Bob and Eva's Adventures

We enjoy exploring the nooks and crannies of foreign countries.

Pula, Croatia – Exciting Seaport on the Tip of the Istrian Peninsula

Posted on July 12, 2018

We so much enjoyed our five days in Pula, all the more because of its amazing Roman artifacts. There are only a few complete Roman amphitheaters still in existence, the Coliseum in Rome being one, of course, and a magnificent one here in Pula that would hold 26,000 spectators.

The Pula Arena, built around 50 AD, almost exactly 2000 years ago. – Photo by Eva

We arrived by bus. Our apartment, Apartment na Forumu, was located right at the Roman Forum, somewhat distant from the Arena. We walked right past the Arena and got a good look as we entered the heart of the Old Town. To reach our hostess and get our key, we needed wifi connection. This we found at an agreeable nearby pizzeria where we had lunch while waiting for our hostess to arrive.

Pizza makes for a fine lunch.

Our hostess shows us around the apartment. This is where she lived as a child.

Just look at the many nice things that our hostess and her mom made for us. Even gave us a bottle of Croatian wine and fresh flowers.

Suzi explores the well-stocked kitchen.

We can look out the front window and see the Forum plaza, the center of activity and nightlife.

The Forum – center of town.

From the balcony facing the back, we can look down onto Roman foundations.

Our backyard is a tourist attraction. It’s said that this where Agrippa’s mother lived.

Description of the ruins at the base of our apartment.

We walk across the Forum to the Temple of Rome and Augustus. How magnificent.

Temple of Augustus, built starting about 2 BC.

Beside the temple is the Communal Palace, former temple in Roman times and presently city hall since about 900 AD. Over the years it has undergone numerous reconstructions.

Communal Palace – now City Hall

Our first evening we watch a theatrical group enacting some Roman skills and battle on the square.

Roman activities of sorts

Ready for battle.

Next morning we explore our tiny street and the fresh market.

Good music by these fellows wafts through our apartment windows.

Our street ends with a Roman gate. On steps to the side we are treated to lovely music for flute and cello.

Roman gate

Street vendor demonstrates his musical talents, too.

We enjoy the quite vast outdoor market.

Then we wander through the indoor market where we find meat, cheeses and the like, as well as places to eat and drink.

Of course, we are now ready for lunch and Suzi knows a cafeteria next to the market that will please our budget.

We find a good selection of well prepared foods at bargain prices.

After the market closes fresh meat makes its move.

Coming or going, I’m not sure, but this is where your chops come from.

Late one afternoon we explore streets off the plaza toward the Arena.

Ma’am, do you really want those cigarettes?

Letting life go by, cigarette and coffee in hand.

We come upon a power station, I suppose, maybe no longer in use.

A bit of rather stunning public art.

Creative design

H. D. Noordung, rocket scientist

Hermann D. Noordung (alias) was an unsung technical genius who in 1928 published a small book about the problems of space travel and the establishment of a space station. He was born in Pula to Slovenian parents, but Pula gets the credit.

A small nearby park gives recognition to some famous people. Tesla was a Croatian/Serbian scientist known for electrical work in the U.S.

Mark Twain – Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.

Nikola Tesla – Peace in the world can only occur as a result of universal education (rough Google translation)

The obligatory manhole cover – for telephone cable access

Another one for sewer access

During the years that Pula was under the administration of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Pula was the Adriatic seaport for Austria. Rijeka, around the other side of the Istrian peninsula was the agreed upon Hungarian Adriatic seaport. Shipbuilding is still a large industry in Pula.

A container ship under construction, just down the street from the Forum.

Santiago being outfitted.

Oh yes, it’s dinnertime again. We find a friendly outdoor place that has a special on Wienerschnitzel. I must give it a try.

Suzi likes the guys.

Schnitzel fills the plate. I don’t leave a crumb.

Pula has seen many wars. To protect its citizens it has built a vast network of underground tunnels, enough to protect its entire population of 50,000 people. As we walk around the city we come upon a number of entrances, all sealed off. The network is known as Zerostrasse.

Tunnel entrance under the castle.

Entry by the Archaeological Museum, presently gutted and being restored.

One day we explore a small park near the marina named Tito Park. It’s in front of the huge Arena. Here in the States Tito has a bad and ruthless reputation as a dictator, but he held the wildly disparate Balkan states together as Yugoslavia until his death. He has a more likable memory by the local populace.

