Thursday, June 21, 2007

.........what can we say?

We arrived at Plitvice mid afternoon from Sibenik, the bus dropped us outside the entrance to the national park and we headed to a nearby village to try and get some private accommodation, ending up in a lovely little pension.
That night we went for a walk around the village, which was more just a heap of pensions along a small road-tourism was definitely keeping this place afloat. As we walked we were amazed at the amount of sink holes around in the surrounding forests, you really wouldn't want to be walking in dark through here. We were looking for bears and to our surprise we didn't find any :( but we did hear cuckoos calling their famous song.
For dinner we headed to a restaurant called Licka Kuca near the park entrance. The food was fantastic and in the middle of the dining room they had a fire and a spit set up which made the place very warm, we dined on an awful lot of meat that night. We headed home early as the street sign warned that the bears come out after 23:00.

First thing in the morning we got up and headed to the park. We were some of the first people in for the day and the weather was overcast but not raining. We entered through the park gate and we were greeted by the most amazing site of the bluest of blue lakes and beautiful forests with a waterfall cascading off the opposite cliff. We just can't describe the colour of the lakes it was unreal and the water was so clear, again I don't think we have every seen water this clear and so many fish.

The lakes lie in limestone and are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae and bacteria. The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm per year.

We wandered around the lakes for eight or so hours, meandering along forest paths and boardwalks this was truly one of the most beautiful places we have been to.

It was hard to believe that this park was where the 1991 war began it was overtaken by Serbians it was not liberated until 1995 by the Croatians, during that time the parks infrastructure was destroyed and the park was heavily mined, the park was reopened in 1998 after it was completely demined.

What an amazing place!!!!!!!!!!!!

That night we went out for dinner at another restaurant which was quite nice although it felt like stepping back in time about 30 years. On the way home we got caught out in absolutely torrential rain. We were absolutely soaked after the 2 km walk back through the park, where we got one more beautiful surreal view of the falls in the dark and rain. We still didn't see any bears though.. although Adam carrying on about them gave Eva the willies. We did spot a wolf out of our pension window later that night which was pretty cool.

Photos: Happy days, Eva trying to get her finger bitten by the multitude of fish, Blue, blue, blue, blue, a bunch of wet numpties.

On the road to Plitvice

From Dubrovnik we made our way up to Plitvice national park. We had considered hiring a car but we all agreed that it wouldn't be worth the potential stress of driving. We instead chose to use public transport and break our journey in Sibenik, a small coastal town. We had to go back through Split but our bus connections worked very smoothly and we ended up in Sibenik in the late afternoon.
After a bit of traipsing around we found somewhere to stay although Adam and mum managed to lose each other (that's the diplomatic way of putting it) and they missed out on half a beer each.
The place we were staying had a washing machine which is always a big plus when travelling about so we got down to the laundry. We did wonder though how the laundry/beer drinking jobs were allocated.
We spent the evening wandering through the town with many, many winding streets almost managing to lose each other again and had a relaxed dinner with Dad trying to do his best Mr Bean eating langostines impression.
On the way home that night we passed hundreds of young teenagers out and about partying in bars and on random stairways. It was hard to imagine it being an ordinary Saturday night occurrence, it was hard to see where so many teenagers could come from in such a small town, there were just too many of them to be all from this town.
The next day was another early morning. We had more early morning buses than sleep ins on this holiday. The bus trip to Plitvice was quite a nice one as we passed through areas away from the coast it was quite a nice change.
Croatia has never had a decent road network partly because of the shape of the country, but mainly because most of the countries income has always gone into increasing tourism and not into the other infrastructures of the country. On the way to Plitvice we drove down the newly opened motorway which instead of going around or over the mountain range they went straight through it via massive bridges and a multitude of tunnels, the longest of those tunnels being over 5.5 km long.

Photos: Photos 1 & 2: The way it should be, They got it a little wrong.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


We had pretty high expectations for Dubrovnik. It is the city which is always mentioned in travel shows on Croatia and it was a long way out of the centre of Croatia. It was really well worth the trip down south though for several reasons. Seeing the old town (which we didn't really leave the whole time we were there) was great. It is your classic walled, narrow streeted European old town but perched above the sea and had to be the biggest city of its kind we have seen. The bluest sea, reddest roofs and cream stone was a lovely contrast making the town a joy to wander around (apart from all the hills). We took soooo many photos up the twisting streets with washing hanging from the windows that our memory cards were pushed for space.
The rebuilding of Dubrovnik was pretty awe inspiring as well, the place was all but levelled in 1667 and completely rebuilt and in more recent history the 1991 siege left a lot of damage, photos of which were scattered through out the town.
We organised accommodation in an old lady's apartment although on arrival she was in real state because she'd locked herself out, poor dear. We left our luggage in a neighbour's foyer and came back later when she had got back in.
That night we thought we'd try to get a hold of some non Croatian food and a restaurant nearby called Taj Mahal (or some similarly Indian sounding name) sounded good. Turned out to be a Bosnian restaurant!?! Great food though.
The next day we got up at a respectable hour and headed to a market, checking out some of the local produce and ending up at a bakery for brekkie. We then mounted the walls and walked the circuit which was quite long and exposed to the sun, we wouldn't really want to do it at midday in Summer. We were lucky that there weren't too many tourists about, Summer would be the pits though. The views from the walls were spectacular, another round of frantic camera clicking.
We then joined a cruise to the Elafiti islands which lasted most of the day. We visited three of the islands where we landed at small pretty towns and going for a dip at the final destination where we had to go on a fairly long hot walk to reach the stunning beach on the other side of the island. We had a brilliant fish lunch on board the boat and Nick continued his 'feeding the hungry fish of Croatia' mission, throwing hunks of bread overboard and watching the schools devour them.
Photos: Dubrovnik from the sea, Restored roof tops after the war, View over the city from the wall, Our fishy feast

