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Croatia, Slovenia & Czech Trek

Discussion in 'Europe' started by rime noreason, Apr 11, 2019.

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  1. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Fascinating to see how Tito would be remembered in the Balkan states. While he kept Yugoslavia together (without the extreme blood-letting that followed his death and the dissolution of the nation into separate states) clearly he was a corrupt and ruthless dictator. Ironic: such beauty amongst that level of conflict and “ethnic cleansing”.
     
  2. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We plan on getting a 10 day pass minimum and see what happens from there. If the snow is good we may ski more or if it's so-so we have six days in Japan on the way home that we can use for skiing if we want. We've booked all our accommodation in Europe now so I would prefer not to make any more changes if possible.
     
  3. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    @Lady Penelope, I suppose peoples' perceptions about the regime depend whether their personal experiences and subsequent lifestyles were positive or negative

    @PMG, I've no doubt whatever you see and experience here will be fantastic. Whatever you don't means a follow-up trip might be required, as it now is for us:D

    This trip was an excellent reconnaissance mission to decide where we'd like to return and spend longer next time. What we didn't factor on, is that turned out to be just about everywhere!

    Our next port of call was the Port of Roses, (Portoroz), and Piran. When we stepped onto our piazza, we saw that someone’s popped a Venetian town right in our front yard!

    Slovenia has only about 20km of coast but is very pleased and proud of it. Piran is a little gem along that coast. It’s the mocktail Venice, that is, it’s the Venice you have when you can't have Venice



    Venetians built the city and lived here for several centuries, and the Venetian feel still permeates this town with its turreted clocktower, fortress and castle and lose-yourself laneways. The actual city of Venice is less than 100kms as the crow flies, across the Adriatic. So on a clear day it’s visible from the fortress. We had a clear day. There’s not a whole lot in between except for the blue sea water. There wouldn’t be too many skylines with Venice’s distinctive tower and in the exact direction of Venice. So I’m calling it Venice and won't hear otherwise.

     
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  4. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Like many towns throughout this region, Piran is surrounded by medieval fortress walls that require many steep stairways through narrow laneways and medieval gateways to reach. The journey let alone the views, is always worth the effort even though the furnace of the sun tries to deter you. We won





    Not only does the architecture in Piran have a Venetian flavour,, but unsurprisingly so does the food. Fresh local seafood and vino on the water front, yes please.




    While I’m not a master of the Slovenian language, I do know a few words now, but I’m guessing this doesn’t mean quite the same thing in Slovenian! :eek:LOL




    Piran is another place we’d definitely like to return to and enjoy for longer.

    Slovenia has skiing, paragliding, rivers, lakes, caves, Adriatic coastlines, pristine beaches, Roman ruins, and of course wine. What’s not to love about it!m I’d have been very happily stranded here for the rest of my days



    There is a very good reason that the word “Slovenia” contains the word “love”. Even the trees grow leaves in the shape of hearts! I heart S-:emoji_black_heart: -nia



    With a great deal of fondness and fantastic memories in our hearts, we had to depart this gorgeous little nation.

    We headed back inland towards Croatia, although this took much longer than planned. First up, there had been an accident blocking the highway we were heading to, so our GPS re-routed and took us via a narrow dirt lane barely wide enough for a single car, and with steep embankments lining both sides. The lane zig zagged through farmlands with countless sharp bends. We noticed cars banked up ahead, and we realised that everyone else’s GPS had the same idea. Cars followed behind us and also came from the oppostie direction. The narrow lane made it almost impossible for cars to pass each other.

    This caused a massive traffic jam as no one was able to move in either direction, as even more cars joined the queuing conga line frpm behind, in both directions. Eventually some cars realised the blockage and slowly backed up until slight widening was found to pass each other. This was fine until a bright blue truck in inched its way towards us.

    We moved over as far as possible and were wedged against a farm fence but as the truck inched forward to pass us, its tyres on the other side had to roll up on the embankment. This caused the truck to list increasingly and dangerously over our car! It just managed to clear the bonnet but then had to pass over the cabin which was of course higher, while the truck tilted even further over us. Our rental car was brand new, we were the first customers to drive it! I was now picturing returning and having the rental company question where the bright blue stripe along the length of our roof had come from! SM wound down thr window, as did the truck driver, and shared a laugh together! Seriously ???

    I think I broke the world record for breath holding as the truck crawled passed. You couldn't have slid a sheet of paper between our roof and that truck! Yet somehow, unbelievably we came away unscathed.

    I'd taken this photo of the the colourful roses just before we rounded the bend directly into the thick of the traffic jam but you can see the narrow lane and the beginning of the steep embankments



    The second disruption in crossing in to Croatia came after driving about 45 minutes on a secondary road. Let’s take this road SM said. It will be more scenic SM said.

    When we finally arrived at the border, we handed our passports to the guards with our standard cheerful Dobro Dan, before the guards returned our passports with barely an acknowledgement and refused our entry. Apparently this border crossing was for EU citizens only:confused:

    It had been such a scenic route, we decided to do it again, but in reverseLOL

    Nonetheless, it gave us the opportunity to stop at another fruit stand and enjoy a chat with the farmer and buy some more delicious apricots and cherries.

    We drove back another 45 minutes, after which we were almost back to our starting point that morning, and begin the long trek to find the highway border.

    With a few more GPS glitches, it was a long day's driving before we finally arrived in to Croatia’s Plitvice lakes and waterfalls

     

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  5. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Right, that’s it! I’m definitely visiting Slovenia at some point. Such history. Such beauty. Just don’t rely on your partner or the GPS for navigation :D
     
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  6. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Haha @Lady Penelope. Google Maps hasn’t done its homework very well throughout this region, so we experienced several navigational failures, although nothing too detrimental. One section through Bosnia proved very worthwhile with the scenic route nevertheless.

    I’d thought we should to plot our air bnb houses on the maps prior to leaving Australia so we knew exactly where they are, and thought we should also pre-plan some of the roads we’d planned to drive to avoid these situations.However, as driving was SM’s one job, tthe pre-planning thing didn’t happenLOL

    SM and I complete each other, in that as organised and well-planned I am, he is as disorganised and unwell-plannedLOL

    Even more amusing was Google Maps’ mispronunciation of local towns and villages names, which was a largely phonetic style in an extremely broad Aussie accent. Nowhere was this more obvious than around Goriska. It had us highly entertained at times, such as Dobrovo becoming Dough-BRO-Vo, Vipolže was pronounced VY-poles, Gonjače was Gon-JACE-ee, and Gorenje pronounced as Go-REN-GEE. When road, town and district names were strung together in a sentence, it sounded hysterical. A couple of times, we even double-backed just to hear the full instruction repeated, and found it extraordinarily comical. Admittedly, that may have been directly after our wine tastings:whistle:

    On a couple of occasions such as now in Plitvice, we’d driven the same section of road back and forth so many times that we felt we almost knew every piece of gravel by heart! Thankfully, when we were really stuck here, some helpful locals came to our aid

    We eventually found our cottage at Plitvice and when we looked out of our windows we discovered that someone’s gone and planted a stream and mini Plitvice waterfall right across our front lawn!


    Both Slovenia and Croatia were much warmer than we’d anticipated, and very humid. This stream in our garden, fed from a freshwater spring, was very welcome and just amazing to swim in. The crystal clear Korana River that forms part of the Plitvice Lakes and terraced waterfalls runs through our neighbourhood and through our front lawn.The photos really don’t adequately show its clarity or gorgeous surrounds. Being so smooth and clear, it was actually deceptively swift and deep. The majority was well over my head. We took great delight in leaping in, letting the current swirl you downstream to our stone steps, refill on cheese and wine. Rinse and repeat

    These tiny little fish were our swimming partners and even came up curiously around us. Perhaps they thought we were a tasty snack! Iridescent blue damselflies flitted about the waterside shrubbery too

    My personal crystal clear stream and mini Plitvice waterfall, in my very tranquil garden surrounded by birds and mountains, close to skiing, close to flying, close to a very stunning coastline with sapphire blue seas, close to ancient ruins, fresh produce and a delightful little cottage with all the mod cons you could want, plus wine and cheese. I found my Paradise here, and what I’d like to have as my forever-home!





    We set out early the next morning for a day wandering around Plitvice Lakes. What a remarkable landscape of terraced lakes and waterfalls cascading down each one! The water is a stunning aquamarine here too, yet so clear that visibility extends many many metres.

    On the second photo below is a boardwalk directly centre and to the left side. You can see people lined up there which provides a sense of scale.

    There are quite a few kilometres of walking trails here, a new waterfall at each turn. Some are long sheer curtains cascading through tufts and tussocks, others meander gently over wide sections of grass and forest, others gush beneath and alongside the boardwalks. The grandfather of them all is the Great Waterfall that cascades 78 metres over a sheer rock face.
     

