Posts Tagged With: Adriatic Sea

Once You Go Black, You Can’t Wait To Go Back!

While I was reviewing my posts regarding Croatia, I realized that I had accidentally skipped over my little day trip to Montenegro. See the thing was, that even though I had gotten a wee bit of sun while in Dubrovnik, it was still too chilly to be in the water and my plans of what to do didn’t quite work out.  Due to this, the plans of an easy day lounging at the beach were replaced with a day tour as I saw no harm in a little sampling of Montenegro.  To be honest, I knew very little about the country other than it’s considered the hidden gem of the Adriatic Coast – whatever the hell that means.  I figured if Montenegro was to my liking than I could always go back for a more extensive exploration as this tiki tour would just wet my appetite enough to leave me wanting more.

The Bay Of Kotor

The Bay Of Kotor

The tour organized by Adriatic Explore met just outside of Old Town at the crack of dawn.  By the puddles on the stairs, it was easy to tell that it had rained overnight but it was dry at the moment which left me with hope that it could clear up as the day went on.  If not, it would be a very long day where I would have little to no desire to leave the bus.   Don’t feel sorry for me just yet since the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds just as we were crossing the Montenegro border.  As we continued to drive, our guide gave us an early morning history lesson on the region.  Most of this was forgotten as quickly as I heard it other than the fact that Montenegro actual means black mountains.

Just outside Kotor's Old Town

Just outside Kotor’s Old Town

The first real stop was at the Bay of Kotor for photos before we met our local guide who would take us through Kotor’s Old Town.  The beauty of Bay of Kotor was enough to take your breath away and would cast a shadow on the tour through the old town.  The weather didn’t do much to help matters either as the blue skies breaking up the blanket of grey was replaced with a darker grey by the time our old town tour had concluded.  As the dark clouds and inevitably rain moved in, we continued to make our way around Montenegro.  The next real stop was going to be Budva and as it wasn’t exactly beach weather, the only real options left was to have lunch and check out the old town before we had to meet up with the bus once again.  If food wasn’t on my mind, I may have contemplated saying behind on the bus for a quick 2 hour nap but it was feeding time so I ventured out with the group.

St Stephen's Island - a quick photo stop before lunch

St Stephen’s Island – a quick photo stop before lunch

We stopped at a restaurant where the portions were huge but there was very little I could eat as the focus was on seafood once again.  I had a rather unsatisfying meal before making the fatal decision to nip to the loo prior to heading over to the old town.  As the queue was one of the worst I’d ever seen, I told my travel companions to continue without me and I’d catch up.  This was a move that I would soon come to regret.  Why you ask?  It’s because the door of my toilet jammed and I was trapped.  Nothing I did would open that door.  An elderly lady on the other side tried to assist but failed miserably.  She tried to provide words of encouragement as we waited for the restaurant staff to come to my rescue.  Great – I’ve come to Montenegro and am thoroughly checking out the inside of a toilet stall!   After the billionth time of jiggling the lock, the door final gave and opened.  This was at the same time as the staff showed up with the key – turns out they keep it handy as this happens often!   Makes perfect sense to keep a key instead of fixing the issue but who the hell am I to criticize right?

This view from the patio where I got locked in the loo

This view from the patio where I got locked in the loo

Weird Masquerade Mermaids at the entrance of Budva's Old Town...

Weird Masquerade Mermaids at the entrance of Budva’s Old Town…

After I set foot outside the loo as a free woman, I realized it was time to meet the group at the bus so I wasn’t going to be able to explore the old town like I thought I would and raced back to the bus.  Even with my confinement issues, I wasn’t the last person back on the bus as there was a couple who were over an hour late since they forget where the bus was meeting us – REALLY?  At that point, there’s nothing you can do other than shake your head and smile and wishing you had thrown caution to the wind and made that gelato stop after all!  Budva was our last real stop and before I knew it, we were heading back to Dubrovnik.  All in all, the tour was really well-organized and gave a good idea of what Montenegro is like even if it was a long and exhausting day.  All that I know is that I got a taste of the black mountains and know that someday I’ll be back to explore it the right way.

 

Categories: MONTENEGRO, montenegro: budva, montenegro: kotor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Life Gives You Lemons…

It was images like the above that sold me on this excursion in the first place!

