Masked Crusaders in Europe

Currently traveling
Simon & Jackie’s road trip / camping European Vacation 2020
Currently traveling
  • Day50

    Day 50 - Cuckoo Clocks Cuckoo

    Yesterday in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    Another dreadful night sleep, which undoubtedly is down to the ridiculously soft pillows. We are now looking forward to our own hard pillows at home.

    We had breakfast at 9.00am, it was the same fare of meats, cheese & bread.

    We then drove to Triberg Waterfall, which is Germany’s highest waterfall. It was a steep walk down a path to the entrance & we had to pay €6 each for the privilege. It initially seemed a bit steep, but a path took us around & over it. It wasn’t spectacular in size, but the fir trees & mossy rocks made it very atmospheric & probably worth the entrance fee. It was a long steep walk back to the car.

    We drove to Triberg town & invested €1 in 45 minutes worth of parking. We then located an ATM & got some cash out & bought two slices of Black Forest Gateau. Triberg is the home of Black Forest Gateau allegedly, so when in Rome....... Triberg is also full of cuckoo clock shops & workshops.

    At midday we departed Triberg & 5 minutes later just north of the town at Elbe Uhren-Park, we found the Largest Cuckoo Clock in the world, according to the Guinness book of records. The bumf describes the clock as 16.73 yards tall, the cuckoo as 4.9 yards long & weighing 331 pounds. Despite it’s size, it still delivers the typical Cuckoo Call every full hour and every half hour.

    We parked up, ate our BFG & waited for the largest cuckoo clock to do its thing. On the stroke of 12.30pm, the cuckoo appeared, spluttered a hardly audible cuckoo type noise & was gone before I could press record on my phone. It had been pathetic & quite frankly an embarrassment!

    We headed north & called in to the Spa town of Baden Baden. We saw a fountain, then continued around the French border another 150 miles to Trier. It wasn’t the most exciting drive, motorways with fir trees hugging both sides of the road. The only thing of note was that we passed by the Hockenheimring, a famous motor racing circuit.

    Around 5.30pm, we rolled into Trier & quickly located the Porta Nigra. The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is a large Roman city gate in Trier. It is today the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps, built in grey sandstone just before the year 200. Again it was a case of abandoning the car, snap a few photos & move on. Trier looks like it deserves a proper visit in the future.

    We then drove a further 25 miles north to our Hotel, Vogtshof von Wettlesdorf in Schonecken. It turned out to be a bikers pub, but the accommodation luckily was in a separate building. We have a massive triple room.

    Whilst unpacking, I very annoyingly discovered I left my favourite t-shirt hanging up in one of the last hotels we stayed in. Jackie has emailed them. That evening we went to the local pizzeria and we both had exceptionally good Schnitzels with chips & salad.

    Song of the Day : Cuckoo by Lissie.

    Bonus Songs : Clocks by Coldplay.

    Cuckoo by I Am Kloot.
    Read more

  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day49

    Day 49 - The Black Forest

    September 21 in Germany ⋅ 🌙 14 °C

    Woke up starving, so did my best to rectify the situation at breakfast. We had a plate of meat & cheese, several rolls mainly with delicious pâté & followed it with fruit. After checking out, we drove into Freiburg im Breisgau & parked up in an underground car park. We then commenced a mad dash around the city centre must-sees.

    First was Martin’s Gate, an iconic medieval gate tower with a clock (and a McDonalds). After a photo from either side, we galloped to the other side of town to Freiburger Munster, a grand cathedral with a unique Gothic tower. Freiburger Munster was started to be built in 1200 in a romanesque style, but construction continued in 1230 in a Gothic style, which accounts for the architecture.

    Around the outside of the cathedral were market stalls preventing me getting a decent photo of it in it’s entirety. We entered & were able to wander around admiring the ornate interior, but they wanted to charge us to tour the choir seats & alter. Surely god’s houses should be free. Jesus would be turning in his grave if he only knew!

    We continued to wander around the town getting our money’s worth of the car park, then with minutes to spare we returned to our car & paid for just one hour. Next stop was The Schlossbergturm which was a 10 minute drive up a steep wooded hill. We abandoned our car at the top end of a Funicular railway, then climbed up on foot a further half a mile to the Schlossbergturm.

