More Slovenian Fun

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Public water fountain in Ljubljana

This is one of my favorite photos from the trip. We spent a few hours in Ljubljana and they needed to cool off somehow. How cute is this.

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I also love this one of Jaap and Thibault during our afternoon stroll. We had this incredible lunch at a delicious pizzeria next to the river and did a short walk through the city to catch out the dragon bridge and the open air market. We ended with some good ice cream and some cute souvenirs for the kids. I’m so happy we limited ourselves to only a few hours in the city. Slovenia has so much more to offer out in nature and we could really feel the heat in the city on this day. Still, it was worth the stop in between the farm stay and our apartment near Lake Bled.

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Another great in between spot was our trip to the Postojna Caves en route to our house in Croatia. Who knew the largest cave system in Europe was in Slovenia?! I was blown away by this place. We took a 10 minute train ride into the caves, did a 45 minute walk with a tour guide who is also a biologist and does research in the caves, followed by another 10 minute train ride out again.

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The kids loved the train ride. Us too. But Jaap and I really were fascinated by the caves. It was a unique experience and I’m happy we took the time (and money) to stop here.

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Just a few kilometers away was the Predjama Castle. We didn’t take an inside tour, but just having an iced coffee and some ice cream out here was worth the stop. It was not as busy as I thought it was going to be and the views were pretty great.

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Life on the Farm: Slovenia Travel

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I love this view from our balcony at Mali Raj. We stayed at a tourist farm in the far northeast corner of Slovenia in a tiny village, right next to the Hungarian border. The view from the balcony was amazing. Three of our four mornings here I was able to do a twenty minute yoga routine in this spot. It was a travel miracle and very therapeutic for me. Screen time helped!DSC09417

The owner was so friendly and took a real liking to Thibault. The place was picturesque and relaxing. There was not a lot of tourism in this area, so it was the perfect place for us to unwind without distractions.

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The kids absolutely loved it. Cats everywhere, alpacas & goats, plus two ponds—one of which we would go to and look for frogs. I loved watching them be so happy interacting with the animals.

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One day we visited a local open air museum of an old village just across the border in Hungary. It was surprisingly a great day out. They had this amazing indoor playhouse with an old medieval play kitchen, climbing area with a flying dragon, and old fashioned games. Jaap and I were pleasantly surprised. Plus a yummy lunch outdoors.

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Breakfast at the farm

One day we drove into Ptuj for a day out, but it was very hot and there was not much for us to do in the city. We did get to see a Slovenian wedding with some traditional music come down the main square. That was a treat. An afternoon swim back at the farm was the perfect ending.

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My favorite day in this region was our trip to Terme 3000. I don’t even have any pictures from the day because it was spent completely with our family enjoying the water and warm weather. Water slides, a water play area for small kids, various thermal baths, and a natural spring bath. Everyone absolutely loved it. Jaap was completely nuts and went down this extremely steep and fast water slide. His retelling of the story was great and I think Flora was very impressed with her father.

The thermal park was a great place for us to unwind. I thought it was the perfect combination of family and adult fun. I wish I had a recording of Thibault’s face when he slipped into the natural thermal bath with us. It was so warm and he loved it.

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Schnapps, onion & lard on bread

Some of our evenings were spent at this Hungarian fish restaurant right across the border. My favorite was starting this Saturday night dinner with some schnapps! We skipped the onion bread. Thank God Jaap speaks German and I have a few words enough to read a menu. 🙂

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I have nothing but warm and fuzzy feelings for our farm stay at Mali Raj. It was exactly what I was hoping for. Some peace, relaxation, and good quality family time without distractions.

Natural Swimming in Slovenia

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The recurrent theme on this vacation was swimming. Swimming in pools, thermal baths, a waterpark, lakes, rivers, and the Adriatic sea. Now that I typed that out it’s hard to believe all the different locations we swam in and how each one had a different and fun experience. Jaap and I got into a pretty good routine of packing the swim gear before breakfast or the night before.

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Our picturesque farm stay in Dolenci had a pool— it’s greatest selling point when I booked the place. It was so refreshing to take a dip after two hot days of activities. One day Thibault took a nap upstairs while the three of us were having fun at the pool and the owner brought us some drinks to enjoy poolside. That was a win!

