My 2018 wrapped

2018 has been quite a year for me.  As a classic once said; I’ve been down for so long it looked like up to me, and when I finally conquered all of my demons I have discovered many new shades of myself, my friends, family and loved ones and finally reached a point in my life when I can honestly say I am happy with where I am.

It didn’t come without an adventure, of course, so let me tell you a story, of how I survived 2018 and how it’s been the most hectic and wonderful year of my life.

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2018 started exactly the same as any other year for the last decade. I made many plans, more or less unrealistic, from which only one withstood the test of time and only for a simple reason it was the most effortless and smooth one from all the rest. In the middle of January I already forgot about my “bikini body” and how I should take better care of my hair, skin and mind. I worked full-time (still am) and as I usually returned home I was drained. Quite literally exhausted, didn’t feel like doing anything really. In February, I applied for a two-part exam, that would enable me to get promotion and earn more. I blew it and the fact that 90% of other people also failed that particular day did not make me feel any better.

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Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

It was my first failure of that sort in a long time and I felt completely crushed. What saved me from dwelling and whining was… lack of time, really. I had so much work, with my full-time job and my side business (oh yeah, I forgot to mention launching my own company) that I completely forgot about the exam. I jumped right into normal flow of the day; waking up, going to work, eating junk (most of the time, really), returning home, lazing around watching YouTube and finally going to sleep. There was no activity whatsoever, I didn’t even like going out.

In August my boyfriend Floret and I went to Croatia for summer holidays. While enjoying the country (and people) I realized how amazing my life is and how much I should focus on fulfilling my dreams, rather than focusing on all the obstacles. My holidays made me grateful for what I have and who I’ve become. Upon my return I received a rather substantial raise, which might have been additional factor for realising my life doesn’t suck that much!

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In November I decided to perform several medical tests. I felt constantly exhausted (which didn’t escape Floret’s attention, his questions about my wellbeing motivated me to check what’s been going on with my body lately), I suffered from extensive hair loss, mood swings and, which hurt me the most, memory lapses. You know the feeling when you call someone and they say you just talked? Or that you get something delivered and it turned out you ordered it yourself but don’t remember a thing? Yep, that’s me. When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease I wasn’t very shocked. A close relative suffered from it for years and as it might be hereditary I suspected I might have the same issue in the future, but now when I’m 28.

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When I started taking medicine, suddenly I felt so much better. I don’t think I ever felt so energized in my life. I can now work for 9 hours, return home, prepare lunch for the next day, dinner, clean the kitchen, take a walk and even go for fitness classes, which up until this point was unthinkable. Literally impossible. I can spend more quality time with Floret, improve my lifestyle and still have a little bit of time for myself.

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So here I am in December, planning my goals for 2019. This time, unlike all the previous years, I am going to succeed.

And how was your year? Did you struggle the way I did?

 
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Flavours of Croatia – Zadar

Summer has ended rather abruptly this year in Europe. I have nearly forgotten that it ends at all, with golden autumn and amazing weather up until the second week of October. With holiday time passing I have realized I have not been blogging for a while and, let me tell you, there were more than 13 reasons why.

As I have mentioned in several of my previous posts (for example here), I have been incredibly fortunate to be offered free accommodation for a two-week trip to South Dalmatia, Croatia. And boy, that was an adventure! Upon my return I have already started planning next summer holidays, and as it is a rather daunting task, I wondered what could help me plan. I went through all the main points of planning a trip and realized that where you want to go sets a goal to work towards. And I couldn’t decide. I researched many travel blogs and looked for tips on which of all the amazing places to visit first and I got stuck. What broke the impasse? A book by John Grisham – no joke – about a football player moving to Parma (Italy). Why it wowed me so much? It showed a side of Italy I have never seen before, thriving, rich in flavour and full of lovely people, but from an entirely subjective point of view. Therefore, after spending two weeks in Dalmatia I decided to share with you my view on this region of Croatia, and maybe convince you it’s really an amazing place to visit.

After this rather long prefix, let’s just jump right into what I have learned about Southern Dalmatia.

