|The sweet view from my dentist's office.|
|"Trying Tennis": It was hard to play tennis when Molly would continually chase, and often catch, the ball thereby halting the game.|
The other diversion on April 1st was our interview with Eric Hemingway who hosts the Family Adventure podcast. Vincent arranged for us to be interviewed. In order to get a wifi connection at the campground and call via Skype, we had to sit in the Prius near the wifi router. It was a less than ideal location given we had a campground security person trying to message us during the call. After the call ended and we were ready to move the Prius back to our campground, Vince couldn't start the car. The battery was dead. This was the second time we killed the battery. Vince found someone at the campground who was able to help jump start our car and then he went out and purchased a bottle as a token of thanks.
|Meanwhile 3 hours later, the boys were still at it. Paul's shoes had gotten soaked in the previous round so he had improvised footwear with tea towels covered in plastic bags. I was not pleased about the additions to our laundry that day.|
April 3rd was spent dropping Vincent and Paul off at Zagreb International, then working on the blog while James did school work and Sarah spent most of the afternoon avoiding home work. Later on, I picked Mother up at the airport and then we all spent the rest of the day catching up with her.
On April 4th, James, Sarah, Mother and I took a taxi to Trg bana Jelačića (named after Ban Josip Jelačić) which is Zagreb's main square in the Gornji Grad (upper old town). Taking a taxi with 4 passengers (30-40 kuna, depending on the driver) was about the same cost as taking a tram or bus and a lot more straightforward.
We walked across the Trg bana Jelačića and then through the Dolac which is the most visited and the best known farmer's market in Zagreb.
|Pretty spring flower arrangements sold at the Dolac (farmers' market) for the equivalent of a dollar or two.|
|The Dolac with the St Mary's Church clock tower in the background.|
|The cathedral is the tallest building and is truly a exquisite landmark in Zagreb. It is dominated by two neo-Gothic spires. The cathedral is undergoing a major exterior refurbishment.|
|Many intricate and elegant details on the exterior of the cathedral.|
|The interior was beautiful. It had been a long time since I'd been in a church that hadn't been destroyed by a recent war and later refurbished (often in a simpler fashion).|
|Blessed Virgin Mary And Four Angels Fountain located on the square in front of the cathedral. It was built by the Austrian sculptor, Anton Dominick Ritter von Fernkorn in 1873.|
|Close up of the beautiful ceiling.|
|James and Mother enjoyed catching up while Sarah tried out the saucer swing.|
|Watch out Mom. That lizard's going to get you!|
|Beautiful inlaid floor depicting a map of Zagreb in the 19th century section.|
|Colorfully painted shooting targets can also be found in the 19th century section.|
|As we got closer to modern day, the scary 1930s era hair perm machine was on display.|
|James and Mother walking through the Stone Gate: It is the eastern gate to the medieval Gradec section of Zagreb.|
|St George and the dragon statue located by the Stone Gate: The original location of this statue was in Mallnitz, Austria, in front of Villa Liebermann and was given as a gift to Zagreb in 1937.|
|"A hamburger toy (2011-12): His dog left more traces behind than he did."|
|"A wedding gown (2003-10): After big words and little action, he spent more and more time talking and less and less time acting. I paid for it all fair and square: both my wedding gown and his bank loan."|
|"A champagne cork: I was due to get married on 6th August, 2011, but discovered 6 months ago that my fiance was cheating on me. This is the cork from the champagne I used to celebrate my lucky escape."|
|St Mark's Church: It's colorful tiled roof, depicting the Croatian, Dalmatian and Slavonian coats-of-arms and also the Zagreb city emblem, makes this Gothic church one of Zagreb's most recognized buildings.|
|Zagreb is another city where people are trying to launch the "love locks". Here, overlooking Gornji Grad with the St Mary Church tower and the twin spires of the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the background.|
|Tkalčićeva Street: This is where people go for nightlife in Zagreb.|
|A very cool water display in front of a plumbing fixture shop on Tkalčićeva Street. Not sure how many faucets they sell but I bet every kid that walks by is fascinated by the running tap on display.|
|Route B started off with this view. We then took a switch-back path down the hill to the lower lakes below.|
|The various routes through the park are well-marked.|
Veliki slap, the Great Waterfall.
|On a sunny day, we would have spent more time to pause to take in the beauty around us and the crystal clear water.|
|It was easy to spot fish when one wasn't focused on not tripping and staying upright.|
|Prior to the cloud burst, the lake was like a sheet of glass. Not anymore.|
|Walking along the ridge of the east side of the canyon, we were rewarded with this view.|
|On the final walk, one can see the wooden paths from the first segment of route B.|
|And a last look at the coast-line along which we walked earlier in the day.|
On April 7th, we woke up to prospects of a much improved day. One couldn’t be confident it wouldn’t rain but the odds looked better than the previous day. I suggested that we go back to Plitvice and try entrance 2 and see if we couldn’t figure out how to take a boat or train such that there wouldn’t be so much walking involved. Mother was game.
