Friday, June 9, 2017

An update...A 10th wedding anniversary and 64th birthday trip.

For my readers who are wondering why I have not been publishing postings
with my usual regularity. It is because I am currently on a research tour of Europe.
All will be revealed on both my Blog and my radio show when I return!

I am lucky to have my wife, Carolyn, on this trip with me.
We get to celebrate my 64th birthday in Split, Croatia.
And we shared out 10th wedding anniversary in Venice!

I will be looking for images that are out of the ordinary...
that will hopefully make you smile...

And ones that might make you think...

Our only stop for the day during our coach ride from Venice to Ljubljana...
Lake Bled.

Overnight in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia...

This imposing castle is the view we have from our room
 at the "hard to find" Hotel Emonec in Ljubljana,Slovenia.

After a bus ride that had us watching a movie and doing a "bus quiz".
we arrived in Split, Croatia.
I would like to imagine that this is Merlin, the magician, but it is not!
He is in fact, Gregory of Nin...or should I say that he was.
He was a Croatian bishop who strongly opposed the Pope.
This statue is 8.5m tall ans was erected in 1929.
It underwent major renovations from 2013 to 2015.

Carolyn, framed in one of the castle windows.

Cell phones EVERYWHERE.
This fellow did not even look up as I took a series of pictures.

My "themed" image for the trip.
Standing at the water-front in Split.

Split is the home base of the tour for three days.
This morning I went for an early walk,
before the tour groups descended on the city centre.
A few hours later, this was packed...

Why would someone want to be weighed in a public space?
This lady spoke no English, and my Croatian is non-existent.
Therefore I have no idea why this scale was set up in a busy street.

In use since 1510, this is the 3rd oldest Synagogue in Europe.
It was not built as a place of worship, 
but it was converted from a residential to the current usage.
Currently there are only 100 Jews in Split.
At least 25 of these have Friday night dinner in an adjacent hall.
Although there is no kosher food available, they get by with fish and vegetarian pizza! 

After not making it to this lookout last night,
we got to watch the sunset from this vantage point.
Ironically it current cafe is set in front of the Old Jewish Cemetery...

A 90 minute ride from Split, brings you to the Krka National Park.
The multitude of falls, both big and small
that we witnessed here was quite amazing.

Behind me are the main falls,
Skradinski buk.

The water is crystal clear...as can be seen from this image!

I kept hearing frogs and birdlife,
but was unable to spot either.
However, I did manage to "capture" these Damsel flies.

We left Split...and Croatia this morning and headed for Mostar in Bosnia.
This meant leaving Croatia...and presenting passports at the border
and then entering Bosnia...and going through the same process again!
The border security on the Croatian side must have been having a bad day.
He took more than an hour to stamp our passports (all 49 of them)
and then he had an argument with our driver...and why?
Because the paperwork was not stapled together!
And of course the policeman did not have a stapler.
Luckily another driver did and eventually all was resolved.

Our visit to Mostar was cut short by our lengthy stay at the Croatian border post.
That being said I was able to wander around the town for a couple of hours.

Some of the reminders of the Bosnian war...
bullet holes in almost every building in Mostar

The town has been re-built over the past 20 years,
but everyone is struggling to make a living.

The highlight of the day...
Watching this bridge jumper in Mostar.
They collect money from the crowd and when they feel
that sufficient cash has be raised, then they will jump.
I had to wait about 20 minutes for this guy to plummet to the water.
It took him all of 3 seconds from the leaving the bridge to hitting the water.

We will be spending the next few days in Dubrovnik.
Seeing we had spent the day in Bosnia, 
we had to go through the border posts again...in reverse.
Getting out of Bosnia, not a problem.
Getting back into Croatia, not so easy.
The computers were off-line and a queue formed...with our 49 passports 
not making the waiting any easier.
It took us a couple of hours to eventually clear this border post.
But the tour group "bonded" during this time.
We sang songs and a couple of us even did push-ups!
I am looking forward to seeing the city tomorrow.

Celebrating my 64th birthday in Dubrovnik.
Standing outside the walls of  the old city.
Much of the early series of Game of Thrones was shot here.
I kept looking for merchandise, but it was way too expensive.
Eventually, just outside the Wall, my wife found "non-official" merchandise.
And at less than half price!
That is why SHE has the Phd in shopping!

Like a scene form "The Birds" these pigeons are fed by one of the locals.
Hundreds of these "rats with wings" descended on the square to eat up every piece of corn.

Just like Turkey, the city has hundreds of cats.
They seem used to all the attention that the tourists lavish on them.

Aside from the aircon units and the wiring, 
this alley could have been used in Game of Thrones...

The roofs of the old city as seen from outside the Wall.

Good night from Dubrovnik!

Thanks to my wonderful wife,Carolyn, 
for organizing me so many wonderful treats!
What an awesome place to spend a birthday!

We spent today in Montenegro...
Two border crossings, the return one taking 2 hours!
We also had a couple of "stowaways" on our bus.
A couple of tourists who hopped on our bus by accident.
Luckily they were able to catch up with the correct tour at the border.
We also had a couple of our tour party who forgot their passports at the hotel.
A very expensive a hectic taxi ride saw them catch up with us at the same border crossing.
Lesson learned!

