Photo of the Week – Statue of Marin Drzic

This week's photo was taken in Dubrovnik. It is the statue of Marin Drzic.

Drzic is Croatia's most famous playwright. He is best known for his comedies. There is an annual drama prize named after him. There is also an avenue in Zagreb named after Drzic.

You can see that the rubbings on the statue knees and nose. Does it bring you good luck?

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep on smiling.



Balkans Day 7, 14 September – Time To Think About Pastures New

I decided that I should purchase my coach ticket to Mostar. It was going to be an early start tomorrow so it was best to prepare. It was another scorching day so it gave me the perfect excuse to walk into town.

What I like about Dubrovnik is the quietness. There was hardly a soul about but it did not bothered me. The walk to the coach station took me past the cruise ship port. Until you see one for real you do not realise the size of them. It is the cruise ships that keep Dubrovnik going.

Cruise ship making its way to port.

I purchased my coach ticket to Mostar and made my way back to the hostel. I wanted to avoid the old town on Saturday afternoon. It was full of the cruise ship crowd. So I decided to venture out of town in the other direction. Again I was away from the crowds. This was going to be a quiet day. Tomorrow was going to be an early start. It felt good to be away from the bustle of the old town. The further I walked the quieter everything became. This was the first time in a week that I could gather my thoughts.

Eventually I turned back and returned to the old town. As it was quieter than first thought I decided to take in some of the sights. Firstly I went inside an art gallery and museum. The gallery was nothing spectacular. Dedicated to a local artist it was more of a shop than gallery. More interesting was the exhibition that was dedicated to replicas of documents charting the history of Dubrovnik.

Next up was War Photo Limted. It was a photography exhibition. Not just dedicated to the conflict of 20 years ago, there were also photos from conflicts in Africa and Asia. It was thought provoking and it was the first time that I had been reminded of the conflict.

My final museum was the Memorial Room of the Defenders of Dubrovnik. While it was small I found it to be moving and humbling. I saw photos of those who died while defending the city. While reading the signs it became clear from the language used that it will take a long time before there will be any forgiveness.

Looking at the photos of the city after the siege and then walking out into the plaza you would not be able to tell that anything happened. This maybe the biggest tribute I can give the city.

As the sun started to go down I made my way up to the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola. As I climbed the steps I could hear the sound of bagpipes. They get everywhere. As I reached the top I could see a wedding party coming out of the church. The men looked stylish and the women beautiful, not that I know anything about fashion. As I made my way back down I could hear singing and music. More guests were arriving for the celebrations. It was a beautiful sight to see. It is not something I would see in the UK. This is why I travel. Tomorrow Mostar beckons.

Ticket to Ride

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



Balkans Day 6, 13 September – Oh Sunny Day

I woke up this morning with my head feeling fuzzy. It was not an hangover but I had felt better. Also my tongue felt like it was itching. I wondered what I was going to do with myself for the day. With the hostel being underground it was hard to say what the weather was like. I needed not to worry as the weather was hot and sunny.

Breakfast was a pastry from the local bakery. It went down well as I made my way towards the old town. Neno the hostel owner told me that there were two things I should try while I was in Dubrovnik. Firstly, tour the city walls and then ride the cable car. Today I decided to try the city walls. I was not disappointed. Dubrovnik old town is beautiful. My finger never left the camera shutter button. At 90kn the tour lasted two hours. Also I walked the city walls early in the morning and I managed to avoid the cruise ship crowds.


For those of you who are looking to visit Dubrovnik my advise to you is to avoid the old town between the hours of 12-4pm. You cannot move for the cruise ship crowd. They were like sheep being herded by the dogs (tour guides). One aspect of Dubrovnik that disappointed me was the lack of signs for places of interest. There were plenty for the restaurants. My remedy to avoid the crowds was laundry. It was long overdue.

The laundrette was self service to the point that nobody was there. I seemed to be doing alright until I leant back and broke the chair. Oops, I hope there were no cameras to witness this.

Once back at the hostel I was not sure what to do. Eating out was not an option as it would put a dent into my budget. So homemade sandwiches it was with potato chips and fruit. It filled me up for the evening. I met a guy from Yorkshire, England who had just arrived from Mostar. He told me that I would love it. This was giving me something to look forward to. Kelly, a girl from Belguim suggested that we should go out for the evening and get some ice cream. It sounded a good idea to me. There is always room for ice cream even late in the evening. This was also a chance to console a Canadian girl who had just arrived into Dubrovnik. Sadly, her luggage had not, the worst fear for any traveller.

