Croatia 2019

Day-8 (22 Apr—Mon) Ston

After 13 miles (21 km), I arrived at a marvelous tourist-laden town of Ston. Because of its flourishing salt-bed business and oyster farming (you can see the oyster farming in the pic of the bay) the city needed protection from invaders. In 1461, a 1200-meter wall was commissioned that one can see on entering the twin towns of Ston and Little Ston (Mali Ston). I tried to capture a bit of the wall.

Buses by the dozen drop off their passengers who then flood the eateries and gift shops. By sunset, I expect a sleepy little town.

Early in my walk, I came on a roadside grave (similar to the one in the picture) with a middle-aged man and two young ladies weeping over the burning candles. All were dressed in black. As he waved at me across the road, I stopped and briefly prayed with them, then waved and continued on. In that short time, I felt their grief and deeply bonded with them—total strangers that they were. When they drove off, they waved to me, and I to them. How remarkable this brief encounter was and how it touched me—it made me recall the most difficult duty I had while in the service back in Omaha of bringing the sad news to families of the loss of someone dear to them as the locally appointed Army casualty assistance officer.


Day-7 (21 Apr—Easter Sun) Slano

Short day at only about 8 miles (13 km) but started out in panic mode because both reservations cancelled on me and I had to wing it. On arrival, the first place I asked wasn’t ready for the season yet—oh, oh, I thought. Second place and all went well—a restaurant with rooms upstairs. After getting settled, I walked to the Marina restaurant where I was told they had lamb—my Easter Dinner Celebration.

First pic of typical lagoon setting that’s a common sight along the way. They say Croatia has a thousand islands—of course counting every rock protruding out of the water. Second pic is view from my little hotel room, and third pic is my Easter Celebration. As Rose so aptly deduced: “Pretty scenery, great wines, delicious food, happy people. Life is good in Croatia.” Yeah, verily!

Day 6 (20 Apr—Sat) Brsecine

Fabulous first day walking about 14 miles north on the coast  starting from Dubrovnik with sunny weather in low 70s. Had to share the road with lots of vehicles, but  there was usually just enough shoulder for me. Saw no cyclists or other walkers and the road, although paralleling the coast, was usually along cliffs some 300 ft above the water.

I discovered why Dubrovnik was overflowing with tourists. On the north side of town I spotted two 5000-passenger cruise ships parked and buses still lined up. Hope they all enjoy it as much as I did—a fabulous experience and my hostel had a perfect location.

Treated myself to a scrumptious grilled fish lunch half way to celebrate the day. Afterwards, I hit upon a serene ‘91 war memorial in the shadow of a huge tree where I paid my respects. The hosts here at the AirB&B are so lovely and attentive. The host had served in that war for three years an illuminated it for me from his angle. The Bosnian/Herzegovina Army and Navy had Dubrovnik surrounded and were trying to starve them. The city had small boats trying to resupply it at night—he was involved with that operation.

Day 5 (Apr 19, 2019–Fri) Dubrovnik

My last day had two quests: (1) understand and feel the Croatian War of Independence and (2) do side-by-side wine tasting of the ancient Zinfandel (Krljanek) and their modern offspring Plavec Mali—success! The photojournalist exhibit on the wars that led to the Yugoslavian disintegration was marvelous and the wine tasting was a real treat, something not possible in the States—we’ll see! Here are a few pics of the day.

The before and after shot from the square just 50 yards from my hostel impressed me, but also some of the other war torn scenes.

And then there’s the coup of side-by-side old and new Zinfandel grapes—what a treat. This wine bar was the real treat

Day 4 (18 Apt—Thu) Dubrovnik

Sightseeing all day, starting with a 1+ hr walking tour with 10 other sightseers—all here in Old Town. How do you cull 31 pics to 3 or 4? Big scenes not my Julius Meinl coffee cup for breakfast that gave me a warm feeling of connectedness! My hostel, within two blocks of the first picture, is right in the center of Old Town that totally swarms with tourists—at mid afternoon I had to get away from it all, so I walked a mile uphill to rub shoulders so to speak with locals.

The shore here is very steep and full of cliffs that have their own character. A little harbor at the south end was busy with sightseeing boats full of tourists.

Day 3 (17 Apr—Wednesday) Dubrovnik

First partial day in Dubrovnik—beautiful, overflowing with tourists. The cruise ships don’t help any. Will take my first tour tomorrow morning. My hostel is in Old Town—inside the walls, in the middle of everything. These pics give my first impressions:

Day 2, Tuesday, Apr 16, 2019 London

Had a good flight LAX to London, then walked 4.5 miles to the Hotel—best option to get some exercise after a long flight and avoid paying 20£ for a cab since the hotel had no pickup from the airport (only to the airport). It was a bit difficult over some stretches that had no shoulder!

It’s off to Croatia tomorrow morning with a British Air flight at 6:45am.

D-Day, Monday, April 15, 2019 LAX, California

Just patiently waiting to board the plane in the picture (Norwegian Boeing 787) in about 20 minutes for a 7:30 PM departure to London, Gatwick Airport. Am staying overnight near the airport and catching a British Airways on Wednesday for Dubrovnik, Croatia. All’s well.

D-6 April 9, 2019–Ojai

Hiked with Belle from Ventura to Ojai a gentle uphill 15.5 mile trail, starting at about 6:15 in the morning—nice and cool for much of the walk. Our destination was the Ojai Beverage Company with 50 some brews on tap—what a reward!

D-8 Training for Croatia Walk

Had a great hike on Saturday, the 6th of April with our SoCal Folks going from LA’s Farmers Market up to Runyon Canyon Park. A shell ceremony was celebrated where this pic was taken (the Hollywood sign is tee-tiny off to the right).

Afterwards most of the 37 hikers met at Farmers Market to enjoy their food, beer/drinks and above all our camaraderie.