Thoughts on a Croatia Trip

Oct 26th, 2007, 08:04 PM
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Thoughts on a Croatia Trip

I think that this will be Part 1:

I know that many Fodorites prefer to travel "on their own" and we have done that many times in our traveling "history." But we decided that a tour was our best choice for this trip.

In September 2007, we took a smarTour to Croatia & Slovenia. We had decided to visit this area to celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary, although we have no ties to the area. We selected smarTours, a company we had never used before. We found them to be accurate in everything that they promised in their brochure and the hotels used, for the most part, were 1st class. The group meals were not always gourmet, but we didn't expect that.

We flew to Zagreb on our own and arrived a day early. Our hotel was the Central and it was! Right across from the train station, and recently renovated. We ate our dinner in a pizza restaurant which had been mention on this forum --whose name escapes me (might have been "Lyric"-- there were several in the city. The breakfast at the Central was very good and the rolls/breads delicious

The weather was not great, but we explored quite a bit of the city on our own--the market, the main square, the train station, and a huge underground mall which was near it. We checked out of the hotel at noon and made our way about 1 1/2 blocks to the Esplanade Hotel. This had also been renovated (it had been origionally built for the Orient Express passengers) and had beautiful public rooms. Our room was deluxe and the breakfasts were fantastic.

The welcome dinner was quite tasty and our fellow travelers (44) were a diverse group. Some were on their 7-8 smarTour and others on their 1-2. The TD was Croatian (Dubrovnik-born) but now lives in Slovenia. He had interesting and, sometimes, rather gory stories about the country during the Serb-Croatian War, and provided much historical info of the origional Yugoslavia and its development since the war ended.

It continued to rain, the next day, as we were bussed around the city's main buildings and to the Jewish cemetary, where there are huge mosoleums (??) dedicated to various families--many with fresh flowers, and the typical collection of small stones on the graves. I have read comments that people do not care for Zagreb and I can see why, if the weather isn't nice. On a sunny day, the city of Zagreb would remind you of Vienna or Prague. We managed to learn a lot about the history of the city/country, from the excellent local guide. Ciao for now! mhm
mercy is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 07:06 AM
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Looking forward to hearing the rest of the story.
irishface is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 07:16 AM
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Please keep it coming as we are going on the same Smartours trip 11/07/07
Thanks Mike and Joan
Michaellip is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 08:28 AM
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To: Mike and Joan: You may not stay at the same hotel in Zagreb. we were origionally listed for the Hilton, The Hilton is a bit farther from the train station and the square with King Thomaslav's (?) statue, but you can walk anywhere from it, too. I will try to get more of the trip listed today and tomorrow. You will enjoy it and you won't be contending with as many cruise ship tourists in Dubrovnik, I'm sure. Ciao. mhm
mercy is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 09:12 AM
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I did this same tour 2 years ago and really enjoyed it! In my case, friends and I were going on our own, then something happened bad to all of them and they couldn`t go. I didn`t want to go alone so I went on this tour and met lots of nice people.
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Oct 27th, 2007, 09:34 PM
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Part 2: Should have mentioned that the tour was called "Jewels of the Adriatic." As we departed Zagreb, weather had improved and we drove through industrial areas, which turned to more cultivated farm land, as we approached Slovenia. There was a long delay at the border, where we eventually had to get out of the bus and walk through an office. Don't remember getting a passport stamp, tho we were told to have them "in hand."
The town of Ljublijana was lively on a Saturday afternoon. We were dropped near a city park, where people were eating at outside tables--the food was from a restaurant across the street. Since the sun was shining, it was much more cheerful than Zagreb.
Using the "facilities" was always an interesting activity. We were directed to a charming cafe, where Stephen, the guide, said, we were welcome to use their WC. We weren't required to buy anything, but some did choose some of the tasty-looking pastries. A number of "locals" were lined up to get their Sunday morning breakfast treats.
Because it was Saturday, there were many things going on, as we checked out the usual churchs, famous buildings, & architecture. Mimes, bands, etc. were entertaining. Groups of men, dressed in medieval costumes seemed to be roaming the streets, stopping at various points to engage in pseudo-combat, for the crowds. Along the river, many cafes, craft booths, marching bands, etc. All in all, an enjoyable afternoon--and after while, you felt like you were part of the city's populace.
After several hours, we were on our way to Lake Bled, which was a very picturesque spot--reminding me of Switzerland, with the mountains surrounding it. The mts. that surround Bled are the Julian Alps, so that might be why I thought of Switz. The Golf Hotel was quite modern and had a great ammenity--free internet, which was a most popular spot in the hotel.
Our room overlooked the lake and, as it was getting dark, we put off exploring until the morning. The buffet dinner was almost too good--too many choice of food and desserts. Many types of vegetables that seemed to be grilled, too. Another meal that did not disappoint.
Sunday AM the church bells, across the lake woke us, and the weather was bright. After breakfast, the bus took us on a circular lake drive, rather than a walk, as advertized. We went up to Bled Castle. Actually, we walked quite a ways up steep steps, from the bus parking lot, to the castle. The view of the lake was great from the summit and the little island, in the lake, with its tiny church was the focal point of most of the pictures that were being snapped.

