June Trip to Croatia-Journal

Old Aug 25th, 2004, 07:56 PM
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June Trip to Croatia-Journal

This is my husband's journal of our 18 day trip to Croatia. It was a great trip. He write way more than you need to know but it'll give you a good look at what we found to see and do. Of our fifteen trips to Europe this is one of my top and my husband puts it #1. Our itinerary in posted on this sight, it worked out very well. I'm having trouble posting this, maybe because it is too long so I'm going to break it up. Here goes...

The flight over went quickly although I got no sleep and Teresa little. A loud mouth in the row behind us insisted on talking very loudly about things he knew nothing about.
When we arrived in Zagreb we took a bus into the city and then a train that let us out right outside our hotel.
We cleaned up and started a walking tour in the main square. The next stop was to get ice cream.
We went by the stock exchange and on to the main cathedral now dedicated to the Assumption of Mary (formally St Stephen). During the 15th century this was the frontier and last cathedral before Ottoman controlled territory. The city was fortified as a result.
We went by the miracle gate and then to the last standing tower from the fortifications. We took a picture of the famous tiled roof of St Mark?s (and another as we walked toward it).
We went to the open air market and ate some mediocre strawberries. We sauntered around the old streets some more and sat for drinks at an outdoor café.
We then went for Doner Kebabs for dinner and because of the jet lag, headed back to the hotel. We turned in around 8:30 and slept until 10:00 in the morning.
We weren?t the last to breakfast, as an American medical anthropologist, in the country to give a presentation, and a Canadian cartoonist (both female) ate while we were there.
We headed out and I found a coke early. Our first stop was the City Museum. It was a nice museum and we were the only customers- it was free. Put things in perspective from Bronze Age to the present.
Next we went by the Miracle Gate again and this time I took a picture. This was a wooden city gate which had a Madonna and Child painted on it. The gate burned but the portion with the painting didn?t. It is considered a miracle and has become a shrine, with other miracles attributed to it.
We next went on the walking tour of the lower city. This included the theater and the Muamar Museum with works of art from B.C. to the early 20th century. Some people believed the Donor came by the works of art fraudulently by stealing an identity during World War I.
We continued the walking tour to the Botanical Gardens and then through the major park of the Lower City. Ice Cream time again.
After walking a little more it was time for drinks. Entertainment came with it in the form of ?The Leopard Man? from Australia. Somewhat funny, lots of juggling, kept the crowd amused.
Afterwards we went to Leonardos Trattoria; Teresa had a green salad and pizza. I had gorgonzola salad and Green Pasta.
There was lots of promenading going on and we took a circuitous route back to the hotel.
The next day was a holiday. The bad news was that most buildings were closed. The good news was all the churches were open. We attended 3 masses and a baptism (sounds like a movie) Subway was open so we ate a leisurely lunch outside of it.
It was a traveling day so we then went back to the hotel to gather our baggage. (The airlines had delayed our flight to 5:24 which hurt our plans.)
We took a tram to the bus station and a bus to the airport ? on the bus we met Gary, a finance professor from Saratoga Springs who was teaching in Zagreb. He was also flying into Pula.
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 08:00 PM
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Part 2
It was a short flight but still 6:30 by the time we got our bags. Our plan was to take a taxi to the bus station and then a bus to Rovinj. Our taxi driver, Bruno (091/598 0665) informed us the buses weren?t running as the holiday. He told us he would take us to Rovinj for $50. Although we question if he was telling us the truth (a later taxi driver said he was telling us a lie), his price was reasonable. (The actual meter was $70.) On our way, after troubles in translation, we convinced him to call our prospective landlords who were to meet us at the bus station after we called. He apparently couldn?t understand her either. When we arrived, she wasn?t there, and when Teresa called, she was told that because we did not re-re confirm, we no longer had a room.
Bruno helped us by trying to call for a different room and then taking us to a hotel. They were full but they called over to Istria Hotel on Red Island and booked us a room. This meant taking a 15 minute ferry ride from the dock. Bruno drove us there and stayed awhile chatting.
We arrived at the hotel at 8:50. The cost was 46 Euros a person for a night but included a buffet breakfast and dinner. The reception clerk took care of our bags and sent us down to dinner which was ready to close.
That night the fish they called ?Grooper? was terrific as were the desserts. Drinks were extra. Teresa had a good Merlot, cost $1.00.
Our room was very nice overlooking the water. The hotel was a resort and very well run. The only real downside was the bed which was hard, and the poor pillows.
After we cleaned up we took a little walk.
In the morning we had breakfast early. It was wonderful with eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, rolls, etc.
