There is a little giveaway below the blog post :) 

Ljubljana Castle View

During the girls road trip that I did last September, Ljubljana was the penultimate stop. We arrived just in time for dinner in the evening and continued further on to Lake Bled (our last stop) on the next day after sightseeing in Ljubljana. 

We rented a loft in a former aristocratic townhouse that had been converted into a hotel.  The loft had two floors for the four of us which was perfect. There was also a huge bathtub which we used for a little bikini / SPA session with lots of bubbles later that night after coming home from dinner. Nope, these photos will not make it onto the blog :)

DINNER in Ljubljana

MANNA Restaurant Ljubljana

We had dinner at Manna, a lovely restaurant with really good Slovenian food. We were seated on the upper floor which had a perfectly cosy ambience. The waiters were incredibly friendly and the food was delicious. We decided to order a 7 dish tasting menu which meant that we spent quite some time at the restaurant. Of course all courses were accompanied by the matching wines :)

MANNA Restaurant Ljubljana

Sightseeing in Ljubljana

The next day after breakfast we joined a historic walking tour. The first hour was really interesting and explained all the major buildings around the market place, as well as the meaning of the various sculptures and bridges.

One Night In Ljubljana - Things To Do In One Day | Travel Blog

One Night In Ljubljana - Things To Do In One Day | Travel Blog

Bye bye Walking Tour

As we were just coming from a long weekend on the beach in Hvar and Pula, having planned for mostly warmer temperatures, we were not really prepared for the colder weather during our day in Ljubljana. Even layering up with all sorts of jumpers didn’t help much anymore after one hour of moving at a snail’s pace. So we ditched our lovely walking tour to warm up in a coffee shop.

Off to the Castle!

After some hot coffee we felt much better and decided to visit Ljubljana Castle. Lucky us, there was a funicular that brought us up to the castle – no need to walk up and freeze even more. The views from the castle are really impressive. Yet the castle museum as such was a bit underwhelming. I prefer it if things are left rather ‘authentic’ so you can imagine how people lived there once. Ljubljana Castle is a bit too modern now for my taste. But it’s still worth visiting, so do plan in some hours for this part of the sightseeing.

One Night In Ljubljana - Things To Do In One Day | Travel Blog

One Night In Ljubljana - Things To Do In One Day | Travel Blog

One Night In Ljubljana - Things To Do In One Day | Travel Blog

Where are the girls?!

I was so distracted with taking photos of the beautiful views that I didn’t realise that the girls continued with their tour of the museum without me. So when I turned around, I was on my own. Haha, took me a while to find them again as, of course, my phone’s battery was quite low by that point.

The Boat Ride

I finally found them again around an hour later when we were all meeting in time for the boat tour that we had booked for 3 pm. Lesson learnt for travelling with more people: It might come in handy to book some activities in advance for the day. Well, or just make sure your phone is properly charged :)

One Night In Ljubljana - Things To Do In One Day | Travel Blog

One Night In Ljubljana - Things To Do In One Day | Travel Blog

The only good thing about the boat tour though was the fact that I found the girls. During the first 30 mins we passed by pretty much nothing noteworthy at all. And it was cold and RAINY. Of course our boat had outside seating only. Yeeey. By the time that we finally arrived at the famous bridges of the old  town we were chilled to the bone and wet. At least I got to take some pretty photos.

One Day in Ljubljana – Impressions

GIVEAWAY 

I teamed up with Slovenian designer – she is based in Ljubljana :) – Sanda Vidmar for the giveaway of this adorable bird earring The Little One: a baby shallow earring handmade in sterling silver. The giveaway ends after Valentine’s Day on 15th Feb.

I really love the symbolism behind Sanda Vidmar’s jewellery. The Little One comes with the following words:

‘While learning how to fly, he fell down a couple of times, he hit a tree and got his feathers wet. It didn’t stop him though, oh no. He’s no softie, this one. He’ll go places, I tell you!’

He also has a big brother, which I’m wearing in this post. To see more of Sanda Vidmar’s pieces, hop over to her website here.

You can enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Who said you need sunshine to see the beauty of the Seychelles? We stayed in Mahe, the main island of the Seychelles, for one week in October and had mixed weather. Most of the days we had sunshine and no clouds yet on a couple of days it was raining a few times during the day and the sky was rather grey. Thanks to the tropical climate, rainy and grey weather still meant that it was super hot and you could go swimming and sit outside – under a roof terrace, of course :)

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

It’s not too much fun to spend a rainy afternoon on the pool so we decided to venture out and drive along the coast in the north of the Mahe island. More precisely we explored the coast from Beau Vallon along to Victoria. The whole road trip only takes around one hour (without breaks) and makes a perfect little trip for those staying in Beau Vallon. 

