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A Perfect May [May. 28th, 2017|06:22 pm]
My second post in two weeks where I open with talking about weather! Since we last spoke we pretty much skipped spring completely this year in Stockholm (we usually get it very late but it does come) and flashed forward staright to summer. If it sticks I will forgive the skipping of spring.

I don't think I have ever fully gone into this here but we had a lot of problems the last 18 months we were living in our old flat. It is too long of a story to get into but ultimately our greedy landlady shot herself in the foot for trying to raise our rent 35% on us. We joined the renters union who took her to court for us and as of 2 weeks ago we won the case!! It is a shame that greed got the better of her as otherwise we never would have put up a fuss. But justice prevailed and we are very happy. On a negative note though the place we bought in July 2015 is still not ready!! We were originally suppose to move in March 2017 which then got pushed back to August 2017. As of right now we are due to move in November 2017. Sigh. Good things come to those who wait!

The last two weeks at work has been absolutely manic. I usually get a few chances to chill for a minute or two here or there (besides my lunch break) but not recently. But hey it makes the days fly by. A few weeks ago I found out that some dear friends from DC that I had not seen in 4 years were coming to Stockholm for 2 nights, 3 days. I immediately asked for the day off. I have quite a few managers (it's a complicated structure) and every manager but 1 thought it would be possible. The final one was being a prick and not approving it. I then asked to have a half day which he still would not approve. I was at breaking point last Thursday (a few hours before I was suppose to meet Kiff and Fritz for drinks) and he had still not approved the half day for the next day. It was my first time in 12 months asking for a favour. I finally was too close to snapping so went to my above manager and vented. Eureka he immediately approved a half day. Since then the one who was dicking me around has been a bit sheepish around me. Anyway after finishing work at Noon on Friday I ran home to take a 15 minute power nap and jump in the shower before heading to the pier to meet the happy couple for an afternoon in the archipelago. We were going to the nearest island which is 30 minutes away. I had not been there since my first Midsummer with Irish Ski Bunny in 2012. It has changed a lot (for the better) and as tourist season is just on the brink of kicking off here we had most of it to ourselves! Oh and it was 27 degrees. Glorious afternoon! We finished our time out there with a beer flight at the excellent local brewery which has very much upped their game since I last tried them in bottle form last summer. Once we were back in town we headed to meet the husband at our favourite Sky Bar called Himlen (it means heaven!) for pre dinner cocktails. My cousin and her fiance joined us too as we owed them celebratory drinks. Later Irish Ski Bunny, Kiff, Fritz and I headed to our favourite traditional Swedish restaurant for dinner. Their herring platter to start never fails us. It was a perfect afternoon/evening. Saturday we had them over for brunch on our balcony. Have I mentioned that our sublet has the most stunning view? The rest of the day the hubby and I did chores around the house and took it easy. Sunday I finally got a chance to host a clothes swap at my place. Most of my gals and I have been really wanting some 'new' clothes but just have not had a chance to organize a swap. It was worth the wait as we all walked away very happy with our 'new' stuff. I got 7 'new' dresses, 3 'new' tops, and a cardigan. I also was a bit more brutal than usual going through my own stuff. Whatever we did not swap we are donating to charity.

Today is the last day of a 4 day weekend in Sweden. It never fails to crack me up how secular Sweden gets all the Christian holidays! Anyway the holiday fell on a Thursday so most people get Friday as a 'bridge' day off. I actually worked Thursday and took Friday off and the hubby had both days off. His commute to work is sending him bonkers so I am really glad he had 4 days to relax. Friday we had a whole day of just the two of us enjoying various old Christmas presents we had got for each other. First up was our spa day at the Marina Tower. We usually go to the one in town so it was really nice to try a new location and one that is so close to our current flat! We both really liked it. It looks completely different than the one in the city centre and has a much more chill vibe. I love both. My massage was excellent and I particularly was grateful for the focus on my neck and feet. After our massages we lounged around the infinity pool, read our books, took a nap, relaxed in the sauna and tried out the steam room. To my surprise I lasted longer in the steam room than Irish Ski Bunny! After a blissful 4 hours we headed out into the glorious sunshine to have a drink at a bar nearby along the canal. We have gone by this place for years so it was great to finally try it. I will definitely be going back! It had such a great vibe and the view was so relaxing watching all the sail boats head out into the archipelago. We then hopped onto the commuter boat to town and headed to a small microbrewery for our beer tasting that I had gotten him as a Christmas present two years ago. The host quickly clocked how much we love beer so instead of going through his usual spiel we enjoyed the beer and the three of us talked breweries for an hour. After the tasting was finished (I thought the beer overall was decent but nothing remarkable) we headed to BrewDog for a pre dinner drink. I had Omnipollo's Triple Mango Creme Brulee lassi that was to die for! It was such a perfect combination of salty and sweet. For dinner we were booked into AG a famous meat restaurant that I had been wanting to take the hubby to for years. It was even better than I remembered and I really love their cocktails. I had a Swedish apple and mezcal one with a hazelnut crust that was insane!

