Strolling through Split

More from our trip to Croatia in 2014…

After two full days in Dubrovnik, we packed up and drove a few hours north to the coastal city Split. Split is a major cruise port and jumping off point to head to famous Hvar island. We chose to rent an apartment north of Split near Trogir. If I was a young twenty-something looking for nightlife, I’d stay in Split. If you are traveling with children, I’d look for something just outside the city. One thing I loved about Croatia is it seemed like you could pick any town along the coast and find pristine water and a quaint old town. I didn’t feel like you had to stay right in the big cities to enjoy your time.

Before continuing on to our apartment, we stopped in Split for lunch and to have a look around the city. One of the first places we went was Podrum, an underground market. It lies beneath Diocletian’s Palace and is the perfect place to find souvenirs and crafts.

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Next stop was the Saint Dominus Bell Tower. Most of the family elected to climb up. But if you remember from my previous posts, I don’t do well with heights and winding staircases. So I opted to stay below with baby girl.

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Can you find me and baby girl waiting at the bottom?
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Lots of cruise ships in the port.

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Wandering a bit more through town.

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Split was pretty, but I didn’t find it as charming as Dubrovnik. An afternoon seemed to be enough for us to wander the old city. Once we had our fill, it was a short drive to Trogir and up and around small, steep roads to find our apartment. It took a while, but luckily we didn’t stay lost for too long. We met the owners, asked for advice and settled in. We would be looking for more great snorkeling for the next day.

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When in Croatia, definitely pick up some sailor attire for the littles! Too cute!
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Throwback Travel: Lokrum Island

From our trip to Croatia in 2014…

Just off the shore of Dubrovnik, is Lokrum Island. It is very easy to get out there, you can just buy a boat ticket at the harbor the day you want to go. The boat ride was quick, probably 15 minutes or so (from my memory). If you’ve spent a day walking around Dubrovnik and are ready to get out to see something else, this is a great option.

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Here’s the harbor where you will find the ferry.

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Be sure to sit on the outer edges of the ferry so you can take pictures of all the beautiful views!

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Room for babies in small strollers on the boat!
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This is the ferry we took, docked at Lokrum.

It is super important that you find out when the last ferry of the day is, and make sure you don’t miss it! There aren’t any hotels or places to stay on the island, so you’ll want to be sure you don’t get stuck. We almost missed the last ferry, it was vacation stress I could’ve done without. I wonder though, what would happen if you missed the last ferry? Is there a back up plan or are you just out of luck? I’d love to know, but wouldn’t want to be the one to figure it out the hard way!

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The island is very lush and quiet (except for the locals). It is perfect for wandering and having a little downtime. You could go and just walk around, or spend some time at one of the beaches. There is also a botanical garden and an old monastery you can walk through.

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Locals on Lokrum, colorful peacocks!

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Peacocks everywhere, even willing to hang out with you at the beach!

We chose a beach and the big kids started snorkeling. They all decided to buy snorkel gear on the previous afternoon at another nearby beach. It turned out to be a lot of fun for them, I think they would’ve snorkeled all day everyday if they could’ve.IMG_2278 (2)IMG_2294 (2)IMG_2305 (1)

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One important thing to note about Croatia is that the beaches are rocky. Water shoes are important and it may not be as easy to just lay out a big towel for little ones. We would find the biggest flat rock we could, and camp there. The rocky beaches make for some very clear, blue, gorgeous waters though! Don’t let the rocks deter you, just be prepared!

We spent the bulk of our day at this rocky cove area. We left to for a bit to eat lunch at a restaurant near the old monastery on the island. The food was great, and the scenery was tranquil. As I said earlier, we got so lost in the tranquility that all of a sudden we realized we were about to miss the last ferry. We were all happy to spend the day on Lokrum. Dubrovnik is beautiful, but Lokrum provides a different kind of beauty. It’s a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of tourists in the old city.

Throwback Travel: Dubrovnik-Walking the Wall

Continued from our trip to Croatia in 2014…

I think I could’ve shared about 50 more photos from this day. Seriously gorgeous views to be had all around! Our first full day in Dubrovnik, we spent the morning walking the wall that surrounds the old city. Honestly I wasn’t even sure I really wanted to do it, but I can vouch that it is a “must-do” activity. It took us a couple hours to walk the whole thing. It wasn’t too strenuous, but there are quite a bit of stairs which is something to keep in mind if you’re traveling with little ones (you’ll see why later). I think there was one place to stop and grab a drink or snack, but that’s it. So you will want to bring plenty of water, especially if you visit during the summer! And just a quick photo credit to my brother in law! We all shared photos at the end of the trip so I’m not sure which pictures are his or ours. But I’m fairly certain he took a good number of these!

