When we arrived in Zagreb we took a bus into the city and then a train that let us out right outside our hotel. We cleaned up- and started a walking tour in the main square. The next stop was to get ice cream.
We went by the stock exchange and on to the main cathedral now dedicated to the Assumption of Mary (formally St Stephen).
During the 15th century this was the frontier and last cathedral before Ottoman controlled territory. The city was fortified as a result.
We went by the miracle gate and then to the last standing tower from the fortifications. We took a picture of the famous tiled roof of St Mark's (and another as we walked toward it). We went to the open air market and ate some mediocre strawberries. We sauntered around the old streets some more and sat for drinks at an outdoor café. We then went for Doner Kebabs for dinner and because of the jet lag, headed back to the hotel. We turned in around 8:30 and slept until 10:00 in the morning.
We weren't the last to breakfast, as an American medical anthropologist, in the country to give a presentation, and a Canadian cartoonist (both female) ate while we were there. We headed out and I found a coke early.
Our first stop was the City Museum. It was a nice museum and we were the only customers- it was free. Put things in perspective from Bronze Age to the present.
Next we went by the Miracle Gate again and this time I took a picture. This was a wooden city gate which had a Madonna and Child painted on it. The gate burned but the portion with the painting didn't. It is considered a miracle and has become a shrine, with other miracles attributed to it.
We next went on the walking tour of the lower city. This included the theater and the Muamar Museum with works of art from B.C. to the early 20th century. Some people believed the Donor came by the works of art fraudulently by stealing an identity during World War I.
We continued the walking tour to the Botanical Gardens and then through the major park of the Lower City. Ice Cream time again.
After walking a little more it was time for drinks. Entertainment came with it in the form of "The Leopard Man" from Australia. Somewhat funny, lots of juggling, kept the crowd amused.
Afterwards we went to Leonardos Trattoria; Teresa had a green salad and pizza. I had gorgonzola. salad and Green Pasta. There was lots of promenading going on and we took a circuitous route back to the hotel.
The next day was a holiday. The bad news was that most buildings were closed. The good news was all the churches were open. We attended 3 masses and a baptism (sounds like a movie) Subway was open so we ate a leisurely lunch outside of it. It was a traveling day so we then went back to the hotel to gather our baggage. (The airlines had delayed our flight to 5:24 which hurt our plans.)
We took a tram to the bus station and a bus to the airport — on the bus we met Gary McClure, a finance professor from Saratoga Springs who was teaching in Zagreb. He was also flying into Pula. It was a short flight but still 6:30 by the time we got our bags.
Our plan was to take a taxi to the bus station and then a bus to Rovinj. Our taxi driver informed us the buses weren't running because of the holiday (Corpus Christi strikes again). He told us he would take us to Rovinj for $50. Although we questioned if he was telling us the truth (a later taxi driver said he was telling us a lie), his price was reasonable. (The actual meter was $70.) On our way, after troubles in translation, we convinced him to call our prospective landlords who were to meet us at the bus station after we called. He apparently couldn't understand her either. When we arrived, she wasn't there, and when Teresa called, she was told that because we did not re-re-confirm we no longer had a room. Bruno helped us by trying to call for a different room and then taking us to a hotel. They were full but they called over to Istria Hotel on Red Island and booked us a room. This meant taking a 15 minute ferry ride from the dock. Bruno drove us there and stayed awhile chatting.
We arrived at the hotel at 8:50.The cost was 46 Euros per person for a night but included a buffet breakfast and dinner. The reception clerk took care of our bags and sent us down to dinner which was ready to close. That night the fish they called "Grooper" was terrific as were the desserts. Drinks were extra. Teresa had a good Merlot, cost $1.00.
Our room was very nice overlooking the water. The hotel was a resort and very well run. The only real downside was the bed which was hard, and the poor pillows. After we cleaned up we took a little walk.
In the morning we had breakfast early. It was wonderful with eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, rolls, etc. We then took the 8:30 ferry to Rovinj. We walked all through this medieval town, founded by the Romans, ruled by the Venetians and everyone in between. We went up the bell tower of St. Euphemia's Church (3rd century martyr whose remains are in the church) and took pictures. We also visited the art shops on Grisa Street.- (nothing caught our fancy). Found the Arch, had a milkshake- pretty poor- and bought fruit and homemade cheese (also pretty poor) at the farmers' market. After a stop for bread we had what we needed for a picnic lunch to take to the beach.
