Croatia – Style Hi Club http://www.stylehiclub.com StyleHiClub: Exceptional Adventures for Life Beyond the Cubicle Sun, 04 Dec 2016 04:29:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Jumping Around the World http://www.stylehiclub.com/europe/france/jumping-around-the-world/ http://www.stylehiclub.com/europe/france/jumping-around-the-world/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:26:28 +0000 http://www.stylehiclub.com/?p=6658 It’s no secret, we love to travel. Somewhere around 2006 or so we started to express our love of travel by literally jumping for joy in our photos. It all began in Egypt actually with a group jumping shot in front of the Great Pyramid. Since then, we’ve been jumping around the world. Sometimes it […]

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It’s no secret, we love to travel. Somewhere around 2006 or so we started to express our love of travel by literally jumping for joy in our photos. It all began in Egypt actually with a group jumping shot in front of the Great Pyramid. Since then, we’ve been jumping around the world. Sometimes it takes more than a few tries to get a perfect jumping shot but when it works there is really something special about it. Below is a collection of some of our favorites and most meaningful from all around the world. Do you ever take photos like this when traveling? I’d love to see them posted in the comments!

The original jump. Me and four of the best people I know mid-air with the Great Pyramids of Giza behind us.

The original jump – me and three of the best people I know in mid-air with the Great Pyramids of          Giza behind us

Blyde River Canyon along South Africa's Panoramic Route in Mpumalanga

Blyde River Canyon along South Africa’s Panoramic Route in Mpumalanga

This one kinda goes without saying - the Taj Mahal in Agra, India

This one kinda goes without saying – the Taj Mahal in Agra, India

This one was done with a timer on the very first try at Bakyeon Waterfall Pavillion in North Korea

This one was done with a timer on the very first try at Bakyeon Waterfall Pavillion in North Korea

The unbelievably beautiful Anse Lazio beach in the Seychelles - it's hard not to jump for joy there

The unbelievably beautiful Anse Lazio beach in the Seychelles – it’s hard not to jump for joy there

Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, Australia

Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, Australia

We even jump at home - Chandra at the Brooklyn Bridge

We even jump at home – Chandra at the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City

Here I am fluttering through Carcassonne Castle in France

Here I am fluttering through Carcassonne Castle in France

South Africa's stunning coastline and the town of Hermanus

South Africa’s stunning coastline and the town of Hermanus

After you've run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, it's pretty easy to jump like this

After you’ve run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, it’s pretty easy to jump like this

The stunning Grand Mosque of Muscat, Oman

The stunning Grand Mosque of Muscat, Oman

The famous Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia

The famous Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia

I have a ton of photos of me jumping in Sydney with the Opera House, but none are nearly as good as this one of my Mom when she visited

I have a ton of photos of me jumping in Sydney with the Opera House, but none are nearly as good as this one of my Mom when she visited

Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool in Washington DC

Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool in Washington DC

Jumping in between two continents at the Continental Rift outside Reykjavik Iceland

Jumping in between two continents at the Continental Rift outside Reykjavik Iceland

Chandra and I jump in the immaculate Old City of Dubrovnik in Croatia

Chandra and I jump in the immaculate Old City of Dubrovnik in Croatia

I couldn't resist including another one from Egypt

I couldn’t resist including another one from Egypt

Chandra looking statuesque in Prague, Czech Republic

Chandra looking statuesque in Prague, Czech Republic

Jumping outside my ancestral home in Sicily

Jumping outside my ancestral home in Sicily

An eerie jump at the eerie XXX in Vik, Iceland

A cautious jump at the eerie Reynisdiangur in Vik, Iceland

Sossusvlei dune jumping in Namibia

Sossusvlei dune jumping in Namibia

Tienenman Square during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games

Tienenman Square during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games

One last jumping selfie taken by timer with Saint Basil's in Moscow's Red Square

One last jumping selfie taken by timer with Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square

Have you ever taken photos like these while traveling? We’d love to see them in the comments.

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I’ll Have the Lamb Soup…and an Ambulance http://www.stylehiclub.com/europe/croatia/sick-croatia-lamb-soup/ Tue, 21 Jan 2014 14:15:32 +0000 http://www.stylehiclub.com/?p=6180 It was near the end of a very long day. We had just finished driving over 500 miles across four countries (in a single day) when we stopped for dinner at Kosuta Restaurant in Trebinje, Bosnia. Chandra and I were traveling along with my brother and two of our friends on an epic week-long road trip across the […]

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It was near the end of a very long day. We had just finished driving over 500 miles across four countries (in a single day) when we stopped for dinner at Kosuta Restaurant in Trebinje, Bosnia. Chandra and I were traveling along with my brother and two of our friends on an epic week-long road trip across the Western Balkans. Our aggressive driving schedule didn’t leave much down time and Trebinje isn’t really a hub of tourism infrastructure. Communication with the waitress wasn’t easy and as a result we got into a bit of an altercation over a what we ordered. My brother was mostly the target of this due to an unfortunate error on his part where he nearly ordered a full kilo of lamb meat just for himself. We rectified the problem but couldn’t help but feel there was some remaining hostility from the waitress. No matter – it had been a long day and it was time to have some soup.

My brother driving in Bosnia before falling violently ill

My brother driving in Bosnia before falling violently ill

After leaving Trebinje we continued onward to Kotor in Montenegro where we stayed the night and then the following day drove to Dubrovnik and onward to Split in Croatia. By the time we reached Dubrovnik, my brother was already not feeling well. In Split, it was clear something was wrong. It sounded like food poisoning but we had all eaten the same things for the past several days. That’s when we remembered back to Trebinje. As we went around the table ordering soups to start off our meal we all had the chicken. Except my brother. He had the lamb soup. A poor choice.

