Dubrovnik, Croatia

Day 38, Thursday October 12, 2017

After a leisurely morning we return to Old Town Dubrovnik for some more exploring. First we visit Marin Držiç House which is a memorial museum for one of Croatia’s greatest playwrights. I decide to have a little one on one conversation with this interesting fellow.The Ethnographic Museum is next, and it is located in a very interesting building that was the town granary in the 16th Century. Reserves of grain were kept in 15 very large wells carved in stone. The dark grates in the floor of the main floor open into these wells.These little stone trap doors on the second floor were used to drop the grain down into the wells below.There are many exhibits of traditional handmade textiles, clothing, household items and traditional handicrafts. I would love to have a stove like this!
There are some interesting drawings on some of the pillars.
The streets here are so old.We stop for ice cream and some people watching. Men and women are rappelling down the city walls…and getting their photos taken with these exotic birds.The Friars Franciscan Monastery Museum has the oldest operating pharmacy in Europe and a beautiful garden cloister.

They also have an amazing library but unfortunately it is not open to the public because it is upstairs where the priests live. At least there are a few books on display. 

There are also some vestments with incredible embroidery.

The Franciscan church beside the museum is beautiful but it has a couple unusual features.

The paintings here are certainly different, and…

notice the hand holding the crucifix.  

We walk to the Art Gallery Dubrovnik which is located in a former palace of a Dubrovnik ship owner. There are several portraits I really like. 

We make our way back through the old town, stopping for tea and some more people watching before catching our bus home. There were street performers and…happy children chasing pigeons.

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.

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!

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.

The Alhambra, Granada

Friday, November 20

We caught the local bus into Granada and walked down this wide pedestrian street on our way to the tourist information office. This pedestrian walkway is made with marble paving stones, certainly something we don’t see back home.image Outside the tourist office is a unique Christmas tree made with begonias.image

There is also a shrine for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris.  imageThe buildings in Granada are very beautiful, imagine living in an apartment in this magnificent building.image

Soon we are on the way to the Alhambra. This was a palace, fortress and medina all rolled into one. We decide to take a bus rather than walk up the hill to its location.  This turned out to be a very good decision, as it is a long winding road up to the entrance.

We have a timed entrance ticket into the Nazaries Palaces so we make our way there first. We pass through the modern day medina (shops) and peek into a few on our way.  This fellow is making the inlaid wood boxes, table tops and other items that are for sale in his shop. It is very exacting work.image

We just have time to visit one of the towers before our visit.  This area below the tower has the remains of houses and shops.image

The view is spectacular from the top of the tower, but we are surprised at all the smog.image image  We are once more reminded of Paris as the flags here are at half mast.imageThe Alhambra has a lengthy history and it was first built as a fortress in 889. There is more information here if you are interested.          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alhambra

The entrance to the palace begins in this room with beautiful coloured tile walls.

image  And then we walk through this little keyhole shaped door, image  and we are in the incredible courtyard.     image  From here we see one amazing sight after another.image image image I have seen lots of people taking selfies, but this one is definitely the cutest.image

The Court of the Lions has the magnificent Fountain of Lions in its center. This is an alabaster basin supported by twelve lions in white marble, which symbolize power, strength and sovereignty.imageAll the buildings are decorated with intricate carvings that were once painted.  In some places the paint is still visible.

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Water fountains and pools abound in the Alhambra.image We also visit the Generalife which is a villa with beautiful gardens that was a retreat away from the rest of the palace.imageimage

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Next stop is the Palace of Charles V. The palace was built around this round center court and there is an art gallery in part of the building.  There is a small charge fee to go in and we are impressed by the quality of the exhibits and how well organized the gallery is.image image

These sculptures were from the 14th century I think.  They were larger than life sized and stunningly beautiful.  image

There were also some very old books on display.imageNot sure why they were on the walls on the outside of the Palace of Charles V, but I sure liked these.image

We spent the whole day at Alhambra and catch the bus back down into town, walking along the ‘river’ as the sun starts to set. Bob is happy we will be taking another bus back to our apartment so he doesn’t have to drive and I don’t have to navigate!image

The Real Alcázar, aka The Water Gardens of Dorne

Saturday, November 7

We had a great day visiting Seville’s Real Alcázar. It is a magical place in its own right but it was also the setting for the Water Gardens of Dorne for part of Season Five of The Game of Thrones. imageI am going to post my pictures without too many explanatory comments as I have included two links that have more information about the Game of Thrones settings and they also explain very nicely about the Alcázar.

http://travelphotodiscovery.com/game-of-thrones-set-for-andalucia-spain/

http://scribblerinseville.com/game-of-thrones-season-5-the-water-gardens-of-dorne-aka-the-alcazar-of-seville/