Yesterday we were cohosting a barbecue out in the suburbs at our friends house. Irish Ski Bunny had brewed a 20 liter beer for it with only New Zealand hops. It was delicious and ideal for hot weather! We were not the only ones to love it. My dear friend Dambear who made our wedding cake for us last year came along with her family. We didn't get a chance to try very much of our wedding cake at all last year so she surprised us yesterday at the barbecue with our own!! It was so delicious and I am so proud we served something so thoughtful and delicious at our wedding. We were at the barbecue for about 5 hours just chatting the day/evening away. I got some beautiful photos of the 10PM sunset. It really is the most magical time of year in Stockholm right now.

This afternoon my friend Kimini and I met at the beach at the end of my road for my first swim of the season! It was brisk but so refreshing. I am going to try and get into a good habit of going a few times a week to swim laps around the jetty. She then came back to our flat for a G&T and leftover cake.

We have a very busy summer work wise coming up so this long relaxing weekend was a much needed recharge.

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(no subject) [May. 13th, 2017|02:03 pm]

Last May we had a freakisly early start to summer. I was pretty much not needing a jacket from the beginning of the month right through to the end of September. It was glorious. Alas this year has not delivered the same gift. Instead it has been stupidly cold some days, sleeting randomly and frost on cars when I go to get the bus to work early in the morning. I feel so bad for the fauna as it is properly freaked out. Today is finally lovely so hopefully we are over the hump at last! At least I was able to enjoy the cherry blossoms as per usual.

Irish Ski Bunny was home the first two weeks of this month taking care of his Mum. Don't quote me on this but I think it is the longest we have ever been apart! Goodness am I grateful for WhatsApp and Skype! It was really nice too though having some solo time. I am so grateful to enjoy my own company and also enjoying time with amazing friends.

Work has been giving me 50 hour weeks the last 3 weeks with all 6AM or 7AM starts so I am pretty tired today. I was suppose to do my first cruise ship today too but for some reason was not put on the schedule. Fiiiiiiine by me! It was glorious not setting an alarm today. Scary though as my body is starting to wake up naturally much earlier than I prefer but luckily I am able to get back to sleep. It could also be the fact that the sun is up at 4 now!

Last Friday I went to one of my favourite medium size venues in Stockholm to see Michael McIntyre. I have only ever been to two other small stand up comedy shows. I would't pay to see him in the UK as tickets are crazy expensive and he plays much bigger venues. Here I was able to get a 7th row seat for 400kr. He was brilliant live, the man has impeccable timing. I was a bit disappointed though as about 60% of the jokes I had seen online or on TV but still great to see them. Saturday I was hosting a dear friends hen party. She is getting married in her hometown of New Orleans in 2 weeks but alas we can't go so I was determined to throw her a great day. I think she loved it so mission accomplished! We started with a wonderful brunch at one of her friends places. I then had us play some fun games that went over very well. I had then booked us a champagne High Tea at a place I read about a few years ago. It was exactly what I hoped it to be. We then headed to Pingry's flat where her friend taught us how to make a few different cocktails. The bride also invented one herself that I loved: 4cl rosemary infused aperol, 4cl bourbon, 2cl lemon juice, 2cl egg white and 1/4 of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Garnish with rosemary. We finished the evening with some good old fashion karaoke.

My parent are staying with us this weekend. I had not seen my Dad since Christmas so it's a treat to have them here. They made us a lovely dinner last night. We cook for them tomorrow. Tonight they are at a friends for dinner and we have a friends birthday dinner. She booked a dim sum restaurant so looking forward to it!


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Three Things [May. 7th, 2017|07:39 pm]
Three Things I'd Never Give Up

  • Travelling near and far via plane, trains and automobile. It is my number one passion in life so why give that up?

  • Highlighting my hair twice a year because though I was born a white blonde alas I now must pay somebody to touch it up. I am fortunate to only have to do it twice a year as it as an expensive luxury.

