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    Travel Around the World

    Time to Split

    Chapter Nine – Leaving Split

    I have been so busy the last ten days I haven’t blogged about Split (except for the fire – read it here – which is all done now).  No disrespect – in fact it just shows how great this place is.  We have done and seen everything we can, trying not to break the bank.  It’s been a lovely place for a visit but our time in Split and Croatia now comes to an end.

    We loved our little Airbnb here, tucked into a courtyard just off a very quiet street, our stone house was a stones throw from Diocletian’s Palace

    Our stone cottage

    and the harbor.  A perfect location for anyone visiting.

    I think the best thing about Split is Diocletian’s Palace.  I didn’t really understand before coming here that the “palace” is actually the old town.

    Bell Tower

    Originally built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 4th century as a summer home, he enjoyed it for six years after abdicating the Roman throne.  After his death it fell into demise for centuries until people from the neighboring village fleeing the Croats ended up here.  Slowly the local people took away the stones and built-in and around the palace a city.  They rebuilt within the dilapidated walls of Diocletian’s house.  Today the

    Palace

    beautiful glistening stone city is built-in and around the original palace walls and grounds and it is so beautiful.  And certainly unique as far as antiquity and historic cities go.

    Alas it is also crowded, but we came to Croatia knowing this would be the case.  We did not see as many cruise ships in Split’s harbor as we did in Dubrovnik but there is definitely more yachts and

    Harbor at dusk

    small cruise boats.  The most beautiful yachts I have ever seen in my life.  The harbor itself is also nice, a beautiful promenade lined with restaurants and shops and benches to sit, enjoy and watch the beautiful people go by.

    We did some great training for our upcoming

    Our fav beach Kasjuni

    Camino walk while in Split – walking up Marjan Hill, and around the Peninsula.  Very nice place to walk.  We spent a little time at the “beach” although the crowds are not to my liking and the rocky area makes for a not so relaxing experience. Late in our visit we found a nice beach at the end of the peninsula within Marjan park – so we visited there twice.

    We took the ferry out to the island of Brac and spent the day enjoying the lovely village of Supetar, also

    Beautiful Brac

    full of history.  We swam and had lunch and it was a nice break from the “big city”.

    One of the funnest things we did was a two-hour sunset sailing cruise around the bay.  Dalmatia has more than a thousand islands and sailing is a national past time.   My mother in law Lynn, who was with us for two weeks, sponsored this little sailing excursion and it was a lovely way to end her time with us here.  We saw a little wind, a beautiful sunset, sipped wine and ate local cheese and

    On the sail boat with Capt Glorian

    enjoyed listening to our captain talk about growing up in Split and all his adventures.    Lynn has really enjoyed Croatia, especially the pastry, the gelato,

    Gelato

    the history, the boats, the music and most of all the people watching.  Me too.

    On the last night with Lynn we had a delicious and very authentic Croatian meal at Konoba Marjan.  I great seafood feast prepared in the local style and a great way to celebrate our time in

    Our waiter expertly filleting our grilled fish at the table

    Croatia.

    Towards the end of our time here we began a “game” of wandering off into the depths of the old town, down narrow alleys and pathways just to see

    Getting lost in the maze of old town

    where we would end up.  If you’ve been to Venice, Split is smaller but similar in that you can get lost in the belly of the beast.  Pretty fun to see where you end up.

    After we said farewell to Lynn and shipped her back to Seattle we had a couple of days left.  We did another Camino training day and then today a stay

    Marjana Peninsula on a Camino training day

    home and pack day, which I actually always enjoy.  It feels good to pull everything together again each time.

    Tomorrow is our final day here and we have plans to enjoy another authentic Croatia dinner and then attend an outdoor opera performance in Diocletian’s palace of “Aida”, part of Splits Summer Festival.  It will be a lovely way to end our time in this beautiful country.