We climbed to the walkway you can just see in this photo.  It is behind the arches in the wall past the pool.  We had great views of some of the gardens from here.imageWe spent four and a half hours wandering through the palace and gardens, and we still didn’t see all of the gardens.imageIn the background you can see one of the many bridal couples we saw today who are here taking pictures.  Interestingly, there was always just the bride and groom and one or two photographers, there were no bridesmaids or groomsmen.image  Can you figure out how the goldfish are flying through the sky?image  I love the intricacy of the carvings and details on the walls and ceilings.image

imageThis was a popular spot for a bride and groom to stand and get their photo taken with their reflection in the pool. Bob tried to take a photo of my reflection but there were too many people around.imageWe did find a quiet spot in the garden to sit for a few minutes. Remember, we walked in the Alcázar for 4 1/2 hours!image

We asked a bride and groom if we could just take one picture before they started taking their own photos in the Queen’s Baths.image

The sun was low in the sky when we left near five o’clock and I liked the way this fountain was silhouetted against the wall.imageAfter we left the Alcázar we followed a walking tour map that Bob had picked up at the tourist office, through many of the old narrow streets of Seville.image

I peeked inside one doorway and spotted this beautiful garden courtyard.image

I couldn’t resist having my picture taken with this beauty!image  One more photo of the bell tower we climbed yesterday. Can you spot another bride and groom? We probably saw a dozen brides today!image

We stopped for yummy ice cream and sorbet, walked the streets, watched some crazy amazing break dancers, and finally caught our bus home around eight.

Sintra, Portugal, Day 2

Sunday, October 25

Our second day in Sintra starts out rainy but it is supposed to clear up by early afternoon. We catch the bus near the palace we visited yesterday and head up the steepest, narrowest road we have probably ever been on.  The bus had to stop and back up three times to navigate the hairpin turns.  We were standing in the front of the bus so had a view of the road ahead, which, by the way, soon lost the center line and became a one way road as it was too narrow for traffic in both directions.

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A pretty little fountain on the walk through the park on the way to the Palace of Pena image  It was very misty so we couldn’t see very far but it was pretty.imageSoon we get our first glimpse of the Palace of Pena. This palace was one of the last residences of the Portuguese Royal Family. It is a fairy tale castle with Moorish and Manueline influences and is one of the finest example of Romantic Era architecture in Portugal. This link has more information about the palace and the park that surrounds it if you are interested.   https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pena_National_Palace#image

We enter through this grand gate.image

The next gateway is just as spectacular. Love it!imageThe Cloister is part of the original 16th century Monastery that was built into the present Palace.  It is decorated with Hispanic-Arabic tiles from 1520.image  The dining room has a sculpted ceiling and tiled walls…imageand here is one of the first bathrooms in the Palace. image

I am in the bedroom of King Ferdinand II.image and both of us in the Billiard room.image The kitchen is huge and has the original pots, pans and ovens.image  Next we explore the outside of the Palace.image image image imageThe weather hasn’t improved all that much but we decide to hike up to the Cruz Alta, where there is a carved stone cross.  This is the highest point in the Sintra Hills.imageThe walk up to the cross was lovely.  The park around the castle covers 85 hectares with several historic gardens and many buildings and grottos.image imageOn the way down from the cross we take this little crooked very winding path which eventually takes us to the Valley of the Lakes but not without some detours along the way.image

The view from one of the paths.  That village way in the distance actually had sunshine.image image image imageThe Valley of the Lakes has a castle tower for a duck house. We didn’t see many ducks, but we did see this beautiful black swan.image  The leaves are falling and they are huge!image

We still want to see the Moorish Castle so we hike over there and have about an hour and a half before it closes. This castle was built between the 8th and 9th century by the Moors to defend the local territory and the Maritime access to Lisbon. There was a bit of blue sky but it quickly disappears, along with the supposedly fantastic views from the walls and towers.  On a clear day it is possible to see the Atlantic Ocean, but we are barely able to see the castle! image

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In some places along the castle walls the walkways are not much more than 18″ wide, and there are no railings!image imageWe finally admit defeat even though we have only seen a very small part of this ancient castle. We are cold and wet and can’t see much of anything so we decide to hurry back to the bus stop and try to catch an earlier bus and train home.  We get there just in time and we manage to get a seat for the ride, which takes us all the way to the train station. I am happy not to walk that long curving road from the station up to the Sintra Palace where we caught the bus this morning.imageimageThe Sintra Station is the only train station we have seen that isn’t coverd in graffiti. It has been a good day, but also a long cold, wet day and I am glad to be heading home.image

