travel: Dubrovnik, Croatia

budget trips, lifestyle, travel

Have you visited a place that makes your jaw drop? Dubrovnik was this place for us.

Dubrovnik was the final destination on our train trip this summer. We started in Munich, Germany and traveled through Austria, Slovenia and worked our way to the very southern tip of Croatia. It was a grande finale and the perfect way to end the journey. It has taken me a few months to put this post together for a few reasons. Wrapping my mind around it, figuring out how to document it and what to write here is no small task!

We were in awe of the marble streets, baroque buildings, endless shimmer of the Adriatic Sea, and totally inspired as we walked the ancient city walls. We ate. We drank. And our pale Scottish skin got a long awaited sunburn. It. Was. Awesome.

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Do + See

Relax and swim in the Adriatic: When we booked our accommodation, we wanted to stay on a section of beach, or close to it. Swimming in the Adriatic is its own reward. On our first morning in Dubrovnik, Ryan and I woke up at 7am to swim at Banje Beach. Ryan grew up visiting his grandma on the New Jersey shore and is his happiest when he is by the water, or in the water. It was a completely refreshing way to start the day as this beach gets really crowded on a hot summer afternoon.

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Get on the water: Go kayaking or take a boat trip. Lots of people seemed to be enjoying a kayak trip around Lycrum Island. We opted for a boat tour, which is a really great way to spend a morning or afternoon and see the old city from a different perspective.

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We had some lunch at a nearby lagoon and then chose a boat tour at the pier. Oma chose the ‘Pirate-theme’ ship, which was hilarious. But it really was lovely, it took us on a loop around Lycrum Island. There were pockets of white rock cliffs and caverns. People in kayaks, swimmers and sunbathers at a nude beach  (don’t say we didn’t warn ya). I was happy to get off the boat with a sunburn on my shoulders and salty skin.

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Get some views: If you are staying anywhere near the Old City it is only a short walk to the base of the cable car going up Mount Srd. You might want to get up early for sunrise or get up there later for sunset. Round-trip tickets for adults cost 100 kuna ($15 bucks). From the top, we took in the shining sun on red rooftops and the deep blue waters of the Adriatic. The panoramic views from the deck of the cafe were top notch.

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Walking the city walls — A must for every Dubrovnik visitor! Walking the walls costs 100 kuna ($15 USD) and close at 7:00 PM. Our Airbnb host recommended we go at 6:00PM to avoid the crowds and the hot sun.  He was right, this is Dubrovnik’s ‘Golden Hour’. The light was golden, hitting the rooftops and the walls. The city was less crowded as most of the cruise ship visitors were back on the ships. This allowed us to walk at a nice pace and really take in the views. Oma had her knee replaced 8-weeks before the trip, and she walked the entire length of the city walls. She is incredible.

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After 4pm: Dubrovnik is growing in popularity and it will never be tourist-free. Most cruise ships dock for a single day and have the same routine: arrive in the old town in the morning and stay until the afternoon. However, in the evening, Dubrovnik becomes a bit quieter. We walked the city walls, ate nice dinners, found charming places for a drink and enjoyed the scene from inviting benches at the pier.

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Eats + Drinks 

A vacation is basically just eating food in new places, am I right? Our favourite part of travel is trying local cuisine and drinks, and Dubrovnik provided that and more! One reason that Croatia is gaining popularity among tourists is that it is considered to be a more affordable alternative to its neighbor, Italy. Croatia and Italy are separated only by the Adriatic Sea and this has created a robust tradition of Italian cuisine and influence in Croatia.

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Gelato— There are loads of places to choose from. But some of our favourite flavours were lavender (very common in this region) and vegan espresso!

Seafood—Fish and seafood is an important part of the Croatian culinary world, particularly along the coast. Although there were plenty of non-fishy options, fresh seafood was everywhere!  We ate seafood everyday. Delicious dinners of grilled sea bass was my highlight and Oma sampled a few seafood risottos.

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Pasta– Pasta is one of the most popular food items in Croatian cuisine, especially in the region of Dalmatia. The other popular sauces include creamy mushroom sauce with truffle and minced meat sauce. Also, potato dough is popular, not only for making njoki (gnocchi), but also for making plum or cheese dumplings which are boiled, and then fried in breadcrumbs and butter. I had gluten envy but Ryan got his fill of delicious pastas.

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Wine— My favourite. Croatia has two main wine regions: Continental (Kontinetalna) and Coastal (Primorska), which includes the islands. We learned that there are more than 300 geographically-defined wine-producing areas in Croatia!  The D’vino Wine Bar had a fabulous selection of Croatian wines and they were really happy to help you find the right local wine.

Burek – Ryan indulged in some homemade burek (spinach + gooey feta cheese pastry puff), lovingly made by our host family.

Karbona Nava– We had a very special dinner at Karbona Nava, our AirBnb host made us a reservation. We ate: shrimp risotto, spaghetti carbonara, grilled sea bass and drank local wines and indulged in blueberry cheesecake. The cook came to our table to check on us and even served us with three glasses of Rajika – a traditional Croatian plum brandy, a gift from the restaurant owner. It was the best authentic dining experience we had on the trip.

