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Our Week-and-a-Half in Northern Croatia and Slovenia

Our Week-and-a-Half in Northern Croatia and Slovenia

Old Sep 24th, 2012, 06:33 AM
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I am so glad you visit the places I have missed and capture them via your lenses. As usual, wonderful images.
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Old Sep 24th, 2012, 06:56 AM
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Thanks, bob; selecting from our Rovinj shots is going to be a challenge, trust me! And now...

<b>Day 11: A Tram Ride to Nowhere</b>

The breakfast buffet at the Jagerhorn is not bad at all. They even had an open bottle of bubbly for making mimosas.

For our last full day in Croatia, we decided to start out by going to Mt. Medvednica north of town. Following the directions laid out in the Lonely Planet book, we took tram #14 to its end and got on tram #15, and took it to its end, where we looked for the “nearby” funicular that was to take us up to the top of the mountain. The tram part of this trip was easy as can be… you simply buy ticket at a kiosk near the stop and validate it on the tram; then you have up to 90 minutes in the same direction.

The funicular part was not so easy. We were pretty well out on the fringes of town, and there was absolutely no sign of a funicular anywhere. We started off walking down a trail that went into a long tunnel and then started up a hill, but still no sign of a funicular (or cable car, anything like that). We headed back to the café next to the end-of-the-line tram stop, and it didn’t look like any of the patrons there was going to be much help to us. On our way out, we saw a young fellow who apparently worked there, and so I asked if he spoke any English. And while his English was actually pretty darned good, it wasn’t quite up to the task of translating “funicular”… so a certain amount of explaining and pantomiming were in order.

Finally, he knew what we were talking about, but at the same time he had no idea what we were talking about. An older gentleman seemed to get the gist of our inquiry and told him, in Croatian, that there used to be a funicular nearby. “Used to be” being the operative phrase, here.

We thanked them both, decided to cut our losses and headed back into town the same way we came. We got off the #14 tram near the old Mirogoj Cemetery and took a long walk uphill to see it. (Note: once again, we almost got lost and had to ask for directions again.) It really is a remarkably beautiful grave yard, and well worth finding. As you enter, there is a huge colonnaded memorial arcade that must stretch for a half mile or more; the rest of the cemetery covers quite a distance as well.

After about an hour, we walked back into city center, stopping to look inside the old cathedral (again, well worth a visit!). Afterward, we were happy to stop for a coffee break at one of the many, many outdoor cafes. And then we grabbed a late-morning snack at a local bakery, sharing a delicious spinach burek and a small slice of fresh-baked pizza-bread. No need to waste time and dollars on lunch today!

We walked some more, south of the Old city and through the long park that runs down to the train station. We admired the various stately buildings and fountains, and made note of the many interesting architectural details throughout this city. The area near the train station shows some true old-world grandeur that’s just a little past its prime of 100 years ago. From there, we meandered back north in the direction of our hotel. Being an alum of the U. of Georgia, I insisted we stop for a beverage break at a place called the Bulldog Café. Then, it was time for a nap for ms_go and and some more picture-taking for me.

Dinner that night was at Agava on Tkalciceva (pub) street, which serves very good Mediterranean fare. It’s a tad pricier than most of our dinners but still came in under $70. The traditional Croatian starter of lightly baked dough with cheese was great. Our mains of veal with celery-root puree and octopus stew with a side of rice with leeks were excellent, and we washed them down with a bottle of the very good house white, plus a nightcap of (what else?) sljivovica.

We were heading back to hotel after dinner, but we noticed significantly increased activity on “Pub” street due to a Croatia vs. Belgium soccer match. Several of the bars had big-screen TVs out front, so we decided to join in the fun. We took a seat at one of the bars and watched the second half of the match with (what the hell) one more drink for the road. Croatia won, the crowd loved it, and we had a blast.

It’s good to be on vacation.
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Old Sep 24th, 2012, 08:27 AM
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<b>Day 12: A fond farewell</b>

On our last day of the trip, we had an early-afternoon flight. So we had some time to take it easy and linger over breakfast, and to see a little more of Zagreb before our departure.

First, we visited the market which is in full swing. Some of the best-looking produce we’ve seen in a long time was on offer, but we were only there to take pictures. Then, on to the area west and south of our hotel which was home to more stately old buildings. As we passed the national theater, we could hear a soprano warming up through an open window (loudly!). We also walked on past the national archive building, over to the lovely botanical gardens.

Before returning to the hotel, we took one more opportunity to embrace the quintessential experience of Zagreb, and paid one last visit to a sidewalk café. Honestly, this is the best city for sidewalk cafes that we’ve found so far… and a little more caffeine was needed to fortify us for our travels.