We then took the 8:30 ferry to Rovinj. We walked all through this medieval town, founded by the Romans, ruled by the Venetians and everyone in between. We went up the bell tower of St. Euphemia?s Church (3rd century martyr whose remains are in the church) and took pictures. We also visited the art shops on Grisa Street.- (nothing caught our fancy). Found the Arch, had a milkshake- pretty poor- and bought fruit and homemade cheese (also pretty poor) at the farmers? market. After a stop for bread we had what we needed for a picnic lunch to take to the beach.
Confident we had seen all of Rovinj we took the noon ferry back to our island and spent the afternoon snorkeling, sunbathing, eating and reading on the smaller of the 2 connected islands. While there we went up to a little restaurant for an afternoon cocktail. The island?s had trails you could walk along while looking for a place on the rocks to park yourself. We had to look a bit to find a place with some shade. There was a small bay with a pebble beach and lounge chairs that could be rented. It could be toured in about half and hour. We had a wonderful day.
The dinner buffet featured tuna- a bit too well done- pork, mushrooms, meatballs, Teresa liked them, French fries, mashed potatoes, pizza, various vegetables, and the salad bar and dessert bar. The ice cream was the best we had in Croatia so far. Everywhere else we found a whipped ice cream.
We walked off dinner around the larger of the 2 islands admiring the sunset.
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast we caught the 8:30 ferry into Rovinj and the 9:00 bus to Porec. We walked through the city that again was founded by the Romans and went to its major attraction, the 6th century cathedral. It is famous, (a Unesco World Heritage site) for its mosaics, including the 4th century mosaics from an earlier Christian church the cathedral was built over.
The mosaics on the canopy over the altar are 13th century. Shown separately are stonework and mosaics from the various times, quite impressive.
We saw the old Roman house and the Roman temples of Mars and Venus (or what was left of them). The city streets were similar t those of Rovinj- stone polished by millions of footsteps.
We then found our car rental agency and we got our Renault. We drove back to Rovinj and luckily found a parking space. We took the ferry back to the resort, changed and headed to our little island where we again sunbathed, snorkeled (an extended trip this time) read our books and ate cherries, plums, walnuts and some of the dark organic chocolate that Don gave us. (We rationed it and it lasted almost two weeks.) It was a glorious afternoon.
We stopped by the pool on the way back to our room. I swam a couple of laps. Teresa did a couple hundred. I explained to people she had been a streetwalker in Venice.
Dinner included turkey, bratwurst (2 types), the ubiquitous French fires, pasta (good), pizza, hake, and vegetables. Teresa mistakenly included butter rum ice cream among her desserts and was happy to hear it was Steve?s favorite Life Saver flavor and so pawned it off on him.
The resort provided live music at 9:30. This consisted of a female lead singer, who also danced, a guitarist and a keyboard player. They played mostly older American Rock to about 50 people and 300 seagulls who wafted like kites high above the audience in a surrealistic display.
The next morning we woke to foul weather. After breakfast it was to the 8:30 ferry for the trip in. We managed to stay pretty dry in a standing room only crowd in the areas that were protected from the rain. We drove to Pula. This has been a strategic port for millennia. The Romans fortified it and turned it into a large city. It was the major navel base of the Byzantine Empire in the 5th and 6th century and the Venetians controlled it later. While many Roman remnants remain, including the amphitheatre (coliseum), when the Austro-Hungarian Empire took it, they modernized the fort on the hill, so that is the one that remains.
When we arrived we parked near the amphitheatre (Coliseum) so that was our first stop. We used the audio guide and learned some of its history, including the thwarted attempt of some Venetians to transport it, block by block, back to Venice for reassembly.
We then went to the Cathedral, from the 6th century, the Roman floor mosaic, the temple of Augustus, the temple to Diana turned into City Hall), the Roman Forum, Theater, The Double Gate and the Arch of Sergis.
For lunch we ate a large slice of pizza, mine with tuna, Teresa?s with mushrooms. Set us back $2.00.
Back to the car and up the peninsula. We made a stop at Opatija, the Riviera of the Adriatic. Actually, it was very reminiscent of Cannes, except its beaches were paved to a seawall.
This had been the most fashionable seaside resort of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World War I. The old mansions are now elegant hotels. We walked up and down its famous promenade. I bought ice cream, lemon and banana. Teresa wouldn?t even take her allowed two licks because of my choices.
Next we headed to Plevitce Lakes. (This was a big travel day). On the way we picked up two Hungarian girls, Anniko and ?Dawn?. They were on a hitchhiking adventure, unbeknownst to their parents. By this time it had started raining and they needed to be in Budapest by 8:00am the next morning so Dawn could take her exam. They were both studying hotel management (tourism). We left them on the road to Zagreb (their connection to Budapest) when we arrived in Plevitce.
We found our bed and breakfast and checked in. We ate at the Licka Kuca down the road at one of the park entrances. It was a logged structure, like a lodge, with a large open fire in the middle. You smelled it as soon as you walked in. Teresa and I shared the Licka platter; salad, lamb on a spit, potatoes and veal baked under a bell. Everything was excellent.
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 08:06 PM
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Part 3 and your not almost done!

