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Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina (2013)

a travel blog by shoshtrvls

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Days 1 and 2

Zagreb, Croatia

So, we were all set at the airport, boarding passes at the ready, until the rains came. Lots of it. pouring rain.

The net result was that our flight to Frankfort was delayed by four hours. Which of course meant no hope for making our connection to Zagreb. (It did, however, allow me to confirm to the police that the alarm that went off was storm-related and not thief related, and to have Lee check things out ANC walk Pepper since Lisa was stuck in rain-created traffic). Undaunted, and with a few easily-placed phone calls (Amex was worthless, Lufthansa was great) was able to snag 2 of the last 4 seats on a later flight. Side benefit - the connection was so tight that we weren't forced to spend any extra time in the hellhole that is the Frankfort Airport transit area.

And really, being late didn't make a whole lot of difference. As we had been forewarned, Zagreb has little to offer in the way of interesting or unique experiences. The hotel is fine, right on the central square, which looks pretty much like every other European central square.

We walked around the old part of town discovering, well, not much. Except the Museum of Broken Relationships, Really, an excellent place where people send mementos of past relationships. Funny, touching, tragic. Well worth the $5 Entrance fee. Really, how awesome is that? So, maybe it is fitting that this museum is surrounded by Nikola Tesla homages everywhere. As Els asked, "So, what, is he like the only Croatian who's famous?" Um, maybe.

Dinner was at a nice little Italian place near the hotel, with a walk and ice cream after.

And now bed.

permalink written by  shoshtrvls on July 29, 2013 from Zagreb, Croatia
from the travel blog: Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina (2013)
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Day 3

Ljubljana, Slovenia

his is not Disneyland after closing. It is Ljubljana, Slovenia after they've rolled up the sidewalks, one of the most delightful European towns I've been to - despite the fact that it is overrun with tourists. Because it doesn't feel at all like a tourist town.

Today began with a quick trip to the farmers market in Zagreb. Lots of beautiful looking produce, and crappy carved shit. As I said, it was a quick trip.

At 9 am, we were in our car and on our way to Slovenia. The border was probably less than 30 minutes away, but it was one of those crossings where you immediately knew you were in a different country (ironic, in a way, since until a decade ago, these weren't separate countries). The landscape was simply different - more green, a bit more hilly, and more dotted with small villages ("Ellery, should we stop at that castle?" "It's not in the guidebook, so no."). And more western European in some undefined way.

We arrived in Ljubljana around 11, dropped the bags off at the hotel, and wandered for the next 5 hours. Basically, we walked up and down the quaint main street and across the canal several times, stopping for coffee, for ice cream, for lunch, and the many outdoor cafes. About the only "sights"we saw were the town hall and the castle, neither of which really merited the detour from strolling.

After a late afternoon nap, we strolled some more, ending the evening eating cheese and drinking carpaccio while listening to an excellent street musician. No deep meanings here, but really a perfect vacation day.

permalink written by  shoshtrvls on July 30, 2013 from Ljubljana, Slovenia
from the travel blog: Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina (2013)
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Day 4

Bled, Slovenia

Today was a day trip to Bled, a beautiful little lake in the foothills of the Alps. Definitely the type of place where people go to get away for the day or longer; something about it reminded me of Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. People strolling around the lake with kids and dogs (but no monkey)' picnicking on the Banks, and swimming, with boats of several kinds being rowed to the little Island at one end with a church on it. And, since this is Europe, the obligatory castle overlooking it all. Wedding he stroll and had a picnic lunch of our own, composed of cheese we had left over from last night and a fresh baguette purchased in Ljubljana in the morning.

After 3.5 Miles around the lake, we decided that rather than driving to nearby Vintgar Gorge,we would hike the 2.5 Miles. Not a big mistake, but in the hot sun with little shade and a constant uphill climb, it was tiring. Still, there were some nice pastoral scenes along the way - houses on the hills, horses in stables, cows in the Field.

Eventually we made it to the gorge, and that was well worth the visit. A 2 mile circuit along a beautiful small River with many little rapids and waterfalls cascading down. One of the best parts of visiting the gorge was how much Ellery enjoyed it. She complained that I was walking too fast and not savoring the beauty, and she was right.

After the gorge, we were left with the walk back to the lake. And I admit, by the time we got back to the car, my feet were blistered and tired, my ankles ached, and my back was giving out. I can't remember the last time I did so much hiking in one day.

But I survived well enough to make a final stroll along the canal when we returned to Ljubljana, stopping for ice cream and coffee.

permalink written by  shoshtrvls on July 31, 2013 from Bled, Slovenia
from the travel blog: Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina (2013)
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Day 5

Rovinj, Croatia

Today we drove from Ljubljana to Rovinj. The travel Agency suggested stopping at some caves along the way. We scrapped that. It also suggested some castles. Nope. But the third suggestion was the Winner - a few hours at Lipica, the original Lippizaner stud farm. It was definitely a nice diversion; we saw some training and toured the stables and farm. Not nearly as beautiful as Kentucky Hirose farms but a nice diversion.

Two hours later and we were in Rovinj. Immediate disgust filled me - pretty on the outside, cheap tourist hell on the inside. Like a perverted Chania (my favorite port town anywhere). And we were here for two days! Immediately I tried to book a day trip tomorrow for Venice, but no luck - all sold out. So, I'd have to make the best of it.

And then, slowly, I realized this isn't such a bad place. Behind the tourist crap are some beautiful little streets and shops, and some good cafes and restaurants. In the evening we went for a sunset boatride that was well worth the time. OK, I think I can stay another day.

permalink written by  shoshtrvls on August 1, 2013 from Rovinj, Croatia
from the travel blog: Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina (2013)
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Day 6

Rovinj, Croatia

Today we did ... Nothing. Slept in. Took the Ferry to St. Catharine Island. Sat on the beach. Swam in the Ocean. Slept. Read. Took Ferry back.