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  7. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    In between all the terraced waterfalls are calm, clear lakes reflecting the surrounding hills. This is all Karst territory comprising of collapsed hills and subterranean rivers continuing the limestone route south from Slovenia

    There are plenty of picturesque spots to enjoy a picnic lunch, which we did while listening to the waterfalls cascading around us. We gave our legs a break in the afternoon and boarded a little boat which ferried us upstream, passing more waterfalls along the way and returning us to the upper end. Tthen we walked down the other side of the trails.





    Fish, fat bellied Marsh Frogs, electric blue damselflies, and shimmery bright green lizards enjoyed the lush forest with us as we traipsed the boardwalks.

    Even a Tessellated Water Snake poked his head up and posed nicely while I snapped a photo. Along one of the pathways we came across a Slow Worm. Despite looking like a snake, it’s actually a legless lizard. It was probably about 60 – 70 cms long. You can see the stumpy tail end which has been lost along the way as lizards tend to do when threatened The tail doesn’t ever grow back properly.



    When going to Plitvice, I recommend “going” before going

    This squat toilet is not what I’d generally classify as a “comfort station”! Lucky for me, skiing and ski-training squats had my quads in adequate condition that I managed not to topple overLOL



    This was our neighbourhood. The rickety bridge near our Plitvice cottage had been recently repaired with new wooden beams after heavy rains a few weeks earlier had washed large sections of it away, and had cut off our village. You can see in my previous pictures how high the water level was, by the dry grasses that were washed downstream and now hung from what is usually nothing but lush greenery.

    I really didn’t want to leave this little slice of Heaven. We enjoyed one more leisurely breakfast on our front porch in the sunshine, and one last dip in our stream before heading to the coast again

     
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  8. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Driving south through Croatia, it’s a game of join the dots with medieval fortress towns along the coast

    We strolled through narrow, steep streets and stairs of cobble stones worn smooth over the centuries, that were lined with Venetian clock towers and turrets. Tthese coastal towns are filled with historic buildings, churches, Old Town Squares with belltowers and Town Halls, Roman Forum ruins that are still being unearthed, and fortresses that provide amazing views.

    The first of these towns was Zadar.


    Spring water originating from the karst areas supply water to these towns. In Zadar, this is the Five Wells Square, from where the villagers used to collect their water.




    The Riva promenade along the waterfront is lined with colourful flowers spanning the length, and dotted with straw bale and floral seats to rest on in the shade and enjoy the Adriatic views.



    These towns have many similarities, but Zadar contains a unique highlight with its Sea Organ. On the surface it looks like a terraced concrete series of steps lapped by the sea, but it’s a series of wind pipes benesth the platform which overhangs the Adriatic Sea. As the ocean laps against stepped terraces, some of which are submerged depending on tides, air is pushed through the pipes. As the ocean laps against stepped terraces, air is pushed through the pipes creating soft, low whistles of fluctuating notes somewhat reminiscent of whale songs.

    Here we enjoyed our first dabble in the Adriatic Sea

     
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  9. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Returning to the waterfalls theme, we then visited Krka National Park. It’s not a spelling mistake, Krka is another beautiful national park of lush green mountains and terraced waterfalls. Although I can't say Krka without feeling the need to leap about like a frog. Krr-ka. Krr-ka:emoji_frog:
    Somewhat similar to Plitvice, the sound of babbling and rushing water is in every direction around you as you meander along the boardwalks and hiking trails. Most of these boardwalks have no railings and are barely a few centimetres above the swirling streams

    Krka has similarities to Plitvice, but differences too. Some say if you can only visit one, make it Plitvice, although I couldn’t say one is superior to the other as they are both amazing and grogeous.

    The water levels were quite high. Even the rickety old bridge near our Plitvice cottage had been recently repaired with new wooden beams, after heavy rains a few weeks earlier had washed large sections of it away, and had apparently cut off our village. You can see in my previous pictures how high the water level was, by the dry grasses that were washed downstream and cling from what is usually nothing but bright green shrubs. Consequently, we saw these streams at Krka at their dramatic best, and in many places the waterfalls were cascading directly across the grass and through the forest, around the trees.




    There is a huge multi terraced waterfall at the end of the hiking trail that begins a fair way up stream, called Stradinski Buk. The icing on the cake is that you’re allowed to swim below the impressive Strudinski Buk cascade.

    So I did. SM watched as I plunged in and swirled about in the currents with a grin. SM decided the waterfall currents didn’t look nearly as inviting as they did for me and looked at me with an unimpressed expression, and just dabbled his feet daringly in the shallows. He was getting all antsy as my head bobbled about in the waves. I just laughed and splashed him.

    Swimming below the roar of the waterfall in the cool crystal clear water was spectacular and I didn’t want to get out. Being later in the afternoon meant there weren’t too many people either. In the middle of a hot day, I think it could get quite busy in summer





    We arrived at our nearby Air bnb that evenbing, and were in complete awe of it. Our host was the sweetest man who had spent the last 13 years building his/our home entirely by hand, using local stone and wood. He made the fittings and furniture by hand as well, creating this extraordinary jewel of a home. The stone walls, cupboards, tables, chairs, wardrobes, even the handles, absolutely everything. I could barely lift these chairs, they’re so solid and built to last. No Ikea here thank you!

    So many clever touches with stones as shelves and hooks, polished twig drawer handles, twisted tree roots as table lamp bases, natural tones and patterns everywhere. So much thought and detail in the design! His exterior stone walls are terraced and full of plants and flowers, many of them edible, all of them colourful. The salad bar is right outside the front door. Together We ate juicy sweet strawberries, straight off the vines. There’s an indoor full bathroom, but also an outdoor shower from where to enjoy the surrounding landscape. It is on top of a hill, yet secluded and very peaceful

    Our host spoke very little English and we spoke pretty much no Croatian, yet we communicated perfectly well! No words were even required when it came to sharing his homemade delicious cherry liqueur from cherry trees gorwing in his backyard. He was very generous with it! I was sorry to have to leave this gorgeous home, filled with so much creative love and clever craftsmanship. I’d love to spend longer here next time too


     
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  10. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks once again, @rime noreason , for sharing in detail your travels and posting such wonderful photos. That AirBnb place looks simply amazing! More beautiful scenery, and congratulations for having the courage to get up so close to that snake for a close-up :eek:
     
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  11. LDJ

    LDJ One of Us

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    @rime noreason loving the trip report. You have potentially sold me on Slovenia for a quick 5 days as part of a UK wedding I have to go to. It would be July 2020 probably 12th-17th. My wife and I love hiking so we were thinking maybe 2 day Ljubliana and then 2-3 days in the Bohinj/Bled area and hiking in the Julian Alps. We love hiking in the mountains and it looks stunning. We have done lots of hiking in some of the more well know alpine countries so looking at something different and Slovenia looks awesome.
     
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  12. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks @Lady Penelope. Creating this thread has turned out to be a much bigger and longer project that I’d anticipated! I can see that I’ll be wrapping up the thread just as we’re heading off for ”Chapter 2”, which were planning for two years from now! LOL

    It’s made me sort through all the photos though, and we’re getting closer to wrapping it all up, with only a couple more (but longer) stays.

    @LDJ, I’m envious of you. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

    We drove back to the seaboard and spent a few hours at Sibenik, which is built on the Dalmatian Coast but in a natural and protected harbour formed by the confluence of the Krka River and Adriatic Sea. Each of these coastal towns has similarities, yet each also quite individual, all of them filled with charm.
    Sibenik is another town of cathedrals and charming stone buildings that surround a rabbit warren of steep snaking laneways. The buildings and views are always stunning but it’s also the little details, such as stonework windows, doors and lintels, cobblestones, arches and stairs that I enjoyed taking time to notice and appreciate.




    This door lintel has a Latin inscription on it, dating from medieval times. It translates roughly to something like “Fear nothing those who do only good deeds”




    Sibenik is of course, also enclosed by fortress walls. However, it’s not content with just one fortress, it actually has four of them. They’re in close proximity and visible to each other.

    This is the oldest known native Croatian-built and inhabited city with references dating back to 1066. However, excavations underneath St Michael’s fortress are discovering settlements from other civilisations that date back far earlier.

    We zig zagged up St Michael’s fortress walls and stairs continuing ever higher and were in awe of the rugged coastline views beyond the harbour. I took several pano shots of the Adriatic here, scattered with islands that looked like delicious dishes spread out before us like a banquet.



    A garden at St Lawrence’s Church that has origins back to the 1400s has been faithfully replanted with heritage plants to replicate the era. This was a welcome shady spot where we admired the colourful flowers with an iced coffee (which became a frequent activity every couple of hours to combat Croatia’s heat) after the strenuous climb to the fortress.




    Excavation works are discovering Roman ruins beneath the town, as well as many other towns through Croatia. Even deeper underground, they’re finding Romans built their towns over even older ones, of Greek origin and likely others civilisations that date to even earlier. Artefacts are slowly being dug up, sorted and catalogued. Beneath St Michael’s Fortress Walls there is a museum filled with artefacts and relics of these earlier settlements.