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

Rainy Day Road Trip Seychelles Mahe

Bathing in sound waves

Do you know what a gong bath is? Until just a few days ago I didn’t know either. So, let me explain: A gong bath is a form of sound therapy where the gong is played in a way to bring about healing (more precisely, holistic sound healing). You are essentially taking a bath in the sound waves.

Sounds weird? Yes it was.. But fun at the same time :) I’m not sure about the ‘healing’ part (…) but it certainly was super relaxing. And as plain meditation doesn’t work for me, meditating while listening to the sound of the gongs did work.

If you are wondering what the mark on my forehead is about, I think that was some sort of blessing (?) that we received before our gong bath. We were also invited to hold volcano stones onto each other’s foreheads to feel the volcanic vibrations. I think that our volcanic stones didn’t want to vibrate for us.

Wine & Art at Christie’s

Before the gong bath we had a glass of wine and looked at pretty paintings and furniture at Christie’s.  Some were more pretty than others.. but then I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder :)

Trafalgar Square and Pall Mall at night

I worked around St. James’s Square a while ago and hadn’t walked much around the area at night ever since. I still remember how getting taxis was such a pain sometimes when I left work late (that was before there was uber!). So yesterday’s walk to the tube reminded me on how pretty this part of London is at night. London visitors, do explore this area at night!

German Christmas Markets vs London Hyde Park

This year I had the best of both worlds and visited the London Christmas markets as well as the one in Dusseldorf. Whilst Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland (picture above) is fun to visit, I prefer the cute and cosy Christmas markets in Germany. Roller coasters and Christmas don’t really go hand in hand for me – I do love roller coasters during the rest of the year though :). Also I have not come across really good mulled wine in London either. AND I also love to have Reibekuchen on the Christmas market.

German Christmas Markets vs London Hyde Park

One of my favourite part of the Christmas markets are the Christmas villages. They consist of little decorated houses and stalls that usually either sell crafts or food and drinks. Some of stalls are a bit bigger so that you can sit inside with your mulled wine and listen to Christmas music :)

♫ ♬ Have a holly, jolly Christmas. It’s the best time of the year ♩ ♪

German Christmas Markets vs London Hyde Park

Christmas at Home

There has only been one Christmas so far that I didn’t spend at home (I was studying in Peru). For all the other years I managed to come home :) A few years ago London was snowed in and no plane would leave the country. Then I went by train to Dover and then took the ferry to Calais. After a few more hours of literally sliding to Germany (we even passed a truck that was turned 180 degrees on the highway..) I arrived home. The whole journey took around 12 hours… but I made it in time!

German Christmas Markets vs London Hyde Park

We usually have Christmas Eve dinner at my parents’ and then Christmas Day and Boxing Day dinner at my grannies’ places. This has been like that since I was born. And the spot in front of the Christmas tree has also been my reserved place to unwrap presents since I was a little girl. Not much has changed when you come for Christmas :)

German Christmas Markets vs London Hyde Park

♩ ♪ He’s making a list, He’s checking it twice, He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Santa Claus is coming to town ♫ ♬

German Christmas Markets vs London Hyde Park

 ♬ Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh ♩ ♪

German Christmas Markets vs London Hyde Park

Did you notice the super cute earrings that I was wearing in one of the photos above? They are handmade by Slovenian jewellery designer Sanda Vidmar with who I am collaborating this December and January. She does not only create super unique jewellery, she also thinks a lot about the meaning and symbolism behind her creations. The birds shadow earrings come with the following words – the interpretation is up to you :)

‘This silver shallow bird was used to fly alone. Then one day she looked down and found another bird just like her, always following her around. She wanted to get rid of the annoying company, flew high, flew low, flew fast and hid behind the tree. But little did she know it was impossible. She wasn’t the brightest one, you see. Not very bright at all.’

Sanda Vidmar Jewellery

For more jewellery by Sanda Vidmar click over to A Happy Walk In The Park or check out her shop here. There will be a little giveaway in January, so make sure to check in then :)

Rovinj is a quaint and beautiful little town in Istria, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. Rovinj is often referred to as the prettiest town in Istria and I understand why!

