A Travellerspoint blog

The Croatian part of our journey

Dubrovnik, Paradise also known as Mjlet and Split

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We arrived into Dubrovnik with ladies hounding us as soon as we got off the bus. We are starting to get used to this now. The get you as soon as you get off the bus offering rooms to stay in their houses/apartments. It sounds dodgy but here it is commonplace, and you can get somewhere really nice for much cheaper than the hostels.
We already had our booking so we just smiled and said ´no thanks´. Looking at a map we realised it was over a miles walk, and not only that but looking at where the road went it was ALL uphill. Daisy sighed sadly at this.
It was very hot and Daisy more so, did not look particularly attractive with a red face and perspiring somewhat. We got to the road which Daisys beloved iPhone had sent us and it was soon apparent it was the wrong road. ´Anka´s Rooms´ was nowhere to be seen. On further inspection of the map we had about 10 minutes previously passed the road we needed. Steve was slightly upset about this. Luckily the walk was downhill this time!
Apart from getting to the actual house that is. The final leg of it was a climb of about 80 steps up to the house. We took a deep breath and began the ascent.
We were welcomed warmly into the home. The family consisted of Anka her husband, their son and wife and two children. The wifes name escapes us but she spoke to us about Dubrovnik and told us where to go and eat in the old town. It was a guesthouse with 4 rooms in the family home that they offer on Hostelworld and hostelbookers. We had a nice room, but to beat it was the shower! Oh how we loved this shower!
We walked to the Old town and it is similar to Kotor but on a much larger scale and much, much more touristy. Whereas Kotor would have one cruise ship come in a day, this town takes 4 or 5. The old town was full of restaurants, little boutiques and small bars down the little alleys. Whilst we ate we watched a procession come from the church and followed a candled route. It turns out that it was celebrating St Blaise who looks and protects the town. The procession was full of people singing, wearing white and carrying religious looking objects.
We went out of the walls of the old town to the sea and the stones of the wall were still warm even after dark. Nice to sit against. People were swimming against the rocks as the water was still warm. Again, it was blue and clear.

The next day we woke early as our ferry to Mjlet island was at 9.10am. Before leaving Anka´s we made a reservation for when we returned as we really liked it there and did not feel we had explored Dubrovnik enough in one night.
It was to be a hot day as the walk to the ferry was super hot even being 8am. Luckily again it was all downhill.

One thing we have noticed on our travels is that people turn up to the bus station or ferry in this case, with items that they send to another destination. So it then becomes part of the drivers job to make sure the items get off at the right place. There was a man at the Marina putting on bags of nappies to go to Mjlet. Like a free postal service!

On the journey across we saw our island and saw how isolated it looked. Just full of trees and only a handful of houses. Sobra-the main town is only made up of 80inhabitants.

Our town of Polace was the second stop and the address for our room was Polace 3! So we decided it must be quite easy to find. Turns out in Polace there is only one road, and our room was in the 3rd house along. Nice and easy compared to Dubrovnik.

Our room was nice and compact, small kitchen and bathroom in one. Our balcony looked over the marina and sea. Stunning!

We walked up the road :) and the restaurants all have cages by the sea that they keep their fish and lobsters in. So before you eat, you are shown this. Quite impressive.

We began our stint here by hiring bikes at about 12pm and riding 4km to the National Park where engines are not allowed. You pay 90 kuna which is about 9pounds and you can come and go as you please for the next 3 days. Also included in it is a bus ride there and back from Polace and a boat ride to a little island with a monastery. Thing is, half of the 4km was uphill and it was midday sun again. One comment came from Daisy that Steve keeps repeating now in which she said ´Holidays are supposed to be fun!´Not that she wasn´t having fun but it seemed like a boot camp holiday. Constantly out of breath and sweating!
Arrived at the National Park lakes after a welcoming downhill sprint with no cars. Went for a swim where the water in summer months reaches 27 degrees, it was very nice! We went between swimming and sunbathing and even Steve was able to relax.
Loads of lizards in the park, some blue ones which Daisy loved and we have quite a few pictures.

On the route home we decided to go another way as it said it was only 1.6km, but it turned out to be rocky and barely a path that we could cycle on even though Steve did try successfully!
In our relaxed state, when we got back we had a nap starting at 7, but we didn´t wake up til 8am the following day. We were shocked but it kind of showed how all the previous travelling had got to us.