Kosuta Restaurant in Trebinje, Bosnia

Kosuta Restaurant in Trebinje, Bosnia

This is basically what we ate for every meal on this trip

This is basically what we ate for every meal on this trip

At this point, my brother was basically bed-ridden in Split. We stayed as long as possible the following day to allow for him to recover but eventually we needed to continue onward to Zagreb. We estimated the drive will take us four hours but soon found ourselves driving over a mountain range and through a blizzard. About 30km from Zagreb, my brother took a turn for the worse and we had to pull over so he could be very sick on the side of the road. Gross.

My brother trying to hold it together in Split, Croatia

My brother trying to hold it together in Split, Croatia

Finally back in Zagreb, we stumbled into a a medical clinic around the corner from the Sheraton Hotel. I’m focusing on just keeping my brother standing upright and the woman at the hospital is telling me that he can’t come inside because we need to go to a larger facility elsewhere in the city. As if on cue, he begins violently throwing up and we are invited in.

A sickly brother en route from Split to Zagreb

A sickly brother en route from Split to Zagreb

My brother was in rough shape. Extremely dehydrated and barely able to have a conversation. Despite his fever, his hands and feet were freezing and all he could do was curl up on the bed and try not to be sick. He was in pain so the doctors gave him something for pain. He was feeling nauseous so they gave him something for that too. One injection they gave him right in the butt. You should have seen his face. We actually all had a good laugh at that one – including the doctors.

Getting re-hydrated at the clinic in Zagreb

Getting re-hydrated at the clinic in Zagreb

We were later moved from the clinic to a larger hospital facility in central Zegreb by ambulance. I rode next to my brother in the ambulance with him asleep. At the main hospital we were provided an English speaking doctor who did a full exam including blood pressure, blood work, etc. My brother was diagnosed with an acute gastrointestinal infection and dehydration. The doctors gave him some medicine and re-hydrated him with multiple saline IV bags. They asked us to stay the night but we had a plane to catch the next day and opted not to.

Having a snooze in a Zagreb ambulance

Having a snooze in a Zagreb ambulance

Although you never want to end up in a hospital either at home or abroad, the medical care my brother received in Croatia was excellent. They treated him well and treated him fast and between all the exams, multiple doctors, various medicines, transport by ambulance, blood work and consultations the total cost was a mere 400 Croatian Kunar. $70 American dollars! I couldn’t believe how cheap it was for that much treatment. What is wrong with our country?

Enjoying his private room and a bag of saline at Zagreb Central Hospital

Enjoying his private room and a bag of saline at Zagreb Central Hospital

When my brother was finished with his IV the nurse even called us a taxi that came right up to the ambulance bay and took us straight to where we were staying in Ban Jelačić Square. Overall we were both pleasantly surprised with the medical care in Croatia. Have you ever had a medical emergency while traveling? Tell us about the experience in the comments.

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Highways and Hospital in Croatia http://www.stylehiclub.com/europe/croatia/highways-and-hospital-in-croatia/ Sat, 21 Mar 2009 19:32:33 +0000 http://chandradigregorio.wordpress.com/?p=125 We woke up today in Split, Croatia at the Silver Central Hostel.  We had a lot of driving to do to make it all the way back to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, but little did we know we’d also be experiencing a Croatian hospital today. Mike had been throwing up all night and we needed […]

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We woke up today in Split, Croatia at the Silver Central Hostel.  We had a lot of driving to do to make it all the way back to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, but little did we know we’d also be experiencing a Croatian hospital today.

Streets of Split, Croatia

The streets of Split, Croatia

Mike had been throwing up all night and we needed to find a pharmacy to find drugs to combat his sickness.  We assumed it was food poisoning from the lamb soup back in Bosnia that had done him in.  Fortunately the manager of the Silver Central Hostel was more than happy to help us out because navigating a foreign pharmacy is challenging and a little scary.  Even if you have some idea of the language, and we do not know Croatian at all, medical terms aren’t exactly common knowledge.  On top of that, Mike is allergic to sulfa, and for his sickness he needed a drug that contained sulFER.  These words are quite close.  Good thing for our native-speaker friend.

Not wanting to leave Mike and do a bunch of things in Split without him, Dave and I decided to go to a nearby grocery store and get some lunch and bring it back for all. It was really fun shopping in Split! Things were very different and we had to rely on the courtesy of strangers to help us out. For example, fruit had to be weighed and tagged before the checkout which mean we had to figure out the machine and the codes, which of course aren’t the same as they are back home (I used to work at a cashier at Stop and Shop in high school). We ended up getting some hot foods, some fresh bread that had smelled irresistible when we had entered the store, cookies, and some fruits and rice for Mike. All of this was $30 and we had FAR too much food. I liked doing normal-ish things like shopping with Dave and it made me think of the adventures that we will have living in foreign countries down the road 🙂

Supermarket food in Split Croatia

Supermarket Hot Food

Back at the hostel, Mike still wasn’t doing well. We ate and then decided to take a walk around the city. Nicole would stay with him. The city was very nice – very modern, clean, and beautiful. We looked out at the water, took some photos and walked around the walled part of the city for a while. A lot of the shops were closed but I still managed to get a coffee. Something about walking around a city like this sipping a cappuccino seems just right to me.

Seawall in Split, Croatia

Dave and me sitting on the seawall in Split

Back at the hostel, the manager was still being super nice about us staying WAY past checkout onwards to 4pm. We only had a 4 hour drive ahead of us back to Zagreb but we thought we’d better leave. Dave and I got the car and directions and were off.

