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Croatia, Slovenia, and a day in Montenegro! Wow!! So Many Beautiful Places!!

Croatia, Slovenia, and a day in Montenegro! Wow!! So Many Beautiful Places!!

Sep 18th, 2019, 11:48 AM
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Croatia, Slovenia, and a day in Montenegro! Wow!! So Many Beautiful Places!!


Terracotta roofs from the Dubrovnik walls


KarenWoo is online now  
Sep 18th, 2019, 11:53 AM
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We just returned from a 2-week trip to Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro, and it was awesome! The dates of our trip are September 3 to 17, so we literally just got home. I like to write my trip reports ASAP so everything is fresh in my memory. We had spectacular weather with an abundance of sunshine! The only time we didn’t see the sun was the 2 days we were at Plitvice Lakes, where we had overcast skies, but luckily no rain.

A little bit about us: I am 69 and my husband is 72. I started planning our trip a year ago, and we were originally scheduled to take this trip last April/May, but unfortunately I had to cancel for medical reasons. My arthritis got worse very quickly, and I could walk only with a cane and/or walker, so I had to move up my hip replacement surgery. It was physically impossible for me to take this trip last spring. I was very disappointed at the time, but I think we benefited by having better weather in September than the weather last spring (and of course now I can walk J). We were supposed to travel with friends, who, of course, still went on the trip last spring. They had a mixed bag of weather, and told us it was 45F and raining in Ljubljana. We had temps in the low 80’s and bright sunshine!

We enjoy everything: history, culture, good food, good wine, art, architecture, nature, and beautiful scenery (mountain and coastal). They only thing we can’t do is any strenuous hiking, but we love walking through cities and exploring neighborhoods

. For planning, I used the following guidebooks: Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, and Rick Steves. And of course, the Fodors travel forum. I find trip reports very helpful, so I hope my trip report will help future travelers to this part of Europe. I would like to thank the following people for their trip reports: MaiTaiTom, Allison, April Lilacs, Andrew, His Dudeness, Paolo Cast2, Zac495, and YesTravel. And I would like to thank the following people for help with my planning thread: Allison, Andrew, KJA, Dugi-Otok, FourforTravel, LancasterLad, and Rialtogirl. If I have left anyone out, please accept my apologies.

This was our itinerary: Dubrovnik – 3 nights (with a day trip to Montenegro)Split – 4 nights (with a day trip to Hvar Town on Hvar Island, and half a day in Trogir)Plitvice Lakes National Park – 1 nightZagreb – 2 nightsLjubljana – 3 nights (with a scenic drive over the mountains to Lake Bled)

September 3 and 4: LEAVING BOSTON AND ARRIVAL IN DUBROVNIK

We flew via Swissair from Boston to Zurich on a late night flight. We had a 3-hour layover in Zurich. Then we flew via Croatia Airlines to Dubrovnik, and arrived on September 4 around 4:30PM. The owner of the apartments where we stayed arranged for a taxi to meet us at the airport. It’s so nice to see someone holding a card with your name on it after a long journey!

Where we stayed:Karmen ApartmentsBandureva 1

I found Karmen Apartments on booking.com and in one of my guidebooks. You have to contact the owner, Marc van Bloemen, to make your reservation. He has 4 apartments, and he and his family live on the upper floors, so I really like that he is right there to help and to answer questions. Karmen Apartments is in an excellent location, right next to the walls, (we could see people walking the walls from our apartment) and about a 5-minute walk from Ploce Gate. The taxi driver called Marc when he dropped us off, and Marc met us just inside Ploce Gate. He gave us a bit of a history lesson while walking to the apartments. He is very friendly and very helpful. The cost for 3 nights was 525 euros.

We were very tired and suffering from jet lag, so we didn’t venture far for dinner. We found a restaurant that had a lovely garden terrace, Aquarius Konoba, so we decided to eat there without knowing anything about it. The meal was ok, probably the least favorite of our trip. We both had sea bream, which was very good, but the French Fries were tasteless and the spinach had an odd flavor. We had grilled shrimp for an appetizer which was good. I was disappointed in my white wine. After dinner, we walked along the beautiful waterfront and got delicious ice cream at Poklivar. It was very warm when we arrived, and we noticed people swimming just outside the walls during the early evening hours. It felt very summery to us, with people wearing shorts, sundresses, swimming, and everyone eating ice cream!

