King’s Landing – Or Was It Dubrovnik?

Dubrovnik has become King’s Landing. It seems forgotten that Dubrovnik in itself is an amazing city due to its history and position in the Adriatic.

The weather forecast claimed rain and thunder while the news spoke of forest fires around Split, Dubrovnik, Herzeg Novi and Kotor. An article two days earlier told of a forest fire near Dubrovnik which had detonated 34 landmines left over from the war. Sometimes, it is worthwhile to look at the positive side of things, I suppose.

When we arrived in Croatia, there was neither clouds nor smoke from fires. It has been an absolutely gorgeous day with a clear blue sky and a fresh breeze keeping the temperature bearable. With a disaster of a Danish summer the thought of experiencing degrees higher than 22°C is exhilarating.

Dubrovnik is as it was in 2005 an absolutely stunning city which truly deserved the nickname Pearl of the Adriatic.

However, the number of tourists has risen exponentially. This is partly because people – as predicted – are realising that the Adriatic coast has so much to offer, and partly because the city since 2012 has held another name: King’s Landing.

HBO decided for good reasons to shoot many of the scenes of their hit series Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik. As such, the city has suddenly become an icon representing not only a massive fantasy success but also a new era in television where TV-series have become bigger than the movies.

But the movies are far from a dead fish, and Disney has been shooting parts of Star Wars Episode IIX in Dubrovnik. I imagine that after the movie comes out in December, the GoT fans will have stark competition from Star Wars geeks.

According to our guide from Dubrovnik Walking Tours yesterday, Disney paid the government and city of Dubrovnik 6 million euros for shooting a day on Stradun, Dubrovnik’s main street. In addition, all shop owners received 3000€ to stay closed for the day, while for every window on Stradun the owner got 150€ to keep the shutters closed. To be on the safe side Disney booked every available room on Stradun so no ignorant tourist would open the shutters and complicate filming.

Dubrovnik GoT fever

Dubrovnik has been hit with GoT fever and every resident seems to have been an extra on the show, while Dubrovnik souvenirs feature Aria Stark, John Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. Last year HBO donated an iron throne to Dubrovnik, which now sts at the Visitor Centre on the island of Lokrum. Visits to the island have increased by 300% in the last year.

I like Game of Thrones though I have yet to see beyond the start of season 4. Therefore, we went on a walking tour with information both Dubrovnik and the TV-series. Our guide was very friendly and down to earth, who took us to some of the places used for filming scenes in the series and told us a few good stories about the cultural meeting between HBO and Croatians.

At Pile Gate he told us how Tyrion Lannister’s trial was filmed in the entrance courtyard with 3000 local extras. The director had requested the extras to yell and shout to make the scene feel authentic. But, as the guide told us, you shouldn’t tell a Croat such a thing. before long the 3000 extras were yelling on the top of their lungs obsceneties directed at the government, the economy, each other and competing football teams. An all out lively scene which I now look forward to watching – preferably with subtitles of what the extras are yelling.

I liked our guide and appreciated how he made fun with Croatia and its relationship to GoT. According to him, no Croats see the show since they are too lazy and have sun 300 days a year. I overheard other guides who spent hours analysing the scenes and discussing their favourite characters or telling stories from their time on set.

And that is my main concern. everything seems to be about Game of Thrones and this and that scene from the series. Dubrovnik has become King’s Landing. It seems forgotten that Dubrovnik in itself is an amazing city due to its history and position in the Adriatic. People are more interested in fictional characters and scenes than with the real events of Dubrovnik’s past, such as the Yugoslavian Wars. I suppose real war isn’t as sexy as that of a fantasy novel. I love fantasy, but the creativity of writers will never be able to compete with the real world and the history of mankind.

Most of the old town was built in the 13th century after a fire had destroyed much of the city in 1258. The rebuilding happened during the Venetian rule and the old town has only fractionally changed since then. Also the famous Rector’s Palace is from this period.

For long parts of its existence Dubrovnik was known as Republic of Ragusa, a city state with large independence and relations to the surrounding powers.

