Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Some Croatian Excursions

I had been told by one of my favourite skiing companions that I MUST go to Plitvice National Park. The lovely Lenny Reed had even given me a CD about the park to whet my appetite. It really looked at one point as if we might not get there as it was a long way from our beloved coast. But fate determined that we would so we joined a little tour (thankfully it was little as we're not very good at big tours….) with two delightful Scottish gels in a comfy 8 seater van. The trip up and inland was interesting for us as we'd not really ventured away from the water at all. We headed for the hills through the familiar rocky barren land where only cicadas grow, through a 6km tunnel and then out into alpine land. There was grass and trees! Big shock to the system. Our trip lasted an hour and a half as we sat comfortably talking tosh with the Scots.

Thank God the Croatians are good at preserving their tourist sites. The park is pristine, the water an outrageously bluey green (one tourist was heard to remark that it must be fake..) and the board walks all very walkable. The park consists of a series of lakes that cascade down over a height of about 300m. It's one of those places that is really crazy pretty, you have to see it to believe it. We caught a couple of electric boats and did a bit of walking. I saw a little yabbie at one point in the water, it was a reasonable size - about 15cm. Lots of fish pootling about, many following the walkers hoping for scraps of bread, quite funny to watch. It was still very very hot even that high up and in lush settings.

We finished our tour at a great waterfall that didn't come from one of the lakes, but from a little river. We climbed up to our bus and most of us fell asleep (except for Zoran our excellent driver..) for the trip home.

Our next excursion was not intentional but happened the day after our Plitvice experience. We went to catch a ferry from Zadar to Mali LoĊĦinj at 09:00. Got to the ferry terminal in plenty of time (this was our 7th ferry trip and we were old hands at it…) only to be told that 'yes, it is confusing that all the signs say the ferry goes from here, but you need to go to an industrial wharf 7kms away'. Bummer dude. So with a day to spare, Nashy decided that we would tour the Kornati National Park by boat. We climbed aboard a boat with about 60 other people (hmm, us and big tours…) and were plied with cordial, biscuits and brandy, as you do.

The Kornati National Park is an archipelago of 90 islands, most of which are uninhabited, with not a scrap of flora and some really interesting rock formations. We were unceremoniously turfed off the boat and herded up a hill to look at some cliffs. Then herded back down and told to swim in the salt lake. It was brackish, murky and surrounded by belligerent donkeys. Then back to the boat (for most of the tour except for four people who weren't back at the designated time and missed the boat, oh well, they were told!). Then we motored around a bit more and were dropped at a restaurant for a cabbage, steak and fish lunch but best of all was the swimming. The captain of the boat was having conniptions at us diving off the pier but we explained that we were Australians and that made it all okay (explains a multitude of sins really). The water was stunningly clear and cool and the pier was the perfect height for stupid dives.

Remember Us?

Jane after a morning swim near Orebic. Yes, the water in Croatia is really that clear.

Geoff giving his best Blue Steel impression during a picnic on Brac.

A variation on a theme in Trogir.

At the big falls in plitvicka NP.

Jane after an evening swim near Mali Lonsij. We have swum at least once every day we have been in Croatia.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Things what did surprise us about Italy

Jane: Me again after a bit of blog slacking. Just thought I'd scribble a few notes about Italy now that we've left it.

So here they are:
  • How really good the drivers were to us when we were on our bikes
  • How amazing the food was
  • How infrequent internet access was
  • How little wildlife, and yet how big and numerous the insect life!
  • The rubbish left at the sides of the roads and well, anywhere really
  • How poorly the Italians dress in Summer (both Geoff and I had been there in Winter before and they dressed so elegantly)
  • How constant the weather was
  • How outrageously beautiful so much of the countryside is

I think that's about all... My brain doesn't work very well anymore....

Friday, July 6, 2007

Js are Ys and the Living is Easy

We arrived in Dubrovnik after the overnight ferry from Bari and into a world where we don't even know how to say "Hello". Surprisingly, a 15 minute swat over breakfast didn't bring us any closer to mastering Croatian.

But for better or worse English is very widely spoken and communicating has been very easy. Actually it's seems easy to do a lot of things in Croatia; like finding a beach belonging on a postcard to swim at, camping by same beach, swimming in crystal clear water, eating great seafood and drinking very good wine.

The coast is dramatic. Rocky, sparsely covered hills rise steeply from the ocean with many islands just off shore. We have had two days riding along the coast via beaches, oyster farms, over passes, along roads lined with vineyards, olive groves and ancient towns.
We sent half a day walking around the old town of Dubrovnik. It was shelled badly during the war. It's a photgrapher's paradise.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A Pause in Puglia

Rather than race out of Italy, we decided to pause for a moment and bob in the Adriatic for a day or two and say our proper goodbyes.

We had always planned to approach Bari from the south, but in the end the terrian dictated that we come in from the North. We hit the coast at Trani in Puglia, about 40ks north of Bari.

Trani is known for it's Cathederal so we dropped in for a look before rollling down the road and pitching our little tent by the sea in sunny Bisceglie.

Above is Trani Cathederal at sunset taken from our campsite about 10km down the road. Below is the beach just to the south of our campsite.