September 30, 2016


Press HERE to see a slideshow
of Zagreb (100+ photos).

The Fountain in the Jelacic Square
Fountain in the  Jelacic Square IMG_1309

Sculpture at Ivan Mestrovic Atelier

Sculpture at Ivan Mestrovic Atelier IMG_1333

Varazdin Castle

Varazdin Castle IMG_0642

Before talking about our exploration of Zagreb, I want to start by saying what a wonderful city Zagreb is. Zagreb is a city of about 900,000 people, which I think is a near perfect size. The people are very friendly and extremely helpful to travelers. Most of the people we met on the street could speak English. It was great. The public transit system is extensive. No car is needed. Buses and trams move the people around. There were only two draw-backs, which are actually common to all of Croatia. One, people smoke a lot and they smoke everywhere. Two, there is graffiti on the walls and fences of far too many buildings.

We arrived by bus in Zagreb on the Wednesday, the 21st of September. We went to our first couchsurfing host in Croatia. Marko is a very interesting man. He left home at an early age and made a very good life for himself. He has traveled to almost every country in the world. He worked extensively in the UK and Ireland. He was an app developer with an early success for an iPad app called Devolution. We talked some and eventually took a bus to the city center. Marko brought us to a restaurant to eat a Croatian specialty called "strukli." It was a hot dish made of dough and salty cheese in a cream sauce. The best of local comfort food.

On Thursday we went to the old town and the information office. In the office we got some great info about the city. Besides a good map, we got a very good walking tour guide. We would used it nearly everyday. We started with the cathedral. and worked our way into the upper town, which is on a hill that looks down on the main square and the rest of the lower town. I will let the pictures speak for our trekking through the town. We made our way back to Marko's apartment to chat and pack, as we were going to stay with other hosts.

Jo and Lucy's Favorite from Zabreb
Public Scupture

(laught out loud)
Public Pissing Scupture IMG_0590

We stayed with two marvelous hosts, Ana and Dom, for the next two nights. Ana speaks perfect English and Dom was nearly as good. She teaches English and had lived for a year in California. Dom works for Zagreb television. They were incredibly kind and helpful. Dom was instrumental in helping us find a small apartment. While staying with them we continued our exploration of the old town of Zagreb. Again I will let our pictures speak for us.

Friday we visited two museums. I really liked the Museum of Naive Art. While developed in the 20th century, the pieces are very much like folk art and none the less just stunning. We also visited the studio of the famous sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic. His house and studio were beautiful and we took many photos. We were by St. Marks Church and that is were we saw the young man, Antoni, playing the Hang. See my YouTube video to hear it.

We booked for the first time on AirBnB. We found a nice flat for $23 per day and booked it for a week. It is on a bus route, so getting around is a breeze. Bus fares are $1.60 each way.

Sunday we visited the cemetery. It is VERY large and has many interesting graves. After this we did some wondering in the lower town only to return to the cathedral at 5:00 pm for a concert of of organ and trumpet music. The trumpeter produced the most beautiful sounds. The organ was built by the Walcher Company in 1855 and is a work of art in its sound and its vision. Here are links to two recordings of what we heard. This link was my favorite piece. And here is a link to other parts of the concert. Please give a listen to them.

Tuesday we visited two more museums: The Gallery of Modern Art and The Museum of Arts and Crafts. The modern art museum had a good representation of Croatian painters and sculptors of the past century and a half. Some pieces were wonderful, others not so much. For me the best part of the Arts and Crafts Museum was the furniture piece. They gave me lots of ideas for things to make.

Dom, Ana, Betty and Bill
Dom,  Ana, Betty and Bill IMG_1411

On Wednesday the 28th we rented a car for the day and drove to Varazdin. Varazdin is a lovely little town about 60 miles north of Zagreb known for its Baroque architecture. We had lunch and walked about the town ending with a castle, which was once surrounded by a moat. From Varazdin we drove to the Trackoscan Castle to take a look. We returned to Zagreb just after dark, our phones dying before we got back to the rental office. Thank goodness we brought a small GPS to use in the car.