    We will take a rental car to drive us north into Slovenia.  We plan to make a stop at Zadar to see the sea organ, an art installation that plays music via waves (I’ll post photos) and then arrive in the village of Piran in the late afternoon.

    But for Croatia – I highly recommend it, it has so

    The Split fish market

    much to offer.  Just be prepared if you come in the summer for lots of crowds. Spring and fall are good times to travel here too – it’s beautiful and bountiful no matter the

    Sunset from the sailboat

    season.

    So now Chapter Nine continues as we make our way North to Slovenia.  We have visited Slovenia before, and this six-day visit is focused primarily on our friends the Chaussins (the family of our exchange student from ten years ago) who spend their summers in Piran.  We are looking forward to seeing them again and having six days to just relax after the whirlwind that was Croatia, before we head off to Portugal.

    So, farewell to Split – it’s time to Split – away!

     

    Family and Friends

    Adventurous Boy

    My son’s solo bike ride through West Africa

    People often remark to me that Arne and I are very adventurous to be leading a life of full-time travel.  I do often feel adventurous, but I am not nearly as adventurous as my youngest son Erik.

    I want to take a moment here, and give him a shout-out.  Because he has been cycling alone through West Africa for a month now.  This is not an adventure I would ever tackle.  In fact I really didn’t want him to tackle it either – alone.

    When he first told us about his idea he was planning to do it with another Peace Corp friend.  But that friend ended up needing to head off to Grad School earlier than was expected.  Erik didn’t want to give
    up the idea.  So he decided to go alone.

    I was a bit freaked out – particularly because this ride went through a part of Mali – not such a safe country in Africa.

    But, he is 26 years old.  I don’t make decisions for him anymore.  I remind myself often where I was in my life at 26 – I had an infant and we were building our first home and I had a full-time job.  My parents were not telling me what to do.  The night before Erik left on the bike trip we talked on the phone and he thanked us.  He thanked us for supporting the idea, because he said he knew a lot of Peace Corp volunteers whose parents would have said absolutely not.

    I never felt like I had a right to say absolutely not.  He has lived for two and half years alone in Burkina Faso, without water or electricity, and without me telling him what to do.  I know him to make good, smart decisions.

    So he began the trip in the end of June, saying farewell to his village, his home for the past 2 and half years, and heading out.  From Burkina Faso to Mali, to Guinea, to Senegal.  Alone. On a bicycle.

    He texts me often to give me peace of mind and we talk on the phone when we can.  He has great stories to tell.  He says each night he comes into a village and finds the place where all the old men sit around – there is always this place.  He asks if anyone speaks English or French and then asks if there is a place he can set up his tent for the night.

    Every time he is welcomed.  Every time he is fed.  Every time they are kind and curious.  Who is this tall white stranger and why is he riding this bike through our village?  They have never seen anything like it.  So he is taken in and taken care of.  This is their way, and one of the things that has made the experience fulfilling.

    He has also spent some nights with other Peace Corp volunteers who he has connected with on Facebook.  He took some time off in Guinea to hike and explore the beautiful area of Fouta Dajalon. A place anyone who comes to Guinea visits, although not too many Americans in Guinea. He thought it was an amazingly beautiful place.

    His journey will end soon in Dakar, Senegal.  He anxiously looked for his first glimpse of the sea.  Being land-locked in Burkina Faso has made him thirst for the ocean.  He will relax and enjoy the beach here, before flying to meet up with us on August 1st in Lisbon.

    Where I will fatten him up.

    My adventurous boy.

    Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

    H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I wanted to read this book because it was receiving accolades and rave reviews from every corner and genre. The story of the authors unique experience raising a goshawk.

    But I just didn’t love it. I liked it but didn’t love it. It dragged for me.  Sorry, I really wanted to like it more.

    But I still think many readers would enjoy it, lovingly told the underlying story is how author and bird find themselves and succeed together.

    If you love birds or if you have felt lost with grief “H is for Hawk” might ring true for you, as MacDonald chronicles her experience raising one of natures most viscous predators and coming out whole on the other side.

