Lake Bled

On our long journey back to Germany from Croatia we decided to stopover at Lake Bled and Salzburg. If you have not already read my Croatia Series check out the latest one here!

We enjoyed the beauty of the lake during our short visit and would love to explore the area again in the future. Bled is the perfect place for people who enjoy outdoor activities as there are so many things to do! You can see the lake from various perspectives by trying something new. For example if you like hiking you can visit incredible viewpoints, or if you prefer gliding through the water, hire a stand-up paddle board or boat.

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By the time we arrived in Bled at our Airbnb in was 8pm in the evening and we went straight to the lake for dinner. When I mean straight to the lake it really wasn’t! Google Maps did not seem to like the roads of Bled and we noticed that drivers did not pay much attention to the road signs….

If you would like £25 off your first Airbnb stay use my personal link when booking.

The lake by night was beautiful so we chose to eat in the Grajska Plaza open air restaurant. The restaurant served a variety of food and stocked many Slovenian wines and beers.

The next morning we quit our diets that we never started and enjoyed one of Bled’s most famous specialities. Kremna Rezina can be ordered at pretty much every restaurant on the lake and I can understand why! It is essentially heaven in a cake with it’s custard cream layers.

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Sitting on the balcony at The Park Cafe eating our Kremna Rezina was the perfect way to start our day in Bled.

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Unfortunately we had to leave Bled in the afternoon to continue our adventures! If we had more time we would have loved to take a boat to the island. On the island you can visit the Church of Assumption where it is the local tradition for a husband to carry his new wife up the 99 steps! Also, I didn’t know this information at the time but if you climb the steps you can ring the “Wishing Bell” which will make the couples dreams come true!!

Guess we are going back to Bled…

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Dugi Otok – Croatia Series #4

This is my 4th instalment in the Croatia Series, here is number 3 if you haven’t checked it out!

Translated Dugi Otok means the “Long Island” in Croatian and it’s the 7th biggest island in the Adriatic. We loved our time on this island and could have easily spent a couple more days exploring the many hidden spots!

We stayed in Jura’s Guesthouse for 2 nights in Luka which is South of the island. He really was the perfect host and we could not have discovered so many secret parts of the island without his knowledge.

Day 1

We travelled from Zadar to Dugi Otok on the car ferry which was very straightforward despite the stormy weather. The journey lasted roughly an hour and a half and we sailed into the port at Brbinj.

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Thankfully once we got onto the island the weather brightened up!

Our first stop on the island was to visit the lighthouse at Veli Rat which is North of the island. I think we enjoyed the swing more than the kids did…..

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Veli Rat Lighthouse

By the time we got to the Jura’s B & B we were ready for dinner. He recommend we try the restaurant that was a 5 minute walk from the accommodation and it was amazing!

If you would like £25 off your first Airbnb stay use my personal link when booking.

I can honestly say it was one of the best meals I had on the whole holiday. Konoba Supina had the most perfect outside dining area right next to the marina and served the freshest fish!

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Day 2

Unfortunately we had only 1 full day on the island which was extremely busy because Jura gave us ideas for so many places to see!

A little piece of advice…there is only 1 petrol station on Dugi Otok and it’s located in Zaglav!!!

After we filled up the car we headed first to the Golubinka Sea Cave which can actually be found on google maps! Jura said that this was the perfect place to snorkel and swim into the cave. Make sure you go before 12pm as that is when the sun is hitting the hole in the cave to make everything illuminated! It was such an incredible experience (wish I had a GoPro to capture the moment)!!!

I would not recommend this activity if you are not a strong swimmer of claustrophobic. 

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After the snorkelling we drove to one of the submarine pens in Dragove that were used by the Yugoslav People’s Army. This spot is now freely accessible to the public by foot or boat.

By the time it got to the afternoon we were just wanting to relax and Veli Žal was the right place to do it. Even though the supposedly most “beautiful” beach on the island (some say even in Europe) is Saharun. I loved this beach even more as it was less crowded and I would say cleaner.

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Veli Žal

Obviously we had to check out the hype at Saharun beach as well! It has been named “Croatia’s secret beach” and can be found at the North of the island between Bozava and Veli Rat. It was a lovely change because this was the only sandy beach we visited in Croatia. The turquoise bay was very calm and perfect for easy swimming!

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After our day exploring we wanted to have dinner at what was known to Jura as the best restaurant on the island, Koniba Regula. However….of course we did NOT book in advance and it was fully booked so we headed to a tasty pizzeria opposite.

Unfortunately we had to leave the island in the morning to journey back to Germany via Lake Bled and Salzburg.

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Until next time Dugi Otok!

 

 

 

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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Weekend in London – Day 3

My last day in London was a bit of a whirlwind and unfortunately I spent a lot of time in transit as I had to be at the airport for 5pm.