    Similar to Zadar, as Roman ruins are unearthed, some of these stone slabs, pillars and artefacts are set out in a large park forming a stone garden along the adjacent waterfront.

    Roman ruins and artefacts are a dime a dozen. There are so many Roman ruins scattered around throughout this region that the dilemma is what to do with them all.

    Well, you turn them into bars, of course! “Ruin Bars” are a thing. This was a funky bar back in Zadar. It has utilised a huge arch and walls from original Roman walls. Pottery urns and jugs long buried from Roman times, have since been dug up and now decorate the walls. They’re flamboyantly juxtaposed with contemporary décor, a paint-splashed piano crying for attention and competent musicians’ hands, and of course, what else but octopus tentacles.


     
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  13. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Another day, another medieval coastal town! The next of our join the dots coastal towns was Trogir Island just north of Split, which is only a river’s width from the mainland. The coastal drive here was stunning, providing sweeping views to Trogir Island and distant Split some 20 kilometres south, and even further beyond that. I took single panoramas on the phone, but I’m not sure if they’re going to mess with the size format of the thread. So it’s 3 separate photos I’ll upload here



    From pictures of rocky escarpments and landscapes, craggy islands and bleached limestone mountains, I had pictured this region to be more arid. Whilst the temperatures are quite hot, the climate is far more humid that we’d anticipated. We came to realise this not only by the volumes of sweat running down our backs and faces but also upon seeing the lush green landscape. It’s so humid that plants and moss flourish on stone walls thrroughout Croatia



    Trogir is yet another town with significant Venetian history and influence, narrow lanes, towering turrets, churches, frotress walls and a castle called Kamerlengo Castle Fortress, built in 1420





    Today, attacks from Ottomans aren’t too much of a threat, so what can you do with an ancient castle that someone thoughtlessly built in the middle of your soccer pitch?

    Well this of course! When a 600 year old castle wall doubles as your soccer goal




    Trogir aslo has its Riva, the waterfront promenade from where to sit sipping on iced coffees and refreshingly fruity cocktails, and watch the world go by while listening to chiming cathedral bells.

    The carillon of church bells throughout our travels is something I really miss. They are a glorious sound, each chime reminding me of the amazing history and architecture Surrounding us
     

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  14. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Beautiful! Thanks for going to the trouble to write this trip report, @rime noreason . Truly inspirational!
     
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  15. LDJ

    LDJ One of Us

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    @rime noreason did you need an International drivers permit for Slovenia? We have Aus & UK license but by the time we get there in July 2020 UK one might not be as useful as it is now :cry:
     
  16. bigmac

    bigmac Hard Yards

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    Thanks for the amazing info. Just found this thread. Obviously missed it when it started. We are doing a Prague Eastern Austria and Croatia trip in May June. Now will include Slovenia in the mix, has not previously been on our radar.
     
  17. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks @Lady Penelope, for both the feedback, and for sticking with it.

    With apologies in advance for the length of this post, which will be a hefty chapter all on its own:eek:LOL

    @LDJ, SM required the international driver’s license for one of the countries, but we can’t now recall whether that was Slovenia or Croatia. We were never asked to produce it.

    Thanks, and you’re welcome @bigmac, glad you’re enjoying it. What a fantastic trip you’ll have! Definitely add Slovenia if time allows, you’ll be doing yourself a favour. Austria and Prague are spectacular places too, although as we’d been to Austria and Switzerland before, it wasn’t included this trip. Note that Croatia will be very hot with high humidity in June

    So we continued to Split and deposited our car in a free zone with the help of our apartment owner, as a car isn’t required around here. Paid carparks can be around $50 per day otherwise!

    When we arrived at our apartment though, SM was dismayed and said we should demand a partial refund because there was a dirty big slab of old rock taking up half our bedroom!

    No-one had bothered moving it for the last 17 centuries!

    SM complained that after all this time you'd think someone should have made the effort to break it off and clear it out, and then even offered to hammer and chisel it, then plaster it smoothly over so the next guests don’t stub their toes on it in the dark when trying to get around the bed. SM is so helpful.

    I suggested we leave it for now and go sightseeing instead.




    So the actual history of this massive chunk of limestone through our wall is this.

    Emperor Diocletian had this seaside resort of Split built 1700 years ago as his personal retirement village. It is the oldest UNESCO listed ancient Roman city in which people are still allowed to reside and go about their daily lives.

    No expense was too great for Diocletian in his Palace’s construction, including the lives of 2000 slaves who reportedly died in the building process. Diocletian even managed to procure (some might say looted and plundered) numerous 1500 year old (now 3500 year old) Egyptian columns, sphinxes and other artefacts to decorate his humble digs

    While the houses and shop buildings within the Palace walls date back many centuries too, subsequent renovations have maintained feature walls, doorways, lintels, candle nooks and such, displaying the original stonework. However, our apartment has a feature even more unique and historically significant.

    Around 300 AD, the original ground floor of our apartment was built along a narrow cobblestone alley, directly across from Diocletian’s Jupiter Temple. Catholicism hadn't yet taken hold for these Romans, so it was celestial beings they worshipped, hence the name Jupiter.

    A few centuries later, the apartment's occupants built an extension, procuring the entire alley space for an additional room which then butted directly against the Temple wall.

    No Council permits required, you just built whatever you wanted and saved building costs to boot when you used the existing Temple's walls.

    Another couple of hundred years went by and the occupants extended upwards, building an entire second floor. More recently, that is only a mere 500 years ago, those occupants decided to build a third level. Our apartment is this "recent" renovation.

    However as they began building the bedroom that butted against the Temple wall, they realised that the roofline and gable of Jupiter’s Temple extended much further than its wall, and directly into the new room they were building! Pragmatically, they continued the renovations and simply enclosed the walls around the Temple gable. As you do.

    Consequently, a huge section of the Temple’s gable, that was built 17 centuries ago, protrudes through our bedroom’s walls! That chunk measures around 1 metre into the room from the wall, and probably around 2 metres tall and wide!

    All buildings here are under strict heritage protection now, and therefore allow no major structural alterations. This of course includes our 500 year old apartment, so it too, must remain as is with a 1,700 year old rock slab through the walls! The back corner of this Temple is the section that overlaps through the corner of our apartment, and the rest of the structure is also clearly visible directly outside our windows, and within hand’s reach on both sides of our bedroom. The Temple’s gable goes through the right-hand side, while the Temple’s side and barrel shaped roof (now protected beneath metal sheeting) is through the left.



    Through our window on the adjacent wall, was the carved fascia and eaves of the Temple’s side wall, with similarly carved relief designs. From this side, we realised they’d also planted a bell tower right in our yard!

    This was the Cathedral of St Domnius, with its prominent belltower which flanks one side of the Peristil.Each morning, the chiming bells would send the swallows circling around it. On the ground below was yet another narrow lane that hosts a tiny row of café tables






    The intricate stone carvings right in our room are an absolute treasure; winged cherubs, lions, bulls, and mythical creatures, and flowers continue around the entire length of roofline. Ovolo designs, symmetrical grapevines aand leaves decorate the corbels. The highlight is a delicately carved Minerva head, wavey hair framing her gentle face, the soft folds of her gown draping around her neck. The entire slab is extraordinary, and incredibly beautiful.



    Below the Temple’s gabled side, there is a small square three storeys below us, and during the daytimes this becomes a small open air café and restaurant. From this vantage, one can clearly see the gable disappearing through our apartment wall 3 storeys above. The restaurant lauds the view it can offer patrons, and we’d occasionally see a backpacker reading the information plaque and looking in awe at the gable disappearing into our wall, or tour groups walking there, the guide describing the circumstances of our apartment as the group stood gaping up at us hanging out the window. Their view from the ground level was nothing compared with ours!

    Thank goodness the people of the day retained this artefact rather than chiselling it away, having realised and preserved its significance even then, despite Christianity having taken hold by that time and these deities considered pagan. Rather than destroy these ancient Roman buildings, they were thankfully re-purposed and converted into Christian structures. Evidently Gods don’t mind living in homes pre-owned by their rivals!

    Our host owns the apartment and actually grew up in this bedroom. He is passionate about history and is Google Split on two legs. He very generously and enthusiastically spent several hours taking us around town and giving us the most detailed private tour you could possibly want.

    We stayed in some amazing places, many with superb mountain views, or of castles,, or rivers, lakes or oceans, but this apartment was a highlight. Mind blown!


     
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  18. bigmac

    bigmac Hard Yards

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    Can you provide the links to the hand built house and the split apartment and any others that you particularly liked. This really is a great resource for the area. Many thanks
     
  19. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    I’m just amazed at the level of preservation! Just imagine modern day councils thinking in this manner if, say, a 20 storey apartment block was proposed for a 21st century equivalent of this ...
     
