Karpaz, molasses and stars

Back again, and this time I’m back after a week rather than four!!! Been doing lots of work this week, trying to wrap my head around statistics stuff for my PhD. And doing lots of reading for my next paper which is exciting!

Apart from work I’ve had a lovely week of adventure and new experiences. At the start of the week I went to the Karpaz peninsula with Doğukan and Mert (his friend). We basically copied the last Karpaz adventure because we enjoyed it so much. So we picked organic vegetables from a local farmer, we swam in the sea, ate lovely fresh fish (Sokan taste so much like the sea!!) and drank those lovely frappes! In addition to last time we did some intense star gazing. I’ve definitely increased my constellation repertoire recently which makes me so happy! My first ever star gazing started with my Grandma with me wrapped up in a beach towel on a sun lounger on holiday. It continued with my Mum and seeing my first shooting star. So stars are special to me. I’m now confident that I can spot Ursa Major (the plough), Ursa Minor, Orion, the seven sisters, the dolphin, the swan, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Aries, Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpio and Aquarius. Not bad eh!!!! I was showing Doğu and Mert in Karpaz and we were dazzled by the Milky Way which was just magical!

Another addition to the Karpaz adventure was the huge eye is got after being bitten three times in basically the same place!! After the dusk swimming session on the first night, a hungry mosquito decided my eye was just right and bit and bit and bit. My eye went huge. I think the mozzi won that fight!!! Hehe

The final addition was the battle of backgammon. The boys refreshed my rusty skills and we had a few good games! I even won a game which was good! Although I think they were being nice to me!

After Karpaz we were shattered and just chilled at home. Enjoyed picking figs in the garden and drinking brews! One nice surprise was the return of one of the kittens we thought had died weeks ago! He turned up looking a little worse for wear so we cleaned him up and gave him some nice food!! Bless him! We’ve called him Yoda.

Finally, yesterday the Healers were playing at a Carub festival and so we went there for a few hours. Carups are a dark brown pod that grows on trees and you can boil them down and make molasses. Doğukan and his dad swear by it and although at first I wasn’t too keen, I know love it!! So I got myself a huge bottle to enjoy. I love it on some toasty bread!! The boys played and then a group of school kids performed some traditional dancing which was cute!!

My week has been lovely and as usual now, I’m smiling.

Love and hugs.

Amie xx

Living life and I am happy!

Goodness me, it has been ages since I have written a blog. I’ve been enjoying my life and the time has run away with me. Oops! I’ve been having lots of lovely times these past few weeks and I constantly have a smile on my face. I’ve done a bit of birding, swam in the sea, eaten amazing food, met lovely people and just had a generally great time.

I guess the main thing I got up to in these past few weeks was going to a Reggae festival in the South of Cyprus near Paphos. The festival was called SunJam and I went with Dogukan and his band mates. It was nice to meet them all and I also got to meet his friend Osman too. We started the journey from Nicosia that morning and got through the border to the Greek side easily. We then carried on towards Paphos and I enjoyed taking in all of the new sites. We stopped at a small cafe on the way and I got some lovely strawberry ice cream! The festival was held at a botanical gardens which was a gorgeous setting for the weekend. Dogukan and I pitched our tent on a balcony overlooking the festival area. It was a sort of staff only area so it was quieter and more chilled than the other camping spot. Shortly after arrival they all had a sound check so I just sat on the grass and watched whilst drinking a nice cold beer. Not bad at all!!! Eventually guests from the public could enter and it got nice and busy and the atmosphere was great. The Healers were playing later at night and so I watched them with Osman. We drank more beer and had a mysterious shot of what was meant to be tequila. They were brilliant. They had amazing energy and got so many nice compliments after they played. We enjoyed the rest of the night and headed to our tent for much needed sleep!

The next day there was more amazing music, quite a lot of fun DJ sets throughout the day. We just chilled out and enjoyed the scene. Osman played in the afternoon and so it was nice to watch him too. Me and Dogukan obviously drank beer whilst doing so. We ended up staying another night and headed home the next morning. On our way back to the Turkish side we decided to stop at a place called Aphrodite’s rock. This place is said to be the birth place of Aphrodite. It is said that she was born from the sea foam made around the rocks and then was brought ashore on a sea shell. We parked up the van and enjoyed the beautiful view and had a bit of a chat about the Gods! haha After this lovely stop we went back to the North.

Since then, I have pretty much been at Dogukan’s the entire time. Enjoying the garden, having mini adventures, and again, eating amazing food. One afternoon we went up into the mountains. It had rained that morning and so we thought we would take advantage of the cool air. Our first stop was Kara agac (This means black tree in turkish but i didn’t see any black trees….). We stopped by a spring water pool that was being fed directly from mountain water. There was also a fountain there that was attached to a really old building. We washed our faces and explored this place a little. In the pool there were huge tadpoles. They were all in different stages of metamorphosis. Some had chunky back legs, others were still just at the start. From here we climbed the mountain side more (in the car I would like to add!) and headed to Antiphonitis monastery. It was closed by the time we got there but we explored again. There were huge olive trees there and the view was gorgeous. And it was just us and the birds! Peaceful and perfect.

