Istria – Croatia Series #1

I have just returned from my 2 week Croatian adventure and I am very excited to start writing my Croatian blog series. For my first time visiting Croatia and I saw many beautiful places that would definitely make me want to discover the rest of the country.

Don’t worry, I won’t make you read a novel of a blog post so I will split the series into 5 blog entries!

This first blog post will cover my time in the Istria region of Croatia that we explored the first week.

Labin

We spent the first week in Croatia on a couples/group holiday with friends, in a villa in Labin. Villa Rosa was absolutely stunning and perfect for a chilled group holiday (10 poeple max).

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The owners were lovely and offered us a couple of bottles of wine from the region that they keep in their wine cellar.  I found Instrian red and white wine to be light and VERY drinkable…

On the first couple of days we wondered into Labin to have a look around and some dinner. It’s not a big place but does have charming features such as the umbrellas and old winding streets.

I would highly recommend Velo Kafe for something to eat. It’s in the centre of Labin and has a cute terrace area to dine on. I ordered fish in a white wine sauce which seemed to be a favourite amongst the group….don’t worry it comes without the fish head (biggest fear…)!

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Rabac

Rabac is a lovely holiday resort town to visit which is only 10 minutes away from Labin. It’s full of gorgeous coves and beach bars to spend the day at. However, if you do decide to spend time at the beach here go to the smaller coves as the main beaches are very crowded! We got recommended Beach Girandella (blue flag beach) by the villa’s owner which was a great place to spend the afternoon.

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However, I preferred the smaller beaches around the promenade area of the town as they were quieter.

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If you love the look of my towel use my personal code CatrionaKe15 for 15% off all orders at the checkout! A percentage of all Sandcloud’s profits go into saving marine life by supporting conservation charities. #savethefishes

Pula

After we had enough of waking up at 2pm and taking it easy by the pool all day we ventured to some other beautiful places in Istria. Pula is definitely worth a visit and is only a 1 hour drive away from Labin.

Pula is an incredible city that is known for it’s stunning beaches and ancient roman ruins. During our day here we checked out the Amphitheatre where the gladiators fought which was 25 kuna  (£3) for student entry! 

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If you have the car and are looking for adventure I would definitely recommend driving South of Pula to Premantura. You must drive to the furthest tip of this part of the island, past the Safari Bar (shown on google maps) to discover the perfect cliff jumping spot!

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 * BUY WATER SHOES! YOU WILL THANK ME LATER*

Rovinj

This place stole my heart….I absolutely loved my evening wandering around this pretty waterfront town. In many ways it reminded me of parts of Italy and if that wasn’t enough for me I could have hopped on a boat sailing to Venice!

Lukas kept having to wait for me because I couldn’t stop snapping pictures of the winding streets and steps leading down to the sea!

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We found this amazing little cocktail bar down one of the alleyways called Mediterraneo Bar. 

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As well as this gem we also found an incredible restaurant Puntulina that really was the best place to watch the sun set over the sea. We didn’t book a table so it was just by luck that they had room for 2 on the balcony area! It was not the cheapest place to dine but we had been eating in the villa the past few nights and I can easily say that it was one of my favourite moments of the holiday.

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Heidelberg

Heidelberg…. the place where your dreams come true! My bad, that’s Disneyland but this place is just as magical…

Heidelberg in South Western Germany is a place for romantics, tourists, students, photographers and writers. Exactly my kind of place!

It is IMPOSSIBLE not to take an impressive picture of this town that MUST be  plastered all over your Instagram page! This place just begs you to take as many photos as you can to capture the iconic “I’m in Heidelberg” picture that focuses on capturing the town from each angle of the Alt Brucke (Old Bridge). 

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I think my phone memory is full with photos from the weekend here…I have an extremely patient boyfriend/photographer…. 

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It was our third time staying in an Airbnb which I cannot recommend enough for a type of accommodation! We always find the coolest places and the hosts we have met so far have been extremely helpful and laid back.

If you would like £25 off your first stay you can use my referral code www.airbnb.co.uk/c/catrionak205

I flew into Baden airport with Ryanair which is an hours drive to Heidelberg and 1.5 hours on the train.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE!

……my flight was the grand total of £10!!!!!

Yes it was a one way ticket seeing as I was flying back from Stuttgart but £10! I pay more going from Edinburgh to Fife, seriously one way is £11.

If you think about it…..you could fly 900 miles for the price of a takeaway pizza….just a thought….