The Soul Caffe.– A charming cafe we spent time our last night and I loved the outdoor seating tucked between the old stone walls.There was candlelight, a guitarist playing soft music, a screen showing clips from old black and white films and we sipped on mint and chamomile tea. This vintage-chic cafe and Rajika bar is hidden within the backstreets of the Old City. The musically inspired dim atmosphere offers a great environment for a low-key night out on the town.

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Part of my inspiration for starting a blog when we moved was to document trips. I guess it has become an online journal of sorts for us. If you stuck with me for the entirety of this post, well done, it was a long one. It is just impossible to narrow down the amount of pictures or things to say about a place as wonderful as Dubrovnik.

I would love to hear where you have been in this world and the places you love!

Peace, grace and happy travels!

x

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where to sip: Cairngorm Coffee Co

coffee, food & drink, lifestyle, travel

 

I still remember the first time I walked into a coffee shop as a complete newbie. I remember feeling totally dumbfounded as to what to order.

I was a senior in high-school, coffee seemed intimidating, so I ordered hot chocolate and tucked myself into a leathery corner with my latest copy of Seventeen magazine. I continued to order hot-chocolate until my college roommate introduced me to coffeeeeeeeee.

Enter: my love for delicious coffee and aesthetically pleasing spaces: a new series about where to sip in Edinburgh.

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Cairngorm is the least pretentious coffee shop around and you will not feel like 17-year old me. The concept at Cairngorm is simple.

We LOVE this shop because it is:

  • Bright + Airy
  • Scandi-decor
  • Friendly
  • Fun menu
  • Bold in flavour
  • You can count on a fab playlist
  • Seriously delicious

We cannot get enough of their coffee, treats, perfect work spaces and natural light. This shop has everything to love, including avocado toast and their famous grilled cheese sandwiches.

 

Popular menu picks:

  • Guest filter coffee
  • Craft espresso
  • V60
  • Iced brew
  • Homemade granola
  • Grilled Cheese – [I.J. Mellis cheese + chilli jam]
  • Avocado Toast

The space is versatile. It can be a place for boss-lady business or a coffee date with someone dear. The set up makes for a productive environment to spread out that morning paper or linger with a novel. It is our special weekend retreat and really any moment we are not at work.

 

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Locations: The first location is a cosy, basement level shop in New Town located at 41A Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 1EP. The second shop is in Edinburgh’s West End at 1 Melville Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7PR.

Hours: Monday – Friday [8am – 6pm] Saturday + Sunday [9am -6pm]

If you are staying in or visiting Edinburgh, visit this gem. You won’t regret it.

Have a great weekend!

x

 

month in review

devotionals, lifestyle

Summer is the best. Ryan being home from Tubingen is the best.

We’ve been making up our lost time in cafes, hill walking, playing tennis and going for bike rides. If the weather is dry in Scotland, we better take advantage of it and get outside. The dark/windy/rainy days are ahead.

We are approaching our two year mark in Edinburgh.

Hard to believe. I talk about it a lot, but I remember leaving Colorado and it was heartbreaking but really dang exciting to do something new. And again, we find ourselves in a similar situation.  As we start our third year here, there is a cloud of sadness already setting in as we think of approaching the ‘end’. But we are also met with great anticipation for what lies ahead.

The challenges of moving half-way around the world–visas, jobs, a place to live, not knowing anyone, away from all things familiar–were all stacked against us. At the time, there were three solid options on the table:  freak out, ignore it or pray for it. Well, those are generally my three reactions, and maybe you can relate. Most of the time I do not know what to ask for in prayer. But the beauty of it is that God knows. He knows what we need before we ask.

He knows what we need better than we ever could. The Holy Spirit comforts us in our weakness.  Our prayers are not powerful because we ourselves are powerful. The power of prayer lies in the power of God.

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Our flat. Our jobs. Our community. Our friends. Our new familiar. God surprised us (and continues to do so) because He provides for us in ways that we did not even know were possible.

He provided us with a flat that is a retreat. We find comfort, rest and healing under its roof. He turned the faces of strangers into a reliable community. We break bread, we pray, we let our guard down with our friends.  He transformed our ‘foreignness’ into quiet confidence. We started off lonely but now we find solidarity with other New College students and families. Our joy in Edinburgh now has deeper roots than the day we moved.

I pray that we can be intentional about the way we do this year, as it could be our last. We want to wholeheartedly invest in the people, the spaces and the communities that have made our time here so full and encouraging. To travel and experience places and cultures that will be soon too far away to see. To finish our work strong, to be diligent and do well.

But for now, August is here. Here’s to enjoying the long daylight, fresh fruit and all the many festivals + street performers here this month! I hope your summer is all you hoped it would be.

Love to you. Peace in your heart. And the grace to live fully, today.

x

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