The next day at 9am, we walked to the Mini Brum centre and hired a car for Daisy to drive. She was very nervous but it went well. It was a red Fiat Punto Cabriolet so we were able to put the top down! Our town was in the East of the island, so we drove the 30km to the west side were there are sandy beaches. We went to Sapulnura for the day and sat under a sun lounger for 45 kuna which is quite pricy for Croatia, in England it would be about 4 pounds. It was in a bay where boats were moored and the water was nice and cold.
There were patches of rocks in the sea so Daisy sat down whilst Steve was swimming and fish nibbled her feet including a shrimp that kept pinching her bum. Highly amusing. Steve came over and squealed when the shrimp got him.

We got hungry for lunch and went to a nearby restaurant called Stermasi, a must for anyone going to this island. Beautiful food and it looks over the sea and numerous rocks. The owner was really nice and able to speak several different languages. We shared our food which consisted of a octopus salad and cuttlefish balck risotto, both were amazing and served in these big shells.

Began the drive home and stopped off at Ulysesses (may not be spelt correctly-think James Joyce) cave which took a 20 minute walk down over a rocky path with several steep steps! We didn´t have a chance to really explore the cave as we had to have the car back for 7 and it had gone 6, but it did look impressive and you can go swimming in it.

On this night we made food and sat outside, it was windy but if you looked up the sky was ablaze with stars. Very romantic!

Our next day was another lazy one and we sat by the water outside of our hotel until the afternoon. Then we took the minibus (as this was included in the ticket price and we didn´t have to cycle to Daisys relief) to the National Park for the boat ride to the SV Marija monastery. Nice place, quite small. Even though there were many signs saying ´no smoking´ and ´no swimming´ noone was taking any notice. So Steve went for a swim and it was even colder than we had previously experienced.

Got the minibus back to Polace and said goodbye to the National Park, quite sad as it was so beautiful but we are both looking forward to taking people there.

A restaurant man had been hounding us everyday to go to his for a meal. Everything on the island is cooked ´under the bell´but this guys prices were more than anyone elses so we had been trying to say no politely. It was 390 kuna for a 1kg of fish. Not including vegetables and drinks! So we said we didn´t have enough money. He asked us how much we had which was 340 and he agreed to do the fish, vegetables and homemade wine for us.
It was food to die for! We have pictures. 3 full fishes, with potatoes, carrots, leeks, courgettes and half a litre of homemade white wine, sat by the sea. We love this island very much!
The one downfall was Daisy getting sneezed on from the next table. Literally a face full, she laughed it off.

The stars were out again so we went for a walk to appreciate our last night.

We woke up and packed for 10am but we had not seen our hosts since we arrived and it turned out that we could have the room for the rest of the day as they had two spare ones for guests. This was brilliant news as the ferry back to Dubrovnik wasn´t until 4.55pm. We relaxed by the hotel all day, played cards and ate with a little money that we had left.

We got back to Dubrovnik after a fairly choppy ferry ride and walked back up to Anka´s this time knowing exactly where we were going! The room we had stayed in before was taken so they put us in the apartment downstairs. Our own shower room and kitchen. Again, no faults with this place.

We went into the old town for dinner and went for a drink or two. SAme busy, touristy town so not too much more to report on it.

The next day, we left our bags with Anka and we went to a really good exhibition about war photography around the world. For 30kuna (3pounds) we went in and it was really good. Definitely recommend it. Some very hard hitting but true images.

The old town has a different and busier feel to it than the evenings we had been and we found it to be too much. We had decided to go to Split as a slight diversion and we had time and it was really worth it.

We got the bus from Dubrovnik at 16.30 and arrived after 8pm, LONG journey and Steve was very bored. Checked into our hostel (only a 5minute walk, which we were so happy about) and it ended up being full so they put us in our own private room for the same price, but there was no kitchen. It was really close to everything we needed though so this was a bonus.

The old town here is simiar to Kotor and Dubrovnik with the walls and gates but it has a different feel to it. Not as touristy as Dubrovnik but its more lived in and homely almost. We went for some dinner and then for a few drinks. The vibe was really good and we had a great time exploring the lanes, alleys and couple of bars.

