Recently we have been taking a lot of whirlwind trips without much time to relax. I wanted our trip to Austria to be something the boys would enjoy doing. Something that mixed summer break fun with history and culture. Austria did not disappoint. If I could go back and do this trip over I would do everything exactly the same. I would do it again next week. An absolutely perfect trip spending quality time with my boys.

Where we stayed

Being Austria, I wanted to stay in the country and have views. Laschensky Dependance was the perfect hotel. It’s only a few miles from the airport but you would never know it as its set in the quiet countryside. A taxi to Salzburg is 15 minutes and costs around 15 euro, but you can also take a bus which will be cheaper (but take 45 minutes). There isn’t anything to do in the general area but the hotel offers free bikes for you to explore and we spent a lot of time walking around the village. Just behind the hotel there is a family farm with kittens, rabbits, goats and donkeys. We walked over a few times to say hello to the animals. No one spoke English there but didn’t seem to mind us poking around.


I highly recommend staying here with children but it would also be a great romantic trip. You could come to Austria and never leave this hotel. The pool, which was undersold on their website,  is a natural spring with views of the mountains. the water feels amazing. There is a sprawling playground complete with a zipline, sand pit and slides where the kids can play while you order and wait for your food. They even have a kinder room with legos and other toys. The hotel is family run and they went above and beyond to make sure we had a great stay; always calling me a taxi or giving my boys ice cream and a band-aid when they got hurt. English isn’t as widely spoken in this area so be aware you wont have English menus or channels on tv. The only thing I regret is that my husband could not be on this trip to experience it with us.



This was a bucket list item; the entire reason I wanted to come to Austria. I had a hard time finding full day tours from Salzburg to Hallstatt so had to settle for a half day tour (which only gave us a few hours in the city)…not enough time. Please google image Hallstatt and you will see what I mean. It’s one of the most picturesque small cities in Europe. It’s so pretty the Chinese made an actual replica of the entire village.

The bus ride was about 1.5 hours through the lakes district and you make a couple stops to take photos. One of them being St. Gilgen which took my breath away. I had to wake the boys up from a nap to get them off the bus and take pictures with me. Some of the things these kids have slept through…


Once we arrived we headed straight for the sky walk. This is a do not miss activity if you are short on time. The cable car takes you 350 meters above the village where you have amazing views over Lake Hallstatt. There is also a nice, casual restaurant but I thought it better to use our short time eating in the village. Instead we opted for gelato after awkwardly asking strangers to take photos for me and the boys.


Once we got into the village we spent some time dipping our feet in the water, shopping and eating. I really wish we had more time here as its one of the cutest villages I’ve ever seen. It’s probably magical at Christmas time. The boys could have spent the entire day throwing rocks and splashing around. For lunch we found a great spot overlooking the lake. Austria is a very meat-and-potatoes kind of country and I’m here for it!



After the Hallstatt tour we were dropped off in the city center and spent a couple of hours walking around. I didn’t really have much of an agenda since we were doing the sound of music bike tour the following day. This trip really wasn’t about museums and looking at old buildings so I steered clear of those types of activities. I wanted to be outdoors, enjoy the weather and let the boys lead the way.


When planning a trip to Austria I knew it had to be a warm weather trip. Id always envisioned riding bikes as a family in the sunshine amongst the flowers and the hills. Corny, I know, but that was my dream. Even without my husband I was determined to make that happen. I booked a Sound of Music bike tour that takes you through the city and surrounding countryside showing you all the filming locations for the movie. It was about 8 miles total and advertised as kid friendly. So I booked a bike with a trailer for Carter and booked Kellan on his own bike. I prepped Kellan weeks in advance on how it would be a difficult day and he would be tired but I knew he could do it. He was very excited. Little boys love to show off how strong or brave they are.

When we arrived to the Fraulen Maria’s tour our guide, Leo, brought Kellan a bike…but it was too big for a 5-year-old. It was more suitable for an 8-year-old. Kellan is used to a small bike that has brakes in the pedals. This bike had brakes on the handlebars with gears- which his small hands could barely reach. He also couldn’t touch the ground from a seated position on the bike. I immediately knew this was going to be a problem (and so did Leo) but Kellan was not going to back down from this challenge. He practiced riding in circles and braking as the guide went over the events for the day.


Something else I didn’t realize was how we would be biking on very busy city streets, and up and down very steep hills. Hills that a fit adult couldn’t handle. I was so proud of my baby but after about 2 miles we had to call it for safety reasons and Kellan had to go into the trailer. This meant I was now pulling the equivalent of my body weight or more behind me on this bike. It was 90 degrees and this ended up being the workout of my life. After it was over I told my husband that climbing Mt. Fuji was easier. I had so many people on the tour offer to switch bikes with me so that I could have a break but I guess Kellan and I are too alike in that I was not going to back down from this challenge!

Other than being physically demanding, the tour was amazing. Leo was an incredible guide, one of the best we’ve ever had. He was extra corny and had speakers so we could all sing to the soundtrack as we biked. My dream came true! He was so sweet to the boys as was everyone in the tour group. There were a lot of Americans so it was great chatting with people from home. Some of the stops were quick but we did have several stops where we got a 15 minute rest while listening to the history and filming details. I can’t believe how well my kids did on this trip. Sometimes I question how they can be total terrors at home but put into unfamiliar situations; long travel days outside their routines, and they really shine. I couldn’t be more proud.



