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Serbian Croatian Roman Vacation

a travel blog by RHarrison6



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Getting Started

Aptos, United States


Leaving for my work meeting in Zlatibor Serbia today. I will be there this week and then meeting up with the rest of the family on Saturday.

permalink written by  RHarrison6 on June 20, 2011 from Aptos, United States
from the travel blog: Serbian Croatian Roman Vacation
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First Trip in Serbia

Zlatibor, Serbia and Montenegro


Not the greatest transporation to kick things off. No air conditioning, windy roads, stuck behind slow moving trucks puffing out exhaust. Still the trip from Belgrade to Zlatibor was beautiful. It started out like any other city, but ended up in the beautiful mountains southeast of Belgrade towards the Bosnian boarder.
We were begging for a pit stop along the way. It was hot in the bus and everyone needed a dringk of water. Finally we stopped at this lake about half way to Zlatibor. We all got off and had some water a few beers and a ham-Sandwich. Just what we needed. Then it was back on the bus for another 2 hours. At least now the sun was down and the bus was cooler.


permalink written by  RHarrison6 on June 21, 2011 from Zlatibor, Serbia and Montenegro
from the travel blog: Serbian Croatian Roman Vacation
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Beautiful Mountains

Zlatibor, Serbia and Montenegro


The meeting is going well. Tonight they took us on another hot bus ride up higher into the mountains to a very small village where they had rebuilt the ancient village at it was based on some archeological information. You can see the old wood buildings in this picture.
There was also a beautiful old church up there as well. Really a beutiful place.


permalink written by  RHarrison6 on June 22, 2011 from Zlatibor, Serbia and Montenegro
from the travel blog: Serbian Croatian Roman Vacation
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Waiting for the Family to Arrive

Zlatibor, Serbia and Montenegro


OK, so the family arrives tomorrow where we will meet in Belgrade. I am still in Zlatibor. The business part of this trip has just ended. The bus just left with most of the conference participants. It was a nice meeting. Yesterday, we toured the western part of Serbia looking at the rapsberry production here. Believe it or not, Serbia is a huge world supplier of frozen raspberries. We had lunch in the small town of Ivanjica which is the Raspberry Capital
of Serbia. They had a nice lunch for us and filled us with food and Slivovitz, plum brandy. In fact we sampled brandy made from just about anything you can think of including raspberries. Here is a picture of the small little production farms. Each family has a little raspberry patch. The family picks it and brings it down to the local freezer where they get paid.
There are people bringing wheel barrows full of hand picked berries from all over the town. Eating has been a big part of the trip so far. We were barely done with lunch and it was time for dinner. The hosts had set up some traditional dancing for us.
. When they brought out the little kids, it made me homesick. But the girls will be here soon.
. Later that night, we were all given some lessons in Serbian dancing. I am ready to teach the whole family when they get here tomorrow. Pictures of the whole family dancing are sure to follow over the next few days...


permalink written by  RHarrison6 on June 25, 2011 from Zlatibor, Serbia and Montenegro
from the travel blog: Serbian Croatian Roman Vacation
tagged Zlatibor, Serbia and Raspberry

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Day One

Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro


Today, my mom, lily and I flew from San Francisco to Frankfurt, Germany, then after a quick layover in Frankfurt we took another flight to Belgrade, Serbia. The time change from California to Europe made it seem like it was 2:00 am when it was really 1:00 pm. We were all exhausted. Rick came and met us at the airport with a driver to take us to our apartment. Our driver was going to pick up Elaine at the airport later because she was flying in two hours later. When my family and I arrived at our apartment, my mom lily and I all took naps. Elaine was dropped off at the apartment around 4:00 pm and my mom dad and sister were all awake to greet her. (I had slept longer than I was supposed to.) Around 6:00 all of us went out to dinner. In Europe most people don’t eat dinner until 9:00 so, the restaurant was pretty much empty. All of our meals were good and we were able to enjoy some music from the live band while we ate. By the time we were all finished with our meals, we were all getting tired so, we started to walk home. On the street there was an ice cream vendor that Lily was eying so my dad stopped and bought her an ice cream. Now I'm sitting on our couch writing this blog while my sister reads her book and we listen to the music that is playing outside our window. I would call our first day in Serbia a success.

