Saturday, 29 August 2015

02/08/2015 - 28/08/2015 - Croatia - Montenegro - Croatia

02/08/2015 - Rijeka, Croatia

Well we made it safely across the border and headed into the town of Rijeka - for an overnight stopover.  It was a really cute little town.

03/08/2015 - 05/05/2015 - Plitvick National Park, Croatia

After leaving Rijeka behind I let Dave know that we have just over a 2 hour drive to get to the National Park where we are booked in for two nights.  Well it should of been just over 2 hours, but one of us used the wrong address - it was for our next stop in Trogir.  At least I didn't get all the way there before I realised my mistake we had only past the National Park turn-off by 50kms - not much really, only added 100kms to the journey. Mmm the Big Fella wasn't impressed - yep you guessed it I still haven't let it down and I don't think I will for a while.  He is calling for his old navigator back - 'Callum'.

So after a lot of huffing and puffing like only the Big Fella could, and me making promises on how I could make it up to him we made it to our accommodation.

The National Park was stunning.

05/08/2015 - 12/08/2015 - Okrug Donji, Croatia

Yes - first thing Dave says to me when we get in the car - have I got the right address in - I guess I deserved this, and will be hearing it for a while.  As we are driving along all I can say is yes Dave you've seen this before - yes Dave more than once, yes Dave from both sides - oh the penance...

We are staying in Okrug Donji for a week of relaxation - we have been doing it tough and thought we deserved a break.  And what a bonus to find we have two bedrooms - I really will get a break.  The Big Fella is happy too, he has a TV in his room with some English Channels.

We have a good view looking down onto the beach, whilst it is great to be up on the hill for the views, the walk back up the hill isn't so great when you need to get home.  Well they call it a beach, to me a beach needs sand - and there isn't a lot of that around - lots of pebbles and rocks - so I've started wearing shoes when I go swimming.  The water is still magnificent.  The temperature is around 28 degrees and it is unbelievably crystal clear.

Dave has been doing an excellent job of driving, I have been amazed at how he has been able to get us out of some dead end streets and what they refer to over here as a street is really a small lane way to us.  But unfortunately, his luck ended when an older guy was driving down one of these so called streets and obviously couldn't see the white line, he was way over our side and there was nothing that the Big Fella could do, we were lucky just to escape with a bumped side mirror.

We have had a couple of day trips from here to Trogir and Zadar.  Both lovely coastal towns.

The family whose apartment we stayed in have been ever so welcoming, especially the 7year old boy - so Callum you will be happy to know your birthday present (bat and ball set) has found a very happy home - oh and Karls that McDonalds hat that you must of accidentally left here has also found a happy home.

On leaving we did receive a bottle of home made fruit brandy 'Rakia' with honey in it - yep just what I need more alcohol and sugar.  Apparently Rakia is 40% alcohol - think we will be drinking this one slowly.

The drive to Mali Ston was just one of the best we have done - the scenery was mesmerising.

13/8/2015 - 14/08/2015 - Mali Ston, Croatia

We had a one night stop over in Mali Ston, a town known for its oysters - and yep they were good.

We went to a little beach called Prapratno Beach for a morning swim, it is just amazing the clearness of the water and the temperature.

13/08/2015 - 15/08/2015 - Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dave wasn't too excited about going to Dubrovnik (he said whats to see or is just another Old Town) until I told him that this is where they have shot some scenes from Game of Thrones - I haven't been able to get into the series, but Dave just loves it.  Our first night here, we wandered around the local beach (this one was cement) and up to the promenade for dinner oh and ice cream - when we were leaving the ice cream parlour I heard a couple of heavy thumps, I quickly looked around to find the Big Fella had just caught himself from falling.  He did twist his back and knee but at least he did gather some composure and didn't fall like a bag of shit, and didn't spill his ice cream.

The next day we wandered into the old town and did get to see all the sights the Big Fella wanted to see from the Game of Thrones Series, it was just way to hot for us, around 42 degrees and there wasn't any breeze at all in the old town and it was crowded.  So home to the air-conditioning we went, we had planned on going back in later, but never quite made it, down to the local promenade for dinner.  The Big Fella needed to rest his back and knee so this was a good excuse as well.

We have both decided that Dubrovnik Old Town has been one of our favourites so far.  So the next day we decided to go on a Kayaking / Snorkelling trip to see it from the sea.  We have had no wind and really hot days so far but not today there has been a lot of wind, so they have had to adjust our course. Of course we go to get into our kayak, and they tell us to wait, we need a bigger Kayak - mmm so they bring out the Queen Mary of Kayaks.  It was a great day out and we kayaked about 5kms, so a bit of exercise as well.  The Big Fella kept asking me to not adjust the tempo that I was kayaking, hey I have no rhythm so what does he expect. So I had to keep counting 1, 2 in my head to try and maintain some consistency.

