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Oct. 2014 in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenagro and Bosnia-Herzegovina: TR

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Oct 26th, 2014, 09:35 PM
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Oct. 2014 in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenagro and Bosnia-Herzegovina: TR

Photography and pure relaxation make for a fun journey around part of old Yugoslavia in the fall. Trip Report

10/02/14 Los Angeles--San Francisco --Frankfurt--Zagreb.

We had followed the anti-jet lag diet as usual so had not eaten that day until this breakfast before landing. This plan works so well for us so that any jet lag is almost nonexistent. However, we can never bring ourselves to follow it on the way home.

10/03/14 A driver picked us up at the Zagreb airport ( a luxury I love) and took us to the Jagerhorn Hotel, where we had a small charming room and large bathroom. The location was fabulous, 1 block from Jelacic Square. We dropped off our carry-on bags and walked around the city. Finding a small interesting shop, my husband asked if they had any nativity scenes--which we collect from the countries we visit--and voila, they did. This one was crafted out of metal and displayed against a curved piece of glass, unlike any we own. From there we stopped at the Museum of Naive Art but they wouldn’t let me carry my camera backpack inside and I could not bring myself to leave that heavy sack of expensive camera and lenses, so we left and walked around.

Saw the cathedral which is being repaired- with one spire covered by a canvas--painted to look like the actual spire behind it. We walked on and found the restaurant that Rick Steves had recommended but there was no space available so we made reservations for the following night. We walked on to a simpler restaurant where we shared a pizza with a glass of house wine. We felt clear-headed, but did get quite tired by bedtime.
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Oct 26th, 2014, 09:38 PM
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10/04/14 Breakfast at the Jagerhorn was nice, with a great cappuccino, eggs, vegies, sausages, yogurt, fruits, cereal, hard sesame bread and rolls, prosciutto, salami, grapefruit slices, pineapple, cheeses...

We headed out to see the city. The market first---with flowers and some girls dressed in traditional outfits. We asked them what was happening. “10:00 AM,” they said,”a group will be performing on the square from the Dalmatian Coast.” So we quickly wandered through the flower market and fish market.

Festivities. 300 year commemoration in 2015, so they were preparing for the celebrations to come, a reminder of the time that a group of Croatian soldiers defeated the Ottoman Turks. We saw men in traditional red vests, carrying blunderbusses and swords--a replica of the original fighting troops. Three gorgeous horses being ridden by military leaders pranced by. The story goes that there was an apparition of the Virgin Mary (at the defeat), so it was believed that she gave them the victory. One person carried a red flag with a circular picture of the Virgin Mary.

My husband says that the Ottoman Occupation of the. Balkan area was huge.

People on horseback with lances pranced by and in fact, they continue to have jousting competitions in Sinj. Lancers compete by getting their lances in the bullseye. A traditional marching band played. Dancers performed and the Klapa singers entertained us on stage. We were perched on a rock base of a statue (for me to better photograph) but Bill decided to leave his spot to chase down a Klapa singer to see if he had CD’s for sale. Between a security office and an English-speaking gentleman, he was able to talk to the musician who gave him one from his guitar case.

All the while, I stayed on my perch with a long 70-200 2.8 lens focused on the colorful activities. Soon three photographers jumped up in front of me, then some Croats, pinning me back against the pillar of the statue. But I was not about to leave my perch!
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Oct 26th, 2014, 09:41 PM
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Back to the market afterwards and I bought a wood toy--a mouse and the vendor added a wooden spoon.

Back to the Museum of Naive Art where we decided to take turns, while one of us held the heavy camera back pack. While Bill was inside, I wandered around outside and by then, the festivities had moved in front of St. Mark’s Church which was 1/2 block from the museum. The mayor and others were there to be greeted formally, which made for more great photos, especially since St. Mark’s has a lovely colorful tiled roof.

