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My spur of the moment one week solo trip to Croatia with 2 days in Brugge thrown in.

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This trip report will be long is not for everyone. I tend to spend one or two days in a city and move on. A lot of people like to stay longer and linger. I like to be on the move.

Background: I am a 51 year old single female. This is my 11th trip to Europe and my third complete solo trip (I had one partial solo trip). I planned to go last year but fractured my wrist. I had 2 people that wanted to go with me this year but both declined prior to finalizing the plans. I vacillated about going as I bought a house in August but after no vacation in 2 years I was having serious withdrawal and needed to hear a foreign language 24/7.

I traveled using the busses within Croatia and 3 flights. I decided to start with Dubrovnik and work my way up as due to time constraints I didn't want to be left with less time in Dubrovnik. I am going to concentrate on the particulars of the travel rather than the sights themselves as many people have already posted on the beauty of the country and I heartily concur. I mostly want to provide info for the solo people/travelers with short time frames/budget travelers.

Chapter One - 9/17 "A Series of Unfortunate Events"

8:45 a.m. flight from SFO to Vegas. I really need to learn to read the fine print. I purchased my tickets on 1800flyeurope website. I have the confirming e-mail which said I fly out of SFO to Vegas on US Airways then to London Gatwick. It also said if an e-ticket could not be issued then a $17 charge would be incurred to Fed-ex the tickets. Neither of these statements were correct. I was appalled to find my tickets in my mailbox on the Friday before I left (I booked the flight on Monday). What if I had left early and decided to spend the night nearer the airport? I wrongly assumed my confirmation would be my e-ticket since I had not received any Fed-ex. Next issue: there is no flight from Vegas to London, you have to go through Philly. Oh and I did not fly US Airways out of SFO, I flew United. And so it goes. Upon arrival at SFO and getting that straightened out (that's why you get there early) I was pulled for the random super search. I was told I would step into a glass booth and a puff of air would be blown at me. Whatever... I go into the booth and it was more like a blast! I was so startled the employee motions through the glass for me to stay still. Jiminy I never experienced that before. Has anyone else? The next step was having my suitcase opened and all careful packing dislodged. I have the Travelpro rollerboard with the wardrobe section and had it all nicely laid out to prevent as much wrinkling as possible. That was all undone. I jumped up and told the man I would fix it and motioned him away. On to Vegas, could not find flight to London so I asked at one of the US Airways gates. Employee says this is the place -you're going to Philly. By now I pretty much expect this. Upon arrival in Philly, the London flight is overbooked and they won't assign seats until they have a list of volunteers to bump. This takes about 45 minutes. Arrival in Gatwick I then begin the seach for the Europe by Air pay the taxes and get your ticket merry-go-round. After reading other posters' comments I stop at the information booth. She points and says to go to the "Service Agency" on the left. i end up at the north terminal where i am told to go to Croatia Airlines in the south terminal. Back there the lady at Croatia Airlines is wearing a Service Agency uniform. She kindly takes me over to the proper place to pay and gets me to the front of the lines because of time constraints. The place is actually in area H on the left and it sales Ticket Sales with several airlines listed on the wall behind the counter. There's no way to even think this was where I was to go. It would be nice if Europe by Air would post this on their website for each airport as when you call it is evident their employees don't know what you should do. They just tell you to take the voucher to the airport, pay the taxes and pick up your tickets. My flight from London to Dubrovnik accrued about $70 in taxes. The flight left about 25 minutes late so I calculated you do need about 2 hours between flights to make sure you have enough time. The line to pay the taxes was pretty long as everything was done manually. The tickets were written out and not computer issued. I liked Croatia Airlines. The flight was smooth, nice plane and crew, decent snack (I don't ever say that - cold chicken was good).