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On our first full day in Lake Bled we spent almost the entire day at the public lido swimming area. I was surprised at how touristy Lake Bled was. We heard from friends that this was the case, but the sure volume and traffic surprised me. But I must admit, the swimming area felt relaxing, calm, and not crowded through to the early afternoon. We got their at 9:30 and had many hours of beautiful swimming, the greatest moment being swimming out to the buoy with Flora and admiring the beauty of this lake together.

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shallow swimming area at Lake Bled

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The next day we took the cable car up to Vogel at Lake Bohinj and ended the day with a swim at the southern side of the lake. Crystal clear water, good swimming temperature (still a little too cold for Mr. T), and some SPECTACULAR views.

DSC09551I feel like our pictures don’t even do it justice. The view of the mountains of the lake was massive. Flora was swimming around like a little fish. Thibault was throwing rocks and collecting pieces on the side. There was a full hour of zen there for me interrupted by Thibault almost drowning. Yes—I was watching him 100% of the time not distracted and I was watching him wading into the water to pick up a floating stick and boom. He fell right under and I sprang up to save him. It was only a second of being submerged, but it scared the crap out of me and I could not stop thinking about it for 48 hours.

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Lake Jasna

Our third full day in the Bled region was near Kranjska Gorja at Lake Jasna. The water was cold though, but it was hot out, so I’m sure to these fishies it was refreshing. I was so impressed by Flora. She jumped in and out, in and out, and finally took a leap and just went for it. The water was chilly and she was loving it. Jaap went for a full swim out into the lake! Thibault opted for stone and shoe throwing on the side.

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Lake Jasna

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Nadiža river

When we were in the Soča Valley was a trip quick trip to the Nadiža river. It’s warm enough to swim there and unfortunately we arrived just before a huge thunder and rainstorm, which actually made for a very fun run back (soaking wet) to the car. It was a beautiful little spot there.

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Nadiža river

 

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Medveja Beach

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And even though this was not part of Slovenia, I will add swimming in Croatia. My favorite swimming spot was at Medjeva beach. We got there early (with some resistance from our kids who were getting tired from travel) and found a great spot with some shade.

DSC09837I love this picture of Flora. It pretty much sums up her mood the entire trip. She said repeatedly that she loved Slovenia. That was a relief to hear. There was a lot of planning that goes behind something like this. Making sure we have kid friendly swimming opportunities, a balance between parent and adult fun, and frankly— Jaap and I always are thinking with the children in mine, so I don’t need her seal of approval. But, I loved hearing her say how much she was enjoying this vacation. The sights, the sounds, and most of all, the swimming!

Travel Gratitude: Slovenia & Croatia

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Our Slovenian holiday is one for the books! I am full of gratitude that I am living a life that enables me to travel with my loved ones to all these spectacular places. I have been wanting to go to Slovenia for several years now and this trip was built up a lot in my head. Our experience exploring Slovenia by far exceeded my expectations. I have nothing but incredible and amazing memories from this place.

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Before I forget, I wanted to jot down some of the incredible highlights and experiences. I am going to write more in details posts with pictures this week. But for now, I wanted to type these out so I never forget them.

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Swimming to the buoy in Lake Bled with Flora. Looking out at the clear emerald lake, resting on the buoy and looking up at the castle right above us. I will never forget sharing that with her.

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Swimming in the shallow end at Lake Bohinj. Bohinj was picturesque. I could have spent a week there. Getting to swim there and sit in the shallow end watching Flora swim about and Thibault play with rocks was my zen moment of the trip.

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Here are some other moments that have stood out:

  • Our incredible farm stay out in rural Slovenia near the Hungarian border. Mali Raj was fantastic!
  • Morning yoga on the balcony
  • The train ride into the caves at Postojna caves
  • Dinner at Lectar
  • Visiting the open air museum in Hungary
  • Jaap describing the thrill of one of the daring water slides at Terme 3000
  • Admiring the Julian Alps at Lake Jasna
  • Swimming in the Adriatic
  • The balcony views from our apartment out on the Opatija Riviera

These were some of the highlights and somehow we were able to create magical moments every single day by simply walking to a lake or hiking down a gorge. I’m incredibly grateful for this holiday of a lifetime.

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The Antrim Coast

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Every hour we spent in Northern Ireland was full of breathtaking sights. Views, outlooks, hikes, and adventures that literally took my breath away. It’s views that you see in movies and television right there up close and in person. Absolutely stunning.

