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Fun with Ann in London :-)

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Last weekend me & Louise went to London to visit our friend Ann who we met in Portugal last summer. What brought us together initially is the love for Kizomba dancing. Ann came over to visit in November last year when the famous Kizomba artist Nelson Freitas performed at a party here in Gothenburg. And now it was time for me & Louise to visit Ann in London. The main purpose was dancing which we did Friday (Festac), Saturday (Vicio) & Sunday (Seebos). All nights different places, out of central London. And all nights different vibes! All in all we had a blast. In Vicio I experienced the best dance evening ever! Londoners are more into “tradtional/original” Kizomba which for me is the type of Kizomba that gives me most joy. Urban Kizomba, which is the preferred style for many European dancers, is fun too but the challenging footwork and the spins sometimes comes at the expense of lost connection.

Despite the hectic night schedule we did have some time for sightseeing too on Saturday & Sunday afternoon 😀

On Saturday afternoon me & Louise started of with some amazing fish & chips. With a view! After that we took a walk along the South bank of the Thames for a while before deciding to hop on the tube for Camden and some people watching. It was a nice day and when we got back to Ann´s house, lasagna & wine was waiting before a small nap & some Redbul to get going for the evening. 😉

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On Sunday we woke up to a lovely English breakfast. Ann was such a perfect & sweet host to us and on top of that the view from her central London apartment was unbeatable. The sun was shining and we decided to start with a walk along the docks and towards London Tower Bridge & Tower of London. Ann joined us and it felt very luxurious to just follow our local guide 😉 The area where Ann lives, Wapping, is so beautiful!

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After the Thames walk Ann wanted to show one of her favorite weekend spots. The Old Spitalfields market. Since my back had become a bit sore from all dancing & walking I insisted we start with a beer break 😉 After that we walked around the market which was absolutely lovely. A handicraft market and with a food stall section with delicious treats from all around the world. I loved it!

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After a cupcake treat we moved on to St Paul´s. From the rooftop of the shopping mall “One New Change” we had a lovely view over the St Paul´s Cathedral. There we took a rest in the sun, feeling grateful for having such a nice weekend, before it was time to head back to Wapping and to get ready for a last night of dance before our morning flight back home. We had such an amazing weekend that we just felt like re-doing it all again straight away after coming home 😉 Thank´s Ann!

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Fantastic days in Belgrade

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For the third time 2015 I booked an Airbnb apartment, this time in Serbia’s capital Belgrade where me & Louise spent a few amazing days last fall. Scroll to the end if you want to see the extraordinary apartment we rented!!! It was in a perfect location, in the area Skadarlija.

Both me and Louise loved Belgrade. It positively surprised us in all ways. There was actually only one thing we disliked and that was that people still smoke inside cafes and restaurants and Serbians smoke A LOT. But apart from that Belgrade is so cozy. It is green, picturesque, friendly and both traditional & trendy. It has great eateries & nightlife and many very affordable beauty salons. And there are plenty of great areas for walking along the Danube and just relax. Belgrade is famous for its many restaurant & bar boats lined up along the rivers. Most had closed for the season when we were there but I can imagine Belgrade is fantastic during summertime for this reason.

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Belgrade has a lot of cafes with delicious pastries. We found our favorite where we lived 😛 They also sold small animal cakes that were so adorable it was hard to eat 😉

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The great thing with Belgrade is that there are not so many “must see attractions” which is just what I wanted. That left plenty of time to just stroll around in the great autumn weather and enjoy the cozy Belgrade streets. One day we went hunting for street art. There are a lot in Belgrade and some are really great!

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Belgrade also has a lot of nice restaurants, both traditional but also many alternative & arty places that you will not stumble upon but through some pre-research we managed to find some local gems. One was really special. It had no sign and was based in an apartment. Very tricky to find but well worth the effort since they served absolutely amazing vego food in an intimate and beautifully decorated space which felt more like dining in someones private home.

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Even though we had an apartment we went out for breakfast every day. One nice thing for us was of course that we could splurge rather much in Serbia since everything was about 60% of Swedish prices. And Belgrade has so many cozy cafés that makes delicious omelettes that it was always a great start of the day to have breakfast out.

After a sturdy breakfast our last day in Belgrade started with a visit to the beautiful Kalemegdan park with nice views over the fort and the river Sava & Danube.