Now, this should have been an easy road. It was very well marked and looked big on the map. It started out more than fine…highway A1 – nice wide road, freshly paved, looked brand new actually. Well, that was all well and good until the detour. The road just stopped. It wasn’t broken like this on the map!! As we exited the road I asked the woman in the toll booth how we were possibly supposed to get to Zagreb. She seemed surprised by this question, as if it were the easiest thing in the world. On the back of a receipt she wrote down 5 town names and we were supposed to somehow follow these towns to lead us to Zagreb. Things started out ok. The road was very small but it was paved and it was light out and the weather was great. We were driving along the coast with mountains across from us and we were in awe by how beautiful it was. That was, until we realized we had to go all the way up those mountains.

Drive from Split to Zagreb Croatia

Beautiful Mountains...Until you have to drive up them

It was getting dark as I approached the mountains and I was torn between wanting to be safe and wanting to get to Zagreb ASAP because it was clear that Mike was going to need a hospital. I drove up a mountain, on the side of a cliff, in the snow. At some points I would think the road was continuing straight ahead but it would abruptly curve to the left. Going straight ahead would have led us off a cliff. There was no guardrail. Eventually we got up the mountain, and then down the mountain, and things were better because at leas the land was flat. It was snowing like a bitch now but at least I was used to that part after living in Boston. We passed signs for random towns and Dave tried to figure out where the hell we were on the map. Miraculously we found out where we were and found signs leading back to A1. We rejoined the road and it was as if nothing had happened. The road was wide, freshly paved, and the snow seemed to fade into flurries. I stopped at the next rest stop and it was time to, of course, switch drivers. I seemed to really get the bad end of that deal.

Mike was getting sicker and throwing up so Dave took off speeding towards Zagreb. We were going 170kmh (105mph). Instead of driving up a mountain, Dave’s stretch of land had a nice tunnel that went under the mountain for 3 miles. That seemed like a much better solution. About 30km from our destination we suddenly had to pull over on the highway so that Mike could throw up.  I began pouring over the map but realized the easiest was to get us back to the Sheraton Hotel (where the car was to be returned to) and then ask the concierge what our options were for a local hospital. It was difficult to navigate but once I knew where we were I found us on the city map and we got to the hotel in no time. The concierge told us that the hospital was close so I was put in charge of the car and figuring out how to return it & park and get the luggage back to our hostel while Nicole and Dave took Mike to the hospital. Matt and I loaded up all of the luggage, cleaned out the car and then really need to grab a beer in the lobby. We sat there and had some beers and talked, which was nice, but we were really worried about Mike and had no idea what to expect from a Croatian hospital. After a while Nicole came back and explained that Mike was being treated and that Dave was going to stay with him and we should wait for them there.

Sick in hospital in Zagreb, Croatia

We sat and drank more and talked. It got later and later and I glanced at my phone and realized I had a missed call from Dave. We were supposed to go to the Fulir Hostel because they might be a while. Whoops. By the time we got to the hostel the manager was a little mad at us because we were checking in SO late (like midnight!) but as soon as we told him about the hospital he was cool. We were staying in a different room than the room we stayed in earlier that week and honestly it kinda sucked. We had to pass through a room of sleeping people just to get to our room so of course we woke them all up because we had to cart in so much luggage.

Around 1AM, Dave and Mike showed up and it looks like he had food poisoning but will be ok. The cost of everything, including ambulance transfer, medication and seeing multiple doctors was 400 Kunar – $70. This is the cost of a few tylenol in an American hospital.  We were starving and thankfully had I schlepped the food back to the hostel rather than throwing it out like I wanted to. We poured olive oil on a plastic bag and dipped bread into it as our dinner. It was a somewhat fitting way to end our roadtrip that had led us through these war torn countries in a flurry of confusing signs, missing roads, and language barriers. 1,224 miles spanning 4 countries in 4 days.

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Kotor, Montenegro to Split, Croatia via Debrovnik http://www.stylehiclub.com/europe/montenegro/kotor-montenegro-to-split-croatia-via-debrovnik/ Fri, 20 Mar 2009 16:39:13 +0000 http://chandradigregorio.wordpress.com/?p=118 Sleeping in a real bed at the Hotel Splendito in Kotor, Montenegro sure was a treat after 17 hours of driving yesterday.  It was windy all night and the shutters were slamming against our windows.  When it was finally morning, Dave and I stood at the door of our room and braced ourselves to open the […]

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Sleeping in a real bed at the Hotel Splendito in Kotor, Montenegro sure was a treat after 17 hours of driving yesterday.  It was windy all night and the shutters were slamming against our windows.  When it was finally morning, Dave and I stood at the door of our room and braced ourselves to open the shutters and get a chance to see the Bay of Kotor in the daylight.  WOW.

 

Bay of Kotor Montenegro from Hotel Splendito

Bay of Kotor, from our Balcony

We were met with basically a wall of rock  that came straight out of the ocean.  The water was clear blue and little islands dotted the bay.  They were adorable, some so little yet still having a small churches on them with blue roofs and gold crosses.

A bit of background here:  The Bay of Kotor is falsely referred to as the southernmost fjord in the world.  Fjords are most often found in Scandinavian countries, probably because they are formed by glaciers that cut into rock to form steep cliffs leading to water below.  The Bay of Kotor is actual a submerged river canyon, which is called a ria.  Either way, the Bay of Kotor looks like fjords, and it didn’t matter too much to us how it was formed.

Matt had already been outside so we took a short walk with him and he showed us the patio area outside of the hotel.  It was windy and misting a little bit but we took some pictures and then headed inside for our free breakfast.  It was ok, kinda Mediterranean but with just too many eggs for my liking.  We went outside again and tried to soak up the view as well as take some more pics.  I just could not get enough of it.  The fjord, the houses dotting the cliffs, the little islands….it was simply beautiful.  You could tell that, in the summer, this place was a madhouse.

