Europe · 7 Days · 152 Moments · September 2017

Christine's journi to Croatia & Slovenia

22 September 2017

Slovenian food was getting really horrible by this stage...
An hour out of Ljubljana to visit the caves. I loved this as the train ride in and out was just like a Disney ride. The walking through the caves very Indiana Jones!
Breakfast with a view from the 20th floor. The cheese and cold cuts were so good I didn't have space for any hor food! I finished the meal with a huge crunchy sweet peach. A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee completed the meal.

21 September 2017

Long queue at the Croatia/Slovenia border...
Finally checked into our last hotel for the tour... two nights in the brand new five star Intercontinental hotel! Everything smelt brand new! The rooms were huge with massive super single beds.
Dinner at one of the most famous restaurants in Ljubljana. It was actually one of the worst meals of the trip... the roast chicken was not memorable at all and the pancakes were slathered in an awful sour sauce.
The drive to Slovenia. Flooded parks from the massive amount of rain in the previous week had water covering the tree trunks.
The drunken walk back to meet the group!
The wines and cheese platter
Finally on to my favourite part of Zagreb... the wine tasting! We paid 225 kuna for a flight of 6 Croatian wines (and shared). All were good, with an exceptional white and an exceptional red. We bought 2 bottles each of these.
The search for kebabs continues indoors to no avail... we could smell but could not see...
Back for a slow wander through the market. We were searching for kebabs for lunch, but could not find any. Lots of very organic produce, but nothing caught our fancy.
Inside the cathedral
Outside the main cathedral
The huge open air market
The walk continues...
Back into the lower part of down through the one remaining city gate. A shrine to Mary is housed there, surrounded by many messages of thanksgiving. On the day we passed through, a camera crew was busy inside, and they seemed to be filming this old lady lighting candles.
Courtyard with church, government offices and law courts
There's a museum dedicated to broken relationships!
Funicular ride to the upper town area
A walk through the lower part of Zagreb
Reflections of history in the shiny finish of the new EU building
Scenes from the coach... tour of Zagreb, with its Austrian-Hungarian influenced architecture.
Blue is the official colour of Zagreb. Lots of trams plough the city route.
Morning view from Hilton hotel.

20 September 2017

Dinner at the Hilton: minestrone soup, cod with mash and a cheesecake.
Back in civilisation! Five star luxury no less! 😁 Double Tree by Hilton
Many of the Parks are flooded from the heavy rain in the last week or so.
Dusk at Zagreb Stadium
Bit of shopping before check-in... look at the McDonald's queue!!!
Open air military museum with equipment used in last war on display to all that drive by
Lunch at a renowned restaurant within the national park. The specialty dish here is suckling pig. The meat was moist and flavourful. Dessert was a Bosnian fried dough.
Really good Croatian beer! Only 15 kuna (S$3) a bottle from the hotel bar.
Best way of catching our breath during the long climb back to the hotel... photo shoot!!
Electric ferries transfer guests from one car park to another. P3 is where we boarded to walk the lower lakes. Most of us got off at P2 to climb the 269 steps back to the hotel. The adventurous ones continued to P1 to walk the upper lakes. As it had started drizzling quite heavily at that time, we decided to call it quits and head back to the hotel.
View from the ferry
Total path distance from base of waterfall to ferry point was 2 km
Even the plants are beautiful
So much beauty all around!
The trail to the base of the tallest waterfall
Wandering past clear waters, beautiful trees.
First glimpse of the tallest waterfall at over 70m tall.
Highlight of the trip: walking through the lower lakes of Plitvika National Park. We were most fortunate that the rain had stopped!!! This would not have been fun in cold, heavy rain. As it was, the paths were wet and slippery, with puddles in some areas. Thank goodness I'd brought my trekking stick along with me!

19 September 2017

Overnight at the Hotel Jezera in the Plitvica National Park. Supposedly the worst hotel of our trip at 3 stars, but other than the small & dated rooms, not too bad at all. Dinner at hotel... a vegetable soup, yet another plain salad, fried trout and a walnut cream torte.
Sunshine fighting to come through the rain clouds
Landscape changes as we move inland. The weather has been wet and gloomy for most of the day.
Just outside the city walls is the river that separates old and new Zadar
A walk through Zadar
The promenade houses the very unique sea piano, the waves passing through push air up and create a natural melody! The same architect created a circle of solar panels on the ground that produce a light show to go with the music at night.
Roman ruins... now a place for concerts and other activities
Lunch started off with a delicious tuna pate, followed by a seafood spaghetti and ended with a napoleon type custard dessert.
Only one little stop today... Old Zadar which has more modern elements than the previous areas visited thus far. We walked through a farmer's market first, got to sample a bit of their local goat's cheese and gawp at their local fruit & veg. Sadly, this was closed by the time we finished the guided tour, so we didn't have the opportunity to explore fully.