    H is for Hawk ⭐️⭐️⭐️

     

     

    And All the Rest  --  Travel Around the World

    Smoke on the Water

    Chapter Nine – Split Fired Up

    We have been in Split Croatia now for four days and it is a very beautiful city.  I’ll write more about the city itself soon, but today I want to briefly mention the heat.  The heat is definitely on in Split, and all through out Croatia and the result is some devastating wildfires.

    Split sits on a beautiful harbor and the city itself is low.  But on three sides rise beautiful mountains and it reminds me very much of Eastern Washington.  And today it reminded me very much of summer fires in Eastern Washington.

    We first spotted the smoke

    We first noticed the smoke yesterday, very subtle.   We had noticed a similar situation when we were in Dubrovnik but it never amounted to much.  But yesterday it did.  In the morning it was just a little smoke.  By late afternoon it was a firestorm, that unfortunately resulted in loss of life, loss of property and loss of homes.

    The locals seemed shaken.  Even though summer forest fires in the pine forests and dry scrub are common.  But this fire was close.  Too close for

    Late yesterday

    comfort.  Several villages in the surrounding hills lost buildings, schools and homes and one man was said to have died from a heart attack while watching his olive grove burn.

    By the early morning hours today the fires were said

    Fire plane in the distance ready to dip in the sea

    to be under control, although throughout the day we could see smoke and watched the firefighting airplanes dip into the sea to fill their tanks and head back up to the mountains.

    We are safe, and the part of the city we are in is also safe.  We will see how the rest of the time in Croatia plays out – and the rest of our time throughout

    Another fire in the distance today

    Europe.  Portugal, where we arrive on August 1st has had its share of fires since June.  We may see more there.

    Tomorrow we take a ferry to the island of Brac for the day and like everywhere else, the forests and villages there are like a tinder box.

    Cautiously we go.  The heat is on.

    Travel Around the World

    Dubrovnik on the Rocks

    Chapter Nine

    Two weeks in Dubrovnik is a perfect amount of time.  Not just a day excursion from a cruise ship but a chance to explore deeply this beautiful region, the interesting and ancient and recent history, the spectacular beaches and the food.

    Two weeks on the rock. Fabulous !

    We chose to stay outside of the old town in the Lapad neighborhood and I’m really glad we did.  This quiet little suburb is very near the beach and an easy and convenient ten minute bus ride to old town     Our Airbnb had a small but convenient kitchen and

    Lapad

    best of all a private little patio where we did yoga, played scrabble, hung out laundry and ate our meals.

    We test drove several beaches during our visit.  Each offering something a little different.  There is no sand – so people strewn boulders and even gravelly beaches are the norm.  You can hire a chair and umbrella (which we did twice) or lay on the concrete  or rocks (which we did three times).  The water is refreshing and clear and a great place to swim.

    We spent a lot of time enjoying old town and I

    Old Town

    recommend the guided walking tour ($15) and the wall walk ($20).  I also recommend taking the cable car (http://www.dubrovnikcablecar.com $23) up and if you are physically fit take the trail up instead.  It’s a great work out and the view is incredible.

    Lokrum Island

    We took the ferry out to Lokrum Island ($10) and really enjoyed that day walking around the island, swimming in the sea and seeing the old monastery.

    We enjoyed two cultural experiences – a live theatrical Performance of “A Midsummer’s Nights Dream” inside Fort Lovejenac and a live operatic performance of Carmina Burana outside under the stars in the square.  The later is part of the annual

    Carmina Burana under the stars

    Dubrovnik Summer Festival an 8 week performance  extravaganza annually.

    The wall walk

    And definitely go to a cooking class and or a food walking tour.  A great experience.  Read more about that experience here.

    We rented a car one day and drove to the amazing ancient town of Kotor in Montenegro about two hours south.  If you have the time I thought it was a beautiful place and the drive was spectacular.