 

Sintra, Portugal

Saturday, October 24

Today we visit Sintra, a beautiful town in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains, near Lisbon.  It is about a half hour car and train ride for us from our Caxias apartment. The Sintra National Palace is easily identified by its large twin chimneys.imageIt is about a half hour walk from the train station to the palace, in the drizzling rain.  I stop to visit with this cute little fellow. There are numerous statues all along the curving uphill walk to the palace.image

The palace is spectacular and one of its main features are the ceilings.  They are all ornately decorated.  This is the ceiling of the Swan Room, decorated with 27′ swans in different poses.image

The Magpie Room celebrates one of my favourite birds.  It dates back to the 15th Century and it has136 magpies, each holding the king’s banner in its beak and a white rose in its claws.

image  Bob liked the Galley Room whose domed ceiling is covered with 17th and 18th century seascapes and vessels of the naval  powers of the time, the Ottomans, Dutch, and Portuguese.image

The Blazons Hall ceiling has the Portuguese Royal Arms, the coats of arms of the eight children of King Manuel I and the coats of arms of the 72 most influential families of the kingdom.  The walls are covered with beautiful blue and white tiled scenes.  It is a stunning room.

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We spent about two hours in the palace and then found a quiet little reading room where we had a rest and ate our lunch.  It was raining so we weren’t in a rush to get back outside, but eventually we explore some of the streets and shops before our walk to the train.

Some of the shops are very small, like this one, which was only about four feet wide…image  and the streets are very narrow.image

Back at the train station parking lot I notice this wall of street art/graffiti.  It is much nicer than most of the graffiti we have seen and we have seen a lot of it.  Unfortunately most of it is pretty ugly and it is often defacing private property.imageThese morning glory vines are growing  on a wall near our Caxias apartment.  The ones we plant at home never grow anywhere near as wonderfully as these.image

Palacio Real and Templo De Debod

Wednesday, October 14

The Palacio Real is the official residence of Spanish Royalty and the building we tried to visit Monday that was closed for a State Function.imageBob read somewhere that there are over 2000 rooms in the Palace but we are quite content to visit the twenty or so that were open to the public.  This is half of the grand staircase at the entrance, there is also a set of stairs on either side of this one that continues to the second level. The red crest at the top of the stairs is the personal crest of King Felipe IV, who we almost saw on Monday!imageThis is the view up above the staircase.  It was very ornate but only a taste of what we saw inside the Palace rooms.imagei did take one picture of the Royal Chamber of Carlos (Charles) III also known as the Gasparini Room.  We spent about an hour and a half touring these lavish rooms, each more ornate and incredible than the last.  We even visit the Throne room and the Crown Room where the Royal Crown and Sceptre are kept along with other State treasures.  There are the ordinary sort of Museum ‘guards’ but there doesn’t appear to be a lot of security inside the Palace.  Mind you, there are lots of police everywhere outside the palace.imageDo I look royal walking down the Palace stairs?  Just picture me in a beautiful ball gown, all decked out in jewels!imageWe visit the Armoury through these old doors. imageTurns out it is one of the most important collections of parade and tournament armour in the world!  Everything is beautifully displayed on two floors and there is even armour for children and ponies.  No photos allowed, but here is a photo of a photo from a little calendar we bought.

imageAfter a tea break in the Palace Cafeteria I do go back and sketch this interesting old helmet from the 1400’s. It was one of the first exhibits we saw when we entered the armoury, and of course I love dragons.  It was also small enough to sketch in a short time.

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We walk through the Palace Gardens on our way to the Parque del Oeste which is on a hill high above the Palace.

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There we visit the Egyptian Temple de Debod.  The neat thing about seeing this temple is that we actually visited its original location, where the Aswan Dam flooded many temples, several years ago. Now here we are in Madrid, seeing this temple that was saved and given to the Spanish people in thanks for their help in saving the temples at Abu Simbel.

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Two of the original entrance arches to the temple.imageA view of the back of this 2000 year old temple and some of Madrid’s newer buildings.image  I thought this dome was different all in coloured tiles.image  A view of the Palace.  We can see for miles from the top of the park behind the Temple of Debod.imageOn the way home we stop for tapas at the Mercado de San Miguel that we visited the other day.  This is basically a glorified food court in a neat old iron and glass building.  We find some tapas for Bob, and one for me.  Bob has two delicious pastries and I have to be content with taking pictures of desserts. It is hard to find any for me when I don’t eat gluten, eggs or dairy.  I do get a fruit cup…imageThis picture is for L & M, yummy little hedgehogs and Marzipan fruit and veggies with faces.image