I’ll just let the photos do most of the talking…

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Parenting on the go, time for a nap.

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About strollers on the wall. So, we were told there would be stairs. The guy at the ticket booth even offered to let us leave our stroller at the gate, but we thought we would bring it anyway. Mainly to give little girl a place to sleep, and to give me a break from wearing her ALL DAY. In hindsight, I might have just worn her. But at the time I was doing a lot of wearing her, carrying her etc. and this mama just wanted a break. So it can be done with a small umbrella stroller, but do not plan to bring your BOB up on the wall. Nope, not happeing.

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At this point she had fallen asleep, and we were trying to keep her that way. Thank goodness for a strong, and helpful Daddy!

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Dubrovnik is one of those cities that can truly transport you. The walls are beautifully preserved and I haven’t seen another place quite like it. It really is a charming (albeit a bit touristy) place. If we get the chance to go again, I’d love to ride the cable car up to the top of the mountain behind the city and check out that view, because I’m sure it’s pretty spectacular!

Throwback Travel: Dubrovnik at Night

From our trip to Croatia in the summer of 2014:

Our family was done touring around Rome for four days and it was time to move on to the next destination: Croatia. I’d been wanting to visit Croatia since we arrived in Germany. It seemed like I kept hearing people talk about it and what a beautiful destination it was. I think our family was a little skeptical when I first brought up the idea to them. I think for their first trip to Europe they probably were thinking, “what is in Croatia?” But they are amazingly awesome and open-minded so they went with it. By the end of the trip, I don’t think there was any disappointment at our choice.

We hopped a short flight from Rome to Dubrovnik, rented cars and drove to our vacation apartment that we rented high above the old town. We had a beautiful view out to the ocean from there. By the time we were settled, we really only had time to walk into town for dinner. We walked about 10 minutes down small alleys and staircases to the walled old town.

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you are now fully aware that Dubrovnik is a filming location for the show. You might recognize parts of it as King’s Landing. It is a gorgeous city. Made of all white travertine stone. The streets are gleaming, like someone polishes them every night. It does feel a bit touristy, but for good reason. It is a beautiful, charming, ancient city with a character all it’s own.

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We wandered until we settled on a place for dinner. A restaurant serving seafood and other grilled meats set against a gorgeous staircase. Our daughter was still a new walker, and the stairs were very tempting to her. We made a couple trips up and down. A year or so later while watching Game of Thrones, I recognized exactly where we had eaten.

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GoT fans, can you hear it? “Shame!”
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There she goes, up the stairs! And with a watchful audience.
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A peek at the seafood platter for two. It doubles for food and entertainment!

That was it for night one. More around the wall of Dubrovnik later! Have you been to Dubrovnik? What did you think?

Throwback Travel: Trastevere Food Tour

More from our trip to Rome in the summer of 2014:

If you’ve followed along with me, you may have read about a food tour we did in Florence. One of our favorite things we’ve done in Europe. So we thought we’d try another one 🙂 This time we booked a tour with Eating Italy Tours.

Our party had 4 adults and 4 kids (ages 1-12). We didn’t pay for the baby because she wasn’t eating her own portions, but the other kids we did pay a discounted rate for. The kids did great on the tour. We all got a little bit of history and the kids were kept entertained by all the snacks and treats! Our tour was in the Trastevere neighborhood on the south side of the Tiber river. It was wonderful to be guided around the area, because we probably wouldn’t have do it on our own and our guide knew exactly where to go for the best stuff!

Here’s a peak at some of what we sampled.

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Here we are being led through the back part of a bakery. Seeing where the pizza and foccia are made! And yes I’m pushing my stroller right through there.

Not pictured here are the artisan gelato spot, ristorante where we ate spaghetti carbonara and ravioli, the ancient wine cellar, and the cookie bakery. Definitely come hungry to a food tour. By the end, my husband’s stomach hurt so bad because he hadn’t moderated his portions well at the beginning. Take your time and sample everything, but be careful not to overdo it. It isn’t a cheap thing to do on your trip, but from my experience food tours are well-worth the money! Our nephew grew very fond of our guide Francesca. He was a little heartbroken to say goodbye to her.

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Francesca and our nephew, best buddies!

As a side note, in Rome these water fountains are everywhere. It is fresh running drinking water. I found them to be a life saver, especially when in most other european cities water is only purchased by the bottle and often more than beer or wine! Bring water bottles around with you and fill up whenever you see one!

