Category Archives: Croatia

Tricked and treat in Dubrovnik

We had heard and read much about Dubrovnik before we finally arrived. Dubbed the “Pearl of the Adriatic” Dubrovnik lays claim as one of the most beautiful cities in the whole of the Mediterranean. Although it’s also the most expensive city in Croatia, hordes of tourists descend on the city each year, by bus, car, plane, and gigantic cruise ships.

We rented an apartment in Lapad, a relatively quiet suburb away from the tourist hordes and much cheaper than the old town. After a hearty home cooked breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast the following morning, we set out to do the obligatory walk along Dubrovnik’s number one tourist attraction – the 2km long city walls surrounding the old town. Aside from the tourist congestion along various parts of the wall, it was quite a pleasant walk, and offered good views of the old town, marina, and the sea. However, we felt that the views of Adriatic coast from the bus rides between Trieste, Split and Dubrovnik were much more spectacular. Too bad we couldn’t take any photos from the moving buses.

View from the city walls

The main street

A fort just outside the city walls

After our brief sojourn along the walls, we wandered aimlessly through the streets of the old town. It wasn’t long before we spotted a cat leaning against the door of a museum. The cat, which appeared to be tired, disheveled and dirty, had one paw lifted off the floor as if he was injured.

The poor thing

After looking at him for a while, we entered the museum, hoping that he would be strong enough to lick whatever wound he incurred. We browsed through the exhibits for a few minutes, until we realised that there was actually an entrance fee and thereby proceeded to make a quick exit. As we laid low in the grocery shop nearby, we came across some cat food.

So we bought a packet for the little fellow, which he walloped in a matter a seconds.  Didn’t seem to have any injuries or whatsoever now. But he still looked famished, so we went back to buy another packet. He ate half of this before deciding that he was too full and needed some siesta in the sun. That was when we realised we were conned by a cat in the most expensive city in Crotia.

Food!

Siesta time

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For a Split second

After seven hours on a bus that stopped at almost every bus stop en route, we arrived in Split. We were staying a night here and when the rains and winds came, we could only wait it out.

Split is the second largest city in Croatia and the largest in the Dalmation region. It is also one of the oldest cities in the area, dating back to the sixth century BC. Split’s main attraction is Diocletion’s Palace, built by the Roman emperor Diocletion as his retirement home. It’s now one of Croatia’s many World Heritage sites.

Armed with a map provided by our hostel, we did a bit of sightseeing in Diocletian’s Palace (which is more of a town than a palace) the next morning before moving on to Dubrovnik.

Apparently the construction of the St. Domnius Cathedral and bell tower took three centuries to be completed

The main facade of Diocletian’s Palace faces the marina. Now lined with cafes and restaurants, it’s an ideal for people-watching

A stylish man and his trolley

A stroll in the old city

Statue of Gregorius of Nin, a bishop who fought to use Croatian language in church. See his polished toe – rubbing it will bring you good luck.

Space Invader detected in Split!

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Plitvice Lakes

If you are Malaysian and have an e-mail account, at some time of other you would probably have received a chain e-mail containing a number of photos of pretty waterfalls, which the e-mail claimed to be from a certain “Sungai Jagung” (Corn River) in the state of Kedah, northern Peninsular Malaysia.

We had to endure two days and two nights cooped up in our rooms in a guesthouse in the village of Grabovac in Croatia, watching re-runs of sitcoms, while waiting for the episode of bad weather to pass. But when the rain finally ceased on the third day, we were finally able to confirm that the e-mail was indeed a hoax. So, ladies and gentlemen, while there is no question that no such river by the name of “Sungai Jagung” exists in Kedah, the waterfalls shown in the e-mail are actually from Plitvice Lakes National Park.

The e-mail in question is still kept carefully in Dylan’s Inbox

Created in 1949, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest park in Croatia. It was also one of the first natural areas in the world to be listed as a World Heritage Site, having been inscribed in 1979 in recognition of its “outstanding natural beauty, and the undisturbed production of travertine (tufa) through chemical and biological action.” It is now a major tourist attraction, as well as an important refuge for plants and animals, including the European brown bear.

It’s a spectacular place, and also interesting from a geological perspective (Google it, we’re not going to get technical today). The lakes are generally divided into two groups: The Lower Lakes and upper Lakes. The Upper Lakes have smaller pools and cascades, with very pretty natural gardens. The Lower Lakes are more spectacular, with limestone gorges rising up around them. Visitors can choose from a number of routes that traverse across and around the 20-odd lakes in the park. The routes, which range from 2 to 6 hours, are very doable, and the park authorities provide bus and ferry services to get around the less scenic areas. We noticed that the majority of the visitors (on the day we were there) were senior citizens.

A waterfall in the Upper Lakes

Although a little bit narrow, the boardwalks are gorgeous and add to the beauty of the lakes

One of the larger waterfalls on the Upper Lakes

These pretty rheophytes grow everywhere in the park

Cascades near the start of the Lower Lakes

Quite a few trees were in bloom

Moss!

Panoramic view of the Lower Lakes

The tallest waterfall in Croatia, at 78 metres. It’s named “Veliki Slap”

In 2000, Sara envisioned creating this exact boardwalk in Penang, Malaysia, when she was doing her degree in Housing, Building and Planning, without any knowledge of the Plitvice Lakes’ boardwalk.

Zoomed out of the above shot

This post is dedicated to Bob. May he rest in peace.

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Zadar and the Marvelous Sea Organ

After a short train ride to Trieste followed by a longer bus ride along a very winding road, we were in Zadar, Croatia. We had reserved beds at a brand new establishment, Hostel Home in Zadar’s old town. Apart from the fact that it was almost impossible to locate, and that it was five flights of stairs up, the hostel was not too bad. We had the entire place to ourselves on the first night, as there were no other guests.

Zadar is sunny and breezy and green

Five flights of stairs is no laughing matter

The common kitchen became our own. It has brand new plates and everything

Zadar’s old town is a small area with a number of historical sights. As it was a rather hot day, we didn’t do much sightseeing, although we were pleased to find an old church built by and named after a saint whom we could identify with: St. Donat.

Church of St Donat, with relics of an old Roman forum in the foreground

The ceiling of the church of St Donat. Nice and round and holy

This caught our eye – could it be Randall Boggs (from Monster’s Inc.)?

Our favourite part of Zadar is much newer: a sea organ built in 2005. Designed by local architect Nicola Basic, the “organ” is made up of a series of pipes that produce hypnotic, out-of-this-world music when sea waves exert pressure on them. As the sounds produced depends on the tide and waves, the sea organ sounds different at different times of the day. Listen to our poor recording of the sea organ here.

The sea organ. Doubles up as steps

Our second favourite part of Zadar is also new: the “sun salutation” which was designed by the same architect.  Located next to the sea organ, the sun salutation is a large circle of multi-layered glass plates that collect energy during the day and produce a trippy light show at night that’s meant to simulate the solar system. The energy harnessed by this invention is also used to power the street lights on the entire harbourfront.

The sun salutation: an excellent place to do the moonwalk

Apart from the organ and the light thing, we found the entire sea side promenade of the old town quite pleasant, and took a stroll here whenever we could.

Alfred Hitchcock once remarked that Zadar has the most beautiful sunsets in the world. So they  they gave him his very own signboard

A very big swimming pool. Unlike Gurney drive, the waters off this promenade are crystal clear

Fishing is a popular hobby here, for both men and women

A children’s fishing competition (we think)

As we did not bring fishing rods, all we could do was lepak in the shade and read

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