Tuesday, August 26, 2008


We surveyed the four participants of the One World One Trip team for their Top 10 (Plus Two) for Slovenia and the results are in:

12. Ljubljana Zoo
11. Ljubljana Castle
10. The Cafes and Restaurants of Ljubljana
9. Central Market
8. Lipica
7. Skocjan Cave
6. Cukreck (Chocolate Shop) and it's employees Katja and Tanja
5. Tivoli Park
4. Triglav National Park incl. Vintgar Gorge, Bled & Bohinj
3. Avocet and Siena's Joze Plecnik Tour
2. Our Apartment


1. The Beautiful City of Ljubljana, its Architecture and its Flavor


Monday, August 25, 2008

Lake Bled and the Surrounding Area

This past Thursday, we went to Hertz, rented an Opel, and drove out to Triglav National Park. Triglav National Park is about an hour away from the center of Ljubljana. It is the home to Lake Bohinj, Lake Bled, and the one and only, Vintgar Gorge.

The first sight we saw, was Vintgar Gorge. Through it flows the Radovna River, which leads into the tallest waterfall in Slovenia. You walk along a wooden pathway/bridge all the way down the river to the small snack bar and the Waterfall at the end. All along the way are small sections of river rapids and calm waters accompanied by small 2 foot falls. Large rocks with moss and mini trees will stick up out of the water; very pretty.

After the Gorge, Siena and I saw a sign for an Alpine Slide. We went and found it, a humongous steep slope with a metal track for the cars. We each went down twice, it was nothing like the other alpine slides we have been down.

Because of all the excitement and used up energy from the slide, we walked to the main street, to have lunch- A Sacher Torte, A classic Bled Cream Cake, a piece of chocolate cake and another Bled specialty. Don't worry, we got one piece of each and split them into fourths. The Bled Cream Cake was best, it's like their version of a Napoleon. We then headed to find a place to rent a boat.

You see, Lake Bled has a small island in middle of it. It's the only island that is part of Slovenia so they just call it Otuk which is 'Island'. We found a place to rent row boats and rented one for an hour. Mommy and Daddy sat there while Siena and I did all the rowing to and from the Island.

We got off for a minute or two, then went down to the dock and dipped our hot sweaty feet into the nice cool water. It's not as cold as you would think it would be! You can also see to the bottom, except it's soooooooooo deep that it's sooooooo blue that you can't see the bottom unless it's reeeaaaaaally shallow. I hope that made some sense to you.

After we went boating, we headed towards Vogel Mountain. Vogel Mountain is this high mountain in the Julian Alps that has a cable car on it so you can go to the top. We went up and spent an hour up there, having a drink at the mountain "lodge" and taking photographs of the wonderful panoramic view. (We couldn't capture the panoramic view in our cameras though!) Then, we took the car down again and headed toward Ljubljana.

After we hopped in the car, we were only 10 minutes out before Mom saw a restaurant and she decided to check out the menu. When she came back, she announced that there was food for everyone. Plus, the restaurant had a playground, moon bounce, rock climbing wall (on a cliff), and a trampoline! We stayed there for an hour or two before heading back to our apartment here in Ljubljana.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


21 km. northwest of Ljubljana is the town of Skofja Loka. It's not an exciting place filled with activities and sights but it is one of the oldest Slovenian towns with the best preserved town center and the first town in Slovenia to have received electricity. The over 1000 year old town is complete with a castle on the hill overlooking the town. We spent an afternoon there walking through the town, checking out the old buildings, visiting the town museum in the castle and spending a leisurely hour and a half in the cafe on the town square while Siena and Avocet played in their playground (McDonalds Slovenian style).

The best part of our day trip to Skofja Loka came at 5:00 when we went to the bus station in town to meet Natasa and Alenka. The two sisters, when travelling in Peru 10 years ago, met my friend Rick. Rick and his wife Marnie have since been to Slovenia several times, meeting up again with Natasa and Alenka. When I mentioned to Rick that we were going to Slovenia, he passed along their names to us. (Thank you Rick and Marnie).

Alenka and Natasa took us to their family home in Godesic, a few kilometers from Skofja Loka. There we spent the next three hours enjoying their hospitality, meeting their parents, Natasa's husband Michael and their daughter Zoya and Alenka's daughter Nika. And we talked and talked...We talked about travel which they both love and have done extensively and we talked about Slovenia. When it was time to take our leave, we talked about getting together again prior to our leaving Slovenia.

When we met again, Alenka and Natasa were our guests and joined us in our Ljubljana home. We went out to dinner and then back to our flat for coffee and dessert. The conversation never stopped. We learned that Slovenians get one year of paid maternity leave, extra vacation pay each year, get 3 Euros each day to pay for their lunch (or get lunch provided at work) and get paid for their mileage to and from work. We learned that salaries are low compared to the cost of living here and that it's hard to make ends meet if only one parent works. We talked history of Slovenia and the good living conditions under Tito in the former Yugoslavia. We learned how people here want bigger and fancier cars just like in the US. We talked about everything from school hours to the Balkan War to Slovenian toilet paper. It was sad when the evening came to an end but we are happy to now have Natasa and Alenka as our new Slovenian friends!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


On the 15th of August we hopped into our rental car and drove to Skocjan Cave. There are 9,ooo caves in Slovenia but, the closest caves were Postojna Cave and Skocjan Cave. We decided to go to Skocjan Cave because it was a UNESCO World Heritage site and because my Mom said it was a nicer. When we got there we had to get tickets and go to our tour group. You have to take a 15 minute hike down to the cave and then another 15 minutes to get people of different languages organized. The cave was amazing!!! On some parts of the cave the stone looks like snow and ice. There were lots of stalagmites and stalactites that had grown together which is called a pillar. A stalagmite is created when water from the cave ceiling drops to the ground. A stalactite is created when water from the cave ceililng clings to the top surface of the cave. It grows one centimeter every thousand years or so. There is also a river in the cave that we got to walk over and near it there were big cups of water. After we were finished with the tour we got back in the car and drove to Lipica.