Apart from these two adventures I’ve just been enjoying all the lovely little things. All feels really good in my little world and I am just so happy and thankful.

That’s all for now!

I’ll be back soon!

xx

Camping in Karpaz

This week has been a really lovely week. I’ve had adventures galore and it has made me smile so much.

On Tuesday I went to see my friend Doğukan at his house over the other side of Girne. It is a really lovely place to be, he grows all kinds of fruits and vegetables and so we just enjoyed watering all the crops and harvesting what we could. The figs are nearly ready for the first pick which is exciting, but in the meantime we enjoyed some of his home grown honeydew melon. He has an extended cat family that live in his shed. Misty is a Mum who has 4 kittens, I think they are about 8 weeks old. Cezi is also a Mum but only one of her kittens has survived. We called him Lucky, and he’s only about 3 weeks old now. When she first brought him to us he couldn’t even open his eyes! Being a cat lover it’s bloody lovely just watching them all hang out and play. I also got to me Doğukan’s dog, Kucucuk. He is a tiny chihuahua but has loads of personality. We decided that night that we would go on a Karpaz camping adventure and that we’d go the next morning.

Wednesday was the first day of adventures. We headed off to Karpaz in the early afternoon so that it wouldn’t be too hot once we arrived there. The journey there is beautiful, loads of coastline and the sea has so many colours of aquamarine. We got a few supplies in the village so we could cook something for tea! We actually went to a lovely place to get some veggies. It was a families home where they grow loads of vegetables that you can buy. The eldest daughter in the family took us around and let us pick some aubergine, peppers and tomatoes. She recognised Doğukan from earlier trips and didn’t want any money but we insisted! It was such a gorgeous place. They were so kind. To refuel from the journey we stopped at a cafe for a frappe. The owner of the cafe is Greek but it’s a mix of Turkish and Greek people who work there. They were all really smiley and chatty and we bought some lovely dried herbs off of them so we could make some different teas! In the late afternoon we went to the beach of Ayios philon. The water was crystal clear and so warm. We had a nice swim and relaxed in the last of the evening sunshines rays. Afterwards we went and parked the van and set up camp. We had a foam mattress that fit perfectly in the back so we could use it as a bed and we had fold out chairs, crates for a table and a small gas fire that made for a perfect kitchen set up. Doğukan took over the cooking and made some lovely veggie fajitas for us both. We then enjoyed watching the shooting stars and the milky way whilst sipping some lovely chilled Efes.

The next day we got up and slowly but surely got ready to move on. First we had a morning swim and snorkel. From the beach we decided to go for another frappe at the lovely cafe from the day before. Two of Doğukan’s friends turned up there just after us and so we spent the afternoon with them. We enjoyed coffee and chatted about all sorts. After that we started making our way towards the end of the peninsula to find our place to camp for the night. On our way we stopped at a lovely seaside restaurant to have something to eat. We ordered some fresh fish and calamari and got a small meze before hand. The calamari was so lovely and the fish was really tasty too. Luckily Doğukan took over the fish filleting for me, I have no idea how to do it properly! Once we were nice and full we headed back to the van and carried on until we found our place to stop for the night. We came across a lot of the wild donkeys and I fed them some carup fruits we’d picked earlier. We set up our little camp again and enjoyed the last night of camping. We were so full from the fish that we didn’t cook. We just enjoyed some snacks!

The next day we got up and packed up all the camping stuff. We stopped at Apostolos Andreas which is an ancient monastery in Dipkarpaz. We took a look around and even splashed our faces with some of the holy water from the fountain. On our way back we stopped for another Frappe (we couldn’t resist them!!) and then started on our journey back.

It was such a lovely few days and a spontaneous little trip. I really enjoyed it and I don’t think I stopped smiling. I’m now really excited for more adventures to come!

xx

Murder at the manor….and more!

 

Goodness me, I haven’t written in a few weeks. I’ve kept meaning to but life gets in the way and then you get bloody Laryngitis! But, it’s another Sunday and I’m going to write about the last few weeks of my little life.