    The Schlossbergturm or Castle Hill Tower is a 35 m high observation tower on Castle Hill Schlossberg on the edge of the historic Altstadt of Freiburg im Breisgau. It has 153 steps, its top is located 463 m above sea level and thus 185 m above the average altitude of the city (278 m). The tower which was built in 2002 stands out for its unusual design consisting of twisted tree trunks around a staircase made of steel. It has three platforms on the top is reached by a small spiral staircase.

    Despite being scared of heights, I decided to climb the Schlossbergturm, whilst Jackie couldn’t be bothered or so she said. Throughout the climb I could see the floor shrinking below me & I was clinging on for dear life. By the time I reached the top I was walking like Mrs Overall. The top of the tower gives stunning views of the town & surrounding countryside below apparently. I hung my camera over the railing & clicked away. I was aware I was making a spectacle of myself because people were looking at me, so I creeped back down the spiral staircase to the bottom. Apparently, Jackie didn’t see me at the top waving to her!

    Returning to the car, we were relieved to see that it had been clamped or towed. We then set the SatNav for Lake Titisee (I’m not making it up!) which was about 20 miles away. We parked up & followed the elderly crowds into Titisee, which is THE home of cuckoo clock making. We were bombarded with cuckoo shops & other tourist tat shops. Jacqueline couldn’t resist looking & soon established that there were some bargains to be had.

    I dragged her away to the glacier lake, which didn’t look as spectacular as others we had seen, but it was fighting against black clouds looming overhead. At 12.55pm, we located the world’s largest cuckoo clock (it wasn’t) & waited for it’s 1.00pm performance, which turned out to be a total anticlimax.

    We consoled ourselves with a beer in the sun, secured a bed for the night, then we had a Bratwurst in a bun for lunch. Jackie apparently was in the mood for shopping & she bought some mementos/alcohol. If that wasn’t enough, we (she) then went clothes shopping. Despite us nearly buying a pair of boots & a German fighter pilot leather jacket, we eventually walked away with 2 scarfs & a felt hat, all for Jackie.

    We decided to head straight to our hotel to plan our final days of the trip on our room balcony. We bought a couple of bottles of German white wine & checked ourselves into our ski chalet hotel in Schonwald im Schwarzwald, just 4 miles south of Triberg. In front of our balcony are 2 huge fir trees that blocked out our view of anything else, but were the home for 2 red squirrels.

    On our balcony we drank our two bottles of too sweet wine, then headed downtown for something to eat. In the whole town, there was just one restaurant open, Pizzeria Holzfällerstube, which was chock a block. We waited until a table became available with a couple of large beers.

    I stupidly ordered the house pizza & Jackie ordered a chilli pasta. When it eventually arrived Jackie’s pasta was not a patch on what she can make & my pizza was so overloaded that it became soggy. We ate about a half of our respective disappointing meals then ordered.the bill. It was at this point that we were informed that we had to pay the bill of €30 by cash.

    We only had a €10 note, so I went off in search of the only ATM in town. Eventually I found it, but it didn’t like our Caxton card, so that was that. I returned to the restaurant with the news & after much umming & aahing the waiter told us we could bring them the cash tomorrow. Of course we will.

    We celebrated our good fortune, sorry embarrassing incident, with a nightcap of cherry schnapps.

    Song of the Day : A Forest by The Cure

    Bonus Song of the Day : Spiral Staircase (Mystery) by Siouxsie & the Banshees.
    Read more

  • Day48

    Day 48 - Fairytale Castles

    September 20 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    After an awful night sleep for no apparent reason, I went down to the cafeteria to pick up our breakfasts to go. It was a decent doggie bag of a cheese roll, a ham roll, yoghurt, bar of chocolate, apple, apple juice & a large cup of coffee.

    It was just after 10am, when we hit the road heading for Hohenschwagon & it’s two famous castles. After negotiating the outskirts of Munich, we headed south & eventually picked up the Romantische Straße (Romantic Road), apparently devised by promotion-minded travel agents in the 1950s. “It describes the 350 kilometres (220 mi) of surface roads between Würzburg and Füssen in southern Germany, specifically in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, linking a number of picturesque towns and castles.

