Travelling around the Lake Como region.

The first stop on our Northern Italian adventure was in the Lake Como vicinity. Lake Segrino to be exact! We like to stay off the beat and track when we do these trips. It usually saves money on the accommodation, and I think you get to know the place a little more authentically.

Lake Segrino in itself is a cool little place. This was the view from our Airbnb window.

The kiddos discovered a checkers set and Wyatt taught them how to play it. The joys of not being able to understand Italian TV!

Lake Segrino has it’s own little lake beach and that’s where the kids spent their evenings cooling off.

There’s also a tiny, charming town you can wander through.

The next day we got up early and took the short 30 minute drive to Lake Como. Lake Como is BIG with many towns scattered around its perimeter. Since we only had one day to explore, we decided to take in two of the towns- Bellagio and Varenna. (And now I know where many of the Vegas hotels get their names from!) The views on the drive were gorgeous and of course we found a playground perched atop Lake Como.

We parked just outside of the town of Bellagio and started exploring its winding, narrow alleyways and steep stairways.

After a couple of hours exploring, we decided another Lake Como town might be in order. There’s a little ferry that chugs you across the lake and we drank in the views with our eyes.

I loved Varenna! If you only visit one place on Lake Como, for me personally- it has to be this gorgeous, fishing village that you can (and we did for a minute!) get lost in.

Lake Como is famous for its many villas (apparently George Clooney owns one of them) and a few of them have public access. We chose to visit Villa Monastero as it is known for its gardens. It did not disappoint!

Even though the gardens are impressive, the villa itself is not that big…..which suited us just fine as we had been walking for hours at this stage!

We left Lake Como happily exhausted and ready for the next stint of the Italian adventure. Next up- the Italian Alps.

The Family Adventure Continues- Northern Italy.

Wyatt and I took five weeks off ‘regular’ life last year, took our then four and six year old, and travelled around Slovenia and Craotia. And we caught The Bug.This year we are going to take two weeks and explore Northern Italy. I loved looking back at the blog on those grey Seattle January days and reliving last summer’s adventure. So I am resurrecting this space as a way to preserve these precious travel memories together. The kids are a year older (and easier) and dare I say we have somewhat of a successful routine down at this stage.Not gonna lie- yesterday was a looooonnnggg travel day. Seattle to Dublin with a five hour layover. (It was weird to be home, but not really home!) And then onto Milan.Flight delays, immigration, luggage pick up and car rental mix ups……and we fell into our Airbnb beds at 1am last night. Milan is just our first night’s resting place. Off to Lake Como today to really get this trip kicked off. Who knows- maybe we will see a celebrity or two…..

Dubrovnik: Game of Thrones Edition.

We just returned from an epic week in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I will post about the final chapter of our Croatia- Slovenia adventure tomorrow. If you read my post on Split you will know what a huge GOT nerd I am….so please indulge me this little post. Yes- I did intentionally visit as many Game of Thrones filming locations in Dubrovnik as I could (and dragged my husband and poor kids with me). Here are some of the highlights.

Jesuit Staircase.

These are the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing. They are instantly recognizable as Cerci’s Walk of Shame scene. They are also used in other scenes such as Tywin Lannister’s funeral and the scene when King Tommen came to ask The High Sparrow to spare Margaery.

I got to keep my clothes on! However, Wyatt thoroughly enjoyed screaming, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” at me as I walked down the stairs, wincing with embarrassment.

St. Dominic Street

This place is used in many of the market scenes, as well as the scene where there is a protest speech against the powers that be.

Polce Gate

This is the gate Cersei Lannister passes over at the end of her Walk of Shame to enter the Red Keep. Wasn’t able to find the actual GOT scenes but here are pics of the real deal.

Walls of Dubrovnik.

Too. Many. Scenes to count filmed from the Walls of Dubrobnik.

Pile Bay

This location hosted the scene where Cersei Lannister watched her daughter’s departure as well as the scene where Sansa Stark and Shae converse.

There’s a cool little corner with some unique doors in the bay. This is where the gold cloaks were ordered to murder all of King Baratheon’s illegitimate children.

Fort Lovrijenac

Many, many GOT scene locations here as well. Bronn and Tyrion have many conversations on top of this fort.

As do Lord Varys and Tryion.

And Cercei features quite a bit in this location.

You also get some stunning views of Dubrovnik Old Town AKA King’s Landing from the fort.

Lokrum Island

Lokrum Island is the city of Quarth in Game of Thrones. Lots and lots of Dany scenes filmed here.

The Entrance to the Old City

Jamie’s return to King’s Landing as well as multiple city scenes.

s03e10-jaime-returns-to-kings-landing

And the highlight of the trip. Here was the view from the balcony of our Airbnb.

Croatia’s Korcula Island: No Filter Needed.

Now we come to the Croatian Island portion of the adventure. I am not the best on boats and Korcula Island is a three and a half hour ferry ride from Split to Vela Luka. The three hours of queasiness were totally worth it because this place is a feast for the eyes. We got to spend four days on this stunning island.

Our Airbnb was on the other side of the island from Korcula Old Town (about an hour away) in the teeny tiny village of Karbuni. Listen- I’m from Ireland! I know all about skinny rural roads! But Oh Man! The road to get down to Karbuni was something else. A ‘two-way’ road that can barely fit one car, with lots of blind corners and tiny ‘pull over’ spots in case you do happen to encounter another car. The views though- just breathtaking.