We slept in the next morning, awaking to a very foggy day. We went to Entrance 2 of Plevitce Lakes, and stopped first of all to get Teresa a sweatshirt and poncho (and me a Coke). We were inside the park by 10:00 and instructed to take Trail H since we told them we had all day. This meant a bus ride up to the top of the lakes and an easy walk down with slight gradient. More importantly it was a spectacular walk. The foliage was beautiful, the lakes were beautiful and the waterfalls were beautiful. Unfortunately the mist prevented us from getting the full impact of the color of the upper lakes but the numerous waterfalls were wonderful.
Anniko had said it was the most beautiful place on Earth. There may be some places nicer, but we haven?t seen them yet. Every few steps brought another breathtaking view (forgive the clich&eacute. At the halfway point we boarded a boat to take us across the largest lake. It started to rain on the trip.
Upon reaching the other side we went into the cafeteria which was warm. We had packed a lunch, but Teresa bought a hot chocolate. After eating, we ventured out again. The next half of the journey featured less mist, so we could appreciate the remarkable turquoise color of the lakes, but a steady drizzle brought cooler temperatures.
We also explored some caves.
We had a short walk uphill before reaching the spot where the bus picked us up.
We were back in our room by 3:30. We showered, read and took naps we shouldn?t have needed.
For dinner it was back to Licka Kuca. We both had homemade sausages, bread, salads, soup, potatoes, mixed vegetables; wine for Teresa, beer for me. $27.00. Again it was excellent.
The next morning we headed for Zadar and enjoyed good roads.
We arrived at our Pension and our hosts were very nice. We decided to walk to the Old Town Center.
Zadar existed before the Romans came but they left their mark; as did the Venetians. Unfortunately, the city was the target of 72 allied air raids during World War II and 60% of the city was destroyed.
Zadar is a peninsula and heavily fortified. The Romans erected massive fortifications, as well as a forum and other buildings. The stone pavements and not much else survived in one piece.
We quickly found the Cathedral of St. Anastasia where her remains are in a small sarcophagus.
We saw a few other churches and the remains of the forum.
The forum had been cannibalized, mostly by St. Donat, an Irish bishop who had built a 9th century small round cathedral with parts of the forum willy nilly incorporated into it.
We then saw the government house, the Venetian Gate and the marina.
We walked back to the Pension, changed, and headed to the beach.
We found a sand beach. It had 3 giant slides, but as no adults were using them, we didn?t either.
We took a different route back to the Pension and got ready for dinner.
We decided to splurge on dinner. We hadn?t really sampled all the Croatian seafood specialties, so we ordered a platter. This included 3 swordfish steaks, 4 pieces of fried fish, 1 grilled fish, 8 mussels, a generous portion of calamari and 3 scampi. With this we had salad and bread. Our host also brought us out popcorn while we were waiting as a soccer game was on.
We then drove into the city. Like most European cities, the streets were filled with people, mostly young, promenading.
We walked the entire length to try and get a picture of the last bit of color in the sunset; then we went back to the forum to eat the dessert we had purchased. Teresa picked out her favorite 2000 year old column to sit on for the treat. Children were playing soccer among the sarcophagi strewn around.
We walked some more (it had been a large meal) and finally sat at a café to sample the maraschino cherry brandy the area is famous for. It was quite good.
We then drove along the tops of the battlements, through the Venetian Gate, and back to our Pension.
The next morning, after Teresa became enamored with some paintings at breakfast, we headed straight to Krka National Park.
The Park consists of the Krka river flowing over waterfalls and through wilderness areas.
When we arrived, we boarded a boat to take us to the first falls. These were a series of cascades and footpaths over the river.
We ate lunch in a picturesque spot and then took an optional excursion to the Franciscan Monastery on an island upriver. From there the boat took us further to some additional falls. Each leg took 2 hours. The second is worth while if you enjoy boatrides through canyons.
Upon our return, we headed to Sibonek. We had a little difficulty locating our hotel, but it turned out to be a nice one, overlooking the harbor.
After cleaning up, we explored the city.
If they ever have an international hide and seek competition, it should be in Sibonek. The city is a labyrinth of alleys, passageways, and steps with dead ends thrown in. We ate in a restaurant on one of the largest thoroughfares, about 8 feet wide.
Sibonek is a relatively new city, no Greco-Roman past; the first mention of it was in 1066. From that time we had the usual cast of characters: Byzantines, Venetians, Turks, Austro-Hungarians.
Its fortifications were mostly Venetian.
Since the Serbian wars, Sibonek has not fared well as the aluminum and chromium factories have not reopened.
It was salad and pizza ( the Croatians have discovered the perfect cheese for pizza) for dinner, and an ice cream cone later for dessert.
We bought a bottle of the maraschino brandy and sipped it in our room.
After breakfast the next morning we went directly to Sibonek?s Cathedral of St. Jacob. It is the only Renaissance cathedral in the world made from prefabricated stone.
After that we went to St. Anne?s Fortress high above the city, last renovated by the Venetians. On the way back we purchased 2 paintings at the market.
We then checked out and headed to Trogir. We decided to take the coast road. The views were magnificent.
It was very easy to find our hotel in Trogir and we were quite lucky to find the perfect parking spot.
After checking in we toured the city which was medieval in character.
First to the Cathedral, some old government buildings, then to the fortress.
We stopped at a nice restaurant for lunch. Again it was salad and pizza. I had a large beer, Teresa a small wine.
More exploring brought us to the market off the island portion of the Old City. It was quite extensive. Couldn?t talk Teresa into anything though.
