Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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Honeymoon Pictures

February 23, 2009

It only took five months but I finally got all of our honeymoon pictures up.  For a recap:

Zagreb

Split

Trogir

Dubrovnik

Mljet

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Mljet

February 23, 2009

Mljet

While we were in Dubrovnik, we took a day trip out to Mljet, an island in the Adriatic.  It was the kind of lazy, laid back place that could eat up a couple of years of your life before you even knew what had hit you.  In fact, legend has it that very thing happened to Odysseus.  According to Homer, Odysseus was ship wrecked off the coast of Mljet and there he met the nymph Calypso, daughter of Poseidon, and he ended up spending seven years there, captured by the tranquility of the island.   According to another legend, St Paul was also shipwrecked on Mljet and spent 3 months there preaching the gospel as is written in the Acts of the Apostles 27 – 32.

Pictures from Mljet

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The Pearl of the Adriatic

February 23, 2009

The Pearl of the Adriatic

The final leg of our honeymoon took us to Dubrovnik.

We caught a bus out of Split and headed southeast down the Adriatic Highway.  It was a beautiful, albeit hair-raising, five hour ride down the coast.  Each bend in the road gave us a new view that was even more beautiful than the one before.

Arriving in Dubrovnik, we found an apartment in the suburb of Lapad, about five miles outside of town.  It was a great little place atop a hill overlooking a small bay and cost around $80.00 a night.  It even had a trellis full of fresh grapes that you could snack on whenever the urge hit you.

Dubrovnik itself was about 10 minutes away by bus.  Even after reading account after account of it’s unique beauty, the first view of the city takes your breath away.  The entire city center is enclosed within protective walls and the architecture is exquisite.

We spent several days exploring the various sights about town.  It’s a small city, easily walkable and there are no lack of places to stop for a glass of wine to do some people watching.

One of the highlights is a walk around the city walls.  It costs around $5.00 and takes about 2 hours but is well worth it.  Not only do you get magnificant view after magnificant view, you also quickly figure out that while beautiful, the walls were built with protection in mind, with well placed cannons, towers and crossbow/arrow slits.

It was an excellent trip and then, to top it all off, on the last night, we stopped at a small restaurant we had walked by everyday while we were there and I had the best pesto I have ever had.  I think I would go back just for the Pesto.

Here are our pictures on Picasa.

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Trogir, Croatia

November 23, 2008

While we were in Split, we took a day trip to the walled town of Trogir.  We grabbed a city bus and were there in about 45 minutes.

It’s a small town, probably not more than a mile on a side.  There’s been a town on the same spot for the past 2300 years, inhabited at various times by Greeks, Romans, Venetians and Croats.  It ‘s on a small island between the mainland and the much larger island of Ciovo and is surrounded by calm waters.  There were some amazing yachts from all over the world tied up along the promenade outside the city walls.

It’s a gem of a town with narrow streets that wind among it’s beautiful buildings.  The centerpiece of the town is the Cathedral of St Lovro (Lawrence) with its 150 ft bell tower.  From the top you can see out across the city and beyond but but be prepared for some narrow steps.  Add in a lively breeze and you have a hair-raising climb.

Anyway, here are our better pictures.

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Split, Croatia

October 15, 2008

On our fourth day in Zabreb we reluctantly checked out of the Palace Hotel. Our train wasn’t until 9:00 pm so they held onto our bags while we spent another day exploring Zagreb. We spent the day in series of lazy visits to outdoor cafes sandwiched by the Botanical Gardens, the Archaelogical Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art. After a tasty, filling (always filling in Zagreb) dinner, we headed to the train station.

We showed up at the train station 30 minutes or so before our departure time and checked the overhead board to see what track we were on. For the first time, our inability to speak Croatian smacked us in the face. Up to this point, we were spoiled Americans, relying on the fact that we could usually always find at least one person in each establishment who spoke English. No luck here. Michele was like a U.S. Ambassador, moving from person to person, pleading, arguing and negotiating to try to figure out where we were supposed to go. We had reserved a sleeper through a US based company and the pursers were looking at our tickets with a “what the hell is this” kind of expression. Michele kept persisting and they finally led us to a private cabin.

On Croatian Rail, private cabin does not equal sleeping berth.  The seats folded down but that was the only nod made towards sleeping.  Throw in some Limeys (the soccer hooligan kind, not the Hugh Grant kind) and a loud squeak that seemed to be an integral part of the train and you get a long night with little sleep.  Still, we made it from Zagreb to the coast with little hassle and didn’t lose a full day traveling. And when the sun came up, we peered out the window and discovered the beautiful Croatian Coast.