Stay tuned for my write up on our week in Cornwall!









South Wales

I can’t believe its taken us 2 years to drive out to Wales… but we have finally done so. We waited until Christmas break since both boys were on holiday and the prices to fly off the island are insane. We found some really great deals on premier inn’s during the week after Christmas (think 40 pounds a night) and decided to hotel hop along the southern coast. We will save North Wales for another trip..a warmer trip.

Fun fact: my husband’s family is from Wales and he was a dual citizen before enlisting in the military. His grandfather was in the Royal Navy but they have lived in America for quite some time now. It’s always fun taking the boys around to places they can see their heritage. We made sure to get the Welsh flags for their rooms so they can always remember their time there.

Day 1: Cardiff 

We stayed in the city center and spent a good amount of time just walking around and shopping. There is a castle right in the center but we elected not to tour and just take pictures from the outside. We took the train down to Cardiff Bay where this also a lot of restaurants and shopping. You can take a 20 minute boat ride around the bay for 3 pounds a person. The boys had a great time and the captain let them drive the boat for a bit. There is also a hands on science museum called Techniquest where you can spend a couple of hours.



Day 2

We drove to Caerphilly where the largest castle in Wales is located (second largest in the U.K.). We set aside a few hours of the day just to tour the castle since there is a lot for the boys to do. Unfortunately, as soon as we parked the car it started to sleet and we made the decision to just keep moving about our day. I have seen plenty of castles at this point and making the kids miserable wasn’t worth it. Seeing from the outside though its evident as a great place to stop with kids, and gorgeous!


If you look up Brecon Beacons National Park you will see that this is somewhere I probably could have done as a vacation all its own. Green hills, waterfalls, the country- its my style. Being on limited time and in cold, wet weather we opted to pick one waterfall. Henryd Falls is easy to get to and not far from the car park with minimal hiking. We were able to have the place to ourselves. In warmer weather you can actually walk under the waterfall. We didn’t attempt this because even standing in front of it we were getting wet. It’s very misty.


The Mumbles is a cute little seaside village just south of Swansea. I imagine in the summer months it gets very busy. Aside from the beach there is shopping, a pier, and restaurants. Not a lot going on down here in the rainy winter so we spent about 30 minutes walking the area of the pier. Well, I actually missed it altogether because Carter was napping and I didn’t have the heart to wake him up.


On the way back to Swansea there is a beach called Three Cliffs Bay. It is a secluded beach that requires a 40 minute hike to get to from the nearest car park. Since we were nearing sunset we found a road with an overlook to get pictures from a distance.


We stayed the night in Swansea and arrived after dark (3:30 pm). After getting some ice cream from a famous local creamery, we took the boys to a play place so they could have some fun and burn some energy. Unfortunately, we also got a case of hand, foot, and mouth disease along with our play. It started with Carter…then Kellan….then Mama. We all slowly developed a fever and it put a damper on the rest of the trip- but c’est la vie. I don’t know how Ben avoided getting it.


Day 3

We made our way out west to the Pembrokeshire coast. Our first stop ended up being my favorite in South Wales. Tenby is a picturesque seaside city that looks like something you would see in Italy. This place is probably packed in the summertime. We had a good meal, walked around and spent some time at our happy place- the beach! I saw just as many dogs here as a did people so it’s a great place to go when traveling with dogs. I would love to come back here when its warmer and sunny. We probably say that for a lot of places in the United Kingdom but summers here are short there is just no way to fit it all in during that time.


Pembrokeshire continued to impress me. Barafundle Bay and Church Doors cove are two bays separated by a peninsula. With Carter starting to not feel well we parked and took turns exploring the area. The views of the cliffs are gorgeous and the “door” is a cave in the sandstone cliff. There are stairs that lead down to the beach but we arrived during high tide and the waves were quite stormy and crashing right at the base of the stairs. If you want to spend time on the beach here make sure to check the tide schedule first.


We stayed the night at a cute inn by the water in Pembroke Dock. This would be a good base point for anyone wanting to explore Pembrokeshire (which you should-its beautiful).

Day 4

St. Govans Chapel is named after an Irish monk that lived in a limestone cave in the 6th century. While some of it can be dated back that far, most was built in the 13th century. It was said he was hiding from pirates and decided to live amongst the limestone while warning the locals of possible attacks. Good place to stop if you like to mix history with the gorgeous views.


On our way out of Wales we stopped at the McArthur Outlet mall. This is a good place to stop for anyone traveling with kids because it has a good food court and indoor playground.

Next stop: New Years Day back in England- Bath


Before I moved to Europe I lived in the most picturesque neighborhood in Florida with some of the best neighbors a person could ask for. Seriously- this place was straight out of a Nicholas Sparks movie. Erica and April became like family during our time there and when they decided to visit me in England I was ecstatic. There is nothing like some girl time to recharge your body and mind in the midst of raisin’ babies. Shout out to the hubbies for making this trip possible.

