Monday, July 18, 2011

Honeymoon Take 2 Pt. 6: Drinks at Buza & Rooftop Kisses

We woke up on Monday morning, feeling a bit like normal human beings again (especially after some delicious fried eggs and bacon from the bistro below our sobe), and decided to take a leisurely stroll to get to know our surroundings.

One of the things that you come to love most about Dubrovnik, is that you can walk all of the main parts of the town in less than an hour. You can take some time and just stroll the Stradun, or get get intentionally lost with a yummy cup of gelato (or some fresh cherries from the market) walking around the side streets. The fact that the entire town is contained in a beautiful fortress of stone walls makes every experience seem more intimate. Before you know it, a piece of your heart is freely given and forever intertwined with this city.

 Rooftop Flowers.


 City Harbor

 Side Street with Dubrovnik Stairs. 

Dubrovnik stairs are no joke. If you enlarge this photo & look in the background, you can see how high the stairs can go on the side streets.

 Pile Gate. Sometimes I look at pictures like this and wonder how many random people have vacation pictures with us in them.

 Looking at the ocean from just outside the city walls.

 Fort Lawrence & the Adriatic Sea

 Handsome Husband & Gorgeous Background


 I wish all doors were sprinkled with tropical flowers.

 At one point in the day, we walked up a large set of stairs and stumbled upon this sign. 

We had read about the "Buza" bars (there are two), and had intended to find them at some point in our trip. They are a bit hidden (Buza II is easier to find than Buza I), so we were quite excited to see that we were close to one of the bars. We decided to follow the sign...after all, who wants to miss the, "most beautiful view?"

 We went down this alley.

 And eventually found this entryway in the city wall. 

Which led us to....

 Yes, that is a bar on a cliff. It is even more amazing than you could ever imagine. Also, don't be fooled, this is actually the "safer" of the two bars. Buza I barely has any railings.

 We found an empty table, and we agreed, it really was "the most beautiful view."

 We watched a pirate ship sail by on its way to the Elaphite Islands.

 And saw some people cliff dive.

 Ryan tried out the local beer.

And we spent a good part of the day just taking everything in. Cold drinks while sitting on the edge of a cliff looking out over the Adriatic = heaven.
P.S. that song is what was playing on the bar speakers at the time. 

After we returned home from our morning of exploring, we decided to get freshen up and go on tour of the city walls. We had heard that it was best to go either very early in the morning or late in the afternoon, as the walls would be much less crowded during those times (there are some narrow sections where you can get held up if there are a lot of people). We went around 4:30 in the afternoon, and it was truly the perfect time. It was much cooler, and there were no crowds. It made for a spectacularly stunning and romantic (2 hr.) stroll. The temperature factor really does matter, as again, there are a lot of stairs.

Ready to take on the city walls. I'm pretty sure I made my husband take this picture because I was in love with the high ceilings, grey drapes, lovely arch and pretty chandelier at the top of the staircase in our sobe.

Walking on the ocean side of the walls.


I love this place & I love you. 

One of the higher parts of the walls we had to walk. 

Ryan was locked up along the way. 

I assume this destruction is from the time that the city was under siege in the 90s, but I'm not positive. 

Up on the rooftop. 

My pink dress made me feel like a ballerina, so I decided to pose like one. However, if you know me, you know that I lack any semblance of coordination. 

View of the city pt. 1

View of the city pt. 2. If you look closely, you can see that a lot of the roofs are orange, and some of the roofs are brown. All of the orange roofs are new roofs, as most of the original roofs were damaged or destroyed during the war. It makes you realize just how much destruction took place. 

I've got the world on a string, sitting on a stone wall...

The walk was definitely something we would recommend if you ever get a chance to visit Dubrovnik. It is unbelievably scenic, and a wonderful way to spend time together. 

We were quite hungry after the walk, so we headed out to grab some dinner. There are a ton of restaurants all throughout the city (most selling the same items), and unless you are going to one of the more upscale places, the quality of all of them is pretty equal. The majority of the restaurants have staff who stand outside with menus and ask you if you would like to eat at their location. 

