There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label Croatia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Croatia. Show all posts

26 April 2014

a floating speck among old world vineyards

After leaving the seaside town of Dubrovnik, we had to make the long drive back to Split. Wanting to take a route that was different from whence we came, the three of us found ourselves deep in the heart of Croatia's countryside of towering mountains and valleys of green vineyards.
In the golden hour of afternoon light, the windows were rolled down to let us breath in country air. Hand built stone walls lined the road as we went by, folks looking up from the porch chairs to raise a hand in friendship.

Row after row of grapevines held my imagination, and I knew that no one would love you as much as I did in that moment.

08 February 2014

rising to a city view of Dubrovnik

At the top of the mountain we can see the faint cross overlooking Dubrovnik, protecting it's believers. There is a lift that takes passengers to the top for spectacular city and ocean views.

We find the starting point, and rise to the awesome heights in Croatia.
The lookout tower at the top has been used for centuries to watch for sailing intruders looking to invade the homeland.

The cross is mighty when standing next to it, and humbles all onlookers.
We grab a relaxing drink and soak in the sun and blue sky, while the soft wind cools our skin.
The cuba libre goes down as smooth as the Croatian countryside.


04 January 2014

Dubrovnik

There are several theories about the history of the famed city by the sea, Dubrovnik. Some believe it was founded in the seventh century on a rocky island called Laus, providing shelter for refugees.

Others believe a large settlement was already established when Greek sailors came in the eighth century, conquered, and rebuilt the city.

Regardless, we found ourselves at the top of the mountain upon which the city is built, navigating narrow cobblestone streets with high walls down to the sea.
Flowers blooming everywhere, the salt air wafting in the cool breeze, we aimlessly walk knowing that eventually all streets end up at "The Wall", our final destination. We take our time though to soak in the beauty of the city.
Grapevines hanging over crumbling walls, fresh bunches of fruit for the picking. Artists painting the scenery before them in vibrant colours.
Beautiful churches seemingly everywhere, saints of stone protecting all passersby with blessings from the grave.
Happy and lost, we find great food and drink down an endless alley, shops and music down another. The vibrant city has found it's way into every crevice and corner of Dubrovnik.
As a Phoenix rising from the fire, the Great Wall of Dubrovnik is before us, the Adriatic waves pounding against the stone fixture. The initial scene is an oil painting of surreality, and I soak it all in before entering the old city......
but the Wall itself is a story for another day.

27 December 2013

the Dalmatian Coast

The Dalmatian coastline of Croatia.

Driving along it in a dreamlike state, zipping past quaint seaside towns nestled in between mountain crags.
The remnants of the war with Serbia from the nineteen nineties are hard to be found.

Only the occasional ruins of a bombed out building.

Rusted colored rooftops, sailboats glistening on the sun sparkled water, and row after row of tasty vineyards have replaced the hatred of that time.
The three hour scenic drive was the gateway to our final destination....

Dubrovnik.


17 November 2013

Split's Bell Tower

One hundred and seventy steps to the top of Split's Bell Tower.

Half of which are stone, turning to rickety metal,

shaking with the slightest of ocean breezes.
Acrophobia seizes me temporarily, my grip on the small handrail tightens.

Slow breathes, in deep, exhale slowly.

One foot in front of the other as I rise above the city buildings

to clear blue ocean views and clouds topping distant mountains ranges.
I climb this stairway to heaven to the serenity above.

16 November 2013

Diocletians Palace

On the edge of the Adriatic sea, great walls rise from the ground. Stone bricks protecting the fortress that is Diocletians Palace.
Built at the turn of the fourth century, this massive complex is home to both historic relics of the past and modern day conveniences of living quarters, shops and restaurants.

We start the day by exploring the endless tunnels, ready for a new adventure.
The busts of Roman emperors stand guard on pedestals as you make your way from room to room. Tombs, bones and other archaeological finds strewn throughout the underground of the palace.
The palace also displays modern works of art with messages for those living today. On this particular morning symbols showing the faces of oppression and terrorism were the message.
In the palace center is a giant open courtyard where one can sit in the midday sun with a local Ozujsko and enjoy the scenery.
After finishing our lunch, we wander more along the cobbled streets, finding delights and surprises around every corner.
I must say that the Roman Emperor Diocletian couldn't have picked a better place to build his retirement spot than here in Split, at the edge of the sea.
*****


06 November 2013

Hotel Krilo

I won't lie, I was certainly apprehensive as we first pulled up to our hotel outside Split. At first glance the place seemed to be in a horrible area, and the building itself was unattractive and uninviting. I suppose I was hoping to stay in Split itself, in some plush resort where one could be pampered and people would be at your beck and call.

