Germany, Austria, Croatia · 12 Days · 20 Moments · October 2017

David & Ingrid's Croatia adventure

16 October 2017

Yesterday was our "big drive" north as we headed from Dubrovnik up to the Plitvice Lakes region. The first part of the drive took us back through Bosnia again and then the Neretva River delta. We picked up some more mandarines and figs. Once on the highway, the landscape progressively changes as you get further north. We also moved further towards the interior of Croatia where the trees are now bigger and homes return to farms with cows, sheep and goats. Our last AirBnB is out in the country, a 10 minute drive from the gates of Plitvice. Tractors and barking dogs have replaced buses and ship horns. After 5 hours driving, we settle in for the night. Looking forward to walking the trails!

15 October 2017

Dubrovnik... There is a lot to say! First off, it is the city of stairs! Our AirBnB was great but let me qualify that: for a great view you pay the price with stairs. From our parking spot to our front door, you walk down 62 steps. Our apartment is on the second floor; back up 16 steps. From our apartment down to the main road, 125 steps. Swimming in the Adriatic was fun. Water is crystal clear and you can easily see 20-30 feet down. The water temp was about 22C. Cold enough to keep the locals out but not this Canuck. Saw lots of great sights around the city. We did a boat tour around the city and the island of Lokrum. Even managed to catch a few nudists sunning on the rocks. Many cities in Croatia have a lot of cats. Dub was no exception; here are some of our new friends. Late in the day, a two mastered sailboat moored in the harbour. A new sight with an even more impressive backdrop during sunset!

14 October 2017

We arrived in Dubrovnik mid afternoon and got settled in our AirBnB. This city is truly a city of stairs! They are everywhere. What do you expect from a city built on the side of a hill?? We made dinner and went for a walk into the walled city after sunset. Managed to get some great night shots of the city. Anyone recognise the stairs?
Leaving Split, we drove about 10 km north of town to the Klis Fortress. Parts of of this castle was used to film Game of Thrones. The view from here over Split was amazing. So yesterday was a good hike as we made our way down from Split to Dubrovnik. This time we took a bit more of a direct route using the highway. It's cost us because of the tolls but it was quicker. Further along, we stopped in an amazing area that is Croatia's main tangerine and mandarine growing area. These, as well as figs, pomegranates, almonds, eggplants and olives. Roadside stands sold all the above! So yummy! Did you know that Croatia ceded part of its coastline to Bosnia-Herzegovina? So we travel briefly in Bosnia, then back into Croatia. Along the way we stopped for lunch on a rocky beach. Just had to soak my feet... Ah, the water was warm! On to Dubrovnik!!

13 October 2017

Arriving in Split we managed to find our AirBnB hiding behind 4 one way streets. We headed into the city to see Diocletian's Palace. This palace essentially makes up a large part of the city centre. Fruit markets and souvenir shops line the outer walls. Inside the palace, which is actually a small city in a city, shops and restaurants mix with all things historical; from Roman ruins to mediaeval churches. A lot of the homes in the neighbourhood have fruit trees but not like we are used to; mandarin, fig, grapefruit and pomegranate trees are everywhere. Our host offered us some mandarins from her tree. Oh, yeah, we also have peacocks roaming around. We saw 3 females and 2 males.

12 October 2017

So today, Thursday, we got an early start and headed for Zadar. The drive along the coast produced another challenging drive; there is hardly a stretch of road that is straight for more than 100m. While the drive took the better part of three hours we only traveled about 180km. Up, down, switchback, shift up, shift down. The only people having more fun than me were the group of ten motorcyclists who were taking every corner with a knee to the ground. In Zadar, we listened to the Sea Organ and again saw a lot of Roman ruins. We poked our heads in a few ancient churches and checked out the narrow cobbled streets and alleys. From Zadar, we headed for Šibenik and then on to Split. Coming over the mountains and looking down on Trogir and Split is a beautiful sight!!

11 October 2017

So it's been quiet from us...Why? Well, we loved the Tuesday night AirBnB sooo much we decided to stay an extra night. So what did we do during the day? Absolutely nothing! We got up late, went for a walk, went grocery shopping, and vegged by the pool for the afternoon. We watched the sun set, the bats chase their dinner, and saw the first twinkle of the stars.