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  20. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I’m so amazed at this entire town @Lady Penelope. I’m still in awe of it, and it’s fortunately still here for us to see and marvel at.

    @bigmac I’ll write you PM with more details.

    In Roman mythology, Jupiter was the king of all gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. However, a century or two following Diocletian’s reign, Catholicism reigned, and Jupiter Temple was called St John’s Baptistry. Although Catholicism is still the dominant religion now, this building has fittingly reverted to its former title of Jupiter Temple.

    The entry lintel is another priceless piece of carved stonework, depicting deities such as Victoria, Triton, Hercules, Jupiter and Apollo, as well as scrolled vines and egg and dart pattern.





    The Temple’s architecture is considered one of the most significant cathedrals in the world due to its unique single vaulted, carved stone coffered ceiling, and it's apparently the oldest and finest example of this anywhere else in the world. Each stone panel is intricately carved and curved to fit the barrel shape of the roof. The blocks remain in position by their own weight and block design.




    Inside there is a unique marble Baptismal font made in the 11th century. It’s unusually large and cross-shaped for full immersion. The font is decorated with carved patterns, and the front panel, rather than depicting religious figures, is shows King Petar blessing a lowly peasant at his feet. This is the oldest representation of the first Croatian king.





    From our apartment, we accessed Diocletian’s Palace square, the Peristil, directly via a very small laneway that ran alongside our apartment and Jupiter Temple. It’s called, “Pusti me da prodjem” – translated to; “Let me Pass” Street. It's just wide enough for the average adult in single file, so a little similar to navigating the narrow lanes in Slovenia with our rental car, if a person were to come from the other direction of this lane in Split, one of them would have to back up to allow the other pass, hence the name. The people on the right of my photo are standing on Jupiter Temple’s entrance terrace listening to their tour guide (the format of posts on this forum has been getting progressively difficult, especially since the last OS 13 update, so I think this picture will now end up at the bottom of this post, sorry)

    Diocletian’s portico and vestibule is at the top end of the Peristil, and lead to his chambers. He would appear on this portico to address his subjects. There is a daily re-enactment on this portico which is as cheesy as it is crowded. Buy a cooling drink from the Luxor café, which you’ll desperately want anyway, and then you can take advantage of the padded cushions on the stairs from where you get a decent view.






    St Domnius Cathedral id to the side of this portico. It was built as Diocletian’s mausoleum and he was initially interred here until Catholicism took over a century or two later. His sarcophagus, which had sat in the centre of the Cathedral, was desecrated. His body was spirited away somewhere for safekeeping, but was lost in transit over the years.

    Once Catholicism had superseded the pagan Roman religion, the mausoleum was converted to a Cathedral. In an ironic twist, and adding insult to Diocletian’s desecration, the title Domnius was bestowed after the last Christian crusader and martyr that Diocletian had beheaded. As the Church was built in 305AD, it’s now considered the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world remaining in use today, and still in its original form.

    The exterior of the Cathedral is surrounded by an octagonal colonnade of 24 Corinthian columns from red and black granite. Of course, also taken from ancient Egyptian and Greek temples.

    The Cathedral’s bell tower, which was added some centuries post Diocletian, dominates the walled Palace’s skyline, as well as the entire city. It is clearly visible from many kilometres out to sea, and looks quite majestic when arriving in the harbour. This is the bell tower directly outside one of our windows.



    The Corinthian pillars made of red granite inside the cathedral are also some of those which Diocletian purloined from Egypt. The cupola was originally covered in mosaics which have long since crumbled. An interesting semi-circular style of brickwork is now visible.



    The main altar has all sorts of interesting and historic features, too many to detail here. We listened to an international choir perform one evening in this spectacular setting, and the acoustics were equally spectacular.



    There is a carved stone frieze around the cornice depicting horses and chariots, cherubs, masks and gods, and other images of Roman significance. There are also portraits of Diocletian and his wife Prisca, in prime position above the altar. Interestingly, and fortunately (and unlike Diocletian’s tomb), these portraits weren’t destroyed by Catholic advocates, so we have the benefit of seeing them intact today.



    Diocletian decreed a regulation that the colour red-purple would be reserved solely for Emperors (and robes of Imperial purple were for his use only). Similarly, red granite was considered Royal, and why he obtained so much of it from Egypt. The carved marble pulpit inside St Domnius has red Egyptian granite pillars around it, part of which were once heavily gold gilded, and so it is believed these red granite pillars were originally part of Diocletian’s sarcophagus.

    Several sculptures by notable artists are in the various side chapels, including one with an effigy of St Domnius, dating from 1427



    the massive main entrance doors were carved during the 1300s from walnut. There are 28 panels in total, 14 on each door, that depict the life of Christ. They were originally painted and heavily gold gilded.



    The pews in the choir section were carved during the 1200s. Such amazing and intricate craftsmanship carved so many hundreds of years ago! There is so much history within this cathedral, too much to list and include on these already lengthy posts!




    This is the picture of “Let Me Pass” St

     
    #70 rime noreason, Nov 7, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
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  21. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Poor old Diocletian, who believed himself to be the son of Jupiter, only managed to enjoy a handful of years in his retirement home before he joined his heathen gods in the Heavens. Over following centuries, just as he pilfered parts of his Palace from ancient Egyptian and Greek temples, his Palace’s blocks and bricks were in turn pilfered by townsfolk to build their own homes with. You can see this throughout the city. A good example is around the Peristil.

    The columns surrounding the Cathedral on one side of the Peristil form a colonnade and remain intact. A few similar Egyptian pillars are still visible on the opposite side of the Peristil, the arches outlined from large white limestone blocks which mirror the colonnade. However in medieval times, the arched gaps on this side were bricked in by the wealthy families to formed the walls of their Renaissance palaces here. You can see these two sides of the Peristil on my photo in the previous post. taken from the open end, which also shows the centre portico leading to the Vestibule

    Diocletian’s Vestibule is a huge circular reception room where Diocletian greeted guests. Four large niches, around 4 metres high, once held masdsive statues of deities. The cupola’s centre is open to the sky and we could see the belfry of St Domnius towering above. This cupola was once richly decorated with mosaic tiles similar to the Domnius Cathedral’s ceiling.




    Nowhere are the original Roman red bricks more clearly visible than here. The narrow red bricks throughout the Palace are apparently typical of Roman architecture of the times. Rocks, rubble and limestone have been utilised to fill in the gaps. The huge limestone blocks are generally the handiwork of the Egyptian slaves who were used to cart the much heavier materials.

    We paid the few Kuna to climb the stairs for the view from the top of the cupola. Ancient and mottle tiled rooftops of medieval houses of the city are at eye level. We were able to see down to the Peristil, and also through the cupola roof directly down in the Vestibule. At the time we were also serenaded by the band of men singing their traditional Klapa music, which is a type of A Cappella singing. This small group performs here regularly throughout the days and evenings, making the most of the Vestibule’s wonderful acoustics.







    Like the many granite columns Diocletian transported from Egypt, he also acquired numerous sphinxes. Of the original 12 sphinxes he pilfered, unfortunately only three remain today. One sits at the entrance of “our” Jupiter Temple, another stands guard at the entrance of St Domnius Cathedral, and the third is in one of the local museums. They are carved from black granite, which is apparently very difficult to carve and requires the finest of stone masons.

    The sphinx at the entrance to the Cathedral is the only one that remains intact. The head of “our” sphinx at Jupiter Temple, was removed many centuries ago. As Christianity took hold around 600AD, people believed the sphinxes had evil eyes, so people either destroyed them completely, or simply lopped off the sphinx’s heads.




    We did find the head of ours though. It was just around the corner of our apartment. There it was in a wall above us. Who needs Selleys Spakfiller when you have a handy chunk of 3,500 year old granite to fill the crumbling wall!




    A few steps in the other direction from our apartment, we would walk beneath the Iron Gate and through the western Palace walls. This gate is the only one to have remained in continuous use to the present day. The wall was constructed as a double layer to increase fortification, with a corridor through the centre. It measures almost 16 metres high here.

    Above the Iron Gate, a small church was created in the 6th Century and incorporated an early Romanesque bell tower. This is now the oldest preserved bell tower on the Adriatic coast, and it also became host to the city clock, which uses a 24 hour clock.




    Through the Iron Gate is Narodni Trg, the People’s Square. As the population increased through the Middle Ages, this square superseded the Peristil as the city’s main square. The Town Hall from the 15thCentury is one side of this square, the medieval Cipriani-Benedetti family Palace is on the other side, built in 1394. This palace displays unusual and distinctive mullioned, or double columned, windows on each side facing the Square. Two stone relief Coat of Arm shields sit on the building’s corner. One is the Cipriani crest, the other, the Benedetti crest. Above the two crests, there is o a plaque depicting Adam and Eve. Beneath the line of mullioned windows is a statue of St Anthony on the building’s corner, facing the Square.