We flew into Venice late on a Friday night and took the bus to the Piazzale Roma. This is as far as a bus can take you- it’s all water taxi’s after this point. We opted to walk to our hotel which was a good 25 minutes of narrow alley ways and bridges. Thankfully we packed light. I chose a hotel that had 24 hour reception and was right in the middle of the touristy area. Residenza Goldoni is steps away from the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge, perfect location for being able to walk and take water taxis anywhere you need to go.

We didn’t really have any plans going to Venice other than to walk around. Everyone will tell you that Venice is a good place to “get lost” and that’s pretty much what we did. We have 7 toddlers between the three of us and we honestly didn’t want to be on a schedule, wait in any lines or do anything we would have done with kids. Plenty of prosecco was consumed and one of us decided to get a nose piercing-wasn’t me- but I did think about it!


St. Mark’s square is the famous Piazza that dates back to the 9th century. There are churches and museums to visit in this area but we opted to drink wine and shop for art and jewelry. I found a beautiful watercolor piece for my wall and a bracelet for my niece’s upcoming birthday.

It’s also just a great place to people watch or sit and enjoy the view of boats hopping from island to island. We had plans to taxi over to Murano and Burano but as we were about to board the boat it began to thunder and lightening. I’m not one to be frolicking around when it’s lightening outside so we had to pass on that excursion.

Venice is well known for glass blowing


The food In Venice was pretty great. I found the gelato to have been better in Rome but nearly everything else was fairly similar. People think it’s weird when I say this…but probably my favorite dish was a pizza topped with potatoes. Carbs on top of carbs? Yes, please! I think my next trip to Italy will need to entail the countryside and off-the-beaten-path dining since I’m sure that’s Italy at its finest.

The locals were all very friendly but what’s disheartening is the lack of Venetian culture actually living on the island. You have probably seen on the news this summer that many European cities have begun anti-tourism protests. Venice was among one of the cities claiming the overwhelming amount of tourists (mostly those off cruise ships) are raising rents, causing pollution, and forcing locals to move out. Venice was the first city I have visited where this claim was very apparent. It felt like we were only amongst tourists and barely any locals. Almost like being in an theme park. The locals want to protect their centuries old buildings and heritage and I can see why.


DEA (our squad name)

Since we were in Venice we had to go on a gondola ride. Sure, it’s pricey but it’s a bucket list item you have to check off. My advice to anyone heading to Venice is to do the Gondola ride first.  Since we waited until the end of the day, we were taken down canals we had already walked down multiple times. Doing it at the start of your trip will give it more of a wow factor. However, it was nice going right before sunset. Felt really romantic with two of my favorite gals!


Now that I have visited a couple Italian cities I need to know what should be next on my list for Italy. The country? The beach?

So tell me-where is your favorite place in Italy?

Rome and Vatican City

When my Dad and his fiancée booked a Mediterranean cruise out of Rome I decided to meet them out there for a couple days before they set sail. Originally we had planned to make it a long trip with stops along the Amalfi Coast, Naples , and Pompeii. Unfortunalty… the hubby was tasked for work in America- so the kids and I kept it simple by making it a Rome only trip.

We flew into Rome a day before my Dad arrived and checked into the Crown Plaza St. Peter’s. It’s a massive hotel a bit outside the city. It was comfortable, spacious, great pools and a good breakfast. I will say this isn’t a great place to stay if you want easy access to transportation. There isn’t much within walking distance and a taxi is your only option into the city center. For our needs it was perfect.

Day one we spent swimming at the pool and I took the boys out for their first Italian meal. This is all my kids really cared about- the pool. It was in the 90’s during our entire trip which is vastly different from the weather here in the U.K.   Kellan of course finds a friend immediately and ignores his family while I chase Carter all over the place. No relaxing by the pool for Mama!

International travel + pool time= early bed time

The next day we slept in a bit and had a leisurely breakfast while we waited for the grandparents to arrive. When they showed up they were pretty jet lagged and tired so we spent the majority of day 2 at the pool and having family time. I know what those long flights can be like!


Typically I am the planner of the family. I say where, when, how long- all of it. My husband isn’t picky and just trusts I will make our holidays fun (and naturally they are because I am the funnest ever). This trip was a first for me because my future mother in law made all the plans. It was really strange having someone else take control but she did a really great job making the most of our one full day in the city.

Rome is overwhelming. There is SO MUCH to see and do.  It’s similar to London in the sense that you can live there and probably never see it all. So much history and architecture to be seen. So much food to be tasted.

We had a group of 7 including some friends Dad and Diana were cruising with. Diana booked us a Rome in a day tour and it was perfect for fitting in a lot of must see’s in one short day.  They have all been to Rome before and obviously knew how overwhelming it is. The tour was a private air conditioned van that drove us to all the sites so that we had very minimal walking and we didn’t have to navigate ourselves. This saved so much time. It was really hot and the rumors are true- it’s not very stroller friendly. In fact, I don’t recall seeing any sidewalks at all. I did bring my stroller though and we made it work!

The first stop on our tour was the Colosseum. Yes- it’s as grand as you imagine it to be. Breathtaking. We got lucky and arrived on a day it didn’t seem to be too busy. I was expecting much worse. Nevertheless, the line was still long but Diana had booked us a private guide which ensured we passed the line. We walked around for about an hour with the guide giving us  the history of what we were seeing. Everyone should have the Colosseum on their bucket list.

