It’s time! Spring break is finally here and another big trip is in order. Thanksgiving was our last major trip, so we have been excited for this next adventure! We had originally planned to head to Ireland, but decided to head to a destination we could drive to instead since Thing 2 is still in the “I dictate the length of family trips with my behavior” stage. So we headed out before the butt-crack of dawn and made the 9 hour drive to Ljubljana, Slovenia (don’t worry, I didn’t know how to say it either, but for the purpose of reading this post, it’s LOO-BLEE-AHN-YAH).
We were only a few blocks from the walking bridge that leads to Stari Grad. The area is beautiful. The streets are lined with pale stone and all the buildings topped with burnt-orange roofs. Only residents of the area park in the peninsula, so it is easy to walk in and around the small alleyways that hide cafes and stores in every nook and cranny. This small area of land has so much to offer, from 2,000 year old Roman ruins that you can climb on to a solar panel light show at sunset. So many empires have claimed this place, and every one of them has left their footprint. A perfect place for couples and families alike.
And there is plenty of food to snack on throughout. We don’t do sit down meals much because of our little monster, but there are plenty of romantic restaurants to choose from. We grabbed some pizza from this local spot and the next night grabbed some seafood to go.
We headed over to the Paseo Maritimo, which is the walkway that spans the coastline of old town and looks out over the Adriatic. Beautiful, romantic stroll, especially around sunset. During the day there are vendors selling homemade items along the way, and there is a wonderful playground for both young and old children to climb on with the water stretched out in the background. It’s so peaceful and calming.
One of my favorite parts of the Paseo Maritimo is the Sea Organ (Morske Orgulje), which is composed of 35 pipes that play music when the waves hit them! It’s incredibly calming. The benches along the side even look like a keyboard and there were many people laying down on them enjoying the sound of the sea and music of the pipes.
That afternoon we went back to the apartment to let the little one take a nap since we wanted to get out that evening to watch the Sun Salutation. Every evening at sunset a huge solar disc lights up and makes various patterns! The kids loved it so much!
The next day we decided to go to Plitvice to see some amazing waterfalls and scenery. I had kind of another reason for seeing them, though. Six years ago when I began writing stories there was a scene in my very first one that involved waterfalls. I found photos of the waterfalls in Plitvice and fell in love with them. They became the waterfalls in my story, and so seeing them in person was something I was really looking forward to.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is about a two hour drive from Zadar, somewhere between Zadar and Zagreb. We had read to get there early because lines can get long, but we slept in a bit since we got home so late the night before. The weather was supposed to be partly cloudy, but as we ate breakfast gray started to loom in, and I began to get a bad feeling. We began driving around 10:00. Again, the A1 was closed off because of wind, so we had to travel around the mountains. Well, it began snowing. SNOWING. Sideways. The next road we were supposed to go on….closed. The next one…closed. And the next….CLOSED. After about 4 hours of driving and trying different routes we began to realize it was just not in the cards for us to go. Although we had coats and rain jackets we were not prepared for snow, of all things. So, to all of our dismay (and with a few expletives leaving my mouth in the process) we turned around and headed back. We stopped at a pizzeria in a small town for lunch and I drowned my pissed-offness in hot tea and a chocolate covered crepe. So, since we didn’t get to actually see them in person, this picture from the internet will have to do:
The next morning we got up and left at 3am to make the 15 hour trip back home. We got in around dinner and were still able to enjoy a nice evening together. And, of course, we had to tack on our new stickers onto our family travel maps!
We’d love to go back to Croatia and make it to Plitvice as well as Dubrovnik (AKA King’s Landing ;), but that trip will have to take place later in the spring or early summer. April really isn’t the best time to go on this trip. It was much colder and windier than I had expected. I still wouldn’t trade the trip for anything, though, even with all of the setbacks we had. I’m just grateful for the opportunities we have to travel the world!
Tips for traveling to Ljubljana, Slovenia:
- Prepare for lines at the caves and LOTS of people pushing! I almost elbowed an old lady in the face because she was creepin’ a tad too close to this chick.
- Get a vignette before entering if you’re driving.
- Strollers will work in Ljubljana.
- Bring a portable changing pad if your child is still in diapers, as changing tables are very hard to come by.
Tips for traveling to Zadar:
- The American dollar goes a long way in Croatia. 2 large pizzas, 4 chocolate crepes, waters, tea and 2 milks cost us about $10.
- Not many places take euro, so come ready to use kuna. They are a fairly recent member of the EU, so most small places only accept kuna. And try to only use big bills in chain stores, as most mom and pop places can’t break them.
- Strollers work fine in Zadar. The stones are very smooth, not cobblestone like many old European towns.
- If you do plan to head to Plitvice, plan on 3 hours, especially if roads are closed. Check for road closures beforehand here: http://www.appvesna-punat.com/
- Again, no changing tables.
- Bring military and tourist passports, or whatever shows your SOFA status!!!
- Be prepared to pay tolls if you are planning to drive.
If you want a GREAT source for travel info. on all of Croatia, especially with kids, check out this site. Fantastic info!