Friday, September 13, 2013

Throwback: Slovenia on the 4th of July

As I posted before, we went to Slovenia and Croatia for the 4th of July. While I was originally going to do just one post as it was a day trip, I realized I took entirely too many photos and a video, so it's best split into two posts. 

So we spent the morning and early afternoon on the 4th of July in Porec, Croatia. After we left Porec, our destination was Koper. We had heard nothing about it, had recommendations from no one but we looked at the map, it looked like a good sized city and it wasn't far from the highway so we made a stop.

Best decision ever.

First of all, it wasn't touristy at all. Secondly, it was some sort of holiday or sagra and it was so amazing to experience this towns traditions without it being put on as a show for tourists.

So when we first took the Koper exit, the kids spotted a McDonald's. Now they have eaten at a McD's in America, Germany, Italy and France so it only seemed appropriate that they get to try it in Slovenia as well. Afterall, this was their vacation too. We try our hardest to make these vacations and trips fun for them as well and surprisingly, McDonald's really is different in every country. In Slovenia, the kid's happy meals came with the chicken nuggets, fries, a fresh fruit cup, a bottle of milk and then the toy (which was Skylander's).

So we ate dinner then pretty much followed everyone else. We ended up right by the water, near a town square. This area, right near the marina, was gorgeous. The lighting was amazing as it was dusk and everything was just so pretty. I took a ton of photos which I feel inclined to share here.

The thing that I really noticed and enjoyed about Koper was the mix of the old and the new. There are building that are (what I assume) hundreds of years old right next to a really modern park.

 There were vendors selling lemonade, modern art, funky stone chairs facing the water, skateboarders, old people walking holding hands, restaurants with walk up windows next to fine dining places with cloth tablecloths and twinkling lights. The atmosphere was amazing. Small town, summer nights, amazing.
 As we were walking we started to hear all this excitement and music so we went to check it out.
This is where people had be milling about dressed in historical costumes when we had first arrived. Turns out these different groups were competing in some sort of music/dance competition. Each had a flag or tapestry representing their group and they would get called on stage. I managed to take a short video on my phone, but the quality isn't that good as we were at the outer edge of the crowd. Still it was fascinating to see/hear!
We had a wonderful evening in Slovenia. The people there were amazingly friendly and everyone we encountered spoke perfect English with the exception of a group of older people. They asked me, what I assume was ''Are they twins?" in Slovene.  I responded in Italian, that I spoke little Italian and did not understand. They then said "Gemelle?" and I knew that's what they asked and responded that no they were not twins and I listed their ages in Italian. This earned me a pat on my shoulder and an exclaimed ''Brava Mamma!' All in all, it was an amazing experience. While we were only there a short time, I'm glad we went.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Throwback: Croatia and the 4th of July

By July, we knew we were leaving Italy and returning to Texas in August. So we did our best to make sure to sight-see as much as possible those last few weeks/weekends that we had in June and July. While we couldn't afford to go to Rome or Barcelona (two destinations that would have been really cool to see) we did have time to go to Croatia and Slovenia. We chose to make a long day trip down on 4th of July weekend. While we could have easily (and fairly cheaply) spent a few days there, we had the dogs to worry about. I didn't want to pay to board them, plus we were still in the midst of packing and sorting. So day trip it was.

We went to Porec, Croatia and then Koper, Slovenia. Ron's friends ended up being in Croatia and were staying at a resort right near Porec, so we got the benefit of hanging out at the hotel pool without paying, ha! 
We couldn't have asked for nicer weather on the way down. Everything was SO green and the water was beautiful.
Bonus perk: we got our passports stamped entering Croatia (but not slovenia; Italy and Slovenia have open borders as they are both part of the EU).
We actually went to Croatia just three days after it entered the EU but we still had to show passports as well us trade our Euro in for Kuna.

We did not bring the kids swimsuits as we knew that would be so much stuff to pack and worry about for a day trip. However, I wouldn't have let them swim in the water anyway because the beaches were so rocky. Beautiful but so many rocks and the water was super choppy that day.
Ron and his friend Sean, were in heaven at lunch! So much seafood and so very cheap. The kids and I had pizza and the most amazing garlic toast. The food was quite good, the selection was mostly seafood with a bit of Italian as well as German choices.
After lunch we explored more of Porec but the weather took a turn and it got darker, windy and started to rain all in a matter of minutes. We ran (literally we had walked to lunch) back toward the hotel and by the time we got there, the lightning and thunder had stopped. Sean and Zee ended up talking us into swimming in their pool. Maggie and myself had suits in the van, not that we had specifically packed but for some reason they were there, but the boys swam in their undies. Hey, it was Europe. Their little boxer briefs covered more than a speedo.
 The nice thing about Europe, at least where we lived, in the summer it didn't get dark until close to 10pm. So while we left the hotel in Porec around 4, we still had a nice chunk of daylight to spend time in Slovenia. Just as we had decided to leave Porec, we found a place where you could ride horses. Granted it wasn't the fanciest of places but being able to go horseback riding in Croatia on the 4th of July is still pretty cool!
 They were mesmerized by this horse...until it started peeing!
 Our mandatory ''Fourth of July" family photo:

Overall, we really enjoyed Croatia. We only got to see a small part of a small country but we experienced nothing but nice people. Everyone was friendly (most spoke English), the food was good and it wasn't expensive at all.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

So dang busy! (In other words: the post where Shannon rambles)

I know that I have neglected to update my blog and I'm sure my readers (all two of you, ha!) have noticed...but man, moving doesn't really get any easier! Kids are bigger and get bored easier, sleep less and eat more. Laundry still piles up, buying a house means a whole new list of things to do, add in doing it all in a new city while living in a hotel with two dogs and I'm wiped by 9pm! We've done everything there is/was to do regarding the we wait until Closing Day to get the keys. Which is 14 days away!

Today I ordered a refrigerator and scheduled delivery...pretty exciting life this whole "I'm a grown up now" routine. The good news is our unaccompanied baggage, is here and will be delivered on closing day! That's a bunch of clothes, the kids movies and Xbox, the basic cooking supplies, dog kennels, books and our bed/bath linens. Still no word on our van or our actual household goods but we are at the 4 week mark now and it's 6-8 weeks for those so it can't be too much longer! And we managed to find a vehicle for B...he's the proud new owner of a {used} Dodge Durango. Fulfills his need for a "truck" yet seats seven so if we need to, it can fit all of us easily.

Kids are doing well. Ryan and Logan absolutely love their new school/classes/teachers. They've been in school for two weeks now. Nothing but rave reviews about all of it...even the lunches are better! I am very happy with the communication, pick up/drop off procedures and do not have a single complaint (which isn't easy for this mama bear!).

I can't believe they are in 2nd and 1st grade now! Next year Connor heads to kindergarten, it's so cliche but they really do grow up so fast!

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