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Friday, 20 May 2016

Perfect preparation for the tales of the Dalmatian coast

We were almost ready for our first trip to Croatia and the day before we were due to travel we decided to go on a bike ride. All went well for the first half an hour, but as we were riding along a small road my handlebars broke and I fell onto my face on the road. Luckily while I was still lying on the road, with my wife trying to get me into the recovery position, a car came the other way. It was a nice young Spanish couple who were good and helped me to get up and drove us to the medical centre in our village along with the remaining good bike. At the medical centre, they cleaned my face and told me that I would have to go to Malaga to get stitches in my lip. Went to hospital civil where they had a look and took some x-rays but said that they could not do it as I needed stitches inside and outside of my lip and would have to see a maxillofacial specialist and I had to go to the main hospital in Malaga, Carlos Haya. I eventually had 8 stitches outside and 3 inside my mouth.
After our visit to the hospital, we went back to pick up the bike that we had left beside the road locked up and it had gone. Luckily we were not going on holiday until later the next day so I had a bit of time to recover.


Our friend drove us to the airport without any other disasters happening. Arriving in Treviso in Italy we picked up the hire car and tried to find our accommodation, not very successfully as our directions were not very good and we could not get the satnav to work on our phone. Eventually, we phoned the accommodation and they met us at a pharmacy. By this time we were getting a little hungry and I noticed a vending machine outside the pharmacy, so went over to get something but it only sold condoms and related products, we gave that a miss. When we got to the accommodation it was very nice and we had something to eat then retired to bed.
When we got up it was raining so we had breakfast and started our drive to Croatia. After a couple of false starts we found the correct road to get there and the only delay was on the border between Slovenia and Croatia, where border guards were checking everyone's passports, lucky on our side there were only about 20 cars in front of us but the other direction there were hundreds of cars leaving Croatia? Luckily the satnav worked in Croatia and we found our accommodation in Pula without too much difficulty. The apartment was called Villa Dama and it was really nice with sea views and jacuzzi and sauna available for free. We settled in then went for a little walk around the marina before spending an hour in the jacuzzi and sauna before going for a lovely meal at Lanterna.
After breakfast, we drove into the centre of the old town of Pula and walked around for about 3 hours taking in the amphitheatre, cathedral, a couple of other nice churches and the temple Augustus. Went for another sauna and Jacuzzi before having a nice meal in the apartment.




We had to leave the wonderful apartment the next day to continue our tour of Croatia but would definitely go back there again. Heading north towards Opatija we decided to stop off half way to take in the wonderful ancient town of Labin. Parking in the new part of the town we walked up to the old town, where there was nowhere to park and took in the old buildings and sampled some Croatian olive oil and schnapps which was different, to say the least.




Moving on,  the battery ran out on our phone as the charger in the car stopped working. Tried a new connection and we eventually managed to get some power into the battery of the phone and found our next accommodation at Apartment Komer.
After settling in we went for a beer at one of the bars on the main street with the locals which was nice, then had a meal at Valle Losca which was fantastic.


After breakfast, we went for a walk along the promenade into the centre of Opatija and back, then started the 3-hour drive down the coast to Starigrad-Paklenica and found the accommodation at Apartment Mira with no problem as the satnav on the phone worked ok. We had a fantastic room with a view of the Adriatic  and the island of Pag. The apartment had a very cosmopolitan feel to it with a shared kitchen and dining area and when we cooked  our meal we shared the kitchen with couples from Poland and Austria.
Decided to have a rest from sightseeing today. Drove to Paklenica National Park where we had to buy a day ticket. Parked up and walked up a beautiful track amongst the trees and next to a mountain stream containing loads of waterfalls. Continuing this for about 2 hours until we decided to stop for lunch beside the stream. On the walk up the valley, we passed many rock climbers as this park is very popular with climbers and this is the best time of year to visit as it is too crowded during the summer months.






The lady at the apartment was very friendly and kept bringing us aperitifs but she only spoke Croation and Dutch but we managed to communicate okay.








Back to sightseeing today drove to Zadar, on the way we called in at Nin to visit the smallest cathedral in the world measuring only 36 strides end to end.

Smallest Cathedral in the world

That didn't take long so we had time for an ice cream before continuing to our accommodation Apartment Maslina, which was about 3k outside of Zadar.
We were a little confused when we got there as there was a sign saying taxi pizza but it did have the same name as the apartment that we were looking for, we spoke to the pizza chef and he phoned his boss and she came out and let is into a very nice apartment on the 3rd floor. We had lunch then drove into Zadar to see the sights. We parked on the roadside in the new part of town and walked across the bridge into the ancient city, which dates back 3000 years. Going through a gate in the city walls we walked past all of the ancient buildings but could not go into any churches as we were wearing shorts. Passing a small marina there was a man in his boat playing music very loud and his dog was lying on the roof of his boat in a small tent.

See the dog

Eventually, we made our way to one corner of the city where there was a structure called Greeting To The Sun and music made by the waves on a sea organ. As our apartment was above a pizza oven you can guess what we had for dinner.

Spiridon Brusina

We drove to Sibenik next and found our apartment Kardum, which was another fantastic find for the money, had lunch there then drove into the city to do some sightseeing of the old town. There is a 15th-century cathedral which is a world heritage site, which we could not go in again as we had shorts on. There were lots of other beautiful buildings, after walking round saint Lawrence gardens we drove out of the centre to the fortress of St Nicholas which was built in the 16th century to defend against Turkish seaborne attacks, but latterly used in Game of Thrones season 4. After walking along a boardwalk and on stepping stone to the fortress we discovered that you could only see one side of the fortress and the only entry to was by boat.


