Monday, December 20, 2021

Day 9--Kotor, Montenegro

 Our day started out earlier than usual.  Zoran had told us during last night's port talk that we should go up on the sun deck right after breakfast.  He wanted us to see the view of the deepest fjord in Europe as we sailed into the town of Kotor.  While we were up on the sun deck he explained a little of the history of this beautiful Mediterranean country at the foot of the Balkan mountain range.

After the ship docked right next to this walled city, we crossed the street to meet our guide.  She told us how nice the city was today as they have over 600 big cruise ships stopping in season.  Our group of 17 didn't make much difference to the 1,000 people that live in this walled city.

It was another beautiful day but cold in the very early morning hours.

The water is crystal clear and as you sail you come upon many small villages.

Our local guide walked us around Stari Grad (Old Town). It's not large and after our tour we had some time before lunch to stroll the ancient walkways.  I always like to get a Christmas ornament from every different country we visit.  Since there were no big cruise ships, the souvenir shops were closed.  I did manage to find something that isn't a Christmas bulb but will work on the travel Christmas tree.  

We got back to the ship just in time for lunch.  I might mention that the meals are excellent but way too much food than we are used to.  There's always a soup, main entree, for example one selection today was cabbage rolls with potatoes and carrots, fresh baked bread and dessert.  Your wine glass is never empty.

Right after lunch we walked across the street to catch our bus.  Zoran was taking us to Our Lady of the Rocks Shrine on a man-made islet.

Zoran was happy that the weather was perfect for our boat ride out to the island.  If the wind is too strong the boats don't run.

Can you see the trails that go up the mountain in this corner of the walled city.
  We decided we're getting too old to try that kind of hike.

I hope you can tell from this photo how beautiful the water is.  

Here's the Our Lady of the Rocks in Perast.  This shrine was made on a man made islet.

Bill looks cold in this photo but it did warm up.

Here's the inside of the Our Lady of the Rocks.  It's hard to believe that we've been touring this area for over a week and this is the first church we've been in.  Usually you visit at least one church a day when in Europe.

It's been a busy day but we're still going strong.  Hope we have 20 minutes on the bus for a little nap.

There was a nice collection of weapons in the small museum of the Our Lady of the Rocks.

Bill and the cats. Can you see the cat on the roof of the red car?  We did learn that Kotor is famous for its friendly cats.  All the business people leave their doors open for the cats to come and go.  There's also lots of bowls of cat food and water for them.  Some tourist magazine mentioned it and the people take care of the cats.  A vet volunteers his services to neuter and care for them.

Turtle safely.......

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Day 8--Dubrovnik and Konavle

 We departed at 8:30 am for the Konavle region.  There were only 7 or us that wanted to do this tour.  I guess we'll do the wall in Dubronik the next time we visit this beautiful country.  It's so nice that there aren't a bunch of tourists everywhere.

Konavle region has 3 types of climate, flora and fauna within 5 km.  Mountain climate, wetlands and the Mediterranean maritime climate.  I have to say we were over dressed for it.  Short sleeves would have been much better.  

Our first stop was an art studio and silk shop.  Of course not much is started until you have a shot of raki to begin with.  We also had some almonds, figs and dried orange peel.

I really thought Bill and I knew all about silk from our trip to China where we visited a silk factory.  Believe me, we now know, we knew nothing.

We learned how silk worms have to live in a clean environment.  They also spin there cocoons into a branch at precisely the same time.  After exactly 15 days they are put into boiling water.

I don't know if you can see the tiny spots, but these are eggs.  They are kept in a refrigerator until they are used.

The girl then folded up a napkin and started twirling the spidery silk.  She turned off the lights so we could see all the different strands. Hope they show up in the photo.

Can you see the traditional embrodery around her neck and the silk tassel?  We learned that a girl can not get married until she had made all of her clothing with the silk embrodery.  

This little shop was in a very tiny village.  All the buildings were burned during the recent war but have been rebuilt.

Our next stop was a flour mill over 500 years old.  Guess what we were greeted with?  Yes, more raki.  She had black walnut and also cherry.

I've got a dish of almonds, figs, and orange rind in my hand.

They don't look like much but they really taste good.

Bill and I toured an old flour mill in Burnt Cabins, Pa before and it wasn't much different except much smaller.

From the flour mill we walked through the countryside to the woolen mill.  Let me mention that Croatia has more water than any other country.

Our guide turned a valve and the water was diverted to a cog wheel.

I would never remember the dates if I didn't take a photo of it.

I was having a hard time wondering how this pounding of the wool worked.

Once he showed me examples of the wool, then I understood the process.  It actually compresses the wool.

Those of you who read my blog about our Sicily trip will enjoy this photo of Bill and the cat!

Our next stop was a family home which is over 500 years old.  The granddaughter said she was the guide and for Zoran to shut up.  We were greeted with more raki in different flavors and music.

We were shown a flour mill and olive oil press.

Here's a view of the back of the house and the surrounding mountains.  They are very close to Montenegro and Serbia. Only the stone walls were left of the house after the war.

Here's what the house looked like after the Yugoslavians burned it.

We then were treated to a tradational dance by a couple.  Wish I would have thought to put it on video.

We had a lovely meal and loved the music.  We were all singing along.  They played a lot of our favorite songs.

By the time we got back to the ship we just spent time relaxing.  It was warm enough to sit on the balcony or sun deck.

