Mummified Saints

Day 18, September 21, 2017

Vodnjan (pop. 4,000) was the first of three towns that we visited today. As we drove into the town the streets got narrower…and narrower….and narrower!We make our way to St. Blaise Church which is known for its mummified saints. We first view many skulls and bits of bones from Christians who were persecuted and killed by the Romans. These were displayed on the right hand side of the altar. They are in the cases which look red and yellow in the picture below. We are then shown into a room behind the altar to view the mummified remains of six Saints.  No pictures were allowed but I found some on the internet.The bodies of these saints have survived without being embalmed in any way. This is Saint Nicolosa, who died in 1512. She was a nun who became an abbess. Saint Leonis Bembo died in 1188.These are the hands of another one of the Saints.

I am having computer problems tonight and I am getting rather frustrated, so I think I will finish this post tomorrow. It is late and we leave our Airbnb in Pula tomorrow morning. Next stop is Senj, a small town of 8,000 about a four hour drive south from here.

The Sun Is Shining In Poreč, Croatia!

Day 17, Thursday September 21, 2017

Finally, the sun is shining and it is a beautiful day! We drive to Poreč, which sounds like porridge, and spend most of the day exploring this Croatian Town.  The town’s main feature is a 6th Century Byzantine church, The Euphrasian Basilica.We climb these stairs, all 118 of them up to the bell tower for some great views of Poreč.

I think Bob has really become a gardener.  He started to weed the Bell Tower!The bells are very large and we are quite happy that they do not ring while we are up there.This is where we were standing in the last photo, in these archesThere are intricate floor mosaics from the 4th Century…and mosaics from the 6th Century cover the apse. They are incredibly detailed and very beautiful.There are nine Greek marble columns connected by arches on each side of the central nave.I really loved the way the light from the window shines on this Madonna.You might find this short video about the Basilicas interesting.Part of the Bishop’s Place in this complex has a little museum. The embroidery on these vestments was amazing…and I found this painting from the 15th Century very unusual. I will need to try to find out a bit more information about it.This depiction of the Crucifixion was from the 13th Century. I continue to be amazed that so many of these ancient works have survived all these years.This was a workroom off of one of the display rooms. I love peeking into these sorts of places. Here are some of Poreč’s streets.  We really enjoyed our time in this town.We sat in the sun having tea and watching some of the big yachts come and go. Their owners must have a lot with a lot more money than we do!On the way home we drive through some other small towns. We stop for a walk about in  Vrsar. Take a look the size of the boats docked here.This was something different to see.  Along the main road of a town called Flengi we saw  no fewer than twelve pigs being roasted in these big BBQ’s.

Exploring Pula and the Amphitheatre

Day 16, Wednesday. September 20, 2017

Today was cloudy, but thankfully we didn’t have any rain.  It certainly makes a big difference in our enjoyment of the day and our walk about. This post will be a bit picture heavy, there are just so many interesting things to show you.

Pula’s old buildings are either very dilapidated looking and/or they have been colourfully painted. Here are a few of the streets we walked today.There are a few more people out and about today now that the rain has stopped.Loved these balconies with all the pots of plants. I think a gardener lives here!This is the biggest ship we have ever seen. it was way more than a block long and it is simply enormous!
We went into the Temple of Augustus, only 10 Kuna each, or $2.00 Canadian.  These huge feet were my favourite exhibit inside. They were incredibly detailed. That is my foot in black at the bottom of the picture to give an idea of their size.More narrow streets…
and interesting balconies. You must look up in these cities or you miss so much.Here are some interesting fishing boats. We noticed that they all had lots of lights for attracting the fish at night. We thought that this was illegal, but I guess it isn’t here?

We sat for a while in St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, enjoying the quiet simplicity of this cathedral. It is so different from all the very ornate churches we saw in Spain and Portugal on our last trip.I thought that the church’s Madonna was particularly beautiful This seems to be the church’s bell tower, but I am not certain about that. It is right in front of the church.Next stop is the Roman Amphitheatre that we walked around yesterday. It is the sixth largest amphitheater in the world. It held up to 20,000 spectators and was built in the 1st Century AD., so it is over 2,000 years old! Gladiatorial games were banished in the beginning of the 5th Century and after that it was neglected and gradually fell into ruin.Today this arena is used for festivals and performances in the summer months.Seems we were into ‘selfies’ today!Note the remains of an arched entrance in the foreground.There were rooms and chambers around the arena, some were used to hold wild beasts, and I am not sure what the others were used for. This animation video give a better idea of what the arena and the area around it looked like when it was intact.  The very beginning of the video looks fuzzy but it quickly gets better. Underneath the Amphitheater is a display about making olive oil with many ancient amphoras.Guess what I thought these look like?As we were leaving we saw a pair of lions guarding the entrance into the arena.Here is an artist’s print of the Arena as it is today.We found some more interesting streets to wander, and stopped for some tea and nourishment. All this sightseeing is hard work! We seem to walk between 13,000 to 16,000 steps each day according to my Fitbit. Just a few more steps than I usually walk at home.We climbed up to the Marine Museum but elected to walk around it rather than go inside.  There were some great views of the city and the Amphitheater..As we headed back to our car we were treated to the sights and smells of a little flower marketIt still seems bizarre to me that we can walk down a city street and there it is, a 2,000 year old Roman Amphitheater!

