Salzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg)

Day 50, Monday, October 14, 2019

On our way to the Salzburg Fortress we pass a Steiff Store with their famous stuffed animals.  They are expensive, the polar bear sitting in front of the big standing bear is ‘only’ 299 euros, about $440.00 Canadian! The funicular makes short work of the steep climb to the fortress. The Hohensalzburg Fortress (Salzburg Fortress) was built in the 11th century by Archbishop Gebhard and is the largest unconquered fortress in Europe. The castle is 150 meters wide and 250 meters long, and the oldest part is over 900 years old. First stop at the Fortress is the top of one of the guard towers for a great view towards the mountains… overlooking the fortress… and of the old town of Salzburg.  That big square is where the Bio Fest was held yesterday.  You can see the golden globe with the man standing on top.  Right behind the square is the Salzburg Cathedral with the big dome, where we went to hear the choir yesterday morning. There are lots of huge doors and interesting corridors in the fortress. This wheel was dropped on prisoners in order to break their bones and cause internal damage.  If it didn’t kill them they were tied to it until they died an agonizing death.
The Salzburg Steir, or Salzburg Bull is a giant mechanical organ built in 1502. It still plays twice a day and is the last example of a Gothic organ to survive. The Stier is the oldest daily played automated musical instrument in the world.  It plays melodies from Haydn and Mozart every day after the glockenspiel chimes.  St. George’s Chapel has reliefs of the Apostles, made from marble.  We find a bench and have our lunch in the courtyard by the chapel.The fortress served as a garrison for the Erzherzog Rainer Regiment in 1682.  Erzherzog Rainer had quite the moustache!
There were watercolour paintings of the regiment over the years which I quite liked, and I thought the paper twists which held a musket ball and gunpowder were interesting. War has always been brutal… Austrian painter Karl Reisenbichler painted his fellow soldiers and portrayed images of death and suffering in WWI. We have seen a lot about war and death and suffering on this trip.  I think that this cabinet is probably the best way to use rifles I have seen! This is a view of the fortress tower we climbed when we first arrived. These large fortress rooms with their huge timbered ceilings are now a museums for armour and other items used for fighting.
This kitchen was reserved for food preparation for the Archbishop.  Note the little round hole in the wall on the left that was used to throw out rubbish and drain water.Medieval furnishings and some arches uncovered during renovations in 1998.  The arches were originally in an outside wall. The fortress was renovated and added to many times over the centuries.
The Regency Rooms are spectacular.  This is the Golden Hall with its ceilings painted blue and studded with golden balls to represent the sky and stars.  It served as a ballroom and today is used for recitals.  The golden Chamber was a smaller sitting room with a small library behind the door in the corner. It has a magnificent medieval tiled stove that warmed this living space and reception room. Interestingly, the bedroom was not heated.  We also learned that during the Middle Ages people slept in a semi-sitting position with many pillows because they believed that if they lay down they could suffocate. This position allowed them to have their weapons ready and attack any nighttime intruders. The doors were also low so that anyone coming in had to bend down when entering. Behind this little door is the toilet, which was very modern for medieval times. As we leave the Fortress there is a small Marionette Museum.  I love this collection of  tiny feet and shoes, and thought that these two marionettes were the most beautiful, well crafted ones here. There is a wall of marionettes, and several dioramas… and of course, a Sound of Music scene.
I think this huge well was connected to the cistern that was built within the fortress walls.  Now it is a giant wishing well. This is the entrance to the oldest part of the fortress, adjacent to the newest addition, an elevator. As we exit the fortress beside the bell tower,  we have a view of the watch tower we climbed at the beginning of out visit.  From the top we could not look over the sides to see how high up we were. At the bottom of the funicular we take advantage of the Love Grotto to ensure our love is everlasting!We have seen these chalk markings on many houses, church doors, businesses and shops in Germany and Austria.  I wondered what they meant.  A quick search on my ‘magic library’ and I find this quote.