Dinner was excellent as usual.  Following dinner we had two men playing music for us.  One was a violin accompanied by a guitar.  Normally I wouldn't like this kind of music, but it was really good. Not one person dozed off!

Tomorrow we go to another country.  It's small and only has a population of 600,000.

Turtle Safely........

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Day 7--Dubrovnik, Croatia

 Today was a busy day.  Usually our tours start at 9 am but today the bus was ready at the gangplank at 8:30.  Breakfast is served every morning from 7:30 to 8:30 so we left the dining room in time to grab our coats.  Zoran said to dress warmly as the borac winds were blowing.  The skies were clear and very blue.

Our first stop with our local guide was up on the hill to look down at Dubrovnik.  I'm sure that anyone that has visited the area has stopped at this spot.  

Any pictures you've seen of Dubrovnik are just as beautiful in person.

This medieval city is very clean and charming.  Hard to believe they could construct a city like this and it still be standing today.

Our local guide told us about the three islands where this was the first place to ever quarantine anyone.  They built wooden structures as they burned them down after the quarantine from the plague.

Our guide said she was born in that apartment and she knows everyone in town as the people all stopped to say "hello".

Here's the produce that some local people produce.

I have no idea how large this walled city is.

Here's everyone in our group except Joe.  Joe was in a war bird plane crash a few years ago and has a walker.  He thought it would be too much walking so stayed onboard the ship.  

We had a women give us a lecture on what it was like when Yugoslavia invaded Croatia back in the early 90's.  She told of her personal experiences.  It gave you chills up your spine to hear of her experiences.  

As we were leaving the seminar room we passed many young people in Croatian clothing.  I stopped one girl and asked if I could take a picture.  I did a snapshot and she said no, she then took off her coat and asked her companions to pose for me.  The people of the coutry are so nice and welcoming

I don't know why, but I also seem to take photos of canons.  

Croatia only had 6 canons while Yugoslavia had 120 but they still defeated Yugoslavia. 

I still hold my breath when I see a cat near Bill.  We will be in port two days so decided to do walk the wall tomorrow.

We returned to the ship in time for lunch.  After lunch we had a Sir Edmund Hillary meeting.  To become part of the Sir Edmund Hillary you have to do three trips with OAT or the sister company, Grand Circle.  This is our 15th trip but there were two other couples with 31 and 21 trips.  Of the 17 passengers there were 13 people that attended.  There was much champagne and raki flowing.  The two couples received gift bags of gifts made in Croatia.  The rest of us all received our trip pins.

As soon as that was over, we went and got our coats as we were leaving for our home hosted dinner.  We were divided into smaller groups.  Bill and I were in a group of 8.  The girl was waiting on the corner when our bus arrived.  

We were escorted into the smoke house.  I really wasn't sure what to expect.  There were two boards that we sat on.  The daughter passed some dried figs to us and then she passed out raki.  Now if you've never had raki you need to try it.  It will take your breath away.  You are suppose to drink it in one swallow.  The family  makes the drink and this tasted different than the one we had on the ship.

They smoke all kinds of meats and store their vegetables in the smoke house.  This family lives in a small village of 120 people about a 45 minute drive from the ship dock.

We had a pasta with meat and cinnamon sauce and apple strudel for desserts.  I didn't have any of the homemade bread but those that did had seconds.   

We enjoyed our time and learned a lot about the life of typical Croatia family.  

Turtle Safely.........

Friday, December 17, 2021

Day 6--Split

 Last night during our nightly port talk the Captain announced that there were heavy winds expected.  In order to avoid them and keep us safe, they changed our itinerary to Split today. We will still stop at the scheduled ports just not in that order. We left earlier last night sometime while we were in bed.  Today as the sun was rising we pulled into the port of Split.  We were told that any time we have a banana split, we'll think of Split.

Zoran gave a lecture last night on the Roman Empire and talked about how the Roman's came to this area.  I was very tired, but managed to stay awake to listen to the talk.  I'm glad I did, because it all tied in with the tour today.  

Our local tour guide was excellent.  He added humor into the tour and had a great voice that was easy to understand for those of us who have a hearing problem.

 It turned out to be a gorgeous day.  

Here's our tour guide who is going to take us through the palace.

Whenever we see this symbol, we know this is going to be interesting.  Do you know what this symbol stands for?

Can you see the excitement in his face?  Talking about old places, 2,700 years old!

It's so nice to be the only group touring the castle.  I can't imagine how crowded it would be if big cruise ships were in town along with all the tourist that come by train or bus.  

These stones were all hand chisled to follow the curves of this room.  Remember built in 305 AD!

People have lived in the palace continuously for over 3,000 years.

You can really appreciate how nice it is to travel with only 17 people compared to thousands.  

The Romans had fresh running water and sewage.  These are the pipes.

The Cathedral is the longest running Cathedral in all of Europe.

Can you see this key?  There are 3 of the 4 gates still standing today.

After the Palace tour our local guide took for a walk through Split.  It's a beautiful town.  Very clean and friendly people.

 Maybe it's time we watch the Game of Thrones.

Zoran suggested we walk up these 200 plus steps to get a view of the city.  Bill and I weren't interested in the Christmas markets so we "took a hike".  For all of my blog readers who followed along on the Sicily trip, Bill avoided getting near the cat.

I'll post some photos from the hill we climbed.  It was very warm by the time we got to the top, but worth the climb.

Time to find some cooler clothes, a glass of wine, and finish my book.

Turtle Safely........