On the way back to the hotel we bought ice cream (hey, this is our vacation) and took a picture down the waterway.
Today the first battery in our camera died. Luckily we had a second.
We also met our first American tourists in Croatia; two women from Georgia.
Trogir has been a defiant city. It fought the Greeks, the Romans and even the Venetians after they had purchased Dalmatia.
That night we tried a special beef dish and lamb.
Croatia was playing France in soccer that night so we watched from various big screens as we ambled about the city.
The game ended at 2-2 and no one was upset.
After the final whistle we met 5 Americans from San Diego who were sailing the Adriatic. They reminded us of the hardships of that mode of travel. Traveling with them was a man from France who owned French bakeries in Vail, Colorado.
In the morning we headed straight to Salona. Salona was one of the largest Roman colonies on the Dalmatian coast. Over the centuries it turned Christian, but in the 7th Century it was continually attacked by Slavic and Germanic tribes so the people fled to the defensible Palace of Diocletian in Split, about 12 miles away. They are still there.
The excavation of Salona is still a work in progress but we could see the cemetery area, the Episcopal area, the amphitheatre and a small part of the forum.
We met 2 college kids from Boston who were spending 9 weeks in Eastern Europe on the cheap.
Next we decided to take a drive along the Dalmatian Coast, which was lovely.
We stopped at Brella to sunbathe, snorkel, and relax. After two hours there we made the one hour drive back to Split.
We had a little trouble finding our place but it was delightful- an entire apartment, with living room, dining room, kitchen and 3 TV?s.
After cleaning up we walked to the Town Center. On the way I purchased a chocolate milkshake from McDonald?s. It was so good Teresa indulged liberally.
We went in the seaward gate to Diocletian?s Palace and toward the subterranean vaults- the parts that were not shops.
Although the palace is now mostly made up of shops, offices and restaurants, 3000 people still live in it.
Split has grown up around the Palace which had been planned as Diocletian?s retirement home. He couldn?t really retire as he had set up a tetrarchy and he was one of the tetrarchs.
The Palace was built in the late 200?s and is massive, an almost square with over 250 yards per side. The exterior walls are intact, but most of the inside is from the middle ages as it has continued to be renovated by the occupiers. Some of the Roman work is still in evidence however.
After the vaults, we went to what was once Diocletian?s mausoleum, transformed into a cathedral (still inside the Palace). It was a small cathedral, but beautiful.
We then walked through the peristyle and other parts of the Palace, and ran into the kids from Boston.
We ended up eating in a restaurant inside the Palace. I had a terrific pizza, Teresa had lasagna. Mine was better,
By the time we were done the city was hopping. The Promenade was filled and for some reason, many people were interested in the Bulgarian- Denmark soccer match. It was a delightful evening strolling around and through the city. We stayed out late.
The next morning we took our car to the airport. We had intended to take the bus back in. We met a Swedish girl at the bus stop and were soon approached by a taxi driver. He offered to take us into the city for 150 kuna- instead of the 250 it would normally cost. For the first time on any of our trips Teresa haggled and got him down to 100. The Swedish girl agreed.
On the way in we finally got to see the Aqueduct, which Diocletian built for his Palace and still is in use, with one modification; an animal died in it some years before and gave the city cholera, so it has been enclosed.
I was giving the Swedish girl a history lesson on the way in and asked our driver to confirm that the Turks had never taken the city. ( Split had found its arrangement with Venice to be very profitable). He confirmed this and explained that there was one good landward pass into the city, but had high cliffs on either side which allowed large rocks and boiling oil to be sent down on the invaders.
After we arrived in the city we decided to take a walking tour of the Palace. We rubbed the big toe of the Bishop, Teresa wishing that Christine would get a job she really liked. (She just started a job working as an aide for a senator in DC this month, loves her joh!!)
We saw the tower, a courtyard area and returned to the peristyle when a Croatian man approached me and asked if I was Irish. (I was wearing my Notre Dame hat and a Notre Dame shirt) I explained my affiliation. He then asked if I knew the connection between Croatia and Notre Dame. While I was trying to think of football or basketball players Teresa said ?Ivan Mestrovic?. The right answer.
The Croatian man said he had never been to South Bend but was aware he had at least 2 sculptures there. I was only aware of one??We?re number one Moses?.
The man insisted we see the Mestrovic museum (which we had planned to do) and reminded us it closed early.
We decide first to go to the Archaeological Museum. It was small but informative and had good stuff outside.
We then walked to the Mestrovic gallery which was a long hike as Teresa refused to walk through the tunnel.
On the way I got a roast chicken pita sandwich- Teresa got ice cream.
The Gallery was nice. His sculptures are different, but very expressive.
We walked back along the marina and sat for awhile. (This time I had ice cream).
We then walked to the open air market where Teresa got apples; entered the Palace from the west side and resumed our walking tour.
Unfortunately, the Roman temple that had been turned into a baptistery was closed.
We headed back to our apartment to clean up for dinner and scouted out our restaurant on the way.
We ate at the Ponocno Sunce which was directly south of the Theatre. Teresa had a steak with a mushroom ? caper cream sauce; I had a steak stuffed with ham and cheese. Teresa?s was better, both were good. We both had the salad bar, I had beer she had wine and the total bill was less than $30 with tip.
In the morning I got up early as I was misinformed regarding tickets for the ferry. We had some time to do more exploring. We got into the baptistery- former temple to Juno.
One of our hostesses drove us to the ferry with our luggage. Ingalla was a typical Croatian girl; tall, thin, and pretty; as was her sister.