     
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  22. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    The vast Basement Hall of Diocletian's Palace is one of the best preserved works of late antique architecture anywhere in the world, and was a major factor in granting the city UNESCO heritage status. The palace above ground suffered damage over the centuries but because the substructure follows the identical floor plan, it was possible to accurately reconstruct damaged parts of the palace.

    The southern end had waterfront access for a quick escape. Palace staff and the army were stationed at the northern land side to stave off any attacks, and provided a protective barrier of expendable staff!

    This labyrinth is scattered with ancient Roman artefacts, chunks of Egyptian granite as well as a bust of Diocletian himself. It appears he may have also been partial to a drop or two of local grape juice as parts of an ancient oil and wine press (turnjačica) were found in one of these cellars. This is now on display in the exact location where it was discovered. I’m happy to report Croatia still makes qaulity grape liquid now too.

    From the Middle Ages, and up until the 1970s much of it was used for dumping rubbish and sewer waste. Around the 1970s, the city decided they needed to be cleaned out. I hope they paid the poor cleaners a right royal wage for doing so!:crap::emoji_confounded:

    It’s also fortunate for the Game of Thrones production team that the basements were cleaned out. Fans will recognise the halls in scenes where Daenerys had to chain up her unruly dragons:emoji_dragon_face:
    and where Cersei and Jamie met their feeble demise, amongst other scenes




    From the Iron Gate and toward the harbour is is Trg Braće Radić, Square of the Radić Brothers, however it is generally called Voćni Trg, or Fruit Square, as it used to be a fruit market in medieval times. It’s surrounded by medieval stone houses and the Milesi Palace built in the 1600s. which is apparently one of the best examples of Baroque style in throughout the entire Dalmatian region.



    The Marko Marulić statue is in front of this palace. Marulić was born in 1450 and was a revered Croatian poet.



    The octagonal Venetian Tower was built on the southern end of Voćni Trg in the 1400s as part of a fortress wall. The Venetians graciously but insistently offered to build a fortress to protect the local inhabitants from supposed marauders. Then they promptly took over the city for almost 400 years until the late 1700s.



    The Golden Gate to the north was reserved solely for the use of Diocletian’s family. It now takes you to comparatively recent sections of Split. The exterior was elaborately decorated, and recesses once contained a sculpture of each member of the Tetrarchy, which iss the rule by four leaders rather than a single Caesar, which was implemented by Diocletian. This helped ensure a fairer reign, and have successors ready. The centre niche held a sculpture of an eagle which was a symbol of the god Jupiter.



    Above the Golden Gate, in the narrow corridor space between the pair of parallel double row of walls, is the tiny Church of St Martin. This church measures only 1.6 metres wide and dates from the 6th Century. It’s just wide enough for a single-seat pew on each side of the narrow aisle. The rudimentary arched stone chancel screen at the church’s entrance has a simple hand-carved Latin inscription along the architrave. It includes the name St Dominic, and consequently can be dated to the 800s.

    The Dominican Sisters are the caretakers of the church now. Equally charming as the church was the gentle and very elderly Dominican Sister seated at the entrance. Mainly tourists visit here, and we were clearly tourists, but she was very pleasantly surprised when I greeted her in Croatian, and a little conversation ensued with my broken Croatian as she beamed with pleasure at my attempts. This little exchange was well worth the few pennies we gladly donated upon entry


    Directly outside the Golden Gate stands an imposing Gregory of Nin statue who was a medieval Croatian Bishop of note in 926AD. He insisted on delivering sermons in Croatian rather than Latin so the general population could understand the services, but defying the Catholic Church. This actually benefitted the Church financially, it just took a little while for the Church to recognise this, so Greg was in the bad books at the time.

    The statue stands 8.5 metres tall, and was sculpted by Ivan Meštrović (who also created the Marko Marulić statue), and its massive foot, specifically his big toe, has been polished a shiny gold by people rubbing it for good luck.

    The St Arnir belfry towers above, part of a Benedictine Monastery built in 1069. A lot of the Monastery was destroyed in a fire 150 years ago, and the rest during the allied bombings in 1945. The belfry and the ruins of a small chapel are the only remains still standing today.



    The Silver Gate in the centre of the east wall is built like the others with an outer and inner wall for stronger fortification, with a corridor in between. Also similar to the Golden Gate, this Silver Gate was located between two octagonal towers, beside which were four more towers providing clear sight of any approaching threat. This gate has more modest architecture than the Golden Gate, and was closed to all access from the Middle Ages until 1952 when it was extensively restored following the 1945 bombing.


    The fish markets are a Split tradition and are a daily hive of activity. Locals and restaurants buy their fish here, for many as a daily ritual. I’m not sure which of the locals enjoyed it more though, between the seagulls or the countless stray cats!

    Stray cats are everywhere through Croatia, winding around patrons’ legs while they’re eating at the outdoor restaurants.





    There are three basic categories to describe Split’s buildings. The first is “original” which refers to Diocletian’s era of 305AD. The second is “old”, referring to medieval or Middle Age, and “new”, which are those only 200 – 400 years old. Ruins currently being discovered from pre-Diocletian will need another title again, I suppose.

    As you progress further away from Diocletian’s central Palace, and outside the walls, the buildings take on more recent architectural characteristics, progressing from Ancient, to Gothic, Renaissance, on to Art Nouveau and Deco.

    This gorgeous is a melding of both Art Deco & Nouveau styles. The windows appear Deco while the metal sculptures have the soft flowing features of Art Nouveau.




    The decorative Nacik Palace was built in 1906 is another gorgeous building, and is the earliest Art Nouveau building in Split.


    At the Archaeology Museum a few blocks outside of the Palace complex, there are several wings of artefacts, including thousands of Roman coins, dishes, oil lamps, urns, implements, delicately blown glass bottles and jewellery. There are also rooms filled with artefacts dating from the Palaeolithic Age and the Iron Age.

    In the cloisters around the gardens, there is an obstacle course of ancient sculptures, statues, busts, tombs and artefacts. Some sarcophagi have headless figurines. This is because they were cheaper to have carved in Egypt, then ship them back to Split where local stone masons who were familiar with the deceased would complete the effigy for accurate resemblance. However, those commissioning the work often ran out of money part way through the project, so the figurines remained headless.



    Some sarcophagi have large gaps chiselled roughly through the sides of the stone. Apparently it was against the law to open the lids to loot valuable contents. However, it was OK to carve a hole and climb in to loot the goods! Chiselling these holes through solid limestone isn’t easy though, so they’d make the holes just large enough to send their kids in to purloin the contents! :eek:LOL

     
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  23. Sadie

    Sadie Chk Chk Boom Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    This is turning out to be a fantastic trip report. Thank you so much for taking the time to post. It is bringing back wonderful memories of our trip that we did in Feb 2018. The photos of Croatia look so different to ours as ours we so dark and dreary due to it being Winter. It is a beautiful place in Winter and seeing the Summer photos, it is just as beautiful.

    Our photos of Plitvice are a lot different to yours. We were told by the guide that he was willing to take us down, but we go at our own risk. One wobbly step on the iced boardwalk and you would fall in. It was very slow going.
     
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  24. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks @Sadie, I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I’m glad to have a written record, without which I’m sure I’d forget many little details, but it’s been far more time consuming than I’d anticipated. We’re getting there though, I promise!

    It’s interesting how suddenly the seasons seem to change. It seems one day it’s hot, next minute…..

    I’m undecided what season to return next time, but not sure which might still be nice weather without quite so much heat. I think there are pros and cons for both

    It’s a beautiful and fascinating place though. How long were you there? Our trip wasn’t nearly long enough for my liking!

    With wise planning, Diocletian had his retirement home built beside the sea, taking advantage of the waterfront views and pleasant sea breezes. As the population increased over the centuries, land was reclaimed from the Adriatic, and the coastline was gradually extended over the water. It’s now a pleasant waterfront – Riva promenade - with cafés and restaurants, and with a bit of sparkle at night.



    It’s a perfect location for breakfast and also pre-dinner drinks. At one end there is a fountain that replaces a huge a neo-Classical fountain that was sadly destroyed by the Communist party due to its historical connection to Italy. There are currently plans to eventually replace this small fountain with a replica of the original. At night, the current fountain displays a cycle of changing colours. Following pre-dinner drinks, we seemed to find it extraordinarily amusing trying to take a selfie while it was glowing bright red, but failing to catch it every time it went through the sequence!







    You don’t get seafood much fresher or tastier. All the food we had here so was so good! They certainly do it well.



    The marina is here, where boats depart for daytrips around the nearby islands which SM and I did on one of our days. Hvar was the main stop, one of numerous port towns scattered with stone buildings that were built by Venetians in medieval times.






    Colourful flowers climb the stone walls along the narrow and steep lanes through Hvar which were built around the 1200s.