The bus continued around the lake, past houses that looked very Alpine. Some of the group took the insteresting boats on the lake, to the island, but we preferred to walk, again up many steep steps, the the village church, then past the Sunday craft market, through parts of the town with charming shops, until we found an outdoor restaurant, where there seemed to be locals having lunch, and had really delicious ommlets. A local band was playing down below us and families were actually strolling along the lakeside. Since we were there in the "off-season," for Bled, we did not find big crowds, but can imagine what it is like in the height of the tourist season.

Sunday night, we took an optional tour to a "typical" Slovenian restaurant, supposedly several 100 years old, for a typical meal--with wine. In the basement was a bakery where they make the "Licitar hearts" which are traditional gifts to sweethears and friends. Made of honey dough, they are frosted with red edible frosting and decorated with white. They come in many shapes now, but the most typical is a heart, with a tiny mirror. We saw them in many places on our trip and they are probably Yugoslavian origionally, but now each of the "new" countries claims them as their own. Great for souvenir gifts, as they can be used as holiday ornaments.

The drive to Opatija was through farmland country; stopping at a road-side winery & honey "factory."
The people had lived in the home during the war and there were bullet holes on the upper part of a wall. We also had begun to see signs which Stephen told us warned people not to enter certain areas, because there were still land mines. It was a reminder that we were not that far removed from the Serb-Croatian war. We also saw homes that had been either Serb or Croat, which had been demolished by the other side. Some of them will never be repaired, because they had belonged to Serbs, who will never come back to Croatia. It was a great history lesson and sobering for all of us.
Loved Opatija--might be because our hotel was modern, right on the sea--had been rebuilt since the war. The only bad part was that part of our group had to stay in an older building, which wasn't quite as nice. The service in the DR for dinner was wonderful. The tourist industry in flourishing; but many of the service workers needed a lot of training, since this industry is really new to some parts of Croatia.

I think I'll stop now, before I bore everyone, and think some more about the trip. I did not take notes on this trip, as many of you do--one fellow filled a large notebook by the time we finished. I wish I had a copy, because he must have had every detail of the trip. Ciao! mhm
mercy is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 08:08 AM
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Mercy: Please keep it coming. Your not boring us.

Thanks again, Mike and Joan
Michaellip is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 10:08 AM
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"Jewels of the Adriatic" Part 3:

Opps! I forgot to include a very important stop on our way to Opatija--the Postojana Caves which are in Slovenia. As with most caves of this type, they are not located off the main highways, but found after a drive on a narrow road, through the countryside. I was surprized at the number of people there on a Monday morning but it was evident that there must be times when it is very crowded, if the area given to parking is any indication. Steven mentioned something about the caves being used for storage during the war.

The cave visit, by small train, was included on our tour--that was nice because the euro price was expensive. Having been to several caves in the US, I'm not a "spelunker" if that's the term. But our guide told us to ride in on the train, as far as where the groups are left off; when those who are finished exploring--in groups with guides who take varous language groups, as they assemble--stay on the train and ride back out--in all about a 15 minute trip. This proved to be a good idea for claustrophobics, as we saw some of the stlagtites and stalagmites and other "cavey" things. Tho it was nice and warm outside, the temperature in the Cave was very cool--so be sure to have a jacket available.