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Our last afternoon was spent at a spa called “Bali Detox Center”, just around the corner from where we lived. After a nice massage & facial we did a detox treatment which started with a foot bath with some kind of electrical thing connected that was supposed to eliminate toxic in the body. Depending on your problem areas the water took a different color. Very interesting 😉 After we had the final treatment, which was a foot massage, we headed out to have some nice Serbian dinner before spending a last night at our amazing apartment “Yugodom”.

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Appendix | Our beautiful apartment “Yugodom”

Cold winds, hot dance & a lot of Port :)

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I have been dancing Kizomba for some time now. A sensual couple dance, with African origin, that is now danced in various styles and increasing in popularity rapidly. Within the dancing community it has become very popular to travel to festivals to explore Kizomba & other Afro Latin dances through workshops with global teachers from all over. The schedules are always very thorough, not to forget to mention the evening/night schedules that most of the time follows special themes or per-decided color scales.

Last summer I managed to convince Louise to come a long to Porto where they have a annual 10 days Latin festival every year called “DMAES summer boot camp”. So after a week in Lisbon we took the bus to beautiful Porto to settle down for some days in Vila Nova de Gaia, adjacent to Porto.

Porto has a different beauty & feel from Lisbon, more mysterious! And Porto has plenty of amazing wines & great Port wine from the Douro Valley which both tasted wonderful & kept us warm 😉

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Louise & me chose to not join in on every part of the dancing schedule but spent a lot of time to walk around and explore the beautiful surroundings.

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One nice part with festivals is of course to make new acquaintances. We spent some nice moments with Franz from Hamburg & Ann from London. Ann later came to visit me in Göteborg for a Kizomba event and in a few weeks me & Louise will travel to London to spend a weekend dancing Kizomba in the regular venues where Ann goes 🙂 To be honest, I have figured out that is probably more my thing, to enjoy local regular Kizomba life.

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One evening we had dinner in central Porto followed by a night walk. As many cities, Porto shines at night! And it also had a bit of a spooky feel 🙂

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We went into Porto a few times to just stroll around. One day we also did some Port wine tasting. Several wine lodges offers tours & tasting for free. Considering the constantly present chilly wind it was even more pleasant to warm up with some good Port 😉

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No trip to Porto would be complete without a Douro river trip. Unfortunately we had picked a rather cloudy and cold day. The only thing that could warm me up was, again… some Port wine and odd layers of clothes (not actually meant to be combined). At the end of the tour however it both became warmer and even a bit sunny. A very relaxing day on a boat, enjoying nice views and doing nothing. And passing two sluices 🙂

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Close by to the hotel we found our all time favorite restaurant. I do not remember the name but they had the most delicious seafood casserole. And since it was not a tourist area the prices were too good to be truth 😛

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Finally, some workshop pictures below. At the end of a workshop the instructors always demonstrates the full sequence so that everyone can record for home practicing. The Porto week was great and I enjoyed the city strolls evenly much as the workshops. Festival parties are usually not the dance evenings I enjoy the most since I feel more relaxed when I can dress in the clothes and colors that fits me rather than according to special themes. But it was for sure an interesting and instructive week 🙂

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Back to cozy Lisbon

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Last summer I went back to beautiful Lisbon, this time with my friend Louise. (Find my previous Lisbon posts here>> ) Since I had great experience with Airbnb from Budapest, trying the same concept in Lisbon seemed like the best option. Especially since we were going to spend almost a full week in this amazing city. Rather late at night we checked in to our little apartment in the sweet, local area Sao Bento. Even if the apartment was a bit dark and had a slight smell of mold, the area was perfect. Louise and I had one bedroom each and the beds were super comfy.

After a wonderful night´s sleep we enjoyed a great day exploring the coziness of Lisbon. At night I took Louise to a favorite restaurant called “Sinal Vermelho” which I had found on my previous visit. After dinner we went on to the Rua Nova do Carvalho, also referred to as the “Pink Street“, since it is actually painted all pink. It turns in to one big outdoor pub area at night. We ended the evening with great dancing at the Afro Beat dance club “Music Box”. Oh I loved it!! What a day!