     

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  25. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Such history! What a trip report, @rime noreason . As @Sadie says, thanks so much for the effort in preparing and posting this (above post might need a ‘Game of Thrones’ spoiler alert, though! For me, as the one person on the planet who couldn’t care less about GOT, it wasn’t a problem!).
     
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  26. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks @Lady Penelope. It was so long ago, being earlier this year, That spoiler messages didn’t even occur to me. I thought I remember the actual thread about it was just a few days for spoilers. We watched that episode while in Prague. I can’t edit it now, but hopefully being more than 6 months ago, anyone reading this will have already watched the episode :oops:

    If you’ve ever had to have your fingerprints taken and couldn’t wash off the ink for days, you can blame one Mr. Ivan Vucetic, who hailed from Hvar. He’s the clever cookie who studied humans’ individual papillary lines and established fingerprint technology. There is a waterfront tribute to him now.



    We made a hell of a steep climb of countless steps in heat and high humidity to the Spanish fort far above Hvar town. We were at least rewarded with some gorgeous views of the Paklinski Islands scattered through the Adriatic.



    Once we caught our breath and mopped up the rivers of sweat pouring from our foreheads, we returned down the stairs and rewarded our stomachs with lunch. When SM's plate was placed in front of him, we both thought, We gonna need a bigger plate!

    SM exclaimed that he’d never before seen such a big-a**ed calzone. SM has a very expressive way with words.



    Apparently Hvar is THE place for the rich and famous to play and be seen, so There were some decent weekend runabouts anchored in the port. As we wander along the Riva, or waterfront, we watched this huge yacht manoeuvre and dock right in front of us. I thought it was just a very big boat but SM corrected me and said it wasn’t just a very big boat.

    SM once again used his descriptive calzone terminology to describe this Boaty McBoatface.

    He googled the vessel’s name which was White Rabbit, and Mr Google informed us that it’s the largest trimaran super-yacht in the world. There was a somewhat smaller boat beside it, which we agreed was just the dinghy. It was about the size of our house. This dinghy unloaded a team of crisply uniformed crewmen who promptly wentt to work polishing all the railings on White Rabbit. Can’t have nasty fingerprint smudges ruining that blindingly shiny metal!


    I bet those crewmen were cursing Ivan Vucetic right about then because if it wasn’t for him and his fingerprint meddling, maybe those crewmen could have been enjoying the sunshine, big-a**ed calzones and local wine like the rest of us.





    We swam here. After that we were thirsty, so we also topped up our fluids.




    We swam here too. We got thirsty again too




    The authenticity of Split, despite being modernised and relying on commercialism and tourism, is impressive. The grand old buildings of Split, standing the test of time and human development, were remarkable. Considering the structures of Diocletian's Palace have withstood over 1700 years of Earth’s tectonic movements and looting of materials, it is quite amazing that they're still standing. You might notice on my previous photos, especially around the Peristil, there are many huge metal staples at the seams between the limestone blocks. These help to stabilise and maintain the ancient buildings.

    Even Dubrovnik, which while a younger city to begin with, and it's also amazing and beautiful, it has become a lot more commercial. Likely a lot of blame can be given to Game of Thrones. Sadly, this financial injection is necessary as Dubrovnik sustained heavy damage during the Yugoslavian conflict and is still being restored. However, consequently it has also lost some of its authenticity

    I would have loved to stay in Split for longer and found it tough to leave. It tops my list of places to return to but SM and I had a few more things to see. Mostar was one of them.

    Stari Most, literally translated to Old Bridge, isn’t quite so old any longer since it was bombed and destroyed in the Yugoslavian-Bosnian conflict during the 1990s. When it was rebuilt a year later, they bombed it again. Once more they rebuilt, and then yet again, they bombed and destroyed it. Bugger priceless ancient history, artefacts and people when it comes to squabbling over land!

    The bridge was finally rebuilt for the final time using as much of the original limestone blocks as possible, salvaged from the Neretva River below, and following the original design, but it clearly looks a recent construction. It remains surprisingly steep when walking over it, though!

    SM will try and convince you that’s him on the photos preparing for, and then taking, the plunge in to the river far below. Considering the recent history of the previous few weeks, I think we can all safely determine for ourselves that it’s clearly not SM.

    It’s actually professional divers who jump when tourists pay sufficient funds.

    Special permits and instruction are required if you want to jump, and the river flows swiftly, so a motor boat will pick you up. It was so hot, I was very tempted. SM knew I wasn’t kidding! So he managed to talk me out of it by telling me that going through all the paperwork and baking in the hot sun for half an hour to take instruction wouldn’t be fun, then handed me an ice-cream that I had to eat before it melted rapidly in the furnace that is Mostar in June. SM was very relieved that I was thus distracted.




    As beautiful as Mostar is with the bridge, minarets and Islamic architecture, the atmosphere was significantly tainted by hordes of tourists, unbelievable heat, and mobs of hawkers selling cheap market trinkets and tacky souvenirs. The stalls overflow right to the bridge along both sides of the narrow walkway on either side.

    Parking was another issue. It appears locals buy their Bunnings-style hi-vis vests and act like professional parking attendants, but cram people into their narrow, steep and winding house driveways, then charge a minimum of 20 Euro each for just a brief look at the bridge. To exit, it will take you a dozen-points turn at best to get out of there, and you’d hope to God nobody has scraped the sides or ding-ed your rental car! Those “parking” guys would be making a king’s ransom every day!

    We'd recommend you don’t drive the narrow laneway that google directs you down, and leads directly to the bridge. Instead, park a couple of blocks uphill from it, in the township area and pay just a couple of Euro at most. It’s a very short walk from there. Also go early morning or after 6pm to avoid the hordes of tourist buses, hawkers and heat. Nevertheless, the town and views are gorgeous, the food and drinks we ate for lunch were fantastic, the restaurant staff were warm and welcoming.

     
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  27. Sadie

    Sadie Chk Chk Boom Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I too loved Split. We weren’t there long enough to begin with as we only had a week and a bit in Croatia and had to make it inland to see family before we flew home.
    We could have gone back in September for a wedding but I’d started a new job and things were a bit hectic.
     
  28. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    @Sadie, we were there around 14 days and it wasn’t nearly long enough! It never is

    I’d really like to see Plitvice in winter when it’s covered in snow, and waterfalls are icicles. the paths would be very slippery though, as you wrote! With no railings on most of it, that would be a bit hairy.

    Onwards from Mostar, Mr Google took us via the most narrow and precarious cat tracks winding through the remote Bosnian hamlets and farms in the very steep and craggy mountain ranges that were covered in pink wildflowers swaying in the breeze. It was worth it for the most spectacular sweeping views of the valley and river



    Directly over the mountain pass, the Adriatic Sea speckled with islands, spread out impressively in front of us.





    This was part of the narrow winding cat track before we hit the coast. I can’t change the picture order now.



    We drove a little further south along the Croatian coast and made camp for a few more days.
    When we stepped out to our terrace, we found that someone had plonked the set of Game of Thrones right in our front yard!





    SM and I had a breathtaking view of Dubrovnik and Adriatic Sea (aka, “King’s Landing” & “Red Keep”) and surrounding islands






    The Old Town of Dubrovnik is a maze of cobblestone lanes containing 17 churches and religious buildings. There are 67 figurines of St Blaise scattered through the Old Town, who is the patron saint of Dubrovnik, and of all throat ailments! This claim to fame is due to saving a boy from choking on a fish bone.The annual festival sees the “Blessing of the Throats” ceremony, with candles strung around people’s throats in St Blaise’s honour. Admittedly, I first pictured this as the candles being alight! I thought they were either crazy or very brave., or both! Apparently this is not the case though.




    Spotting the many St Blaise figurines is a bit like playing Where’s Wally, with the the statues of various sizes are embedded in walls and standing on rooftop gables and carved into the stonework, some of stone, some sparkling in rich gold gilt coating.

     
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  29. Sadie

    Sadie Chk Chk Boom Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ahhh you stayed on Ploce side. Same as we did.
     
  30. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    The many tragedies of war, @rime noreason - wanton destruction of historic and beautiful structures as well as the terrible human cost. I recall the siege of Dubrovnik- horrendously.

    Good to see that the city is rebuilding/recovering!
     
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  31. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes we did @Sadie . When researching, it seemed to tick all the boxes. I think it was a wise choice and the views were superb.

    Yes @Lady Penelope the damage was extensive. Large areas, and even small. Most tourists, as they walk passed, probably don’t even notice the souvenir this statue of Marin Drzic carries with a bullet or shrapnel hole in his neck. Very sad that any of it happened, and the destruction tfhat humans are capable of, but wonderful to see the dedication in restoring work.



    Stradun (Main St) used to be a canal cesspool of rubbish, which was eventually filled in during the 1500s. A massive earthquake in 1667 destroyed all the houses along the street so subsequent houses were rebuilt as uniform blocks with green-painted shutters but without balconies. Apparently balconies on the original houses had fallen and killed many people. Houses with balconies now are those that withstood earthquakes. As with the wall, the churches remained unscathed by that earthquake.





