travel

The Paul & Paula crew loves to travel.

Near & far. And we love to share our trips – our favourite stops, eats and things to do with the kids. Nothing teaches you more than traveling the world.

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02.09.17

The Balkans Came Calling: Montenegro and Serbia, The Kids Edition

Montenegro and Serbia with kids

“It is stunning”, he said. “You must go.”

This was a conversation I had with my brother in law many years ago as we sat in his London apartment and pored over his albums of beautiful photos of his time visiting Montenegro. Quite honestly, I didn’t know much about the country until then. It wasn’t in the limelight as a must-visit destination by the masses. But here I was with a human rights lawyer, who was working in the region, and he highly recommended this slightly offbeat country to visit. So, this year, we decided to visit.

My sister and family were visiting us in London anyways, so we decided to split the time and head to the Balkan side. We combined Serbia and Montenegro, for a bit over a week, and it was enough time for us. It was a good group too – two sets of parents, who LOVE to eat, explore new places, and are relatively chilled out. And three children,
Little I, my niece (3yrs), Little M, my daughter (2 yrs), and Little R, my nephew (8yrs).

I was a bit concerned initially, as Montenegro is known for its mountainous landscapes, and so I wondered if it would be comfortable with kids, but I have to say that it is exactly the openness and ease of just being in the outdoors that made it all so easy. So much space, that’s all they want. We did walk a fair amount (stroller came in big use), and we also used car hires to visit places as it was the easiest and convenient option with kids. It
allowed us the flexibility to do as we please.

 

 
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Montenegro: Old Town Budva, The Adriatic Sea. The Food.

Montenegro and Serbia with kids
Montenegro and Serbia with kids
Montenegro and Serbia with kids
Montenegro and Serbia with kids
We flew into Podgorisa, and made our base Budva. Budva is known to be a bit of the party, hip area – and quite packed as the season begins. We could see what was going to happen once the peak season hit. There were signs already, and we were glad we were there a little before the actual season, especially with kids. In the old days perhaps we’d hit it up in peak season…but not anymore!

We stayed in a beautiful apartment hotel with three gorgeous bedrooms, and a huge terrace. The apartment itself was very modern, and finished to a very high standard. The huge terrace had a bouncy swing which the kids loved. The balcony adjoining our room overlooked the Adriatic clear blue water, with the mountains as a backdrop. It was stunning to wake up to and enjoy a nice filter coffee. And all of this, at walking distance to the beach too.

After becoming parents, depending on the type of trip, and general location, we tend to consider apartment hotels/apartments because it offers a bit more convenience, more space, especially if traveling in a group, and we saw that the three kids got so much space to run around. While most of our meals were outside, we found comfort in making a simple meal that made them feel at home, especially if their appetites change with the travel schedule. That said, you get what you pay for. So don’t think of it as a cheaper option. I feel that if you want something nice, and at the same professional standard as a hotel, or more, you will have to look around, and pay up. Nowadays the professionalism is quite high, as ‘apartments’ are no longer where someone lives, but managed properties
by hospitality companies who understand guest needs, and we’ve been lucky to say that the extra concierge benefits we received on this trip were very helpful.

We started our wanderings around Budva with a long walk along the Adriatic Sea to Old town Budva. As you walk along the water, you pass all the lovely boats, yachts, and every little nook has a restaurant or a little market. We had a quick pit stop to have a local Gyro which we saw everyone holding, and as we reached closer saw the long lines.
That’s always a good sign. It was yum!

 

 
Old Town Budva has got the old fort walls, (reminds me a bit of Marrakech) but a lot more modern and chic. The boutiques are lovely, and we came back with a beautiful fish sculpture now adoring our piano. Being so close to the coast, the seafood is grand, and plenty. One of our favorite meals was at Porto, a nice restaurant, well known for its seafood. It’s not for the squeamish because they have a pool right in front of the restaurant where your next meal is swaimmng, so you can pick from there, or get the platter of fresh and decide from there. We went with the platter, and for a seafood loving group, it was treat for the kids to see them all too. I had a subtle dish, fresh squid stuffed with more squid and other goodness, while sipping on a nice crisp white wine.
Other dishes included the negushi cheese, a local must have, and black risotto. The portions are very good, and the prices, are very good too. Especially going from London, it felt like such good value.

 

 
Montenegro and Serbia with kids
Montenegro and Serbia with kids
We also visited the Porto Montenegro, which is so ‘rich’, with all the beautiful yachts and elegant dining and café options. The kids loved looking at the big ships! The next time, we will definitely pop in for a meal. We didn’t have enough time to have a meal here as we had to head on to other plans.