Tito Park sign

Tito Park

Tito bust

Roman Arena

Advertisement beside the Arena. Curious that Peanuts characters are featured.

Behind our apartment are stairs and paths leading up to the castle that overlooks the city. We think that would be a good place to watch a sunset. We take a pizza along with us for dinner.

View from our apartment is onto a former monastery. Just beyond it is the castle.

View from the castle onto the Arena.

We find a good spot along the ramparts.

Presently, we are joined by quite a few others.

View to the harbor.

Sunset will come.

Quite a glorious event.

Now we must make our way down as darkness surrounds us.

Down we go through ancient narrow lanes.

Now back near the Forum we must say good night.

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Two Hours in Rijeka, Croatia

Posted on June 29, 2018

We liked the Old World, and rather seedy, charm of Rijeka despite our being there for only a couple of hours. We were offered a lift by our charming Captain host in Rab as he was planning to drive to Rijeka anyway. Then we could take a bus on to Pula, our destination for the night. He was a careful driver and we really enjoyed spending the couple of hours with him. He let us off right in the heart of town which was very convenient.

Lovely building overlooking the harbor as seen from the steps of the Capuchin Church of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Because we had been up since 4:00am, we were ready now at 10:00 for a full breakfast. As we wandered around in search of just the right place, we were charmed by all the historic buildings we passed that gave an Austro-Hungarian flavor to the city. For 400 years the city was under Hungarian rule although most of the people were of Italian and Croatian heritage. After WWI there were many political upheavals, with the final decision leaving the city as part of Yugoslavia, not as an independent city that it had been, nor part of Italy despite its majority of inhabitants.

Another fine old 19th century building.

It could sure use some loving care. I think it’s happening on the left side behind the tarp.

After walking up and down a number of streets and passing up the ubiquitous McDonald’s, we settle on an outdoor cafe facing a plaza for our breakfast spot.

Just the right place

Of considerable urgency is finding a toilet.

We wander inside our cafe in search of a WC. Photo by Suzi.

This must be the way! Photo by Suzi.

I decide on an omlette and coffee. Bread without butter comes, too.

We are kinda out in the plaza. Photo by Suzi.

To me, our cafe – brasserie seems to have French overtones. They also serve burgers.

Burgers and beer and frites.

If you are new to burgers, this is how they are put together. A little sloppy with the ketchup.

Eva needs to find an apothecary for something or another. We find one readily.

A gem of an old fashioned pharmacy. Eva, on the left in blue, is completely happy carrying all her belongings in her pack.

Look at all those things people think they need.

We also need to find the bus station. It’s easy to locate using the iPhone app – Pocket Earth. It’s right in front of us as we look down from the church steps. The working harbor is just beyond.

Harbor view. Suzi with her pack.

The bus station is where the buses are. No building. Buy your ticket at the tobacco shop.

We would have liked to spend more time here just poking around. We could have unearthed a lot of history, that’s for sure. But our bus has arrived and we must scoot on to Pula, a couple of hours away. See you there.

Our nice clean, comfortable bus whisks us to Pula.

Rab – Tiny Island off the Croatian Coast

Posted on June 26, 2018

If we thought the island of Hvar was quiet (at least in the village of Jelsa), the small island of Rab was quieter still. We were looking forward to six days of not having much to do after five weeks of pretty intensive travel.

Rab with its four towers all in a row is easy to identify by seamen out in the Adriatic.

But getting to the island of Rab by bus from Zadar was not as straightforward as we might have expected. It’s only a two hour drive from Zadar to the ferry and 30 minutes to cross to the island, but the bus doesn’t stop there; it goes on another 40 minutes to Senj. So there in Senj we had to wait and catch another bus back to the ferry landing. Fortunately the bus was taken on by the ferry and continued on to the town of Rab. That’s where we were met by our host and driven the ten minutes to our apartment in the village of Barbat. Barbat can be seen in the far distance of the first photograph.

Rab harbor and central plaza

We much enjoyed the bus ride because it gave us perfect view of the sea and the landscape.

The bus was equipped with free wifi and USB charging stations at every seat.

The highway hugged the coastline most of the way to Senj.

No money was spared in building this road, including beautiful stonework, tunnels and bridges.

The karst landscape was awfully rocky and bare in places.

Occasionally there was room for a few houses or a small village.