18 September 2017

Late check-in to President Hotel Solin at 9.30 pm. Horrors! The room looks like Grandma's! But the shower is ultra-modern with jets for both showers and baths!
Back at Split for dinner, restaurant next door to last night's. Specialty dish is a beef pasticada, marinated in red wine for 24 hours before cooking. Sounded delicious, but I found the meat too dry... no marbling at all. Starter was yet another plain salad and dessert a weird local concoction that was ultra-heavy on cinnamon and had cheese whipped into cream? No photo taken because it looked just like a vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. So happy we had a good lunch...
Sunset at sea... ferry ride back from Hvar to Split
View from the fortress
Hvar is also a fine town
Very pathetic lost looking French bulldog. He was patted by so many tourists, but took a shine to Ffion eventually, refusing to move even when his mummy eventually appeared looking for him.
Donald Trump's toilet?!!
View from our lunch spot and a wander around the marina after
Lunch was an incredible Italian spread for 320 kuna with the best view of the beautiful marina. Even though we were already stuffed from eating too much, we had to sample the chocolate dessert from Nonica and have a gelato from the best shop in town. Every morsel was delectable. Dieting begins when we get home.
The main piazza of Hvar town goes from cathedral to marina
Fortress of Hvar
Local common plant is the caper bush that thrives growing out of the cracks in the limestone walls. Also lots of figs and pomegranates.
A wander through quaint village Starigrad, also known as Siberia!
Early morning check in for 2 hour long ferry ride to Hvar Island.

17 September 2017

Overnight at Atrium Hotel in Split. No photos taken as we got in very late and had to sleep in preparation for a very early morning wake up call. Nothing impressive about the rooms... good size, comfortable, just a bit dated.
Back to the Italian area for dinner... was truly like dining in Italy again. The pizza was incredible. Main course was supposed to be squid ink risotto. Luckily we switched to chicken and chips otherwise it would have been major cargo overload. The panda cotta was yuck...
Sunset at the promenade. Funny incident 3 happened right in front of our eyes as we were enjoying the view: young boy unzips and pees straight into the water!
No swimwear in town!
Back to the Golden Gate... golden light had gone by then... Happy to have a photo of the beautiful white flowers though.
Back inside the city walls, chasing the beautiful golden light
Strolling along the promenade
Peek into the fish market
Onto the Italian quarter, with the tour ending outside the restaurant we were booked into for dinner.
Funny incident 2: we saw a ticketed car being booted on all four tyres, which already seemed excessive. Then the crane was activated to lift it away!
Out through the Golden Gate and I thought huge statue of Merlion was erected there! But no, it was a local VIP. People rub his toe for good luck...
The next area is highly reminiscent of ancient Rome. They even discovered Roman ruins in the site slated for the local bank... so they built the bank around it!
Passing through the old residence area, we find restoration attempts to bring back the arched windows, the location of the dining room and VOMITARIES!
Love this flowering creeper!
The first area as we emerge back into the open is the main square upon which the original residence and church faces. The church was built upon the burial site of the restored Caesar, ironical since he was a Christian killer during his reign and his remains have since disappeared. He brought in many elements from Rome and decor from Egypt. Only one sphinx remains as it is made of almost indestructible material.
Finally arrive in Split late afternoon. The old palace which is partially in ruins and partially rebuilt over the centuries, faces the beautiful promenade. The old wall gate is almost hidden between the modern establishments and leads us into an underground area. The columns are built with white stone (no cement) and finished on top with cemented bricks
Major traffic jam as we were in the outskirts of Split. After a long slow crawl, we saw a load of police activity, flashing lights, ambulances. But instead of a multi-car accident, we saw groups of men lying face down in the ground with their hands cuffed behind their backs! Apparently Albanian mafia arrested before they could get into trouble?
Then we turned inland
Very expensive local chocolate. Verdict: cannot make it!
Coastal drive through Bosnia towards Split
Oyster farms
The rain came down as we were having lunch. This was no European drizzle but a tropical deluge!
Back to the restaurant for lunch. More oysters to start... replaced with a salad for us. Then massive bowls of mussels cooked in garlic and white wine (each bowl is for 4 pax!). I'm usually not a fan, but these were tiny and really good! From just trying a few, I couldn't stop grabbing more! Scary whole fish came as our mains (yuck) and panda cotta type dessert ended the meal.
The baby oysters are grown on these nets. After a year, they are removed and spaced out on lines to grow bigger. Harvest is at the 3 year mark. The oysters are in the deeper part of the nets and mussels superficially located.
Booze booze made it all much better! First up, a highly potent local brew, then white wine to accompany the oysters. Since I'm not an oyster fan, two glasses of wine for me!
Pretty flowers to keep us occupied whilst waiting for the boat to be prepared
Quick trip down the road to Mali Ston, for our oyster farm experience
Unfortunately, the local guide was a talker, not a walker, so half the time was spent outside the city walls in front of the public toilet! 🤣
A quick stop at Ston to look at what was a most important area in the Republic of Dubrovnik in the past. It still has the longest city wall in Europe, at 5 km. Built to protect the salt mines in this area. In the days before electricity, salt had the same value as gold, being used for the preservation of food. The importance of this substance can be understood by: salt-sale-salary. People were paid in salt! It was the trade of salt with the Ottoman empire that brought great riches to Dubrovnik.
The drive to Ston. The weather forecast was for thunderstorms, so the clear blue skies were replaced with poor visibility grey yuck.
En route to split
The most expensive bridge in Croatia. Only one cruise ship today. There were 5 the day we walked the Old City.
The main residential part of Dubrovnik outside the Old Town. About 50,000 people live here, compared to the 800 living within the Old City.