Our taxi from the hotel to the airport arrived at 12:20 for a 2:20 flight. Everything was right on time heading back home, and the delightful film <i>Moonrise Kingdom</i> from Wes Anderson was quite enjoyable.

I’ll be back with some final observations and overview. In the meantime, please let me know if there are any questions we can answer.
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Old Sep 24th, 2012, 08:41 AM
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mr_go...WOW! Stunning photos. I also like to take pictures through windows, however, my results aren't usually as good as yours!

Photo/camera questions for you...
1. what type of camera do you use? Is it a DSLR? I'm thinking about getting a new camera (mine is about 4 years old)
2. do you do any editing to your photos? I have photoshop light, but haven't even tried to teach myself how to use it (yet!)
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Old Sep 24th, 2012, 09:37 AM
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Thanks for your kind words, LCI. At least half of those shots were taken by ms_go with her trusty Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR. I use a Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS point-and-shoot model that does a pretty solid job with very little effort/set-up/adjustments... and has a nice wide-angle lens that comes in handy pretty often.

ms_go reviews, selects and edits the shots, and posts them to our Zenfolio account. I believe she uses p-shop light.
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Old Sep 24th, 2012, 09:38 AM
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Thanks, LowCountryIslander! These are a mix from both our cameras--an older Canon DSLR and a Powershot 500, with an occasional iPhone photo thrown in for good measure (the lamb and calamari photos, for example). I have Photoshop, but I really do very little editing on the whole--a little cropping and straightening here and there and maybe small adjustments such as contrast.

mr_go obviously forgot that not all went quite smoothly and on time on the way home! Our Lufthansa flight departing Zagreb was over an hour late, cutting our connection time in Frankfurt to just under 40 minutes. To make matters worse, our plane parked at a remote stand out on the far reaches of the airport. We were not encouraged.

As we walked down the stairs of the plane, a Lufthansa agent was at the bottom, holding a sign that said "Chicago, Milan." She motioned us to a separate bus, and we waited until all people were off the plane. We were the only ones on the bus (not sure what happened to "Milan"). Two agents escorted us to the terminal, to and through a separate security checkpoint, back onto the bus and then to a different part of the terminal and up an elevator that opened right by our departure gate--about 10 minutes prior to scheduled departure. Our flight to Chicago had already boarded and we were just about the last ones on! Way to go, Lufthansa!!
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Old Sep 24th, 2012, 09:50 AM
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<i>mr_go obviously forgot that not all went quite smoothly and on time on the way home!</i>

Good lord, I must have repressed that awful memory. And it was only a couple of weeks ago! Yikes!
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Old Sep 24th, 2012, 09:53 AM
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Also, I stand corrected on the model of camera I use... it is the 500HS, and not the 510HS. (I'm posting from work, so I don't have it with me.)
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Old Sep 24th, 2012, 10:31 AM
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Thanks for the camera/photo info. I'm really bad about editing. I've had the photoshop light for a couple years, but never seem to make the time to learn. I probably should make the effort!
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Old Sep 24th, 2012, 12:41 PM
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BRILLIANT photos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


A million thanks.
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Old Sep 25th, 2012, 12:02 AM
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A wonderful report and stunning photos - thankyou for sharing. We had to cancel our holiday, scheduled for September (we should be in Dubrovnik now - sigh) at the last minute due to my husband requiring unexpected surgery. I am now counting the days till September 2013 and very much looking forward to our stay at the Jagerhorn!
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Old Sep 25th, 2012, 07:26 AM
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Thanks, four_maccas... and sorry to hear of hubby's surgery. Hope it works out for the best, and soon.

And now, a drum roll, please...

<b>CONCLUSION</b>

This trip gave us a generous, broad sampling of Europe in a relatively compact area. Slovenia offered a pleasant central-European city experience, plus an Alpine experience as well. Istria provided a very Venetian flavor to the west, but it reminded us of Umbria and Tuscany in its central region… and Liguria on its eastern shore. Cres Island was very much like the mainland of Greece. Zagreb delivered some urban edge and grit. And Plitvice was like a fantasyland!

Here are some parting thoughts and observations from our 12-day sojourn…

* We will be back to Croatia, I am certain. The Dalmation coast, including Dubrovnik, Split and the nearby islands are very definitely on our radar… and I’m thinking it might be done as a cruise someday.

* This place can be an excellent value, overall… especially the food and beverages. We ate pretty well, and nearly all of our meals (including drinks & tip) came in under $50.

