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Zagreb for the Finish

Four nights in the big city to finish off our epic trip

Day 24 - Introduction to Zagreb


As we drove to our last destination, I could feel the pace and energy slowing down among my family. I had one last coffee in Rovinj before we hit the road. It gave me a moment to reflect on the incredible adventure I had been so lucky to share with my favorite people in the world.

We continued to be impressed with the toll roads in Croatia. We made great time and decided to stop in the town of Karlovac just 45 minutes outside of Zagreb to explore a small castle and eat lunch. The castle had been restored and was pleasant, though not dramatic.

We were lucky that one of the best restaurants in town was in the castle's small courtyard. The burger and steak sandwich were the winners this time.

We drove into busy Zagreb (about 800,000 people) and easily found our apartment. What a place! The apartment was huge with striking lighting fixtures and only about 5 minutes walk to the center square. There was only one small AC unit in the entry way which did not cool the place down as much as we would have liked. We have found that most places in Europe do not provide fans. That would have helped a lot. Oh well.

We headed into the main part of town to get a feel for the place. Such beautiful and grand buildings! Many buildings were surrounded with scaffolding most likely due to two large earthquakes that occurred in 2020. One local told us that each earthquake happened during separate Covid lockdowns. She joked that lockdowns didn't go well in Zagreb.

DH and I ditched the kids, who needed more hang-out time by this point anyway, and found happy hour. Zagreb is known for their craft beer scene so we were excited! I even had the Fakin IPA right below the mural.

We reunited and located a beer garden for dinner. The menus in Zagreb were decidedly different from coastal Croatia. It almost felt more German or Hungarian. I enjoyed goulash (better than it looked) and DH had smoked pork knuckle. So yummy!

Everyone was wearing down, except for me, so I decided to take a night stroll and get my bearings in this new vibrant city.

Day 25 - Day-trip to Samobor and more Zagreb

We still had our rental car for one more day. I had envisioned a more ambitious outing but we opted to stay close to the city and explore nearby Samobor. This cute town is known for its delicious cream cake and had another crumbling castle waiting to be explored. First we had to earn the cake by hiking up a rather precarious trail to a castle that had seen better days. I still can't get enough of these old things!

We found our cake lunch. The Samoborska kremšnita cake was not a disappointment!

I snapped a few more pictures of pretty Samobor before we returned our car to the airport. The Volkswagen T-Roc had served us well.

Once we settled back at the apartment after an Uber ride from the airport, DH and I decided to check out the Museum of Naive Art. I loved the masterpieces by these untrained artists. Many were painted on glass, cardboard, cloth, and other nontraditional materials.

We had a nice look at St. Mark's Cathedral with its striking tiled roof. This area is considered upper town and had a great view of lower town below.

We made dinner reservations at SOI Fusion Bar for Asian food. The place was popular and we were unable to get in the night before. It was so refreshing to eat Pad Thai, Khao Soi, and Poke. We all loved our dishes.

Even I was tired by this point so we relaxed in the apartment and began imagining how we could get our belongings packed and on an airplane home.

Day 26 - Covid Testing and More Wandering

This day's entry will be short. I started with a memorable run around the city. All the parks and greenways made for a scenic run. We bought pastries again. This happens way more than the blog admits! We found a local chain called Dubravica that was fabulous! We also found delicious coffee before coming back to the apartment for do-it-yourself Covid testing. This antigen test was super easy and linked with an app on our phones. We live-streamed with a person who lead us through the process and confirmed the results. Luckily, we all tested negative.

We met at the famous Dolac Market for a little exploration. The produce section was enormous as was the indoor cheese section.

Zagreb was full of bicycle food delivery people. They zoomed by at impressive speeds! I would assume this sort of food delivery became even more popular during Covid.

We found a delicious and well-known sandwich place for lunch. The portions were enormous!

The girls went off to do a little shopping while DH and I explored the Museum of Broken Relationships. This museum was filled with heartfelt, funny, and very tragic short stories about breakups. Each story was accompanied by an artifact from the relationship. There's a sister museum in Los Angeles. We spent over an hour reading the stories.

We met up again and had a little trouble deciding on a restaurant for dinner. The city is full of choices but sometimes that makes decision making even harder. We walked about 15 minutes away from the center and found a great meaty place. Eating like this will have to stop!

We found generous gelato on the way home and called it another day.

Day 27 -Last day in Croatia and Tram Riding

I went out for morning coffee. Twice. I like the Croatian/Italian coffee culture but also miss the larger sizes of American coffee. I was craving a 16 oz mocha by this point!

We bought tram tickets for the day and enjoyed the novelty of riding them to lesser-known parts of Zagreb. The first stop was Mirogoj Cemetery. This place was enormous with beautiful buildings. We wandered around after riding the nearly-empty trams.