“On the evening before Three Kings, traditionally there were prayers, blessed dried herbs would be burnt and their aromatic smell would fill the house. Doorways would be sprinkled with holy water and the master of the house would write with chalk C + M + B and the year above the house and barn door and say: ‘Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar, protect us again this year from the dangers of fire and water.’ C + M + B has traditionally been translated as Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, however, according to the Church it stands for “Christus Mansionem Benedictat” (Christ bless this home).”   Now I know! On the bus home we can see the old medieval town walls. The ivy on a wall on our walk home looks like a giant red creature. 

Salzburg, Austria

Day 46, Thursday, October 10, 2019

Today was a quiet day.  Bob went for a walk to check out the transit system and neighbourhood and I worked on my blog, caught up on some emails and took it easy.  The big excursion for the day was going for a few groceries before dinner.

Day 47, Friday, October 11, 2019

Walking to the bus I notice many houses have very attractive front entries. We can see Hohensalzburg Fortress high on the hill above Salzburg.  Tour guide Bob informs me we will visit there on Tuesday. We can see beautiful green alpine meadows in the hills above Salzburg. We pass dairy cows right in town just a couple blocks from the train and bus station.  The advertisement above the cows gave me a chuckle.  We pop into a downtown church when we get off the bus.  It looks like a community church from the outside, with big cheery murals on either side of the door.  The inside is much less ornate than many of the churches we have visited and there is lots of information on community programs and events.  Nice to see. We stop at some  food stands selling wine and beer, and have a bit to eat.  These giant doughnuts look interesting but we pass.  They are as big as small plates! The gardens around the Mirabell Palace are beautiful.  In the movie ‘The Sound of Music’ Maria and the children dance around this Pegasus fountain and sing ‘Do Re Mi’. The grass contains elaborate knot patterns decorated with flowers.  These are freshly planted pansies, hundred of dozens of them! The Zwergerigarten is a surprise.  It is the oldest ‘Dwarf Garden’ in Europe and was built in 1695.  Yes, a Dwarf Garden!  We had no idea there was such a thing.    This fellow insisted on trying on Bob’s baseball cap! The collection of 28 marble dwarf sculptures was sold at auction in 1811.  17 of the sculptures have been recovered and put back into the park in their original positions.   Here are some of these curious sculptures. We have tea and cookies in the garden and then I draw for a while. I used a new brush pen that I got just before we left for holidays.  I think it is going to take a while to get used to.  I used a water brush to create value with the water based ink in the pen.

I sketched the mountain this morning waiting for the bus.  Drawing these dwarves I was starting to get a feel for how to use this pen.  A water brush and white crayon were used to add some value.Walking through the garden there are some more knot designs created with flowers in the grass. There is a small Orangerie…with some goldfish, a turtle and a few birds. Looking back towards the Mirabelle Palace. The two towers in the background belong to the church we visited earlier. These young girls were enjoying the Pegasus Fountain, and I enjoyed watching them. There seems to be several unicorns here in Salzburg. I have time for a quick sketch of a beautiful enormous tree while waiting for Bob. There are a lot of big trees here. We have never seen a giraffe quite like this before! We walk along the river heading towards the Old Town. The Old Town and the Castle on the hill make a striking view.
People are out enjoying the warm weather. This is the house that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived in with his family until he moved to Vienna in 1781. His family occupied the entire top floor.  We were looking for a free film and somehow ended up in the museum instead, so we had a quick look around. This street was the inspiration for the song ‘Silent Night’.  It is a long street so no idea exactly where this inspiration transpired.
This door had interesting marks scratched on it that looks very old.Here is the entrance to the “Silent Night’ street.
As we explore some of the side streets, we pass this ‘House of Pleasure’, and yes, it seems to be that kind of pleasure! We also see some graffiti that I quite like.  Note how the little ledge is incorporated into the image.  Very clever!This little sidewalk fountain had red roses stuck in small holes in the paving.  I wonder why? We check out the Marionette Theatre, but unfortunately there are no performances while we are here. While we wait for the bus home I notice an empty store front where someone has written on the glass windows with a black felt pen.  It is an interesting different sort of graffiti.