Sunday 9/18 "My landlady is the only person in Croatia that does not speak English"

I made reservations through Magical Apartments as recommended by this website. Ksenija e-mails me back and says she has a room available within the old city walls for 30 Euros a night and attaches a list of locations. I click on Butkovic apartment and it looks fine so I confirm a reservation for 3 nights. She offers to have her husband pick me up at the airport for 25 euros. Sounds good to me so I say yes. I am met as planned and am told 2 other women also will be going to their lodgings also. I am taken over to where they are waiting while he goes to get the car. They are from Miami and Boston and plan to spend a couple of days in Dub. before picking up their chartered boat and sailing the islands for 2 weeks by themselves. The driver spends the entire trip lecturing them about the dangers of doing this; unfamiliar waters, unpredictable weather, language barrier, yadda yadda yadda. We arrive and Maria, the landlady is there to take me to my room. The driver says goodbye and we'll meet for a cup of coffee. I don't think anything of this. Off we go up stairs stairs stairs. Have no doubt, if you do this method of travel, pack light. Room is fine. Cleand and small as advertised. Bathroom is shared with other bedroom in house but no one ever rented it while I was there so it was just Maria and I. She made me a cup of coffee and apple juice and chocolate petit fours and talks to me in Croatian and I shrug and nod and we both laugh while watching Julia Roberts movie on her TV (My Best Friend's Wedding). I tell her I want to go out and sight see. She understands and takes me down to the large avenue off the main square to a souvenir shop and has the shopkeeper mark the map where I am staying. Off to stroll around and get my bearings. Let me stop right here and say this is a joke. I have a horrible confession - I cannot read street maps to save my life. Road maps are no problem. Street maps are wasted on me - I need GPS for pedestrians. Anyhoo, I don't mind walking a lot so I deal with it but I really need a serious intervention. It is twilight on Sunday evening and the streets are full of locals and tourists. I go through the Franciscan Monastery with one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. I find an ATM and a bookstore (yes, the seasoned traveler left her Lonely Planet on the plane). Pizza and beer at Mea Culpa. More meandering (clean streets in main areas - less clean and stray cats off the beaten paths). Find an internet cafe to book rooms for later in trip. I'm kind of winging it after Dub. until I get to Pltvices. Sudden downpour when walking back to room. Wait for about 10 minutes and then continue on back. Loud loud thunder early morning.

Monday 9/19 "Croatian men watch too much American TV"

Up late after waking up at 2 then going back to sleep at 5. Maria gives me coffee and grapes and loans me an umbrella. Weather is partly cloudy but really mild temperature. It never really rained - just looked like it might. I walk to the produce market in the Placa for fresh fruit then on to view the city while walking the walls. On the Dominican Monastery, Rector's Palace and Treasury. More meandering. All as other posters previously described. Over to Buza for a drink and this comes high on my list as a resting spot. You will not move for hours. I'm surprised it is not more crowded. Weather really sunny and pleasantly warm now. Back to room to drop off umbrella. Maria in some manner conveys that my driver from yesterday wants to talk to me. She phones him and he wants to propose that I hire him as a personal guide to take me to Korcula tomorrow. Going rate is 220 euros but he will charge 120 euros. I told him I had planned on going to Montenegro. He said let's have coffee to discuss. I agree to meet him in the Placa in 10 minutes. What then transpires is not what I envisoned which is why I am posting in detail. The conversation starts out with him asking me about the other 2 ladies he picked up yesterday with me and did I think they were lesbians. He thought they were because one was about 15 years older than the other. Hmm, I have a travel friend about 15 years younger than me - what does this mean? I tell him no, the older lady said her husband could not make the trip. He went on to say he went to their apartment and she asked if they could use the washer. He said it was 15 euros, she said how about 10 and he was about to agree but noticed she had already used the machine so he said no, 15. He then tells me he was going to give them a cake he had brought them but then left it in the car after she confessed to using the washer first then asking. Then apparently he decided to go into the apartment when they were not there. He did not like her dirty "black" panties out in plain view, they left a light on and he went on to said he did not like the younger woman because she was fat. At this point I am rather uncomfortable but it's about to get worse. He then appoaches the subject of Maria, my landlady. She is very attractive, you know (she is not - she is a grandma and so so). She wants him and tries to sit on his lap, he doesn't like this because he has to resist her because she is his wife's best friend and yadda yadda yadda. By then I want to leave but want to be polite. I am not sure if he's talking to be B.S'ing or what. He then talks politics and brings sex into the conversation again (more wars are started due to sex and/or physical attraction blah blah blah), uses the "F" word casually, touches my arm a couple of times to make his point and then gets to the reason for the our meeting. He wants to go to Korcula tomoorw, just him and I. We will drive over, take the ferry, stop at a friend's house that makes wine, then go swimming, then stop for lunch and have oysters. It will be an all day trip and we will have a good time. I pretend to think it over and politely decline. We shake hands and I leave quickly. All in all, I wasn't too concerned at the time as I think back it was almost laughable to me but I really didn't like the conversation about the other 2 women and going into their apartment while they were out. I went over to Atlas to book my trip to Montenegro for the next day but they don't go on Tuesdays so I actually booked for for Korcula for about half of what he was going to charge!! Over to Ploce Gate to restaurant Eurotraveller recommended - Maestoso. I believe that's it - it's to the right outside the gate. I had prawn risotto, mixed salad and white wine - 159 kunas. Great choice.