Finally we arrived in Senj at a tiny bus station, where we transferred to a bus going the other direction to Rab Island.

Senj

At the ferry, our bus was the first to load.

The driver, no, is not asleep.

Off we go, in a rain shower.

Look how bare the island is here, but how it changed to a verdant landscape before long.

No buildings or much of anything greet us at the ferry landing. The other ferry is waiting for another month when the tourists really start to arrive.

We’re so happy to be picked up at the bus station.

Our apartment is roomy with three bedrooms and baths.

View from our terrace.

For dinner, our hosts suggest the restaurant directly across the street. We couldn’t have chosen better.

Restaurant across the street, viewed from our apt.

Suzi, with her special knack, befriends the waitress.

Suzi likes the way they fold the napkins, the same as she does when catering at home.

While we study the menu, our waitress brings a sample of what’s available. The fish are still breathing.

Choices for dinner.

Unexpected complimentary hors d’oeuvres are a good start.

The lady looking at us gives us the salad she doesn’t want. Nice.

We finish with complimentary local brandies.

Mom, you look plastered.

So we are off to a good start; the dinner was delicious, and we return again another time. But we have nothing for breakfast. When we look in the fridge we find butter, jam, wine, beer and numerous other things.

When the sun just peeks over the hill next morning, Suzi and I are off to the store for fresh bread and some local eggs.

As the sun creeps across the bay, we head for the tiny red market you can see at the waterfront.

The stove is a little tricky for making decent fried eggs on the first try.

We take the long walk into town, over three miles, mostly along the water’s edge. We are greeted in a small city park by a statue of a former notable citizen, Mr. Marin Rabljanin, the founder of the tiny Republic of San Marino across the waters in Italy in AD 301.

SV. MARIN RABLJANIN

Rab has three old parallel streets and four towers. We visit them all.

We climb up to the fortification.

The water below is stunningly clear.

Tower 1 belongs to the monastery of Samostan Sv. Antun Opat.

Next door is the cathedral. We admire the entry and take a peek inside.

Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Mary’s Assumption

Fine entry

We peek inside at the basic Romanesque architecture.

A little further along we come to the second bell tower.

St. Andrews Monastery

We peek inside St. Andrews

We make our way to the third tower.

St. Justin

We continue along to the fourth bell tower.

St. Križ – Church of the Holy Cross

Now we descend from the heights and walk in to the town proper.

It begins to shower.

We have a little fun by reflection.

Attractive door grill.

We begin to look for a lunch spot.

Here’s a small place with character.

As she often does, Eva orders a whole fish.

I score with a delicious seafood pasta dish.

Before too long, the sun pops out again and we stop for afternoon coffee.

A full cup it is.

Now it’s time to head for home, a 3.5 mile stretch mostly along the water’s edge.

View of Rab on its peninsula that from the seaward side looks like a ship with four masts.

A bit of sandy beach

The public has access to the entire stretch of waterfront.

Time to sit for a spell and enjoy the scene.

One evening as the sun is setting, we walk up the coast to a recommended waterside restaurant.

We are seated right at the water’s edge.

Time for a whole fish again for the ladies while I enjoy seafood pasta. Delicious kale comes with almost every meal. And olive oil goes without saying.

As evening draws on we enjoy the lights that mark our route home.

Now it’s time to say goodbye to Rab after a very pleasant stay. Our host is driving toward Pula, our next stop, and offers us a ride as far as Rijeka. But to catch the ferry we must meet him at 5:15 in the morning. He’s a sea captain of container ships and entertains us the whole way with many a story and insight.

Zadar in Color

Posted on June 21, 2018

As I wandered the side streets of Zadar, Croatia I was delighted to see lots of color amongst all the ancient buildings of the Old Town. None of the photos are very descriptive or worth a caption. Just enjoy the images for what they are.

Zadar, Croatia – Lovely Town on the Adriatic Sea

Posted on June 21, 2018

Daughter Suzi really encouraged us to spend a few days in Zadar while we explored the Dalmatian Coast, and we’re so glad we did. By bus, it was less than a two hour ride from Split, then a five minute walk to our apartment in the suburbs.

The heart of Zadar – old as the hills, almost. Remnants of the Roman Forum are in the foreground.

When it comes to tourism, Zadar is relatively sane compared to Split and Dubrovnik, as far as I could tell, despite its port accommodating cruise ships. We were not overwhelmed by tourists here in mid May.

