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Croatia

Last day in Croatia - June 21

On to Bangkok, Thailand!

sunny 86 °F

This morning we got up, packed up our luggage, and headed to breakfast at a place we chose in Old Town. Luckily, it was not on the main street, because with 3 cruise ships and tons of tour buses in town, just getting through the gates was tricky! But once we got off on the side streets (“alleys” is what Nick calls them - but other than size, they have NOTHING in common with American alleys) it was fine. I ordered an omelette - not what I expected but very good!

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After breakfast we decided to take a scenic bus tour of Dubrovnik, and so glad we did. We saw some other parts of Dubrovnik and had some amazing views. It was a little (ok, a LOT) scary when we were going uphill, way up high, with chicken-wire-covered rock wall (would that really hold a falling rock?) on one side and a super steep drop off to the sea with a tiny little guardrail (would that really hold a falling bus?) on the other. But I survived. Here are just a few of my pics - more in my photo gallery. Here’s a link if you want more details about what we saw: https://sightseeing-dubrovnik.com/dubrovnik-cabrio-bus-tour/

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After that we relaxed in a little park in the shade for a bit, then went and got a gelato in Old Town. Gelato shops here are almost as common as the Tisak, and so good. This one didn’t “present” as well as some we’ve seen, but it looks pretty similar to how they all display.

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Then we walked the souvenir shops for a bit, hung out in the shady park again for a while, and grabbed a bite to eat inside the walls again before heading to the airport.

Tonight we fly out at 9pm Croatia time, which is 3pm Michigan time, both on Friday. That will be 2am Saturday in Bangkok. We will fly to Istanbul where we have about an hour and a half layover before heading to Bangkok, where we will land at 3pm Saturday (Bangkok time - it will be 4am Saturday in Michigan). Nudi, our exchange student in 2015/2016, will meet us at the airport, and will travel with us throughout Thailand. Can’t wait to see her! :)

Posted by Rowlandfamily 08:40 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Dubrovnik - June 20

Beach day!

sunny 85 °F
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Today we were physically tired from all the walking yesterday, so we decided to have a low-key beach day. SO glad that we decided to walk the walls yesterday in the late afternoon as the cruise ship was leaving, because this morning from our balcony the top of the walls were so full of people, it looked like an ant colony!

We first walked down the steps (157 of them, in sets of 5 (except 2 at very bottom), with a short landing between each set - but who counted?!) and into Old Town (also jam packed with tourists) for breakfast (crepes again - so good!). Then back up the steps to change into our swimsuits and switch out laundry. We don’t have a dryer here, just a washer, and will be in hotels for the next week, so need to get it all done and dry before we have to check out tomorrow morning.

We had several options for beaches, but chose Banje beach because it was within walking distance (about 10-15 minutes) and recommended by our apartment manager (who lives downstairs and shares the lower patio with us). It is on the other side of the City Walls than us, so we had 2 options for getting there - back down the steps and through Old Town (tourist central), or up stairs from our apartment, then walk a sidewalk down a steep road, around the outside of the City Walls. We chose the latter - you can see the road, and how it switches back to go down to sea level in front of our apartment. I also included a pic of why people like to drive Smart cars here - it makes finding a parking spot SO much easier! Same with scooters and motorcycles - you see a lot of them, and they even have their own dedicated parking lots and/or spaces.

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The beach was part sand (mostly), part rock, We were right on the edge where the two met. There were a LOT of people there, and when we weren’t in the water, we were very hot - it sure felt like more than the 84/85 degrees it was.

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We’ve also been talking to Nudi in Thailand, and getting so excited to see her! While we at the beach she texted, saying she’s flying into Bangkok tonight (from her hometown of Udon Thani, where she’s been helping care for her grandparents) and would see us tomorrow - yikes - thank goodness she texted - we don’t fly into Bangkok until Saturday, and she has offered to meet us at the airport - that would have been a long wait! The confusion was because the information I had sent her only had our fly-out date of tomorrow, but it’s an overnight flight.