    Kotor Montenegron

    We did not go out to any of the other local islands, but there are several to choose from.  We decided to wait and visit some islands from Split, where we are headed next.

    If you visit Dubrovnik in the summer just come with an open mind that it will be crowded and hot.  But taking two weeks gives you time to avoid some of the crowds and get a bit deeper.  The ancient history as well as the history around the more recent 1991 war is worth learning and truly understanding.  It’s fascinating to talk to those who lived through it and see how far they have come in just a couple decades.

    Tourism is the economic driver of Dubrovnik so be prepared for it to feel touristy.  It does.  But you should come anyway and take your time discovering all that is here – old, new, traditional and beautiful.  One of the oldest cities in the world – Dubrovnik on the rocks.

    Chapter Nine continues in Split! Fabulous!

     

     

     

    And All the Rest  --  Travel Around the World

    The Care Package

    Chapter Nine

    I’m getting used to not having access to the things I use regularly back in the USA from deodorant to peanut butter.  But with the arrival of my mother-in-law we took possession of a whole lot of items we’ve been missing. It was like Christmas when she dumped out her bag.  In fact, her suitcase was full of our things – more than her own!

    In the past couple of months we have ordered things online and shipped them to my sister who delivered them to my mom in law. She has also done some shopping for us. And my friend Sonja went and bought me a collapsible colander!  What a treat!

    The things we wanted included –

    • Powdered Gatorade
    • solid stick Deodorant
    • Giant bottle of Ibuprofen
    • Tylenol Sinus Medicine
    • Hiking socks
    • Crossword puzzle books
    • One lightweight sleeping bag (for the Camino)
    • Can Opener
    • Collapsible Colander
    • Contact lenses
    • Prescriptions
    • Refill for Gillette woman’s razor
    • New heads for our battery operated toothbrushes
    • Travel books (Australia and Bali)
    • Camino passport
    • Bed bug spray for Camino
    • Updated credit cards
    • Camera lens for the iPhone
    • Freezer bags
    • One cardigan sweater (that I regretted sending home in February)

    When Lynn leaves we plan to ship some things home with her as well. Even though we already shipped a box home, the longer we are gone the more we have honed down the clothes, shoes and miscellaneous other items we don’t need or want on the Grand Adventure.  So she will take home some long pants and long sleeves shirts and a few other clothing items, my green Chucks, our water bladders that go in our backpacks,  a few gifts and cookbooks we have purchased and a few miscellaneous other things.

    Simplify.

    Despite taking possession of all the items mentioned above, we still believe we will be lighter and more sharply appointed for our minimal needs.

    A big thank you to Everyone who helped get us these goodies!  Our comrades!

    The journey continues!

     

    Family and Friends

    Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

    Chapter Nine – We finally get company


    Very early in our travels and by sheer coincidence we were able to meet up for dinner with a friend of mine from high school (in Chiang Mai) and then again friends from Gig Harbor (in Saigon).

    We made it clear when we left home that friends were encouraged to catch up with us and spend some time on the Grand Adventure. So far though it hasn’t happened.

    Until today. Today we welcome our first visitor and actually begin a series of opportunities over the next few months to either host or hook up with friends.

    Today Arne’s mom arrives from Bremerton to spend two weeks with us. We are excited.

    Arne took this sign to the airport.

    We are excited to see her and catch up on news from home.  We are excited to start doing the touristy things here in Dubrovnik that we have been saving for when she arrives. We are excited to take possession of the care package from home – things we have ordered and had shipped to her house that we can’t seem to get here and both need and want.

    We are excited. Something new and different on the Grand Adventure.

    In the months ahead we will also be visiting friends in Slovenia, seeing Erik in Portugal, visiting our friend Leslie in Tunisia and enjoying a holiday with our friends Steve and Sarah in Morocco.

    But today we focus on Arne’s Mom. Welcome to Croatia Mom – Lynn – Granny!  Let the games begin!