-Grace


permalink written by  RHarrison6 on June 26, 2011 from Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro
from the travel blog: Serbian Croatian Roman Vacation
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Jet lag takes it toll

Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro


When we all went to bed last night we were all exhausted and full with our Serbian dinner. We all went to bed around 10:00 Serbian time. Roxanne woke up around 2:45 hungry and unable to sleep. Her body felt like it was 12:00 pm, almost time for lunch, or a snack. Lily also woke up around 4:00 am because she also could not sleep due to someone’s snoring...*cough Elaine *cough ...She came into Rick and Roxanne’s bed room to explain her problem to Roxanne and was surprised to find Roxanne still wide awake. Together they talked and ate Trail-mix while waking up Rick at the same time. After being told to be quiet and Roxanne taking some aspirin they once again tried to go to sleep...which was not a complete success.
Once everyone else was awake and ready to go get breakfast we all walked to a cute European cafe for some delicious coffee and the best croissants Grace and Lily have ever had. Our waitress, a serbian girl learning English was amused by us trying to speak a tiny bit of Serbian while we were very impressed with her ability to speak English.

Elaine noticed that Old Town Belgrade resembeled Chicago, which is where the largest number of Serbians settled in the United States. We are all picking up on the European trends such as retro high tops and baggy parashute pants.


permalink written by  RHarrison6 on June 27, 2011 from Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro
from the travel blog: Serbian Croatian Roman Vacation
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The man who never stopped talking

Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro


After breakfast we walked back to our apartment to meet our tour guide Branislav, a very talkative man. VERY talkative. When you asked him a question he would skim over it and go back to talking about 500AD and the Turks for another hour. When he was driving us to the next place where he would talk about something for another 30 minutes he accidently dented and scraped someone’s BMW. Instead of getting out and leaving a note like he should have, he zoomed off. Basically a hit and run. I would not call Branislav the best driver. By the end of 5 hours with a man who would never be quiet we were all very hungry and ready to ditch this guy. I thought that Elaine was going to go off on Branislav any moment so she hung back most of the time. Before lunch we took a picture with Branislav so we would always remember our time with him...
I probably sound very un-grateful so I do want to tell you that we all learned a lot and we got to go to places that we would not have been able to go without a car. I’m not sure how much of the information I’m going to remember, especially all the dates but all the places he took us were very interesting and beautiful. I think Branislav knows everything about Belgrade and nothing about listening.

-Grace

permalink written by  RHarrison6 on June 27, 2011 from Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro
from the travel blog: Serbian Croatian Roman Vacation
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Belgrade Synopsys

Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro


Our visit to Belgrade was great. We stayed in the old part of Belgrade close to the cafes and restaurants and the beautiful fortress built by the Romans around 900 AD. The first night we visited the area of Skardarska and ate at the oldest restaurant in Belgrade. Our waiter let us know George Bush Senior had eaten there in 1983. The food overall was excellent. The traditional Serbian salad consists of tomatoes, feta, basil, green and yellow peppers and red wine vinegar and oil. This was delicious as well as all the proscuitto, olives and cheeses. The second night we ended up in a trendy area eating delicious pizza and cheesecake. The service was excellent and people were very helpful. Everyone we interacted with from our shuttle driver from the airport who was a national table tennis champion for Serbia to our waitress in the café where we had our morning espresso. The apartment we stayed in was over a chain grocery store called Maxi and the grocery store was immaculate and had wonderful selection of produce, fresh fish and bakery items.
Rick had met a tour guide at the conference he was at and had arranged Barney as he called himself (Branislov) to give us a tour of Belgrade on Monday. Barney knew everything about Serbian history and he was not going to leave out anything for us. We were all on overload after about 4 hours he was a bit like Tour guide gone wild….regardless we ended up seeing things we wouldn’t have on our own and learned a lot about the Turks and the Austria-Hungarian empires. The men and women were very cosmopolitan and dressed beautifully. Many men wore suits and the men are very tall with incredible long legs. Rick looked small by comparison next to the men. The people in Belgrade are very good looking and the men were very manly. To me Belgrade has a great opportunity to increase their tourism business. They have a beautiful European city sitting on the banks of the Sava and Danube rivers with great shopping, restaurants and cafes and the whole city is anchored by the fortress. They have several hotels that have been bought by foreign investors and are sitting empty because they need to be renovated. There are many projects that have been started and appear to have run out of money to complete.
We are now driving across to Zagreb and then into an area of Croatia that our waiter Toni tipped us off to yesterday. We were planning on staying in Zagreb but Toni said an area called Instra farther west is so beautiful we decided to head that way. As we drive across Serbia Rick and I are amazed how much the landscape looks like Iowa. It is very flat and there are fields of soybeans and corn everywhere. So many Serbs settled in and around Chicago (it has the largest population of Serbs outside Serbia) I wonder if the Midwestern landscape reminded them of home.
One more thing, who doesn't love a country that on every tv in a bar they have Wimbledon playing. This is a tennis loving country and they support Novak Djokavic in a big way! BTW, we didn't make it to Istra so see Grace's blog for information and pics on Slunj where we ended up before we hit Dubrovnik.
Roxanne


