Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Traveling Summer Parts 5-8: Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes, Split, and Dubrovnik, Croatia

The colours in the Croatian flag represent the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia. The white represents peace and honesty, the red is for bravery and power, and the blue for vigilance, truth, and loyalty. The crowning coat of arms represent ancient Croatia, Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Istria, and Slavonia.
From Ljubljana, we boarded a train bound for Croatia, where we would spend the majority of our trip. Because I am writing these posts up now, I don't remember all of the funny stories, favorite moments, or traveling tips, leaving me unsure what to type on this post. Therefore, you all get to read a blog by a fabulous guest blogger- Phillip- with a few of Sara's notes added in!

"Got lost in Plitvice. Phil ate a prison sandwich [a pocket sandwich in a former prison cell] in Dubrovnik. Met an emperor in Split. Saw the artifacts of many a broken relationship [one of the most interesting museums Sara has ever been to- people send in artifacts from failed relationships with a story to accompany them. There was everything from teddy bears to wedding dresses to fake breasts] and had some microbrews [Soft Bear being Sara's favourite] in Zagreb."

I promise I really tried to narrow down the pictures below, but there were just so many- especially from Plitvice Lakes National Park, Split, and Dubrovnik. Zagreb really was the ugliest place (it is a very nice city, just in comparison) we went in Croatia.
The huge cathedral (Assumption of Mary) in Zagreb.
The cannon in the window is fired every day at noon. Our tour guide told us its the only cannon in the world that fires every day including Christmas and Easter.
St. Mark's Church (Banski Dvor on the left and Parliament on the right)
The most sacred place in Zagreb. Its outside in a little alleyway.
There are three St. George statues in Zagreb. Phil proclaimed St. George to be his patron saint early on in his Peace Corps days.
Walking down from the upper town where all the streets looked like this.
The fountain where they used to kill suspected witches.

The photos below are all from Plitvice Lakes National Park. I took hundreds of photos here because it was so beautiful. The waters change colour depending on the temperature, the amount of calcium in the water, etc. There are many great waterfalls there, however my photos of them didn't turn out as good as my photos of the lakes.
Played around with the one-colour feature on my camera and this one turned out pretty cool.

After Plitvice, we moved onto Split. We were only there one day, but saw a lot in a short time. We took a 1 penny/ 1 kuna/ 1 euro cent walking tour here. Our guide (who was very annoying in how he talked) took us around Diocletian's Palace. Just about all the pictures below are from this tour.
When we were standing in this circular room, there was a men's quartet singing traditional Dalmatian songs and selling CDs. It was clearly set up for the tourists to stop on this tour as our guide knew all about these men, but the music was lovely.
Our tour made it back to the square just in time to see Emperor Diocletian enter and speak to the crowd. A group of drama students acts out what it would have been like each day in the summer.

Split has a prime location right on the water. I never really thought of Croatia as Mediterranean until we went here.

From Split we took a brief jaunt into Bosnia (which will be featured in the next posting), before heading back to Croatia to go to Dubrovnik. Since this is the Croatia post, I am including Dubrovnik in here. 
The view by our hostel.
The view while walking to Old Town.
We got to Old Town late in the afternoon when the sun was going down.
Looking at the main square in Old Town.
The fortress has a beautiful entrance to the sea.
Lots and lots of boats.
Even a pirate ship!
Phil and I woke up early in the morning to be some of the first ones to walk the city walls. Despite the walk being expensive, we had a great time and beautiful views early in the morning with very few people.
The prison pocket sandwich mentioned above.
We took a coffee break on the walls and this was our view.
With all the windows and arrow slits, I got really into taking photos through them.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Traveling Summer Part 4: Ljubljana, Slovenia

The white, blue, and red stripes are the pan-Slavic colours. The three stars on the coat of arms symbolize Slovenian independence. The three peaked mountain is the Triglav Mountain (the tallest mountain in Slovenia). The two wavy blue lines at the bottom of the mountain represent the country's rivers flowing into the sea
 Slovenia was a country I knew very little about before our arrival, but it is now a country I want to explore more of and highly recommend people go visit. First of all, it is gorgeous. We only spent time in Ljubljana, but I have been told by many, that the rest of Slovenia is much prettier. Ljubljana is a mini Vienna. The architecture, pace of life, and culture is very Austrian (the fact that it was once ruled by the Austro-Hungarian empire might have something to due with that!).

When we arrived in Ljubljana, we met up with Phil's friend Mike who had just flown in from America. We had a bit of trouble meeting up, but thanks to the fantastic tourist board in Ljubljana, we had free internet, so we were able to figure out that Mike was already at the apartment waiting.

Our time in Ljubljana was spent wandering, going on a 3 hour free walking tour (LOVE free walking tours), and catching up with Mike. We had hoped to go explore the Postojna Caves, however decided the 40 euro it was going to cost us wasn't worth it.
Triple Bridge- originally only one bridge crossing the river at this point, but when the city grew, they added a bridge to either side of original one.
Walking down the street in Ljubljana.
On the triple bridge looking at the Franciscan Church and Presheren Square.

Presheren Square

Walking on Triple Bridge.
Ljubljana's crest shows a dragon, and it is replicated on their manhole covers. I think Pine City should look into this.
Such a pristine city.
The main town square in Ljubljana.
Robba fountain in the town square.
View down the street from in front of the government building.
Inside St. Nicholas Cathedral.
On the outskirts of the main city market, there was a flower market.
Butcher's Bridge, also known as Lover's Bridge. People come from all over to place a lock on the bridge. They then throw the key into the river to show that their love wont end.
Dragon Bridge
There is a tradition of the students who are graduating come throw their shoes here.
Ljubljana University
Another view of the immaculate streets- not a cigarette butt in sight!
Looking down at Ljubljana from the castle.
The clock tower.
One last look at this beautiful little city.