Monday, May 13, 2013

Travelling Croatia and Nearby

I have been in Croatia over a week now and the land based part is finished as I board a ship this afternoon to cruise the islands. The last 3 days have been particularly hectic as I continually crossed borders, changed currency and saw different cultures.

First I based myself in Zagreb and after a day exploring that city (and buying bus tickets), on Sunday I went by bus to the original royal city of Varazdin.  Sadly rain set in and I discovered the museums and galleries closed at 1pm, so after a visit to the castle and an art gallery and a quick walk around the small city, I was back in my hotel by 3.30pm.

Monday was much better although the weather began similarly and remained grey all day.
I spent 2 hours in the bus down to Plitvice lakes and then took about 4 hours to do the walk which was advertised as 5 to 6 hours. I could have taken the first part more slowly. We began with a trip in a bus/train  along park roads to the beginning of the lake and then walked the upper lakes followed by a boat trip across the largest lake and another walk through the lower lakes and finally back in the bus/train to the entrance.

The falls were everywhere and sometimes we walked almost under them. I have had to include 4 photos but have many more and hope to upload a youtube version when I find time. I am not sure about the strength of the wifi signal on the ship so am rushing to produce this.

On Tuesday afternoon I was suppose to travel for 6 hours by train but discovered due to track work the first 2 hours were by bus then half an hour wait and a slow train rather than the modern one promised and I arrived in Split at 8.30pm nearly 2 hours late only having eaten a banana and drunk one expresso in all that time.

I will be returning to Split on the ship so did not do any sightseeing but it was crowded with a festival and fireworks at 10pm, all I heard was what seemed like cannon shots.

Wednesday I was back on a bus and travelling for 5 hours to Dubrovnik. We crossed into Bosnia Herzegovna for 23 km so the first borders since entering Croatia. Croatia becomes part of the EU on July 1st and while the Slovenia/Croatia border will no longer have checks, I am told these others will possibly be worse.

In Dubrovnik my apartment has been up on the hill overlooking the city and I have included a photo from the terrace.

To pay for this there are hundreds of steps to climb to reach it. There were even 40 from the taxi to the front door.  I have just climbed them once each day after dinner in the old city.

I walked the walls the first afternoon and will explore more this morning but the last 2 days have involved bus tours, first to Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovna which meant crossing the borders 6 times. Mostar is pretty but sad. The bridge

has been rebuilt but our guide described her time as a girl of 12 hiding in cellars during the day and going with her mother into the countryside to find food at night. We visited a mosque and a Turkish house. Bosnia is largely Moslem and they have their own currency but also use Euros and the Croatian kunar.

Yesterday another long bus trip but only across and back the border with Montenegro. There the people are Orthodox (Croatia is Roman Catholic) and they use Euro as currency.  We spent several hours in the pretty old town of Kotor before taking a terrifying road which climbed 900 metres with 25 hairpin bends and nothing between us and a steep drop. I will never complain about the Otago Peninsula roads again.  The view of Kotor

 was stunning. We drove through the mountains and to the seaside town of Budva which has been built largely by the Russians as a resort. Then back, crossing a vehicle ferry to Dubrovnik.


Fran said...

I was in what was then called Yugoslavia in 1990. I was based in Bosnia with a day trip to Dubrovnik, in Croatia. I have many lovely memories of what was then unbombed - and undeveloped.

Thanks for sharing these photos. Those falls are spectacular!

Birdie said...

I've seen that park in travel specials in TV. How wonderful to be able to walk through it! I'm enjoying your travelogue (like others before it). Looking forward to the next entry!

Maria said...

Split and Dubrovnik are amazing Mediterranean cities, no doubts. I visited them several times and was not disappointed at all. Split City Museum, marvlous waterfalls and amazing views on the sea - these are must-see pplaces in Croatia, I believe!

John Quest said...

Great post, really love the photos.