R-L's Excellent Adventure

Joined March 2016
  • Day30

    Homeward Bound!!

    July 8, 2016 in Denmark

    Our adventure is coming full circle. On the way back to Bucharest from Bran, our driver stopped at the Rasnov Citadel dating from 1225. It sits high on a hill overlooking the village. The view is spectacular. After admiring the view and checking out the ruins, we continued on our way to Bucharest to catch a flight to Copenhagen where we began. As our plane approached the airport we flew over the Oresund Bridge that we took over to Malmo, Sweden the first day. Our hotel in Copenhagen for the night was the Bella Sky and was such a dichotomy from where we began the day, historic ruins to space age ultra modern. But that's pretty much how our adventure has been, a wild blend of traditional & modern 21st century life. We've learned to adapt to our surroundings as we've traveled. Even the little things like finding a restroom were different everywhere we went. Some places say 'Toilette' and others say 'WC' (water closet). There were a few 'Restrooms' and one 'Pissour'. Yes, we did a double take on that one too. It has been a wonderful 3 weeks full of fun & new people. We met Alex, another Whitehall girl, for drinks & dinner on our last night in Copenhagen and met her new husband. It was great for Alex & Rebecca to catch up and to get to know her husband. Now we're off to return home. After three weeks of being away from our families we're ready to be back.Read more

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  • Day28

    Dracula's Castle

    July 6, 2016 in Romania

    We started our day with a visit to Bran Castle aka Dracula's Castle. No self-respecting tourist could pass up that opportunity. However, being the type of tourist who gets really annoyed at masses of tourists, we chose to go as soon as it opened for the day. Lucky for us we were able to zip thru with very little fanfare, snap some photos, explore a secret passage & admire the view from the castle windows. We finished in time to find a sidewalk cafe just as the masses began to line up. High-fives all around! Seriously though, the castle grounds are beautiful and the interior is set up so you get a feeling of what it would be like to live there. We spent the remainder of our day walking around Bran & relaxing at our Inn. It is so amazing to see that in this day & age farmers are still working fields with old fashioned scythes and horses are pulling large wagons piled high with hay. It seems that in many ways a visit to Romania is like stepping back in time. What's up for tomorrow? After a quick stop at the Rasnov Citadel, we head back to Bucharest to catch a flight to Copenhagen where we began.Read more

  • Day27

    Good Evening Transylvania

    July 5, 2016 in Romania

    We said goodbye to Belgrade and all of our wonderful friends there but we were sooo looking forward to the next stage of our adventure. We flew into Bucharest, Romania and met our guide Marin (arranged by our inn) at the airport. We immediately set out for Transylvania. He was so knowledgeable he had written his own guide book for Transylvania. As we drove through the beautiful Carpathian mountains, he told us about the unique history of Romania and the area of Transylvania. We stopped in Sinaia to visit the spectacular Peles Castle. It's very odd to find out that a lot of places in Transylvania have 3 names; one in Romanian, one in German and one in the local tongue. Talk about confusion. Glad we have a guide because we'd never find our way otherwise. We continued on until we came to the old town area of Brasov with its gothic Black Church and quaint center square. Finally, we arrived in Bran, the home of Bran Castle or otherwise known as Dracula's Castle. We were in awe of the view from our room. We overlook the castle and the idyllic village below the castle. The long day of traveling finally caught up with us as the sun set on the mountains above Bran Castle. Tomorrow we get to see it up close. We're just giddy with excitement. Or maybe it's just being slap happy from a lack of sleep.Read more

  • Day26

    The Many Faces of Belgrade

    July 4, 2016 in Serbia

    Today we were treated to another wonderful day in Belgrade with two more of Rebecca's Whitehall girls, sisters Theodora and Sandra with their boyfriends Ivan and Sladjan. We met up for an incredible lunch followed by a walk around the city center learning more about the history of Belgrade. We walked thru Kalemegdan Park to see the imposing Belgrade Fortress located at the junction of the Danube & Sava rivers. We learned the Sava river was the border between the Ottoman Empire & the Austrio-Hugarian Empire. Ottoman influences on this side of the river are easy to spot. Later we crossed the bridge and saw the Austrian influences. It was so much fun learning about the complex history of this incredible city. Similar to all areas of what was once Yugoslavia, a single block will have a beautiful, centuries old building next door to a modern structure next door to a bombed, burned out remnant. Every step, every corner brings something wonderful to see. We ended our day at another amazing restaurant styled to look like the manufacturing plant it once was. Sitting under a canopy of red umbrellas with yet more awesome food and local wine was a perfect end to a perfect day.Read more

  • Day24

    Hello Belgrade!!!

