A Travellerspoint blog

Goodbye Hrvatska, it was nice knowing you!


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Final day here in this beautiful country and somehow I don't want to go. I guess it has something to do with the fact that once back home I know what is awaiting me, but to be honest, it is not all bad of course. Somehow we all want our holidays to last, but one day we have to burst that bubble and go back to reality.

Luckily since it is our last day we don't have to wake up so early and that is a good thing since yesterday evening we had quite a party going on. It was real fun and since we were the only guests in the hotel, the staff were eager enough to celebrate our last day with us. First time I ever seen this, but I didn't mind one bit.

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It must have been a little after 9AM as we said our goodbyes to the hotel staff and on the road we went again for the last time.

The drive towards Pula wasn't all that long and about an hour later we arrived at the carpark. Today was a bank holiday back home and I was surprised to notice that Croatia as well had a bank holiday, which meant not much was opened today, but hopefully there was still an opportunity to have lunch somewhere. We just needed to be on the look-out.

Our local guide for today was Jadrenka and she took us on an hour long tour telling us more about the Roman period when we arrived at the Amphitheater, slowly walking into the centre of town alongside the old city walls with the few city gates that still remain. Through the main shopping street we arrived at the main square with the Temple of Augustus and city hall and while the sun was already burning high in the sky we said our goodbyes to her.

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We had a bit of free time on our hands and while some of us went to the local pub to have a drink, others went for some more sightseeing or souvenir hunting, I was more on the lookout for a bit of food. Since it was a bank holiday, this meant not much was open and I was glad to find a local bakery with delicious sandwiches and a bit more.

Provided with some goodies, I was ready for the last drive towards the airport.

I had one last look at the shopping street and afterwards I slowly walked back towards the carpark where I arrived about half an hour later surprised to notice I was one of the last ones to arrive. It seemed that most of the group was more than ready to go home again, unlike me!

The drive towards the airport only took half an hour and as we said our goodbyes to Daniel, it seemed that we were still a bit early and just as I expected, nothing was open. Luckily for me I had everything I needed with me and as soon as we were checked in it was sad to see that not one shop was open. I know it is a bank holiday but come on, how can you earn money if you even close the one thing where tourists are in numbers. It is just that unbelievable.

I silently thanked the Lord that I was smart enough to buy some food because you could only buy a cup of coffee or softdrinks and that on itself is a bit sad as well. Killing time when you are at an airport where there is nothing much to do, I was glad I had Netflix. A movie later, we suddenly heard that our flight was going to be an hour later ... yeah, just what I needed.

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Once back in Rotterdam I was going to take the train back home, but now with this delay it seemed I was not able to be back in the wee late hours. I was not looking forward to it coz I needed to be back at work tomorrow, but what can one do than wait and go with the flow. Sadly enough the hour turned into almost 2 hours. Apparently there was something going on in Germany, but this meant me not able to go back by train simply because they don't drive that late. The only thing for me left to do was to inform my relatives and thankfully my brother was able to pick me up in Rotterdam.

Glad that things were planned, I was even happier when we could finally board. First the prospect of me leaving this country was not a happy one, but now with all the delays, I was glad to be going home. How things can change in one day!

Boarding went smoothly and the flight itself just the same. Taking the good weather with us, we arrived at Rotterdam airport in the very late afternoon. Since my brother awaited me at the airport, I didn't need to take the long train ride back home and instead of arriving at 11 PM, I was back home around 8ish. It was pure bliss that sometimes you can rely on your relatives that's for sure!

It was a spur of a moment thing visiting this country, but I must say that I enjoyed every moment of it except the waiting in the airport, but I guess I am not the only one who hates such things. All in all I had quite a nice time and I can't wait for the next one to come!

Posted by Ils1976 16:12 Archived in Croatia Tagged buildings home history bus airport family tour Comments (2)

Back in Istria again


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As usual once again we left our hotel in Otočac at 8AM in the morning. The sun was shining but still, this early in the morning, the temperatures were cold and not what we were used to since the last couple of days, so needless to say, we were all glad to be out of there.

