Nancy's Travelblogue

... there isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going. -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Location: California, United States

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Today we fly Vienna to San Francisco, retracing our tracks but this time following the sun. We leave Vienna at 7 a.m. and fly about 16 hours to arrive in San Francisco at 1:30 p.m. I'm not ready to come home, but that's ok. My life is so rich and full of sensations and experiences from this trip that I can carry with me all my life, and share on this blog, that it is just ok to be back home.

In fact, when I arrive, I drop everything to spend a few hours puttering in my garden.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Today is our last day in Europe. How can I best savor it? Jonathan is still under the weather so I set out on my own. I try to touch bases with all the landmarks that have guided me here. I walk past the Swiss clock near our hotel, then over to St Stephensplatz for an espresso. Then behind the cathedral to Mozart's home to pay homage one more time. Now down the Kartnerstrasse to the Graben, Newmarkt, and over to our first hotel near the Staatsoper. I think about the night we arrived almost 4 weeks ago, google-eyed and jet lagged. We set out for a late dinner and got lost going only one block away! Now I feel so comfortable moving through Vienna.

Later in the day Jonathan and I set out in a different direction, wandering somewhat aimlessly. And surprise! we come to an entirely unknown part of town, just steps away from our hotel. It's the oldest part of town, near the Danube, and to a church that was first constructed in the 1100s. This is also an area for young and hip Viennese, with jazz clubs and bars.

I'm happy to know that there is yet much to learn and do and experience in Vienna, and plenty of reason to return. But for now, it's home and packing for a 3:45 a.m. wake up call.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Vienna. Jonathan stays in our hotel to nurse a respiratory infection while I head out to explore Vienna on my own.

Time for early 20th century art. I trace the path of Gustav Klimt, my favorite Viennese artist. First I find a shop on the Kartnerstrasse which sells reproductions of his works on cloth, posters, coffee cups and the like. Don't know how they skirt the copyright. Then on the the Museum of Modern Art, and finally to the Belvedere Palace, where the largest collection of his works lives. Funny, when I see Klimt's works for real, I'm less impressed instead of more. I was actually more impressed with the works of his student, Egon Scheile, who created enormously powerful works before he died at the age of 28.

I walk home through the city streets thinking about how rich and wonderful this travel experience is -- how much we've seen and done and thought about and shared. I hope I can carry this feeling with me for a very long time. Two more days before we return to San Francisco.

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Monday, June 11, 2007


We arrive in Rijeka promptly at 7 a.m., before even the industrious Croatians are up and about. With 4 hours before our train to Vienna leaves, we check our baggage and search for the interesting part of town. Finally we find the central part of town which has been redesigned as a pedestrian mall.

But Rijeka is an industrial port city of about 150,000, not a quaint tourist city. It's right on the border of Austria and Italy, so very closely connected to northern Europe, and it was hardly affected by the Yugoslav war.

I enjoyed our stroll and our time in the cafe, but was not disappointed when it was time to get on the train. I love train travel, and was quite happy to spend the next 10 hours traveling to Vienna.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007


Today is travel day. Janja makes us a special breakfast, we take photographs, zip up our suitcases, and sadly leave our sweet Dubrovnik home.

We booked passage on the Jadrolinja ferry from Dubrovnik all the way up the Dalmatian Coast to Rijeka, a 21 hour trip.

The Jadrolinja is very nice, and entirely different from any of our other nautical experiences. We have a cabin to sleep in, but spend all our time on the deck as we cruise up the coast. We stop in Hvar, Korcula and Split, destinations of our Arburat trip, but this time we arrive as a big cruise liner. Almost everyone spends time on deck (and those who don't have cabins must stay on the deck), so there is plenty of time for people watching, chatting with strangers and taking photos.

I can't help thinking about the last time I took this trip on the Jadrolinja, in 1990, and we hit a tropical storm in the middle of the night, that rocked our boat despite its size, so that water was splashing all over the deck, people and furniture were thrown from one side to another, all the while the rain was drenching us all. On this trip I was a deck passenger, so I managed by finding bench that was built into the ship and holding on for dear life.