“The Naive as segment of modern art.” 1930’s to 1980’s. The Hlevine School of Art. Ivan Generalic had outstanding art displayed with the other artists. Bill particularly liked Room # 6, where a framed piece showed Ivan G sketching a self-portrait sketching himself. It is a small museum, well worth visiting and can be quickly enjoyed.

Jelacic Square with the statue of Josip Jelacic. 1801-1859.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) who championed alternating AC current as a better electrical system. We will have to tell our two friends who own Teslas about him.

Saw the oldest pharmacy in town, near St. Marks.

Had coffee at Lav Caffe Galerija--a coffee house and art gallery rec. by Rick Steves. We sipped Cafe Americano and shared a piece of carrot cake, made with pineapple and topped with a moderate layer of cream cheese icing and a lovely drizzle of a raspberry sauce. When we asked about the coffee, the server said, “The coffee is good. Trust me.”

Strolled through an archway at # 30 to see old and old-time houses that used to be the red light district.

Back by St. Marks where I photographed a young couple in their wedding gear out front--with two attendants. Fun!
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Oct 26th, 2014, 09:43 PM
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Walked through the old stone gate. Stopped in at a grocery store to buy water. Bill went to pay and didn’t think he had the change, but the clerk said, “ I think you have it in your pocket!” We had been there previously and she had helped us with the correct change. We by now had basically done the entire walking tour of the city.

Just then, we heard a group of old men (well actually, they were probably our age) singing and peeked around. I thought maybe they were drunk, but they sounded pretty good. We followed the sound and as I was hoping for a photo, one of the men gestured for me to come over and take photos! Who was I to refuse? They sang, I snapped. They talked and sang a song to us. They tried to entice us to drink with them after they heard we were from California. One stood up, walked over and kissed me on both cheeks and shook hands with Bill. They continued to serenade us as we tried to leave--so funny.

Back to the room to rest up, then out to our 7:00 PM dinner at Trilogija. We sat at the front table, just inside. Lovely! I had grilled sea bass with mashed potatoes and arugula salad and Bill had risotto with prosciutto and blue cheese. Excellent.

Walked back to our hotel and made reservations for a taxi to the airport for tomorrow.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 07:00 AM
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Hope you continue with your report. I am enjoying reading it and look forward to hearing about Slovenia. Not many posts on this forum about that country.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 07:42 AM
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Thanks, Digbydog. After I read the report on boring, unhelpful TR's I wasn't sure I should continue!
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Oct 28th, 2014, 07:46 AM
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10/05/14. 7 AM breakfast to leave at 8:15 for the airport to fly to Dubrovnik, following a recommendation form a fodor’s forum friend-to save time!

7:15 AM, my alarm went off and we discovered that we could get ready in 5 minutes instead of our pokey 45 minutes. Once again, we had our hotel arrange a taxi for us to get to the airport for the 30 minute flight to Dubrovnik.

We had booked three nights at Villa Ragusa. They had no double rooms available so we took the two single rooms that shared a bathroom (only for us) and that worked out fine. Those two rooms were the only rooms on that floor of this remodeled 600 year-old building. Pero picked us up and he and Bill talked nonstop about Croatian history, the war, places to visit, etc. Pero said to listen to all sides of the war (the 90’s) and decide for ourselves. We dropped off our bags in the rooms and Pero shared a small glass of Grappa from his mother’s recipe with us-in his office. (Just like in the Rick Steve’s DVD if you have seen it.) We felt like we were meeting a friend-although of course we weren’t. He oriented us to Dubrovnik. His place is high up, but no problem if you don’t mind walking some stairs.

Since the weather forecast said rain for tomorrow, we went straight to the city wall to hike around it. We walked up and down steep, old stairways made of hewn rocks, until our hearts were pumping and our breathing labored--and we are in pretty good shape. It took us about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours with all of our stops for photos.

Hot and tired at the end, we stopped for a beer and a snack of sugared dried orange peel; 3 kinds of figs; and sugared carmelized nuts. Loved the orange peel.