ZADAR, the city that stole Hitchcock’s heart

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Zadar is the oldest still inhabited city in Croatia. With amazing Romanesque architecture and original Roman forum it reminded me of Rome, rather than a small town on the coast of Adriatic Sea. Both Floret and I loved every single corner of the city, but what really took my breath away was the sunset on the promenade – once described by Alfred Hitchcock himself as “the most beautiful sunset in the world”. I couldn’t agree more with Mr Hitchcock as I sat down with hundreds of people looking at the sun slowly hiding behind the horizon.

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Relaxing to the sound of waves playing calmly on the Sea Organs built into the promenade we waited for the night to set in and uncover the amazing solar-powered public dance floor – a “Monument to the Sun” created by Nikola Basic. I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like this before in my life and I truly believe that Zadar’s Sunset should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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If you are not the greatest fan of crowds you should definitely pick Southern Dalmatia out of all the other cities in Croatia. We have spent several days with born-and-raised Croatians and they all said the same exect thing to us: “never visit Dubrovnik in the summer” and “Zadar is so much better in summer than all the other cities, as it is not that filled with tourists”. Also, what they didn’t say, but I definitely noticed, was the price difference.

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Promenade, Sea Organs and the sun-powered dance floor are not the only great things to visit in Zadar. We have roamed the city quite thoroughly and seen various interesting sites, tried the amazing food and delicious beverages – including Gresavina – famous white wine from the region. Pro tip I have heard from an amazing artist who also provided us with loads of wine – don’t ever buy Croatian wine that’s more expensive than 30 kunas (5 euro) per 1 liter. I have obeyed by this rule vigorously and have to say, Gresavina (especially served with cooled sparkling water Jamnica) is delicious!

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City of Zadar represents a rather interesting mixture of old and new architecture. Blending effortlessly ultra contemporary installations, such as Sea Organs and the Monument to the Sun, with Roman-era fragments and Romanesque churches results from serious bombing in World War II, which forced officials to fill holes in old architecture with modern touches. Every step you take brings you closer to city’s historical heritage, just like visiting a very old, Romanesque bell tower, which interior seems taken straight from Indiana Jones movies. Neighbouring an original Roman forum it’s an amazing place to see the clash of era’s.

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Getting to know the city is very easy with many informational boards hanging around every corner. I was very pleased to see many signs translated into various languages, sometimes even including my own – Polish. It’s always a nice feeling to see signs of your own country wherever you go.

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What I also loved about Zadar? Its nightlife. Floret and I stationed ten kilometers from the city, so we never truly had a chance to experience the nightlife in its entirety, but we had a taste, while enjoying Gresavina and Aperol Spritz on the promenade. I loved spending time among Croatians (in Dubrovnik meeting Croatians in summer is nearly impossible), simply chilling and enjoying the weather, just like I would where I live. I felt more like part of the community, not a stranger, as I usually do while observing others.

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In terms of food, visiting any Konoba (traditional restaurant) with Pleskavica, Cevapcici and various sea food is a pleasure. With amazing interiors, delicious dishes and cold sparkling water, it is a lovely place to relax and regain energy for even longer sightseeing under the merciless Croatian sun. I loved devouring pizza (very common in Croatia, I don’t think I have ever seen so many pizzerias in one city!), looking at the ships passing us by, observing the regular life of people living in the Old Town.

With three airports nearby (Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar), various accommodation opportunities and great transport (both bus, train and ships), it’s one of the most convenient, beautiful and interesting destinations to visit in Europe. So, if you’re looking for a place to visit next year – make sure to take Zadar, the city of the most beautiful sunset in the world, into account.

Have any of you ever visited Zadar? Did you enjoy it as much as Floret and I did? Let me know in the comments!

Dorota

My Eurotrip experience.

Hello world,

in one of the previous posts I wrote about my trip to Bieszczady Mountains, which is a range of hills in Southern Poland. I loved the trip, because not only had I had a pleasure to try pure spirits, but also it was my first ever trip when I swam in a lake. Before I ventured to this amazing place I had a pleasure of experiencing one of the most amazing trips of my life: EUROTRIP.