September 5: Walking the Walls, Franciscan Monastery, War Photo Limited, and Mt. Srd

We woke up at 7:40AM and had breakfast at Storia, the restaurant next door. There is an entrance to the walls about a one-minute walk from our apartment. We started walking around the walls at 9:20AM, and it was very warm by 10:00AM (definitely in the 80’s), so I suggest starting your walk when the walls open, at 8AM, if possible. You should be prepared with sunblock, sun glasses, bottles of water (or you can buy water on the walls), and a hat. It was very sunny and for the most part, there is no shade.

The scenery from the walls is gorgeous!! There are stunning views of the very blue Adriatic Sea and the red-tiled roofs and the mountains behind the city. This is also a strenuous walk, IMO. Of course, keep in mind, I am 69, and had hip replacement surgery in May. There is a lot of up and down walking, and especially in the heat, it is tiring. We stopped periodically to take photos, to rest, and to buy water. We saw the Buza Bar, made famous by MaiTaiTom J, but we didn’t go there because before we found the entrance, we came across another cafť/bar right on the wall, and I really needed to rest and have a cold drink. So we sat for about 20 minutes with views of the Adriatic. So, all in all, the walk took us about 2 hours and 20 minutes. I’m sure younger people and people in better shape than me can do it faster! But why rush! Stop and enjoy the spectacular scenery!

We had lunch at Restaurant Dubrovska, which we spotted from the walls. It’s located just outside the Pile Gate, right on the water! So we had a delicious lunch with beautiful views. We shared a marinated salmon salad and an Adriatic shrimp pizza.

After lunch, we walked over to the 14th century Franciscan Monastery, which has a very pretty cloister with rows of double arches that are topped with human heads and bizarre animals. There is a garden in the middle, and a small but interesting museum.

From here, we walked to War Photo Limited, which I think everyone visiting Dubrovnik should see for an important history lesson. The permanent exhibit, located on the top floor, is a collection of photos from the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. This is a very powerful exhibit, with very sad and tragic photos. I think it helped us to understand the war a little bit better. I remember, of course, when the war was happening, but I found it confusing at the time because there were so many different ethnic groups involved. Based on the reading material given to us at the ticket desk, it seems like there were 3 wars going on from 1991 to 1995. On the first floor, there is what I think is a temporary exhibit. I believe these change every summer. The exhibit we saw is on the Vietnam War, with photos taken by a young, at the time, British photographer. I don’t remember his name.

We then took a taxi to the cable car to go to the top of Mt. Srd. The views from here are spectacular!!! We had drinks at Cafť Panorama, and stayed for about an hour enjoying the view.

We had dinner reservations tonight at Taj Mahal, a Bosnian restaurant, not an Indian restaurant. Our daughter who visited Croatia several years ago recommended this restaurant, as did several people on Fodors. It is necessary to make reservations. We really like the food a lot. I forgot to note what we had for an appetizer, but I know we liked it. We ordered the Genghis Khan platter to share, and Shish Cevap, a very tasty veal dish, similar to stew, recommended by our waitress. I liked this dish better than the platter because of the sauce. There is nothing wrong with the platter, but it is a lot of meat.

Last edited by KarenWoo; Sep 18th, 2019 at 12:03 PM.
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Sep 18th, 2019, 11:56 AM
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I apologize for the confusing start to my trip report. This is the first time I am adding photos, so am new to this. I also tried to preview my post, but lost everything except for the photo, which is why it appears first. Very weird.

Last edited by KarenWoo; Sep 18th, 2019 at 12:03 PM.
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Sep 18th, 2019, 12:13 PM
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Another photo from Dubrovnik Walls


View from Dubrovnik Walls
KarenWoo is online now  
Sep 18th, 2019, 12:14 PM
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Karen, this is my hubbyís dream trip! So, taking notes, LOL.
The photos can occasionally not load properly, sometimes better to enter text first, then do photos as a separate post. Please persevere, though

edit....looks like we were posting at same time, and you got it!
Nice photos.
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Sep 18th, 2019, 12:17 PM
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Adelaidean, thanks so much for the tip about adding photos!

My husband is a better photographer than me. Most of the photos are his; I will post a few of mine.