Schwechat to Hörsching, Austria

Day 41, Saturday, October 5

We planned some sightseeing along the way to our next destination.  First stop is the town of Krems.  We walk the old town, looking for a place to have our picnic lunch, but when we finally find a bench it starts to rain.  We eat our lunch under our umbrella and then it clears up enough for a little stroll down the main street of old town. It is a long street lined with mostly modern shops.  Not really what we were expecting. This is the gate that leads onto the shop lined street.  I do wonder why the geraniums grow so well here,  Everywhere in Germany and Austria there are window boxes spilling over with blossoms.  Mine at home don’t do nearly as well! We wander through the gate, and decide it is time to leave. I do see these lovely prints in a little window inside the gate.

Next stop is the Dürnstein Castle.  The castle was built between 1140-1145 and in 1645 it was demolished by Swedish troops.

The castle became famous through the legend of Richard the Lionheart. The legend of Richard the Lionheart says that when he returned from the Crusades, the English King tore up the Austrian flag and refused to share his spoils of war with Leopold V.  As a consequence, Leopold V held King Richard prisoner in the castle from 1192 – 1193.

We can see the castle high above the town. While we are getting information on how to hike to the castle the clouds get very dark and threatening. But just as quickly they start to blow over and in less than ten minutes the sky is relatively clear. On the path towards town from the carpark we pass vineyards with lots of green grapes.  They look ready to pick. We find the path and start our climb…and it is definitely a climb!  I am so glad I have our hiking poles, they really help climbing these big uneven steps that seem to go on forever. A view of the town from a much needed little rest stop.These little blue bells are the same kind that I have growing at home. My oldest daughter brought me seeds from Dawson City many years ago and they grow quite happily in our flower garden.  This gorgeous blue beetle glistened indigo and cobalt with touches of turquoise. He, or perhaps she, was about the size of my thumbnail and paused in its travels long enough to let me take its photo.It is hard to see, but this old gentleman and his wife (you can just make out her bandaged leg and green skirt), were being helped down the trail by some kind hikers who stopped to help them.  We have no idea how they managed to get this far, as they were having difficulty walking here where the ground was fairly flat.  Someone at the bottom of the trail had told us to “Look out for two old Brits on the trail…I don’t think they are going to be able to get down and will need to stay up there!”  They were very fortunate that kind strangers stopped and came to their aid.  I think they will be exhausted by the time they make it down, or maybe they will need even more assistance? This sign explains what the castle used to look like.  We are able to make out a few of the areas but most of the castle has been destroyed. Some views of the castle.The views from the top are wonderful and well worth the climb.
We see a riverboat cruising by on the Danube far below. It is starting to get very windy up here. The valley is dotted with village after village as far as we can see.I was looking for Bob and couldn’t find him… till I looked up.
We wonder if this is where king Richard was kept prisoner?

No one knew where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned. It is believed that Richard’s faithful minstrel, Blondel, travelled from castle to castle looking for his king. Richard was a poet and he wrote some of his own songs.  Blondel found King Richard in Dürnstein by singing a refrain from a song Richard had written which the prisoner then sang back.

Richard the Lionheart was finally released after the payment of a ransom of 150,000 silver marks.  Hmm, I wonder how much I need to pay to get this prisoner released? You can see the castle walls stretching all the way down to the town.