We did however have many meat-oriented dishes as the Montenegrins love their meat platters, and boy are they yum. Just fresh meat of all types grilled to perfection. Meat lovers paradise.

 

 
Bay of Kotor, Perast, Freshly shucked oysters
Montenegro and Serbia with kids
The Bay of Kotor is gorgeous. It is calming water against the backdrop of the beautiful mountains with fresh Spring green vegetation, and then the bright blue sky right above, all shining bright in the Balkan sun. Ironically, you want to explode inside with the extent of the beauty you are experiencing, and yet what happens is, you stay in the moment, and the place calms you down, brings in the serenity (as best it can with
toddlers around), and makes you realize how tiny you are in the midst of the magnificent and enormous beauty of nature. It’s quite humbling, and a good reality check.

Kotor itself, within the walls is quite busy, and a tad bit too touristy, but enjoyable nonetheless. We had a cruise ship that had stopped there, so you can imagine the crowds. Still, a lovely wander and quite comfortable with children. Our little ones spent a good half hour chasing pigeons in the square as we sipped on coffee and dessert.

Perast is one small village, charming and a must visit. It’s tiny, and so gorgeous at the
same time, no wonder it is a Unesco Heritage Site now. I can imagine it getting busy, but when we were there, there were just the right number of visitors, and a beautiful string of eateries along the water where you can literally see the fish swimming if you look down. It’s beautiful and sitting there with the ones you love most, and enjoying a delicious meal makes those moments so magical. Every trip has a few of those moments. For me, being there was one of them. We ended the meal with a treat of ice cream for all!

A short pit stop that our driver insisted we do, and we’re so glad we obliged, was on the side of a road, and we walked down a few steps and voila, we were in an oyster farm. A couple and their son run it, and it had six tables for visitors like us who stopped, waited as the fresh oysters were picked and shucked and ready to eat. These types of experiences are what travel is all about I feel, the little things, that our children, and we, don’t always get to experience in big cities. In any other place, our oysters come prepped on a beautiful plate surrounded by ice and other yummies.

 

 
Monastery of Ostrog
Montenegro and Serbia with kids
Being a mountainous region, the winds, and rain are taken seriously. A drive to visit The Ostrog Monastery, a small monastery carved into the mountain is to be planned well, depending on the rain gods. A driver may choose not to ride if the weather doesn’t approve as the roads are windy. Bends, turns, and heights to deal with. Phew! And did I mention that the drivers keep you on pins with their skills! They are very good and
precise, but you don’t always feel so.

 

 
Belgrade
Montenegro and Serbia with kids
Montenegro and Serbia with kids
Montenegro and Serbia with kids
Our next stop was Belgrade, Serbia. If Montenegro was calm, and serene, Belgrade was the opposite – it is active, a bustling city, and lots of people. It still has a lot of charm, many nice restaurants, and bars, and an understated cool vibe floating around. It reminded me a bit of Tel Aviv, in the way that everyone went about enjoying their wine, beer, food, coffee with the least amount of pretense and superficiality, and yet being subtly, very cool. We loved it! We stayed so very central that we literally had to walk down and had a choice of a number of lovely restaurants and bars, and were even a walk to the Belgrade Fortress and Victor Monument, among the other sight seeing spots. Belgrade is not too big, so you don’t need too many days here.

It’s also good for kids as there is enough space to run about, as you can see Little M quite happily running away from us at the Victor Monument, and enough restaurants that are very child friendly. The food is quite diverse, you can have a lovely Carpaccio for the adults, and equally yummy pizza for the kids. There’s most cuisines so you have your pick. One evening we tried out their local chain hamburger joint, it’s a Serbian
hamburger served with a type of creamy white butter. Very unique, but very delicious. The meat is soft and very delicately flavored, the bread warm, thin and soaked with this buttery goodness. The children liked it, and if other things fail, the warm bread went down a treat. Try it if you can.

The other fun place for kids is the Dinosaur Park within the Belgrade Fortress area. You need a ticket to enter, but with ‘almost’ life size dinosaurs watching you walk by, its hard for the kids to miss. And they wont let you miss it! We spent over an hour here, but the trio loved it. It’s well worth it as it was the perfect kiddy activity in the middle of a bunch of adult like outings.

