Friday, June 15, 2018

Roman emperors and honey bees

A few more islands, many steep hills and several more of the ‘most beautiful village of Croatia’. 

We also had a half day of River rafting - few rapids but mostly just peaceful floating. I took their advice and left my camera behind so no photos of that. 

We were delayed one day by a massive thunderstorm but it wasn’t long before all traces of the rain disappeared with the sun. Otherwise great weather though a bit warm at times for the regular bikers. 

On our 2nd last night we docked in Split and had a city tour of Diocletian’s palace. Diocletian was a Roman emperor who was the first one to ‘retire’ rather than be assassinated as was the tradition. He built the palace as a retirement home. It looks a bit run down now which is understandable since it is 1700 years old. 

In the central piazza we came across a group of musicians playing for some traditional dancers. 

The island of Solti is known for its honey and we visited a third generation bee keeper for an interesting talk. 

Here he is with a photo of his father and grandfather. 

Although this area is called Dalmatia we still haven’t seen a Dalmatian dog - perhaps in Dubrovnik, where we’re headed after we leave the ship tomorrow. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Another hill to climb

If Monday’s cycle was hard, Tuesday’s was gruelling. Almost 60 km with about 3500 feet of elevation gain on the island of Korčula. For lunch we stopped at a local residence for a typical Croatian Meal - of course lots of grilled meat. Accompanied by the local, homemade wine posit. 

Lamb, chicken, pork, yummy sausages. 

(For a country with so much coastline fish is almost an exception.) We ended the day with a 15 percent grade - downhill fortunately. 

Each little port we moor in is jammed with yachts, catamarans, sailboats, fishing vessels. In fact we often have to double, triple park so that one night, in order to get to shore we had to go through 3 other boats we were alongside. There have been up to 6 boats tethered together. 

This boat is loaded with fish traps:

Each of these villages is full of ancient history but honestly it’s all starting to blur together. This morning we also had a lesson describing more recent Croatian history. To say the last 100 years has been turbulent might be an understatement. Even the democratic government of today is thought to be quite  corrupt. 

This is one of the few non coastal villages we visited and is typical of the stone buildings and red roofs perched on a hillside. 

There are about 30 in our cycling group - a group of 12 Swiss (including 4 sisters!), a British couple, a German couple, 2 sisters from Australia and New Zealand, a group of 9 Australians (which actually includes a couple from Ottawa), and Karin from Germany who is quite comfortable changing into her bathing suit on the beach.  In fact, George (the Scotsman from England) thinks she’s only got the bathing suit on to keep US comfortable. 

The view riding into Korcula:

A well deserved beverage to end the day. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Hopping the islands

You’ll be happy to know that once we made it to the boat everything has gone well. The first day of cycling took us across the island of Hvar - taking us past a UNESCO site where the ancient Greeks set up an agricultural landscape. The roads and fields are lined with stone walls interspersed with vast vineyards, olive groves and tidy vegetable gardens. There is an archeological site containing Roman baths. It seems these islands have been inhabitated by Many different groups of people.  

Here we are getting ready to leave the first day:

One of the little villages is nicknamed Venice - you can see the canal here:

The boat then headed to the stunningly beautiful island of Vis where we spent the night. 

On Vis we cycled across the island and back about 30 km. Doesn’t seem like much but it included straight uphill for 1000 ft of elevation, then down. Then straight up again another 1000 ft of elevation and back down. Fortunately we (like most on this tour) had booked ebikes which would have fetched a hefty price at times from the few who didn’t have them. 

Profile from today:

Views from the top were amazing. One side of the island..

..and the other. 

A replica boat in an old fishing village:

And lastly an action photo 

Next the island of Korcula 60 km with lots of elevation - grateful for ebikes!

Saturday, June 09, 2018

We Missed the Boat (literally)

All I can say is that we had a 10:30 flight booked so we would get to our boat by 2:30 but it turned out we’d actually booked a 10:30 PM flight. With no other flights available we ended up taking a 6.5 hour bus ride from Zagreb to Split, waited for 3 hours, then a 2 hour ferry to meet up with the boat. 

We discovered the error after we’d checked our bags - have you ever tried to get your suitcase back after it disappears down that conveyor belt?

