Latvia, Riga

On 22 of October My dad and I drove up to Riga (Latvia) from Vilnius (Lithuania). The drive was about 3.5 hours of pretty flat countryside.

For lunch we went to a non fancy lunch spot which was a sushi spot called “Tokyo City”. Tokyo City had good sushi but not great. It was also a little expensive for what they served. I would give Tokyo City a 3 star rating.

That afternoon, we returned to our Hotel Spa. We both had an hour message to get relaxed and then swam in the large wave pool. While ‘fancy’ I must admit that I’m not yet into it. I found it a bit weird.

20181022_155525
Spa time

For dinner we went to a medieval dinner place that was very cool. All the waitresses were dressed up in olden day costumes. The restaurant had candles and the felling of an olden day restaurant. I was a little disappointed with the main meal that we ordered, but the starter of soup was very good. This restaurant is called “Rozengrals”. The experience was great. I would give this restaurant 4 stars.

The next morning we decided to see the city of Riga. We went to the top of St. Peters Church. Built in the 15th century the top of the steeple is 123 meters. At the top we were not very happy, because it was very cold and just started to hail. I started to open my umbrella at the top and almost turned into Mary Poppins and blew away.

Soon later we, went on a free Riga tour. it was very interesting, but it was raining, and a quarter through the tour our umbrella exploded because of the wind. It was funny how it just flew into a bunch of pieces. The tour was given by a nice local man and he shared the highlights of the city. It was interesting to learn about how the Russians held control of the country for most of the last century.

That evening we went to a fancy place for dinner which was a sushi restaurant called ‘The Catch’. We got a bowl of rice with tuna and avocado, A plate with toro (tuna) Tuna sushi, Some rolls, a yummy lemonade, Tuna and avocado dish, Miso tuna, Shrimp salad and fried brocoli. I always talk my Dad into getting toro, it is the fatty belly of the tuna. It was delicious. By the time dinner was over, the rain stopped. We enjoyed a 20 minute walk home through the city, parks, and shopping.

20181023_182303
toro (tuna)
20181023_182331
rolls and tuna sushi
20181023_191318
My lemonade
20181023_182248
rice, avocado and tuna

That is where our trip ended.

Lithuania From Izzy’s Perspective

On Oct. 20, 2018 my father and I left to the Baltics, we started in Lithuania. It was a Saturday evening when we arrived. That evening my father and I had a food tour planned with a company called ‘Small Group Food and History Walking Tour’. During the Small Group Food and History Walking Tour we used the transport of walking, it turned out that we were the only ones on the tour. During our walk we saw this cool wall decorated with artworks for people around the world who have a connection with Lithuania.

One stop was, a fancy-ish restaurant. What where we got fish, basil, potato, little shavings of cheese, cooked crunchy lettuce, strawberry, egg with smoked eel and cool black bread. We also learned  about  black bread. It was so delicious. Plus a side of multicolored peppers and dips to go with it. We also went to other stops like an old grocery shop. At the old grocery shop they had a large cheese and charcuterie plate ready for us, again with the black bread. The last stop was going to be some sort of fancy desert place but instead we went to a popular cheese shop with their local cheese (tasted like parmesan) and a few crazy ice cream flavors. Like their aged cheese flavor with fig.

The next day we went on a free walking tour. Right before, despite being cold, we went to an ice cream shop which was great. It was called Soprano. I give it 5 stars.

The brand of this tour was Vilnius Free Walking Tour. The first thing we saw was a cool walk way. It looked like this. img_0839-1During the tour we learned some cool things about the city and the architecture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an old church that we saw and learned about. It is St. Anne’s Church with bricks from 1500s.

Fact: It is Lithuania’s 100 year anniversary a few months before we arrived. They were all celebrating a hundred years of being their own country after separating from Russian control.

At the end of the tour my father and I asked the tour guide to give us a recommendation for lunch. She gave us a few different recommendations. The one we ended up going to was great. We over did it by ordering way too much food – but we had to try the many different (potato based) dishes.

Fact: Potatoes were first introduced to the area because of their pretty flowers. Only after some time did someone finally decide to eat the odd thing growing below ground.