We are lucky enough to have a little impromptu concert.  I really need to learn how to edit video so these are raw footage, but you will hear a bit of what we heard. Here is another short clip. We head down to town on a different path, one which is a bit easier than the one we climbed up.  There are displays along the path explaining about the history of the Castle and King Richard the Lionheart. The path ends back in town. We see black grapes growing along the road and hanging on houses.  They are quite tasty. The castle walls go through the town all the way down to the river!
As we make our way towards Hörsching and our next Airbnb we pass lots of terraced hillsides where grapes are grown. Then we see a very large chair! The sky is quite dramatic and it is getting dark by the time we arrive in Hörsching, our home for the next three days.

Schwechet, Austria to Bratislava, Slovakia

Day 39, Thursday, October 3, 2019

Our new bnb is in Schwechet, which is a suburb of Vienna. Today we are going to Bratislava, which is in Slovakia, to pick up our car rental.  Doing this saves us over 400 euros, renting the exact same car from the same company.  This is certainly worth a few hours of our time. The train we take to the Vienna airport from Schwechet isn’t very busy. We pass refineries that stretch for more than a kilometre. We find our Flixbus at the airport easily and it is just on hour ride to the airport. After stopping in the town centre of Bratislava we are the only ones left on the bus. We asked the driver to make sure we were on the right bus…it seemed strange that no one else was going to the airport. Our first view of the Danube River. When we get to the airport there were maybe a dozen other people there! The place feels almost abandoned, but we do find an English Time magazine with Justin Trudeau on the cover, so we can catch up on the news. We discover why there are so few people here.  There is only one flight every hour or so departing from here. We pick up our car rental, a nice blue Škoda Octavia, and we take a side road back to Austria.  We see several hilltop castles but no time to stop and explore today. This route takes us through many small towns.  We were hoping to see the Danube as we are driving right along side it, but there just isn’t any place we can find to get down to the riverside. Guess that will have to wait for another day. The road narrows to one lane to go through this town gate.  We stop for groceries on the way home and  find a place to park our car on a side street near our apartment.

Prague Castle

Day 36, Monday, September 30, 2019

Prague is filled with many beautiful buildings.  We pass this one on our way to the Prague Castle. We had a good laugh.  Bob thought that the two guards in the guard-boxes were wax mannequins.  They were so motionless!

St. Vitus Cathedral is the first place we visit inside the castle grounds.  Our eyes are immediately drawn to the beautiful stained glass windows, and then to the hordes of people!

This sculpture is about a third of the way down this very large cathedral. Everyone has entrance to the cathedral with their entrance ticket to the Castle but they are only allowed into about the entrance of the nave.  We bought the next level ticket so we could walk around the whole cathedral and see all the side chapels and the altar up close.

The stained glass windows, created by 20th century Czech artists, are some of the most beautiful we have seen.  Each window is unique and their intense colours flood the interior of this Gothic Cathedral. 

Here is a close up of some non-traditional stained glass windows. Perhaps my favourite is the window designed by Alphonse Mucha.  You may remember we saw his design drawing for this window at the Mucha Museum yesterday. The beautiful rose window on the entrance wall of the cathedral was completed in 1925 and took two years to complete.  The inscriptions on the stained glass tell the story of Creation as told in the Bible. This wooden panel from 1630 shows the St. Charles Bridge, built in 1403, that we visited on Saturday. The city doesn’t really look all that different, does it? St. Vitus is portrayed with a rooster by his side, because he was boiled to death in a pot with a rooster!  These saints all seem to have had horrible tortuous deaths.  St. Vitus never actually even visited this cathedral, but a relic, or pieces of his body, was brought here and the Cathedral was built to honour him. St John of Nepomuk’s tomb is an elaborate baroque silver tomb with angels supporting a draped canopy.  It is said to contain two tonnes of silver.  St. John is the patron saint of the Czechs.  In hte latter part of hte 14th century, King Wenseslas tortured John with fire and then gagged him, put him in a goatskin and had him thrown into the Vltava River! He later declared him a martyr.  So much for ‘Good’ King Wenceslas!  There are so many people visiting this cathedral that I had to take this photo looking back towards the tomb to get a decent shot. 

