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Two new countries, two festivals, five new World Heritage Sites — this July was a month of accomplishment. From my base in London, I continued my busy schedule with trips to Slovenia and Finland.
London, United Kingdom
Ljubljana, Idrija, Skocjan Caves, Bled, Radovljica, and Bohinj, Slovenia
Helsinki, Kuhmo, and Rauma, Finland
Ljubljana — Easily one of my new favorite cities. So colorful, a perfect size, and filled with more cafes than the eye can see. My kind of city!
Rauma — I went in with zero expectations and I fell in love. What a fantastic and unique wooden old town.
Helsinki — Just how cool is Scandinavia? I loved how Helsinki was such a design piece, yet set in a gorgeous natural environment. And the stores, cafes, markets, and boutiques are really cool, too!
The Ana Desetnica Festival in Ljubljana was a huge highlight — the city exploded into street theater! It was filled with so much creativity, and the city is like a fairy tale. Not to mention a fraction of the price that you would pay for a similar experience at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
My big London highlight of the month was attending a meal at Nyonya Supperclub. Supperclubs are private events where a chef hosts you in a private residence and serves you a meal. With several friends, I attended a meal of Nyonya cuisine, also known as Peranakan cuisine — the incredible cuisine of Malaysian cities like Penang and Melaka, which is world-famous yet practically impossible to find in London.
THE FOOD WAS SENSATIONAL. WE HAD EIGHT DISHES, I NEARLY CRIED AT ONE PORK DISH AND I ATE THE FIRST FISH CURRY IN MY LIFE THAT I’VE ACTUALLY ENJOYED. Guan of The Boy Who Ate The World is the chef, and his Nyonya Supperclub meals are enormously popular. If you’re interested, you can find out more information here. The suggested donation is now 35 GBP ($59 USD) per person and you need to pay half by bank transfer in advance. It’s worth every penny, I assure you.
The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland was absolutely beautiful, featured stunning music by some of the best musicians in Europe, but what I enjoyed most was that it was casual enough to hang out with and get to know the musicians.
I also spent time in Helsinki, where I met up with a friend from the beginning of my long-term travels nearly four years ago, and in Rauma, a fantastic little seaside town a few hours from Helsinki. I loved embracing the outdoorsy, athletic Finnish lifestyle, and I think I’m addicted to Finnish sauna now.
Work-life balance. Once again. I took on WAY too much work and travel for this summer, on the back of a full year of constant travel. What I needed this summer was to be a lump and recover.
But this time, I’m doing something about it. I’m putting together a list of things that are going well in my working life, things that aren’t, things that I can improve, and whether these things are good for me in the long run. But I’m not doing it all immediately — I’m doing it over the course of several weeks, letting it simmer, and taking time to make sure that I really mean what I say.
In other words, it’s time for me to make a lot of changes in my working life, and that’s not a bad thing.
Most Popular Post
Why Travel Safety is Different for Women — I was SO HAPPY that this piece not only resonated with so many women, but also that plenty of men who read it told me that it had enlightened them about what it’s like to be a woman today.
Don’t Let Croatia Slip Through Your Fingers — If you’re on the fence over whether or not to go to Croatia, GO. You will love it.
Dubrovnik Survival Guide — This one tip will make your trip to Dubrovnik SO much better than it could have been otherwise.
Vintage Valletta: The Least Capital-Like Capital — Valletta, the capital of Malta, is one of the most unique cities in the world. Here are my favorite photos.
Meet My Favorite Cafe in London: Lavish Habit — I adore this cafe to the moon and back. If you come to London, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Skellig Michael: Ireland’s Most Striking Destination — It’s been a long time since I’ve been this impressed by a destination.
Ask Kate: I’m Not Enjoying My Travels — What happens when your dream trip turns out to be a nightmare?
From Rocking Croatia to Eating London: My Favorite Lists on Trover — I love using the Trover app, and here are my favorite lists I’ve put together that will help you plan for trips to Croatia and London.
News and Announcements
Summer is a slow time! No major news for this month.
As always, you can get $25 off your first Airbnb stay when you sign up through this link.
Most Popular Photo on Instagram
Slovenia’s Lake Bled was just as beautiful as I imagined, and I was lucky to have been there on a day with perfect weather. With 345 likes, this is now my second most popular photo of all time.
I also turned this into a drawing! That will be shared once I do the post about my Slovenia road trip…
What I Read This Month
Shy Feet by Frances M. Thompson — What a beautiful collection of travel-themed short stories. If you haven’t read short stories in a long time, I urge you to break your streak with this anthology. Her stories are sweet and sad, funny and unexpected, ranging from the UK to France to Spain to Australia. These stories were an absolute pleasure to read and I can’t wait to see what Frankie, who is a friend of mine and graciously gave me a copy of her book as a gift, writes next — her upcoming next collection is about London!
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez — An engrossing novel weaving together the stories of Latin American immigrants from countries including Mexico, Panama, Venezuela and Paraguay living in the same apartment building in Newark, Delaware. (Did you know that Delaware is a popular spot for new immigrants to the US? I didn’t.) I haven’t read much fiction about Latin American immigrants in America, and this really makes me want to read more.
Coming Up in August 2014
I started the month in Paris, and from here, it’s another jam-packed month.
I’ll be covering my final two festivals for the Must Love Festivals project: the Carpino Folk Festival in Puglia, Italy, and the Cologne Music Festival in Cologne, Germany.