The task was quite easy, I live in Europe, so my only concern was to get a car, pack and book some hotels on the way. I went with my boyfriend Floret, of course, and our companion: my fluffy grey cat from Nicci, which was quite useful when we slept in a tent under olive trees in Croatia.

We started our trip in Warsaw, where we live, and first travelled to a Hungarian city of Eger. On our way there we had to drive through Slovakia, where we were really conscious since it’s extremely easy to get a fine for everything, but even though – of course – we got a fine for speeding. On the border with Hungaria. Literally looking at the sign of the country. We had 45 km/h on a 40 km/h limit, but they still imposed a mandate on us of 200 Euros. I’m looking at you Slovakian Police, stop!

After Eger, where we also visited Miscolc Topolca, we went to the capital city Budapest, where we spent three days travelling back and forth throughout a beautiful, old streets, eating hummus and drinking wine on the bank of Danube river with some very nice, old German people. We ate delicious food and both Floret and I enjoyed it very much.

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Budapest is a city known for it’s architecture, especially the building of the parlament, which is quite astonishing.

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Here it is just on the other side of the river. The weather did not spoil us, but we still got a lot of time simply enjoying little streets and food.

Later on we went to Zagreb, a capital of Croatia, where we visited a ZOO and were sightseeing for two entire days. Since we are both engineers we visited Technical Museum of Zagreb, where we enrolled into classes about Tesla (the greatest) and his inventions. It was for kids, and in croatian, so we understood only what the lecturer showed us and with knwoledge from our physics background we were really excited to try some experiments.

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The city of Zagreb is very misterious and looks a little like Warsaw.

A little digression here: You know how when you go home you look through pictures to see how they turned out? Most of the pictures taken by Floret, were pictures of… You’d think me, maybe some nice sites… No. Of our car. He literally took ten pictures of our car in different places. Men are weird. 

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At least our car got to take a picture with panorama of Zagreb 😉

After Zagreb, we went to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, the oldest national park in Croatia and one of the places on the UNESCO World Heritage register. Before we embarked on a hiking trip there I had a little accident – I left my laptop in one of the restaurants on the way. Luckily they wrote me on Facebook later and gave it back – Croatians are really nice. Thanks, lovely waiter guy!

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The trip was quite interesting and it took multiple hours (I think we hiked for like 6?) but it was totally worth it, just look at that water… It’s magnificent. The color is a result of sedimentation and limestone on the bottom, creating a fairytale look, that honestly, in real life looks just like the pictures.

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What is interesting there is that you can pass a lot of waterfalls and rivers, which look astonishing and make you realize, how beautiful our world is.

20160528_105532.jpgIf you are wondering right now – yes, I did take all these pictures myself, no joke.

After hiking we drove straight to the campsite, where we found a little river (of the same color) and we enjoyed a calm, warm evening sipping wine from cups with smurfs printed on. It was my first night ever in a tent – I start to sound a little like I was brought up in a shed, but really, it was my first time ever. The tent was very tiny (I think 1+) and I had to sleep with my back against the side, with moisture all over me. Thanks to this trip we bought and new tent now and are prepared for camping like pros.

Because we didn’t plan our trip in a great detail and only booked some hotels along the way, we decided to be spontaneous and travel to Krk Island to get some relax on the beach. We wanted to visit Dubrovnic where The Game of Thrones is shot, but we decided it was too far away.

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The island is absolutely beautiful. You can get there only through a bridge (for which you have to pay – that’s kind of weird). There are several towns here, where you can visit very old little church built of stone, very nice restaurants and a city of Punat, where we chose to stay. We slept under olive trees, in a tent, just next to our car on a campsite. There was a storm there that almost made me pee my pants, I swear, being in a tent during a thunderstorm is not funny, so we arranged bottles of wine and played cards for almost a whole night.