 

First I have to start with a glorious weekend a few weeks ago where all my cousins and aunties and uncles celebrated my Auntie Karen’s 60th Birthday! We all went to a huge house in Monyash, just past Buxton. We spent the whole weekend there which was lovely, it’s quite rare for the whole bunch of us to be in the country at the same time! Usually me, Danny or Steven are off on some travel adventure! We even had the titchy nephews there which was a treat. How can two such tiny people already be my favourite people ever? I introduced little Max to some chickens he became quite fond of and I amused titchy Arthur with a helium Paw Patrol balloon! Anyway, the first afternoon was spent catching up, drinking and eating. Megan and Tom made a wonderful lasagne and so we all tucked in to that and soaked up some of the champagne and wine! That night a bunch of us went into the games room. Me and Mum taught my little cousin Katy (taller than me and stunningly beautiful) how to play pool and Molly had an intense game of connect four with my cousin Mark. It was lovely.

The next day we chilled out for a while. All the cousin generation tried to find a nearby river. Most of us didn’t end up there. We had parked way too far away (on the top of a hill where rivers aren’t usually found) and the walk was really far. We had titchy humans with us and it was really hot. Some of us decided to head back and go to a small ice cream farm instead. Mint choc chip quenched my ice cream thirst and we got to see some lovely little calves and a couple of emu. That evening was the evening of the murder mystery. We all had a character to play and so at about 6 we all emerged in character. I was a policewoman and strippogram on the side! Molly was the new young and glamorous wife of the deceased. Mum was a mystic. Megs a musician. Tom a chauffeur. Mark a french inspector. Holly the maid. Danny the grounds keeper. Karen was Lady Gardener. Steph was Lord Gardener (although I’m not sure he knew this!!). Jane was the flour dusted cook. David the general. Matt was the scientist. Steven the doctor. Ellie the tennis coach. Katy the glamorous sister of the new wife! Jack was the hipster priest. Joe was the butler. And Kinga was the house keeper. We all had parts to read and the murder was told their part in secret at the start. It was so funny to listen to everyone get into character. Marks french inspector role was the best. Although his and my aunties (the cook) love story was probably just as funny! Anyway, the story unraveled and it turns out Molly, the new wife, was the killer. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t guessed, I thought I could read my sister like a book! My guess was the musician…..

The next day was the day of the bake off. All the cousins and significant others had to bake a version of Nana’s famous chocolate cake. We’d all done this before arriving at the house. We played them out with our specific numbers so they were anonymous to the judges. These being my Mum, auntie Karen, Uncle David, Auntie Jane and obviously Nana herself! I’m pretty sure little Max was involved with the taste tests too though! The chocolate around his mouth gave him away! I really didn’t have any hope. Mine was a bit melted because of the heat of the weekend and I thought it was probably one of the worst. We all stood outside and waited for the judges to go through their process. Eventually we were all called in and the countdown started. There were a few people in joint last place. But then as the individual cakes were eliminated, I was in the final two!!! I couldn’t believe it. Anyway, I only went and bloody won! I was so chuffed, I really didn’t expect it. Maybe a slight melt of the icing helps after all?

It was a really lovely weekend and it was so nice to spend it with my gorgeous family.

After that weekend I had a few days before heading back to Cyprus. In that time I had cuddles off of my Dad and the little bunnies. I headed back to Cyprus but caught Laryngitis on the plane and was really quite poorly with it. I went out for one morning to do some field work, checking Roller nest boxes for chicks. We smashed out 16 of them and then called it a day. No roller chicks, but lots of sparrows. I just went down hill after that. I got a really sore throat and completely lost my voice. I basically didn’t get out of bed! My wonderful friend Katy brought me some ice creams to soothe my throat which was really thoughtful. After a few days Mum and Beth arrived and I soon got my voice back. The first evening I actually had to use a notepad and pen to communicate! I can nearly talk normally now, just the really high notes are still missing. So this past week I’ve basically been trying to recover. I’ve been doing some phd work on the laptop and trying to relax. On Friday night me and Beth went into Girne for some drinks. We went to Ego Bar and watched The Healers playing. They are a local reggae band who I’d actually seen before at Roots Bar (you’ll know how much I love this place from previous posts). It was a nice chilled nice just listening to good live music and enjoying the warm Cyprus air.

Anyway, I think that is most of the big events of the last few weeks. I’ll try and write more often again, I know my Nana needs her updates!

Right, that’s all for now.

xx

Nature helps

This week I’ve seen my family and enjoyed seeing friends. I got to babysit my gorgeous little nephew, Arthur. He was very excitable and cute, even if he did sneeze directly into my mouth!!!

I also saw my cousin Danny and our family friend, Andy. It was nice to just chat and chill out. I also saw my friend Jack this week. I got to meet his gorgeous little girl too. We blew lots of bubbles on the patio and enjoyed popping the huge ones!

Mum and Molly moved house this week and so it’s been a busy time moving everything and sorting it all out. It’s a lovely house though and it has a little garden full of flowers. The rabbits really like being outside there. Cuties!!

