Wednesday - Arrival
We arrived in Venice at Marco Polo Airport from Frankfurt.
Of course, the only way to get to Venice is by water, so the next step
was a water taxi, and the first group of pictures is from the water
taxi ride. Later, we walked around near our hotel and took some
pictures in the glass shops. The light fixture pictures are in our
Piazza San Marco
Thursday, first things first. St. Mark's Square is
probably the most famous tourist attraction in Venice. There are
pictures here of the Basilica, the Doge's Palace, where the figurehead
leader of Venice was virtually imprisoned, the Bridge of Sighs, which
was the passage to prison for convicts, and the famous Campanile. Oh
yeah, they have a lot of pigeons, too.
Just walking around in the afternoon and evening. Venice
is a whole other world, so there is a lot to photograph.
The word Ghetto comes from the island of Ghetto, which
means "foundry". Jews were forced to live in on this island in Venice
until Napoleon invaded in 1797, and ended the practice. There are two
sections, Ghetto Vecchio, the old Ghetto, and Ghetto Nuovo, the new
Ghetto. The tallest buildings in Venice are on this island, because
they were not allowed to live anywhere else, so they built up as their
Excursion to the
Island of Murano
Friday morning, we went to Murano, home of Murano glass.
We had a glass blowing demonstration and then walked around and took
Friday afternoon we did some more exploring and bought
sandwiches at a deli by our hotel.
The Gondola Ride
I guess it is against the law to go to Venice without
having a romantic gondola ride. They have group rides that go out from
the hotels, but we walked around and found this owner-operator named
Marco (of course.) Marco gave us a tour of the narrow local canals,
whistling and singing all the way. There was a little part on the Grand
Canal, too. This was the ultimate anniversary present.
Driving to Slovenia
From Venice to Bled, Slovenia is about 100 miles. There is
not a lot to photograph along the way after you have spent three days
in Venice, but there are a couple of shots along the road of the
beginning of the Julian Alps. Crossing into Slovenia is no big deal,
and you just see a European Union sign announcing it. Behind the sign,
you see a kozolec, which is a rack for drying hay, and is one of the
symbols of Slovenia. Of course, when we arrived at Lake Bled, there was
plenty to photograph. This beautiful alpine village was where Marshal
Tito had his presidential residence back in the days of Yugoslavia. It
is now a hotel called "Vila Bled".
Sunday at Lake Bled
The weather was not great, but it is still a beatiful
place. Bled is one of the more renowned rowing centers, so you see a
couple of rowing pictures. Then there is Bled's version of the gondola,
the pletna. These are rowed by one man standing on the back of the
boat, and this is the normal way to travel to the island in the lake.
More on that later. We had lunch at a Gostilna, which is a traditional
restaurant run by a family, often in, or attached to, their home.
Monday Morning -
Lake Bled Island
Monday was a full day of travelling in Slovenia, but in
the morning, we took a pletna ride to the island and visited the Church
of the Assumption. In the sanctuary of the church hangs a rope for
ringing a small bell. The legend is that if you make a wish and pull
the rope three times, your wish will come true if you hear the bell
Monday - Skofja Loka
The name of Loka stands for grassland by the river. This
town is over 1000 years old, and was our first visit to a medieval town
in the Balkans. While we were there, we were entertained by school
children dressed in traditional costumes. We visited a traditional
house that is maintained by the original family, and were given a tour
by the owner. The kitchen is really a smokehouse within the building,
and the smoke from the fire goes out a hole in the ceiling, leaving the
room covered with pitch and soot. Meats are smoked by hanging them from
the ceiling. The same fire that smokes and cooks the food is used to
heat the room on the other side of the wall, where you can see the
ceramic stove sticking out into the room. During the cold months, they
would sleep on the benches around the stove. In the evening, we had
dinner at the gostilna in the old town granary in the city walls.