It was images like the above that sold me on this excursion in the first place!

Due to lack of wi-fi, time, and a never-ending battle with illness after injury (more on that later), I’ve essentially stopped entries altogether during my travels this summer.  Fortunately, after several grueling weeks, I’m back and decided to pick up exactly where I left off – in Croatia.  A little over a month ago, I started Croatia on my own but was quickly joined by my Aussie Mate so we could speedboat ourselves over to the blue caves near the Island of Vis.  As this was going to be the highlight to our pit-stop in Split and possibly even Croatia, the trip was booked well before my parting with Dublin became common knowledge.  Unfortunately, we made the dire mistake of booking online with Split Excursions (aka Portal Agency).

The story begins the day before we were supposed to sail out to the blue caves.  Just to make sure all our T’s were crossed and I’s were dotted, we rocked up to Portal to find out exactly where to meet the boat and settle the final payment before grabbing dinner.  Instead of the easy errand we expected, we were hit with the headline that our excursion had been cancelled.  Supposedly they had sent out an email earlier but turns out that neither one of us had received it just yet – SURPRISE!  The reason we were being given was bad weather even though the day in question was being forecast as the best of the week with clear blue skies and sunshine.  Despite presenting them with the weather facts our hostel laid upon us, they said the tour was cancelled and attempted to sell us the Plitvice Lake excursion instead.  REALLY?  Because bad weather in a national park would be better?  Disappointment  isn’t a strong enough word to describe our reaction.  The two of us sat in silence as we tried to figure out how the hell to get ourselves out the blue caves.  Another tour?  Ferry?  Ferry to an island and then some other way to the caves?  We planned and plotted every single possibility before finally admitting defeat as the sun began to set.  Depressed at the events that had transpired, we sulked and strolled through Split’s old town in hopes that something magical would happen in order to get us on a boat to the blue caves.

And just like that we found ourselves directly in front of an open tour office as we were weaving our way through the streets of the old town.  Yes, there was a queue and we were pretty damn sure that the agent probably wanted to go home already but hell, what difference would 2 more girls make right?  So as quickly and quietly as possible, we joined the queue in hopes that no one else would notice the addition of two extra bodies in the room.  As luck would have it, we were queued right behind a Korean trio inquiring about the blue caves.  The agent told them that unfortunately the tour wasn’t going ahead as there wasn’t enough people for the boat.  And by some eavesdropping miracle, my Aussie Mate jumped into the conversation saying we were looking at the same tour too before spinning all the Korean she had hidden under her sleeve in order to befriend the other blue cave tour seekers.

The agent quickly informed us that they needed 7 people to set sail but that just translated to haggling in my Aussie Mate’s mind.  First thing first – there was only 3 of us looking to get over to the blue caves but a few carefully placed YOLO statements was all it took for us to force another member onto team blue cave.  After that, it was trying to convince the agent to quote us on a boat rental instead of selling us a tour package that required a minimum of 7 people.  After some skillful negotiation and a hellish amount of nagging, a phone call was placed to the skipper and he agreed to a lower rate for the overall boat for the day.  After all was said and done, my Aussie Mate and I decided to make up the difference if we couldn’t find anyone at our hostel to dragged along with us at the last-minute and charged the Korean girls the going rate for the tour.  And that was all it took to fix our little problem.  We rented a boat with a crew and forced a few Korean girls to join us for what we were saying was going to be the time of our lives!  All that was left to do was withdrawn a healthy sum of money to make our blue caves tour dreams come true – hopefully the bad weather thing was just a cover for not selling enough seats like most of the locals kept telling us.  At the end of the day, there was nothing we could do other than get a good night’s sleep and keep our fingers crossed that everyone else was right and we weren’t just about to flush a decent amount of cash down the drain to get the fright of our lives due to rough seas.

Categories: CROATIA, croatia: split | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Buns Of Steel – City Break Edition

Before arriving in Dubrovnik, I was aware that the Old Town was going to be full of stairs.  Despite this, I had chosen to stay there in order to avoid taking a bus to everything I wanted to see.   Okay, truth be told, the only thing that I had to see was the city walls and everything after that was just going to be icing on the cake.  Regardless, I knew that stairs were involved in the one attraction that was on my must do list.  What I hadn’t factored in was the amount of climbing up and down stairs to my hostel, to allergy approved meals (damn you seafood!), and to avoid sleazy restaurant owners amongst a whole lot of other things.