 

 
The People
Montenegro and Serbia with kids
I haven’t mentioned the people, yet. In Belgrade they are urban dwellers, cool, comfortable and open to all. Much like any other city. Montenegrin’s, we were told before we visited, that they were quite conservative, and so many people had stayed off visiting the place.

I say, forget about all of that, and just go! The Montenegrin’s are lovely – yes, they are a bit conservative, and I think its only because they’ve been through a lot in their history, and their only now opening up to the world around them. They are holding on to their beliefs, culture and traditions and it is actually great to see that in today’s fast changing world.

Montenegrin’s needs time to embrace all the changes, and it is happening slowly. But at the same time, it is precisely THIS protection of its landscape, its pride in its beauty and culture that keeps this place still relatively untouched, and pristine as compared to many other developed-tourist spots. The visitors to the land are increasing as people recognize the beauty it has to offer, and the hospitality you receive there is welcoming, so don’t hesitate to visit. You will be glad you did.

 

 
Today I’m humming: (Click to Play) Non, Je ne regrette rien by Edith Piaf

Thank you Saroj – it sounds like an awesome trip!

 

 
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11.08.17

Castellabate with kids

Castellabate with kids
Before we are boarding our plane tonight for our second trip of this summer, I really wanted to share some moments from our family vacation in Italy.

This time we went South. To Castellabate. Castellabate is a town in the province of Salerno in the Campania region of south-western Italy.

It was perfect even so {or maybe just because} we ended up here by accident. Our holiday plans were made really late this year and one day we were just sitting around the kitchen table and decided for Italy. And then I booked flights to Napoli. We did Tuscany a couple of times and wanted to discover the South.

It took us some more weeks to finally find time to book a place. And this is how we found Castellabate. Looking at the map and what was around Napoli and {very important} a spot we could do without a car. We just did not feel like driving around.

We found a cute little apartment in the village of Castellabate. Upon a mountain which means: amazing view! The town is all about alleys full of corners, arcades, labyrinth stairways that lead through the intact ancient town center. Castellabate was declared UNESCO world cultural heritage.

From here we could take a little bus to either:

Santa Maria di Castellabate – sandy beaches and a fun Italian pedestrian zone. A large park surrounds Villa Matarazzo, which is the venue for various kinds of cultural events and a big playground.

or

The fishing village of San Marco di Castellabate. San Marco still has an active fishing fleet and traditional wooden ships are built here.

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Castellabate with kids

Castellabate with kids

Castellabate with kids

Castellabate with kids

Castellabate with kids

Castellabate with kids
But the best thing – no mass tourism. No big hotels. No queues. Just Italy.
And we did really slow here.
Lots of beach time for the first days and then even the kids announced that they would like to do something different. So we discovered the cities, the castle, the playground, played lots of games and had long lazy lunches in one of the lovely restaurants. A few ice creams too.

And enjoyed the view. Again and again. The water and sky so blue!

Castellabate with kids

Castellabate with kids

Castellabate with kids

Castellabate with kids

Castellabate with kids

Castellabate with kids
The coast is lined up with sandy beaches and we tried a few over the two weeks.
The water temperature was perfect and the sun was shining every day.
BLISS!

Now we are off to Iceland and I will write about it here too. Stay tuned and follow us on Instagram until then.

BACI!

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07.07.17

A big summer Friday List

dreamy kids room

Oh I have not done a Friday list for some time {again} and it is actually one of my favorite things to do. Putting everything I saw in one nice list. For you.

And since it is July I thought I will make a special long one, so you have something to read whilst laying at the beach or by the pool.

Above is a picture from one of my favorite French blogs – Dis Vague – very dreamy!

 

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ice cream colored kids chair
Pastel colored kids chairs.

Love this outfit.
fin first
Looking for some great summer tees? Check out Fin First!

A Moment For Mom. My new adventure…
hemant nandita kids
That dress. I love everything from Hemant & Nandita.

I am sure this pic will make you smile too.
delia creates
If you can sew, please make this. It is perfect!

Lala + Zizo
mint kids room
Oh I love a splash of mint!

Whenever somebody asks about ‘Flying with baby/kids’ – I sent this link. It is season again, maybe it is useful for you too.
LEMLEM-MINIMODE-
LemLem X Mini Mode

Little beauty interview with me.
ykra backpack
Really cool backpacks from Ykra.

A great family space.
And now: Happy Summer!!!
And psssst, Smallable has a great selection for women now too and it is Sale.

 

PS: Get a little peek of our slow week end over at the Bonnie Mob Blog.

