BC: Photos taken, and book created, by Joanne Couch
FC: Secret Gems of Slovenia and Croatia September 2012
1: SECRET GEMS OF AUSTRIA, SLOVENIA AND CROATIA: 2012 Take the time to experience the lure of 'Pomalo', the Dalmatian philosophy of 'taking it easy' - which is much like the Italian philosophy of 'La Dolce far Niente', the sweetness of doing nothing. August 30 - September 20, 2012 August 31 - Salzburg, Sheraton Hotel September 1 - Salzburg: Mirabell Gardens, funicular to Hohensalzburg September 2 - Lake Bled, Slovenia Hotel Triglav: tourist train around the lake (Olympic training centre for rowing), Kremma Rezina September 3 - Ljubljana, Slovenia: Hotel Slon plenta boat ride to Otka Island, train to Ljubljana's Castle, Old Town Market, triple bridges, pizzas by the river September 4 - Ljubljana: walking tour, nadina kavas, Slovenian handicrafts, dinner outside in the country at a place known only to locals September 5 - Rovinj, Croatia: Hotel Maistra on a small island off the Istrian Peninsula Postojna Caves, Lipica Stud Farm September 6 - Rovinj September 7 - Split: Hotel Luxe Boutique September 8 - Split, walking tour of Old town including Diocletian's Palace, promenade, yachts in the harbour, bus tour, Cafe Troc September 9 - MV BARBARA: crewed yacht charter in Croatia - stateroom #6 lowest level, Split to Milna (Island of Brac) September 10 - MV BARBARA: Milna to Hvar September 11 - MV BARBARA: Hvar to Komiza (Island of Vis) September 12 - MV BARBARA: Komiza to the Port of Korcula (Island of Korcula), Korta Katarina winery, home to Marco Polo, Aborda for dinner followed by a Korkyra Baroque concert September 13 - MV BARBARA: Korcula to Pomena (Island of Mljet) September 14 - MV BARBARA: Mljet to the Island of Sipan, STORM September 15 - MV BARBARA: Mljet, Lopud Island, last swim, set sails to Dubrovnik September 16 - Dubrovnik: Hotel More: disembarkation from the MV BARBARA, tour of Dubrovnik, amazing bar carved into caves September 17 - Dubrovnik: Hotel More: swimming in the Adriatic, taxi tour to the top of the funicular ride for panoramic views of Dubrovnik September 18 - Dubrovnik to Zagreb: Westin Zagreb, 4:40 am start for flight to Zagreb, walking tour of Gornji Grad (upper town), the medieval core of the city, Donji Grad (lower town), exploring the parks, cravat store September 19 - Zagreb: Westin Zagreb fabulous day trip to Plitvice National Park with Bob and Judy Skene, Marian Grimwood, Joanna Drewry, Rick Senkler, Bev Frizzell, Joan Abel, Nancy Southcott September 20 - Zagreb to Victoria
2: Judy and Bob Skene, Bob Doell, John Di Tomasso, Jim and Bonnie Hume, Ken and Dawn Fyke, Bev Frizzell, Karen Di Tomasso, Bernice Deering, Dennis and Dianna Morris and crew: Captain Ante and First Mate, Ivan
3: Don Taylor, Ron Campion, John and Kathy Young, Rick Senkler, Joan Abel, Nancy Southcott, Joan Barton, Marian Grimwood, Helen Campion, Deckhand, Drago, Joan Stokes, Marnie Karateew, Joanna Drewry Missing: Sandy Taylor and Joanne Couch
4: High above the roofs of Salzburg proudly stands the medieval castle complex and modern fortress which is a landmark of 900 years of history. | Hohensalzburg Fortress
7: Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg, Austria
8: Plenta boat ride out to the Islet in the middle of Lake Bled, Slovenia. Bled is an Olympic rowing centre that hosted the 2011 World Rowing Championships.
9: LAKE BLED, SLOVENIA
10: Don Taylor and John DiTomasso enjoying the view of Lake Bled. from the church on the Otka Islet. Ringing the church's bell will help bring secret wishes true. Karen DiTomasso, Don and John. Sandy Taylor, Karen, Don and John.
11: Bled Castle on the edge of Lake Bled. Bled is situated on the edge of Triglav National Park, in Slovenia. Hotel Triglav, Bled. Rick Senkler sampling a local specialty.
12: LJUBLJANA: SLOVENIA A walking tour of the sights of the old city centre was followed by a tourist train ride to Ljubljana Castle, which offers the most splendid views of the city.
13: Ljubljana Castle's Viewing Tower.
15: It is often said of Ljubljana that it is a city made to the measure of man. On one hand, it ranks among mid-sized European cities and offers all the comforts of big capitals, while on the other, it has preserved a small-town friendliness and a uniqueness of its own.
16: Bob and Judy Skene enjoying the famous nadina kava at an outside cafe in Ljubljana. | Sandy and Don Taylor, also enjoying this treat of iced coffee full of chocolate sauce and ice cream. | Bev Frizzell and Joanne Couch, 59, also ENJOYING !
17: Baroque church, Cathedral of St. Nicholas has an unique main entrance door relief that depicts the history of Christianity on Slovenian lands. | These interior frescoes are within the Cathedral right beside the Central Market. | Slovenia | Traffic cones that are remotely controlled like a garage door opener.
18: POSTOJNA CAVES, SLOVENIA: Postojna is renowned across the world for its 27 kilometre long system of underground caves, home to an anemic salamander species. The cave tour includes a ride on a small cave train.
21: LIPIZZANER STUD FARM, SLOVENIA: Lipica Stud Farm, world renowned for its classical riding school. was the first stud farm ever to breed Lipizzaner horses. A Slovene proverb says: 'Serve the horse like a friend and ride it like a devil.' The Lipizzaner is known for its strength, endurance and obedience.
22: ROVINJ, CROATIA: For the many visitors the highlight of visiting Rovinj is just wandering around the old town and exploring the narrow lanes. Rovinj's reputation as an enclave of artists and painters was rediscovered after WW 11, when the government lured local artists into the old town with cheap rents. Myriad of small galleries and workshops line the winding streets - follow Grisia as it tumbles seaward from St. Euphemia's Church, a street lined with small galleries, jewelers and other niche shops showcasing Rovinj's bountiful artistic talent and creative spirit.
23: The atmospheric old town rambles around a small limestone peninsula, culminating in the voluminous Church of St. Euphemia, named after Rovinj's patron saint. The present building only dates from the 18th century, but it dominates Rovinj's skyline and has Istria's tallest bell tower, said to be modeled on the one in Venice.
25: SPLIT, CROATIA Diocletian's Palace: The centre of Split life still focuses upon Diocletian's Palace, built on the waterfront by the Roman emperor Diocletian as a retirement home AD 295 and 305 and later inhabited by the citizens of the neighbouring Roman city of Salona after invading Avars and Slavs destroyed their homes in the 7th century..
26: Touch the toe of the gigantic statue of Grgur Ninski outside the palace's Golden Gate for good luck. | Travel is adventure
27: Split is one of the Adriatic's liveliest and most alluring cities. Croatia's second city is a proud place: the local Splicani cultivate a fierce rivalry with Zagrebians. The Splicani like to see themselves as infinitely more stylish and glamorous than their inland brethren, a view that is supported by the proliferation of fashionable shops and nightclubs .There is a local passion for people watching. Ron Campion and John Young. Bev Frizzell and Sandy Taylor. Bev Frizzell, Joan Abel, Nancy Southcott, Marian Grimwood Don Taylor.
28: Fellow travelers enjoying a special happy hour in the lobby of our hotel, Luxe Boutique Hotel in Split. Bernice Deering, Marian Grimwood, Joanna Drewry. Marnie Karateew and Sandy Taylor. Jim and Bonnie Hume.
29: SPLIT, CROATIA: The palm-fringed waterfront RIVA is the most obvious place to begin a walking tour of the palace area. Its pavement cafes, restaurants and waterside benches, all built around the grand facade of the palace, make it a natural focus.
33: Cabin # 6 | Complete with lavender coloured TP. | Joanne's special spot.
34: The power/sailing MV BARBARA is one of the most luxurious sailing ships in Croatia. This three-masted vessel accommodates up to 34 passengers in 16 spacious cabins. In 41 metres Barbara is just the perfect size for discovering the small island ports and coastal towns of Croatia. The charter cruise included excellent service provided by seven crew members. We enjoyed traditional Mediterranean cuisine, relaxing moments on the large sun deck, swimming in little unspoiled bays and explored the cultural and historical richness of the 'Mediterranean As It Once Was'.
36: MV BARBARA: Three -masted Motor Sailing Barbara is one of the most attractive ships on the Adriatic.
38: Joanne Couch, Sandy Taylor, Helen Campion, Karen Di Tomasso, Sandy Taylor, Marnie Karateew, Joan Stokes, Ron Campion
39: LIFE ABOARD THE MV BARBARA: John DiTomasso, Joanne Couch, Jim Hume. Nancy Southcott. Kathy Young, Sandy Taylor, Joanne., Jim Hume. Sandy Taylor, Joanne, Jim Hume. Sandy Taylor, Helen Campion. Ron Campion, Bob Doell.
40: Don Taylor and First Mate, Ivan. Dennis and Dianna Morris , Sandy and Don Taylor. Don Taylor and Ken Fyke.
42: Crew of the MV BARBARA: Captain Ante, First Mate, Ivan. Jim Hume and Ivan.
43: Enjoying days at sea. Joanne with Sandy Taylor and Jim Hume; swimming in the Adriatic and Don Taylor in Komiza on the Island of Vis.
45: Milna, on the Island of Brac, has all of the Dalmatian components: old town, a crumbling old church, a wide waterfront, excellent seafood restaurants and very smart yachts in the harbour.
46: Hvar town enjoys an idyllic setting in a protected island studded bay, with the old town unfolding on a pine covered slope that reaches to the water's edge, with clumps of wild lavender and herbs growing among the Venetian palaces.
47: Families enjoying the beach. Nancy, Bev and Joan seeking a rest in the shade under the old pine trees.
48: Komiza is known as the birthplace of the fishing masters on the eastern coast of the Adriatic.
50: Blue Cave (Modra Spilja) just off the coast of Vis on the island of Bisevo. This is a grotto where the waters are illuminated with a brilliant blue light, a natural phenomenon, often compared with a similar grotto on the Italian island of Capri.
51: KOMIZA, ISLAND OF VIS; Best way to enjoy this sleepy town of Komiza is to sit, sip a Radler and watch the residents relaxing at the rocky beach. Left to right: Joan Abel, Karen DiTomasso, Sandy Taylor, Joanne Couch, Nancy Southcott, Bev Frizzell, Dennis Morris and John DiTomasso.
52: Dianna and Dennis Morris enjoying magical Vis. The island of Vis holds a special place in the hearts of many Croatians, who have discovered the last inhabited Croatian island before the Italian coastline. It is one of the least densely populated areas of Croatia in past thanks to its being an off limits military base until 1989.
53: Mariner's Rest on the dock in Komiza on the Island of Vis. Memories of a town and lasting friendship. British Veterans: 1983-2011
54: Korcula is the town in which the past is alive today. Numerous buildings and monuments bear witness to the various civilizations which have been interlaced on this island: Greek, Roman, Croatian, Venetian. The Korculans were and have remained seamen, shipbuilders, builders, fishermen, stone-cutters, artists and vine and olive cultivators.
55: KORCULA, ISLAND OF KORCULA Korcula is the greenest, most independent and most interesting of Croatia's 1 000 or so islands. Korcula was a favourite Greek holiday spot for over 2 000 years. It is the birthplace of the famed Marco Polo. Korcula is one of the best preserved medieval towns of the Mediterranean.
56: The town of Korcula is a magical place, girdled by the remains of a massive medieval wall, which surround a perfect herringbone pattern of narrow stone streets.
58: MLJET ISLAND We had a day trip walking through the National Park on the island of Mljet and taking a boat ride to St. Mary's Island in the middle of Big Lake. | Mljet has a valuable 13th century Benedictine monastery set upon an islet in the centre of Big Lake. | Mljet has a lush and diverse Mediterranean vegetation.
59: Sandy, Bev and Bonnie on the islet in the centre of Big Lake on the island of Mljet. Bob and Judy Skene enjoy the boat ride to the islet.
60: Sipan is the largest of the Elaphite Islands, just off the coast of Dubrovnik. We took shelter here after the STORM. There were few shops or restaurants on this side of the island. As there are many uncleared land mines we were cautioned to stick to paved roads and watch for warning signs.
62: LOPUD ISLAND: Lopud is the main settlement on the island of Lopud. In the 15th century Lopud had its own fleet of some 80 vessels and a shipyard. The town is built around a sandy bay and has several grand old palaces, a testament to its golden age.
65: DUBROVNIK, CROATIA; The best views of the Old City of Dubrovnik and the crystal clear Adriatic Sea are experienced from the top of the Srd Hill accessed either by taxi or the Dubrovnik Cable Car.
