Still Alive!

Well I did it – and I made it. I was very much out of my comfort zone yesterday when we went canyoning. In case anyone hasn’t heard of canyoning you basically climb down into a canyon and then wade, swim or get pushed along the river by the rapids.

If you read my last post you’ll know this was a huge challenge for me because I really don’t like heights – particularly when you have to look over the edge of something – and since I was about six or seven years old I’ve been pretty scared of putting my head under water. That’s not without good reason; I almost drowned in a swimming pool at that age.

As you can imagine from these pics of our group there was a fair bit of looking over the edge getting down to the river Cetina and there was always a risk of your head ending up under the water while riding the rapids.

Have you ever had that feeling when you’re doing an activity in a group and you just know everyone else is better at it than you? I had that feeling a lot yesterday. I even asked one of the guides if they have the TV quiz show The Weakest Link over there. I kept waiting for someone to say ‘You are the weakest link. Goodbye!’ πŸ˜‚

There were places where we had to climb up the side of the canyon a bit and dark tunnels to find your way through before heading back down to the water. The biggest challenge for me were the places where you can climb up the rocks a bit and jump into the water. Obviously that involves both my fears at once and since I don’t normally even jump into the swimming pool I wasn’t completely sure I was going to actually do it. There was always a way to get around these things so copping out was an option.

The first jump into the river was a smallish one so I decided pretty quick just to go for it. I’m sure I looked very awkward doing it but it wasn’t too bad and I only swallowed a little bit of water. I avoided the second one which was a lot higher but when it came to the third I watched lots of people doing it and started considering facing my fear.

It took a while but I decided to climb up the rock and do it. My son climbed up behind me and was encouraging me to go for it. I faltered quite a few times at the top. I couldn’t quite bring myself to actually jump. My legs were jelly looking over the edge but at the same time I was trying to tell myself that it was completely safe and everyone else was doing it and was fine. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to push yourself to do something that really scares you? If you have you’ll know what I was going through up there. Well in the end I managed to close my eyes and practically throw myself into the water. Unfortunately there is no photographic evidence because by the time I actually plucked up the courage the guide had put his camera away thinking that it wasn’t going to happen. 😝 Somewhere out there though are about 20 people who can vouch that I went through with it. The pic below shows someone else in the group doing the same jump so you can see what it looked like. I guess mine probably looked a lot less confident though πŸ˜‚.

I’m not sure how much the whole experience helped me to conquer my fears but I’m glad I did it. Maybe next time it will be a little easier to persuade myself to jump even if I only manage to jump into the swimming pool.

I’m writing this post on the plane home so by the time I post it I’ll be safely back in my own house. No doubt it will be a lot cooler and damper than I’ve been used to for the last week or so but there will be benefits to being home too. At least I won’t get eaten by mozzies tonight, maybe just midgies!

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Croatia so far…

I’m writing this this morning just in case I don’t make it home. 😝 Today we’re going canyoning which (from what I understand) basically involves two of my biggest fears – heights and water – including scary things called rapids!! I am determined to start facing more of my fears though so I’m gonna do it. Hopefully this won’t be my last post. πŸ˜‚

So far Croatia has been gorgeous! I’ve definitely got my heat and sunlight fix for a little while. The temperature has been somewhere between 32 and 37 degrees Celsius every day and probably not much lower than 25 at night. Our apartment is close to the beach and there’s a shared pool so we’ve spent a bit of time at both of those. We’ve mixed up eating out and eating in but everything we’ve tasted has been really good.

In the first few days here we explored the old town of Split. It’s really pretty! We caught a glimpse of it in the dark last night too.

Split, Croatia

We’ve also been to Krka National Park which has the most stunning waterfalls. You can swim there in certain places too which is particularly welcome in this heat.

Krka National Park

On the way back I did something I’ve been putting off for a while – I drove a left hand drive car on the right hand side of the road (I’m used to driving on the left in the UK). It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Mind you my family might not agree πŸ˜‚. I’m starting to get the hang of it though.

We sheltered from the heat one day for a couple of hours in Vranjaca Cave which was impressive. I couldn’t really capture how awesome it looks with my phone. It was really fun to explore though.