The cave park area is similar to a theme park--on a very small scale. There were various shops to explore and places to eat. There is one huge store that has many, many large display boards, covered with various semi-precious stones and other minerals--these are not necessarily native to Slovenia, so each board noted the country of origin. There were necklaces, earrings, rings, and pendents, etc. on display on these boards. I bought a pendent similar in color to Bluelace agate with sterling bezel, which was called "calcedon" and is from Brazil. At $25USD, it was cheaper than a trip to Brazil!!

There is a large pond/lake on the property and a very old mill with a waterwheel. Some of the group skipped the caves and walked in to the small town--which was a mile or so away. All-in-all, it was a a interesting point in the trip. Those who went inside the caves were quite pleased with this adventure, too.

As I mentioned in Part 2, we went on to Opatija, a very pretty town on a bay of the Adriatic. You can walk for several miles along the sea wall. There were people swimming in marked area and sailboats on the water. There is one main street, with most of the businesses there. These towns were not built for tour busses and the drivers need "nerves of steel" to manuver in some areas. Ciao! mhm
mercy is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 12:46 PM
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Mercy: Don't want to be a pain , but how about more.
Thanks, Mike and Joan
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Michaellip is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 07:25 PM
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Part 4: Will post a short bit on our optional trip on Istrian Peninsula. It was an interesting day. We headed south to Pula, which is a very old city--long BC. We had a very good city guide, but unfortunately, much of our wanderings were puncutated by crashes of thunder, sparks of lightening, and pouring rain. One minute it was sunny and the next, a downpour. The trip down the coast had been sunny and the rain was a surprise to everyone. Especially the fellow who wore sandals and shorts every day. Fortunately, it was not cold.

Pula is a seaport city, on a bay and has a maritime history. I think I remember the guide saying that it had connections with Venice in early history, and we saw a sign that said "3000 year old city."

Pula's main attraction is its arena--which is the 6th largest in the world. It is similar to the one in Verona, Italy. I must brag a bit, as I was the only person to mention the ampitheater in Verona. Pula's is now used for festivals and a TV crew was dismantling towers of equipment for some documentary that had just been filmed. The acoustics were great--as some tour groups did some impromptu vocalizing.

We went in to an area under the arena--probably where the "victims" were kept in Roman times-- and saw artifacts of the period--large jars, which our guide said, still contained olive oil, etc. It was very dusty and claustrophobic for me, but my husband enjoyed it.

We viewed a couple other historical things--a Triumphal arch--looked like many of the arches in Italy and Greece, as well as some temples and the Cathedral. There were houses & buildings which had false windows painted on their exteriors--but the reason escapes me. Had something to do with taxes levied if you decided to put in more windows after the house was built--this was, of course, centuries ago. Guess if you decided to put in a new window, you could just break through where one was painted.

After a little more looking, our soggy group climbed on the bus, for the short ride to Rovinj, wich was origionally an island, but the channel was filled in several centuries ago. There was a beautiful( from an outide view) cathedral, from the 18th century, which had a 60 meter tower. It sits up on the high point of the city and we did not walk up to it. This town was our lunch stop and many people followed the guide's recommendation for a restaurant that had good fish meals. Because this seemed too heavy for a lunch, we wandered through the lower town, found a small outside restaurant that did not appear to have many smokers and had a "typical" pizza lunch w/local beer--I had a salad and shared part of the pizza. There were many boats in the harbor and since it was now sunny and quite warm, lots of people were on the streets.

Going back to the meeting point, we walked by many outside shops displaying the usual souvenirs. At least a dozen tour busses drove around the circle to pick up their charges, and it must be much worse in the"season."

The bus was quiet on the way back to Opatija--it had been a busy day. That night, we looked for a place to eat a small snack and
found a tiny place, not far from the hotel, where another couple and we had toasted ham/cheese sandwiches--the owner put "salad" on mine (a few pieces of lettuce)--and local beer.

