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. 

Untitled design (57).png39739161_287774335334333_7739606199254908928_n.jpgTake a seat on one of the colourful cushions or dip your feet into the sea while enjoying a frozen daiquiri = perfection! 

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 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!

HOW TO EAT AND DRINK YOUR WAY AROUND EDINBURGH

In this post I will let you in on my favourite spots to eat and drink in Edinburgh! I know I’ve written a post about my beautiful capital before…however this one is based on only my OWN recommendations!  Besides…my last post was a mix of sights to see, walks, bars and restaurants…now I am focusing on the priority. 

My Top 3 Restaurants

1. Howies

This restaurant is perfect for any occasion! I would say that the restaurant on Waterloo place is a more unusual building and better for larger groups, but the restaurant on Victoria Street is ideal for a more romantic atmosphere.

The menu here is excellent, it is extremely varied and it’s based on seasonal and local produce! If you haven’t already booked a table here this might make you confirm a booking….there is a lunch menu that will serve 2 courses for £11.95 and 3 for only £14.95….

I do like to change it up every time I go….but some things are just too good to change! Order the Cullin Skink Soup and the Hot Fudge Sundae for dessert…I’ll let you pick your main course…maybe.

2. Angels Share

I LOVE this restaurant! It is situated at the West End of Princes St on the ground floor of The Angels Share 4* Hotel. The decor is so glamorous I could definitely get some interior design tips walking through these doors  (hinting at the 5 chandeliers and mirrored walls)…..  30176418_1832686253418492_1375613239_o

It serves heartier than expected but still beautifully presented dishes with a Scottish twist.  I have only been here once (on St Valentine’s Day) but I still have dreams about the Red Velvet Cake…..Untitled design (2).jpg

 

3. Pizzeria 1926

Naples or Edinburgh?!

Step into your pizza eating dreams and immerse yourself in the BEST PIZZERIA IN EDINBURGH for a truly authentic experience! I am lucky enough to live with 3 Italian’s who insisted I check this place out….they know what a GOOD pizza should taste like!

This small restaurant is always packed so make sure you book a table! I would say this is the best pizza I’ve eaten outside of Italy and it’s so cheap!!!

*Top Fact* The name of the restaurant emerged from the love for the Naples Football team that was established in 1926 that the family support. 

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Top 3 Bars

1. 99 Hanover Street 

This is my favourite bar in Edinburgh! It is a great place for girls night or date night with the comfy seating, cool music and chilled atmosphere. I have been into this bar a fair few times and it has never been too busy to not get served quickly. The quick service definitely adds bonus points seeing as time standing around the bar (usually in heels) is not my ideal night!

Order the Elder-flower Edinburgh Gin! 

2. Badger & Co

This is a cosy bar located on Castle Street (just above Princes Street). There are so many reasons to visit this place! The Wind in the Willows decor runs through this bar and also appears in the cocktail menu adding to the whimsical experience.

In the Summer they usually open The Outdoor River Area (downstairs section) which is decked  out floor to ceiling, matching the theme of the whole bar! This area is covered enough that you wouldn’t get wet if it rained (happens once or twice in Scotland) but is still open if you want to catch a glimpse of the stars. If it’s not a warm Summer evening don’t worry you can still enjoy the outdoor area next to a flame heater!

In the Winter months the drink pictured below is a must try!

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Signature Whisky Hot Chocolate

3. Hoot The Redeemer

This bar is insane! It is owned by a company called Panda and Sons that are known to have the most unique bars dotted around the city. Even the entrance is unusual, it’s hidden behind an old looking door tucked away, next to Costa on Hanover Street.

As soon as you find the door and walk down the stairs it becomes a bar like no other…greeting you with “Hoot The Redeemer” himself. The bar is decorated to reflect a 1950’s New Orleans style carnival complete with an alcoholic ice cream machine (seriously thinking about buying one for the flat..)

In addition you can pick your cocktail flavours from the infamous claw machine so you can live out your childhood memories of wasting all your parents money. Only joking it will be your friends money….also if you don’t manage to grab anything just grab a bartender (they have a knack)…

THIS BAR GETS EXTREMELY BUSY SO GO EARLY ON WEEKENDS OR VISIT ON WEEKDAYS!

Top 3 Cafes

1. Procaffeination

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This cafe is a gem! It is situated just on the corner of the Royal Mile and is perfect for a healthy lunch stop. Take a seat in this tiny cafe and pick from a range of homemade organic foods and juices. The smoothies are my motivation for climbing up Arthur’s Seat!

2. Cafe Noir

This charming cafe is situated in a leafy area of Edinburgh, not far from Haymarket Station. It has so much on offer, the menu is crazy! Who knew there was such a thing as Pink Latte and Lavender and Vanilla Hot Chocolate but it’s definitely a thing here. This cafe is perfect for a chilled Sunday morning or if you want to bring your laptop and use the free wifi to study ( password = wedrinkitnoir).

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3. Hotel Chocolat

Hidden at the back of the Hotel Chocolat shop on Fredrick Street you will find a luxurious little cafe. Most people are not aware that this chocolatier actually has a cafe inside and they are totally missing out!

The menu highlights that they include a chocolate twist in everything they sell. All their products are made by various cocoa roasting techniques especially designed for the cafe. People pick the drink they would like such as a latte and decide if they would like it “adapted“. All the chocolatey additions are actually made from more cocoa and no syrups. This means less sugar = major win!

These are just a few of my favourite places in Edinburgh to indulge and enjoy! If I mentioned all the places I liked to eat/drink the blog post would turn into a novel so you are lucky I narrowed it down for you all….

I would love some recommendations for other cities to so feel free to leave them in the comments!!!