Jumping in front of Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

My first Fjords! (...maybe)

We had a lot of ground to cover today so we left the hotel, with Dave driving, and continued back towards the ferry.

 

We took the noon ferry across the Bay of Kotor and then drove onwards to Debrovnik for lunch.  The drive was so amazing – better than the Great Ocean Road in Australia because there was not only beautiful landscapes but also a European feel with small villages and medieval architecture.  It was also a less touristy area. We drove North along the Adriatic Sea, crossed the border into Croatia and followed signs for Debrovnik.

View of Dubrovnik, Croatia from road

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Coming into Debrovnik it was clear that we were in the more developed Croatia compared the countries of yesterday.  We found a place to park, although I have no idea how we fit into the spot or found it.  It was easy to tell that we were going to get lost when trying to find our car later, so we took photos of the exact entrance (this is a great travel trick).  Dubrovnik is a medieval walled city, it was clear that it was built to confuse visitors.  We started down the long, stone steps and were hungry enough to stop in one of the first restaurants that we saw, Ragusa II.  The prices were much higher than we had been used to, but it still wasn’t too bad and we felt like, after yesterday, we deserved a celebratory lunch of sorts.  The cuisine was Mediterranean with lots of seafood, garlic, and light sauces and good bread and wine.  We had muscles in a fantastic sauce, shrimp risotto and fresh fish. After our meal we started walking around the city.  It was SO unique, just white stone floors and little shops and things like this – even old Roman-looking ruins.  There were orange trees growing inside too!

Mike Picks Oranges in Dubrovnik, Croatia

View of Old City in Dubrovnik, CroatiaJumping in Dubrovnik, Croatia

We took lots of pics, I got to talk to Nicole for a little bit, and then we searched for a coffee/gelato place so I could get a latte.  After that, we tried to find our way back to the car.  We were successful thanks to our photo taking and now it was my turn to drive.  Man it was a bitch to get out of there!  That spot was so small and the roads were made for horses to use, not cars.  Finally we were out of there and we continued north on the main road towards Split.

Now….the Southern part of Croatia, where Dubrovnik is located, is somehow separate from the rest of the country.  There is a tiny 4 mile stretch of coast that belongs to Bosnia and thus, Croatia is split in two so that Bosnia has a coastline.  Well, Bosnia is a complete shit hole compared to Croatia.  It was very weird though – for 4 miles the currency changed, the homes got poor looking, and the signs changed languages.  We didn’t have to go through a border crossing though, because we kept on a road that only passed through Bosnia.  We ended up stopping in a “rest stop” to use the bathroom and it was just NASTY with smoke.  We all stood there in that rest stop though, and watched the most amazing sunset over the most amazing landscape.

Bosnia sunset over Adriatic Sea

Dave was to complete the drive and we were once again on a major road heading into Split, which seemed to be a major city.   After stopping once for directions, we found our hostel, Silver Central.  Matt and I scoped out the place and then we returned to the car to bring in our things.  Well then…what to do with the car.  The awesome hostel owner decided he would lead us around the city with us following in our car and he on his moped.  Well, Dave was darting in and out of narrow streets and up and down hills and finally FINALLY we found a spot that was pretty much the exact size of our car and was on a very steep hill.  The man in the moped drove off and we were left to park.  Dave gave it a go, but with limited manual experience he kept rolling forwards even with the car in reverse.  It was, frankly, not going to happen.  I had to take the wheel and, I have to say, executed the most perfect parallel parking jobs ever.  Up hill, backwards, TINY spot.  Didn’t bump either car once.  Am fantastic driver 🙂

Dave and I walked back to the hostel, after getting lost a bit.  Matt had done an awesome job asking for a dinner place so we decided to go right then to Fife.  This was our first glimpse at the water and the front of the city and it was cold and dark, but I could tell it was beautiful.  The roads were white and wide and there were palm trees and nice boats in the harbor.  Fife was super authentic, so the first thing we did was get some pivo (beer).  We had the Croatian national dish, Paaticada, which is a beef stew in a red wine sauce over gnocchi.  Dave and I also shared the chicken and mushrooms.  The food was really awesome, super flavorful and filling.

Chandra and Matt eating Pasticada at Fife in Split, Croatia

Mikey D wasn’t doing so well so he had some mashed potatoes and gnocchi.  After dinner we decided to chill back in the hostel but we needed some beers for the room of course.  You could tell we weren’t in the US when we were able to just purchase the beers to-go from the restaurant for a reasonable price.  Back at the hostel I enjoyed some internet access and then went to bed.  Mikey wasn’t doing so well at this point but Nicole is taking good care of him.  Tomorrow we return to Zagreb!

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Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro in a Day http://www.stylehiclub.com/europe/montenegro/serbia-bosnia-herzegovina-croatia-and-montenegro-in-a-day/ Thu, 19 Mar 2009 23:34:06 +0000 http://chandradigregorio.wordpress.com/?p=115 Today was pretty much the longest day ever.  We drove through 4 countries: Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro!!  We all got up early at our hostel in Belgrade, Serbia, the Chillton Hostel, and the plan was to leave at 8am.  We hoped to end the day in Kotor, Montenegro.  See below for our road […]

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Today was pretty much the longest day ever.  We drove through 4 countries: Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro!!  We all got up early at our hostel in Belgrade, Serbia, the Chillton Hostel, and the plan was to leave at 8am.  We hoped to end the day in Kotor, Montenegro.  See below for our road trip map.  Unfortunately Google Maps does not have any driving directions for Bosnia, so we were not able to plan this route in advance.  We bought a map of this entire area in Croatia, and we manually highlighted our route from Belgrade, Serbia to Kotor, Montenegro via Sarajevo.  The actual road is not as straightforward as the map below AT ALL.