However, earlier in the day, as we were walking around the city, we stumbled upon a restaurant manager who gave an oscar worthy performance to convince us to eat at his family's restaurant. He pulled out all of the stops, and explained to us that his restaurant was to be our home, and if we didn't like the food he would be forever upset with himself. Given the amount of effort he put into his sales pitch, we promised him we would come back for dinner. 

He even remembered us when we came back, and made sure to check on us throughout the meal just to make sure that we enjoyed everything. The food was delicious, and really affordable. I'm quite glad everything was as good as he promised, as I would have been very sad if the manager had to be upset with himself "forever."

Ryan with another local beer. 

One of the waiters was nice enough to take a picture of us (yes, on some stairs). A stair picture is pretty much required in Dubrovnik. 

After dinner, we decided to check out the Troubadour Jazz Cafe, which has live music during the evenings. When we first got there, I was the only female in the crowd. This meant that the lead singer felt as though he should direct most of his singing to me. This was all well and good until he pulled out his rendition of Sting's, "Roxanne," and sang to me, "you don't have to put on the red light." I don't know if he knew what the song was about, but he may want to look into that (haha).

Here is one of the better songs from the evenings. At least in this song I feel a bit more "lovely"...

Stradun at night. 

It was a great way to end an amazing day. We headed home even more excited to see what tomorrow held for us.

Here is a video recap of our pictures from the day:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Honeymoon Take 2 Pt. 5: Beautiful, Beautiful Croatia

I'd like to say that our airport drama ended once we were reunited with our luggage, but the airport gods had other plans for us. Our first flight out of Manchester was delayed for over an hour, and when we arrived at the London Gatwick airport, the first thing we noticed that there was no information posted next to our flight number. We went over to the British Airways information desk, and we were told that there were mechanical issues with our plane (yup, thats 2 mechanically challenged planes in 3 days). They weren't sure if our plane would be able to be fixed or not, and they told us that we just had to keep checking the flight board. After being up for over 30 plus hours (for the 2nd time in 3 days...I'm sensing a theme here), I may or may not have turned to Ryan and told him to just take me home. Thankfully, after about an hour, our flight was listed as ready to board.

I'm super happy that my husband decided to convince my way-beyond-exhausted self to keep going. You want to know why? Because this is what you see when you get off the airplane and drive around the windy roads to head towards the city of Dubrovnik:

This view alone was totally worth (well, almost totally worth) all of the insanity it took to get there.

Before we knew it, our transport driver was dropping us off just outside the city walls (in front of the Ploce Gate), where Peter, the owner of our sobe greeted us. While there are hotels around the city (mainly outside of the city gates), they are often overpriced and are not usually in convenient locations. The best places to stay are in sobes, which are private apartments. They are much, much more affordable, and tend to have better views. We splurged (at a whopping $120.00 a night, which we considered a steal by European vacation standards) to stay in Apartment Baldo, which was located on the second floor of the Apartments Martecchini

Here's what our little apartment looked like from the inside:

 Dining area/Kitchen.

 TV & Desk (Which we really never used. I think we watched the BBC once or twice), and the crazy stairs to the loft.

Close up of the wall and windows. I told Ryan I booked this place because the inside walls were made of Hokie Stone. Lets be honest, I don't think he would expect anything less from me.

 Our little dining nook. I was super concerned about having a kitchen in case I had to cook a lot because of my food allergies. Then I found out that it was easier to eat in Croatia with my allergies than it is to eat in the U.S. So, yeah, that table pretty much went unused.


 Oh wait, our windows overlook one of the main squares on the Stradun, which is the main street inside the city. That's probably more sweet than a double rainbow.

 Yup, this is what we got to see every day.

 Oh, and this.

Oh, and the Church of Saint Blaise.
Dubrovnik is a very Catholic city, and they consider Saint Blaise to be their patron saint. You can find statues of him all over the city, on the two main city gates (Pile & Ploce), and on different areas throughout the city walls.

 Dubrovnik at Dusk.

I'm pretty sure if I hadn't been going on 38 hours without sleep, I would have just stared out of this window and watched the town all night.

Since we didn't get in until around 3:30 PM with the layover and delays, we didn't do much the first night in town. I'm pretty sure all we did was shower, unpack, eat (Ryan had his leftover airplane sandwich, and I had a bag of dried green beans I packed from Trader Joes), and sleep. We truly didn't even have the energy to try and find anything else to eat, or to even do anything else. 

