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Komiža- Day 7 Saturday 9/7

Happy 96th birthday, Rose McCarthy!

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We met at the waterfront at 10 AM to board the Ames tour boat, which took us to Island Bisevo.

It was beautiful to view lovely Komiža from the Adriatic Sea.


Although overcast, the views of the limestone cliffs of Croatia were fabulous.


Bisevo is located five nautical miles southwest of Komiža, and is famous for its Blue Grotto (Cave Bisevo), said to rival the famous Blue Grotto of Capri. While the opening to the cave makes it look impossible for the boats to pass inside, everyone bends to become as flat as possible, and our pilot pushed us in through the opening with the tide. Note how small the cave opening appears.


The ambiance in the cave was beautiful, and unlike Capri, the entrances were staggered, so that we were the only boat in the cave for about ten minutes. I will let the photos tell the story.


You can see our pilot and the other boat in these.


We reboarded our tour boat, which then made a stop at a very small beach. While this was a planned swim stop, we could hear distant thunder, so we decided against it.


Here are some views from the ride back. Some of us ventured out to the bow of the boat.


And, some of us napped.


By the way, we were served a multi-course meal onboard the boat, with a squid salad starter, followed by a course of pasta, and then fresh tuna with a potato salad. And of course, beer and wine. For dessert, we were given a kakao cookie to eat with kakao liquer, as our captain and his wife (who had prepared our meal) serenaded us with local songs.


Once on land, Maureen and I took a stroll around Komiža, while the nappers returned to the apartments to rest.


We spent some afternoon time at the pool. Then, at about 6:45 PM, we walked to the waterfront, and had a bite to eat at a rooftop restaurant. The views of the scenery (and the people) were lovely.


Here are our dinners...pork medallions and scampi. Can you guess who ordered what? We are starting to feel as if we are on an "eat your way across Croatia" trip!


We stopped for gelato to fortify us for the (uphill) walk back to the hotel, where we have to pack for an early departure tomorrow.

Photos are tagged Croatia and Komiza

Posted by Cybercsp 12:27 Archived in Croatia Tagged croatia komiza Comments (1)

Komiža - Day 6 Friday 9/6

The miracle has happened...

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Following a leisurely and ridiculously huge breakfast that no one at our table could finish (here is my avocado and egg toast)...


... we walked around Komiža.

Here are some of the scenic views.


Croatia seems to be a country of cats, as you will note from this street view.


At the very end of town is the Church of Our Lady of Pirates. You certainly might wonder how this church got its name. According to the sign outside the church, in the days of marauding pirates, the altar painting of Mary was stolen from the church and taken aboard the pirate ship. While stories vary a bit, the upshot is that the theft was followed by tremendous wind that damaged the ship, preventing the pirates' escape. Legend has it that the pirates decided that it might be in their best interest to return the painting, and as soon as they did, the weather cleared. There is a slightly different version in which the pirates abscond with a statue of the Madonna, and after treacherous weather, dump the statue overboard in fear. The statue eventually floated in the direction of the shore by the church, and springs of fresh water have sprung up everywhere that the statue has been placed. Either way, here are some photos from the church.


This photo will give you an idea of the beaches on the island.


When we gathered to leave for our excursion, Jane shared the news that our luggage was ON THE FERRY en route to VIs!

(Pause for expressions of joy and relief)

She had arranged for our driver, Josep, to take Charlie to the dock to claim it after the rest of us were dropped for our wine tasting. This is the photo tha we used to confirm that it was our luggage. I am not sure why we are on the Croatian Tourist Board text, but I just want my luggage.


Here is Jane's friend, Miro's farm, which is located in Podspilja. He maintains vineyards and olive groves. This terroir is the origin of zinfandel grapes, which are now grown in many other regions, including California. Miro is known for his Plavac wine, made from the zinfandel grapes, as well as his Vugava, which is a white wine made with grapes found only on the Island Vis. His wines were amazing!

Here is Miro's lovely home and farm.


You know the drill. FIrst, there is the presentation of the welcome drink of rakia.


Then, there must be a "snack."


Today, we had a formal wine tasting. Miro offered two delicious white wines, Vugava and Posip, a Rose', and the Plavac.


Between the presentation of the first and the second white wines, Charlie and Josep joined us in triumph. They were greeted with great enthusiasm from the girl who missed her clothing; here I am with Josep. (And don't worry, I saved Charlie a glass of the first wine, which is the only one that he missed.)


We had such a pleasant time with Miro and his wife.


After wine tasting, it is always a good idea to eat, and we traveled to a beachside restaurant owned by three brothers for a late lunch. The meal showcased their home-grown organic produce, meats, fresh fish, and homemade wine from their vineyards. As the meal was prepared, we had time for a swim at their private beach. In addition to the lobster, the grilled fish were outstanding, and there was plenty of meat for those who do not love fish.