Lipica Stud Farm is the breeding home of the Lipizzaner Stallions. It is now also a resort so there are hotels, spas, etc. We took a tour of the farm and saw a horse presentation (like a show). Lipizzaner horses our special because they are very quick learners and can repeat patterns. Lipizzaners are born in dark colors but then as they grow up they get lighter. The males are trained to show off and the females are trained to pull carriges for show. We didn't think that the restaurant had great food or great service. After the presentation, we played on the playground for a little and then went home.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Shopping is often a big part of people's vacations. Almost everyone shops at least for souvenirs but often people shop for other items: new clothes, a new purse, local handicrafts or sometimes even big ticket items like new jewelry. For some people it's just a matter of having more time while on vacation to do something they are too busy to do otherwise. For others, it's just an enjoyable activity to include in their vacation plans.

When you are on the road for a year, shopping takes on a whole different meaning. For one thing, anything you buy, you will have to either cart around with you for another eleven months or ship it home -- have you seen shipping rates lately? For another thing, when you are on the road for this long, it is not a vacation, It is a way of life, and your shopping needs are different.

Instead of seeking out the local handicrafts, we spend time looking for stores that sell buttons so that we can repair the few clothes that we brought with us. A new purse is not in order, but personal care products are. Now that we have been gone for 11 weeks we are beginning to run out of our initial supply. That may not seem like a big thing, but trust me, the products you are looking for are not necessarily sold in the same type of store that you are use to buying them in. Toothpaste, sunscreen, body lotion and hair color (not that anyone around here uses that) are just a few of the items that we have had to search for. Also making sure that you end up with the right thing is important. My first attempt at body lotion produced body wash (as in soap) -- try returning that product to the lady who only speaks Polish!

Then there's our big ticket item, English Language Books. We have found an English Language bookstore in every city we have been in but the books are outrageously priced. We are constantly on the lookout for used English Language bookstores, book swaps and English speaking people who want to discard their books. So far we have acquired books in all those different ways. We have become scavengers when it comes to books and read what we can find which is not necessarily what we would have chosen. (Note: All four of us have discovered some great books this way)

Services are another thing that we have had to shop for. With short hair, I have my hair cut every six weeks. I had to find a salon in Krakow that I could trust to cut my hair and give me a good cut that would last until I have to seek someone out in Lucca, Italy who will do it again. (Africa is six weeks after that... yikes!) When my neck and shoulders were acting up, I had to seek out a massage therapist. Shopping for these services are as far as it gets from typical vacation shopping.

I see travelers in the food markets all the time buying fruit, yogurt, sandwiches, drinks and snack items. We too are buying all those along with cereal, milk, wine, beer, spices, meats, butter, olive oil, rice, pasta, etc. We are not just picnicking, we are cooking and we have refrigeration.

Like many tourists we have bought some new clothes. There was a great second hand shop in Poland where everyone found something "new" to add to our tired wardrobe. And this past Wednesday found us in the Central Market clothes stalls where we were trying to find Avocet some new pants as she is starting to outgrow the ones that we brought on the trip. We were anticipating growth for the kids, just not this soon!

Siena and Avocet still hit the souvenir shops, but they are limited as to what they can buy both in terms of money and space and some places, like here in Slovenia, are just not set up for the tourist trade yet so the selection is very limited. It's all perspective. Some people get to come home with T-Shirts, we get to come home with Sonnen Milch.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Plecnik - Ljubljana's Greatest Architect

Here in Ljubljana, you may notice that many buildings have the same classic style of Greek columns and Egyptian pyramids. That is because classic style lover, Plecnik, designed many buildings in the city and became Ljubljana's greatest architect.

When we came to Ljubljana, my Mom had heard that you could take a tour of Plecnik's former house (it is now a museum). After we went, we saw a brochure map of some of the buildings he designed and Mom thought it would be fun to map out a route and do a tour of all of Plecnik's designs throughout the Old City. Siena and I were made tour guides and we planned out the 10 structures in the Old City and the route to them all.

We will now begin our tour, starting with Cobblers Bridge. Cobblers Bridge was given the name because when it was created, three cobblers lived right next to the bridge. Plecnik designed it as you can see; notice the traditional columns lining the rails of the bridge!

We will now be moving on to the Ljubljana University and National Library. Ljubljana has been well known for their high - quality education. The main university building was not designed by Plecnik but the amazing library a block away is. On the inside, there are many stone columns lining the walls and floor. Plecnik's two favorite materials were stone and wood and they are highly exhibited in his designs. On to the St. Ursuline academy!