After we got cleaned up and threw in one last load of laundry, we walked into the newer part of Dubrovnik for dinner. It was a 25 minute walk, up the steps from our apartment, then downhill in the opposite direction as Old Town. It’s a place Natalie’s friend recommended, and it was delicious. We had the best bruschetta ever, and for a meal, Terri had cevapi, which is what Latica & Amir cooked for us. Those of you who know Terri (the “closet vegetarian” as my family calls me), know that it must be pretty good if she ordered it!

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Tomorrow, we need to be out of our apartment by 10:30 am, but our flight isn’t until 9pm. For the first time on this trip, we don’t have a firm plan on what we are going to do for the day - we would like to avoid water only because we won’t really have a good place to get cleaned up before our flight, and would have wet swimsuits and towels.... but on the other hand, we don’t really want to do any more hiking and we’ve seen most of what we wanted to see here.... so we will play it by ear after breakfast. Our apartment manager will let us keep our luggage in his apartment, and has offered, for a fair fee, to take us to the airport, so we do have those things worked out.

Can’t believe it’s already our last evening in Croatia!

Posted by Rowlandfamily 12:31 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Split to Dubrovnik - June 19

sunny 85 °F
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This morning we got up and caught at 8am bus to take us from Split to Dubrovnik - a 4 hour trip by bus (it actually took us closer to 5 with a few stops for people to get on and off, and a 20-minute rest stop) - but again, well worth not having to navigate the twists, turns, and up and down as we travelled around the mountains. I tried to limit the terrible bus-window pics, but again the views were just too amazing and I couldn’t resist.

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To get to Dubrovnik, you have to go through Bosnia, because they own a small strip of land out to the sea, for port access. At the border, a patrol officer boarded the bus and (sort of) checked all our passports. The 2 girls on the bus who didn’t know they needed them to go from a Croatian town to a Croatian town had to get off the bus and go in, but they were back out in just a few minutes.
While in Bosnia, we made a 20 minute rest stop (to make about a total for 40 minutes or so in Bosnia) - here are pics of the rest stop restaurant/convenience store/hotel, and the view from the edge of the parking lot, as well as a pic at border patrol on our way back out of Bosnia.

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And here are a couple pics coming into Dubrovnik - the first is taken while on the bridge, the second, looking back at the bridge as the road curved around:

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From the bus station, we took an Uber, who dropped us at the bottom rather than the top, so we had to climb this set of stairs - in 85 humid degrees, with all of our luggage - agh! (I counted the next day - 31 sets of 5 steps each with a small landing) After this trip, I don’t think I’ll ever overpack again! Once at the top, there are a few more stairs (it’s a pedestrian street, obviously) to our apartment, which is on the left where you see the man sitting waiting for us.

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Our apartment is on the second floor, so after you go in the gate from the street you go down steps to a patio area, then up steps to the apartment. It’s our smallest apartment yet but has the most amazing view!

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After we dropped our suitcases and got some pointers from our apartment manager, we went back down the steps - a different, parallel set this time - and ate lunch at a restaurant looking over the water and the City Walls.

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Then we went inside the walls (into “Old Town”) and walked around a little before taking the stairs up and walking around the perimeter of the wall. It’s tough walking because besides the heat and humidity, the path is uneven rock, and you are constantly going up and down steps (that are not always level). But it was really cool to see - we had some great views! After we came down we walked around a little more - none of us watched Game of Thrones, but Dubrovnik is where their city King’s Lading was filmed, so you can take a G of T tour here and I did get a pick of the clock.... (??)

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Although it probably doesn’t sound like much, that wiped us out (my Fitbit says I’ve walked 52 flights of stairs today), so we went back to the apartment and relaxed on our balcony awhile.