 

 

On Day Two we took a spin over to the other side of the island to Korcula Old Town. The town is described as the love child between Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Ocean. It was a lovely afternoon spent strolling the little town and grabbing some fish and chips for lunch.

 

Did you know Marco Polo was born here? We checked out his supposed childhood house. Why you would leave this island to go searching for anywhere else is beyond me!

And then the kids spotted a little red submarine….and we spent the evening under the sea. The photos don’t portray the schools of fish we spotted out the window.

The captain even let the two littles have a turn steering the submarine ship.

The next morning was a rare rainy morning for Korcula so we spent some time driving around checking out some of the beaches of Lumbarda.

And then Wyatt spotted this sign…..

…and a plan was hatched for the next day. The dune buggying around Korcula Island on a glorious Friday morning has been one of the highlights of the trip so far!

We stopped at various points including a tower and a beach.

After the tour, our guide, Bronko, took us into his home and fed us homemade cheese and crepes and offered us homemade wine and brandy.

We will miss you Korcula. The color of the water there will forever be sketched in my memory. Next up- Dubrovnik!

Stunning West Cork, Ireland.

Lads! The sky was blue today in Cork and It. Was. Amazing!!!

Dad and I bundled the kiddos into the car and took a spin down to Mizen Head in West Cork. Mizen Head is located at the most southerly tip of Ireland. We couldn’t have picked a better day for the trip. The views of the cliff chasms falling into the spurning Atlantic Ocean were spectacular!

A stern, concrete bridge (which apparently used to be one of those terrifying, swinging bridges) leads you across the cliffs to a lonely, unused lighthouse whose current job is to act as an unassuming educational museum, giving tourists little glimpses into its past.

The theme of this trip was- what comes down, must come back up! Grandad heavily assisted in the coming back up part. A picnic lunch was devoured upon returning to the car.

Do you have a place where you and your family visited on a regular basis when you yourself were a kid? The next leg of our West Cork adventure took us to my childhood summer stomping ground- Barleycove.

We even took a spin by the camping site my family frequented many, many moons ago. As with most childhood recollections, I remember it being much bigger!

Next stop was the quaint fishing village of Crookhaven. There is a little pub here called O’Sullivans that serves delicious food overlooking the action of the tiny harbor. We also stumbled upon an old, idyllic church seemingly painted onto its scenic background.

It was the glimpse of a playground that made us squeal to a stop at Ballydehob and subsequently explore the arching bridge and surrounding nature walk.

At this stage, the kiddos were starting to get a little antsy. Nothing that couldn’t be solved with a stop in Schull with some homemade Cork ice-cream. Yummo!

The next stage of the plan was to visit Lisard Estate and Gardens as I had heard it is spectacular. But when we rocked up to the gate it was closed. It only opens on weekends in the offseason. The best-laid plans, huh? So we plowed on to the next town called Castletownsend and fell in love with West Cork again for the fourth or fifth time that day.

The kids had been troopers all day and we were coming up on a stage of the evening where the, “When are we going home?” questions were starting to enter the conversation. So we pushed our luck and stopped off at our last West Cork port of call for the day: Drombeg Stone Circles. Drombeg Stone Circles is an ancient megalithic site that, like any good Irish pagan site, ties into the Winter Solstice. The kiddos put an orange on the altar (it was the only thing we had left in the car!) and we gave thanks for all the blessings we have in life.

On the way home I asked the two littles what their highlights of the day had been? No mention of cliffs…..or stone circles……or bridges! Playgrounds! The playground at Mizen Head……

……and Barleycove……

…..and Ballydehob!

Yup! Sounds about right! All in all a most spectacular day in West Cork. When the sun comes out, there really is no better place than Ireland!

Lifetime Labs Easter Egg Hunt 2018

We took the kiddos to a little Easter egg ‘hunt’ this morning at the Old Cork Waterworks. Basically, there was a round of activities that kept them busy for a few hours. They had a blast.

There was a little tent where they got their faces painted.

They got their jump on at the bouncy houses.

Playgrounds are always a hit with my kids.

The falconry from trabolgan displayed some birds of prey.

And the grand finale ended with the kiddos exchanging their wristbands for full-size easter eggs! Very exciting!

The event took place at the Old Cork Waterworks so we also took a wander around the old restored buildings which told the story of how water was supplied to Cork in the past.

All in all, a very successful morning!

And we’re off!

Day one of the big adventure. We’re sitting at Seatac airport as I write this. Not going to lie, I may have turned into the crazy credit card lady this past year. The travel credit cards I opened pretty much funded our trip. It saved us thousands! I could give The Points Guy a run for his money at this stage. One of the cards we opened gets us access to the lounges, and when you are travelling on your own with a four and six year old….well it’s really lovely!

My four year old is currently obsessed (I mean obsessed!) with trains. So when he discovered the lounge has a grand view of the many light rail trains flying past the window, excited screeches of “Choo Choos! CHOOOO CHOOOOS!” have been echoing around the room. I’ve given up telling him the lounge is a quiet zone. It’s just. so. exciting!

Here’s to many hours of screen time. We’re coming for you Dublin!