Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Where Have I Been? Part One || Lifestyle

Fast forward nearly two years, and i can finally take some time to draft up what's been happening since last the Civic Week celebrations. There's been globe-trotting, a new career, a new addition, and - more excitingly - relocation, relocation, relocation, all of which i can't wait share in this short blog series! There's really no excuse for allowing myself to be quiet on the blogosphere for this long, but let's be honest, who else was celebrating New Years 2019 just yesterday? At least, that's what it's felt like for me...

I'm itching to book a summer holiday this year as i'm writing this blog post. But due to foreseen circumstances - that i'll share later on in this blog series - a holiday in the sun is on the back-burner for now.

Pula, Croatia:
Croatia was our summer holiday of choice in 2017 (wow, am i really saying that?), and we decided to visit for the other-half's birthday; i can't speak for Darren, but Croatia is somewhere i had wanted to visit for quite some time before we finally booked up, and despite the thunderstorms that shadowed the resort for the most part of the holiday, it didn't detract from how beautiful the coast was, and how stunning the architecture in the nearby city of Pula was.

We ventured out on one of the sunnier days to the ancient Pula Arena - one of the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the world - where it is now used as a venue to host concerts in the city. The buildings were as stunning as you'd expect of a built-up, Mediterranean city; shabby-chic window shutters donned the town houses, and colourful flowers dressed the window-sills. Tucked away in some of the streets were quaint ice-cream parlours and cafes, with the tastiest sweet treats! Pula was such a beautiful, ancient city, that we decided to take a second trip there later on in the week, to try out some of the culinary delights on the evening.

Not one to stay at a resort for too long without visiting different attractions, we decided on an excursion mid-way through the week. We were very close to booking a day trip to Venice, Italy, but thought we'd rather make a holiday of Venice, and spend a few days there rather than just the day (blog post to follow),  so we decided on a day trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Seeing the stunning, turquoise-blue waters of Croatia was high up on the list of things i wanted to experience; we unintentionally visited Plitvice Lakes instead of the popular Krka National Park, but this was nothing to complain about as the setting was unbelievable, and definitely somewhere to consider when visiting Croatia!

The holiday - as always - went over far too quickly! Croatia is on my list to visit again, but we'll be visiting further south in the country, and hope to avoid the thunderstorm season!

Bruges, Belgium:
My mam surprised my dad with a long weekend trip to Bruges in Belgium for his birthday in November. Bruges is somewhere the family and i have wanted to visit for a wee while (nothing to do with the fact that the tasty Colin Farrell graced the city with his presence, during the filming of In Bruges... of course...), and there's always something magical about visiting a European city during the Winter months.

My parents, brother, his partner, and I took the ferry across from Hull, which - in my opinion - is just as much a part of the holiday, as visiting the country itself. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of prosecco with some on-cruise entertainment, before embracing the bitter-cold temperatures that followed.

Despite the frosty chill that lingered for the duration of our trip, it only heightened how stunning the little streets were; streets that were decorated elegantly in fairy-lights, and bushy Christmas trees that donned the doorsteps of the little, independent stores.  We spent hours walking through the quaint, cobbled streets, and climbed the 366 steps up the Belfry of Bruges for a spectacular 360 degree view of the city - something i highly recommend doing if you decide to take a trip to Bruges; definitely worth the wait in the queue, if you love to experience the architecture and traditional landscape!

If you didn't stop to eat Belgian chocolate waffles, or sip on the finest Belgian ale, did you even go to Belgium...?

Milan, Italy:
For Christmas of 2017 (again, wow... i need to up my blogging game), Darren put together a little Christmas present consisting of clues to a surprise weekend away, somewhere in Europe, for the following February. I was over-the-moon to have guessed that my Christmas present was to Milan, one of the fashion capitals in the world! Winning!

I'd never been to Italy before, so the one thing i was particularly surprised about, was how different pasta and pizza was compared to what we'd normally have in our English Italian restaurants... Very nice, and so fulfilling, but completely different, having spent my life devouring pasta and pizza from Gianni's family restaurant, down the road. The ice-cream - or gelato - was irresistible... and although i couldn't comment as i was trying for a "Dry 2018", i was ensured that the Italian beer was just as delightful.

Visiting in February, the weather - as expected - wasn't playing ball.  It rained for pretty much the whole trip, but that didn't put a dampener on the holiday, as we were very central to the sites we wanted to visit.  The one exception, was the trip to Milan's San Siro football stadium. Darren did pleasantly well in surprising me with such an iconic holiday destination, i think it was only fair he got to enjoy some Italian kick-about whilst we were there. Despite it being a bit on the nippy side, i honestly really enjoyed cheering on the home team with my overly enthusiastic other half.

Of course, i couldn't visit Milan without taking a metro to Milan's fashion district. I always get that buzz when i walk into a high-end fashion boutique, and although i didn't part with any Euros that day, a girl can certainly dream.

Florence & Venice, Italy:
Our most recent holiday was a special one. #ItalyPart2 saw us return to Italy in the July to witness my best friend, Emma, and her partner tie the knot in the stunning Florence countryside, along with their close family and friends.

Darren and I were invited to stay at the castle where Emma and her partner exchanged vows; the castle was quintessentially Italian, and looked out over miles of green fields and vin yards. We spent the couple of days leading up to the wedding sunbathing in the soaring temperatures by the infinity pool, and got to know the rest of the bridal party and guests.

As bridesmaid, it was an honour to walk down the aisle before the beautiful bride. It was such a lovely excuse for taking a break from work, and sharing a special day with such a loyal friend!

After the wedding, Darren and I extended our Italian holiday by jumping on the train and heading to Venice. We'd already planned on visiting Venice, after being tempted by the idea whilst on our Croatian holiday.

We stayed in a boutique B&B on the outskirts of Venice, and travelled into Venice via train when we fancied a day out. Venice was, of course, beautiful, but as with all popular tourist destinations, was overwhelmed with tourists at every corner of the city. Despite tourists down every alleyway, it didn't detract from how stunning the architecture was, and there were still plenty of opportunities to photograph the stunning and iconic Venetian scenery.

What's Venice without taking a punt along the Grand Canal? There was something a little magical about drifting through the buildings on a gondola, waving to the people of Venice and other gondola-goers. It's definitely one of those experiences that you couldn't pass up the opportunity to enjoy.

Have you visited any of these destinations? I have a couple more short breaks booked up for 2019, that i'll be sharing on the blog. In the meantime, sit back, and enjoy a cup of Green Tea; my next "Where Have I Been?" post is just around the corner.



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