Driving through the still sleepy town of Otočac, we noticed that several old houses still have bullet holes in them of the latest war with the Serbs, which sadly enough wasn't that long ago. The nineties for me were a period of me having fun with friends and getting to know the world while not all that far, people were fighting for their freedom and their lives. It is hard to imagine, but sadly enough history keeps on repeating itself.

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Half an hour into the drive we were back on the highway again for our trip back to Istria. Our first stop of the day was going to be the beautiful town of Poreč, but since we still had a drive of more than 3 hours ahead of us, most of our group resorted to sleeping, listening to some music or just read a book. I was one of the many who opted to close my eyes for a while. The landscapes we passed were more than beautiful enough but my eyes needed a bit of rest as well and as we stopped at a local roadhouse cafe, I was thankful for a warm drink as well because for some reason I still felt rather cold. I just couldn't wait for the heat to come back.

After our little coffee and stretch your legs break, it was still a drive of a few hours and we arrived at Poreč around noonish, where we had a quick visit to the city. We were dropped off by Paul at the centre of town for a quick do it your self guide tour through town. Surprisingly enough most of our group was rather lazy and opted to go and find a nice terrace on the main square. Maybe the time frame had something to do with it, I don't know, we only had about an hour to walk through town, but I just wanted to make the most of it and started walking through the main shopping street, ending up at the Euphrasian Basilica located in the center of all the shopping streets.

Since I didn't visited too many churches this holiday, I gave it a go, paid my entrance fee and I was on my way to learn a bit more about this cathedral complex being one of the best-preserved complexes of early Christian architecture in the world. Named after Bishop Euphrasius who refurbished an already existing basilica, he did quite a good job seeing it all happened in the 5th Century. The mosaics which you can still find here are said to be the oldest in Europe. So of course it was worth a visit but since the complex was rather big with all sorts of rooms and chambers, I really needed to hurry back to the harbor for our boating trip towards Rovinj.

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It took a bit of searching but hearing some of the voices of our members of our group, I quickly found the right boat which was chartered by Victoria Tours and as soon as we were all back together as one happy family we could "sail" towards our next location.

During our trip on the water we had a nice lunch with of course the much needed drinks, but the white wine and the sun made me also feel a bit tipsy so, seeing I was on a boat I just restricted my refreshments to two glasses and as we walked back on solid ground I was glad that I made that decision. Some of us were still having fun and feeling happy, not able to go much further, so they once again found a nice terrace to relax on. I on the other hand had a quick walk in town, couldn't resist the ice cream vendor once again and eventually also resorted to relaxing on a terrace at the harbor with a more than nice view on St. Euphemia church, the main attraction of this little town.

A bit later than 5PM I met up with the group again, we all talked about our experiences and some of us actually did end up at the church which apparently had a more than nice view on the surrounding area, but I was happy I just took it easy. All in all it was more than a successful day and as we arrived back at Rabac about an hour later, it was nice to see some familiar faces again.

Once again the staff greeted us and somehow it felt like coming home. It was our first hotel of the trip and sadly enough the last one as well. So being, the entire group had one last dinner and while we were all together reminiscing about the things we saw during the week, we had one last blast of an evening.

Posted by Ils1976 15:16 Archived in Croatia Tagged bridges churches buildings birds boats sea food fish water coast culture ruins bus city friends fun party sightseeing wine sights drinks coastal_town Comments (0)

To the lakes it is!


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Yesterday evening the wine got to me I guess coz when my alarm clock went of in the early morning, the only thing on my mind was to stay in bed for the rest of the day, but when I suddenly realized that today was the day of the lakes, I got a bit more enthusiastic, got over it, and a quick shower later I was ready to go. Not in the least interested in food, I just grabbed a sandwich so that I could enjoy it when I was more awake!

The bora winds which are so common for this country, were blowing fierce since last night, but now with a little bit of sunshine the winds are clearly not gone. Luckily we have a trusty bus that can handle things so at about 8am we were all ready to go and see some beautiful things.

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2.5 hours into the drive we had a quick stop at a gas station for the use of the toilet as well as the much needed coffee break and I was a happy camper again. Together with the sandwich I grabbed earlier on, I was more than ready to tackle the day and a long day on the road it was going to be!