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28.04.17

A Visit to the Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts

When school vacation is in full swing, entertaining the little ones becomes a full-time job. After a week long trip to visit family, and a handful of play dates and park visits, we were still left with a rainy afternoon to spend. It has already been a long winter here in Boston and we wanted to explore somewhere new. We were looking for an indoor activity besides visiting a children’s museum, aquarium, indoor play area or the library.

We decided for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

I had been wanting to visit the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston to view “Matisse in the Studio” – an exhibit of Henri Matisse’s personal objects that inspired the artist along with some of his major related works. Most of these were publicly exhibited outside of France for the first time, and I definitely didn’t want to miss this opportunity to see them for myself. A visit to the MFA with the girls had been pending for quite some time and I thought this was the perfect chance to create a meaningful cultural experience and visit the exhibit together.
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Museum of Fine Arts Museum of Fine Arts Museum of Fine Arts

Due to the school vacation week, the museum had several kid-friendly activities going on and the girls were excited to tag along. Our first stop was to create our own artwork inspired by Matisse’s famous cut-outs.

Each one of us picked a sheet of colored paper and sat down with a pair of scissors and a glue stick to create our own masterpieces.

We then proceeded to see the actual exhibit. At ages 5.5 and 4, the girls weren’t quite ready, and understandably so, for a leisurely art tour so we had to be quick (I am going back with a friend to get my fix). We talked about the colors and shapes they enjoyed, and they were clearly more drawn to the artist’s cut-outs. They now remember the name of the artist, where he is from, and a few of the names of his famous paintings like the “Purple Robe.” The girls also got a chance to see some of the older kids drawing and mimicking the artist’s work.

 

Museum of Fine Arts Museum of Fine Arts Museum of Fine Arts

After the exhibit, the girls were ready to run around and explore the unique indoor lobby areas at the museum and create some more of their own art before a turkey and cheese sandwich break.

It was a short and sweet two-hour trip to the museum – just enough time for the little ones to gracefully enjoy. We decided we will choose one piece of artwork created by each of the girls to frame and appreciate later. I am so happy to have been able to share a “grown up” art experience with the girls. The exhibit itself was spectacular and I look forward to revisiting it soon. Art has always been present in our home and I hope to create more culturally enriching experiences with them as they grow up.

 

Thank you for sharing this family afternoon with us dear Surabhi. Would love to see the exhibit as well.
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14.04.17

The Easter Friday List

eastereggDIY

It is Good Friday today. Are you ready for Easter? I am, especially the long week end part. We will do some crafts over the week end, hoping for an egg hunt outside {but most probably will have to do it in the house if the weather stays} and will have a brunch with friends on Monday at our place…

What are your plans?

Tomorrow I will share how we dyed our eggs. I posted a picture on Instagram and got so many questions. I thought I will share and you can have fun over the week end… stay tuned.
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Above is a cute Easter Egg DIY to get you started… {still lovely without the colouring in case you are out}

 

easter-bunny-egg-cup-DIY

Or this super easy idea.

Cool fashion for Teens.

 

Strawberry-Balsamic-Crostini-with-Whipped-Ricotta

I have seen some strawberries around and if I find some that taste like strawberries – I am really tempted to try this. Looks very yummy and is easy to make… Strawberry Balsamic Crostini with whipped Ricotta. Oh yes!

 

During diner for the next days, when the kids are done and keen to leave the table, I will ask them what they would like to have for the brunch. They will come up with some ideas. AND they will think which they can do themselves. Next step: Writing down {or telling me and I’ll write it down} what we will need…. This usually becomes quite an entertaining conversation.

 

easter bunny origami

 

Make your own Easter Bunny – origami instructions here.

Walnut & Walrus launched their first clothing collection.

 

greece

Another diner conversation: Where do we go on summer holiday? Leonor wants a big house with a pool. Romy wants to go to Encinitas and Antoine to Santa Cruz {same direction at least}. There are many places we would like to see but somehow {and I think it is for the first time} we have difficulties to ‘nail it down’…

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Remember my mummy&me post – here is another cool brand that does lovely MiniMe fashion.

ROO rocking toy

This is ROO – a rocking toy from Riga Chair.

Don’t forget to print our bunny cones.

 

romantic kids room

Romantic kids room with a beautiful quilt blanket.

I am, together with a friend, working on a new project.

 

But for now: Happy Easter dear friends. Thank you for reading and for being here. Next month Paul & Paula will turn S E V E N.

 

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