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Sunny Bol, Croatia! (Plus some travel & Frankfurt)

Sunshine and blue water. Let's get this vacation started!

The clear waters in Bol, Croatia. Just how did we get to this beautiful place?

It is still feeling a bit surreal to be so far from home after such a complicated and tumultuous year and a half. Somehow after two long travel days, we have found ourselves in a little bit of paradise on Brac Island in Croatia. We left Oregon on Monday and I am finally starting to unwind on Friday as I write this entry.

Day One - Loads of Travel and a Frankfurt Layover

We flew to San Francisco where we discovered the new outdoor lounge. It is so nice to get outside when you are waiting in an airport. As we were waiting and hearing announcements in other languages, it was hard not to be a little emotional about how lucky we felt to be able to travel internationally. This trip was complicated for a number of reasons. We had to change dates rather last minute, kept close track of covid restrictions in every place we would transit and visit, and plan for a variety of scenarios.

When we settled into the giant plane that would fly to Frankfurt, it all felt a little real and oh so right! Even the plane food tasted better than ever.

We all managed to sleep a bit and watch a few movies. We arrived in Frankfurt around 9am and had eight hours to spend in the rainy city. We bought an all-day u-bahn pass and took a short metro ride into the city. After some wet wandering, we found pastries, coffee, and traditional German architecture that we had missed so much!

Germany had only recently opened up to tourism and covid precautions were very much in place. When we finally found a nice restaurant for lunch, we had to show our vaccination cards and register to eat there. It was so worth it though for a fabulous meal! The Frankfurt-famous green sauce was my favorite! I also enjoyed the flammkuchen (onion and bacon pizza-like thing), spaetzle, and schnitzel. We were stuffed and ready to head back through security at the airport.

We were hitting our limits of exhaustion. We all took turns taking naps in the airport and on the final short flight to Zagreb, Croatia.

We arranged a short shuttle ride to our simple room for the night right near the airport. It was already nearly 8pm and somehow we were still a little hungry. We found excellent salad and pizza nearby and called it a night. Those two travel days were long, a bit painful, but worth every minute!

Day Two - Drive, ferry, and drive a little more

We had an incredible breakfast feast at our hotel (Rooms Barba Niko if you need a place by the Zagreb airport).

DH rented a Volkswagen T-Roc and we were on our way. We took a long but easy toll road all the way to Split. The countryside was green and lush with very few towns or traffic. This was a good thing because we were trying to make a 1:30 ferry to Brac Island!

We made great time and were super impressed with the giant ferry. There was even a below-deck secret passage for small cars. One woman begged the ferry worker to not make her drive down there! We got an easy spot on the main level. Phew!

The forty minute ferry ride was beautiful but boy was it hot!

When we arrived on the island, we had another 40 minute drive through some twisty roads to finally arrive in Bol. We were struck immediately by the beautiful blue water and white stone buildings.

We bought a few groceries and checked into a nice two bedroom apartment about 5-10 minutes from the beach. The AC was working well in each bedroom. Thank goodness!

DD#2 and I checked out the cute town, found some ice cream, and a friendly looking place that had Czech Staropramen on draft. The rest of the family joined us and we still felt a little disoriented with all the travel we'd accomplished in just two days.

We ordered easy pizza for dinner. Pizzeria Gogy was just next door! The kids and I hiked down at night for a late-night swim. Ahhhh! We'd arrived.

Day Three - Bol, Bol, Bol!

I was determined to pack as much as possible into our one day in Bol. Even though it was in the mid-80s, I set out for a hot run to scope out some of the nearby beaches. I found the perfect spot just beneath a monastery outside of town. I went back, had a simple breakfast in the apartment, gathered the family, and hit the beach! We loved swimming in the clear waters. I especially loved hearing the church bells as we swam.

Here are some abandoned communist-era hotels with some impressive graffiti.

Amazing cemetery with a view.


We cooled off in the apartment for a while, ate some snacks, and DD#2 and I set off for the most iconic and famous Zlatni Rat beach. The beach was very busy but we still hopped in and enjoyed people watching. I was happy with the smaller beach we spent more time at in the morning. The famous beach was about 20 minutes away so we looked at little shops, and swam in another beach on the way back.

