Dubrovnik, Croatia to Furnole, Italy

Day 41, Sunday October 15, 2017

I didn’t get a chance to post anything last night as we were busy cleaning and packing to be ready for our flight to Italy today.  The morning went well, we had a great flight and we arrived 15 minutes early in Rome.  Here is our first view of Italy. Then our day changed. We boarded a very crowded bus for the drive from our plane to the terminal and waited for 10 minutes packed like sardines before the bus decided to move. We arrived at the terminal and there was a huge line of people waiting to go through customs. We joined the throngs of people waiting in line, and then we waited, and waited and waited.  It took us more than two hours to get through customs. Here are some of the people ahead of us…and here are some of the people behind us…and here are the rest of the people who arrived after we did!  They were lined all the way out the door.

We finally made it through customs and then it took almost another hour to get our luggage. The people were lined up four and five deep and there was luggage from five different flights on that one carousel.We arrange for our rental car only to find that the trunk is so small only one suitcase will fit inside, so back to the counter to change cars. They did upgrade us for free which was nice and we are finally on our way. Just a quick stop at a mall to get a SIM card for our phone.  We wait at least 15 minutes there before we are served and once we get our SIM card we find out that it will take two hours for it to become activated. That was about 6 hours ago and we are still waiting for that to happen.  We finally arrive at our bnb, almost two hours later than planned.

Bob thinks that things just take longer in Italy. So far they sure have. We are very happy though that we were not stuck in the 13 km long traffic jam we see on the freeway heading towards Rome! Tomorrow we go to Venice. Here’s hoping for a better day, today was long and tiring.

The Karaka, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Day 37, Wednesday October 11, 2017

We set sail at 9:00 am on the Karaka, a replica of a historical ship, an important trade vessel that sailed between the 14th and 17th Century. In the 16th Century the Karaka was one of the largest ships in the world. But perhaps more importantly, the Karaka was used in the third season of Game of Thrones. The captain tells us that all the ships in Season Three are this ship with computer enhanced modifications.  The morning starts out quite windy so we are glad that we brought our coats along. We pass some of the 1,244 islands that are part of Croatia but we learned today that only 48 of them are inhabited.First stop is the island of Koločep, which only has 163 residents, There are no cars or trucks are on the island because there are no roads wide enough for them, but we do see motorbikes and golf carts. We only have about an hour here, so we walk to this little church and cemetery dedicated to St. Nicholas that was built in the 10th Century. There was another church we tried to visit but we couldn’t find it so we head back to the ship…

and stumble across this little church right down near the water.Our ship is waiting to head to Šipan, the second island on this Elaphite Island Cruise.The water here is crystal clear.Before we set sail I get a photo of Bob at the back of the ship.Soon we are on our way…and in just 30 minutes we arrive at Šipan which has a population of 436, but it has 37 churches and chapels! At one time there were 30 summer residences for wealthy families from Dubrovnik. Many of these are now abandoned, sometimes because of fighting within families. Read this interesting article to understand why there are so many abandoned buildings in Croatia, like the one in this photo.We climb the hill high above these houses looking for some of the many churches here but once again can’t find them, even though signs promise that they are just down the road. We have 90 minutes here so not a lot of time to go too far, and I don’t want the ship to leave without us!We did find this little road side shrine.
When we get back on the boat a delicious lunch is served.
While we have our lunch the Karaka makes its way to our last stop, the island of Lopud. Its population is only 220, however there are more tourist facilities because this island has sandy beaches.           

We go for another little walk and find this tiny church which was built in the 17th Century and dedicated to St. Jerome. It is right beside a big hotel named the Grand Hotel that is abandoned and not so grand at all.I rent a beach lounge chair and draw our ship while Bob goes for a walk to a beach on the other side of the island.  When Bob returns he goes for his first swim in the Adriatic Sea.  He tells me the water is cold at first but no so bad after a while.

I dip my feet into the water and that is enough for me.

There is fresh fruit for dessert  and a variety of alcoholic drinks on our return trip. The wind has died down and it is a beautiful calm day..We leave a trail in the sea behind us.Our guide told us that the engines had stopped and teased that we would all have to jump into the sea and push the boat, but then the sails were lowered!  I was so surprised, I didn’t expect that the sails would be used, but there we were, wind powered and gliding silently over the waves. It was magical. This is a view of the dining area on the ship. Here is some of the rigging on the ship.We are the last ones off the boat so that we can take just a couple more photos without so many other people. We had an absolutely wonderful day.

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.



Trogir to Dubrovnik, Croatia

Day 33, Saturday, October 7, 2017

These orange trees were growing in the yard at our bnb. Our host kindly offered us some and they were delicious.  There were also pomegranate and olive trees growing on her property. The drive to Dubrovnik takes almost four hours and the highway passes through some beautiful landscapes.

We stop at Polče for our lunch and sit by the water.These apartments near where we are sitting remind me of something from a Mad Max movie.  I am very happy I do not have to live in one of these.Just before we cross into Bosnia-Herzegovina there is a large valley that used to be a river delta and is now rich farmland with hundreds of long narrow plots of gardens, vineyards and fruit trees.I think it is beautiful but wonder why the plots are so long and narrow.Perhaps so each farmer has access to the river for irrigation?The highway here is lined with fruit stands.  Oranges are ready for harvest and hang in bags for sale.We cross the border into Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has a narrow strip of land that divides Croatia into two sections so that Bosnia-Herzegovina has access to the Adriatic Sea.  We both expected there would be a large port there but we didn’t see any. We are in Bosnia Herzegovina for all of 13 minutes!Here are some more photos taken from the car window on our way to Dubrovnik Just before Dubrovnik we cross over this bridge, which is high enough for cruise ships to go under.

We find our apartment without any problems and settle in for the evening.

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!

Senj, Croatia

Day 20, Sunday, September 23, 2017                                                                                            Day 21, Monday, September 24, 2017

Sunday was a quiet day. We had planned a rest day Sunday anyways, so the fact that it rained most of the day didn’t really matter. I rested, l journaled a bit and worked on the blog. I was a day behind, so it was good to get caught up. Thanks to everyone who has either ‘liked’ a post or commented on one. It is really nice to know that there are people out there actually reading this. So thank you.

Monday afternoon we visit the Nehaj Senj which is a fortress that was built in 1558. It is high on the hill above Senj.

The main floor of the fortress is now a restaurant.We climbed stone steps up to the second, and third floors, which have historical exhibits, mostly weapons and soldiers uniforms.This is the uniform of the Uskoks, the Croatian soldier of the 1500’s. They sure carried a lot of weapons.

The top fourth floor was open to the wind. The Bora! We were nearly blown off the top of the fortress!

The Bora is a cold wind that blows from the continent through the mountain pass towards the sea.  Senj is the windiest part of the Eastern Adriatic. Of course we didn’t know that when we booked our apartment here!  It is terribly windy up here but the views are great.

This is an etching done in the 1600’s showing the town of Senj, with the walls that protected it and the fortress up on the hill.  

There are still remnants of the old town wall visible today. We see the bell tower and use it to find the town church. I wonder what is behind the curtain on this side chapel …so I peek inside ( I know… I probably shouldn’t have) and find another mummified saint.

The sky isn’t looking too promising, weather wise…but when we return home we are treated to this view from our apartment window. At least we can see a bit of sun. We are planning on visiting the Plitvice Lakes tomorrow so we are hoping that the weather improves a bit.

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.

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 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.