A Travellerspoint blog

Croatia

Dubrovnik

The Pearl of the Adriatic

sunny

06 October 2015

As we drove from Mostar towards the coast, the grey clouds seemed to follow us for just a short while. The closer we got and after passing through a long tunnel, we emerged on the other side to clearing skies. By the time we got to our final stop on the Patty, Jim and Brenda tour, the sun was welcoming us. Brenda would be heading home shortly but we (P and J) are heading on to Amsterdam and then Ireland.

Mostar to Dubrovnick

Mostar to Dubrovnick

Seaside town along the way from Mostar - almost deserted

Seaside town along the way from Mostar - almost deserted

Ana was our Airbnb host for the apartment in Dubrovnik but she was up in Zagreb for work. It really seems that many of the Airbnb apartments are family businesses. Throughout our trip, sisters, cousins, Dads and/or Moms were helping when the primary person was not available. And, of course, they were just a text away. Speaking of texting - I think Jim might finally be convinced that a smart/iphone would really be a good thing to have as we travel internationally. (I have a smart tracphone at home. Which works great at home but doesn't work outside the USA. Originally, because we travel so much, a contract was not such a great idea. But with new pricing I think it would be very useful. And truthfully, without Brenda's phone - we would have been a bit lost. Thanks B!!)

But I digress....With bags in hand, we made it down the four flights of stairs. (It was great going down the stairs for once but then you realize at some point we'd have to go back up.)

Walking into our "home" and walking out on to the terrace was incredible. The view...oh the view!!! See what I mean.

Our view from the terrace

Our view from the terrace

Jim enjoying the view

Jim enjoying the view


The apartment in total was great. Two bedroom, living room, kitchen and an sea-view terrace all for $79 per night. Who said that Europe was expensive??

Marija arrived and showed us around the apartment and also sat down with us and gave us the info on Dubrovnik. She also told us where we would have to go to drop the car off (which we decided to do that day instead of the next).

The sun was out and it was time to see the Old City but first - get rid of the car!! We went back and forth on that decision but in the end we were glad that we dropped it off that day so that we had the whole next day to tour the Old Town. Dubrovnik was very easy to get around. Had to get gas first and then the Fleet office was just two minutes up the street. We lucked out with a parking spot right across the street, check over the car, sign paperwork and DONE!! Marija had told us which bus to take to get from the rental car place to the Old Town. She also suggested that we think about buying a "Dubrovnik Card" - it included the Old City Wall, about eight museums and bus transportation for 24 hours. We did the math and decided it would at the very least break even and would be very convenient. Got the card, caught the bus and off we go.

The bus dropped us off right outside the gates of the Old City. Having gone through a devastating earthquake in 1667 and damage again during the fighting in the 1990's, it is currently thriving as a tourist destination.

Being our first afternoon and it was quite late, we decided to just wander a bit and then stop for dinner. We would come back the next day to do the wall. Dubrovnik is a walled, medieval city(probably from the 6th or 7th century but those claims are disputed) and also a seaport. The old city is now a UNESCO Heritage site but the city proper has also extended north along the coast and comprises small neighborhoods and a huge port. On a busy day it's not unusual for four or five cruise ships to be in port. We were lucky, our first two days in town, there was only one large and a couple of small ships. When we left on Thursday Oct 8th - there was probably six. As we found out Thursdays and Saturdays are when there are the most cruise ships in port and are days to do something other than try and see the Old City. One suggestion: try and wander around at night. All the tours and cruisers are gone and you can even find a quite corner or two.

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07 October 2015

Dinner was delicious and we probably had a little too much wine so the next morning we were glad that we had already taken the car back. We made our way, UP the stairs and to the bus stop and took the local bus back to the Old City. We made our way up to the wall (price included in the Dubrovnik Card normally 100 Kc (about $14). The wall runs up and down for about 2km (1.24 miles) and is a combination of walkways, stairs, turrets and towers. And for those of you who are Game of Thrones fans, the pictures will seem very familiar. It was filmed here. The views are quite beautiful and you'll be able to see, it really is a working city, with homes and schools - not just a tourist attraction.

