Nov 19, 2017

Lake Bled, Slovenia / Ljubljana, Slovenia

A blurb from my instagram post closer to the date of travel pretty much sums up this trip: " Easter in Slovenia. The sour of the trip was dropping my cell phone in the toilet and zapping it for good. Omg who has done this??! Please take my advice and do not place a cell phone in your back pocket, it's probably the worst place for it. The sweets of the trip were riding bicycles through the farmlands and getting caught in the rain, reading scriptures about the resurrection with Alex, hiding easter eggs for Brecken, watching him totally crush easter candy, annnnd listening to hours of awesome podcasts on our road trip home." 

I am just now revisiting Easter weekend past, when spring was starting to peek out and we were finally thawing from a long European winter. Chatting with a few local friends about our holiday weekend plans, they were surprisingly curious as to why we would even be slightly interested in traveling to Slovenia. Our good friends are German natives who have traveled many parts of the world. They turned up their noses when we said our destination country for Easter would be Slovenia. "Why on earth would you waste your time going there?" one exclaimed. I responded, "Have you traveled there and had a bad experience, please tell!" Ya'll.. She had never been there. Just assumed it was a poor Eastern European country not worth visiting. 

Here's the first hand scoop from our personal experience in this country. We spent six hours in the car from Germany to Slovenia. Anyone who has driven through Austria knows that the jaw dropping scenic views will keep boredom at bay. If that doesn't keep you entertained, get your learn on by listening to podcasts. Slovenia's scenery seemed like an extension of Austria to tell you the truth. It had emerald green lakes, caves, mountains, castles, and beautiful green forests. Slovenia was much more inexpensive and less crowded with tourists. I rented us a modern studio apartment in a rural setting directly in-between Lake Bled and Ljublijana. To give you an idea of how inexpensive Slovenia was, our apartment for the weekend only cost 50 dollars per night. Activities for the weekend included row boating on Lake Bled, walking around Lake Bohinj, hiking through the Skocjan caves, touring the city of Ljublijana, setting up an Easter egg hunt for our little dude, and riding bikes through farm fields to have Sunday lunch at the BRDO estate. While we had a nice vacation, I remember us feeling a bit bored on this one. A heavy rainstorm came into the valley and was forecasted to stay for a few days. With all items on our itinerary crossed off, we decided to forgo one more night in our apartment and head back home to Germany a day early.

Travel Notes

Visoko Apartment
Situated between Lake Bled and Ljublijana, this apartment was perfect for the three of us and made for easy access to many sights. A large grassy area and a river can be found behind the apartment; any child would love this outdoor space. The owners have a small management office within walking distance from the apartment and are available for questions, concerns, and concierge services. They couldn't have been nicer and even allowed us to use their bikes for a few hours!

Pop's Place
I love to search Tripadvisor for top restaurant reviews in the given city we are touring. Pop's Place had a high ranking and I loved the industrial hipster interior style + the thought of a good craft beer and a deluxe burger sounded like the taste of America we were craving. It was a nice lunch but sorry Pop's.. I can't write on here and say that it was the best burger we've ever had. 

Skocjan Caves
Read all about the caves prior to walking through them + find a map to help you reach them!

BRDO Estate
Home to a congress center, hotel, castle, and a park area that also has a horse stable, ponds, and walking paths. 

We drove from Germany as mentioned above but if this is not an option for you, the best option would be to fly into Ljublijana and rent a car to drive around the region. 

Itinerary- 3 days and 2 nights
  • Day 1
    • Depart Stuttgart in the am and arrive in Lake Bled early afternoon
    • Lunch at Lake Bled
    • Boat rental
    • Walk around the town
    • Drive to Lake Bohinj / walk around the lake
    • Apartment check-in 
    • Grocery shop
    • Dinner at apartment
  • Day 2
    • Breakfast at apartment
    • Drive to Skocjan Caves and tour 
    • Drive to capital city
    • Lunch and walking around Ljubljana 
    • Dinner at apartment 
  • Day 3 
    • Breakfast at apartment
    • Family time near apartment 
    • Bike ride to BRDO estate
    • Lunch at BRDO estate 
    • Check-out and return to Germany

Apr 30, 2017

Porto, Portugal

My first glimpse of Porto was through the window of a cab as we made our way from the airport to our apartment in the historical center known as Ribeira. Colored paint, graffiti, or patterned ceramic tiles embellished the facades of many of the buildings. Clothes hung out of windows or were strung on clothes lines across alleys, drying in the warmth of the sun. Our apartment sat along the Cais de Ribeira with a waterfront view of the Douro River and the port houses in Vila Nova de Gaia. Street artists played music, hoping for a few euros to be thrown in their instrument cases as their melodies filled the ears of tourists. We walked and walked this city: Grandma, Alex, Brecken, and myself; seeking out the best food, wine, playgrounds, ceramic souvenirs, and photo-ops!

