5 great ways to spend quality at home

I once read that home is the base where everything begins. It’s a place of relaxation and utter peace where we are able to simply unwind and rest after an entire week of work. I love staying at home, became a little bit of a couch potato recently –  totally not ashamed – and must have my own, personal time. Binge-watching Netflix shows, browsing through the Internet, watching YouTube videos of my favourite Creators and simply clearing my mind. This is all fine, I mean who of you doesn’t do it, right? At some point though, there comes a realization, that spending time watching YouTube might not be the best quality-wise time spent.

Realizing an issue exists is a first step to improve. At least that’s what my parents thought me when I was younger, so I analyzed and came to the conclusion there are numerous ways in which I can spend better-quality time at home.

1. Enjoy your time with board games

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I love playing board games. I bought and was gifted various of games including Catan, Scotland Yard, Monopoly (of course), Colt Express, The Witcher, Board the Train, Dixit and many others. Both Floret and I have been collecting games ever since we found an old version of the Scotland Yard in his parents’ house and we decided to play together. This is one of my favourite things to do during Friday evening when we don’t go out. It’s great; there’s rivalry, fun, all sorts of emotions and satisfaction.

Playing requires focus, it helps creating bonds within the family. Ever since I was young my parents used to play cards or European version of Monopoly called Eurobusiness with us. I loved it! I remember how happy I was when I got it for Christmas one year. The entire family played and it was great, I still recall those moments and even now, at the age of 27 I enjoy all sorts of board games. If you’ve never played I advise you to try out with something less complicated – like Monopoly. You won’t believe how entertaining that is.

2. Check out latest computer games

Ok, I’m not saying slay The Witcher III or God of War, by no means, but adventure games such as Uncharted 4 are great for all sorts of players! I love playing computer games – I was raised very closely with my older brother and we used to play together. If you’ve never played PlayStation4 games… What I can say is: that’s not what you think. Many people perceive gaming as a total and utter waste of time, but in reality it does improve your cognitive functions, it does make you notice details in the background faster and it definitely teaches you languages: look at me, never ever have I attended additional English classes and here I am, convincing you to check PS4 games out.

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Let’s take first example I mentioned above: Uncharted 4. This beautiful game created by Naughty Dog is a perfect example of how graphics improved within the last 5 years. This is a story of Nate Drake, a treasure hunter who helps his brother pay off his debt to a dangerous Gang Leader – by finding a pirate treasure. I can’t even describe how entertaining that games is – not only is it beautiful, it’s also humoristic, fun, packed with action and great plot twists. I enjoyed it so much I actually played it 4 times already, and each time I am home alone and cooking I simply turn on YouTube on my TV and watch Pewdiepie playing the game. Even now, when I’m writing this, my boyfriend Floret is just right next to me on the couch playing God of War

The titles I would recommend are: Uncharted series, The Last of Us (although way more aggressive), Until Dawn, Horizon, Dragon Age and of course, the king of all the games: The Witcher 3.

3. Read a book

If you believe that the art of reading in the computer age waned, particularly among children, is a sure sign that you are a Muggle.

These wise words were printed on my Polish copy of Harry Potter books when I first got them in 2001. I love reading – I always enjoyed spending a quiet evening with a book. I don’t even remember the time I didn’t know how to read – it’s simply like books were always with me. With age I shifted a little bit towards Crime genre, but I love Fantasy still. I don’t read much of Classical literature though – when I was in high school I made it a point to read a book from every single one of Nobel Prize Winners in Literature (which I did) but I can’t seem to remember half of the books I’ve read.

Katarzyna Bonda reading book literature crime

There are though, pieces that you remember for your entire life. I loved reading Camilla Lackberg and of course the queen of crime literature Agatha Christie. I wanted to go now into which books I enjoyed but I can’t spend an entire year writing one post. I bought the book in the picture above today during grocery shopping and I’ve been craving to read ever since (meaning since yesterday) when I read the first part (I bought it and read it yesterday, that’s how hardcore of a crime reader I am).

I don’t think I have to advertise reading – it’s a common knowledge how great it is for broadening perspective and mastering imagination. Whenever I read, I truly feel like I am in a completely different world – Floret will confirm, even if he talks to me the sound just doesn’t get to my brain.