Unlike the past couple of days today we were driving alongside the highway in the direction of Zadar and Zagreb passing several vast areas like the national park of Krka which seems to have a lot of lush green trees, scrubs and so on with the usual rocks who pop op once in a while. In the far distance the mountains are never far away and it seems besides the many birds and small animals who live here there are also the larger ones like the lynx, the wolf and even the brown bear.

It must have been 1.5 hour later when we had another stop in Korenica for a quick lunch. We stopped at the roadhouse Macola and big was our surprise that the roadhouse houses also 2 sad looking brown bears. What the purpose of the animals are nobody knows, but we all wanted to take them with us and release them near the Plitvice falls and lakes where we arrived about half an hour later.

Upon our arrival, our guide for the walk, Stephania awaited us at the entrance and after a quick hello we could start our walking tour towards the big falls. But first we had a quick explanation of the area and its significance which is not only a touristic one.

After walking down a trail for about one kilometer, we arrived at Mozjak lake, which has surprisingly enough crystal clear blue water with ducks and all. You could even see the small fishes on the shores of the lake.

In order to get to the falls, we first had to take 2 small boats and lucky for us, the tourist season had not yet arrived at this place of interest. The weather wasn't all that good, maybe this had something to do with it is well coz we started our walk with a light drizzle and luckily during our boat trip we missed out on a light rain shower as well. Still dry and eager to go for the 5K or something hike, Stephania gathered all of us at the gift shop and as soon as we were all ready, some even with souvenirs included, we were on our merry way.

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Needless to say, our group fell apart very quickly not only because we had a few slow walkers but there were a few enthusiastic photographers as well, me included! It didn't bother me all that much because it is hard to get the wrong turn here in this place and on my own, I enjoyed the walk watching all the small falls, the green plants and the stone mountains.

Apparently there are thee sorts of stones here at the NP of Plitvice which are dolomite, travertine and limestone, this together with the altitude of 600 meters and rain from the gods makes it an ideal combination for the hundreds of falls or "slaps" like they want to call it, which you can find here at the park.

Stephania told us that you can hike here for several days and never get bored, but unfortunately we don't have time for this, so we have to make due with a few hours and a small walk towards the main attraction of the NP and I must admit, when you arrive at the scene, it doesn't disappoint at all. The big waterfall or Veliki Slap as it is called by the locals is just huge, with its hight of 78 meter it is really impressive!

Sadly enough we had to leave all these beautiful landscapes behind us and slowly walked towards the entrance and carpark again were we arrived around 5PM. Luckily the drive to our stay tonight wasn't that long. We were going to the rural place of Otočac which weirdly enough reminded me at a village in Austria.

The fierce bora winds were back again and the air felt so cold that a walk towards the center of the village was out of the question. Instead I just relaxed in my room till it was time for dinner. Since we were in a remote place with not too much eating facilities, we had dinner at the hotel and this wasn't too bad either when you were with a group of friends. Needless to say the evening went by so quickly that early hours appeared and most of our group decided it was better to catch a few hours of sleep than none at all.

Posted by Ils1976 13:42 Archived in Croatia Tagged landscapes waterfalls boats nature park lake sightseeing hike trail sights unesco_world_heritage_site Comments (0)

A visit to The Pearl of the Adriatic


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Today we had an early rise and shine since we were going to visit the most known city in the whole of Croatia, known as The Pearl of the Adriatic, the city of Dubrovnik, I guess is the most known city of the country to a whole lot of people thanks to the popular series Game Of Thrones. I must admit, I never saw GoT and since a few people in our group got really excited, maybe I should start and watch it once I get back home. Maybe it is a good idea for the upcoming winter months. Just a thought!?!

Anyways, once we were all up and about, had a bit of food in our stomach, we were ready to tackle the day and onwards to Dubrovnik it was. We left Gradac behind us and drove straight into the direction of the Bosnian border. Yep, to me it was a big surprise as well, never thought of going to that country but apparently in order to get to Dubrovnik, the fastest way is to cross another country. Must I say that I wasn't complaining at all since I wanted to know what that country was all about.

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Once we left the coast behind us, we entered the marshland of the country and it is nice to see all the little canals and the green patches in between. And with it, also comes the birdlife. I am not a real expert on this department, but it is nice seeing all the little critters flying in the sky.