The boat left at 11:30. We were out to sea before we realized we had left the dock. We arrived in Hvar at 12:20. Cost was $5 one way.
Hvar is an island, and named by Conde Nast as one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world. It was colonized by the Greeks from the island of Pharos in the second century B.C. The first town was founded at Stari Grad. The island was important to the Venetians and they moved the main port to Hvar Town.
Hvar Town has a castle on a hill that has existed in one form or another for 1800 years. The Turks attacked the island in 1571 and were able to take the town, but the in- habitants were saved by fleeing to the castle.
We checked in at The Palace Hotel and went to our room overlooking the harbor. (We had requested this in advance)
We went down to eat lunch and shared a pizza and a salad.
After that we took a boat taxi to an island where we sunbathed, Teresa read, (I forgot my book) and we snorkeled.
After the boat brought us back we cleaned up for dinner. We ate at one of the restaurants on the main square. I had beef stroganoff and grilled mushrooms. Teresa had steak with mushrooms, grilled vegetables and a salad.
We walked around a little more, ate some ice cream and headed back.
The next morning we had a nice breakfast at the hotel; then it was off to see the castle. From there we went to the cathedral, the arsenal and the Franciscan Monastery museum.
We bought some pizza which we took with us on the boat taxi to the island where we again sunbathed, snorkeled, and read ( I remembered my book this time) . We each had a drink at the little restaurant on the island.
When we returned we decided on a restaurant attached to a hotel on the marina. I had spaghetti carbonara and roast chicken. Teresa had the salad bar, veal scallopini and an apple for dessert.
We walked around some more, ate ice cream and headed back in.
The next morning, after securing our tickets for the ferry for the next day, we went to the scooter rental place.
We took off from there at about 8:35 and headed first to Stari Grad.
Stari Grad had been described as a smaller laid back Hvar Town, and that is exactly what it was. It, like Hvar Town, had an impressive array of boats. We saw the Greek ruins, but they were not extensive.
We then took off for Jelsa, another resort town. Jelsa was hopping a bit more, but smaller than Hvar Town. We took a little walk around town.
Next we scooted to Vrboska. This was even more quaint, but had a very picturesque access to the sea.
The scooter ride was fun; over mountains, through tunnels, and along the coast. Although the lavender had been harvested there were still a few patches of it. We also took a picture of some grape vines with a small church in the background.
We returned the scooter back to Hvar Town after replacing the $3.00 worth of gas we used.
We then bought gorgonzola cheese, salami, bread and apples and caught the boat taxi to the beach.
There we enjoyed snorkeling, reading, our picnic and a walk around the entire island.
We returned about 6:00 and cleaned up for dinner.
We ate at The Bounty and it was very good. Teresa had fish stew and I had lamb on a spit and Presidential potatoes. We both had bread and salad; I had beer, Teresa wine.
The tables for the restaurant are very close to the waterfront and afford a wonderful view for dining whether you enjoy water and the boats or people watching.
Although we shouldn?t have, after walking awhile we ate ice cream.
We woke up early to take the ferry back to Split, where we caught the bus to Dubrovnik. The route allowed us to see more of the Dalmatian coast.
We took a taxi to our B&B (without Breakfast) and were greeted by our host, Srdan (pronounced surgeon). Our room was very nice and our host immediately took us on a free walking tour of the city, pointing out the sights and the best places to eat.
Dubrovnik is quite unique.
Today it has the most impressive city walls in the world and that is part of its history.
Dubrovnik was founded when some Romans were chased out of a neighboring city by the Slavs. It was able to remain independent until 1806 when it surrendered to Napoleon. Its long independence was a result of skillful diplomacy, the payment of tribute and its defensible walls. The city was able to drive a hard bargain due the perceived difficulty of breaching the formidable walls. As a neutral independent city, it prospered in trade and was a significant force. It had the third largest navy in the 15th century and the largest merchant marine in the 16th.
The city was devastated by an earthquake in 1667 and also shelled by the Serbs in 1991. 2000 pieces of ordnance fell on it during the Serbian War but has fully recovered.
Our tour started at the Ploce gate, the eastern of the 2 main gates and about 20m yards from our B&B. We walked down the Placa (stradun) and finished on the Od Pican.
After this we were on our own- we ate a sandwich at a suggested stop- good but expensive. We then went to the Rector?s Palace. We got the audio tour which we ordinarily do when they are available; but this one wasn?t worth it. There was background music, the voice was heavily accented and what could be understood was boring.
We next went to the Cathedral which was purportedly built by Richard the Lionheart after a vow he made when rescued from a shipwreck on a nearby island. It contains a polyptich by Titian, of the Assumption.
From there we went to the Dominican Monastery and Museum, then to the Church of St. Blaise.
After that it was ice cream time on our way to the Franciscan Cloister Museum, Church and the oldest pharmacy in the world. The monastery was reminiscent of the Dominican one. The museum had impressive relics including the arm bone of Doubting Thomas and a bone fragment of St. Thomas Aquinas.
We looked for gifts as we strolled to the Serbian Church and finally to the Jesuit Church at the top of the ?Spanish Steps?.
Back to the room to clean up and then out to eat. We finally decided on Domino?s Steak House. We both chose the Domino Steak, and it was the best steak I have had in Europe. It came with a baked potato and we shared a salad. Next to our table were some young girls from Antwerp who were big Sean Penn fans. We had fun discussing movies with them.
We grabbed some ice cream on the way back to the hotel.
The next day we hit the bakery for breakfast and did the walk of the city walls.
