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Entries about beach

The Slovenian Countryside

A castle, a cave, a beach, and one famous lake!


Day 11

We visited the same Venice cafe once again for yummy croissants and coffee. After packing up our things, we backtracked and took the vaporetto and the bus back to our parking spot on the mainland. It was much cooler doing this in the morning and it all went as planned. The car was waiting for our next adventure.

We drove a short distance to a mall, of all things. Teenagers still seem to like these things so we made it a lunch stop as well. Both kids scored a new shirt or two. We actually ate lunch at IKEA. Ha! They had different things at Italian IKEA such as calamari, pasta, and beer and wine. Nothing too special but it did the trick. We grabbed a few groceries at a giant hyper market because we would have a kitchen again for the next two nights.

The next stop was the beautiful Predjama castle in a new country to us, Slovenia! This is the largest cave castle in the world. The audio tour was really interesting and we were able to climb around the many levels of the castle. You could easily see where the natural cave and the manmade castle joined together. A really unique place to visit!

Finally, we checked into EkoTurizem Hudicevec. This place was fabulous! There was a huge play area with trampolines, a soccer and volleyball area, lots of animals, and we had a giant 2 bedroom apartment. We enjoyed playing frisbee, some foosball, soccer, and went for a short hike in the hills.

We ate a delicious and very unique dinner at the restaurant on the property. I actually ordered horse and it was yummy! Felt a little weird eating horse but it ended up tasting a lot like beef. DH couldn't get himself to try it and I completely understand. It was a nice way to end our first day in Slovenia.

Day 12 - Skojan Caves and Koper Beach

DH and I started the day with breakfast at the property. We enjoyed lots of local ingredients. Breakfast time ended at 8:30 which is just too early for teenagers on most days.

We had two plans for the day. A cave and the beach! We had tickets to tour Skojan caves, one of the largest caves in the world. We didn't know much about the cave and were in for an amazing experience. The cave was massive! The tour involved hundreds of stairs. One part of the cave had the largest underground chamber in Europe. It was enormous! The stalagmites were were so old and incredible. Half of the cave was "dry" and the other half had a river running through it. At one point, we crossed an incredibly high bridge above the river below. The tour was interesting and we ended up hiking 3-4 miles. It wasn't cheap to tour the cave but totally worth it for this experience. Best cave we have ever seen! I wish we were able to take pictures.

After the cave, we drove another 20 minutes or so to the beach town of Koper. Kids were hungry so we found a Bosnian place for lunch. Yum!

We found the recommended beach easily and had a great time swimming and chilling out in our little spot of shade. It felt so great to swim in the Adriatic Sea again. It was a really relaxing afternoon despite being in the upper 90s.

We found gelato in the little town before heading to another grocery store for dinner supplies. We even bought a new soccer ball for DD#2 so she could practice a bit on the trip. I made easy pasta and salad for dinner and we enjoyed more games and sports at the farm. My poor body was still sore from my dramatic Venice fall so it felt good to have a slow and relaxing evening.

Day 13 - Triglav Gorge Hike and Radovljica

We ate an easy breakfast in our room and enjoyed a last slow morning on the farm. We had a short one hour drive to our next destination, Triglav Gorge near Lake Bled.

First we found a nearby pizza place for a hearty lunch. Delicious pizzas!

We paid 5 Euros to park and another 30 Euros to walk the famous Triglav Gorge. There were timed entries and loads of people waiting to see the rushing river. I had to laugh part way through the walk because it reminded me so much of the McKenzie River in Oregon. Oregon is such a beautiful part of the world. The hike ended up being close to 5 miles and it was hot. Still, we got some beautiful pictures and enjoyed the exercise.

We checked into our first and only hostel of the trip in Radovljica, just a few kilometers from Lake Bled. The hostel was more like a hotel and very comfortable. It had air conditioning which made us very happy!

DH and I wandered around the very small old town and had happy hour. We found a traditional Slovenian place for dinner. We tried a mixed meat plate, strukli (a cheesy pasta kind of thing), Greek salad and potato croquettes. Very filling!