10 October 2017

And what better way to spend my wife's 50th birthday? No better way than at a beautiful apartment overlooking the coastline, with our own pool and a special birthday cake. And our host even made us a delicious dinner, shared, with a bottle of wine... Cheers, happy birthday Ingrid!!!!
The second half of the day was spent in Pula, a city that still has its own Roman colosseum. Built during the reign of Augustus it was used for gladiator fighting. Pula was an important city for Roman trade, especially for wine and olive oil. While the Romans held Italy in high regard for their wares, Istria ran a close 2nd. After Pula we headed back into the mountains and made our way south down the coast. One amazing vista after another...
First stop today was Rovinj. A large part of the town is pedestrian only, with narrow cobbled streets and tiny alleys that lead to courtyard gardens. It was fantastic to roam the streets, many of them leading up to the church of St. Euphemia. Paying 20kn to climb 180 stairs - stairs we think may have been made in the 1400s, no, really...- was an adventure in itself. But the view was amazing! North, East, west or south... We didn't want to climb down... It's a good thing we did; the bells started ringing as soon as we left the church.

9 October 2017

Happy Thanksgiving all!! This was our meal...Soup, toast, cheese, meat and a delicious glass of Istrian white wine.
After Motovun we headed for the coast to the city of Poreč. This beautiful seaside city is the first chance we have to feel the water of the Adriatic. We both doffed our socks and shoes and waded in.... Cool and refreshing! The temperate climate of the Adriatic allows for many cities along the coast to grow palm trees. It's no wonder this area is called the Istrian Riviera. Many of the cities along the coast have Roman ruins dating from the 3 and 4 centuries. We found some of the ruins in Poreč. Spent this evening watching the sun set over some adventurous fisherman.
One quick note on Motovun... Race car driver Mario Andretti was born in Motovun. The town actually on has 531 people and half of them speak Italian.
After the race on Sunday the second part of Dave& Ing's Croatian adventure has begun. After picking up the rental car on Sunday afternoon, we packed in the evening, ready to head out the door first thing Monday morning. We headed west towards Istria, heading for the town of Motovun. This village sits high atop a hill and one can see for miles around. The drive there was amazing!! Climbs and switchbacks made for a fun ascent and descent through the Ućka pass. Manual stick and mountain driving go together!! How about those olives!

8 October 2017

So, the race is done!! The weather was perfect; cool with some sunny breaks. Twenty five hundred runners for the full and half-marathons. The crowd was excited. Both races won by Kenyans. Ingrid ran well, thanks to her impromptu running coach, Robert from Hungary. Lots of Croatian familes out to cheer on the runners...! Off to pick up the rental car later this afternoon so we can head out first thing in the morning. First stop will be Poreč in Istria, on the Adriatic Coast.

7 October 2017

Food is very fresh here. As with most European cities, grocery shopping is a daily ritual. Here in Zagreb, there are many daily open air markets to take advantage of. Fresh fruits, vegetables, dried meats, cheeses, and fish. Had a great meal last night with new friends, Barb and Rod from, of all places, Bobcaygeon. Good food, great drink, long talks, awesome memories!

6 October 2017

After getting up late - after a 13 hour night - we once again hit the streets of Zagreb. It rained overnight and the temperatures dropped but it was still a great day to be out. We went back to the Cathedral, jumped at the boom of the noon hour cannon, went to St. Marks Square, and walked through an underground rainstorm in the Grič Tunnel. And Ingrid is all ready for her race; we picked up her race kit.

5 October 2017

Last night we went for a long walk about the town. Here is the Zagreb Cathedral. The nightlife in Zagreb is busy and energetic. With the warm evening, many were out and about getting together for drinks in many of Zagreb's outdoor patios. There is a lot of positive energy here!
So...After waiting in Munich for our flight, Lufthansa cancelled the flight to Zagreb about 25 minutes before boarding. They quickly rebooked us on an Austrian Air flight that left from a different terminal. We did the Amazing Race airport sprint and made our flight to Vienna...yes, Vienna, Austria. It was another mad sprint through the Vienna airport to catch the connect to Zagreb. Phew, what a day! Did I mention I broke my toe?
Despite the mad scramble on departure day, we've made it to Munich; a beautiful sunny day. Our original tickets had us going through Amsterdam on KLM but because of bad weather, our Zagreb flight was cancelled. So, Air Canada to the rescue with a jump from Munich to Zagreb on Lufthansa. Oh yeah, I also broke my toe; pinky, right foot. All good, I soldier on...