Stockholm

Stockholm Sweden

No matter where you are exploring in the world, it cannot be better tackled than with a local. This made Stockholm, land of the Ikea flatpack and Nudie jeans, an appealing destination for our long-weekend jaunt in May 2012. Bless the golden heart of Chris Neilson – who patiently met us in the frosty hours of a Spring evening and whisked us back to their uber trendy student pad. Exhausted though we were, it did not deter us from a lovely catchup with Chris and his gorgeous wife Eme (swedish goddess extrodinaire)! We laughed our way into the next day at Chris’s fabulous attempts at the Swedish language, and I probably fell asleep at the point where the boys embarked upon their favourite topic….coffee.

Those of you who know Chris will be well familiar with his expertise in all things bean-related. You can bet where we ended up first thing the next morning…. yup, the coffee shop where he was working. We were welcomed to Stockholm with some stunning latte art (see below) and tour guide Neilson gave us an introduction to the 5 islands that intersect – becoming the capital of Sweden. We gawked at the high scandanavian prices, but as cool as the fashion was, and as hip and trendy as the people were – we kept our wallets firmly reserved for all things Nudie (I shall return to this)! Continue reading “Stockholm”

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Mallorca

"In the stillness you shall know that I am God"

Before we headed out on our adventure to this Spanish Isle, I made the unfortunate error of looking up the weather forecast for October. As uneducated Australians, our default setting is that the weather is always going to be wonderful no matter what month of the year. We hadn’t quite yet caught the gist of these things called ‘seasons’ that seem to govern Europe. So it was a slap in the face that the phrase “If you’re coming to Mallorca in October expecting sunny days lying on the beach and swimming, you will be extremely fortunate to fulfil such desires” dominated all weather forecasts. In fact, guides claimed it was a stormy and windy month to visit.

So with our expectations lowered we packed our suitcases with a fair share of summer and winter clothing with our fingers crossed for some sun. I am more than delighted to report that every single day we were blessed with the smiling sun, and we did indeed spend our time lying under the comforting rays and swimming in the crystal clear water. Take that, weather forecasters!! The knowledge that our relatives were on mainland Spain shivering their butts off made us feel even more fortunate (sorry Buncle & Dingle!)! That being said, we thanked our lucky stars and have since been very diligent in checking weather patterns before booking any future holidays!

One of the wonderful things about living in London, is that 1.5hrs on a plane and you can be pretty much anywhere in Europe. So we started the day cooking breakfast in our apartment…and we ended the day swimming under a blazing sunset on a mediterranean island. Absolutely mental. In that moment pinching myself wouldn’t have sufficed, I would have had to have knocked myself over the head with a cricket bat to have believed it! Oh and the sunset….divine, it was like heaven decided to show off. Continue reading “Mallorca”

Hvar – part II

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After our boating adventure and day trip out to the blue caves both Lauren and I were kind of thankful that we woke up to a massive storm the next day. It only rained in the morning but it gave us a chance to have a bit of a sleep in. So after the rain stopped on day 3 of Hvar we took the chance to go and check out what the old town had to offer. We had walked through it many times already but hadn’t yet had time to explore off the touristy path in all the back alleys and side streets. Hvar didn’t disappoint. We were able to get a bit more of a taste of how the locals spend their days and also how they make a living. There were old ladies selling their hand-knitted silks and cloths, numerous stalls selling all sorts of lavender inspired items and old men selling their sketch drawings of the old town and its many beautiful attractions.

The wharf at Hvar is filled with non stop movement. Instead of doing some ‘people watching’ from a cafe, we strategically placed ourselves at dinner and did some ‘wharf watching’ over a tasty seafood dish. To see some of the ridiculously massive boats (mainly Russian owners) come and plonk themselves at a port and their rich owners walk off for a bite to eat was quite the scene. We saw the wharf authorities yelling at boat owners who had seemingly skipped the ‘unspoken que’ to dock their boat, weary crews all smashing back beers and playing drinking games on deck and watched many yachts skillfully sail into their allotted space.