    July 2, 2016 in Serbia

    We arrived late yeasterday afternoon in Belgrade, Serbia and were treated to a wonderful home cooked Serbian meal. Marija, one of Rebecca's Whitehall Inn girls, and her husband Luka were our amazing chefs & hosts. They introduced us to many Serbian foods and customs. We had a great time catching up, meeting their beautiful baby and enjoying all the food. Today, they showed us the lively Belgrade Beach with tons of summer activities. Marija & Luka took us to a restaurant designed in the style of a traditional Serbian home. Again we had some awesome local food and conversation. They were wonderful hosts who suggested many things for us to do or see while we are in Belgrade. After an afternoon of shopping in the trendy shopping district where our room is located, we took Marija & Luka's suggestion and went to the Bohemian Quarter on Skadarlija street for yet another amazing local meal. We think there is definitely a pattern developing during our travels... We REALLY like to try the local food. We are looking forward to catching up with Theodora & Alessandra tomorrow. T & Alex worked at the Whitehall Inn during the 2nd season. And, of course, additional sight seeing & sampling local fare.Read more

  • Day22

    Thelma & Louise Take Montenegro

    June 30, 2016 in Montenegro

    Drivers in Croatia & Montenegro are insane! We decided the best way to see Montenegro was to rent a car and take a road trip. Our rental car was delivered to the ferry port so we could take off asap at the start of our day. As we made our way out of Dubrovnik, we only needed two u-turns then we were off! Lana drove while Rebecca admired the scenery of the Adriatic coast. After a stop for breakfast in Cavtat, Croatia and yet another u-turn or two (Is a pattern developing?) we made it to the border. The border crossing was actually very simple but the long line stopped us for about 30min. By this time in our journey Lana was wishing she had reserved a stick shift as her inner race car driver was dying to be released on the curves and switchbacks of the coastal mountain road. But alas she was only able let it out when the crazy local drivers swerved around on the 2 lane road. We decided speed limits & no passing zones were only suggestions for the locals.

    We stopped for lunch at the beautiful seaside village of Perast. It was easy to see the Venetian heritage of Montenegro. A walk around the village then on to the small walled city of Kotor. We had a rather complicated discussion with the parking lot attendent in Kotor about how much & how to pay for the parking as he didn't speak English & we didn't speak Montenegren. We assume we finally got it right since he didn't chase after us when we left. The walls of Kotor climb up the mountainside with the castle on top. How they managed to built this fortress without modern machinery is a wonder. The magnitude of the walls can't be captured in photos. We managed to make it all the way back to Dubrovnik without any u-turns or being run off the road by the locals. Realizing that the 5 cruise ships that entered port this morning were now gone we took advantage of the smaller crowds to see the large walled city of Dubrovnik. It was so big & confusing & hot that we stayed for just a short time. Lana was worried about having to get the car out of the tiny parallel parking space & backing up all the way uphill on the narrow curved street to get out of the tight parking area. Rebecca was worried about climbing all of the slippery uneven stairs we descended to get to the main level of the city. Did we say it was hot? Finally, we succeeded in getting out of our parking spot without any damage to the car. LOTS of teamwork was required. We were soon looking forward to showers after the hot sweaty day. By the way, if a crazy man starts yelling at you in Croatian, double check that you are not going the wrong way on a one way street. Yes, one last u-turn was required. We finally made it to our hotel for those showers, glad we chose not to return to the island we stayed at last night. The small island was expecting their regular load of loud party all night sailing Australians. We had a wonderful dinner on the hotel terrace and watched the sunset on the islands of Croatia. Tomorrow? Belgrade Serbia here we come.
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  • Day21

