Category Archives: Kids on vacation

Slovenian beach

Best Slovenian Beach for Children: Izola, Strunjan or Portorož?

Slovenian beach – why go there at all when there’s Italy, Croatia, Spain and many other luxurious and cheap places? Why for me, Slovenia is a beautiful country with outstanding nature. The way to the beach (if going by bus or car) is an aesthetic experience on its own. Its people are civilized and friendly, its prices are cheap, hotels and guest-houses are cozy. (Although most don’t have mosquito nets on windows, which is annoying). No matter where you choose to stop for a night or for a coffee break, you will lay hands on a good restaurant.

Slovenian beach – what to expect?

Pebbles

Beaches in Slovenia can leave different memories and impressions on your soles if you are not wearing beach shoes depending on what you fall. But one thing can be promised – there will be no or little sand, so if you are a sand-castle builder – Slovenia beach is definitely not for you. But if you are a pebble-castle builder, then it is certainly a good place. Here is a list of amazing things to do with pebbles. If you are trampoline jumper and a diver, if you like water slides and good ice-cream – it’s another reason to go to Slovenian beach.

People

One thing that has surprised me (for good) were the people I came across during the vacation. Most of my beach neighbors were reasonably good-looking, polite and mannered. No rude shouting, no crazy beach games around, no insane surfing and so on – all quiet. I see it as a plus but some of you might see it as a minus – to each his own.

Generally speaking Slovenia cannot boast being the first choice beach resort for families during summer vacation. However, it has this clean, wave-less sea water, sports attractions and nice people around.

Izola, Strunjan or Portoroz – brief comparison

Here is a purely subjective comparison of three beaches, kids-wise: Izola, Strujan and Portoroz. Points of comparison are: shallow water accessibility (for small children), cleanliness, availability of jumping/playing facilities (for older children who can swim well and are bored from just splashing around).

 IzolaStrunjanPortorož
Pebble/SandSmall Pebbles - beach shoes requiredBig Pebbles/Stones - beach shoes are still required but stones are nicer for touchSand
Facilities for childrentwo spiral water slides, trampoline (outside of sea), small sand court for ball games. Excellent water trampoline (low prices), and small playground for very young children.Water trampoline, which looks decent from far away. My kids haven't tried it, so cannot recommend. Besides the trampoline haven't noticed any visible entertainment facilities.
Cafes nearbyTwo nice cafes with snacks, salads etc., reasonable prices. The ice-cream sold on the beach was not approved by my experienced ice-cream users. Two cafes, haven't tried food in any of them, the ice-cream, however, is memorably good. The place is swarmed with cafes and restaurants nearby, haven't tried any though, so cannot recommend. There is a supermarket nearby where you can buy snacks/water/almost anything else.
Shadow/Sun umbrellasAlmost no shadow. Sun umbrellas and long chairs exist for FREE use. Lots of shadow and trees. No sun umbrellas, but none are required anyway.Little shadow, lots of sun. Sun umbrellas exist but it's unknown whether they are for a fee or free.
Easy access to shallow water (for children)Nice, shallow water easily accessible from the beach. Becoming deeper and deeper the more you advance. Plenty of shallow water. Ideally for small kids. Access to water is through stairs, which is a bit annoying. Lots of shallow water but no sun umbrellas in the area of shallow water. So either brings yours, or sit quite far from the shallow water (not suitable for parents who want to watch their kids and being in the shadow at the same time).
Cleanliness of water Quite dirty water, seaweeds, mixture of sand, shells and pebbles. Cannot see the floor. Very clean water. Can see the large stones at the bottom. Quite tolerable clean water, not perfect but cleaner than in Izola beach.

As shown in the table above, different beaches have different properties and advantages. If you travel with very small kids or babies, you obviously don’t need a sea trampoline. However, if your family is a mixture of swimmers, ice-cream lovers, breast-feeding individuals and breast-milking individuals, pizza and wi-fi carvers – then you will need a versatile  choice of options. My choice falls on Strunjan and here is why:

First, it has a lot of shadow – for those who are not planning to bake themselves watching for kids.

Second, it has two tolerable cafes – which is not tremendously much but quite enough for an average family.

Third, it has excellent sea trampoline, which can attract a teenager for about 2 hours and leave you, mom, totally for yourself or yourself and babies. Empirically proven, trampolines are good for mental health since teenage kids don’t get bored and don’t make their parents go bananas.