We ended the evening with another walk around the little town. We could hear a live music concert from the small music school in the town. There were some amazing college-aged musicians performing. All and all, this was a relaxing day without a lot of action, except for our Oregon-esque hike.

Day 14 - Glorious Lake Bled!


Wow oh wow! Lake Bled exceeded expectations. We started with an intense hike with a solid 30 minutes of steep vertical climbing where we discovered this view.

It was about 10am and the heat was still bearable but we were still a sweaty bunch. We made it down the mountain and started walking along the stunning lake shore.

After a quick beverage break, we headed up again to our 5th luge ride of the trip! This luge had a single rickety track that was not nearly as stable as the German ones. We took a chair lift to the top, loaded ourselves into some old looking cars and zoomed down the mountain. It was so steep and jerky! I usually never apply the brakes but had to on this luge. Fun but a little scary!

Next we rewarded ourselves with dessert for lunch. First time on this trip! Lake Bled is known for inventing the kremsnita cream cake so we had to try it. I especially liked the gibanica cake with poppy seeds, apples, raisins, and walnuts. So yummy!

Cute photo op along the lake.

We walked back around the lake again, got more water to drink, and finally found a shady spot where we would hang out for the next 90 minutes or so. The water felt amazing and it was one of the best swims ever. DD#1 and I made it about halfway to the island in the middle.

Goofy kids enjoying a hot day.

Lake Bled was even more beautiful than all of the pictures I had admired for years. I'm so glad we saw it from so many angles and even from in the water at the end of a special day. On to Ljubljana!

Posted by familyineurope 06:22 Archived in Slovenia Tagged beach caves lake castle bled predjama koper skojan Comments (0)

Delphi and Naxos Island

More history and some serious beach time!


More random thoughts:

  • Greek people work really hard. It is common to see the same shop owner at 10pm and again reopening shop at 8am the next morning. The same is true for the hotels we have stayed in. It is usually the same few people running the place from morning to late evening. There are tons of true mom- and-pop-type stores, hotels, and restaurants that are run by friendly Greek people.
  • Toilets. No toilet paper can be dropped in toilets in seemingly all of Greece. That has taken some getting used to!
  • Bugs. The critters and bigger and louder than anything at home. The crickets in the trees are incredibly loud - a lot like Florida. Luckily, there aren't many mosquitoes, but the big beetles, giant grasshopper-like things, and cockroaches are pretty shocking for someone from the PNW. We actually had four cockroaches in our hotel room in Athens! I was afraid that might set the scene for the rest of the trip but luckily it was an isolated experience.


After the mighty rock formations in Meteora, we drove about three hours on more windy narrow Greek roads to Delphi. This small town in the mountains was the site of the ancient sanctuary of the Oracle, who made important decisions throughout the ancient world. Many considered Delphi to be the center of the world. Pilgrims came to Delphi bringing gifts to the Oracle, leaving so many treasures to see in the archaeological museum. It's amazing to think of how impressive Delphi, formerly known as Pytho, would have been in its heyday, around 800 - 300BC.

We arrived to town before check-in so we parked and found delicious souvlaki. Not a very hard thing to do in Greece. Our pension, Pitho Rooms, was another intimate place with four beds in one smallish room. At least we had AC and were in the center of this small and touristy town. The setting was pretty amazing with views of the mountains and sea far below.

Like everywhere in Greece, cats roamed freely. Even with the neighborhood dogs!

Every town in Greece seems to have an abandoned hotel. This one has amazing views just on the edge of town. Great real estate.

A few random pictures from around the town.

Before dinner, we headed to the famous archaeological museum. I wonder what it must be like to unearth some ancient gift to the Oracle from 500 BC?

We had a somewhat touristy dinner outside.

No horns around the ancient site!

In the morning, we set off to explore the ancient sanctuary of Delphi. After seeing the museum, it was easier to imagine the importance of this place so long ago.

Ancient Legos?

After sweating it out and putting up with far too many tour groups, we decided to drive about twenty twisty downhill minutes to a nearby workaday beach town called Itea. We found a great seaside restaurant with seafood caught from their own boat. Perfect!