The St. Ursuline Academy was a former academy belonging to the church of the same name. It was designed by Plecnik, not even a block away from the church itself. It is now called the Joze Plecnik High School to honor the designer of the building. We will now be moving onto Congress Square in front of the St. Ursuline Church.

Congress Square is not much of a square. It is mostly a small park like area in the midst of a parking lot. All around are randomly placed elegant columns and a great many trees. Congress Square was designed by Plecnik but it is one of his lesser known designs. We will now be leaving the area to move to our next destination.

~Written by Avocet

We are now standing in front of the ampitheater. You may not be able tell if the ampitheater was designed by Plecnik, because we are not allowed to go inside of it. Most of this street where the ampitheater is located was designed by Plecnik. Plecnik never had a car so he designed the sidewalks and streets for walking. Every corner and edge is modeled exactly for the pedestrian. On to Levstikov Trg - a square!!

Levostikov Trg is a tiny little square that has a fountain. The fountain may be designed by Plecnik as well because, it has a column in the middle of the statues. The square is shaped in traditional Egyptian design with three streets coming together in a graceful triangle, to form the square. My Mom says it gives her a peaceful feeling when she's there. Come on, we have to get to Triple Bridge!!!

Triple Bridge is three bridges right next to each other. The middle bridge is the wide bridge and the two bridges on the sides are skinny. It is the widest bridge because it used to be for cars - not people. Actually, the middle bridge was originally there and Plecnik's design turned it into Triple Bridge. You may notice that in between the two railings there are small little columns. To get back to our apartment, we usually take the middle bridge but sometimes we take the other two. On some nights we will also walk a little further and take Dragon Bridge, which is where we are heading right now.

Plecnik didn't design Dragon Bridge but he did design the Dragons on it!! The bronze Dragons that stand proudly on both sides of the bridge representing their city are very well designed by Plecnik. It is surprising that the dragons are bronze because Plecnik usually worked with wood, stone, or concrete. The dragon is the crest of Ljubljana because legend says that when Jason and the Argonouts were sailing down the Ljublianica river, they slayed the dragon that lived in the river. Almost all of the souvenirs have a dragon on it and there are also dragon stuffed animals. Time to see the indoor market!!

The indoor market is in classical style which is no suprise because Plecnik designed it as well. It is nicely done with columns in front, and the wideness of the building offers lots of ways to take a great picture. It is a very beautiful building with lots of intricate designs and the food you can get from there is great!! It is a very nice building to see from far away and it makes great postcard pictures. If you want to know more about the indoor market, please refer to my other blog, THE MARKET- AWESOME STUFF FOR CHEAP PRICES.

I hoped you enjoyed the tour and we hope you come again!! Remember, if you want to spot a Plecnik building or structure just look for classic style. You can also go to Plecniks former house to see how he designed his house and you can learn more about him from your tour guide. If you have any compliments or complaints on our tour please write them in the comment box. Thank you!

~Written by Siena

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I've noticed that language is taking on a bigger part of our trip than I initially thought. I assumed that the ability to smile, say "hello, good-bye, thank you, etc." would carry us into a country, allow us to be somewhat a part of their culture, and let us leave with a feeling of knowing the people there. I now believe the inability to communicate outside the family unit is having a cumulative effect. Where at the beginning I wanted to hear "foreign voices" and "feel foreign", now I want an in depth conversation with someone almost as bad as a person in a desert wants a drink of water.

You would think that in the ten weeks that I have been gone, the short ten minute conversations I have had so far in English would be of little importance to me. Not so, young Englishman! On Sunday we attended a puppet show at the Ljubljanska Grad (castle). lisa heard the woman in front of us speaking to her child in English with an American accent. After talking with her for awhile, she disclosed she was most recently from Chicago where she lived with her Slovene husband for seven years. They moved to Ljubljana six months ago. She had, I'm guessing, a two year old with her. She described the process of taking language classes. She couldn't take too much time daily because of her child but also had no desire to take the intensive 3 1/2 hour per day classes available here. It is really a lot of work, but necessary. After six months she can do well with menus and grocery stores, but still has a hard time conversing with someone about even the simplest of items or events. Try having a heart to heart with your newest friend when you cannot conjugate verbs properly. Her high school French classes for two years did little to help her since Slovene is a Slavic language unlike the romance language she learned years ago.

So, after awhile, you can sense the desire to speak to someone in a language that transmits facts, feelings, and deep emotions. I remember the ten minutes at the Bull Pub in Krakow talking to the Floridians who live there and in Krakow. We spoke of high real estate prices in the "found areas of Eastern Europe", of Helen and Joanna from Melbourne (see blog post on Marko Polo Ferry), of Ann and Eric from Sweden who spoke of the differences of "peoples" in Europe. After experiencing the war exhibit in Dubrovnik, I've wanted to have an in-depth conversation with someone from the Balkans on how fellow neighbors can kill each other. I can't find anyone. I don't feel comfortable on this toxic topic to just walk up and start a conversation..."Do you know English...why did you all kill each other".

Talking to shopkeepers in Holland and here, or Eelco selling bikes in Haarlem, or now Katja or Tanja at the Chocolate Shop here (funny that we have discovered ANOTHER chocolate shop) or even the Hertz man just doesn't cut it. The maintenance person for our apartment dropped in while I was preparing this and it was nice to experience three-four minutes of conversation. It might take him two hours to change some light bulbs if I have my way.

It doesn't matter how much a person smiles or is simply nice to you without even speaking. If no information, factual or sensual, is transferred, the sensation of neatness fades. There was a nice lady in the butcher shop in Krakow. She did this...smiled at me...laughed as I mooed for beef and oinked for pork...and smiled again..then giggled to her counterparts behind the counter.

When you talk to Americans its almost always about travel and "why are you here and for how long". It's better to speak to Brits or Aussies because you can see their perspective on things vs. just talking "places". We were able to discuss Slovenia with Katarina, the "professorica" from our Slovene language class. She discussed the effect that having stronger neighbors, Italy, Austria, Croatia had on their national feelings. Also the impact of being a small country has on peoples' thoughts about their nation. The conversation was wonderful but short lived because I could tell she wanted to get out of there and go home.

Help Slovenes and soon Italians.....speak to me for a long time and make it about something interesting. This thirsty guy will take it in a 64 ounce cup.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Everyday except for Sunday, the outdoor market is open. Food, clothes, purses, wallets and random items are all sold here. There are three sections of the outdoor market: clothes, food, and miscellaneous items. The indoor part of the market, designed by Plecnik, (an architect) sells: meat, fish, breads, and bakery products. There are also tons of craft stands lining the streets.

If you live in Cincinnati Ohio, you probably know of Findley Market. The food section of the outdoor market is a bit like it. It sells fruits, vegetables, honey, and potted plants. You may be confused about the "honey and potted plants". The honey, is because Ljubljana is famous for their honey. Lots of people sell it, along with beeswax candles and honey alcohol. The problem is that the honey alcohol is the same color as the honey, so instead of honey, you may come home with alcohol. The potted plants are basil, rosemary, lavender, etc. Occasionally some potted flowers also. There is also another section of the outdoor market which sells clothes, wallets, purses, and as my Mom puts it, "the junk sale". The junk sale is basically a collection of random items that look like they were picked out of an antique shop. In the food section, lots of people will give you samples of their food, especially samples of apples. All of the parts of the outdoor market close at different times on different days. When they close, everyone takes down all of their stuff and packs it up, then the next day they put it all back up again!! Crazy huh? Lots of people will stay there till it closes. Great place to hang out!!!

The indoor market is just as busy. Outside of the building, there are lots of stands with souvenir and utilitarian items. It is the oddest collection of items varying from stained glass to wooden dolls that bounce up and down. Inside the building are bakery items like rolls, and loaves of bread. There is also meat and a small bit of cheese. Then you go down a level and you get to the fish. There are lots of varieties of fish. Squids, octapi, salmon, and herring are only a small bit of what kind of fish are down there. The next room over is a bar, but it seems like it's never open. There is also an elevator in the building, and restaurants around the outside of the building looking over the Ljubljanica River. Good food!!

On both sides of the streets that are around the market, there are more stands. The items sold here are a bit like the outdoor market items except weirder. There is still honey but they also sell: beach towels, Tupperware, and more. There are also these craft stands but they all sell the same thing: wicker, wood and machine items. The wicker stuff is mostly wicker chairs, and wicker baskets. The wood stuff is mostly wood pencils, toys and small souvenirs that say Slovenia or Ljubljana. The machine items are also wooden. It is like these ice cream makers, wagons, wine openers and stuff like that. Near it there are also lots of stands with flowers. Mostly bouquets and single roses. Very fun to look at!!

In the title of my blog I said AWESOME STUFF FOR CHEAP PRICES and it's true. All of the stuff here is awesome and usually very cheap. It is also much more fun to go to the market than the supermarket and you get to see all of the souvenirs. So remember, if you ever come to Ljubljana Slovenia, go to the market.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I get motion sick! So riding an overnight ferry from Korcula to Rijeka for 18 hours is not my favored form of transportation. I took several Dramamine along the way which makes it OK to travel but I can still feel the movement of the ship. But after a week I was still feeling the movement of the ship anned started to wonder if something else was wrong.

I need to add in another fact that makes this all that much more complicated; the night we arrived in Ljubljana, I fell. We were out to dinner and my chair (just my chair, no one else's) was up on an 8 inch platform. When I got off the chair to leave and took a step backward to get away from the chair, I fell off the platform (not a pretty site). I hit my butt and arm and felt several muscles in other parts of my body strain but I did not hit my head. However, like I said, when one week later the boat is still rocking, I'm wondering if somehow the fall impacted me more than I think.

My pre-trip research had the name of a health clinic and the Bureau of Tourism confirmed that this would be a good place to go. So Thursday morning I head out to the doctor. I arrive at the clinic and information tells me to go up one floor. Up one floor are lots of doors, lots of chairs, and lots of people waiting but no additional "information person." I head back down and ask again. I am then handed a piece of paper with three room numbers on it and I'm told to knock on one of the 3 doors, my choice. I then have to choose whether I want the doctor behind door #1, door #2 or door #3 -- suddenly I'm on "Let's Make a Deal." I opt for room 143 because it's the first room number I come to. A woman opens the door and speaks to me in Slovene. I ask if she knows English and she says, "a little". I tell her I would like to see a doctor. She asks for my passport, takes it, indicates I should wait in the waiting room and then closes the door. Now I'm on "Let's Make a Deal" and they're holding my passport hostage! I wait for 45 min. to 1 hour and they call me in. The doctor spoke some English and was very nice. She did a basic neurological exam and seemed to feel that everything was OK and was convinced that I was still feeling the consequences from the ship rocking which could easily last that long she says. She gave me a prescription which I could take to help stablize my head until things improve on their own. For this I paid full price since I am not a Slovene Citizen,7.75E (approximately $11.50 US). I then filled my prescription, again for full price, to the tune of 15.00E (about $22.50 US). Both of these costs are less than what I would have paid at home as my co-pay as a fully insured individual! MAKES YOU WONDER!!!!

We never for once thought that four people traveling for a year could make it through the year without needing a doctor at least once. I just wasn't expecting it to be so soon or for something as bizzare as a motion sickness hangover. I'm hoping for a speedy recovery and for all future health issues to go as well as this one did!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


On our first day in Ljubljana it rained, and rained hard. After settling into our pad, we took advantage of a lull in the rain and went to get something to eat. We walked down our street, Mestni Trg, when it started to rain again. We ducked our heads into a bar named "Cafe Romeo" only to discover the Olympic Opening Ceremonies on the flat screen at the end of the wall. Far easier to watch them here than to try to figure out our tangle of technology back at the apartment (We have figured it out to a point by a week later). Because we knew we are going to be here watching for awhile we ambled slowly through ordering and eating. I enjoyed a .5 liter Union (pronounced sorta like our "onion") testifying that Slovenia also has very good beer.

It's interesting to watch sporting events in other countries. If you remember, we watched some Euro Cup soccer in a bar-restaurant in Haarlem. You can get a feel for the fervor that a nation has for its "team". The athletes proceeded into the stadium. We were very noticeable by the fact that we were clapping for ALL of our adopted countries: USA, Holland, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia as well as all the ones we have yet to visit. The other guests in the restaurant were subdued and didn't express enthusiasm for even their neighboring countries, kinda like what we would (or should) do for Canada. When Slovenia marched in, only one young gentleman and the "One World One Trip" team cheered. I was expecting the place to stop, cheer, and then go back to their conversations but that didn't happen. I have noticed in other places that Americans are more enthusiastic in their speech than others. Oh, Well.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Ljubljana (pronounced lubeliyana) is the capital of Slovenia; you know, the country that our presidents keep getting mixed up with Slovakia. It is North of Croatia, South of Austria, East of Italy, and West of Hungary. If you're still lost, get out your world map! Slovenia was part of the former Yugoslavia but in 1990 voted for independence and in 1991 became it's own sovereign entity. It was admitted to the European Union in 2004. The population of the entire country only reaches about 2 million and Ljubljana as its captial has about 276,000 people of which 50,000 are students at the university here. While the city of Ljubljana has been around for hundreds of years, an earthquake in 1895 destroyed almost the entire city. This explains why the beautiful buildings that make up the city are only a little over a hundred years old instead of hundreds of years old like many other European cities.

Enough of the geography and history lessons. Ljubljana is beautiful! There is a small river running through the city, the Ljubljanica, which sets the stage for pretty riverfront walkways, a multitude of waterside cafes and restaurants, and picturesque bridges to connect the two sides of the city on the opposite sides of the river. It has stunning architecture, greatly influced by one particular architect, Joze Plecnik, and is a very compact city perfect for walking. In fact, many of its streets are pedestrian only. While they receive many more tourists than prior to belonging to the European Union, it is still minimal compared to many European cities which makes it far less crowded. It has all the attributes of a city just on a smaller scale.

You will hear more about Ljubljana and other parts of Slovenia as we will be here for almost three weeks. For now, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


We surveyed the four participants of the One World One Trip team for their Top 10 (Plus Two) of Croatia and the results are in:

12. The Moreska (Korcula Sword Dance)
11. Seega (our "adopted" cat in Dubrovnik)
10. Lapad Beach in Dubrovnik
9. Korcula Town
8. Konoba Amoret (Tavern in Dubrovnik)
7. Old Town Dubrovnik and it's alleys
6. The Marko Polo Ferry
5. Dance Beach
4. Seega Beach (named after #11)
3. Lombarda Beach and it's Restaurant
2. Our Korcula Apartment and it's great Adriatic View


1. Walking the Walls of Old Town Dubrovnik

Monday, August 11, 2008


We left Korcula at 1:00 in the afternoon on the ferry "Marko Polo". This was our "ride" and "home" until 7:00 AM the following morning. The first thing we noticed was that the backpackers seemed to know what they were doing. They set up their "spaces" -- on floors -- EVERYPLACE. I thought they would just find a place on deck. No way. Every place was taken...aisles, bar seats, lounge benches, inside and out, every nook and cranny. We even noticed that in the landing between floors, a group of young guys had set up blankets, a stereo system and a bar with plenty of booze. I think they were already semi-blasted by the time we got on board.