We visited Rovinj on our way from Pula to Portoroz. During our stay we strolled through the quaint little alleys, the market place and walked up to the church on top of the hill on which Rovinj’s old town is located. We also had super yummy seafood in a restaurant with a really beautiful view of the sea. Rovinj is not big which makes it a perfect spot for a weekend trip and a must-see if you are ‘in the area’, e.g. if you pass by on a road trip.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Rovinj

1. A gorgeous Old Town

The old town of Rovinj is located on a hill with small houses tightly crowded down to the seafront. Quaint alleys and cobbled streets lead to the hilltop church of St. Euphemia – the highest point of Rovinj. Also the market place and the port have lots of charisma and allow for really beautiful panoramic photos.

2. Romance Day & Night

The view of the sea on the way up to the church is stunning and allows for lots of remote romantic stops, especially during sunset. Or have a glass wine in one of Rovinj’s cosy litte wine bars and restaurants in the old town.

3. Lovely cafes & restaurants

We came across really charming & cute restaurants when walking up to the church. Most of them had a great view of the sea and were super cosy with lots of character. And, if you haven’t tried it yet, let me tell you: Istrian food is delicious! The area is known for its olive oil, truffels and excellent wines. Dobar tek!

4. Pretty Pebble Beaches

Rovinj offers plenty of pebble beaches to choose from. No sandy beaches though. But at least with pebble and rocky beaches you have a higher chance of finding a remote spot just for yourself instead of sharing the beach with the other people like sardines in a can… And the water very clear and refreshing :)

5. Ideal Location

Rovinj is perfectly located between Pula and Porec, two beautiful cities in Istria. We visited Rovinj on the way from Pula to Slovenia. Whether you decide to spend a couple of nights in Rovinj or just visit the city as a quick stop during a road trip, it’s definitely worth seeing. Rovinj also makes a great day trip if you are based in Pula.

Are you looking for more ideas and travel hacks for Croatia? Click over to this one.

In collaboration with Sanda Vidmar

‘We all have a hard and courageous responsibility to be happy. Usually your happiness depends merely on the perspective in your head.  It’s simple. Loving yourself is the key. It’s what makes your heart fill with exuberant joy. In the light of truth there is no twig without a shadow and there is no person without flaws. Your flaws are what makes you interesting and you should learn to love them. Admit you are an enchanting and beautiful creature and therefore for you – being happy is a walk in the park.’ – Sanda Vidmar

Today is the 21 December and it was raining all day… bye bye winter wonderland and snowy Christmas.. Some people get to have snow for Xmas, we have rain. You can’t have it all.  Though, honestly, I like all sorts of weather as each season is beautiful in its own way.

This afternoon I decided to go for a walk and take some photos. It’s such a nice change to hear rain, wind and birds in the forest instead of cars and millions of people in London. In fact breathing in the fresh air was amazing. You don’t notice much of the pollution in London but by leaving the city and stepping into a little bit of nature you are in for a big treat :)

Taking my twig ring for a walk :)

The forest today was also the perfect place to show you my twig ring by Slovenian designer Sanda Vidmar. All her jewellery is handmade and her designs are super unique. I really like the symbolism behind her creations: the twig ring, for instance, stands for loving your flaws and imperfection. And once you realise that you are an ‘enchanting and beautiful creature’, being happy becomes ‘a walk in the park’. I couldn’t agree more with that. I would always prefer a wild and imperfect forest to an artificially designed park. The same holds for people, wouldn’t it be the most boring place in the world if everyone looked and thought the same?!

Doesn’t the forest even look prettier when there is no sun? The absence of it gives the photos a much more moody vibe. I took around a couple of hundred photos as everything was so beautiful. At some point I must have got entirely lost in the moment as I turned around and there were two horses next to me haha. Hello horses! I didn’t hear them at all!

And apparently I was not the only one today who thought that the forest looks especially mesmerising in this weather: I came across at least a dozen of people who were taking their dogs for a walk. One dog even decided to jump into the water… the dog mummy must have been very happy about that :)

‘And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.’  – John Muir

‘In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike.’ – Paulo Coelho

After walking for a little while I came across this super cute little hut. Perfect timing as the drizzle started to become proper rain. I wish I had taken my kindle with me. I had put on so many layers so that I wouldn’t get cold outside. Hence it was super cosy in the hut and it would have been the perfect place to read a book. Well, ok, a cup of tea would have also been nice. Or mulled wine :)

As I didn’t have either, no mulled wine nor my kindle, I decided to play bit more with the camera.

