Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

The Tweesters take a trip to BiH, Croatia and Slovenia

The Tweesters take a trip to BiH, Croatia and Slovenia

Old Mar 14th, 2015, 04:18 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,654
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am looking forward to hearing about your trip. It sounds like it will be a wonderful adventure.
KTtravel is offline  
Old Mar 14th, 2015, 05:18 PM
  #22  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 206
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
@kja, thanks! You are one of the go-to pros on this board that I have looked to to shape my itinerary.

@andrew - good thought about heading to Krka NP and then simply heading on to Zagreb. Also, I hope you don't think we are heavy drinkers! I keep mentioning wineries. What we found was that we like having a "theme" on our trips...as it turns it into an adventure. Last year we were in South America (Buenos Aires and Chile) and our theme was empanadas. Regarding Slovenia, we weren't really focused on Piran, but rather the caves, and possibly a winery /) . (There I go again!)

@KTtravel: I'm looking forward to it too! Thanks!
geenance is offline  
Old Mar 14th, 2015, 05:55 PM
  #23  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 23,112
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, geenance, but I'm no pro -- just someone who does a LOT of research before taking a trip.

BTW, I'm sure you know that Sibenik has a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- the Cathedral of St. James -- that you might want to visit, even if it prevents you from heading on to Zagreb that day. The baptistry, in particular, is glorious.
kja is offline  
Old Mar 14th, 2015, 06:36 PM
  #24  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 206
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
@kja....Yes, I do know that Sibenik (in spite of my mis-spelling) has a UNESCO Site. That is certainly one of the reasons why it interests me.

And, you are too humble. You ARE a pro. You didn't have many people to look forward at. ...so, let's call it a day,\\
geenance is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 04:38 PM
  #25  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 206
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am suddenly finding flight schedules on the European Coastal Airlines website that would take us from Split to Pula. If this route holds, then this opens some itinerary options for us.

Currently we are planning on flying from Split to Zagreb and then hopping on a train to Ljubljana, our ultimate destination to fly home.

If we could fly to Pula from Split, then perhaps we could re-jib our itinerary to spend a day or so in Istria/Piran, before catching a bus to Ljubljana.

Should we get our hopes up? I think it would be great to fly into Pula...hop a bus to Piran, spend the day and night there and then take a bus onwards to LJU.

At first glance, I am having trouble finding a bus from Pula to Piran. Any suggestions as to where to look?
geenance is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 04:51 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You'll probably have to take a bus from Pula to Koper and change there for a local bus to Piran.

I haven't been to Rovinj yet, but I think many people would encourage you to see Rovinj over Piran if you have a choice. Piran is a lovely town, though.
Andrew is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 04:59 PM
  #27  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 206
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, Rovinj would be an attractive option for us. It might be a bit more difficult to head onward to LJU, however the trade off would certainly be that it would likely to be easier to get there from Pula.

Since it is still off-season, I think it would all come down to bus schedules.

Off to do more research...
geenance is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 05:03 PM
  #28  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 23,112
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Once again, it depends on your interests. I skipped Pula and Piran and so can't speak to them. I enjoyed my time in Istria and Zagreb. I don't know what you would be giving up to make time for this new option, but if I'm looking at the correct plan, you would be taking the time for Istria from Split and surrounds? Split and surrounds suited my interests better than Istria. Or perhaps you would take the time from Ljubljana? That wouldn't be MY choice either. But it isn't MY trip!
kja is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 05:19 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There's a direct bus once a day from Rovinj to Ljubljana. See www.buscroatia.com . There are frequent local buses between Pula and Rovinj
Andrew is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 05:19 PM
  #30  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 206
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks kja.

My thinking is that we would squeeze a day out of BiH. Currently we are scheduled for 4 nights in Sarajevo and 2 nights in Mostar. If we only stayed one night in Mostar (arriving very early the first day) I think that would give us plenty of time to see Mostar itself and do a quick trip to Blagaj.

We have 4 nights in Split, which seems pretty comfortable, presuming a day trip to Hvar.

Our current schedule has us arriving fairly late in the evening in LJU (9pm). We would have only the next 2 days to "explore" Slovenia and then fly back home very early the next morning. I have a feeling that we are giving it short shrift.

Clearly we will spend one whole day in Ljubljana itself, which gives a day to explore futher afield (using public transportation or a tour). While we are in LJU there is a World Cup rowing event on at Lake Bled and I don't know if that means that it would be too crowded to enjoy as an everyday tourist or not, so I am not sure if we would trade off Lake Bled and region for a trip southwest to the caves/castle and possibly a winery.

