ITALY: DIAMANTE, THE CITY OF MURALS

For my final post on Italy, we visit the historic town of Diamante, a small tourist town in the province of Cosenza that dates back thousands of years.  Strategically located between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, it was an important trade point through history.

Today, the town of less than 6,000 people relies on fishing and agriculture as well as their main industry: tourism.  The big tourist event of the year is the Chili Pepper Festival that takes place in early September each year and celebrates the locally-grown pepperoncino.

In addition to the Chili Pepper Festival, Diamante is known as the “City of Murals,” thanks to painter Nanni Razzetti who pitched his “Operazione Murales” idea to the city’s mayor in 1981 and won approval.  That paved the way for established and emerging artists from all over to come to the town and paint murals on the city’s buildings.  Each year, more murals are added, and there now more than 150 of them.  I would have loved spending more time there and seeing them all, but we did discover several of the murals as we walked up and down the charming streets with narrow cobblestone walkways.

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CLEVER!!!  By the way, “Diamante” translates to “Diamond.”

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Our journey home was much like our trip over to Italy, but in reverse. Instead of planes, trains, and automobiles, it began with returning our rental cars, and then taking a train back to Rome.  The next day, we took a flight home.

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Some of our group on the train ride back to Rome.

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Ciao!

ITALY: SCALEA

Located near San Nicola Arcella (where we were staying) and along the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, the resort town of Scalea is a big draw for tourists.  The old part of town on the hill has been inhabited since prehistoric times, but the lower business district dates back to World War II.  As a result, it’s a strange mix.

I didn’t particularly care for the business district, which I found to be quite drab and nondescript.  It didn’t have the charm of Maratea, and the shops weren’t particularly interesting.  Just one block up the hill; however, was another story.  More on that later…

At the far end of the beach, past the lidos, was a nice wading area in between the rocks in the shallow water that was perfect for those who wanted to play or take a dip and cool off.  I opted, instead, to go for a swim along the sandy area of the beach.  It was beautiful!  At about 79 degrees with no current, it was a perfect beach to get in a good open-water swim.

There were also plenty of lidos along the beach of Scalea from which to choose for sunbathing or a beach side lunch.  We followed our swim with a delicious lunch at a lido owned by friends of our friend.

On another day in Scalea, our group split up.  The other gals went shopping, the guys took a drive to check out the view of old Scalea from other vantage points, and I went for a hike in the old town to explore and do photography.

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The old town of Scalea is behind Bruce.  Over his right shoulder are ruins dating back 1,000 years.

I was delighted (and excited!) that just one block up from the business district, the feel of Scalea completely changed as I climbed the hill.  Asphalt and concrete gave way to ancient cobblestones.  I was in my element, and I could feel my somewhat apathetic mood towards Scalea lift as I explored the narrow, winding walkways filled with homes that were built hundreds of years ago.  Everywhere I turned, there was something unique to admire and photograph.

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At the very top of the hill, there were ancient ruins that were just begging to be explored.  I found a very narrow and steep pathway that required careful footing, but I was determined to hike up and take in the spectacular views of the old town and coastline below.

Other than the disappointment and disgust I felt at the sight of graffiti that had been carelessly painted on the ruins, the hike up was well worth the effort.

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Soon, it was time to meet back up at Jeni’s, a restaurant owned by the good friend of our friend we were traveling with who had once lived in Scalea.  Making my way back down the winding walkways, I realized I had put in a pretty good workout and was craving the chocolate gelato I would soon be enjoying.

Jeni makes the best gelato!  She sources the best ingredients, including a high-quality single origin chocolate from Ecuador.  Her gelato was dairy-free, but it still had a very creamy texture.  It was pure heaven!

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That’s Jeni, between me and Bruce.

If you are curious to see more of Scalea, the new James Bond movie is being filmed there.

My final post on Italy will be about Diamante.  Stay tuned!

 

ITALY: THE ANCIENT TOWN OF MARATEA

During our stay in San Nicola Arcella, the seven of us in our group hopped in our two rental cars (we were unable to get a hold of a rental van) and headed up to the old town of Maratea, in the province of Potenza, which is in the Basilicata region of Italy, along the Tyrrhenian coast.

Known as the “Pearl of the Tyrrhenian,” Maratea dates back to 15th – 14th century BC (based on archeological findings). That’s old!

It is old towns like Maratea that keep us returning to Europe, time and time again.  There are always so many interesting things to see and photograph, and fun places to explore.

While the rest of the group relaxed in the plaza at a café with their coffee drinks and gelato, Bruce and I hiked up and down and all around, poking in and out of the twisting, narrow walkways.  It was exhilarating!

Here, then, are scenes from the old town of Maratea:

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Hey, Delta Airlines gang, how’s this for “Passport Plum”?

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Or, how about this?  David, your shorts are so well-coordinated!

ITALY: THE COASTLINE OF SAN NICOLA ARCELLA

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When I first stepped out on Villa Crawford’s sundeck and took in the view of San Nicola Arcella’s coastline, all I could say was, “WOW!”  It was absolutely gorgeous.  Sure, I had seen pictures (like the ones below), but it wasn’t until I saw it in person that I could fully appreciate the beauty of the place.

I had hoped our visit in Italy would be part “swimcation” and part vacation; however, as I mentioned in my first post on Italy, the logistics didn’t allow for a daily morning swim.  When I was able to get in a swim, though, it was fabulous!  The water temperature was about 78 degrees—perfect competition temperature, and the water visibility was good.

My plan was to swim around the rocky point to see the Arco Magno rock formation and photograph it with my waterproof camera; however, the currents were too strong to risk it.  Instead, I joined a gal from our group and hiked over to see it.  The views back down to the beach and across the coastline were spectacular!  For me, this was one of the highlights of the trip, and the most beautiful scenery of the area.

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Our hike began by climbing the stairs all the way up to the top, and then back down the other side.  The next two pictures were taken from the stairs.  The orange and white umbrellas are at Lido Nettuno where our group relaxed in the shade.

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Villa Crawford, our home away from home, was located on the hillside at the far end of the beach.  Lido Nettuno is down below.

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That’s Bruce (blue shirt) standing next to David (dark shirt), our friend who lived in the area for four years.

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Darshana snapped this shot when I wasn’t looking!

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If you plan a beach visit in the Calabria region of Italy when the air temperatures are warm, budget 10 Euro for an umbrella and lounge at one of the lidos that line the beachfront.  Each lido has a café in back where you can grab some lunch and enjoy the breeze and views of the beach.  If you choose to patronize a lido with a parking lot, they include free parking as well.

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Our group enjoyed our time at Lido Nettuno and had lunch in their café.  Check out their nifty cell phone charging station:

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The best way to follow up a day at the beach is to enjoy a delicious Italian gelato.  There is no shortage of gelaterias in Italy; they’re everywhere!  We happened to stop at Dolce Vita for a scoop, and the chocolate that I savored was amazing—dark and rich.  Yum!

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Nutella is popular throughout Europe, so most of the gelaterias offer it as a topping on their gelato and waffles.  I chose that option on a scoop of chocolate gelato at another gelateria one evening after dinner, and this is the huge jar they pumped it from:

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The European Nutella is darker and tastier than the Canadian-made Nutella we get in the U.S.A., so I brought a jar back with me to enjoy at home.  I’ll be sad when that’s gone!

 

In my next post, come along with me to the town of Maratea.

ITALY: SAN NICOLA ARCELLA

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San Nicola Arcella, in the province of Cosenza, and the region of Calabria, has a history dating back 1,000 years; so, it was quite photogenic and fun to poke around.  It was small (less than 1,400 residents), so the entire town could be seen on foot.  It was quite hilly, though, so it would not be the easiest to navigate for those who are less mobile.  The cobblestones also would make it difficult for those confined to a wheelchair.

For me, this is just the type of town I love to explore.  I got a good workout in while doing photography and enjoying the visual stimulation.

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There were murals throughout the oldest part of town depicting San Nicola Arcella’s history, which I found to be quite unique and charming.

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At night, the town comes alive with tourists and locals strolling the streets and dining in the cafes.  I especially enjoyed how pretty the old, colorfully-painted buildings looked with the lights shining on them.

We were fortunate to be there at the time of a festival celebrating Saint Nicola.  As it so happened, while we were exploring the town on foot, we turned a corner and saw the procession coming our way from the church above and headed for the stage set up in the plaza.  Talkin’ about being at the right place at the right time!

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Our timing was perfect as well for our 7:30 PM dinner reservation at Johnny’s Pizzeria.  After the blessing for Saint Nicola ended at the plaza, the procession continued down the pedestrian street, so we followed along with the crowd.  When we arrived at Johnny’s, it was exactly 7:30 PM!

We hadn’t done any research on restaurants in San Nicola Arcella, but we liked the ambience of Johnny’s (and the great smell of the pizza!) each time we had walked by, and the menu looked enticing, so we gave it a try.  As it turned out, it’s the top-ranked pizza in town (on Trip Advisor), and we enjoyed our pizza and appetizer very much!

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By the time we left the restaurant, the blue and white festival lights were glowing above.  Beautiful!

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Everything about that night in San Nicola Arcella was magical.  Just the two of us, exploring on our own, observing the town’s festival, dining on delicious pizza, and enjoying the nightlife; it was perfect!

Next up:  San Nicola’s beautiful beach and coast.

ITALY: PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES

We have a friend, a Delta flight attendant, who used to live in southern Italy and returns each year to visit friends.  He books the Villa Crawford, in San Nicola Arcella, and then aims to get all of the rooms rented by friends.  When he asked if we wanted to join him and rent one of the five bedrooms, it sounded like a great opportunity to be shown the area by a former local who speaks the language and would be able to show us around.  It sounded like a great adventure!

Even though we live near Atlanta, Delta’s hub and the busiest airport in the world, we knew getting to San Nicola Arcella, in Calabria, Italy would not be easy.  It would require a flight to Rome with an overnight stay near the train station, and then a four-hour train ride the following day to a town where we would be renting two cars for the seven of us.  We would then drive to the villa, which (thankfully!) wasn’t too far away.

A plane, train, and then an automobile.  After our week at the villa, we would be doing the same thing in reverse.

What we didn’t realize last year when we made the commitment was just how much flights to Europe had gone up in price!  A September economy-class flight from Atlanta to Rome was almost $3,700 for the two of us before purchasing travel insurance.  Our Delta friends got to fly free.

In all, between the cost of flight, rental car, trains, and accommodations; the per-day cost of our ten-day trip was quite a bit more than a small-group tour with a highly-recommended company such as Vantage Travel (which we have traveled with and would recommend) or Overseas Adventure Travel (which several of our friends have traveled with extensively).

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If you do go to Rome and need a comfortable accommodation at a reasonable price (for Rome), stay at the Aelius Guest House, conveniently located within walking distance to the train station.  At about 100 Euros per night with continental breakfast, it was a great value.

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The view out our window at the Aelius Guest House, in Rome.

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Another view from our room.

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Upon arrival, we walked around the neighborhood near our guest house, so we could stay awake and get on Rome time.

Villa Crawford, in San Nicola Arcella, was beautiful, reasonably priced, and had breathtaking views.  It was even less expensive than our Rome accommodation and included a fabulous breakfast that we enjoyed each morning out on deck with incredible views.  Andrea, the owner, was also very accommodating and couldn’t have been a nicer guy.

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That’s Bruce waving from the sun deck (below).

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The view from our room

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The most enjoyable thing about staying at Villa Crawford was enjoying the sunsets.  Wow!

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The villa’s location did present some challenges, however, due to the extremely steep road leading in and out of the villa and down to the beach.  Knowing that ahead of time, we agreed to go only if we would not have to do any of the driving.  As it turned out, though, the location also made it difficult for us to be more independent.  My hopes of a daily morning swim in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea below were also logistically not practical.

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Our neighbor’s house down the road from us.  Cool gate!

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A very steep climb back up to Villa Crawford!

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Our first dinner was on the patio at Fa Tu, where we enjoyed delicious pizzas that were reasonably priced at about 8 Euros each (see below).

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Fa Tu’s inside dining area.

 

In my next post, I will show you around San Nicola Arcella, a charming town that I really enjoyed exploring on foot.

 

ADRIATIC COAST: DAY 18 (FINAL)- BUDVA, MONTENEGRO

The final two nights of our trip were spent in the coastal town of Budva, the center of Montenegro’s tourism industry.  Between the Adriatic Sea, beaches, its well-preserved medieval walled city, restaurants, and night life; Budva attracts all types of tourists, especially the 1% jet-setters.

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Just outside of the walls of Old Town was a row of very expensive luxury yachts owned by wealthy visiting tourists.  As we turned away from the docks and entered the walled city, it was like stepping back in time.  Sure, there were gift shops and restaurants to remind you that it was the year 2018; however, the architecture and cobblestone pathways were historic reminders that Budva is, indeed, old—2,500 years old!

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Budva is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Coast.  Archaeological evidence proves that fact, and we were able to see where some of that evidence was discovered.

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The walled Old Town is situated on a rocky peninsula, and it was beautiful to explore during our private morning walking tour, before it was overrun by tourists.  We looked forward to returning in the late afternoon, following our driving tour into the mountains to see Cetinje, the former capital.

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The views were spectacular!  We were fortunate to have sunny skies, so we could enjoy the view of the city below.

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On our way to Cetinje, we stopped at a restaurant up in the mountains where we were treated to a local beer, and a “snack” of a delicious sandwich of prosciutto and cheese, after being shown their smokehouse where we learned about the smoking process.

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Following our tour of Cetinje and its museum, our little group had a nice lunch together at a restaurant.  We then headed back to Budva to enjoy the remainder of the afternoon on our own.  This was the highlight!  Exploring the Old Town and coastal walking path during the golden light of the evening was the exclamation point to cap off our visit to Montenegro.

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Dinner the previous night was enjoyed with our guide, Sinisa, and our new Canadian friends; however, this final night was just the two of us enjoying a fabulous buffet while dining on the patio of our hotel.  It was a lovely evening, and a perfect way to relax and reflect back on our amazing experiences in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and, finally, Montenegro.

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Thank you, dear readers, for hanging in with me until the end—nearly five months after our travels concluded.  I hope you will join me again later this year when I return with more traveler’s tales!

 

 

ADRIATIC COAST: DAY 17-KOTOR, MONTENEGRO

Our cruise aboard La Perla came to an end much too quickly!  Isn’t that always the case when you are thoroughly enjoying an experience?  Time just speeds on by!  Stand in a long line at the airport, though, and time stands still right along with you.

Sinisa had our tour guide/ driver to Montenegro take this last group shot with Ante and the crew of La Perla.  It brings back great memories to me and Bruce of the experiences we shared, friendships we made, and wonderful places we saw along the way.

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Good-bye’s were said to all but our new Canadian friends and our guide, Sinisa.  It was just the five of us traveling on to Montenegro for the post-cruise extension.

Our drive to Montenegro took us on a winding road along the Bay of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  With its narrow profile and steep walls, it is often called Europe’s southernmost fjord, even though it is actually a ria, or a submerged river valley.

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Mussel farms were a common site on the Bay of Kotor

Kotor, our destination for the day,  is a fortified medieval city located at the head of the bay.  Dating back to the first century, the small city of less than 14,000 people is a popular tourist destination, because of its history and Old-World charm.  It is one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the Adriatic, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When we arrived, I looked up and saw the switch-back walking path that led up the steep side of the mountain behind the Old Town.  I knew it was a path I wanted to conquer after our walking tour, and I was happy Bruce was all in to join me!

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The archway through the thick wall of Kotor’s Old Town was impressive, and I was instantly charmed by the quirkiness of a few unexpected sights that greeted us:

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The narrow, winding cobblestone streets were charming, and I instantly understood why tourism is Kotor’s top industry.

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Our private tour led us to Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, a Roman Catholic church dating back to 1166.  The cathedral was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1667, so it was rebuilt.  Again, in 1979, the cathedral was damaged by another earthquake.  It wasn’t until 2016 that the restoration was complete.

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The view from the second floor of the cathedral.

Fortunately, the 14th century frescoes and rich collection of artifacts survived both earthquakes.

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Following our tour, we had free time to wander the cobblestone streets and make our way back to the stone stairs for the steep climb up the mountain.  Our fitness and endurance paid off; the views were spectacular!

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Returning to town, I shot a few more pictures before settling in at a table on the patio of the restaurant reputed to have the best chocolate cake in Kotor.  Sharing a slice was our reward for enduring the hot climb up and down the mountain!  Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!

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ADRIATIC COAST: DAY 16-DUBROVNIK, CROATIA

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When people think of Croatia (formerly Yugoslavia), Dubrovnik is probably what comes to mind first.  Dating back to the 7th century, the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean region.  That fact was quite evident the day we visited.  Busloads of tourists (including us) inundated the place, and I soon realized why one of La Perla’s crew loved the island of Korcula more than his own home of Dubrovnik.  Andrea lives within the walls of the city, and he complained about the traffic, lack of parking, and packs of tourists.  (Property within the walls has also gotten extremely expensive; a tiny one-bedroom apartment sells for $1.3 million dollars!  People who inherit property within the walls rent them out on Airbnb and buy in a newer area instead.)

One of reasons Dubrovnik has seen such an increase in tourism is because of the HBO television series, Game of Thrones, which is filmed in Dubronik.  I have never seen the show, so I haven’t a clue!

Dubrovnik had a record year for tourism in 2016, with more than one million visitors.  It has gotten so bad that city officials are setting limits on the amount of people allowed within the walls on any given day.  UNESCO has advised that no more than 8,000 people should be within the walls of the Old Town at any one time to prevent damage to some of the city’s oldest buildings; so, security surveillance video cameras have been installed at the walled city’s five entrances to keep tabs on the foot traffic.

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Beginning this year, Dubrovnik is limiting the number of cruise ships to two per day, carrying a maximum number of 5,000 each.  In addition, city officials are working with the Cruise Lines International Association to optimize scheduling and make foot traffic move more efficiently through its historic central district.

The big feature of Dubrovnik that attracts tourists is its walls that run almost 1.2 miles around the city.  The walls are 80 feet high and up to 20 feet thick.  The oldest building within the walls dates back to 1290, and the 700-year-old pharmacy is the third oldest pharmacy in the world.

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Outside of the walls, a fortress was built in the 1400’s to protect he main city gate.  The fortress wall facing the water is 40 feet thick, and only two feet thick on the city side.

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The system of turrets and towers of the Old Town wall were also intended to protect the city; however, it suffered a devastating attack by the Serbs and Montenegrins on October 1, 1991.  The attack lasted for seven months, killing 114 civilians and damaging 56% of its buildings.  The damage to the walls alone was estimated at $10 million dollars.

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Following the end of the war, damage caused by the shelling of the Old Town was repaired in the original style, adhering to UNESCO guidelines.

It was interesting to walk the entire wall of the city and look down on the rooftops where we were able to spot undamaged pre-war roofs in between newer, post-war roofs.  It was sad to see some of the shelled buildings that remain untouched since the attack.

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Poster Caption:  Painter Ivo Grbic in front of his burning home in street Od puca 16 during Serbian and Montenegrian attack on Dubrovnik.

The walk was exhilarating, though, especially along the seaside wall.  The views were breathtaking, and we were so fortunate to be able to enjoy it on such a beautiful day!  We watched the kayakers paddling on the Adriatic Sea below us, and marveled at how clear and bright blue the water appeared.

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Although we had begun the day with a guided tour of Old Town, we were provided passes to walk the walls and visit the museums on our own.  It was great to be able to enjoy it at our own pace and cover more ground.  We were among the few in our group that walked the entire wall, a memory I won’t soon forget.

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Our final evening in Croatia was also quite memorable.  We were taken by bus to Orasac Village (population 100; 85% of them related) for a home-hosted dinner.  The 24 of us were divided into four smaller groups to dine in four different homes.  We were welcomed by Tereza Gorace and her cousin, Ana, who translated for us and answered many of our questions.

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Beginning our evening, we were welcomed on the patio with local brandy and fresh figs from their tree.  At Christmas time, the figs are dried with a bay leaf and flour for a traditional treat.

Before settling in for dinner, we were shown their smokehouse where they make sausage, prosciutto, and bacon—all from animals they raise on their farm.  Tereza explained that it takes seven days to smoke sausage, and then it is stored in the cellar.  Prosciutto is smoked for two months straight.

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This is a kuna, an animal native to Croatia that lives in the forest.  It appears on Croatia’s currency.

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Ana is standing on the left.

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Bruce, with Tereza and Ana, after he gave Tereza and Ana each a pair of fused glass earrings he had made for them.

Tereza and Ana raise, grow, and make almost everything they eat, as do all of their relatives who live in their little village.  They pickle their own vegetables, make their own cheese and wine, and bring their own olives to another village to get pressed for olive oil.

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Everything here was homemade or home-grown.

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This is “Rosata,” a dessert made with homemade rose liqueur.  Rose petals are soaked in grappa for 40 days to make the liqueur.

During dinner, Ana was very patient answering the many questions we all had about their life during the war and after.  When their village was attacked on October 3, 1991, Ana was just three months old.  Serbs occupied the village, stole belongings, killed animals, and destroyed what they didn’t take.  The villagers were forced to leave with only their clothes and documents.

Ana’s mom fled with her to Germany to stay with relatives.  Only women and children were allowed to leave, because the men were required to stay behind and fight in the Croatian army.  Dubrovnik didn’t have an army, so one had to be quickly formed.

Dubrovnik suffered substantial damage due to its location bordering Montenegro.  Although the Serbs only occupied areas outside of the Old Town walls, they did bomb it.  In all, they occupied about one third of the country before being defeated.

Following the war, men returned to clean up their homes and clear land mines before their wives and children returned.

To this day, there is still (understandably!) resentment towards the Serbs and Montenegrins for the abuse and brutality they unleashed on Croatia.  (In contrast, Croatia has an excellent relationship with Slovenia to the north.  Both countries are in the European Union, and Croatia will adopt the Euro as their currency in 2020.)

We learned so much about what Tereza and her village endured in 1991 and the struggle the entire country had post-war.  Hearing her story made it so real and so personal.  We were thankful to have had that experience, something Vantage Travel calls a “Cultural Connection.”  This is what travel is all about.

 

Coming up next:  Montenegro

 

 

ADRIATIC COAST: DAY 15- MOSTAR, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Informally known as “Bosnia,” and sometimes known as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina is bordered by Croatia to the north, west, and south.  Serbia is located to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast.  A twelve-mile strip of Bosnia is on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.

Our visit to the country entailed a short ferry ride from La Perla to the coast of Croatia and a two-hour bus ride to Mostar, as well as bringing our passports and clearing customs at the border along the way.  It was well worth the effort, plus doing the reverse on the way back!  (Of course, to make our wait at the border go quicker, Sinisa gave a gift of bottled waters to the customs agent as a motivation for him to stamp our passports faster.)

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Mostar is the cultural and economic capital of the Herzegovina region of the country.  It took a huge hit during the Bosnian War in the early 1990’s when 100,000 Bosnians were killed.  President Clinton (thankfully!) forced an end to the war by locking Bosnian and Serbian leaders in a room at an air force base until an accord was signed.

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Numerous buildings were destroyed during the conflict.  We saw evidence of that destruction since 3% of those buildings have yet to be reconstructed, due to their desire to preserve history of the old architecture.  In addition, the cost of rebuilding in the original, historic style is too high.  The country is still struggling to recover from the devastation, so bombed-out buildings stand just as they did when they were shelled.  It was as if time stood still in some parts of the city.

There are three main religions in Mostar—Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox.  We learned about all three during our walking tour of the city, which included a visit to a Turkish home dating back to the 1700’s, and a mosque, which had been destroyed and rebuilt exactly like it was before the war.

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The view of Neretva River from the Turkish home.

The highlight of Mostar is Stari Most, (the “Old Bridge”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The historic stone bridge crosses the Neretva River, dividing the city into Croat and Muslim sections.  Constructed in the 16th century, the original bridge was destroyed by a bomb during the Bosnian war and has since been reconstructed.  It reopened in 2004 and is considered an exemplary piece of Balkan Islamic architecture.

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Tourists gather on the bridge not only to enjoy its architecture and views, but to also watch the daring divers that take flying leaps into the water 78 feet below.  (They won’t dive until they have received 30 Euros of tips beforehand.)  The divers make a big show of it, pretending to get ready to dive, just so they can pocket more tips.  Once they have gotten their money, they actually take the dive.  The funny thing is that some of the older divers aren’t actually the ones to carry out the dive.  They are seasoned at enticing the tourists to part with their cash; however, once it comes time to make the dive, a younger (and less beaten-up) diver comes out on the bridge to do it.  (Presumably, they have agreed to a fair division of the pot…)

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We watched the circus unfold as we dined with our group on the patio of a restaurant with the best views of the bridge.  While we enjoyed a local brew and native cuisine, we kept an eye on the divers, wondering if they were ever going to actually make the leap.  Two dives took place that we saw; however, it wasn’t worth missing lunch to try to photograph as I waited, and waited, and waited for the dive to actually take place!

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During our free time, we wandered up and down the cobblestone pedestrian street, photographed the local craft displays, and joined the other tourists on the bridge to watch the divers.  It was all so enjoyable, and time sped by much too quickly.  Before we knew it, we needed to head for our bus for the journey back to La Perla.

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