We returned to Delphi, relaxed and cooled off (it was extremely hot) and had a casual dinner at a place with a spectacular view.

We were ready for a long day following Delphi. We drove about 2.5 hours to the busy port of Piraeus, near Athens. We almost came full circle! We returned our rental car after some waiting around, stored our luggage, picked up our ferry tickets, and wandered around looking for coffee and food. The port area in Piraeus isn't very picturesque. We were hot and a little cranky but were happy to finally find a place with good meat.

We did a little shopping (the girls keep finding cheap treasures in the teen stores), watched giant ships, and awaited our Blue Star ferry to Naxos. A five-hour evening ride was in our near future!

Once we cooled down and figured out the ferry process, we were able to relax and enjoy the sunset.

It was strange arriving in Naxos at nearly 11pm. Our hotel owner picked us up, gave us a ride to our apartment, and we crashed for the evening. Poor DD#2 was sick in the night making it rather restless. Still we were very very happy to wake up and look out our balcony to see this.


It was kind of fun waking up to more sunshine in an unfamiliar place. DH and I walked down the road to a bakery/coffee shop and did some shopping at the nearby Spar supermarket. We were staying on Naxos for five nights and had a mini-kitchen so groceries were in order. Our apartment was on the fringe of Naxos town (Chora) so exploring the town was everyone's first priority. All the twisty little streets with the iconic white painted buildings and ground were photogenic.


We saw the gateway to Naxos. The ancient arch.

We had a casual lunch at Naxos Grill and walked to the nearby beach for some swimming. The water had more waves than the mainland but was crystal clear. The shades of aqua, turquoise, and blue were remarkable.

We walked back to town (about 10 minutes) for a seafood dinner right on the harbor front. The food was a little touristy but the setting was great. It was fun people watching and seeing another sunset. Plus, we scored great ice cream on our way back.

Another day at the beach

After a lovely morning run, we rode the bus about 15 minutes away to Plaka Beach. This beach is supposedly one of the prettiest beaches in Greece and we could see why. We had coffee and fruit at a cafe before finding Plakafe Beach and Pool, where we camped out for hours.


We made it back the hotel for a quick swim. We had our eye on a cafe with big TVs where we could watch the women's World Cup final game. We got a good table and enjoyed watching them win over Netherlands. Not many pictures from today, but a great day all around. In fact, we plan to repeat this same beach day later in the week.

Car Rental and Island Exploration

Our hotel owner made it really easy to rent a car for the day. It was delivered to our hotel in the morning and we paid a a reasonable daily rate. We were off to explore some more remote fishing and mountain villages. The roads were extremely narrow and windy! It was an adventure with some tremendous views.

Some concrete pumpers for my brother.

We continued driving around (thanks DH for managing the roads) and stopping at various places. We decided on a little fishing village, Apollonos, for lunch and a swim.

Old vs new wind energy!

Our last stop was at an old olive press museum where we learned how olive oil was made before modern machinery.

We ate dinner at a fancy-ish place where DH had the most amazing octopus ever! The food has been so remarkable. I have felt very spoiled eating out so often. Tomorrow will be our last day on Naxos before our family splits up for the remainder of the trip. DH and DD#2 will fly to Athens where they will spend the night before taking the long flight back to the west coast. DD#1 and I will continue our exploration of the Greek islands heading to Santorini and Crete. We get a bonus week in Greece! I'm sorry that DH has work and DD#2 has soccer, but I'm thankful that I will have some one-on-one time with DD#1. I won't be able to blog until I get home but I will finish, so stay tuned!

Posted by familyineurope 00:16 Archived in Greece Tagged beach ferry naxos delphi oracle piraeus Comments (1)

San Sebastian, Spain. Basque country!

Pintxos, beach time, and great views.

Beautiful San Sebastian


After another long six hour drive, we arrived in San Sebastian around 5pm. We rented a three bedroom flat which was about a 20 minute walk from the old town. The owner of the flat, who spoke almost no English, met us and helped us park the car at a nearby lot. He spoke in rapid Spanish (or Basque?) and we missed a lot of the information he gave us. We still managed to get by. It was a hot evening but we decided to walk to the old town to experience pintxos (Basque tapas) for dinner.


