Category Archives: Croatia

Our Trips to Croatia

Travel Itch

I miss Europe. I love the mix of culture, cuisine, antiquity, and beauty that we have found in Italy.

We have excursions planned for this fall and next spring that will be novel and exciting. The Amazon will no doubt present its own set of adventures. Peru and Ecuador are mysteries to us. It will be amazing to visit South America and dust off a bit of Spanish. (can you feel the but…)

I miss Europe. I do. I had planned our last trip to Greece and Italy to continue for another two weeks. We cut short. I was told the weather in late June and into July and August gets oppressive. With some depressing grumbling, I changed plans and literally yanked our last two weeks of our Tuscany trip. In retrospect, I am glad I did. I flagged on some of our walks in Florence in late June. It was hot, still reasonable but hot. If July gets still hotter, I am so glad I came around and dropped the last two weeks.

Our plans for the next year: this fall, winter, and next spring are complete.

Next fall we are planning to return to Italy for a few months. I’ve started looking into villas for rent around Florence and Rome. We’ll use a villa as home base for our excursions into the Italian hillside and coastal towns. I can relax, content in the knowledge that we’ll be returning to Italy soon. Troubling though, I would also like to do some island hopping in Greece. On our cruise we found that there is an extensive ferry system throughout the Greek Islands. It’s not difficult to see Greece by ferry. Perhaps we’ll fly into Greece and wend our way back to Italy.

There is so much to do. We hope to visit Alaska by RV; tour China and Thailand; revisit Africa a few more times; visit friends in the south of Spain; visit family on Madeira Island; tour Ireland; drive through Eastern Europe, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and into Germany; visit Paris and tour the south of France; go skiing in the French and Italian Alps; drive through the Old South, the South West, and North West; canoe in Ontario. That’s just for starters. I have a scrapbook of places we hope to visit tucked away. Every time I come across an amazingly beautiful location or an adventure that’s not life threatening, I paste it into the book. I’ve done enough wacky and dangerous things in the past that I’m no longer interested in pushing the safety envelope. “Moderate” danger is ok. A charging elephant, canoe on the Amazon, bare boat cruising, diving with hammerhead sharks without a safety net, those are all OK by me. Class IV white water kayaking, technical rock climbing, or base jumping are “right out”. All this would be possible but for Ellen whose sense of “safe adventure” is clearly a subset of mine.

I truly hate the word, “blessed”. It smacks of a religious sense of “blessed by God”. As an atheist, that drives me crazy. I would rather say that decades of hard work, some risk taking, and a bit of luck made travel and adventure possible for us. We have the opportunity to enjoy ourselves after retirement. We will.


Seabourn Day 14, Triluke Bay Croatia

Trilike Bay. There are no excursions for this island. There are no ruins, no city walls, just a sleepy fihsing village on one of the longest islands in the archipelego. We cruised up a channel surrounded by small and moderately sized islands. It reminds me of the San Juans, but the weather is fantastic. The San Juans are hit or miss, often miss.

For us, we had a liesurely breakfast, spent some time in our suite, and headed to the tender around 9:20. The tender took us to a long pier in a sheltered harbor. Across the narrow bay there were 14 identical sailboats all with a large number affixed at the bow. Later we learned that this was a flotilla of Australian bare boat cruisers who booked a cruise from Silt to Athens. We spoke at length with one captain who said this was his second tour with this outfit and that next time he would go it alone with his family. The islands in this area are close together and every inslet has a few houses, a restaurant, and a float or pier to tie onto. I’ll post the name of the company in the forum resources section.

When we first disembarked the tender, we headed toward the sail boat flotilla to check them out, but Ellen saw a narrow street that led straight up the hillside behind the town. Up we went. The steps (and there were very many) led up and into almond and fruit trees repleat with cicadas chirping away. As we approached the top, a randy rooster greeted the morning, the sun, the sky, the afternoon. He would not stop for the longest time. It made the morning’s walk special. We found a signpost a little further on thet pointed out a trail thorugh a park, a path to a botanical garden, and a lake. We headed toward the lake and botanical garden, through acres of planted gardens. There were corn plants, beans, onions, leeks, and a number of crops we could not identify. We found the “lake” a few hunder meters farther on. It was a man made circular wall that encased a natural spring. It is used for irrigation fot the gardens. It also housed a very active honey bee nest. We could see hundreds of bees just clearing the wall’s top and headed out to forrage and the same number of bees coming back laden with pollen. It was fascinating and I would have stayed to watch for a while, but Ellen is alergic to bee stings. We headed back the way we came; there’s no need to risk a medical emergency.

Back on the main road we found the town’s church and its adjoining graveyard. The church was locked (today is Friday), but the graveyard was open and festooned with flowers on marble tounbs dating back to the 1920’s. Oddly each toumbstone had at least two sometimes ten flower arrangements placed on the toumb. The Croats take their ancestry very seriously. I looked for graves from the war with Serbia and found a very few where the death might have been war related.

