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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

DAYS 72 & 73 – Where is Montenegro?

May 30 & 31 – Rugged Mountains + Turquoise Sea + Our Own Private Flat = FUN!!

We had another travel day by bus taking us to Montenegro and the city of Budva.  Discovered in the 5th century BC, Budva is 3,500 years old, which makes it one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic sea coast.  It is well known for its sandy beaches, diverse nightlife, and examples of Mediterranean architecture.  Budva has seen many turbulent years in its history and was devastated by an earthquake in 1979 which destroyed much of the old town.  The city has been built back up to its original form, however, and tourism is high.

Shari like to collect seashells and/or rocks.  She is trying to get something from every sea on our journey.
 We met our host at a cafe shop.  He was a good looking young man named Vlado.  He told us that he still lived with his parents at home, but he loved to gamble and had won a flat in Budva in a poker game.  So he took us to his flat where he hosted couch surfers.   We were again thrilled to be alone where we didn't have to tell "our story" and didn't have to stay up late talking and had our own key.  Don't get me wrong - we've really enjoyed that!  But, every now and then, privacy is very welcome!

A spacious living room and bedroom...with a big screen TV.  A balcony was located behind the sliding glass doors with a table and chairs and clothesline to dry your clothes.

A very compact bathroom - Note the extra toilet in the middle with a faucet ...very common in the Balkan countries.  I never used it, but I guess it was to wash your fanny off after you used the toilet.  **Too much information**  :)  It's called a "bidet" - thank you Marda!

A very nice kitchen
...and that was it.  Very small, but comfortable flat.  The problem was that the minute we walked in, the place smelled like a musty and dingy old basement.  It reminded me a bit of my grandmother's old dirt floor cellar, or our house in Broomfield after a big flood when I was about six years old.  (I lost my Raggedy Ann doll in it....such a sad day).  Evidently there was a drainage problem behind the walls so there was mildew and mold in many places.  The place was not very clean either, so I took to cleaning it up after he left.  Oh boy...another adventure!  We never saw our host again, but we were very grateful for a place to stay and his hospitality.

The first day it rained quite a lot, so we stayed indoors, but the second day was gorgeous, so it was time for a trip to the beach.

Beautiful rock formations along the coastline's path to a hidden cove.

The sun bathers were out, but why didn't we bring our swim suits?

Maybe it's because we didn't want to show off our "winter fat"

I LOVE BLUE - blue Eiffel Tower shirt, blue sky, blue water statue!   I used to be able to do that before my double hip replacement.

OK - I'll try it again, if only I could get my balance and not fall off this rock into the water.

Here we go!  Is my leg up as high as hers?
What a gorgeous Spring Day in Montenegro.
 Now we enter yet ANOTHER OLD TOWN.  I never tire of the history, but I think Rich might like to see a Science Museum or something.

There is always a wall around these medieval cities.   This little cubby hole would have been fun to hide it while searching the ocean horizon for invaders.

It's amazing that these rock walls have stood up so well, but remember...there was a terrible earthquake in 1979, so much of this old town was rebuilt.  Well done!

The sun has definitely been enjoyable today in Budva, another Balkan city with we have thoroughly enjoyed visiting!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

DAY 71 - Traveling Down the Coast of the Adriatic Sea

May 29 - Dubrovnik..."The Pearl of the Adriatic"

The drive from Split to Dubrovnik was so fantastic by bus.  It was hard to do anything else but look out the window.  The raw natural beauty of this region is truly breathtaking, with ancient forests, rugged peaks and the beautiful waters of the Adriatic coastline, where we explored the the magnificent bay of Kotor and made a one night stop in the wonderful Croatian city of Dubrovnik.

We are trying to visit ALL of the European countries, but we already missed the country of Slovenia.  We only stopped briefly in Bosnia to take this picture.  But we didn't miss it!

Our 20 minute bus stop to say we traveled in Bosnia.
 The following pictures were taken out of the bus stop window as we drove along the coastline of the Adriatic Sea.

This was a HUGE ferry cruise that went through the "locks" while we waited for it.

This is my favorite picture of the seaside road trip.

Another good one.

We finally arrive on the outskirts of Dubrovnik. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, a seaport, and a VERY popular couch surfing place.  

Close to the bus station and looking up the hill to where we stayed for the night.

We got off the bus, having no idea where we were going to stay in Dubrovnik.  Since we had been on the sailboat for a week, we were way behind in finding hosts for our month stay in the Balkan countries.  Our host in Split said we might have some luck finding an old lady at the bus station who would come up to us and offer her home.  We thought that was really different, but just as soon as we stepped off the bus, three different ones approached us.  One was a little more aggressive with a picture book of her place and the best price...only $30 for a night.
Not a great picture, but this was the woman who in very broken English coerced us in staying at her place.
She told us about the place, and we made a deal to have it be only $25.  She called her daughter to come pick us up.  Then she hurried off to find her next "victim."  Her daughter was there in 5 minutes, and sped off up a hill overlooking the city and I mean "SPEED".  She whirled around the curves and one way streets like she was born to drive in a race track.
We had a great view of the city, a balcony, a huge bedroom, a TV, and access to a kitchen and bath/shower area.  There were actually three other rooms that she would rent out.  This is where we first met Nick...remember that name (more on him in later blogs).  The whole complex was attached to her home where she lived with her son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren.  They had a large garden area and the clothesline was full with sheets and towels.

Two bathrooms - our choice

This was our private balcony overlooking a most gorgeous city.

Our large bed - looks like it was two beds pushed together.

Hi...when do we eat?

The community kitchen
Dubrovnik is among the 10 best medieval walled cities in the world.
In 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.  We could really see why and MANY other people knew it, too.  In order to go down to the old towne, we had to walk down many steps from our humble hillside abode.

Love the dress!

An old cannon

We saw areas everywhere with rosemary growing.  We  would pick it and use it in our cooking.

       We saw a gorgeous moon rise as it silouetted the city and the sea.  So beautiful!