However I did manage to eat and drink my way though Camden Market before my departure…

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Camden Market is such a cool place to visit, it’s situated in Camden Town which is easy to reach by tube if you get off at Chalk Farm station.

It is London’s largest and most varied market that really has everything on offer. If you fancy some tasty street food, freshly squeezed fruit drinks, boutique clothing stores and vintage vinyl records hit up Camden Market! If I was a Londoner I would make this my Sunday lunch spot, you would never get bored….

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS….

We spent a couple of hours indulging in the markets offerings before wondering down Regent’s Canal towards Primrose Hill.

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Regent’s Canal

Primrose Hill is another beautiful green space in London with one of the best views of the city’s skyline. This calm space is the perfect spot to spend to a sunny afternoon with a picnic, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

On my journey back to Edinburgh, I spent some time planning what I would do the next time I visit (which will be a lot sooner this time)! A weekend in London is certainly not enough time to do even half of the things you would want to do, but it was a great flavour of the city that left me wanting more. I am genuinely surprised about how much I enjoyed roaming London. Maybe it was the company and the good weather, but I have a feeling that is was because it was full of life! At every turn there was something different to see. Whether that was a historical site, a street-performer or newly invented version of the ice cream cone (Milk Train)…..London has it all.

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Weekend in London – Day 2

I hope you all enjoyed reading my Day 1 post about London but if not click here!

We started off our second day in London by flying high on the Emirates Air Line  which gives you a unique view of the River Thames and the skyline. It’s a cable car experience that only opened in 2012 around the time of the London Olympic Games. The ride only costs £4.30 and can be paid for via the contactless machine (just like the underground stations) or you can purchase them from the attraction’s ticket office.  It definitely felt like the first class experience  minus the champagne unfortunately. However, they did make up for the lack of fizz by offering us a free souvenir photo at the end of the trip. You can pop into the photo booth, pick your destination (eg Maldives) and magically your photo looked like you were enjoying your holiday at the other side of the world!

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After our long flight to the Maldives we decided that we needed some brunch to recover from the jetlag. Sophia knew of this gorgeous garden cafe that sits inside Regent’s Park, Regent’s Bar & Kitchen. I can honestly say this was my favourite place we went for food in London, it was perfect! Just watch out what time you go because we wondered in at 11:30am and apparently breakfast was no longer being served and their lunch menu didn’t begin until 12pm! We said that was fine and enjoyed a muffin and an iced coffee in the garden while we waited patiently….

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Al Fresco Lunch in Regent’s Park
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Regent’s Bar & Kitchen
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Regent’s Park

Our next stop was the Rose Garden within the park and it did not disappoint! This area was beautiful and had quirky names for all the types of roses….ice cream was my favourite….

Like I said we came to London in a heatwave, so it was ideal weather just to lie amongst the roses for a couple of hours!

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Rose Garden ft SandCloud Wanderlust Towel

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

After enjoying the rays at Regent’s park we headed towards the crowds in Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. Piccadilly Circus reminded me of what I imagined a mini Times Square to be like….hectic, touristy and full of large screens!

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Piccadilly Circus 

We didn’t spend much time in Piccadilly before moving onto Chinatown! This is such a cool area of London, especially the decorated gateways. If we were’t so full from the pizza we would have grabbed something from one of the takeouts, everything smelled AMAZING! 

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Chinatown

After walking through Leicester Square we went to a quirky courtyard area that Sophia knew about called Neal’s Yard. I would have quite happily stayed all evening discovering the independent eateries and bars in this little garden space. Not far from Covent Garden and just off Monmouth Street you will find this secret little alleyway full of colourful buildings and places that you wouldn’t want to miss!

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Nearby Neal’s Yard we found a pretty little bar called Boki

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We found seats at the botanic-styled cocktail bar and chatted to the bartenders as they created our recommended concoctions….

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We spent the night partying at a rooftop club called Queen of Hoxton, which was in the up-incoming Shoreditch area of London.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my second day in London, stay updated for my final instalment!

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!

 

Weekend in Munich – Day 1

I have just arrived home from my weekend getaway to Munich….you might have guessed from my Instagram…maybe!

I think that was honestly the quickest weekend to date and the furthest I have travelled in such a short space of time. In total I travelled over 900 miles between Friday and Sunday evening, not including my journey back home!

The past couple of times I have visited Germany I have travelled around the Southern part of the country. I have been blown away by the incredible scenery, the friendly people and the outstanding amount of carbs that I can consume in my short time in the country…. (forget the Great British Bake Off….the cakes are amazing)!

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Schuhbecks Orlando

Exhibit A

I feel my official place of residence has changed to a window seat somewhere towards the back of an EasyJet plane…..