DD#2 remarked on one of our walks that she had forgotten all about covid. It's true. There were few masks (except for indoor situations) and people just seemed relaxed and in holiday-mode. There were random covid testing sites - even along the beach! There were cute beach cats everywhere.

Somehow, the heat was keeping us from being very hungry. But is was happy hour again!

We bought a couple souvenirs in the small town, ate more gelato, and enjoyed an amazing dinner at Ranc Restaurant. We had black risotto, octopus salad (my favorite), calamari, and Greek salad. I tried my first Croatian wine (very good) and we were stuffed. I love that my family is willing to try new foods!

A few of the kids cute instragram shots around town.

Between the heat, walking, running, and swimming, we were exhausted. In our short time on Brac, we felt like we got over our jet lag and remembered the true bliss of being in vacation mode!

Day Four - Bye Bol, Hello Dubrovnik!

The kids had been eyeing this amazing floating obstacle course so naturally, we had to start our day here before leaving the island.

DH and I relaxed with coffee at a little cafe that overlooked the obstacle course. I grabbed a few pastries at the local bakery, and we cleared out of apartment number one. It served us well. We drove about 25 minutes to another part of Brac (Sumartin) where we caught a very different ferry to Makarska. This was one tiny ferry! I had serious doubts that we would fit. DH had to back the car onto the boat along with trucks and vans.

The dramatic white and grey mountains jutting out of the sea in the distance were stunning!

It was hot once again so took refuge in the air conditioned car and drove about three hours south to Dubrovnik. We passed through a small part of Bosnia where we had to show passports both leaving and reentering Croatia. The communist-style architecture was most evident in Bosnia.

We found a large grocery store before finding our apartment in Dubrovnik. We were stocked for four nights in this fabulous city. I will stop the entry here and save Dubrovnik for next time. This adventure just keeps getting better. We feel so lucky to be so far from home.

Posted by familyineurope 19:27 Archived in Croatia Tagged swimming croatia frankfurt brac bol layover air_travel covid Comments (2)

Rhine River, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Mom Arrives, Black Forest

Last days in Germany. Boats, chairlifts, gondolas, luges, zip-lining, and more!

Circle tour around Bingen & Rudesheim


We began another sunny day with C & R. I started with a short run around the countryside before heading to a yummy bakery. We drove about 40 minutes to the riverside town of Bingen. We were eager to buy the "ring ticket" which combined a boat ride, a mini-gondola, a hike to a famous statue, a chair lift, and a boat back to where we started. We had a little time to kill before the first boat departed so we found a convenient beer garden.


After the first boat ride, we arrived in the adorable town of Rudesheim. We walked down a popular skinny street to the gondola lift. Each gondola only fit two people. We were so happy to have such a beautiful day to ride over the vineyards lining the Rhine River.


After the 10 minute gondola ride, we hiked up to a famous statue with amazing views over the valley and river below.


We hiked another 30 minutes to the chair lift that took us back down to the riverside. It was a slow and quiet lift except for the noisy birds. I could listen to German birds all day long. Such sweet singing!


Finally, we took our boat back to the starting point after going past a castle or two. We had a quick pizza snack before concluding the ring.


The guys decided to head back to the house while the girls headed to a fun outdoor pool in Wiesbaden. The pool was chilly but the slides were awesome and we took some great pictures of the kids hurling themselves off the diving boards.


We ordered doner kebab for dinner. Delicious! R took each kid for an adventurous ride on his 4-wheeler. They spotted deer, bunnies, and stork on their rides. We sat outside and visited until too late once again.


Darmstadt, World of Beer, Mini-Golf, & Last BBQ


On our last full-day in the Frankfurt area, we decided to take it easy. R and I walked to the nearby bakery for a few breakfast goodies. We weren't in a hurry to go anywhere today, which was really nice. We decided to check out the nearby town of Darmstadt. We explored the HUGE Maruhn beverage store before hitting the center of town. So many beers from all over the world!


We really liked the livable town of Darmstadt. I'm so impressed with the pedestrian areas in every German town I've visited. We had ice cream, did a little shopping, found a local brewery for lunch, and went to a grocery store to buy a few German snacks.