This also offered an audio guide which we sampled before we rented. There was no background music and easy to understand. We rented the Guide and it was the right decision. It was very informative, not only about the walls, but the history of Dubrovnik and the buildings near the walls.
The walk took 2 hours and was completely enjoyable.
We then went to the Kodak Shop to see how our camera was doing. We had taken 177 pictures and I was worried that the chip wouldn?t hold that many- no problem.
We had a few developed while we toured the war photo museum. This was a collection of photos from the recent Serbian War. It was quite stirring and well worth the visit. At the end, there was a film that showed the reaction of Serbians to the exhibit.
War really dehumanizes people.
For lunch we got a piece of pizza and a calzone type sandwich.
We went back to the room to change then headed for Lokrum Island.
There we snorkeled and read before setting out to explore. (This is the island Richard the Lionheart washed up on)
This was a much bigger island than the one off of Hvar. We headed to Fort Royal which was a French Fort ( Napoleon?s time), from the top of which you get a good view of Dubrovnik.
We then went through the botanical gardens, parks, swimming areas and encountered some peacocks, including a couple of mamas with their chicks. We found our way back to our spot and vowed to bring our camera if we came back again.
That night we went Ragusa 2 for dinner. We both had fish fillets and salads, excellent meal.
We then walked through the city, and at 9:00 we found ourselves outside the Rector?s Palace. A concert was about to begin. We inquired as to ticket availability and were advised 150 kuna; while we were still trying to figure how much that was the price came down to 100. We were hurriedly escorted to our seats as the orchestra literally followed us in.
The concert took place in the atrium of the Rector?s Palace which is said to be the most wonderful place in the world to hear a concert.
The acoustics were very good as was the orchestra. They played a Suite entitled ?Birds? of which I was unfamiliar; an oboe concerto of which I was unfamiliar, and after intermission, Mendelsonn?s 4th symphony. I recognized the first movement of that one.
The concert ended at 10:45. Seated next to me was a British woman whose son lived in Dis, the very small town where Teresa was born.
The next morning we took the #8 bus to the ferries to go to Mljet Island.
The ferry ride was an hour and a half and pleasant enough. We met some Noles on board.
When we arrived we rented some bikes at the port. A smarter move would have been to take the bus across and rent bikes on the other side. The second half of the bike ride was fun (downhill) ? the first part can wear you out.
We bought bread ?so-so ? at a bakery, cheese, meat, and apples, (all good) at the grocery store at the port. (We did get cherry pastries at the bakery which were good.) We rode our bikes around the saltwater lakes to the furthest point where we ate lunch. We rode more than halfway back when we decided to take a break, sun a little, and relax on the shore.
We resumed our bike ride to the Northern part of the lake where we purchased a Coke and Fanta lemon drink to fortify us for the trek back. The bike ride back didn?t seem as bad and again was quite fun on the way down. We discovered the Roman ruins which were right in front of us. We then pedaled toward the bay side of the port where we found a secluded sport to again go swimming.
We headed back into town, had beer (for me) and wine ? very good, before hopping back on the ferry.
We took the bus back to town and cleaned up before going to Mea Culpa for dinner, a highly regarded pizza place. We shared a Capricosa, beer, wine, less than ten bucks.
We went to our favorite ice cream store for cones before going to our room.
In the morning we went to the bakery for pastries then into town for shopping. We haggled and bought T-shirts for the kids and some a lace edged tablecloth for Teresa?s mom.
We went back to the room to change for the beach. We went to the bakery to buy sandwiches, had cherries from the market, and caught the 10:30 ferry to the island.
We first staked out a shady spot under a crevice then took off for Fort Royal, this time form a different direction. We took pictures of the city from there as we had vowed. We then went back through the grounds surrounding the monastery. We found a few peacocks, only one baby this time. Teresa fed them. We also took pictures of some coastline and rock formations.
When we got back to our spot we were hot so we went swimming and headed to the deep grotto. Afterwards we came back by land and took a picture. It was lunchtime and we ate our sandwiches and started reading.
We were smart to stake out our position early for we found ourselves in a popular area and we had the best shade, although we had to watch our heads.
After a while we snorkeled, back to the cave. This time we both got out of the water inside the cave. Back to our coveted spot where we ate cherries, sunbathed and read some more.
We left the beach on the 5:15 ferry, cleaned up, and went to the Hole in the Wall. On the seaside of the city walls there is a breach where a little tavern is built. Perfect temperature, great view, and we met some people from the University of Denver who were staying in Sarajevo. We spoke to them for sometime.
We then went back to the Ragusa 2 so I could try the seafood spaghetti- good- not great- and Teresa had the pepper steak which she enjoyed immensely.
On the way back we went into the one palace we had not been in which housed tourist posters and information about the defense of Dubrovnik in the last war.
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 03:07 PM
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My family and I have two weeks vacation time on Dec 18, 2004. I would love to go to Croatia. Where do we start? Is Dec a good month to go?.
My family(I have a 14, and a 15 year old with me) usually travel to Europe during spring break, however, I like to plan to see Croatia but need help. I appreciate some information as far as what cities to visit. Thank you.
Old Aug 26th, 2004, 08:05 PM
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Teresa: Enjoyed reading your journal, Thanks. Please tell me about the language--can I get by with english? Thanks, Bill
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 09:03 PM
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Awesome travel report, thanks for posting it!