The next day, we went for a walk to see the shops and it was great, the old town is full of little shops. Even though there isn´t too much to actually go and see like museums-it was really nice to just sit down and watch people go past. Split really has a buzz to it.

Our next stop was Mostar, so we brought our tickets and went for the bus at 3.10pm. Going into Bosnia, we didn´t feel too much of a change, just the car number plates.

Posted by daisyaj 09:09 Archived in Croatia Tagged lizards park national croatia dubrovnik split mjlet polace Comments (0)

The oh so beautiful country of Montenegro

The country that we both fell in love with!

sunny 29 °C
View Train travel around Eastern Europe on daisyaj's travel map.

On the bus to Kotor, it was full of people going on holiday from Serbia. We got the bus at just after 9 and there was a party of youngsters already on the beer.

The bus journey was beautiful, we took so many pictures on this route. Daisy read in the Lonely Planet guide of Eastern Europe that there were bears and wolves here-so eyes were peeled as we went through the mountains and passed rocks and massive amounts of greenery.

We went through Budva on the bus ride and we were pleased that we didn´t stop here. It looked like a resort town with party people.

We arrived in Kotor bus station surrounded by mountains on every side and began the walk to the hostel. Daisy managed to fall over and scrape various areas of the body, probably due to the massive weight of unnecessary clothes on her back! Steve was adamant that he knew where he was going, but Daisy wasn´t too sure. Steve was right and we entered the Stari Grad (Old Town) of Kotor, it was again-beautiful, a real change from Belgrade. Lots of stone buildings and no cars, just tiny passageways to meander through. In the entrance was a dressed up man who we thought to be a mayor or somebody important (more on him later) and he said ´You need Montenegro Hostel?´and he showed us the way and it did look very complicated.
We checked in and shown to our room. We decided to do the rafting tour and so booked on that for the following day.

In the afternoon we wandered around the old town, and recommended by the guide book-we didn´t take a map and we got lost. Best advice-good ol Lonely Planet! We came across the entrance to the fortress which is 1350 steps up the side of the mountain. It was 2.30 in the afternoon, solid sun and we thought this would be a good idea!! More fool us. Daisy was really weak and had to stop several times. Steve was like the personal trainer ´right you can break at those trees up there´. We made it to the top and an amazing view over the Bay of Kotor. There is a marina in Kotor that houses several very posh yachts and at this point there was a big cruise ship which had docked, thing is you had to marvel at the Captain for getting it there in the first place as the Marina was quite small!

That evening we went for dinner in the old town and sat surrounded by the old town and overlooking mountains. You can´t put into words just how beautiful it is. No pictures can do it justice unless you go and see it for yourself.

We awoke for rafting the next day at 8. 5 of us on our minibus and we were with a Montenegrin driver for a 2hour journey that took us to the Bosnian border and the stunning Tara River Canyon, slightly hair raising. Part of the trip was breakfast included and it was a plate of hard ham, cheese and egg. And of course a peppermint tea!
Then another hair raising jeep ride down to the riverside along a rock track which had fallen in places! Daisy and American girls Julie and Amanda, had been squashed in with some Poles. Steve was with a Finnish guy called Alexis.
The water was so blue and clear. It was also drinking water and tasted very good. Very cold however! The English speakers were put in a boat with the Poles and it was fun, but at this time of year not particularly difficult. We stopped along the way to see a waterfall and it was even colder! Something new for us both and some incredible scenery along the way. Bosnia one side and Montenegro the other.

Got back to base and had a Montenegrin dinner which was delicious. Goulash soup and then a main of fish or meat. Steve had some lamb, which was really rather tender whilst Daisy opted for the fish which was garlicky but at the same time delightful. After dinner our friendly driver rounded us up and we set off for home. The bus journey home was a long one, well.. it certainly felt it. Within about 15 minutes everybody was asleep and the bus was tranquil. However. the peace was broken when we had to stop in a small town for the driver to change the tyres. This process took a while and our American friends patience quickly evaporated. After about 45 minutes the driver had finished his errands and we were able to head home.