We also went to a park just outside of town where DH, C and the girls played mini-golf. R and I went for a walk on some pretty trails.


We had another BBQ with yummy meats and salads. C went to the trouble to prepare white asparagus, spargel, two different ways. Spargel is only available during this season. We also had a yummy cocktail that seems to be very popular around here - an aperol spritzer. They made fantastic ones! It was a very nice last evening in Dornheim. We are so lucky and thankful to have spent such wonderful time with family. They really showed us a great time!


Frankfurt, Mom Arrives, Drive to the Black Forest


After some goodbyes to family, we drove to Frankfurt to check out the city and eagerly await for my mom to arrive at the airport in the afternoon. We parked at the airport, took the train into the city, found a bakery for breakfast, and explored several parts of the city.


We climbed 323 steps up to the top of Frankfurt's largest church. Stunning views of the city from the top.


We found more ice cream, walked across a pedestrian bridge that was filled with love locks, and took the train back to the airport.


We waited a long time for my mom to arrive. The Frankfurt airport is huge so there was a mix-up in finding the right meeting place. Once we were finally reunited, we drove south toward the Black Forest. We made a quick stop in Baden-Baden for dinner at a traditional (touristy!) biergarten.


We were very happy and relieved to finally arrive at our cute farm apartment at 9:30pm. What a day!


Zip-lining and Luging through the Black Forest. Woohoo!


After waking up to more bird singing, we made our way to the nearby town of Hornberg for another bakery and coffee. We sat on a picturesque square and looked up at a castle above. We decided to drive up there to investigate. Great views of the valley to start our day.


We stopped at a grocery store for breakfast foods and a few random snacks. Then it was time to split up for separate adventures. My mom, DH, and DD#1 went off on a zip-lining excursion while DD#2 and I went to a nearby luge and outdoor folk museum. (DD#2 was too small for the zip-line.) Both activities were such an adrenaline rush! My mom was so brave and loved racing above the Black Forest. The luge was very fast with sharp turns. We went as fast as we could!


We all reassembled for a few more luge runs. My mom and DD#2 got the fastest clocked speed - 51.6 km/hr with me and DD#2 at 51.3 km/hr in 2nd place. Still can't believe my mom beat me!


Our guesthouse gave us a free pass to use the train system so we decided to take advantage. We took a 1/2 hour ride through the forest to a small town called Alpirsbach which has a highly-rated brewery and biergarten. We relaxed outside and shared smoked trout and more sausage before taking the scenic train back.


After this adventurous day, we were more than happy to return to our little farm cottage to watch the cows and listen to the birds.


Steinwasen Amusement Park and Freiberg


I went for a run and we had a quick breakfast in our little apartment before making an hour drive to Steinwasen Park. The roads were so hilly, narrow, and windy. We're relieved that no one got car sick! The amusement park was fantastic. There were no lines or crowds and the rides were unique and just plain fun! We were able to go on every ride multiple times. It did rain pretty hard at one point and we were all soaked. But we were having so much fun that it didn't really bother anyone. The amusement park had a bobsled, a luge, a chairlift, a cool water rafting ride, a couple fast indoor rides, a 4D theater ride, as well as lots of play structures, animals, and scenery. I am a big fan of these little German amusement parks. Three years ago, we visited Bayern Park which was a little bigger but had a similar vibe.


We had a quick lunch at the park before going on even more rides. (I finally tried the famous Black Forest cake.)


After we finally wore ourselves out, we made a short drive to the very pleasant town of Freiberg. We found a brewery for a beer (yes, there is a pattern) and did a little shopping and exploring before picking an amazing doner place for dinner. Euphrat Restaurant had a line out the door and it was easy to see why. Yum! We had more ice cream, drove a different way back to our apartment, and called it a day.


The girls jumped on the trampoline in the rain for nearly an hour. Finally, I had the time to work on this blog. I will be sad to leave Germany tomorrow but am eager to return to France. We have a long drive to Amboise, France ahead.


Posted by familyineurope 22:27 Archived in Germany Tagged germany frankfurt luge rudesheim darmstadt freiberg dornheim gutach zip-line Comments (1)

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