In this article our guest author Nathan Moore takes us to Slovenia, the outdoor adventure capital of Europe, tastes raw squid and swims in the crystal clear waters of Lake Bled. Nathan and Jim are two friends on an epic adventure through Europe in a self built campervan, with the aim of seeing new cultures, having a whole load of fun and raising money for the Teenage cancer trust and Challenge Worldwide.
Slovenia has been dubbed many things over the years; the adult’s playground and the adventure capital of the world. It was both mine and my buddies first time in Slovenia and as a great lover of the outdoor adventure I was personally very excited. As soon as we crossed the border in our campervan it was clear to see what all the fuss was about. Landscapes like I had never seen before lay before us. The steep peaks rose up all around us as far as the eye could see, covered in thick green forest with huge pines lining the sides of the roads. When driving in Slovenia there is a onetime toll payment of fifteen euros. It’s important that you don’t forget as the penalty fines are huge.
An abundance of outdoor activities
After less than half an hour we made it to the Triglav National Park a UNESCO protected area. Home to the turquoise waters of the Soca River. Perfect for kayaking, rafting, hiking, mountain climbing and almost any other adventure sport you can imagine. We spent a couple of hours walking around the park mainly along the river, it was surprisingly quiet for the time of year and we saw no more people than I can count on my fingers and toes. Time permitting we would have spent more time walking and maybe took on some of the more challenging trails, like the ascent of Triglav the largest mountain in the park. Some walkers we stopped for a chat told us the views are spectacular. Unfortunately we were on limited time having to travel down to the capital Ljubljana in just a couple of days. After lunch we made our way to the lake, night had fell by the time we arrived so we setup camp for the night.
Try canyoning for an adventure
In the morning we made our way down to the 3glav adventure centre. We had booked a trip for the morning to go canyoning. They also offer bike trips, tours of the Emerald River, kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, rafting and even sky diving if you’re feeling super brave. We had booked on their online site and they even gave us a discount due to our charity aspect. All the staff were very helpful and introduced us to our guide canyoning Bob. With fifteen years’ experience he boasted the best resume in town. Canyoning basically involves following the natural path which the water has carved out of the rock on its journey down the mountain and in to the river. It includes abseiling, jumping into the pools and some swimming. It sounds pretty wild, but was lot less dangerous than I expected. Bob was there to talk you through anything and if you didn’t want to make the jump he would lower you down. They provide all the equipment and no experience necessary. After navigating down the canyon it’s a twenty minute ride on the river back to the van. Floating along on your back taking in the scenery and local wildlife with the rest of your team, Bob leading the way. The highest jump was six metres and neither of us was going to miss the opportunity to throw ourselves of a cliff. It cost around fifty euros each and lasts 2 two to three hours. In our opinion it was worth every penny and more.
Enjoy local cuisine
In the evening we had a challenge to complete set to us by our viewers. For a twenty pound sponsor we had to eat raw squid. Neither of us had been looking forwards to it and rightly so. I won’t go in to, too much graphic detail in case any of you have a weak stomach, but the video is on our website if you would like to watch us grimace and gag take a look here. Afterwards we decided it was only fair that we should treat ourselves to some Balkan specialities, and after a quick walk around the lake we settled on a small pub restaurant named Gostilna Pri Planincu just up from the main street. Everything was freshly prepared and overall the food was very tasty.
After a good night’s sleep we rose early and swam to the island on the lake and the sun climbed up over the mountains. The water is crystal clear and calm. It was a good five hundred metres to the island. Those who don’t want to get their feet wet can hire a boat with driver for around twelve euros per person. There is a church on the island but it was five euros to enter and we didn’t have any money with us or the energy to swim back and fetch some. Instead we sat on the steps and soaked up the scenery before heading back a drying off.
Unfortunately our time was up in Bled and we had to get back on the road towards Ljubljana the capital. I could have happily stayed for a lot longer if it were possible, and would certainly go back if the opportunity presents itself. I would only recommend it to those who enjoy the outdoors as it’s only a small town and still fairly rural.
Many thanks for this article to Jim and Nathan of jimandnathansbigadventure.com – two friends on an epic adventure through Europe in a self built campervan, with the aim of seeing new cultures, experiencing the unexperienced and having a whole load of fun. As they travel they are raising money for the Teenage cancer trust and Challenge Worldwide – two amazing causes changing the lives of young people.
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Photo Credits : All Photo originally from Jim and Nathan.