We walked on to see the usual sights, the monastery, cathedral, Church of St. Basel, and ended up at Sebastian’s Tables in the alleyway high up. This was after chasing down (actually climbing up many steps!) Lady Pi Pi, with the gross statue out front, but they had closed for the season.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 07:50 AM
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10/06/14. Dubrovnik.
We had breakfast at the base of the stairs with Pero’s 20% discount coupon. 8 euros for a hearty breakfast. From there we went to find the rental car agency to pick up our car. kja had recommended gemut at www.gemut.com and they worked great for us. I had reserved a compact and the guy at Fleet (they contract out) gave us a nice black 2014 Peugeot 508 with a GPS. The return at the end of the trip was easy and they checked it off quickly. We didn’t really need the car that day but were glad we had it and could leave earlier the following day. Pero had suggested we park at a somewhat nearby hotel parking lot which was much cheaper-$ 20.00 (dollars) a day instead of 60 euros.

Rained all day so we walked around and shopped and ended up having dinner in our room--Prosciutto, cheese, bread and wine. But the rain was light so we also visited the Serbian Orthodox Church which is gorgeous inside. I would have LOVED to have taken photographs of all of the art, but people were worshiping so that was out. I did sneak a couple of pix on the side-no flash. Also visited the Dominican Monastery, which had cloister gardens similar to the Franciscan ones.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 07:59 AM
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I was in Dubrovnik on 10/6 too. Did you happen to see, just before sunset when it was still lightly raining, the double rainbow over the sea? It was amazing.

Enjoying your report, looking forward to the rest.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 09:12 AM
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OMGsh rialtogirl! We didn't see it but it sounds like it was lovely.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 12:45 PM
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10/07/14 Dubrovnik to Montenagro.
We had breakfast on the run with a quick stop at the bakery just outside the city wall gate. Walked to get the car and we were off to see the Bay of Kotor--in the slight rain. We stopped at Perast as we traveled around the fjord. In Kotor, we found a nativity scene and a Father Christmas that I liked. My hubby also tried an ATM there for the first time, getting euros. We used to always just carry a LOT of money around in our money belts-old school. So easy this way. Lunch was pizza served up with a bottle of ketchup and a mayonaise spread. Hmmmmm.. We took the ferry back for a 4 1/2 minute ride which cut down the driving time.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 12:50 PM
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10/08/14 Dubrovnik--Mostar
Started off along the coast to Mostar and Bill took a side trip to see Medugorje-where some girl claimed to have seen an apparition. The roads there were extremely bumpy and not worth it in my opinion.

Stopped at Pocitelj, an artists’ colony, with a castle tower high up on a hill. We climbed up and around before continuing on to Mostar.

Villa Fortuna was pretty easy to find and Bill was able to wedge the car into their narrow parking spaces. With the R S discount, it was only 50 euros, including breakfasts. The manager says she does that because, “The R S readers are always nice.” Nina was also very helpful and gave us restaurant recommendations. Bill found some shawls for the women (8, I think) in his office and we bought some of the best Turkish delight ever for our granddaughter. Of course I took photos of the famous bridge. Shopped along Coppersmith street. BTW, Bosnian coffee is served in a charming way and is worth trying.

We ended up eating at Restoran Sadrvan, where the waitresses and waiters had traditional dress on. We tried two traditional dishes and had the delightful dessert of apples cooked with walnuts and a sweet syrup and topped with whipped cream. Our meal: Hadzijski Cevap, Mostarski sahon, and Tufahija for dessert. All of that for about $ 25.00--paid in Konvertible Marks of course.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 01:11 PM
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We were also in Dubrovnik on 10/6, small world. We left that evening for Zagreb, early flight the next morning to Paris, then home. The rainbows were just amazing from our terrace looking over the old harbor. Loved Dubrovnik, and loved our two weeks in Croatia.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 01:13 PM
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And we also stayed at the Jagerhorn in Zagreb at the beginning of our trip. Lovely, charming hotel.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 02:56 PM
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Patty--Glad you are continuing with your report. We had a trip planned to Croatia several years ago, but had to cancel. We were supposed to stay at Villa Ragusa and Villa Fortuna, so I am getting to do the trip vicariously through you. For future reference (because I am definitely going to Croatia at some point), how did you like both places?
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Oct 28th, 2014, 05:03 PM
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"we went to find the rental car agency to pick up our car. kja had recommended gemut at www.gemut.com and they worked great for us." -- Glad to hear it! I actually learned about Gemut from another Fodorite - maybe bobthenavigator? I've used them multiple times and always with success.