The island had trails you could walk along while looking for a place on the rocks to park yourself. We had to look a bit to find a place with some shade. There was a small bay with a pebble beach and lounge chairs that could be rented. It could be toured in about half an hour. We had a wonderful day.
The dinner buffet featured tuna- a bit too well done- pork, mushrooms, meatballs, Teresa liked them, French fries, mashed potatoes, pizza, various vegetables, and the salad bar and dessert bar. The ice cream was the best we had in Croatia so far. Everywhere else we found whipped ice cream. We walked off dinner around the larger of the 2 islands admiring the sunset.
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast we caught the 8:30 ferry into Rovinj and the 9:00 bus to Porec. We walked through the city that again was founded by the Romans and went to its major attraction, the 6th century cathedral. It is famous, (a Unesco World Heritage site) for its mosaics, including the 4th century mosaics from an earlier Christian church the cathedral was built over.
The mosaics on the canopy over the altar are 13th century. Shown separately are stonework and mosaics from the various times, quite impressive. We saw the old Roman house and the Roman temples of Mars and Venus (or what was left of them).
The city streets were similar those of Ravinj, stone polished by millions of footsteps.
We took the ferry back to the resort, changed and headed to our little island where we again sunbathed, snorkeled (an extended trip this time) read our books and ate cherries, plums, walnuts and some of the dark organic chocolate that Don gave us. (We rationed it and it lasted almost two weeks.) It was a glorious afternoon.
We stopped by the pool on the way back to our room. I swam a couple of laps. Teresa did a couple hundred. I explained to people she had been a streetwalker in Venice.
Dinner included turkey, bratwurst (2 types), the ubiquitous French fries, pasta (good), pizza, hake, and vegetables. Teresa mistakenly included butter rum ice cream among her desserts and was happy to hear it was Steve's favorite Life Saver flavor and so pawned it off on him.
The resort provided live music at 9:30. This consisted of a female lead singer, who also danced, a guitarist and a keyboard player. They played mostly older American Rock to about 50 people and 300 seagulls who wafted like kites high above the audience in a surrealistic display.
The next morning we woke to foul weather. After breakfast it was to the 8:30 ferry for the trip in. We managed to stay pretty dry in a standing room only crowd in the areas that were protected from the rain.
We drove to Pula. This has been a strategic port for millennia. The Romans fortified it and turned it into a large city. It was the major naval base of the Byzantine Empire in the 5th and 6th centuries and the Venetians controlled it later. While many Roman remnants remain, including the amphitheater (coliseum), when the Austro-Hungarian Empire took it, they modernized the fort on the hill, so that is the one that remains. When we arrived we parked near the amphitheater (Coliseum) so that was our first stop. We used the audio guide and learned some of its history, including the thwarted attempt of some Venetians to transport it, block by block, back to Venice for reassembly.
We then went to the Cathedral, from the 6th century, the Roman floor mosaic, the temple of Augustus, the temple to Diana (turned into City Hall), the Roman Forum, theater, The Double Gate and the Arch of Sergis.
For lunch we ate a large slice of pizza, mine with tuna, Teresa's with mushrooms. Set us back $2.00. Back to the car and up the peninsula. We made a stop at Opatija, the Riviera of the Adriatic. Actually, it was very reminiscent of Cannes, except its beaches were paved to a seawall. This had been the most fashionable seaside resort of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World War I. The old mansions are now elegant hotels. We walked up and down its famous promenade. I bought ice cream, lemon and banana. Teresa wouldn't even take her allowed two licks because of my choices.
We found our bed and breakfast and checked in. We ate at the Licka Kuca down the road at one of the park entrances. It was a logged structure, like a lodge, with a large open fire in the middle. You smelled it as soon as you walked in. Teresa and I shared the Licka platter; salad, lamb on a spit, potatoes and veal baked under a bell. Everything was excellent.
We slept in the next morning, awaking to a very foggy day. We went to Entrance 2 of Plitvice Lakes, and stopped first of all to get Teresa a sweatshirt and poncho (and me a Coke). We were inside the park by 10:00 and instructed to take Trail H since we told them we had all day. This meant a bus ride up to the top of the lakes and an easy walk down with slight gradient. More importantly it was a spectacular walk. The foliage was beautiful, the lakes were beautiful and the waterfalls were beautiful. Unfortunately the mist prevented us from getting the full impact of the color of the upper lakes but the numerous waterfalls were wonderful.