15/08/2015 - Dubrovnik - Split - Dubrovnik, Croatia cruise.

Our arrival onto the boat saw a few clouds and a forecast for storms for the next day or two - mmm I don't seem to have much luck with cruises - but on the other hand we are happy to have some cooler weather.  Our first night was a meet and greet with everyone.  The Cruise that we are on fits 38 people and is booked out.  About half the people on this cruise are Australians or New Zealanders.

16/08/2015 - Dubrovnik - Mjlet National Park

The morning brings with it a cloudy day, and forecasts of storms - which we can clearly see from the ship.  So the hatches are battoned down and of we cruise.

We visited the Mjlet National Park, the weather hadn't cleared up and we were still experiencing rain.  So after our walk into the National Park, we went back to the boat had our showers, settled into the back deck with a couple of friends, Len and Leanne from Melbourne, and started drinking.  We had planned on going to dinner a bit earlier than when we went.  But it seemed every time we finished our drinks it would start raining, so we ordered another one - needless to say the next morning was a slow start.

17/08/2015 - Mjlet National Park to Hvar

On our way to Hvar we got a quick stop for a swim in the lovely Adriatic Sea. 

Hvar is known as the party island and as soon as we get near to the dock the music is rocking and there are a lot of people dancing on tables etc..  This is one place I think you should visit when you are younger and definitely not have a hangover for your first day at least. 

We had a tour of Hvar City before settling down for a lovely steak dinner.

18/08/2015 - Hvar to Split

Unfortunately, we wake to another day of rain - we had originally planned at having a stop over on the Island of Brac and visit Bol - which is apparently one of the best beaches in Croatia - but the weather is not looking good so straight to Split.  We were disappointed as this was to be a highlight for us.  Of course on our tour of Hvar we were told that they expect rain on the 15th and /or 16th August - mmm no wonder there is no Croatians on this cruise.

19/08/2015 - Split - Pucisca -Makarksa

After another swimming stop near Pucisca, the cruise takes us to Makarksa.  Where yet again we eat and drink too much (the fish that we had was Lubin and it was excellent - it was the best fish I have had in Croatia).  Leanne and I were the only ones up drinking Baileys on Ice at midnight when they shut the bar.

20/08/2015 - Makarksa - Omis - Korcula

Another day on the beautiful Dalmatia coast, with a stopover in Omis and then an overnight stopover in Korcula.  Korcula is reportedly the birth place of Marco Polo.

21/08/2015 - Korcula to Dubrovnik

Our final leg of our cruise took us back to Dubrovnik.  We had a restful day before heading out to dinner to a great restaurant with Leanne and Len.

22/08/2015 - Dubrovnik, Croatia to Kotor, Montenegro

After saying goodbye to everyone and getting back to our car to find out that a bottle of alcohol had spilt in the boot of the car - so now our car smells like a brewery.

22/08/2015 - 28/08/2015 - Montenegro

Our drive into Montenegro was a bit longer than expected the delays at the border crossing into Montenegro cost us about an hour - but we were so glad we weren't going the other way, it looked like they had a good 4 hour wait.  We settled ourselves into Kotor for the next 5 days.

For the rest of our time here we drove along the coast line, swam, ate and drank - oh and we did talk about loosing some weight before we get home.  Some of the beaches are ridiculously crowded with umbrella and deck chairs - you can hire them for about $15.00 a day - unbelievably expensive for here.  We did have another delicious fish dinner - their local salted fish.  It is baked in the oven in an enormous amount of salt.  When it is taken out the salt is caked on about 1inch thick and they remove this be cracking and scraping and pouring cognac over the top to soften.

Karma found me , after Dave's near fall on the steps in Croatia, I was walking up the uneven concrete steps in Kotor with arms full of shopping bags, and all of a sudden I came crashing down - no grace whatsoever - so I did end up with a couple of scraped shins....

On our drive back into Croatia we decided to catch the car ferry across the Bay of Kotor which cuts down our travelling time by about an hour - which made both of us happy as the roads and drivers in Montenegro leave a lot to be desired - it has definitely been the worst country for driving.

Friday, 7 August 2015

20150722 - 20150802 Blanes, Spain to Croatia

22/07/2015 - Blanes, Spain to Cannes, France

So sad to leave Blanes, Spain - we have had a fabulous time here.  One of the many reasons that I loved it here is the fact that the water has such high quantities of salt, when I get in the water it is like gravity doesn't exist, I feel like parts of my body are 21 again - oh how I wish.  Dave has loved his time here and has decided on exactly what type of breasts he would like me to get, he has had plenty of opportunity (and has taken all of them - in the name of research of course) to check them all out.