So happy to be with his Grandpa.


The next part of our tour was a little hurried because we were already behind on time. The guide walked us around to see the Arch of Constantine, Circus Maximus (ancient stadium for chariot races), Palatine hill, Capitol Hill, and Roman forum. There is so much history and information in the area that one hour couldn’t do it justice. A pleasant surprise were all the fresh water wells to refill your water bottles. Of course my boys thought they were for playing.


After the Roman forum we hopped in our private van and the driver took us around to see some of the residential areas in the city and stopped for pictures at a few sites including the Aventine keyhole. This is a door with the keyhole designed to give you a picturesque view of the Vatican.



We also stopped at the Pantheon, an ancient temple that was built in dedication to the Romans gods. It’s arguably one of the best preserved buildings of its time in the world. We didn’t have enough time to tour the inside, sadly.


Our last stop before lunch was the Trevi fountain. It’s said that if you throw in one coin, you will be assured another trip to Rome. Two coins will ensure a new romance and 3 coins ensures a new marriage. I had Kellan throw in one coin because I would love to return!

There is an article floating around the internet with pictures comparing what famous sites are thought to be like and what they are actually like. It hit the nail on the head with this one. It’s hot. It’s extremely crowded. Everyone is taking selfies and trying there best to get family photos. Police are everywhere blowing whistles at the tourists getting too close to the water. It’s not the picturesque excursion where everyone is picnicking and eating gelato by the fountain. Regardless- it’s the Trevi fountain. It’s famous for a reason.


Is it lunchtime yet?

Our tour guide asked where we wanted to eat and we said “where you would take your family”. I’ve no idea the area or the name of the restaurant but we ended up at a great spot that seemed like it was geared towards local customers. Delicious!

After eating we had a few hours to spend at Vatican City. Not everyone may know this but it’s actually the smallest country in the world. I had done a bit of reading on what our visit would be like but nothing prepared me for what it was really like. There are no vehicles driving through and you cannot take a stroller. It felt like I was in a never ending labyrinth. It’s very overwhelming and very confusing. We actually lost a person in our group. Don’t worry, it was an adult- and yes, we found him.

Im thankful that it ended up being Carter’s nap time so I strapped him on my chest and he slept a good bit of the time. Kellan, however; did not like having to walk in the heat for so long  (cue the whining).

This is the thing about Vatican City- this is not somewhere you want to be on a time constraint. We had a very specific time and place we had to meet our driver. Being that the others had already visited years before- I said I had to see the Sistine chapel. Well, you can’t just walk directly to the chapel. You are walking though museum after museum, what seems like maze after maze in order to get to it. Not an easy task on hurried time. It was really difficult to keep focused on the fact I had to get to the Sistine chapel and pass all of these historically significant and famous displays without so much as stopping to look. But I knew if I didn’t make it to the Sistine chapel I would forever regret it.


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There is no doing the Vatican in 3 hours. A full day wouldn’t even do it justice. This is where I want to come kid free and read everything. Look at everything. No distractions. We did make it to the Sistine chapel thankfully. To enter you must be covering your knees and shoulders. I brought a large scarf to wrap myself in because there was no way I was going to spend the day wearing long pants in 90 degree heat with a toddler strapped to my body

The Sistine Chapel is the official residence of the Pope and is also the site where Pope’s are elected. This is also the location of the famous Michelangelo painted ceiling: the Last Judgement. Everyone knows this painting and it’s beautiful in person. Wish I could show off a picture but no photos and no talking allowed in here. A check off the bucket list!

After meeting back up with our driver he took us driving around the city a bit more with stops at great views. So that was a Rome in a day! Phew.


After regrouping at the hotel a couple hours we took a taxi back into the city to walk around the Ponte Sisto area, shop and eat. This is where I had the best gelato of my life. They put this cream on top and it was just perfection.


Our last morning in Rome we spent relaxing, hanging out at the pool and having family time. It’s always sad saying goodbye but this time we know it won’t be too long before we see them again. The wedding is in October!

I have to give my kids a lot of credit for this trip. Getting used to Daddy being away is always a rough transition but adding in a ton of traveling and that is a lot for little boys to handle. I think at this point they are so used to having to go with the flow that they are pros.


We spent 3 nights and two days in Dubrovnik which was the perfect amount of time. We got pretty lucky with clear skies, warm weather, and no cruise ships at port. I can imagine the cruise ships can make the city feel crowded. Dubrovnik now scores as one of my favorite cities we have visited in Europe. The architecture, blue water, hills, the people. Yup, I could live here.

The food did not disappoint either. Food in Croatia was surpringly some of the best we have had and reasonably priced as well. Above all- it’s family friendly. This is a place the kids can enjoy just as much as the adults.

Where we stayed

I don’t know how we snagged this amazing 2 bedroom apartment in June considering I booked fairly last minute. I can’t imagine a better location. Set just above Banje Beach with a view of the old town- we could easily walk to everything we wanted to do. The only downside is the parking was scarce so Ben had to park pretty far away. Well worth it!