Tuesday - Ljubljana
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenja. It is a nice old
city on a river with lots of picture opportunities. The two bronze
doors on the Basilica of St. Nicholas (Stolnica Sveti Nikolaja) were
added in honor of the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1996.
After our day in Ljubljana, we visited the castle on the
cliff in Bled and took pictures of the lake and town from there. The
building with the red roof is our hotel.
Wednesday - Postojnska
After packing up on Wednesday, we headed toward Croatia
and stopped in Postojna for spelunking and lunch. The cave is not too
different from other limestone caves we have seen, but you get a train
ride through the first couple of miles of the cave and then get out and
walk. Inside the cave live eyeless salamanders the Slovenes call "human
fish" because they swim like fish and have skin like humans. We had
lunch at the restaurant at the cave (nice place) and then took pictures
around the park. You can see where the river goes into the cave.
Arrival in Opatija, Croatia
After lunch in Postojna, we headed to the top of the
Adriatic Sea, and Opatija on the Croatian Riviera. But first, everybody
had to get their Croatian Kuna at a cash exchange just over the border.
We stayed at the villa of the Millenium hotel a few steps from the
water. The statue of the girl with the sea-gull was made by Zvonko Car
in 1956, and he called it "Salute to the sea." Opatija does not have
sandy beaches. Instead, there are concrete decks with steps into the
water, and you can see what happens when the sea is rough.
Excursion to Rijeka
Rijeka is a few miles from Opatija, and is a pretty good
sized city. It is also the hometown of our program director, Biba. Her
grandma made us some goodies and her mother brought them to us on the
bus. We started in the part of town called Trsat, and the church "Our
Lady of Trsat" where pilgrims have brought gifts to Mary and even left
messages on the walls. After that we went to the main part of the city
and walked around taking pictures. They have one of the nicest
McDonalds I have seen anywhere, but we still didn't eat there.
Thursday Morning and
There are pictures here from before our trip to Rijeka,
and a walk along the Opatija promenade later that day.
We visited the island of Krk, Croatia's largest island and
the much smaller island of Kosljun, where there is a Franciscan
monastery and an Ethnographic museum. There are also peaceful walking
paths and lots of olive trees.
- City of Krk
Yeah, I know. Krk has no vowels. It is pronounced by
rolling the r - krrrrk. Back in pre-roman times, the Illyrians called
it "Kurycta", and later, in the 4th century, the Romans called it
"Splendidissima Civitas Kuryctarum." These pictures include the ride
from Kosljun to the city of Krk, starting with a picture our our
faithful bus driver and friend, Gordan.
Saturday - Istrian
Opatija is at the end of Kvarner Bay, which is between the
Croatian mainland and the Istrian peninsula. Istria is a kind of
Italian-Croatian mix. They are very big in things like olive oil,
special brandies, different kinds of cheese and jellies and jams. We
stopped along the Limski Canal to sample some of these things where
they were being sold.
Saturday afternoon - Rovinj
This is a picturesque old city with the historic part,
dating back to second to fourth century, crowded onto a small
peninsula. The church tower that you see from all angles is part of the
boroque church of St. Euphemia. Rovinj is on the Adriatic side of the
Saturday - Istrian lunch
and Pula Arena
We stopped at a country Konoba after visiting Rovinj. The
pictures show the smokehouse where they do the cooking, the dining
room, and the house and owners. After lunch, we passed through Pula,
and stopped to tour the very well preserved remains of the Roman arena
there. Pula is the oldest town on the east side of the Adriatic, having
been inhabited 3000 years ago. The arena was built in the third
century. The pictures show both the arena above ground, and some of the
underground passages beneath it.
Sunday - Dalmatian
On this day, we left our hotel in Opatija and headed south
along the Dalmatian coast. We spent most of the day on the bus, but we
managed to take some pictures anyway. We stopped for a bathroom break
outside of the city of Sibenik, which you can see in the distance in a
couple of the pictures. Andrea thought the toilet was cute.
Sun Evening -
We arrived at Split just in time to get settled in our
hotel and have dinner. The view from Hotel Split was mostly of some of
the large apartment blocks nearby and a glimpse of the Adriatic over
the tops of some other buildings. The apartment blocks had a stark
beauty of their own, and made a couple of interesting night shots.
First thing in the morning, we were packed and ready to
move on to the old part of Split, but not before a spectacular sunrise
and a look at the harbor. The aerial picture shows the old walled city
center built on Diocletian's residence.
Diocletian (Caius Valerius Diocletianus) was Roman emporer
at the end of the third century. He was born at Dioclea, in Dalmatia
around A.D. 245. He ordered the construction of his residence in Split
around the year 300, just before he retired. The walls of the residence
enclose 9.5 acres. In 639, the early citizens of the current city
converted most of the residence into a town, and it is still the Split
town center today.
Monday - Split
After our visit to Diocletian's residence, we headed
further down the Dalmatian coast to Dubrovnik. Lots of mountain
pictures here. The mountains come right up to the water. Most of the
pictures in this group were taken out the bus window, but there are a
couple from our room that night in Dubrovnik.
Tuesday - Dubrovnik
This was our first day just to walk around the medieval
city of Dubrovnik. An interesting piece of history is that when
Dubrovnik was a city-state, also call Ragusa, it was the first state to
recognize the independence of the newly formed United States of
America. One of the pictures here is of me holding the original
document while visiting Croatia on business in 2002. The city's old
flag has the word Libertas (freedom) on it, and the entrance to the
Lovrijenac fortress just outside the city walls bears the inscription
Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro, meaning "Liberty is not sold
for any kind of gold".
Tuesday Night -
home hosted dinner
We had dinner as the guests of a family in a Croatian
village not too far from Dubrovnik. We started out in the smokehouse
that serves as their kitchen. After that, we had dinner in their house
and were treated to some light entertainment. These people work hard
all the time, and everything they served us was from their land. The
father even played a musical instrument he had made himself.
Croatian southern tip
We headed out for a day trip to Montenegro in the morning
and took some pictures along the way. Also some early morning pictures
of the old city. This group also has Dubrovnik at sunset that night.
The Bay of Kotor and surrounding area, sometimes called a
fiord because of the high mountains surrounding it. We drove around the
bay and got some spectacular pictures out the bus window. There are
also pictures of the ferry crossing on our return and the border
crossing into Crna Gora, or Montenegro.
Wednesday - Kotor
This is the old city of Kotor in Montenegro, with the
remains of St. Ivan's Fortress in the hills behind it. At the Serbian
Orthodox church we met a very friendly priest and fell very welcomed to
learn more about the Orthodox religions. Kotor is a UNESCO World
Wednesday - Budva,
Budva is a 2500 year old town in the central part of the
Montenegro coast - the oldest town in Montenegro. In Greek times,
called Buthua, it was a center for theater and trade. Budva was almost
completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1979, and rebuild from the
original stones. One picture shows some of the stones still with
numbers on them from the re-building project. We had one of the best
meals of the trip at Restaurant Jadran in Budva.
The wall walk. Today we walked most of the way around the
Stari Grad on the city walls. These are the pictures we took after
climbing several stories worth of steps to get up there. We started at
the east gate and walked around the sea side of the wall, ending at the
Thursday - Dubrovnik
Pictures around the old city, outside the walls, and
around our hotel.
The last evening of the trip. We had a farewell gathering
on the terrace at the hotel, where we took pictures as the sun went
down, got a picture of our entire group, and then went for dinner with
entertainment at a Konoba in the old city. The dancers are our program
director, Biba, and our bus driver, Gordan. The music was provided by
the Dalmatian Klapa group, Nava. Their CD cover is among the pictures.
After this party, it was time to do the final packing and get ready for
our 4 AM wakeup call.