9/18/17

Places to Go (Vacation) - Europe 2017 - Part VI- The gorgeous seaside town of Piran, Slovenia

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I knew we'd be tired after visiting three cities in five days, so I booked a house by the ocean in Piran, Slovenia - a small town full of winding passageways (similar to the Amalfi Coast) and amazing views.

Based on the airbnb photos the house looked nice enough, but those pictures didn't quite do it justice. The views were phenomenal as were the gardens - T kept eating grape tomatoes off the vine, while F and P fought over the hammock. All three kids called it the nicest place we've ever stayed. They even hugged me and screamed "thank you! this place is amazing. we never want to leave!" (moments like this don't happen everyday).

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Eventually, we navigated the maze-like corridors and made our way into town (luckily Piran is a small city, so it's not too hard to find your way). The town doesn't have a sand beach, so everyone sunbathes on the concrete.

I love how women in Italy all wear bikinis, regardless of body size or age.

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At night, we walked to the church behind our house to watch the sunset.

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For our first full day in Piran we decided to do nothing. And after three weeks of travel nothing felt pretty wonderful.

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In the afternoon, the girls and I explored the "beach" and F accidentally dropped my iPhone in the ocean. I feel like every vacation has a turning point where you all of a sudden become ready to go home and for me this was it. We still had a great final week, but navigating Vienna without a cellphone left me a little drained. Though on the upside I became much better at reading maps.

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And at night, Dan made dinner and we watched the sunset again. (Sorry, I know the color is inconsistent in many of these photos, I've been experimenting with new development styles and these photos were the guinea pigs).

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The door to our house. I love how it looks so plain from the outside, making the gardens feel like some sort of secret.

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We spent our second day in Piran exploring the area - hiking up to a town in the peninsula's interior and then walking back along the coast.

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We discovered a free modern art gallery while walking along the ocean.

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Piran is definitely the prettiest town along Slovenia's coast. The other towns had more of a cheesy-resort feel.

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Apparently, in order to convince T to spend an afternoon reading all we needed to do was take him on vacation for three weeks. Oh, and buy the I Survived series.

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We never tired of this view.

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Throughout the afternoon, it rained intermittently. We tried to walk to the beach, but kept getting caught in 10 minute downpours.

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Still reading.

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During one such downpour, we ran into this restaurant, which ended up having some of the best food of our vacation. So so good.

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Finally the rain stopped and we swam for awhile.

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Ideally, we would have loved more time in Piran, but we still had two more cities left to explore. So we packed up the rental car and headed to the mountains to visit Bled, Slovenia.

More photos later this week . . .

9/15/17

Places to Go (Vacation) - Europe 2017 - Part V - Munich, Salzburg, & Ljubljana (but mostly Salzburg)

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For most of our vacation, we managed to spend 2-3 full days in the cities we visited. But in order to see everything we (okay, so really I) wanted to see, we had to some short stays in the middle of our trip.

Unfortunately, we only had one night and one day in Munich, which wasn't nearly enough. We arrived on a cold Saturday afternoon, I had hoped to take the family to the Haubrahaus, but the tables were packed, so we ended up at a nearby place eating (yet again) a meal consisting almost entirely of meat.

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The next morning, we woke to sunny skies and streets empty of people (Munich basically shuts down on Sunday), which was the perfect start to our city bike tour (through Mike's bike tours). Our guide, Scott, was funny and two other grade schoolers were on the tour (I cannot explain how excited my kids were to hang with other children their age).

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Apparently, rubbing this guy's nose brings you luck.

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Memorial to the White Roses movement (which F knew about, but I had never heard of before). Such a sad story.

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A beer garden in the park? Yes please.

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The girls never stopped with the hand games.

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Urban surfing.

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After our bike tour, we picked up our bags at the hotel and hopped on the train to Salzburg.

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After college, I toured Europe with some friends and Salzburg was one of my favorite cities. On one hand, I couldn't wait to see it again; on the other hand, I was a little nervous that it wouldn't live up to 20 year old memories. Luckily, I had no reason for concern. Salzburg was gorgeous and not too crowded. We had a fabulous dinner at an Italian place close to our apartment and loved walking around the city at night.

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In the morning, we couldn't wait for our Sound of Music bike tour ("the hills are alive . . ." ), as we had watched the movie about 10 times to prepare.

After college, we went on the Sound of Music bus tour, which was sort of a dud (though, honestly, I find most bus tours pretty horrible), but riding bikes through gorgeous countryside while speakers blared "I am 16 Going on 17" - that was totally amazing.

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The the views are from the abbey. Yes, the actual abbey!! (totally nerding out). Sometimes you can hear the nuns sing, but, unfortunately, we missed it.

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Remember this wall?

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This is our only family photo from the vacation. (I really wish we would have splurged on a flytographer).

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After the bike tour, we hiked up to a beer garden overlooking the city, which happened to be next to a cool playground. By this point, we were all totally in love with Salzburg and never wanted to leave.

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Then at night, we hiked even further up to the castle (which was admission free after 7 pm).

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Possibly the skinniest I've ever looked.

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The Salzburg Festival is a big deal for classical music and opera buffs (not us). But if you can't afford tickets (or don't want to pay the high prices) every night they broadcast performances in the public square. Pretty cool.

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T still LOVES a castle.

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More Salzburg awesomeness.

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The next morning, we took another train, this time to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I thought this would be an "off the beaten bath" type of destination, but Ljubljana was full of restaurants and stores, located on gorgeous patios next to the river.

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We tried to hear "local" music in the square and found ourselves surrounded by about 100 Hari Krishnas as we attempted to explain to the children what a cult was. (P - "But the music is sort of catchy.")

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You've probably noticed a pattern already, but just in case - can you guess what we did our first morning in Ljubljana? That's right! A bike tour! Of the four bike tours we took, this was the first one narrated and created by a local, making it somewhat different from our other three tours, as our guide didn't focus on the war years. Instead, we learned a lot about Ljubljana's ancient past (did you know the oldest wheel and axle ever discovered were found right outside the city?) and things that had happened within the last 20 or so years, after the fall of Communism - particularly the city's urban development.

Despite not focusing the tour on the war years, the guide answered questions asked. One particular sentence really stuck in my head for the rest of the trip, "my grandfather was born a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and died a citizen of the EU - that's a lot of change in only 100 years."

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Much like Berlin, Ljubljana had some cool street art/places.

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After the bike tour, we ate pizza (according to our guide, this is really the national food of Slovenia) and explored the town.

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In the evening, Dan and T walked to the castle, while the girls and I toured the Museum of Illusions, which had an infinity room similar to one of Yayoi Kusama's but without the lines.

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In the morning, we rented a car and drove to the seaside town of Piran, Slovenia. I'll have more photos up next week . . .

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