This is a view of the city during sun set that we saw. We saw this view from the Gediminas Castle Tower (originally part of a castle constructed in the 15th century). In this view we also saw the hill of Three Crosses.

We had a road trip around the country and despite being really cold, we stopped at the “Hill of the Crosses”. They say that there are 100,000 crosses. However, to me, it seemed like there was over a million.

20181024_123056

That day we arrived in Kaunas. We had a really run ‘tiny house’ for our stay. It was perfect for the two of us. We walked about the city for about 2 hours and saw the Kaunas Castle (built on the Nemunas and Neris rivers in the 14th century).

For dinner we ate at Uoksas, it was a fancy 6 course menu. The evening was my favorite from our week trip. For a starter we both got a dish with mini loaves of bread and butter. After that we got an amuse-bouche from the chef. It was a fried twig, that tasted like a chip with barely any flavor. To drink I had a fancy homemade sparkling lemonade. Then we got a couscous, fish and crunchy onion dish. Next was another amuse-bouche with was a circled cracker with basil dip on it. Next was 2 fish ‘bitterballen’ with a jelly jam on top. Served on a plate filled with pine needles. After that was a fish platter with a creme underneath.  Next was a nut thing with meat on top and a white creme to the side. For dessert we had an artichoke ice cream with meringue on it and sticky jelly on the side. The next dessert was a pumpkin with pumpkin sorbet inside and mascarpone with candied fruit and candied carrots stuck in. All served on a plate with autumn leaves.

For our last night of the trip, we drove back near Vilnius to a resort town called Trakai. There, the highlight was the Trakai Island Castle on Lake Galve. The first stones were put in place in the 14th century and the major work was completed in 1409.

For dinner we ate at our hotel; Apvalaus Stalo Klubas. The restaurant was a pretty fancy place where we were the only ones dining! The first thing we got was an amuse-bouche (a small one bite gift from the chef) which was very good. For a starter we had mushroom soup. The soup was delicious, it was a creme soup. Then I had a fancy mixture of vegetables. While my dad had an asparagus and smoked eel dish. (The smoked eel was really good). Then we got a salmon and cream plate. For dessert I got a dish called “the snow ball”. It was a big cotton candy ball with yummyness hidden inside. My dad had a dish called “river side”. The “river side” was chocolate rocks with granola pieces.

 

Berlin, Germany Sight Seeing

On October 5th, my mom, dad and me left to Berlin, Germany. We took a 6 hour train ride over to Berlin from Amsterdam. The day we arrived we went on a food tour called Secret Food Tours Berlin. The tour was excellent! We tried local foods and learnt about the history of Berlin. The diner kebab was my favorite stop. It was the first stop and it was great, it was juicy and fresh. There where a few different kebabs passed around but I love the kebab that I got. There they also had a version of Cola but it was called Fitz-Kola (pronounced, fits-cola). It was like a normal Cola, but less sugary.Our next stop was a delicious restaurant called BlechBlinderBar. Here’s the link https://www.blechbilderbar.de/. At the BlechBlinderBar we ate a very good flatbread (pizza) with onion, bacon, etc. The pizza had a thin crust. The stop after that was a small and quit busy shop. The shop sold nuts, dried-out fruits and fruits covered in chocolate. Later, we tried German Currywurst’s at a food vendor. Our tour guide said that usually you are either a currywurst fan or not. I was in the middle though. Most liked it. If you are in Germany then I recommend that you try the currywurst. It doesn’t matter so much where as most places selling currywurst are similar.Last, we we stopped at a place with very good schnitzel. Our tour guide also had a local dessert with him that he shared with all of us. But I will keep the type of dessert a secret in case you ever do the tour 😉

The next day my family and I went to an “Oktoberfest”. It was more of a carnival but it was still fun. My favorite thing at the Oktoberfest was a game where you buy coins and then you drop them in a box and eventually they push more coins and prizes off the board for you. Here’s a picture of my mom and I all dressed up for “Oktoberfest”. (Barely any people where dressed up. We all learnt that Oktoberfest is really mostly celebrated in the southern part of Germany.)