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Posted by Rowlandfamily 13:19 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Islands tour by boat - June 18

Also our 25th anniversary!

sunny 89 °F
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This morning we got up early and went to catch an 11-hour boat excursion we booked - the only excursion that hasn’t been “do it ourselves” so far! The tour advertised 6 islands, but I think it must have meant “6 points of interest, all on islands”. However, we had a great day and saw some beautiful and amazing sights. Croatia has over 1200 islands, 48 of which are inhabited. Here is the boat we took and pics of Split as we left.

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It took about an hour and a half, at full speed, to get to our first stop, the island of Bisevo (bee shay vo) where we waited to get on a smaller boat to take us into the Blue Cave. The entrance is so small that even in the small boats we had to duck to go through. Inside the cave, the water glows blue, from the sun shining on the outside of the cave, reflecting off the white sand up inside the cave from under small openings in the rock. LIke everywhere else so far, the water is so clear that it looks really shallow, even when it’s not.

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After that, we went to Komiza, a city on the island of Vis (Veesh), which is where Mamma Mia was filmed.

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We then went to the south side of Vis island, where we didn’t get off the boat but were told about how the waves are what causes the holes and caves to be formed, especially here where there are no other islands between here and Italy. The one formation is called something like “pants” - you can see why.

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We then went to yet another area of Vis, where we again did not get off the boat, but were shown an area where lots of people were hanging out on boats and swimming. We were told that this used to be a cave, but it collapsed. The captain said that this beach was nominated several years in a row as the best beach in Europe. I believe it is only accessible by boat, but am not positive.

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Next, we went to swim and snorkel, in a “blue lagoon” off a private island called Veli Budikovac (according to our boat driver, owned by one person, ad everything is expensive so we didn’t go ashore).

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After swimming and snorkeling for awhile, we got back on the boat and rode for about an hour, to the island of Hvar, where we ate lunch, then had an hour and a half or so to walk around. Natalie and I opted to climb the steps to the overlook, but the guys said, “no more stairs up to lookouts and no more old churches!” (Honestly, I’m surprised it took them this long), so they sat and had a beer while they waited for us. None of us went to see the church that our driver said is the oldest church in the world (though Google seems to disagree). Can you imagine being a waiter/waitress at the restaurant on the steps?!

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Our last stop was at the island of Brac (Brahtch), at the city of Milna. Our boat driver said that when it’s not tourist season, there are only about 200 residents here, but they definitely had some big, beautiful boats there today!

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When we got back to Split, we got cleaned up and went out for one last evening in Split... we leave tomorrow morning for our last stop in Croatia - Dubrovnik. Our time in Croatia is really flying by!

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Posted by Rowlandfamily 11:06 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Split - June 17

sunny 89 °F
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One of the first things we noticed upon arriving to town yesterday was that Split has a very different “feel” than anywhere else we’ve been in Croatia so far. Whereas the other places have had more of a laid-back, relaxed, “chill” ‘feel’ to them (which we loved), in Split you can instantly feel the high energy and excitement. It’s also very much more “touristy”, which you can tell by the fact that we can easily get by with our English here (it’s listed first on many menus here rather than 3rd, 4th, or not at all), & all the locals seem to speak it, and you can also tell by the prices of things! That being said, it is amazingly beautiful - Natalie says if she were to move to Croatia (which she’s not - breathe, Grandmas!), that she would have a hard time choosing between Split and Zagreb.

I also noticed the shorts. Crazy thing to notice (though if you were walking up and down stairs and hills constantly in this heat for a week you’d understand!). Natalie had said that women in Croatia/Zagreb don’t wear shorts. I had assumed she meant that the “cool kids” didn’t.... but no, in Zagreb, in 87-94 degrees, I did not see ONE woman wearing shorts (many men do, though). It was pants, capris, or dresses. Sometimes even long sleeves! I conformed other than the day we went to Plitvice, when I wore long shorts. At the coast I started seeing a very few women (mostly tourists) in shorts, so yesterday I finally wore them (and promptly froze on very air conditioned boat and bus!)..... and in Split, I fit right it - MANY women are wearing them. Phew!