After a nice drive to Cannes and checking into our hotel, it was time to check out the surrounding area.  OMG - this city has a lot of money, the size of some of the yachts /ships in the marina and around are just unbelievable.  Its about 5:00pm, the sun is still shining brightly so its time to hit the beach.  Oh and I must mention that yesterday when we went shopping Dave decided that he was sick of me nagging him about using too much of my Lancome makeup - I think it was more the fact that I said it was a bit too light for him, not really his color.  So after shopping he comes home with his own BB cream which has 50+SPF.  So after we put our make-up on (and he checks with me to see if he has applied it ok) it was off for a swim.  The water temperature is about 28 degrees, just perfect for me.

23/07/2015 - Cannes, France

Karleigh and Callum have arrived safely - it is great to see them both and it looks like they have had a fantastic time in England and Paris.  After we get settled into the apartment it is off for a swim and a look around Cannes.

24/07/2015 - St Raphael and St Tropez, France

Well as if Cannes wasn't depressing enough we decided to make a day trip to St Tropez.  On the way we stopped at St Raphael - this was one town that wasn't so touristy or showing of so much wealth, and out of all the towns we visited on the French Riveria, this one felt more like our type of town - cheaper wine and food as well.

St Tropez was so depressing, the amount of money in the yachts and ships was obscene, I have never seen anything like it.  Whilst the water craft was just enormous - we decided that if you didn't own a huge ship or yacht to moor here - it wouldn't be your type of town.

25/07/2015 - Ile St Margaret.

We were depressed enough so decided to head over to one of the islands off Cannes - would like to say we travelled by a ship, but no for us plebs it was just a ferry ride with the rest of the plebs.  The water was crystal clear as we travelled on over and the view looking back to Cannes was stunning.  As you do, we decided to head for the beach and go for a swim - well this beach was rocky and Dave and I walked down the beach like we were walking on knives, it was amazing that we made it to the water without hurting ourselves, we may have had a few falls along the way.  But it was worth it, the water was crystal clear and a nice temperature.  The water is unbelievable blue and clear - but our sandy beaches back home are still the best.

After a lovely day on the island, and a shower, Karls and I decided it was time for some retail therapy, we were actually going out to get something for Callum's birthday - the boys said they would go to one of the pubs we had seen the previous day (it had a sports bar) and watch the rugby.  So after our shopping, it was time to meet the boys, we walked to the pub - mmm couldn't find them anywhere, so we walked up and down the main strip, still no sight of them, getting a bit frustrated now... off to McDonalds to get wifi and try to call them - nope no answer.  Okay our last chance was to go back to the hotel and see if we could find them - nope not there either - okay enough's enough we are getting hungry - and as most people know I'm not a nice person when I'm hungry - so Karls and I decided we were going to head to a restaurant - oh and we'd make it a nice seafood restaurant.  So as you can see we may have lost the boys, but we found these, and ordered some nice cold wine to wash them down with - pretty good trade off I think.

They eventually found us just as we were eating dessert - and whilst we had a lovely meal, trying the local cuisine, I think they were concentrating on trying all the local beers.

26/07/2015 - Cannes to Corps, France

It's Callum's birthday and he is a lucky man - Karl's bought him a little wooden sailing boot and we bought him a bat and ball for the beach - very popular here in France and Spain, so our shopping trip may not have that successful - but hey its the thought that counts - and we did buy him kids cards in French.

We had a lovely drive through the countryside and decided it was time to look for accommodation - mmm stopped at a few hotels and found out that some of them didn't open on a Sunday - and a lot were on vacation - go figure.  We did find a lovely hotel in Corps, were a great meal was had by all and celebrations continued on for Callum's birthday.  Some of the little towns that we find along the way are real hidden gems.

27/07/2015 - Corps - Mont Blanc / Chamonix, France

Before leaving Corps it was time for Karls and Callum to hit Lac du Sautet - Callum has said that every opportunity he gets he will swim in the lakes - no matter how cold.  I think I'll just take the photos.

On our way to Mont Blanc / Chamonis, we made a detour to travel up the Alpe d'huez - one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France.  It certainly is an impressive mountain - and I was very happy we were in a car and not trying to climb the mountain by bike - along with hundreds of other people.  Dave did keep saying how he would like to give it a go. We ran into a couple of Australians on the top - one of them did it 2hrs 30mins with a number of stops, the other no stops and 1h 30mins - know which one I would be. It has an average grade of 8.1% and is 13.2km in length.