The best part of Thursday was taking Dom and Ana out to lunch. They are such a great couple and soon they will have their first child. We went to a recreational area on a lake within Zagreb to eat at a restaurant called Helena. We are becoming friends. It was a really lovely afternoon.

Now, we are getting ready for our next part of this journey. We will leave for Ljubljana on tomorrow morning.

View from Gradec
View from Gradec IMG_0562

Posted by bill at 05:11 AM | Comments (3)

September 21, 2016

Plitvice Lakes National Park

This park is a true natural wonder of pools and lakes and thousands of cascades and falls.

Our pictures will have to tell the story. Please, press HERE to see a slideshow of the park.

There are a few short videos to give you a better sense of the park and its sounds on my YouTube channel. The best one is at this link.

Please, press HERE to go to my channel.

Bill and Betty at Plitvice Lakes
Bill and Betty at Plitvice Lakes IMG_1300

Posted by bill at 03:27 AM | Comments (4)

September 19, 2016

Split, Croatia

Press HERE to see a slideshow
of Split, Croatia.

Old Town Sight

Old Town Sight IMG_0397

Sphinx of Diocletian

Sphinx of Diocletian IMG_0418

On the Phone with Birgitta

On the phone  IMG_0459

We got up at 4:30 in the morning on Thursday, the 15 of September. We had a ferry boat to get on before its 6:00 am departure. We had packed the night before and had almost everything ready. After a shower, a bit of breakfast and coffee, we made our way to the east side pier in Korcula. The catamaran ferry left on time and delivered us to Split some four hours later.

The Romans of Split

Romans of Split IMG_1238

Trogir's Harbor

Trogirs Harbor IMG_0465

Boys in Trogir

Trogirs Harbor IMG_1264

We hiked a mile to an address that someone sent me for an apartment rental. The manager was not there but a neighbor got him on the phone and soon he was there. We could not have that apartment. A pity as it was quite nice. But he did have a room with a shared kitchen for us on the other side of the old town. It was suppose to have internet and it did for the first two days. Our so called free 3-g service from t-mobile does not work worth a damn is Split. I called t-mobile to see if we could buy a fast data stream. If I understood them correctly, they want $25 for 1/2 a gig that would last only one week. This is an insanely high price. So, I had to say forget it.

Well, anyway we found a place to rest our heads at night and we did get a couple of days of internet. We will be moving on as soon as possible. We explored a bit of the city on Thursday. The big draw to Split is the Dioclitian's Palace, which was the retirement home of the Roman Emperor Dioclitian. At one time about 300 AD the temple was the city. As time passed the city expanded and as the temple began to wear, parts of it were superseded by new structure. Still, much of the original structure is still there. We spent most of Friday trying to explore every last bit of it.

Saturday started a bit on a sour note, but by the time it was over Saturday was one of best days in Croatia. The sour notes were in the morning when it rained and the internet in our rooms ended. But that was the morning.

By noon on Saturday we were on the move. We walked to the the docks in the city center. We boarded a public transport boat to cross the huge bay and go to the the town of Trogir. The boat passage was about one hour with only one stop along the way. Trogir is a very small town on a very small island. The island sits between the mainland and a very large island, and all are connected by bridges. We spent several hours exploring the town and its old buildings.

As the afternoon came to a close, we got on a bus that was headed back to Split. We got off the bus at Kastel Stari about half-way to Split. We met up with a wonderful German couple from Bremman that we met at concert in Korcula. Their names are Christian and Anneke Garst. We shared an excellent meal in the open are on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. We shared stories of our lives, our former jobs, our children and grandchildren. On the way back to Split I told Betty what a delightful day it was for us.

Our last two days were not very eventful. We arranged to move to a room with internet. We went into the old city to hang our and drink a coffee. Last night Betty cooked a great dinner. They say it is unusual for this time of the year, but there was a big thunderstrom last night. And there was a good rain this afternoon.