While I’m on the topic of differences between home and here: pedestrians. In Croatia, pedestrians rule. Not only are many streets pedestrian-only, but when a pedestrian wants to cross a street, they just step out (there are lots of crosswalks painted on the road, but it could be anywhere), and all the traffic stops. The only time they don’t are at busy intersections, where there are crossing lights like at home. It’s a little unnerving, and we drive them crazy because we wait for them to come to a stop, while Croatians are already halfway across the street by then!

Back to today. We first went out for crepes for breakfast - they were delicious, and after “savory” ones (meats and cheeses), NIck, who usually isn’t much for sweets, LOVED the Snickers crepe, and shared with us :). Also, as you can see in this pic, the coffee here is not like ours at all. It is one size only, usually what I would call tea-size, and the closest you can get to “regular coffee” is either instant or what they call “Americano”, which is a shot of espresso with hot water.

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After breakfast we did a walking tour of Split, mostly in and around the palace. Split was built in and around a fortress-like complex called Diocletian’s Palace, which was built by the Romans in 4 BC. Now, homes, shops, bars, cafes, restaurants, etc have been built right into it, with the old and new blending together. Rather than type a ton, here’s the link of the tour we loosely followed, if you’re interested in reading more about Split and it’s history: https://www.split-walking-tour.net/free. A couple favorites of mine were the gladiators and the world’s narrowest street!:

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After walking all over, we were hot and tired, so stopped at a cafe that had a view of the sea, was shaded, and was spraying a cool mist every 20 or 30 seconds.

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We then decided to check out a local beach, and at the suggestion of one of Natalie’s friends, went to Znjan City Beach, which was only 2.5 miles from our apartment, but was a 25 minute Uber ride, due to the mountains and the back and forth route we had to take. It’s a “pebble beach” (looked like gravel but was very clean), but that did’t seem to stop anyone. The photos are from shortly after we got there around 3:30 - by the time we left a couple hours later, there were twice as many people! The water does drop off very quickly.

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For dinner, we went to a place that Latica (Natalie’s first host mom, who grew up in Split) suggested - it was a little less touristy, near a beach (not the one we went to today) and delicious.

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We then walked the boardwalk around the marina area, then took what felt like 10 million steps up to an overlook that had amazing view. In the pics, where you see the far side of the marina - we walked from behind there. There was a bar/restaurant up at the top (not really the top - we could have hiked further up the mountain, but it was the top of the steps and a landing/overlook area), so we sat and had a drink (and caught our breath!) while the sun set — just beautiful! Well worth the workout,

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Tomorrow we have a long but fun day - a boat tour 7:30am - 6:30pm where we will tour the blue caves, snorkel, and visit 6 different islands!

Posted by Rowlandfamily 14:12 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Travel day - Sunday, June 16

Pula to Rijeka to Zadar to Split

sunny 85 °F
View Much to Celebrate 2019 on Rowlandfamily's travel map.

This morning we got up at 5am (11pm Saturday at home - many of you probably hadn’t gone to bed yet), packed up the rental car (which is quite a feat with all of our luggage, even though it’s technically an SUV!), and drove back to Rijeka. On our way out of Pula, we passed a club where people were still out partying (there was an outdoor area) - Natalie says that is fairly common. In Rijeka, we returned our rental car and caught the new fast ferry (it’s “maiden voyage” - if you’re in Croatia today, look for us on the news!) that travels between Rijeka and Zadar each day, stopping at 3 islands along the way. We took it all the way to Zadar, a 4 hour journey with those stops for people to get on and off.

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In Zadar, Natalie felt like a few hours would cover the “must-see” list, so we walked around and saw several things, many of which I can’t remember names of right now but were cool to see - so amazing how old many of these things are! The Sea Organ was my favorite (last 2 pics here) - it’s built into the sea wall, so the waves “play” it. Today the water was pretty rough, so we got a great little concert. I wish I could post video here so you could hear it.