Last edited by KarenWoo; Sep 18th, 2019 at 12:25 PM.
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Sep 18th, 2019, 01:59 PM
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Karen, you made it after all! Following along eagerly, since something like your itinerary is on my short list for next year.
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Sep 18th, 2019, 02:24 PM
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September 6: A Day In Montenegro

We donít usually hire private drivers but I decided to do so for our drive around the Bay of Kotor. My husband usually does the driving, and I thought this would give him a chance to relax and really enjoy the scenery and not have to worry about parking. So I first contacted Julija Antunovic who received all excellent reviews on Trip Advisor. She was not available on this day, but she recommended her colleague, Stjepan. I never got his last name. He was excellent! Stjepan is a 23-year old university student, and very smart, knowledgeable, warm and friendly. We had an awesome day, and I truly believe it is because of Stjepan. He told us about the history of Croatia and Montenegro, and made the day so much more educational and fun. Because he is not from Montenegro, he could not guide us in the places we visited, and that was fine with us. We could have hired local guides for each village, but we didnít think it was necessary.

Stjepan picked us up at 7:00AM in front of Ploce Gate. As we were pulling away from the gate, my husband asked me if I had our passports! No, I forgot them at our apartment! I couldnít believe it. So we had to circle back to Ploce Gate and wait for my husband to walk to our apartment and get our passports. Stjepan told us he was going to ask us about our passports, too, but Iím not sure when. So this set us back about 20 minutes. DONíT FORGET YOUR PASSPORTS WHEN YOU GO TO MONTENEGRO!!

I chose our itinerary: Budva, Kotor, and Perast. Stjepan chose the order of stops: first stop was Budva; second stop Kotor; and last stop was Perast so we could have lunch in a quiet and more calm setting. The drive around the Bay is very scenic and beautiful. Stjepan did mention that he thinks Herceg Novi is nicer than Budva, but they donít like to change the itinerary that clients make because in the past some clients were upset when the driver suggested changes. He thinks Herceg Novi has a nicer old town than Budva and a very interesting castle. Just thought I would mention this if people are having difficulty deciding what to see. Budva was nice but nothing spectacular. We spent an hour there; we walked through the old town, saw the beaches, and had breakfast at an outdoor cafť in a pretty square. Budva has its own beaches, and is referred to as the Budva Riviera.

Next stop around the bay is Kotor, a walled town that sits right on the water and is backed by imposing mountains and a very steep wall to climb, if you dare! It was very warm and humid the day we were in Kotor, so I was amazed to see people climbing these walls. I know my limitations, and I am definitely not in shape to climb them. I donít think I was in shape in my 20ís, never mind late 60ís! The mountain and walls look very, very steep! We spent an hour in Kotorís Old Town, which was unfortunately very crowded with a cruise ship in port. We visited a few churches and browsed through some shops, and I bought some very nice wooden painted Christmas tree ornaments. Kotor is pretty and is in a very beautiful setting, but I prefer Dubrovnik.

Our last stop around the Bay is the village of Perast, which turned out to be our favorite place. The white Venetian architecture is beautiful, and I love the contrast with the blue sea. The town comes straight down to the Bay! It is soooo pretty! First we took the short boat ride to our Lady of the Rocks, a man-made island. The views from here of Perast and the bay are gorgeous. Itís worth the boat ride for the views, but it is also interesting to visit the tiny church and learn about the legend of the painting. According to Stjepan, everything in this church is donated by people, such as the hundreds of silver plaques! Upstairs in the church is a small museum that houses an embroidered tapestry made from the artistís own hair!

After visiting the island, we had a seafood lunch at one of the restaurants on the harbor. I forgot to write down the name; I think itís the first restaurant as you walk down from the parking lot. We literally were a foot away from the water. We really like Perast because it is very peaceful and more calm than Kotor; no big cruise ships here! If we were to stay overnight in Montenegro, we would choose Perast.

We finished our drive around the Bay of Kotor, and then headed back to Dubrovnik. The scenery is beautiful from the vantage point of the coastal road around the bay; however, I would not describe it as spectacular; I think we saw more spectacular scenery in the following days. The reason I might feel this way is because we did not see Kotor and the Bay from the walls above Kotor, and we did not drive the mountain route around the Bay, which I think would give some spectacular views.