I don’t feel 100% myself at the minute and I don’t quite know what to do about it. I’ve been really trying to be mindful of nature and the things around me. It does actually help to take my mind off of things and just be in the moment. It’s nice that it’s summer because the birds are singing so much and it always sounds so lovely. The first evening at my Mums new house I got to listen to a Song thrush showing off his repetitive sequences. He was sat in a hedge and loving it! I’ve been appreciating the colours of the flowers and watching the busy bees collecting nectar from them. There are a lot of white tailed bumble bees here. I said hello to a fair few beetles and I got a little cuddle off a gorgeous toad. The best moment of my week was watching a wonderful barn owl flying over the field behind my Dads house. It was at the time of day when there is a beautiful dusk light and it emerged as if by magic. I was so entranced when I was watching it. They are heavenly creatures. I felt so privileged.

So I am trying to find happy moments in the everyday. Nature does it for me. I don’t know anything better.

X

Keeping busy

This last week I’ve been enjoying the rest of my holiday in Northern Cyprus with my Mum and sister. The weather was getting hotter by the day and the sea with it!!

We had a relaxing time because I wasn’t very well and so had to take it easy and rest. Being sick knocks it out of you and the lack of sleep! Stupid bad dreams. Maybe I should take a dream catcher with me for next time?!

Anyway, one afternoon me and Mum decided to walk along the promenade near where we sunbath. It’s quite a long stretch and we chose the hottest part of the day to go so we didn’t make it too far… Mum spotted a gorgeous cuttlefish from the bridge that crosses a sheltered bay. We watched him for ages as he was right near the surface. He was gorgeous brown colours with a beautiful spotted pattern on top. It was a real treat! There were a couple of skylarks singing high above us as we walked. And a Zitting Cisticola was chirping his song over the field nearby.

Another nice treat was going to watch the sunset at Kervanseri. We enjoyed a drink and watched the sun melt into the sea. Sunsets are magical for taking your mind off of things.

Me and my Mum went for a birding adventure one morning. We went to the Kukla wetlands so I could survey the birds there and assess the breeding status of the different species. There were lots and lots of coot nests with chicks, and a load of juveniles that had left the nests. It was an amazing morning actually, so many gorgeous species. We saw a fair few Hoopoe, a Roller, Little egret, Grey heron, Flamingo, Ferruginous duck, Barn swallows and a few Crested lark. Unfortunately the car started to break and so we had to cut the trip short. I’d wanted to carry on to the Famagusta wetlands, but I’ll have to get to those when I go back in a couple of weeks.

It was lovely to see friends again. We met our friend Janet one day for a relaxed day by the pool. And one evening I drove over to meet my friend Veysel for a couple of drinks. I hadn’t seen him in ages so it was nice to catch up with him. He was telling me all about his recent adventures.

Since being back in England the weather has been rubbish. It’s been nice seeing my family and getting cuddles off of the two bunnies though. Today is Father’s Day and so I treated my Dad and sister to a nice breakfast out. It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning. It’s not often it’s just us three.

Not the most exciting week, but hey ho, I enjoyed it.

Xx

Thankyou, Mother Nature.

Another week has gone by. The house finally feels like normal again after the burglary which is nice!

I’ve been on a couple of lovely walks this week. I love being outdoors. I get to practice IDing tree species which is actually really nice. Thing is, birds move, so sometimes you just get a glimpse. But trees stay still and you can really study them and get a feel for their characters. My favourite tree is Rowan, but I think I also have a soft spot for huge oaks!

I’ve seen lots of family members this week. That’s what I love about being home. I get lots of hugs and lots of tea and lots of laughs.

I had a fleeting visit from one of my best friends, Sav. It was a dramatic visit as we actually ended up assisting a woman who kept fainting and had hit her head. The cafe rewarded our good deed with a free lunch!

Today I’ve been bird ringing. We met just after 5 and had a solid 8 hour session. The highlights were tree pipits and a Whitethroat. Although the goldcrests and tree creepers always make me happy. We had a mini forage about half way through for blackberries and whinberries to put with some meringue and cream. A proper summer treat on such a humid day!

A side note to my bird ringing day. The Whitethroat we caught was a lovely bird. Elegant looking and a bit different to what we usually get. When we were getting the different measurements, we noticed it had built up a good fat store. This means this bird is nearly ready for its big journey back to Africa. The bird was a young bird, born this year and it is about to make a journey over thousands of miles. I find moments with such animals grounding and calming. Lately I’ve been feeling pretty anxious. Life seems to be throwing a lot at me and my family but this bird put a few things into perspective for me. It is small but so strong and determined. It gave me a burst of positivity! I think it’s nice to find positivity from nature and what surrounds us. I know it might sound like a hippy rant, but I believe it. We are surrounded by beauty in all sorts of shapes, sizes and forms. I’m very thankful for our gorgeous wildlife. I wish that Whitethroat so much luck on its big journey ahead!