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We were then hot and tired (we checked our suitcases in at the bus station before heading out on foot, but had our heavy backpacks on), so we found a place to sit and enjoy a cool beverage. That’s one thing I’ve had to adjust to here ... everywhere you look, there are outdoor seating areas, and I struggle to know which is which, but some are bar/cafes, while others are restaurants. The bar/cafes do not serve any food - drinks only. And you generally wouldn’t go to a restaurant for just drinks. And sometimes any combinations of those are so close together, you can barely tell where one ends and the other begins in the outdoor areas.

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Late afternoon, we caught a bus to take us to Split - a little over 2 hour ride. We opted not to drive because Natalie has said the mountains can be a little scary to drive/ride in, and everyone goes really fast, and also so we could all enjoy the views... I have to admit, for the first part of the trip, I totally understood the ‘beautiful views’, but didn’t see the real big deal about the driving...... and then we hit the ride down into Split ~ YIKES! You couldn’t pay me enough to make that trip regularly, especially as a bus driver! I know that between the heavy tinting, the reflection, and the fact that we were barreling down the road, that these pics are awful, but I just couldn’t stop taking them! In this first one, all roads you see are the same road, the one that we are on, I don’t even know how the driver made that turn, let alone on a narrow road with 2 way traffic and little (and in some places no) guardrail.

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When we arrived in Split, we settled into our apartment a little, then walked around town a little before going to dinner.

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After dinner we walked down the Main Street by the sea / marina - it was very busy- before heading back to our apartment, first walking through the palace and visiting the statue of Grgur Ninski, so Terri could touch his big toe on her 50th! :)
Copied from TripAdvisor:
Next to the Golden Gate is the tall statue of Grgur Ninski, a Croatian bishop and advocate of the old Slavonic language and national script whose merit was to oppose the Pope in order to introduce religious services in Croatian in 929 (nobody understood Latin at that date)
Funny fact: it is said that touching the big toe of his bronze statue guarantees you a good luck

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Posted by Rowlandfamily 14:56 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Pula - Saturday, June 15

Venetian Fortress, Amphitheater, Beach, & Zerostrasse

sunny 87 °F
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Today we walked out to the square near our apartment for breakfast (at a very common ‘sit outside under an awning while the waiter runs back and forth into the (usually quite small) restaurant -in today’s case, across a street). It sprinkled a little before we went out, and again while we ate breakfast, but not even enough to get the sidewalks wet.

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I also put a picture of a Tisak (tee-sock) here - these things are everywhere, and while we’ve mostly used them to buy lots and lots of water, Natalie tells us you can do a ton from a Tisak - pay bills, send mail, and purchase a wide variety of things like SIM cards, beverages, magazines, tram tickets, etc.

After breakfast, we walked (up hills and stairs, of course!) to the Venetian Fortress and looked around.

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We then walked to the amphitheater, called the Arena, which was built by the Romans 27 BC - 68 AD and is among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the world. It was pretty amazing.

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Since we were then hot and tired of walking, we decided to go check out the beach. Although our apartment is steps from the water, it is not a swimming area, so we had to select a beach and we chose to take an Uber rather than walk to our car, then deal with driving and parking, etc. We had many options, but chose the one that said “sandy” - as you can see, their definition is quite different than ours - and also said cliffs. When we arrived, we enjoyed this area for awhile, thinking this was all there was (it was in a bay)....

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But then we got curious about why the description we found said “cliffs” so we went walking through woods and rocks, and found an amazing hidden (well, from the number of people there, maybe only hidden to us?) gem... WOW, SO beautiful!! I took tons of photos and will put a few right here, but feel free to look through the photo gallery if you want to see more. Both kids took the jump off the highest cliff (after watching others first) - that’s Nickin the pics - he did it 3 times! We estimate it was 60 feet or so....?? Terri then found a smaller one (an “old lady” one) and also jumped, just so she could say she went cliff jumping ;)

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When we returned from the beach, we got cleaned up and went to Zerostrasse, the underground tunnels, as our apartment owner told us about an exhibit going on there, with music and local craft beer & snacks. The exhibit was about the history of the Pula tram, which was dismantled in 1934.