This interesting fellow perched up high lighting the way is on the corner of a balcony that leads to the King’s private chambers.  The King was able visit the church whenever he wants without being seen by others. This is the chapel dedicated to St. Wenceslas, the king and patron saint of all the Czech lands. The lower part of the walls are decorated with more than 1300 gems and the joints between them are covered with gold.  The walls are covered in frescoes and the relics of St. Wenceslas are kept in the red draped case.   As we are leaving, the sun comes out for a bit and shines through the stained glass windows casting coloured light into the cathedral.  Note the lady posing behind Bob.  We seem to see her everywhere we go today and she is always posing ‘just so’ for a photo.  I’m not sure her and her husband are even looking at the cathedral as anything but a backdrop for her photographs. As beautiful as this cathedral is, I still love some of the simpler details that are easy to overlook with all the grandeur surrounding us. A view of the Cathedral.  This front entrance isn’t used by tourists, we entered on the end of the cathedral behind the building with orange panels.since the 16th century, the Vladislav Hall in the Old Royal Place, was used for coronation festivities and banquets, knights’ tournaments and markets for luxurious goods.  The Vladislav Hall still is used for state functions.  It is an enormous room. The Old Palace contained the Land Rolls, where all matters regarding property rights and criminal law were recorded.  An interesting door handle. One room had chairs which are almost the same as the ones my Swiss  grandfather used to make, only he put more carving and decoration on his.The present day appearance of St. George’s Basilica dates to the reconstruction after a devastating fire in 1142.  Now it is used for short-term art exhibitions.

We visit St. Georges 12th century crypt and see this rather bizarre sculpture.  I did some research and discovered that it is “a Late Gothic Statue of Brigita, representing a dead and decaying girl´s body.  It is a symbol of impermanence.  A legend says that it was made by a sculptor, who killed his girlfriend and wanted to create her statue before he was executed.  However, he was only able to make it as a dead body, because of his despair.” ~.www.prague.cz On the way out we see this collection of relics, but have no idea who they are.  These relics seem a bit bizarre.   Not only was the poor person usually tortured and killed but then their bones were carted off, often to several different locations and  put on display.  Hmmm. This is the Golden Lane.  This lane of tiny houses was built against the northern wall of the castle. These tiny houses were occupied until World War II and have been preserved so that the character of this lane has not changed.  From 1916 to 1917 house No. 22 was inhabited by the writer Franz Kafka. The name of the Lane is derived from goldsmiths who used to live there.  I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who told me that he and his father were both goldsmiths and that the tools have not changed at all. He also said his father died young and that he quit because some of the processes involved are very toxic. The houses are tiny and have tiny doors. This was a fortune teller’s house whose predictions about the early fall of the Third Reich resulted in her being arrested and tortured to death by the Gestapo. An amateur historian who saved many copies of old films that were intended for disposal during the Second World War lived here.  We watch one film that showed scenes of Prague and this Golden Lane.  It looks much like it does today.We almost missed seeing a huge display of old armaments and armour.  It was quite interesting.  Some the swords have pistols built into them, or axes attached! And then there is the torture chamber.  These places give me the creeps.  It is just so hard ot think of people subjecting each other to such pain and terror.  Bob is standing beside an Iron Maiden, which has spikes inside just long enough to pierce the body and make sure that the person inside dies a slow painful death.  There are two spikes placed so that they will pierce the eyes of whoever is placed inside, and take a look at that chair!  It is enough to give me nightmares.After the torture chamber we see some great views of Prague… can you spot our TV Tower?  It is hard to miss.
As we leave the castle the changing of the guards marches past.  A couple of the guards have their hats blown off by the wind but they just keep marching, although they did smile!  It was crazy windy today and a bit cold so it was a good day to be inside.Walking past the Cathedral towards the exit I thought to look up, and yes, there were gargoyles!  I love gargoyles, in case you didn’t know. This shrub was near the exit.  I have no idea what it is and wonder if anyone else might know?