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This is because the flights are very cheap, especially out of season! I usually fly from Edinburgh to Stuttgart airport and so far the return flight has not cost over £80. Considering the average spend on a night out is between £40 -£60 (of course, depending on if you buy the cheap vodka or not) this really isn’t much less than a flight to a new place.

Enough money and cake talk and more about The Heart of Bavaria….Munich!

It was incredible to walk around he centre of Munich as there was always something to catch your eye. Everywhere you turn it’s impossible not to notice the detailed architecture.

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Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
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Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
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Marienplatz
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Rathaus-Glockenspiel
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Bavarian Lion Statue at Odeonsplatz

 

Whilst exploring the centre we were also keen to see the stunning churches that produce the soundtrack to a day in Munich….all the church bells!

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Frauenkirche

When you are in Munich find some time to discover this hidden gem! The Asamkirche, this church was built in 1733. This is a beautiful, theatrical looking place tucked away between two ordinary buildings. Honestly, when we weren’t actively looking for this church we walked past it so many times and didn’t even notice! This is a must see…

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Asamkirche
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Asamkirche
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Asamkirche

After all the wondering around we went back to our cute hotel, Hotel Condor and relaxed until we went out for dinner. I have to say the location of this hotel was perfect, it was so central and close to the train station. The one to many breakfast pastries I consumed in the morning were also very good…

Studying Event Management really does get you into a particular mindset….schedules….timings…plans….however sometimes it’s more fun stumbling upon a great restaurant or bar by chance. So guess what? That’s exactly what happened.

We left the hotel and headed into the centre of Munich (only a 10 minute walk) and  enjoyed the different atmosphere the city has at night. After a little while we found this beautiful restaurant called Cafe Luitpold.

If you like dining in pretty buildings this is the place for you! This restaurant/ cafe was built in the 19th century and has retained it’s original pillar structures. They had a large menu which made it difficult to choose what we wanted to eat…so we didn’t. We selected the tapas selection and were given a tapas styled starter, main and dessert! cafe

After dinner we had a few drinks in Fedora Bar where a DJ was playing, which was a great way to end the night. I ended my first day in Munich right…. after finishing my first pint of beer….i’m a wine gal… but when in the home of Oktoberfest!

 

 

Southern Germany Trip – Colmar and Freiburg

Yes I am aware that Colmar is in France….

Colmar

After spending my third day in Karlsruhe we drove 3 hours and stayed in Colmar just over the German/French border. It was another picture perfect town that has somehow managed to escape the modernisation that has tainted many other places due to it’s old town centre being a “protected area”. Colmar should definitely be on your list of travel destinations you are wanting to visit. It is impossible not to be enticed by it’s colourful houses, flower displays , famous wines and intimate dining options. IMG_2407

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When we arrived in Colmar we checked into our hotel for the night (Les Maraichers). Once again I felt like a complete Brit as we entered attempting to speak all the French we knew. The receptionist saw our obvious lack of knowledge and told us that she could speak French, German and English. It was the same everywhere we went in Colmar, everyone could at least speak 2 languages fluently! Really puts my 25% Duolingo German knowledge and mere pass in French at school to shame…

After checking in we walked into the centre of Colmar (only a 15 minute walk) and searched for somewhere to have dinner. We stumbled upon a beautiful looking restaurant…complete with candelabras and lights….so we went in. I promise I didn’t pay attention to the name of the restaurant….but when you are here you must dine in…La Romantica Colmar (as cliché as you can be but the food and atmosphere is amazing)!  I had the traditional Tarte flambée with some recommended local wine by the lovely bilingual waiter.

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IMG_2517In the morning we decided not to have breakfast in the hotel and headed into Colmar. We found this little cafe called Au Croissant Doré that is situated through the arches in the centre of Colmar by the church. The croque monsieur and thick hot chocolate definitely set me up for the day.

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After breakfast we explored Colmar and of course took the postcard perfect snaps at Petite Venise…

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Au revoir Colmar…I’ll be back!

Freiburg

We left Colmar to travel to Freiburg mid afternoon. In hindsight we probably packed in a little to much for my first 5 days in Germany but there was never a dull moment! The drive took only 40 minutes to Freiburg so we were still able to enjoy most of the day there. I have been incredibly lucky on this trip to see many truly enchanting places. This university city takes you back in time, walking through it’s medieval streets, as well as having the famous Black Forest as it’s backdrop!

After wondering into a dozen quirky shops we headed up to the Schlossberg viewpoint overlooking the city on one side and the Black Forest on the other. What a view…I don’t know if it was the time of year but when I went there was always a misty haze over the forests which added to the beautiful landscapes.

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P.S – Rumour has it if you want to marry a Freiburg girl paddle in the streams that flow through the city….

You can’t leave the home of the Black Forest without tasting some of it’s famous cake…..well that was my excuse. Head to Café Schmidt ,this family run business will show you what a true Black Forest Gateau Cake should look like! IMG_2573.JPG

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