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Dubrovnik then Northbound

Picking up the pace

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View 2007 on natewhd's travel map.

Well after a little relaxation in Brac, I realized that I would need to pick up the pace a bit I were to see the entire country in the remaining two weeks.
The bus trip from Split to Dubrovnik was even more incredible than the trip along the Amalfi coast in Italy. Almost the entire trip winds and curves around the rocks and cliffs that make up the Adriatic coastline of Croatia. From my window I couldnt see the road, and the shoulder must have been inches if anything at all. At one point there was road construction and they had created a new single lane for traffic to alternate passing. As the bus driver navigated this hairpin turn on an unpaved road I could see all of the rocks and gravel propelled from the bus tires and falling from the edge down into the ravine. Along the way I counted some 24 vechicles that had not been so lucky to navigate the difficult passes over some 200 km.
There are two places in the journey from Dubrovnik from Split where you have to cross through Bosnian territory. This would be my first taste of the tension between the people from seperate states of the former Yugoslavia. There was a definate sense of hostility between the Bosnian borbder control and the Croatian passengers on the bus. I would find out later that even though there are few problems between Bosnia and Croatia, there are hundreds of years of history between the two dating back long before Yugoslavia and the Homeland War.
Dubrovnik is famous worldwide as the walled city on the Adriatic. Three sides of the old town are bordered by the adriatic sea with only a drawbrdige entrance frm the land. The city has been written about in literature for hundreds of years, and is also rembered for the massive bombing at the hand of the Serbians during the Homeland war in December, 1991. There are still some remnants of the destruction in the form of walls in the process of resconstruction, and memorials of lost town jewels such as famous works of art, etc.. The houses and buildings mark the areas of the bombing by the distinctly different colored tile roofs on the areas they were hit. Other than that, the war is a memory that most Croatians want to forget, and when the topic arises its best to keep your opinions to yourself.
Unfortunately all of this attention has also attracted a wave of tourism. Even during the off season the streets are flooded by day with Cruisline stop overs, adnd tourist from all over the world. This caused the city to loose quite a bit of its appeal in my eyes. I did however, discover a great travellers bar full of backpackers and travellers from all over Europe and America. Met several great people, and enjoyed my fair share of the Dubrovnik nightlife experience.
After three days I decide to head north to Krka National Park which is located near a city called Šibenik. Famous for the Krka River Canyon and picturesque waterfalls, I decided it was time to start enjoying some of the inland territory as well.
I was equal parts impressed and disappointed by the National Park at Krka. The spectacular views of the falls and the rivers were spoiled a bit by the souvineer shops and cafe restaurants at every turn. I looked for opportunities to branch off on a trail or find some peace from the masses. I found a little trail leading over the side of a hill with a nice view of the more tranquill part of the river. Caught a nice break headed back to Šibenik and then on to Zadar.

Posted by natewhd 23:52 Archived in Croatia Comments (5)

Central and Southern Dalmatia

Croatias Pride and Joy

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View 2007 on natewhd's travel map.

First of all, Thank You to everyone who took the time to send me Happy Birthday wishes by email. It was quite a surprise to open my email today to so many e cards and emails.
so back to the boat from Italy to Split
There was something calming and satisfying about leavaing Italy in the late afternoon and arriving in Croatia in the morning. My original plans had been to travel down the Adriatic coast of Italy to Bari, then take the ferry to Dubrovnik. However, I became impatient with Italy and decided to make the early move from Ancona to Split. The best part was that I didnt know a thing about Split. So my expectations were zero.

The first thing that struck me when I arrived was the immense difference in hospitality between the Croatians and the Italians. I was greeted at the boat dock by several older Croatian women offering Sobe or Rooms at a reasonable price. (This would become a staple of my accomodation in Croatia) I chose one and followed her back to the family apartment where she showed me to my room. Afterwards her and her husband invited me to morning coffee, turkish cofee freshly prepared. It was only 8am but I was feeling good so I went for a shower and to explore the town. They wouldnt let me leave without taking a sip of Croatian plum brandy, a traditional sharing between Croatians and there guest. 8 am or not I had a few sips, bumbčled thrpough some rough conversation and went on my way.

The city center of Split is the old Diocletian Palcae that the Roman Emperor had contructed in 300AD. It was later used as a Roman Army fortress and later inbaited by the people of Salona when thay were forced to flee there city in the 7th century. This is ironic because the Salonians were persecuted by Diocletian himself who personally saw to the execution of the Martyr Domin and all of his followers. There are still Salonians living in the palace to this day. even though a UNESCO world heritage site, this palace is far from preserved. The locals fraternize bars and restaurants, stores and shops. There are lots of great pubs and night life throughout the palace. The whole time I just couldnt wrap my mind around having a few beers in a 1700 year old palace.

I actually got stuck in Split for a little longer than planned. I met some great people including a young fotographer named Ivana. In the pub where I met Ivana, she has managed to decorate all of the walls were here signature photos of black and white nudes. Also the owners of a great restaurant who had met on a Croatian Yacht sailing around the world, made for lots of great conversation. By my last day, I coulčdny walk through the center without being greeted by people I had met. Its a big city but the center is small and you see everyone there. All in all I could have easily stayed for quite a while, but I was feeling the pinch of a May 9th departure from Munich and I decided to press on.
Heres a good shot of a typical alleyway in Split passing through Diocletians palace. Late a night and after a few, well, you can imagine
So I headed off to the Isalnd of Brac for a little relaxation where I rented a one bedroom apartment for $12 a night. Got in some good R and R and headed for Dubrovnik

Posted by natewhd 04:47 Archived in Croatia Comments (6)

South Tyrol

Not Really Italy

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There is some conversation to be had in discussing the difference between travel and vacation. The first two weeks of this trip were definately vacation. What followed was starting to feel much more like travel.

I made up my mind Friday night that some time in the mountains would be just what the doctor ordered to clear my mind and provide the relaxing atmosphere I was looking for. I absolutely found it in the Dolomites of South Tyrol. I knew from the first 20 minutes of the train ride that I had made the right choice. The window of the train could not have really done the view justice but it was breathtaking nonetheless. We passed through old Italian villages carved into the rocky mountainside, vineyards as far as the eye could see. Then everything started to change.

I knew I wasn't in Italy anymore when I started to recognize the distintly Bavavrian architecture. The signs were all in German now. We passed by a lake, and families of blonde haired fair skinned children were chasing eachother around the shores. I didn't know anything about South Tyrol before I got there, but I was about discover an ironic example of colonization in modern day Western Europe.

The people of South Tyrol used to have their own quiet settlement at the foothills of the Austrian Alps near Switzerland, but that was 400 years ago. They were eventually assigned to Austria, and then after World War 2 to Italy. A brief trip to Bolzano will reveal that they don't consider themselves Italian at all, they don't even recognize the language. Italians even told me they don't feel welcome there, and the Tyrolese are desperately clinging to the remnanats of their culture. The town of Bolzano is losing the battle, but the nearby mountains have still preserved what they can. I took a visit to see for myself.

On Sunday I took the cable car up to the top of nearby Mt. Rittenbaun. There were men dressed in customary green vest and hats and women in traditional overall style farm dresses returning home form Church. The restaurants were serving uo sausages and rump roast, and white wine was staple drink of the afternoon. All along the mountainside are vineyards, not professional but private. These vineyards are for the families that occupy the land and their guest. A few restauranteers have started bottling their own wine as well, but it is mostly private.

The mountains surrounding Bolzano or Bolzen are littered with ruins of old Bavarian castles, hiking trails, lush green valleys, land pyramids, and breathtaking views of the Dolomites. I have limited storage space, but I've posted a couple photos here.

After two relaxing days in South Tyrol I decided to move on to Verona. I had plans to spend another week in Italy travelling the Adriatic Coast but that was all about to change. I discovered a book store in Verona selling Lonely Planet travel guides for Croatia. After some reading I went to bed early and made my plans to head for the coast in the morning. After a hearty breakfast and some good conversation with the owner of the bed and breakfast I was on my way. I arrived in Ancona in the afternoon and caught the next ferry boat across the Adriatic to Croatia. I was leaving Italy and heading to Croatia. All of the sudden my dreary day of train travel and endless walking took a new turn into optomism.

Posted by natewhd 09:08 Archived in Italy Comments (0)


A Fast start

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View 2007 on natewhd's travel map.

I will have start this blog with a few apologies. My goal was to update every two weeks, but that has proven more difficult than I thought for a variety of reasons. The second will be for puncuation, as I am always writing from foriegn countries and foriegn keyboards, you will just have give me a pass. So here I am 23 days in, and in my second country posting my first update.

Well this race started as more of a sprint than a marathon. Just one week before I left, my brother organized a fanatastic going away party and and just an awesome weekend of great company. Following I spent the rest of my final week, donatining items to charity, selling off what I could and consolidating my belongings into a 5' x 8' storage pod.
All of that frantically accomplished by Friday, or plane took of on Saturday for Venice.

I spent the first two weeks of my travels with my brother, and two other friends Dave and Matt. We managed to pack a lot of adventure into those two weeks including visits to Venice, Paderno, Bassano, Florence, Rome, Pompei, Sorrento, and Amalfi. The most memorable times however were not the Collosseum, the ruins of Pompei, or the stunning Amalfi Coast. The memorable times were organic from our group, and the numerous late nights, or early mornings (It depends on your opinion of 5 am). The random strangers who popped into our lives providing entertainment and comedy material for those two weeks, and many more to come for sure.

Most of all , I want to extend grattitude to Dave for planning and coordinating the bulk of the events. They were two weeks full of great times that won't soon be forgotten. Sorry to summarize, but that is what happens when you have a lot of catching up to do.

A shout out to: The girl in the samrt car and the Italian traffic director, The Roman bar bouncers, Carter, Jade for a great Easter, a $400 cheesesteak, and heey guyzzz here's to the Creepers

Posted by natewhd 07:43 Archived in Italy Comments (5)

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