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We did not arrive in Heidelberg until the evening so after leaving our suitcases in our room for the night we headed into the centre. The weather was INSANE! It was even around 20 degrees at night! Everyone said it was unusual temperatures for the time of year…I guess I brought the sun from Scotland…

We rode on the tram to the town centre which was not the easiest system to work out….I think the machine was broken but we got there in the end and took the bus back! Just a little piece of advice…it may seem obvious…. but PAY ATTENTION to the station you get on from….we had no clue…

By the time we got into the main centre we were eager to find a restaurant quickly! We stumbled upon Perkeo (traditional German cuisine) hidden away in the winding streets. Apparently Perkeo was the Jester that kept the barrel in Alt Schloss (Old Castle) safe. I ordered Maultasche which is a must have when in Southern Germany. It’s similar to ravioli!

Fun Fact – Perkeo consumed 18 bottles of wine on a daily basis but died after drinking a glass of water…

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Heidelberg is a perfect place for a weekend break, it has enough buzz about it with the student bars and coffee shops, but also ideal if you want to see some sights! Unlike my previous weekend in Munich (which I loved) this trip was so much more relaxed.

We did see the famous attractions and landmarks but also had enough time to take it easy and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. However….the weather did make such a HUGE difference and made it more enjoyable to do less. It was 30 degrees during the day which was the ideal weather for stopping for iced coffee and frozen yogurt!

After walking along the riverside into the centre we headed straight towards the Alt Brucke (old bridge) so I could snap the iconic Heidelberg pictures!

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Walking through the winding streets really does make you feel like you are in a fairy- tale, especially at the Schloss Heidelberg  (Castle)!

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Even though all that remains of the castle are it’s ruins it attracts millions of people every year. At many points in the year a beautiful firework display takes place to commemorate the  attacks on the castle in the late 17th Century.

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After exploring the castle we spent our afternoon soaking up the sun at the top of the Philosophenweg (Philosophers Way). This walk is famous because it is known to have inspired many philosophers and writers throughout history! Don’t worry if you are not keen on long walks, it doesn’t take much time to get to the viewpoint at the top and there are many stone-made seating areas during the trail.

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Does it get much more Insta-worthy than this???

We finished our day by soaking up the last rays of sun in a beer gardenwhere I drank the regional Riesling wine of course….

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If Heidelberg is not already on your list of destinations…. I think it’s time to revise that list….

Weekend in Munich – Day 2

It was a snowy start to our second day in Munich!

After over eating at breakfast in the hotel (I have already confessed to the amount of pastries on my plate…) we headed out to explore more of the city. I hadn’t realised that it snowed overnight until I looked out the window of the restaurant in the hotel. In my opinion it definitely enhanced the beauty of the city, especially the Englischer Garten.

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Chinese Tower

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When we were wondering around in the freezing cold we ditched the beer garden (some were actually open) and headed into a tiny cosy cafe! Just so I could feel my hands again (only reason of course) I got a gluehwein and relaxed on a furry coated bench to admire the gardens without catching hypothermia! You don’t need to leave Scotland for that….

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Once we warmed up a little we stepped outside and cooled down a lot….nevertheless we continued walking back towards the city centre. On the way there we walked through a tunnel that had been decorated with various pieces of street art. Like always I felt the need to take a few photos…

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Alice in Wonderland or just a bit creepy? I’ll let you decide.

As I have spent time in Verona and visited Juliet’s balcony I know the legend of Juliet’s golden breast. When I found out there was another statue in Munich, gifted from the city of Verona we made sure to take a look. Who would pass up an opportunity of “undying love”?! Little did we know that instead of touching her breast like in Verona, people in Munich leave flowers by her side in order to receive the magic. Unaware of this difference we went for the breast…I’ll get back to you with how well that worked!

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Juliet Capulet Statue 
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Find under the archway in the Marienplatz 

 

 

After being granted eternal love I figured I didn’t need any more from this wonderful city.

Munich I’ll be back when the sun shines over the beer gardens!

 

Southern Germany Trip – Stuttgart and Karlsruhe

Stuttgart

On day number 2 of exploring we drove back into the industrial hub, home to the global manufacturers that are of course, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. However….I dodged all the car museums in Stuttgart ( a tough task in itself) and focused on some of my interests.

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So truth be told…..I went shopping…had my first Vapiano experience…took some cool pictures and visited a 217m high bar otherwise known as Fernehturm Stuttgart.IMG_2316IMG_2309IMG_2559

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Flavour of the day was again a traditional Swabian dish…called Maultaschen. I have promised myself that I will try cooking this back in Scotland! It’s basically a large ravioli parcel with meat and spinach through it. The chef was also kind enough to share the knowledge of the dish with me. Legend has it that the pasta dough acts as a disguise so that the Swabians can continue to eat meat during lent!

Karlsruhe

On the third day we spent some time in Karlsruhe. Karlsruhe is another university city around an hour from Stuttgart. This city was home to the former weapons factory but is now known for it’s vibrant student culture and of the beautiful 18th Century palace.

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Oh and I wasn’t allowed to end my 3rd day in Germany apparently without trying my first Schnitzel…which I had with my new favourite food as a  side dish….Spätzle! IMG_2309IMG_2372.JPG