Anyway, that’s all for now!

X

This week, I’m not a fan of people

Been back from my European for nearly two weeks now. A lot has happened in that space of time. Some good, some bad.

I’ve seen lots of family which, like always, was lovely. I got to meet the gorgeous new addition to the group, my little nephew Arthur. It’s been sunny and warm and gorgeous.

I’ve finally had the time to go bird ringing with my favourite ringing team! I even got a ringing tick in the form of a beautiful Whitethroat. This bird is a warbler species that has a lovely chestnut/brown tail and a deep cream throat. It made me very happy. It was also really nice to catch some of my old favourites that I don’t get to see (or barely see) in Cyprus. Robins, wrens, blue tits and dunnocks. Whilst there I eve had a go on Ingrid’s air rifle! I won the target practice.

So most of my time at home so far has been lovely. Enjoying walks in the countryside, learning the tree species and laughing. I even met my old school friend Jack for a long awaited catch up!!

But…

I’m not sure about karma, but something took a turn. Firstly, my debit car was frauded. All the way over in Haiti. They stole £350. Luckily I can get this money back, but still. Who does that?

I carried on with my week. Enjoying the sunshine, dealing with the slight inconvenience of a frauded card. And the … A few days ago I went home to find the house had been burgled. When I say burgled I don’t mean a quick dash inside to grab some bits, I mean every single draw, every nook and cranny, every possible place had been turned over. The whole house ransacked. I rang the police and they were lovely. The poor men tried to deal with my crying and shaking! I gave the poor cat some cuddles and waited for forensics. Now, what hurts me, is how on earth people have the ability to do this to someone’s home. Someone’s nest. Somewhere someone should feel safe. They took my most precious jewellery, pieces that have such sentimental value they are priceless to me. My room feels dirty now. I tried to find nice things amongst all of this. It came in the form of a beautiful moth. It took my mind away from the utter chaos for a moment.

I just want to end with a negative rant about humans. We are destroying the planet. We are destroying each other. We do selfish, hateful things. Yes there are people around us to fill our lives with love. But there are some damn evil people in the world. I don’t like it. This week I’m annoyed, fed up, pissed off. My emotion is urgh.

Luckily it’s Sunday, next week is a new week.

Europe 2018: Hungary and Slovenia

I’ve just returned back to the U.K. after the most amazing adventure. Me and my gorgeous little sister spent two weeks travelling through Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. There is too much to write about in one post and so on this one I’ll tell you all about the Hungarian hysterics and Slovenian sites!

…BUDAPEST…

We left Liverpool airport very excited to arrive in Budapest. We arrived really late at night, about 11:30. We then had to get a bus, the 100E, across the city to the centre where our hostel was. We were very excited…Our first Hungarian bus! Hostel 1 Basilica was easy to find and slap bang in the middle of the city. Even though it was about 1:30 by the time we arrived, the city was buzzing and full of life. We checked in and found a bunk to sleep on. We were sharing a mixed dorm with 8 other people but they were all out partying apart from one Brazilian girl. She was leaving the next day but told us about the good places to go!

Our first full day was jam packed! We woke up and quietly got dressed so as not to wake the party goers! All the bunks were now full. All guys and one other girl. Me and Mol set off to get some much needed food. We’d resorted to eating an entire packet of Jammy Dodgers as a very early morning snack! We found a nice place in the centre and had some eggs and orange juice. A good refuel and we were ready for the day! Our first stop was the House of Terror. It’s an old building on the corner of a really nice street in the Jewish Quarter of the city. Overhanging the roof is a huge sign saying TERROR and all along the wall leading to the main door are small portraits of men and women from the Second World War. The house was the site of the old communist head quarters in Budapest and it is now a museum of the acts that occurred during nazi and soviet occupation. Very interesting for me as I am no history buff and so it gave me an insight into Hungarian history. After a sombre start we then left the museum and had a stop off for some ice cream. We couldn’t resist! We headed in the direction of the Danube river and crossed a bridge allowing us to get a great view of the parliament building. And what a magnificent building it is! Right on the edge of the river, it looks very grand. Half way along the bridge we made a quick detour to Margaret Island in the middle of the Danube river. It was busy with fellow tourists and there was a sudden rain shower so we didn’t stay on the island for long. Just walked down the promenade for a short while. Back to the bridge and we could see the Royal Palace with the Liberty Statue further behind on the hill. I wanted to find the Fisherman’s Bastion and Mathius Church and so we wound our way through back streets of Budapest until we happened upon them. We were pretty shattered by that point, we’d already walked about 10km. The Church was worth it though. There was a stone stair case winding its way up to a square that had the church slap bang in the middle. The view of the city was spectacular. We were happy we’d found it! On our way back we had to dodge a rain shower and hid in a doorway. Somehow I ended up spraining my ankle. We hobbled back to the hostel via the Basilica. We’d been looking forward to going out and seeing the night life of Budapest but my ankle was really bad and I could barely walk on it. Luckily for us we got chatting to 3 Brazilian guys who were sharing our room, Matheus, Mario and Rodrigo. We were talking for a couple of hours at least and decided we’d go for breakfast with them in the morning! Lovely!!!!