While I am sure we will enjoy whatever we decide to do, any ideas are truly appreciated!!
geenance is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 06:02 PM
  #31  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 206
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Andrew. That bus information helps.
geenance is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 06:24 PM
  #32  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 23,112
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"If we only stayed one night in Mostar (arriving very early the first day) I think that would give us plenty of time to see Mostar itself and do a quick trip to Blagaj."

FWIW, I was comfortable with about 1 full day in Mostar -- I got there mid-day and left the next day mid-day. I saw what I wanted to see -- but I kept fairly active! That said, I was there in 2009; things could be different now. And I didn't try to visit Blagaj -- I have no idea how much time that will take. You might give some thought to wresting a day from Sarajevo. Make no mistake -- I loved Sarajevo, but even jet-lagged, I saw what I wanted to see in about 2 days. BUT again, I travelled hard, and I can easily understand that a longer stay, particularly after a super-long flight, could be much better. It is certainly a city that, IMO, would be enjoyable for the time you have currently allotted to it.

"We would have only the next 2 days to "explore" Slovenia and then fly back home very early the next morning. I have a feeling that we are giving it short shrift."

I spent 3.5 days in Slovenia and felt I rushed it -- and I had a car for that part of my journey, specifically so I could maximize my use of time in the area. Again, it depends on what you want to see and experience. I have no idea how the rowing event my affect things -- didn't you post a question about that? You might try bouncing it to the top.... I doubt it would affect visits to things outside of Bled (e.g., the caves, Bohinj, the Vintgar Gorge, etc.), but I really have no idea. You might also ask your hotelier.

"I am sure we will enjoy whatever we decide to do"

I agree! The "problem" is that there is WAY to much to see and do in this corner of the world! We should all have such problems.
kja is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2015, 09:01 AM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,087
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re your question about Travnik v Jayce - well I really liked Travnik, but preferred Jajce. I stayed overnight in both, but if I was given a choice of where I would like to return to, it would be Jajce every time.

I posted about both places in previous trip reports, and will paste below so you can make up your own mind.

TRAVNIK

Travnik was once the home of the Ottoman rulers of Bosnia and was an ancient trading place in medieval times with the carsija (market) filled with traders from Dubrovnik, Serbia and other Ottoman territories. During the 16th-19th centuries it was know as the European Istanbul. The Old Town and the fortress dominate the town. There are many mosques. It is a very picturesque place, and there are some incredible views from the fortress.

There is very little accommodation in Travnik, and due to some issues with my foot and ankle I decided to stay at the Motel Aba which is right in the Old Town and very close to most of the main sights. It has parking spaces.

http://www.aba.ba/abaJ/index.php?lang=english

I reserved a single room by email for the grand price of 15 euros, breakfast included. On arrival I was shown into a fairly large room with two beds and a strange bulky chair which was obviously a further bed. The bathroom was small but adequate, but everything was a bit tired and shabby though clean. I had a room at the back of the building so there wasn't too much noise from the main road. The window looked onto another building, but to the side there was a view directly up to the fortress which was nice to have. It is true you get what you pay for, but all other options seemed to be out of the town, or at least much further out. Anyway this was fine as I’m not too fussy and I’ve stayed in worse rooms for much more money, for example a room like this would cost around 80 euros in Paris.

I freshened up and went out to see the Plava Voda – meaning Blue Water. This is a fast-flowing stream that tumbles down through the town, and the water really is a wonderful shade of turquoise blue, which doesn’t really come across in my pictures. This was a busy area with two restaurants on each side of the water. They were all called Restaurant Plava Voda but all had different coloured tablecloths and seemed to have different menus too. Many people were walking around, having coffee, it seemed to be quite a social thing, maybe a bit like the passiegata in Italy. I heard no one else speaking English at all in my entire time in Travnik, and there were very few other people who looked like they might have been tourists, ie with cameras!

At this time I had no BiH currency, the Convertible Mark – KM – but had been assured that the euro is an acceptable currency due to an agreement whereby there is a two-currency system. The euro to KM rate is fixed at approximately 1 euro = 2 KM. I had asked at the hotel if there was a ‘bankomat’ nearby and was told I could only get money from it when the bank was open. Seemed strange to me but the receptionist told me not to bother until tomorrow.

I sat down at one restaurant under the weeping willow trees ready to order cevapcici, the little meaty sausages, but then discovered they did not sell alcohol. I was more than ready for some wine by now! So I crossed the stream and sat on the other side where alcohol was served. Apart from a full 75cl bottle which I did not want, the wine only came in little 20cl bottles – just like at the Buza Bar in Dubrovnik!

I had my order of 10 pieces of cevapi which came with that lovely soft bread and kajmak (soft cheese) and a shopska salad and 2 little bottles of Grasevina. The bill was 18.50 KM, but 10 euros was enough including a tip. I wandered around a bit, eating a lemon ice which I bought for .50KM from a little shop. Then I returned to the hotel.