* The Lonely Planet book was indispensible to our planning, and it contains a depth of information on the Istrian peninsula that some other guidebooks lack. But it was frustratingly out of date on a couple of key points (and not just the phantom-funicular, either), and it was almost completely devoid of information on parking your car. I realize that’s in-keeping with their “philosophy”… but I counted it as a serious fault nonetheless.

* We’re old-school travelers, so once again we eschewed the GPS device and used old-fashioned maps (Freytag & Berndt, 1:200,000) of both Slovenia and northern Croatia. And it worked out just fine.

* The car, a red diesel VW Golf with 4 doors and hatchback, was exactly what we needed on this trip. While it doesn’t have the quick acceleration we’re accustomed to, it sipped fuel, was easy to park and had a delightfully tight turning radius. The only real minus was the lack of an input jack for the stereo.

* If you choose to stay in Rovinj (and we recommend that you do), be sure to pack comfortable footwear with good traction. The streets of the Old City are all uneven cobblestones that have been worn slick by constant foot traffic. If there’s a hint of rain on them, you need to watch your footing.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Best Western Hotel Slon, Ljubljana – A great place with good service, a comfortable room, very good breakfast buffet, and perfect location. Their weekend special is an exceptional value!
http://www.hotelslon.com/index_en.ph...cialoffer&id=1

Apartment Montalbano, Casa Garzotto, Rovinj – Again, it’s hard to beat the location, right in the heart of the Old City. We liked the quirky, multi-level layout of the place, and it would be perfect for a family of three… but it is a little weird for two. And some people would probably hate being that close to the restaurant (i.e., you’re practically in it). But overall, we loved this place and the Garzotto staff.
http://casa-garzotto.com/corte-montalbano.php

House Tina, near Plitvice – Very clean, functional, nice proprietors, reliable wi-fi, very comfy bed. Again, our cabin was better suited for a family of 3 or 4. Thumbs up from us… but my guess is you can find a similar place that’s closer to the park.
http://www.expedia.com/Rakovica-Hote...el-Information

Jagerhorn Hotel, Zagreb – Perfect location on the Ilica, decent room size and amenities, nice courtyard area for breakfast. But despite what the guidebooks say, there is no restaurant here… and you can’t even get a drink in their lobby/courtyard area. Still, an excellent value for a city-center hotel.
http://www.hotel-jagerhorn.hr/index.php?LANG=EN

A sincere thanks to all who have posted their observations of these great destinations on this forum before us, and to all of you who have followed along with us on this thread. We truly appreciate your comments, and the opportunity to relive our experiences with you!

More pictures are coming, we promise. We will post the links here, so stay tuned.

Our next trip destination… remains undetermined.
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Old Sep 25th, 2012, 01:13 PM
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Terrific !
You all are still the royalty of trip reports.
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Old Sep 26th, 2012, 06:02 AM
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Thanks, Bob. We try to share what we can.

Speaking of which, here is our album of Ljubljana photos:

http://onelittleworld.zenfolio.com/p925615814

The skies were a bit gray, but it's a cool town!
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Old Oct 1st, 2012, 05:55 AM
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OK, about time for some scenic splendor. Here is our album of Lake Bled & Lake Bohinj photos:

http://onelittleworld.zenfolio.com/p803094329

And these are our shots from Plitvice Lakes National Park:

http://onelittleworld.zenfolio.com/p167554570

There was a recent Fodors thread asking 'what's the bluest waters you've ever seen?' (or words to that effect). I'd like to submit that second link as my answer.
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Old Oct 1st, 2012, 06:05 AM
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Very nice!
I wish we had seen Plitvice--most impressive.
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Old Oct 1st, 2012, 07:16 AM
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Great report and terrific pictures! I loved all the cats and dogs, the windows and doorways, through the arches--I guess that covers most of them! Thanks for sharing!
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Old Oct 1st, 2012, 07:20 AM
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Fantastic photos! Thanks for sharing!
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Old Oct 1st, 2012, 08:27 AM
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Thanks, everyone. We'll have an album Rovinj shots, and another of Zagreb... and then we'll be finished.

And then, it's time to start planning the next trip!
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Old Oct 1st, 2012, 03:20 PM
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mr_go, great trip report. We spent 2 weeks in Croatia a few years ago and a week in Slovenia in August, and we fell in love with both countries. Needless to say, I enjoyed your trip report immensely (and the pics I saw so far), for all the memories they brought back.

We were in Ljubljana, Hotel Slon on Saturday, Sept 1st – and there was a wedding there. I guess we were there at the same time. We left early (very early) the next day, for a 7 am flight…hope the weather got nicer after we left.
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