Tomorrow we will travel to the Plitvice Lakes National Park and the day after that to Zagreb. Be sure to click the slide show link for more photos of Split and Trogir, Croatia.

Bill with Chris and Anneke Garst
Korcula IMG_1203

Posted by bill at 09:49 AM | Comments (2)

September 14, 2016


Press HERE to see a slideshow
of Korcula.

West Pier in Korcula

West Pier in Korcula IMG_6316

With Joseph "Bire" Milina

With Joseph Milina IMG_6327

Swimmers in Korcula

Swimmers IMG_6338

Vineyard Outside Kneza

Kneza Vineyard IMG_6343

Wind Surfers

Wind Surfers IMG_6346

Korcula is pronounced "KOR-choo-la." Kocula is both the name of a town and the island it is on. It has a very sleepy existence except for a good number of tourist that come every summer. The town has a beautiful old city that takes less than 35 minutes to circle on foot. We came to the town by bus from Dubrovnik last Friday. We were greeted by Marina who had a very small apartment for rent. She showed us the flat and negotiated a price for first three days and later another three days. The total cost for the six days was about $210 dollars. Marina and her husband Joseph manage the Hostel Korcula Caenazzo. They are very kind and likable.

We started by exploring the old city. We have been to concerts for the Korcula Baroque Festival. The first one was on Saturday. It was the Baroque Opera "Dido and Aeneas" by Henry Purcell and sung in English. The outdoor concert was interrupted for a few minutes twice as light rain came down. Still it was a very nice concert and you can hear a few minutes of it at this link.

On Sunday we walked to the nearby village of Lumbarda. It is about 5 kilometers from Korcula. We are getting use to the walking, but we were glad to accept a lift from a passing driver when we were about half way to the town. Our first stop was the Bire winery. Bire and the other local wineries are the only producers of the fine white variety called "grk". Bire is the only winery that is closed on Sunday. Luckily the owner's 18 year-old son, Joseph, let us in to taste the very good wine. We left with a bottle to drink later. From Bire we walked to the harbor, and around the beaches and then to another winery to taste a bit more of the grk wine. After a couple of hours we started walking back to Korcula. Since we were lucky to be offered a ride part way to Lumbarda, we decided to try hitch-hiking back to Korcula. The success was not immediate, but we eventually got a lift back. We were very tired upon our return. Thanks to our activity bands, we know that we walked more than five miles on Sunday.

I want to mention two things here. The beaches are not sandy, rather they have small smooth stones that are not uncomfortable to walk on. The beaches are numberous and quite small. The draw here is the water. I have never before seen such CRYSTAL clear water in a salt water sea. Everytime I look into the water, I feel awed. Stepping into it, I discovered that it as warm as a Minnesota lake in the summer.

Second, I want to mention that I first hitch-hiked at the age of seven, going two miles to the Oxboro center. As I grew older, it became one of my main forms of transportation. I hitched all over the USA and Europe back in the 1960's. But I finally got a car in the 1970's and did little or no hitching since then. But the lastest round of hitching means that I have been at it more than 60 years. There are so few hitch-hikers today. I wish there were more. There should be, after all they call it a sharing economy.

Duo Sol

On Monday, I wanted to see two other smaller villages along the north coast of island. We walked a mile out of the town along the road leading to Kneza and Recisce, some 15 kilometers to the west. We could never hike that far, so we began hitch-hiking and we soon had a lift to Recisce. We waded in the sea and soaked up the atmosphere of this little village. We had a meal of fried fish with vegtables and beer. We began walking back to Kneza, a short cut up hill and it took about 40 minutes to hike there. Along the way we got a call from Birgitta. We have been using Viber to talk to her. It is a really fine VOIP app that lets you talk to friends and family on the data network, which we get free as part of our t-mobile phone plan. Anyway, we were soon in the village and decided to try hitching back to Korcula. After a half-hour or so, a very nice French couple picked us up and brought us to Korcula. We had a drink with them, sharing stories of our lives and our children. It was very nice. On Monday we only walked 4-1/2 miles.