Once we made it to the top, Karls, Callum and I decided it was time to give the Luge a go - the Big Fella decided he was going to be the official photographer.  He had done it before.

When we all got to the top we decided the motto was no braking - seemed like a good idea at the time.  It felt like Karls and I were going at least 60kms an hour - even though Dave's says it was more like 20kms.  Callum was a bit more cautious.  Dave thought he was the sensible one - we just thought he was a big scaredy cat.  And looking at the photos it really does look like Callum has been using the brakes.

We then found our way to Lake Annecy  - the 3rd largest lake in France and known as Europe's cleanest lake.  So time for Callum and Karls to go for another dip.

27/07/2015 - Chamonix / Mont Blanc

Well we have certainly seen some spectacular scenery along the way but none as beautiful as Chamonix / Mont Blanc - spectacular, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain (4,807 m) in Europe excluding the Caucasus mountains.  Chamonix was the first town to hold the winter olympics.

This town has such a great vibe and looks so spectacular - Dave and I would love to spend a winter holiday here - but unfortunately $'s maybe an issue - Dave keeps threatening to send me back to work - so sorry everyone doesn't look like a ski season in the French Alps.

28/07/2015 - Chamonix

Today we have booked in to go Paragliding tomorrow - something we are all looking forward to, it is amazing how popular it is here and how steep the cliff is that we are going to jump off - fingers crossed.

Karl's and Call went for a hike whilst Dave and I went and explored the town and went to see the Glacier and Ice Caves.  The ruggedness of the mountain tops just makes for some spectacular scenery.  I think we may have been spoilt for Glaciers and Ice Caves in Alaska - or maybe its just the crowds.

After a busy day - we all went out for dinner.  We came across a beautiful muriel on the side of one of the buildings - it was so real, that the Big Fella thought that there were actual balcony's and even had a bet with Karleigh - he lost.

29/07/2015 - Chamonix

Unfortunately, the weather isn't the best and there is a bit of wind around, so our para-gliding has been cancelled until tomorrow.  We had already decided that we were going to spend another day / night here in Chamonix - it is so pretty and a lot bigger than we thought.  There are 3 ski fields which appear to all be linked by cable cars.

Well after a walk around, the three of us Karl's, Callum and I all decided to give the luge another go, this time it goes for about 1.5kms and was on tracks, so you couldn't fall out.  So yet again - our motto 'no braking' is being called out  Karl's absolutely hooted down, no brake was used it was just full steam ahead, I may have taken my hands of the accelerator once, but I didn't use the brakes - and then came Callum.  We have all decided that it was an absolute thrill and loved every minute of it.

After our delicious dinner - the mussels here in France and Spain are unbelievable delicious, we went to find some crepes.  So after our order - with each one of us expecting crepes, our desserts were placed on our table, there were 3 crepes and one ice cream, yep Callum ordered of the ice cream menu.

30/07/2015 - Chamonix

Today's the today, that we run off a cliff into the clouds.  At first the weather was pretty bad with a lot of clouds around, so unfortunately we couldn't go as early as planned so we just enjoyed the scenery and waited.

After a few hours wait, it was time to get ready.  They were going to take Karl's and I down first and then Dave and Callum.  I was off first and oh wow - it was just spectacular, to run off a cliff, into clouds and then the clouds part and you have the most stunning view and it was so quiet.  Karl's and I landed safely with no problems, we were told by our guides that we landed excellently.

Now for Callum and the Big Fella, Karl's and I could see them both making their way down to the landing zone.  Dave is going to land first.  Dave and his instructor are both lined up for landing and Dave is told to start running just before their feet hit the ground, well not sure if it was planned or not, but the guide landed Dave in a nice puddle of water, which made his feet slip out from underneath him.  And like any good person would do, Dave wasn't going to be the only one down, so he dragged the guide down with him, so now the chute is pulling them both on their back along the ground.  You might say that Karl's and I did have a wee laugh, we couldn't talk for awhile and there was tears rolling down our face.  I only wish we had got more footage to show you all.  We did gather our composure enough to see Callum land safely.

We all agreed that it was worth waiting for and had an amazing flight.

Unfortunately it was time to leave Chamonix, and head into Switzerland.

30/07/2015 - Lausanne, Switzerland

We have arrived in Lausanne and checked into our hotel.  Whilst wandering around the streets we have been looking at the restaurants for somewhere to eat - for me this is called window shopping.  I can see why Switzerland is the most expensive country in the world, the prices are outrageously expensive. Lake Geneva is stunningly blue with many swans swimming around.