4. Plan your next holiday trip

I am soon planning to go for a short holiday in the mountains. I am a little bit overworked recently and decided to head for a camping trip at Solina Lake in Bieszczady Mountains – yeah, yeah, I know I’ve been there and shared pictures here, but the place is so stunning I had to see it again. For this trip, there is no planning required, but as I mentioned in my recent post about planning an EUROTRIP I was invited to spend some quality time in Croatia.

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As I’ve mentioned during the coverage of my Eurotrip experience, I’ve already been there once two years ago, so there was no need for me to purchase another guide. I am currently looking through maps, checking events and flights, prices for renting a car, distance from Dubrovnik to Montenegro and best beaches on the way. Finding things in advance might really improve the holidays experience and let us see things otherwise we wouldn’t even know of.

5. Sort through pictures!

I got you, didn’t I? Do you also have a pile of printed out pictures you should sort out but you never do because Netflix is so damn tempting? Is the pile stashed in a box from IKEA somewhere in your room and you pretend like it doesn’t exist because you feel guilty you were supposed to do something about it ages ago and you never did? Do you pray to God to become Bruce Almighty so you can use your stretching time capabilities to sort your pictures? Yeah, me too.

how to sort pictures album

I went for my Eurotrip 2 years ago and I still haven’t inserted my pictures in an album… – I am a terrible person, I know. I think sorting these out would bring a sense of piece of mind to me, so I might as well take care of it right about now. Keep fingers crossed!

And what do you do to spend a quality time at home?

Dorota

Lazy Sunday with Dorota #1 – Wilanow Palace Edition

My boyfriend Floret can easily confirm – since early morning hours I have been gloomy, moody and whiny. I had 19 post drafts on my WordPress account and I couldn’t force myself to finish any. On top of that, couldn’t find anything else to occupy my mind with either – after all, I invested a lot of time in this Blog and seeing myself loose focus so early on, just at the beginning of my adventure with blogging, was quite depressing.

After lunch we decided to go visit my mom – she is feeling quite under the weather recently and I thought bringing her a little bit of homemade, vegetarian soup would make her feel a lot better. She was very thankful and, as a result, I felt less gloomy as well.

Floret loves ice-cream, he LOVES ice-cream – actually he ate an entire box on Saturday, so I thought it would be nice to get him some. We drove to Wilanow Palace in Warsaw, and since we heard some microphone enhanced voices, we decided to check it out.

The Wilanow Palace in Warsaw.

It turned out we are currently celebrating days of one of Polish Kings: Jan III Sobieski, who happened to build this beautiful Palace for his wife in XVII century. The Palace is the oldest museum of art in my country, established in 1805, by the hand of then-current owners Aleksanda and Stanisław Potocki. To my amusement, public access to the museum continues ever since – the place is simply stunning and is probably one of the few buildings that have survived World War II. It would be such a pity if it got destroyed! Surely it’s a must see for all the tourists in Warsaw.

My mood improved visibly. I love all sorts of events – I know, I sound like my grandma now – but honestly, when people meet up and celebrate, spend leisure time organizing activities so that others can have fun on Sunday – that makes me very glad. It reminds me of Midsomer Murders, you know, the British Crime Drama that revolves around people being murdered in the Midsomer County. I grew up watching all the episodes (within first 10 seconds I can tell you exactly who the murderer is and why – I watched it so many times), learning English in the process and I always marvelled at how each episode had some great event in it: Spanish festival with flamenco dances, meeting with famous writers, cricket games, opening of the summer and so on, and I missed it here in Poland. Fortunately, now the tide turned and a lot of events are organized here as well.

I love how sculptures here are carved with such a great attention to detail. When I first moved to Warsaw in Secondary School I was so amazed by it my best friend and I spent an entire day looking at all the angels and lions. She later on went to study Art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and I still have her pencil drawings of Wilanow Sculptures – currently I am waiting for her to get famous to become a millionaire.