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After a perfect start of our vacation I woke up after a second night and soon realized the small bites I had discovered on my arms and legs the previous day, was not mosquito bites. I felt in my gut that I had been the victim of bedbugs for the third time in my life. And here the not so nice day started….

I´ll try to make a long long story short. Apart from all the mental suffering that bedbugs means (the fear of getting the creatures or their eggs with you in clothing and bags) this is when we strongly discovered the backside of Airbnb. In a hotel or hostel we would simply have gone to the reception and gotten a new room. Now we spent a full day having to make expensive calls to US (no Swedish customer service in the weekends). Our hosts unfortunately turned out to not be understanding and supportive at all, but just wanted us out of the apartment so that they could get started with the extermination process. We had nowhere to go and it was tears, sweat and anxiety! At the end we decided to book a hotel in a different area, where we had found a good deal on Booking.com.

Louise was lucky to not have bedbugs in her room and after yet some tears & sweat we got a refund. But the story unfortunately followed us during the vacation since I had to deal with a claim process etc. Despite this we continued to enjoy a great vacation in Lisbon and also in Porto (next post). And our new hotel Sana Rex had an amazing view and great location too. The evening after the exhausting bed bug adventures we went to relax and listen to soothing Fado in Alfama. Something which should not be missed on a visit to Lisbon! On our way back we passed several cozy street kiosk areas. (Read more about Lisbon Kisoks here>>) At one of them people were dancing the Brazilian dance “Forro”on the street. We stayed and watched for a while and I remember feeling so in love with Lisbon! ♥

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Lisbon is all about indulging in food, drinks, views, atmospheres, cozy streets, friendly people and, if time allows, the beautiful surrounding areas. Apart from just cruising Lisbon we also spend two days visiting two different beach areas called Estrela & Cascais. After one week in Lisbon we moved on to the city Porto which I will write about in next post.

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On our last day in Lisbon, after Porto, we found the “Mercado da Ribeira” which is a big indoor food market with high quality food stalls lined up all around a big open space. You by what you want and eat & drink it at the common tables. This was a big highlight which I can´t wait to repeat in October this year when we´ll be back!! Lisbon delivers!

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Appendix 1 | A beach day at Estrela

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Appendix 2 | A bedbug full of blood, my bites & how my beds look like after “bed bug check” 😉

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A relaxing week in Budapest

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Last summer me & Robert decided to go to a European city for a full week to really be able to explore in a relaxed way. Budapest was a place that I long had been wanting to visit. In fact I was there as part of an inter-rail journey in my early twenties but I had very little memories from that visit. For this stay we tried Airbnb for the first time. I had chosen a place on the Buda side, which is the less commercial side, since I figured that would be a more peaceful experience. The cute apartment was up on a hill with a balcony looking over to Buda. The host was wonderful and one of our best memories from Budapest is actually this little Airbnb apartment.

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A few days I went for a morning walk before Robert woke up. The best part about Budapest is to walk along Danube and I really enjoyed to do some early morning sightseeing on my own at the same time as I got some exercise 🙂

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Budapest is famous for the many thermal baths. We visited three of them during our stay. The first one we tried was the one displayed below, called Szechenyi. It is the most famous one that everyone visits. We really disliked it since it was too commercial & crowded and we felt the hygiene was bad as well. We also tried the more upscale Gellert which was nice. Also very touristic but with a beautiful outside area for sunny days. Our favorite was for sure Rudas which had one old and one modern part. I really recommend to visit both (they can be purchased as combo or either of them alone). The modern section has an outside hot pool on the roof with Danube views. The old part has many different pools and saunas. I loved it! It was both tourists and locals there and not as busy as the others. I am sure there are many more local baths that are even quieter to be found.

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Apart from bathing we mostly walked around, had coffee & cake, visited the markets and discovered nice eateries. Our favorite area to hang out was the Jewish quarter that is mostly famous for the so called ruin bars. Many streets in Budapest are rather wide but the Jewish quarter is a cozy area with nice small streets full of stores, bars & restaurants. Read more about Budapest ruin bars here>>

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One evening we had Langos in the Jewish quarter followed by an evening visit to some ruin bars. The ruin bars are both nice during day & night. Many of them are like multi purpose venues that might be a flee market and café during daytime and partyplace or restaurant at night. Below images might illustrate why the bars are called ruin bars 😉

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On our last evening we went for dinner in a buffet style place almost opposite the beautiful Budapest palace. The place was called “Trofea Grill Etterem”. For a very affordable price one could eat and drink unlimited. After dinner we took a nice evening walk to see all the extraordinary buildings & bridges that Budapest has to offer, lit up in the dark.