It started to rain a bit so we took the tram in the opposite direction to a recommended beer place. The place was in the strangest area and was nearly deserted. It was surprising because it was a really nice bar! I should mention that it was Sunday and many things were closed in Zagreb. The streets were quiet and I can only assume that locals spend their Sundays at home and with family.

We found a sushi restaurant for an afternoon snack. Kids were thrilled!

Sushi was expensive so we were still hungry. We were also running out of things to do with the energy levels we had! We rode the tram another 30 minutes in a different direction for more food. Such a healthy snack this time!

Sadly, it was time to pack. We headed back to our pretty apartment and managed to fit all our belongings plus a few new ones into our luggage. We arranged for a taxi to pick us up at 4:20am. Yuck. DD#2 and I did take one final stroll around the center of Zagreb. We found gelato, filled our ears with the Croatian language for the last time, and brought our tired selves back for a good night's sleep. It was hard to say goodbye to Croatia but we also felt ready to go home.

Day 28 - Goodbye Europe

The early taxi situation worked well and brought us to Zagreb's pleasant airport. We found exactly one place open for coffee that early.

We took a short flight to Munich where DH and I decided to try the typical Bavarian breakfast of weisswurst, pretzel, and weiss beer. It was delicious and a perfectly unique start to a very long day.

The flight to San Francisco was long involving lots of movies and average airplane food.

It is nice to be home yet I would fly back to Croatia tomorrow if I could. There are so many reasons why we return to Europe as often as we can. If travel is permitted, you can bet we will be back in summer 2022!

Posted by familyineurope 22:19 Archived in Croatia Tagged zagreb tram munich samobor Comments (1)

New car, Nuremberg, & Bamberg!

Finally got some sweet wheels, castles, gorgeous towns, more swimming & more beer gardens!

BMW European Delivery!


We left our hotel early and headed to the BMW Welt to collect our new car. Again, we are feeling incredibly lucky and spoiled to have such opportunities. We had a light breakfast in the lounge area and got a thorough explanation of the car from a knowledgeable guy named Rudolph. The car is wonderful and DH couldn't be more happy. We relaxed for a while in the lounge before making the relatively short drive to Nuremberg for lunch.


It is so handy having sim cards in our phones for google maps, messaging, phone calls, Facebook, etc... Every time we travel, it's a little easier to stay connected. I admit that I miss the aimless wandering that I've always enjoyed. Sometimes it's too predictable to have the google lady tell you about every turn. I think we will have to turn her off at some point! We found the famous Nuremberg sausage place - Bratwursthaustl. We could see the famous finger-sized sausages cooked over open flames.


We walked in the heat uphill to the Nuremberg Castle. Nuremberg was seriously bombed in WWII. They have rebuilt much of the city and construction and restoration was still going on at the castle today. We climbed the tower for some lovely views and got to see the old castle's well. The guide poured water into the well so you could hear just how deep it was. She also lowered candles that were surrounded by modern cameras so you could view the interior of the well on a screen. We didn't understand the German commentary but it was still interesting.


We found ice-cream, a few more photo-ops, and a grocery store for some supplies before driving a bit further to our hotel. We are staying at Gasthof Schilller just outside of Bamberg. It's a smallish hotel with a popular beer garden outside. We noticed that we were the only English-speaking people at dinner. We opted for salad and fish after many pork and sausage-heavy meals.


DH and I happily enjoyed a beer while the girls went up to the room to hang out. All and all, a really pleasant day in northern Bavaria.


After a nice run, in the countryside, we started our day with another typical German breakfast. The kids are most fascinated with the cool automatic espresso machines. I admit that they are pretty nifty! We drove about 20 minutes to the Bamberg Altenburg Castle. It had yet another tower to climb with beautiful views overlooking Bamberg. I might just attempt to climb a tower a day on this trip! This tower was especially interesting because it had been turned into a cell phone tower. A little blending of old and new, I guess.


After wandering around the beautiful castle for a while, we drove to a very different attraction - Bambados. Bambados is an amazing swimming center with both indoor and outdoor pools and slides. Temperatures reached the low 90s today so swimming was a priority. DH decided to go for a drive in the new car while the rest of us swam. The waterslide area was the favorite. We were the only people on the slides! Unbelievable! There were some challenges with understanding German instructions. No one yelled at us so I consider that a good day. At one point, the kids took a break for a blue slushie while I had a beer. Shocking, I know.


DH kindly picked us up before heading to Mahrs Brewing for lunch. Mahrs is imported to Oregon sporadically so we knew we wanted to try it at the source. We had a simple lunch of salad and sausages. Unfortunately, it was getting very hot.