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Summer in Copenhagen is a time for the locals to come out and enjoy the short but sweet Scandinavian summer beside the water, whether it’s the harbour, the beach or the Copenhagen lakes. Although I’ve been to Copenhagen a number of times with Guy, this time I wanted to show one of my favourite cities off to my kids, so I was on the look-out for those Scandi-cool things that would impress a hard to please teenager. Here is my guide to the cool things we enjoyed on our 4 day summer break in Copenhagen;
1. Rent an apartment and live like a local
Yes I know that ‘live like a local’ tag is overused by every apartment rental company, but hiring an apartment in the centre of Copenhagen through Airbnb really did give us a different perspective on the Danish way of life. Filled with books, quirky art and kids’ toys our apartment felt like the owners had just popped out for the day – which in fact they more or less had. The family who lived here had temporarily re-located to their summer house further up the coast to make the most of the sunny summer days and being laid back Danes had left most of their belongings behind, trusting us to take good care of their home. Hiring an apartment meant that we could shop at the local supermarkets dotted around town and nod a Danish “Hej” to our neighbours as we parked our bikes in the internal courtyard and lugged our shopping up to the 2nd floor. The kids thought the apartment was super-cool, especially the table football which led to many fiercely contested world cup replays. This is the apartment we booked in case you’re interested.
2. Hire bikes to get around town
On previous visits to Copenhagen we walked everywhere but with the family it made sense to hire bikes so we could get effortlessly around town. We hired ours just around the corner from our apartment (Gammelholm Cycler at 12 Holbergsgarde) and it cost 100 DKK (around £11/€14/ $18) per person per day with a bit of a discount as we were hiring for the whole family. Cycling around Copenhagen is easier and safer than in most other cities since there are separate cycle lanes everywhere and the car drivers are bike-aware and slow down to let you by.
You do still need to take care since local cyclists will whizz past you as you bimble along and at busy junctions we found it was safer to get off and cross at the pedestrian lights. In Copenhagen cyclists own the road and will get annoyed if you accidentally step into their path. They even take their kids in the Christiania style bikes that have a carriage on the front and have perfected the art of cycling nonchalently, talking on a mobile while wearing a flimsy dress and high heels. Did you know that you can also take your bike on the train in the special carriages that are marked with a bike symbol, which makes sense if you head out of Copenhagen on the coastal train to Helsingor, Klampenborg or any of the other interesting things to see along this route? My kids effortlessly got into the bike vibe and really enjoyed the freedom of the city.
3. Go swimming in the harbour
The harbour baths at Islands Brygge are justifiably popular as soon as the sun comes out and you do have to trust that the harbour water really is THAT clean (there is an oyster farm in the harbour after all!). There’s a shallow kid’s paddling pool, a longer pool for serious swimmers (spot those training for a triathlon) and a high jumping off point which my kids tested out multiple times. It’s free, open to all and there are lifeguards on duty, but if it gets a bit too crowded, remember that there are plenty of other unofficial places that you can swim in the harbour in summer. Just look for a stretch of harbour wall where there’s a ladder and not too many boats and you’ll probably see a local already having a dip. Our favourite spot was the stretch of harbour near our apartment between Nyhaven and the harbour bridge near the Parliament building where there’s a deck at the bridge end and plenty of benches and tables to sit out. Perfect if you want to bring your own beers and have an evening swim while the sun is setting. The Havnebadet Islands Brygge is open 7am-8pm 1 June-31 August.
4. Rides and more at Tivoli
Tivoli is a Copenhagen institution where you could take your granny or your teenagers and they’d all find something to enjoy (although probably not the same things). The gardens and fountains were beautiful, with roses blooming in the sunken garden and plenty of grassy areas where you can let the kids run around or sit on the grass. There are just enough rides to keep the adrenalin junkies entertained and although I braved The Demon loop the loop with the kids I enjoyed the old fashioned Alpine themed roller coaster much more. There are endless restaurants and food kiosks within Tivoli but I love that you can also bring in your own snacks or picnic and enjoy them in a shady area of grass under the trees.
We bought the PULS package bookable in advance for 329 DKK per person (£35/ €44/ $59) which gave us entrance to the park, a multi-ride pass and a snack and drink from one of the fast food vendors. As night falls the park takes on a more adult feel with glowing Chinese lanterns and people enjoying dinner with outdoor musical, pantomime or ballet performances in the different theatres. Best of all Tivoli has a high quality Danish feel and a lovely relaxed atmosphere that appeals to all ages. Tivoli Gardens are open April-end September and also at Halloween and Christmas. Entrance 99 DKK, Multiride ticket 199 DKK with other packages available.