Dubrovnik (Kings Landing), Croatia

Day 36, Tuesday October 10, 2017

We want to book a day trip to three islands, sailing on the ship that was used in the Game of Thrones, but we were having a bit of difficulty doing so. We end up going to their office which takes about an hour but we finally get it booked for tomorrow.

On the way to Lovrijenac Tower we stop at this pier which is another Game of Thrones filming site. We climb up to Lovrijenac Tower which was the Red Keep on the Game of Thrones. Check the link out for photos of these sites in the show.Cersie walks down this hall…Joffrey stands here on the middle deck for his name day.  A guide was telling a group this as I stood here looking down. He said I needed to pretend I was Joffrey, so I waved to my adoring crowd!This corridor is used for several scenes, including the one where Sansa is attacked and the Hound saves her.The scenes shot here are in the link above.
Of course there are more steps to climb!There is a great view of  Minčet Tower which is the House of the Undying where Daenerys goes to look for her dragons. We were there yesterday on our walk on the walls.We also saw where Cersei did her Walk Of Shame, which actually takes place in three different places.This is where the crowd gathers to harass her on the walk.
Bob prepares for his own Walk of Shame on the third section of Cersei’s walk!St. Dominic Street is where many of the Market scenes take place…and Ploče Gate is also used as part of the Red Keep.

This is Bokar Fortress where Tyrion and Lord Varys plan the defence of King’s Landing. I guess I should have mentioned that King’s Landing is Dubrovnik. There are so many places here that were used in filming the show. We are thinking we might have to watch the shows again now that we have visited Croatia.The Rectors Palace is now a museum but in the show it is the residence of the Spice King in Quarth.
These hand rails made us chuckle.Check out this link for scenes shot in the Old Town and this one for scenes shot on the walls. This post is getting bit long, trying to tie in the filming scenes with our visit, so if you are interested be sure to check out the links for more information.

Bob is in a standoff with pigeons who are trying to get some cat food behind him. He isn’t a fan of pigeons but he had fun with them!In the Rector’s Palace there is an exhibit of photographs from the war in 1991 that caused a lot of damage in Dubrovnik
There is also a dungeon known as the dragon dungeon because a little dragon is chiseled into the stone on the doorway.

We manage to visit the Maritime Museum… the Natural History Museum…

and a couple of churches before the end of our day! I am hoping tomorrow will be a relaxing day on our boat trip.

Quiet Day in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Day 34, Sunday October 8

Today was a quiet but rather frustrating day. We went out to get groceries and pick up two Dubrovnik Cards that give entrance to most of the sites that we want to see. We couldn’t find the tourist office that we were looking for and the grocery store closed early because it was Independence Day. We went to another grocery store but there was no parking anywhere, so we tried a third one.  Google maps said it was there but do you think we can find it? We decide to go to a smaller grocery store nearby. It is closed too, but we finally see the store we were looking for.

Oh yes, and I spilled my whole mug of tea in the car all over my purse and then a small dish broke in my hand when I was using it! That was enough for me.  I stayed home the rest of the day while Bob went for a walk into town and picked up the Dubrovnik cards.

Here are a few more pages from my travel journal.



Hvar and Stari Grad, Croatia

Day 31, Thursday October 5, 2017

This morning we were up at 5:30 to drive into Split and catch the 7:40 ferry to the island of Hvar. It isn’t very often that I am up before the sun!The ferry ride is just over an hour and I work a bit on my journal on the way, while Bob manages to get a bit more sleep. We hike up to the Španjola Fortress high above the town of Hvar, chatting with a family from Kamloops, B.C. They are the first Canadians we have met this trip.These are only a few of the steps we climbed to get to the fortress, can you see the tiny people way at the bottom?We are rewarded with a great view of the town and nearby islands. There are water taxis that take people out to the beaches on these islands.