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    Sorry, I hit the enter key without meaning to. Back to meandering around. The church just to the left as you enter from the Pile Gate is having a concert. I buy a ticket just as they are closing the doors. Almost all the compsers are Croatian so i don't recognize any of the music but it was well done with the four piece "symphony". Lovely 45 minute performance. Nice way to end the evening.

    Tuesday 9/20 "We Gotta Find Marco Polo's House"

    Up early today. Over to shoe store to buy Eccos I saw in the window last night. They were $84. Would be $135 in the states so I buy em cause they're my favorite brand. Super comfy. Over the bus station to take hydrofoil to Korcula. Time for a cappucino while waiting for the bus. Atlas very efficient. Herds us all to dock, loads us in, announcements in 3 languages, stop in Mljet for those getting off there. Couple of hours later we arrive. Short English tour of the city highlights (front gate, St Mark's church, rectory, icon museum, town museum and town square (sign in church cracked me up: "We beg you to behave silently"). We are then turned lose for 3 hours or so to explore on our own. Pizza lunch then over the marco Polo's "house". It turns out to be a staircase going up to view the city on the spot of where the original house of his birth (allegedly) was built. As I'm leaving I hear my first loud American voices: " We gotta find Marco Polo's house" being trumpeted behind me. I turn around and point them to the next street with the banner proclaiming the destination. The lovable Texans thank me and proceed. I then run into them a couple of hours later stumbling around looking for the bakery - I help them (sort of) with my map and we discover it is closed until 6:00 p.m. back to hydrofoil to head back to Dub. Interesting bus ride back to the city. We took a roundabout way so I was able to see some of the city outside the walls. Lovely sunset as we approach the nice hotels above the city. I can see why people like to stay there - incredible views. Over to Buza for a drink but it's dark so i don't stay long. You can see lightning in the distance over the water. Ice cream and back to my room.

    Wednesday 9/21 "If it's Tuesday this must be Belgium".

    Started out on wrong side of the street to take the #1 bus to the bus station. Who knew it makes a U-turn? Got the 9:00 a.m. bus to Split and quickly decide everyone on Fodors are geniuses. It's just such a lovely ride. I had decided to follow Eurotraveller's suggestion and stay in Trogir so after checking my suitcase I explored the Diocletian Palace in Split. I was so glad I decided to stay in Trogir. The palace area was noisy and full of construction crews and another crew setting up lighting for some type of performance. I looked around for a couple of hours, booked another tour to Hvar and Bol for the next day with Atlas and took the bus to Trogir. Immediately fell in love with this little village. It's small with alleyways and structures reminding me of Venice. Concordia Hotel was full so they recommnded an apartment near the bus station. Thomas met me and we walked 5 minutes and up 3 flights of stairs (are there no elevators in Croatia??). Chatted as we walked - he's married with 3 children, one grown) Nice newer room for same price as hotel - 350 kunas. I settle in then go out and explore for a few hours. Saw the Benedictine nuns exhibit, church museum and meandered around. Lasagne, salad and red wine at Top Balloon (thanks Eurotraveller). Very nice to walkalong the harbor drooling at the yachts and cafe sitting/people watching kind of place. Feels like I traveled a lot today so i turn in.