My room was 101 and on the first floor close to the top of the stairs. This meant I found it quite noisy, with the sound of people’s voices echoing up the stairwell from the reception area, but I didn’t realise this until later that night! The bed was comfortable with quite a firm mattress, and I slept fairly well until around 4am when the call to prayer started from the nearby mosque and the dawn chorus was in full swing. So many very noisy little birds!

Breakfast was a disappointingly dry roll and soft cheese. There were also jams, fruit conserves and cold meats, which I didn’t fancy.

I paid and checked out, telling them I’d be back to collect my car later. It was shortly before 8am. I walked about 100m across the main road into the main part of town, where I found a bank open and the cashpoint worked just fine. I daresay it would have worked last night as well. I saw the Sarena or Coloured Mosque which was lovely in the early morning sun with its beautiful fruit and flower paintings on the walls. It is considered by some to be the loveliest mosque in the Balkans. The amazing carved wood doors were open, so I removed my shoes, pulled my scarf over my head and went in for a look round, you can see it in my photos.

I decided to proceed up to the fortress. It is quite a steep hike, but it’s not far. There are some fascinating houses along the way as well, of many different architectural styles. At the fortress there were a few workmen doing restoration work, and a woman who welcomed me in for the admission fee of 2KM (1 euro).

My goodness, the views from up here were spectacular! There is a museum in the tower with quite a few artefacts, costumes, weapons. There is no signage in English so it was a bit difficult to know what some of the items were, and the woman overseeing the museum didn’t speak English. However, upstairs in the tower the walls are lined with photos and posters of the history of the town and area from Neolithic times up to the present day, and here there are laminated sheets with an English translation.

There was another room with a mosaic and some carved tombstones, and outside the tower but still within the walls is a sort of amphitheatre with what looks like a stage below. It was all delightful and I spent about an hour up at the fortress. Wandering back down I went to look at the Plava Voda again, but by now there were 3 busloads of schoolchildren screeching around, and I didn’t stay long before getting into my car and setting off towards Sarajevo.

More about Travnik here…

http://www.bhtourism.ba/eng/travnik.wbsp


JAJCE

Jajce is a most attractive small town situated at the meeting of two rivers, where the Pliva cascades 60 feet to join the Vrbas. It is dominated by the fortress 1500 feet above the town. This palace was built by Bosnian Kings, and was the last stronghold to fall to the Ottoman invaders in 1528. This old historical part of town has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It deserves to be added to the list. The outer castle walls extend right down the hill, and you enter the old town either by car or on foot through one of the ancient gates in a tower.

So I entered via the Travnik Gate, and found my hotel just round a corner on the left. There was a parking space outside, and I was shown to my room. The Hotel Stari Grad is in a terrific central location, within easy walking distance to all the main sights. The hotel has been built on the ruins of a Turkish bath, hammam, which was destroyed by a fire 200 years ago. It was determined that the hammam had been built (or reconstructed) by Melek Ahmed Pasha while he had been doing his service as vizier in Bosnia (1658 – 1659), information found in Evlija Čelebija’s Travel Book from 1660. To preserve the ruins yet still build the hotel, they were encased in glass – which now forms part of the floor of the reception hall/dining room!

http://jajcetours.com/en/hotel-stari-grad/

My room was 77 BAM (€39//£31) and though a reasonable size was quite dark with little natural light. But fine for the price which included breakfast.

With a small map from the hotel I set out up the hill, passing by the ruins of a church with St Luke’s tower, the only surviving example of a medieval steeple in the Balkans. This church has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries, including being transformed into a mosque. The last Bosnian King was crowned here in 1461. Opposite the church are the Catacombs, carved out of rock during the late 14th century and said to be the last resting place of the ancient Bogomil kings. The carved altar featuring a cross, sun and crescent moon symbolises the afterlife. It is only 2 BAM (€1) to enter so though there isn’t a lot to see, it is hardly a wasted experience.

I continued up a steep cobbled path to the castle entrance, wondering about the long-dead people who must have walked this daily, and also those people who still live on this hill, in the beautiful old Ottoman houses clinging to the steep slopes. The castle was 2 BAM (€1) to enter. The turfed ramparts and battlements are still complete and can be walked around by those not vertiginously challenged. In fact the walls are high enough to provide a decent barrier so I did venture up. There are several buildings inside, some of which can be entered, and with the grassy lawns and terraces it is an attractive place. The views from up here are stunning.