On our way back to the apartments, we made a stop for dessert and coffee on the white rocks, to take in the peaceful view.


When we got back to the hotel. I was delighted to be reunited with the contents of my luggage!

Photos are tagged Croatia and Komiza

Posted by Cybercsp 13:37 Archived in Croatia Tagged croatia komiza Comments (1)

Komiža - Day 5 Thursday 9/5

And still, no luggage...but a glimmer of hope.

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Does the island of Vis look familiar? The 2017 movie, "Mama Mia, Here We Go Again" was filmed in Vis, the oldest established town in Croatia. The island is known to have been inhabited since 3,000 BC, but there has been evidence of Neolithic activity dating from 8,000 BC.

What to do with a morning at leisure? Well, we slept until 9 AM, which is really late for us. Then, we walked downhill to the waterfront, to one of two restaurants where Jane has arranged for us to have our daily breakfast.

We left at 11:30 AM for an excursion to Žena Glava. Some attribute the name of this town to a translation of “Thirsty Head” (žedna glava), an allusion to a dry area, while others believe it refers to “Headwoman” (žena-glava) – a village's chief woman. Our first stop took us to the home of Darko, who is a fisherman and an affable host. As you can see, Darko raises goats. He also had this morning's fresh catch hanging up.


Here is his area for preparing peka, and his rakia fermentation area. We are becoming acquainted with Croatian necessities.


It has become apparent that no one leaves without a "snack," and today it was a fish based panini and some delicious garlic knots. And wine. Always homemade wine.


Please note that my awful hair is a combination of wearing my sun hat and the heat, exacerbated by the fact that all of our hair products are in the lost luggage. The other photo shows Jay (in the blue shirt) with our host, Darko.


We then traveled to see "Tito's secret cave." As WWII ended and the Cold War began, Vis was transformed by Yugoslavian leader Josip Broz Tito into a military base for the communist Yugoslav army. Tito established a number of military fortifications on the island, including a submarine base and a network of secret underground tunnels and caves across the island. Tito used this cave as a hideout from the invading Nazi forces during the Second World War. I suspect it was a most effective location because the bombers would never notice it, and any land troops would not enjoy the hike to reach it (about 250 steps). By the way, Vis island was closed to visitors until 1989.


Note that Tommy is solo in the cave niche because Maureen was smart enough to realize that this might not be worth the hike.

The views along the drive were amazing.


After this workout, it was time to eat again. We visited the home of Ine who, as you can see, was waiting for us. To say that she is a MOST GREGARIOUS hostess might be an understatement.


Again, we enjoyed a meal in a lovely ambiance....


...feasting on a cuttlefish cold salad appetizer, followed by beef and gnocchi, and ending with the most delicious homemade cookies.


We started with a rakia toast, and Ine's wines have been (in my opinion) the best of the trip so far.


Ine's neighbor entertained us with traditional Croatian music (joined by Ine's husband), as well as a number of songs that were familiar to us. The wine encouraged us all to sing along.


At various moments, Ine became so excited by our enjoyment that she would engage in spontaneous showers of affection, and to my utter shock, she literally lifted me off the floor.


Maureen enjoyed a dance with our hostess.


Suffice it to say that a good time was had by all.

On our return trip, our driver, Josep, dropped those who wished to swim off at the beach. Fortunately, my bathing suit was in my carry on luggage, so I was good to go. The beaches here are rocky, so water shoes are a must. The water is absolutely delightful. After a refreshing swim, we walked back to the apartments and spent some time outdoors on the patio.

Now for the glimmer of hope about the luggage. Last night, it occurred to Jane that she could ask her friend Luca, who is a lawyer for Croatian Air, whether he might be able to suggest a resource to help us to locate the luggage. He told her that he would take it on as his mission. In a matter of a few hours, he was sending her photos of our suitcases. American Airlines initially told him that there were no identifying tags on the luggage, and his comment to Jane was that he actually could read our phone numbers and emails that were on the tags from the pictures that they sent him...yet no one contacted us. Suddenly, with his intervention, our luggage is supposed to be expedited from Rome to Split airport, where a driver will pick it up and put it on the ferry to Vis tomorrow. Jane is a maker of miracles.

Photos are tagged Croatia and Komiza

Posted by Cybercsp 23:19 Archived in Croatia Tagged croatia komiza Comments (2)

Split - Day 4 Wednesday 9/4

Still no luggage...

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Time to leave Hotel Villa Zarko, our home base in Kaštela, to explore Split. The hotel personnel have been wonderfully helpful in calling Split airport daily to check for our luggage (no luck). We spend at least 40 minutes per day on hold for American Airlines to check on the tracking of our luggage, with no answers. This is so time consuming and frustrating.