Morning came and we headed into the city with our new Brazilian friends. Rodrigo’s trip was shorter and so he’d checked out earlier that morning to make his way back to Brazil. We were with the two M’s! We found a lovely cafe where the walls were covered in post it notes! I couldn’t help but get the pancakes! After breakfast we all strolled/ hobbled to the famous synagogue and then did some more wandering. We all had so much to talk about. It’s amazing to talk to people from such different parts of the world! Brazil sounds exciting and I am very jealous of the birds there! Anyway, my foot was hurting and so we found a nice outdoor bar that was sort of squished in between two big buildings. We all had an iced coffee but later had a beer! The boys were leaving Budapest in the afternoon and so on the way back to the hostel we grabbed a Langos to try. They are a sort of flat bread/pastry thing covered in garlic oil! And we had ours with cheese! Such amazing street food, I imagine they’re amazing when you’ve had slightly too many beers! We said our goodbyes to the Brazilian boys and headed to Szeczenyi thermal baths. I am not sure what we expected, but it was a very random place. It was packed full of people and was more like a shallow public swimming baths. We had an idea it would be really relaxing but we were constantly splashed and surrounded by screaming kids. I think at a different time of day it would be lovely, but we didn’t quite get the hype… We headed back to the hostel and couldn’t go out again because of my ankle. There were 2 new additions to the hostel room in the form of two German boys, Lucas and Johan. We chatted to them and realised they didn’t want to party either and so we all huddled up on my bunk and watched the Mr. Bean film! It was so random and so funny. Both the Brazilian and German boys have the correct impression that English people drink a lot of tea. However, Johan then said he has been told that English people put vinegar on all of the food they eat. We certainly don’t do that up North!!

…LAKE BALATON…

Next day and we were up early to eat breakfast at a street side cafe and head to the train station for our next destination, Siofok. Siofok is a town on the edge of Lake Balaton. This lake is the biggest in Europe and is known as the Hungarian sea! We arrived there and realised we’d messed up our accommodation and so rushed and panicked to find somewhere else. Luckily we found a cute hostel a short walk from the station (my ankle was just getting worse by this point!). Our room was in the roof of a converted barn, it was really adorable. We dumped our stuff and went to the “sea side”. It was another strange one for us… We went to the main free beach and it was just a promenade with the lake one side and a grassy field on the other. It was packed with people and so loud. Maybe areas in Hungary involving large bodies of water just don’t suit us? The sea side did have chimney cake though, so we got to try that!! It was delicious! That evening we went for tea near the harbour. It was gorgeous at that time of night. There were lots of swans and house sparrows and the sun was setting at the far end of the lake. We were happier.

…LJUBLJANA…

We decided to only have one day in Siofok and so the next day we woke up at half 4 in the morning to get an early train back to Budapest, to then get another train from Budapest to Ljubljana, the capitol city of Slovenia. I had woken up with a horrible cold and so coupled with my sprained ankle, I was in the wars a bit! But, the adventure must go on!!! It was our longest and most exhausting day. Constantly on and off trains and buses. It took us about 10 hours to get from Budapest to Ljubljana. By the time we got there we needed beer! We checked in to another hostel, this time just a room of 3 and then we wandered into the centre. Ljubljana is gorgeous, in fact, the whole train journey through Slovenia had been gorgeous! We crossed Dragon Bridge and saw the castle on the hill. It was like walking through a fairy tale city. For a moment we were sleeping beauties! Mol had researched places to eat and so we headed for our favourite choice. We were not disappointed! I had traditional Slovenian dumplings with cheese and a mushroom sauce and of course we got pudding! Whilst we were eating the heavens decided to open and there was a really heavy downpour! We were sat outside under huge umbrellas but after a while they got too sodden and the rain was just seeping through and onto us! It was so funny and so dramatic! Luckily, by the time it came to us leaving there was a break in the rain long enough for a hobble home. We got to meet our new room mate, Christopher from Germany. He was travelling on his own and it was nice to talk to him about his travels so far. I think he was sick and tired of my coughing by the end of the chat though!