In between, however, I have a free week, and I think this would be a good time for me to have a break from blogging to focus on writing. (I know that sounds a bit ridiculous but trust me, writing without the interruption of the internet is a gift.) I’d like to do this in a nice but cheaper beach town, and right now I’m leaning toward the region of Calabria, Italy, also known as the toe of the boot. We’ll see!
I’ll be back to London after Cologne, where I’ll remain for the rest of the month.
32 thoughts on “AK Monthly Recap: July 2014”
I am so glad I started following you on IG, tho the photos give me all sorts of travel envy.
When are the Helsinki posts happening? I am going to Riga and Tallinn in less than a month, and I am considering a day trip to Helsinki by boat from Tallinn. Would love to hear thoughts.
Helsinki posts are a while away, to be honest, Anna. I do recommend checking out Suomenlinna Fortress, a brewery called Bryggen, and the Fazer Cafe for amazing chocolate cheesecake! Rivoli Jardin was a surprisingly decent-priced hotel (around 70 EUR per night and right in the city center).
A week without blogging and the internet? impossible 🙂 ha, I wish you luck! You deserve a vaca.
Vacation didn’t work out. It’s still been two years since I’ve had a real one…
You have the most brilliant epic months ever. I’m drooling over your life. 🙂
Aww, thank you, Zoe!
Ahh you get to see ao many cool places! Finland isn’t in Scandinavia btw 🙂 However it is part of the Nordic countries
That supper club sounds amazing! Things like that tend to be so crazy expensive that I never really consider going, so I’m excited that there’s something affordable out there.
This was a great recap! I usually follow your blog but I have been busy lately so its nice to see this recap post! It looks like you were busy this summer, I loved all your pictures and just started following you on instagram.
Am sorry to tell you but Finland is not part of Scandinavia. The Nordic countries yes but not Scandinavia which only consist of Norway, Sweden and Denmark 🙂
True, Helga. But strangely, every Finn I met referred to Finland as Scandinavia!
The website i’ve mentioned is going live this month. We will be exporting Home Textiles from India.
I’m travelling to Ljubljana for 2 days. What all should i definitely do there. When will you be posting about Slovenia in detail?
Just posted a very detailed post: https://www.adventurouskate.com/a-road-trip-through-slovenia/
I would LOVE to go to that supper club, it sounds divine. So many people have been raving about Finland lately – what a gorgeous part of the world!
Everyone is all about Ljubljana these days! Seems like quite the place!
Thanks for the reading recommendations – Shy Feet sounds like my kind of thing!
It’s a great book — I hope you pick it up!
I definite understand what you’re saying about the work-life balance. It can be so tough to get it right, when the temptation is just to work the whole time. I know in terms of my own, the balance is so heavily weighted on the ‘work’ side, that whenever I put anything in the ‘life’ side it comes as an enormous surprise how much fun it is. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to not work, sometimes! When that’s the situation, it’s definitely time to prioritise.
“It’s like I’ve forgotten how not to work.”
AGREE SO HARD. I haven’t taken a vacation in more than two years.
Have fun in Italy and the other places! I am going to Tuscany in September and can’t wait. Puglia is also on my wish-list….I hope I can get some inspiration from your posts 🙂
Cologne has Europe’s first and only Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf – a California based coffee chain that I grew up with and loved, so I may have almost ran into traffic when I saw it. We also enjoyed taking the cable car over the river; you can get great views of the city and there is a huge park on the other side. Also be sure to check out the Roman ruins under Gross Sankt Martin (Great Saint Martin) Church – it’s a quick detour and only about a euro to see, but the ruins are well preserved.
And, of course, enjoy a few glasses of ice cold Kolschbier. 🙂
I LOVE Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. They make the best lattes. (I got into them in Brunei and the Philippines, of all places!) Thanks for the tips!
The supperclub sounds amazing! Would love to try it.
Girl, I envy you! I just want to thank you for introducing me to so many hidden European gems!
Ahh, that looks so much like the lakes in Switzerland!
I can’t say I’ve ever been big on fish curry, either.
That supper club sounds AMAZING! I fell in love with Nyonya food while in Malaysia this year and would love to have it again. And it seems like you’ve had an awesome, albeit jam-packed, month!
I’m glad to hear that you loved Slovenia so much. I’ve traveled to Ljubljana and Lake Bled and I loved them both so much!! Slovenia is an AMAZING country! Good luck with your writing 🙂
Scott and I just roadtripped through Italy to his former home, Sicily, for his 40th birthday. We wanted to break up the drive back and randomly stumbled upon the town of Pizzo in Calabria. This may have been my favorite stop in our three-week trip, and it was so unexpected. We also nabbed the last room at Piccolo Grand Hotel, which was just lovely.
Would be an excellent spot to go and write for a few days! I hear Tropea is beautiful, too, but we didn’t want to get that far off the autostrada.
I wish I had been able to go to Calabria, Kristin, but I had to scrap it! 🙁 Next time. And I’ve been interested in Pizzo ever since I saw it on an episode of House Hunters International!
I fell hard for Ljubljana and Helsinki as well! With all their outdoor cafés they’re total solo travelers’ dreams: perfect for people watching!
Two kickass cafe cities, that’s for sure!
Since early childhood, I have been thrilled by the travel stories of backpackers. However, due to safety constraints of solo-female travelers, I have never tried travelling alone till date. Your blog has instilled confidence in me that even women can travel alone in foreign places. Hopefully, I will start my solo-trip from next month, and being an American my first natural destination would be the UK. If the UK trip turns out well, then I will plan few more trips throughout Europe.
That makes me really happy to hear, Lukasz. Have a great trip!