Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 4 - Idyllic

Today was a day trip to Bled, a beautiful little lake in the foothills of the Alps.  Definitely the type of place where people go to get away for the day or longer; something about it reminded me of Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.  People strolling around the lake with kids and dogs (but no monkey)' picnicking on the banks, and swimming, with boats of several kinds being rowed to the little island at one end with a church on it.  And, since this is Europe, the obligatory castle overlooking it all.  Wedding he stroll and had a picnic lunch of our own, composed of cheese we had left over from last night and a fresh baguette purchased in Ljubljana in the morning.  


  


After 3.5 miles around the lake, we decided that rather than driving to nearby Vintgar Gorge,we would hike the 2.5 miles.  Not a big mistake, but in the hot sun with little shade and a constant uphill climb, it was tiring.  Still, there were some nice pastoral scenes along the way - houses on the hills, horses in stables, cows in the field.


Eventually we made it to the gorge, and that was well worth the visit.  A 2 mile circuit along a beautiful small river with many little rapids and waterfalls cascading down.  One of the best parts of visiting the gorge was how much Ellery enjoyed it.  She complained that I was walking too fast and not savoring the beauty, and she was right.  


 

After the gorge, we were left with the walk back to the lake. And I admit, by the time we got back to the car, my feet were blistered and tired, my ankles ached, and my back was giving out.  I can't remember the last time I did so much hiking in one day.

But I survived well enough to make a final stroll along the canal when we returned to Ljubljana, stopping for ice cream and coffee. 






Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 3 - Ljubljana


This is not Disneyland after closing.  It is Ljubljana, Slovenia after they've rolled up the sidewalks, one of the most delightful European towns I've been to - despite the fact that it is overrun with tourists.  Because it doesn't feel at all like a tourist town.

Today began with a quick trip to the farmers market in Zagreb.  Lots of beautiful looking produce, and crappy carved shit.  As I said, it was a quick trip.



At 9 am, we were in our car and on our way to Slovenia.  The border was probably less than 30 minutes away, but it was one of those crossings where you immediately knew you were in a different country (ironic, in a way, since until a decade ago, these weren't separate countries).  The landscape was simply different - more green, a bit more hilly, and more dotted with small villages ("Ellery, should we stop at that castle?" "It's not in the guidebook, so no."). And more western European in some undefined way.  

  


We arrived in Ljubljana around 11, dropped the bags off at the hotel, and wandered for the next 5 hours.  Basically, we walked up and down the quaint main street and across the canal several times, stopping for coffee, for ice cream, for lunch, and the many outdoor cafes.  About the only "sights"we saw were the town hall and the castle, neither of which really merited the detour from strolling.  

  
  



After a late afternoon nap, we strolled some more, ending the evening eating cheese and drinking carpaccio while listening to an excellent street musician.  No deep meanings here, but really a perfect vacation day.




Monday, July 29, 2013

Days 1 and 2 - Rain Delays


So, we were all set at the airport, boarding passes at the ready, until the rains came.  Lots of it.  pouring rain.


The net result was that our flight to Frankfort was delayed by four hours.  Which of course meant no hope for making our connection to Zagreb.  (It did, however, allow me to confirm to the police that the alarm that went off was storm-related and not thief related, and to have Lee check things out ANC walk Pepper since Lisa was stuck in rain-created traffic).  Undaunted, and with a few easily-placed phone calls (Amex was worthless, Lufthansa was great) was able to snag 2 of the last 4 seats on a later flight.  Side benefit - the connection was so tight that we weren't forced to spend any extra time in the hellhole that is the Frankfort Airport transit area.

And really, being late didn't make a whole lot of difference.  As we had been forewarned, Zagreb has little to offer in the way of interesting or unique experiences.  The hotel is fine, right on the central square, which looks pretty much like every other European central square.  

We walked around the old part of town discovering, well, not much. 



Except the Museum of Broken Relationships,  Really, an excellent place where people send mementos of past relationships.  Funny, touching, tragic.  Well worth the $5 entrance fee.


Really, how awesome is that?  So, maybe it is fitting that this museum is surrounded by Nikola Tesla homages everywhere.  As Els asked, "So, what, is he like the only Croatian who's famous?"  Um, maybe,



Dinner was at a nice little Italian place near the hotel, with a walk and ice cream after.  


And now bed.