I felt that this was the best time to visit the old time. It was September and the season was starting to wind down. We were sitting on the steps of the cathedral enjoying our ice cream. We noticed a couple of guys taking photos. They had the full equipment including tripods. The wives/partners were with them and they looked fed up while their other halves were trying to shoot the perfect shot. I suppose it is better than using a iPad as a camera. That would lead me to a different subject altogether.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



Photo of the Week – Cruise Ship outside of Dubrovnik

This week's photo is of a cruise ship docked outside the harbour in Dubrovnik.

The ship was docked while the passengers were taking a trip to Dubrovnik. The old town is very popular stop with cruise ships. During the afternoon Dubrovnik heaves to the many cruise parties that are exploring the town. It seems surreal to witness.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



Split – A Reflection

I have to say that I loved my time in Split. There is so much to see and do there. It is not just the history or architecture, it is also about the people as well.

Split was the first stop on my trip so I was looking forward to going there. It has been over 25 years since I had visited the old Yugoslavia so I was interested to see how it compared today.

I was lucky that my hostel was a ten minute walk from the old town. Split dates back to Roman times with Diocletian's Palace being the main highlight. This is something that is played especially at midday with the parade of the Roman Guards through the Peristyle.

Crowds waiting for the parade to start.

One of the best ways to explore Split and the surrounding areas is to hire a bicycle for the afternoon. It was so relaxing going at your own pace. It is a excellent way of getting to the beach.

When you have had enough of the history one of the other pleasures I found was to walk along the marina. Split is used as the starting point for sailing around the islands that surround Croatia. I also noticed that along the path the plagues dedicated to all the Olympic Medalists from Croatia.

I only eaten at one restaurant in Split and that was the Fife (pronounced fi-fe). It had been recommended by the hostel owner Josko and also by Trip Advisor. It is popular because the food is excellent and is of good value too. The nightlife in Split is also excellent with plenty of small bars that open to late. You cannot fail to have a good time in Split.

To sum up, Split is a great place to visit for a weekend or a starting point to tour the rest of Croatia. I am already looking forward to returning back there soon.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep on smiling.



Photo of the Week – Dubrovnik 2am

This weeks photo is of the old town in Dubrovnik.

The photo was taken at around 2am on a Friday morning. I was making my way back to the hostel from a nightclub. (No, I was not drunk)

Everything was so quiet yet the old town looked so beautiful with the lights. Funny enough it may be the best time to experience Dubrovnik.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



Balkans Day 5, 12 September – Maybe I Should Say No More

Today I felt like a real traveller as I was leaving for Dubrovnik. I had enjoyed my time in Split and the hostel. I felt sad not being able to say goodbye to Josko. Having arrived at the coach station I was greeted by a scene of organised chaos. So many people looking to leave by coach. Got on my coach though was shocked to having to pay to put my luggage in the hold.

The journey itself started with no problems. However, by the afternoon the weather had turned. I could see the lightning hovering above the coach and soon after the heavens opened. I had not seen rain like this in a long while. It was that bad the local police closed the main road and the coach was diverted through a single track village. This delayed the coach. I arrived into Dubrovnik nearly two hours late. The journey though did have some highlights, namely the stunning views when the weather was good.

View from the coach

When I arrived into the hostel I think Neno the owner was a little annoyed with me arriving so late. However, he did not show it. The hostel itself was underground which meant it felt cool and it was only about 200 metres from the old town.

I went into the old town for a bite to eat. Back at the hostel I was enjoying the company of the the other travellers. We were listening to music and playing games. It was like the United Nations with America, Belgium, UK, Germany and Uruguay being represented. I was enjoying myself. This is why against my better judgement I was persuaded to go clubbing. It was an experience that ultimately left me cold. The night had started out alright. We were drinking in the Irish bars. I noticed that the menu in one bar was offering Chicken Nuggets. In a town full of restaurants they appeared not to be trying.

The night started to turn with the introduction of vodka. One of the party had smuggled in a bottle and proceeded to empty into our glasses. Fortunately someone brought some 7up to dilute the taste. We made our way to the nightclub. There one of the party (not me) seemed to lose control of themself. The atmosphere inside the club did not feel right. I was glad to leave.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



Balkans Day 4, 11 September – Wet, Wet, Wet.

An early start to the trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park. The highlight of this trip for me will be going under a waterfall. I am not sure about jumping into a pool. All of this I believe is strictly illegal. However, Josko knows a way of doing this without getting caught.

The weather looked beautiful as we pulled away from the hostel. The scenery looked stunning. I was looking forward to this despite worrying about the cost. To reach the park it will take about three hours so I took the opportunity to get forty winks.

As I woke up the van was about to enter a tunnel. Once we came out the other side the weather had changed. It looked colder and it was now raining. We were climbing into the mountains. Wearing a t-shirt and shorts does not seem a good idea anymore. Once we arrived it was obvious that the group were looking like a bunch of unprepared tourists. I was fortunate to purchase a waterproof poncho from Poundland before I left the UK. While it felt cold once we started to move it soon started to warm up.

Me & my poncho

The park itself is beautiful. With all the waterfalls and mountains it simply took my breath away. There were plenty of photo opportunities. Even if we looked a little foolish with our posing. The park itself was popular with visitors despite the weather. So progress along the paths was slow. There was a crossing of the lake by boat which gave us the chance to rest our legs.

Natural Posing

When we reached the other side Josko took us to one side. Our fun was about to start here. First stop was the waterfall. There were no park rangers around which Josko saw as a good sign. We then reached the waterfall. The instruction was to remove your shoes and run into the waterfall where Josko would take a photo and we would run straight out. It was too cold to remove the shirt. It was a experience to tick off the bucket list. Sadly, no photo ever turned up.

Next up was the jump into the lake. I declined due to not being a good enough swimmer. Last thing I wanted was to drown especially as we were technically breaking the law.

After everybody had dried off we took a bus that took us to the caves. Every time I have travelled I always pack a torch but never felt the need to use it. That is until now. The cave experience was good. We carried on walking where we had one last chance for a photo opportunity that took my breath away.

Inside the caves

We left the park in mid-afternoon. After a hearty weel deserved lunch we made our way to the town of Knin. The main sight is the castle which was held by the Serbs during the war. Josko's mood changed when we got there. He was not as jolly. It was the reminder I needed that while the war had finished nearly twenty years ago, the scars will take a long time to heal.

The walls of Knin Castle

We arrived back at the hostel at around 7pm. The weather had turned, you could feel the thunder and lightning in the air. A group of us wanted some beer and snacks to enjoy back at the hostel. As we were on our way to the store the heavens opened. It rained hard and I was soon looking like a drowned rat. The things I will do for a beer. Overall, it was an excellent final day in Split. Tomorrow I leave for Dubrovnik.

Beautiful. The backdrop, not me.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



Photo of the Week – Alley in Split

This week's photo is another one taken on my visit to Split.

One of the greatest pleasures I have in travel just wandering around a new town. Sometimes it leads me nowhere, other times I end up in small alleyways like this. As you can see there is nothing particular happening in the photo. However, I just felt the need to take the photo.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.



Balkans Day 3, 10 September – Need to Slow Down

There was a late start to the day. The past couple of days have been hectic. The hostel served breakfast which consisted of scrambled eggs and zucchini fritters. It was tasty and well worth the wait. My plan was to explore the town and make my way towards the market.

The sun was still out so it was right to enjoy the day. Split is a small city so it was easy to explore. There were plenty of opportunities to take photos.

The edge of the market.
Outside of the palace wall
The Croatian National Theater
The Peristyle of Diocletian's Palace


Off course it was the perfect opportunity to enjoy the first gelato of the trip. Today I had Jaffa flavour. That's chocolate and orange to you and me.

Umm, Jaffa flavour

By the mid-afternoon I was starting to flag. Time to get back to the hostel for a quick nap. After waking up I decided I was going to stay in for the night. Josko was cooking a meal for us so it felt right to take things easy. Josko also mentioned that he was planning to take a group of us to the national park. I had heard so much about this from both Josko and Charles. Without too much thought I said yes. I knew I was going to look forward to this. Roll on tomorrow.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.