We got back to the hostel at 8ish and slowly started to sort some dinner. We had the culinary delight of Ravioli. After our hard day we think we deserved a beer so we headed out in Kotor to see what was on offer. The first bar we visited was a very touristy but friendly bar. Daisy opted for the local vino. Vranac, a 13% tipple from the hills around Podgorica-a delightful wine, with flavours of chocolate and berries..(maybe?)

The next day isn´t really worth mentioning as we very slowly ambled our way to the bus station to leave for Dubrovnik. This included stopping for some fruit at the market, eating some banana-carrot and orange ice cream, and playing cards on a bench.

On the bus to Croatia we were still with the American girls but met a couple who were studying courses in England that related to international relations and so were looking into the Yugoslavia years.

Again passports were checked twice and we entered Croatia on our luxury bus with air conditioning!

Posted by daisyaj 05:29 Archived in Montenegro Tagged canyon tara fortress kotor budva goulash vranac Comments (0)

Day Six - Belgrade

Belgrade meets the grade!

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Hello from Beograd!

As said on Facebook we have survived our first night train. We got to the station about 10.50 to get the 11.30pm train-unfortunately it was delayed by 50 minutes so we had to hang around-Typical for Balkan trains
When it arrived, it was a shabby looking thing - the trains to Germany were much more good looking! We had no idea what to expect so we went on the hunt for our beds. Turns out it was a 6 person sleeper bunk, so Daisy ended up sharing with 4 men.
We met a Serbian man who was sleeping above Steve and he was able to tell us all about Belgrade. What was nice though was that he was really pleased that 'Westerners' were coming to see his country.
We were awoken twice for guards to check our passports, but to be honest it wasn't the best sleep as the trains routine was to stop, start, stop, start. But I think we got more sleep than we thought.

When we arrived into Belgrade we saw how incredibly different it was to Budapest. It appeared to us to be not so attractive. Our Serbian friend pointed us in the direction of the bus station as we soon saw that everything was uphill and we were fairly exhausted. Unfortunately it turned out to be the wrong way and so luckily with Steves guidebook, we managed to navigate our way to the hostel.
To get to the hostel, which was on the 5th floor, we had a go up in a very dodgy lift that could only take one person with a bag. Steve acted the gent and went up first, even with a slight fear of lifts!
We got there, and was greeted by a nice man! He offered us tea which we were both dying for-unfortunately it turned out to be peppermint tea. Not the English Breakfast that we were craving.
This was about the point we learned about the disastrious Amy Winehouse concert, as two Bosnian girls had come especially for this and told us how awful she had been. We tried to explain that this isn´t normal amongst musicians in Britain.

After we had a quick sleep, we went and explored Belgrade and one of the first things to strike us was how friendly everyone was!! Not everybody could speak English so we used sign language to get food or request drinks, and honestly they couldn´t have been nicer. We loved this aspect as in Budapest, many could be rude.
We went to get our tickets for the next days train ride to Podgorica, but were told by the very nice ticket guy that there were no seats left, but if we were to try the next day then we may get lucky as they release a load more tickets.

With this out of our minds and control, we explored the fortress called Kalemegdan in the old part of town, which Steve loved as he made up stories on our way round of us attacking the fort. Daisy found this quite funny!

In the evening we went to a typically Serbian restaurant with the name ´?´ and although the service wasn´t great, the food was nice if not slightly random. One dish on the menu was young bulls sex gland, needless to say we didn´t order this. The reason for the name is that the restaurant and the church could not agree on a name, so it ended up being nameless.

We woke up the next day after a proper nights sleep to go and get the tickets for the train. The lady at the desk of the hostel was incredibly helpful and called for us several times to save us going down there and wasting a journey. It got to be past 12 and we still did not know if we would be leaving that evening-so we went to the station and were lucky enough to get two sleepers. It was a massive weight off our minds. Now we just had to get to the station for 10.10pm and we would be on our way to Podgorica.

For the rest of the day we explored Belgrade in more detail. Tried to go to the Nikola Tesla museum but it was closed on Mondays, so we went and saw the buildings that NATO bombed in 1999. The devastation is incredible. Daisy spotted some graffiti saying Necu NATO which translates to ´We do not want NATO´. We then stumbled upon a park called Tasmajdan which was beautiful, possibly the newest part we saw of Belgrade. Lovely flowers, fountains and several playing areas for children. It was only when we came across a monument that we realised it was a park in tribute to the children that had been killed in the bombings. The monument said ´We were just children´and below it saying that they were killed during the NATO aggression. We both went quite quiet, but there were really happy familes and people relaxing.