I’ll spare you most of the details but needless to say this was accompanied with frantic phone calls, mad rushing and confusion, and a bit of stress (to say the least).

By 11 PM we’d met up with the boat, found our cabins, hopped into bed and started to relax. 

Here’s the boat at night. 

Thursday, June 07, 2018


It may come as a surprise to you that the Croatian name for Croatia is Hrvatska. We figured that out after we saw all the local wines listed with an HR after them. How Hrvatska tuned into Croatia is a mystery to me. 

Zagreb has many many museums (architecture, history, ethnographic, mushroom, torture) but Marj and I decided to check out the quirky Museum Of Broken Relationships. Each small, but significant, item has a story to tell, some heartbreaking, some devastating, some hilarious and some tragic. Here are a few samples. 

This was a bit humorous - a photo of a lake. The accompanying description says "Florida lake where I skipped school with my boyfriend. The arrow indicates the first spot I saw a penis in the sunshine."

This is the ‘toaster of vindication’ - "When I moved out and across the country I took the toaster. That’ll show you. How are you going to toast anything now. "

A Lynksis router. "We tried. Not compatible."

We then did a short city bus tour and I must say the city isn’t much to look at. Lots of old, ornate buildings most of which could use a good scrubbing. A few nice parks, cathedrals and statues of historic figures unknown to us.  Found a good ice cream shop (Amelie if you happen to come here). 

One of the more striking buildings is the one below with the Zagreb coat of arms and another coat of arms all done in glistening tile work. Very intricate. The building is the Palači Grlečić Jelačić, also church of St Mark. 

The red and white checkerboard pattern on the roof is kind of like our maple leaf - a national symbol. 

I’ve been trying to learn a few words but so far I’ve only got yes (da) no (ne) and thanks (hvala). It doesn’t help matters that a lot of their words don’t have any vowels and most of the letters are j, k, z and c with various accents. 

As Marj and I bumble our way through train stations, bus routes and menus all the locals are exceedingly patient and helpful (not including the two who tried to steal Marj’s money but that’s another story). 

Boarding the boat on Saturday. 

Sunday, February 04, 2018


It's been a year since I did this but I finally uploaded the video. Read about it here:

Thinking of doing this again sometime!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

5 Continents and Doubling Down on Barcelona

(Brag alert!) As our time in Europe draws to a close I'm reflecting on the year of travel I've had - 5 continents! This is a record even for me. In January I went to South Africa with an overnight stop in Dubai (Asia). In April I was in New Zealand (Oceania?);  Europe and North America round out my year of 5 continents. And I still have 3 months left!

Like most people I don't really enjoy the travel part of travelling but what I do enjoy are the new experiences, always learning (history, culture, geography), increased awareness and appreciation for everything I have, and the memories I get to keep forever.

We returned to Barcelona for a couple of nights before flying out and I double down on what I said about it - you can't make a city this fabulous and not expect to be sharing it with tourists.

I previously posted pics of the amazing Sagrada Familia and this time Sam and I booked tickets ahead to see the interior.

This pic is a small portion of one of the facades and you really have to zoom in to get some idea of the incredible detail which covers the entire structure.

Once we got inside it was an amazing feast for the eyes. The cathedral rose high above us. To give a sense of scale in the pic below there's an 'umbrella' with a life-sized Jesus hanging below it.

The back of some the pipe organ's pipes.

Sam and I took an elevator up one of the towers. The 'fruit' at the top of these towers look minuscule from the ground but are actually soccer ball size. You can also see evidence of the construction that will continue for about 10 more years.

Then we descended 300 spiral stairs.

Good grief - how do the people on this continent eat so many pastries?

Have you ever been in a place where you wish you could capture the smell as well as the sight?

The secret alley with the surprising coffee shop.

Lemon in the street with bicycle (art photo!)

We've had some great adventures here but it's been especially wonderful to be able to share it with these 3 fabulous guys. Scott and Mike are two of the nicest, most caring, funny, and kind people I know. They also have a pretty good dad!!

Roman emperors and honey bees

A few more islands, many steep hills and several more of the ‘most beautiful village of Croatia’.  We also had a half day of River rafting -...