Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Impromptu Weekend

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Friday Night
Rory: I'm heading home to Edinburgh for a few days tomorrow, you should come!
Sara: Sold.

Now, I may have omitted a bit from this story (i.e. the half bottle of wine that had previously been consumed earlier that evening before booking tickets), but the gist of it is: I went to Scotland on Saturday!

The long weekend was full of dogs, family dinners, walks, hot chocolates, exploring, cruising around in the benz (casual), visiting, me saying "ohhhhmygod I LOVE it here!" about eleven thousand times, breakfasts out, wellies, and cheesy tourist photos. 

I've got some more to share from the weekend, but here's a little taste for now! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Croatian Holiday: Dubrovnik

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On to what was my absolute favorite Croatian city: Dubrovnik.

How do I even describe it? I'm not sure I properly can. It honestly felt fake, the red clay rooftops, the sparkling turquoise water, the enormous city walls.

The drive there (we took a bus) was equally as scenic as the city itself; the road straddles the hills, winding over the sea seemingly dropping straight down into it at times. Passing tiny villages along the way, purple flowers and white walls.

The first thing on our agenda was a private tour Chris booked for the three of us, which started with our driver picking us up just outside our accommodations (we stayed here, for anyone wondering, and it couldn't have been more ideal, directly outside the Old Town walls), and we drove up a steep, steep, windy road to Srj Hill. The views of Dubrovnik from there were incredible. Again, it was like the city wasn't real. Our driver was so knowledgeable and gave us tons of information and history as we drove and looked out.

From there we went to Cavtat, a tiny town about twenty minutes out from Dubrovnik where we actually spent our last night in Croatia, so more on that later. And then we were dropped off in front of the Old Town walls again where the walking part of our tour would start. Another guide, more amazing sights and facts about Dubrovnik. Inside the Old Town walls, the city is like a labyrinth; winding streets and stairs every way you look, beautiful glossy stone streets and walls.

When the tour finished, we asked our guide what we should definitely do while there and his list was 1) walk the walls, 2) get gelato at La Dolce Vita, 3) eat pizza at Tabasco, 4) do a wine tasting at D'Vino. I'm happy to report we did all of those things, starting with pizzas at Tabasco for dinner.

Afterwards we headed back to the house and I ended up turning in early while Chris and Aaron wandered around the Old Town. Chris got apple pie gelato from La Dolce Vita and proceeded to talk about its amazingness for the rest of the trip.

The next day (Whew, are you still with me? Maybe I should have made this two posts..) Chris and I went to the Old Town bright and early to visit the market to buy candied orange and lemon peels sold locally each morning. They are delicious and addicting and you should definitely get some should you ever find yourself at the Dubrovnik Old Town marketplace at nine in the morning.

Next up: Game of Thrones tour! I remember months ago when we were first talking about this trip Chris asking if I'd be interested in doing in. My answer was naturally an enthusiastic YES. Another incredible tour that I definitely recommend; we walked all over Dubrovnik and our guide, who was a nerd in the absolute best way possible, knew everything about the books and shows and showed us all the filming locations they used in the city.

Included in the tour was the ticket to walk the walls, since they filmed some scenes on them as well. If you do only one thing while in Dubrovnik, it should be this. Despite getting caught in the loudest thunderstorm I have ever experienced and having to take shelter from the torrential downpour with espressos in a tiny cafe in the walls, it was still incredible. The walls circle the whole city (obviously) and lend to some of the most amazing views inside and out. We kept saying "this is SO AMAZING" every time we walked a few feet.

(Please excuse my insane hair, did I mention it was so windy I felt like I could have blown clear off the wall into the Adriatic? Because it was.)

Following lunch at a little family restaurant and gelato at La Dolce Vita, we ended our stay in Dubrovnik at D'Vino, a charming little wine bar. We each got a tester of 3, and sipped away for an hour or so before turning in back at the house.

Alright, one more Croatian Holiday post after this, and then back to England I came!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Croatian Holiday: Korcula

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After Hvar, we hopped on another boat to Korcula. Met by pretty flowers and sparkling blue water, we dropped our bags off at the little travel agency our guesthouse owners ran, and wandered off to explore and get some lunch. Unfortunately the place we ate was the worst meal any of us had ever had - so bad, in fact, all we could do was laugh about it afterwards - but the cute town (and, thankfully, the local Konzum grocey store) helped us get back in the right holiday mindset.

The island of Korcula is small, and the little town itself was even tinier. Full of cobbled streets and small side alleys everywhere you looked, I fell in love almost immediately. I think one of my favorite parts of every place we went to were all the small side streets, with clothes hanging out windows and flowers growing up walls. Little cats prowling around everywhere and kids selling seashells on the sides.

 We walked a little to what was supposed to be a nearby beach but turned out to be a sort of dock, but it was still lovely to lay in the sun and dip our toes in the water (me) and jump in to cool off (Chris & Aaron). I read Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? which is a hilarious read.

After we'd had enough sun we headed back into Korcula to get ready for dinner. We decided to treat ourselves after the catastrophic fail that was lunch, so we headed to one of the most highly recommended restaurants, and - thankfully! - it didn't let us down. We started with warm bread and red wine and all of us got the lamb as our main, which was incredible. The sun set as we ate outdoors and it was a really, really nice evening overall.

Afterwards we skipped dessert at the restaurant in favor of gelato at a tiny place next to where we were staying; I had tiramisu and nutella and ohhh my. A good choice, if I do say so myself.

(Also, can I just say that for two massive scoops it cost 75p.. WHAT KIND OF HEAVENLY BARGAIN?)

The next day we rented bikes from downstairs and rode to Lumbarda, a little town about six kilometres away. The ride there was absolutely stunning and I had one of those I can't believe this is actually my life moments. Dusky blue mountains jutting into the bright blue sky behind deep green fields and trees. We rode through fields of grapes right before getting to the beach. It was so beautiful. And then, the beach. Ahhhh. The first sandy beach we'd been to, with warm water and a little breeze coming off the sea. It was bliss. I finished reading my book, drank a few ciders, went for a few swims to cool off. Got burnt. Again.

After a few hours we rode back (I saw a lizard!), showered and then napped in our room, and went out for dinner again in one of the tiny side alleys. We all got pizzas and beers and it was a wonderful end to a chilled out stay in Korcula.