    A Bosnian Road Trip

    June 29, 2016 in Croatia

    Another reminder about travel in eastern Europe: Don't plan on using public transportation if you want to get anywhere in a timely manner. While having coffee & cokes with our new housemate, Frances (an American living in Paris), we discovered that the bus from Mostar to Dubrovnik takes 4hrs+ but a private driver only takes 2 AND the price for the driver is a mere $5 more. A no brainer! Our driver Selma, actually owns a car rental company in Mostar and was the sister of the very nice gentleman in the tourism office. He introduced us and wham, bam we got a driver. She picked us up in the morning and off we went. First stop was Kravice Falls in southern Bosnia. Talk about stunning! We stopped long enough to have a quick brunch before we continued on our way. As we waited in line at the border crossings into Croatia, we chatted about everything from Sheldon Cooper in the Big Bang Theory to Donald Trump to 'What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas'. We reached the gorgeous city of Dubrovnik and caught the ferry to the island of Sipan where we are staying for the night. The ferry ride was so fun watching the islands go by. We love the view from our room on Sipan! A quick respite then a short walk to a restaurant up (literally) the road from our room & watched the sunset with yet another set of of new friends from Florida. Tomorrow: a drive up the Adriatic coast into Montenegro.Read more

  • Day20

    A Journey Through Herzegovina

    June 28, 2016 in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Welcome to Bosnia & Herzegovina! As our day in Sarajevo ended, we learned our plan of taking the train from Sarajevo to Mostar was not a possibility. It seems the train tracks are under construction. Uh! Oh! We asked the front desk of our hotel what the options were to get to Mostar. They suggested a bus that would make the 2 hrs trip in 3hrs. Yuck! Not what we had in mind! However, as we both went to our phones to figure out what to do, Rebecca connected with Sarajevo Funky Tours. We could get a private tour guide for the day to show us the sights along the way to Mostar as well as in Mostar and drop us at the end of the day. Done deal!!! Nadir picked us up at our hotel in the morning and off we went. We traveled through the beautiful Bosnian & Herzegovinian mountains and made stops at several places. First was the town of Konjic and it's georgeous ottoman bridge. Next, we stopped at a bridge the locals call The Monument of Stupidity. It was blown up by the Nazis at the end of WWII as they retreated. The Yugoslavian ruler, Tito, evetually rebuilt it but then purposely blew it up again for a movie but never rebuilt it again. Next we stopped at the preserved village of Pocatelj to see an example of a typical ottoman village. For lunch we stopped at Blagaj the location of a Dervish house were Dervish monks continue to stop frequently to reflect & pray. Finally, we made our way to Mostar. The Stari Most Bridge rebuilt after being destroyed in 1993 was breathtaking. We wondered around the narrow streets of the old town exploring. We met a fellow American also staying at our Air B&B and we all made our way to dinner to watch the sunset on the Stari Most Bridge. What beautiful way to end a beautiful day! Onward tomorrow to Dubrovnik & the Adriatic Coast.Read more

  • Day19

    East Meets West in Sarejevo

    June 27, 2016 in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Sarajevo truly is where east meets west. If you stand on the center of the main street of the old town and look east you will see the typical buildings & mosques of the Ottoman Empire who ruled Sarajevo for hundreds of years. But then turn to the west and you will see the European influences from when the Austrians ruled the city. Talk about a split personality. Ha! Ha! But it made it pretty easy to tell where we were and we didn't get lost once! We were so excited to finally get a chance to see the Ramadan crowds after sunset. The old town really came to life. We joined right in enjoying the cool evening with dessert & coffee after our wonderful dinner. Good thing we're doing a lot of walking cause we're doing a lot of eating. We have had so much fun sampling all the local foods everywhere we've been. It's said that if you drink from the Bascarsija Fountain that you will return to Sarajevo. We didn't have a drink but we wouldn't mind coming back some day.Read more

  • Day19

    Sarajevo's Roses

    June 27, 2016 in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    We knew today's city tour would be subdued. It was a little overwhelming to see the effects of a war that was just 20yrs ago. This lively city has made great strides to recover from the atrocities committed here. The people are so postive & welcoming. It is easy to see how difficult it was during the 4 yr siege of Sarajevo. The city is surrounded by the Dinaric Alps making it impossible for the citizens to escape. Looking down the streets all you see on the horizon is mountains in every direction. In the slowest area to recover, sniper ally, there are still many buildings riddled with bullet holes. On those spots where a mortar took a human life, the locals filled in the dimples with red cement which they call Sarajevo Roses.

    After the tour, we treated ourselves to Sarajevo's best restaurant (per Azur) which did not disappoint and walked around old town enjoying an incredible mix of Eastern & Western cultures.
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