    Not a bad view while eating not a bad breakfast, and I’m glad it’s no longer a cesspool of rubbish! I don’t think there’s a meal anywhere that’s not accompanied by Nutella. I had no complaints with this.



    Circling the 2km walls provides a good insight into the architecture as well as gorgeous views, is fascinating, and must be done. The walls were built mostly during the 1300 – 1500s, with additional fortifications continuing until the 1600s, although again,there is evidence beneath them of forts and castles dating from many centuries prior. Depending on the direction of where attacks were more likely to occur, the wall varies in thickness from 4 – 6 metres. Its highest section reaches a height of 25 metres. Testament to the strength of construction is that the walls were never breached by Ottoman enemies, nor damaged during the severe earthquake in 1667




    There are several ornate water fountains throughout the town that were sculpted by Onofrio in 1438, and which still bring natural cool spring water to drink from 12 kms away via an aqueduct. No need to spend on expensive Evian and plastic landfill here! We, along with everyone else, greatly appreciated these drinking facilities.










    As we wandered along the twisting lanes, we discovered secret doorways and stairs in the walls that lead out onto rocks and swimming holes – and even a bar! These portals were once used to clandestinely ferry goods and people in and out via the sea wall entrance. Today, the bar is distributed over multi-level rocks withh a billion dollar view. We availed ourselves of these drinking facilities too

    I could spend a few more years here watching the sunsets


     

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  32. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Dubrovnik is a spectacular location all on its own. However, if you've watched and enjoyed Game of Thrones, you can't visit and omit checking out a few filming locations. We enjoyed the series (up until the last couple of seasons which were somewhat disappointing), so we enjoyed seeking out some locations

    Apart from scouting out these locations for yourself, you also know those spots were selected because movie/TV production scouts have found the most breathtaking, interesting and scenic areas for filming. So if you’re not into GoT, the scenery is gorgeous anyway,and I’ve included a few descriptions and details of these places irrespective of GoT. My photos of each follows the film scenes pictures.

    For GoT fans here are just a few locations, including some specific reference scenes, although many of these features were utilised in many other scenes too. Just in case there are some people in the audience who haven’t seen the series but still want to, these would be spoilers!

    As already posted, Diocletian’s Palace basement halls in Split was where Daenerys’ dragons needed to be chained up, and where Jamie & Cersei were buried beneath the rocks and rubble.




    Next, just outside of Split’s greater city sprawl, we’d stopped at Klis Fortress en route to Mostar. Klis Fortress is perched far above Split, and once again the views were stunning, with miles of valley and coastline spread out before us, and the central Old Town of Split in the distance. This Fortress was also the perfect location for the Game of Thrones city of Meereen. We strolled this same path where Daenerys walks passed the many crucified citizens.




    Fort Lovrijenac and Bokar Fortress on the western corner of the Dubrovnik Walls double as the Red Keep. It was used for many scenes and conversational plotting

    This area has magnificent scenery everywhere you look



    The Pile Gate (West Gate) steps where there were riots against the Lannisters.



    The Minceta Tower on the north-west corner of the Wall is where Daenerys encounters the House of the Undying, walking around in endless circles before finding her young dragons and freeing them as the “Breaker of Chains”

     
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  33. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    A few more for the Throners. Pile Harbour, the small cove with pier between the Lovrijenac & Bokar Forts near Pile Gate was also used countless times as Blackwater Bay. There are scenes with many characters on this pier, including Cersei seeing off her daughter, Myrcella as she sails away to Dorne. Sansa, Shae and Little Finger scenes were also shot here, amongst numerous others.



    Dubrovnik runs countless kayaking groups tours here at Pile Harbour. Every day that GoT wanted to film at that location, they bought out the entire fleet of kayaks for the full day.


    My photos below. I’m sitting on the end of the pier.



    just beneath Fort Lovrijenac there are these little doorways leading to secret tunnels through the rock. So perfect you’d think they were fake parts of the filming sets, but they’re actually real, and were used centuries ago.




    my photos below



    The terrace of the Belvedere Hotel is the platform where Prince Oberyn Martell and The Mountain have their duel, and is not the happiest outcome for Oberyn. We drove passed above and you could clearly see this terrace, but I neglected to take a photos of it. I did get a picture of it from the water side, while on the ferry.

    As previously mentioned, Dubrovnik is still recovering from the destruction caused by Serbian bombing. Some major sections of damage are clearly evident both within the Old Town, and the surrounding areas, including the once-opulent Hotel Belvedere.This was a luxurious hotel perched along the cliff-side, commanding extraordinary views, but has sat in ruins ever since the early 1990s. Considering many areas of Croatia have become the playground of the rich and famous, I am surprised that such a prime property with huge financial potential hasn’t been snapped up by a wealthy business investor, let alone one of the high-end hotel chains




    my photo below


    Then there are the steps. Yes, THOSE steps. They’re in fact the Jesuit Steps at Gundulic Square. Some people refer to them as Dubrovnik’s “Spanish Steps”, that are in Rome.

    There is also another beautiful monastery and gorgeous church around a square at the top of these steps. I will post some church interiors soon as they are beautiful.

    I did do the Walk Of Shame, Shame, Shame!! LOL



    My photo below



    Game of Throne set below



    Then my photo below

     
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  34. Jacko4650

    Jacko4650 One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Your trip report is like a great book where you can go back and revisit sections time after time, garnering something new on each occasion. Your research is fascinating and the photos have so much depth, you can see different things every time you look - Love it! Thank you for sharing.
    Bucket list now amended; Split was always there, but I might have to venture a bit further now!
     
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  35. teckel

    teckel Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Damn you!! ;)
    Wish I'd never opened this thread!
    Now, I have to go there.
    I'll blame you. Better still, I'll send you the bill! LOL

    Sounds like you had a fabulous time there. Photos are stunning.
     
  36. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    I agree. This has been a fantastic and informative trip report, @rime noreason . Thanks for putting in so much effort! :)
     
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  37. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ditto.
     
  38. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thank you very much @Jacko4650! That’s great to know, and so pleased you’re enjoying it. It is really difficult having to reduce time somewhere to make time for another – it’s all so good, so interesting! There is nowhere I regretted going, that’s for sure. I’d love to hear where you/others end up. I’m planning another trip to the region, hopefully for 2021.

    It’s quite poor form isn’t it @teckel. Because of this trip, I now have to go back!

    thank you @Lady Penelope , we still getting there! LOL


    This is another staircase, this one beside the Dominican Monastery is interesting. You can see the sections between the balustrade columns are filled-in halfway up. They were actually made centuries ago when monks deemed that women's ankles were too sexy to be seen when they climbed the stairs, so they built a knee-high "wall"!

    I thwarted those staid monks and daringly bared my ankle!




    In GoT, Cersei continues her Walk do Shame here.




    Adjacent stairs at the Dominican Monastery on St Dominic Street, (the protest speech against the Lannisters was given here).

    My photos below




    GoT below





    On the nearby island of Lokrum, the Benedictine Monastery and Botanical gardens doubled as the beautiful Qarth garden party scenes. My two photos below



    GoT below





    At Trsteno there are some beautiful Botanical Gardens that are a gorgeous little oasis. The garden was originally created in the later 1400s, although the Roman aqueduct, which is still utilised today, dates back much earlier.




    my photo below



    Game of Thrones fans will recognise this gazebo where Sansa, Margaery Tyrell and the delightful Tyrell matriarch, Olenna, share a few little heart to hearts about the not so delightful Joffrey.



    At this gazebo perched on the cliff high above the sea, we sat on the ledge taking in another superb panorama of Croatia’s gorgeous coastline. Below this gazebo, at the water’s edge, is a small terrace and boat pier that provides yet another idyllic swimming spot. I’m sitting on the edge of this gazebo below




    The terrace below is where Bronn goads Jaime into sword fighting again after the sudden departure of his sword hand.

    It is what you look down on from my window seat



    These were just a few scenes. There were plenty more stairs, more secret doorways, more facades, more statues and more turrets, for other scenes.
     
    #88 rime noreason, Jan 3, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2020
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  39. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    With so many churches condensed in this 2 x 2km space, you can’t walk by and not go into at least some of them. There are some beautiful and ornate interiors to see, with marble, stone carvings, statuary, gold gilding and invaluable works of art, including St Saviour’s Church, St Blaise which continues the Old Town’s tradition with numerous St Blaise statues adorning the Church and the grand St Igantius Church.