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Days are very lazy there in Punat. Beaches are great, although full of stones and we had to travel through the whole island to find one where there was sand. On the way there we also found a cevapi stand where we ate almost everyday – ayvar, the condiment made of paprika, is so amazingly tasty there… I have to buy some more!

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Since we didn’t want to only lay on the beach and burn our asses we took several trips through surrounding hills and found these guys. Actually, the picture was taken just because we were interested in how the foundations of the high voltage tower were made, but I centered a picture to be more interesting to you guys 🙂 The little island you see there is one where you can swim in a boat to and spend some romantic time on a picnic – you should try it!

It came a time where, with a broken heart, we had to leave for another place – Slovenia. I actually wanted to stay longer in Croatia, but we booked a rafting trip and had to meet our appointment.

Slovenia is…

I have no words, if you think Plitvice Lakes were amazing… Slovenia is just like… I don’t know, if you drank an elixir of happiness you’d end up there, for sure.

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This was our view from the hotel room. The host greeted us with wine and chips and all day long I could look at this mountain (Triglav) like on the painting of the greatest painters. Since we booked a rafting trip – which I was very scared of bearing in mind I just learned how to swim – we went there right away. I was unsure and freaking out, but it was one of the best experiences I ever lived through. We couldn’t film or take pictures there without GoPro, so I’m going to show you a video from YouTube. That was so much fun!

The water was ice-cold and during rafting our instructor chose to stop and let us jump from a huge stone in the river with such a strong current I was fighting with myself for 10 straight minutes if I should jump or not. I stood there, on this rock and wanted to jump, but my body didn’t want to move! Seriously, it was such an incredible experience, to fight my own fear. Finally, I jumped. But I was shaking from excitement!

Later we decided to try another typically Slovenian thing… we drove our car onto the train and we travelled by train in it!

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Very weird, especially in the tunnels, but  fun experience nevertheless. I shot a great video with my phone on that trip and I sent it to my mother. I hope one day I will be brave enough to show my face on this blog and share it with you guys.

We also visited a city of Bled with a gigantic castle way above a beautiful, also very blue, lake.

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This looks like I took a picture of a mirror, or I rendered it badly in Photoshop, but  trust me, it really does look just like that! The city is worldwide famous for its cake, which – of course – I had to try. Yummy!

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After eating all that sugar we had to find a way to burn it and since there is no good visit to the mountains (here Triglavski National Park) without a good old hike, we had some.

20160607_102514.jpgSlovenia is really an amazing place. All the people I met there (where we lived in Kranska Gora or where we went) were extremely nice. The owner of the house we stayed in (called Smucka – check it out on booking.com) let us use his grill, his own bikes (really nice ones – and advised us to bike to Italy. Doesn’t it sound weird? Like I could literally take a bike and go to Italy… in like two hours. Oh, Europe, you’re great!) and even washed our clothes! We promised to come back and for it we received a nice, handmade candle holder, which stands on my living room shelf till this day!

20160607_115944.jpgUnfortunately, we had to leave Slovenia and head back home, but not until we visited Vienna and a great aquapark next to it. I wanted to see Vienna because I’m very much interested in european royal families and their palaces – both Austria and Poland have some in common, including several kings. We’ve seen both Schonbrunn and Hofberg.

20160609_111330.jpgGerdens in Schonbrunn.

20160608_143003.jpgHofburg Palace, which is quite interestingly just in the middle of the city. Also, I learned a lot about empress Sisi, who is one of the most fascinating royals I’ve ever heard of (not to mention beautiful). Check her out in the website of Sisi Museum in Schonbrunn.

What should any of you do before leaving Vienna? Eat Saher Chocolate Cake, Schnitzel and of course visit the famous Wiener Prater which is an amusement park first opened in 1766!

After Vienna we headed back home with a plan for another EUROTRIP. To be honest we think of doing two: one for western Europe (I want to shop Portugal to Floret since I lived there for a year) and one for the North (Scandinavia).

Since this trip produced so many amazing pictures I decided to start a special chronicle of my trips with Floret. I will share some pieces with you in some of the next posts.

Wish me lack and tell me something about your trips in the comments!

Dorota