5. A gourmet bite to eat at Torverhallerne
When I stayed nearby at the Ibsens Hotel a couple of years ago, the Torverhallerne market halls were under construction but now they are a buzzing place to stop and buy fresh food and deli-delicious lunch-time delicacies. The outdoor paved areas around the hall are full of fruit and veg stalls with benches and tables to sit down, while most of the food vendors inside also have some seating space. Guy and I tried a lunch of smorrebrod, the Danish open sandwich, served at the bar of Hallernes Smorrebrod on Royal Copenhagen plates. The kids eyed up the Thai food trailer outside but settled for sandwiches made with nutty Danish brown bread and we finished up with coffee at the legendary Coffee Collective and a strawberry tart from Laura’s Bakery opposite. If you prefer to pick up a picnic there are stalls selling artizan bread and cheeses or deli stalls selling different salads and dips, then head for the nearby Botanic garden or the Kings Garden to stretch out on the grass. Torverhallerne is between Frederiksborgadde and Vendersgade close to Norreport Station and is open 10am-7pm most weekdays with slightly shorter hours at weekends.
6. A picnic in the Kings Garden
And spreaking of the Kings Garden or Kongens Have, this is where locals like to go in summertime to laze on the grass in the shade of the trees. In the centre there’s a romantic formal garden while on one side of the moat from the Rosenborg Castle there’s the rose garden which in summer blooms with scented roses and lavender, watched over by a statue of Queen Caroline Amalia. Ok, so the rose garden is more likely to delight your mother than your teenagers, but the Danish Crown Jewels in the Treasury of Rosenborg Slot are pretty impressive too. The Rosenborg Castle is also delightful if you enjoy a walk through Danish history but the Treasury really is packed with jewels and despite the soldiers on guard outside, it feels pretty laid back despite the considerable bling on display. The Kings Garden is free entry, the Rosenborg Castle and Treasury is open 10am-4pm (closes 5pm in summer) and costs 90 DKK to visit (children up to age 17 free)
7. A smoothie on the deck by the Copenhagen lakes
From the Kings Garden it’s a short bike ride to the Copenhagen Lakes, the stretch of water that snakes through the centre of Copenhagen and borders the residential neighbourhoods of Norrebro and Frederiksberg. We met my new blogging friend and Copenhagen expert Alex Berger from VirtualWayfarer for a coffee at the floating deck of KaffeSalonen where you can drink a smoothie or coffee or hire a brightly coloured or swan shaped pedalo to get out on the water. Alex advised me that the lakes are not quite as clean as the harbour, so best not to swim, but it’s a fabulous spot to relax overlooking the water. There are paths to walk or jog that run beside the lakes and benches to sit down and admire the view plus you could also try the Den Frankse Cafe or Cafe 22 as an alternative to KaffeSalonen.
8. Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island
This new food venue on Paper island opened in April just along from the Royal Opera House in a large warehouse that’s filled with street food stalls and trailers and a stretch of harbour front lined with deck chairs and benches to sit outside. It’s a cool place to gather with friends on a sumer evening with DJ sounds, overlooking the harbour to catch the last rays of the sun with a beer in hand. The concept is to give small food vendors a place to do business, offering great food at reasonable prices, where you can get a snack from around 50 DKK. When we visited for a Friday night street-food-fest, we loved the atmosphere but I felt the food vision hadn’t quite been realised, with some vendors seeming a bit overwhelmed by the popularity of the place.
The pulled pork wrap I tried was outstanding, but required a 25 minute wait once my name had been added to their list – not quite fast food! The pizza slice I had in the meantime was burnt on the bottom and couple of other stalls had closed early or run out of food, but my kids enjoyed their spicy chicken stew from the Cuban stall. If you adjust your foodie expectations and don’t expect a gourmet experience just yet, Copenhagen Street Food gets a big tick as a cool place to chill with a bucket of beer overlooking the harbour. Copenhagen Street Food can be reached on the waterbus from Nyhaven to the Opera House and is open 12am-10pm for food and from 10am to late for coffee and drinks.
9. Modern art by the sea at Louisiana
Louisiana modern art museum is well worth the 30 minute train ride from central Copenhagen at any time of year but in summertime it offers the perfect day out for those who enjoy art in a natural setting overlooking the sea. The original seaside villa has been enlarged with purpose built galleries housing changing exhibitions of art and sculpture. When we were there, there was a colourful Emil Nolde exhibition plus a sureal collection of paintings by American artist Philip Guston as well as modern art by some of the big names such as Giacometti and Danish painter Asger Jorn.
The gallery is surrounded by lawns and trees dotted with sculptures by Henry Moore and others, overlooking the sea. The large cafe serves excellent smorresbrod, pretty cakes and a lunchtime or dinner buffet with tables inside and outside or you can just bring your picnic and find a grassy spot overlooking the sound. When you’re done with the art, leave through the gate at the bottom of the hill and go for a swim off one of the jetties along the stretch of beach and shingle outside, my idea of a perfect artistic summer’s day. Louisiana is also magical in the evening when it’s open until 10pm Tuesday to Friday.