That's my offering for today. I will try to get back to it tomorrow. So far, on the tour, we had not been disappointed with any aspect--except I didn't have enough time for shopping. Steven was very tied to his schedule and made sure that we all complied. This is not a complaint--and since my suitcase was already a bit heavy, the less shopping the better--or so my husband though!!! Ciao. mhm
mercy is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 08:12 AM
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Part 5litvice Lakes, about which I posted some comments on a thread several weeks ago, was really an experience. It is a series of lakes and waterfalls, zillions of fish due to the limestone's effect which provides very clear water, and attracts 100s of people. Most of the visit is a walk along the lakes--on wooden slat sidewalks, just about wide enough for two people to pass. It was a dizzy trip, reminding me of "ships passing in the night" as people walked in both directions. In the US, I doubt that the walkway would be considered safe (to OSHA's standards, anyway) and our tour guide warned us to be careful & not fall in. The walk is mezmerizing and you are fixated on where to put your feet and often don't enjoy the scenery.

The waterfalls are beautiful; about 100, of varying heights and sizes. Stopping to take a picture can be dangerous--the person behind you might not stop. Fortunately, my husband kept me under control, or I would have stopped every few steps, as each view was more interesting than the last.

A trip across the lake, by boat, to another walking point gave a chance to enjoy the scenery, and to walk again, but this time along a more hilly path. There were springs along the way and several very big waterfalls.

This is a National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the place where the first person (a park policeman) in the 1991 War was killed--as we heard many times. The hotel was rustic, but in a picturesque setting and it was a quiet evening--rather like camping out in the forest--with about five tour groups enjoying the evening.

We viewed a DVD of the seasons in the Park--and it was beautiful. Winter would be very interesting to see, but I don't know if the walk would be possible, if there was snow! The next day we were off to Zadar, which was an entirely different experience. Ciao!! mhm
mercy is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 08:15 AM
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Part 5 1/2: I have no idea why that "cute" smiling face is at the beginning of my last post. I must have paused too long as I was writing "Plitvice," and it activated one of the graphics. Sorry about that! mhm
mercy is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 08:27 PM
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Part 6: Zadar was a place I wished we'd spent more time. It is also about 3000 years old, has lots of churches, most of which were not open to visit, but interesting from their outside spires, rounded domes, etc.. The city has been ruined several times in its history. It was ruled by the Venetians in its early history. Its latest destruction was duirng the 1991-95 war, but it has been mostly rebuilt and unless you knew about the war, you would think nothing had happened. I think that it was bombed in WW2 also.

There are interesting ruins of a Roman forum, with one very tall pillar, giving you an idea of its origional size. The forum is more like a park, with the ruins used for sitting, or by vendors. There are some archelogical excavations going on, as it appears that the city itself, was built on top of Roman and other earlier buildings.

There is a walk along the ocean, as in most of the sea-side towns we visited and it is being rebuilt and probably improved. I was interested in the "sea organ" and wondered just how it worked. I had thought it was a natural thing, when I'd read about it on this forum--such as blow-holes, etc. along rocky coasts in the US. I was wrong, as it was an ingenious invention of recent construction. It works on the way that the sea rushes in and out of pipes built into the sea wall. I think that the tides must affect how much "melody" the pipes provide, and we did not hear a lot of "music." I have a feeling that in a storm, it might be awesome or at high (or maybe low) tide. When they are finished rebuilding this prom, it should be a real joy to walk along or to sit and enjoy the boats, etc., as this is another busy seaport, especially with the ferries.

Our next stop was on ov/nite in Split. We had a hotel on the main "drag" just a few lanes of traffic from the bay. An interesting feature, across the street from the hotel, was a filling station that served the passing cars, as well as boats that pulled up on the water side and got their gas tanks filled. Our room there, was quite large, and with the balcony, made it possible to see all the way to the main part of the town.

After dinner, various groups of us walked down to the town, which was lit up "like a Christmas tree"--I suppose it took us about 15 minutes.

Of course, the Palace is the focal point and we knew we'd have a tour in the AM, but to see it at night was really a treat. It was obvious that there were more than tourists were enjoying the evening. Stores appeared to be open and people were shopping. It would be very possible to get lost in the streets that cris-cross through the palace area. Over the years, people have built homes in parts of palace, and you could see curtains and lights in some windows.