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To conclude on Budapest I can say that I very much enjoyed to explore the city. I loved the Danube views & the thermal baths. And I really enjoyed the Gallert hill and our sweet apartment on top of it. But I did not connect to the soul of the city. My three European city favorites remains to be Amsterdam, Lisbon & Istanbul! They were all instant love that is still lasting 😀

 

Lazy days in Lagos

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Lagos is a little gem in the southern part of Portugal, in Algarve. It is far from a hidden gem though. In fact Lagos is probably one of the most touristic places in Portugal. Despite this it is such a charming town. The little center is packed with cafés and eateries dotted along the car free lanes. And there are plenty of cute little shops to keep you busy on cloudy days. The surrounding offers several stunning small coves protected by dramatic red cliffs. They all have a different character and it is nice to walk along the pretty coast to try to find your favorite spot.

We stayed in an absolutely amazing place in Lagos called Casa das Laranjeiras. Even if the guest house was in the middle of the center we were not disturbed by the street noise since we had a room in the attic. You don´t see this room on their web page but might have to ask for it or book through Hostelworld. It sure was an amazing room with our own terrace. The price was very affordable for what you got.

Even if Lagos is a really busy place it has a cozy vibe that I really enjoyed. However I have heard that the nights can get lively in a less cozy way when all the hostels in the town takes their young travelers for pub crawls. But that does not happen until the wee hours. Lagos really has something for everyone 🙂

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Our lovely room, with fully equipped pentry:

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The feeling of Lisbon

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It has been a while since my last post. For me blogging about my trips is a way to process and gather all my memories once I get back home. During vacation I don´t spend time behind the screen.

This summer I did something different. I went to Portugal with the main purpose to learn some Portuguese. I just love that language and have been wanting to learn it for some time. Through Internet I found Angelo´s website which right now seems to be down but he also has a page on facebook for more information. Angelo lives just outside Lisbon and teaches live in Lisbon and surroundings but also through Skype. I had heard Lisbon should be a great city so I based myself there for two weeks during which I met with Angelo 9 times x 3 hours, in different cafes. Those two weeks turned out to be amazing. Angelo is a fantastic person and a great teacher and the time with him was really fun and well invested. Before and after the lessons (which were 1:1) I wandered around a lot in Lisbon. And so those two weeks flew very fast and I am loaded with motivation 😉

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I have been thinking about how to best present Lisbon in this post. Lisbon is not a city full of “must see” things and it is a bit rough on the edges. Still there is so much to discover if you like me just love to wander around and feel a place. Lisbon had this great vibe that made me relaxed & happy. It is not a chaotic huge city. Is is touristy but in a good and integrated way. The facades of Lisbon are amazingly beautiful with many houses covered in mosaic patterns. And the pavements too are a delight to walk on with different cobblestone patterns everywhere. I stumbled upon a web page that I wish I would have found before I went but now I have a reason to return to look up the best facades and pavement art that Lisbon has to offer 😀

Lisbon is a hilly city with nice viewpoints to enjoy. Walking is possible but there are also trams to bring you up and down if you wish. And there is no shortage of cozy plazas to wind down at with a coffee and some of the best pastries ever eaten :-P. When the sun gets lower it is wonderful to hang out by the waterfront with a beer or caipirinha and just watch the laid back life pass by…

I hope you enjoy below images of Lisbon, a new found favorite that I will revisit for sure. In next post I will introduce some more Lisbon culture and after that I will cover some coastal delights 🙂

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Going back in time in Pompeii