Then, as quickly as the storm came it passed. And by the time we arrived in Rijeka the sun was shining and the water was still.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007


Today is our last full day in Dubrovnik and Jonathan says it's up to me how we spend it. I chose another trip to Cavtat. That will entail a) two more boat rides (to and from), b) a stroll through the old town to the old harbor, c) leisure time in Cavtat away from the crowds to explore the Roman ruin, relax in a cafe at the Cavtat harbor, and enjoy a leisurely afternoon meal at a fish restaurant we discovered on our last trip.

So off we go. We walk to the south this time, and discover a hotel nestled away from the main city. Evidently there is a peace conference meeting there now, and we meet folks on the trail who have come all the way to Cavtat to work for peace. What an appropriate setting!

The photo is of Jonathan at the fish restaurant (outdoors, of course, I forgot to mention that all our meals were outdoors!) with the Dalmatian coast looking north in the background.

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Friday, June 08, 2007


Another relaxing day close to home. Jonathan sleeps while I explore the hills behind our house and do some errands. As I return, Janja, stops me to invite us for lunch. We've become friendly with Janja living under the same roof for 6 days, but this is our first formal invitation. Our common language is German, but for all of us it is a classroom version, and about 40 years ago. We communicate well enough, with language and body language.

Janja prepares the most delicious little fish, lightly fried; with beans, potatoes and bread. Very simple, but exquisitely prepared. This is my favorite meal in Dubrovnik.

In the evening we go to a performance of Lindjo, the Dubrovnik folk ensemble. I'm especially interested because I've danced and performed and made costumes for these same Croatian dances and Jonathan has played music for them. The dancers, the musicians, the costumes and the choreography were superb. Here are some more photos.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007


Today we take a tour to Mostar, a city in Bosnia (the Hercegovina part) famous for its Stari Most (old bridge), and for the war that destroyed it. The bridge was built by the Turkish occupiers of Mostar in the 1500s, and has since then has been a magnet for tourists and photographers.

More recently its existence, destruction, and restoration symbolizes to the world that, literally and symbolically, bridges can be repaired. I learned later, that when war broke out in Mostar, the river literally divided the two sides -- the Bosnians stayed on the left band of the Neretva River, and the Croats on the right. If you were living on the wrong side of the river when the war broke out, your life was absolutely in danger.

I had imagined Mostar as a quaint mountain village with this bridge and not much else. But not so. This is, -- rather was and soon will be again -- a thriving industrial city of over 100,000. The war has taken a terrible toll on the city, and completely changed the demographics. It will take a long time to recover.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


This is our day of rest. We stayed in our room most of the day reading on the patio, napping and taking short walks.

Here is a photo of our room with Jonathan learning how to use his new cell phone. He got a new phone especially for this trip, and was able to call England or the US or anywhere in the world except Croatia! Finally he got it working.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Today we stay close to home, and explore the old town. In the morning we join a walking tour , which led us through the city from the lens of its war torn recent history. It's hard to believe that only 15 years ago Dubrovnik was held siege for over a year by Montenegran and Serbian militias, but indeed evidence was only slightly beneath the the happy tourist facade -- in buildings unrepaired AND too many buildings with new roofs; as well as in the hearts of the people. It was fascinating and sobering.

After relaxing in a cafe, a long lunch and a nap, we decided to circumvent the city wall, a must for every tourist to Dubrovnik. This photo is taken from a battlement in the wall, looking south towards the old harbor

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Monday, June 04, 2007


Today we go to Montenegro. I'm so excited! I've been drawn to this little country for as long as I can remember, to stories of tall, handsome men who will kill their neighbor for honor; the towering peaks and sparkling streams; and all the myth and legend surrounding it. Montenegran soldiers were partly responsible for the Siege of Dubrovnik in 1991-1992, so relations between the two countries are not the best. We avoided talking politics. We are going on an organized bus tour out of Dubrovnik.

