Thursday, 6 September 2012


Hotel Lapad on the harbour in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik Old City walls
On our way from the airport to our hotel we noted the really rugged Croatian countryside. Huge mountains follow the thin coastal strip for the length of the Croatian coast. In Dubrovnik the mountains are very close to the sea and you get the feeling that they guard the coastline as a formidable barrier. It is not so long ago that Croatia was involved in war with neighbouring previously Yugoslavic states. Along the mountains there are stone walls that delineate the farms and surround the houses. As time went by we marvelled at the amount of these stone walls that stretched all the way along the coast for hundreds of miles.
The city of Dubrovnik bears the scars of the war and it is not difficult to find evidence of the conflict in the streets of the town. However there is a sense of ancientness, particularly in the old city, that withstands the passages of time and probably many wars. The old city is magnificent and Croatians are justly proud of it. We strolled the small alleyways and shops and sat and had a coffee amongst the buildings that are apparently from the 14th Century. I came across a vendor selling watercolour paintings of the city and we bought one as a souvenir. I have to say that Croatian ice cream is just gorgeous - or maybe it was just that we were having such a lovely time the ice cream reflected the way we were feeling!

Saturday, 1 September 2012


In Milan, Lake Como was gorgeous and the Duomo Cathedral and adjacent Galleria were quite magnificent.  However we found the rest a little ho-hum and so I was really looking forward to Venice.
And so we boarded the train with some excitement and the anticipation of a lovely train ride.  We weren’t disappointed. Once out of the city, the scenery was just lovely. Rolling hills, the Alps behind and dotted with villages, vineyards and monasteries on hill tops. Most beautiful was the scenery around Verona, including Lake Garda – which we marked for a return visit on our way back to Milan.

Arriving in Venice, we were deposited right at the main canal to then sort out where our little hotel was. A beer and a coffee later we found the right ferry and were soon ensconced in our quaint little room. Comfortable and cosy would best describe it. But as with all places on the island, it was just a short walk to a multitude of canals & gondolas, cafes, boutique shops and delightful scenery. 

Of course we visited the major square, Piazza San Marco, several times. It is simply stunning. And better still for being able to sit outside listening to music from the many combos playing at the various restaurants while enjoying a simple meal and glass of wine. 

A visit to the glassmaking artists on the island of Murano was of course mandatory. We stopped at the first one off the ferry and watched one of the “workers” doing his thing of producing pretty little swans – about one every 5 minutes. What wonderful talent. Then perchance we were treated to a private tour of the upstairs gallery by one of the managers. (It pays to show interest and be the last out of the viewing area!) How gorgeous. Glass sculptures, plates, figurines, vases, etc all in a multitude of colours and styles, some over a metre high. 

And so then the next day it was off on the short flight to Dubrovnik, Murano jewellery and plate securely packed.