Thursday 20th September
We awoke this morning to thunder, lightning and heavy rain, which meant the breakfast needed to be inside. Slight problem – only one table inside. As we had a tour at 9am, we got the first sitting. The English couple staying here said it was no different to England and so they wiped down one of the tables on the terrace so they could eat outside.
We were picked up from our accommodation and driven to Trsteno to visit an Arboretum which was first established in 1492. It contained a Summer Residence, hedged garden areas and the most amazing irrigation system still in use today. Water flows from a spring higher on the slope, through an aqueduct to a water garden and fountain, and then through channels throughout the garden. The wealthy family that owned the garden had contacts with those sailing abroad and planted exotics from all around the world. At the entrance were two plane trees over 150 years old. There was even a large Manna gum and palm trees and tree ferns of several varieties. Part of the garden had been destroyed in the homeland wars and also bushfires in more recent times. As we were walking past the Summer House a voice in English said “don’t bother about photographing the flowers they’re all artificial” and sure enough close inspection revieled many were plastic. Apparently all the real flowers had been and gone and as someone was coming to do a photo shoot of the gardens they’d decided to spruce the place up a bit!
From here we headed to the Peljesac Peninsular to Ston, another old walled town established by the Venetians. Ston is known for its salt processing pans. We wandered around this area and then climbed part of the wall, just enough to work up an appetite for lunch at Mali Ston (Little Ston) nearby. We were encouraged to take a 30 minute tour of the oyster and mussel farm, showing the old and new methods of farming seafood. We even got to taste the freshly shucked oysters straight off the boat, and then it was time for lunch; a few more oysters, black risotto, grilled fish and even the Croatian version of Crème Caramel and a traditional Ston dessert made with pasta, ground walnuts and chocolate. No more food required for the remainder of the day.
On our return to Dubrovnik the driver stopped at a vantage point so we could photograph the new bridge in Dubrovnik. We have been trying to get a photo of it several times earlier this week, but from a moving bus it is impossible.
We took one last stroll through the old town and then returned home to House Boninovo to pack for Friday’s very early departure.
Friday 21 September
Today started much earlier than the expected 4.30am alarm. Woke up about 1.30am to discover it was pretty dark outside, not the usual lights that shine through the shutters all night. Yes, the power was out, and given the very short time we had allowed to get out the door, I had to try to find the torch in my luggage with the aid of the light of my mobile phone. Even when I eventually found it, I spent quite some time convincing myself that we had allowed enough time to catch the local bus to the main bus station, and finally went back to sleep. Fortunately the power was back on at 4.30.
We did make it to the bus on time for the 6am departure. It was a long haul to Zadar and although the scenery was spectacular we were glad to get here by 2pm. Our apartment is on the 3rd floor again, so we are getting plenty of exercise.
Enjoyed a walking tour of the old town of Zadar late in the afternoon. Yes the Romans were here, as well as the Hungarians, who sold it to the Venetians when the Hungarian king was a bit short of cash (shades of Australian state governments here), and the Austrians. The old town is on the peninsular about 1km x 400m with the streets set in a rectangular grid; much better than Belgrade to navigate around. The tourist map is very good as tourist maps go, but my cut and paste (actual paper and sticky tape) brought from home has been extremely useful even though it gets some strange looks.
There are lots of little eateries and food shops around our apartment, so it is quite economical to purchase something to take back to here and put our feet up.
Saturday 22nd September
The apartment grows on you after a while. There is some noise at night from the street below and thankfully the bells just outside our bedroom window don’t ring. The main bell tower at the other end of the street did however start to ring at about 7.45am, an acceptable time. It’s a bit tired inside but we have a kitchen, bedroom and a lounge room.
A very leisurely start to today and even had a chance to speak to family via skype before heading out. It is a casual 20 minute walk to the main bus station where we purchased our tickets for Monday’s trip to Trogir. After being stung 10 Euros for a taxi to the wrong church(our meeting point yesterday) we figure we can walk there on Monday without too much effort as it is fairly flat. So as they say, seeking for further amusement we struck out to find the business centre of Zadar. We happened upon a large cinema complex with a market at the front. For about $1 AUD we bought more grapes than we actually needed. We then ended up in the port area and joined the locals for their Saturday morning coffee ritual. (Actually the best coffee that I have had since we left home.)
The highlight today would have to be the Museum of Ancient Glass displaying objects found the local area made in the second half of the first century AD. We were amazed as to the quality (extremely thin) and design of the miniature bottles, jewellery and food containers, plates, jugs, glasses etc. This museum if you only do one museum in Zadar is the pick; it’s well set out and not particularly crowded. I’ve never thought too much about when glass started to be used but it seems from the first century BC and probably much earlier, first from natural glass, there were a few lumps of this in the museum recovered from shipwrecks, and then man made glass.
We bought some lunch at a nearby bakery and took it to our room to eat. As you can imagine the nearby bakeries are getting a fair bit of patronage from Ewen. After lunch we went for a walk around the outside of the old town, checking out the gardens (several wedding parties were having photographs taken). We spent a few minutes listening to the sea organ on the way and then climbed the bell tower (totally deafened when it struck the half hour – good job it wasn’t 12 o’clock) and finished with the mandatory ice-cream. I was a bit disappointed that we did not make it to Pag to the lace museum (only open irregular hours out of season), but there were women selling genuine hand-made craft (crotchet and knitting). It took me a while to realise they knit the opposite direction to the way I was taught.
At present Ewen is indulging in another of the local customs – yes he is taking his siesta now! (no photo I am afraid!) The other plus side to this apartment is the corkscrew I found in the drawer, so I will indulge in yet another local custom very shortly too.
We took a very pleasant evening stroll down to the other end of the peninsular tonight to view the Solar powered light display. Would have loved to put a short video on the blog, but unfortunately the size of the file is too big.