We walked back to the hostel along a bohemian street which had lots of restaurants and bars, and also another called silicone valley where in the evenings the siliconed women come out. (Honestly, it is even called this on the maps!)

When we were eating back at the hostel, we spoke to the girl working called Mina and she offered us a shot which was her favourite drink. OH MY. We both struggled. It was a brandy type shot made from quince. Possibly the worst thing we have tasted.

Arrived at the station and it actually left on time. The people we were sharing with commented that it was for us as these trains are not supposed to run on time! This time the train was even worse! A tight cabin with 6 of us, no curtains and we were warned to go to the toilet within the first 30minutes otherwise it gets horrid. And to boot it was absolutely boiling even with the windows open. It turned out that they do not keep the windows open so Daisy had to change into quite little as it was humid and sticky. One Serbian lady who didn´t speak English explained in sign that she was going to Bar for swimming, a Montenegran guy going home for his holidays and an English guy called Richard who brought us ´medicine´to help us sleep. On the bottle it said Lozza which is the Monte name for it. It was a typical Montenegro shot-but we soon found out it was the same as we had had in Belgrade. So Steve drank politely whilst Daisy made excuses and went to sleep.

Same as before we were awoken twice for passports. But at 5am Daisy woke up as the sun came up and saw the most BEAUTIFUL landscapes in the world. Tempted to wake Steve as we cruised through mountainous valley after valley and winding with the rivers, but decided not to incase he had not slept well. Daisy found it quite hard to go back to sleep but hoped it would still be like that in a couple of hours.

And it was!! Steve was also very impressed. We got to Podgorica only about an hour late, as Steve says ´A miracle!´We had planned to walk and explore Podgorica but the people were really rude and it was sparse so decided to hop on the next bus to Kotor.

We´ll leave it here for now but we will update the rest soon, fingers have been tpying away quickly!

Posted by daisyaj 10:50 Archived in Serbia Tagged trains serbia belgrade kalemegdan ? tasmajdan Comments (0)

Budapest, not a pest!

The journey so far...

sunny 27 °C
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Hello from Pest!

We have now been here for 3 days and have done all manner of things.

We arrived at the airport about 11, and it was BOILING! Two people on our transfer told us that it was 32 degrees, and there was us fully clothed. Very uncomfortable.
Dropped off near to the Danube, Daisy managed to navigate us to Aboriginal Apartments-unfortunately we were staying at Aboriginal Hostel. So in total it was about an hours walk with our bags in scorchio heat!!

When we arrived to the hostel, we met our host Dave. He is a really nice guy and gave us a map with all the info on where to go and what to do. We have this MASSIVE apartment. We thought it might be nice to actually spend the first nights together so we booked a private room, just expecting a hotel looking room but we have our own apartment in a seperate block of flats. It is on the 5th floor which we mostly use the dodgy sounding lift! On top of this we also still have full use of the hostel communal spaces such as TV, kitchen and computers.

Our first sightseeing was to the Buda side to see the citadel, where you can climb up and have a view over Pest.
On the first night, we went on a pub crawl with people from the hostel - and met Swedes, Aussies who were crazy drunk, Kiwis, Americans and French Canadians. Typically also, you can never get away from home, as Daisy met two girls from Suffolk, one of whom is from Brundish!
The crawl was really good, and we went to this unique open air bar in the Jewish district called Szimpla. It's so quirky that we can't really begin to explain, apart from suspended bicycles, cars that you can sit in and fussball! Oh how the Hungarians love fussball, so far Daisy is the only one that has beaten them. Steve is fairly rubbish, in a nice way.