But the girls booked the accommodations. Day after day though, I fell in love with the subtle charms of Hotel Krilo.

Having only eight simple rooms, located right on a boat harbor connected to the Adriatic sea, one could sit on the balcony and enjoy the sea air with a stiff drink from the downstairs bar. Family run, the staff would bend over backwards for you.
I would go on long walks along the beach, feeling completely safe. The rundown buildings in the area weren't from neglect, but more from the harsh weather conditions from being on the sea. Old ships and discarded fishing equipment added to the charm.
We would come home from a long day of exploring to home cooked meals and bonefires on the shoreline. Local music would play from nearby homes as boats would gently rock in the harbor.
Quiet, quaint, and utterly charming, this was actually the perfect place to stay while exploring the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. Thank you Hotel Krilo.

30 October 2013

Split

I had no words to describe seeing the city of Split for the first time. The sun was starting its descent as we topped the final hill, and the buildings rising from the Dalmatian coast seemed ethereal.
After settling in, we went into town to try and find a bite to eat. We had no clue as to what direction to go, and the girls decided that "left" seemed to be calling....

Walking left lead us right down to the beach, with restaurants and bars galore. The sky was lighting up with sunset colors. Split easily grew on me in those first few hours.
We settled on a restaurant with an outdoor patio overlooking the water. I became the wine connoisseur, much to my delight, and with a choice bottle of red and a recommendation from the locals to try the squid, we consumed and laughed the night away.
Seafood became the food of choice for our meals ( I don't think I had anything other than varieties of squid dishes), with Mediterranean wines and gelato for dessert.
I wouldn't want to remember Split any other way.

20 October 2013

from the Lakes to the Split

Dark rain clouds were forming as we piled into our car leaving the Lakes. Our best guess estimations had us on the road for about three hours until we arrived at our next destination.

Three hours for me to sit in the backseat and soak in Croatia's countryside as we zipped along the A1.
Mountainous peaks, lush fields, and amazing clouds. I'll never forget the Croatian clouds.

Old world cottages and even the occasional remnants of war from the 1990's. I loved being the nowhere Man in an unknown land with the wind on my face and the Adriatic sea in my nostrils.

These thoughts rattle around as we turn and see The Split before us.....where a new adventure awaits.

19 October 2013

the Plitivces Lakes of Croatia

Rising early in the morning, we head out from the capital of Zagreb to the first place on our list of must-sees in Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park , the oldest national park in southeastern Europe. Pictures of the park were in the airport, which whet my desire to explore. After making our way up the mountainous countryside over a few hours time , we arrived.

You have many route choices to see the park, hiking trails galore. Having only one day, we decided to take a tram to the top of the park, and then hike down the mountains past all sixteen lakes. It was a wise decision.
The waters here are all interconnected, and as they flow downstream, limestone and chalk create natural traverine dam barriers lending to incredible natural waterfalls. The turquoise water is so clear that everything in the lakes is visible.
Our route was such that the scenery just kept getting better as we went, my jaw dropping around every turn...
We find some of the lakes to be so large that ferry boats offer rides across if one chooses not to walk around the lakeshore. It is a spectacular way to rest for a few and see the park from a new perspective.

The park also has a few surprises like an immense cave to explore, and canyon views that leave you gasping.
Flora and fauna also captivate the senses while one is taking a rest from hiking.
After nearly hiking for five hours, our day had come to a sad end. Wishing we could stay longer, but with more of Croatia waiting to be explored, we leave to our next destination. The cherished memories though are forever stained upon us.
*****

20 September 2013

Zagreb

Believe me or not, but I had no idea where Croatia was until I was in London catching my flight to this country. My friends planned the entire trip themselves, me just a willing participant in the adventure. It left me with no preconceived notions, and thus enhanced the experience ten fold.

Grabbing a taxi from the airport to take us to our hotel, I noticed the large, billowing clouds in the blue sky. Clouds that seemed larger, fluffier even, than I'd laid eyes on before. I loved the clouds of Croatia.

Our hotel was a few miles from Old Town and the city centre. Perfect for us to stretch our tired legs and see this town like a local, with wonderful surprises around every corner.
Ready for some dinner, we mull over various menus and atmosphere, deciding on a little place up an alley. "More food, more wine!"  became our mantra.
After dinner, we explore more, finding old world charm akin to the Grimm Brothers fairy tales. Gothic cathedrals and cottages from yesterday tickle our fancy. Stone staircases and weathered window panes.
Zagreb was the perfect starting point to explore the wonders of this special country.