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Our nephew demonstrating how to turn it into a water fountain you can drink straight from if you don’t have a bottle.

After all the walking during the food tour, we decided to find a place to sit down and sip some drinks. IMG_1295

And baby girl decided to test out a Vespa.

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Later that evening, we miraculously made room in our tummies for some dinner. We chose a restaurant not too far from the Trevi Fountain. We put some tables together outside, and after being in the stroller most of the day, my daughter was ready to move around. She set off crawling down the street and sidewalk. Of course, she ended up covered in dirt and dust. Before I could sit her down to wipe her down with baby wipes, this sweet Nonna scooped her up and practically bathed her in the bar of the restaurant. It was so cute. I’m not used to getting help like that from strangers, and in this instance I did really appreciate her helping me out!

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Wondering why she’s getting washed off by Nonna.
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Getting some water before dinner.

We closed the night by wandering back by the Pantheon, isn’t it gorgeous at night?! I just love going back through these pictures, Rome is a wonderful place to visit! Food, architecture, history, so much to offer!

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Throwback Travel: Wandering Rome

More from our visit to Rome in the summer of 2014:

After touring St. Peter’s Basilica, we spent the rest of the day wandering the city. The beautiful thing about Rome is there are churches, ruins, monuments, fountains, something to see around almost every corner. Not far from the Vatican is Castel St. Angelo.IMG_0705

Exploring Rome can be quite exhausting. There’s lots to see, and if you’re there in the summer it’s hot, hot, hot! Rome is very walkable, but all that walking can wear you out. Make sure to slow down and stop for breaks! Enjoy a cold one or some gelato, then head out again!

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Beer time for the mamas!

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Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain in Piazza Navona.

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In the ancient Roman Forum.

A note on strollers in Rome. I’m not sure if there’s a perfect answer on this one. This rickety umbrella stroller wasn’t ideal for the uneven cobblestones, and gravel paths through the forum. But it was ideal for easy folding and carrying up and down stairs. My daughter did ride in it most of the time and I was glad to have it to give her somewhere to nap. Carrying her in the Ergo the whole time would have been really hot and tiring for me. So take it with a grain of salt, and realize there’s no perfect solution sometimes. Just make the best of what you have!

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Eventually, the sun started to go down on the city. Rome is magical at night. You absolutely have to walk around and enjoy the charm in the day and in the evening.IMG_1400

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Famous gelato spot.

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Throwback Travel: Vatican Revisited

Here’s more from our visit to Rome in the summer of 2014. My hubby and I had visited Rome and the Vatican on a previous trip in 2012, but it was our family’s first visit. The best thing we did on our first visit was to wake up early to get to St. Peter’s Basilica right at opening time. IMG_0511

Getting a picture without hoards of tourists around is a big bonus to getting there early. Also, you will be able to wander the basilica without being crammed in a crowd. The crowds start arriving a couple hours after opening time. So take it from me, get there early and be done looking around before everyone else gets there! Just a quick FYI, it is free to enter the basilica but to tour the Vatican museum you need to purchase a ticket. And it is highly recommended you make a reservation online or book a guided tour to avoid waiting in extremely long lines in the hot Roman sun!

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The family decided to climb the dome. Because I tend to have issues with heights, and tiny spiraling staircases, I opted to stay down below with my daughter. I had a terrible time climbing the tower at the cathedral in Cologne. I felt sick after what seemed to be never-ending twisting stairs, and had a hard time enjoying the view. Since then, climbing towers and domes has been very low on the priority list for me. But if you don’t have the same issues, you should absolutely do it! I mean look at this view…incredible!

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Photo credit to my brother in law!
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The dome on the left is the Pantheon.

While everyone was ascending the magnificent dome on St. Peter’s, I was below trying to manage a 15 month old. If you haven’t visited St. Peter’s you should know that it is a quiet atmosphere. It is a holy place where people come to not only tour, but worship. It is really important to be respectful. I was doing my absolute best to keep my toddler happy and quiet. The last thing I needed was a crying fit. So when my daughter decided she wanted to crawl instead of walk I had 2 choices: 1) repeatedly pick her up and put her on her feet, risk crying outbursts OR 2) just let her crawl. I chose the latter.

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In case you were wondering, the floor of the basilica is not clean.

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We ended up leaving the basilca shortly after the crawling episode and waiting outside for everyone to descend. I thought that a bit more appropriate than letting her crawl all over the place. What are you gonna do? Pick your battles when traveling with a baby!

We spent the rest of the day wandering the city, more to come!