Sunday, 17 February 2019

Eurotrip 2018 - a short intro

When we told people that we were taking our then 3 year old and 7 year old on a roadtrip to Gibraltar, most of them thought we were crazy.

When we told people last year that we were taking our then 5 year old, 9 year old ad 10 month old on a roadtrip to Slovenia (and some other countries), they didn't just call us crazy. It was beyond crazy for most.

Three weeks in a car, on campsites, just sightseeing and spending time together. It's not like we were on the road for months, but we loved it. We loved it so much (that was our third road trip with our kids, only that with every roadtrip we had one more kid with us) that after some deliberation, we're going on a roadtrip again this year. I'm already scared (yes, cause even for me it sounds scary, with the weather, the tent, how we're going to survive the long drives and all) and excited (cause we have so much to see in mind, we're going to spend the time just with ourselves again, which we love so much) at the same time. Possible. And I can't wait.

Our last roadtrip wams definitely shorter than the previous one, when we look at the distance. And while in 2016 we knew we wanted to get to Gibraltar and we knew we were going to make it there, in 2018 there was nothing certain. Sure, we had a general plan. Of course, we had a list of places we wanted to see. Obviously, we were hoping to get as far as we hoped for. However, we had Marti in mind the whole time. And we were ready to stay somewhere on the way, so to say, if she said "no" to travelling by car.

Luckily, she got so used to travelling by car, that now she loves it. What's even more surprising, she loves falling asleep for her nap in her car seat. Yes, at home.

So with everybody on board and willing to stay on the road for as long as we wanted, we managed to get to (I think) all the places we had in mind. We spent the first night in Czech Republic, the second one in Austria (with a little bit sightseeing this time), the next ten nights in Slovenia, from where we travelled to Croatia, then Italy and, finally, with the last night spent in Germany, we got back home.

The first day, we wanted to get to Brno in the Czech Republic. We figured we could explore the city a little, see something there. Instead, since we couldn't find a campsite anywhere close to Brno enough and since there were roadworks on the ring road, we never got to the city itself. We stayed on a campsite in what felt like the middle of nowhere. It was a tiny one, by a tiny river, a 15 minute walk from a tiny town of Veverská Bítýška. We spent the afternoon exploring the area a little and playing at the local playground (a very well organised one). A lovely place for a calm and peaceful summer evening. 

Sunday, 10 February 2019

A quick half a day in Palma de Mallorca

Our week in Mallorca back in 2017 flew by way too fast. But that’s nothing new. Usually our travels don’t last as long as I’d love them to. As I have already mentioned, we spent most of the time on hotel grounds or on the closest beach. However, I also manager to squeeze in one solo trip.
We had a plan of going to Palma de Mallorca. For two reasons. First, that we see at least something in Mallorca. And second, that we leave the hotel for something more than just the beach. So, basically, that was one reason. But it looks much better if I say that there were two, doesn’t it? 😉

Anyhow, the kids felt great being able to spend the time doing nothing. Ok, it wasn’t like they were really doing nothing. They were playing, running around, playing some more, taking part in the kids club activities, running around some more. So they were doing quite a lot. And they didn’t really feel like going by bus for an hour or so one way. So they stayed at the hotel with my parents, while I decided to actually take that bus for a little more than an hour one way. That was my solo (half a day) trip to Palma de Mallorca. No rush, no nothing. Ok, not nothing. I had a map with a list of local delicacies to buy and a place where I could buy them. 

The day started ugly. It seemed like it was going to rain all day long. Right after breakfast, I went to the bus stop. I had to wait  little and it was wet and cold. By the time I got to Palma, it was sunny and hot. What a nice change for a day of sightseeing. At least I didn't mind. 

The bus stops right at the foot of the cathedral hill. It looks amazing. There weren't too many people there, yet, so I even got a chance to take a pic with no one in view. 

Cathedral, also called La Seu, being so close, was the first place I saw. It was... strange. On one hand, it looked amazing - mostly like a typical cathedral, the colours, altars and stained glass windows (so many of them and with the sunshine - they create a colourful performance). 