I'm enjoying your report and looking forward to hearing more!
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Oct 28th, 2014, 07:12 PM
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socaltraveler, how funny you were there then too and liked Jagerhorn, too! We stayed there the first two nights of our trip and the last night before we flew out of Zagreb to Los Angeles--via a couple of cities in between.
So Digbydog, we liked both places a lot. Both were so reasonable and we loved the people at both places. They were so warm and personable. Very clean, neat, comfortable, cozy, and with a bit of the cultural feel. Pero was great at Villa Ragusa and the ladies at Villa Fortuna were generous with their time, suggestions, etc. We had some laughs together. Parking was free at Villa Fortuna and well protected, too.
Kja-Andy was helpful too! (at gemut) My husband and I were both very grateful for the recommendation. No worries at all.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 07:19 PM
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10/09/14. Mostar to Split
The breakfast at Villa Fortuna had a crunchy thick cereal--in flakes that was quite good with a thin yogurt. Plus the usual coffee, chocolate croissant, cheese, salami, fruit,...

Drove a bumpy road to the freeway to Split. Since our car GPS was not proving to be accurate in cities, I had mapped the way at the hotel where we had wireless Internet. There were 45 steps to get there! So I took photos of the directions to save. Miracle of miracle, we actually made it through 42 steps. This was made challenging by the names of streets, like Ciril-Metodova and Gunduliceva. At that point, I was stymied so hubby pulled over in a parking lot and went to ask directions. An older gentleman walked up and pointed out our hotel, just steps away--and we were in the same parking lot that the hotel used for guests. Happy day!

Hotel Marul was the only 4 star hotel we stayed at the whole trip. Lovely and great help from the staff. So we rested a few minutes and took off walking to the Old Quarter and Diocletian’s Palace built in the 3rd century. While there, we heard a great a capela group of singers (Klapa singers) in an acoustical marvel--a dome-shaped “room” with a hole at the top.

In the evening we walked the Riva waterfront and bought hot roasted chestnuts to peel and eat.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 07:22 PM
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10/10/14. Split.
We bought our ferry tickets to Hvar early, but only for ourselves, not the car, which we left in the hotel’s parking lot. The plan was to go early the next morning, leaving today open.

Mestrovic Gallery. We walked over 30 minutes to get to this gallery, but it was worth it. Sculptor Ivan Mestrovic (early 1900‘s) had marvelous works displayed in the mansion he once occupied. We walked on a little farther to also see his wood reliefs which were interesting, but not as impressive. This time we decided to wait for a bus back to the Old Town.

In Old Town we bought water flavored with mint and lime that was surprisingly refreshing. Met a lovely couple from South Africa and discussed ideas for travel here. Evening meal at Hotel Marul out back. Hubs had pasta with truffles and smoked ham and I had a filet, cooked medium (but was actually extremely rare! Order carefully.) But the bruschetta they brought us (gratis) was excellent. Afterwards, we walked back to Dioclysian’s Palace to sit on the outdoor steps at the Luxor Bar and wait for the musicians to play guitar and sing. The cushions on the steps are reserved for guests of the Luxor so be sure to order something. A great place for memory making.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 07:39 PM
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Enjoying your report! Great info for one of my future trips. Thanks!
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