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Published: November 12th 2007
Our latest exciting installment begins in the walled city of Dubrovnic. The city is spectacular, with beautiful marbled streets, stone buildings and truly enormous walls surrounding the entire city. Just as mind boggling was the huge cruise ships turning up 2 or 3 at a time and gorging out thousands of tourists to flood the city. Those walls are designed to keep people out but I tell you they are darned effective at keeping them in too, worse luck.
We decided to pop down to the newest country in the world, Montenegro. Shiny it wasn't, but Kotor on the coast was oozing charm. The little (yes, walled) town had a gritty charm that Dubrovnic had lost with the tourists. We hiked up the cliff face to the crazy castle ruins crumbling over the precipice.
The train from Bar in Montenegro to Belgrade in Serbia was a highlight. We travelled up the country over a huge lake and into the mountains. Unusually for the time of year it snowed and it looked like a scene out of a crappy disney movie. Even better, we got to chatting to some local Serbians on the train and got an insight to some
Dubrovnik Cable Car
Slightly damaged from the war
of the country's problems. And boy, do they have problems.
Belgrade was one of the ugliest and most polluted cities we have ever seen. The communist era buildings were so grey and hideous they were almost comical. After a while we began to see the gritty charm in the harsh structures and people and enjoyed our time there. Wish the people would smile a bit though.
The train leaving Serbia was an adventure in itself. The station was for some reason crawling with police and army men wielding machine guns. After avoiding them and getting on the train we discovered there was no lights and heating so spent several hours huddled in the dark travelling at a crawl. Finally on reaching Romania they changed engines and we got heating, lights and took off like a shot!
We didn't see Dracula in Brasov (in Transylvania) but in the forest we did run into two evil looking men in black robes with glowing eyes, sharp teeth and carrying large staffs. When one slowly rotated his head towards us we screamed like a couple of school girls and made a run for it. True story. Creepy Transylvanians.
of Eastern Europe, Bucharest was a rough grey place with dour unsmiling people and apparently 100,000 stray dogs. And lots of poor Roma. The crazy communist leader Ceauşescu, happily executed in 1989, left his idiotic mark on this strangely compelling city. His bumblings included bulldozing half the historic Old Town to build his equivalent of the Paris Champs Elysee (his is 6 metres longer), and his palace, the worlds second largest building, and probably the second ugliest.
Bulgaria's Sofia is a lovely city, very sophisticated with a lively cafe and pub scene, which suited us. Plovdiv was not quite as interesting, in fact the highlight was meeting some friendly locals at the train station.
However, arriving finally in mighty Istanbul was a breath of fresh air with so many smiling happy faces, and some spice in the food. What a city! The highlight may be the Hagia Sofia, built in 527 AD by the emperor Justinian and still in brilliant condition today, it has perhaps the most amazing interior of any building we have ever seen. Those cheeky Romans (Byzantines) sure knew how to build.
Emerging from the sweaty hell of the overnight bus to Cappadocia we
thought we were still dreaming when we saw the enormous phallic like rock structures dotting the landscape. We explored the churches and villages carved within the rocks over the last 2+ millenia, slept in a cave and went to a Turkish Dance extravaganza. Dan was slightly too excited about the belly dancer thinks Dot.
Arriving in Olympos, we were very excited to try out the famous tree houses along the tropical beach. It turns out the Treehouses were not houses, not in trees, and the beach was a crappy windy pebbly thing 15 minutes walk away with a 2 lira charge to enter it. Needless to say we were wondering what the fuss was all about. However we perked up when we checked it out a bit more and found plenty of ancient ruins and a very chilled out atmosphere.
Yesterday we arrived at Kaş and took a scooter today and burned around the mediterranean to Patara. There we lazed on an untouched 18 km long white sand beach. Our only neighbour was a friendly nudist fisherman lying nearby and regularly strutting his stuff to his fishing gear. Although Dot claimed his rod and tackle were not very
impressive. The sand dunes came complete with an incredible ruined Lycian city to explore. The balmy sunny weather capped off the day nicely. Turkey rocks!
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