Luxemburg Road Trip

On Friday September 28, 2018 I left from school to go on a road trip to Luxunburg. The day after that I had a race for my school cross country team. In the race on the U12 squad, I did 3 kilometers and the U14 squad did 5 kilometers. Of course I was on the U12 team, meaning age 12 and under.

While we were in Luxemburg we stayed at Novotel Luxemburg. I would give Novotel a 5 star rating. Because they where a great host and allowed 60 crazy kids into their hotel. They also allowed us to use half of their restaurant for our pasta dinner. In the Novotel we had to meals including dinner and breakfast which where both buffets.

The rooms where cleaned and a good size. Although it did get a little hot in my room with me and my 2 roommates. We tried to turn down the temperature, but it didn’t get cooler and it stayed too warm.

Later on (after breakfast) we took a 25 minute ride by our private team bus over to a forest for our race of 3 kilometers. It was a great day and perfect weather. I enjoyed my run and met my goal.

After that we drove for 2 hours over to a lunch spot. Where we had lunch. Then we drove 3 more hours and arrived at school at 8:00 PM.

Iowa, Ames

On August 4, 2018 my family and I flew into Iowa, Ames and my dads parents (my grandparents) where there to pick us up. (All my grandparents and all of my cousins on my mom’s side live in Iowa). We stayed with my dads parents for two days. The night that we arrived we went to a restaurant called The Great Plains Sauce and Dough Company which is part of my top 2 favorite restaurants in Iowa.

Here’s a link to Great Plains (http://greatplainspizza.com/.

Two days later we went to my other grandparents house (my mom’s parents house) for two days. The first day there my grandma, my mom and I went to get our nails done at a place called Crystal Nails. My grandma said that Crystal Nails is her favorite place to get her nails done. I give Crystal Nails 3 stars because the lady who did our nails cut my mom’s nails to short, and did not plan well because she did the fastest first (me), then the second fastest and last she did the longest (taking of gel off then putting on gel). I was done and had to sit and wait too long. On our way back we went to an ice cream place that had rolled ice cream called Sweet Swirls Rolled Ice Cream.

Here’s the link https://www.sweetswirlsrolledicecream.com/.

Later in the week when we were with my dads parents we finally went to my favorite sandwich spot called Down Town Deli.

Here’s a link https://www.downtowndeliames.com/. I give Down Town Deli a 5 star rating. If you go to Down Town Deli then I recommend if they have their cheese soup on the menu, then definitely get it.

The week after that my mom and I went to the Iowa State Fair to watch Jim Gaffigan (who is a comedian).

The next day my family and I went back to the Iowa State Fair for a whole day of fun. The State Fair is a very fun place that I would recommend going to if you are in Iowa in the month of August, there is so much to see and do.

On our last full day of Iowa all of my grandparents and the family of my uncle came down to a farm owned by my dads parents. At the farm we grilled out hamburgers, sausages and marshmallows. We also got to ride four wheelers.

Here are some of my favorite things about Iowa. Corn dogs,

Iowa State Fair, Down Town Deli, Great Plains, bacon, sweet corn, pork tenderloin and BLTs.

I love Iowa!

Best tenderloin in Iowa

Vienna

On June 22, 2018 my family and I took a plane to spend 2 days in Vienna. We went to Vienna to selabrate my great uncle’s birthday.

On Friday (our first night) we went to a restaurant called Plachutta Wollzeile (https://www.plachutta-wollzeile.at/.) Plachutta Wollzeile has yummy food and a good verity. I give this restaurant 4 stars.

Saterday evening my family, my uncle and my cousin all went to a Buddhist center to celebrate my great uncle’s birthday.

The next day (Sunday) my family and I took a horse carriage ride around town. After the carriage ride on our walk home we stopped by an old restaurant called griechenbeisl. Here’s the link http://www.griechenbeisl.at/page.asp/lang%3Den/24.htm. The restaurant opened in 1447. My favorite part about it was the adografts. The man that showed me the autographs let my use a big stick to point at the autographs and didn’t let others use it. He also let me pour a beer from a 1447 tap! I give this restaurant 4 stars.