I chose the black and silver twig ring but it’s also available in sterling silver and copper. It’s also the perfect present as it arrives in a gift box and also comes with a little note that explains the symbolism behind your jewel :) Sanda designs a variety of different nature inspired pieces. You can click over to her shop here to explore :)

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

Last weekend little Jackson, a friend’s French bulldog, had his first gingerbread house Christmas party. I already wrote about the gingerbread house tradition last year (time flies!) so just a little reminder: The gingerbread house party was started 5 years ago by two friends of mine, Katie & Jonas, who have organised the yearly Xmas together ever since. And with organising I don’t only mean the general work that goes into hosting a dinner or party at home, I also refer to all the baking fun that goes into this sort of party beforehand. It turns out that you’ll need an Saturday to bake all the gingerbread pieces that will eventually become the structures of the gingerbread houses that the party guests will get to build. Awesome friends :)

It all started 5 years ago..

While the first gingerbread house party had one ‘baby guest’, this year’s party saw 5 kids already… A couple of them are around the 3 to 4 years mark and were super excited to build their own gingerbread houses. And they somehow did a better job than us. For some reason (not at all related to mulled wine and eggnog), our pretty house managed to break apart.. I guess we were a bit too eager about all the sweets and put way too much weight on the roof.. and whoosh. The housing structure just couldn’t take the prettiness of our decoration!

Moody lightroom settings - Xmas Party

Gingerbread House Making

Apart from having an immense sugar and sweets supply during the day of the party (most of the sweets go onto the house, while others magically wander into your mouth), we also had mulled wine, eggnog, Mac & Cheese and hot dogs. No surprise, that little Jackson was all over the place trying to secure as many treats as he could :)

Happy kids, happy dog

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

For a while he decided to strategically position himself under the table. Especially where the kids were sitting, he was quite a happy camper. Once everyone was done decorating, Jackson put on his best cute dog face and managed to get some more of the human food..

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

But really, who can resist that look?!

And the winner is…

… not our gingerbread house! Apparently it doesn’t count if the house can’t stand on its own.. But fair enough, even if ours had not broken apart, this house would still have won. Doesn’t it look super pretty? While we were keeping Jackson happy, Jackson’s mummy had enough time to create her masterpiece..

Moody lightroom settings - Gingerbread House Photo

Good night, little Jackson

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

It was such a fun day and once all the kids plus parents had left, we decided to start our Xmas movie marathon. After Bad Santa we moved on to Die Hard (such a Christmas classic haha). Though I think only one of us managed to watch the whole movie. The rest fell asleep halfway in.. after the sugar high there is always a sugar low :) Zzzzzzz…

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

Karate Pony and Cat Monkey are our travel mascots. Karate Pony was adopted from London and Cat Monkey from Vietnam.

How did we come up with the names? Well, Karate Pony was easy, she is obviously a pony and, being my first travel mascot, the blog name had to be part of the mascot’s name.  Mix Karate and Caviar and pony (leave out the caviar, she doesn’t like it much..) and you get ‘Karate Pony’ :) Well, and obviously she has a black belt in Karate, duh..

With regards to Cat Monkey, he (yes, pink and male can go together!) was born in Vietnam in the year of the monkey. And I think he’s  supposed to be a cat.. We were debating which animal he resembles most but I think cat comes closest. There we go, Cat Monkey it was!

Travel Mascot’s Pictures

Karate Pony joined our trip through the Americas for 5 months starting in the US, then Canada and then slowly making our way down via Cuba, Mexico, Peru and Bolivia. Cat Monkey joined us in Vietnam (I think in Vung Tau) and then happily travelled along through the rest of Vietnam, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan.

Cusco & Machu Picchu, Peru

As I have already mentioned several times, Peru is one of my favourite places in the world. I studied there for my semester abroad and immediately fell in love with the people, the food and Peru’s amazing nature. Karate Pony’s favourite place was Cusco and the city’s surrounding Inca ruins. She was also thrilled by visiting Machu Picchu!

Travel Mascot Cusco

 

Travel Mascot Peru and Cusco

Travel Mascot Peru

Turns out Karate Pony loves Cusquena… keeps her quiet :)

Travel Mascot drinking beer

 

Hue, Vietnam

Hue is an amazing city and should be part of any trip along Vietnam’s coast. It’s a former emperor city and there are ruins all over the city. Definitely worth a visit!