This lasted until Napoleon conquered the city in 1806 and since then the city has been under Austro-Hungarian Rule and then later a part of the former Yugoslavia.

When in 1991, Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia alongside Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro wanted to separate the city from the independent Republic of Croatia, arguing that it was not historically a part of Croatia. Thus, Dubrovnik saw some of the worst acts of war in Croatia’s war for independence also known as their Homeland War. For nearly ten months the city took heavy artillery and mortar fire. UNESCO estimated in 1994 that 55.9% of buildings in the old town were damaged many of them severe.

Because of the Siege of Dubrovnik the old town which had already been recognised as a World Heritage Site in 1979 was placed on the ‘In danger’ list and a plea for assistance in rebuilding the city was sent out. Thus, throughout the nineties the city rose from the ashes, as it was rebuilt as it once was and it is partly thanks to UNESCO and the international community that Dubrovnik has returned as the Pearl of the Adriatic.

I might be sentimental and all, but with the loss of cultural heritage that we’ve been experiencing in Syria and Iraq these past years, I can’t help hoping that we will one day have a chance to see these treasures again.

Our days in Dubrovnik

We stayed in a studio apartment in the old town just next to Minčeta Tower, which in Game of Thrones terms is the exterior of House of Undying in the town of Qarth. It was a pretty perfect place which offered us free access to the old town.

It was however also the highest point of the old town and demanded a strenuous  walk up several stairs which were taller than average and thus much harder to climb.

Our first order of business after a bit of food at Mamma’s Pot and getting to the apartment was the tour which started at 12.30 PM and gave us an idea of the layout. Our guide took us to the West Harbour, which is beautifully nestled in between the northwestern city wall with Bokar Fortress and Fort Lovrijenac which stands outside the old town. Framed by nature and improved and fortified by man this is an absolutely stunning spot, which we promised ourselves to return to.

Afterwards he took us around the old town showing us some of the best that Dubrovnik has to offer both historically and culturally as well as in relations to GoT.

After our tour we headed for Barba where we got each our fishy green burger. particularly the octopus burger was really great. From Barba we left behind the old town for a tour up Srđ mountain with Dubrovnik Cable Car to the Napoleonic fortress Fort Imperial.

The queue was endless and the sun was beating on us hard., while some group of Germans managed to cheat their way in front of all the rest of us, after which I had to listen to the guy talking loudly all the way up the mountain – they had off course secured the best seats as well.

Yes, I was a bitter old woman, but I really hate people cheating in line.

On the top, we got a pretty view of Dubrovnik and the coast south, but I can’t say it was worth the 140kn per person. Ahh, but as always my boyfriend strayed off the beaten path and past the crumbling fortress we found a magnificent view of the mountains, the sea, islands in the far and Dubrovnik itself.

What was also extremely fascinating was the clear evidence of the front line which ran across the mountain in the winter of 1991 and into the spring of 1992 during the Yugoslav War. At the Siege of Dubrovnik the Yugoslav People’s Army overran the fortress and you can see the trenches, fox holes and gun positions which the Croatians used for keeping the enemy at bay. It might not be dragons who sieged the city, but I find it even more scary that people would engage in such warfare.

We stayed for a while enjoying the magnificent view before getting back in line for the way down. If we had had the time and lots of water, we would have walked down.

Returning to the old town, we made our way to Pile Gate on to Fort Lovrijenac and the West Harbour. Our plan was to visit the fortress for another grand vista of the old town. This, however, also seems the favourite place for guided GoT tours to stop and analyse the show and reminisce over the character development and whatnot. But Fort Lovrijenac is worth a visit despite the many stairs and GoT tour groups.

The rest of the day we walked around the old town which is set as a fishbone network of streets with Stradun running down the middle. Our guide had told us that because of the danger of earthquakes in the region there are no balconies in Dubrovnik, but I counted two on our walk.

The old town is full of narrow streets with lots of stairs and restaurants. There are no large commercial signs for restaurants or shops. Rather all of them show off their names on similar lanterns hanging in front of the places.