Bill (I don't mean to answer for Teresa), you can get by on English and if you know a little Italian or German, that will take you even further. You will be fine in the usual tourist areas and it seemed like all the young people were fairly fluent.

Don't let the language barrier stop you from going to Croatia - it is a magical place and well worth a visit.

Regards, Bruce
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Old Aug 27th, 2004, 05:26 PM
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On language-4 comments:
1. When Calling Zagreb about making air arrangements we asked the fellow who answered the phone if he spoke English- his answer- "but of course"
2. Our professor friend related a story from a tram ride. A woman slapped her son on the back of the head. He spoke to the professor in German. He replied he didn't speak German. The young boy said, "I am sorry sir, would you like my seat?'
3. On the taxi ride from the Split airport we asked the driver where he learned English. He said he studied French in school but his English is now much better. We lamented the lack of foreign language knowledge of Americans but he said Oh no, you know English that is all you need . The Italians are the problem. They don't bother to learn English.
4. Off Hvar Island is another Island for bathing. There we saw a Hungarian boy try to hit on three French girls. They all spoke English for the encounter.
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Old Aug 27th, 2004, 06:03 PM
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Croatia in December;
Split and Dubrovnik are can't miss places no matter what the season. Zagreb is not touristy but was nice to go to absorb some culture.
I would investigate the ability to see Plevitce lakes and Krka National park in the winter before going. If there is no water flowing for the waterfalls i would suggest waiting for another time. Zadar and Trogir are probably better bets than Sibonek
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Old Aug 27th, 2004, 10:05 PM
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I so enjoyed your husband's journal. Wish I had seen it before our trip last April. I wasn't brave enough to go on our own, so we took a tour, but we did spent 9 days traveling to Hvar and Korcula.