Just outside the front door is the steps down the the beach. Very convenient with toddlers in tow. Banje is a small pebble beach which my kids really like because they can stand at the waters edge and throw rocks into the water for hours. Unfortunately, Carter took his rock throwing game to another level. It was like it happened in slow motion. He went on a hunt for a larger rock to throw in the water. An Italian couple were laying on their backs reading books when I noticed Carter pick up a ten pound rock, start heading for the water, and for whatever reason he stopped. He then turned and dumped it right on this ladies crotch.

She never saw it coming.

The sound she made…..

I could have crawled into a dark hole and never came out after that.

View from our hotel


Our apartment building


It’s exhausting assaulting innocent people on the beach

Cable car

The cable car was about a ten minute walk from our apartment. We wanted to go at sunset so we grabbed some snacks and headed up. We were not disappointed. The view was breathtaking. I would visit Dubrovnik again just so that I could watch the sunset. On one side of the cable car there is a viewing area that has tall guard rails which makes it safer for children. Over here the cable car blocks part of your view. If you walk a bit up the other side you will be rewarded with a full unobstructed view of the sunset. We took turns walking to the cliffs edge to look over the city.


The Old Town

As a UNESCO world heritage site, there is a lot of history here. It’s a really great place to just walk around, eat, shop, and get lost. Parts of the old town are wide and bustling with people. Or you can just choose a path and get lost among the narrow streets. There are so many restaurants to choose from and of course- gelato. I think we ate our weight in gelato. Many artists sell their work here and we picked up a beautiful canvas painting of the old city.


Small aquarium. It took about 20 minutes to view all the exhibits. Carter screamed with joy the entire time he was so excited. Actual screaming. 


For one meal we chose an Italian restaurant and for another we chose Mexican. As an American living in Europe it’s always hard to pass up a Mexican place when you see one. Ben and I agreed they had some of the best nachos we have ever had. Eating out in Dubrovnik with toddlers is so nice because- similar to Barcelona- you can always eat at a table on the street. My kids like to sit and people (also, cat) watch while they wait for their food. It keeps them entertained and makes life easier for us!


While I was taking this photo Carter was sneaky and ate a candy from the barrel. A lady working there scolded him. This kid just loves to embarrass me


The old city is the main filming location for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. I have always been a fan of the show but now having visited Winterfell (Northern Ireland) and Kings Landing- I’m an even bigger fan. There are plenty of tours you can take but I prefer to just google shooting sites and find them myself. The best location I found was the walk of atonement scene featuring Cersei. The steps are just below a church, which originally denied permission to shoot on the Jesuit steps due to nudity. Eventually permission was granted and the scene is iconic. You can also visit where Joffrey died, or visit Littlefingers brothel (actually a museum).




For our multi city trip in Croatia we based ourselves in a small town just south of Zadar. We only got to spend half a day there but that was really all we needed. I will say that it was probably a highlight for my kids.

The two main attractions for us was the sea organ and the greeting to the sun display. After finding free street parking we walked over to the sites which are located right next to each other. Had I known what a great swimming spot this was I would have dressed the kids in their swim gear. The water was really calm and there were plenty of kids swimming. A group of older boys were jumping from the highest point of the organ which promoted Kellan to strip down to his underwear and ask to join in. Then he remembered he is scared of sharks so he hung out in the safe zone.

The sea organ is a really neat concept but we really could barely hear it. This could be that it was a calm day. There are tubes underneath the steps that play music as the waves come in and out. I would recommend going close to sunset as that is when the greeting to the sun starts .


Underwear- don’t care


While waiting for the sun to set we walked around the city. We stopped at a great park that had bounce houses and a small trampoline park. While Ben watched the boys I walked next door where there were some market stalls for souvenir shopping. I scored a beautiful glass sun catcher and of course my usual Christmas ornament. I love decorating my tree with memories!

Zadar has some great architecture and beautiful churches on every street. It’s also a very walkable city with kids. It just has a great atmosphere. For dinner we wanted to find some seafood but opted to grab some fast food since we were running short on time and the boys were getting tired.


The greeting to the sun is a circle of hundreds of solar solar modules covered by glass. After soaking up the sun all day the panals light up at night. The monument is just magical at sunset. I would go back just to watch it again. I am sure it can get very crowded here but it didn’t seem too bad for us.

Kellan of course made a friend immediately and the boys were running around and having the time of their lives. That’s one of my favorite parts about traveling with kids. No matter where we go Kellan always finds a friend. It doesn’t matter that they don’t speak the same language. They always find a common ground and quickly fall in love with each others company.

Warning- the glass can get a bit slippery as we discovered when both our kids took a fall and prompted us to leave before it was fully dark. Bloody knees do mark the beginning of summer when you are a boy.



Krka and Plitvice National Parks

Krka National Park

Being that we had flown in at 2am that morning, we elected to only do a half day at Krka.  Everyone slept in pretty late so we had a lazy morning before heading out. We had based ourselves out of Sukosan which was about an hour north of the park. After heading down, the main goal was to find the largest series of waterfalls as that was a pretty spot for swimming. Plitvice does not allow swimming in it’s lakes so the main appeal of Krka for me was being able to swim- and luckily it was sunny and beautiful weather.