  • Spending money on experiences versus stuff. This is my life philosophy

Three Veggies I Love
(This was tough as I love all the veggies!!)

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Avocados

  • Peas

Three Shows I Watched Faithfully From Start To Finish

  • Frasier

  • The Fall

  • Teachers

Three Places I Want To Visit Inside The United States

  • The Pacific Northwest

  • Colorado

  • Hawaii

Three Things I Always Carry With Me

  • My phone

  • A book

  • Housekeys

Three Most Recent Calls Were From/To

  • Hubby

  • Pingry

  • My cousin in London

  • Hubby

  • My Irish friend Mary

  • My aunt

Three Most Often Used Makeup Products

  • Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat

  • Yves Saint Laurent mascara

  • Barry M eyeshadow

Three Things That Make Me Laugh

  • My hubby

  • My niece and nephew

  • The Simpsons

Three Things That Make Me Cry

  • Films

  • Literature

  • Brexit/Trump Winning

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Easter in Barcelona! [Apr. 30th, 2017|07:31 pm]
We have been trying to go to Barcelona together for ages. But the flights are always well over 3000kr. We really wanted to get away for Easter this year as we knew it would be our last chance to get away for a few days before our honeymoon in December. So I was frequently looking at flights last autumn to Barcelona, Prague and Lisbon. Randomly one day I came across a 700kr flight to Barcelona and booked it on the spot!! I had not been back in 9 years and the husband had never been.

We flew out Easter Thursday late afternoon and arrived at our lovely AirBnB just after 8:30. It was in an area called Eixample that I was not familar with but absolutely loved. We had a private room and living room at our place but actually ended up getting the whole place to ourselves as the host was leaving the next day for the holiday weekend. After freshening up we headed up to meet Golden a family friend. It turns out that he has really gotten into his beers the last few years so we met up at a craft beer bar where I really liked my Spanish IPA! It also turns out that Eixample is a great area for hop lovers like us! Later we got a late night snack before heading to bed.

After many early starts the last few weeks it was lovely to sleep in on Friday morning. We then headed to a cute little cafe near us for a light snack. We both agreed the whole weekend that Spanish eggs taste a bit strange especially the white bit (which to be fair is my least favourite part). We then made our way to La Sagrada Familia. Even after 4 visits this place never fails to take my breath away! The audio guide tour we did claims that it will finally be done in 2026. It would be amazing to see it completed in my lifetime...We then headed to a seafood restaurant that I had read about. It is actually a small chain in the city with a location around the corner from the cathedral. The seafood was very good. With such beautiful weather (it hovered in the high teens/low 20's the whole weekend) we set out for a very long walk after lunch. Finally after a few solid hours we made our way to the W Hotel for cocktails. I had a kumquat mojito that was great. We were then very ready for our siesta. Later we went to a local restaurant near the flat that the host had suggested. We both really liked it. We also had pre dinner drinks at the Mikkeller bar which was so well priced it made us green with envy! We finished the evening in a local brewery called Garage that we both liked.

Saturday we slept in again and were lazing around the flat when I spotted on social media that my Scottish friend D was in town too!! The last two times I was in London she has been out of town so this was very good news indeed. After getting in touch we made plans to meet for cocktails later that evening. After brunch we bought tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. It was pretty abysmal but still a good way to get a feel for the city. We hopped off when we got to Park Güell. For the first time in all my visits to Barcelona we had to pay to get into the main part of the park. At first I was totally appalled but actually it is wonderful. They limit how many people can come in at one time which makes for a very peaceful experience. Later we hopped back on the bus and finished the two loops. Dinner that evening was at a place that Golden had suggested for modern tapas. The food and wine was fantastic but the service was very uneven. I would still probably go back though! After dinner we headed to meet D, her boyfriend and her friends. The first bar we went to was nice but I loved the Caribbean Club where we finished the evening. The bartender was a whiz at drinks and I especially loved my ginger creation. It ended up being a much later evening than expected!

Sunday we slept in very late before heading to the Gothic Quarter for brunch. I really wanted to go to the Miró museum but alas the Sunday hours are not very late. We still took the funicular up to the area though as there is beautiful gardens in the area. We actually ended up taking a nap up there too! Later we headed back to the Gothic Quarter. I had gotten Irish Ski Bunny a Wine and Tapas tour for Christmas the year before. After our huge success with a similar tour in Mexico City the year before we had high hopes. Our guide was fantastic, the beverages were sublime but the food was quite poor. I am still really glad we did it as we learned a lot and had a great group but it was not as good as last years. I am already plotting which tour to buy him next year! It is definitely a wonderful way to explore a place. After the tour finished we had a nightcap with a nice America couple we met on the tour. We then head one for the road at Mikkeller (those prices!!) where we met some really great British fellow hop heads.