The sign above the gate says “speak of how nice it is to forget the troubles of life” by Horace, the leading Roman poet. In this context I think it was supposed to mean: “forget about the worries of life when you enter this beautiful garden”, since the gate leads straight to 45 hectares of garden in various styles including a double-level Baroque garden and an English landscape park. Unfortunately, this time we were not able to enter – apparently our “King” ate dinner with all the other actors. First chance I get, I have to revisit the garden, because I’m very curious how the natural lake inside looks like and what flowers they planted this year.

For the celebration local Floristic School put all these beautiful bouquettes everywhere around the courtyard. I love flowers, obviously, and I very much enjoyed how they presented these. Also, I found out that next week the museum organizes a “king’s breakfast” in the park and Warsaw University professor in cooperation with local restaurant chefs will prepare real, historic breakfest of the King, so I already made plans to visit and check it out.

In the meantime we were also lucky enough to be gifted some great food samples: Floret got a cake with zucchini flowers stuffed with cheese and I got strawberry mousse with real, edible flowers. It was a very interesting taste and I’m glad I got a chance to try, although I don’t think I would repeat that pleasure – the taste was just so very… specific.

On our way out we, as usually, revisited the mausoleum of Aleksandra and Stanisław Potocki, as you remember the owners of the palace who launched the museum 200 years ago. I think it’s beautiful and it always brings me into a little bit of melancholic mood.

We came for ice-cream and we got some. Also I got a feeling I have to start using hand-cream – my skin is so dry! Any suggestions which I can use?

I very much enjoyed my evening at the Palace and my mood is now back to normal.

I had some time to think about how our moods change during the day – and I don’t mean “us” as women, but “us” as people. Nowadays we are constantly chasing something; education, career, even blog followers and I start to believe this chase leads to nothing. I dream of a little wooden house in the countryside, with a view on the lake and a private deck. I wish I could simply make a bonfire or a BBQ for my friends and relax in the quiet of the village. I can’t pursue the dream yet for various reasons, but I look forward to it everyday.

And what is your dream?

Dorota

EUROTRIP – how to plan your trip in 5 easy steps.

As I wrote here my boyfriend Floret and I went for EUROTRIP two years ago and we LOVED IT. This was by far the best trip in my entire life, and even though I have two more eurotrips planned, I can’t imagine any of them top this experience. If you want to know details about my trip you have to check my previous post linked above, but the excerpt is that we travelled by car from Poland to Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. I wrote that we have two more Eurotrips left planned, well actually to be planned, that is: Scandinavia (Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden) and “wild, wild west” (Italy, France, Portugal and Spain).

Because this year we were offered to visit our friend’s house in southern Croatia to see Dubrovnik as well as Montenegro (hence not spend a single dime on accommodation), we decided to go there instead and postpone our Eurotrips for next year. That left me with quite significant time to plan our trip ahead and not end up being “spontaneous” (here the synonym of unprepared). I mention the impulsiveness of our first Eurotrip because it got us in trouble several times – hence I decided to plan everything in a little bit more detail. During my planning procedure I realised I have some experience which might be useful to all of you, sweet people, who might want to plan their own trips! Hence, I decided to share my 5 great tips for planning the Eurotrip!

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Amazing Plitvice lake we’ve seen during our first Eurotrip experience in Croatia.

1. Start by preparing overall plan

We decided to go for the Scandinavian trip first – let the working title for this expedition be; Vikingtrip. We started with the overall plan in our heads after a little bit of brainstorming – I wanted to see Copenhagen and the Oresund bridge to Sweden, Floret wanted to see Bergen and the fjords. Taking a quick look at the map we realised that our trip should look something like that:

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Our trip consists of: Warsaw, Berlin, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Malmo, Gothenburg, Oslo, Bergen, Oslo again, Karlstad, Stockhold and Gdańk.

The trip “ends” in Stockholm only because we decided to take a ferry to a beautiful Polish city of Gdańsk through the Baltic Sea. Now when our outline is ready we can see how long will it take to drive our little camper. We know from experience (we are together for almost 3 years and drove hundreds of kilometers) that it is optimal to drive around 500 km every 2-3 days. That way we won’t be too exhausted from driving, we will have time to see places we visit in detail and we will be able to relax.