    The Dubrovnik Cathedral contains the Ascension of Mary triptych, painted by Titian in 1550







    As we wandered along the very narrow and twisting lanes, we found this bit of graffiti carved into the exterior stone wall of yet another small church (every second building seems to be a church of one denomination or another). What’s interesting about this graffiti, is that it dates from 1597. It’s in Latin and etched by a Priest of the day. He was apparently sick of the noisy neighbourhood kids playing soccer along the laneway so issued them this threat, which states some along the lines of, “death to those who don’t heed the peace”. So much for Love Thy Neighbour and all that! I guess Father Grumpy forgot the bible quote, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not……” LOL



    Croats are generally quite religious, but they also have an irreverent sense of humour and mustn’t be too concerned about burning in the fires of damnation for eternity. One local told us how when he was a young and broke Uni student, if he got up early enough, he would walk passed this portal and occasionally be the first to grab Jesus’ freebie cigarette.Others still maintain the tradition!

     
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  40. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We took the short ferry ride to Lokrum Island, just 15 minutes from the Old Harbour of Dubrovnik. This is the island directly left of centre on my photos taken from our apartment balcony, a few posts above.



    On the island there is a Benedictine Monastery dating back to 1023 that has an interesting history and folklore. The monastery library and church still sit in ruins, destroyed by the 1667 earthquake and then Serbian artillery in the 1990s

    On the islnad’s highest point is Fort Royal Castle, built by the French during Napoleon's occupation of Croatia, though it was later named "Maximilian's Tower" by the Austrians.

    Croatian legend says the island is cursed. The story goes that an evil ruler told the island’s Benedictine monks they had 24 hours to leave the island. That night, the monks walked around the island, carrying candles and placing a curse on anyone who tried to own the island

    Apparently Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked on the island in 1192 after returning home from the crusades. Surviving the shipwreck safely, he pledged to build a church on the island but the people of Dubrovnik, believing the island to be cursed, asked him to build the church on the mainland instead.

    In 1859, Archduke Maximilian Ferdinand Habsburg bought the island. He and a few other Habsburgs met grisly ends that are attributed to the Monk’s curse.


    There is a botanical garden on Lokrum which contains native and imported, tropical and subtropical plants, and other vegetation originating in Australia and South America. The island is also inhabited by peacocks brought over by Maximilian in 1859. Descendants of Maximilian’s peacocks prance around 300+ year old olive groves, the gnarled tree trunks forming beautiful sculptures. T




    here's a small museum beneath the monastery which is a pleasantly cool respite from the heat. There’s little else to do but relax, eat, drink and swim.... and pat bunnies.


     
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  41. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    The Croatian coastline is absolutely stunning, and Lokrum Island is no exception. Slip out of your things, and slip into the water, anywhere and everywhere. So we did it here too.







    Many scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed on the island, and the ancient Benedictine Monastery and Botanical gardens doubled as the beautiful garden party scenes of Qarth. In appreciation of Dubrovnik, the production team donated the original Iron Throne used in the series, to this island. Unlike the numerous copies in stores, this is the actual original, housed in part of the museum now, but with very few people around, there is no queue to pretend to be the Mother of dragons and sit on it. We did that too. Unlike those imitation thrones in stores, there is no charge, or purchase requirement to do so


     
  42. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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  43. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thank you @Lady Penelope. I think it would be hard to take a bad photo anywhere along this coast!

    With much trepidation, we edged the car out of the tight garage, and crawled the car up what seemed like a 1.2 metre wide vertical slope, for a day trip out of Dubrovnik. We drove along the picturesque coast and spent a day at beautiful Ston. That initial highly skilled manoeuvring out of our garage and laneway was so worth it, as we had a fantastic day! Ston is a long peninsula jutting away from the mainland coast. A few more earthquakes and it will become an island altogether independent of the mainland, as have countless other land masses have done before.

    Ston is renowned for its fresh oysters, exceptional seafood and wine. Ston did not disappoint.

    Oysters, wine and seafood…… but first, we climb!




    and climb and climb and climb. We climbed the famous pentagram-shaped fortress Walls of Ston that have stood here since 1358. At 7kms, they’re the longest fortified wall in Europe. They also felt like the steepest. I’m sure they are. Although I need to amend where I say that “we climbed”, when in actual fact, I climbed the impressive pentagram-shaped fortress walls all the way to Mali Ston (Little Ston). This is on the opposite side of the spit. Barely 100 metres or so from the summit, SM decided the view from where he stood was adequate for his hot and tired legs. SM said he’d be very satisfied seeing the summit panorama on the little screen of my camera.

    To be fair, even from where we stood here, which was tantalisingly close to the summit, provided superb views above the town of Ston, the oyster beds and salt pans, as well as the steep mountains surrounding us.

    I may never get the chance to return though, so I ditched SM, went a little further and was rewarded with a gorgeous views down the other side to the tiny village of Mali Ston (Little Ston), of the bluest sea and all the oyster beds, as well as the mainland coast






    There are currently 5kms of Wall to walk along at Ston. Tthe remainder is being restored after stones were removed and repurposed for expanding the town during the 1800s under Austrian rule. The Walls of Ston are the longest preserved fortification system in Europe, and the second longest in the world. As such they’re sometimes referred to as the "European Wall of China". I thought the name “Spider Alley” might be more appropriate. These spiders, looking a little like Funnel Webs, were ubiquitous. At almost every crenel between the merlons, there were often several of these goliaths prancing around their gossamer webs. As with the snakes we’d encountered numerous times previously, I probably got a little closer than was wise to take these photos, particularly when the slight breeze blew them even closer in my direction, and almost on to me



    After the trek back to Ston township and another coffee stop where SM flicked through my photos of Mali Ston, we explored more of the walls around the town and Fort Kaštio. Because there weren’t enough stairs to climb on the Walls, there were more stairs to climb at Fort Kaštio. Once again, SM opted to stand guard at the Fort’s entrance.

    That’s me waving to SM while he became the photographer. This became a familiar view of SM for me when there were stairs to climb.



    From the top of Fort Kaštio, there’s an excellent view of the Wall’s pentagram shape. Canons were placed along the battlements here, and I had a gorgeous 360ᵒview.




    we wandered through the nearby parkand nodded politely to a small group of trouists, one of whom asked if we’d climbed the wall. Sure, we replied, the view is stunning. They were sceptical we’d made the climb at all, and thought we were having them on. They asked if I’d taken photos to prove it.

    They were impressed by the photos, and the fact we’d made the climb. Just like SM though, they piked out of doing it themselves and said the photos I’d taken were sufficient for them!

     
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  44. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    I would have kept climbing too! Magnificent .... BTW, @rime noreason , I think you need to give SM a few lessons in photography - the old “finger on the lens” makes an appearance!
     
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  45. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    At Ston we also discovered an an idyllic beach of golden sand and crystal clear water. Most beaches are rocky and craggy through Croatia but this was a superb sandy cove.



    After our swim, we'd earned a fantastic seafood and wine lunch sitting at an 800 year old castle. This family run business has been their tradition for generations. Their seafood was the most delicious I ever recall eating anywhere. We sat back relaxing with our ocean view, over several seafood courses and even more local vino. I could quite happily have seen out the rest of my days never leaving this spot again!

    We figured our bellies had just enough room left to sample some Ston Torta, or Ston Cake. It’s a type of penne-style pasta with a ground almond and chocolate filling.





    After that, some exercise was required, so because our beach had been so wonderful, we went straight back for seconds!

    @Lady Penelope, I hear you with SM’s photography skills, or lack thereof. It’s known that there’s been one or two occasions where I’ve been heard to say, Get your finger off the lens! LOL
    This was probably one of them, as That little speck bobbing in the distant sapphire blue liquid is my head. And for once, there’s no lens finger in the shot! It was heaven floating around in this cool paradise!



    We left reluctantly but once again had our breath taken away, driving back along the coast

     
    #95 rime noreason, Jan 30, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
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  46. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    More stunning scenery. That lunch spread looked absolutely delicious!
     
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  47. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We're in Slovenia rime. Beautiful weather, no snow down low. Leaving Lake Bled today for Ljubjlana. We've done a lot of walking. :)
     
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  48. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks, @Lady Penelope, it was sensational. Oh to be back in Ston right now!

    Gorgeous photo @PMG, I’m envious and would love to be back there again. I’ve been wondering how your trip was going. Did you get to ski? In Slovenia, or Italy? Where did you go, what did you see? I’d love to hear about your trip!

    so now it’s back to work on this thread after a brief and unavoidable sojourn to Hawaii.

    We left Ston reluctantly, and returned to Dubrovnik via Trsteno where there is a beautiful Botanical Garden.The garden was originally created in the later 1400s, although the Roman aqueduct which is still utilised today, dates back much earlier.



    Along the path, we came across the Neptune Fountain and pond which offered a welcome sanctuary of calmness, shaded by trees. A sculpture of Neptune is flanked by other graceful figurines at the head of pond where large koi also enjoyed the tranquillity.



    Above the shore there is an attractive gazebo on the cliff high above. We sat on the edge enjoying the superb panorama of Croatia’s coastline. Below this gazebo, at the water’s edge, is a small terrace and boat pier that provides yet another idyllic swimming spot.

     
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