We were home at our flat in Stockholm by 5PM. We truly had a wonderful time in Barcelona. Spanish culture continues to hold a very special place in my heart. Hopefully it does not take me another 9 years to get back there. I would love to go to San Sebastián sooner rather than later and I am well overdue a return visit to my first love, Asturias.

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(no subject) [Apr. 22nd, 2017|11:14 am]
Spring flirted with us in Stockholm but has hidden again for the time being. The novelty of such a late spring gets old very fast. But I still have been wearing my khaki light trench every day since April 1st because I refuse to be in my winter coat!

Since we got back from London I have continued to eat very well! I finally managed to organize a Dinner Club. We went to a Peruvian place I have been wanting to try and it was great. I have grand plans of going back in the summer and sitting outside with a pisco sour and plate of ceviche. Almost all the ladies and I managed to get together for dinner in Gamla Stan on the 1st. It was a bit of a weird evening as a friend of a friend (that I met last summer) was there too and was incredibly negative about her year so far living in Stockholm. It made for a little bit of a tense atmosphere. We also found out that KBK is moving back to Australia in June :( She had to make an impossible decision but it still does not make it any easier. I am hosting her an (early) surprise going away party later today. Irish Ski Bunny and I finally managed to make it to the West's for dinner. They put on a grand feast! Homemade French onion soup to start, perfectly cooked duck and greens for our main with a side of duck fat chips!! And finally delicious white port and homemade creme brulee for dessert. We were spoiled!

The week of the third my Mum stayed with us. On the 7th we were out in the suburbs at a really bad garden show. When we were leaving I went to go look on my social media and saw that a friend had posted about a truck ramming into a shop near his work. Long story short what should have taken us 45 minutes to get home from took us just over 4 hours. It was unbelievably surreal 'marking myself safe'. My beautiful Stockholm was hit by a madman and only brought us closer together. It has been so uplifting to see the city come together in stronger more powerful way.

Work has been really quiet but thankfully gotten lots of uber long shifts so should be getting a nice paycheque next week. I have a meeting also at the end of next week with my managers manager about my future with the hotel. I have been getting some really nice feed back from my team recently so hopefully it has been coming back to her too. I really want to be working with the guests more directly.

I will do a dedicated post to our fabulous Easter weekend in Barcelona soon.

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London My Love [Apr. 1st, 2017|01:26 pm]
We had a wonderful time in London Town celebrating Irish Ski Bunny's birthday. It was a surprise trip I had arranged for him back in November. I was able to keep it a surprise all the way up to an hour before we had to leave for the airport, doh! Ah well he had an inkling that we were going to the UK when I started getting our sterling together and was upset that my British phone would not turn on. It was still a treat though as he had not been to London in two years.

When we arrived to our hosts in Golders Green they had decorated the flat and organized a birthday cake. Friday we made our way to Kings Cross for lunch at Dishoom. As we got there a bit early we had a glass of champagne in the beautiful St Pancras station. It would have been pretty fun if I had actually arranged for us to take the Eurostar to Paris! Ah well something to consider for a future surprise. He has never taken it and I have only taken it once and loved it! Anyway we then made our way to Dishoom. I had not been to Granary Square since they redid it. It looks so wonderful! We had a superb lunch at Dishoom. Irish Ski Bunny said "I have never had Indian food with so much flavour". After lunch the sun came out so we walked along the canal to Camden. We were able to sort out my British phone thankfully. I have had that number for nearly 20 years so was very keen to hold on to it plus it is so handy when I am home in the UK. We then went on to BrewDog for the birthday boys free beer. After a disco nap we all headed to Islington for our delicious dinner at Smokehouse. We had a wonderful evening with good friends, great food and drink. I can highly recommend the venue. The service was a bit spotty but everything else more than made up for it and was very good value for the quality of food we got.

