Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Postjona Caves

I have to be honest that thanks to poor transport connections it feels like a lot of the last two days has been wasted and with better connections I could have seen as much and flown out on Sunday. Anyway in between long waits and train rides...

Postojna caves were discovered in 1818, the first tours were run the following year and they have run every day since including through both world wars (or so they claim). Unfortunately photography isn't allowed except in the last part of the caves by the gift shop so you will have to take my word for it on the mini raliway, the huge multicoloured formations of stalactites and stalagmites and the cave salamanders.

Also not reproduceable the unbeatable attempt of a German to explain the English word echo to a Slovenian "The sound he walks at the wall"

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Plitvice Lakes

Due to the lack of transport I ended up going to Plitvice via Zagreb. The entrance car park was surrounded by closed up buildings that might have been gift shops, guest houses, cafes or almost anything from what I could tell.

Eventually I found an open restaurant (at least I think it was a restaurant, it had tables but no sign of food, drink or customers) and asked about ahotel. The answer was that there was one down the road five something, possibly kilometers, possibly inches the language gap meant there was no way to tell. Luckily it turned out to be 500m.

The hotel was a huge complex, I don't know everything that was in there as I gave up my exploration of the building somewhere after the second conference hall and before the tennis courts but it was big.

My ticket allowed me to explore the lakes for one afternoon and the following morning, though I never got to see it all as in places the waterfalls were gushing over the ice covered path. Anyway it is a place best shown rather than described so here goes.

Back in Zagreb for one night I went looking for a toy shop for Christmas presents. The market sold beautiful wooden toys but unfortunately held together with bits of metal that looked designed to pop out and injure a bay so I decided to take the safe option and buy from a proper shop. The first place I got an address for didn't exist, I mean not just it wasn't a toyshop but there was no building there. The address was given as number 12 but when I got there the 12 was over an arch leading to an open yard with a few bins in it. I did eventually find somewhere but can say no more in cvase certain people have learnt to read really quickly.

Thursday, 12 December 2013


I am now really annoyed that I lost my camera as Zadar had by far the best views of anywhere I've visited with turquoise sea, green islands and a line of snow capped mountains along the horizon.

Unfortunately views is all it had as the tour to Plitvice lakes national park that I had hoped to join only run in summer so I ended up with a day and a half to try and fill. I did discover the unique selling points of Zadar, something called the sea organ, a series of pipes that make noises a bit like whale song as the waves wash in and out of them and the salute to the sun, a set of lights set in the sea front that flash in random patterns.

In the morning I visited the two small museums in town, which to be fair did have an impressive collection of stone carvings and even gold ornaments dating from the iron age. Then I took a ferry over to the nearest island, determined to say I had visited at least part of the huge archipelago that runs along the Croatian coast and wandered around the island for a bit.

Unfortunately I am coming to the conclusion that the Croatian coast can only be done properly in summer thanks to the habit of shutting everything when there are less than a bajillion tourists. Still it was a shame to leave the sun and get a bus back to Zagreb, which is cold but on the plus side is now probably  the first place that seems Christmassy with lots of lights and Christmas markets.

Monday, 9 December 2013


A quiet day wandering the streets and discovering most things closed ten minutes before I arrived at them. I did get to walk through Diocletian's Palace though, which is not quite as described in the guide books. These always make it seem as if shops and cafes have been set up inside an actual surviving Roman building but in fact it is more like the walls of the palace were used to mark out the later streets but most of the buildings are quite a bit later. There do appear to be bits of the original structure, particularly round the cathedral though.

Thanks to being out of season I appear to have an entire hostel to myself, even the manager is only here intermittently.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Should be pictures

 My main camera is unwell so for the time being this will be limited to phone photos when I can upload them.

Back in Dubrovnik I found out that the city orchestra was giving a free concert. They do this every 6th of December to commemorate the Serbian shelling of the old town that started on that date in 1991 and it certainly beats the Salvation army band and a choir of out of tune seven year olds.

I stayed another day to take the cable car up to the Napoleonic fort over the city and look at the war museum. Then got a bus for Split where I am now.

The journey up the coast was stunning with lots of little islands and inlets and one interesting interlude when as far as I could work out someone had started roadworks without bothering to put up signs or arrange diversions so the bus waited half an hour while they cleared a way through for us.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

(Slightly over) 24 hours in Montenegro

I decided to visit one more country on this trip and took a bus across the border to Monetenegro, a tiny country south of Croatia and stayed a night in Kotor, a tiny stone town that seemed to grow out of the mountains, which come right down to the sea.

The scenery is stunning but without time to see the rest of the country Kotor only takes a few hours to see everything so I am now back in Dubrovnik before starting to head north.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Into the sun

After a brief visit to a museum on the assassination of the archduke in 1914, which turned out to be one wall of pictures, and a lot of confusion involving trams I got a bus for Mostar.

The route went down, and down with the snow getting less until in Mostar itself there wasn¨t a trace although there was a gale blowing down the valley.
I got a bed in a place where I appeared to be the only guest and took a walk around town. The bridge itself was illuminated as were the minarets and a cross that appeared to be floating in the sky, the hill was so perfectly dark it was invisible and the photo didnt work. It seemed to me there was something, shall we say less than tasteful, in a cross looming over the mosques in a town where people were killed for being Muslims.

In the morning Mostar proved to be tiny and so I pushed on towards the coast.

With every mile it got warmer and the landscape got more mediterranean until at Dubrovnik bus station.

Not realising it was well over an hour another backpacker and I walked into the old town, which was like a bit of Italy and a bizzare change after the slavic and Islamic interior and even odder now that the weather stopped being Christmassy the decorations appeared for the first time.

I spent the day exploring the city walls and museums and generally being amazed to go from deep snow to a place where people sit at pavement cafes under the orange trees. I also established that the Italian influence is no fluke, this was a Venetian outpost for centuries and as a sea port always looked across the Adriatic rather than up into the mountains for influence.