Probably one of my favorite parts of visiting Porto was touring the port houses to learn about the history and production of port wine! At the Calum house, our tour ended with a port sampling and Fado show (traditional folk music popular in Lisbon and Porto that can be traced back to the 1800's). We sat in a dark room as the spot light fell on our entertainment for the night, a man and woman with the loveliest voices, singing in Portuguese and strumming along on a viola. The songs were so beautiful and full of emotion. Brecken stood on the bench to get a better view, stomping his feet to the beat and excitedly clapping and laughing after each song, yelling "yay! do it again!" He was the youngest audience member and maybe one of the most entertained. 

A funny story from the trip just came to mind and I thought I would share / document for a future laugh. We were so hungry after we arrived in the city and were excited to try out the local cuisine. I ordered a dish called Tripas a moda, the english translation being rice, sausage, and beans in sauce. When the waiter brought me the dish, there were large pieces of bone floating in the sauce along with what appeared to be fatty puckered chicken skin, or so I thought. It seemed quite odd to me and although the taste of the sauce wasn't so bad, I couldn't get past what was floating in it. My curiosity got the best of me and I decided to do a google search, before taking another bite. TRIPE. Yes, that was what I thought looked like chicken skin. It's actually the lining of a cows stomach. Nope, done. I was so grossed out I couldn't even finish it. The remaining meals in Porto were amazing, I will praise a good tapas bar over and over. 

Travel Notes

Ribeira Negra Apartment
This apartment was in the PERFECT location. We could sit on the rooftop balcony and watch everything that was happening on the promenade with a stone's throw away from the Dom Luis Bridge. The interior was very modern and the property manager was so sweet and great to work with. 

Tasca Caseira
This was a small establishment with a few tables nestled in close to one another. The service, hospitality, and food were all top-notch. Brecken was treated so well, although at first glance it wouldn't have been a place I would have thought was kid-friendly. 

The Wine Box
We fell in love with this small Wine and Tapas Bar around the corner from our apartment. Their tapas menu was extensive and the wine was even more so. This establishment ships wines internationally so we purchased from them and had the wine delivered to our doorstep in Germany a day after arriving home. 

Tempero D'Maria
Our last meal in Portugal and it didn't disappoint. This restaurant is located in the Vila Nova de Gaia area. The food was full of flavor and fresh!

Wine Cellars
This is a great website that lists the wine cellars in Porto along with a brief description about them, their opening times, and address.

Livraria Lello
A bookstore that has been the inspiration for many known authors. JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, frequented this bookstore while she lived in Portugal and taught English. 

Airline: We found cheap tickets from Germany to Porto via EasyJet. 

Taxi was arranged through the property management staff of our airbnb for transportation to and from the airport. 

Itinerary- 4 days and 3 nights
  • Day 1
    • Depart Stuttgart in the am and arrive in Porto early afternoon (flight time 2 hours)
    • Transfer taxi to apartment
    • Apartment check-in 
    • Walk the Ribeira are to eat lunch
    • Livraria Lello
    • Touring around city
    • Grocery shop for apartment
    • Wine and tapas at apartment for dinner
  • Day 2
    • Breakfast at apartment
    • Aerial Sightseeing (Teleferico) Vila Nova de Gaia
    • Lunch at a cafe
    • Ferreira Wine Tour
    • Apartment for nap
    • Dinner at Tasca Caseira
  • Day 3 
    • Breakfast at apartment
    • Shopping / Touring
    • The Wine Box for Tapas lunch
    • Nap at the apartment 
    • Callum Wine Tour / Fado Show 
    • Dinner at Tempero D'Maria 
    • Pack for early morning departure 
  • Day 4 
    • Check-out and travel day

Powered by Blogger.
Designed By Boutique-Website-Design