Asian tourists waiting out a rain shower. There was much thunder and lightening.

Aside from wonderful Roman and Venetian architecture in the Old Town, the great draws to Zadar are its Sea Organ, Monument to the Sun, and stirring sunsets described by Alfred Hitchcock as the finest in the world.

During WWII the Axis controlled Zadar, leading to frequent bombing by the Allies during the war. Afterwards, redevelopment was heavy-handed, with the harbor being plastered with monotonous concrete walls. After a lot more fighting as Croatia separated itself from the failing Yugoslavia in 1995, steps were taken to improve Zadar’s lot. The north end of the Old Town peninsula was redesigned and vastly improved.

The Sea Organ opened to the public in 2005. There are only a few in the world, one being in San Francisco. The experience is well worth seeking out. Follow this link for a technical discussion of the organ design.

These marble steps are part of the Sea Organ. Note the vertical vents on the lower left side of the photo.

A few of the Sea Organ orifices are visible here at the lower right side of the photo.

Toward sunset, several times we walked a mile across town from our apartment to watch the sun disappear into the Adriatic Sea, and watch the LED lights turn on and play in the Monument to the Sun. We were always joined by hundreds of tourists and locals alike to enjoy these events.

Fiery sunset

Alfred Hitchcock quote

People at play on the Monument to the Sun after the sun had set.

We arrived in Zadar by bus from Split with all our belongings in packs on our back. By-the-way, we think this is the best way to travel, much easier than dragging suitcases over cobblestones. After settling in at our very nice apartment, we followed our host’s suggestion to have lunch at the pizzeria around the corner. We were delighted.

Our neighborhood pizzeria

As good as they come.

Walking toward town along the waterfront.

The Land Gate built in 1543 was our regular entry into the fortified Old Town.

Sometimes the water was quite disturbed.

Sometimes the water was placid in an unusual way.

The Old Town is closed off to vehicular traffic, so walking the narrow streets is a pleasure, and quiet, too.

Narrow streets, paved with limestone blocks, polished by foot traffic, I suppose.

Plenty of tables for two.

Fellow with a stylish haircut.

A color spot in an inner courtyard

Traditional barber shop. Many signs are in English.

We crossed a small park that contained a number of bronze busts. I photographed one at random. It was of Šime Budinič, a 16th century writer who developed a written language based on Slavic Cyrillic. He used this to translate Latin texts into an orthography that Slavic people could read.

Šime Budinič – 16th century poet, priest and writer

Handicraft vendors peddling their wares along a main street.

Bullet holes in pavement dating from the 1995 Balkan war.

Circular Church of St. Donatus, dating from about 900AD, predates Romanesque style.

Inside this church was an exhibit of a huge statue, clothed in extensible shaving mirrors. Really!

Huge statue

Clothed in shaving mirrors.

Even the stony guy outside was in disbelief.

Man of the ages.

Outside the Church of St. Donatus and across from what’s left of the Roman Forum, I could see another church and bell tower.

Benedictine monastery from the 11th century.

Romanesque St. Chrysogonus Church with outdoor sculpture that looks like Superman.

Around the back side of St. Chrysogonus Church was a plaza with an inviting restaurant.

Zadar Jadera Restaurant, featuring seafood.

We start with the usual bread and olive oil.

I spring for the calamari.

We’re in for another feast. Gnocchi for Eva and skewered lamb for Suzi.

As the day wears on, light begins to fade and the streets and shops take on a warm tone. We head slowly back to our end of town.

Ice cream shop

Ice cream displays are a work of art.

Another view.

No cones inside, please.

Eva brand! We resist.

Inside of a souvenir shop. Look at the ancient floor tiles! Why is there a manhole cover inside the shop?

Down the main street, heading toward home.

Our last view of the bell tower. Notice the stairs inside.

Now we must say goodbye to Zadar and press on to our next stop, the island of Rab. See you there soon.

Hvar – Some Enchanted Island – in Croatia

Posted on May 29, 2018

We have found paradise and it is Hvar. If you want peace and quiet to write that novel in your head here’s a place with little to distract you. Good food; fresh, clean air; friendly folks; quiet (at least when out of season) with great views and trails to explore. We spent a week on Hvar Island in the village of Jelsa and wanted more time.