To get to Louisiana we took the coastal train from Norreport station in the direction of Helsingor and got off at Humlebaek station, then you can walk 15 mins or take a short bus ride down the road following the signs to get to Louisiana or alternatively take your bike on the train as we did with a 5 minute cycle at the other end.
10. Have a drink by the harbour as the sun goes down
The Copenhageners love to make the most of the short Scandinavian summer by spending as much of it outdoors as possible and we enjoyed warm summer evenings on our holiday just sitting by the harbour with a sundowner. Close to our apartment we found the deck of the Royal Danish Theatre at the end of Nyhaven had set up an outdoor summer cafe with a DJ to welcome the weekend. From here we could watch the lights come up in the Opera House opposite and the harbour buses going back and forth. Being delightfully democratic Denmark there are plenty of places like this along the harbour where you can just sit and enjoy a summer sunset, such as the deck by the ‘Black Diamond’ Royal Library or the Toldboden cafe near the Little Mermaid, but if you prefer you can bring your own wine or beers and find a place to sit along the harbour for the sunset.
More cool things to do in Copenhagen
Cool places to stay in Copenhagen
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In this article, our guest author Amanda Kusek shares her experience of visiting Disney World in Florida with her mother and shares her tips for having fun together as a parent and adult child without driving each other mad!
I am thrilled to say I’ve just returned from 7 days with my mother in Disney World, sharing a villa along with her best friend and boyfriend, and have come home unscathed. We certainly had moments of tension, but by reaching toward each other rather than pulling away, we had a fantastic time. If you’re planning a similar trip, here are my tips from an adult child’s point of view so you too can bask in familial bliss;
Let’s Stay Together
Rather than staying in one of the many Disney World resorts, my mother and I opted for a villa at Liki Tiki Resort Village just twenty minutes from the park. We used my brother’s timeshare, but you may book the resort online. If you use 3111 World Dr. as your GPS address, Liki Tiki to Disney is completed in a flash on back roads. You’ll bypass main entrance traffic and slip easily into main parking via a back entrance. The villas truly do have one of the best locations outside of the parks.
I enjoyed staying away from the free-for-all that is Disney. With the villa, we were able to invite along two others, cook some of our meals, and laze by the pool just steps from our door. Not only was it significantly cheaper for all of us but having a joint space made me feel more at home. We had family style dinners, enjoyed wine, and played cards. It was a nice way to spend time together without hustling around the parks.
The Thin Line Between Doting & Nagging
My mother has explained to me on countless occasions that even though I am 26, she still feels an incredible urge to take care of me. She misses me and cooking dinner or picking up the bill makes her feel closer to me. While being doted on is something I can certainly enjoy, too much of a good thing can make me turn sour.
It’s important to remember that your adult children make hundreds of decisions about their lives every day. For example, in Epcot my goal was to eat everything in sight. I wanted to, I needed to, and I was prepared to outdo myself. And yet, my mother took it upon herself to warn me about eating a bite of sushi before our lunch reservations. Food is important to our family and especially to my mother’s nurturing, but in this case I was going to do what I wanted anyway, there was no need to mention it.
Admit When You’re Tired
Guess what? I’m not as young as I was once was either! I now know what it feels like to be tired, to rise early and want to be in bed equally as early. My late nights are few and I spend more time getting up and going to work than out partying and sleeping in. If you tell me you are exhausted, we can re-do the plans and make new ones, or just head home to have a glass of wine. Chances are, I’m probably tired too. After we had a long day in Hollywood Studios, my team of middle-aged rock stars (I got 2 of the 3 on Aerosmith’s Rock N’ Roller Coaster) and I decided to call it quits and return to our villa for dinner. We canceled our dinner reservation and enjoyed a steak dinner and an early bedtime. It was just what the doctor ordered. We returned to Disney the next day totally refreshed instead of exhausted and cranky.
Some Things Are Still New To Me
My mother has been to Disney over 20 times in her lifetime. This was only my fourth go around. Though I have grown up, many of the parks rides and attractions feel new to me. While she may know Magic Kingdom like the back of her hand, I certainly do not, and she indulged my wonder with certain buildings, rides, and shows. I know that some of this may have bored her but she embraced it as though I was seeing it for the first time. She must have asked me, “Do you remember this?” countless times but whether the answer was yes or no, we still participated and enjoyed. Together we made Disney World, something that risks being “too perfect”, exciting and suited to us. We just had to listen to one another.
I’d love to hear about what it is like to travel with an adult child and how I can be a better version of myself! Please share with Amanda in the comments below.
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Photo Credit: All photos originally from Amanda Kusek
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