permalink written by  RHarrison6 on June 28, 2011 from Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro
from the travel blog: Serbian Croatian Roman Vacation
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Just keep driving, Just keep driving

Slunj, Croatia


We had originally thought that we were going to spend the night in an area that our waiter, Toni had recommended, because it was supposedly beautiful but, as the day drew on we realized that that spot was too far away. So we settled on something closer. A National Park named Plitvička Jezera. We knew the park had hotels nearby but, we were not sure if they would have any vacant rooms. While we were driving towards the park we spotted a large waterfall and a river where kids were swimming. We decided to get off of the highway and drive around this pretty spot a little. As we were driving we came across a women named Andrea who had rooms that we could stay in, so, we decided that instead of risking not having a room to stay in at the park we could stay there, near the river and waterfall, only a half of an hour away from the park. it was called Slunj and It had a beautiful river, small waterfalls, a big waterfall and lush vegetation.It looked like it was right out of a fairy tale.

We swam in the river for a while until we were cold then, walked back to the apartment to clean ourselves up a little After having dinner and catching lightning bugs it was time for bed.

In the morning we drove to the park ready to explore. We had heard that the park was pretty but, we never imagined anything like what we saw today. Huge waterfalls, crystal clear water, fish feeding in the lakes, people speaking English! It was all so beautiful! We all have so many great photos from the park but, none of them can sow the true beauty of the park.


After spending part of the morning and afternoon at Plitvička Jezera we started to drive to Dubrovnik. The first part of the six hour drive was great. We all slept a little and kept ourselves occupied. We stopped at a restaurant on the side of the road that I did not think was going to be very good but to my surprise this chain of healthy homemade food was delicious. I wish that the states had restaurants like that! Healthy, cheep and fast.
After lunch/dinner we continued our drive towards Dubrovnik.
Grace


permalink written by  RHarrison6 on June 29, 2011 from Slunj, Croatia
from the travel blog: Serbian Croatian Roman Vacation
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Pit Stop in Bosnia Herzegovina

Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Just a short entry to prove that we were in Bosnia Herzegovina. The drive from Slunj to Dubrovnick took us briefly through Bosnia Herzegovina.
BiH was given about 12 Miles of coastline after all the Yugoslavian countries broke apart. The town of Neum is Bosnia's Adriatic coastal hotspot. We had been in the car a long time now and it was time for a pit stop. Roxanne Lily and Grace were getting carsick, some worse than others and poor Rick had been driving on the windy road the whole time. Time for a break. Not much else to say or show from BiH. Bathrooms are reported to be fair. Finally we reached Dubrovnik, returned the car and found our apartment. We had dinner, got some ice cream and now we are about to go to bed.


permalink written by  RHarrison6 on June 30, 2011 from Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina
from the travel blog: Serbian Croatian Roman Vacation
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