    “In medieval times, it was a trade route that connected the center of Germany with the south. Today, this region is thought by many international travellers to possess "quintessentially German" scenery and culture, in towns and cities such as Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg ob der Tauber and in castles such as Burg Harburg and the famous Neuschwanstein”.

    We arrived outside Neuschwanstein around midday & on the approach road the two castles appeared out of their shroud of clouds up in the mountains. It was a magical sight to behold. The most iconic castle is the white Neuschwanstein Castle, a nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II (Mad King Ludwig) of Bavaria as a retreat and as a homage to Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds. The castle was intended as a home for the king, until he died.

    Neuschwanstein Castle has featured in numerous movies including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang & was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.

    The 2nd castle, Hohenschwangau Castle is a 19th-century palace. It was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria. It doesn’t look so impressive from a distance.

    After numerous photos we headed into Neuschwanstein, which was heaving with tourists. The car parks wanted €8 to park & the entry fee to each castle was €25, too much for us. Instead we (I) abandoned the car illegally & took photos as best as I could.

    Afterwards we continued through the expensive town of Fussen, heading further west just north of the Austrian & Swiss borders until we arrived in Friedrichshafen. Friedrichshafen sits on the northern shores of Lake Constance looking across at it’s neighbour, Switzerland on the southern shore. It is also surrounded by vineyards & apple shrubs bursting at the seams with fruit.

    We stopped for a leg stretch & a nosey & discovered that the lake shores were sandy & effectively a beach as we know it. It may have been that it was a Sunday, but the roads on this stretch were heaving.

    We could have stayed, but decided to push on to our intended destination in the Black Forest. It was a slow, but scenic drive to Merzhausen, a couple of miles south of Freiburg im Breisgau, the largest town in the Black Forest. Our hotel, Gruner Baum Merzhausen is a traditional style hotel for the region.

    After checking in, we went down to the bar & restaurant for a couple of locally brewed beers & planned our itinerary for tomorrow. Dinner was expensive, so after much debate we ended up just sharing a carpaccio salad & a traditional German pizza, which was very thin & called a Flammkuchen. It was nice, but I went to bed still hungry.

    Song of the Day : Castles in the Air by Don McLean.
    Read more

  • Day47

    Day 47 - Masacre Scenes

    September 19 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

    It wasn’t until 10am that we were up & checking out of the hotel. We returned to our car & set off to visit some sights around Munich that were too far to see on foot.

    First up we drove to the Bavariaring, the road that circles the massive empty concrete blob of ground in the western side of the city that is the official venue for Oktoberfest. We parked up & saw lots of police vans cruising around & small groups of men walking about. Today was supposed to be the first day of Oktoberfest 2020 & should have been full of huge beer tents & funfairs. Some people obviously thought they would attend anyway.

    Oktoberfest 2020 was supposed to have run from the 19th September to 4th October, but had been cancelled due Covid-19. It also explained why we saw a lot of people dressed in the traditional Bavarian outfits of lederhosen & dirndlkleid.

    We then drove a few miles to the south of the city to the home of Bayern Munich FC, where they have their training ground & club shop. There was a lot of activity with 2 club coaches outside, a Sky TV van & lots of fans. We were able to park up & take a few photos.

    We next headed to Schlosspark Nymphenburg, where the Nymphenburg Palace sits in expansive landscaped gardens about 4 miles to the west of the city. It was refreshing to discover that we were able to park free of charge. Nymphenburg Palace is one of the largest royal palaces in Europe, which is open to the public for a fee, but we decided to walk the free 299 hectare gardens with it’s sculptures & picturesque lakes. It was a very pleasant couple of hours in the warm sun.

    The next destination was the Olympic Park, scene of the 1972 summer Olympics, particularly infamous for an attack by eight members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, who took nine members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage, after killing two of them previously, and killing them along with a West German police officer. It didn’t end well.

    We got to the outskirts of the Olympic Park but our onward movement was impeded by barriers. We drove round trying to find a suitable place to stop, but all potential parking spaces were filled by families visiting a funfair on the site. We abandoned this idea & hunted down a Hofpfisterie or other bakery as we were now starving. We bought two lamb pies & a Danish pastry.

    We then headed north out of the city, stopping to photo the Allianz Arena, Bayern Munich’s 75,000 seater stadium since 2005 & home of Friday night’s massacre.

    From one massacre, we drove a further 10 miles north to Dachau Concentration Camp, the first Nazi Concentration Camp of it’s kind. It opened on the 22nd March 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor & was originally built to house political prisoner. It became the longest running Nazi Concentration Camp & was finally liberated by US troops on 29th April 1945. Records show that during the period there was an intake of 206,206 prisoners and deaths of 31,951. The Camp was designed for 6,000 prisoners, but by the end 30,000 prisoners were crammed into it.

    The camp was also the SS Training Centre & the regime was a model for all other Nazi Concentration Camps. The camp was a work camp, but the weak & disabled were exterminated in the crematorium. Hideous experiments were conducted on the detainees to test human tolerance, including hypothermia & drinking solely salt water which were tests for the Luftwaffe pilots.

    We walked through the informative museum in the main building, then went out to walk amongst the prisoners barracks, two of which were still standing. We visited the memorial site and then took a walk through the crematorium, which was capable of being used as a gas chamber.

    At 5.00pm sharp, Das Fuhrer appeared & chillingly informed us that we needed to leave as it got cold at night with the gates locked. We think it was his attempt at German humour!

    Back at the car, we selected our accommodation for the night & drove to a very basic, but satisfactory hotel in a industrial area of Parsdorf to the east of Munich. I got told off for momentarily removing my mask from the officious receptionist.

    That evening we walked half a mile to a Bavarian restaurant & had a fantastic meal of pork & dumplings & pork schnitzel & chips. It was excellent, certainly one of the best meals of our entire trip.

    Song of the Day : Ghosts of Dachau (“Dachau Was A Nazi Concentration Camp, The Scene Of Mass Murders”) by The Style Council.
    Read more

  • Day46

    Day 46 - Septemberfest in Munich

    September 18 in Germany ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

    After a decent night’s sleep, Jackie got ready whilst I caught up with my blog. It was just after 10am, when we actually got out on the streets of Munich.

    As I previously mentioned our hotel is situated in salubrious surroundings. It was referred to on Booking.com as the red light district of Munich, but to us you can’t ignore the fact that young North African and Middle Eastern males are hanging around in groups outside every single shop, which are mainly barbershops & fast food joints. It would be intimidating for lone females, particularly when you add limbless beggars into the equation.

    We stopped at a Coffee Fellows for a skinny latte & a bagel each. This was a mistake, because we were now full & bloated. We then commenced my walking tour of the Old Town of Munich. We entered the Old Town at Karlsplatz, walked down Neuhauser Street & popped into St Michael’s Church. We continued to Frauenkirche, the Church of our Lady, then located Marienplatz, the main square of Munich Old Town, with it’s gothic Town Hall, which was pretty impressive.

    We then popped into Munich’s oldest church, Alter Peter, then headed to Viktualienmarkt, a food market since 1807, selling a mouthwatering array of fine foods. It was too early to eat anything else, so we headed north to the Residence, an inner-city palace residence of Bavarian kings & rulers, now an art museum. On the roundabout in front of it was a beach, complete with sand and deck chairs.

    Behind the Residence, we walked through the Hofgarten , then headed out to Englischer Garten (English Garden). It was a big open park, complete with a naked man ensuring that everyone saw him. We walked a mile or so to the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) where we had a traditional litre stein of lager in the sunny beer park. The barman was an Englishman from Tunbridge Wells, who has lived in Munich for the last 2 years.

    Afterwards we took a stroll through Maximiliansanlagen park alongside the Isar river to the Maximilianeum, a palatial state parliament building. We then stopped at a traditional Bavarian bar, just outside the Old Town, for a pint of ‘normal’ German lager followed by an Oktoberfest beer.