Anniko had said it was the most beautiful place on Earth. There may be some places nicer, but we haven't seen them yet. Every few steps brought another breathtaking view (forgive the cliché). At the halfway point we boarded a boat to take us across the largest lake. It started to rain on the trip. Upon reaching the other side we went into the cafeteria which was warm. We had packed a lunch, but Teresa bought a hot chocolate. After eating, we ventured out again.
The next half of the journey featured less mist, so we could appreciate the remarkable turquoise color of the lakes, but a steady drizzle brought cooler temperatures. We also explored some caves. We had a short walk uphill before reaching the spot where the bus picked us up.
Zadar is a peninsula and heavily fortified. The Romans erected massive fortifications, as well as a forum and other buildings. The stone pavements and not much else survived in one piece. We quickly found the Cathedral of St. Anastasia where her remains are in a small sarcophagus. We saw a few other churches and the remains of the forum.
The forum had been cannibalized, mostly by St. Donat, an Irish bishop who had built a 9th century small round cathedral with parts of the forum willy nilly incorporated into it. We then saw the government house, the Venetian Gate and the marina.
We walked back to the Pension, changed, and headed to the beach.
We found a sand beach. It had 3 giant slides, but as no adults were using them, we didn't either.
We took a different route back to the Pension and got ready for dinner. We decided to splurge on dinner. We hadn't really sampled all the Croatian seafood specialties, so we ordered a platter. This included 3 swordfish steaks, 4 pieces of fried fish, I grilled fish, 8 mussels, a generous portion of calamari and 3 scampi. With this we had salad and bread. Our host also brought us out popcorn while we were waiting as a soccer game was on.
We then drove into the city. Like most European cities, the streets were filled with people, mostly young, promenading. We walked the entire length to try and get a picture of the last bit of color in the sunset; then we went back to the forum to eat the dessert we had purchased. Teresa picked out her favorite 2000 year old column to sit on for the treat. Children were playing soccer among the sarcophagi strewn around (they formed the goals).
We walked some more (it had been a large meal) and finally sat at a café to sample the maraschino cherry brandy the area is famous for. It was quite good. We then drove along the tops of the battlements, through the Venetian Gate, and back to our Pension.
The next morning, after Teresa became enamored with some paintings at breakfast, we headed straight to Krka National Park. The Park consists of the Krka river flowing over waterfalls and through wilderness areas. When we arrived, we boarded a boat to take us to the first falls. These were a series of cascades and footpaths over the river.
We ate lunch in a picturesque spot and then took an optional excursion to the Franciscan Monastery on an island upriver. From there the boat took us further to some additional falls. Each leg took 2 hours. The second is worthwhile if you enjoy boat rides through canyons.
Upon our return, we headed to Sibonek. We had a little difficulty locating our hotel, but it turned out to be a nice one, overlooking the harbor. After cleaning up, we explored the city. If they ever have an international hide and seek competition, it should be in Sibonek.
The city is a labyrinth of alleys, passageways, and steps with dead ends thrown in. We ate in a restaurant on one of the largest thoroughfares, about 8 feet wide. Sibonek is a relatively new city, no Greco-Roman past; the first mention of it was in 1066. From that time we had the usual cast of characters: Byzantines, Venetians, Turks, Austro-Hungarians. Its fortifications were mostly Venetian.
Since the Serbian wars, Sibonek has not fared well as the aluminum and chromium factories have not reopened. It was salad and pizza ( the Croatians have discovered the perfect cheese for pizza) for dinner, and an ice cream cone later for dessert. We bought a bottle of the maraschino brandy and sipped it in our room.
We then checked out and headed to Trogir. We decided to take the coast road. The views were magnificent. It was very easy to find our hotel in Trogir and we were quite lucky to find the perfect parking spot. After checking in we toured the city which was medieval in character. First to the Cathedral, some old government buildings, then to the fortress.
More exploring brought us to the market off the island portion of the Old City. It was quite extensive. Couldn't talk Teresa into anything though.
On the way back to the hotel we bought ice cream (hey, this is our vacation) and took a picture down the waterway. Today the first battery in our camera died. Luckily we had a second. We also met our first American tourists in Croatia; two women from Georgia.
Trogir has been a defiant city. It fought the Greeks, the Romans and even the Venetians after they had purchased Dalmatia.
That night we tried a special beef dish and lamb. Croatia was playing France in soccer that night so we watched from various big screens as we ambled about the city. The game ended at 2-2 and no one was upset. After the final whistle we met 5 Americans from San Diego who were sailing the Adriatic. They reminded us of the hardships of that mode of travel.