66: Dubrovnik's medieval city walls, among the best preserved in Europe and one of the defining features of the old town, are one of the most iconic landmarks anywhere in Croatia. Extending for 2 km in length, they rise to a height of 25 m in places and are up to 6 m in thickness. The Mayor of Dubrovnik welcomes visitors by saying: ' It gives us great pleasure to be able to welcome you and to show you our beautiful city. We inherited the strict morality of the Dubrovnik ruling elite, which can be summarized by the following famous saying: ' OBLITI PRIVATORUM PUBLICA CURATE', or 'Forget private affairs and attend to those public.' We inherited the wisdom of Dubrovnik diplomacy, which enabled us to befriend the entire world and did not destroy the understanding principle of, freedom - not to be sold, not even for all the gold of the world.
67: Siege of Dubrovnik: As you enter the old town through the Pile Gate, a small sign serves as a reminder of what happened here just two decades ago. In October 1991, the Yugoslav People's Army and Montenegrin militia positioned themselves around Dubrovnik, beginning a siege that would last until August, 1992. From positions on the hill above Dubrovnik, the attackers relentlessly shelled the UNESCO World Heritage site, hitting 70% of its houses in the process. The city has since been painstakingly repaired, but as an appreciation of just how much was damaged can be gained by looking at the roof tiles. Almost all of them are new, replaced following the war.
69: Cave bar at the Hotel More, Dubrovnik. During the construction of Hotel More, underneath the restaurant, a cave was found. In that unique setting the nature has proved its power and patience by creating sediments made of droplets of water. Apart of its natural beauty it took a lot of will, effort and means to create a space so attractive and special: CAVE MORE.
71: Sunset as viewed from one of the patios of Hotel More. Dubrovnik, is located a city bus ride away from the Hotel More. Quiet, peaceful and removed from the hustle of the tourist trade.
72: Croatian National Theatre.: Zagreb
73: ZAGREB, CROATIA: A city of almost one million inhabitants, Zagreb has come a long way since 1991, when Serbian rockets hit the suburbs. The city has a scenic location, spread out on a plain with the Sava River sealing off the older parts of the city from the post WW 11 suburbs and Mt. Medvednica. The city's old sections in Gornji Grad (UpperTown), are reminiscent of Prague, while in the Donji Grad (Lower Town), a grid-like 19th century central business district, neon lights and designer shops have moved in alongside the elegant Austro-Hungarian buildings.
74: "To travel is to live." -Hans Christian Andersen | Zagreb
75: At heart of Gornji Grad stands St. Mark's Square, a large cobbled open space around the Church of St. Mark. Originally dating from the 13th century, the church was rebuilt over subsequent centuries. The church's tiled roof, revealed in 2009, after years of restoration, and features the coats of arms of Croatia and Zagreb.
76: Zagreb has several open markets, but the largest and busiest is Dolac, a wonderfully colourful, bustling place. | 'Green Horseshoe' is a series of open, manicured green squares and parks running through the centre of the city.
77: Art pavilion by the train station near the equestrian statue. | Zagreb's streetcars are an easy way to travel around the upper and lower towns. | Trg Tomislava is alive with students, backpackers and residents enjoying this string of parks that extend between the train station and the city's main square.
78: An open air museum dedicated to the events of 1991-95, has a large collection of military hardware and other relics of the conflict. | The village of Turanj was at the front line during the Homeland War and fell under Serbian occupation. | Perhaps the most poignant exhibit is a tractor that was converted into an armoured vehicle by desperate local people as they tried to halt the advance of the Serb tanks. | Turanj is one of the few official places in the country where visitors can find out more about the war.
79: Plitvice National Park: Call them emerald, call them turquoise, but the tumbling waters of Plitvice are undeniably a visual circus as they bubble and churn their way through a series of 16 densely forested lakes. Already protected as a national park, Plitvice Lakes earned a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979, a fact that failed to deter rebel Serbian forces from trashing the park and looting its hotels between 1991 and 1995.
80: Tucked away in Plitvice Lakes National Park are 16 blue and green lakes, small and large,one underneath another. They are linked together with foaming cascades and pounding waterfalls.
82: The lakes are linked by bridges and encircled by wooden footpaths. Scenic walkways brings visitors to spectacular falls.
83: All about the journey | Good times | Plitvice National Park
84: Our small tour group of: Marian Grimwood, Judy Skene, Joan Abel, Nancy Southcott, Rick Senkler, Bev Frizzell, Joanne Couch, Joanna Drewry
86: Travel is adventure | Hiking out of the lakes to the hotel area: 220 steps!