Saturday we slept in before heading to Soho to meet the Aussies for a few drinks. I had not been to Tottenham Court Road since it reopened. I am still crushed that we lost the Astoria but I must say they did a steller job with the station. Later we headed to Shepards Bush to catch up with my cousin and her family. I had never seen her flat, it is lovely! There was loads of magnolia trees in bloom in the area. That evening we ordered takeaway with our hosts and stayed up chatting. Sunday I went and got my eyes tested for the first time in 6 years. Not much has changed except that my left eye is fair bit weaker than my right. I then went and got my nails done. We finished our lovely weekend with brunch.  So in short our weekend in London was food, drink and friends. Perfect. We did agree though we will come back sometime and go to all the museums as he has not been to many.

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(no subject) [Mar. 17th, 2017|03:26 pm]
Our last weekend in Zagreb was perfect. We had unbelievable weather, fantastic food and just generally loved every second of it. As always we had a great time with our friends The Gingers. Friday I took them to the market to pick up ingredients and say bye to all my favourite merchants. We had a few glasses of Croatian wine at a cellar I had been wanting to check out before heading to dinner. Saturday the weather was wonderful so we made the most of being outside and showing them around our favourite spots. . We had brunch with the couple we met at the brewery. I had the Zagreb Breakfast which I loved. Lots of crispy parma ham and Croatian cottage cheese. Irish Ski Bunny also finally got to have a coffee at my favourite cafe. Their cappuccino's were really amazing and I miss them already. Our last meal with them was at a place we ate our second night in town in January. Sunday we had Irish Ski Bunny's colleagues over for brunch with they loved. We finshed our time in Croatia with a fabulous last meal in the Upper Town. And just like that I have woken up from the dream that was our time in Croatia.

We had a wonderful brief visit to America. It was a very relaxing trip filled with family and friends. We spent the first 36 hours with my Godmother and her partner in Delaware. Our first day the weather was freakishly warm followed by absolutely freezing weather the rest of the time we were there. After a mild few weeks in Zagreb it was a bit of a shock! Thursday we enjoyed some tax free shopping (I bought the prettiest bras from Target!) and enjoyed a few local beers and wings at a newish bar near her house. That evening we picked my Mum up at the train station and had a wonderful dinner all together. Everybody was such in a good mood! My Mum has had some really rotten luck with her health and physical well being recently so this holiday came at exactly the right time for her. Friday I found a hole in the wall Mexican place for us all to go to. It was so, so good and so, so cheap. After a relaxing afternoon at the house Irish Ski Bunny and I hit the road to Philadelphia. Gramski and her husband bought a beautiful house last year and two dogs so we had a lot to catch up on! Their dachshunds Ruby and Frankie are to die for! It really made me want to get a dog but that is still a few years off. On Saturday I got amazing ankle boots for $10 at a thrift store and we had really good dim sum downtown before picking up Laura Li at the bus station. It has been a long time since it was just the three of us. That evening we (minus my hubby as he came down with a nasty cold) went out for Gramski's birthday dinner. My lentil fritters were amazing but I was underwhelmed with my main. Back at the house we stayed up chatting and reminiscing. Sunday we had a text book American brunch before dropping Laura Li back at the bus stop. I am so grateful to have such a strong and wonderful friendship of 20+ years with these two amazing women. That night Mr Gramski had his son and girlfriend over for dinner and made a mango stir fry dish with coconut rice that we all loved! Monday we had Mexican food again at a place we like with Kel. Our first time hanging out together in the City of Brotherly Love! It was then time to head home to Stockholm. Our flight left at 11:45PM so we made it out by the skin of our teeth before the snow storm came through and cancelled thousands of flights!!

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(no subject) [Feb. 28th, 2017|11:35 am]
I must say that this has been quite a lovely February. I am not usually a fan of this dead of winter month so this was a nice change of pace. It was pretty gloomy weatherwise up till last week when suddenly jumped to low double digit figures so that has been a nice surprise. Back to winter next week in Stockholm!

The Japanese restaurant we went to for Valentines was quite good. It was way overpriced though so I probably would not return if we were living here longer. During the day I was on a stroll around the city when I popped into the National Theatre. Within seconds I had bought us tickets to go to the ballet two days later! Irish Ski Bunny loved his Valentines surprise. He brought home half a dozen roses for me. They were beautiful.