Our final day in Hvar brought back the sunshine and with that came another scootering adventure. There were two more places that we wanted to try and get to and so we filled our pack with goodies and set off for our first stop – Jelsa. Driving the scooter through this sort of countryside is stunning in itself even if you don’t have a destination in mind. After stopping a few times along the way to admire the view from the cliff edge we arrived in Jelsa and found that it was hot. Actually really quite hot. So that meant a bay needed to be found and swims needed to be had. As Lauren aptly named it, “pine beach” was our found and loved destination where we stayed and read for many hours and just enjoyed the water in the heat. What I really loved about swimming here is that there are just so many spots all along the coast that it feels like there is noone else around. Also, the locals don’t swim until the peak of summer as they say the 20degree water is far too cold for them. I think they are spoilt. I don’t think the water ever gets much warmer in Australia. After swims and relaxing we stopped in briefly at Stari Grad. We both wished we had more time to explore this town as it was one of the most beautiful towns we had been to. The side alleys once again featured but there were also an abundance of very cute and amazingly welcoming restaurants that were serving up delicious food.. Perhaps next time Stari Grad.

To top off our last night in Hvar we walked around to a beach bar and sat and watched the sun-set with a glass of white wine. I know it sounds cliche but I don’t really care. In this instance cliche was good. It certainly topped off our time in Hvar. Next stop, back to the mainland to the 2nd biggest city in Croatia behind the capital – Split.

Big Love,

J&L

Caves & Islands – Hvar part 1

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Hi everyone. Joel here.

Well, Hvar was the setting of our next adventure Croatian adventure. We jumped on the early morning catamaran from Korcula (6am) as there is only one a day and arrived to yet another sunny day upon our new island, Hvar. This is a more happening town than Korcula, but still retains the relaxed nature that we have come to know and love about the Croatian people (pretty much nothing happens before 10am – except for our far too early catamaran – the 6am killer..)

Once we had found our place to stay ( Villa Zorana) we took one look at the crystal water and decided it was time for a boating adventure. We had the exploring spirit inside of us. Enough of the bike riding and scootering for a day, it was time to shoot off on our own self-guided tour upon a speed boat. Well, it had a 5hp motor… (for those that don’t know how fast that is, it is about the speed you see mum’s pushing their prams around a crowded shopping mall…) Despite the speed boat possessing a lack of speed we headed out upon our mighty vessel in search of the Pakleni Islands. These islands start about 2kms from the coast from Hvar Town and in our most speedy vessel we were told it would take 4hrs to navigate our way around all the Islands. Our first stop was Palmizana Bay and it features heavily in the photos, and for good reason. The water here was the clearest that either of us had seen in Croatia thus far. As self-proclaimed skipper of our terrific yacht I lowered the anchor and we remained there for many an hour bobbing up and down. Lauren and I enjoyed just jumping off the front deck of the boat, diving down into the clear water and then back on deck delving back into our respective novels.

With far more of the Island to discover we hauled in the anchor and set off at an almighty pace (not really) around to the next bay. By this time it was well and truly time for some lunch and we tried our hand at a small fishing village (Vlaka) and what they had to offer. Now it must be said that Lauren and I are totally into the random little restruants that run off generators in the middle of nowhere that have strange food with menus that possess no English, however, this small village was an epic fail for a totally different reason other than the food. In fact we didn’t even get to the food. Bumble bees, wasps, huge flies, flying vermin… Whatever they were, we got attacked. Sadly, we only managed to grab a drink along the way whilst swatting off the flying predators and we swiftly made our way back onto our mighty sea-craft and back to Palmizana Bay. Lunch there was good. There were no flying predators to attack us. Enough said.

The next day brought a special moment that we will undoubtedly remember forever. We had seen may google images, visited many a website that raved on about it and heard rumors of its greatness, but nothing could prepare us for the real thing. The blue caves. Wow… As you can see from the photos (which are totally unedited) this place is pretty darn special. The water is naturally lit from below and the water is a vivid and flourescent blue. It totally left us speechless and we totally recommend this as a place worth seeing. It is one of those places that you can actually say, “it needs to be seen to be believed”.