The next AM, we woke up to the sound of a cruise ship horn as it came in to the bay. That would increase the number of people walking the streets of Split. Our guided tour of Diocletian's palace was interesting, even tho there were quite a few groups in each area at the same time. We had several hours to wander around ourselves and I enjoyed looking through the public market, where everything, from food to furniture was available and also seeing the fish market, where the morning catch is always available for the locals.

Lots of sidewalk cafes were along the promenade and there were many people sitting having their morning coffee and a sweet. This was something that was common to almost every town we visited. I guess it's been popular there long before people in the US have been doing it at Starbucks. We'd had a large breakfast, and just enjoyed gelatos for lunch. We chatted with people from the cruise ship, while sitting along the water, and that is always fun to find out where they're from.

Split was a place that could have used another day, in my estimation, but around 1 PM, we were off for Dubrovnik.

The drive along the coast was really beautiful, due to the color of the water--so different than the Pacific Ocean on our coast. Lots of small towns, and newer developments that our tour guide said were being built for people from other countries who were buying vacation homes there.

We made a short stop in Bosnia-Hertz. at a market which had an area where candy, liquor, fruit, etc. were sold, at a good price and euros could be used. There was also a restaurant, and other "necessary ammenities" were available. After a short time (it always seems too short), we were off for Dubrovnik, which, for most of the group, was the main reason they had taken this particular tour. Ciao for now!! mhm
mercy is offline  
Nov 1st, 2007, 07:45 AM
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Mercy: This report is great. We can't wait for the Dubrovnic part.
We are getting very excited as we leave next week for the same trip.
Thanks again, Mike and Joan
Michaellip is offline  
Nov 1st, 2007, 08:16 PM
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Part 7: (Thanks, Mike & Joan. You will enjoy your trip. Have you been following the weather--I would expect it to be a bit cool on the first part of the trip.)

We approached Dubrovnik from the North and went under a very interesting and modern suspension bridge, which is over the New harbor, where most of the large cruise ships are now anchoring. We took what passes for a main road, through the port area. Some new hotels were evident and shops, etc.

We were in the Argosy Hotel, which was out on the end of the Babin Kuk penninsula. The President hotel is also in that area. The hotel had been used by refugees during the war and had needed much renovation. The interior could remind you of an Embassy Suites, with open corridors above the large lobby, with various vines and plantings hanging over the edges. when you walk around the hotel it first seemed confusing, but we figured it out.

The view from the huge dining room is of the Adriatic and we did see a sunset the night of the included meal. This meal was really delicious--various "stations" where different types of food were prepared or served. (Because it was Friday night, there was music during the meal, and afterward, the quartet went in to the lobby bar and provided entertainment.)The same was true for the breakfasts--even ommlets could be requested. On several mornings, we watched cruise ships going in to the new port. For views, it was a great spot--but far from the Main part of the city. However, just a block or so away, the city bus stopped. Tickets were either 8 or 10 kuna, I believe.Er yook iy in on our free day. It goes in to the Pile gate, but there were many other routes and busses, which are well used, as driving and parking would be nerve-wracking--IMHO.

Saturday morning, we boarded our bus and went into the Old Town. Busses have a specific place, outside the Pile Gate, to drop passengers and you can imagine the throngs being disgorged from the busses, early each day. A walk down a draw-bridge, complete with uniformed guards, the changing of which is performed with a march through the Old Town, several times a day. This is the first "Kodak Moment!" --And it just get better from there. I controlled myself and took about 500 pictures on the trip. One of our group tokk over 1500 and another even more. Digital makes it so easy, doesn't it.

Unfortunately, the various tour groups gather around Orifino"s fountain, so their local guide can explain it and what will happen next--in many different languages. Although the guides try to move around and not all gather in the same spots, it does get complicated. I won't go in to details about the Old Town--its interesting sites and sights have been enumerated many times on this Board, but I have to say that the Old Town was all I was hoping it would be. Some of the ladies in the group took advantage of a special cream available in the oldest pharmacy in Dubrovnik--but it takes a few days/weeks to work, so I don't know if it lives up to its claims.