The next day came and another busy adventure day was upon us! We fuelled up with a huge breakfast by the river. It was delicious! Then we walked to the bus station to catch a bus to Postojne where a huge series of caves are found. We had a short wait once we had bought our ticket and then we boarded the small cave train to take us 2km into the cave entrance. It was all very magical but also a bit chilly! Once in the cave we had a tour guide lead us a further 2km through the cave system to reach the deepest point of the cave. It was amazing. A fairy grotto! Stalagmites and stalactites. Columns and curtains. It amazes me just how beautiful nature can be! The tour guide told us loads of facts, mine and Molly’s favourite was that it takes 50 years for a stalagmite to grow a single mm!!!!! Wow! She also told us about the little dragons that are one of the 100 or so species living in the cave system! From the caves and Postojne we headed back to the city and onto another bus taking us to Lake Bled. We arrived there and found we had stumbled across even more magic. Lake Bled is a smallish lake, it’s about a 6km walk all the way around (just about do-able on a sprained ankle) and has the bluest water I have ever seen. I used to say that the colour of the sky was my favourite colour, but now I think it’s Bled Blue! We enjoyed walking around the lake and chatting and laughing. There’s a small island in the middle of the lake and so we found a nice view point to walk up to to get a better view. By the end of the route my ankle was pretty much ruined and so we stopped for food. There was a mini festival on and so we got some street food and enjoyed listening to the local music. We were tired by the end of the day, we got the bus back and collapsed into our bunks!

 

…ZADAR…

Up early again….This time to get our shortish train journey to Zagreb, the Capitol city of Croatia. We only had a few hours in Zagreb and we were quite relieved. It didn’t have much charisma for us. Maybe we were just tired and I was slightly delirious from my cold… But we weren’t huge fans. We ate pizza and Molly walked and I limped to the bus station. We got our bus to Zadar, a city on the coast of Croatia. The views from the bus were gorgeous. We arrived in the city and found our apartment. It was rented out by an old Croatian couple who didn’t speak a word of English but they were so so smiley and greeted us with happy vibes. We had a quick freshen up and headed out. There is a famous sea organ at the harbour and a sun salutation. The sea organ is amazing. It’s steps that go down into the sea and when the waves crash against it the air under the steps is pushed out through small blow-holes, creating a mesmerising sound. Unfortunately we didn’t get a good look at the sun salutation. There were so many people trying to look at it. It was a shame really. I’ve been told that it is a sort of solar powered art installation that makes patterns of colour. Would have been lovely to see the full effect, but we just saw some purple lights around the edge. Anyway, by this time we were hungry but even more, we were thirsty and in need of gin. We went to a gorgeous Garden Bar and chilled out to some relaxing music and watched the harbour below us. We then found a place to eat and decided on an early night.

 

By the end of our first week, we had already met so many amazing people and made so many amazing memories. But… we had one more week of adventuring to do. Next, we headed to Split and it’s islands. That needs a whole other post though….

xx

Europe 2018: Croatia and its Islands

And now for the second week of our European adventure. And oh what a week it was!

We woke up in Zadar and had to get ready to get our bus down to Split. The day started bizarrely. The water in our apartment had been shut off and so we had to go to the house next door to use their shower. Luckily the lady who owned said house helped organise the rental apartments in the area and so she was fine with the situation. Whilst Mol showered Merja offered me a coffee and a croissant! She was telling me all about her family and her past travels! She wants to learn Turkish too which is a weird coincidence, I’ve never met anyone else so keen to learn it! She was so lovely! It was my turn to shower and before we left she gave us a handmade necklace each! How amazing! We got to the bus station, got on the bus and drove the hour or so to Split. We were overwhelmed when we arrived. It was very busy at the bus station because it was really near the harbour as well! We stopped for a smoothie and slice of cold pizza and then headed to our air bnb. My ankle was still really bad and so we got a taxi! The apartment was a 10 minute walk from the old town which was perfect! We got our bikinis on and went to the first beach we could find! Unfortunately this beach was Bacvice which is the busiest beach I have ever ever ever been to! It wasn’t enjoyable. We just about found a patch of sand to place our towels down. We went for a swim and on returning to our towels, we discovered they’d been the play area for small children and were covered in sand!! We didn’t stay too long. We resorted to a beer or two at the beach bar! We went home and got showered and changed and met up with Matheus and Mario, our two Brazilian friends we met in Budapest. They had also ended up in Split and so we had to reunite! We found each other in the old city and went to a nice harbour front restaurant to eat and drink lovely Croatian wine. One of my favourite things about Split is the hundreds of swifts that fly around the old city walks at dusk. It’s utterly mesmerising and made me so smiley! Anyway… After food we went to an amazing backpackers bar for more drinks and dancing. Matheus taught me some signature Brazilian dance moves! I was twirling around lots! We had such a fun time with lots of laughing and the alcohol numbed my bad ankle so that was a bonus. We ended up at a beach side club and finished the night paddling in the sea!