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After Zerostrasse, we went to dinner (outside again) near our apartment, then called it a night as we have an early morning tomorrow - driving back to Rijeka to return our rental car and take a ferry to Zadar, further down the coast, then on to Split.

Posted by Rowlandfamily 14:38 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Rijeka & Pula - June 14

Trsatski Castle

sunny 87 °F
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Today we got up and went to the bakery for ham & cheese croissants before heading to the airport to pick up our rental car. When we arrived in Croatia Natalie met us at the airport, and because of our luggage we ordered 2 Ubers. However, when the first arrived it easily fit our luggage, then we got dropped off at different locations near our apartment (because of the pedestrian-only streets) and took awhile finding each other.... so today we decided one Uber would be fine. Well, ... today’s was REALLY small- getting our luggage in was like a complicated puzzle - but our driver was friendly and just laughed.

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We then drove to Rijeka (ree-ay-kah), about a 2 hour drive. What I saw of the drive was gorgeous- mountains, hills, and communities built into the hills ... but despite my best intentions, I slept for about an hour or so, so missed big tunnels and other cool stuff, according to Tim.

When we got to Rijeka, we parked near the marina and walked through the square, i was expecting a small village so was surprised at how large/busy it was - Natalie says it is the 3rd largest city in Croatia.

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We then took the less direct way up to Krsatski Kassel - winding back and forth at an incline, sometimes doing steps, but bot the straight-up staircase that is the other option (and the way we cane down). Wow - talk about hard work! But breathtaking sites - here are some pics of our walk:

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And some pics of the castle and views. If we look sweaty and gross, it’s because it was 87 degrees! In the first pic, we have walked a ways from where we parked and are looks up at the castle - you can just barely see it in the top center of the photo:

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In the last picture, you can see two roads - the lower one is the one we came into town on.

After lunch we left Rijeka and headed for Pula, where we will stay until Sunday morning. We intended to take the scenic route along the coast that Amir suggested, but missed the turn off, so we will do that on our return trip on Sunday. We did go through a 5K tunnel through the mountain!
Our apartment is right across the street from the sea, though this area is not where the swimmig beaches are. Here are some pics in and around our apartment. As seems to be typical, we are on the 3rd floor (they call it 2nd) with no eleveator.... so more steps!

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After taking our car to a place we can park (about a 10-15 minute walk or so), we walked around town some (this town is know for its Roman heritage) and saw the Arch of the Sergians as well as the Temple of Augustus, where they were re-enacting a wedding and some other typical daily activities. More to see here on tomorrow’s to-do list, but tired for today.

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Posted by Rowlandfamily 14:31 Archived in Croatia Comments (2)

Thursday, June 13 - Last day in Zagreb

Zagreb Zoo, dinner with Natalie’s first host family

sunny 88 °F
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First, since I’m betting the grandparents have been worrying - No, the kids did not go out last night - I think they wanted to, but they were as tired as Tim and I!

Today we took it a little easier than the last few days - the time change, heat, and SO much walking caught up with us. We went to breakfast on Tkalciceva street, sitting outside under umbrellas which is SO common here. Many of them have mist spraying out to help keep patrons cool.

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After breakfast we took the tram to the Maksimir Park area, and spent a couple hours walking around the zoo. It’s kind of a small zoo but had some cool animials, some of which we’d never seen before. Then we spent some time walking around Maksimir Park, and relaxing on benches there with a cold water. Maksimir Park is 780 acres (all of the green in the map pic), right near the heart of Zagreb- pretty amazing. What I found more amazing was how clean and safe it felt (and Natalie said it really is very safe).... I don’t think that if some of our larger cities had parks that size, I would want to go anywhere near them. :/

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We then took a tram closer to city center, where we ate lunch at a place Natalie knew about - it was delicious - then got a gelato and walked to our apartment to rest, start packing, and freshen up - we were invited to Natalie’s first host family’s apartment for dinner at 8pm.