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79 AD the volcano Vesuvius erupted and killed 16000 people living in Pompeii. The heat waves were so strong that the people died instantly while doing there things. Therefore the bodies were preserved under the ash, many in motion, and can be viewed in this extraordinary open air museum that Pompeii today is. Excavations started 1748 and what you now experience as a visitor is a well preserved large ancient roman city that takes you right back into the past. In some houses there are still wall paintings that looks like they did almost 2000 years ago. The bathhouses are so well kept that you really can imagine how it was back then. I was never fond of history at school but it is hard not to become when you walk around in such a place as Pompeii. Unfortunately it took us a lot of time to get there from Amalfi, where we were based, and to be able to get back again in time we had only three hours to walk around. To cover as much as possibly we almost ran parts of it and still we had no time for the Amphitheater and many other extraordinary sights. What we heard much about were the interesting wall paintings of the old brothels. Unfortunately the one we were going to visit was closed for restoration, as many other parts, so we missed that 😉 If you go, spend a full day! Don´t underestimate the size of this place. And without a map you will get lost. Below some pictures from our time traveling…

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THE place to stay in Amalfi is Montepertuso!!!

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Just back from a 10 days vacation in Italy it is time to blog again. As most of my trips nowadays, I was accompanied by my friend Louise 🙂 We started of with six active but relaxing days in the Amalfi region and ended with four days Rome.

Amalfi, as many parts of Italy, is extremely busy with tourists. No wonder as it is exceptionally beautiful. When doing research about where to stay in Amafli I fell for B&B Le Ghiande, a place higher up in the mountains, in the small town Montepertuso above the famous town Positano. Le Ghiande had top rates and reviews that made me convinced that this was the place for us! The more than 1000 steps up from the coast might not make this the first choice for everyone (no worries, there are buses). But we could not be happier about our stay! I don´t have enough words to explain how great Le Ghiande is. It was dark when we arrived and below is the view we woke up to on our first day!

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Le Ghiande is run by Salvatore & his father Carlo. To their help they also have a guy called Dimitri working with them. Those people are so genuinely kind. Salvatore is English speaking and takes care of all praticalities around the guests and makes sure everyone is informed an comfortable. Papa Carlo does not speak English but he is very social and loves to share his homemade Limoncello with the guests. He grows beans & lemons in the garden and maybe some other things too that we never saw. He is a very proud man. Dimitri serves breakfasts, makes sure your room is as clean as is possible and also prepares the jacuzzi for the small amount of 5 Euro.

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After an active day around Amalfi it was so relaxing to come back to Le Ghiande and wind down before going out for dinner. And now to another great things; Montepertuso happens to have some of Amalfi´s best restaurants, just around the corner from where we lived. We ate at Il Ritrovo three times. An amazing family restaurant with great discount for Le Ghiande guests.

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One day, after an active trekking day, we used the jacuzzi and then tried the restaurant La Tagliata around the corner from Le Ghiande. Another family restaurant that does not have a meny. Instead for a set price you eat and drink all kinds of traditional food that are served throughout the evening. Many hotels in Positano have an arrangement where they bus guests up for an evening here and picks them up again. When we were there the evening ended in on big Limoncello party. From being the observers from our small table we suddenly ended up being in the center of attention as we happily entertained the American guests with Swedish drinking songs 😉 Our table that night looked like we had one wild party. But to tell the truth, me & Louise were perfectly fine, compared to the rest of the guests. What a night!

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It was a bit sad to leave this magic place, but other adventures were waiting and left are only beautiful memories from a peaceful and friendly stay in Montepertuso and B&B Le Ghiande.

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My first encounter with Poland

After a presentation of Poland in my last couple of posts I will finally share a few images from my first visit to Poland which was the summer of 2005. This was when I learned to order blueberries in Polish, jagoda, and when first came in contact with the beloved Polish pierogis (which comes in many ways) and with the dish Bigos (cabbage stew), preferable served with a kielbasa next to it. And also new for me was beer with berry syryp in. This is also when I experienced my first two days long Polish wedding (a cousin of Robert) and met Roberts sweet grandmother.

I had just met Robert and we first visited his cousin Anja in Warsaw followed by a trip down to south Poland, to Krupski Mlyn. Anja was nice enough to lend her apartment to us a few days when leaving the town. The only obligation was to look after Lord. A very sweet but spoiled Bulldog.

From Krupski Mlyn we went on a daytrip to Krakow one day however I will not cover that here since that was presented earlier this year. Close to Krakow you find the extraordinary salt mine Wieliczka. At that point I did not have claustrophobia and I am very happy for that because that is a sight that will not leave you unmoved. Unfortunately it was hard getting good pictures from there. You simply have to go and see it for yourself.

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