We dropped our bags off in our cabin which consisted of four bunks, a toilet, sink and racks for two suitcases (not large enough for four). Quaint post Marshall Tito decorating. By the time we arrived back on deck, all the chairs and tables were taken. Problem: I need (or wanted) to get out of the sun and lisa needed to stay outside to avoid getting seasick. We scoured the ship and finally found a booth in the lounge. Sorry lisa...it's inside. As an aside, lisa is still feeling the movement of the ship a couple of days later. It was there we met Helen and Joanna, a mother-daughter pair from Melbourne, Australia. Helen was very nice, bohemian (in a good way) and was shod in a lovely pair of old yellow Chucks. She is also an amateur photographer having taken over 2000 pics in five weeks. Joanne had met her daughter in Budapest and was spending several weeks with her. She is a doctor in Melbourne managing a seven year old holistic medical practice she started. We spoke with them off and on until they disembarked in Split. Very nice people. In the midst of our conversations a young female duo took out their cello and violin and started playing classical pieces. They played Humoresque, by Dvorcak, which the girls played in Suzuki violin this past year. Another fellow came up and started singing "Ave Maria" in falsetto. The hat was passed...maybe their ferry crossing was paid for!!!

Upon arriving in Split, the largest Croatian coastal city, we headed to deck to view the city with palm trees and mountains in the background. Some people earlier said Split was a better place to visit than Dubrovnik. We'll probably never know. On to dinner at a formal (again with a 1980s communist decor) dining room with waiters in black vests. The food was lousy but not too expensive. Afterwards, we went on deck to watch the sunset and play cards.

I noticed a man who looked Italian, good looking in a "manly man" sort of way. He and his family had been on deck earlier and I had been watching them. At this moment he was holding his young daughter. She started to cry. He glanced left for Mom and not seeing her, reached for another sip of his Karlovacko (beer). As you ladies, would say, "Men are all the same".

We close the night by heading back to our room, trying not to step on anyone. Our sleep was surprisingly okay, sleepful in spurts, broken up by Siena awakening at three o'clock and wanting to read and the creaks and groans of the old ship. Up and at 'em at 6:05 AM for breakfast, and eventually finding our way to the bus headed for Ljubljana. Oh, by the way, that good looking Italian man. I overheard him at breakfast speaking perfect English. Probably American. Go figure.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Thank you all for waiting patiently on the contest results of my previous blog: WHERE ARE WE?. Here are the results: The answer is: McDONALDS. I actually had a lot of people that responded with the answer McDONALDS, but here are the first three people that responded with the correct answer: Ms. Jenny, Matt, and Calvin.

Dear Beached Whales,

So you are laying on the sand or pebbles of a beach in Korcula drying out. While I can't help you get back in the water, I can help you identify which beach you are on. Here is some advice, I HOPE YOU USE IT!!! Good Luck!!

Korcula is a beach vacation. There is not much to do and most people that are on the island are actually not from Korcula, but tourists from Croatia, or elsewhere. Korcula is an island so there are lots of beaches but we only went to three: Seega, Lumbarda, and Orebic.

Seega Beach- Seega Beach is the beach that was only a five minute walk away from us and had the most sea life. What I mean is that in the shallow part there are lots of urchins, shell creatures, and star fish. It gets deep pretty quick and you kind've get scared since you can't see through the water. Opps!!!! You can actually see through the water so no need to be afraid of what's underneath you. Avocet and I went underwater a lot with our goggles and saw lots of fish, sea fans, sea grass, and once we saw a tire!! Even in the shallow part that we like to swim in, fish will come up to you and stare. Once I even saw an algae eating fish!!!! Lots of people like to jump into the deep water off the big concrete deck they have there. Great Beach!!

Lumbarda Beach- Lumbarda Beach is not like Seega Beach. It is a sand beach and only a small bit of it is rocks. It does have fish, but unlike Seega the fish are rare to see. There are areas with barnacles and coral that are near the rocks. The rocky area has lots of sea urchins and shellfish. The water is still clear but the only thing to see is sand. Getting hungry?? Don't walk all the way back to town, it's a looooooooooooooong walk!! Just go to the beach restaraunt. It serves burgers and will make grilled cheese on request. The most important part: they also serve icecream!!! The water is great and we loved it so much we went back again. Loved it!!

Orebic Beach- (Pronounced orabitch) Orebic Beach is actually not on Korcula but on the mainland. It counts though because we went to it when we were staying in Korcula. It is a sand beach but part of it has rocks. There isn't as much sea life except for urchins in the rocky area. It is a bit like Lumbarda Beach except that it is extremely rare to find fish. There is an area to jump off into the water and lots of people were doing it. After you jump off you have to go around to the other side to get to the stairs and when you did, you had to go over this area that was so deep it was really cold!!!! Unfortunately there is no resturant nearby so we had to take a walk. We ended up eating at this pizzeria that none of us really wanted to eat at. When we went back to the beach, Avocet built a sand house, I built a sand village, and then we both built a sand mermaid. Wonderful water on a hot day. Superb beach!

So now you have listened to me blab about the fish in Seega Beach, the sand and clearness of Lumbarda Beach, and the great jump off at Orebic Beach and you wonder is it really that good?? Well, maybe not. Maybe it's just because there is nothing to do, and it's hot, and the water looks so refreshing and going to the beach is something to do. But I found it all pretty much fun.