    Suitably refreshed, we walked back through the Old Town to our hotel to rest our aching feet. Later that evening after researching TripAdvisor we walked over another mile and a half to a recommended Chinese restaurant called Man Fat. We had a very delicious duck in pancakes with hoisin sauce & crispy chicken with fried noodles & peanut sauce. It was definitely worth the walk there & back.

    Bayern Munich thrashed Schalke 8-0 this evening, but sadly no fans were allowed in the stadium.

    Song of the Day : In Munchen steht ein Hofbrauhaus by Bayernkapelle.
    Read more

  • Day45

    Day 45 - Guten Tag Deutschland!

    September 17 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Inevitably I woke shortly after 3.00am & never got back to sleep again. Perfect preparation for a long day of driving!

    We had breakfast at 8.30pm, loaded up the car only to discover a tyre inflation system error warning light & a service warning light illuminated on the dashboard. We had messed about with it the previous evening & seemed to have buggered it up. Perfect news for a long day of driving!

    We popped into the a local Spar shop for some final provisions, sweets & drinks. After, with a little bit of trepidation, we headed to the Slovenia border crossing armed with a detailed travel itinerary of exactly where we had been in the last 6 weeks.

    It was 10.00am exactly as we approached the vehicle free border & as Jackie wound down the window & raised our passports, the guard who was having a fag, just waved us through. Great, I was glad I had spent time preparing our travel itinerary! Still I’m sure it will be useful at the other border crossings.

    The SatNav was set for Lake Bled without tolls & it took us back up to Koper, then north east on the A1. The A1 is a well maintained dual carriageway & the main road through Slovenia. We followed it to the outskirts of the capital city of Ljubljana, then picked up the A2, another dual carriageway north. Slovenia is a relatively poor country & they are definitely missing a trick by not charging a toll, because this is the main land route for Germans seeking sun in Croatia & Greece.

    118 miles later & around midday we arrived in Bled with it’s fabulous lake in the Julian Alps. There were car parks signposted, but I skirted the lake seeking a spot we could stop at for free. I did, illegally on the junction of a private road. We both got out to admire the lake from the waters edge.

    Lake Bled is very picturesque, surrounded by mountains & forests. The lake is 6,960ft long, 4,530ft wide & has a maximum depth of 97ft. Bled Island sits in the middle of the lake & has several buildings including the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. Above the lake sits the impressive Bled Castle on the north shore.

    After taking sufficient photos & disabling the warning light on our dashboard, we set the SatNav for München (Munich), Germany again avoiding all tolls. It was to be a further 250 mile journey arriving about 5 & a half hours later.

    We circuited the lake once more, then instead of rejoining the A2, we followed the 452 & 201 around the northern edge of Triglav National Park. The border crossing into Austria was at the remote Wurzenpass.

    We were the only vehicle at the crossing & we showed the guard our passports & stressed we were transiting straight through to Germany. The guard asked us where we had been & we told him Croatia, to which he asked us to wait & he ran into his office. Seconds later he returned with a Self Declaration sheet of paper in which I had to write my name, sign and date it. He didn’t look at our passports to check the details or write down our vehicles index, but instead sent us on our way saying we weren’t allowed to stop in Austria. That was easy.

    We then climbed up an extremely steep road over Wurzenpass & scarily back down the other side. Our route took us towards Villach, then along Route 100, which followed the Drau river & sat in the shadow of the raised A10 toll road. Our route took us through numerous pretty Austrian villages & then Route 99, up & down near deserted skiing resorts.

    It was a very enjoyable drive until around 4.30pm, we arrived in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart. The traffic was horrendous & we spent over an hour in a constant traffic jam. It prompted Jackie to ask the question “Would the toll road have avoided this traffic?” She then looked it up & the toll road was about 20 miles shorter & at least 3 hours quicker, BUT that’s not the point of a road trip!

    Eventually we made it out of Salzburg & reached the border crossing into Germany. The guard waved us on without even seeing our passports. WoW. We then hurtled along the toll free Autobahn 8 for 90 miles to Munich. Despite doing 80mph, a procession of BMWs, Audi’s & Mercedes sped past us as if we were hardly moving.