We drove about a little more than an hour when we finally reached the border. Getting through was just a peace of cake, no long waiting lines at all, so you definitely saw that high season hadn't started yet. In not so many words, this meant we were some lucky bastards and hopefully Dubrovnik wasn't overcrowded as well, something our guide Paul was much afraid of.

Not that we had a care in the world coz as soon as we crossed the border we were looking at all the sceneries outside only to find out that they were just the same as Croatia. What would it otherwise have been! :)

We arrived at Neum on the Bosnian side about 20 minutes later for a quick toilet and coffee break. Although it was but a simple roadside café, it could host large groups and the views outside on the newly build bridge by the Chinese was the sight of the day to see. According to the locals, it was finished and in a few months time it should be opened for business. Till that time, we had to use the old method and cross the borders but I could see on the faces of the Bosnian locals, they rather left it the old way just because they are afraid tourism is going to bits.

I don't know what the future holds, but I hope they can enjoy the tourism life as long as possible. Only time will tell of course!

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Back on the road again, we arrived at the old town of Dubrovnik at about noonish. Upon our arrival at the infamous city, we already saw 3 major cruise ships, so goodbye peace and quiet and welcome to all the hustle and bustle of the tourism business!

Our tour guide for a quick tour around town was Branco and he was already waiting for us at the Pile Gate, the main entrance to the walled city and although the old town here was a bit bigger than the one yesterday, we still had a feeling that we were walking insight a matchbox, but a more than beautiful one.

Dubrovnik really is a Pearl with so many authentic narrow streets where you can wonder through. There are churches, museums, the main street with shops, markets, places to relax and enjoy the sun and of course there were the city walls as well. High on my list of visiting since everyone back home was talking about it, so as soon as we thanked Branco for his wisdom he shared with us during the last hour, I hurried to a local bakery to have a quick bite to eat. We had a few hours of free time on our hands and I wanted to make the most of it.

My initial idea was to go up the walls as quickly as possible, but during our walk Branco reminded us to visit one special place called The Memorial Room of Dubrovnik Defenders where you can find photographs of all Dubrovnik defenders who perished in the Croatian War of Independence. It is mind-blowing to say the least. It is but one tiny room with all the pictures of the young men who perished while defending their home. Unbelievable and more than once it took me back to the current war in the Ukraine. It seems that mankind will never learn. Why must we always want more and more and aren't we happy with the things we have. It is just me asking this and sadly enough I can't give it an answer.

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Still a bit silenced by the things I saw and learned I must admit I was glad to be in the warmth of the city again. There was a certain chill inside and somehow I was glad to be out again.

As I walked slowly to the entrance for the walls I met up with a few people of our group and together we tackled the walls and what a sight it was. Gone were the gloomy dark thoughts and in with the beauty and the joy of being a tourist in such a beautiful place. Can you blame us, the views were just that amazing.

The walls are certainly a must when visiting the city coz down there you can see the beautiful buildings but high up, the rooftops are a world on its own.

Once we got back down again, we found ourselves a nice enough place for a drink and seeing what hardships we went through, I treated myself to a delicious ice cream cone. Yep, times are tough when you are on holiday!

It must have been almost 5 PM when we left the city behind us and on the road again it went for a more than 2.5 hour drive back towards Gradac.
This time mr. Sandman came sooner than prepared coz I slept almost the entire route, even when we crossed the border with Bosnia again, I guess the too many impressions got to me.

As we arrived back into the hotel it was already dark, so no walk on the beach this time. Instead I just went up into my room to freshen up and have pre dinner drinks with my newly found friends and just as the day before we had a more than enjoyable evening wondering what tomorrow will bring.

Posted by Ils1976 12:05 Archived in Croatia Tagged landscapes bridges churches boats museums food monument culture history shopping city friends fun castle tour sightseeing wine sights border drinks unesco_world_heritage_site coastal_town Comments (0)

Now where is that banana ???


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Another brand new morning here in Croatia means automatically another new day of seeing new and amazing things and today we were heading for the city of Split. So after having a quick but delicious breakfast, the usual packing continued and as soon as we were all present, on the road we went again!