So now we are back in Dubrovnik, and we freshened up before going out to dinner. We didnít really have a restaurant in mind, and I left my restaurant list back in our apartment. So we were wandering around and saw the amazing baroque Jesuit steps! Of course we had to climb them to see where they led. When you reach the stop of the steps, to the right is the Jesuit church, and to the left is the restaurant Kopun! This restaurant was recommended in a newspaper article I read about the top Dubrovnik restaurants, so our decision was made. And it was a great decision. We had one of the best meals of our trip here. We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table, so the hostess brought us a complimentary drink while we waited. Always a classy touch! We shared the black pasta with shrimp for an appetizer. My husband ordered the Royal Seafood Stew and I ordered the White Fish ďen PapillotteĒ. Both dishes were delicious, and the seafood and fish were so fresh. My fish was baked in parchment paper along with all kinds of vegetables. We also ordered white wine, which was so much better than the wine I had on our first night. We had great wines throughout our trip!

Last edited by KarenWoo; Sep 18th, 2019 at 02:29 PM.
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Sep 18th, 2019, 02:31 PM
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Another photo from Dubrovnik


View from top of Mt. Srd. Taken from Cafe Panorama
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Sep 18th, 2019, 02:34 PM
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Photo from Montenegro


View of Perast from Our Lady of the Rocks
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Sep 18th, 2019, 02:40 PM
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Ohhhhh, I've been concerned about driving but also wouldn't want to miss Montenegro. Thanks for names to contact!
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Sep 18th, 2019, 02:53 PM
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This is very weird. As you can see, I've posted several photos. I have been trying to post a few more, following the same directions, of course, and they are not appearing anywhere. Has anyone else had trouble posting photos? And I am posting them as a separate post, as Adelaidean suggests.
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Sep 18th, 2019, 03:20 PM
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Another photo of Perast


Pretty Perast!
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Sep 18th, 2019, 04:27 PM
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My husband's Royal Seafood Stew from Kopun Restaurant
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Sep 18th, 2019, 06:13 PM
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This is awesome. Yestravel piqued my interest of the Western Balkans with her report and you are adding to it. The photos, especially of Dubrovnik, are stunning.
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Sep 18th, 2019, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by tripplanner001 View Post
This is awesome. Yestravel piqued my interest of the Western Balkans with her report and you are adding to it. The photos, especially of Dubrovnik, are stunning.
Tripplanner001, I am having some insomnia due to jet lag, so here I am at my computer at 3:20AM! Thank you for your compliments about our photos. These were taken by my husband. He has a better eye for composition than I do!

Dubrovnik is a beautiful city with its walls, red-tiled roofs, and spectacular location overlooking the very clean and very blue Adriatic Sea. It is crowded, but I still think Dubrovnik is worth seeing at least once in your lifetime. Don't let the crowds scare you away. However, if you are flexible with your travel dates, I highly recommend traveling during the shoulder season. It was in the high 80's most of the time in Dubrovnik, Montenegro, and Split. I wouldn't want to be walking the walls during the summer months, and I know the crowds are much worse.
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Sep 18th, 2019, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by PegS View Post
Ohhhhh, I've been concerned about driving but also wouldn't want to miss Montenegro. Thanks for names to contact!
PegS, I hope my trip report will help you plan your trip! I got a lot of valuable and helpful information from other people's trip reports!

This is the email address for Julija Antunovic: [email protected]

The cost of the trip for two people is 1675 Croatian kuna, and this includes our 3 stops. If you make 2 stops along the way, the cost is 1425 kuna.
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Sep 19th, 2019, 12:53 AM
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Karen, not sure if this still applies, but when I was posting photos on my report and had trouble.....I eventually got there using the orange quick reply on bottom left hand of screen, rather than the usual large text box.

Am glad to read your impressions and thoughts, noting for future reference.
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Sep 19th, 2019, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Adelaidean View Post
Karen, not sure if this still applies, but when I was posting photos on my report and had trouble.....I eventually got there using the orange quick reply on bottom left hand of screen, rather than the usual large text box.

Am glad to read your impressions and thoughts, noting for future reference.
thanks again for your tip. I will try that. It's been taking me about 5 or 6 attempts before I can post a photo. But I won't give up!
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Sep 19th, 2019, 02:43 AM
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September 7: Departing Dubrovnik, a spectacular lunch on the Peljesac Peninsula, and Arriving in Split

When we woke up, it was pouring rain! Oh no! Luckily we brought windbreakers, which also luckily, we rarely needed. We checked out of our apartment and walked to the Ploce Gate to get a cab to drive us to the Oryx Car Rental office to pick up our rental car for the next 6 days. I made our reservations with Kemwel/AutoEurope, who I have used for years. By the time we departed Dubrovnik, the rain stopped and the sun was shining! We had no problems with Oryx; we got the car we requested, and we were off.