    Thursday 9/22 "I am not Shirley Valentine nor do I need to get my groove back"

    Ah, now I've got your attention!! Let's not get ahead of ourselves. I am up early - yes, I am an early riser even on vacation. I take my luggage over to Concordia as I booked for that night. The lady says i do not have to pay first - note that I asked this before I left. Bus over to Split. Stops in an unfamilar part of town, bus driver points me in the right direction. It is a 10 minute walk. I find bus stop for Atlas and settle in with a cappucino to wait along with cherry danish from produce market - bought fruit also). Bus arrives and we head to TROGIR!! Who knew? Oh well, I will save time on the trip back. Hydofoil over to Hvar. Weather is perfect - so is Hvar. Short tour of the city (church, old theater, etc.) then a couple of hours to explore. Not enough time - definitely want to come back here. Walked up the old wall part way for incredible views of the city. Bought lavender and lace. Back to hydrofoil and over to the island of Brac, city of Bol, to Zlatni Rat beach for 3 1/2 hours. Ah, sun, water and rocks. No sand but who cares. Windsurfers and sailboats complete the lovely view. Clear blue and green water like I've never seen. I get my feet wet - did not plan for sunbathing and swimming on this trip. No matter - nice to relax and soak up the view. Bol has a little shuttle train that takes you from the harbor to the beach. This is a great place to spend a few days if you like the beach scene without super big crowds.
    back to Trogir, over to Concordia Hotel. Yes, they gave my room away because I did not leave my credit card #. Lack of communication on both parts I guess. Well i go back to the apartments i stayed in last night, Thomas meets me halfway, I check in, he offers me brandy, I say no I can't drink on an empty stomach, he offers me sweet wine, I decine again. He takes me up 3 flights of stairs to different area of apartments. This one is bigger with couch as well as kitchenette. I shake hands with him as he leaves, he pats my cheek (?) then tries to pull the back of my neck forward for a kiss. I pull back, he says good bye and leaves. Sheesh. Is this it, folks? Am I attractive to middle aged married Croatian men? If that's the case, I will go down to the harbor and troll in front of those yachts!! I have to say in all my travels I've never encountered this before. I'm a grandmother for crying out loud!! I have concluded these guys just watch too much American TV with lots of bedhopping. But I include this info for the solo female travellers for their info. Lonely Planet guidebook says I am not in any danger so I do not panic but i sleep with comb by my bed to rip anyone's eyes out if necessary. Top Balloon for dinner - I need a beer by now. Pizza yummy but huge. Called Hotel Jezera to reserve room at Pltvces National Park. Strolled around city (harbor again!!) before bed.

    Friday 9/23 "The best Laid Plans...."

    Slept good for a change (note to self - more beer before dinner!!). Decided to leave early for Pltvices. Thomas in lobby - said goodbye very politely. Capuccino at harbor cafe - watching children walking to school (they are all attractive - seriously, even all the teenagers on the bus to school in Split). Over to large produce market for fruit and water and postcards. Bus to Split drops off at same place as yesterday. Get to bus station - next available bus is at noon. I have a couple of hours to kill so I go into town and browse around. The park behind the palace is lovely. Over to Ethnographic Museum. It has been moved but skip it - it's very small, reproductions only and obviously a work in progress. I call airport to reconfirm my flight to Bruges later in the week. Back to bus station and we stop in Trogir. In my own defense I knew that Pltvices was northeast of Split and Trogir is due west. I didn't know we were going west then north east so that's my story and I'm sticking to it!!

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    Thanks for your trip report. I like your style (traveling and writing). Coratia has been on my "short list" for a while but I was thinking it would be someplace I wouldn't want to go alone. I loved my solo trips but so far they've only been to "easy" places like London, Paris and northern Italy (although I did go to Prague alone, which turned out to be easy but I was a bit worried about it ahead of time). The more "challenging" places I save for when my husband can come. At the moment I can't decide if your trip report has confirmed my thinking or changed my mind. But thanks for posting it anyway.

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    Sorry, I hit the enter key without meaning to. Back to meandering around. The church just to the left as you enter from the Pile Gate is having a concert. I buy a ticket just as they are closing the doors. Almost all the compsers are Croatian so i don't recognize any of the music but it was well done with the four piece "symphony". Lovely 45 minute performance. Nice way to end the evening.