The sun was shining brightly upon us, so we were more than eager to go and explore the city!

Split is the one city besides Dubrovnik that sounds so familiar to me because when people always begin to talk about the country these places pop up, but if I have to be honest, whenever I read or hear the name of the city, I think of one thing and one thing only and that is .... ICECREAM!!!

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I just can't help it, to me it brings memories of the best dessert when ice is concerned. What is not to love!? Three scoops of delicious ice cream with a banana SPLIT in half. Of course there is also whipped cream, but I always skip this coz I am not a huge fan of that part of the dessert, but of course I say more than yes to the chocolate sauce and when I am lucky, they top it all of with the best thing there is .... yep, the maraschino cherry!

So as we left Biograd na Moru behind us, my thoughts went out to this delicious dessert, but I must confess that I was anxious to see what the city was all about. Loads of people talked so lyrical about it that I was more than curious to see what this city had to offer.

Back on the road, we left the coast a bit further behind us and as we passed the first major city of Šibenik with its high castle on top of the mountain, it was clear we were going to see a bit more of the small villages inland. Luckily the mesmerizing color of blue of the sea was never far away.

Passing all the little villages and towns with hills and loads of olive trees, it is quite a different view then the beautiful looking coves we passed yesterday. Whatever view you have really, Croatia never seems to bore, that's for sure!

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Our first real stop of the day was at Primošten, a small peninsula with a beautiful little stony beach. Since we only had time for a quick cup of coffee, I had a more than relaxing view on the old houses of the centre of this village. Since our toilet break wasn't that long, it was a pity we couldn't go and check out this small seemingly abandoned village. Maybe the early morning hours had something to do with it, but there was hardly a soul out on the streets. I guess in Primošten people like to sleep in.

Back on the road again we passed several scenic little harbor towns, beach resorts, small coves and even green looking lush hills or can you call it mountain ranges in the far distance for about two hours.

At noon we arrived in the city of Split, which is actually huge and modern, but since we are tourists and have ample of time, we were just going to visit the old part. Not that I mind one bit. As soon as our driver Daniel dropped us at the car park, we had a bit of time to wonder around, since we were waiting for our guide. To me this sounded like music to my ears and I left the group behind only to have a quick visit at the local market. I just love these places where the locals come to meet and you can see what is available in this country.

During my exploration of the market, I met up with a few members of our group and had fun looking at the local produces as well as the fashion styles which were on offer.

Sadly enough our half hour of adventure was over as we met up with our local guide Dejan and listened to all the interesting things he had to tell about this city and its "owner" back in the time, the emperor Diocletian. He build this place to enjoy his retirement and this dude was awesome when you come to think about it. The old city center is quite small and when I say small, it is actually exaggerated because it is that very very small, about 220 x 100 meters filled with narrow streets with slippery stones, old houses and loads of remains of the Roman period. These guys were like ants when you come to think about it. They were constantly building and building and building, but on the other hand, we still got the joy of seeing a bit of it. I guess they were smart dudes back in the time.

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With a bit of free time left to wonder around the place, me and a few others went for a late yummy lunch with dessert and of course a bit of sightseeing at the local boulevard which is called Riva for short. Obala Hrvatskog Narodnog Preporoda is its proper name but that is just too much to handle for me.

It was around four o'clock when we left Split behind us and went back on the road only to have a quick stop about 1.5 hours later in Omis to stretch our legs and have a view of the ruins of a castle against the mountains. Apparently the river Cetina flows through the gorge into the Adriatic sea. Sounds fascinating, but honestly, I was a bit tired and once in the bus again, I quickly fell asleep only to wake up when we arrived at Gradac, our destination for the night.

Sadly enough I didn't saw much of the Makarska Riviera, but I woke up rejuvenated and more than ready to explore the beach at this place just before dinner and meeting up with a few members of our group to have some enjoyable pre dinner drinks. We've been here just a few days but already our group is getting closer and closer ... that's what I love about these group holidays.

Posted by Ils1976 10:24 Archived in Croatia Tagged landscapes beaches bridges buildings boats sea water monument ruins hotel bus market town adventure fun hill castle tour sightseeing wine sights europe group drinks coves coastal_town local_delicacies Comments (0)

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