The next day we got up at quite a reasonable hour considering the amount of alcohol we’d had! We met the Brazilians for breakfast where they introduced us to açai fruit. We had it with a smoothie and it was just the detox we needed. After the refuel we all went to the harbour and got a ferry to Brač island. It’s about an hour crossing to the island so we just took in the view of the Split coast line. We got to Brač and found a taxi to take us to Bol on the opposite side of the island. We needed to get here to visit the islands most famous beach, golden horn beach. We walked through a forested area to reach the beach and there were so many chaffinches! I don’t think I’ve seen so many all at once! It was gorgeous. Unfortunately, the weather was mixed and we were caught in rain showers a few times. But rain couldn’t stop us! Me and Matheus were the first two to brave the cool waters of the Adriatic Sea. Mario joined us later and Molly opted for a paddle. The afternoon then developed into a stone skimming competition. I was by far the worst! Matheus could do it sitting down and Mario did one with about 10 skims!! It was time to head back to the ferry and so we bartered with a few taxi drivers to get a reasonable price and crossed over the island again. Then we got to Split by ferry and headed home. A quick shower and change and we met the boys again for more food and wine. This was the night me and Molly discovered our favourite restaurant in Split and probably the best pasta we have ever eaten! If you’re ever in Split go to BEPA, you won’t regret it! We tried a different Croatian wine and enjoyed chatting to the waiter about our recent defeat to Croatia in the World Cup! He found it quite funny! After food we went to Kastelet beach and relaxed with wine, chocolate and cheese. A much more civilised night for us! We sat around and all put our favourite music on. It was a lovely evening again.

The next day we had more açai for breakfast, this time in the form of a bowl topped with all sorts of toppings! Gorgeous! We wandered to Kasuni beach and set up for the day. This beach had huge boulders so we found comfy ones and lazed around. I snorkelled with Matheus and saw hundreds of sleeping fish! The boys had to leave early to catch a flight to Barcelona so we said our goodbyes. It was so lovely getting to know them so well. Maybe Brazil for us next year? Anyway… me and Mol didn’t stay much longer as we were pretty hot and fancied getting some food and then chilling out at the apartment. That evening we met up with our cousin Katy and her boyfriend Jack. We ate at a gorgeous wrap takeaway place and laughed a lot! Was so nice to see them both!!

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Another early start for me and Mol, this time we were heading to Hvar island. This was probably my favourite island of the three we visited. The back streets were tiny and full of character and the harbour front was busy with people. We found a gorgeous place for lunch and sat and enjoyed the Hvar atmosphere. We then found a nice beach to relax for the day. Molly insisted we went on a jet ski and so in the afternoon before we left we managed to have a go. To get to them we had to take a water taxi. Our water taxi had a dog on board that was probably the coolest dog I’ve ever seen. He sat with his bum on the seat and two front paws on the side of the boat. None of the bumpy waves phased him. He was brill! One on the jet ski it took Mol (the driver) a little while to get used to compensating for the waves, but then we loved it! It was a gorgeous way to see the island too! We went back to Split in the evening and then met Katy and Jack for a proper night out. We danced, drank, laughed and ate pizza. Glorious!

 

 

The next day and the partying had gotten to us. We were in bed until early hours of the afternoon. We ventured in to the city for a hangover dinner and sat on a beach for an hour to try and fill our lungs with nice clean fresh air. When did we turn into such wimps? Still a lovely day with my favourite human though!

Up very early for an early ferry to Vis island. Walking to the ferry I spotted a Swift on the floor in distress and so I picked it up and checked him over. We couldn’t keep him with us but I gave him to the port security to look after. They seemed very happy to look after him which was reassuring. I named him Fabio. Anyway…On arrival at Vis we hopped in a quick taxi ride to get to Stiniva beach (Mamma Mia 2 was filmed here!!!). From the taxi we had a steep, slippy, rocky climb down to the beach. It was hilarious and hot, but the views were breath taking! We set up camp and had some food at the beach shack! We just spent the day swimming, cliff jumping and basking. The cove was formed by a fallen in cave and so the entrance from the sea is quite small. It was something from a magical story. We felt very lucky to be there. We headed back to Split in the evening and saw a gorgeous sunset on the ferry home. The had a take away pancake for tea and sat and people watched in the old square. Croatian days are my favourite.

Our last full day in Split and so we went to our favourite restaurant for breakfast and wandered around window shopping. It was a particularly warm day and so we felt pretty exhausted. In the afternoon we saw Katy and Jack again for a couple of beers before there flight home. It was a lovely day actually, nice and relaxed.

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So we flew back yesterday and spent our time at the airport chatting about our travels and memories. It’s weird that I won’t be with Mol every day now… I’m away so much in the year that this two weeks has been so special. But now I’m home, my ankle is better, my cough is just about gone and I’m ready to work and prepare for a new adventure.

I can’t be still for too long! I think my family would start to worry!!

Xx