Page 9 of GregCath Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Croatia » Dalmatia » Dubrovnik October 11th 2009

We arrived by bus on the northern eastern corner of Dubrovnik and in the shadows of a huge cruiseliner: the Costa Mediterranea I think. Apparently these mega-craft accommodate up to 3000 folk. All hell breaks loose when they all converge on a small place like Dubrovnik at once. We experienced a bit of this as we entered the old town with backpack and wheeled luggage. Gawking tourists all around us and stopping whenever and wherever. We made our way to a quieter part of the city where Catherine, via someone else's Blog, had booked an excellent guest house. We ended up right at the eastern end of old town in a loft directly overlooking the boat harbour, above the old town wall, and absolutely in the thick of it without being noisy. A brilliant find, that ... read more
Harbour view
Dubrovnik old town 2
Northern entrance to the old town

Europe » Bosnia & Herzegovina » South » Mostar October 10th 2009

Mostar was described by a World Bank colleague as the most integrated Yugoslavian city before the war, and now is one of the most divided along a number of lines. The famous Mostar bridge, which we both vaguely remember being destroyed, has been fully rebuilt using local expertise and money from the international community. A great deal of effort was expended in getting the bridge to look something like its former glory of 1557, even to the point of using the same materials and building techniques, but nonetheless it looks a little too tidy nowadays. Mostar was great though a bit more touristy than we have become accustomed to. We arrived on the morning train from Sarajevo after a spectacular trip through the mountains and above the mist. Great scenery, though it is impossible to miss ... read more
Mostar minarets
Mostar in the morning
Blagaj _ 16th century Dervish monastery on the Buna River

Europe » Bosnia & Herzegovina October 8th 2009

We really enjoyed Sarajevo as a fascinating mix of ancient and modern issues, architectural and cultural sights and a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Our impressions were probably also helped by the continuation of warm sunny weather: everyone was enjoying the opportunity to stay out and enjoy a beer and/ or barbecued meats, while mullahs chant from the minarets. Many stories to tell but there were two highlights. Those who have read "The Story of the Book" will know of the Sarajevo Haggerdah and at least in that fictional account, how this Jewish book was passed down generations and travelled from C15th Iberia to the library in Sarajevo. We got to see this remarkable book - albeit at a distance because of security - and to learn a bit more about it in the context of Bosnian ... read more
Bascarsija, Old Town Sarajevo
Saravejo rose
Zlat Rivica cafe

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade October 7th 2009

After some ticketing hassles in Vienna, we made it through to Belgrade and had 6 hrs to kill. Of course we decided to make a short visit to the city. Negotiations started as soon as we stepped out of the arrivals lounge, with the first taxi offer being about ten times what was suggested by the trusty Lonely Planet. We opted for the 500 Dina option of the airport bus. Nothing to see on the trip into town through the aroma suggested the urgent need for innovations in personal hygiene. The bus dropped us in a dingy part of town where all expressions were severe but perhaps 2 km away was the lovely Kalemegdan citadel. The buildings we passed on the walk were austere and pretty ugly. Some had once been beautiful but were crumbling now. ... read more
Citadel walls

Europe » Bosnia & Herzegovina » East » Sarajevo October 6th 2009

Traveling around the Balkans I have been amazed by the range of vehicles people still use to transport themselves, their families and other livestock. Suffering a rush of blood, I started photographing these and now the best are added to the Blog as "BBB". Some real classics. For me these evoke the sights and smells of this fascinating part of the world.... read more

Europe » Bosnia & Herzegovina » East » Sarajevo October 6th 2009

Central Bulgaria was certainly a very positive surprise for us. After Plovdiv we headed north east towards Veliko Tarnova and through low rolling hills. We specifically stopped at places that at least Lonely Planet or Alex & Jill said were picturesque or of particular significance. In general this has been a good match with our interests over the years: we just tend to get there with marginally more comfort than LP's core demographic. Tryavna has an excellent crafts community operating out of the central medieval village. Superb wood carving and wrought iron work despite the plainness of the suburbs surrounding it. We were tempted to stay the night - again - and particularly given the lack of the tourist hordes. Pushed onto Veliko Tarnova and were stunned to find a sophisticated city perched in the same ... read more
Veliko Tarnova
Veliko Tarnova by night

Europe » Austria » Upper Austria » Linz October 4th 2009

This blog entry comes from Linz, Austria, where we have had an unbelievably friendly and convivial weekend with Franz and Eva, parents of our Rotary guest-daughter Magdalena. The photos will come in a later blog, but some of the highlights are these. After we arrived on the friday night, and met with the family, we travelled (by a somewhat circuitous route) to the centre of Vienna and drank a very young (still fermenting) local red wine. We then enjoyed a wonderful meal of boiled beef at the famous Plachutta. Later in Linz itself we walked around the old city and enjoyed the sights of a medieval castle and churches, and tasted Linzer Torte (s). A very strange moment occurred when we met a lady on the tram. She kept a groomed rabbit as a pet, but ... read more
Eva and Magsi, with Catherine pretty close to chocolate heaven
The Harpers and hosts at Poestlingberg
The blogger rabbit

Europe » Bulgaria » Plovdiv Province » Plovdiv September 28th 2009

Enjoyed an excellent Bulgarian Merlot 2003 before settling in for a quite night in the village. On the morning of the 27th, pushed on out of the Shiroka Laka valley and continued on twisted, narrow, barely-maintained mountain roads. Surprisingly close to SL, we came to the Parapova ski resort. This looked great in that the forest was dense and evergreen, but not so great in that it was like an outpost of Pomland inserted in the Bulgarian mountains. Pubs, and chip butties. Worth another visit though. Dropped back into Bulgarian villages pretty quickly and then onto the Chepelare district. Spotted a side road to Skalni mostova which took us deep into the mountains and near the peak of a 2000m mountain complete with abandoned/under-utilised mountain resort. Few people around and the air was cold and damp, ... read more
Mixed faith in Sofia
Rila village
Rila monastery at sunset

Europe » Bulgaria » Plovdiv Province » Plovdiv September 27th 2009

After the basic 30 hour haul we arrived in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. A city of old European architecture, mosques, synagogues and cathedrals. The day started with feta pastries and strong coffee and ended with a chicken goulash. The autumn weather is kind with sunny skies and daytime temperatures in the 20's. Cyrillic is hard to spontaneously fathom but is a necessary part of getting around. Lacking Cyrillic we bought 4 tickets each for the 2 rooms of the Ethnographical museum not under renovation. Sophia is clearly in transition or has been for the last hundred or so years. Soviet-style apartment blocks are everywhere with new smarter blocks being built with methods which would challenge most OH&S policies. Picked up a Citroen on Thursday morning and headed out of Sofia. As we drove from chique ... read more

Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Brisbane September 21st 2009

Dear family and friends Welcome aboard the blog of our 2009 journey! We hope you enjoy the ride with us. Please take the opportunity to comment on our travels and what we have or should see, hear, taste or smell. ... read more

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