Balkins Road Trip Map: Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro

Today we covered Belgrade (upper right), down to Sarajevo, then to Kotor, Montenegro (lower right)

Dave and I got up first and were going to go get the car together but due to some bathroom wait times, Dave and Matt ended up going to get it together.  We made sure to get really good directions as to how to get out of the city and we all loaded up the car with our luggage and I was at the wheel driving by a few minutes past 8.  It was much easier with these clear directions to get out of the city and it seemed to take no time at all, except there was a bit of traffic because it was rush hour.  I have to say that they guy in  the Croatian hostel really scared us by saying that he would never take his car to Serbia because there was a chance that it would be destroyed or bombed.  But, I digress.  We went through the crazy traffic circle again and I think its beneficial that I’ve learned to drive in Boston because there’s really no rules there either (although really, Belgrade is just nuts).  Driving out of the city we saw more bombed out buildings and slums with a socialist housing block feel.  I enjoyed seeing Belgrade although wish the 2 hour fiasco didn’t happen yesterday so that we would have had more time to explore.

 

I continued to drive for a while and after a few hours we came to the Croatian boarder.  For this first part of the drive, we were retracing some of our route that we drove yesterday from Zagreb.  Basically we had to drive West back into Croatia, then South into Bosnia & Herzegovina, then back into Croatia, and finally East along the coast into Montenegro.  We crossed into Croatia without a problem and started to retrace the route.  I was driving this first part so I just had to look for signs to Sarajevo.  Finally the exit came and we were what looked like, very close to the boarder Bosnia & Herzegovina.  It wasn’t a road that you would have thought a boarder crossing would have been on, though.  It was like driving through very small villages – VERY small.  Finally we came upon the boarder crossing and things were quick crossing in.  I had been nervous that all of these crossings were really going to take a long time but they really never did and we never had any problems with car searches or anything like that.

Border Crossing into Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnian Boy Sits in Street

Bosnian boy sits by border crossing

Into Bosnia & Herzegovina, things took a turn and got very poor looking.  This area seemed to have been devastated by the war the most, especially Sarajevo which we would soon be seeing.  I really couldn’t get over the fact that we were in Bosnia.  This is a place that I learned about in middle school and high school because of the war there and the brutal ethnic cleansing that went on there.  I’d imagine it would be vacationing in Iraq in 10 years (or 10 years from whenever the war is over, that is).  Shortly after the crossing, Dave took over driving and navigated the roads.  It wasn’t a highway for 90% of the drive to Sarajevo, but rather just this rural road that ran along a river.  It was interesting scenery, lots of poverty, some beautiful parts, some extremely industrial parts.

Rural Bosnia from the car

At one point we passed a horse literally walking up the embankment next to the road – it was nuts!  We got closer and closer to Sarajevo and the signs got easier and easier to read.  The roads were wide open and fairly new…all leading to Sarajevo.

Sign to Mostar and Sarajevo Bosnia

I did my best with the road map and the local map from the guidebook to find find how we would be entering the city.  All we wanted to do was find a place to eat that was close to the Latin Bridge, which was the site of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife that sparked WWI.  I think I did a pretty bang up job of figuring out where we were and I guided us to the area of the bridge and around the block just once to look for a parking spot.  Things were easier to read here because they don’t use cyrillic characters.  We parked in a lot for practically no money and then set out to find this restaurant that I suggested close to the Latin Bridge.

We found Cafe Jez after a few minutes and all sat down and had a round of beers.  The food was not traditionally Bosnian like the book had said, but that was ok because I think Bosnian food is probably like all of the other traditional foods of the neighboring countries.  No one really spoke much English but we managed to order some chicken sandwhiches and burritos.  Of course, 3 of us order the burrito and only 2 came out so I had no lunch 🙁  When I tried to order another it seemed that they had no tortillas either.  I got a chicken sandwich instead, which was ok.  After that, we easily found the Latin Bridge and took a myriad of jumping pictures on the bridge.  I’m assuming it’s not “too soon” to be taking these pictures.

Jumping on Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Too soon?

Latin Bridge in Sarajevo Bosnia

The Latin Bridge, Sarajevo

Matt proved himself somewhat fearless as he climbed down the steep grass down to the river to get a water sample for Dave.  After that, we returned to the car and it was time for Mike to drive and Nicole to navigate.  Dave and I were pretty excited not to be doing this because I really can’t stress how annoying it is and we were getting on each others’ nerves because neither one of us ever knew where to go.  I had showed Nicole the route to take because we had internet in the restaurant and it didn’t seem that hard.  Of course in 2 minutes we were lost and they were frustrated at the situation.  This is in no way a reflection of either one of them – it really can’t be stressed enough how difficult it is to navigate by through poorly marked cities towards other cities you’ve never even heard of.  We stopped to ask directions and things seemed to be ok but we got lost again in a few minutes and had to ask this random guy walking down the road.  He spoke little English and Mike drew an absolutely hilariously terrible traffic circle so he could just point, but he ended up pointing us exactly in the right direction.

