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Annie's fantastic, and surprisingly economical, trip to Croatia and beyond.

Annie's fantastic, and surprisingly economical, trip to Croatia and beyond.

Dec 15th, 2009, 10:03 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Ellen, I'm not sure the name of the street where the Taj Mahal is, but it is on the water side of the Stradun and on a street that parallels it. It is a little like a maze in that area, but it is probably shown on one of the free city maps you can get at the TI, or just ask anyone. I know it's just around the corner, sorta, from Toni's spaghetti place.

Annie, I have the exact same concerns as you re the indiscriminate development of the Bay of Kotor and other areas. I am also noticing that the waters around Dubrovnik are not looking as pristine as they did on my first visit there in 2006. Perhaps this will be remedied now that they are limiting the amount of cruise ships that can stop there.
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Dec 15th, 2009, 11:20 AM
  #22  
 
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Taj Mahal is on Ulica Nikole Gucetica. No 2.

If you walk along Stradun (Placa) towards the Pile Gate, look for a street on your left called Ulica Miha Pracata. Go along this street, and Nikole Gucetica is the second on the left. You'll see the tables as you turn the corner.
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Dec 15th, 2009, 02:55 PM
  #23  
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KORCULA....OR BEWARE OF GIFTS FROM STRANGERS

The drive from Dubrovnik to Korcula is stunningly beautiful, and thankfully, during the off-season, very empty. We stopped in Ston, walked around the wall, and then found an easy place for a light snack, sans oysters, before continuing. We knew we were coming back this way tomorrow and DH decided he’d have them on the return…unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

The Peljesac peninsula is full of vineyards and wineries. I don’t think we’ve ever seen vines as thick as these, not even when we were in Tuscany. The ferry from Orebic (so cute) was easy and in no time we were in Korcula. For some reason, the town seemed strangely quiet, and we were a little surprised to find a parking spot right outside Hotel Korcula (100E!). We found out the reason soon enough when we began to stroll through the Old Town. No one was home. The town was completely empty, and I’m not exaggerating. We walked for an hour and didn’t see a soul. It was a great opportunity to snoop!

Jutting out into the Adriatic, Korcula is almost a perfect oval with the obligatory church on top of the hill in the center. However, we had a bit of trouble finding somewhere to eat – we didn’t want to eat in the hotel – and it was only after noticing a building that not only smelled wonderful, but also had tables stacked outside, that we finally found food. A small place with the best homemade Sarmas ever! It was so good, we went back for dinner. Unfortunately, we paid cash and there wasn’t a sign outside...but it was tucked just inside the first street off the inner bay.

We spent the afternoon wandering the island and driving up to Vela Luka, which looked like a great little town, much busier than Korcula. And then we went back to the hotel for a rest. Our room was fine, with a very small balcony that looked out on the bay. After a short while, we dined again at our new favorite place and took another walk through the still-quiet Old Town.

Just as we passed a bar with very dim lights, the door opened and the owner invited us in. He was so happy to have someone visiting, that as the night wore on, he offered us some homemade grappa and pickled fish. Neither was for me, but DH tucked in happily. The fish was caught by his son and the grappa was made by his daughter-in-law who was known for making fine concoctions. After a few hours, we poured ourselves back to the hotel, but not before noticing that our room was the only room with lights. Hmmmmm…

The next morning we got up bright and early to drive to Trogir after enjoying a fantastic (hot!) breakfast at the hotel. Because it was so early in the year, we decided the roads would be empty (they were) and that we didn’t want to take the ferry to Split. Driving was much more fun, but for some reason, we’d learn this later, DH didn’t want to stop in Ston for oysters. When we finally got to Trogir, he leaned back in his seat and said “I’ll wait here while you find the apartment. Come back for me later, I’m too tired to go anywhere.” What???
anniemackie is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 06:57 PM
  #24  
 
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We ate at Taj Mahal too, and it was one of the best meals we had on our trip to Croatia and Slovenia. The food was excellent. I remember having a baked potato with this incredible hunk of soft cheese on top of it. I'm normally not a soft-cheese fan, but this had the consistency similar to cream cheese and I start drooling every time I think about it! I also had some kind of meat (similar, I believe, the kofta I had in Turkey) stuffed into some bread that was delicious as well.

Tracy
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Dec 15th, 2009, 07:40 PM
  #25  
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Tracy, I had that potato too...it was scrumptious! Ellen, if you have trouble remembering names (we did) you can also take the 3rd left from Orlando's column, going towards the Pile gate. Then take the 2nd right and the Taj Mahal is in the middle of the block on the right. It's a fairly small and busy place, so you may need to make reservations. But, it's worth the effort and very reasonable. (Gammy02, put this on your list for good Bosnian food.)