On our way to Split, we stopped to explore the Roman ruins in Salona, the birthplace of Diocletian, who founded the city of Split. Born to commoners in Croatia, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the Roman army, eventually ruling the Roman Empire from 284 to 305. He became Emperor when the Roman Empire was in decay, but ended the so-called "Crisis of the Third Century" (235–284), returning Rome to its former glory. After twenty years of rule, Diocletian abdicated his throne and returned to his homeland; the palace that he built near his birthplace became the city of Split. It is said that Diocletian "invented" retirement. Here is what the colosseum is believed to have looked like, and here are the ruins.


We took a guided tour of Diocletian's Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage site), which is considered to be the most complete Roman palace in the world. The palace was constructed over a ten year period in the mid-4th century (using around 15,000 slaves), and encompasses some 220 buildings within its boundaries, including homes, bars, hotels and cafes.

Here are various sides of the palace walls. They have been transformed over the years into shops and cafes.


The perastil is the courtyard outside the actual palace.


Our guide told us that this Egyptian sphinx is one of 13 left in the world, and the only one that was never beheaded and repaired.


Fun Fact: The palace's cellar was used in season four of Game of Thrones as Daenerys' Throne Room, and the underground caverns were used in scenes where Daenerys kept her dragons. Now you know.

At noon, there is a little pageant where the emperor greets his subjects.


In this central tower (which is now an open air area), there is a group that sings traditional Klapa music. This music is traditional a cappella singing. The word Klapa translates to "group of friends," and the singers are typically male. In 2012, Klapa was added to the UNESCO "Intangible Cultural heritage of Humanity."


Here are some additional views of Split.


Here are some views from outside the city walls.


We also visited the fish market.


After our tour, we spent some time shopping for items that we are going to need if our luggage never arrives, a very depressing use of time. There was time for a beer...


...before boarding the 3 PM catamaran to the island of Vis. Most of us used the 90 minute trip to nap. Here is our first view of Vis.


There are cats everywhere in Croatia, and this kitty found herself a shady spot at the catamaran dock.


We crossed to the opposite side of the island , where we checked into the Jasminka Zambarlin apartments in the small fishing village of Komiža. This will be our home base for the next four nights. I had a chance to do laundry, which was very necessary based upon our wardrobe situation. Our apartment is spacious and comfortable.


Our dinner tonight was on the waterfront, a delicious meal of salad, pizza, and wine.


Photos are tagged Croatia, Komiza and Split

Posted by Cybercsp 12:32 Archived in Croatia Tagged croatia split komiza Comments (1)

Kaštela - Day 3 Tuesday 9/3

Still no luggage...but a lovely day.

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After a leisurely breakfast (which would have been served on the hotel terrace had it not been raining), we set out for the village of Versine.
Fortunately, the rain subsided just before we left the hotel. Our first stop was to visit an olive tree that is documented to be more than 1500 years old.


We passed a mussel "farm"....


...enroute to our visit with Tomislav and Gorana, who are friends of Jane and Jay. We walked through their konoba, which is a space designed for outdoor dining.


We then toured their farm. You can see their olive oil press and one of their pomegranate trees.


After our farm tour, and a mere two hours after breakfast, we were invited to have a "snack" at their table. We started with rakia, which might be best described as a homemade fruity grappa.


"Snack" included homemade breads and cheeses, a platter of locally caught seafood, zucchini fritters, meats, and fruit. Oh, and wine...because it
is after 10 AM. We enjoyed sampling their domestic products, and they were the most gracious hosts.


After this delicious repast, we traveled to the magnificent Krka National Park. The park encompasses two thirds of the Krka River and includes its seven waterfalls. Here are some of the less dramatic, but still quite pretty falls.


The best known of the falls is Skradinski Buk Falls, the largest travertine cascade system in Europe. And yes, those are people swimming.


Here is Charlie modeling his first replacement purchase.


We stopped at a small business where they make soaps and lotions, and below that is a craft brewery.


And now for Charlie's favorite part of the day...we visited a local farm to learn about prosciutto making. The pigs lead a pampered (but relatively short) life, gaining two pounds a day, until they reach 500 pounds. We saw a video that walked us trough the process, and then we were treated to a slice of the really good stuff.


Here is their lovely vineyard, and outdoor entertainment space.


Before dinner we saw the peka being prepared. This is a typical Croatian baked dish with meat and vegetables made on a tray under a metal bell. Embers from the fireplace are placed over the bell. Many houses in Dalmatia, especially in the countryside, have a special place in the barn or at the ground floor of the house for preparing the peka.


We were greeted with rakia. The cherry was so delicious that we bought a bottle.


Then we ate:


vegetable soup with dumplings that were like matzo balls


and, finally, the peka.


Our farewell shot is of the ladies with our gracious host.


Photos are tagged Croatia, Krka and Kastela

Posted by Cybercsp 12:32 Archived in Croatia Tagged croatia krka kaštela Comments (2)

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