Saturday, June 24, 2017

Croatian coach tour 2017, an overview.

Swiss Alps as seen from KL1653 from Amsterdam to Venice.
My first view of this magnificent mountain range...but hopefully NOT the last.
This was the last snow that we were to see for the next 14 days,
as the temperatures in Europe at this time of year were 30C+

We were in the "Economy Comfort" seating on the long flights
to and from Johannesburg.
The extra legroom was much appreciated and was well utilized on both flights.

Our home for the tour...only for driving from destination to destination.
We did get to stay in very nice hotels overnight.
HOWEVER...
NEVER confuse a bus and a coach...
The dictionary defines a bus as follows:
"A large motor vehicle, having a long body, equipped with seats or benches for passengers, 
usually operating as part of a scheduled service"
They have straps for standing passengers and have no facilities on board
as they are usually used for short journeys within a city or town.
A coach on the other hand is described thus:
A vehicle especially designed for long distance passenger transport.
Usually run as a charter/hire service.
It has no standing room, but it does have better seating and facilities on board.
Click on the link below to hear the song...
and once  you have THIS in your head,
please substitute "COACH" for "BUS"...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLvbJ6e_SdI



Our tour was organized by this company,
based in Linden Johannesburg.
Although the tour did have a "busy" itinerary,
it did give us free time in several of the cities.
The comments in this posting are my experiences during our trip.
The images are a representation of the various cities as I perceived them.

Venice.
As the first stop on the tour, this destination set the tone
 of what we were going to be exposed to during the trip.
Sensory overload springs to mind!
So much history around every corner 
and even the streets are thousands of years old.
Venice seems to be the Mecca of cell phone users.
Even this Gondolier got in on the act.

Lake Bled.
Breathtaking is probably the best adjective for this vast expanse of water.
We took a boat ride to an island where we were able to climb the 99 steps up to a church.
Legend has it that a husband has to carry his bride-to-be UP the stairs on his wedding day.

Ljubljana.
We searched for our hotel in this town...wheeling our luggage with us.
But no tempers were lost and the hotel was eventually located.
This castle was the view that we had from our room.
As with all the cities we visited, there was so much going on in the evenings
that we were spoilt for choice.
Seeing that it only got dark after 21h00, 
we invariably only got to sleep at around 23h00

Split.
I do enjoy getting up early in the mornings.
Summer in Europe means that it was light at 04h00.
I took to the streets to get shots without tourists or locals.
Usually at that time of the morning, I shared the streets with the council cleaning staff.

Krka Waterfalls.
One of the two "waterfall destinations" that we visited.
This one near Split and well worth a visit...

Mostar.
This bridge is the iconic tourist destination in this war ravaged town.
Here divers will leap off it into the river...only when they have collected enough money.
I walked around this city for a couple of hours,
marvelling at how they have rebuilt it over the past 20 years.
There is still evidence of the shelling and bullet holes in most of the buildings.

Dubrovnik... the old city.
Home to Game of Thrones and the setting for my 64th birthday.
If you are a "Thrones" fan, then you HAVE to visit.
Once again, the sensory overload kicked in
but my wife and I still managed to spend hours walking the streets,
watching the people and enjoying my birthday lunch.
But check the prices...my wife made her ONLY conversion mistake at lunch.
She ended up paying the equivalent of R160.00 for a glass of wine. 
We did laugh about it...later, much later


Kotor, Montenegro.
This town IS dedicated to cats.
There is a cat museum as well as dozens of souvenir shops,
specializing in cat themed items. 

Zadar.
The best sunset of the tour!

Plitvice Lakes.
There is almost no way to describe this place of natural beauty.
The water is absolutely clear, like a good gin and it has a blue/green colour
 that is really hard to describe.
You need to spend a a whole day here, walking the trails,
riding on the ferry and just enjoying the beauty.

Zagreb.
This was the only "hiccup" on the tour.
Due to the fact that we left our hotel late, we literally had a couple of hours here.
Not even enough time to shop properly.
Having said that, this is the first Croatian tour that C the World has offered,
so there were bound to be some teething problems.

Budapest.
Our final destination.
This picture was taken at 04h30!
Once again I was up early...exploring.

Budapest.
This the the Parliament Building.
Over 600 rooms.
 The decorators used 20kg of pure gold during the construction.
At the time it was built, the cost could have built a village for 60000 people.

There might be more...
Like a sense of humour at border posts, 
or taking a lunch box to make sandwiches for lunch at breakfast.
But these four are the ones I consider to be the minimum requirements.

A good travelling companion.
In my case, my wife, who organised every day.
She has a PhD in shopping and was able to find the ideal items at a reasonable price.
Yes, there were times when we did not see eye to eye,
however we were able to overcome those minor inconveniences 
and return with wonderful memories...and LOTS of fridge magnets.
Thanks for a stunning birthday lunch overlooking Kings Landing in Dubrovnik.

A good, no...great coach driver.
And Frank certainly was that!
He spoke very little English, but that was better than my non-existent Hungarian.
Thanks for all you hard work and smiling face.
Perhaps one day we will travel together again.

A competent tour leader.
Or should that be "fearless"?
Kim was both of those. Trying to keep 47 people on time and happy
cannot be easy, but she managed with aplomb.
She might have collapsed crying into her bed at night,
wishing that she had decided to choose another career.
We only got to see her positive side.
Even at border crossings where the police and officials could be trying to say the least.

And last, but by no means least, a great group of people.
And that we certainly did have.
Neither we or the tour operator can choose who joins the tour,
but it is up to each individual to make the most of their travelling companions.
I hope to keep in touch with some of the people that we shared this experience with.

THIS is how my wife and I felt on our return.
This statue is in the departure terminal at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
I felt that it sums up departing visitors perfectly!
Would we do it all again?
Hell yes, this was just a taster of what Europe has to offer.
We can recommend the company that we travelled with.
You need to be understanding of the limitations of a coach tour,
and make the most of the experience.

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 were in the "Economy Comfort" seating on the long flights
to and from Johannesburg.
The extra legroom was much appreciated and was well utilized on both flights.



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