I wish you whales luck in getting back into the water but until then, enjoy whichever beach you're on!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008


We are now in our ninth week of travel. Prior to this trip, the longest Marty had been away at one time was three weeks. I had been away for six weeks in Israel and Greece, but that was combined with visiting family. Life on the road can be fun and exciting but also tiring, frustrating and even boring sometimes. There are lots of surprises - both good and bad, and many things to be grateful for.

Having only one 26" rolling duffel bag per person, every item put into those bags was well thought out. I am pleased to say that so far, we feel that everything that we have brought has been needed and that we are not finding ourselves lacking for anything. Bored with what we have maybe, but not lacking.

We left with a "well stocked" first aid kit (within reason) and I feel grateful that to date, we have needed nothing beyond a Motrin or two and Neosporin for a cut Siena obtained while climbing rocks.

Our first two apartments (six weeks total) had internet access and we came to love the convenience that it offered. Now, without it in Korcula, we feel frustrated, irritated and put out. We have an internet cafe 1/2 hour away but it's definitely not the same. It's amazing how addicted to technology we are and how "disconnected" we can feel when we don't have it. If you check our blog regularly, you noticed a week long gap where we didn't post anything. It was not from lack of interest but lack of opportunity. We missed writing and the intellectual stimulation that it can bring.

We all love each other very much but when you talk with the same three people all the time, you start to get tired of them. Our ears are constantly perked for any sound of the English language and we attack the source in hopes of a conversation with someone else. Unfortunately, they haven't necessarily been deprived of conversation for quite as long and may not be as desperate as we are.

Travel days are tough. Even if everything goes smoothly, they are still tough. You are giving up the comfort and familiarity of a place you have come to love and don't necessarily want to leave. You are heading to a place that will hopefully be exciting, but you really don't know for sure what it will be like. And you have to "figure out" everything from the beginning: transportation system, language, where to buy food, your way around town etc. It's interesting but it is work and sometimes complacency seems a better alternative.

To date, we have taken three flights, one long distance train, and a long distance ferry. All of our baggage has arrived at the our destination intact. We count our blessings each time we see those four bags on a baggage claim conveyor belt.

Every place we have been to, we have felt perfectly safe for both our personal beings as well as our possessions. Nothing has ever been taken from us and never once have we felt in danger of any theft. Here on Korcula, we don't even lock our door at night.

A lot of times you have everything you need, just not always at the same time. In Krakow, we had a coffee maker and filters but had run out of decaf coffee (I can only drink decaf) and couldn't find any. Right before leaving Krakow, we found some decaf and bought extra to take with us to Croatia. In Dubrovnik, we had the coffee and coffee maker but no filters. Couldn't find any filters in the store so we bought paper towels to use for filters. By the time we got to Korcula, we had decaf coffee but no coffee maker and no filters , only an espresso pot. When life gives you an espresso pot, you learn to make espresso!

Whether, it's moving from home to home or just on a day trip, there's always the risk of losing things. So far our record isn't too bad. Marty lost his baseball cap which has now been replaced by a panama hat (he looks quite debonair). We lost one Nalgene water bottle in the Krakow airport when we were there to pick up my mother -- we are making do with just three bottles. The worst was also at the Krakow airport at the same time as the water bottle loss. Avocet left her brand new purse (purchased in Zakopane) in the bathroom at the airport and by the time she realized it, it was gone. Financially, it was not a great loss but emotionally it was huge!

You spend a lot of time being versus doing. If you were a Buddhist, you would be right up there with the Enlightened. But if you're an American where what you do and accomplish is how you judge and value yourself, it's a tough transition. At times we feel unproductive and a little at a loss. You start to wonder what your purpose is - of course that is all part of this process that we call travel but it sure feels uncomfortable.

Some days the exotic is no longer appealling and you long for easy and familiar - your own bed and pillow, jam the flavor you want and not just what's available, a stove that cooks with even heat and a refrigerator that actually keeps things cold and not cool. Other days, the view of the Adriatic off your balcony makes all those other "things" insignificant.

Our day to day life is very much about what we create for ourselves. There isn't a whole lot that we have to "react" to - no work, few time constraints, no extra curricular activities, no school or volunteer obligations...the list goes on and on. It's a freedom that we all longed for and yet, ironically, it comes with a lot of responsibility. What strange lives we lead.

Monday, August 4, 2008


When we left Dubrovnik we thought we had seen the most beautiful place around...we were right...until we got to Korcula. This place has cool, almost cold clear waters surrounding rocky outcroppings where people sun themselves. The vegetation, including palm trees and great flowers, is lush. Our place is up a hill which you access from the road via a series of steps; up, up and more up. The views are of the water, the surrounding valley filled with houses, and the mountains on the mainland across the water. One 'peak' is about 3300 feet. Very majestic.

You wake up in the morning when the sunlight enters the room, about 5:30. For ten minutes bats fly in their standard route right outside our window. Marty closes his eyes because he is afraid one will fly in. Insects here are not allowed in the houses by statute ( a joke ) in Croatia so none of the windows have screens. Also, a breeze is almost always blowing. Today it is predicted to be 102 degrees but the breeze keeps things tolerable. We keep all of our windows open all the time. Itś very comfortable inside and very nice when we eat outside on the veranda. From 15:00 until nearly 20:00 daily, a stong summer wind called a "maestral" blows out of the west. It relieves everyone of the daily heat. To upset our Cincinnati and American friends, we really haven´t needed air conditioning since we left Dallas Ft. Worth almost eight weeks ago. If you want coolness here, just get in the shade. If you want to really cool off, just jump in the water. There are beaches to swim in but more plentiful are places to just swim in the water.