Wednesday I went to the Museum of Broken Relationships. Originally when I heard the name a few months ago I actually thought it was about the Fall of Communism, ha! In actual fact the museum is dedicated to failed love relationships. A Croatian couple who broke up a few years ago realized how much sentimentality we have towards objects a relationship share. The museum today has objects from around the world that people have submitted with descriptions. They vary in length and emotion. It is a small museum but quite captivating. Some of the stories destroy you! Thursday we headed to the ballet! I had gotten tickets for us to see Anna Karenina. The first thing we both noticed is how few men were in the audience. When I told my Croatian friend that I had booked the tickets for Irish Ski Bunny she commented that her husband would never go. Much about Croatia can still be a very macho culture at times. The second thing we noticed is that there was no live orchestra. The recording was fine but of course nothing compares to live music. Thirdly the show was so short! We did agree though that the dancing was phenomenal. As the show was so much shorter than we anticipated we were able to check out a pub we had read about called The Old Pharmacy. We really liked it and were grateful that they had a no smoking room.

Friday around lunch time we hit the road for Budapest! Ah living on the continent when another capital city is only a 3 hour drive away. The drive through the Croatian side was beautiful with lots of rolling hills. Hungary was flat and dull. But thankfully Budapest was just as beautiful as I remembered! I have to say though I remembered it a bit more polished. Our hotel was in a fantastic location. For a 5 Star hotel though I found it a little underwhelming but our bed was divine. Irish Ski Bunny quickly discovered we were a stones throw away from one of the best craft beer bars in the city so we made our way there for a few pre dinner drinks. Dinner that night was at a traditional restaurant that got good reviews. I just don't think I chose the right dishes as I found everything a bit bland. We finished with a drink at the sister pub of the one we had been to earlier. Saturday we slept in a bit before heading out for a mooch around town. We had a 12PM booking at a Michelin star restaurant a friend had suggested called Borkonyha. It was sublime and easily our best meal of the year. Everything from taste, ingredients and presentation was flawless. The Hungarian wines that our waiter suggested could not have suited the meal better. And they must be one of the most reasonably priced Michelin star restaurants in the world! After lunch we headed to join a free walking tour. There were so many of us they had to divide us into groups. Our guide was very knowledgeable but the way he spoke grated on me a bit! We walked around for about 3 hours finishing up in Pest where we got a lovely sunset view of Buda. We made our way back to the hotel to check out their spa. We both were rather underwhelmed with it. After a quick nap we headed to a bar brilliantly named Hopaholic. Both restaurants we wanted to go to were fully booked so we asked the bar if we could bring take away in and they were totally game! So we got a curry from the hole in the wall next door and were amazed at how good it was! I also really liked the various Hungarian craft beers we tried. The mint chocolate stout was particularly fun. Sunday we slept in before heading to the Gellert Thermal Bathhouse for the day. It was a beautiful spot and I loved all the various pools. I wish I had a waterproof phone so I could have taken some photos. I had also booked us a massage each which turned out we had in the same room so that was a nice surprise. My masseur did a lovely job. I have always said if I  was rich frequent massages is one of the first things I would spoil myself with. Ah well at least I am fortunate enough to have one a few times a year. We loved our rejuvenating cycle of sauna-ice cold plunge pool-sauna-ice cold plunge pool-sauna-plunge pool. We finished in the 40 degree thermal pool which was one of the prettiest rooms. We then had a late lunch/early dinner at one of the restaurants we could not get into the night before. Lovely fresh Middle Eastern food. A perfect way to finish our wonderful weekend. Budapest I love you so!

Last week I had an interesting week. A colleague of the husband's wife that I met in Sweden had me come to her school a few times to speak to her students. She wanted them to have a chance to talk to a native speaker. They are high school students who will be pursuing the medical field in the future. Students in Croatia go to school 12 hours a day!! They stand up and say hello when a teacher walks in. The classrooms were completely soulless and had no personal touches. It was an eye opening experience and I really enjoyed meeting them. As much as things were different there was still the class clown, the one who asked all the questions and so on. I don't talk about myself much so it was a nice reminder of who I am and want to be. Later in the day the woman and I went to go to the Museum of Arts and Crafts. I particularly wanted to check out the Nutcracker exhibit which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is a ballet and score that I truly love. The permanent collection at the museum was good enough and I am glad we went.

This past weekend we spent the night in Varaždin the former capital of Croatia. It is a little baroque wonderland with lovely squares and a small castle just outside. We enjoyed our leisurely day there having day drinks in the sunshine, admiring the pretty buildings and walking around the castle. Later we had dinner booked at a restaurant I had read about on a blog last year. My expectations were too high as the food was fine but nothing I could not make at home and I don't feel like a single dish was seasoned! Sunday we headed to Trakošćan Castle a 13th century castle up on a hill. It definitely needs some TLC on the outside but I loved the rooms inside. It also had beautiful views from the top of the nature surrounding it. We finished our short weekend away in Samobor just outside of Zagreb. They are known for their carnival and kremšnita pastry. The carnival was very sweet and the pastry divine! It looks really dense but is surprisingly light and is served warm which is a nice touch. I would happily have one again.