Vranjaca Cave

Yesterday we took a catamaran to Korcula Island (about 2.5 hours away) to spend time with my friend E and her family. It was my daughter’s 24th birthday. I don’t know how it’s possible that I have a 24 year old! We had a nice catch up with our friends and enjoyed a swim in the turquoise blue sea water and a meal together before we headed back to our apartment.

Well that’s all from Croatia for now. I’m hopeful that today’s adventure won’t be my last. I’ll fill you in soon. X

A few days in Europe

I’m just home from a few days away with my friend E. (Well I was when I started writing this blog – as usual it’s taken me a while to get round to finishing it 😝.) We took a flight to Brussels on the Tuesday morning and went to stay with her husband’s aunt. She’s such a lovely wee lady and we’ve stayed with her before (a couple of years ago now).

Tuesday was mostly spent travelling. We left home at 9.30 am and got a taxi to the airport. We started our holiday with a wee Prosecco and breakfast after getting through security at the airport. The flight to Brussels doesn’t take long but with the time difference and the onward bus journey we didn’t get to Auntie B’s until around 5 pm. We had another wee glass or two of Prosecco (I confess we drank a lot this week) and some crisps to keep us going before getting settled in and heading out for food. We ate in a Spanish Italian restaurant that night and had steak and fries with salad – oh and more wine (of course πŸ˜‚).

Pretty streets in Bruges

On the Wednesday we took a trip to Bruges by train. I didn’t visit Bruges on my last Belgian holiday and I’d been told it was beautiful. It was! The architecture was typically Flemish in many streets, with their stepped gables.

Flemish stepped gables

We had a traditional Belgian lunch with beer of course after which we enjoyed a canal boat tour.

Lovely views from the canal boat

We got some amazing views of the city this way.

Bruges from the canal

After our tour of Bruges we headed back to the train station and travelled on to Blankenberge (where I have been before). Blankenberge has these awesome bars on the beach with really comfy outdoor sofas and seating so it’s like relaxing in your living room but out in the sunshine. I love it! We had a couple of cocktails there before heading back to Brussels for the evening.

It was a very early start on Thursday (4am) as we were off to spend the day in Paris. I was so excited! I’ve never been in the centre of Paris before. The closest I’ve been was EuroDisney (when the kids were much younger). We got a train there and arrived at 7.30am – just in time for breakfast in a cute French cafe.

What a day! I must confess my diet went to pot but you can’t be in Paris and not have croissant and baguette for breakfast, not to mention the best omelette I’ve ever tasted!

A Parisian breakfast

After breakfast we bought day passes for the metro. Only €7 for the two central zones and we really got our money’s worth hoping on and off throughout the day as we literally whizzed from one tourist attraction to another. We managed to cover most of the really famous ones although if you really want to see Paris properly I’d recommend going for a week.

Arc de Triomphe
The Arc from underneath
The tomb of the unknown soldier
Champs-Γ‰lysΓ©es

The Eiffel Tower (of course 😝)

We also took a walking tour to see some of the lesser known points of interest (I literally had blisters on my feet by the end of the day – but my Fitbit was happy ’cause I chalked up 29539 steps!)

The newest Metro station in Paris
Art at the palace
Artwork in the street
Parisian street
Window shopping at Laboutins πŸ‘ 
Fountain at Jardin des Tuileries
The Louvre from The Louvre 😊
She needs no introduction
Venus de Milo
What’s left of Notre Dame from the front
Sacre Coeur

We were exhausted but really happy when we fell into bed that night.

Friday was a more laid back day. We had a little bit of a lie in and then headed into Louisa in Brussels to a couple of our favourite shops – Dillie and Kamille and Hema. Bought ourselves a few wee treats to take home and then caught the tram to the Palace Gardens to read our books by the fountain in the sunshine.

The Palace in Brussels
Palace gardens

We finished off our last evening with a Brazilian buffet at a local restaurant.

It was a fab trip. Can’t wait to go back! If you enjoy travelling and you haven’t been I’d highly recommend Bruges and Paris. Definitely my highlights. If you’re still reading thanks for staying with me. Hope you enjoyed my pics. X