Sunday, June 11, 2017

Croatia & Slovenia

 
Okay kids, gather 'round. It's time for your mind to wander and your eyes to glaze over as I show you a million photos from my trip to Croatia and Slovenia.
 
This was my first time in Europe. Years ago, before we had kids, Dale and I bought backpacks and a "Let's Go Europe" book and were planning to quit our jobs and wander around Europe. But then plans changed and we ended up in Japan instead. More than 25 years later, I finally made it to the motherland. Well, the mother continent at least. I only saw a snippet of Europe - and none of the really popular places - but I loved what I saw.
 
I have a half-written trip summary post that I'll add soon, but today it's mainly pictures and captions.

 
The seaside resort town of Opatija

Opatija. This path by the sea went on for a long way - perfect for a morning run before the tourists got up.

I couldn't get enough of the colour of the Adriatic Sea.



Did I already mention the water? It was SO clear.

Bombed out hotel on the roadside. You had to look close to find evidence of their turbulent years. I'm sure they cleaned up the tourist areas as quickly as they could.
The next few pictures are from Plitvice Lakes National Park. It was beautiful, but before the trip I'd heard rave reviews from a few people who had been there that said it was the most beautiful place they'd ever seen in their lives. If I'd had no expectations and stumbled upon this park, I would've been in awe. As it were, my expectations were too high, as was the number of tourists. I can't imagine the crowds during high season.


Proof that I was there


More clear water


 
Driving along the Adriatic coast was amazing. Every view around each new twist of the road was incredible. It's hard to believe a place like that actually exists.
 


A seaside town where we stopped for lunch

More evidence of the war

Next stop was Dubrovnik. This old city is like a like stepping into a medieval fairy tale, if that's a thing. Again, it was hard to comprehend that a place like this is real.







eww

 

Walking on top of the city walls


 



The view from our hotel on the outskirts of Dubrovnik (above & below)


Had a magical romantic dinner with Doug & Lorie

During our stay in Dubrovnik, some of us took a day trip to Montenegro. It was only an hour or so away, but crossing the border was a hassle. When we got to the border, there was one bus ahead of us in one lane and two buses in the other lane. The single bus was from Albania and our guide said we did NOT want to wait behind them because the border guards always make the Albanians get out of the bus and they go through all their luggage, etc. So we chose the other line, which was a mistake. Six buses passed through the other lane before we did. The reason I know it was six is because there was a lady in our bus (not from our group) who was beside herself with impatience and outrage that we were waiting so long. I thought she was going to explode.

But eventually we made it through and drove to the Bay of Kotor. Montenegro is a place I'd love to go back to and explore on my own. It was a little less polished, a little less touristy, and felt like a diamond in the rough.

A church on an island in Montenegro
Kotor is a walled city - much smaller than Dubrovnik, but with lots of character.
There's an old stone pathway/steps that go high up the hill to a fortress. We didn't have enough time to climb them so it's on my list for next time.



 


 
On the way back to Croatia, we had another wait at the border, but this time we were entertained by watching four border officials search a guy's sports car. Eventually they let him go.

One night we had a special dinner at an old farmyard. Agro-tourism is a big thing here. That means everything they serve has to be grown on the premises, or very nearby. These guys entertained us and got everyone singing and clapping along.

Next we went to Split, another city in Croatia. We had a walking tour of Diocletian's Palace, spent a little free time walking around downtown, and then headed to our hotel.






The next day we drove to Slovenia, which I loved. The countryside was beautiful and Ljubljana was my favourite city of the trip.



A trip to Europe isn't complete without visiting a church or 10.




We took a little afternoon trip to Bled, where we took pletna boats across to an island with a church.

 




Back on the mainland in Bled, we tried their local specialty: a layered cream cake, which was light and delicious.



After Slovenia, we headed back to Croatia to the city of Zagreb.


In Zagreb, we had a few hours to ourselves so I went to the Museum of Broken Relationships. I'd read about it before; it started in Zagreb but now there's also one in Los Angeles. There's a description in the picture below, but basically it's stories and objects that represent broken relationships - romantic, parental, or whatever. There was everything from a vial of XTC pills left over from a relationship that went bad due to drugs to a suicide note left by a mom for her daughter. Those are some of the more extreme examples. You can check out some other examples here:  http://mentalfloss.com/article/52167/11-bizarre-artifacts-croatias-museum-broken-relationships

I like that sort of glimpse into people's lives so I found it pretty interesting.


On the final night, we had a five-course farewell dinner at a really nice restaurant.
 
Me with our guide and bus driver.

And then it was time to fly home. In Frankfurt, waiting for our connection, I was all excited to practice my German so I ordered my lunch in what I thought was decent German. Okay, I didn't know how to say "falafel" in German but otherwise I did my best. Either the lady at the counter didn't understand me or she was no fun because she answered me in English. Even when I said "danke," she answered with "you're welcome." She took the wind right out of my sails. I hate her.


We had a long layover both in Frankfurt and again in Toronto. My people were not happy. We'd been up for 30+ hours and no one was at their best. Luckily after a good sleep or two, the unpleasantness of the flight schedule faded and the good memories rose to the surface. And hopefully that's where they remain because it really was an awesome trip.

If you're still reading, I'm impressed and I applaud your attention span. If that wasn't enough pictures, I have hundreds more.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"She took the wind right out of my sails. I hate her." hahahahah! This made me laugh. She was definitely no fun.

Gorgeous photos, Ellen!! That after is beautiful! And I love the historical buildings and streets.

xo Sio

Anonymous said...

ps - I would have loved that broken relationships museum!!

xo sio

Anonymous said...

That is exactly Germans. Steve tried to book a pension over the phone in German and the lady started yelling at him so loud we could hear her in the room, "Stop speaking German! Your German is terrible!" Wind out of sails moment for sure. The other part is that Germans think their English is terrible so they want to practise their English with you just like you want to practise your German with them....except that Germans are fluent in English and speak in full compound sentences even when they say, "I only speak a little English." Right. My "little bit of German" consists of hello, good bye, please, thank you, how to order kaffee mit milch und zucker, count to einundzwantig (which is 21 and I like to use it as a swear...go ahead, try it out, yell it really loud next time you stub your toe), and ask where the bathroom is. I cannot give detailed instructions on how to get to a certain kirche, the construction you need to avoid, and the history of it building and the town.

The number of tourists on that path = eww. More so than those parrots. Sorry.

I love how pictures of Europe always conjure words like quaint, idyllic, etc. :)

Looks like a lovely time. Welcome back or willkommen züruck.
Sheri-Lee