Checking out the jail in the dungeon. I wouldn’t want to have been dragged down those steps and into one of the tiny cells far below the fortress!The sun is shining and there is a little café with very comfortable lounge chairs so we have mint tea and relax while I draw this cannon.

Bob decides to take some pictures of me… and this shadow selfie.

The walls of this fortress are more than two meters thick!On the walk down from the fortress we see this little church and finally I get a chance for a close up look at some of the old stone walls.  I don’t remember if I mentioned this before, but these walls were first built 2,400 years ago by early Greek settlers in Croatia. The walls protected crops from the winds as well as from the heat and they were used to contain animals as well.  We see these ancient walls almost everywhere we drive, sometimes in the valleys but often high on the hills and mountainsides. We read about Stari Grad, which is one of the oldest towns in Europe and a grid system used to divide the land. The field layout, using these stone walls is still mostly intact so we catch a local bus to go see this World Heritage site. We see these walls from the bus on the way and unfortunately they are the only ones we see. We didn’t realize that the Start Grad Plains are quite a ways from the town of Stari Grad and we would have needed to organize a tour or rent bikes to go see the walls and grid system of land division.So, we walk about town instead.
This is Srinjo Kola, or Middle Street, it used to be the main street and trading centre of Stari Grad in the 14th Century. It is so narrow that we wonder how it could have been a main street where lots of activity once took place.There are lots of trees in bloom and flowering plants in pots and tiny gardens along the streets.This was a particularly colourful fruit market. Just look at the piles of grapes.We see many of these tiny doorways, and I wonder why they were made so low?There are some great views of the Adriatic Sea on the bus ride back to the town of Hvar, for those who stay awake.We walk the streets of old town Hvar, but this town is built on hills!  Every road seems to lead up and then up some more, so we finally decide it is time to go down!We have seen several of these little shrines built into the walls of houses. I feel like they are little gifts to be discovered.Perhaps it is the early start to our day, or the 19,000 steps and 55 flights of stairs my Fitbit has logged today, but I am done!  I just can’t walk another step and there is still three hours until we catch the ferry back to Split…so we find a cafe with very comfortable lounge chairs facing the water and I settle in with some mint tea and my journal. After a while Bob goes for another walk but I don’t have the energy to go with him so I sit right where I am, enjoying the view and some great people watching.

The harbour is very busy and as it gets closer to 6:00 the tour boats start returning.  These nine boats lined up side by side made us laugh. It reminded us of our cruise on the Nile in Egypt. The boats parked like this and we had to walk through all the boats between us and the dock to disembark just as they were doing here.  I think they need more dock space!The deep sea fishing boats arrived soon after the cruise boats. JUst look at all the fishing rods.We go for one more little walk before we leave. I think this is a happening place in the evening. People were gathering in the cafés and restaurants, and a stage was being set up near this main square.Soon the sun sets and the ferry arrives for our 7:40 departure back to Split.By the time disembark and walk to our car it is after 9:00 and we still have a 45 minute drive home.  Good thing Bob knows the road by now because I fell asleep on the way home. I was too tired to even think about blogging. 

Day 32, Friday October 6, 2017

Today is a quiet day, making soup, a bit of grocery shopping, blogging, and then packing and tidying up so that we are ready to leave tomorrow morning for Dubrovnik. That is the last Croatian town we will be staying in before we fly to Rome in nine days.

 

Game of Thrones, Split

Day 30, Wednesday, October 4, 2017

We are checking out some of the Game of Thrones sites today.  First stop is Klis Fortress, in the hills high above Split. There has been a fortress here since the 2nd Century BC. It is pretty spectacular, and it is quite recognizable as the City of Mereeen. Here are a few of the many photos I took today along with some scenes from the show. They don’t match exactly but it does give a sense of some of the areas of this fortress used in the filming.
Daenerys walked up these steps…and down these ones.We spent a couple hours exploring the fortress and found a quiet spot to have our lunch. On our way to Split we detour into Salona to see the Roman amphitheatre which was built in the 2nd Century . It was looted by the Venetians and then used as a quarry for building stones for houses. There are many more ancient sites here but they are still underground, waiting to be excavated.Back in Split we wander for a bit looking for a street that was used for one of the scenes in the Game of Thrones.  