And now it is our last week here and I can hardly believe it! We have our last tango class tomorrow evening, drinks with his colleagues on Thursday and a farewell brunch on Sunday we are hosting. Friday our good friends the Gingers arrive from London too! We are so happy that some friends will get to see a peak at our life here. We have booked our two favourite restaurants for dinner Friday and Saturday. It is suppose to be 18 degrees on Saturday. It should be a pretty wonderful last week.

We are only back in Stockholm for 36 hours though when we get in. Wednesday next week we fly out to Philadelphia for 6 nights to spend some time with my godmother first and then one of my closest friends and her husband for the rest of the time. She is 7 months pregnant so I can't wait to see her bump! Saturday our good friends from Jersey and NYC will come over too for 24 hours. I can't wait.

Then it is back to the real world which will be quite a shock to the system! I miss my friends in Stockholm and being surrouned by water always so it will be good to be back. Croatia though has a very special place in my heart. I am reminded of that popular quote:

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

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February So Far [Feb. 13th, 2017|02:49 pm]
Since we last spoke things continue to go grand here in Zagreb. I really can't quite believe we have only 3 weeks left! It has truly flown by. We have definitely found our rhythm which is nice. I am going to miss going to the farmers market almost every day to pick up dirt cheap ingredients but having haloumi back in my life will make up for it!

The expat community is pretty thin on the ground here. I have been reading some local bloggers (who write in English) and reached out to them to see if they wanted to meet up for fika. I met two of them over the last few weeks. One was a smoker so we met at a smoky cafe (sigh) and the other one I met at a cafe I had been to before and like. Both were super nice and it was really useful getting some insight to the city from locals. They both have lived abroad as well for extended periods of time so I enjoyed hearing about their experiences of coming home too. I hope I get to see them both again before we leave.

The first weekend of February we headed to the Istrian Peninsula for the weekend. We based ourselves in Pula which is home to the sixth largest arena in the world.  The arena was very impressive from the outside and needs a bit more TLC on the inside. They do gigs there in the summer which I bet is amazing. As we were in the region in the total and utter dead season A LOT of things were closed. But we had the roads and towns to ourselves. Unfortunately it rained most of the weekend but regardless the scenery was stunning. Our first top was in a town called Rovinj which we loved. A pretty little harbour and a fantastic meal at one of the only places that was open. They served me the best cooked pork chop I have ever eaten. We also loved the wine we had with lunch which was all from nearby vineyards. We really wanted to do some vineyard tours but it was outrageous what tour companies were charging. After our divine lunch and hopes of returning to stay at that hotel one day we made our way to Porec. It was raining pretty hard by this point but we still enjoyed walking around. You can get the boat to Venice from there which would be amazing. We also had really good gelato in Porec. Our final stop of the day was in Motovun which everybody told us we had to visit. It was really charming with most of the village on top of a hill. It was dark by the time we got there but I still loved the view regardless. We had some lovely truffle cheese and parma ham at a little cafe. The region is famous for their truffle so we had to have some at some point! By the time we got back to our AirBnB in Pula it was about 9PM and we were quite tired from our long day so we stayed in and watched that weeks Graham Norton and chatted. Sunday we slept in a bit before hitting the road to go to Opatija which is considered the fancy part of the peninsula. We found it a bit OTT and lacked the charm of the places from the day before. But we had a nice lunch and were back in Zagreb by dinner time. I would love to return to this area in the summer to swim in the beautiful water but we hear the roads are a nightmare and prices go up! Maybe one to try in the early autumn then if it was still warm.

This past weekend we were going to go to Budapest but I thought it was better we stayed in Zagreb so Irish Ski Bunny had a chance to see more of the city and just relax. He does all the driving....Friday we had one too many drinks with some of his colleagues, they are so nice! We only just discovered one of the local beers we like is 7.2%! Saturday we made a delicious brunch before taking him out to one of my favourite cafe's for fika. My cappuccino was not as good as last time. In the evening we headed to a craft brewery we have been wanting to check out. The space is fab and the beer is quite good! We were looking forward to having the burgers too as we heard they were some of the best in the city but alas they were meh. The truffle chips though were superb. We joined a table where we ended up meeting some really great people. There was a couple I really liked who I am going to reach out to this week to meet up with again. She was born in America to Croatian parents but moved here when she was 10. Her boyfriend was born in Canada to Croatian parents but lived here for 6 years for Medical School and is now back here doing an internship while she finishes up Medical School. They met when he was her Orientation Leader! Just really great chats all night. Yesterday I went to a flea market that I have been wanting to check out but had not had a chance to yet as we had not been here any weekends. I thought it was quite good but a little overpriced. I did though get some brilliant sunglasses for peanuts. It is suppose to be 10-13 degrees and sunny this week which will feel amazing. We had another lovely fika out and then Irish Ski Bunny made curry. I had some for lunch today again and oh my days it was so good.