We packed up the car, locked the apartment and dropped the key off in the host’s mailbox, as instructed. I then started the car and reversed to notice that the rear camera wasn’t working. I shifted into drive and noticed the central panel wasn’t showing any information. Checked the climate button. Nothing. (That would be bad since I last left the temperature at 75 degrees when I went to the restaurant with Sarah.) Checked the menu button. Nothing. All the buttons around the console were dead.
The upside was that the mileage and gas gauge screen was “live” and the car was running. I needed to call a Toyota Service department. I couldn’t get back into the apartment but at least I was close enough to still access wifi. (At this point I realized I shouldn’t have let my laptop battery drain close to empty.) I found a Toyota dealer in Zagreb and (thank goodness for Skype) called them. Was there a service department in Split? Yes (Solin). I was given the address and phone number and later learned from the Solin Toyota service department that the car should be fine to drive and so we headed out. Stressed about the car dying in the middle of nowhere, I opted out of stopping at Plitvice. It just wasn’t meant to be.
The upside was that the weather continued to improve and the scenery was beautiful. Mother really enjoyed that part of it and possibly was relieved that she didn’t have to “walk the plank” at the park. The downside was we had no AC and the car was hot. With windows open, we couldn’t listen to any of our favorite podcasts. But I couldn’t complain. I was just relieved to get to Stobreč with the car still running. I dropped Mother off at her Pansion Rajic (discovering the lady meeting us didn’t speak any English). Once Mother and her bag were dropped off in a pleasant room, I left Sarah and Mother to sort out the details and eventually make it over to Camping Split. Meanwhile, James and I drove to the RV and we unloaded the rest of the luggage from the car.
I then popped back into the car and drove to the Toyota service department in Solin, about 4 miles away. An hour and a half later, they reported that they couldn't solve the console problem and needed more time. We discussed my dropping the car off next week, after my trip to Dubrovnik. But when they tried to start the car to send me off, the battery was dead. This was the third draining now. The battery was really weak. I drove back to Camping Split and was at a loss of what to do, not wanting to cancel the trip to Dubrovnik. With some consultation with Vincent, I decided to rent a car and drop the Prius off at the Toyota service the next morning, assuming the car started again that is.
With our plan set for the next day, we ate dinner at Camping Split's on-site restaurant, Horus, and then retired for the night. It was a long day.
On the morning of April 8th, I was very relieved to start the Prius and delivered it to the Toyota Solin service department. A Toyota employee then drove me to Thrifty Rent-a-Car in downtown Split, where I drove off in a second Renault Twingo. (The first one had no power for the GPS, which was critical for navigation.) I picked Mother up at Pansian Rajic and then James, Sarah and Molly at the RV. The Twingo (as the name kind of implies) was tiny and we were packed in pretty tightly. By 12:30, we were off to Dubrovnik. Once again, we drove on the A1 to save time. Despite being Croatia's major highway, the scenery is outstanding as is the quality of the road. The US and Canada could take a lesson or two from the Croatians on how to build a great highway.
We made good time and arrived in Dubrovnik a little past 16:00. We got settled into our Apartment White Rabbit and then walked two-thirds down towards the old town to get dinner. I didn't want to make Mother walk all the way down just for dinner. We had a mediocre meal and then made our way back up to the apartment for the night.
On April 9th, we woke to rain. Bleh. We waited to see if it would clear up, but it never did. We spent the whole day in the apartment. The kids and I ran out a couple times to get food supplies and walk the dog but that was about it. James and Sarah were thrilled to find American television shows broadcasting and so they had zero drive to leave. Since we don't even have cable tv at home, this was a big deal. And yes, I even started to get drawn into NCIS and The Mentalist which, until now, I'd never seen.
|Walking to the Konzum for dinner supplies, I could see a break in the clouds at sunset. I had big hopes for much better weather the next day.|
On April 10th, we woke to a perfect sunny day. (Thank goodness!) We walked down to the old city and, after exchanging some money, we walked the old town walls. There were many more people doing the same, but not too many to take away from the experience. Mother really enjoyed it as did the kids and I on our second round.