We visit the basement of the Diocletian Palace which was used in the fourth season of the Game of Thrones. This is where the dragons were chained.

The entrance to the dragon’s den was built where I am standing. Daenerys enters through this doorway when she has her dragons set one of her enemies on fire.
The angle isn’t the same as the photo below but it is the right spot.Here is another view, the doorway is on the right.Here are a few more photos of this amazing palace basement. 
This is the corridor where the Sons of Harpy attack Grey Worm and Ser Barristan. All the dark scenes in this video take place in this hallway.

There seem to be a lot of photos of me today.. this one is to show the old Roman paved streets that have been worn shiny from centuries of use. I just love them.

I also loved the arches high above the streets and wonder if they are actually walkways between buildings?Below is an old painting of Split from 1782. It is the same street that I showed in yesterday’s post, the one with the palm trees and all the tourists. Much of the long wall with all the pillars is still there today.  The Diocletian Palace is actually a large enclosed area with lots of buildings including ones like this where people live today.I know most of my photos don’t have a lot of people in them but that is the result of patiently waiting until just the right moment to snap the shutter and careful positioning to avoid too many people in photos. It can take a while before this happens as this is what the scene often looks like.Now to get ready for tomorrow.  We need to get up very early, at 5:30! so that we can catch the ferry to the island of Hvar.

 

Split, Croatia

Day 29, Tuesday October 3, 2017

I wanted to post my journal pages in order but I am a bit behind so I am just going to post them as they are finished. Fountain pens, watercolours and pencil crayons aren’t my usual media and I don’t usually draw buildings or landscapes so this is all a bit of a learning curve. I always enjoy working on the pages but sometimes the finished results aren’t what I envisioned. In any case, it will be a nice keepsake of our trip.

We visit Split this afternoon. Although we like to spend our time in the old parts of these Croatian towns and cities the old town is surrounded by the new town.These photos are taken as we entered Split.

There are also the very touristy areas.We make our way into the old town through the Iron Gate…and emerge on the square beside the Cathedral of St. Dominus. This was originally the mausoleum of the Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd Century but it was converted into a Christian church in the 7th Century. It is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure. It is hard to believe this all happened over 2,000 years ago, and now here we are.  There is much to see in every town we have visited, and we are only scratching the surface in the. month we have here.

Our ticket to visit the Church also includes climbing the bell tower, which also has a sign saying that we do so at our own risk.  I wonder about doing this after our last bell tower adventure. This tower is 187 feet tall, 23 feet taller than the one in Trogir but somehow it is not as scary to climb. The stairs and railings feel more substantial, just safer somehow.
Here we are at the top…and here are the views in all four directions.

One more picture of the stairs on the way down, and it is along way down! those are the bells you see in the bottom of this picture, and they are near the top of the tower!

We stop on this landing for another look around…before we reach the very narrow stone steps that take us back to ground level .Yes, we were way up there!

Next stop is the Baptistry of St. John which used to be the Temple of Jupiter. I love the large hands and feet of this sculpture, and the gorgeous ceiling.We also visit the crypt below the church which is dedicated to St. Lucia of Syracuse. She was tortured and killed because she dedicated her life to God although her parents had promised her in marriage. She is the patron Saint of the blind because she was also blinded before she was beheaded. This is part of the old Palace walls.  Notice that there are apartments on the right hand side that are still occupied beside windows that are open to the sky.We leave the old town through the Golden Gate…and find this enormous statue. We are told by a taxi driver that it is good luck to rub his toes, so that is what Bob is doing.I decide I can use a bit of luck too!  Those are very big toes!