Pula, Croatia

Day 15, Tuesday September 19, 2017

Well, it was raining all night and still raining when we got up this morning but it stopped mid morning so we decided to go check out Pula. We found a parking lot and this is what we see when we get out of our car! An incredible Roman Amphitheatre.

But…I turn around and this is what I see…

The sky is very dark but we go check out the Amphitheatre and hope we don’t get wet. We decide to walk around the amphitheatre today and go inside on a drier day when we might not have to leave because of the rain. There are some great views from the outside.

We take a walk around the central part of the old town and we see some more Roman monuments: the Temple of Augustus, The Roman Twin Gates and and the Triumphal Arch. Image 2017-09-19 at 9.06 PMBy now it is raining quite heavily so we make our way back to the car, passing this interesting looking candy shop with huge candies. The banana candies are life size!Of course as soon as we get home the sun tries to peek out, but it doesn’t mange to do so for very long and soon it is raining again.After a late lunch Bob reads and I work on my journal which, of course I am already behind on.

 

 

Zagreb to Pula

Day 14, Monday September 18, 2017

We were all packed and on the road by 10:30, which is really pretty good for us!  We really liked our apartment in Zagreb. it was not very big but it had everything we needed for our stay and the location was fantastic, within walking distance to everything! If you are curious you can check out this Airbnb link.

We had a four hour drive to our next destination, the town of Pula, in the area of Croatia known as Istria: Zagreb is in Central Croatia. This is one of the first views we had of Croatian homes in the countryside as we left Zagreb.

We drove through about 25 tunnels on the toll highway between Zagreb and Pula. It cost 138 Kuna in tolls, $27.60 Can. but it saved us more than three more hours of driving. The tunnels were pretty amazing. The longest one was 5,062 meters, over five kilometres long! …and there were several more that were over 1,000 to 2,000 meters long.

We stopped for groceries before we arrived at our apartment and we  found our next ‘home away from home’ with only one wrong turn. The only bad news of the day is that the weather from Amsterdam seems to be following us. We are not sure what tomorrow will be like. Oh well…

Severe Weather Alerts – Pula, Istria 

  • Red Warning for Rain

    Red Warning for Rain in effect from Tuesday, 1:00 AM CEST until Wednesday, 12:59 AM CEST. Source: Meteorological and Hydrological Service

     

Zagreb Zoo

Day 13,  Sunday, September 17, 2107

First thing this morning we go back to the airport to pick up our rental car. I am happy to say that this went very smoothly and we got a beautiful red Skoda Rapid which has lots of trunk space.  I was a bit worried about that as the cars here are very small and many have very little trunks. It is not wise to have anything stored in the care interior but now we can easily fit everything into the trunk, which means we can stop and explore without worrying so much about possible theft from our car.

We find a spot on the street to park our car and after lunch we are off to the Zagreb Zoo.  The sun is finally shining and the zoo sounds like a good idea.  It is only 30 kuna each for entrance, which is $6.00 Canadian. A bargain. Unfortunately shortly after we arrive it begins to rain again.  We wait out the worst of it in the Reptile Pavilion and then decide just to walk in the rain and see the rest of the zoo.  Many of the animals decided to hide from the rain as well, which was too bad, but we still saw enough to enjoy ourselves. 
This pelican was taking a bath, it was funny to watch him splashing aboutA black and White Ruffed Lemur who looked rather frightened.

These two Lynx were worth the price of admission alone! They sat and posed for several minutes and then stayed in sight for quite a while longer.  It was a real treat!This Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman was like a miniature Godzilla.  He stood on his hind legs for the longest time, just staring at us.The Scimitar Horned Oryx didn’t seem to mind the rain…this Homo Sapien was a strange creature!I thought these Grey Crowned Cranes were very beautiful. I love their top knots!The spoon Billed Storks were quite majestic as well.There were several families of Patagonian Mara.  I think this big fellow was the one in charge though.This was a bit scary. Several young children thought they were playing with the lions, when in fact the lions would have loved to have them for lunch!  The smaller the child the more interested they were in trying to reach them, pawing at the glass with their enormous paws or trying to get their mouths around the children. Honestly, their feet were practically the size of dinner plates and they have very big teeth!  I have never been up so close to lions before. They are very large, muscular, intimidating and very beautiful.This female was huge. As soon as the little children left, all the lions went and lay down, completely uninterested in the adults who were there. I would have loved to stay and watch them longer but it was getting late and we were getting hungry, so time to go.

The sun finally really came out as we were waiting for the bus home, I thought the light on these trees was wonderful. We go home, eat, and pack up, as tomorrow we head to Pula on the north western coast of Croatia.

Zagreb, the Upper Town

Day 12, Thursday, September 16, 2017

This is the view out our window. It overlooks a busy street but our apartment is really fairly quiet.
We head for the Upper Town. Our location is central so we can walk pretty much anywhere we want to go. We were surprised to see a Terry Fox Run taking place.We take this funicular which is officially the shortest one in the world! In just a few moments we are in the Upper Town…
with great views over the over city of Zagreb.I don’t know if these are ethnic costumes, or if these three ladies are belly dancers. Either way they are dressed quite magnificently.Every once in a while we come upon a modern building that is quite surprising.  We are still amazed at the parking in Zagreb.This is St. Mark’s Church which was built in the 13th Century with the coat of arms of Dalmatia and Slavonia depicted in coloured tiles on the roof. We find a door that is open and stand inside a bit, listening to someone play the organ.Many of the buildings in Zagreb have beautiful ‘bones’ but are in need of a lot of repair and restoration.This ornate wrought iron fence protects the courtyard of the Department of Divine Worship and Teaching, whatever that might be?This is one of the rare sculptures of St. George after he has actually killed the dragon. The arched gate on the right is the Stone Gate.
This is the inside of the Stone Gate, the only town gate from the Middle Ages that is still intact. It is a shrine to the Virgin Mary. Here is more information  the Stone Gate if you are curious about the legend.  The little plaques on the walls are thanks for prayers answered. There was a steady stream of people coming here to pray, light candles, or leave bouquets of flowers.

We happen upon a wedding and stop along with other tourists to have a peek at the proceedings. The bride stands outside to welcome people and then enters the church with her flower girls ahead of her and her bridesmaids following behind. Quite different from  weddings in Canada.

This Art Nouveau building seemed unusual here in Zagreb. It is the only one we have seen.

Bob wanted to go to the Casino at the Westin Hotel, as it was rated the best one in Croatia. His mom loved casinos, so this visit was for Baba.  We walked for fifteen minutes in the rain to get there only to discover that it was the tiniest casino we have ever been in. Maybe thirty slot machines and a few gambling tables. There were only ten people in the place, including us,  and we ended up winning 10 kunas, which is about $2!  Every time we wanted to cash out of a machine to try another one an attendant comes to pay out the money.  We think it is a strange system. Shortly after we walk home, in the rain, there is a huge thunder and lightning storm, with some very close lightning and a torrential downpour.  We are quite happy that we didn’t have to walk home in that!

Exploring Zagreb

Day 11 Friday September 15, 2017

It is cloudy and it rained during the night but there is no wind this morning so we head out to explore.  First stop was the Dolac Market, a huge outdoor market where vendors sell fruits, vegetables, meat and fish every day of the week.  There are red umbrellas over the stands and it is all very picturesque. We buy vegetables to make soup tonight and some fruit. We get our leeks and carrots from this baba, and the rest from several other vendors.Just a short walk from the Dulac Market is the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Nice that one of the towers is under construction but the scaffolding is wrapped in a photographic copy of the building underneath. This is so much more attractive than the generic construction tarps used at home.

The inside of the cathedral is magnificent. Construction started in the 11th century and additions and alterations were made over the next seven centuries.

Here are some photos of the church interior

Note the gold stars on the ceiling above the organ.

The faithful came to pray at this crypt, often just walking up and placing hands on the crypt while they prayed.

This shows a spire before and after restoration and the clock on the wall stopped at 7 hours 3 minutes and 3 seconds on the 9th of November, 1880 because of an earthquake that caused damage to the cathedral. The renovations today are a result of this earthquake as the repairs made after the earthquake did not fair well and have badly eroded. This photo shows some of the newly reconstructed columns and the old ones that are still waiting reconstruction
There were defensive walls built around the Cathedral in the 15th Century and there are little cottages built up against the wall.On the way back to our apartment we come across these fellows.  No idea why what they were doing or why they were dressed as caveman but they posed for photos for the tourists.
This big square has more market stalls and it is surrounded by majestic buildings. There is just so much to see here. This machine was pressing olive oil.  The green coilsl coming out were the waste and it was as hard as wood!
Here is another building shrouded in a construction covering. I really like them. We go back to our apartment for lunch and a little rest and then head back out for the afternoon.
There are a lot of parks in Zagreb and even though it is fall there are still lots of flowers in bloom. This is the Art Pavilion, originally constructed as the Croatian Pavilion for an Exhibition in Budapest in 1896. It was disassembled and then reconstructed here.We check out the Hotel Esplanade near the railway station, which was built for passengers of the Orient Express. We couldn’t afford to eat here but I did use the bathroom, which was very luxurious.
The Botanical Gardens. are next. The show greenhouse is under construction and reconstruction so we can’t visit it, but the rest of the gardens are very lovely. We enjoy our time walking along the garden paths checking out the flowers and trees. These are lotus flower seed heads…and these Santa Cruz water lily pads grow up to two meters across!  On the way home we see these cars parked half on the road and half on the street!

Amsterdam to Zagreb

Day 10, Thursday September 14, 2017

The alarm went off at 5:00 am this morning, as we needed to catch the 6:00 tram to the train station and then take the train to the airport. All went well and there weren’t many people out and about so early in the morning.

The Amsterdam airport is very large. We took a five minute bus ride to get to our plane. There were dozens of KLM Planes were parked in rows, waiting for passengers.

Soon we are on our way. These were our last views of Holland and I loved the interesting shapes of the farm fields.

And these are the sights as we head towards Croatia. The bottom photo is just before we land in Zagreb. Can you tell I love looking out plane windows?

The Zagreb Airport is very new and not very big. There were only two luggage carousels, and a big empty space where more can be added at a later date. We catch the waiting bus into town and then a taxi from the bus station to our apartment. It is only 48 Kuna, or $12 Canadian which is a bargain. We have discovered how nice it is to have someone else take us right to the door of our new accommodation. It is money well spent.

There are lots of stairs up to our third floor apartment, 78 of them!  We were both definitely puffing by the time we reached the third floor. Our host was waiting for us with maps, brochures and lots of information about Zagreb. It certainly helps to have a host who speaks English.

We went out for groceries and walk through a nearby park where a film festival /burger food fair is taking place. Seems like a strange combination. We find a grocery store and pick up a few groceries and a cooked chicken for only 22 kuna ($4.50 C). We then both crashed and we have a nice long nap before going back out for more groceries. We need to visit two stores, but we find what we need for the next few days. Here is the park where the film/burger festival is taking place.

We climb those 78 steps one more time and settle in for the evening. We only have three days to explore here because we lost one day with our flight cancellation.  Too bad, there is a lot to see and do here. This is the view of the street from our apartment windows.

Our Extra Day In Amsterdam

Day 9, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

All of Holland was on a severe storm alert so that was why our flight was cancelled yesterday. I decided I was staying home today and catching up on my journal.  I love to journal when we travel but with blogging and journalling I sometimes get a bit behind. My blog has been giving me a bit of grief, some of the settings have changed, either I did it unknowingly or the site has been updated. Not sure which, but it is a nuisance, and it has been taking me much longer than it should to do each post.  I think I have sorted it out, but then a new challenge arises.  

I need good light to photograph my journal pages so I can’t do it when we get home late.  A scanner would be so much better but I can’t carry that around with me! When I can I draw on location but I also use my photos as reference when needed.

The view looking down from our third floor window into our neighbour’s yards.I worked on this page wile we waited in a cafe for our entrance time to the Van Gogh Museum.

What can I say, I just loved these little statues! 

Somehow I got this page out of order, I labeled it Saturday and then wrote Sunday’s activities on it.  White Out is handy in an art kit.

I finally got up the nerve to start sketching on the tram. This always seems intimidating to do but once I start it really isn’t so bad.  The young gentleman in the hoodie knew I was drawing him. When we got up to exit the tram I showed him the sketch and he smiled. Most people don’t really seem to mind all that much if they figure out what I am doing. I like to draw with a ballpoint pen, that way I am committed, and there is no erasing.