Day two began with our free breakfast courtesy of the hostel. Hot waffles!! We had a slight hangover, but mainly just sleep deprived. It was so hot throughout the night that we had to have the fan on full blast.
We went on a free walking tour that was recommended by the Hostel, and it was totally worth it. There were two tour guides who were young and lots of fun. They taught our group all sorts about Hungary and the history, most of which Steve already knew about.
They took us to various statues around the city and on each one the students have over time made certain areas shiny as they see it as good luck to touch them. Such as a horse representing a national hero, if you touch the horses testicles, it will make you better in bed! With a statue of a fat policeman, if you rub his belly it will get you good food.

We ended up at the castle district and after the tour you decide how much you want to tip them, if at all. We gave 3000 forint, which although sounds alot, is only 10pounds. The tour guides then said that they were going for food and we could all join. It was this amazing canteen place which served REAL hungarian food. Daisy had a pork leg with potato in a tomatoey sauce, and Steve had veal and dumplings. Both were good and well deserved after the walking.

Being in the castle district, there are 10km of labyrinths and caves under the city. We went around one and it is rather spooky! Daisy got a bit freaked out. There are some carved sculptures that are amazing, we tried to capture them but it doesn't do them justice at all. It is rather expensive to get in to, and we aren't entirely sure it was worth it as there was also some very strange art installations.

Afterwards, we thought it might be a good idea to get our tickets for the train to Belgrade. We had a slight worry at first as the lady said that the train may not be running that route! But we went back 30 minutes later and all was good. So, for 30euros each we are off to Belgrade on our first night train!

On this day, Daisy had two different calls phoning about jobs!! One saying that they do want to interview her-but due to the current situation-special measures-they cannot get people in yet. And the other was from a previous interview that she didn't get in Norwich, saying that there was now a full time position opened up and that she should apply.
Slightly stressful!

But we went back to the apartment, with a watermelon and we were put itno darkness as we experienced a blackout! Not just our apartment but the whole block had switched off. It was just getting dark outside so it was hard to see much. We went out for a beer and on return, the lights were back on.

We slept forever on this night, and awoke around 11 to find that we had missed breakfast-but luckily we had supplies in the fridge.
We walked to the Terror House, which is a museum that documents the Double Occupation of Hungary, the Soviets and the Nazis. It is an incredible museum that has videos of people that experienced this time. The building itself was both times the headquarters and so it is set up exactly as it was then, such as the interrogation room, the deportation room and the council room. The cells in the basement has been kept as they were and there all manner of rooms to break the prisoners physically and mentally. Such as 50 by 60cm rooms where they couldn't stand, the water room, were they had to sit or stand in the water for a amount of time.

After this we walked up Andrassy Avenue to the city park which houses a zoo, Hero Square and baths! We went to the latter and it was really good. Loads of different temperatures, Steve liked the 18degrees. Bloody freezing! Daisy's highlight was an old man in very loose swimming trunks and you could see EVERYTHING, made us laugh. Pools inside and outside, so being a nice day we chilled out by the ones outside.

Took the Metro home, which was an experience! A rattley old cart, that seems to go very, very fast and then they slam the breaks on. Quite amusing.
For the evening, we went to a Blues concert again with the hostel and met some more people. Learnt lots about America and the school system-which was quite interesting! An american girl managed to really annoy Steve by being rude-she wasn't very friendly at all.
But unfortunately, we have woken up with a hangover and so writing this is proving to be quite difficult :)
Today is our last day, we are checking out in just over an hour. We are going to Margaret Island, which is in the middle of the Danube.

We hope that everyone is well!
Will write about Belgrade soon, only got the one night there so maybe won't be as long,
Daisy and Steve xxx

Posted by daisyaj 01:09 Archived in Hungary Tagged budapest house avenue andrássy citadel aboriginal terror Comments (1)

packing is done and soon the trip starts :)

our backpacks are full and awaiting the flight to budapest!

overcast 18 °C

Dear followers,

It's official, we are both packed! Although my bag has more clothes in it than Steves, surely that's expected of a woman!

Earlier I downloaded an awesome app for the iphone 'Free City Maps and Tours' in which you download guides for your chosen cities and they give you walking tours of your choice. So, for example, in Budapest we have the chance to do architecture tour or a nightlife tour (which sounds alot of fun!). I have very high expectations of this app - so fingers crossed!

Last post from the UK until we get back, next update will be from Hungary so I'll have more to say then.

Take care friends and family!
Daisy and Steve

Posted by daisyaj 12:35 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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