I walked down the other way, passing some lovely old traditional buildings, though some were in a dire state of repair. The museum/art gallery was closed so I continued on down the cobbled streets. I found my way out through the stone gate under the tower again and crossed the Pliva River – flat and calm here… but turning back on the other side the river suddenly fell crashing and tumbling into the Vrbas River in the gorge below. It is apparently one of the 10 most beautiful waterfalls in the world. Well, not having seen any others I cannot comment, but it is certainly spectacular. Intriguing is the diving platform perched between the two cascades. I did a bit of research, and the first international diving competition was held on 9 August 2014, won by a Mostar man.

http://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/p...bosnia-n177026

I’d got a note of two places to have dinner; one was in the Travnik tower above the gate called Kod Asim, the other was a few miles out of town. I thought I could maybe get a taxi to Konoba Slapovi, but was told it was closed at this time of year. Oh well. I went to look at Kod Asim but didn’t like the look or feel of the place, it seemed quite grubby, so I ate a surprisingly good meal in the hotel restaurant. I had their version of Trahana soup, grilled squids with fries and a mixed salad. With 2 glasses of wine the bill was 29 BAM (€14.8 / £11.65).

I slept well, the only problem the next morning was the tube on the hairdryer was detached so that didn’t work. After breakfast I was taken to another room – actually a huge suite dominated by pictures of Tito – and allowed to use the hairdryer in the bathroom.

There was one more thing I wanted to see before I left Jajce, and that was the 3rd century temple dedicated to the god Mithras with a carved altar stone. I had read it was hidden in a locked shed and I would have to find someone with a key, but I found it enclosed in a huge glass case down some steep steps. It was locked however, but I was able to walk round and get a good look. One can clearly see the winged Mithras holding the bull down as he plunges his knife into its neck – it is a very vivid sculpture. Unfortunately the reflection of light on the glass meant my photos aren’t much good, but I felt privileged to have seen it.

I left Jajce via the Banja Luka Gate, then through a tunnel under the hill the fortress and town is built on, and set off towards Banja Luka and the Croatian border.

I've been to Sarajevo twice, for a total of 8 nights/9 days. If you click on my name you'll be able to find my trip reports. I've also been to Mostar 3 times, and again have posted here about it and my impressions of it. They vary depending on the time of day and year I was there!
julia_t is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2015, 09:03 AM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,087
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Some good restaurant recommendations in my 'Sarajevo in the Springtime' trip report!
julia_t is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2015, 04:57 PM
  #35  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 206
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
julia_t.... I have definitely made note of your restaurant experiences!

And, I have read your trip reports. I think it is great that you posted trip report comments from your BiH trip(s) here on this thread as it's difficult for many to track them down.

While I had noted Karuso and Dveri from your original reports, I have now added Morica Han to my list.

Regarding Travnik versus Jajce, for us I think it will come down to bus times and how we feel at the time. You were so adventurous, driving on your own, solo. We have no plans to sleep over in either place, so we need to figure out the public bus routes, so that we can have a nice small adventure for the day.

Thanks again for your tips and insight!
geenance is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2015, 06:08 PM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I probably will overnight in Jajce - yes, Julia's tips will be invaluable.

I've also been preparing myself for Sarajevo. I've watched several documentaries on YouTube about the Siege of Sarajevo. A great documentary called "Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo" (about a couple, one Muslim, one Serb, killed together on a bridge during the siege) is quite moving. There's also a good BBC multi-part series (produced in the mid-1990s) called "The Death of Yugoslavia" about the breakup that led to the war(s).
Andrew is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2015, 06:45 PM
  #37  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 23,112
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"trip report comments ... it's difficult ... to track them down."

The Fodor's search engine has been working only sporadically for a while, although we've been assured that it has now been fixed. I'll wait to see. In the meantime, try a google search that includes the term "Fodor's" -- you should be able to pick up things that even predate the Fodor's search engine max of last 3 years.
kja is offline  
Old Apr 5th, 2015, 04:54 PM
  #38  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 206
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, after more research, I'm not sure we will take advantage of the ECA seaplane flight to Pula. As much as I love the idea, the bus schedules just don't work out well at the other end.It would involve a lot of jostling of luggage, and hopping on and off buses for too little reward. It's so much simpler to take a cheap flight from Split to Zagreb, wander around old town Zagreb for a few hours, and then hop on the 2 hour stress-less train ride to Ljubljana. If we were going to stay in Istria for a couple of days then the ECA flight would have definitely made sense. Perhaps next time.
geenance is offline  
Old Apr 5th, 2015, 05:54 PM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I understand your reluctance. I myself have just come up with an alternate routing for my itinerary that would have me do the last part in reverse and fly out of Split at the end (to Amsterdam) instead of Zagreb. I'm still pondering it. Maybe I too will change my mind - but it's nice to know there are options!
Andrew is offline  
Old Apr 5th, 2015, 06:13 PM
  #40  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 206
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm interested in knowing what you end up deciding to do, Andrew.

Perhaps it's better to post it on your own thread, but what is your latest "itinerary"?

I'm getting pretty excited about our trip....only 3 weeks to departure!
geenance is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -