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Cavtat - Day 12 Thursday 9/12

Our final day with Niche Touring

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After breakfast, we headed to Konavle. Located in Croatia’s southernmost region, Konavle is the agricultural region of Croatia, and its major crops include corn, wheat, potatoes, barley, soybeans, sugar beets, and sunflowers.

Random fun fact: This agricultural area is also known for, of all things, a style of jewelry, Konavle earrings. This style of earring achieved international notice when they were a favorite style of Queen Rania of Jordan.

Our first stop was the village of Gruda, where we went to a studio where women are trying to preserve the ancient traditions of embroidery. Our hostess was wearing traditional garb.


They are teaching school children how to raise silkworms in the manner of their ancestors


...that will lead to production of the silk thread for their embroidery. The intricate local patterns (which served in the past as nonverbal communication regarding the wearer’s status, are painstakingly intricate. Here are some preserved samples.


Our next stop was Sokol Grad (the castle of Sokol). It was a vigorous climb!


Along the route to the top, we stopped at various rooms that provided insight into the castle’s past.


By now, you should recognize the peka bell oven.


Did I mention that it was a hot and rigorous climb?


A few last shots of the views...


Here is the first runner up for the graveyard with the best view.


Our final excursion took us to meet Ivo, who has lovingly restored his family’s watermills, which were destroyed during the war.

The walk along the water was peaceful.


You may or may not be able to judge the force of the water as it comes down the mountain.


We were greeted with rakia and snacks by women in their traditional garb.


Ivo demonstrated two types of mills. This first one uses large millstones to grind the grain. Ivo demonstrated how he can adjust the mill to alter the texture of the final product.


This second mill pounds cloth to strengthen the fibers.


Our final stop was for a farewell luncheon that took place along a fresh water trout stream. We started with rakia, moved on to prosciutto and cheeses, then salad, followed by a platter of freshly caught grilled trout and one of assorted meats. And, of course, lots of local wine. Then, dessert! We will be lucky if we fit in our airplane seats tomorrow!


Jane said a few final words to wrap up this fabulous adventure.


When we returned to the hotel, we packed up the bags (always sad) and headed out to catch our final Cavtat sunset. We enjoyed watching the yachts
reprovision and welcome their guests (just like Bravo’s “Below Decks”)! We ended our evening all together, back at the hotel for some drinks and handmade chocolate rakia. Everyone else is leaving the hotel at 5 AM, so we said our goodbyes tonight. We do not have to leave until 10 AM!

Photos are tagged Croatia and Cavtat

Posted by Cybercsp 12:36 Archived in Croatia Tagged croatia cavtat Comments (0)

Cavtat - Day 11 Wednesday 9/11

Decisions, decisions....

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Today, we had a number of choices regarding how to spend our day. Jane offered a full day optional excursion to Montenegro, which we considered; however, we were the only two people interested. We decided against returning to Dubrovnik, opting instead to spend a leisurely day in lovely Cavtat.

We enjoyed sleeping in this morning! After breakfast, we set out to hike up to the Mausoleum. Along the way, we ran into Jane, who took us on a short detour to see a friend's home, where she and her family have rented an apartment. It was a lovely property that even had a private chapel on the grounds.


It was a steep walk up to the mausoleum...


...but the views were worth the effort.


This graveyard may win the award for the best final resting place with a view.


The highlight was seeing the interior of the Račić Family Mausoleum. The Račić family were wealthy shipbuilders. In 1918, the Spanish Flu claimed the lives of the father, son, and daughter. Mrs. Račić comissioned family friend, the Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović, to build a tomb in the Art Deco style of the day. It is stunning.

The entrance door is flanked by angels.


The main altar has a scene where Jesus is being removed from the cross, while the statue of Mary and the Infant Jesus above the altar suggests the promise of eternal life.


The surrounding columns feature faces in grief.


Note the carved angel faces floating in the dome, waiting to guide the departed to heaven.


Here are some of the side altar figures, starting with St. Rocco. We have seen many chapels dedicated to this saint in European cities to guard against the plague. He is always shown with a dog who licks his wounds.


Finally, here are some of the other sculptures that adorn the mausoleum:


We had gelato for lunch, which is always a wise choice, and ate it while sitting along the harbor.

At this point, Charlie and Tommy decided to go back to the hotel to finish the remnants of the bourbon, while Maureen and i did some shopping . We then visited the Vlaho Bukovac House, which was the home and museum of the Croatian artist. We can tell you that he was a great lover of the self-portrait...lot of self love there. The walls in the rooms were painted with colorful designs like this one.


Let me also share this rather disturbing portrait of Bukovac’s family members. Or, rather their heads. Food for thought.....


We spied the boys on the balcony as we returned to the hotel.


After a little rest, we went to this seaside restaurant with two other couples from our tour. Jane noted that it is known for its excellent mussels, so Charlie was looking forward to trying them. Of course, they were all out, but there were pork chops, so all ended well. We enjoyed many laughs with our new friends, as well as a memorable sunset.



Photos are tagged Croatia and Cavtat

Posted by Cybercsp 02:50 Archived in Croatia Tagged croatia cavtat Comments (0)

Dubrovnik - Day 10 Tuesday 9/10

Welcome to the Game of Thrones

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After breakfast, we took a 25 minute boat ride to the famous city of Dubrovnik. Perched atop limestone cliffs that overlook the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik’s walled Old Town is often referred to as Croatia's "cultural heart and soul." (Game of Thrones fans will recognize it as King’s Landing.) We were so pleased to have the opportunity to revisit this amazing city!

Some history: Between 1991-1992, Dubrovnik suffered tremendous damage during Yugoslavia's Civil War. It is estimated that 68% of the buildings in the Old Town (Stari Grad) suffered shell damage. Nine historic palaces were completely destroyed by fire, two-thirds of the city's tiled roofs were damaged, the walls took 111 direct hits, and the squares endured 314 direct hits. As the city had no military value, some viewed the shelling as an attempt to break the morale of the Croatians. After the war, laborers worked tirelessly to restore the city to its grandeur, and as the photos will show, succeeded in their endeavor.

Our approach took us past the "Dubrovnik Riviera" where we saw lovely private homes and hotels. You can see that every cove becomes a popular beach.


The approach by sea was spectacular, especially as Mario took the boat around the city walls. In Game of Thrones, the fort served as the Red Keep.


We entered the city through this gate.


Having a guided tour of the Old City was a great experience. When we were here in 2014, we wandered the city on our own, and having a guide provided us with lots of context.

The Sponza Palace was built in the 16th century, and is now home to the State Archives and the Memorial Room of the Defenders of Dubrovnik, dedicated to those who died in the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995). It is one of the few buildings that suffered no damage during the war.
The patron saint of the city, St. Blaise, blesses the city. He seems to be everywhere that you look.


Here is the prototype for Onofrio's Fountain, which served as Dubrovnik’s main source of water from the Middle Ages through the end of the 19th century, when the city installed a modern water supply that serviced homes directly. The fountain is on the Stradun just inside the Old Town’s Pile Gate. The prototype will have to do, because every time we passed the main fountain, it was covered with tourists.


The Stradun is the main artery in Dubrovnik. At one end is this beautiful clock tower, which is 600 years old this year.


At the opposite end is the other city gate, and here is the entrance to the city by land.


Here is the main Cathedral of Dubrovnik, dedicated to St. Blaise.


These stations of the cross are stunning in their contrast to this ancient church.


Game of Thrones aficionados may recognize these stairs as the Queen's Walk of Shame. They would remind one of the Spanish steps in Rome.


Here is a photo of the interior of the Jesuit Church that is located at the top of the stairs.


Dubrovnik has many narrow alleyways that house restaurants and apartments....


...as well as squares.


This message is touted as the world's oldest graffiti. It was carved by a priest who is reminding the boys who keep him awake with their street games that they will eventually die and have to atone for their sins .


After hours of walking in the heat, it was time for a drink at the Buza Bar. The views are without parallel.


Photos are tagged Croatia and Dubrovnik

Posted by Cybercsp 01:13 Archived in Croatia Tagged croatia dubrovnik Comments (0)

Cavtat - Day 9 Monday 9/9

On the road again...

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Before leaving Bosnia, we stopped to see the village of Počitelj, a settlement built by Bosnia's King Stjepan Tvrtko in 1383. The village is considered to be an open air museum. Let us share with you some of the gorgeous sites.

Perched high atop the hill is Sahat-kula, a silo-shaped fort overlooking the village. It was used to house watchmen and military to guard against possible invasion.


You can see the minaret of the Hajji Alija mosque, which was built in 1563. The mosque sustained significant damage in the war, but was restored in 2002.


Here are some views from our walk into the city. Note the fig tree growing through the wall.


There was some significant uphill climbing.


There were many stands with homemade products. Look at these beautiful paper cones full of dates, nuts, and other goodies.


We crossed the border to return to Croatia, taking the coastal route to Dubrovnik. Along the way, we passed through Metkovic, the delta growing area, where the fresh water meets the sea. It has been dubbed "Little California."


We made a stop in the town of Ston, where we admired the Wall of Ston, which is the second longest continuous wall in the world (exceeded only by the Great Wall of China). Only about three miles remain, but they were believed to have covered at least five miles when built in the 14th Century.


Ston is also known for its ancient salt production.


This statue represents the importance of "a pinch of salt."


Here is the arched gate of the town, and a few other views.


The interior of the church was closed, but here is the exterior.


Last, but not least, Ston is famous for its oyster beds, and we had the opportunity to experience these delicious gems. Charlie did not share the enthusiasm of most of the group. No problem, I ate his!


From Ston, we traveled along the "Dubrovnik Riviera" to our hotel in Cavtat. The Greeks established a city here in the 6th Century BC (Epidaurum), and it was renamed Cavtat in the Middle Ages. We caught a glimpse of Dubrovnik on our way.


We checked into our final "home" in Croatia, Villa Pattiera, where we will spend our last four nights.


We had time to poke around the charming seaside town.


The Church of St. Nicholas was open.


We took a long walk all around the peninsula. The area reminded me of Maine. Little beach "clubs" are set up right along the rocks.


Before dinner, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.


Photos are tagged Croatia, Mostar and Cavtat

Posted by Cybercsp 01:29 Archived in Croatia Tagged croatia mostar cavtat Comments (1)

Mostar - Day 8 Sunday 9/8

An early start...

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This morning, we bid farewell to Komiža with a 6 AM departure. We arrived in Vis City by 6:30, and had time for a short walk-about as the sun was rising.


Jane had packed each of us a breakfast sack, which we ate on the 7:30 AM ferry that took us from Island Vis to Split. Here are some sailaway views.


After docking in Split, we met a private coach that took us to the neighboring country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were sorry to have to say goodbye to Josip, who has driven us thus far. We are now in the hands of Zoran, riding in a full size bus that holds 50 people. We are 15...so we have lots of room.

Zoran's mom met us at the van/bus transfer with cheeses, prosciutto, bread, wine and chocolate liquer. This country is seriously a feeding frenzy. Food as love.

Crossing the border from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina took close to an hour. Fortunately, we were able to remain on the bus while our passports were presented by Zoran.

At about 2 PM, we checked into our hotel, the City Star Hotel. Here are photos of our room.


Here is the view from the hotel patio. Note the terrible grenade damage done to the beautiful stone building. So many of the buildings that we pass have damage from shelling. It is heartbreaking.


After a few minutes to settle in, we were led by our guide, Nino, to the historic city of Mostar. The city spans the valley of the Neretva River and is the fifth-largest city in the country. Mostar was established initially as an Ottoman frontier town during the 15th Century, and later was annexed by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in 1908. Traces of both cultures can be seen today in the architecture of this lovely place.

We walked through the Old Bazaar, the Kujundžiluk. As we walked along the cobblestone streets, many of the old crafts, such as rug weaving and copper work, could be observed in the shops. Of course, the bazaar has plenty of tourist shops, as well as cafes and restaurants. There was plenty to admire!


This is the site of the oldest bridge built in Mostar. This smaller bridge was the prototype for the Stari Most, the main bridge of the city. The Turkish architect who was sent to build the bridges was a student of the master bridge builder, and was uncertain as to whether a bridge could be supported by a single arch. When the supportive scaffolding was removed, the architect was forced to stand below the bridge, so that he would be killed should the bridge collapse. The bridge lasted for hundreds of years, but had to be rebuilt in the 1900s after flooding.


Here are the original city walls that are close to the bridge.


The walking in Mostar is not easy.


While much of the architecture in the city is Turkish, this building reflects the city's Austrian influence. While the design was supposed to "blend in". with the Turkish, Islamic leanings of the city, the building was criticized as its window designs resembled the Christian cross.


The city of Mostar gets its name from the bridge keepers (mostari), who in the medieval times guarded the Stari Most (Old Bridge) that spanned the river. The Stari Most was built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, and is considered to be an exemplary piece of Islamic architecture in the Balkans. It is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina's most visited landmarks. It is very difficult to walk across as the pavements are slippery, and the pitch is fairly steep.


Between 1992 and 1995, Mostar sustained significant damage during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Much of the city center was left in ruins, and the Stari Most was destroyed. The subsequent reconstruction has been aided by UNESCO, and serves as a symbol of reconciliation and international cooperation.


We enjoyed a typical Bosnian meal on a lovely outdoor covered patio that afforded beautiful views. During dinner we saw two people jump from the bridge into the river (65 feet). Apparently it's a common fun activity, with a little boat waiting in the water to check on the brave souls. Happy to report that both jumpers are healthy (but wise?).


After dinner, we crossed the bridge and explored the opposite side of the river.

Here you can see the restaurant where we ate, with its multiple level patios.


Photos are tagged Croatia and Mostar

Posted by Cybercsp 13:44 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Tagged croatia mostar Comments (0)

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