    It was gone 7.00pm, when we arrived in Munich, parked our car in a designated underground car park & walked to our hotel, H+ Hotel München. The receptionist was extremely helpful & provided us with a map for all the things we needed to see & a recommendation for dinner. Our hotel room is bijou, but very comfortable & functional. A good example of German efficiency.

    We dumped our bags & crossed the road to Schiller Braeu, a Bavarian bar & restaurant. We walked in & a very officious serving wench (Helga) shouted at us to put on our masks. The whole restaurant looked around at us. Good start!

    We had a couple of large home brewed lagers. Jackie had the most expensive thing on the menu again, Bavarian roast beef smothered in onions & roast potatoes. I had roast pork and crackling in a dark beer sauce, 2 types of dumplings & coleslaw. It was much needed superb hearty fare.

    After a short stroll around our salubrious surroundings, we called it a night.

    Song of the Day : Border Song by Elton John.

    Bonus Songs : Bled by Every Mothers Nightmare.

    Autobahn by Kraftwerk.

    Madame Helga by The Stereophonics.
    Read more

  • Day44

    Day 44 - Final Beach Day

    September 16 in Croatia ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    We had a great night sleep & 8.30am we went down for a hearty breakfast. We had freshly made omelettes, then abused the buffet as much as we could.

    We rolled out & hit the road for the beach. I took a slight diversion to reach a vantage point to look down on the border crossing into Slovenia. It was really quiet, just a couple of vehicles queuing, unlike the massive traffic jam we witnessed a month ago.

    At the beach we were pleased to see that yesterday’s seaweed had dissipated, so we found our spot & toasted. I even got Zoom Lolly Lilo out for a final outing of the year. At lunch we had a couple of beers in the nice little bar & heard a really good remix of Losing My Religion by REM. Unfortunately Shazam couldn’t identify it. We then resumed sunning ourselves until 5.30pm and that was that.

    That evening we had dinner at the same table. The restaurant manager was in & remembered us from a month ago. He gave us complimentary drinks, Jackie had a sparkling Rose & I had a homemade herb grappas. For dinner, Jackie had steak & vegetables, whilst I had gnocchi with bull tail. A nice final dinner in Croatia.

    Song of the Day - Losing My Religion by Lacuna Coil.
    Read more

  • Day43

    Day 43 - Repositioning to the Border

    September 15 in Croatia ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    After packing up & getting ready, the owner made us a large pot of coffee which we drank in the cool mountain air. We then paid up, said our goodbyes around 9.30am & headed north towards the border.

    Our journey took us through mountains and valleys littered with shepherds, beehives & low clouds. We stopped at a little roadside stall to inspect the wares & discovered that we were allowed to sample the produce. There were 6 different honeys, a plate of 3 different cheeses & she insisted we tried her blackberry wine. After sampling everything at least once, we purchased 2 pots of honey & a bottle of her blackberry wine.

    Once over the mountains we dropped down dramatically to the Adriatic coast at Senj & followed the coast road that we had a month ago travelled in the previous direction. At 11am we stopped at a supermarket for elevenses. I bought a greasy meat pie (my last for this trip) & Jackie had a tuna sandwich.

    Refreshed we continued north & set the SatNav to take us back to the beach in Novigrad that we had previously spent a happy day on. I stupidly let the SatNav take the strain without getting an overview of the route. We followed blindly until Jackie questioned why we were seeing Kuna exchange booths at the side of the road. My SatNav was taking us across the border into Slovenia......argh! We only want to mess about with borders once, so we turned around to find an alternative route.

    Our revised route took us over another mountain range across Istria via Pazin on very slow narrow windy roads. When we eventually descended to the coast at Novigrad it was gone 2.30pm. We located our beach to assess how many days we would stay before heading home.

    The beach had more seaweed on it than we remembered & it made our decision for us - we would have one more final day of sun then hop over the border. After a couple of hours on the blazing hot beach we packed up & headed to Casa Romantica La Parenzana for a return visit.

    The manager welcomed us back like old friends & upgraded us to Room 1, the best room. It was very spacious with a colossal bathroom much to Jackie’s delight. We had a beer, then sat down in our favourite restaurant. Jackie ordered seafood pljukanci (a type of pasta) & I tagliatelle with beefsteak, rucola salad & truffle, all washed down with a litre of the house white.