The sleep was definitely worth it though, because it was absolutely amazing to take in the city with well-rested eyes the next day! 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Honeymoon Take 2 Pt. 4: Sometimes Your Guardian Angels are Maintenance Men in Terminal 3 of the Manchester Airport

Oh goodness. Here comes part two of our airport/luggage saga of epic proportions (I am only slightly exaggerating here). So, where did I last leave off...oh yes, Ryan and I had to leave the wedding early. Why is that, you may ask? Well, throughout the day (before the ceremony, after the ceremony, before the reception, during the reception, multiple other times) we contacted the lost luggage claim center (I don't know the official name, but this one seems official enough), and no one could confirm that our luggage had come through customs or was in the airport. Insert massive knots in our stomachs. No Bueno.

See, our flight to Croatia was scheduled to leave at 6:30 AM the day after the wedding. It was originally scheduled to leave late in the afternoon, but we received an email a little less than a month before the wedding, informing us that our flight had been cancelled. They automatically moved us to the only other flight British Airways had going to Croatia that day...and, well, it left at 6:30 in the morning. We tried in vain to find another way around this flight, but nothing short of an extra 1,000 dollars would allow us to leave at any other time.

This meant that we had to go through airport security at 4:30 AM. Our original plan was to catch a few hours of sleep, and then drive to Manchester. The uneasiness that grew throughout the day had us reconsider that plan. We figured it was best to get there with an extra hour or two to spare so that we could try and track down our long lost bags. This ended up being the best decision we could have ever made.

We packed up what we had, and hit the road around 11:30. My job was to find the worst music possible to keep us awake as we drove on the other side of the road late at night. It's quite surprising how many bad American songs you can find on the British airwaves late at night. But that is neither here nor there.

We arrived at the airport around 1:00 AM, and entered the outgoing flights terminal, which was, well, closed. Did you catch that? Yes, the main floor of our terminal was completely empty. Well, except for the two maintenance men who were cleaning the floor. Being in an empty airport is about one of the creepiest experiences you can have. Airports are always bustling with activity, people coming and going, loud noises, etc. To enter an airport that is completely and utterly silent is like walking around in a haunted house. Eerie.

We tried calling the lost luggage center, but repeatedly got the answering machine. Since we couldn't get through security (as it wasn't open), we couldn't find out what was going on over there. After a while we walked over to the two maintenance men, who explained to us that the outgoing flight terminal didn't open until 4:00 AM, and that the lost luggage center didn't open until 6:30 AM (so much for the "open 24 hours a day" spiel that they told us on day one).

I'm pretty sure big, fat tears started running down my exhausted face as I squeaked out, "but we have to go through security at 4:30, and our flight leaves at 6:30." The poor men were either 1) super, super sweet or 2) completely freaked out by the hot teary mess they had standing in front of them. Whatever it was, they got on the phone with a friend who worked unloading luggage from planes. He was able to confirm that our luggage was in the airport, albeit in a completely different terminal. He said he would bring it over to us around 3:00 AM, when he had his break.

We could not believe how blessed we were. Had we come to the airport at any other time, we most likely would not have run into these guys, and most likely wouldn't have had our luggage for the rest of the trip, as we were traveling all over the place for the next 7 days. It was kismet, and a huge answer to our prayers.

We headed over to the couches and tried to rest a bit. Around 2:45 AM, our favorite maintenance men in the whole wide world, came over with a cart carrying our much missed luggage. We even tried to tip them for everything they did for us, and they wouldn't even consider taking our money. They truly were our guardian angles!

Want to see what it looked like when we were reunited? isn't a pretty sight when you've been up for 20 hours, been to a wedding, a reception and had a 2.5 hour drive to the airport. But I'll keep it real...

Could it be? Our luggage? Unbelievable!

What are the chances that this is how we would find our bags?

Needless to say, we were reunited, and it felt soooooooooo good. 

Yup, I went there. 

Next Up: Croatia!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Homeymoon Take 2 Pt. 3 Cont.: Drinks, Dancing & Dear Friends!