Fourth, it has easy access to very shallow water with no waves. There are no sand, true, but the stones are slippery, big and not scratchy (still, would recommend beach shoes). The shallow water is ideal for young kids or kids who don’t know how to swim, or moms who don’t know how to swim with babies on their arms.

To me, there four components form the ideal beach for a diverse family with different interests, ages, tastes and expectations.

Slovenian beach
Trampoline on Izola Beach (outside of water)
Slovenian beach
Portoroz beach
Strunjan sea trampoline (with diving options for good swimmers)

Slovenian beach

How to survive summer with kids

bored cat

Summer vacation has always been a challenge for me since I was a school kid myself. It’s long, it’s boring, all the friends disappear and I found myself sinking into endless reading (at that time the internet was still somewhere in the horizon line). Walking under the sun was not tempting enough, so most of my summer days were self-exploration journeys between the walls of my room (lucky me, I had my own room).

Now, with my growing kids, I find myself in a similar perplexity, except that my time is strictly structured and there are much fewer opportunities for quiet self-exploration. Rather it’s a noisy exploration of everything in and around the house, sweaty bike trips, ice-cream absorption and a carousel of events I do not necessarily approve but they still take place.

So, how to survive the 2 months of heat, moist, bored kids, sounds of cartoons and the general feeling of wasted time? Is there a way to turn at least part of that time into productive being? My answer is – yes, but! First, you have to realize, that it cannot be perfect and some of the days will still be long, boring, annoying and so unbearably hot that all you will be able to do is watch and envy the polar bears. But look at the global picture and find the perfect angle under the air conditioner. Don’t strive to perfection or you will be doomed to failure.

Tip #1: make a list of venues for good and bad weather

carousel

Make a huge big list of all the nearby places you can go with kids in good and bad weather. Playrooms, trampolines, parks, playgrounds, forests, cinema, swimming pools, lakes where you can feed bears swans etc., etc. I’m sure you can find at least 10-15 venues. There are some great closed playrooms with excellent wi-fi where you can work or have a cup of something while thinking on the next project. Open spaces like forests, parks and playgrounds are great for kids but they also mean you will not be able to steal a minute for yourself (which is good sometimes, too).

Tip #2: enroll kids for daily summer camps

fire

An excellent but costly solution for kids from 6 to 12 years old. From 12 and on there are great vacation stay camps. What I like most about camps is, that the child comes home exhausted, happy and dirty. Putting them in the bathtub afterward will grant you another quiet hour. What I like less about camps is, that if you have another smaller child, whom you still don’t want to send into unknown social environment, this smaller child will provide you a solo entertainment during the entire day. When two or three kids are at home together they get along better (even if they fight), rather than you staying at home with the youngest one(s) alone. This is based on own experiment and is subject to an argument.

Tip #3: invite your children’s friends

mom and children

This is not something you can use on a daily basis, but keeping one day in a week busy inviting your kids’ friends for a sleepover or just for a play date at home can be a good option. The pros are obvious: kids play, destroy the house in an unusual way and you can maybe have some relatively quiet time (depending on the size of your house/apartment). The cons are obvious as well: mess, extra responsibilities (kids can break their jaws, get cut, get hurt – you are in charge).

Tip#4: make them clean – it’s soap opera time!

bathroom

I know it might sound boring, but in fact, kids love to clean. Give them sponges, liquid soap (make sure small kids do not have access to chemicals), warm water and – voila! Cleaning all kinds of surfaces – windows, tables, kitchen marbles; once they start you won’t be able to make them stop. My kids end up making a “soap pool” in the bathroom or even on the floor (sounds very weird but they like “skating” on it). To avoid dried soap stains and other unpleasant signs of “cleaning” activity, my preference usually lies in the bathroom area, but it’s definitely not a rule of thumb.

Tip #5: throwing away stuff. Out, out brief candle!

garbage bin

There are lots of things in our house we don’t really need. There are tons of things we keep just in case but have never used and never will. Summer boredom is a great time to actively throw these things away together with your kids (don’t throw the kids away, at least I didn’t say that). So, if your little ones are 4 years and older they are legit for this creative assignment. Each child gets a sac and a task, for example: find 10 things in your room/play area that you don’t need. You can take the kitchen or the living room, and then you all meet after 10-15 minutes to see what surprises you have in your bags. It is amazing how we never pay attention at the junk we keep, but once the mission is set your mind works clearly: in, out, in, out etc.

These are, so far, my creative recipes. I’m sure there are a lot more ways to entertain your offspring but I’ve listed only those I have personally tested on my flesh and blood. Any more ideas?