Next we decided to take a drive along the Dalmatian Coast, which was lovely.
We stopped at Brella to sunbathe, snorkel, and relax. After two hours there we made the one hour drive back to Split.
After cleaning up we walked to the Town Center. On the way I purchased a chocolate milkshake from McDonald's. It was so good Teresa indulged liberally.
We went in the seaward gate to Diocletian's Palace and toward the subterranean vaults- the parts that were not shops. Although the palace is now mostly made up of shops, offices and restaurants, 3000 people still live in it.
Split has grown up around the Palace which had been planned as Diocletian's retirement home. He couldn't really retire as he had set up a tetrarchy and he was one of the tetrarchs. The Palace was built in the late 200's and is massive, an almost square with over 250 yards per side. The exterior walls are intact, but most of the inside is from the middle ages as it has continued to be renovated by the occupiers. Some of the Roman work is still in evidence however.
After the vaults, we went to what was once Diocletian's mausoleum, transformed into a cathedral (still inside the Palace). It was a small cathedral, but beautiful.
We then walked through the peristyle and other parts of the Palace, and ran into the kids from Boston. We ended up eating in a restaurant inside the Palace. I had a terrific pizza, Teresa had lasagna. Mine was better, By the time we were done the city was hopping. The Promenade was filled and for some reason, many people were interested in the Bulgarian- Denmark soccer match. It was a delightful evening strolling around and through the city. We stayed out late.
us into the city for 150 kuna- instead of the 250 it would normally cost. For the first time on any of our trips Teresa haggled and got him down to 100. The Swedish girl agreed.
On the way in we finally got to see the Aqueduct, which Diocletian built for his Palace and still is in use, with one modification; an animal died in it some years before and gave the city cholera, so it has been enclosed.
I was giving the Swedish girl a history lesson on the way in and asked our driver to confirm that the Turks had never taken the city. (Split had found its arrangement with Venice to be very profitable). He confirmed this and explained that there was one good landward pass into the city, but had high cliffs on either side which allowed large rocks and boiling oil to be sent down on the invaders.
After we arrived in the city we decided to take a walking tour of the Palace. We rubbed the big toe of the Bishop, Teresa wishing that Christine would get a job she really liked.
We decided first to go to the Archaeological Museum. It was small but informative and had good stuff outside.
In the morning I got up early as I was misinformed regarding tickets for the ferry. We had some time to do more exploring. We got into the baptistry- former temple to Juno.
One of our hostesses drove us to the ferry with our luggage. Ingalla was a typical Croatian girl; tall, thin, and pretty; as was her sister. The boat left at 11:30. We were out to sea before we realized we had left the dock. We arrived in Hvar at 12:20. Cost was $5 one way.
Hvar is an island, and named by Conde Nast as one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world. It was colonized by the Greeks from the island of Pharos in the second century B.C. The first town was founded at Stari Grad. The island was important to the Venetians and they moved the main port to Hvar Town. Hvar Town has a castle on a hill that has existed in one form or another for 1800 years. The Turks attacked the island in 1571 and were able to take the town, but the inhabitants were saved by fleeing to the castle.
After that we took a boat taxi to an island where we sunbathed, Teresa read, (I forgot my book) and we snorkeled.
After the boat brought us back we cleaned up for dinner. We ate at one of the restaurants on- the main square. I had beef stroganoff and grilled mushrooms. Teresa had steak with mushrooms, grilled vegetables and a salad. We walked around a little more, ate some ice cream and headed back.
The next morning we had a nice breakfast at the hotel; then it was off to see the castle. From there we went to the cathedral, the arsenal and the Franciscan Monastery museum.
When we returned we decided on a restaurant attached to a hotel on the marina. I had spaghetti carbonara and roast chicken. Teresa had the salad bar, veal scallopini and an apple for dessert. We walked around some more, ate ice cream and headed back in.
The next morning, after securing our tickets for the ferry for the next day, we went to the scooter rental place. We took off from there at about 8:35 and headed first to Stari Grad had been described as a smaller laid back Hvar Town, and that is exactly what it was. It, like Hvar Town, had an impressive array of boats. We saw the Greek ruins, but they were not extensive.
We then took off for Jelsa, another resort town. Jelsa was hopping a bit more, but smaller than Hvar Town. We took a little walk around town.
Although we shouldn't have, after walking awhile we ate ice cream.