I had used Frommer's Croatia guide book and it gave us all the extra information that we could not hear, when the local guide explained it.
I had also printed out specific info from the various boards and all of that added to the enjoyment. The weather was warm, and we were given enough time to wander on our own, after the official tour. The narrow streets between buildings and the streets that are really steps up to the next street level, the many gelato shops, and the mirror-image buildings across the Stradum from each other, were almost "dejavu" as I had read and studied about them for so many months.

We took a walk across the Old Town and went out the Ploce' gate. We had decided to stay three extra days and the place we had reserved was up a hill from this gate. We were too tired to walk the hill that day, but investigated another day.

Someone had posted once about a street behind the Argosy, where there were restaurants. On Saturday night, we investigated and found a path that led to a small mall. There were several restaurants and one indoor-outdoor place that had a good, reasonable menu. In fact, we ate there one other night--when most of our group did too--and also had a lunch there. It is practically part of the Argosy, but interestingly enough, our tour guide had not mentioned it in any of his comments.

Will comment on our trip to Montenegro and our three days living as "Dubrovnik citizens" tomorrow. Ciao!!mhm

mercy is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 03:23 AM
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Mercy: Great report. We have been following the weather and for us it looks perfect. We prefer cooler weather and dress accordingly. Can't wait for the grand finale.
Mike and Joan, Phila.Pa
Michaellip is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 09:50 PM
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This is IT!!Part 8: On Sunday morning, we boarded our bus to Montenegro--I think it became an independent country only in 2006. We passed the Dubrovnik Airport, which, our guide told us, had been totally emptied by the Serbian army as they left the area. So, all the equipment in the buildings was completely new. (When we flew out on Friday, we found that it was quite modern.)

Most of our trip was through rather mountainous scenery and as it had been cold and rainy a week or so prior to our trip, we could see some remains of snow on the higher peaks.

Our goal for the trip was the city of Kotor, which is on the Bay of Kotor, which is a deep fjord. In our group was a couple who had housed an exchange student from Kotor a number of years ago--he is now a doctor. This couple, and her sister and brother-in-law, met the man soon after we arrived and they were going to over-night with his family. This opportunity was one reason they had chosen this particular tour.

Kotor was a quiet town on a Sunday morning and we had the place to ourselves as we saw the historic center of the town, within walls, of which so many of the cities in the area are enclosed.

Many boats, of all sizes, were tied up at the long wharf. Most interesting was a National Geographic Ship--which lead me to believe that there will soon be a TV program with Montenegro and Kotor as the subjects. As time passed, the church bells began to ring and people headed to the cathedral for Sunday mass.

Leaving Kotor, we went on a winding road up the mountainside, which would eventually bring us to Cetinje, where the early kings/rulers of the country lived. This ride was "breath-taking!" Mainly because there were at least 35 switch-back turns along the way, and the "way" was a narrow road (about a "bus-wide."). Several times, cars had to back up into wider spots, to give us the "right of way." All in all, it was a bit scary, as there was very little shoulder anywhere along the curves.

I'm not sure if this was the only way to get to Cetinje. I suspect that it was our guide's way of bringing us to a restaurant located near the top of the pass. He knew the people--the old mother of the house had been born in the US--she was 92 or so--but her family had gone back to Yugoslavia when she was about 4. The buildings, which included the family home, obviously attracted a number of customers (probably on Saturday nights when people from the distant farms are looking for some entertainment) as there were porchs, and tables around and very clean and new WCs. We all bought(got) the same lunch--bread they bake, with ham and cheese, and a beverage for $3 euros. There wasn't much "quality control" as some got huge sandwiches and others got quite the opposite. But it was enjoyable to sit out under a grape arbor, looking down the mountain-side, and realize that you were still alive, after the drive up from Kotor.

Cetinje was a small town and we did not get a chance to do more than visit the house where the rulers had lived--or at least one of the last ones. It was not a palace, but reminded me of the Hermitage in St. Petersburgh, because behind our group, as we followed the local guide, there always seemed to be a woman or two, watching us closely, in case we decided to touch anything. I was disappointed that we did not have time to spend in the small gift shop as it looked as if there were interesting artifacts from which to choose. We drove from there to ?????Stephan a town on a bay,(where we had about an hour to explore or sit in a nice park and watch the locals)-- across which we took a small ferry , and were back on the road to Dubrovnik.