The Old City

The Old City

Roof tops of the Old City

Roof tops of the Old City

It was a gorgeous sunny day and feeling a little parched and very hungry we decided lunch should be outside. the harbor side of the city has a couple of cafes with delicious seafood. Seafood on the sea - can't get much better than that other than it was also very reasonable.

Seafood by the sea side

Seafood by the sea side

Our trip was coming to an end and the next day was going to be an early one for Brenda, so we planned the evening at the apartment and it was a good thing. A thunder and lightening storm came in along the sea and it truly was the most spectacular I've ever experienced. Brilliant lightening strikes lighting up the water and the thunder rolled enough to shake the house. (I loved it!!!).

08 October 2015

As they normally do, the storm passed and ushered in a beautiful day. Sun after the storm

Sun after the storm

Unfortunately, at 0600 Brenda was off the the airport for her flight home. It hardly seemed like we'd really been traveling for a month. The three of us had talked extensively about how fortunate we felt that 1) we have the opportunity to travel as we do and 2) that the three of us seem to really meld as travel companions. Safe travels B...until our next trip!!!

Our flight to Amsterdam didn't leave until late afternoon, so we decided to head back to the Old City and try to scout out some of the small alleyways. Upon arriving, was when we found out what Thursdays were like. Crazy!! It was so much more crowded than the past two days, so we grabbed some lunch, made our way back to the apartment just in time to meet with Marija's Dad who would be our ride to the airport.

Just the two of us (missing our travel buddy) we're heading to Amsterdam and on to a new adventure.

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Posted by pjburke 14:56 Archived in Croatia Comments (3)

Plitvice Lakes National Park and Trogir

From the mountains to the sea

02 October 2015

We had heard so much about the Plitvice Lakes National Park and since we decided, due to time constraints, to skip Lake Bled. we made it happen. It was a quick one night stay, which we don't really like to do but here, it worked.

Taking off early from Rovinj (actually setting the alarm clock) and getting on the road by 0800 got us into the park right around noon. Breakfast was sparse, so it was lunch at the cafeteria. The food really wasn't too bad but we've had such good food recently that it was just "ok".

Shortly after we left Rovinj, we hit rain which made us second guess our plan. But, there was no turning back now. What's a little rain???

Still a slight drizzle and the fact that we had all our bags in the car and we made our way to our one night guesthouse - Pansion House Prijeboj . Pansion House Prijeboj

Pansion House Prijeboj

As we were checking in, the young lady at the desk, asked us if we were going to have dinner there that night. Hmmm - we didn't know that it was an option. She assured us that the food was good...especially the fish!! 15 euro person...works for us - three fish dinners at 730pm. We'll be there.

By the time we got back to the park, it was still a little grey but the rain had stopped and off we went exploring. Plitvice is known for it's waterfalls and there were plenty to view. I think that the rain actually enhanced our views.

Not to easy to get lost!!

Not to easy to get lost!!

Falls

Falls

....and more falls!!

....and more falls!!


One trail lead to a boat which lead to another boat which lead to a trail that ran along the lake which lead to waterfall after waterfall. It really was lovely. I"ll let the pictures do the talking. (Note: we had thought about two days at the park but really one was just enough. If the weather was better I'm sure there would be alot more to do but one worked for us..)

Dinner that night was a great surprise!! We went to dining room (in the lower level) at 730 and no one was around and the lights were off. Whoa...what's going on. We looked around...no one. I walked out to a small cabin behind the lodge and the owner answered. His English was better than my Croatian but only by a few words. Fish?? Yes!! and with a head nod I knew we'd be having dinner soon. We followed the owner back in to the house and he headed out the back door. Where is he going?? but we followed. The fish was on the grill but he also wanted to show us where they came from. He had his own fish pond in the back and had caught the fish just before cooking them. The dinner came with a whole fish (each), potatoes, grilled vegetables, a fresh salad and bread. We were asked when we made the reservation if we wanted wine or beer but we had a bottle and they gladly let us drink it with dinner. It was incredible!!! Being this late in the season, there were only five other people staying that night but we were the only ones having dinner - their loss!!

Yummy Fish Dinner

Yummy Fish Dinner

03 and 04 October 2015

And again...we're off!! This time for two instead of just one night. We head south and west towards the coast, in hopes of some sun and warmer weather - we're heading to Trogir.