For the shortest travel distance to the swimming area we parked at the Lozovac entrance. From here we had lunch and some gelato (the first serving of many that day) before we caught the 10 minute bus to the park. Once the bus dropped us off it took about 20 minutes of downhill walking before reaching Skradinksi Falls.  Along the way there are plenty of viewing areas to take pictures and food stalls selling fruit and sweets.


The swimming area at Skradinski is breathtakingly gorgeous but it’s not exactly easy with small children. First, it’s crowded. Second, it is very rocky, uneven, and sometimes slippery ground to get down into the water. The lake floor itself is all rocks. There are no soft spots for your feet so make sure you bring appropriate water shoes- we had not!

While it wasn’t exactly the peaceful waterfall experience I imagined it to be…it was still worth it. I would just go again with floaties and water shoes. The water was such relief from the hot sun and the views were simply amazing. Fun fact: of all the places we visited in Croatia this is where we heard the most American accents- mostly college age travellers.


Plitvice Lakes National Park

Around ten years ago I was watching a travel channel that featured this park. Ever since it has been on my top 5 European travel destinations list. Forget every city in Europe- I would always chose hiking and waterfalls first. The challenge with Plitvice was deciding when to go. I wanted to go when the trees were green and the weather hot and sunny…but I also didn’t want to be hiking amongst the summer tourist crowd. Early June ended up being our choice and it worked out pretty nicely.

Plitvice is huge and planning this trip with toddlers was overwhelming.  This isn’t something you can do with a stroller so you have to plan for a long day of carrying your kids or allowing them to safely walk. I agonized for days which of the various routes we would take. The lower lakes are the most popular for people on one day trips but I wanted to see the upper as well. I was afraid only doing half the park would leave me with a serious case of FOMO. So we decided to hike both. That left us with the decision of taking route C or route H. Since a friend recommended H that was our winner.

After driving 1.5 hours we parked at Entrance 2. I had read pretty much everywhere to get at the park at soon as it opens. We didn’t arrive until 12 pm. This ended up working in our favor. Walking the H route- you start at the upper lakes and end at the lower lakes. Most people doing the upper lakes started much earlier in the day or people were coming from the reverse “C’ route and were walking past us rather than alongside us. We never felt like we were walking in a crowd which was nice being that it was a Saturday in June.

Another benefit of doing the H route is that it is mostly downhill…which means the C route is mostly uphill. The only negative when considering which of these routes to take is the view of the falls. On H- you walk coming from behind the falls and after you pass it it’s behind you. Taking the C route means you are always walking towards the falls and always have the view. I would still choose the H route again with the kids. Walking uphill vs. downhill when you have a child strapped to your body makes a huge difference.

The H route is supposed to take 4-6 hours but from leaving our car to getting back in it took 7 hours. We had eaten first thing before we even entered the park. Then you have to take a bus to where you start the hike so all this adds time to your day. Carter fell asleep right away so the first hour was a breeze. The upper lakes had more wooded, hilly walks. The water falls were thinner but taller.


This kid is such a trooper
Just a stroll through the forest with some dead weight strapped on


The falls felt amazing because you were close enough to feel the mist 


awake and ready to run free


After doing the upper falls we had to wait in a long line for a boat to take us to the lower falls. This was the only time we felt crowded in the park. There were some arguments and confusion over which line was for which route/boat. There definitely could be a better system to separate the lines accordingly. After the boat ride you get dropped off at the cafe/rest area of the lower lakes. Here you can shop for souvenirs, have lunch, use the toilets and of course- eat ice cream.

For the lower lakes portion there is a lot of walking on raised plank walkways over the water. At times you are right on top of the waterfalls. We bought a backpack leash for Carter specifically for this trip because the kid knows no fear or the words stop and wait. It ended up being quite the wise purchase because once he woke from his nap he had energy to burn. It was great allowing him to be hands free and semi independent but ensuring he stayed close. Adding the dinosaur backpack only added to the appeal of the Asian tour bus groups. In some cultures it is good luck to touch blonde hair so it’s common for people from places where blonde hair and blue eyes aren’t the norm to ask to touch him, take videos and photos of him. Whenever we passed by these groups he would wag his little dinosaur tail for them to ooh and aww over. Carter hearing everyone say how cute it was really helped with him wanting to wear it. I was afraid it would be a fight but the day went very smoothly.


I loved the forrest-y feel of the upper lakes but the lower lakes is the winner for me. It had more wow moments. Those moments where you want to pinch yourself because it’s just that beautiful. The lower lakes allowed you to be closer to shorter, wider falls. If you are doing the just the lower lakes you should choose the route that meets the falls head on. Pictures really don’t do it justice. The lower falls is also going to be the more crowded of the two in the summer. We stayed all the way to closing time and there were still plenty of people there.

This trip was one of my genuine bucket list items, regardless of having moved to the U.K.  I’m so grateful that we were able to experience the majority of the park with our boys. I had prepared myself thinking the trip was going to be challenging when it was really pretty nice with the kids.





Bosnia and Herzegovina

During our road trip down the Dalmatian Coast we decided to head into Bosnia for a night. From Zadar it took us about 3 hours to drive to the beautiful village of Mostar. It was a highlight of our trip and would recommend to anyone as a day trip from Split or Dubrovnik. I wish we would have spent even more time there.