Travel Mascot Hue

Travel Mascot Hue

 

Hanoi, Vietnam 

Though I’m quite biased to prefer South Vietnam I really had an amazing time in Hanoi. It’s quite a hipster city with lots of quaint coffee shops. So for some of the days I took my kindle and Cat Monkey and we ventured out to explore the city’s best coffee shops. Have you tried Vietnamese Iced Coffee (cà phê đá)? If not, you have to!

Travel Mascot Hanoi Coffee Shop Travel Mascot Hanoi

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay is a must if you spend some time in Hanoi. The islands are really stunning though they have turned quite touristy over the last few years. Nevertheless, it’s worth to go on a day trip (or a couple of days) to explore them.

Travel Mascot Halong Bay

Travel Mascot Halong Bay

 

Once Karate Pony and Cat Monkey have made up their minds and choose more  photos, I’ll add them here. And by the way, Cat Monkey already has his own post here.

 

 

VIn Pearl Phu Quoc Resort & Golf

Vin Pearl Phu Quoc Resort & Golf

Part of the week in Phu Quoc we stayed in the Vin Pearl Phu Quoc Resort & Golf hotel. The hotel is really beautiful with its own private beach and gorgeous interior. Vin Pearl is a relatively new Vietnamese hotel chain with luxurious properties across the country. I think it’s predominantly frequented by Vietnamese tourists with more and more international travellers adding to the mix in the recent years. That said, one of the best things about this hotel is that you are more than likely to have the beach and also the pool for yourself for most to the day. This is because a lot of Vietnamese people are a bit sun-shy (read this on how to dress like a local) and you will rarely see them sun bathing.

It was quite funny the first day when we arrived in the hotel. There were literally around 10 people out there on the beach and the pool and we had the impression that the hotel was not booked out at all. Suddenly, around 4pm, you’d see a bunch of Vietnamese families coming over from the hotel’s lobby and restaurants to the pool and the beach. And I thought I was special with not staying too long in the sun..

Hotel Lobby, Room & Interior Design

Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc Vietnam

The lobby of the hotel looks amazing with a luxurious and elegant finish. Also the staff is very attentive and the minute you enter the lobby to check in they take your luggage and offer you a refreshment. Our room was gorgeous as well and we had the perfect view of the pool area and beach – perfect for watching the sunset on the balcony :)

DSC00359 (3)
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
DSC00361 (2)
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc

Pool & Beach

As mentioned the hotel has a private beach access so you could still go swimming in the ocean or lie on the beach and watch the stars at night. For me this is always a big plus for a hotel as, depending where in the world the hotel is located, it may not be safe to go to the beach at night. Also a private beach generally means that you don’t have to share the beach with hundreds of other people like sardines in a can. But not only the beach is gorgeous, also the pool area is stunning.

Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
DSC00380 (2)
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc

There is a pool bar where you  can sip your cocktail while swimming in the pool. As I’m a huge beach addict we generally stayed on the beach but occasionally would come over to the pool to have a cocktail or fruit juice in the pool. Walking from the beach to the pool bar takes less than 2 minutes :)

Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc

Restaurants & Bars

The restaurant and bar facilities are beautiful and so is the food. Yet it’s still quite Vietnamese so if you are not a fan of it, your choices are still fine but less than in a more international chain. I personally LOVE Vietnamese food, so for it was perfect. After dinner you can have a digestif at one of the bars either outside next to the pool or inside in the lobby. They usually had peaceful live music in the evening which created a great ambience.

Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
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Vin Pearl Phu Quoc
Vin Pearl Phu Quoc

Location

The hotel is located a bit away from the main attractions of the island. We actually stayed in three different parts of Phu Quoc and rented a scooter for most of the time on the island. So my tip would be to stay in a more central hotel first, rent a scooter and explore Phu Quoc on your own, join a snorkelling tour, check out the nightlife and then book yourself into the Vin Pearl Phu Quoc Resort and Golf for a few days of doing nothing but relaxing on the beach.

Verdict

The Vin Pearl Phu Quoc Resort & Golf is a really gorgeous hotel and we had an amazing time. I would definitely stay there again especially because of the beauty of the hotel and its private beach. I do think that the hotel could be run a more efficiently for a 5 star hotel and should cater more for international guests. That said, it’s also a cheaper than the usual 5 star candidates. So overall it’s a lovely choice for your stay in Phu Quoc and we had a wonderful time.

 

For more ideas for travelling in Vietnam, read this :)