Turtles basking in the sunshine



Fortress used in Game of Thrones series 4

Today we went to the village of Skradinski which was a pretty little village we had a little walk around whilst we were waiting to board the ferry into the National Park Krka the parking was free as long as you called the restaurant across the street for a coffee before leaving. The ferry trip took about 30 minutes along the Krka river valley which looked a bit like a fjord. The ticket price was 110 kuna each about 16 euros which seem's a lot but that included 2 30 minutes boat trips, entry to the park and visit a cave, so not bad really. The ferry took us to Stradinski Buk, which contained a series of spectacular waterfalls after walking around the waterfalls and museums for an hour and a half we had to decide if we should wait 25 minutes for the ferry to take us back or walk 4k back. Guess what, we decided to walk which was a very nice track through the forest. After coffee and some lunch, we drove to another area of the park called Roski Slap where there were other waterfalls, some necklace falls and Ozidana Pecina cave. The falls were great then we had to climb 517 steps to the cave (no I didn't count them out said it on the sign). The cave was really good and went into the hillside for about 60 metres and had been there 6000 years BC and was inhabited from 5000 BC.





The 517 steps up to Ozidana Pecina Cave 

Inside the cave dating back to 6000 BC

Spent the first 2 hours of the day in Sibenik hospital having my stitches taken out of my lip, it felt a lot better afterwards. We then drove to Plitvice Lakes and checked into Guesthouse Marton which was not as good as we had become accustomed too.
We decided that we would do one visit to Plitvice Lakes and start early because it was forecast rain at lunchtime, so we bought the tickets and took the short ferry trip to the start of the trail through the lakes and more waterfalls. The track was mostly along boardwalks across the lakes themselves. There were some more tremendous waterfalls on the route, we are now waterfalled out and don't want to see any more for a while. When we got to the top of the lake system we could have taken a bus back to the start but we decided to walk instead. Just as we got off the ferry to walk back to our car it started raining so it was a good job that we had started early.

This is the nearest we will get to a cruise holiday
Walking up the boardwalk

Hope you like waterfalls



Tranquilo

Our drive to Ogulin was in the rain all the way and did not stop for the rest of the day. Staying at Apartment Matejjan in Ogulin which was quite large and above a pizzeria which we think was closed, we stocked up with food so that we didn't have to go out again in the rain. There is a fairy trail around the village which we decided not to do because of the rain, honest. The forecast looked bad for the rest of the holiday so we decided to go to Rijeka the next day as it is a big city which will have more to do in the rain. The apartment was on a busy road and opposite a railway line and there were 3 trains during the night.
It was still raining when we woke up in the morning so drove to Rijeka in the rain. Found apartment Tanya straight away and it was very nice. We had to wait for the owner to arrive to let us in, so we walked the 150 metres down to the beach, where we saw this quaint little bar on there (closed though).

Beach bar

Had some lunch and walked into the centre to see some of the sites. There were some nice buildings but they looked a bit shabby. Went out for a meal in the evening to a lovely restaurant called Konoba Nebuloza, which had a great selection of fish dishes and was presented well with great service.


Old Gateway (Roman Arch)

Still raining so did not do any sightseeing and drove to Opatija to Villa Irma. Managed to get a little stroll along the seafront between showers and cooked a meal in our apartment. Not happy with the price of the room as they did not give us the one that we had booked.


Didn't miss all the showers
What's up Doc 

Drove to our last place in Croatia, Icici only about 6 kilometres along the coast and found the apartment Avena which was much better than last nights.  The weather was a little better today so did a 2-hour walk along the coast before getting ready to go out for a meal. Passing the Hotel Kvarner which was the first hotel built along the Adriatic Coast in 1884 and was frequented by the likes of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I and dancer Isadora Duncan.

Hotel Kvarner
Some other guests of Hotel Kvarner
Maiden with the seagull (2 in our picture)
We also passed this statue of the Maiden with the Seagull (she has 2 seagulls in our picture) to learn the story behind the girl read this
Also on the walk, we went passed a Dog Beach, which we have never seen anywhere before, which would have been great for Scoobie had she been with us.


Where's Scoobie?

The last supper was not without incident. The first place we tried said that we would have to wait 2 hours for a table, the second had a wedding on so was not open to the public, we finally managed to get a table at the third restaurant Gabel which was not as grand as the other two places but served us with good wholesome food at a reasonable price.
Set off on our journey home today from Croatia via Slovenia to Treviso in Italy. We had all day so we called into Trieste just across the border in Italy. It was quite cold while we were there and it was bigger than we thought and there were lots of people there including loads of Girl Guides, must have been a jamboree.




Drove on to Treviso and it rained all the way, so we didn't get to look around, we just had lunch and then went to  the airport, which was very small and crowded. I think people had gone to the airport early because of the rain. The journey home continued without any other incidents although it was 1:30 when we got home, but we had had a great holiday and will definitely be going back again.

Do good
Feel great

2 comments:

  1. A grand tale and obviously a journey and a half! Great photos too. We've put Croatia in our 'to do' bucket.
    Thanks again for your hospitality this week. Thoroughly enjoyed catching up again and very much appreciated the walks.

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  2. Thanks for your feedback. Croatia is a great place to visit, think it is better to visit in May than the summer as it gets very crowded. We enjoyed our walks with you too. look forward to walking with you next time your out here.

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