We started off the day in Budva...an unexpected stop 
on what was to turn out to be a very busy day.
If you wanted to swim and hire a towel it would cost you about R300.00
Oh the lifestyles of the rich and famous...

Our final stop of the day was in Kotor,
a city that seems to be built around cats!
They even have a Cat Museum.
Not to mention that every second souvenir shop has a cat theme. 

 This is just part of the wall that surrounds Kotor.
For those fit enough, a walk to the highest point is feasible.
For the "not-so-fit" a leisurely stroll within the city walls is recommended.
Bring comfortable shoes...

Sunset from the bus.
I was hoping to make it back to our hotel in Dubrovnik to watch it set one last time,
but we missed it by just a few minutes...thanks to an extended border stop ( almost 2 hours!)
We leave Dubrovnik tomorrow on the next leg of our adventure.

A long bus ride today.
From Dubrovnik to Zadar.
Once again we had to face the dreaded "border crossings".
But what a pleasure...we were the only bus being processed
and the two crossings took us less than 40 minutes.
The scenery during the journey was spectacular. 

Our overnight stop...
Outside the walls of the old city of Zadar, Croatia.

In the centre of the old Medieval city in Zadar.
St Donatus' Church behind old Roman ruins.

An awesome sunset in Zadar...but hopefully not the last on this trip.
This image was taken at 20h45!

Today we said a sad goodbye to Zadar
Carolyn and I certainly enjoyed our time in that city.
A short ride today...only about 2 hours,
but we have been promised by our intrepid tour leader, Kim, 
that  a very special day awaits...
And she was correct!

We spent the majority of today in Plitvice National Park.
If we thought that the K waterfalls were spectacular,
these were breathtaking.

Water was gushing, rushing and tumbling around each and every corner.
The sound and the sheer splendour was enough to make 
even the most cynical in the group be impressed.

The water in the river is not for swimming and seems to be naturally filtered
by the vegetation making the liquid crystal clear and a colour that begs description.

From the beauty of the sunset in Zadar last night,
to the innate beauty of this flower in Plitvice.
Our tour leaves Croatia tomorrow and will end in Budapest.

Today we said goodbye to our "Swiss Alps" hotel in Plitvice,
and headed off to the capitol of Croatia, Zagreb...
We had a wonderful night in the hotel, but our time in the area was too short.

Zagreb...
one of the MANY churches I have visited during this trip.

Looking out from the front door of the church in central Zagreb.

The roof tops of the city that we were in for less than 2 hours.
A pity really as there is so much to see and absorb in such a short time.

Our final destination for this trip.
Budapest in Hungary. We arrived here late, so dinner and bed was the order of the evening.
There will no doubt be a LOT of walking during the day tomorrow.
It has been a wonderful learning experience for me.
Europe is full of so much culture that it is overwhelming.

One of the local delicacies...
It unfolds like a spiral and tastes DELICIOUS!
It comes in several flavours...although I only tried the plain version.

 Early morning on the Danube, before the hoards start to go to work.
And the tourists flock to the various sights.
This image was taken at 04h35!

This building has over six hundred rooms,
Was decorated with 20kg of gold...
And cost the same as a village housing 60000 people would have.
Does that sound familiar to my South African readers?

 A final sunset in Budapest.
This statue is called Liberty or Freedom Statue and commemorates those who gave their lives for independence, freedom and prosperity in Hungary.
 It was not mentioned on any of the tours that we did!

And so the tour comes to an end.
Many thanks to our tour guide, Kim, 
who did an excellent job  keeping the entire group on time!
Considering that this was the first Croatian tour that C the World has undertaken,
it was extremely well handled.
Well done to all concerned.

Packed, but not really ready to leave.
Budapest is a city that really needs time to explore and enjoy.
There are over 100 museums and a variety of other attractions to visit.
To do the city justice in less than 2 days is a virtual impossibility.
But we did our best!

Breakfast at 03h00 as we wait for the shuttle to take us to the airport.
Aside from a press coach tour of Spain and Portugal several years ago,
this was my first "coach trip".
I had no idea what to expect, but what I found was an interesting and diverse group
of South Africans from all walks of life and a variety of ages.
The oldest in our group celebrated her 82nd during the trip.
She was an inspiration to many of the younger members,
as she strode out each day to discover new experiences.

A final view of the Swiss Alps from our trip as we head homewards.

Please note that all images, unless otherwise stated, are my IP.
They may not be copied from this Blog posting used individually
without permission and the relevant fees being paid. 

We are touring with this company.


We are flying with this airline...and many thanks to KLM for the upgrade!
Economy Comfort gives you extra leg room 
and a seat that reclines further than the regular economy seats. 
An absolute bonus on the Long leg from Jhb- Amsterdam and back. 

Our regular travelling companions...
our matching Samsonite luggage.
On this trip they were so admired 
that one of the other guests actually purchased one in Split, Croatia!


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