Bearing that in mind we can move further and plan stops in between cities, which are too far away. That way I put a stop between Oslo and Stockholm in Karlstad – a city we were not really interested in, but decided it’s optimal to take a break in. I evaluate that the time needed to see all these places is around 3-4 weeks. Now when our trip is planned we can get into much more detail and check-out interesting activities and things to see.

2. Allow flexibility – don’t book all the hotels

Obviously in case of the Vikingtrip we are going to go in a camper, so arranging accommodation is going to be limited to us simply finding a campsite to stop. If you don’t have such an opportunity, I advise you not to book hotels for each night. What I realised during my first Eurotrip is that we liked some places way more than others. At some point on Krk island in Croatia we got a little bored of tanning on the beach and decided to drive to Slovenia earlier – which turned out to be a great decision – Slovenia is definitely my favourite destination out of all the trip.

Allow yourself a little bit of carpe diem moment. Be spontaneous and don’t worry – it’s not like finding a hotel is very difficult – you wouldn’t believe how many people book rooms and never show up!

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Floret on his way to see a mountain shelter in Slovenia.

3. Plan activities, relax and sightseeing in equal intervals

I used the word “interval” and got reminded of all the terrible moments I had in my High Level Math class in high school – I nearly got a panic attack, I swear. I am a firm believer in balance in the universe. I think that equilibrium between sightseeing, relax and activities should be achieved at all times, so that we don’t go crazy during a trip that is longer than a weekend.

At the end of my first Eurotrip we went to Vienna, Austria and were sightseeing the city and all the museum until I just gave up and had to simply… have fun! Floret saved me by taking me to Vienna Prater (an amusement park), where after trying one ride, tired I fell asleep on the grass in the park nearby. I realised then, that a great trip is packed with everything, not just sightseeing!

Usually Floret is the one who organizes sport during out trips; he took us for biking and kayaking in Slovenia, all the water parks on our way, as well as rafting. I am usually responsible for finding great places to see and visit; like museums, interesting places, reading the guide and analyzing where to go. I am also responsible for food and restaurants, while Floret looks for beaches and relaxation. I think we are quite compatible!

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Me kayaking on a lake Bled in Slovenia.

4. Always get a detailed guidebook

I know people who don’t believe in guidebooks and hate reading them. They prefer to simply go and see whatever they want. I am not one of them, and let me, sweet readers, explain why. When on my last Eurotrip I bought or borrowed guidebooks for all the cities and for most of them I read all the information. I simply stopped at a church, for example, and read all the trivia to Floret. At the end of the trip in Vienna I was a little lazy and didn’t bother to read at all, and… can’t remember half of what I’ve seen. I browsed through pictures to choose some for this page and it turned out I don’t even remember seeing these places. At all. I’ve never had amnesia before, so I think I’m right believing that it’s all because of not reading the guide – after all, I remember all the other ones!

Moreover, when you already have a guide you can prepare a more detailed plan of what to see in each place – you simply pick most interesting things and arrange to visit.

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Menu in one of Viennese restaurants – on the table an amazing guide I was too lazy to read.

5. Plan your finances and book hotels in advance

Since I ran out of points to close up in 5, I had to join two very important points. I know you might think I’m contradicting myself, above I wrote: “don’t book hotels for each night” and in here I tell you to book hotels. What I mean, is that I believe we have to arrange accommodation for most of the nights way in advance to get better deals. 

In terms of money… Money is such a sensitive topic nowadays. I know Instagram makes us believe all the people in the world are loaded and we are the only ones who don’t have golden Lamborghini, but the reality is I know very few people who can wipe with cash. When going for such a long, quite expensive trip, you have to assess how much cash you need and be prepared to use your credit card. We spent around 3500 Euro on our trip and it was a lot of money – we didn’t limit ourselves with anything really, which we should have, and we tried everything, so be prepared for that kind of money. We had to use our credit cards several times and weren’t really expecting it!

Right now, in case of Vikingtrip I know it will cost way more than what we spent before – Scandinavian countries are extremely expensive – hence the camper idea to not pay for hotels. You now know why I constantly preach about things being expensive and saving money, I just need it to travel.

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A dark sky above Krk, Croatia.

I hope with this post I was able to help you. If you have any questions please hit that contact button and let’s share! Follow me on Instagram and get fresh pictures from my adventures!

Dorota