But then you get to that one place that looked to me like taken from horror movies. The window covered with black paint, as if souls (or corpses) coming out of the walls... It was spooky. And even though I know that it recreates the sea bed and was created by a famous artist Miquel Barcelo (I found out about it once I got back home, so I was neither ready for the experience, nor can I take the first impression out of my head), I still am a little scared of the images I have of it in my head. 

Once I got out of  the cathedral, I took a walk down the narrow streets. They were full both of shops and of tourists. Ok, most of them. Especially the ones closer to the market square. I got to some busier and wider streets, too. But then I got so exhausted with just walking in the sun (have I mentioned that I was pregnant back then? Yeah, I was, so even though sunny weather for sightseeing sounds like a blast compared to rain, it's not so great when you're pregnant). 

Anyway, I got back to the bus stop right off the cathedral hill. I took a look at the sea. Now the bus stop was much more packed with people. nd even though all the other buses seemed to be coming on time, mine had to be late. It arrived, at last. And after yet another hour and a half (or something like that), I was back to the hotel to spend the afternoon with my kids and my parents. 

And that was basically it for our few days in Majorca. Not much, but enough to make me want to come back and explore the island a little more. Ok, much more. 

Sunday, 3 February 2019

A few days in Majorca...

2017 was a year when we spent most time at home. We were getting ready for welcoming a new member in our family (one that is now running around the house, smiling, laughing, dancing, doing hilarious things). Or so I thought. 

But then I started thinking about it. Considering all the trips near and far that we went on back then. January meant winter break near Ustka, Poland. March was a business trip to Stockholm. And a weekend getaway to London, let’s not forget about that. May meant a week spent in Mallorca, Spain. July – a weekend getaway to Frombork, Poland. And August – a few days in Sobieszewo, Gdansk, Poland. As for a year that I thought we spent mostly at home, it doesn’t seem that little. It’s just that we didn’t go on any major summer trip as a whole family that year. And that probably influences my perception of that year as a whole.

I did go to Mallorca with my parents and the kids though. We weren’t supposed to go there in the first place. My parents wanted to go with my brother and his family. But then it turned out that they couldn’t travel by place, so I stepped in with the kids and we took their places. Krzys had to stay home as there weren’t any free seats on the plane. Oh, well. Life’s brutal. He stayed home to clean certain parts of our home (like the attic) instead. Yup, life’s even more brutal ;)

From the start I have to admit that we didn’t see much of the island itself. The weather wasn’t too nice (most of the time. We had a rainy and windy day or two as well), and the whole plan was to rest. Our hotel was on the outskirts of one of the small coastal towns. It was more or less a half hour walk to the beach. But there was also a hotel minibus that was taking us closer to the beach area. 

Water in the pools was a little (a lot!) too cold to spend the time playing in the pools. Even in the kiddy pool, though this one was a little better (shallow water warms up faster). But the mini club was amazing. Kids had so much fun there. Artur could communicate easily in English, Paula still has a language barrier, but she could play with others thanks to her own wit and observations. The playground wasn’t maybe too big, but the constructions let the kids have their own kind of fun. They tried playing billard, too. And they still listen to and dance to the songs from the mini disco, which they loved a lot. Within a year, they had a chance to try three different mini discos in three different countries (Mallorca first, then Crete in Greece and finally Hurghada in Egypt). I haven’t seen the one in Crete (I wasn’t there and recordings don’t always pay tribute to the whole thing), but both the one in Egypt and in Mallorca were well organised and kids had a lot of fun taking part in them. They loved the one in Mallorca a little more, though. Or so I think. Primacy effect maybe? Novelty? Well, could be. 