Tomorrow night we are going to the first Japanese restaurant that opened in Croatia for that Hallmark holiday. Friday we are going to Budapest! I went for the first time when I was 13, the last time I was 23 and now 33. I can't wait as I have always loved it! Nine times out of ten we stay in an AirBnB but we got an absolute stonking deal online for a 5 Star Hotel so that will be quite lovely. The hotels spa looks amazing and we will go to another one too hopefully on the Sunday. Bring it on.

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Mini Breaks So Far [Jan. 31st, 2017|01:48 pm]
We have had two wonderful weekneds away so far. It is fun being driving distance to so many interesting places! I love Stockholm but her geography stinks.

The weekend before last we arrived in Ljubljana at about 6PM on Friday evening. Our AirBnB was smack in the middle of the Old Town. I was really craving a burger so we headed to a place right by the flat to quell my craving. The burger I had was smothered in marmalade and cheese. The star though was the homemade bun! It was also at dinner we quickly discovered that the Slovenian craft beer scene is light years ahead of Croatia. After dinner we headed to a pub that sounded and looked text book British but had the most incredible beer list. Some of our all time favourites and hard to find hops were featured that we of course enjoyed.

Saturday morning we were suppose to join the free walking tour but I had somehow read the meeting place completely wrong. We enjoyed doing our own regardless taking in the lovely city. Ljubljana is tiny and oh so pretty. We took the funicular up to the castle which we did not go inside but loved the 360 degree views it offered of the city. We also had a thick hot chocolate to warm us up as it was very cold (and sunny). We meandered our way down the hill and had a sushi snack before checking out a wine bar. Slovenian wine is excellent and I really loved the Pinot Noir I had. We then made our way back to the river to join a boat tour. Our guide was incredibly sarcastic and shared some interesting information but it was not exaclty the best tour. But it was good to see the beautiful buildings from the water. We then popped into a craft beer shop to pick up some pre dinner drinks. We got some really great stuff but the owner was some sort of batshit crazy right wing nut. Not nice! After a nap and some beers at the flat we headed out to dinner. I had done some research and read about a bistro that was getting rave reviews. We had the 8 course tasting menu and it was outstanding and so cheap! It was a diverse and eclectic menu. We even (sorry vego friends!) tried pig snout. Would I have it agian? No probably not but it was a unique experience trying it. Sunday we enjoyed sleeping in before heading to a restaurant for traditonal Slovenian food. It was hearty and comforting. And then it was time to take the train back to Zagreb. We had been driven down by a friend which was quite a nice drive but the train ride was really lovely as you whizz through the Slovenian Alps.

This past weekend we had a two day pass for the oldest National Park in Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is also one of the most popular tourist destionations so going there in the total off season was a treat. The park is made up of the most beautiful clear lakes you have ever seen with gushing waterfalls everywhere. The park is set up with boardwalks everywhere making it easy to be right in the thick of it. We got to enjoy the park when it was 80% frozen. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Frozen waterfalls are truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The first day we did the more popular trails but on Sunday we went on a 12KM walk where we saw less than 10 people. And spent half of it walking on the frozen lake. I have so many photos from our 2 days. I might even print some. I would love to go back and see it in another season but the winter wonderland we enjoyed was very special.

We started tango lessons last night which we will be taking twice a week till we leave. The week before last we went and saw La La Land which I have to say I absolutely loved. We also saw Hidden Figures which was inspiring and fascinating. Both films had fabulous costumes! Going to the cinema is dirt cheap here so I hope we go see some more stuff soon.

This weekend we are heading to the Istrian Peninsula. It is suppose to be 12 degrees and have some of the best food and wine in Croatia. We can't wait!

On a strange note I have been perpetually dizzy since Saturday morning. It was really bad all day that day but still gets me a bit now too. I am not sure what is bringing it on but it is not pleasant.

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