16 September 2017

Dusk light back in Croatia
Short cut over water with a 10 minute vehicular ferry ride
The search for kebabs continues indoors... we could smell barbecued meat, but could not see any!
Ffion had this made in artists' square for 5 euro
View from the Old City
A walk through Budvar
Wedding shoot in Budvar
Outside the Budvar city walls
Ultra exclusive private resort owned by Singapore's Amara group. The villas go for 1000-4500 euros per night, with a long waiting list! The guests are free to pick fruit from whatever trees are growing within their compound.
The long drive back to Croatia
As we walked back through the market, we somehow got conned into buying this HUGE bottle of blackberries. He demanded 5 euros initially, then auto discounted to 4 then 3 then 2. Which was a deal until we figured it was impossible to finish ourselves and we didn't have a juicer to save us.
Together forever?!!
Cat model of Kotor
Back inside the city walls after lunch. This side of the clock tower has a pyramid at its base which was previously used as the public humiliation site. People were locked here for all transgressions in the past for public humiliation. The locals have been campaigning to bring this practice back. 🤣🤣🤣
The harbour is right outside the city walls. Huge ships come in daily to dump their load of day trippers.
Outside the city walls is a little market where locals buy fresh produce. Most have gardens which are used to grow all the fruit and vegetables they need, but somehow they still need to top up here.
Lunch was at this cute little restaurant with a courtyard annexe. The food looked uninspiring, but was delicious! Chicken noodle soup, fried chicken leg chop with risotto and vanilla ice cream.
Streets of Kotor
The final square has 2 churches, both Orthodox
The Maritime Museum is the main attraction of the next square. We did go in... BORING!! And no photography allowed.
The third square has an old church. The two towers are of different heights as they basically ran out of money for restoration. This whole town was destroyed by an earthquake in 1971? Rebuilding was done according to traditional style, but only one window of original design remains... second floor window in the fourth photograph is typical of the windows pre-earthquake.
The next square houses a palace and a university
The main gate enters the Square of Arms. The clock tower chimes once on the half hour and the time on the full hour. As a local tradition, it chimes again 5 minutes after as a way of getting the locals to get a move on... the Montenegro population is reputed for laziness and tardiness!
The city walls of Kotor. St Mark's lion is evidence of its Venetian heritage.
Photostop at Perast... one natural island, one man-made island
They love their dogs too. How wonderful to live so close to an amazing body of water.
Montenegro countryside. Love the dark wood tall pine trees and range of mountains that gave this country its name: black mountain.
En route to Montenegro 🇲🇪
Breakfast at the Sheraton. The pastries are the bomb! Didn't get to try much more of the massive spread.
Pink skies in the morning

15 September 2017

Rushed to the beach after dinner in hope of catching the sunset, but no hint of pink skies seen at all.
Dinner at a restaurant across from the hotel... I had lamb chops and Ffion chose the mushroom risotto. My grilled vegetables were way under done. The lamb was really good though! Pretty expensive meal at 290 kuna (about S$60), no wine.
Doggy poo bin!
Love the dusk silhouettes
Home for first two nights is the new Sheraton Riviera Dubrovnik. Our room was very hard to find, but the view of pool and beach made up for the inconvenience.
The sky was much prettier as we exited the old city at 4 pm than mid morning.
Our legs gave up after the 2 km wall hike with multiple flights of stairs. So we flopped into the nearest cafe for local beers.
We couldn't find the super fat cats at ground level, so went to check out the cat church. Only 2 sleeping moggies there for Ffion to play with.
Another Game of Thrones location. Some fancy staircase...
Lots of water spouts throughout the old city providing clean drinking spring water
Sun burned to the max! Ice cream to chill? We both went for the mojito ice cream. Tastes more like plain lime though, which was great for the weather. Only 10 kuna (S$2) for a huge scoop.
Old pharmacy museum located in site of monastery in the past. There is still a small functioning pharmacy at the entrance. Entry to the museum was 30 kuna each, but the guard gave us half price! No photography though, so what I snapped would be mostly illegal?
Final stretch of wall... enough leg torture by this point!!!
Harbour view from wall
City wall walk
Lunch... seafood salad followed by fried calamari and fried fish
Streets of Dubrovnik
Market Square
The harbour is The Game of Thrones location for Kings Landing
What an amazing location for a wedding shoot... assuming clean backgrounds of course!
The main street is a mere 300 m long! It runs in a straight line from the wall gate to the watch tower at the other end. The watch tower is in a piazza with a church. The architecture evokes Italian influences.
The city walls saved Dubrovnik from being conquered previously, especially by the Ottoman Empire. Today, hordes of tourists descend into the Old Town
First glimpse of the Adriatic Sea as we drove from Dubrovnik Airport towards the Old Town