Thursday, 28 June 2012
SPLIT - June 25 to 28 Accommodation: Apartment Sunny Split 60 Euros a night Weather: hot and sunny mid to high 30's Highlights: Diocletian's Palace Boat trip and visit to Trogir Beach time Epic meal at Koo Joze Walk to Mountain Park overlooking the city General City Walks Comments: The bus ride was relatively pleasant from Sarajevo to Split. There was one tiny hiccup in our accommodation when we discovered that we booked an apartment which could easily be described as a closet. It was an instant no way are we staying here. Thankfully our host responded and offered us an upgrade that turned out to be one of the best apartments of our entire trip. Split is very popular with tourists and there will be no way of avoiding them in July and August. Diocletian's Palace is interesting but to be honest it is far too commercial so we made short work of it. Instead we enjoyed the beaches, walks around the city and a hike to a beautiful mountain park which includes a zoo and botanical garden. The park offers an excellent overview of the city. We did a very pleasant boat ride to Trogir and we would recommend it to you if you visit Split. You can take many day trips from this location. Put Split on your itinerary if you have the time. Tomorrow we head to Zagreb and catch our flight back to the Netherlands where we will spend the next two months. During that time we will holiday with our family in Slovenia and we will blog from there.
SARAJEVO - June 21 to 24 Accommodation: Hotel Italian $40 per night and Villa Orient 65Euros per night Weather: sunny mid to high 30's Highlights: Historical Museum National Museum Tour with Adis as recommended by our friend John - Tunnel of Hope, Snipers nest and Mountain overview of the city Visit to the Latin Bridge where the Archduke and his wife were shot thus began WWI Walkabout in historic Old Town area Comments: Our journey to Sarajevo began in Kotor with a bus trip to Podgorica, Montenegro, the capitol. Rumor has it that it is the most boring European Capitol city; our experience would suggest that this is true. This did not pose a problem because it was just a quick stopover to catch a flight to Sarajevo. The flight via Belgrade, Serbia went smoothly and we were picked up and taken to our hotel that was a 30 minute walk from the city centre. We were happy with the accommodation but we would recommend an Old Town location would be better. it is always nice to take a break midday and go to your hotel or apartment for a rest from the heat. The Siege, an exhibition of video and photos, made an indelible impression and it has created a strong desire to learn more about the history of this country. We are finding that there is alot of good literature about the Homeland War and the general history of the country. This reading will no doubt occupy many hours when we get home. Travel really does expand your horizons. There are so many things to say about Bosnis and Herzegovina: the call to prayer that echoes through the streets, the daily routines of the people, and the continual cleanup after the war. It is amazing to see so many buildings displaying the scars of war-bullets holes in walls,some partially destroyed,and some rebuilt. There was no Marshal Plan after the war so there is still much reconstruction to be completed. Like so many Balkan Countries unemployment is high and it is difficult to find a good paying job. Political tensions have subsided for the moment but one has to wonder about the future. A word of caution to nonsmokers visiting in this part of the world-smoking is everywhere. Young and old alike are heavy smokers. We are so pleased that we took the time to see Sarajevo. It is a beautiful city with war scars and all. You must admire the people for their resilience in the face of the oppressive brutality that four years of war brought them.
KOTOR - June 17 to 20 Accommodation: Apartment Cetkovic $44 per night Weather: hot Mid to high 30's Highlights: Walk around the UNESCO preserved Old Town Early morning hike to the top of the mountain overlooking the city Afternoon at Jaz Beach Meeting new friends - John, France and Arielle Enjoying the wonderful hoitality of our host Comments: Thankfully we resisted the prevailing advice to visit Budva. Two bus stops were enough to convince us to go to Kotor for four nights. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Kotor combining rest with activity. Our accommodation offered us views of the bay and the patio adjacent to our apartment was a perfect place to read and relax. Doug loved his run in the early morning on the day we left. Our next destination is Sarajevo in Bosnia/Herzegovina.
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Dubrovnik - June 12-16 Accommodation: Adriana Apartments - 75 Euros per night for three people Weather: hot but perfect mid 30's shade most always available HIGHLIGHTS: Best swimming ever both in and around the city and at Lokrum Island City Wall Walk offered outstanding views of the city and the ocean Visits to churches, a monastery, cathedral Best Museum ever - Art Gallery of Dubrovnik Steve McCreery Exhibition Cable Car ride Some good restaurants especially the vegetarian on Nishta COMMENTS: They ( everyone we talked to) we're right; this is a place of beauty and character. We were very fortunate to be here before the crowds. As we understand that in July and August the narrow streets are jammed with tourists. Throughout our trip we have rented apartments which allows you to cook your own food and keeps you out of restaurants except for special occasions. It gives you an opportunity to shop at the markets with the local people. The European Cup was on while in Dubrovnik so we witnessed the joy of a virtual win (tie) for Croatia. Our host at Adriana was very involved in environmental issues in Dubrovnik and gave us insights the political struggles that are ongoing. She was great fun to be with. It never ceases to amaze us that each day in Croatia seems better than the last day. There has not been any downside to our visit in Croatia.
Makarska June 7-11 Accommodation: private accommodation arranged through Robert and Marko Puharich Weather: high 20's to low 30's mostly sunny HIGHLIGHTS: Scenery on the bus ride to Makarska was spectacular; this is also true for the entire Croatian coastline Full day boat excursion to Hvar and Brac Marko's personalized tour which included meeting his Grandmother, a mountaintop view overlooking Makarska and a visit to a religious sanctuary set in the mountains. This is really a beautiful outdoor church. Beach experience and walks along the promenade Last but not least the incredible hospitality of our hosts COMMENT: We did not include in the highlights our trip to Medugorge and Mostar. One day in Makarska we rented a car to see these two places. The scenery to. And from these areas was outstanding and there was very little traffic. The destination to the religious shrine - Medugorge - was a bit disappointing due to the crowds and commercialization. Mostar is worthy of your time and should be included in your itinerary; it is a UNESCO site with an ethnic mix of Christians and Muslims. The scars from the 1990's war are still very evident and it will probably take generations to heal these wounds. We loved everything about Makarska: the beaches, the walks and the general hospitality of the people you met.
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
ZADAR June 4-6 Accommodation: Vila Lipa -$83 per night Weather: excellent HIGHLIGHTS: Visits to historic old town Seaside Promenade Sea Organ - architectural masterpiece by Nikolas Bacic - organ music and light display activated by wave action Excursion to Nin ancient Capitol Lovely beaches COMMENTS: The drive to Zadar was made really interesting by our guide Marko. He knew so much about the area. We received a warm welcome upon our arrival at Vila Lipa from our host. This is a wonderful location for any travelers itinerary.
RAB ISLAND May 30- June 3 Accommodation: Yila Banjol - $100 Weather: mid to high 20's and sunny HIGHLIGHTS: Walks around the historic village from our centrally located apartment Day of cycling along the coast and a delightful swim Boat ride to remote beaches Attended Sunday Church Service Local markets COMMENTS: We stayed on Rab Island for five days which allowed us to do things at a leisurely pace. We did our own cooking and enjoyed wonderful facilities offered at our apartment. The local wines are great and inexpensive. Whether we are at home or traveling it is the celebration of the ordinary that makes life worthwhile. Nothing beats getting up early, walking along the seashore and having coffee and a croissant with the locals. We organized a drive to Zadar, our nest destination with driver and tour guide, Marko Kac. We highly recommend that you contact him for tours and accommodation on Rab Island. He speaks excellent English and is a great guy. Check www.rab-tours.com for more information.