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April 28th 2018
Published: May 26th 2018
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We had arrived in Zagreb late so managed to find the main square and have some cheese sticks, truffle pasta and gnocchi before passing out. Early to bed, early to rise. I managed to sneak out before 6am and get a good look at the city. I was pleasantly surprised as I had not heard too much about Zagreb. The early morning light was great for photos. I walked a series of parks: Park Zrinjevac, Park Josipa Jurja Strossmayera, Park Ledeni, over to the Botanical Gardens, and back via the Mimara, the National Theatre and the Museum of Arts and Crafts. I waked to the elevated town along the Strossmayerovo šetališteto to see St. Mark’s Church, then back past Zagreb Cathedral. While Ann got coffee, Riley and I took a short drive to the Zagreb Mirogoj Cemetery which was spectacular. We had a long drive today, first to the Plitvice Lakes and then on to Split. The Plitvice Lakes are considered Croatia’s top natural attraction. Cascading waterfalls spill out from the lakes and are said to change their direction every day. Riley carried his stuffy elephant (Blue) that we got at the Budapest Zoo, along the boardwalks around the lakes and we were sure he was going to lose him but he proved us wrong. For anyone walking the lakes make sure you take the trail all the way to the top as there is an ice cream shop that will reinvigorate you for the hike back down.

Another 3 hours’ drive and we reached Split. The Diocletian's Palace in central Split is car free so plan for parking away from your hotel. Funnily enough, I was told my multiple people to not pay for parking overnight in Split. You just get a ticket and it is good for 24 hours. Then you pay it at the bank. We trekked through the warren of covered streets to find our hotel adjacent to the city walls. The hotel manager recommended the Brasserie for dinner and it was really good. After Ann and Riley went to bed, I had some time to run around the city as it was all lit up at night. I explored high and low and found some really interesting nooks and crannies. We had another full day in Split so went to Bačvice beach for half the day. Later on, I visited the Soccer Stadium and had a small hike up to the Vrh Marjana – Telegrin lookout.We had another wander around the city, exploring the catacombs underneath, and the Cattedrale di San Domino.

In the morning, we had a short drive to the Salona Roman ruins. We walked along the fortress walls to the ruins of an amphitheatre. Riley was asleep in the car so we skipped Zadar and made it all the way along the coast to Rijeka. We got out for a bite to eat and a quick walk around before heading to Pula. We had really pushed to make it here as they have the most complete Roman Amphitheatre outside of the Coliseum in Rome, and we weren’t disappointed. They still use it for shows and events. We walked through town, circling the main fortress in the middle. We saw the Arch of the Sergii and the Temple of Augustus before stopping at the playground in Park Franje Josipa I. We drove on to Portoroz, near Piran in Solvenia. We stayed a big hotel complex where they put all the guests together in one hotel no matter which one you had booked. It had a big swimming pool with waterslides to Riley liked it a lot. We tried to go to Piran the next morning but they made it really difficult to visit if not on a tour bus so we chose to miss it and head straight to the Postojna Caves. This was a highlight as we took a little train 4 kms underground to see the majestic rock formations. We continued up the road to Predjama Castle which is built right into a cave on the side of the mountain. Riley’s favourite part was a contingent of knights that gave him high fives on the way out. We had just enough time to drive up to Ljubljana for a look at the capital of Slovenia. Riley fell asleep so Ann and I took turns. We saw the old town centre, Congress Square, Ljubljanica River, Tromostovje - Triple bridge, Dragon Bridge and a quick hike up to Ljubljana Castle. Ann found the entrance to the cells and I found the stairs to the castle walls. We even got to see an outdoor wedding. But it was time to leave as we still had a drive over the Italian border for our cheap hotel in Manzano. Almost everywhere was closed so we had Chinese food for dinner. We were about to begin the last leg of our trip through Italy back to Switzerland.

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