Our pictures from Split.

We were met at the train station by several locals with rooms to rent. If we spoke Croatian, we may have considered renting a place but we took the safe route and headed to a Travel Agency recommended by our guide book (Thank you Lonely Planet). With the help of Atlas Travel Agency, we found an awesome apartment in the city center for around $100.00 a night.

I had never heard of Split before we decided to go to Croatia for our Honeymoon.  It’s a convenient hopping off point to the islands in the south and it was highly recommended by the guide books (again, thanks Lonely Planet) so we decided to add it to our itinerary.  Fortunately, it was a great choice.

It’s a beautiful, bustling city.  It’s the second biggest city in Croatia and the largest port in the country.  It is also the home of Diocletian’s Palace.

Diocletian was a Roman Emperor who abdicated his position in AD 305 to retire to his villa in what was then part of the Roman Empire.  The city of Split grew up around his Palace.

It is an amazing structure.  A walled city, it is not a museum, but a integral part of the center of Split.  There are restaurants, hotels, shops, museums and private residences all throughout the grounds.  Walking through at 11:00 pm, the drinks are still being served and the music is still playing.  It is one of the coolest places I have ever been fortunate enough to visit.

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Zagreb

September 16, 2008

Our Honeymoon began in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. We flew an Airbus A330-200 from Seattle to Amsterdam Northwest/KLM then an A319 from Amsterdam direct to Zagreb. The flights were nice, much better than I expected. It was cramped but the crew was friendly and the food was actually pretty good. Getting a shoulder/neck massage at Schipol Airport (Amsterdam) helped (a LEGAL massage).

We left Seattle at 1:00 pm on Friday and were on the ground and through customs at Zračna Luka Airport in Zagreb by 2:00 pm the next day. We grabbed a cab for a 25 minute trip to the our hotel for 240 Kuna (about $50 dollars). There was a bus that would have only cost about $15.00 but we were exhausted and not quite sure where we were going so a taxi seemed like the best choice.

For most of the trip we stayed in relatively inexpensive lodging but we splurged in Zagreb. We stayed in a Junior Suite at the Palace Hotel right in the middle of the Old Town. It’s the oldest hotel in Zagreb and has a ton of Old World charm. We only stayed a few days but really enjoyed the experience.

Here’s a picture of the Palace Hotel from Flickr.

Picture courtesy of xinegasparac

Zagreb was a real treat. Driving into the city from the airport, you pass through the newer/outside ring of the city first. It’s the first ex-communist country I’ve been to and well, the outer ring looked like I would have expected. Large, dull, gray buildings with the graffiti that is ubiquitous throughout much of Europe. Then you pass over the Sava River and you’re in a completely different place.

The older/inner part of the city is an active, charming scene. It’s filled with people, mainly locals but plenty of tourists, milling from shop to shop, stopping for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine at one of the many sidewalk cafes while chatting with friends. And it’s not just your urban hipsters, it’s the whole family, Grandparents down through the smallest Grandchild. And everyone is eating (and I am not making this up) Ice Cream or Corn on the Cob.

We did not leave the middle of the city the entire time we were there. We spent all of our time in the medieval Upper Town and the newer Lower Town.

Here are some of our better pictures

I’ll post the pictures from the coast in the next few days.

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Mt Rainier

September 13, 2008

Michele and I took advantage of the great weather by taking a trip to Mt Rainier.

I have a confession to make. This is my first trip to Mt Rainier. I’ve skied at Crystal Mountain, which is on the edge of the park, but that is as close as I had been.

Around here, Mt Rainier is simply, The Mountain. It towers over the landscape. At 14,410 feet, it is the 20th tallest mountain in the US and the 5th tallest in the Lower 48. However, its topographic prominence, or the measure of how much a mountain stands above the landscape around it, is the 4th highest in North America.

We left Seattle around Noon and even with a 30 minute traffic jam, were at the National Park by 2:45 pm. We drove up to the Lake Mowich campground which is at 4929 feet. There were a couple sections of road that got my heart beating, with a 1000 foot drop and no guardrail, but besides that, it was an easy drive.

The pictures are from Mowich Lake and the Spray Park Waterfall. This area is ~4 miles and 10,000 feet from the summit of Mt Rainier.

On the Google Maps photo, Mowich Lake is marked in green and the Spray Falls Trail in red.

Oh yeah, did I mention the fact that Mt Rainier is an active volcano?  The last eruptions were in the 1940’s and were fairly minor.  The last major eruption was around 1000 years ago.