    Tuesday 9/20 "We Gotta Find Marco Polo's House"

    Up early today. Over to shoe store to buy Eccos I saw in the window last night. They were $84. Would be $135 in the states so I buy em cause they're my favorite brand. Super comfy. Over the bus station to take hydrofoil to Korcula. Time for a cappucino while waiting for the bus. Atlas very efficient. Herds us all to dock, loads us in, announcements in 3 languages, stop in Mljet for those getting off there. Couple of hours later we arrive. Short English tour of the city highlights (front gate, St Mark's church, rectory, icon museum, town museum and town square (sign in church cracked me up: "We beg you to behave silently"). We are then turned lose for 3 hours or so to explore on our own. Pizza lunch then over the marco Polo's "house". It turns out to be a staircase going up to view the city on the spot of where the original house of his birth (allegedly) was built. As I'm leaving I hear my first loud American voices: " We gotta find Marco Polo's house" being trumpeted behind me. I turn around and point them to the next street with the banner proclaiming the destination. The lovable Texans thank me and proceed. I then run into them a couple of hours later stumbling around looking for the bakery - I help them (sort of) with my map and we discover it is closed until 6:00 p.m. back to hydrofoil to head back to Dub. Interesting bus ride back to the city. We took a roundabout way so I was able to see some of the city outside the walls. Lovely sunset as we approach the nice hotels above the city. I can see why people like to stay there - incredible views. Over to Buza for a drink but it's dark so i don't stay long. You can see lightning in the distance over the water. Ice cream and back to my room.

    Wednesday 9/21 "If it's Tuesday this must be Belgium".

    Started out on wrong side of the street to take the #1 bus to the bus station. Who knew it makes a U-turn? Got the 9:00 a.m. bus to Split and quickly decide everyone on Fodors are geniuses. It's just such a lovely ride. I had decided to follow Eurotraveller's suggestion and stay in Trogir so after checking my suitcase I explored the Diocletian Palace in Split. I was so glad I decided to stay in Trogir. The palace area was noisy and full of construction crews and another crew setting up lighting for some type of performance. I looked around for a couple of hours, booked another tour to Hvar and Bol for the next day with Atlas and took the bus to Trogir. Immediately fell in love with this little village. It's small with alleyways and structures reminding me of Venice. Concordia Hotel was full so they recommnded an apartment near the bus station. Thomas met me and we walked 5 minutes and up 3 flights of stairs (are there no elevators in Croatia??). Chatted as we walked - he's married with 3 children, one grown) Nice newer room for same price as hotel - 350 kunas. I settle in then go out and explore for a few hours. Saw the Benedictine nuns exhibit, church museum and meandered around. Lasagne, salad and red wine at Top Balloon (thanks Eurotraveller). Very nice to walkalong the harbor drooling at the yachts and cafe sitting/people watching kind of place. Feels like I traveled a lot today so i turn in.

    Thursday 9/22 "I am not Shirley Valentine nor do I need to get my groove back"

    Ah, now I've got your attention!! Let's not get ahead of ourselves. I am up early - yes, I am an early riser even on vacation. I take my luggage over to Concordia as I booked for that night. The lady says i do not have to pay first - note that I asked this before I left. Bus over to Split. Stops in an unfamilar part of town, bus driver points me in the right direction. It is a 10 minute walk. I find bus stop for Atlas and settle in with a cappucino to wait along with cherry danish from produce market - bought fruit also). Bus arrives and we head to TROGIR!! Who knew? Oh well, I will save time on the trip back. Hydofoil over to Hvar. Weather is perfect - so is Hvar. Short tour of the city (church, old theater, etc.) then a couple of hours to explore. Not enough time - definitely want to come back here. Walked up the old wall part way for incredible views of the city. Bought lavender and lace. Back to hydrofoil and over to the island of Brac, city of Bol, to Zlatni Rat beach for 3 1/2 hours. Ah, sun, water and rocks. No sand but who cares. Windsurfers and sailboats complete the lovely view. Clear blue and green water like I've never seen. I get my feet wet - did not plan for sunbathing and swimming on this trip. No matter - nice to relax and soak up the view. Bol has a little shuttle train that takes you from the harbor to the beach. This is a great place to spend a few days if you like the beach scene without super big crowds.
    back to Trogir, over to Concordia Hotel. Yes, they gave my room away because I did not leave my credit card #. Lack of communication on both parts I guess. Well i go back to the apartments i stayed in last night, Thomas meets me halfway, I check in, he offers me brandy, I say no I can't drink on an empty stomach, he offers me sweet wine, I decine again. He takes me up 3 flights of stairs to different area of apartments. This one is bigger with couch as well as kitchenette. I shake hands with him as he leaves, he pats my cheek (?) then tries to pull the back of my neck forward for a kiss. I pull back, he says good bye and leaves. Sheesh. Is this it, folks? Am I attractive to middle aged married Croatian men? If that's the case, I will go down to the harbor and troll in front of those yachts!! I have to say in all my travels I've never encountered this before. I'm a grandmother for crying out loud!! I have concluded these guys just watch too much American TV with lots of bedhopping. But I include this info for the solo female travellers for their info. Lonely Planet guidebook says I am not in any danger so I do not panic but i sleep with comb by my bed to rip anyone's eyes out if necessary. Top Balloon for dinner - I need a beer by now. Pizza yummy but huge. Called Hotel Jezera to reserve room at Pltvces National Park. Strolled around city (harbor again!!) before bed.