The coastal drive between Dubrovnik and Split is absolutely gorgeous! With the sun shining on the blue Adriatic Sea, you couldnít ask for anything better. We thought it was more spectacular than the drive around the Bay of Kotor, but perhaps that is because we were at a higher elevation. We wanted to see a bit of the Peljesac Peninsula before we arrived in Split. Our friends who were here in the spring recommended Konoba Mandrac in Broce for a superb seafood lunch. Before lunch, we stopped for about 30 minutes in Mali Ston, which is small, pretty, and quiet. We saw the Great Wall in Ston Ė very intimidating!!! We wonít be climbing that wall, either.

Then we drove to Broce, just a few minutes away, for lunch. Konobas are small taverns/restaurants that are less expensive and family run. I think the owners of Konoba Mandrac live on the second floor of the restaurant. It is small and the location is excellent, right on the water. It is run by a husband and wife, and when we were there, the wife was cleaning freshly caught fish on the dock. There were tomatoes growing next to the restaurant. The back of the restaurant is open to the dock, water, and boats, and the sides are glass windows all the way around, so you always have a fantastic view of the water, regardless of where you sit. First we ordered a dozen raw oysters! Yummy! This area is known for their oysters! Then we had fish soup and oyster soup. Then we ordered a seafood platter for 2, which included lobster, squid, 2 kinds of white fish, clams and mussels with potatoes and spinach. Wow!!! Everything was delicious, fresh and slowly grilled. We had to wait 35 minutes for our seafood platter, but it was well worth it!

After lunch, it was time to continue our drive to Split. The manager where we were staying asked us to text him when we were 45 minutes away. Also, earlier he sent us the address of the parking garage, along with a photo, so we entered the garage address into our GPS. Ivo, the manager, met us just outside the garage. He then instructed us to drive our car to the bus stop at the end of the road and beginning of the Riva. My husband dropped me off at the bus stop with our luggage, and drove back to the garage to park the car. Ivo and my husband met me at the bus stop, and he helped us pull our luggage to our accommodations, and carried them up to the 4th floor.

We stayed at:ID Regal Residence, Poljana Stare Gimnazije
I guess you would call it a B&B or small inn. There are 4 rooms on the 4th floor (by the way the U.S. counts floors). There is a very small reception desk just outside the rooms where Ivo took care of paperwork. He gave us a city map and recommended restaurants. We didnít see him again until we checked out, but we did have his cell number in case of problems or questions. ID Regal Residence is in an excellent location in the old town, just outside of Diocletianís Palace. There are tons of restaurants, cafes, ice cream shops, etc. nearby. Our room is very pretty, with 2 stone walls and 2 painted walls. Itís contemporary and light but also charming. My only complaint is that itís on the 4th floor. I remember asking Ivo if it was the 3rd floor according to the way the U.S. counts floors, and he said yes, but it was actually on the 4th floor. My attitude is that the exercise was good for us considering all the food we ate on this trip! The room rate included breakfast vouchers for the Bokeria Restaurant, just a one-minute walk away. Apparently, this is a very well-known restaurant in Split. The breakfasts were delicious! There are several different kinds of very filling omelets, fried eggs, yogurt parfait, and a few other dishes. The egg dishes came with toasted homemade bread and some greens. We also had coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice every morning. This was a nice change from the breakfast buffets.

We walked along the Riva (waterfront promenade), which is lined with palm trees, boats in the water, a live band playing, and lots of people around. It was very lively and busy at night, and felt more crowded than Dubrovnik. I definitely felt like we were on summer vacation while in Dubrovnik, Montenegro, and Split, with people swimming, sunbathing, boating, everyone walking around eating ice cream, and water everywhere!

We wandered around checking out menus, and decided to have dinner at No Stress Bistro located in Narodni Trg. My husband wasnít very hungry, so he ordered bruschetta with different toppings (a warm appetizer) but they were huge. I ordered a pasta dish with red sauce and shrimp. The food was good, maybe not the best on our trip, but certainly decent.

Last edited by KarenWoo; Sep 19th, 2019 at 02:47 AM.
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