Still, we persevered and parked near Bamberg's center. We wandered, shopped a little (DD#1 got Birkenstocks), and took pictures. It's really a gorgeous town. I hope to return someday. Bamberg seems to have escaped much of WWII's bombs unlike nearby Nuremberg. It's easy to see why it's a Unesco Heritage Site.


We were wiped, sweaty, and tired. So after a quick stop at a grocery store, we headed back to Gasthof Schiller for more chill-out time in the biergarten before calling it a night.


Posted by familyineurope 14:21 Archived in Germany Tagged germany bmw munich nuremberg bamberg Comments (0)

Unexpected Reykjavik and Beautiful Munich

Summer is here! Biking, swimming, history, beer, and more!


After planning this mega-trip for close to a year, it's almost surreal to be on the actual vacation! So many hours of planning and anticipation went into this trip and we are so incredibly lucky to have this opportunity.

We flew from Seattle to Iceland for what was supposed to be a short stopover. Our plane was finally about to land near Reykjavik (500 ft from the ground) when we quickly switched directions and gained elevation. All of a sudden, the flight data screen was listing an entirely different airport on the east side of Iceland. No immediate word from the pilot. I'm a nervous flyer so any deviation from the plan causes me a lot of anxiety. Eventually, the pilot said there wasn't enough visibility to land and we didn't have enough fuel to circle and wait for the fog to lift. So we landed at a dinky little Icelandic airport, refueled, and made our way back to the main Iceland airport. Weather had cleared and I was so happy when the landing gear made contact with the ground! Sadly, we missed our connecting flight to Munich. I was very impressed with Icelandair's service. They rebooked us on a flight 24 hours later and sent us to a nice hotel in Reykjavik with all meals and transportation paid by the airline. We were sad to miss a day in Munich but decided to make the most of the time in Iceland.


We ate an amazing breakfast at the Foss Hotel and promptly crashed for a few hours. Weather wasn't great but we finally did manage a walk around the town. We were particularly impressed with the beautiful and modern concert hall.


The kids enjoyed building rock sculptures.


We wandered the main pedestrian street, did a little window shopping (prices are so expensive!), and stopped for a happy hour beer. To give you an idea, the happy hour special was $5 off a beer. I think that still made my beer a whopping $11. We ate dinner, I took another walk, and we called it a day. The three buffet-style meals made me feel like I was on a cruise ship.


We were transported back to the airport in the evening where we waited for a midnight flight. I fell asleep both on the bus and in the airport. This unexpected layover put a kink in our jet-lag plans. Luckily, the flight to Munich was uneventful.


I could live here. For real. There's something so charming, organized, and livable about this city. We checked into Hotel Brack - the same hotel we stayed in three years ago. They scored huge points by having our room ready by 8am. We had a great breakfast before DH and DD#1 took naps while the rest of us wandered around.


We took the U-Bahn into the main part of town to explore. We were tired but also so excited to be back in Europe!


We went to the BMW Welt to check-in, have a snack, and check out new cars. Our car will be ready in just two days!

After the Welt, we made our way to the Munich Residenz. We were dragging by this point and wanted to attempt to stay on local time. We thought the Residenz museum might keep us awake. The rooms were beautiful but there were so many of them. Many paintings were absent due to WWII. Much of the palace had been rebuilt. It was very beautiful but we would have appreciated it more if we had been more awake.


We found a small Augustiner pub for dinner. We all wanted to be sleeping by this point. We made it until 8pm and called it a day.

Biking and Therme Erding

DH and I woke up before 5am. I went for a 5.5 mile run around the Isar River and Marienplatz. It's all so lovely before the crowds hit. After another traditional breakfast, we borrowed bikes from the hotel and rode around the city. DD#2 and I split off from the pack and biked many miles near the Isar River and Englischer Garden. Such a memorable ride! We even stopped into a small biergarten around 10:45am. I looked around and saw many locals having beer. After my run and bike ride, I decided to join them!


We had separate casual lunches - DD#1 and DH found currywurst while DD#2 and I had doner sandwiches. Yum!


We took a long S-Bahn train out to Therme Erding. It's a fabulous waterpark with tons of slides. We had such a great time! Some of the slides were unlike ones we had ever been on before.


After many hours at the park, we made our way back to a biergarten close to our hotel. First liter beers of the trip! The place was packed even at 8:30pm!


We are still feeling a bit sad that we had one fewer day in Munich due to our flight diversion in Iceland. However, I know we will return to this amazing city in the near future. Munich will always be at the top of my travel list.

Posted by familyineurope 02:22 Tagged munich reykjavik Comments (4)

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