Your husband really captured the history of the area. Wish we could return to see the places we missed.

We had ice cream every day also, at least once, sometimes more. The pizza was the best. Do you know what kind of cheese they used? The pizza tasted the same every time we had it, kind of a unique taste. We bought Vegeta, a spice package, as token gifts, and thought maybe that was the secret ingredient.

Hope there's more to come. What resources did you use to plan your trip? Thanks again.
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Old Aug 28th, 2004, 02:15 PM
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This is the husband as teresa is out of town.
Teresa planned the trip using Lonely Planet, The Rough Guide to Croatia, and Eyewitness She usually uses Fodors too, but I don't see that book.
She usually starts studying in February for our June trip.
Still haven't figured out the cheese but I think it is worth investigating.
If I find out I will post.
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Old Aug 28th, 2004, 09:55 PM
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Hi Steve,
Thanks for your reply. If I find out the secret pizza cheese they use, I'll let you know too.

Do you have a trip planned for next June? We take ours in the fall and sometimes in the spring. If you want to know about Scotland or Turkey, just ask? We head to China next month, but it's another tour, so I don't have to plan much.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 12:47 PM
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Dear Granny:
We haven't decided on next year yet, we usually decide in December. It won't be Scotland or Turkey as we have visited them in recent years. Portugal is a posssibilty.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 05:36 PM
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We ate several times at Baracuda Pizza. It was just sooo good! It is in Dubrovnik. I even bought a t-shirt and I never do that.
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Old Sep 4th, 2004, 08:33 PM
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I'm late replying because I've been out of town. Hope you're still out there. Your Croatia Journal was great and I'm taking copius notes. We leave Sept. 14 and will visit many of the same spots you visited.

Where did you stay in Zadar? Were you satisfied with the accommodations? Did you reserve in advance? You said you walked to the old town. How far was that? Zadar is the only place we don't have reservations so would like your input.

Also, where did you stay in Zagreb? We're reserved at the Ilica but have heard some negative reports about the hotel so may want to change.

Thanks for any info you can share.

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Old Sep 22nd, 2004, 07:58 PM
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I am so sorry we didn't get to post a reply before your trip but we live in Fort Pierce, FL of Hurricane Francis fame and have been trying to get our lives back to normal. We didn't have access to our computer for awhile and then had lost our password! Just got it from Fodors today. We stayed at the Ilica and found it quite adequate. We are not real fussy about our hotels. We like a good location and a decent room and price. Not much for extras. It was a little walk to the town center but there was a tram pick up right across the street. Our room was quiet except for a dog once in the backyard area. We stayed in a nice little place, Albin Pansion, a couple of miles outside of Zadar which was lovely but it was a bit of a walk without a car. You could make the mile, mile and a half walk to a little row boat that rowed you across to town for a dollar or so. In the near future I'll post where we stayed, cost contact info. and what we thought of the places, for future travelors. Again, sorry we missed you with the info. Please post how your trip was.
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