31/07/2015 - Lausanne, Switzerland

Thank goodness breakfast is included in our accommodation costs.  Although - I may have made a mess with the eggs.  There was an appliance that looked like a deep fryer, with some eggs in it, obviously trying to poach them.  There was also two baskets on either side, one with green eggs with a sign boiled and the other basket with normal coloured eggs in it.  I thought they were both already boiled, so I tried to show Dave and cracked one on the table - oops nope they haven't been cooked yet - anyone for raw eggs.  It really was a stupid system - people would put their eggs in and walk away, and some one else would come and get them, not knowing the system, or how long they had been in the cooker.  Sometimes they were cooked but most of the time there was raw egg running everywhere..

This morning we have decided to hire some bikes and do a little ride around Lake Geneva and through the vineyards.  We are at the bike hire shop early in the morning only to find out that it doesn't open until 11:00 o'clock.  So  we wander back at 11:00 to all be fitted out for our bikes.  After riding for about 500 metres, The Big Fella has realised that he can't ride with his saddle bag on, his feet keep hitting the bag, oh what to do, easy I'll just put it in Lisa's - as if I'm not carrying enough weight.  The scenery was spectacular, the ride was up several very steep, long hills - but we all made it safe and sound.  Though as soon as Dave hit the hill, his chain came off, not a great start.  We worked out that we travelled about 40kms in the 4 hours that we had the bikes. We stopped for lunch, at a small cafe / restaurant at the entrance to a camp ground and thought that it wouldn't be too expensive - wrong.  Dave and Callum paid $10AUD for a bottle of mineral water and Callum bought a hamburger and chips for $23AUD, and this hamburger was smaller than a McDonalds burger.

Okay the bikes may have been electric - but hey you still needed to peddle and make sure you didn't run out of battery power before you made the trip up the hill to the rental shop.  It was great to have the opportunity to ride one of the electric bikes - as least Dave has decided that he doesn't need one of these toys just yet - they need to make them a bit lighter.  Oh this coming from the man who wasn't carrying any saddle bags.

So for dinner tonight it was off to the local festival where there are food stalls for some cheap eats.

01/08/2015 - Luasanne to Zurich, Switzerland

It is time to head to Zurich, where Karl's and Call will begin the journey home.  So after arriving in Zurich, I go to check in whilst the others get the bags organised.  Well, whilst I was checking in the staff offered me a glass of white wine - well it would be rude if I said no, so whilst drinking a lovely cold glass of wine, I checked in, just in time to walk outside and see the others bring the bags in.  Karl's and Callum were gob smacked - and very jealous.  Dave not surprised at all - mmm don't know why.  He let Karl's and Callum go up in the lift first and whilst he was waiting he got an offer for a nice cold glass of wine and made the most of it

Once again we were on the hunt for some cheap eats, we did see a Mexican cantina and thought this might be an option - but oh no for one chicken enchilada it was approx.$45AUD - okay time to keep looking.  We did stumble across a little chinese outdoor cafe in which we all ordered a meal for about $17AUD - and it was delicious and filled us up.

02/08/2015 - Zurich Switzerland to Croatia

It was sad to say good-bye to Karl's and Callum - we have had a great time travelling with them both.  I know I will miss Callum, he has been a great navigator for Dave and a great tour director for all of us and Karl's has been such great company in the back seat.  Looks like it is back to me and Dave again, guess who its back t being the navigator and tour director.

We need to get to Croatia as soon as we can - as Dave isn't allowed to stay in the Schengen countries for more than 90 days out of 180 days - so we picked Croatia for a visit of about 4 weeks - something we are both looking forward to.  After a long drive we make it to the border.  You would think we would be getting used to dealing with border crossings, but we still get nervous - not knowing if we have all the correct documents.  Need not of worried here Dave just showed them the front of our passports, they could of been anyones, and they tried to waved us through.  But Dave like a kid leaving the toy store asked if he could have a stamp - we need this to prove that we have left the Schengen countries.  The guard looked at us said sure, opened up both of our passports stamped then handed them back with a smile and pointed for us to keeping driving, the passports still could of been anyone's.  So I guess we can stay here as long as we like.

On our way to Croatia we hit the 10,000 km mark.  We have certainly done a lot of km's and are loving every minute of it.  It is amazing what we do to entertain ourselves, these signs just cracked us up - probably not that funny - but they keep us amused - you gotta love Gotthardpass and Furkapass - okay maybe we have been away long enough and spending too much time alone.  Most people would be surprised that the Big Fella actually saw this large green sign - we were stopped.