A note about Sarajevo.  I was very excited to be able to see this city and I wish we had more time to spend there.  During the war the city was under siege for 3 entire days and bombings continued for years – it was, I think, the city most affected by the war.  We drove past the Holiday Inn where CNN reporters were stranded during the siege and also while leaving the city we drove past the airport.  A 800m tunnel from the airport was literally the only way out of the city for much of the war and we saw a spray-painted sign pointing towards the “Tunnel of Life.”  Buildings are bombed out and have yet to be repaired.  The main road that we drove down was called “sniper alley” for much of the war because snipers would just hide in buildings, churches, and mosques and shoot thousands of innocent people.  Although we didn’t see any, there are “Sarajevo roses” scattered along the pavement of the city to mark where a shell killed someone.  Looking at every face that passed us on the street, I couldn’t help but wonder where they were during the bombings – had their home been destroyed, had their friends and family members been killed for no reason?  Every person over the age of 10 had most likely lived through it.  Being in such a place gave me quite an eerie feeling.

Holiday Inn in Sarajevo Bosnia

The Holiday Inn, Sarajevo, Bosnia

Well, back to driving, Mike was doing well through the mountainous terrane.  We had to ensure we just made one correct turn onto another road and we should be all set.  Of course, things were more difficult than they seemed.  The landscape turned extremely mountainous and we were driving through snow covered mountains on a very curvy road.  Mike was doing very well but there were literally NO signs to ensure we were heading the right way.  Nothing.

Snowy Mountain Road from Sarajevo, Bosnia to Kotor Montenegro

It was quickly getting dark and we needed to make sure we were on the right track and not heading further into the nothingness of Bosnia.  The highlight of this entire exercise was us seeing a snow-covered sign that we though may help.  We got out of the car and Dave started to scrape off the sign.  Wait!!  I saw a scraper right in the car!! Horray!!  Dave is scraping and scraping and we start to make out the word.  THE FIRST LETTER OF THE WORD IS A TRIANGLE!!  Well, this is not good, no, not helpful in the least bit.  But its pretty funny, because that’s how screwed we are.

 

Knowing that we could be heading in the wrong direction and its getting darker and darker, the boys take things into their own hands (after peeing on the side of the road), and flag down a passing car.   This is how you flag down a car on a dark mountain road:

Asking for directions on road from Sarajevo Bosnia & Herzegovina

Apparently no English was spoken but we are in fact on the right road and they communicate to them how long it is until we have to diverge.  We confirm this is true at a store that happens to be open and Mike continues his awesome driving.  He is really hauling ass on this mountain road, that at one point, I think was not actually a road.  We felt more confident when we saw tour busses from the coastal towns passing us though.

As we were almost into Croatia, we had a decision to make – go to Dubrovnik, which was about 45 minutes away, or stick with the plan to go to Kotor, Montenegro about 2 hours away.  Just by chance we had hotels booked in both cities.  We stopped at a restaurant in southern Bosnia to discuss and get some food.  The food was normal for what we have been having, which was fried meats and greasy potatoes, along with some beers.  The waitress spoke no English and somehow communicated to Mike to get this $20+ lamb dish – there was a lot of pointing and she seemed to not accept that he just wanted the $4 meatballs.  After some confusion, and what we thought clarified everything, she shows up with two lamb dishes, lol.  I was just there with my cabbage salad w/ red pepper (this is a mixed salad apparently) and my chicken soup.  It was hilarious.  Of course, until the bill came.  We didn’t have their currency so we had to pay in euros and she wouldn’t give us a check but rather just this stack of papers with non-English words on them.  Great.  Dave and I set out to write everything down that we had, add it up in Bosnian currency, then convert it to euros.  We came up with €39, she said €53.  We argued and argued, pointed at our list of items, she pointed at her stack of papers, and we were at a standstill.  We couldnt understand each other, she was probably pissed about bringing out $50 of lamb that we sent back.  It was a general bad situation.  Finally, we caved.  There was literally nothing that we could do and it was getting very late and we had settled on going to Kotor.  Well, that sucked.  I took the wheel driving and we got directions out of there.  We went through the boarder crossing into Croatia (again!), then finalized that we were going to Kotor.  The sign that pointed that way led us down a dirt road for 40k so that just was not happening.  Instead Dave found another route that we took instead.  It wasn’t bad at all and in no time we were at the boarder crossing for Montenegro.

This boarder crossing was too funny.  Everyone was asleep in the back except for maybe Matt and we went to leave Croatia.  The guy inquired about our visit to Montenegro and gestured to the entrance now about 20m down the road.  “Over there…” he said “it is a disaster.”  He told us to be careful because the police would stop us and we would have to bribe them and about all of these bad things that would happen.  He said that in 40k we would be in Kotor though.  It was very funny – these countries seem to really not like each other.  Into Montenegro, the guy took a while checking our passports and we were in.  Things really didn’t look too bad and in about 45 minutes we were at the ferry crossing at the bay of Kotor.  The ferry just went a short distance but was completely necessary because driving all around the bay was not an option.  Unfortunately we got there at about 12:35am so we had to wait until the 1am ferry.  It was pretty cool, driving the car onto this small ferry and then making the 8 minute trip across.  From there we were to follow the signs for the Hotel Splendido which was 9k up the road.  Driving was nuts again and I found it hard to believe that this was a 2 lane road.  Finally we made it, parked the car, and Dave Matt and I went inside to check in.  They showed us to our 2 rooms (Matt is w/ Nicole and Mike tonight) and everyone except me went to get the luggage.  They took forever at it turned out that the hotel did not like us having 5 people and not paying for it so Dave was arguing that for a while.  I showered and got ready for bed. We finally got to sleep after 3am and had the alarm set for 9am.  Upon driving in I could just tell that there MAY be mountains on all sides of us, but I really wasn’t sure as there was no light.  We shall see tomorrow.  🙂

