for days. Then, when I moved in with my future husband I decided to convince him to get a cat to make our home a real home. Even though he never had a pet previously, apart from a turtle, he agreed and now our cat Munchkin loves him to death. Not me, him. Injustice! But ginger cats have a mind of their own, as really all cats do.
As every traveller I quickly feel at home in most of the places I visit. As soon as I unpack my suitcase in a hostel/hotel room I feel at home. At least for the duration of the trip that place is my temporary home even though my cat isn’t there. Although my real home is in Croatia I consider England and London my soul home. A place where I feel at ease, a place where I feel I belong, a place where rules are obeyed and where everything stops when you have a cup of tea. Of course, my family and friends make a place truly my home. But you can feel at home at another place too, can’t you?
a dessert in Paris
Quite an interesting topic for this month’s travel linkup: comparing travel to a menu. Now, usually the dessert part of a lunch or dinner is my favourite part of the entire meal and I often choose what I want to eat for dessert before I even choose the main. But I guess most people don’t do that 🙂 So, let’s start at the beginning. What place is your starter? Tough question. Since I mostly just travelled around Europe almost all of those places could be classified as short-haul. I didn’t really do any long-haul flights e.g. going across the Atlantic to the USA or flying to Dubai or visiting China or New Zealand like some other travel bloggers. So, I’d need to divide my destinations into short-haul (starters) and long-haul (main) even when they aren’t that far away from each other. Regarding the dessert part of my meal, oh boy, there are several amazing places that have left a lasting impression on me.
I’d choose Italy as my starter. I’ve travelled extensively around Italy but there are still many places that I haven’t visited such as Sicily or Cinque Terre. If I have to pick a favourite place then it’d be Bologna. I already blogged about it so you can read why I like it so much if you want to. I’ve been to Florence and Rome and Venice several times but I’d rather spend a relaxing day in Bologna hanging out with the locals than brave the crowds in one of the above places.
The main. Well, there’s only one possible main for me. And that’s London. I could always go back to London (and I have, 11 times so far!). It’s like my favourite meal. I could never get enough of it and it always tastes great. You might wonder now what’s my favourite meal…but I won’t tell you 🙂 What would be the furthest I have ever travelled? If I look at the map and the distance from my hometown to a place, then the furthest place I’ve ever travelled would be Lisbon , Portugal which is over 2 000 km from my hometown and which was definitely the longest flight I’ve ever took. I absolutely loved Lisbon and I’d love to go back.
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!:)
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!