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I think this photo of my parents and Flora about to climb back over the Carrick a rede bridge is one of my favorites of the entire trip. The emerald green water, sea breeze, sunshine, death defying heights! Northern Ireland is so lush and fresh, thousands of grazing sheep walking the hillsides, splashes of bright blues and greens everywhere you look, and enormous cliff sides. The landscape is quite dramatic, which made for some very cautious and nerve wracking hikes with Mr. T.

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The only time I have ever seen him nervous was walking over the rope bridge. There was a steady cautious walk happening while I held both his hands over the cross. I think the experience humbled him a little bit.

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It was a once in a lifetime experience. Although, I thought the descent down onto the bridge was more scary than walking the bridge itself.

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Our entire week in this northern region of Ireland was just nature hikes, coastal drives, and a few playgrounds here and there. I see now that it was not exactly the trip that Flora was hoping for. It was chilly and not a ton of activities that children find extremely interesting, but it was an experiment for us. Since I thought she loved Ireland so much the first time, I just assumed it would be the same this time around. Nonetheless, I loved the trip and I know that my parents found it to be very special.

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Donegal & Northern Ireland

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I’ve been thinking about writing these posts for about two months now. I can’t even remember what I was going to write. Only that we had a breathtaking trip in Donegal (Ireland) and Northern Ireland. I could return there a million times and still feel like we are discovering new beauties. To quote a good Irish friend, “It’s God’s country.” Truly an amazing place. Here are my favorite parts of our Donegal leg of the trip.

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Hiking Glenveagh National Park My parents are nature lovers and it’s probably the greatest love they instilled in us as children. They were so happy here exploring this park. Flora was wandering why we hiked 4 kilometers when we could have taken the bus. Smart girl. 🙂

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Dunfanaghy & Horn Head More breathtaking views driving the coast and some scary narrow roads up at Horn Head right outside Dunfanaghy. We walked the beach, had a delicious lunch, and finally a Guinness on day 2.

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A live session at Patsy Dan’s

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Rick Steves does it again! My father can make fun of me all he wants, but thanks to Rick Steves and his travel books we have had some memorable moments all over Europe. The live Monday night session in Dunfanaghy at Patsy Dan’s was thanks to his tip. We’re lucky we could catch a live session at 18:00. The kids loved it and I will never forget the accordion player. Top notch. We were able to enjoy a full hour of music and beer before the kids made us leave.

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An incredible find on Airbnb in Gortahork

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If you’re traveling to Donegal, stay in this place. A steal at about 100 euros per night! A beautiful new house, TONS of space, lots of comfort, and great views. I loved the communal atmosphere of the kitchen and cooking pancakes while the kids ate breakfast at the kitchen island. Little things like this make the trip great.

Donegal was a rugged and relaxed place to start our northern tour. More about Northern Ireland, Game of Thrones highlights, and exhilarating hikes on the next post.

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Rotterdam Girls Trip

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Flora and I had an amazing girls trip weekend to Rotterdam last week! What a modern and trendy place. I couldn’t believe how much there was to see and do. We had one night away from the boys (and Grandma) and two full days of good times!

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Flora posing at a Rotterdam icon

In no particular order, here are our highlights and memories.

Flora’s Faves:

The water taxi! By far the greatest part of this weekend was shooting around Rotterdam by water taxi. I will never forget the “taxi” driver and passenger laughing at how loud Flora and I were laughing. We were completely surprised by how fast the boat broke away from the harbor after crossing under the Erasmus bridge. It was hilarious.

 

Euromast. Checking out the views of the city on top of the Euromast and getting a better idea of how massive this port really is.

Sushi & dinner at Markhal with chopsticks for kids!

Lunch at the iconic Hotel New York another Rotterdam hot spot easily reached by water taxi, so we shot over there after our morning activity.

Maritime museum I must say. This place would have been heaven for Thibault. The top floor was all hands on for kids. Flora moved bags of rice with the crane for about 20 minutes. I saw other short toddlers moving “cargo boxes” the entire time. Thibault would have loved it and Flora did too.

Contemporary art on Witte de Withstraat I’m pretty sure Flora enjoyed this place more than I did. I was in love with her commentary and attention to detail while we walked through all of the exhibits.

Overall an incredible trip with my little lady. I love her curious mind, healthy appetite for Asian food :), and her traveling spirit. I can already see that she will be a traveler when she grows up. Walking through life now holding her hand as long as I can. XOXO.

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