Julie, Zagreb is definitely on our re-do list. We'd love to see more of that area. More later...

--Annie
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Dec 17th, 2009, 02:31 AM
  #26  
 
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Thanks, everybody for info on the Taj Mahal. it's a must visit for our next stay in Dubrovnik.

Annie, did you walk the wall in Dubrovnik?

The account of your brush with jail made me laugh. We were pulled over in the middle of Albania for - something - not quite sure. My husband had to show his passport to a very stern and official looking policeman. Thought for sure we were going to end up in an Albanian jail, but he was so happy to see that we were American, he finally let us go with a salute! Those are the things (in retrospect, especially) that you look back on as the little adventures while traveling!

Looking forward to your next installment.

Ellen
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Dec 17th, 2009, 10:36 AM
  #27  
 
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The mysterious white soft cheese on the potatoe is called Kajmak and, boo hoo, unfortunately, we can't get it here. But... creme fraiche is a close substitute. Ellen you must try the cevapi at Taj Mahal. It is gastronomic heaven! and is served with lots of kajmak! Also try the veal dish that is served with mushrooms and simmered in a kajmak sauce and a side of roast potatoes. OMG!! Lots of walking up steps after that one.
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Dec 17th, 2009, 11:01 AM
  #28  
 
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In the little grocery stores in Dubrovnik you can buy packets of cevapi mix - it is great to take home with you! Mix with equal quantities of minced lamb and beef - whizz in a food processor and roll into mini-sausage shapes before grilling.

I think you could make your own version of the cevapi mix with garlic, paprika and perhaps some cumin and other spices... I'm still trying to work it out.

Kajmak - I mix creme fraiche and sour cream which seems to me to be a very good substitute.

I can't find a substitute for the fabulous bread though. Pitta bread suffices for the time being...
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Dec 17th, 2009, 03:26 PM
  #29  
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Ellen, yes, we did walk the wall...twice. Both times we never ran into another person. It was great having it to ourselves! With all this talk of food, I'm getting hungry. Julia, we brought back some Vegeta,to mix with potatoes and spinach, but not cevapi mix...maybe we should find tour guides in the grocery stores!

--Annie
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Dec 17th, 2009, 03:32 PM
  #30  
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TROGIR....OR HOW TO GET DIRECTIONS TO THE DOCTOR'S HOUSE.

After checking that a heart attack wasn’t in progress, I left DH with the car and went in search of our apartment in House Ivancic (40E). Luckily we brought a good map and I was able to locate the building fairly easily. Trogir is very small but resembles a maze at first. After a bit of wandering to find a phone, I finally met up with Anton who had to show me the way back to the car, before we went up to the apartment.

The apartment was just about perfect for us. It was a nice and neat, studio with a bright balcony off the kitchen…a great place for breakfast or happy hour out in the sun. I went back for DH, who was feeling decidedly worse, and managed to get our car into the permitted parking area -- little did I know that we wouldn’t use it again for three days.

After my third visit to the pharmacy for something – anything -- that would relieve DH’s symptoms, the pharmacist insisted on drawing me a map to the Doctor’s house. She was worried that we didn’t have a phone. That piece of paper was such a comfort and I kept it with me at all times.

To this day we don’t know if it was food poisoning from the pickled fish and homemade grappa, or just a virulent strain of the flu. In any case, DH was down for the count and would hardly leave the apartment until it was time for us to go to Plitvice. Suddenly our travel plans had changed. We would not see Split, or tour the coast, and I was stuck in a very small town.

If I were going to pick somewhere to be sidelined, Trogir fit the bill beautifully. It has a busy market each morning just across the bridge and has a lovely area with benches along the water to sit. It is also small enough that I could shop without being away from DH for too long and on each trip outside the apartment, I found something new. Best of all, it is filled with nice people who made me feel not quite so alone when dealing with a difficult situation.
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Dec 17th, 2009, 04:52 PM
  #31  
P_M
 
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Great report annie!! Keep it coming.
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Dec 18th, 2009, 05:53 AM
  #32  
 
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It was totally dead when we were in Korcula as well, but it was neat to see the little town like that. Such a beautiful island! I am sure it is overrun with tourists during peak season. Sorry to hear that your husband got sick during the trip but glad to hear he recovered in time for Plitvice!
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Dec 20th, 2009, 07:24 PM
  #33  
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Sessa, we were thinking of your trip report this entire day...

THE ROAD TO PLITVICE...OR ISN'T THIS THE WEATHER WE LEFT BACK HOME?