    Friday 9/23 "The best Laid Plans...."

    Slept good for a change (note to self - more beer before dinner!!). Decided to leave early for Pltvices. Thomas in lobby - said goodbye very politely. Capuccino at harbor cafe - watching children walking to school (they are all attractive - seriously, even all the teenagers on the bus to school in Split). Over to large produce market for fruit and water and postcards. Bus to Split drops off at same place as yesterday. Get to bus station - next available bus is at noon. I have a couple of hours to kill so I go into town and browse around. The park behind the palace is lovely. Over to Ethnographic Museum. It has been moved but skip it - it's very small, reproductions only and obviously a work in progress. I call airport to reconfirm my flight to Bruges later in the week. Back to bus station and we stop in Trogir. In my own defense I knew that Pltvices was northeast of Split and Trogir is due west. I didn't know we were going west then north east so that's my story and I'm sticking to it!! Bus ride not bad but about 1 hour into the trip I needed to go to the bathroom (yes I went before I left). The driver made me wait for 2 hours until we reached a designated stop and then we onlt had 5 minutes. I and another woman raced around looking for an open toilet - she beat me to it (I blame my bum left knee). I never went so fast in my life. I was scared he would leave without me. That was about the only down side to the ride. On the rest of the wayto the park I sat next to an Austrailian man and chatted for awhile to someone - finally!! he was going to the park also, no rservations, no guidebooks or anything. Gave him my Lonely Planet to read up on. The bus drops you off outside the park. It was drizzly, slightly cold and twilight. I and another couple from Bristol walked over to the Hotel Jezera and checked in. Big tour group place but nice and comfy after a long bus ride. Checked with reception about taking bus to Zagreb tomorrow. I was told that as you walk out of the hotel, go straight to main road, turn left and walk 300 meters. Bus comes at 1:00 (they have the bus schedules) and you need to wave to make sure the bus stops because if they don't have anyone getting off, they don't stop. I had dinner with the Bristol couple in the restaurant after a drink in the bar - restauarent full at 8:00 so we ate about 8:30. Grilled trout, salad and wine - reasonable prices and surprisingly good food. Back to bar for a drink then bed.

    Saturday 9/24 "The Agony & The Ecstasy"

