Well it has been a month..hard to believe it was Trieste the last time I wrote. From Trieste we traveled south to Pula, Croatia, our first stop in Croatia. The main attraction in Pula is the fully intact Roman amphitheatre. It is smaller than the theatre in Rome but still impressive. You don't actually have to pay to go inside as you can walk around the whole outside and get pictures of every angle of the theatre. We spent some time on the beaches in Pula and I have to admit I was surprised to find that they are all rocky. Prior to coming to Croatia, I had fairly high expectations for the beaches and the pictures I had seen of white beaches, I had assumed were sand...NOT...they are rock. We learned from the locals and purchased these very comfortable sunning mats that fold up quite small for easy carrying. You need a pair of sandals or water shoes to go in the water as the bottom of the ocean is very rocky as well. The water is amazing...crystal clear, clean and reasonably warm...really enjoyed the water. We continued south in Croatia and stayed in the little village of Bibinje on the ocean south of Zadar. Our studio apartment was right on the ocean and so we spent a day or two hanging out on the beach as it was HOT and then one day touring the old town of Zadar. Zadar has a very nice promenade along the ocean which we really enjoyed. We headed south to Trogir/Split area and spent a couple of days touring the old town of Trogir and Split. We definitely enjoyed Trogir more than Split as it is smaller and more quaint. Some amazing, huge yachts in the harbor in Trigor...now that's the way to travel. Our last stop in Croatia was in Dubrovnik....we had a great studio apartment there with a great Croatian family. We enjoyed a few glasses of wine with them and they shared their story of escaping the war in 1992 and being sponsored to come to St. Catherines,Canada. Gave us some great insight into how the country and the people suffered. Enjoyed the beaches in Dubrovnik and touring the old town. The most "American English" I have heard spoken in a couple of months was in the old town as busy with the cruise ships in the harbor. In that same region we visited the small towns of Cavtat..lovely harbour, more big yachts and the village of Ston, which has one of the longest stone walls in existence outside of the great wall of China. We packed the bathing suits and sun mats away as we headed east into Bosnia. First stop was in Mostar, which has a famous bridge called Stari Most, where if the tourists come up with the right amount of money a Croatian will jump from the bridge into the water. Quite the show..quite the jump. Bosnia is 80% Muslim, so there are mosques of every shape & size everywhere. At night the mosques play this "chant" and it is actually really beautiful to hear. There is a real "Turkish" influence there as well..you see it in all the "souvenirs" that the locals are selling. 99% of the Muslim women in Bosnia do not wear what we think of as typical Muslim dress and most only put on a head scarf if they are going into a mosque. Next stop was Sarajevo...interesting...so glad we went there. We stayed in an apartment that was on Airbnb, hosted by a young man named Edin. Edin and his girlfriend Anna made our trip there memorable. They showed us around the old town of Sarajevo, helped Glen with a computer problem, took us to a great restaurant, showed us how to smoke a "hookah" pipe ....very popular past time for Bosnians and there are lots of Hookah bars in the old town. And last but not least, Edin insisted on washing our car...he couldn't stand how dirty it was!!! Glen kept insisting that he not bother as it would be dirty within 15 minutes of us leaving town. Well, we lied...it took 45 minutes before we hit the first rain storm!! Bosnia's unemployment rate is close to 40%, so this was the first place that we encountered beggars in the street. You can see remnants of the war in a lot of the buildings...bullet holes and buildings that have been partially destroyed and abandoned....as there is no money to rebuild. But the people are friendly and continue to enjoy life. From Sarajevo we headed to Zlatibor, Serbia, which is a ski village on the west side of Serbia. Very nice area with lots of hiking, biking, horseback riding etc. We were really impressed with how clean the area was, in comparison to other places that we had been. We then headed to Nis, Serbia. We were there for one very long night.....the apartment we rented was right downtown and the pictures of the inside looked gorgeous. Well....the outside was like we had landed in the slums..the whole building was completely tagged. The building looked like it was going to fall down...had to lock our car into a secured parking stall and Glen didn't sleep well as he was concerned that the car would still be there in the morning. We toured the Nis Fortress, which is the main tourist attraction there. The fortress was not much to see and the park inside is large, but very shabby. Believe me...you can take a miss on Nis. Next came Romania.... and to be continued....too much to tell, so I will blog about Romanian soon.
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