Croatia

On July 4, 2018 my dad and I left (Greece) to spend 11 days in Croatia. My family and I meet up with some old friends (arriving from the US) for lunch in Sibenik. Then we drove up to our house in Srima. Our Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms19618016?location=%C5%A0ibenik%2C%20Croatia&adults=4&children=3&guests=1&home_collection=1&s=iRDl-vmh) was perfect and the hosts were great. For our first night there we enjoyed a fresh homemade Croatian dinner cooked by our hosts.

A few days later we took a break from swimming in the pool, we rented a boat to take us around. We saw a few other islands and swam in totally secluded spots. My dad went diving for sea urchins and brought us back a tasty treat of super fresh urchins.

One of the other days we took a ferry ride out of Split and into to Brac and did a food tour. There, we learned a lot about the history of the island and that they just got running water 40 years ago! We had a great snack at an old olive press. Were we enjoyed olives in several ways. Then we continued the tour and had fantastic Brac lamb chops. We wrapped up the day by swimming on the beach.

For one day we headed down to the water organ in Zadar. Here is a link for the water organs (https://www.zadar.travel/en/city-guide/attractions/19-04-2007/sea-organ#.W2LDSVqxWfB.) While we were in Croatia, the croats had 2 matches in the World Cup. They won both games we watched with the locals, but ended up losing the championship match. Croatia ended with second place.

Once the week was over we drove down to Split for a few days to see family. On the way we went to Krka National Park: (http://www.npkrka.hr/) where you can go swimming in the waterfalls and on beautiful (but busy) hikes. The floor underneath the water of the waterfalls is quite rocky but the water is fresh and clean. If you go and want to swim then I recommend bringing water shoes.

In Split we got to really enjoy the city. The city is defined by the Diocletian’s Palace. On our last day of vacation we went to the top of Diocletian’s Palace or the belltower (https://www.sirena-booking.hr/.) The palace is a very popular place to go in the city. This statue is very popular in Croatia. If you touch the man’s foot they say that you will have luck.

On our way back we stopped at the Bacvice Beach and there we went kayaking and my cousin went on a jet ski.

Croatia is simple and beautiful, but also can busy and loud. Split is a great place to go if you want to visit beautiful busy beaches or small towns.

Did you know that the Croatian people call their country Hrvatska?

In many words, they have a mark above certain letters. When you see the mark, that letter is followed by an ‘h’ sound. So, Brač is pronounced “Brach” and Šibenik is “Shibenik.”

Three Greek Islands

On June 24 2018 my dad and I left to Mykonos for two days. The place that we stayed at was called Ilio Maris: http://www.iliomaris.com/. Our place had a great view of the Aegean Sea and sunset. The first day we where there we relaxed at the pool and for dinner we went out for sushi. The sushi place was called Sushi Med: https://m.facebook.com/SushiMedMykonos/. The sushi was good and worth the trip. The place was not busy. They had great customer service and where very kind. The next day we went to a rocky beach and beside it was https://mykonos.gr/en/.

In the middle of the day we took a fairy over to Naxos, Greece. Where we stayed with my friend for 1 week. (7 days) It was our 3rd year in Naxos with the same friend and staying at the same place. The place was https://www.studiosathina.gr/. In Athina’s place we enjoy our trip while being right next to the sandy Plaka Beach. She also provides free snacks and is now running a restaurant. Next to Athina’s are a couple restaurants. The first place is Yazoo which unfortunately does not have a website. Yazoo also has a gift shop run by the owner’s wife. The gift shop has things for the beach like shovels and beach balls but also has food like Oreos and they also have accessories like hats and necklaces.

The next place is https://el-gr.facebook.com/souvluckynaxos/. Souvlucky is a Greek food and also the name of the place.

Then we have https://www.picassoismexican.com/, The name is Piccasso. Picasso serves Mexican. The place is a family run business. Picasso also serves food on the beach.

Next up is Cedar Cafe which does not have a website either. Cedar is my favorite restaurant but is sadly only a lunch place, for us. Dinners are great for romantic nights out. After that is JAN’s Salmon and Deli. And Jan’s does not have a website either but the restaurant is new. Jan’s is a great view if Plaka Beach. Last is an Italian place called AMORE MIO. Which does not have a website either.