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Road trip: Zagreb, Croatia to Belgrade, Serbia http://www.stylehiclub.com/europe/serbia/road-trip-zagreb-croatia-to-belgrade-serbia/ Wed, 18 Mar 2009 23:32:05 +0000 http://chandradigregorio.wordpress.com/?p=113 Today would be leg 1 of our road trip.  We will be driving from Zagreb, Croatia to Belgrade, Serbia. Dave and I got up early to get the car at the Sheraton in downtown Zagreb.  We walked there from Fulir Hostel and it only took about 20 minutes.  After the requisite checks and signatures, we were in […]

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Road Trip Croatia to Serbia to Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro

Road Trip Overview - Leg 1: Zagreb, Croatia (upper left) across to Belgrade, Serbia

Today would be leg 1 of our road trip.  We will be driving from Zagreb, Croatia to Belgrade, Serbia. Dave and I got up early to get the car at the Sheraton in downtown Zagreb.  We walked there from Fulir Hostel and it only took about 20 minutes.  After the requisite checks and signatures, we were in possession of an Opal Astra (manual).  It did cost us a bit extra to get insurance in Serbia, but at $70 total per person (five of us), the car rental isn’t so pricey.  Because I was more experienced with the manual, it was my job to navigate back to the square.  The problem was that the square, Trg Bana Jelačić, was surrounded by a maze of one way roads and it wasn’t entirely clear if we could drive through the square, as all of the signs were in Croatian.  So Dave was navigating and we kept ending up in the wrong spot.  Finally we came upon this pedestrian area that, if we crossed it, would bring us to the square.  There were trucks in there…but they were delivery trucks.  I started to drive.  About 10m in, it was clear that this was not something that we should be doing and I was kinda freaked out – there was a cafe table on my right, like an outdoor restaurant, and I was driving right through a maze of people.  It was really really bad!  Finally we made it to the square and it was again made clear that we should NOT be there.  We had to cross tram tracks which involved going over a curb and then dodging 2 trams and all the people waiting for them.  We then had to get to the street that our hostel was on, which involved going over another curb.  Really, this was just ridiculous.  We finally pulled into the hostel, and the owner guy is just standing on the balcony yelling that we were fucking nuts.

Trg Bana Jelacica Square Zagreb, Croatia

I drove right through this square.

So after that, we decided to get some directions!  The manager of the Fulir Hostel mapped it out and we thought we were ready to go.  Things did not go smoothly though because the street names didn’t match the names on the map.  We managed to find our way and in about 20 minutes we were heading towards Serbia.  Juuuust before the toll, we got flagged down by the police.  Almost made it.  They checked my license, the paperwork for the car, and then they just let us go.  Very strange but all good.  We took a ticket and continued on the highway (A1), which was pretty nice.  It was supposed to take 4-5 hours.  Below find the Google map for better directions:

Google map directions of Zagreb, Croatia to Belgrade, Serbia

Dave drove after a bit, taking us over the Serbian boarder, and then we stopped at a rest stop and Mike started driving.  The rest stop was pretty funny though, because no one really spoke English and we didn’t know what their money was called (Serbian dinar).  As we got closer to Belgrade, it was my turn to drive because I was better with the manual in a city.

Building on highway A1 Belgrade, Serbia

Coming into Belgrade, Serbia

Our directions were not clear and we weren’t certain where to go really – add to that the fact that they use the cyrillic alphabet, so words would begin with the number 3 or something messed up like that.  We stopped at a gas station and were told how to get to the city center.  I got off the highway and began driving towards the center.  Wow, Belgrade is kinda shitty.  Bombed out buildings, everything is falling apart, and the whole place smells like its burning.

Bombed Out Building in Belgrade, Serbia

This traffic circle that I crossed was the most extreme thing since watching people driving in southeast asia.  There were cars coming from everywhere, trams, buses, and pedestrians and no real rhyme or reason to anything.  I didn’t know where to go at all and Dave didn’t know where we were on the map so I pulled over and Matt and Dave tried to ask for directions.  Of course this involved turning around, which was a pain because of all the 1 way streets, the trams, and the general congestion.  Back across the traffic circle and then we got lost again.  The bottom line of this is that it took 2 hours of driving around Belgrade for us to find the hostel.  We also couldn’t find a place for the car so we left it in a garage.  It was just the most miserable experience basically ever.  Cars beeped at me for 2 hours as I drove aimlessly around the narrow streets of the city.  Really, just terrible.

The hostel was decent, pretty comfy by not modern by any means.  I showered as quickly as I could, dressed, and we headed out to find some dinner at a place recommended by the hostel.  It was only a block away and they had traditional Serbian food, whatever that was.  Everyone stared at us as we walked in because we clearly didn’t belong.  The place was packed with very Serbian looking people smoking and drinking and having a good time.  We were given the English speaking waiter but of course the menu was still in Serbian.  Instead, we just told the waiter (who looked like Robert Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond) to bring us enough food and beer for 5 people.  This seemed to work out very well and we had salad along with loads of meat, a chicken dish and potatoes.  The meal was wonderfully cheap and delicious.

Belgrade (Beograde), Serbia dinner of meat and potatos

Dinner at "4ybYPA"

We headed to the cab stand that was at the end of the block to catch a ride to Trg Republike (Republic Square or Трг Републике in Serbian Cyrillic) and this pedestrian only promenade downtown called Knez Mihailova.  Dave, Matt and I rode together and Mike and Nicole were behind us.  We made it to the square quickly and stood around looking at the old buildings for a bit and this statue of Prince Michael that was in the center of the square.  We then walked down this area where all of the nice shops seemed to be located, heading towards this fortress after getting directions from Serbian teenagers.  We made it to the fortress, Kalemegdan Citadel, and had a generally good and funny time taking pictures in tunnels, on top of cannons, and things like this.  We also had a great view of the city.  There were also tanks there, although they were behind a fence so we couldnt take any pictures with them.  It’s so crazy that they were probably used about 10 years ago in the war.