Korcula Town, including itś old walled city, is quaint, filled with old stone buildings. It has much of the allure of Dubrovnik, without the crowds - narrow alley ways, outside konobas (restaurants), and plenty of places to enjoy a cold Karlovacko (one of the many good Croatian beers). We have had several good meals here including dishes such as calamare (squid), octopus bouzzore and Dalamatian style steak. Siena MUST have fried calamare at least once per day. The salami is good from the markets and the bakery bread is OK.

We usually arrive back in our apartman (they leave off the ˝t˝) around 18:00 for showers. When you are hot and tired, a cool shower and that strong maestral breeze are very refreshing. A light dinner, including the local wine, and then we settle down for a quiet night in, usually filled with reading. Our internet connection is in town, almost a thirty minute walk away, so we don´t have the opportunity to fill up our evenings with photo uploads or email responses.

After the sun is completely down, (preceeded by beautiful sunsets over the mountains) we can look out the window and see millions of stars.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Beaches Of Dubrovnik

Even though we are now in Korcula (pronounced Korchula), I would like to recognize the 3 wonderful beaches of Dubrovnik that we visited.

Dance Beach

Dance Beach is the first beach that we visited in Dubrovnik. We wanted to dip our toes into the water so we wandered around looking for "the beach". We finally came across Dance Beach, a rock beach and as the water was too cold, we played on the rocks. We came back 2 times after that and played on the rocks more while also exploring the cave that Siena and I had spotted on the first day. After that, Dance Beach became one of our favorite beaches.

Lapad Beach

My Mom first heard about Lapad Beach in her research and so we decided to take a day trip there. We took Bus #6 to the other end of Dubrovnik to get to the beach. Lapad Beach is different than Dance Beach. While Dance Beach is a rocky beach, Lapad Beach is a pebble beach. Dance Beach you had to jump into the water because none of it was shallow. At Lapad Beach, you gradually entered the water like a typical sand beach. When we got there, we immediately set down our stuff and started swimming right away. At the end of the day, we all agreed that this was the best swimming beach so far. Although we wanted to go back, we never did as there were more beaches to explore.

Buza Beach

When we were walking the Walls of the Old City, we saw a little cafe on the rocks and thought it looked nice. When we were done walking the Walls, we explored the Old City to see if we could find the "pretty little cafe on the rocks". When we finally found it, we decided to come back another day. When we came back, we had a drink and then noticed people swimming in the water next to the rocks. Siena, Daddy and I decided to go swimming there and changed into our bathing suits. Daddy canonballed into the water and then, it started to rain. At first we didn't leave as we thought the rain would pass but as it started to thunder and lightning, we decided that we were not going to get any "tipical Dubrovnik weather" and had to pack up and leave. We huddled in the entry way tunnel, waiting for the rain to calm down enough so we could leave. As we were heading to lunch, we all decided that it should be called The Never Swam in Beach.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Dubrovnik is at the southernmost tip of Croatia. It has a Mediterranean climate which means that in the summer months it is hot and sunny with only fifteen days of rain over the entire period. We arrived July 23rd to cool and rainy weather. Our last day there was cool and rainy. And in between it was, cool and rainy; except for Saturday when it was "tipical" Dubrovnik weather - hot and sunny - go figure.

The weather, however, did not detract from the beauty of this city. I'm not sure anything can. As you first approach the Old Town, you see the magnificient city walls that are between 500-800 years old. These walls are the best preserved city walls in the world. They stand strong and emulate the resilience of this city and these people. You can climb to the top of the walls and walk around the entire old city. Each view is prettier than the one before.

Old Town sits on a peninsula so you can look to the South, Southeast, and Southwest and see the crystal clear Adriatic Sea. If you look down from the walls, you see Old Town - a labyrinth of alley ways that are lined with restaurants, shops, cafes, and hanging laundry. Many people still live in Old Town so it is not simply a tourist area. All the buildings of Old Town have red tile roofs. In fact, all the buildings in Dubrovnik have red tile roofs. And now that we are on Korcula, all the buildings here have red tile roofs as well. It gives the area a uniformity that is appealing versus monotonous as you might think.

Entering Old Town through the Pile Gate (pronounced pee-lay), you set eyes on the 15th Century Onofrio Fountain given to the people of Dubrovnik in order to "Give to Drink and Decorate the City." You then walk down the Placka or Strandun which is the main street of town. Leaving the main street, you can explore the churches, museums, monasteries and back alleys which is where you'll find the charm.

We ate in several Konobas (casual restaurants) that felt very Old World and had drinks at a cafe that sat on the rocks overlooking the Sea. It doesn't get any better than this.

If I had to say something bad about Dubrovnik it would be the multitude of tourists it gets. In addition to all the "land" tourists, up to five cruise ships dock at their port each day. The crowds swell beyond capacity from 10:00-4:00 and it greatly detracts from the city's beauty. We also haven't found the Croatians to be friendly people. We're wondering if the excessive tourism in the reason why.