As I sat on a plastic floating beach today in Lake Ohrid, Macedonia the word lucky sprang to mind. But then I remembered our response when anyone calls us lucky (which has happened a lot since we announced our plans to travel for a year). You make your own luck!
Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Montenegro was always on my list of must visit countries when backpacking through Europe. While in Sarajevo we looked on the Montenegro tourism website and decided Kotor looked like the best place, it has an old walled city like a mini Dubrovnik. We had settled on Kotor when I decided to check if I had written anywhere down for Montenegro, guess what was there - Kotor. If i'd remembered to look in my book I'd have saved us a bit of time making that decision.
Monday, 26 August 2013
12 hour bus rides & hand washed clothes do not always leave you smelling like a bed of roses. The average weight of 100ml bottle of perfume is around 305 grams. As important a factor as the weight. The glass bottles are usually very bulky. Just think of the bottle lids alone on a Marc Jacobs. Gucci pour Homme weighs a back breaking 593 grams! I think its made of bullet proof glass. When your backpack is full of essentials like clothes, medication & tobacco. Humping the same weight as a pint of beer around the world seems a little stupid. Body spray is ok. Usually small & light, but lasts no time at all.
Airports, bus stations, shopping centres, department stores, train stations & high streets, basically everywhere will have at least one perfume/aftershave outlet. What do all of these shops have? Tester bottles. "Just browsing thanks" my reply is always the same to the universally identical looking sales people. In Italy, just for fun. I would only "test" fragrances that had a minimum retail price of 90 euro. Chanel Allure Homme was probably my favourite.
Saturday, 24 August 2013
Reading Cat's last post I feel pretty sorry for her. She is the travel operator & expedition coordinator on this thing but anyone could of made that mistake & to go this long without a hiccup is no mean feat. As we arrived in Mostar we headed to the bus station's info point. With so many different companies it is very difficult to get accurate & reliable coach information on line. Within a few minutes we learnt of a direct route to Montenegro! No more travelling back to Dubrovnik & then onto Montenegro. The lady at the bus station told us about a bus that will go directly from Mostar to Herceg Novi in Montenegro. Then it will be a 1 hour bus to Kotor. This saved us roughly 5 hours travel time & cost around half the price. Thanks bus lady!
Friday, 23 August 2013
Tuesday, 20 August 2013
As mentioned on a previous blog UNESCO World Heritage sites are places such as a forest, island, lake, mountain, desert, monument, building, complex or city that is listed by UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance. I had heard of this by reading travel blogs but was never really interested but after a few weeks I keep coming across these sites so thought it would be good to see how many I have been to & keep track of how many more we go to.
When searching for accommodation we found that Dubrovnik was 93% fully booked! This is the highest % we have ever seen but after lots of searching we were lucky enough to find a place through Air bnb. (See the "Firenze" post re Air bnb). Our host - Frano, Spoke perfect English when we communicated via email. Upon our arrival it was clear he spoke zero English but perfect French. Frano seemed a little puzzled to learn that we were English & not French. Cat asked me why he assumed we were French? I said its probably because of your name. "But my name is Greek"!? oh so its probably not that then. Language barrier aside, Frano was great. He gave us some freezing cold coke & chocolate biscuits on arrival & the day we left he gave us a lift at 7:30 in the morning to the bus station free of charge.
Monday, 19 August 2013
Sunday, 18 August 2013
The apartment we rented was great. Very Croatian old school. Looked a little crumbly. Own room. Shared bathroom. Kitchen & living area with satellite TV (I caught the last quarter hour of Leeds against Leicester. I want the 15 minutes back) The reviews on line mentioned how there was a nearby club & that the music was too loud. This isn't a problem for me & Cat. Its all about - location, A/C & price.
Interesting fact - Catherine spent her first birthday in Pula. Then part of Yugoslavia. John & Sally, Cat's Mum & Dad, remember carrying one year old Catherine, pram and all up 100 steps to reach their hotel. We spent a lot of time cataloguing & photographing steps in hope we might find the said steps. We failed But Pula is full of steps so it wasn't that surprising.
Forget first class. On the train from Slovenia to Croatia we were travelling feet class.
Funk Lounge in Zagreb, Croatia's capital. The best hostel yet. The people who worked there were really cool. The hostel had such a lively vibe to it. On the first night I spotted some French guys with an acoustic guitar & made a mental note of their faces for later. We drank & ate local food outside of the hostels bar. Cat had chavapi which she had written in her book to try when in Bosnia but it turns out all the Balkan area has this delicacy. The recipe differs depending on where you are but it is usually a mixture of beef & pork and various herbs & spices, it is really cheap aswell at about £2 for a serving that really fills you up. The red bit on the side is called agvar, it is another Balkan speciality made from red peppers, tomatoes & aubergine.
Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Lake Bled is 55km away from the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, it adjoins the town of Bled. When we went everyone was swimming in the lake & hiring boats but in winter it is a huge ice skating rink which seemed really strange when we were there.
When we got there we started walking and came across a really nice area but you had to pay 7 euros to go in & sunbathe. Seemed a bit of a rip off so we carried on walking. After about 20 minutes or so we came across a really nice area and decided to put our towels down and go for a swim. It was really really nice. The water was gorgeous, so clear you could watch the fish from the shore.
Monday, 12 August 2013
As I began to write this post we were around 8 hours into a 13 hour coach ride in Croatia (supposed to take 10 hours).Travelling from from Pula to Split. What a scenic route we have taken. After sleeping on & off & reading half of "Zombie Survival Guide" by Max Brookes I thought I could make a good start on our Slovenia jaunt & then update the blog when I have internet connection later.
Up until about 2 months ago I do not think I could have pointed Slovenia out on the map. But it was recommended & since then lots of other travellers have also told us how greater place it is.
The place with what appears to be an unpronounceable name. Ljubljana "Lube lee arna". Rhymes with lovely arnt a. And it really is a very lovely little place.
Sunday, 11 August 2013
Wednesday, 7 August 2013
A lot of people go to Italy for the food, Russell's favourite cuisine in the whole world is Italian but I can take it or leave it. Apart from prosecco & tiramisu I'm not too fussed for Italian food & drink, it would be way down the list of my favourites - in case anyone cares, my favourite is Mexican.
So anyway, after 3 weeks & 3 days in Italy I've changed my mind. It was awesome!
Tuesday, 6 August 2013
In July 2004 me & Cat discussed visiting Venice. The city of romance, the city of water, the city of whatever, the names go on. Nine years passed by like a rocket. The lure of Venice diminished. I think it is fair to say our expectations were a little on the low side. Pessimistic? perhaps?