Where we stayed

You can get a lot of bang for your buck in Bosnia. Hotel Eden is a 4 star hotel that only cost $100US for a large family room with a gorgeous view-breakfast included. We loved the hotel so much we wished we could stay longer. Not only was the view amazing but the pool also overlooked the city. I don’t think my boys ever wanted to leave the pool. Kellan continued to ask about it the rest of our trip.

Eden also has a spa which can be booked same day. It stays open late and I was able to book a one hour relaxation massage at 9:30 after the kids went to bed. I only paid $45US for this luxury and it was worth every penny. Best massage I have had in years. The staff in general were very friendly and welcoming.

Hotel Eden is a 5-10 minute walk downhill to the bridge. On the way back it is all uphill. The location is great because you get the beautiful views but are very close to everything you would want to see in Mostar.



Mostar is a cultural capital and its famous landmark is the Stari Most-old bridge- which was built in medieval times. Many religious and city buildings were destroyed during the Bosnian war in the 90’s, including the famous bridge. It has since been rebuilt but you can still see the effects of war being that Mostar was the most heavily destroyed city in Bosnia. After the hardships this area has faced the locals are very welcoming to tourists. We never felt unsafe here. They warmly greet those that want to respectfully visit their culture and history.

We first stopped in for some lunch with a view of the river. The food was great in Bosnia. They have a mix of Serbian, Croatian and Mediterranean dishes.  Very affordable pricing as well.


The bridge is a foot bridge only, a bit steep and quite slick. There are men that will jump from the bridge into the Neretva river for tips. It’s been a tradition to jump from the bridge for 450 years. You can watch on the river bank, at a cafe or from the bridge itself. We wanted to cool down so we went wading around the river while we waited for a jumper.


After eating and playing in the water we set off to do some shopping. The area surrounding the bridge is filled with cafe’s and market stalls. Some of the products I noticed were imported from Turkey and China but they also had plenty of locally crafted items. I found so many things I liked I ended up buying quite a bit- my favorite being a large decorative copper plate of the bridge. The maker told us what every symbol on the plate meant and took great pride in his work. I also found a rustic wooden painting. We always enjoy finding things to hang on our walls at home that tell a story.



Tekija Blagaj

20 minutes drive from Mostar is a 600 year old Dervish monastery. The Dervish are Sufi Muslims that take a vow of poverty and simple living. It costs a few marks to get in and although it’s pretty much a tourist attraction nowadays it’s still a holy building and you must exercise respect when entering. Due to the need for silence inside the Dervish house, Ben and I took turns entering so that the kids could play. The women must cover their knees and heads while the men must cover their knees. You cannot wear your shoes. There was a woman offering scarves to those that came dressed inappropriately (which included me because I only brought shorts).


Where you can dress for entrance into house


Kellan was playing with bugs and this woman picked him up and made him wash his hands and face. Being that she did not speak English I am not sure the reasoning but she was very adamant that he needed to be cleaned. 

The Dervish house is set against a mountain on the Buna river at the base of a spring. There are restaurants that line the river and also a few gift stalls. We pretty much had the place to ourselves and had an amazing meal at one of the cafe’s with a small play area for the kids. The food was consistent with what we had in Mostar: a mixed meat dish and some trout.


They didn’t want to eat the fish…just play with it. 

Bosnia has been one of my favorite trips because of the unique cultural experience. I love being able to educate my children on other cultures and religions. These trips are going to shape who they become as adults and I hope that includes having tolerance and a positive worldview.



While travelling around Croatia we decided to make a day trip to Kotor in Montenegro. It’s about a 2 hour drive from Dubrovnik so we set off in the morning with our plans. Unfortunately, something was going on at the border crossing and we sat in traffic forever. The line wasn’t long- it just wasn’t moving. So this resulted in cranky kids from the get go.  Once we finally crossed the border though- the drive was beautiful. Very similar to Croatia, but to get to Kotor you drive along the bay. Had we more time I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from pulling over a hundred times to take pictures and swim at the little beaches.


When we finally arrived my kids were eager to get out of the car and Mama was hungry. I was pleased to see no cruise ships were in port which meant the city wouldn’t be too crowded. I’m imagining how packed it would be in that small city on a cruise port day-no thanks! We parked by the old town and found a fruit stand to get the boys cherries.


Being inside the old walls felt like being in a miniature Dubrovnik. The crafts and souvenirs were similar as well as the food and friendliness of the locals. We found a great place to eat lunch that had mist fans pointed at the tables. This was a relief because it was hot. Now, 2 years ago I would have never described 83 as too hot. But after living in the mild U.K. climate your body adjusts and no longer welcomes extremes.

A symbol of Kotor is the cat and they are all over the city. Many souvenirs have cats on them and there is even a cat museum. I really wanted to go to it but I had to check myself and think about if I came all the way to Montenegro to go read up on cats. Yes, I am that cat lady. One even hopped up on Kellan’s chair and sat with us for a bit. Instantly happy and entertained kids.


My entire plan for our day in Kotor was to hike 1400 stairs up the mountainside to the fortress of St. John. That was the whole reason I went. If you google Kotor, chances are you will immediately see pictures of the city from above- taken from St. John. I love a good view so for me it was a must do.