Spotted on my self guided walking tour - man with the white hat not included.

Spotted on my self guided walking tour – man with the white hat not included.

The view while walking the city walls

The view while walking the city walls

Showing off the heights of my climb

Showing off the heights of my climb

To add further insult to injury, I also hadn’t factored in my talent of getting lost – in Dubrovnik this meant that I was going to have to repeatedly climb the same staircase many times in hopes of a different result.  From the moment that I woke up to the moment I went to bed, it was just up and down all day long.  My quads, hammies, and gluts were screaming out in pain for me to stop while my eyes wanted to feast on more of the fantastic views provided by the city.  Unfortunately, my legs lost the battle and I continued to push on to see as much as I could in the few days that I had.  I climbed up and around the city walls.  I did all of the self-walking tours of the city and then some considering I went off the beaten path each and every time I started following the marked paths.  Personally, I blame ADD and the need to follow stray cats more than my sense of direction for this one!  But where my sense of direction is to blame is the extra stairs I did to make it to the cable car to get a view of the city.  I may have walked up, down, and all around the damn thing before finding the entrance but hey, sometimes you have to go that extra mile.  Once I had gotten to the top, I was glad I had put in the extra effort as the view from the top was well worth it.

City Walls once again

City Walls once again

The pretty section of the stairs I climbed daily

The pretty section of the stairs I climbed daily

 

View from the cable car

View from the cable car

All in all, Dubrovnik gave me cool but sun-filled days that made all that unexpected exercise easy to handle.  At the end of every day, I may have been worn out but extremely glad that I had a few jam-packed days of exploring the city.

Categories: CROATIA, croatia: dubrovnik | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On The Hunt For A Little Sunshine

One of my struggles with living in Ireland that I talked about openly and relentlessly was the weather.  I thought I’d be able to cope being from Vancouver but it turned out that I had no idea what I was in for.  I hate to admit it but after a while I started to believe that the sky was actually bluer in Ireland because of how amazed I was every time it peeked out from beneath the blanket of grey clouds.  I knew exactly how ridiculous this thought was but still couldn’t help myself.  It also didn’t help that I was able to count the amount of sunny days I experienced in Ireland on my hands and remembered each one with vivid clarity as they were the best things that ever happened to me.

The View While Walking Around Old Town

The View While Walking Around Old Town

I finally came to the conclusion that enough was enough and my days gallivanting around Europe would have to feature the sun heavily to make things right in my world.  To make up for the lost sunshine in my life, I decided to start of my days as a jobless layabout in Croatia.  As it was the sun I was after, I decided that the only place to start would be Zadar.  After all, Hitchcock said that it has the most beautiful sunset in the world and from the moment the flight was booked, I was dreaming of laying out in the sun all day only to witness (and instagram…silly little addiction but I suppose we all have one) this majestic moment.  My fantasy was perfect but as luck would have it, reality was going to be a hard pill to swallow!

The Patch of Grass Where I Caught Some Rays

The Patch of Grass Where I Caught Some Rays

When my flight landed in Zadar, it was sunny but not as warmed as I was hoping for.  Nevertheless, it was perfect t-shirt weather and it was good to feel the sun kiss my skin once again.  I spent the day roaming around the old town and getting myself orientated and eating a little bit (aka a lot more than I’ll ever admit) of gelato before heading over to the sea organ.  It was here that I stretched out and truly appreciated being in the presence of the sun once again.  It looked as though locals and tourists alike were doing exactly what I was doing at that moment.  Just as I was getting comfortable, I realized that I was no longer bathing in the sunlight.  In the brief moment when I shut my eyes, the clouds had rolled in and started covering up the sky.  The sky was looking that familiar grey once again as if it had tagged along on my flight from Dublin with me.  And that was it.  Before I knew it, the rains poured down and the dream of seeing the world’s most beautiful sunset had died.  Fear sunk into my heart and I was just hoping that the weather would improve as I made my way to Dubrovnik the next day.

 

Categories: CROATIA, croatia: zadar | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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