Moving right along we went further afield and found a steep path back down, but away from the town center. This path went past the poor section of the town then turned right and dropped past rows of planted lavender and potted begonia. The lavender blooms were covered in butterflys and bumble bees. As we descended, we saw that the houses become better cared for and larger. Around a corner, the street opened onto a sweeping panorama of a bay with a smattering of large houses on the surrounding hills. All along the shore there were finished cement decks for water access and sun tanning. In one corner of the bay there were a number of finshin boats in various states of repair. Some sported new paint. This was a boatswain of good quality.

I was quite concerned that we had passed over from one side of the island to the other and would have to hike back over the ridge when we came upon several couples from the Odyssey. After disembarking the tender, they had walked along the shore. I felt relieved that we could simply walk along a beautifully finished cement walkway back to the tenders.

We stopped for lunch at a cafe along the waterfront that was just ok. My swordfish was overcooked and Ellen’s mixed salad was uninspired. The tenders run every 30 minutes between the wharf and the Odyssey. We headed off to board a tender and ran into Rob, Roz, Jim, and Tina who hailed us to stop, chat and share some wine with them. Two tenders came and went while we chatted. At their recommendation we ordered a cheese, fig, and honey dish that was great. We were told later it was meant as a desert.

We’re back aboard now and packing. Seabourn offers a 5% discount for guests who book or make reservations for a future cruise before disembarking. The fee to place a reservation is modest and the 5% discount is good for up to 4 years. The deposit is fully refundable and so we placed a reservation and will book another Seabourn cruise in 2017 or 2018 depending on how other plans develop.

I’m about to pack the computer away. I expect with the excitement of Venice, we’ll be offline until late in the evening.

Until then, happy trails to you…

Ron & Ellen

Seabourn day 13, Dubrovnik

There is no getting around it, today Dubrovnik is a tourist destination. In the 1990’s the city was 60% destroyed in the Croatian-Serbian war. It has been stunningly rebuilt. There is one single museum that documents the horror of the war, the 400 dead, and the destruction. We did not visit the museum, not consciously, but because we wandered the city and did not stumble upon it. Jim, a fellow Seabourn guest, described the museum when we happened upon him during an epicurean pool side event. That Yugoslavia has fractured as it has, and that Scotland is pushing for secession, and Venice is pushing for secession from Italy, all these things portend trouble at best for Europe. Once fractured, petty differences can become cause bellum. Rather than seeing the causes that bind us, the world is seeking issues to differentiate us. Politicians use this tearing of the fabric of society to further their own ends and destroy what we, as humans, have in common.

That Greece may be thrown out of the EU, may make sense to some. If you cannot pay your loans, some punishment is due. But in leaving the EU, would not Greece turn to Russia or China? What then for geopolitical stability in the Eastern Europe?

Dubrovnik is a beautiful city. Ellen and I were standing at an intersection and I noticed the word uncial. I studied Russia and the Russian language and know enough of the language to recognize the similarities between Russian and Croat. In many instances the difference is in the alphabet only. Street, good evening, good morning are all identical phonetically (or nearly so). Ulitca is the Russian word for street, phonetically transcribed into the Roman alphabet. I mentioned to Ellen that the word was Russian and I had a local Croatian walk up to me and say, “NO. Not RUSSIAN, is CROATIAN word. We fought war over this.”

Did I feel one inch tall. I mean these people had just fought a war and this fellow could well be a survivor or perhaps had born arms against the Serbs. My sense of righteous indignation that the fellow did not see the similarity between Russian and Croatian did a 180. Even if I was correct, there was no reason to antagonize this fellow and no telling what he was capable of if I had chosen to “be correct”. I apologized as best; I could and fled the scene vowing not to speak Russian, talk of Russian or even think Russian for the nest 24 hours.

The old city does not have facilities for a cruise ship to dock, even a small one. Smaller ships anchor and ferry passengers ashore. With only two cruise ships in port, Dubrovnik was fun. The main street which is also the main shopping street was crowded, but walk one block off that street and you could be by yourself. I thought there were only two cruise ships in port. Jim (from above) also mentioned that there were two or three huge cruise ships docked in the new port in the new city and that a team of busses was ferrying some of them to the gates of the old city! I don’t know where they went, but I did not see hoards teeming in the streets. It could be that many were waking the town’s ramparts which are organized as a one way walk high above the city. Because it is one way, while walking the battlements you’ll only see the small group of people walking with you.

There are very many small taverns and restaurants all over the city, most are in narrow streets or alleyways just a block or two from the main street. The food is mild, not spicy, and quite good. Lamb, fish, and shell fish dominate the menus.

Dubrovnik’s main draw is the quaintness of the town. The medieval walls are mostly intact. Ruins of a much older city wall are visible from the western ramparts. We walked the ramparts all the way around the old city. That was fun though we took far too many photos. Dubrovnik, Mykonos, and Oia are among the most photogenic we have ever visited The walk around the city takes about two hours if you meander and enjoy the views. It can be done in half that time if you rush or twice that time if you have issues walking.

Dubrovnik sits at the base of a modest mountain. A tram runs from the back of the city to the top of the mountain and the view over Dubrovnik and out to the sea. This is well worth doing. I suggest going early in the morning ahead of the crowds. Jim said they took a taxi to the top which was less expensive and afforded better views of the city.

We are now off to a small fishing village for a taste of small town Croatia.