The main event for my July monthly round-up has to be our summer holiday, which was just brilliant – like last year’s Hungary and Slovakia trip.
The month started off well with O recovering from chicken pox and returning to preschool, which we were all pretty glad of. It’s hard to keep a very active child occupied, indoors, in reasonably good weather while you try to work from home. Both he and I were climbing the walls by the end.
No sooner had he returned to preschool though than we had to pull E out. Just three days they were both there before we saw the first chicken pox spots on E. And this came just when we had thought that he had not caught it.
But at least O and I had some quality time together that weekend, and of course quality time means ice cream when you’re four.
Unfortunately, that was less than a week before we were due to go on holiday…
So then there was a quick reshuffle and we changed flights to head off two days later than planned, on the following Wednesday rather than Monday.
In the end, it did not mess up your plans so much. The two days we shaved off were in Vienna, which we reasoned we could easily take as a weekend break at some point (ha!). Like last year, our trip was to Hungary and Slovakia, but we also squeezed in a day in the Czech Republic and three days in Krakow in Poland.
We only spent about 24 hours in the Czech Republic but we were so impressed by Olomouc, a medieval university town north of Brno. It was a beautiful place to start our holiday.
And then we went on to Bratislava, also for about 24 hours, and I fell a little in love with the old town of the city. They have restored it just enough to make it a tourist spot between Vienna and Budapest, but not so much that it looks like a Disneyland version of itself.
We then headed on to Piešťany, a spa town about an hour from Bratislava. The boys had so much fun getting soaking wet there.
Banská Štiavnica is an old mining town that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As we’ve been to Budapest a number of times before (this was my sixth time, O’s third and E’s second), we did a few things further down the tourist agenda. The Children’s Railway was fun for the boys and a good way to spend a slightly rainy morning. It’s a railway line run by children with adult supervision (although you needn’t worry… an adult drives the train).
As the weather got worse and the rain got heavier, we headed to Városliget – the City Park in the city centre. Husband remembered a fairground there from his childhood called Holnemvolt Park (or adorably named The Once Upon A Time Park in English). We discovered that it went bankrupt recently and had been bought up by the neighbouring Budapest Zoo. Luckily (as we had already visited the zoo last year), you could go into the fairground without having to go to the zoo as well.
From Budapest we headed back into Slovakia, to the southern region, and then on to the Low Tatra Mountains. Just as we arrived at the foot of the mountains, a massive thunderstorm hit, with lightning flashes across the sky and flooded roads within minutes. It was a little scary but also beautiful.
We stayed in Donovaly in the Low Tatras National Park – a ski resort by winter and a trekking base by summer. As the weather was better the next morning, we took the cable car to the top for a look at the mountains. Again, beautiful sums it up.
From there we drive on into Poland and to Krakow, where we spent the last four nights of our trip. On reflection, maybe three days was one day too long in Krakow with small children, but still we managed to keep them entertained enough.
After we’d exhausted the city centre, we headed out to the created suburb of Nowa Huta, which was established in the 1950s as a communist utopia. It is now one of the most populated suburbs of the city and I loved some of the stark, functionalist architecture we saw there. But then, that’s my thing (my mother-in-law despairs of the huge number of photos I take of buildings when on holiday).
As I said, the month was mostly about our holiday. I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the photos that I’ve shared.