Did you ever have one of those days when everything goes wrong and you begin to wonder why you ever thought you liked to travel? This would be one of them. We said our goodbyes to Trogir and drove the beautiful coast road up to Zadar, stopping by Sibenik to see the church. Our goal was to have lunch in Zadar by the sea organ, and have a leisurely drive to Plitvice….however, the weather wasn’t cooperating. After finally finding a place to park, we got out of the car and were almost blown away. If you could call wind torrential, then that was it. After a quick walk to hear the sea organ, we were so cold that we turned around and walked quickly back to the car. That’s about all we saw of Zadar.

With that kind of wind, we had the feeling we should probably try to get to Plitvice before something major blew into the area. It was too late. By now, the A-1 and even the E71 were both closed. We were rerouted through Novigrad to Obrovac and then had to take a yellow road to Udbina. These were small mountain roads in what was by this time, almost white-out conditions. This was truly a white-knuckle day

We finally found our way through 8 inches of snow to Knezevic Guesthouse. Out of the car, knock on the door, and no one answers. Back to the car to figure out what to do. We notice a light come on and someone came to the door and waved us in. We explain we are here for two nights only to discover they had misplaced our reservations. Much searching, many apologies, and they show us to our unheated, tiny room with a miniscule bathroom. No television, or radio, and certainly not a lot of light for reading. So, we are cold, not going to get any warmer here, and are starting to get crabby.

We decide to get back in the car, at least that heater worked, drive around the park, and scout out a place for dinner. We didn’t find anything open until we were almost in Rakovica, and ended up eating in what was obviously a tour bus restaurant - the parking lot was huge. Thankfully, the food was good and we weren’t rushed.

With all the snow, we decided we weren’t up for two days of hiking in the park, so we called Rovinj to see whether we could arrive early. At this point, if we had to pay the money for our second night in Plitvice, we didn’t care, it was just too cold to spend any more time in that room than necessary. Luckily, we could go to the apartment in Rovinj the next day, so we relaxed and talked about hiking in the park with our tennis shoes. Then, a leisurely drive on newly plowed roads back to the guesthouse to find that the room might have warmed up by two or three degrees. Hooray!
anniemackie is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2009, 06:20 PM
  #34  
 
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Annie, what a shame you didn't have a better experience in Plitvice. We haven't been there yet, but I've read wonderful reports and it's on our list. Were you able to appreciate the beauty of it in the snow? I would have been frantic on the mountain road. I get white-knuckled on mountain roads in the best weather!

We like to travel in the off season, too, and I guess it's a trade-off; crowds vs. the possibility of bad weather. I gather the trip improved from there...?

Ellen
(formerly ellencmog)
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Dec 23rd, 2009, 06:21 AM
  #35  
 
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Yikes!! That sounds even worse than the snow we experienced. We were at least able to travel on the A-1. I will never forget the experience of driving through the snow on the way to Plitvice in our wimpy little rental car and figuring out how to make it into the driveway of the guesthouse that had not been shoveled. I'm sorry you didn't have a better experience at Knezevic Guesthouse. I do hope you made it into the park...will wait to hear more!
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Dec 23rd, 2009, 06:35 AM
  #36  
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Hmmmm. I am considering a trip in March and I never dreamed there could be snow then. I love snow but I'm not sure I want to see it at Plitvice. But if it snows it won't spoil my trip, like it didn't spoil yours.
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Dec 23rd, 2009, 08:30 AM
  #37  
 
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P_M - Plitvice was the only place we saw snow when we were there for 10 days in March 2008. Actually, Plitvice was the only place that was really even cold (besides Sarajevo and it wasn't nearly as cold as Plitvice). I have to say that the park was absolutely beautiful in the snow. It was silent, no tourists around and just very serene and picturesque. We had gorgeous sunny weather everywhere else we went.
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Dec 23rd, 2009, 09:03 AM
  #38  
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Thanks for the info sessa. I guess we will just deal with whatever weather comes our way and still enjoy our day at Plitvice.
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Dec 23rd, 2009, 11:34 AM
  #39  
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P_M, yes, the trip improved from there...and as Sessa said, Plitvice was beautiful in the snow. We were happy we had this unique experience, especially once our room warmed up. In fact, once my photographer sister saw our pictures of Plitvice, she swore she was going PLAN on going there in the winter. Eeeks!

Sessa, I think we just surprised them at Knezevic, I'm sure we were their first guests of the season....and I can't imagine that anyone in that area keeps their extra rooms fully heated throughout the off-season. They were very nice and offered extra blankets, etc.

I'll have more after the holiday...a big storm is headed our way and we're busy getting ready in case the power goes out...which it often does in heavy snow.

It will feel strange to write about our sunny and warm days in Istria in the middle of our winter wonderland.

--Annie
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Dec 24th, 2009, 07:12 AM
  #40  
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OK, now I hope we do see snow at Plitvice.

I just booked my trip this morning, I can't wait to hear more about yours.
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