Kalemegdan Citadel Cannon in Belgrade (Beograd) Serbia

Riding a Cannon in Kalemegdan Citadel

After walking and exploring for a long time, we decided to head back because we had an early day the next day and it was also very, very cold.  We stopped on the way though to hopefully get a drink or something dessert-like.  Back on the promenade we found a chocolate restaurant with comfortable chairs and both drinks and desserts.  Again, our waiter seemed to look like Robert Barone only with less English speaking ability.  We got some drinks – Nicole and I got a hot chocolate with bacardi mixed in which was very, very good.  We sat and talked for a little bit but soon Mike wasn’t feeling well so we decided to leave.  Back in the square we jumped in 2 separate cabs again, only these cabs seemed much nicer than the first.  As we were to find out, these were private cabs and the meters were literally FLYING.  It still wasn’t very expensive, although it probably was for Serbian standards.  Note:  Don’t take the private, Audi taxis.  Loooooong day tomorrow driving through four countries – good night!

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St Patricks in Zagreb http://www.stylehiclub.com/europe/hungary/st-patricks-in-zagreb/ Wed, 18 Mar 2009 00:13:12 +0000 http://chandradigregorio.wordpress.com/?p=110 We were all so so tired this morning but managed to drag ourselves out of bed to make it to the airport early.  Dave and I were leaving for Zagreb but Mike and Nicole were leaving later to take a train there because the airline messed up.  We hopped in a cab and made it […]

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We were all so so tired this morning but managed to drag ourselves out of bed to make it to the airport early.  Dave and I were leaving for Zagreb but Mike and Nicole were leaving later to take a train there because the airline messed up.  We hopped in a cab and made it to the airport.  Hungary is such a mess, really, its just housing blocks and piles of trash.  The cab driver dropped us off and we made it through security very quickly.  Not a lot going on in this airport.  Dave and I sat and did random stuff, I straightened my hair, and bought some snacks, and around 8:40 it was time to board the plane.  We departed from the gate on this bus that would take us to the plane, which was a prop.  I was mildly nervous, but not really.  There were 8 people on the entire flight, including us!!  It went smoothly of course and we were landing in Zagreb 50 minutes later.  We got kick ass stamps and the smallest airport ever and continued to the outside area to catch a bus to the city center.  There we met 2 Americans from Florida who were on their way to Split – we will be there on Friday.  The bus driver was very nice and we paid the 30 kuna to take the bus to the city center.  It was quick ride, and it was funny to note that there were a large number of ham billboards on the road.

From the bus station we followed the worst possible directions to the hostel.  They basically expected you to teleport from the bus to the train station without any mention of how to do so.  We figured out how to ride the tram and managed to find the train station.  From there it was quite a walk so we headed out – of course the tram that we just got off of was the one that was going down the street on which we were walking.  Damn.  Finally we got to the square that we were looking for – which was amazing because none of the street signs matched.  We would come to find out that the way that maps write streets and the way the streets are actually labeled are pretty different great.  And they also have an incredible amount of accents above all of their letters too.

The hostel was just out of the ssdaiop[ (Dave just almost destroyed my laptop by pushing a beer onto it – he pushed those keys – all good though).  So the hostel was in a good location just out of the main square of the city.  The owner of the hostel is just crazy man, talks a mile a minute, and put us in this room for  8 people.  We dropped our things and set out to explore a little and went to look for lunch.  The hostel man recommended croatian bbq, which I didnt even know existed.  We found the place, right in the square, and sat down to have a meal.  We ordered the mixed meat plate and sides of mushrooms and french fries.  It was so delicious – tons of meat, mostly beef stuff and some pork all in this delicious bread.  We left satisfied for 91 kuna.  After that we explored the main street and road the fenicular railway up the large hill for <$1.  It’s really amazing how those things work.  At the top of the hill we started down and walked past old buildings and churches.  Once, we were even ambushed by a church as it was under a building, a sort of tunnel in the road.  there were pews in there and everything.  Back at the hostel  Matt was waiting for us, as it was 3pm, just as planned.  He was hungry so we went back to the Croatian bbq and he had what we had had.  from there we decided to walk around more to show Matt Zagreb.  Dave was getting tired so Matt and I walked around and went shopping for about an hour.  Then I started to get tired.  We headed back and I tried to get to sleep but I just couldn’t go to bed – I don’;t like wasting time in another country by sleeping the day away.  I decided to set out to go get some hair stuff.  I ended up getting a bag too and I came back to the hostel at 7pm, which was what time they were planning on waking up.  I found Dave standing at the alley way entrance because he had been asleep when I went out  and was worried about me for some reason.   Not really sure.  Anyways, after that Dave and I went to the train station to pick up Mike and Nicole.  We walked there and made it there very quickly.  their train was only 12 minutes late and we were so glad to see them.  We took them back to the hostel via the 6 tram and they showered and got ready for dinner.

Dinner came from a recommendation from the guy and the hostel.  It was a fish restaurant (Korcula) and looked like it was going to be good.   The menu was a bit extreme and it was hard to figure out what we were going to get.  Dave and I ended up splitting the risotto and the octopus, which was the special of the place.  the waiter was a good guy and we all had a great time with beers all around.  After dinner we wanted to hit up a bar or something like that, seeing how it was st. patricks day.  The streets looked dead but after a little walking we found a lounge type place that was still open.  we went in and found a nice place to sit in the back.  We enjoyed ourselves with some shots and some drinks and left as they were closing at 1am.  Goodnight from Zagreb, st patricks day 2009!!

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