On the last day we said our goodbyes and took a ferry over to Santorini and spent our last two days in Greece there. We stayed at a fairly small hotel called https://www.villasonsantorini.com/. The hotel had a great view of the volcano and of the sunset. For our first dinner we went to http://www.vanilia.gr/ and enjoyed the sunset view. The food was good but there service was slow because they where super busy. At this place you must call and make a reservation. Unless they probably won’t have space.

Once our two days where over we took a sailboat tour before heading of to the airport. The tour was relaxing and thought us a lot about Santorini and it’s Coulter. We hade a few stops to go swimming in the sea around the volcano. The boat ride was called Santorini Sailing. The boat served small bites and makes sure that everyone is hungry for food before giving. At the end we had a lunch buffet then it was our choice what we wanted to do individually.

German Castles

On 5/18/18 my family and I went to Northern Germany (Rhine River and Moselle River areas). Germany is known for its castles. So of course while we are in Germany we had to go see castles!

After, seeing a few castles, we drove down to a castle (over looking the Rhine) and slept there for one night.

Then, we went to the Nürburgring which is the hardest race track in the world and also the fastest cars in the world tested their cars on the track to make sure the cars worked before they sold them. So we took a tour of the Nurburgring and we rented a BMW M and rode around the track. While waiting for the tour to start we could have free water and we could also play a video game based on a car race, which was awesome. But, good thing it was just a game otherwise I would have had a high repair bill. In the middle of the tour we got to watch cars race on the track.

If you like cars then I would definitely recommend going to the Nurburgring. Even though I’m not a humongous fan of cars, I still very much enjoyed our visit to the Nurburgring.

We continued The trip by touring a mid evil castle in Cochem. The Cochem Castle is built at the highest point around. It has great views of the Moselle.Then having a mid evil dinner in the castle. The waitresses (servants) where in costumes and pretending that it was actually in the time period of mid evil.Before the dinner the workers picked a couple to be the king and queen of the dinner. While waiting for the castle tour there is a wonderful view of the city. And a gift shop.

While in Cochem, we also took a chairlift up to look out over the river. At the top, we were surprised to find an amusement park. I was able to talk my parents into going. It was fun to try some new rides.

Croatia and Hungary

My last trip was to Croatia and Hungary. My dad and I took a plane into Zagreb, Croatia. Where we rented a car and drove down to my uncles place. The next day my dad and I drove over to Budapest. Budapest is in Hungary. While we were there we went on an amazing food tour called Taste Hungary. This tour was terrific, it taught us about food and it’s history. And brought us to plenty restaurants. The first restaurant  was owned by the same people that owned the tour. One thing I learnt was that Budapest is actually Buda and Pest there two cities separated by a river. I would give this tour 5 stars. The next morning we went back to Zagreb but a new apartment. And went on a tour called Zagreb BIG tour. The guys were super funny and shared traditional jokes with us. On the tour we learnt that there used to be 40 airbnbs and now there are 5000. After the tour we took a 20 min car ride to the factory of the fastest car in the world. The car is called Rimac Concept Two.20180418_170631 My uncle works there. We took a tour of the factory. Then we drove back 20 min to the last place we were at and went to a wonderful restaurant called The Witch and the Grich.20180418_211935 (1).jpgThis is one of the things we ordered. This is gnocchi. The gnocchi was very good.

The next day we went to Plitvice Lakes National Park. But on the way we stopped for lunch at a city called Slunj. And the restaurant was call Petro. This is what we ordered.

We got salmon with tomato, a cheese and meat plate and an apple strudel.

The place we went to had a very cute layout. And its own waterfalls and rivers.It was super beautiful. The place we stayed at was called Villa Mukinja. It was terrific! The people who worked there were super nice. And the rooms were very clean and great sizing. We had breakfast and dinner at our place and it was scrumptious.

The next day we headed down to the waterfalls.

I was amazing. Going on a hike trough the wonderous waterfalls of Croatia. Then we drove over to a cave place and took a tour.20180421_122036 And there were bats.

And that where our story ends.