A Travellerspoint blog

Croatia

Zagreb - The City of Squares

semi-overcast 15 °C

From the moment you step out of the magnificent railway station in Zagreb you realise that you are in one of the most elegant cities of Europe...
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These are just some of the parliament buildings that surround the decorative church of St. Mark's...
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Here is a view of the cathedral from the upper city...
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And this is St. George slaying the dragon – a symbolic representation of power used by many European countries...
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In addition to the usual national museums and art galleries, Zagreb distinguishes itself with several unique collections of artifacts. We never found the Museum of Illusions and we didn't bother with the Mushroom Museum because there were plenty on offer in the huge outdoor market in the square in front of the cathedral...
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Other museums include the descriptively named Torture Museum and the more esoterically named Museum of Broken Relationships. Croatia is a country of broken relationships with a history of alliances and confederations dating from long before it was part of the Roman Empire a couple of thousand years ago. The broken relationships with the other Yugoslavian countries of Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia et al is still fresh in our minds as we walk the beautiful streets of Zagreb among crowds of happy locals. We wonder how they deal with the fact that they were engaged in a bloody war with their neighbours just 25 years ago.
There is certainly no sign of conflict here in Ban Jelacic Square...
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...although we were shaken by a very loud explosion at lunchtime - only to discover it was the midday cannon which has been fired daily from the Burglar's Tower since 1871.
The Museum of Broken Relationships is dedicated to the love, pain, drama, irony and even humour in breakups and reconciliations and has proved so popular that a second branch opened in Los Angeles this year.

Zagreb is a city of squares and at night they are thronged with students, tourists and revellers who overflow from the numerous bars and cafes. Nowhere in Europe have we seen such scenes and it reminded us of the festive street life in Hong Kong or Bangkok...
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Cheap beer and inexpensive food often end up on the pavements by the morning, but we were assured by our apartment hostess that there is never any trouble in the streets at night and it is a very safe city.
Zagreb was yet another surprisingly beautiful and well presented city on our tour. Gone are any traces of its communist past and recent conflicts. It is full of interesting sights including these chains from Lord Nelson's battleship, HMS Victory, at the city's 13th century Stone Gate. Though how they got there is a mystery.
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Posted by Hawkson 01:38 Archived in Croatia Comments (5)

Split and Trogir

sunny 24 °C

The harbour at Split was packed with ships and boats of all sizes when we arrived. It's a busy place with ferries, cargo boats and schooners plying the waters of the Adriatic...

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It's October and most of the quayside restaurants and bars have rolled up their shutters for the winter. But the palm trees still make a pretty sight in the warm sunshine...

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Just around the bay is the ancient town of Trogir where the pleasure craft lay in the calm waters and the views of Split backed by mountains was superb in the late afternoon sun...

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Trogir has lots of interesting scenery...

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But Split has many ancient buildings, ruins and churches that are well worth a visit...

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These places will be thronged with tourists in July and August but now we are into October Split and Trogir are peaceful and picturesque.
However, some of the streets are so narrow that you might have to walk sideways.

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Posted by Hawkson 16:26 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Happy Birthday in Hvar

sunny 25 °C

Hvar, (pronounced Ha whar), is just one of many Dalmatian islands that dot the Croatian coastline and the first thing we noticed was the tremendous welcome we were given by the locals as we stepped off the ferry. We soon realised that the welcoming committee was made up entirely of landladies hoping to snare us into their B&Bs or self-catering apartments. It is the very end of September and tourists are scarce. But the weather is still warm and sunny, the soft sand beaches are deserted and the sea is still balmy.

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Getting around Hvar at this time of the year can be a little tricky so we hired a car - a funny car with squealing wheel bearings and bad brakes...!

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The roads were twisty and narrow, but this tunnel was barely wide enough for our mini car...

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The views of the island were enchanting

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And we discovered some picturesque little harbours

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To venture further afield we took a tour boat to neighbouring islands to visit castles and to explore blue grottoes that have been carved into the cliffs over millennia...

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And then we returned to Hvar for a very special birthday dinner of freshly caught fish under a starry sky.

No one was more surprised than Sheila when the waiter announced to the entire restaurant amid the orange
trees that it was her birthday and patrons from many different countries all sang, "Happy Birthday."
A moment on Hvar that Sheila will never forget...

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Happy Birthday Sheila.

Posted by Hawkson 15:49 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Laid Back Korcula

sunny 28 °C

About 120 kilometres northwest of Dubrovnik is a quaint little island that hasn't changed much over the centuries. Not many tourists bother to stop in Korcula as they rush from the hotspot of Dubrovnik to Split. But we had plenty of time to smell the roses and wander the narrow lanes of this pretty place...

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All life on small islands is centred around the sea and Korcula is no exception. There is great excitement once or twice a week when the big Jadrolinija ferry arrives from Split...

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But most of the time the little boats bob lazily in the harbour and there is hardly a soul to be seen...

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The canons in the castle have lain idle for years...

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And Korcula's old city within the castle walls waits patiently for a busier time...

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We loved the peace and quiet of this pretty place and are pleased that the Dubrovnik's hordes have no time to stop here and stare...

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Posted by Hawkson 15:43 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Pearl of the Adriatic

Dubrovnik

semi-overcast 25 °C

There are several good reasons why Dubrovnik is nicknamed "Pearl of the Adriatic".
Firstly, the peninsula on which the old city stands is pearl shaped as it juts out into the Adriatic. Secondly, it is a beautiful compact city...

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Most of the city's buildings were erected in the 15th and 16th centuries when Dubrovnik was a major trading center with ships from all over the known world bringing goods to the Dalmatian coast. However, many of the public building were badly damaged by an earthquake in 1667. The damage was repaired but Dubrovnik never fully recovered its maritime pre-eminence. Cruise ships and tourist boats fill the harbours today...

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The beloved red-tiled roofs of old Dubrovnik are picture perfect...

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However, during the Balkan war in 1991 the Serbs and Montenegrins attacked the city from the surrounding cliff tops and destroyed virtually all of the ancient roofs. Only a few original tiles survived...

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Serbian General Sturgar was sentenced to 7 years prison for orchestrating the destruction of this historic city.

For good reason Dubrovnik is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the entire Mediterranean region. The tightly woven narrow streets are a pedestrian's delight...

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And there are picturesque scenes around every corner.

Posted by Hawkson 16:41 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

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