The ride was uneventful up until we got into Trogir. There really wasn't an "event". It was just that it was Saturday. Being an an old seaside town it had really narrow and VERY tight winding streets. I guess "challenging" would be a good word - but we made it with the vehicles paint job in tact.

We were greeted by our hostess Katarina and her Mom - both lovely ladies. The apartment - was nice with really awesome views over looking the Adriatic. The only slight problem was that to go into town or down to the harbor and then back to the apartment there was a hill, a really steep hill, but I guess we have to work off all this great food somehow.

The view from our apartment - Trogir

The view from our apartment - Trogir

Down the hill to lunch along the small harbor (vs the large harbor) and stopped at a water side restaurant - Mediterranean . It was just opening for the afternoon (at 1pm ???) and they were out of a number of things since they would be closing on Sunday for the season. after lunch and little grocery shopping,we headed up over the BIG hill to the Old Town. It had been threatening rain all day and started sprinkling as we were coming down the hill and the skies opened up as we got over the bridge. We made our way out of the passing downpour and continued to wander after it stopped.

Two tourists posing for a photo

Two tourists posing for a photo

Lunch and Dinner

Lunch and Dinner

The calm after the storm

The calm after the storm

Old Town coming over the hill

Old Town coming over the hill


Sunday, we woke to bright sunshine and a glorious day. It was back over the the hill for lunch and to see the areas of town we missed in the rain. But before heading over the bridge to the Old Town we walked along the waterfront admiring the multitude of sail boats. Trogir's port is home to a number of sailing companies. We haven't sailed since we left San Diego and walking here really made me want to just jump on one of these boats and sail away. One can dream !! But maybe, one can do more than dream. We talked with the owner of one the companies about sailing out of Trogir's harbor next fall. Jim has told me since I hit the BIG 60 next year, I can pick my trip - hmmmmm ... Croatian Coast for a week or two???. It is a definite possibility!!!

Sunday morning sunshine

Sunday morning sunshine


Maybe next years vacation :-)

Maybe next years vacation :-)

Well..back to earth and off for lunch and a stroll. Being another really old town (established in the 3rd century), it's been pillaged and plundered but the old Kamerlengo Castle (or parts of it) still stand. Views from the Tower were wonderful!!

Fort Kamerlengo

Fort Kamerlengo

Off again tomorrow and heading back inland for a side trip to Mostar, Bosnia. We've heard that it's a very interesting spot. We'll keep you posted!!

More Pics....

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Posted by pjburke 06:00 Archived in Croatia Comments (4)

On to Croatia

Zagreb and the Istrian Coast

overcast 64 °F

I know you've all been waiting breathlessly to find out if we got to Zagreb. Well.....yes, we did but not without a hiccup.

I'll take you back. It was just about 0550 am when we got to the train station. We come up from the Metro ..the station was right there in front of us. After a few minutes, we find a bus that going to Zagreb but it leaves at 0615 (not 0600 as our ticket said). We showed the reservation, which was on Brenda's cell phone, to the driver. He nods and tells us that we have to go and get the actual ticket. The desk in downstairs and doesn't open til 0600. Brenda and Jim stay with the luggage and I go downstairs and I'm first in line at the International ticket window. Promptly at 0600, the curtain slides away and I give her the cell phone. She says "wrong desk... over there" as she points to the domestic travel line. I say "In the domestic travel line??" - she says "No, across the street!!!" I get that very bad sinking feeling. I run (and I don't usually run) up the stairs and yell to Brenda and Jim that we're in the wrong place. By now, I know that when we get there, the bus will be gone. We ask another independent bus driver and he know's nothing. We've missed the bus - literally!! We all look at each other and again "run" back across the street, knowing that there is the 0615 bus that is going to Zagreb. It was almost that time now, but we would still have to buy a ticket. It's downstairs and into the same line. With Brenda's help and pleading looks we beg to the front of the line, buy the tickets and run back upstairs with about....one minute to spare, totally out of breath and a bit frazzled. It was funny as we talked about it later. Jim lets' me know later that while all this was going on, he and I were thinking the same thing. "OK, we've missed the bus to Zagreb, I wonder where the other buses are going and how can we get to Dubrovnik to catch our flight on the 8th??"