    Believe me, you want to get up early and see the waterfalls before the tour groups. It was crowded in last Sept. so the summer months must be brutal. The weather was okay - overcast and relatively mild temp. No rain so all is well. After breakfast i headed to tram to lower falls. Met a couple from L.A. She's Croatian and he's American. She was very upset - the website said the park ticket was good for 2 days but was told that was incorrect. They were tired the day before so they decided to go to their room and rest and see the lower falls in the morning before leaving. They had to buy another ticket which is a joke because no one checks your ticket - they were only checked once the day before. Anyway, after she vented how rude the ticket seller was and the hotel was no help - we had a pleasant morning walk to some of the most beautiful natural scenery I have ever seen. Anyone that misses this park is doing themselves a disservice. It is worth the bus ride. If you are a "decent" walker and/or hiker you can see the park in four hours. I followed Rick Steves self waking tour and thought that was an excellent way to go. I need proceed to the part of my trip that caused me the most unnecessary anxiety. I wanted to take the 1:00 p.m. bus because the next one did not come until 4:30 and I did not want to arrive in Zagreb after dark. I then went in, got my luggage, reconfirmed the location of the bus stop on the LEFT and went on my merry way. Well I have no idea how long 300 meters is (9 football field lengths??). It is true that women are poor judges of distance. I know after awhile of walking along a major road with very little room on the shoulder (note to self - luggage does not roll well over gravel) I had to have walked way past 300 meters. I turned around and started (trudging by this time) back and stopped to ask a lady cleaning the bathroom at a park rest area but she became "the only other person in Croatia that spoke no English". By this time it is 1:12 and I am screwed so I resign myself to walking back to the hotel for help. I am walking along and a vehicle makes a U-turn up ahead of me and the guy gets out and walks towards me. As I get closer I see the lettering on his car. He is a park ranger, the first I have seen, my hero, my guardian angel, my knight in shining armor. He knows four words of English but no matter. Hotel, he asks? No, but to Zagreb. Zagreb? Yes. He motions me to get in and we go past the hotel and yes, to the RIGHT of the hotel is the bus stop. I hvala him a million times as I get out. There are 3 other people at the stop and they speak English (husband, wife and teenage son from Austraila - she was born in Zagreb). As i appach the bus stop she (Vesna) says oh good, another person waiting maybe this is a good sign the bus will now come. I tell her the 1:00 bus is already gone and next one at 4:30. She says they have been there since before 1:00 and there has been no bus. They have waved at them all. I immediately perk up and we bond. I admire her new coat, we chat about our travels and about 7 or 8 minutes later the bus arrives. We sit together (husband and son virtually ignored) and chat all the way to Zagreb. About 1/2 hour before we are due to arrive in Zagreb, the bus cannot get out of second gear. We creep along and pull off and wait for another bus which arrives in about 10 minutes. Off to Zagreb and we arrive about 5:00ish. We take the #6 tram and my hotel is right in front of the tram line. I say goodbye to Vesna and family and promise to e-mail. The Arcotel Allegra hotel is a perfect location and very convenient. The tram is easy to use and quick. I check in and take off for a walk. I really liked Zagreb and wish I had had more time to explore. The lower town area has an old world Vienna feel to it with the architecture and grayness of the buildings particularly around the Art Pavillion. Walked up to Jelacic Square for a drink and rest. Superb people watching and relaxation. Over to St. Stephen's Church and then to Lotrscak Tower for a view of the city. Worth the walk up - Zagreb really sprawls and you can see for miles! Back down I stop and chat with the ticket taker about how nice Zagreb is. He says to come back in 40 minutes when it is dark and see it all lit up. Hmm, can I huff & puff up again? I go over to St. Mark's Church to gaze at the mosaic roof up close. Truly unique. I cannot go in - there is a wedding going on - in fact I view four weddings in the space of half an hour while waiting for dusk. Two at 2 different churches about 1/2 a block from each other and what looks like city hall for 2 other ones. I later find out from the ticket taker at the tower that it's Saturday night in Zagreb, hence all the weddings. Back up the tower and well worth the walk and wait. Try it if you are able to. Chatted for awhile longer with the young man - he was interested in my visit to the Dalmatian Coast, then headed for Kaptolska Klet for dinner. Recommended in Lonely Planet for traditional Croatian food. Indoor and outdoor dining. Live band a little loud so I sat outside. Had garlic sausages, mashed potatoes and Ozusko beer for 66 kunas. Diners got funky with the accordianist and key board player (why do accordians always sound better in Europe?)and starting dancing away and clapping. Turned out to be Americans!! Nice way to end last night in Zagreb. Back to Jelacic Square, caught tram back to hotel.

    Sunday 9/25 Move over SF, I left my heart in Croatia.

    Up at 7:00. Nice breakfast in hotel. Over to produce market for half an hour - actually about as large as the one in Trogir but included flower booths, cheese, eggs and souvenir stands. Back to catch tram to bus station to airport. Note: Lonely Planet says it is a 10 minute ride - it is actually 25 minutes. The bus leaves every half hour on the hour and half hour (hope that makes sense). Zagreb airport really small. I like that. Checked with information - they direct me to Croaita Airlines to pay for taxes for my second Europe By Air flight. Absolutely no problems with this transaction. They charge me $30 or thereabouts and I go over and check in and wait an hour for my flight.

    Okay, that's all for awhile. If you want to hear about Bruges I will post that too but there have been a lot of reports about that place already. Feel free to ask questions. Many thanks to all who posted their trip reports, especially Eurotraveller, granny, grasshopper, TheresaJAT, MarthaT, Alyssamama (sp) and others. They were all helpful.

