Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Trogir Diaries: Day 4 - Wednesday 17th September 2014

After yesterday's epic day, we've decided not to book any more lengthy day trips on this holiday. Prior to the holiday I had fancied doing to Hvar for the day, but that one's also a bit of a marathon. Maybe next time - and I can confidently say this because I've fallen so much in love with this part of the world that all being well, a return visit would definitely be on the cards.

We kick off the day exploring the other side of the small but perfectly formed island.  Firstly we check out the local football ground....

It's not quite the Croatian premiership is it? :) However it has some very impressive surroundings, including the Fortress Kamerlengo, which dominates one side of the Riva.

There are posters all over town advertising Cockta, which would appear to be a popular soft drink in this part of the world.  Later in the week I would finally pluck up the courage to try this delicacy, but in the meantime, here's the poster.

It's not long till lunchtime, which means yet another pizza at one of the Riva's many restaurants.  Today we have slowed the pace right down after our epic journey yesterday, so there's lots of relaxed strolling around Trogir's maze of streets.  We later head across the bridge to Ciovo again for a quick recce to check out where the Bura Line ferry for Split leaves from.  And a very nice view over to Trogir...

Back to the hotel to try on my new Croatian national team football top (OK it's just a T-shirt in the style of a Croatian national team top, but hey..) and what better way to end one of the most relaxing days ever by doing what we don't usually do on holiday - have dinner in the hotel's own restaurant.  It's a very agreeable experience too, but the night doesn't end there.

After another walk around Trogir by night, we end up at - where else but - the main square.  Tonight's entertainment is provided by a country/rock band.  They're not the Bravo Band of course, but they're still rather good. 

So here ends another day in Trogir.  Nothing particularly exciting or different about today, but that's what made it special.  I've particularly enjoyed slowing down the pace on this holiday.  Tomorrow's going to be busier though, as we're on our way to a must-see destination. 

Sunday, November 02, 2014

The Trogir Diaries: Day 3 - Tuesday 16th September 2014 - Epic journey to Bosnia!

It takes a special adventure on holiday to get you out of your hotel and on to a bus at 6.00 am.  But today's destination is not just an excursion, but a trip to another country and one with a very turbulent recent recent history.  For today we go to Bosnia-Herzegovina - Mostar to be precise.

But firstly, our journey takes in yet another wow-factor - this holiday is full of them! - and we stop off at Makarska, with the dramatic backdrop of the Biokovo mountain range....

....and a scenic journey along the Dalmatian coast, which is like a Croatian equivalent of travelling on the corniche between France and Monaco.  Breathtaking cliff roads, beautiful views of the Adriatic and its islands. As we head for BiH, we pass through the lake district...

...but what we hadn't expected was the lengthy border control process.  For what we, or any of those numerous coach parties , did not anticipate was the lengthy delay at border control between Croatia and Bosnia - which lasted an hour and a half.  Beginning to wonder if we will ever reach Mostar.  I'm still not sure why there's so much red tape - whether it's to do with Croatia's recent EU membership or some other reason?

So, after a 7 hour epic journey which we thought would never end, we are finally heading into Mostar.  This is our first sighting of the bridge, from the window of the coach.  And this is what makes it all worthwhile....

The weather feels hotter today as we are inland.  We are here for just over 3 hours so we exit the walking tour in favour of the biggest lunch portion we've had in years. Chicken Bosnian style....that bread was fab too!!

The Turkish influence here is very strong and so is the coffee! We love our coffee of course, so we're not complaining.

After lunch we independently explore Mostar, including the Turkish house and the mosque.

The Stari Most - the old bridge, Mostar's main attraction and symbol of a city where, the tour guide told us, different races/nationalities managed to co-exist peacefully before the war, was famously bombed in 1993 (ironically by the Croats) and later rebuilt.  The one thing I will say about the Stari Most is that it is very high, and very, very slippy to walk across, even on a hot, dry day. Wouldn't like to try it on a rainy day!

For anyone who's ever been on holiday to any Turkish holiday resort, the goods and souvenirs sold in many of the shops in old Mostar will look very familiar indeed.  Evil eyes, scarves, coffee pots, lanterns, brightly decorated pottery - it's all here.  How about this for a tourism slogan: "Mostar - Turkey without the hassle!!"  No? No.  OK then. Moving on...

Strolling around a packed Mostar, I wonder if tourism could be the thing which might just turn the country's fortunes around? I know the country has a long long way to go, and there doesn't really seem to have any tourism infrastructure in place, but the potential is there.  Unfortunately it's only a flying visit, but it's enough to get a taste of a unique little city.  I would recommend that anyone going to Croatia on holiday takes this day trip, as it really made that epic coach journey worthwhile.

Heading back to Trogir takes us from daytime to night-time, via a Dalmatian sunset...

We arrive back in Trogir around 9.30pm, but manage to salvage what's left of the evening and end up at our usual haunt on the square.  On the way we hear some music, and a very familiar sound.  Could it be - surely not - no wait - it is....the Bravo Band!!

Whilst researching and checking out YouTube vids of Trogir prior to the holiday, we came across some clips of this group and they quickly became cult favourites at EuropeCrazy HQ.  I became rather obsessed by their versions of "Scream and Shout" and "Gangnam Style" but they have probably moved on from those by now.  They play a mix of current/recent pop hits, with an emphasis on Latino hits including Shakira songs, mixed with popular oldies. They are a very versatile trio indeed, and now they are managing to slightly revive these two (by now very tired) travellers.

Tomorrow we'll spend the day in Trogir - no more travelling for us, well not until Thursday anyway....