We woke up early to take the ferry back to Split, where we caught the bus to Dubrovnik. The route allowed us to see more of the Dalmatian coast.
We took a taxi to our B&B (without Breakfast) and were greeted by our host, Srdan (pronounced surgeon). Our room was very nice and our host immediately took us on a free walking tour of the city, pointing out the sights and the best places to eat.
The city was devastated by an earthquake in 1667 and also shelled by the Serbs in 1991. 2000 pieces of ordnance fell on it during the Serbian War but it has fully recovered.
Our tour started at the Ploce gate, the eastern of the 2 main gates and about 20 yards from our B&B. We walked down the Placa (stradun) and finished on the Od Pican. After this we were on our own- we ate a sandwich at a suggested stop- good but expensive.
We then went to the Rector's Palace. We got the audio tour which we ordinarily do when they are available; but this one wasn't worth it. There was background music, the voice was heavily accented and what could be understood was boring.
We next went to the Cathedral which was purportedly built by Richard the Lionheart after a vow he made when rescued from a shipwreck on a nearby island. It contains a polyptich by Titian, of the Assumption.
From there we went to the Dominican Monastery and Museum, then to the Church of St. Blaise.
The next day we hit the bakery for breakfast and did the walk of the city walls. This also offered an audio guide which we sampled before we rented. There was no background music and easy to understand. We rented the Guide and it was the right decision. It was very informative, not only about the walls, but the history of Dubrovnik and the buildings near the walls. The walk took 2 hours and was completely enjoyable.
We went back to the room to change then headed for Lokrum Island. There we snorkeled and read before setting out to explore. (This is the island Richard the Lionheart washed up on) This was a much bigger island than the one off of Hvar.
We headed to Fort Royal which was a French Fort ( Napoleon's time), from the top of which you get a good view of Dubrovnik.
We then went through the botanical gardens, parks, swimming areas and encountered some peacocks, including a couple of mamas with their chicks. We found our way back to our spot and vowed to bring our camera if we came back again.
That night we went Ragusa 2 for dinner. We both had fish fillets and salads, excellent meal.
Seated next to me was a British woman whose son lived in Diss, England, the very small town where Teresa was born.
The ferry ride was an hour and a half and pleasant enough. We met some Noles on board.
When we arrived we rented some bikes at the port. A smarter move would have been to take the bus across and rent bikes on the other side. The second half of the bike ride was fun (downhill) —the first part can wear you out.
We bought bread —so-so — at a bakery, cheese, meat, and apples, (all good) at the grocery store at the port. (We did get cherry pastries at the bakery which were good.)
We rode our bikes around the saltwater lakes to the furthest point where we ate lunch. We rode more than halfway back when we decided to take a break, sun a little, and relax on the shore.
We resumed our bike ride to the Northern part of the lake where we purchased a Coke and Fanta lemon drink to fortify us for the trek back. The bike ride back didn't seem as bad and again was quite fun on the way down.
We found the Roman ruins, then pedaled toward the bay side of the port where we found a secluded spot to again go swimming.
We headed back into town, had beer (for me) and wine —very good, before hopping back on the ferry.
We took the bus back to town and cleaned up before going to Mea Culpa for dinner, a highly regarded pizza place. We shared a Capricosa, beer, wine, less than ten bucks.
We went to our favorite ice cream store for cones before going to our room.
We went back to the room to change for the beach. We went to the bakery to buy sandwiches, had cherries from the market, and caught the 10:30 ferry to the island. We first staked out a shady spot under a crevice then took off for Fort Royal, this time from a different direction.
We took pictures of the city from there as we had vowed. We then went back through the grounds surrounding the monastery. We found a few peacocks, only one baby this time. Teresa fed them. We also took pictures of some coastline and rock formations.
When we got back to our spot we were hot so we went swimming and headed to the deep grotto. Afterwards we came back by land and took a picture.
It was lunchtime and we ate our sandwiches and started reading. We were smart to stake out our position early for we found ourselves in a popular area and we had the best shade, although we had to watch our heads.
After a while we snorkeled, back to the cave. This time we both got out of the water inside the cave. Back to our coveted spot where we ate cherries, sunbathed and read some more.
view, and we met some people from the University of Denver who were staying in Sarajevo. We spoke to them for sometime.
On the way back we went into the one palace we had not been in which housed tourist posters and information about the defense of Dubrovnik in the last war. We called Christine, who was driving through South Carolina heading home from D.C., presumably to discuss picking us up but the conversation never got around to that.
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