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    I love your report! I guess I've missed them, but I haven't read other trip reports to Croatia...love the info. Out of curiousity, the concert you attended with the music by Croatian composers - how would you describe it? (classical in nature, nationalist, what) What, if anything, did you learn about these composers? Yes, please do report about Brugge...

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    Great report - sounds like you have never lost your groove. I was in Bol & Hvar for the first two weeks of September - will try to post a report. A friend decided to join me at the last minute - who insisited on watching 'The Nanny' every morning in Hvar as we made breakfast. (It wasn't even dubbed in Croatian, which would have made it interesting)

    Buza is great.

    Thanks for the report.

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    Dorkforcemom: Love your handle, by the way, the concert was classical. I kept the program so it says they performed Beethoven (Romance "Adieu" and Bach (Concert for Piano) along with Croatian selecions from Sorkocevic and a few other Italian composers I have never heard of. What did I learn? That music truly transcends all language barriers and appeals to the heart.

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    Sunday 9/25 continued.
    Flight from Zagreb to Brussels no problemo. Train to Bruges no problemo. Bus to town center no problemo. You get the drift. As the bus made it's way into town it became apparent this was a special Sunday. An absolutely huge flea market was going on. My wallet was itching but I couldn't jump off the bus unless I jettisoned my suitcase. We reached the town center and there was folk dancing being performed with quite a crowd. I wanted to stay and watch but needed to find the hotel. I did that quickly. Hotel Nicholas is one block north of the town square. I came back and watched the dancing then I needed to find an ATM and started meandering so this led to me getting turned around and ending up at the flea market while people were packing up. Whee, some neat stuff. I only saw a fraction of the booths but I would say if you ever get the chance, go. I did try and negotiate to buy a piece of furniture but it was only 50 years old (I figured it was 200 - after all we're in Europe) so I declined to pay 500 euros. I bought a bisquit tin for 4 euros instead. The beer in Belgium is pretty darn good. I am not a beer drinker but have to say I enjoy it when I go to Europe. Not sure why. American beer does not taste good to me.

    Monday 9/26 "Waffles and chocolate and beer oh my"

    Had the best night's sleep the entire trip. I figure it was the beer. This city doesn't get going until 9:30. Seriously. I have my first leisurely breakfast and chat with the Chinese lady that manages this Belgium hotel!! Decide to book the Quasimodo tour of the WW1 battlefields and memorials of Ypres. They will tour on Tuesday. This will cause me not to be able to go to any of the museums as they are closed on Monday, I am on tour Tuesday and go to London late Tuesday night. Oh well, next trip. I make my may over to the canal tours and take a ride. The weather is still overcast but mild temperature. Capuccino and chocolate waffles for early lunch. Then some frites to go. Off to brewery tour, no actual beer making in process to view, just a guide telling us how they do it. Nice view of the city from the roof of the brewery. Over to chocolate museum - entire history of chocolate displyed at length complete with a short film. A sort of chocolate making demo at th eend of the tour, but here again, nothing detailed, just voila, here's a piece of chocolate. More meandering over to the Begignhof area to view the homes where the women lived after all the men went off to the Crusades and they decided to live almost like nuns (except for vow of poverty). Minniewater Park near by with the swans - so quiet there. The swans are very well mannered and clearly own the area. A little shopping then dinner (Flemish beef stew) and then back to the hotel.
    Tuesday 9/26 "All Quiet on the Western Front"

    Many thanks to all who recommended this tour. The day was rainy and dreary - exactly the conditions the soldiers had to exist with on a daily basis during the war. Phillip, the driver and guide, really is quite knowledgeable about the Ypres Salient and provides an interesting day even for those not well versed in military warfare. I would say this tour was one of the highlights of my trip insofar as making an impression on me and learning a great deal about an important chapter in European history. I was dropped off at the bus station and went on the Brussels airport where I discovered my luggage weighed too much for BMI airlines. Only 7 kgs. allowed and I had 12. I checked in anyway with no surcharge. I figured it must be a tiny plane since that's what it said on the website but it was a pretty good sized one plus there were plenty of fellow travelers with heavier carry on bags than what I checked. Landed in Heathrow - tube to hotel then home the next day. End of trip - so sad. London was sunny and beautiful - would have liked to stay a couple of days.

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