Being around so many beaches, open spaces and beautiful water is very much reminding us both of home. Ahhh Australia. We are soaking up the time in the sun and the 10-20 swims per day as London will not offer us such luxuries when we get into our lives there. We are both well and trying to take advantage of this unique opportunity that we feel so blessed to have. As mentioned in an earlier post, I was able to smuggle onto our flight my guitar and it has been getting a bit of a work out with the surroundings so inspiring for song-writing.

In our lives thus far I don’t think that either Lauren or I have ever had this much time on our hands. We have already been through a thick novel each whilst at Hvar and have been for many a walk around the ocean walls that surround the city. It is good for us. Learning how to relax. A great lesson that we are willing participants in.

Big love to all in Aus. We have many more tales to tell and will keep you updated with our next instalment soon.

J&L

Korcula

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Korcula… what a lovely surprise! Firstly props must go to Dukes (my grandma) who heartily recommended that we include Korcula in our travels “for at least three nights”. So we planned it in and we were not disappointed. Firstly, as you can see in the photos, the ocean greeted us, sparkling blue and so clear that depth did not seem to matter. I was obviously, beside myself. Joel had to calm me down and confiscate the camera so that we could watch the sun set. And the sun set was gorgeous, reds and oranges and a burning yellow ball which took over half an hour to tuck itself to bed. We simply sat with wide eyes, pinching ourselves at how blessed we were!

Our accommodation was fantastic, a little apartment which we were grateful for, as it allowed us to cook our own meals which sounds funny on holidays, but we prefer this, as eating out becomes the norm and we like to see it as a special treat, otherwise it becomes taken for granted. Plus we were already tiring of the Croatian menu which goes like this: ‘pastas, hideously expensive meat dishes, hideously expensive fish dishes, seafood risotto, squid…. and always pizza and bruchetta?!’. Therefore we are hoping for more little kitchens in our travels! Our hosts were fabulous, meeting us as though they already knew us, I thought they were going to hug us they were so happy to have us there! The apartment was smack bang in the middle of Old Town (good finding mum) and made life a little luxurious, and always the waft of cooking fish floating past our door.

Korcula is a stunning town. They are known for the wine they produce and we now have the Croatian Wine Lists down pat. The town itself is like a mini and infinitely more charming version of Dubrovnik, minus the masses of tourists and large Asian tour groups with headsets and paddles. It is a walled city and sticks out into the ocean with its proud clock tower sticking above the rambling alleyways. We instantly loved it, the vibe is relaxed and the Old Town draws you in. Again we were woken in the morning by the bell tower which for some reason always sees fit to ring like it’s life depended on it at 5am in the morning (far more than 5 strokes mind you!). As the sun is rising at 4am it hardly seems to matter, however Croatians don’t get really into anything until 10am so it’s a puzzle to me.

We hired bikes and rode them 13km up the coast to a small town called Racisce. The whole coast was sleeply, with fishing boats, rock wharfs, and the sparkling blue Adriatic under a clear blue sky. It was made even more dramatic as the coast was flanked by steep mountains on the mainland which were awe inspiring and made you admire the diversity of the landscape in Croatia. It is ever changing. We found a little beach and swam and read and basked it all in. I enjoyed riding past little farming huts and the local crops. I could recognise the vineyards but other than that I haven’t the faintest idea what they were growing! You are always stumbling upon some kind of ruin in Europe. I love that!

Another day we hired a scooter and took it up to see the high land in the mountains of Korcula. These tiny towns certainly have a simple life. I wonder what they do all day. I suppose they are all farmers of some sort as there is barely a local market in the towns. We discovered some more stunning beaches, one of them sand which was proudly proclaimed by the Croats, as they are accustomed to pebble beaches and a bit of sand is a rare thing. As Aussies we find that sort of amusing and are enjoying not getting sand in our pants and through our bags and stuck in the frames of our sunnies.

It was all too soon to leave Korcula, it is definitely a special place to us. We are in half a mind to invest in some shabby sea hut for a vacation house 🙂 As for Joel and I, we are doing well. I am learning how to relax (a real art!) and Joel’s last comment was “it’s so exhausting doing nothing”!! So all in all, I think it is a much needed rest for us and we are enjoying hearing all the news from home even though we miss our friends and family and wish they could share this experience with us!

Love to all xxx