27 September 2015

The ride to Zagreb was uneventful. Passports were collected at the border and returned with no issues. We had directions to our apartment from the bus station. The day was a bit grey, kind of like our mood at the time. As we were walking from the the bus stop, an odd thing happened. We started hearing music. From the gazebo, the Puhacki Orkestar Zet was playing. At that moment, we felt as if we were being welcomed to Croatia.

Welcome Music

Welcome Music

Iva, our host in Zagreb, was there to meet us about 30 seconds after we found the apartment. With our bags and her two year old in tow we started up the three flights of stairs. I knew when we booked the apartment that it was the "penthouse". Somehow, that sounds luxurious but in actually only feels like it when there is an elevator. Of course, we managed.

Off to investigate our first stop in Croatia. A few "firsts on the trip", a hamburger that was great and later in the day we watched a movie on the TV. A good "relax and catch up" day. We realized that it was the first time in three weeks we'd watched any TV at all.

28 September 2015

Sometimes when people travel together, we need a break. It's really not a bad thing. Also, since we had to adjust our arrival day, Jim and I had to pick up our rental car. Brenda headed out to wander on her own and we made our way to the Westin Hotel and the Fleet Car Rental Office. Our goal was to see if we could sign all our paperwork but not pick the car up until the next day, thus avoiding paying to park...and it worked. They were more than happy to accommodate us. Paperwork signed and Jim and I did a little touring on our own with plans to meet Brenda in the Town Square by the " Horse statue" and have lunch together. Worked out great.

Since we had a late lunch, we really didn't need dinner and Brenda had scoped out a wine tasting for that evening. It was at Vinoteka Bornstein, the first and oldest in Croatia. Doris and her husband (who was having a well earned night off) have owned this establishment for an number of years. She was more than happy to fill us in on Croatian wines and also the history of Michael Grgich, a Croat, whose wine are is very well known world wide. It was a fun night - drinking and learning - can't get better than that.

Vinoteka Bornstein

Vinoteka Bornstein

Tasting a little Croatian wine

Tasting a little Croatian wine

29 September 2015 thru 01 October 2015

Up early - got packed. I went off to get the car and Brenda and Jim met me down, those oh so many stairs, and we were off - heading to the Rovinj (In the Istria area) by way of of Motovun, a wine area that was recommended the night before by Doris.

The drive was nice with the sun starting to peak out. From a NY Times newspaper article that Brenda had found, we decided on lunch at what is currently called Konoba Mondo. This time of year is great to visit these areas...truffle season. We all got some version of a Truffle dish - Brenda a souffle, me, polenta and Jim a pasta dish. We also started with a pate dish, topped with, of course, truffles - OMG - they were all really good!!! Our waiter was great and since it was after prime season we were actually able to have a conversation about the food and the area. September and October are officially my favorite times to travel.

Truffles in Motovun

Truffles in Motovun

Motovun is a medieval fortified town on a hill top that has been am actual town since the 1st century. The views were wonderful and the city itself very quaint. It actually would have been fun to stay the night but we had reservations in Rovinj -

Arriving in Rovinj, due to construction, it took us a few minutes to find our apartment but when we did we were very pleased. Again from Airbnb, we stayed in an apartment at the home of Giorgio Certo. Once a large property, started by his grandfather, it is still quite big and in a perfect location, only a few minutes walk to the harbour but away from the tourist noise (which at this time of the year really wasn't noisy at all).

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Being located in the northwest corner of Croatia, the Istria area has seen many changes over the last 100-200 years. Giorgio told us that his father actually had four different passport and lived his whole life in the same house: Austrian Hungarian, Italian, Yugoslavian and Croatian. The area definitely has the feel of a mix of the Mediterranean cultures.

Rovijn

Rovijn

Nighttime in Rovinj

Nighttime in Rovinj


Three nights was perfect to stroll the cobbled streets of Rovinj, take a boat tour and also, take a day out to see Pula (about 30 minutes drive to the south) and it's Roman Amphitheater.

Front view Amphitheater in Pula

Front view Amphitheater in Pula

Roman Amphitheater

Roman Amphitheater

With our host Giorgio

With our host Giorgio

Check back later for pics...

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Posted by pjburke 10:41 Archived in Croatia Comments (2)

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