The beach was beautiful at twilight. We were surprised at how many people of all ages were out walking in the evening. Most women wore dresses or skirts and even folks into their 80s and 90s were out enjoying the summer evening.

We were quickly overwhelmed at the number of bars and restaurants in old town San Sebastian. It was difficult to choose a place to start! Many people poured out of restaurants onto the pedestrian-only narrow streets. Our first pick was so-so. Luckily, the second one was much better. We tried such a variety of foods: octopus, mussels, iberco ham, shrimp, other random seafood, croquettes, and much more. Most of the food was not labeled and set out on the bar counter for self-service. You simply grabbed what looked good and enjoy.

We laughed a lot, found a neat old square that used to host bull fights (the balconies were still numbered for special ticketing seating), and slowly made our way back through the crowds and somewhat deserted beach.


We were especially excited to buy beautiful paintings on the street from a man who paints with his fingers. Each painting took him about 2-3 minutes. And they're gorgeous!


We got back to our apartment late and eager for a full day in San Sebastian


Old Town, Mount Igeldo, Beach Time, & More Pintxos

We walked to the Old Town and had churros and chocolate for breakfast. The chocolate was as thick as pudding! Such a healthy way to start the day.


Today was a hot one. Over 90 degrees. We walked nearly three miles to the Mount Igeldo funicular. This old cable car took us up the steep hill for some incredible views.


Once at the top, DD#2 and I climbed a tower for even more views.


The girls and I rode an old time roller coaster with incredible views. You can see the part of the scenic track in this picture.


We had a snack and rode the funicular back down before heading to a somewhat calm spot on the busy beach. The girls and I jumped right into the Atlantic for an afternoon swim. The water was cold at first but was much warmer than Oregon's frigid coast! The beach was packed with people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. I think I was the only one wearing a mom tankini. Most women wore bikinis, with or without the top section! DH and my mom enjoyed some people watching while we swam.


We dried off, found some ice cream, and had a short break at our apartment before heading out for dinner.

We took a taxi to a different part of town called the Gros District. We went to a recommended restaurant for the best pintxos of the trip. Delicious! We still didn't know what we were eating most of the time but it was sure yummy. After dinner, we found a nice social square with a playground in the center. The kids happily played for nearly an hour (they met some kids from Texas) while the rest of us enjoyed an outdoor drink.


DH and DD#1 were exhausted and headed back around 10pm. The rest of us were eager to see the sunset and what old town was like after dark. We found a restaurant that served shark! We couldn't resist trying that!


We had a very full day. DD#2 was ecstatic to reach her fitbit record of 40,000 steps in a day! Needless to say, we all slept pretty well.

Mount Urgull & More Wandering San Sebastian

On our last day in San Sebastian, I knew I had to run. I went for one of the most scenic six mile runs ever! Afterward, we got a late start and found a cafe and playground to help us get motivated for the day.


We encountered many lovely churches and parks. We took so many pictures.


DH and I loved hearing this unique bassoon trio. They had serious chops!


We began a slow hike up Mount Urgull. There was a large statue on the top along with even more views of the ocean and city below. Some clouds had rolled in so it was a different view from the day before.


DD#1 was seriously worn out after all the walking.


Check out the man-made giant cube rocks along the shore and jetty!


We made our way down the mountain and had to find a place for a late 3pm lunch. We settled on our last pintxos experience. The small tapas thing is fun, but I think we were all eager for a normal meal. DD#1 and DH headed back to the room for some R&R while the rest of us did some shopping and more beach time. DH has had to trek to the car every evening to reload the parking pass (good for 24 hr).


We have enjoyed buying fruit everyday from local markets. The white nectarines have been everyone's favorite. Eventually, we all connected back at the flat for pizza and much-needed sleep. Off to Salamanca tomorrow!

Posted by familyineurope 22:58 Archived in Spain Tagged beach san sebastian pintxos igeldo urgell Comments (0)

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