And then, walking back to the hotel, we heard something familiar - the street musician who had so captivated us in Ljubljana was now in Rovinj. So we sat on the street and listened to him play until the streets were nearly empty. Spent some time talking with him in between his sets. Bought a CD of his music - Vincent van Hessen. From Tel Aviv and Amsterdam, played in the subways in New York, makes quite a good living traveling the world and playing in the streets. And it's no Surprise, as he had the entire town captivated.

permalink written by  shoshtrvls on August 2, 2013 from Rovinj, Croatia
from the travel blog: Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina (2013)
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Day 7

Plitvicki Ljeskovac, Croatia

Not much to report again today. Mostly a nice drive from Rovinj to our hotel near Plitvice Lakes. We stopped for lunch in a seaside resort called Opatija. Very Austrian, definitely high class, and pretty boring as well. I'm wondering if this country has a middle ground between tacky and yawn-inducing.

After Opatija, the drive was quite scenic. Large mountains and huge valleys of farmland, and so we had to stop for cheese - well worth it. Then we drove through dense Forest, very reminiscent of South Dakota.

We got to our hotel about 3 - too late and too hot to start on the lakes. So instead, around 7, we went riding, a one hour Trail ride through the Forest, which was even more beautiful on horseback. Since it was a walking ride, Ellery was left frustrated, so we'll be back tomorrow so she can get some galloping in.

permalink written by  shoshtrvls on August 3, 2013 from Plitvicki Ljeskovac, Croatia
from the travel blog: Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina (2013)
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Day 8

Trogir, Croatia

Since a walking Trail ride was not enough for Ellery, we arose early this morning, skipped out on breakfast, and headed back to the stables so Ellery could get in a 2 hours galloping session before we hit Plivice Lakes.

Once she was done, we headed for the lakes for a spectacularly beautiful 4 hour hike. The park was packed to the gills, but still magnificent. It reminded me of the waterfalls in Laos, but on a much bigger scale. Then again, unlike in Laos, no swimming was allowed. (For those interested in such things, it is possible to hike in flip-flops if your feet are still too blistered from the prior hike to put on real shoes, but you may regret your decision when you stub your foot on a few sharp rocks).

After the lakes, we drove several hours to our next destination, Trogir, stopping for a quick lunch and some nice views along the way.

Trogir was also packed full of people, as we took the obligatory nightly stroll through the Old Town which, although tiny, had some happening nightlife and some nice little quiet spots.

permalink written by  shoshtrvls on August 4, 2013 from Trogir, Croatia
from the travel blog: Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina (2013)
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Day 9

Hvar, Croatia

Seen one Dalamtian port town, seen them all. Today we saw three, starting with Bidding farewell to Trogir around 8:30 a.m., as the massive crowds were beginning to arrive. Scooted out of there just in time to get to Split for the car drop off. And while we had several hours to wander around, it was much too hot to do anything but take a simple stroll through the Old Town! Complete with Roman ruins and reenactments, and then wait in a shady cafe for our Ferry to Hvar.

Eventually we made it to Hvar, and our first upscale hotel of the trip, although it won't be winning any Conde Nast surveys, I'm afraid. But it has a beautiful location, a beautiful pool, and all the amenities. So, after a walk into the - where else - Old Town for an early dinner, we're spending the night in for a change, and looking forward to a solid night's sleep with no place to go and nothing to do in the a.m. We can do the "night thing" tomorrow night.

permalink written by  shoshtrvls on August 5, 2013 from Hvar, Croatia
from the travel blog: Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina (2013)
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Day 10

Hvar, Croatia

Today was one of those do-almost-nothing days. The morning was spent poolside, doing nothing.

Then we walked into the Old Town and went sailing - kind of. The lack of wind resulted in most of the trip being under power, but we still took a nice spin around the nearby Pakleni Islands, dropping anchor twice for a brisk swim. Although we had snorkeling gear, this really isn't a snorkeling place - because it isn't hot all year (although it is burning hot now) there is no coral and, consequently, just a few boring fish. But the water is Crystal clear; you can easily see 15 feet down or more.

After, we had a nice dinner on the bay and then walked into town to see the nightlife - which is much younger, wilder and drunken than any of the other places we've been - a scene that I'm too old for and Ellery is thankfully too young for.

permalink written by  shoshtrvls on August 6, 2013 from Hvar, Croatia
from the travel blog: Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina (2013)
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Day 11

Korcula, Croatia

Our last day in Hvar, and really, we had no problem leaving, Sitting by the pool is nice and all, but for how long? For us, today, it was all day, until it was time to catch the Ferry to Korcula.

Korcula is a very different place, thankfully. Smaller, quieter, more restful. Our sobe owners are a warm and wonderful couple, who welcomed us with wine and cheese and tons of suggestions and comfortable beds and lavender-scented sheets.

But we didn't just fall off to bed. First we did the nightly stroll. Here,the street musicians are back, instead of the loud DJs. There are more adults and children, and few 20-somethings. And there are quality shops and good art and good food. I like it here.

permalink written by  shoshtrvls on August 7, 2013 from Korcula, Croatia
from the travel blog: Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina (2013)
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Welcome to my travels. On this site you'll find recent trips and some very old trips. You'll note that for some trips I wrote very detailed reports (at least in the beginning), for others, I didn't even take notes of where I was on what dates. Nevertheless, I've done my best to document, to...

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