Saturday, June 26, 2010
Have you ever noticed that when you see commercials for Hawaii or other tropical tourist destinations, you leave for your vacation fully expecting to see those exact same crystal blue waters and empty beaches – only to be greeted by murky waters and beaches that are so crowded that you can't even find a place to sit, let alone think or read a book?
That is not at all what Croatia is like. Every awe-inspiring photo on their travel brochure is true to life. The beaches in Croatia look exactly like that. Not only are they beautiful, but there are so many of them that none of them are crowded. This makes for the perfect vacation.
I have to admit that traveling with a baby isn't the easiest thing to do. But the flights to and from Croatia was a breeze with Stella. She slept almost the whole time, both ways. We arrived to balmy temperatures and found our way to the bus and didn't even get lost on our way to our hotel, even though we knew exactly zero words in the Croatian language.
One of our favorite places that we visited was the famous Old Town area in Split. The wall is still surrounding part of the city and within the walled limits, there are a maze of walkways with all-sized shops selling everything from souvenirs to upscale fashions.
Even better than Old Town Split was our adventure to Brela, Spain. We braved the public transportation busses again, journeyed to this famous city, and found that it was well worth the trip (and successive hike down to the beach). There are more restaurants and beaches than you could visit in an entire vacation, the local seafood is delicious and the walkways along the beach are perfect for families with small children who are in strollers or walking. My favorite sight was the little rock island with trees and vegetation covering it - only a few hundred feet from the beach.
We are looking forward to finding a way to visit Croatia again soon. I think we have agreed that this has been our favorite trip so far!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Schützenfest is a tradition that originated as a Marksmens festival hundreds of years ago. Now, Germans use their local Schützenfest as a reason to party. Lilli joined us and helped to translate and explain to us what is going on. It was awesome to have her with us.
We rocked the bumper cars, ate a huge bratwurst, watched some of the bands play as they marched through town, and stopped for ice cream and coffee before following the parade procession that went all through town and ended at the house of the newly crowned Schützenfest King.
Once we arrived at the Schützenfest King's house, vodka shots were handed out and music was played by the band. It was great to be part of the local German tradition.
Our neighbors (Sigfried and Elza) took us to the Meer (Sea). They don't speak any English, and we barely speak any German, but that doesn't keep them from talking! Sigried is known for going off on lengthy rants about who-knows-what, but we just smile and nod and enjoy the company.
The Meer was beautiful. Stella saw some ducks and made the "duck" sign. We soaked up some sun, tasted some delicious fresh eel sandwiches, walked around and chit-chatted with our German friends and stopped for some ice cream before heading home.
There is an awesome pool just a few minutes from our house. Stella loved the pool and watched the other kids with curious intention while they ran around and splashed in the cool water. I can tell that it's just a matter of time before she's joining them. I can't wait.
A few days later, when the pool wasn't open yet and it was too warm to sit inside, we decided to give her an outdoor bath. She thought that was pretty fun. We will definitely be spending more and more time outside now that summer is here!
It turns out that the mineral water spa in Spa, Belgium is quite possibly one of my favorite places ever. From the town center, we took a tram up the side of a mountain to arrive at the Thermes Day Spa. The view of the city was breathtaking and it was the perfect location to spend a few hours relaxing and soaking in the famous therapeutic waters.
We spent the rest of our time in Spa relaxing and spending time with Stella outside, since the weather was so perfect. I can't wait to go back to Spa, Belgium one day.