A long,tiring but interesting day. This was the 2nd night we ate at the close-by restaurant and about 75% of the tour group did the same thing. No one wanted to go back in to town.

We were part of the group for one more day, spent some time in town, using the local bus for transport, and in the evening we had a delightful, included meal in a restaurant just off the Stradum. The group who had stayed in Kotor came back from there on a 3 hr. train ride, which added to their Croatian experience.

I think I'm going to have to end this "novel" now and finish up in the morning. Ciao!! mhm
mercy is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2007, 08:03 PM
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This is really the LAST part--
Part 9:

We left the Argosy Hotel about 11 AM--we had been able to sleep in, while our tour companions were up quite early for the bus trip to the airport. A taxi took us to the area east of the Ploce gate, where we contacted the person from whom we were renting.

Finding a place to stay in Dubrovnik is not hard---just look up the 100s of places and descriptions, pictures, and accolades by former guests. We chose the "finalist' because he was willing to rent for only 3 nights. Many want you to take a whole week--and I can understand that--or charge more for fewer nights.

The gentleman told me in an e-mail, that his place was 85 steps above
the Hotel Excelsior. Silly me,as I first thought he meant 85 steps along the street from the hotel. He said no--UP! But he would carry our suitcases and he was as good as his word--two trips up and down, on steep steps, wearing flip-flops!

The apartment was like a day-light basement to his home, where he, his wife and daughter lived. It had a nice balcony, covered with a grape arbor,( and the grapes were delicious) and there was outdoor furniture. The kitchen area was quite adequate--micro, fridge, dish washer, table, stove, and coffee maker. What more could we ask for?
There was a good sized living room w/TV and a small, but comfortable BR--the shower/WC were off the kitchen.I believe that we paid $60 euros p/n.

There was a grocery store a "few" more steps above this area and we walked up and got minimum food, for lunch and breakfast, whice we ate on the balcony, from which could see the town.

On the two full days we were there, we walked down the steps, in to the town, explored areas we'd missed earlier. About noon we'd stop by a market near the Ploce gate, buy lunch supplies, walk back up the hill, to our 85 steps. At night, we'd walk back down for dinner--we had great pizza at Mea Culpa.

Our last day there was overcast and we took this opportunity to walk the walls. We went early in the morning and the cruise boat passengers hadn't arrived. You really get a sense of the city when you see it from the walls. Lots of ups and downs, tho.

That afternoon we were treated to a heavy thunder/lightning storm and such a downpour of rain--but it was warm. In 30 minutes, it was clear, warmer and sunny.

From our spot, we could see small cruise ships and yachts, as well as the boats that went to Cavtat and to the islands from the main pier.

Along the steps there were often doors in the walls, behind which were other houses. On our first morning, a woman's head popped up on the edge of our porch. She was climbing steps, from her home, up to the steps that led to our "home" and going up more steps, to get to the road to the market to get her bread for the day. Not quite like droppping in to the local supermarket. The breads we had were always delicious.

Our "landlord" made arrangements for a car to take us to the airport at 5 AM on Friday morning. We were sorry to leave, but really felt that we had gotten a better look at the way people live on a daily basis, by this short stay.

Croatia was a very interesting experience. I cannot truthfully say that it was the most wonderful place we've ever travelled. The scenery--especially along the Adraitic-- was beautiful. However, it certainly did not disappoint us, and made us appreciate other cultures. Would we go back--well, there are a few dozen other places in the world that I don't want to miss--so it could be awhile.

mercy is offline  
Nov 4th, 2007, 05:06 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 80
Mercy: Thank you for this wonderful report. We almost feel that we were with you.
Will get back to you after our trip.
Mike and Joan
Michaellip is offline  
Nov 4th, 2007, 05:44 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 2,337
Thanks for the fun trip report! Great details. A tour is a different perspective - we always do it on our own as you state you normally do. Congratulations on your anniversary!

We love Croatia so much we are looking at purchasing a property there to move to. Istria was our favourite area.
travel2live2 is offline  

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