    After savouring the ambience for an hour or so, we called it a night.

    Song of the Day : Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh.
    Read more

  • Day42

    Day 42 - Most Beautiful Place on Earth?

    September 14 in Croatia ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    We woke up in the skiing village of Jereza after a really decent night’s sleep. We went down at 9.00am for our pre-arranged €7 breakfast. The owner brought out fresh coffee, then he cooked a ham & cheese omelette for us. We also had cereal, a plate of ham, cheese & salami, bread & jams, yoghurt, a banana each & jug of orange juice. We ate as much as we could & took the yoghurt & banana with us. It was well worth it, but we couldn’t do it justice.

    Before 10am, we arrived at the car park for Entrance 2 of Plitvice Lakes National Park. It didn’t get off to an auspicious start, when we paid our 200 kuna (£25) each & received just our tickets only. I enquired about a map or leaflet & were told we could purchase one from the souvenir shop. A sign read “Take Nothing but Pictures, Leave Nothing but Footprints and Use Nothing but Time!” Well it certainly wouldn’t be any helpful literature.

    We entered the park both chuntering to each other that for the price it was outrageous, not like the US National Parks. Inside the park, I found an information desk & asked again for a map & the lady told me to take a photo of the map on a sign. Not quite the same! She did, however, advise to us take the H Route, a 4-6 hour trek of 9km. We then caught the electric bus to the start several miles away.

    We & about 40 others disembarked the bus & followed the elevated path. Within minutes we were walking alone & marvelling at the magnificence of the park. The lakes were absolutely crystal clear & a myriad of colours from deep blue, turquoise through to bright green. All around us were waterfalls & babbling brooks making their way downwards through lush vegetation. It was spellbindingly beautiful.

    Plitvice Lakes is described in official literature as ‘the oldest and largest national park in the Republic of Croatia. The park is situated in the mountainous region of Croatia, between the Mala Kapela mountain range in the west and northwest, and the Lička Plješivica mountain range to the southeast.

    With its exceptional natural beauty, this area has always attracted nature lovers, and on 8 April 1949, it was proclaimed Croatia’s first national park. The process of tufa formation, which results in the building of the tufa, or travertine, barriers and resulted in the creation of the lakes, is the outstanding universal value, for which the Plitvice Lakes were internationally recognised on 26 October 1979 with their inscription onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 1997, the boundaries of the national park were expanded, and today it covers an area just under 300 km2’.

    We followed the path taking hundreds of photos, 293 photos actually. As always I’m not sure I did it justice. After about 5km of trail winding around & over the lakes, we arrived at they boat station. We caught the free boat across a large vivid turquoise lake to the other end to continue our Route H.

    Before continuing, we took the opportunity for some refreshment. We had an ice cream & ate the juicy pears we had bought with us. The second leg of our journey only got even better, which I didn’t believe was possible.

    Our route took us through a gorge with dramatic waterfalls & caves & more turquoise water. Eventually the path took us up to the top of the gorge, which gave us fantastic views looking down below. We completed our 9 km Route H at Entrance 1, where we should have got an electric bus back to Entrance 2, but I wasn’t finished. Instead, I convinced Jackie that we still needed to walk the extra 4km around the lake. It was such a pleasant walk that she didn’t mind despite lugging a rucksack with 2 litres of water & various other things around.

    Around 4pm we completed our trail. We both agreed that the park had been the most beautiful place that we had ever been to or seen and it’s not like we haven’t seen a few around the world.

    In addition the park was pristine. Throughout the whole day we only saw one plastic bottle, one discarded cigarette butt & just a couple of coins thrown into the water. It was worth every single penny. I don’t know enough superlatives to describe it further so I won’t attempt it.

    After returning to the car, we had a cruise around the skiing resort, which is quite hard to visualise in the summer. Back at our accommodation, we trawled through our photos & picked out a selection for the blog.

    That evening we returned to Bistro Vucnica for a cheeseburger to share & an extra portion of French fries. Apparently Jackie couldn’t eat a whole one so nor could I!

    Song of the Day : You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker
    Read more