Apart from spending time on the hotel grounds, where we had a lot of fun (some of us playing, some running around, some reading), we also went to the beach a few times. First time was already on our first day. Since we arrived to the hotel early in the morning, our rooms weren’t ready yet. We ate breakfast and still had some time to wait. We went to see the beach then. It was dark, cloudy and a little cold, so we were wearing long trousers and light jackets. That didn’t stop the kids from walking in their shoes right into the sea or falling down in the (shallow, but still) water. Half-dry half-wet, we got back to the hotel, where the rooms were already waiting for us. We unpacked and decided to rest spending the rest of the day either on the playground or sitting at the table right outside our rooms. And since our rooms were close to the hotel stage… it was a perfect place to see what was going on. That day started very early for us (or, to be truthful, in the middle of the night, as it was around 1-2 a.m., can’t remember precisely right now), we called the day quite early in the evening. Sadly, cause we missed the evening animations. As the kids loved them. Paula’s behaviour during this trip was a surprise to us. She was so open, so eager to play with others, to take part in various activities, to interact with others. The mini club was one thing. And the mini disco was yet another. We didn’t think she’d enjoy it. And every day she was waiting until the mini disco. Dancing like crazy, imitating every move. That was the first time I’ve seen her like that. Luckily, not the last. Artur is older and he was always more open to strangers than her. So him enjoying himself in the crowd was no surprise to us. It wasn’t his first time either. 

As I have already mentioned, we spent most of the time on the hotel grounds. By the pools, on the playground. We went to the beach a few times. But that was basically it. Except for one solo trip of mine, but I’ll share a word or two on it another time.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Greenwich and a lil' bit of London by night

As I have mentioned already, during our last trip to London we haven't seen much. But that was the point. We weren't set on sightseeing that much. Sure, we had to see something, as we wouldn't have been us. But the whole point of the getaway was enjoying ourselves, browsing through bookstores, just walking, walking and walking a little more around London.

This time we decided to move a little further away from the centre and see the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The last time I visited the place was back in 1995, when I was a little girl in a big city. At first I wanted to attach a picture or two from back then. Buuuut... well, maybe it's not that good an idea after all ;)

Anyway, we decided to goand see the Royal Observatory since Krzys has never been there before. And he wanted to see it, too. When we were driving through Spain in 2016, we crossed the prime meridian (twice, actually. First time was in France on our way to Spain, but I can't remember it being marked in any particular way. I remember the one in Spain, though). That was when we first started talking and Krzys said he'd like to visit Greenwich. This time we had a chance to do it, and so we did. The weather was nice, it was sunny, it wasn't raining either (unlike the previous day when we visited the Tower). First we went to see the Cutty Sark . Then we climbed up the hill to the observatory.

Apart from us, there were a few people there, but it wasn't crowded. I have to say that the place changed a lot over the past 20 years. I remember the 24 hours clock at the entrance. It still looks the same. But the place where I took the famous "I'm on the hemispheres at once" picture is now hidden in the bushes and fenced. We could see it. But you can't get there now. You can still take the picture, no worries about that. Just in a little different place. It looks good, too ;)

We walked through the exhibitions, learned quite a lot. I loved the rooms, what they looked like, loved the old equipment. The gardens around were also nice and since the weather was working in our favour, we could enjoy a few minutes outside as well. Not at all time lost.

On our way back to the centre, we stepped into a few bookstores and visited a orning market where we had some delicious Scottish breakfast. We got back to London spent some time walking around the Picadilly Circus, met with a friend that we haven't seen almost since our studies in Finland (well, we met in Poland soon after we got back from Finland, but that was it, so it was great to see each other again) and since I was still feeling quite ok (which wasn't given), we decided to stay in the centre and see London by night. Ok, by London I mean the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. And by "by night" I mean after dark. So 7-8 p.m. was also fine by me ;) We didn't have a chance to see it after dark the previous time we visited London since we were there with young kids. And I love the view a lot.

We enjoyed those few days in London a lot. I don't think it's even possible for me to visit London and say "hey, it was lame. I didn't enjoy it at all". We're already planning our next visits there. As yesterday we decided that me and Arti are going to go there this year (Spring maybe?), he really wants to visit Harry Potter related places (studios included). And since Krzys would love to visit the studios too, he will go there with Paula once she reads the books (and if she doesn't like them as much as we do, he can still wait for Marti to grow a little older ;)).