Our first stop is Kotor, a walled city on the Bay of Kotor. Then the bus heads up famous windy road, the Ladder of Cattaro over the mountain the Cetinje, which is the historical (but no longer) capital of the country. On the way we stop for lunch at a mountain rest stop for sandwiches of locally cured ham and Montenegran beer. Cetinje doesn't have the charm I had hoped for, but still interesting. Our final stop was Budva, a port city they are trying to develop as a touist center.

Montenegro gained independence from Serbia within the last year, so there are many changes now and in the future. If you want to read more, I recommend Starling Lawrence's Montenegro: a novel (London: Transworld, 1998); Zorka Milich's A strangers supper: an oral history of centenarian women in Montenegro (Prentice Hall, 1995); Edith Durham's Through the lands of the Serbs (1904); or Milovan Djilas' Land without justice (Harcourt, Brace, 1958). The new James Bond film, Casino Royale, is set in Montenegrom (but actually filmed in the Czech Republic.)

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Today is Sunday, a good day for taking it easy and getting to know the area we will be staying for the next week. Of course we head for the Dubrovnik's old town, the Stari Grad, which is just a few minutes down the hill from our room. It is, indeed, the jewel of the Adriatic, with its own long and complicated history, including the siege in 1991-1992, within easy memory of everyone we see on the streets. If you are at all interested, follow the links or read some of the many books and articles on the subject.

But today the city is restored, and looking like a jewel. We walk down the stradum, through the narrow side streets, and over the the old harbor, the stari luka, to catch a ferry to Cavtat, a 45 minute ride south. As I write, there isn't enough content on the Internet to do this village justice -- the culture, the modern and ancient history, the geography, and the proximity to Montenegro -- hopefully that will change soon.

Here is a photo of Jonathan in a cafe in Cavtat.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007


We land in Dubrovnik shortly after breakfast. After a week together on the boat, the 10 of us will go our separate ways. Stipo and Daniela will take the boat back to Split to pick up another party of tourists. Matthew will return to Omas, to his young family and fishing business. Our Australian friends have booked an apartment in Dubrovnik and soon they will go their own separate ways -- Steve for another week of travel in Croatia, Katrina and Sean immediately back to London and to work, Brett and Ailsa a few days in Dubrovnik and then back to London and to work.

Jonathan and I have booked a room in a private house near the old town -- we know nothing more about it. When the taxi drops us off at the appointed location, Janja Katic, our new landlady is there to greet us with a smile. She takes my suitcase and guides us up the path to her lovely and clean home, and to our room on the second floor. We couldn't ask for a better situation. The room is clean and spacious enough for us with a modern private bath, separate enough from the family, and with a deck and a view of the Dubrovnik Stari Grad to die for.

The room was 50 Euros a night, and can be booked through Janja's English speaking daughter, Goldi Nodilo,

This photo is of Janja and Jonathan on the deck.

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Friday, June 01, 2007


Today is our last full day on the Arburat as we approach Dubrovnik. Now we are traveling closer to the coast through the Elaphite Islands -- now land, now sea, such an interesting coastline. The weather has improved and we spend our time out on the deck. Sometimes I fell like I am in paradise. We read and talk quietly. Now we are old hands at cruising the Adriatic.

We dock on the island on Sipan, the largest of the populated Elaphite Islands. It's late in the day and a perfect time to walk around this little settlement. We walk above the town and watch folks puttering in the garden or on small building projects. We suspect this is an island of second homes for Dubrovnik residents. It is also an island of olive groves -- some active by many abandoned. We meet a fellow who tells us in sign language about the importance of olive trees here throughout history. He directs us to the local market to sample and buy some of the local oil, which we do.

This is our last meal together and the seven of us cabinmates meet at an outdoor restaurant for a yummy fish dinner and the best Croatian wine I've ever had, Dingac, grown from grapes on the Peljesac Peninsula. The photo shows us at dinner.

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