We had a very quite day yesterday, Tuesday. We washed our clothes. Did some shopping. Betty fried chicken for dinner. In the evening we went to a really amazing concert. The Royal Wind Music performed a concert of Baroque recorder music. There were 13 muscians playing dozens of recorders of different sizes from less than 12 inches long to 8 feet tall. I have never heard such a group before. You can hear their first piece at this link.

I embeded another youTube video on this page. On Saturday we heard two local folk musician playing at a wedding reception. Later I saw them singing at the city gate. Ante Petkovic plays the accordion and Drazen Burazer is playing guitar. The song was interrupted for a bit as Drazen sold a CD. During the interruption, an unknown tourist joined Ante in singing the Croatian folk song.

We leave early in the morning of a ferry to Split, Croatia.

View of Korcula's Old City
Korcula IMG_1203

Posted by bill at 10:31 AM | Comments (2)

September 10, 2016


Press HERE to see a slideshow
of Dubrovnik.

Bill by the Fortress

Bill by the Fortress<

Sword Play

IMG_1153: Sword Play

Betty at Onofrio's Foutain

IMG_0334: Betty at Onofrio Fountain

It has been quite some time since my last entry. I almost forgot how to set up the pictures. But it is slowly coming back to me. I hope this entry will be enoyable.

We flew to Dubrovnik on Condor. The one-way tickets were under $500 each. Condor, a subsidary of Lufthansa, brought us to Frankfort on a fairly uncomfortable flight. Uncomfortable because the seat are way too close together. I think they were as bad as our national flights on Spirit Airlines. My only saving grace was that the seats behind us were unfilled, so I figured out how to lie on them. And I acutally got some sleep. The second leg was on the Croatian Airlines, which, although being an hour late, was a very nice flight with great snacks (olives and cheese) and a glass of wine. We had arrived at the airport in Minneapolis around 5:00 pm on Labor Day and arrived some 18 hours later around 7:00 pm at our room in Dubrovnik.

Our Dubrovnik Selfie
Our Selfie

Dubrovnik Guitar Trio

Accommodations in Dubrovnik are quite dear. There are no couchsurfing hosts. Our room was quite small and in a house where we shared a bath with another couple. Because we booked in the US the cost was over $70 per day. Had we been able to book directly with the owner, the cost would have been $50 per night. Needless to say accommodations are quite expensive here as is everything else, save beer and wine.

We could not get to sleep until almost midnight. Remember when it's midnght here, it's 5:00 pm in the middle of the USA. Needless to say our internal time clocks have been messed up for the last five days.

There must be millions that come to the old city every year. Even with the tourist season winding down, thousands filled the streets and alleys everyday. One reason it has become even more popular in recent years has to do with the TV show "The Game of Thrones." Many of the scenes from the show were filmed in Dubrovnik. It is a very old city with a well preserved medieval appearance. The old city has only one street that a car or small truck can get into for deliveries in the early morning. How they get in and out is a mystery to me, but I saw delivery trucks before 9:00 am one morning.

We did not do all the regular tourist things in Dubrovnik. We did not walk atop the city walls. We found little nooks to sit and enjoy the surroundings. For example, we found area just outside the city wall by the Lovrijenac Fortress to be very peaceful. And we liked the old port on the south side of the old city. The weather was good most of the time with just one morning with mist and light rain.

The third day after arriving, on our last evening we went out to for dinner. Lady Pi-Pi Restaurant was very good and not overly expensive. We both ordered the goulash, which Americans would call beef stew. It was excellent. After dinner we attended a classical guitar concert in the Rector's Palace Atrium. The music was delightful. In some of the pieces the guitar trio was accompanied by a mezzo-soprano.

On Friday, the 9th we got on a bus to Korcula, the name of both a town and an island. We will stay here until at least Monday and maybe beyond.

View of the Dubrovnik's Old City
Old City of Dubrovnik Img_0342

Posted by bill at 11:53 AM | Comments (3)