There are so many tourists here, but somehow unlike in other places I’ve been the city can handle it. Despite the hoards, it is still a beautiful place to stay. We ended up at Lucin Kantun which offered different tapas such as black risotto from cuttlefish ink, stuffed squid and tuna carpacchio.

After a short walk down Stradun, we made it home to our littleapartment, where we crashed. We’d been up at 4.30 in the morning and after a long day in Dubrovnik we were deadbeat tired.

The City Walls

Today we got up at 7 o’clock with the hope of hiding the city walls as it opened at 8.00 and then to get on a bus at 11.00. I always stress when we have a tight schedule, but this morning it all clapped. We quickly found a supermarket where we bought breakfast and a bakery for coffee. We even ended up with time to spare at Pile Gate and enjoyed our breakfast at the steps of the Onfrio fountain as the city woke up.

The wall was everything I remembered and more. It continues to be one of my favourite places to visit with the view of the blue Adriatic and the cliffs on the one side and the red terracotta roofs on the other. We walked all the way around and up Minčeta Tower where we had a perfect view of the city, the harbour and the sea. I did not make it all the way around last time, so this was a wonderful surprise.

On to Montenegro

After reaching Pile Gate again we collected our luggage and headed for the bus station to catch the 11 o’clock bus to Kotor. The bus, unlike us, was late – probably caught in the line at the Bosnian border. It was close to 12.00 when we finally hid the road. We were supposed to arrive in Kotor at 13.00 but at 14.30 we’ve only reached the border.

The queue for the border was heinous and I am glad that after an hour in fifteen minutes in line we were able to drive in the opposite lane past all the private vehicles. Our driver had walked all the way to the border and got the security control to hold back the cars going into Croatia.

I think everyone in the bus felt the VIP treatment as we drove past several kilometres of cars with frustrated people standing at the side of the road waiting for the line to move another 20 metres.

As we leave behind Croatia I have only great memories of the beautiful city of Dubrovnik and stories of both real and fictional history. My favourite story from the production of Game of Thrones was how HBO, for the shooting of the scene of Jamie Lannister returning to King’s Landing, had the city government shut closed the doors at Pile Gate for the first time since the days of Napolean 200 years past.

Jamie Lannister is played by Nicolaj Coster Waldau and I can’t help laugh a little that all it took was a great Dane for these doors to be shut closed once more.

Zofka

Dubrovnik – Truly a Beauty!

I ended up on the back of his scooter with my pale legs spreading in each direction and the skirt crawling up. I must have looked a hoot, but my driver, that charmer, only added: please don’t worry, in five minutes we will be in love.

After an espresso and a good-bye to the guys I’d met in Mostar, I headed off to Dubrovnik in the early hours of the morning. After Split and daytime-Mostar, I wasn’t really up to discovering another tourist frenzy. Rather I greatly needed time to relax.

Roof tops of Dubrovnik

I was picked up at the bus station by a guy from the hostel and to my great regret I found him sitting on a scooter. That is one vehicle I do not have fond memories of. Last time I was on the back of a scooter we crashed after turning on wet grass. To this day I still have a part of my knee that I can’t feel. But standing at the bus station in the morning heat I became evident that it was either getting on the back of his scooter or walk the way up to the hostel. I must have looked quite pale as I stood there with my backpack, a bottle of water and wearing a long dress which was no way meant for sitting on the back of a scooter. The guy laughed at my expression and said he was a really experienced driver. Then he looked at my long skirt and added that it would be a funny trip.

I ended up on the back of his scooter with my pale legs spreading in each direction and the skirt crawling up. I must have looked a hoot, but my driver, that charmer, only added: please don’t worry, in five minutes we will be in love.

Dubrovnik Coast Line

While we did not fall in love the drive up the hill was actually very pleasant, and after I’d gotten used to the countless hairpin turns, I came to enjoy myself despite looking like a red blazed harlot.

At the hostel I was quartered with a Chilean guy with whom I fell into pleasant conversation. He introduced me to our neighbours – four Irish girls, who could inform me that the latest Harry Potter book had been released.

View from hostel

City walls

Despite having planned to rest up, I was quickly convinced to join the group for a walk on the city wall and a bijela kava in the centre. And thank goodness I did, because otherwise I might not have discovered that despite there being many tourists, Dubrovnik was an absolutely stunning city. The tourist masses couldn’t obstruct the obvious beauty of this pearl of the Adriatic.

Look out

We toured the city walls until my memory card was giving up. It might be large, but the amounts of pictures I took were cataclysmic. Everywhere from these huge city walls you have a marvellous view over either the centre, the mountains or the sea and islands. The sea is deep blue and the cliffs rise dramatically from the water. I wonder if the French couple from my boat trip to Kornati would have been impressed here.

Dubrovnik City Walls

While taking a short break we became worried for young guy who was ready to jump off the massive cliffs. It might all be good sports and thrilling to do, but it looked damn terrifying from our position. At other places you could see people baking in the sun – some with very little clothes on.

Cliffs of Dubrovnik

Before long the day had passed in good company and with a dose of Irish humour – and forgotten were all my ideas of resting.

We spent the evening in our residence, getting drunk, having fun and reading. I was so lucky to be able to borrow the new Harry Potter from one of the Irish girls. In the end, I went to bed and fell instantly asleep, while they headed for the centre to find a party.

Dubrovnik Cat

I would love to have had more time in Dubrovnik, but I am pleased with all that I have seen, and that I had great company during my sightseeing.

Zofka

Split Between Beautiful and Sad

In between these stands you will often hear an elderly woman yelling: cigarettes, cigarettes, Marlboroooo light. These are the women who do not own a place big enough to accommodate people. They have found another way of surviving, another way to gain a few of the money that tourists throw at Split.

I am amazed by the beauty of Croatia’s second largest city. It surely deserves to be on the UNESCO-list. The inner city with Diocletian’s Palace is absolutely remarkable.

But still I feel sad about being here. Some might have to do with the fact that most of the inner city is being renovated. You can’t even see the golden gate, while the palace is covered with wood and plastic.

The Cathedral of Saint Domnius Tower

Zimmer, camre, sobe, rooms

But my sadness relates more to all the poor people you meet. Only few are begging for money and for the blind eye it therefore seems as a rich city. But if you take an extra look you will discover the dozens of women at the bus station screaming zimmer, camre, sobe, rooms and you will see how tired they are. Some of them are smelling badly, some of them are sitting down looking like they could sleep for a week.

As I exited the bus several women where already showing me there signs and pictures. It felt like I was getting run down. I decided after several considerations about my agreement with a youth hostel in the area to stay with one woman who was a little younger than the rest and nicer dressed and more clean in her appearance. After now living in her place for two nights I feel lucky that it is not me who has to stand almost begging people to follow me. She arrives at the bus station to catch the first bus. She stands there all day in 35 °C until the last bus, unless she is lucky and can attract some of the many tourists. On her lucky days she gets a chance to enjoy the beach for a little while and have a normal life while the rooms are occupied.

Sunset over the Adriatic Split

And she is lucky. Because she is younger and better at English she has better chances of catching peoples interest, whereas some of the others stand there for days hoping for a bit of luck.

It feels so sad, the hopelessness you see in their eyes after a long day. These women are just a part of the picture I would like to draw of Split.

Split Promenade

When you come to the centre you find that you cannot see the place for tourists and shops. So many fancy shops are to be found in the centre area that even London would feel ashamed. Everything from Coco and Dior to Mango, Benetton and Topshop. And it feels wrong. First to meet these women at the bus station and then afterwards being drawn in by all the famous brands like Diesel, Lewis … etc.

Then you walk a little outside the centre in direction of the bus station. Here a big market fills up all the space. The centre of the market square and what also seem to be the old part is selling fruits and vegetables, meet, local products and whatever a your heart desires. This is Split, this is what Split can offer, and this is where you will find the locals shopping.

Grgur Ninski Statue

But around it, you find something looking like Le Grand Bazar. Streets full of tourist stands, where any teenage daughter can drive her mother mad over one fake Gucci bag after another. Sunglasses that break after two days, not-so-Luis Vuitton bags in hideous designs and Croatian football scarves are shown everywhere.

In between these stands you will often hear an elderly woman yelling: cigarettes, cigarettes, Marlboroooo light. These are the women who do not own a place big enough to accommodate people. They have found another way of surviving, another way to gain a few of the money that tourists throw at Split.

It is difficult to come with a conclusion as to what tourism has had of an effect on Post-War Split. The city was not heavily destroyed during the civil war, but the economy was hit hard and Split is still trying to come back on its feet. Thus, unemployment and an unstable economy weighs on the city.

Tourism has been a lifeline. Split is now surviving on the great tourist industry and isn’t that just peachy? Such a beautiful city with such friendly people. Off course it is.

Diocletian's Palace

But it is also sad, because the tourist industry has made an otherwise magnificent city centre turn into an overcrowded and frustrating place to be. And the locals are depending on the whims of tourists, with the local charm and daily convenience being pushed to the background in favour of souvenir shops and Gucci bags.

Flowers in Split

You might be lucky to see the real Split in the cracks of the mass tourism. You might see the old woman trying to survive on renting out her private rooms. Rooms that should have been for her grandchildren and for her own retirement.

Split street

So do me the favour if ever you stop by Split, because it is surely worth a visit, to go to the bus station and find a private accommodation. And if you are not running on too low a budget don’t lower the price too much. You might find out that there is much more charm in living in a private place with real history, than in a beach resort with 4 star hotels! I know I did.

Enough for today! I’ll leave you with a few photos from my trip to the nearby Roman Salona

Salona 01
Salona 02
Salona 03
Salona 04
Salona 05
Salona 06
Salona 07
Salona 08
Salona 09

Zofka

Day trip: Meeting Friends in Šibenik

Then he asked if it was because I was in need of money, where after he grabbed my hand and told me with a terrible smile that he could pay me money… for sex!

Today, I went from Zadar early, early in the morning to catch a bus to Šibenik and then on to Split. I wanted to see Šibenik because of some friends who live there. I’ve been told by several Croatia-guides that Šibenik is not a very interesting place! This was my reason for going there only on a day trip.

And what happens? I absolutely loved it.

Sibenik street 02

As I walked from the bus station towards the centre I started following several signs indicating a castle. For eternities, the road went up, while my backpack was feeling like a rock and I was sweating heavily because of the strong sun. But it was worth it.

The Adriatic at Sibenik

As I entered the fortress of St. Ana, the man at the entrance offered to keep my bag, while I would be further climbing up the stairs. So, light as a feather I flew to the top of what showed out to be a huge renovated fortress with the most amazing view over the city. I was stunned. How can tourist guides claim this as a place without real interest? I’ll fully declare that Šibenik is absolutely worth a visit, if for nothing else then for the view from the fortress.

View of Sibenik

After walking the fortress, using my camera with great passion, I went down to have a look at what is known to be the largest stone church in the world, meaning that the only material used is stone – The Cathedral of Sct. Jakov made by Juraj Dalmatinac.

On the way down, cruising the small and narrow streets and stairs of Šibenik’s old town, I ran into an elder rather round gentleman sweeping the ground in front of his house. I greeted him with a “dober dan”, believing that I should show some respect and friendliness towards the locals in town. However, his idea of friendliness was quite different from my own as it would seem. First he came out on the street asking me if I needed a room, zimmer, sobe, camre. I told him ‘no’, explaining in my terrible Croatian that I was only there for one afternoon. Then he asked if it was because I was in need of money, where after he grabbed my hand and told me with a terrible smile that he could pay me money… for sex! I was shocked, laughing nervously, while getting rid of his grip and kindly thanking him, explaining that I certainly had money enough.

Sibenik street 01

Children of Šibenik

As I finally reached the bottom of the stairs, I met with my friends Jakov and Danilo outside the Cathedral for a funny catching-up-chat and news about the latest love stories. Afterwards, we went on a rather different kind of sightseeing of the town centre, since most of what they could tell me was where they had gotten drunk on weekends, when they were younger and still lived in Šibenik. It was great.

Nun at Stone Cathedral Subenik

With their relatively small knowledge of the town history, they nonetheless took me to the house of the famous builder and sculptor Juraj Damatinac. Here they caught the attention of a very talkative woman behind the desk, thrilled that the town children should show any interest in the work and life of Dalmatinac. After half an hour we saw sun again and after some more drunken stories we ended up saying good-bye, before I headed on to Split!

Danilo and Jakov

So what have I learned from this stop on my trip? Never to listen to tour guides, because you’ll often find the most precious little pearls hidden away apart from the beaten path.

Zofka

Join ABBA for a Trip to the Kornati Islands

As the boat left Zadar, we were served coffee, juice and wine, while the speaker system at the boat started playing Waterloo followed by Dancing Queen and most of the ABBA-Gold collection.

I had reserved place on a smaller boat to take me on an excursion yesterday to the Kornati Islands. At 8.30 in the morning when all 45 people had boarded the boat, we went off still half sleeping, mostly wishing not to have spent 270kn for getting pulled out of bed on an early Sunday morning.

Setting sail for Kornati

As the boat, which was a nice small wooden boat (I know nothing of boats), left Zadar, we were served coffee, juice and wine, while the speaker system at the boat started playing Waterloo followed by Dancing Queen and most of the ABBA-Gold collection.

Alongside a nice fresh breeze, the music woke me as we sailed under the bridge between the islands of Ugljan and Pašman and on to Dugi Otok, where we had a look at the very tall cliffs. Though we didn’t sail to where the tallest point of the cliffs where, we were told that it was 166m, which is not far from the tallest point in all of Denmark.

Cliffs in Kornati

So you can imagine how I looked almost falling over the side of the ship gazing upwards. Unlike me the French tourists where far from impressed, stating: We have ‘s’is in Saint Tropez alsouuu and on ‘s’e sou’s’ coast of France it’s ‘s’e same. Good for you!

While unimpressed my fellow passengers were nice, and it wasn’t long before they too were gawking – because maybe they have the cliffs, but not the moon landscape islands which we afterwards drifted by.

Crystal blue waters at Kornati

Have we travelled to the moon?

It was a beautiful sight. Unbelievable. Like being on the moon – except off course from the surrounding water! We had a nice lunch consisting of an entire fish and a pork steak each. And I who haven’t really had proteins for some days started changing my idea of “on Sundays it’s best to sleep long”. Afterwards, I climbed the rocky mountain of the island, we were on. Not that it was high, but it was mainly grass, thorns and karst, which was far from comfortable with my flip-flops. I believe the guide on the boat thought I was some crazy adrenalin seeking traveller!

I’ve taken way too many photos on this trip and added the best to the gallery below.

On the Boat
Kornati Islands
Kornati Islands
Kornati Islands
Kornati Islands
The Cliffs of Dugi Otok
The Cliffs of Dugi Otok
Me on the Boat
Kornati Islands
Dugi Otok
Stone House on Dugi Otok
Dugi Otok
The Boat waiting at Dugi Otok
The Boat waiting at Dugi Otok
Lunch
The Kornati Islands
The Kornati Islands
Kornati Islands

We returned home to Zadar, where I went to a café I’d discovered yesterday and afterwards strait to bed, dreaming of deserted islands and the moon.

What a day!

Zofka

Zadar 7 Hours in a Bus, Sightseeing and a Big Computer Hell

With my camera in one hand and a bottle of water in the other, I walked, what seemed to me, all the streets of this magnificent city.

Yesterday, I arrived in Zadar. I was more than tired as I returned since I’d spent seven hours from early morning in a bus, driving down the Croatian coast. Fortunately, I sat on the right side of the bus, and had a constant and beautiful view of the Adriatic Sea, as it slowly changed colour as the morning progressed.

At the steps in Zadar

When I finally arrived and after finding the hostel, it was already past midday. The question arising was whether I should just stay on the beach and relax or if I should take a trip into the historic centre of Zadar. Not wanting to loose out on exploring the city, I chose the latter.

Church in Zadar

With my camera in one hand and a bottle of water in the other, I walked, what seemed to me, all the streets of this magnificent city. In the afternoon not many tourists had left the beach area of Borik, so I found the centre quite nice and relaxed, though with a little too many souvenir shops.

In the shop where I bought the sunblock – which I at this time really need, considering the temperature are 30+° C – I got a chat with a local who, as many before her, was happily surprised that I could utter a few phrases in Croatian and began rapidly explaining everything in the local tongue.

Women at the Church in Zadar

What we talked about, I have no idea, but I asked her for a place to eat which was good and known by the locals. After a little more sightseeing I entered the Dva Ribara which she had shown me on the map and had a nice tortelini sa sirom, which I enjoyed fully after the half-dry bread I had been making myself eat as breakfast on the bus.

Zadar Old Town 03

Internet is not a Croatian phenomenon

As I was now full and energetic I started looking for an internet café and here I would like to give Zadar a minus. At the first internet café I went into I wasn’t allowed to use USB-access. The second was at the hostel where I spent two hours with a very slow connection that I finally gave up on. I feel like I’ve spent most of my time searching for USB-access in Zadar, just so my mother can be sure I’m okay. What you wouldn’t do for your mother.

Zadar street

On my second day, I’ve finally found a proper internet access, but aye no way to connect my camera.

I think I deserve to spend the rest of the day shopping and at the beach

Sunset over Zadar

So let’s start the day and see where it leads us!

Zofka

First Stop … Pula!

The centre of Pula is beautiful. Anyone interested in history would walk around with open mouth and eyes out the forehead.

Yesterday, I left my boyfriend in Ljubljana in order to travel out on this my bildungsreisen or educational travel as I consider it to be. My first stop is Pula in Istria, Croatia.

I had feared to feel very alone already on the first day, but I soon found myself having received one phone number from a very helpful girl who, if I was in any troubles, had friends all over Croatia and was arranging launch parties. By getting this reception at my arrival I forgot my sorrow over the good-bye the same morning and cheerfully went to the hostel – which I found rather uninteresting.

plums

I decided to leave for the city centre, since I only had one day to see this friendly city. On my way to the bus I met a local man picking plums from a tree by shaking it strongly. I thought I would try out my Slovene/Croatian and ended up with a handful of plums. Already the day seemed to be a good one. I feel kind of sad that I did not have more time on my travel to enjoy this town – not so much in order to see the centre which is done in a few hours, but so that I could sit in a café, soaking up the life of the locals.

Croatian flag

Pula centre

The centre of Pula is beautiful. Anyone interested in history would walk around with open mouth and eyes out the forehead. Not only are there several Roman-ruins throughout the centre as well as an amphitheatre, which is looking much the same as The Colosseum in Rome – though on a smaller scale. The normal houses are also all beautifully made and have not seen masonry in several years, which give them a wonderfully cracked charm and character.

Fortress tower in Pula

As I arrived to the amphitheatre I had a nice talk with a local waitress at a nearby café – once again marvelling at the friendliness of people. After a bijela kava (café latte) and a bit to eat, I turned towards the amphitheatre. But not long after it started raining massively. My only option was to find shelter at the closest café, and waiting out the heavy rain I had to satisfy myself with another bijela kava, which meant that when the rain stopped I was full to the brim.

Street in Pula

I ended the day with a walk at the harbour and a gaze at the Roman forum, because what is an old Roman city without a forum. After my first full day of sightseeing, I took the bus to my tourist hostel/camping resort where I read a bit before heading off to bed.

Boats in Pula harbour

That was my day in Pula! I truly hope this was not my last visit, mostly because I really enjoyed meeting all the friendly locals.

Next stop is Zadar further south on the Croatian coast.

Sunset in Pula

Zofka