Croatia 2019

Day 2 Travel and Arrival in Budapest

  1. Day 2 brought me to Budapest via London and although I received a rainy welcome, I was grateful to begin my journey without a glitch. In fact, it was nearly like old times. Both legs were with completely full aircraft. No one even asked for my proof of vaccination which I thought strange. Furthermore, mandatory masks went out the window; a few folks wore them. I photographed a mural at the airport right after going through passport control, but I couldn’t right-size it to save my soul—sorry! After getting settled in at the D8 hotel in the city center, I went back to the Red Pepper Eterem (Restaurant) that I passed earlier on the way to the hotel—Hungarian Goulash and a good beer from Prague hit the mark. I was too tired to enjoy a glass of Bikaver wine (bull’s blood)—maybe tomorrow.

Day-21+ (5 May—Sun) Vienna

I spent a wonderful Sunday with family that culminated at a delightful lunch in the suburbs for nine of us—Harald, my three cousins’ father treated. With soon to be 94 years old, he’s doing wonderfully. Before dinner, however, Peter, Susanne and I visited the Ernst Fuchs Museum at the Otto Wagner Villa—amazing art is in understatement. Fuchs (1930 –2015) was an Austrian painter, draftsman, printmaker, sculptor, architect, stage designer, composer, poet, singer and one of the founders of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. In 1972, he acquired the neglected Otto Wagner Villa in Hütteldorf (just outside Vienna) which he restored and transformed into a magnificent showpiece. The villa was inaugurated as the Ernst Fuchs Museum in 1988. I was full of oohs and aahs.

After lunch, Harald and I went to Wolfgang and Maria’s house for desert and chit chatting.

Here are some memories from today: one of Ernst Fuchs’ creations; in front of the museum; entrance to the museum; lunch together; back to the museum (Otto Wagner Villa); the other end of the lunch table; and finally, Harald enjoying desert while Kurt and Wolfgang look on; (Kathi, Resi, und Gregor sind auch dabei).


Day-21 (5 May—Sun) Vienna

Since the last blog, it’s been a lovely time visiting my cousin Martina in Graz and my other cousin Susanne and Peter at their country home in Kreuzberg, about an hour south of Vienna, but also saying farewell to Martina soon after having a scrumptious Styrian lunch in Langenwang. After lunch all of us drove a short distance to Krieglach where the Peter Rosegger Museum is located. So who is Rosegger (1843-1918)? Well, quite honestly, I wasn’t familiar with him at all, even though I should have been after studying German literature. Above all,  he was an author but painted as well. Well ahead of his time, he believed in a tolerant church and party-less politics. He also advocated conservation and preservation of nature.

Here are some memorable pictures (not necessarily in order): first photo at the Rosegger Museum (Peter, Martina, Kurt); next, Peter and Susanne at their summer house; then, Peter next to the 1961 Steyr tractor, that some years ago we rode up the hill for a tour; then, Saturday taking a stroll in the drizzling rain; next to last, I’m standing on the Graben in the heart of Vienna with Julius Meinl in the background (Vienna’s deli in the heart of the city)—I had a hard time believing the large crowds visiting Vienna!!!; and lastly, on Saturday, the two sisters Martina and Susanne and Peter.

Today, Sunday, it’s off to a lunch gathering with as much of the family as we could muster (9 of us).

Day-17 (1 May—Wed) Zagreb

Left Split at 8:33 AM by train and arrived at Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, at about 3:00 PM. Got settled as quickly as possible in a little apartment not far from the train station and hit the sightseeing trail a bit before 4:00. Being a holiday, the hustle and bustle of locals wasn’t there—it seems it was mainly tourists. Curiously, I noticed lots of Asian tourists (China and Hong Cong)—easy to spot and they’re extremely courteous. Although Zagreb lacks the historical flair of Split, their history goes back just as far—there’s just no Diocletian’s Palace to draw you in.

Here are some of my impressions, starting with two evening shots in Split from last night (the lighting gave it a special aura):

My quest followed the app called VisitACity— highly recommended: first was the Zagreb Cathedral and the sarcophagus behind the altar of Cardinal Stepinac who was tried under the communist regime and sentenced to 16 years, but only served 5 followed by house arrest; there’s a picture of the altar; then there’s St Mark’s with the tiled roof depicting the coat of arms of Zagreb (white castle on red background); then the stone gate entrance where people prayed before they entered the city; and finally, a statue of a serpent slayer amidst a bed of black tulips.


Day-16 (30 Apr—Tue) Split

Spent a full day wandering around Split that included a walking tour where I was the only client—no problem getting questions answered. Overwhelmingly, the theme of the tour was how Diocletian’s Palace was the bedrock for Split for over 1700 years integrating over these years various architectural styles and cultures spanning the Romans, Croat, Venetian, Hungarian, Habsburg, you name it, all the while trying to repel the Ottoman influences. Just amazing the interlacing of it all, and it seems to be stable both physically and psychically.

I also focused on the sights and smells of the outdoor markets brimming with activity. The guide brought to my attention that I saw no flies in the fish market due to the slightly sulfurous odor in the water used to clean the stalls.

Here are some impressions: walking among the Palace structures one looks down on a platform used to sacrifice animals during the Roman era; then looking through the east entrance one can spot the bell tower addition made during the medieval era; the drawing gives a good impression of how it looked in 305 AD; and this kind of picture shows the integration of new with old.

And here are the markets, the second being the fly-less fish market.

Day-15 (29 Apr—Mon) Split

Finished my walking yesterday in arriving in Bol (115 miles in all) and am in recovery mode until May 8th when I start walking again—pretty cushy! Took the bus/ferry combo and arrived on the mainland again at about 4:00 PM. Got settled into an apartment (the hostel I signed up for is out of business) for $30 a night—it’s very nice and modern and close to the city center.

My first evening out exploring the town and having dinner in the area Marjie/Mark recommended was amazing—picture taking saturation. The city center is built around the Roman emperor, Diocletian’s Palace that was readied for him in 305 AD. Every turn you make you feel obligated to take yet another picture—can’t post them all!

Here are my main impressions: first, the Temple of Jupiter was built sometime between 295 and 305, then converted to a Christian Baptistry in the sixth century; and on the sarcophagus as you enter you see one of the earliest sculptures of a Croatian King; next the Cathedral built in Middle Ages in Diocletian’s Palace, and further down a picture of the main altar as well as a picture of the entrance to the Cathedral from the main square; the other two photos show one of the many small streets winding through the Palace, and finally Restaurant Sperdun in the quarter recommend by Marjie and Mark (a family recommendation). The restaurant had a wait of over an hour when I finished—no wait when I started!

Day-14 (28 Apr—Sunday) Bol

After taking a 9:00AM ferry to the island of Brač, I walked 16 miles (25.5 km) with a 1500 ft climb over about half of the distance. That’s the end of my Croatian walk: 115 miles. Super tired, but found enough energy to walk down the hill for a dinner and a little wine. Am actually posting this the next day because it turns out that it’s not easy to get to Split, back on the mainland. I wasn’t going to opt for a 6:30 AM catamaran and miss breakfast; so I’m now taking a bus at 1:00 PM across the island and then a ferry to Split.

Here are some impressions: leaving Maskara; walking right next to vineyards; lots of cyclists on the last part of walk; my first view of Bol—I was elated because with the late ferry start, I didn’t finish until nearly 5:00PM which made for a long day; beautiful restaurant and view in Bol; here’s what much of the uphill terrain looked like—very rocky.

Day-13 (27 Apr—Saturday) Makarska

Great day, although I feared for rain, only to be surprised by sunshine. Covered 12 miles (19 km) and am nearing the end of the road walking in Croatia.  Tomorrow I catch the ferry to the island of Brac (c with mark over it) and then walk 25 km and climb 1500 ft before descending to the coastal town of Bol from where I catch another ferry the following day to Split.

I was really impressed with the town of Tucepi (c with mark over it) in terms of all the action going on. Most of the riviera is still asleep but work is going on everywhere in preparation for the summer onslaught of tourists. It’s unbelievable how many signs you see advertising rooms and apartments (I’ve been renting the small apartmani).

Some pics for the day: the sign advertises the town of Tucepi; first view of Makarska; how I felt about the whole trip, just like the car getting a wash! And lastly, some of the “trail” actually getting down to the water as it did in Tucepi. Yes, LUCKY ME!

Day 11 (25 Apr—Thu) Gradac

Only 10 miles (16 km) climbing into the coastal hills should have been easier than it was—mainly spillover from too much yesterday. In the coastal hills there were lovely fresh-water lake settings, the kind you picture in Austria or Switzerland. The welcome sign to the Gradac Riviera stopped me in my tracks because it challenged me to enjoy the beachfront, by myself. So after getting settled in my apartment, I headed down to the water to try my best at enjoying it. With a glass of wine in hand I leaned back and took it all in, even though it is a bit early in the tourist season.

My impressions: after a steep climb, I couldn’t resist rewarding myself with fresh-squeezed orange juice and an omelette (I was the only one in this bus-stop type restaurant); then my explanation as why the road was so empty (a parallel interstate route became available); one of several freshwater lake scenes; the Gradac Riviera pebbly beach (I like our sand better) and lastly, my genuine attempt to enjoy the Riviera with a glass of wine —it was very pretty!



Day 10 (24 Apr—Wed) Rogotin

After a 19-mile (31 km) trek up into the coastal range and down again, my biggest quandary: how do you tell the difference between reaching your limit and exceeding it (no, there was no winery down that road)??? It was a beautiful day and I did one of those two—not sure which. After a beer on the house where I’m staying, the young lady offered to take my backpack to my room and I never objected—that’s a sign I was totally exhausted!

After coming down from the coastal hills, the road skirted an area similar to the Oxnard Plain just filled with citrus groves. A funny thing though: there must have been 50 fruit stands all selling about the same thing: bags and bags of oranges and orange products—all clones. Yet, this is not orange season. I tried to get it out of them where these oranges came from. Finally, one came clean and told me these are last year’s crop stored in the basement! Such is life!

Some impressions: Day can’t go wrong when you start your first cup of coffee served in a Julius Meinl cup (from Vienna, of course); just let this picture sink in—a wine tasting drive-through—what else could it be??; This is what beat me up early on; the orange stand clones!