On the way out for the evening, I took some pics of the entrance to our apartment - I’ve never seen anything like it, but here it is very common for the stores to occupy the front area, and other things (smaller shops, some restaurants, and apartments, to be in behind. You can see that here:

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To get to their apartment, we took a tram then walked. They are a little out of the main area of the city, but still very much in the city, There, after a toast with Rakija - “Zivjeli” (sounds like gee-va-lee) “to life!”), we had another typical Croatian meal - appetizer of cheeses, bread, olives, and prosciutto, then for dinner we had a wonderful salad, cevapi that Amir grilled served with a couple different toppings that I can’t name but were delicious, and onions. All the while we enjoyed lively conversation about exchange (Faris, 18, was near Lansing while Natalie was there), moms (apparently a lot of mom-isms are international, go figure;) ), and a wide range of other topics. When we left (about 11:15pm), it was down to a cool (my word only - the rest thought it was great) 74 degrees.
Here is Natalie with Amir (dad), Latica (sounds like La-teet-za, mom), and Lena (sounds like Lay-na).

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And here are the pics Amir took of all of us:

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Tomorrow we leave Zagreb, by rental car, to head for the coast, starting in the north and working our way down over the next week, ending in Dubrovnik. From there we fly to Thailand!

Posted by Rowlandfamily 15:00 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 12 - Plitvička Jezera National Park

And dinner with Natalie’s 2nd host family

sunny 95 °F
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This morning we got up early, to take the tram to get a rental car, which we drove for about 2 hours to get to Plitvička (Plit-veet-za) Jezera National Park. Wow - incredibly beautiful!

Before we left, Natalie and Tim walked out to the square to buy us burek for breakfast - pastry with meat or cheese that is common in Croatia.

When we arrived at Plitvice, we started at the top, overlooking waterfalls and lakes. We worked our way down to the bottom, where we walked paths and wooden walkways & bridges, around and across the lakes. We made our way to the far side, where we rode a boat across the water, then walked a ways up (wooden steps and paths) where we took a “train” (a long, multi-section bus) for a ways, then again walked trails and wooden walkways and steps, until we finally ended up back at the entrance. All of this took about 3 hours (and, according to my Fitbit, about 24 flights of stairs!). It was amazingly beautiful - bright blue water, large and small waterfalls, and lots of “nature”.

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We then drove back to the city, dropped off our rental car, and returned to our apartment where we got ready for dinner with Natalie’s second host family. They live right on the main street where the trams run, in an apartment on the second floor (ground level being zero, in the US we would say 3rd floor). Irena, Natalie’s ‘mom’ cooked us an amazing traditional Croatian dinner (though they typically would eat this large a meal closer to our lunch tine and eat just a light evening meal or leftovers). We started with a champagne toast, then had an appetizer of sir i vrhnje (sour cream & cheese) - it looked kind of like cottage cheese and was delicious, eaten on bread (one was made completely of corn but not like our corn bread), summer sausage (what we would call it not what they called it), and fried bacon fat (not sure of the name). For the main course we had salad with olive oil & vinegar, osso bucco with vegetables , and rice. Then for dessert (yes - we were stuffed!), we had kremsnita.
While we enjoyed dinner, we viistited with Irena, her son Jure (pronounced you-ray, but he introduced himself as JJ), age 18, who was on exchange in Washington state while Natalie was living there and just finished high school but has yet to finish his final tests, and Luna, age 17, who has one year left of high school. She is in school until Friday, so she has tests to study for, so we also met 2 of her friends who were coming over to study with her. We didn’t get to meet Duga (22), who was working (she is a personal trainer at her father’s gym).

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After dinner, we walked back to our apartment, to let our food settle and relax a bit, and played some cards. We intended to go back out, but as of right now Terri & Tim are going to call it a night - long day in the hot sun and so much walking zapped our energy.... The kids are still debating, since at dinner Luna & Jure told them of some fun places to go/things going on tonight .... they were told to take a nap and go out around midnight :/

Posted by Rowlandfamily 13:36 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

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