|It's a quite a walk down to the old town from the White Rabbit. Over 500 steps, at least. I thought Mother would be okay going down and we'd take a taxi back.|
|Note the abbreviation for the US, SAD.|
|We last walked these walls on February 7th. Two months later, they were still repairing the roof of the Franciscan Monastery, the same side no less!|
|A view looking back at Fort St Lawrence. This is the image on a beautiful sunny day. To see the same shot on a cloudy day, refer back to the previous blog covering Croatia found under February 2014.|
|Walking around the wall, one passes by the yard of a school. Lucky kids with the awesome location!|
|Creative use of a guillotine.|
|Old town harbor: In posting this, I now notice the red submarine. We should have taken that instead of the open air boat trip we took the next day; we would have been a lot drier.|
|Dubrovnik is the home of Eastern Europe's third oldest pharmacy which dates back to 1317 and is still in operation today. We stopped in here and I made a purchase.|
|On our walk towards the hotel, we encountered yet another one of these "love lock" displays.|
|We sat on the hotel terrace overlooking the Miramare Bay and this was our view. We had a drink and decided the atmosphere was so pleasant that we'd stay on for dinner.|
We walked down to the old town and had lunch again at the Dubravka 1836 restaurant. As written above, the meal was a let-down. So many restaurants in Dubrovnik (and Croatia as a whole) are a hit or miss. The difference with Dubrovnik is that restaurants charge western European prices due to the influx of cruise ships and tourists who expect (are willing) to pay high prices. So paying high prices for a mediocre or bad experience is a much bigger issue than the cheaper fare in other parts of the country.
|While we were waiting (for what seemed like forever) for lunch, I took this photo of the town walls overlooking the Adriatic.|
|Leaving the protection of the harbor.|
|The glass bottom was segmented into about 18" x 24" windows. Unlike the Caribbean, there wasn't much to see short of rocks. James spotted a sunken boat and tire.|
|It was after this photo was taken that the wind picked up and the boat started getting tossed around. The end result is that Mother, sitting in the bow, got drenched.|
|Our view while we had a drink before our ascent back up to our White Rabbit apartment.|
|During Mother's visit, Molly worked her way into an even better travel position, now on Mom's lap in the front passenger seat. Are you comfortable yet Molly? Not quite.|
|Now she's comfortable. At least someone was.|
|Driving the D8 along the Dalmatian coast is a bit like driving the Amalfi coast but without the graffiti and garbage along the way. Maybe it's not quite as dramatic but it's pretty close.|
|Along the way, we stopped at Tucepi for a break. Here's a photo of the harbor which was pretty typical of the towns we saw along the coast.|
|I pulled over at a couple view points along the way but never seemed to stop at the ones that showed the really dramatic scenery. This is all I've got to share which by many measures is still pretty spectacular.|
Anyway, after spending an hour or so trying to at least catch up with the blog's chapter on a return to Croatia, Mother and I drove into Split for lunch. Like Dubrovnik, visiting Split in April vs January was a very different experience. The promenade was busy and every cafe along the waterfront was now open and bustling with business. I was beginning to think that Croatia, like many European countries would not be great a destination during the summer due to the crowds.
|Strolling the Obala Hrvatskog Narodnog Preporoda (which literally means Ivory Croatian National Revival) along the water. What a name!|
|Bajamonti is a good restaurant choice in Split.|
On April 14th, I had to return the rental car and pick up the Prius at the Toyota Service in Solin. They replaced the battery and by doing so brought life back to the center console. They were a super shop with which to deal and I'd certainly recommend them.
I then drove back to Camping Split and picked up Mother to drive to Trogir for lunch. It was a most perfect day and we had a lovely lunch on the Obala bana Berislavica overlooking the water.
|Our pleasant lunch situation on the Obala bana Berislavia in Trogir.|
|Unlike when we were last in Trogir in January, many shops, restaurants and sobes were open for business.|
|Sarah required the least amount of attention of all of us. Baffling.|
We arrived to our Petros apartment (this time $77 and €10 for parking...same apartment and parking spot, different prices) and checked in. We later walked over to Cro, that pretty good neighborhood restaurant, near the Hotel Panorama, and then retired for the night.
On April 16th, I dropped Mother off at Zagreb International and, later in the day, collected Vincent and Paul. The rest of the day was spent working on the travel blog which was increasingly becoming my nemesis.
On April 17th, we left Petros Apartments and drove back the familiar 4 hour drive to Camping Split.
On April 18th, it was time to leave Camping Split. Having stayed there off and on since January 18th it felt a bit like leaving home. I really liked the campground, the location and the staff there. Everyone was friendly and helpful. As we left, they were still making major improvements to the landscaping. While already beautiful, it will be a true 4-star location a few months down the line. This was one place to where I'd like to return.
|A last shot of our peaceful campground bay before leaving.|
|The final dumping of tanks before departure: Paul always seemed to be in the "managerial" role while James got the lousy end of the job.|
|I'll miss our wonderful spot that overlooked the sea in one direction.|
|...and looked up to the mountains in another direction.|