Panorama from our apartment at sunrise

When we arrived from Split by catamaran, our host met us at the ferry landing and walked with us up the hillside to our flat, all 201 steep steps upward.

Up we go, 201 concrete steps from the harbor.

From an alternate but usual way up, we take these steps, maybe dating from Roman times. Who knows?

Right on our heals, a rainstorm was coming in. We were inside before the clouds really dumped, with lightening and roaring thunder adding to the excitement.

Our host is showing Suzi where to find the bakery and grocery store.

Eva watches safely from the living room as rain pelts the house and thunder claps.

The ferry makes one 1.5 hour run a day between Split and Jelsa. It arrives at 18:00 and leaves again at 06:00, oh so early in the morning for vacationers.

In the evening, Jelsa lights up like a jewel.

The next morning was sparkling. By the time we were stirring the ferry was gone.

Suzi and I head off early enough to the grocery to start filling our larder for a week’s stay. Among the items we get is buckwheat bread, a specialty of the region, dense and so tasty.

The green grocer has opened by 8:00.

Mama has already sent her son out to buy some fresh veggies and fruit for the day.

The bakery is nearly out of goods. Have loaves flown off the shelf already, or are these left from the day before?

Here’s the harbor and center of activity.

Right at the harbor we find an outlet for the local wine cooperative.

We sample the red and the white wine from the tap. We buy a bottle of the red. He fills a recycled liter soda bottle for us.

Later we roam the few back streets of this ancient village.

This young lady would like to sell us some handmade items.

We head for the hills.

Climbing ever upwards

We pass an elder peddling herbed sherries.

A closer look

Our objective is the church up on the hillside.

Oh no, not more steps!

Flowers in a crannied wall

Another day we take a walk to a neighboring village. From our balcony we can see it in the distance. We pass small patches of vegetables, vineyards and olive trees, enough for home consumption but hardly enough to sell at market.

Past Jelsa

Into the countryside. Rock walls define parcels of ownership.

Ancient backroad

Spring flowers color old stone walls.

Our objective ahead

Into the stone hamlet

Concrete and stone, not a soul in sight.

We descend among olive trees and vines.

The way back is rocky and narrow, Jelsa beyond.

We re-enter Jelsa.

Jelsa town square, I suppose. Not too busy at the moment.

We are hot and thirsty after our walk under a cloudless sky and a searing sun. We find a pizzeria.

So inviting after a sweaty hike.

Cold beer hits the spot.

Pizza is good here, and ubiquitous throughout the town (and country). We devour two.

On another day we take a morning walk in another direction for different views of the bay.

The pines add so much atmosphere.

The water is crystal clear.

Beautiful Adriatic

Nearing town

The tiny boat harbor

This fish seems to know its fate on someone’s plate.

Restaurant sign on an unfinished wall. Getting time for lunch.

Excellent service

Time for seafood. Eva orders a tuna steak and Suzi seared tuna, fresh from the Adriatic.

I go for fried calamari.

Pirate ships loaded with tourists invade our shore.

We pass a bakery in the afternoon but the selection looks skimpy.

We settle for ice cream.

Spotlight on two happy gals

On our final day in Jelsa we take a walk along the shore in yet another direction.

Off we go.

Beautiful, clear water

View back onto Jelsa

We have dinner at the harbor plaza as evening sets in.

Ferry will leave with us on board at 06:00 tomorrow morning.

Tasty seafood dinner

Lights come on around the harbor.

A few evening strollers are still out and about.

On the back street it’s like medieval days, quiet, not a soul stirs.

We head for home.

Now we bid you all adieu.

Split – Ironed and Grilled

Posted on May 25, 2018

As you blog followers know all too well, my eye and camera get attracted like a magnet to life’s trivia and details. While wandering around Split for several days, I collected a number of photos of items that were made of metal. In particular, I got attracted to window and gate grills. They varied from mundane to ornate, and often required a lot of metalworking skill and design craftsmanship . In the States we often make do with off-the-shelf “burglar bars” and let it go at that.

Let me share these photos with you connoisseurs of small and insignificant things.

Gate



Mailbox

Tight space

This marked where we turned to our apartment. Very important.

Camouflaged railing

Door entry cover

Chicken wire

Art Nouveau style

Hand rail

Drain pipe protector

Bench along the promenade

Simple is OK, too

Unfinished paint job

Water

Metal

Really!

Creepy

The end

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