The cocktail hour took place at James' grandmother's house, which is literally called, The Old House. Love it. It was a beautiful, scenic background with old buildings, rolling hills, and sheep. We had a wonderful time talking with other guests, and making some new friends. One of the guests went to Croatia when he was younger, and was so happy to tell us about how amazing it was. It made us even more excited for our next destination (if that was even possible)! 

The hats!

Quite possibly my favorite picture from the day.

Everyone's best friend should get married in England to so they can have pictures just like this one.

Colette reused the initial charm from her bridesmaid bouquet in my wedding on her own bridal bouquet. This makes my heart smile so much.

After the cocktail hour, we took a trek through the sheep pastures to get to the wedding reception at the Howgills Bunk Barn. It's not everyday you get to walk along sheep to get to a reception!

The other wedding well-wishers.

They wanted to join the party after they finished their dinner of grass...

Over the river & through the sheep fields to Colette & James' wedding we go!

I can't wait to see the professional pics of this walk. I bet they are gorgeous.

Almost to the wedding reception!

Guest Book

Bunting & Pictures. The couple hung pictures of themselves with all of their guests throughout most of the reception area. It was such a thoughtful touch and meant a lot to the guests who travelled near and far to celebrate the day.

More pictures throughout the reception site.

And even more pictures! I can only imagine how much time and effort it took to do all of this!

There was an entire wall of paper (in addition to the guest book) for people to sign and leave longer messages.

Pretty Bunting

View of the room right outside of the reception tent.

Colette & James took a year off from work and traveled around the world together from 2009-2010. The tables were named after the different countries that they visited. 

We sat at the Fiji Table, and it was awesome! You know how there is always that one, loud, boisterous table at each wedding where you wish you could be seated?  Well, that was the Fiji table, and we were very happy to be seated with some amazing, fun loving guests!

Colette and I designed our wedding bands on during sophomore year of college. Most likely during fall finals. Remember that fad? Don't deny did it too. Luckily our husbands did a better job picking out our rings than we did when we were 19!

Reception Room

I love this pic.

And this one. I just love the joy on our faces. 

One of my favorite parts of the reception was the speeches. Both fathers spoke, the groom spoke, and then the groomsmen gave a powerpoint presentation. The reception was really laid back, and didn't adhere to the super tight timelines that you typically have with American weddings. That in and of itself was really quite nice.

Colette's dad's speech was priceless.

The groom gave a sweet, touching speech about his new wife.

Oh my goodness, the best men's speech...or should I say roast. They took their duties seriously and made a powerpoint presentation which chronicled the tales of James' poor sense of direction, penchant for catching salmonella poisoning (twice), and ability to be just a little to trusting of strangers (a bunch of friendly students left him with a bill of a couple hundred dollars in a tea house in Hong Kong. Yes, hundreds of dollars spent on tea.). Best (Best Men's) speech ever. Really, the power point presentation put it over the top. I think all weddings should have speeches like this!

Me & My Dashing Husband

The cake. It was a fruitcake, made by the groom's mother, I believe. Seriously, one of the most lovely cakes I have ever seen. I adore everything about it.

Yes, the topper is two sheep on a couch drinking tea and eating cucumber sandwiches. Does it get any better than that? I think not.

Close-up of the details on the cake.

Cutting the cake turned into quite the adventure, but eventually they were successful. By all accounts given to me (from the husband and the rest of table Fiji) it was delicious!

Cake swap.

First dance. 
I asked Colette how she picked her first dance song, and she told me that the band only knew one slow song, so that was it. It didn't mean anything to them, but now it would. I love this... sometimes you just have to go with it!

Adorable. I wish I looked that good when my husband dipped me. I lack any semblance of coordination.

Dancing with bestie Colette.

Not quite sure what is going on here, but it seems typical for both of us.

Same with this picture.

Oh, and this one. 

Soon it was 10:30, and we had to head home (for reasons I'll get into in my next post). It was by far one of the most gorgeous and fun weddings I have ever seen or attended. Hats of to you Colette & James for all of your wonderful work, and for putting together such a spectacular event! Cheers!

The sheep that greeted us on our walk home. 

Here is the video of our pictures from our time in England: