ADRIATIC COAST: DAY 11- Kirka National Park, Primosten Burnji, & Sibenik, Croatia

What a full and fabulous day this was!  It has been a challenge editing my photos, because we saw so much beauty in just one day!

390

Krka National Park was our first stop and one I had been looking forward to with great anticipation, after seeing gorgeous photos of the waterfalls shot on a bright, sunny day.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t quite so cooperative when we visited the park; however, the scenery was still breathtaking.

391

392

397

401

403.jpg

404.jpg

In addition to a guided walk on the scenic trails, we had free time to explore on our own; so, I hiked up the falls to seek out some different photographic vantage points.  The falls were amazing!

406

407.jpg

If I had to narrow down the highlights of Croatia, this would definitely land on my list of must-see destinations!

During our boat ride from the falls to Skradin, it started raining lightly, and we were thankful we were able to experience the park and waterfalls before the weather turned.  Just after we boarded our bus, the skies opened up!

Thankfully, the skies cleared up by the time we arrived at Pimosten Burnji, a quaint Dalmation village that made our entire group perk up with excitement.  It was love at first sight!

409.jpg

411

The village priest welcomed us with local brandy and figs from his tree.  As we enjoyed the treats, my eyes lit up as I looked overhead and saw gourds and grapes growing all around us!  Pots of flowers lined the steps where a cat curled up in the sun, and a woman sewed lace.  Just beyond, I could hear and see a donkey.  It was almost like being in one of those staged open-air museums, except this was for real.  This is how the locals have chosen to live, preserving this 16th-century village for themselves, their families, and future generations to enjoy.  The priest has worked hard at preserving the local history and traditions, and it was as if time stood still!  They open their community to visitors; however, our group of 24 had it all to ourselves to enjoy.

417

427

426.jpg

In one of the 16th century stone houses, the village women prepared a light lunch of soup, cheese, sausage, and bread for us.  For dessert, I enjoyed grapes from the vines just outside!

424.jpg

425

We were in no hurry to leave, because it felt so good just being there; however, Sibenik was still on the agenda for the remainder of the afternoon.  We took a walking tour through the old town where we saw the Cathedral of St. James,  15th century stone houses, stone streets dating back to the 16th century, a 17th century fortress, and colorful 18th century plaster houses.  In the city walls, there were built-in water dishes for their beloved dogs to drink from.  “Amor D. Cani” translates to “love of dog.”

433

434

437

446

447

441

448

It was interesting to learn that in Sibenik no weddings take place in the month of May.  In the old days, many people died in May as the weather got warmer and disease spread.  The tradition held, even as a cure for those diseases was discovered.

Back on La Perla, we enjoyed dinner with our two Canadian passengers, Louise and Danielle, reflecting back on all we had seen and done.

450

451

 

 

THE “M’S” HAVE IT! MINNEHAHA (HA-HA!) FALLS, MINNEAPOLIS, AND MALL OF AMERICA

14.JPG

According to the results of my Google search, Minnehaha is a fictional Native American woman documented in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 epic poem, “The Song of Hiawatha”. She is the lover of the titular protagonist Hiawatha and comes to a tragic end. The name, often said to mean “laughing water”, literally translates to “waterfall” or “rapid water” in Dakota.

The name does make you chuckle, don’t ya think?

Minnehaha Regional Park, where the 53-foot falls are the star attraction, is one of the most popular sites in Minneapolis and was highest on our list to visit.  Walking/hiking and travel photography are our “thing”, and there were plenty of opportunities for both.  Besides, the park is also home of Sea Salt Eatery, a popular casual seafood restaurant reputed (on Trip Advisor) to have tasty fish tacos.  The great outdoors and delicious food; what a perfect combo!

The Metro Transit train stop was just across the street from the park, and the falls were located a short walk through lovely gardens, once we entered the park.

We arrived before the restaurant opened, so enjoying the gardens and watching the falls was a great way to pass the time before the restaurant line started forming.  (The lines get long, so we wanted to get ahead of the rush.)

16.JPG

The fish tacos?  As tasty as the reviews stated, and dining alfresco was a lovely way to enjoy our brunch along with the hypnotic sound of the rushing water over the falls.

17

1819

Fueled up, we were ready to rumble, and hike along Minnehaha Creek (which flows over the Minnehaha Falls) to see where it met the Mississippi River.  The scenery along the creek was beautiful, and it was interesting to see the confluence—the perfect fishing spot for this fly fisherman:

22.JPG

Taking a different path back and going the (unintended) long way back to the station gave us the opportunity to see more of this 167-acre park.

23.JPG

The remainder of the afternoon was spent walking the city and checking out two sports stadiums—homes of the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins—both located in downtown Minneapolis.  The glass building of the football stadium made for some fun photography!

37

“The times they are a changing.” This is Bob Dylan, then and now.

26.JPG

27.JPG

29.JPG

The following day was a cold and rainy one, so we planned everything just right for our Minneapolis visit!  The first day was spent all outdoors, and our second one indoors.  We took the train out to the University of Minnesota to see my friends compete at U.S. Masters Swimming Nationals.  The weather at Minnehaha Falls couldn’t have been better, so we didn’t mind having a rainy day where we had planned on spending it indoors, anyway.

Malena-Marianne-Ed

Georgia Masters Teammates: Malena, Marianne, and Ed

It was great seeing a few of my teammates, but I was most excited to see our friends from Oregon, Allen and Carol.  “King Frog” (as I have called him since he broke the 200 Meter Breaststroke World Record in his age group) has been my breaststroke mentor on the U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums, since I joined USMS in 2010.  We (and our spouses) became friends and look forward to seeing each other at national competitions.  (We even met up at the FINA World Masters Swimming Championships in Montreal, in 2014!  King Frog broke a World Record then, too.)

Allen&Carol

“King Frog (Allen) & Carol

After lunch with King Frog and Carol, we took the train out to Mall of America.  Shopping wasn’t the draw (we don’t particularly enjoy it); however, the spectacle of it all was what we were curious to see.

The mall completely surrounds an amusement park, and I managed to find plenty of photo ops. at the rides and throughout the mall.  The massive Lego sculptures were especially must-photograph features, as was the irresistible Crayola Crayon store where the colors on display were so cheerful.

4041.JPG42.JPG45.JPG49.JPG51.JPG52.JPG53.JPG55.JPG

67.JPG

Coming up next:  HITTIN’ THE ROAD TO WISCONSIN