Friday, June 08, 2007


We rose early on our last morning in Split as we had to make a 7 am ferry. Ouch! By now we had acquired sunglasses and were prepared for the 5 hours ahead as we cruised towards Korcula, one of the largest islands along the coast. The journey took us through so many islands and we passed lots and lots of yachts. We can only imagine how busy these waters must get in Summer in peak season given the thousands of yachts we saw docked in harbours along the coast.
We arrived in Korcula and the ferry dropped us right next to the old town which gave us a great view of the city walls as we approached.
Korcula's old town is on a small spit of land and defended by walls, the streets were designed to let the warm breezes from one direction flow through the town but to block the cold winds from the other - smart thinking!
We got a great little place to stay in and grabbed a bite to eat there before heading in to town for a coffee. The day had been very muggy so far and hazy making it difficult to see the distant islands. As we sat on the waterfront walls we heard a crack of thunder and saw a sheet of weather heading our way. One by one we saw the yachts reeling in their sails as the weather hit them, then it hit us and all the cafes along the front were madly pulling in umbrellas and menus. Nick even lost the froth off the top of his cappuccino!
By the time the rain hit we were safely inside but we got a touch damp on the way home. The storm didn't last long and afterwards the air was so much fresher and clearer it was lovely.
The next day we left Mum and Dad early for a quick dip which was pretty cold but very refreshing. We met up again and headed to a nearby town on foot, the walk was pretty warm in the sun so we went for another swim in the bluest sea imaginable. In the water was loads of sea urchins (Adam managed to catch one of the prickly things), fish, sea cucumbers (look like poos) and anemone. It was pretty tricky getting in and out of the water though as it was off a rocky 'beach' that we were swimming.
We continued walking about the town and ended up passing through some beautiful vineyards on the way to another beach where we found a brilliant little place for lunch. We all shared a platter and between the good food and amazing location it was a great lunch.
We ended up having to get a water taxi back to Korcula which gave us a chance to sober up after trying the local brandy at lunch (mum!).
It was so nice to be able to spend a bit of time on an island, the scenery, peacefulness and weather made for a great couple of days.
Photos: The view from where we had lunch, A street in the old town, Gabrielle enjoying her favourite food, The view of the old town from the ferry, Enjoying the sun and the company.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What's that got to do with the price of bananas in Australia?

The following afternoon we caught a bus on to Split and walked to our home stay type accommodation before heading to a nearby beach for dinner. Looking out over the sea as night fell was really beautiful and relaxing. After tea we headed into the old town for a coffee. The old town which is enclosed in a massive roman palace complex is littered with ruins. We had a coffee in a cafe which used nearby steps and cushions as seating, overlooking some of the ruins. It was a very hushed atmosphere and really quite cool.
The next day we did a bit of a walk around the old town, rubbing lucky toes and trying to find various sights down sooooo many narrow, twisting romantic streets (so many, many photos). Mum found a path heading up and up we went, out of the old town and onto a great panorama of the city. You could see from the industrial/high rise part of town around to the ancient town centre and waterfront and then to some of the islands just off the coast. This is where Adam lost the bananas.

Photos: The cafe overlooking the ruins (sorry for the blurriness), The view to the waterfront from the lookout, Adam left the bananas on the bench beneath the flagpole, Somebody's bathroom window peeking out from the walls of the ancient city, This is supposed to be lucky but Adam can't help thinking how much it would tickle.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Quick, we need sunnies!

We arrived in Zadar fairly late on Saturday and had a brief moment of concern when we thought the one ATM at the airport had run out of money and that there may not be any taxis about. All was good though and we headed to our accommodation for the night.

The next day we had a quick run for the bus to Zadar where we spent the morning looking around. The sun was out, the sea and the sky were amazing shades of blue and the marble streets of the old own reflected all this light in a -well- dazzling kind of way. Sunglasses definitely in order for we light starved pasty beings.

The highlight of Zadar had to be the Sea Organ which made a surprisingly pleasant sound to the rhythm of the waves, we sat for some time listening and waiting for boat wake to change the song.

Photos: Announcing your musical leanings is all the rage in Croatian graffiti, sitting and listening to the Sea Organ

Antipodean visitors

Well it was pretty strange seeing Mum and Dad Y come through the arrivals gate at Glasgow airport a couple of weeks ago. Strange and brilliant after not seeing any family for 10 months. We had considered borrowing a kilt for Adam for the airport but thought that after 20something hours on planes this may prove too great a shock.

It was strange driving back along the familiar route from Glasgow to Inveraray with Mum and Dad after having spoken about where we have been living so many times. The West Coast put it's best weather on for us as well. Foggy and drizzly with streams and waterfalls doing what they do best in Scotland- flow.
The next couple of nights were great, everyone was keen to meet Adam's folks with several people saying how similar they thought Nick and Adam look. During the days we visited the local castle and climbed up Dun na Cuaiche despite the weather continuing to be decidedly West Coast.
We were luck enough to get a lift off Robyn on Saturday to the airport (Cheers) and set off to Croatia- you beaut!

Photos: Wandering the woods, Surveying the vast moistness of Scotland, Who are these wild men!?! Meeting some of the boys after a (wet) session in the veggie patch.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Just quickly before we write about our trip to Croatia, I just want to let you know about some of our beautiful wildlife here in western Scotland, MIDGES!!!!!!!!! At the moment we are building a chicken coup in the estate for the hotel, we were up there for no more than 20 minutes and we got swamped by these little blighters. We have heard lots about them but thought everyone was exadurating. Well they weren't! These are just a few of the bites. Oh but how cool is this though, we have to Badger proof the coup.