As we were sitting at lunch, sweating, we had a view of the top of the stairs and asked ourselves- Do we really want to do this? It was hot and there looked to be no shade up the mountain. I would have had to wear Carter and Kellan would have to walk/be carried by Ben. After going back and forth we decided we honestly just didn’t feel like it. Guess I’ll never know how beautiful those views are in person.


After walking around the city, doing some shopping and gelato consuming, we opted to head to a little park with a beach. The park had trampolines, bounce castles and plenty of space for the boys to run around happily in the shade. We had it all to ourselves. Carter even got a little pigeon chasing action in which is his all time favorite activity (after eating gelato). I am really glad we made the change in plans because when they are happy- everyone is happy.



The pebble beach was right across from the old city on the bay and barely anyone was there. It seemed much cooler on the water. After having a swim and throwing some rocks we hit the road back to Croatia, worried that there would be more border crossing issues. We had a small wait but nothing compared to our outbound trip.



Stonehenge & Plymouth

For a long weekend we decided to take a road trip down to southwest England. Ben has some family in the Plymouth area so it was due time we made our way to that part of the country. I can’t believe it took us so long because it’s gorgeous down there. I’m even more excited now to visit Cornwall a little father west of county Devon.

The trip was supposed to be about 5 hours so to help break up the ride we stopped into Stonehenge. It’s one of those bucket list items every tourist has to see. Now that I have seen it I don’t feel the need to ever go back. But you have to do it at least once. It was a good way to let the boys stretch their legs and get some snacks at the visitor center cafe. Walking the stone circles itself takes no more than an hour including the bus ride from visitor center to the site.


Once we arrived into county Devon the English landscape changes from flat to rolling green hills. It’s a beautiful area with so much to see. We stayed at an Airbnb in the little village of Yealmpton which was a close base to family, the city, and beaches. We spent most of the weekend visiting with family and they were great hosts; showing us all their favorite sites.


Mothecombe Beach

This is a beautiful, unspoiled, sandy beach surrounded by cliffs. It was a few pounds to park and then a 10 minute walk down to the beach. On the morning that we went it was still pretty chilly in the upper 50’s. The wind was also pretty strong but there were still people swimming. Those people are crazy. Thankfully, my boys were satisfied with running around and throwing rocks. It reminded me very much of some of the beaches we have been to in Ireland and Northern Ireland.



We ate lunch at Jennycliff cafe which overlooks the bay across from Plymouth. This stretch of cliffs is a great place to walk and view the sailboats. There are a series of beaches below as well. Great place to sit and eat ice cream while people watching.


Mount Batten

Just down the road from the cafe is a peninsula you can walk around to view the bay the city. You can also park here and catch a ferry into the city to avoid driving downtown. This is the scene where Carter decided to take a tumble and bust his face. So our time here was cut short.

Wembury Marine Center

One of my favorite activities in Devon was this beautiful pebble beach in Wembury. There is a car park right by the beach but our hosts had us park in a nearby neighborhood so we could take the scenic walk down to the beach. Perks to knowing the locals!

Something I really admire about many beaches in Ireland and the U.K. is how natural they keep the surrounding areas. A beach like this in America would be covered in high-rise hotels and beach homes. Instead, the scenery at the beach in Wembury included an old stone church and fields of grazing sheep and horses. The area is primarily used for wildlife conservation.

This is a great little beach for small childen because of the rock pools that form on the beach. My boys really enjoyed looking at all the rocks and playing in the water without actually having to go into the ocean. I would really like to come back here with more time. Alas, we had dinner reservations and my husband will tell you I’m worse than a toddler when I’m hangry.




The Odd Wheel Pub

This family friendly pub was so nice we decided to eat there two nights in a row. They have a playground for the kiddos and even allow dogs inside the dining area. At one point there were about 7 sweet dogs sitting behind me as I ate my meal. So nice to eat somewhere this relaxed where the food is actually very good. It has a great community feel to it. The people in general down in Devon were just very relaxed and friendly.



Plymouth is a small, walkable city that is rich in history. We got to see where the famous Mayflower set sail in 1620.  I’m from eastern Virginia. Learning about America’s beginnings starts young there since it’s also an area rich in history. Funny to be on this side of the history/globe now.

We spent the morning walking around the city and around Plymouth hoe. The boys even recreated a famous shot of the Beatles from the 60’s. Molds of copper were made of how each bandmate sat in the photograph. One day Kellan will look back and appreciate this (I hope)!

We also spent a few hours in the aquarium where the boys had a blast. Carter is really getting into marinelife. He gets very excited and will run at full speed between displays. It was after this trip that I decided this boy needed a leash. I finally bought one. Worth every penny.





Dartmoor National Park

As we headed home we stopped into Dartmoor which is just north of Plymouth. It’s huge and you could spend days exploring just this park. Being limited on time we focused on an area on the eastern border which has the largest waterfall in England. Again, it was hard to belive we were still in England since the area we live in is so flat. I call Suffolk the Iowa of England. Different worlds.

There was a large cafe, playgrounds and plenty of walking trails. We stuck to the main trail which was about a one hour loop up to the top of the waterfall and back down. I’m glad we stopped here as it was a pleasant surprise. The views from the top were incredible. I would love to see what else Dartmoor has to offer.